The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s private sector arm, said it plans to invest $373 million in Maghreb nations, mostly in Morocco and Tunisia as the two nations cut spending to reduce budget deficits.
IFC investments in the region are designed to help the two North African governments form private-public partnerships to help finance infrastructure projects, Sérgio Pimenta, the WB vice president for the Middle East and Africa told Bloomberg.
While Morocco’s economic prospects are more favorable than Tunisia’s, neither country can afford to invest heavily in infrastructure, Pimenta said. The IFC is also working on providing finance for small and medium enterprises in the two countries to help create jobs.
He also called on Tunisia to facilitate doing business to ease the crisis which grapples the country, triggering social protests.
“If there’s one area that I’d encourage Tunisia to focus on, it is how can you simplify process” for doing business, Pimenta said. That would especially help startups, which could create jobs and bring innovation to the country, he said.
Concerning Morocco, Pimenta voiced optimism at the country’s economic prospects saying that the Kingdom’s move toward flexibility makes it more competitive, but it needs additional measures to boost growth. Investment in education is key, as is facilitating smaller companies’ access to finance.
“The big development challenge and the opportunities is the issue of entrepreneurship, the missing middle of small and medium enterprises that are not as present as other countries that have similar level of GDP per capita,” he told Bloomberg.