The Maghreb, a hotbed of regional champions

27 August 2014

The Maghreb is taking full advantage of its remarkable location at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Middle East to become a unique platform for development. Its traditional businesses are being transformed into the region's champions while new companies are emerging, ready to conquer the continent.

What are the keys to the success of these Maghrebian champions? How have they succeeded in establishing themselves on the continent?

 Many champions begin by developing a clear strategic vision which looks to Africa. Defining their ambitions, their objectives and their mission on the continent is key.

In Morocco for example, the Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP), a market leader in phosphates manufacturing, foresaw the growing demand for food products and made the changes necessary to be able to supply the fertilisers needed to increase yields and replenish depleted soils. A smart move by OCP which, thanks to its exceptional product innovation and its ambition, plans to open six production plants by 2020.

 The second key to success is critical mass, which can be achieved through external growth, developing the value chain or geographical development on the continent.

Three companies illustrate these different strategic choices.

  • The Attijariwafa Bank (AWB) Group harmonised its organisation, processes and risk management model before replicating it and rolling it out in other African countries.
  • Kitea, the first Moroccan retailer to introduce the flat-pack furniture concept in the Maghreb, has developed a network of franchises, which has proved to be a particularly welcome strategy on a continent neglected by the large international retail chains.
  • As for the Algerian Group CEVITAL, it has diversified its products and services in response to the fundamental needs of the country; modernising its food distribution channels (UNO supermarkets) and supplying large construction projects (precast concrete and plate glass factories), for example.

 Success also comes from striving for a level of competitiveness comparable to that of international companies. Here, innovation and operational excellence make the difference.

SGTM, the Moroccan construction industry leader, which built the largest dam in Burkina Faso and El Aïn airport in the United Arab Emirates, has recently been chosen to construct three viaducts for the TGV train line from Casablanca to Tangier. It would be impossible to win a contract for an international project such as this without technical and operational excellence.

Finally, in a knowledge economy, the next battle will be a war for talent.

Businesses and universities sometimes work hand in hand. For example, the Mediterranean School of Business (MSB) in Tunisia has worked in partnership with renowned American businesses and universities in order to offer professional master’s degrees and MBA programmes for managers and company executives.

Other companies have chosen to create their own corporate universities, like BMCE Bank in Morocco, which has developed the BMCE Academy, a centre for the training and development of its senior managers, in conjunction with prestigious European schools. 

Businesses in Maghreb, like in Europe, are currently facing numerous economic and human challenges. Some of them are adapting intelligently and are becoming regional champions. This represents a real hope for development in the Maghreb and Africa.

Noel Albertus | Managing Partner PwC Advisory Maroc and Francophone Africa Advisory Leader
Profile | Email | +212 5 22 99 98 17

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