Swanson, Sandra A., PM Network
MOROCCO FACTS & FIGURES
Population: 33.8 million-58 percent of whom currently live in urban areas. That figure will likely reach 65 percent by 2012.
Area: 275,000 square miles (712,247 square kilometers)
Largest city: Casablanca, with 3.6 million residents
Languages: Arabic is the official language, but most residents speak Darija, a mixture of Arabic, European and Berber languages. Widely taught in public schools and used in government and business, French is Morocco's third unofficial language. Spanish is spoken here also.
Currency: Moroccan dirham (MAD)
1 MAD = US$0.13
1 MAD = euro0.09
1 MAD = ¥14.4
Economy: Morocco had a gross domestic product of $152.5 billion in 2006. Farming accounts for more than 17 percent of the country's economy, but that figure fluctuates with cyclical droughts.
Agriculture represents almost 40 percent of the jobs in Morocco, and in rural areas, it supplies the vast majority of employment.
By focusing on non-agricultural activities, Morocco hopes to establish an economic yearly growth rate of 5.6 percent between 2008 and 2012. Much of that boost will be fueled by industry, which is expected to post an overall growth rate of 7.3 percent, spurred by increases in telecommunications (9.1 percent), tourism (8.8 percent), transportation (7.4 percent) and construction (7.2 percent)
Sources: Oxford Business Group, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
RISING TO THE CHALLENGE
* "As part of its efforts to reduce global poverty by promoting sustainable economic growth, the U.S. government's Millennium Challenge Corp. announced Morocco will receive $697.5 million over five years to develop several projects. Those initiatives include:
Fruit Tree Productivity Project
Budget: $300.9 million
Goal: Stimulate Morocco's agricultural production by increasing irrigation efficiency and introducing drought-resistant commercial fruit trees
Target: An estimated 136,000 farm households in rural areas of northern, central and southern Morocco
Small-Scale Fisheries Project
Budget: $116.2 million
Goal: Emphasize the sustainable use of fish resources. Also modernize the way fish are caught, stored and marketed by constructing or upgrading fishery facilities in as many as 13 major ports.
Target: Approximately 24,000 small-scale fishers, boat owners, wholesale fish merchants and mobile fish vendors
The Artisan and Fes Medina Project
Budget: $111.9 million
Goal: Train 50,000 master artisans in new design and production methods, improve literacy education and vocational training, and help provide access to bank or micro-credit loans for modern kilns and pottery workshops. Also help attract more buyers of crafts-namely, tourists-by supporting the design and reconstruction of historic sites within the Fes medina.
Target: Approximately 20,000 low-income workers in the area
Overall Expected ROI: Boost Morocco's gross domestic product by approximately $118 million annually and directly benefit 600,000 families
DRENCHED IN HISTORY, THIS EXOTIC LOCALE AND THE REST OF MOROCCO GEAR UP FOR A NEW PHASE OF PROJECTS THAT COULD TRANSFORM THE KINGDOM.
With stunning architecture set against a backdrop of palm trees and the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, the colorful appeal of Marrakech-complete with souks and snake charmers-has made it Morocco's main getaway for decades. From Sir Winston Churchill to well-heeled jetsetters, visitors have long gravitated to this historic crossroads between Europe and Africa. And that appeal is growing. Passenger traffic through Marrakech's airport is increasing at a rate of 35 percent per year, according to the Oxford Business Group's Emerging Morocco 2007 report.
More than ever before, the tourism industry here is booming-spawning an array of massive projects and an upgrade in project management skills. …