May. 1, 2022

Zakaria Benabdeljalil Sjöberg


Zakaria Benabdeljalil Sjöberg

Country Manager Morocco & Regional Manager North and West Africa, Business Sweden

TBY talks to Zakaria Benabdeljalil Sjöberg, Country Manager of Morocco & Regional Manager of North and West Africa, Business Sweden

How long have you been in Morocco, and what is your mission?

Business Sweden enjoys a unique setup by being owned by the Swedish government and the Swedish Industry. The organization is present all over the world and our creation of long-term sustainable partnerships was underscored in 2020 by winning the award for Best Use of Partnership by the World Trade Promotion Organizations Awards. We act as Sweden’s official trade promotion organization, and at the same time as a consultancy firm. We are not allowed to make profit; however, we do levy fees for our services. We do not resemble other trade agencies and we are very much considered a consultancy. Our mission is to help Swedish companies succeed globally and attract international companies’ investments into Sweden. All together, the organization has been active for about 45 years, and we have had an office in Morocco since 2008. With a base in Casablanca, we operate not just in Morocco but also North and West Africa—25 markets in total. The main markets that we are active in are Morocco, Algeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia.

Morocco and Sweden are not necessarily associated with one another, so how do you connect the two?

I hold both Moroccan and Swedish citizenships, so I believe in the connection between both countries. I have come to realize that we can learn a great deal from our differences. Identifying differences in cultures and countries opens opportunities. Both Morocco and Sweden face the same challenge of limited natural resources. Sweden has a large number of forests, but has no access to gas or oil unlike its neighbor. Similarly, Morocco has access to phosphates but not oil. Both countries focus on exports and development of foreign investments to fuel economic growth. Another shared focus is the interest in transforming into a green economy. Sustainability is central for Sweden, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals are heavily considered in Swedish policies, indicated by the fact that Sweden is number one in the global ranking according to the Global Sustainability Report. Morocco has positioned itself as a leader when it comes to the green transition and decarbonization. The country has seen many important investments in renewable energy, for example. These differences and similarities augur large potential for knowledge-sharing and collaboration between Morocco and Sweden.