TOUGH CHOICES

Morocco 2020/21 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

As a confederation of entrepreneurs, CGEM's goal is to save as many companies and as much employment as possible during the pandemic.

Mehdi Tazi
BIOGRAPHY

Mehdi Tazi graduated from the engineering and management school Télécom Paris Sud and received an
MBA from the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD). He began his professional career with
KPMG Consulting France and later joined Saham Group as development director. He later assumed several positions in different companies, including managing director of Isaaf Mondial Assistance, CEO of Saham Assurance, and CEO of GA Angola Seguros. He was also a board member of several companies. He was
recognized as one of 25 young African leaders by the Jeune Afrique Group in 2013, among the top 50 disruptors in 2020, and amongst the top 10 economic leaders of the continent by the prestigious Choiseul Institute for three consecutive years from 2014 to 2016.

What has been the impact of COVID-19 on your operations and decision-making, and how is the confederation reacting to the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic?
The confederation is heavily involved in all of the discussions with the government. During this crisis, we have been in greater contact with the different entities so that we can bring our point of view on the decisions that have been made. There are three main impacts from the crisis: sanitary, social, and economic. We are involved in the social and economic sides through an entity that was created with ministers, parts of the government, the government body of banks, and CGEM. This is where decisions are being made on the social and economic sides. From that perspective, we are heavily involved; it is almost a full-time job on that front. That is our impact. Many measures to help the private sector and its workers, as well as those in the formal economy, have emerged from this. That is where we are acting the most in this crisis. CGEM conducted an investigation of the economic repercussions of the pandemic and surveyed 1,820 companies on their expectations of payment periods post COVID-19.

What did the results reveal?
The results show that the crisis is deep and impacting everyone in all sectors. Another thing we learned is that about one-third of people are not working. That is a massive number. The third message we got from the survey is that nearly all companies are in a difficult situation; out of 33 sectors, 28 sectors are declaring a fall in revenue of more than 25%. The second part of the study allowed us to test how the private sector has accepted our measures in our government body between the government, CGEM, and the banks. In total, two-thirds of the companies have used the measures, while roughly half of the companies have used all of the measures. This means the measures that have been taken have been extremely helpful for the sector. The last thing the study showed was that payment delays have increased by more than 60 days as a result of the crisis. That's a huge problem worldwide, and it suggests that the economy will contract everywhere around the world. If people cannot pay, companies will go bankrupt.

Which sectors have been most affected?
Getting back to normal is extremely important. Today, industry is a strong sector for Morocco because it is starting with a relocation and redistribution of demand and offerings. Everything will no longer be made in China anymore, and we anticipate more industry spreading out to different countries. There will be opportunities everywhere. Morocco has done a fantastic job in showing that it has a strong industry in the aeronautics and automotive sectors. We are strong not only in textiles and clothing, but also in others. The pharmaceutical industry, for example, has potential. We have a base and are close to and friendly with Europe. Most likely, we have a role to play as an alternative to the European market in terms of supplying industrial products. I would not bet on tourism in the short term, however.

What are your priorities and goals for the year ahead?
As a confederation of entrepreneurs, our goal is to save as many companies and as much employment as possible. We need to protect our supply. That means protecting our people and our companies. At the same time, we need to be realistic and understand that we cannot stay at home forever. We need to keep in mind other safety measures that can be taken
in this situation.