This article details the new government of Morocco’s plans to boost economic growth and create more jobs. Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane stated that the government is looking to target average economic growth to 5.5% per year during its 2012-2016 mandate. Benkirane also pledged to “ensure strong and sustainable economic growth that would help boost job creation” and reduce the jobless rate to 8% by the end of 2016 from 9.1% currently. Benkirane’s plans are optimistic but the employment rate he should be focusing on is the 21.9% unemployment of 15-24 year olds. This age group is the most volatile and largely responsible for catalyzing the events of the Arab Spring. Increased unemployment of young graduates will lead to more protests such as those that occurred in Rabat in the end of January 2012.
I am afraid that Benkirane is promising too much and will leave Moroccans disappointed. This is dangerous in the politically charged environment of the Arab world. So far Morocco has not witnessed a violent revolution as in many other Arab countries. With this being said, the prime minister needs to be careful of the promises he makes because unfulfilled promises could spark a dangerous and violent uprising. The constitutional reforms of 2011 granted the prime minister new duties and it is up to Benkirane to set the bar for following prime ministers.
In the past, Morocco has capitalized on its proximity to Europe and relatively low labor costs to build a diverse, open, market-oriented economy. Since King Mohammed VI ascended to the throne in 1999, the Moroccan economy has been relatively stable. The economy has shown steady growth, low inflation, and government debt has generally declined. Improvement in infrastructure such as the new port and free trade zone near Tangier are increasing Morocco’s competitiveness in the international market. Morocco is the only African country to have a bilateral Free Trade Agreement with the United States. Despite Morocco’s economic progress, the country suffers from high unemployment and poverty. Key economic challenges for Morocco include fighting corruption, reducing government spending, reforming the education system, addressing socioeconomic disparities, and increasing industry.