MOROCCO - Economy
Director-Head of Morocco, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
Marie-Alexandra Veilleux-Laborie is EBRD’s director for Morocco and responsible for the bank’s investments and operations in the country, overseeing close to a EUR3-billion portfolio. Prior to her post in Morocco, she was the first head of the EBRD’s office in Tunisia where she launched the bank’s activities in the country and positioned the bank prominently with the authorities, business communities, and other stakeholders. She joined EBRD in 2007 and initially worked for the financial institutions and equity funds teams in London and Moscow. She began her career at Ernst & Young in Paris. She is a graduate of both HEC Paris and the Institute of Political Sciences in Paris and is a certified non-executive director in France (IFA-Sciences-Po).
What is your strategy behind working with the Green Climate Fund, and how would you characterize the strength of Morocco’s green economy?
EBRD aims to support the government’s National Sustainable Development Strategy in guiding the actions of both public and private actors towards a green and inclusive economy. In 2015, we deployed our first green financing package called the Morocco Sustainable Energy Financing Facility (MorSEFF), together with other international financial institutions, a EUR110-million financing program designed to support businesses investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, through two partner banks in the country: BOA and BCP. It incentivized MSMEs and corporates to invest in green equipment. This program was a huge success and contributed to the creation of a green financing market. Since then, other local banks have requested more green financing from EBRD because we have enabled the creation of a market by addressing market barriers and entrenched behaviors that hinder the uptake of green technologies and solutions. Our financing package includes several key components, one of which is money through credit facility, technical assistance to the partner bank that allows it to design a dedicated offering, as well as incentives to the end borrowers. That was a winning formula that helped us attract more clients, and since then we followed up with new programs such as the Green Value Chain, co-financed with the Green Climate Fund and the EU. We also partnered with the Green Climate Fund to support the modernization of the irrigation system in the Saïss area, through the provision of EUR120-million loan to the Saïss Water Conservation Project and EUR32-million grants from the Green Climate Fund. This project is 100% green. We also launched a third large program, a green economy financing facility II (GEFF-II) that provides intermediated finance of at least EUR 150 million that may include up to EUR37.5 million in co-financing from the Green Climate Fund and EUR18 million grant from the EU to financial institutions in Morocco.
What were the main lessons learned during this past year, and how has EBRD demonstrated resilience?
The bank was one of the fastest development financial institutions to deploy a solidarity package to its existing partners at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020; Morocco was the first one to receive it in April 2020. The idea of the solidarity package was—and still is—to support our partners in meeting liquidity needs. Bank of Africa (BOA)—and later other banks—expressed the need for short-term financing in anticipation of the upcoming economic crisis. Our support was composed of a short-term, EUR100-million liquidity loan to BOA and an increase in the uncommitted multi-currency trade finance limit by USD50 million. This package helped BOA to address the challenges and the difficulties faced by many of its clients at the time and truly anticipate market needs. We were the only development financing institution able to provide working capital, cash financing and guarantees, and short-term liquidity.
What are your goals and expectations for EBRD in Morocco this year?
2020 was a record year for the bank in Morocco since it started in 2013. We signed and committed EUR750 million of investments in the kingdom. It was a record year because we were able to deploy the solidarity package and meet our clients’ needs during a severe systemic crisis. I expect 2021 to be a great year for us as well, though it is difficult to predict. We will continue to remain close to our clients and partners to truly understand their needs and help them be innovative to remain resilient. The green agenda will remain high, and we are starting to deploy a new green financing package for banks and MSMEs that will likely be successful. We will continue to support public and private companies with innovative financing packages. Also, this year will be important for us, as we will define and approve our new country strategy for the next four years. That will be in line with the new economic development model that Morocco is working on right now.
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