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An African kingdom famed for its bustling souks and immense desert dunes is revving up to build electric vehicles

Nathan Rennolds   

An African kingdom famed for its bustling souks and immense desert dunes is revving up to build electric vehicles
  • Morocco has spent the last two decades transforming into Africa's auto-manufacturing hub.
  • The country produced 535,825 vehicles in 2023, per data company CEIC.

In the labyrinthine streets of Marrakech's bustling medina, it is hard to imagine that you are standing in one of the world's biggest car-producing countries.

The sun-baked Kingdom of Morocco is renowned as a tourist destination, with its vibrant souks, iconic Moorish architecture, and surreal Saharan desert dunes.

But the country is now also making a name for itself in the automotive industry, having spent roughly the last two decades transforming into Africa's auto-manufacturing hub.

According to data company CEIC, Morocco produced 535,825 motor vehicles in 2023, up from 464,864 in 2022, and it has the capacity to see that number jump to 700,000, the Associated Press reported.

The country has even overtaken China, India, and Japan, as the main automotive supplier to the European Union (EU), according to the Spanish outlet Atalayar.

Morocco is now looking to consolidate its position as a major player in the industry and stay ahead of major regulatory changes — such as the EU's plan to phase out petrol and diesel cars by 2035 — by preparing to transition to electric vehicles.

Morocco's minister of industry and trade, Ryad Mezzour, told Reuters that by 2030, the Moroccan government hopes that up to 60% of its exported cars will be domestically produced EVs.

And the kingdom seems to be in a good position to make the transition, according to Rafiq Raji, a non-resident senior associate with the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC.

"Quite literally in Europe's backyard, Morocco's tariff-free trade access to the United States and European Union, relatively better infrastructure, battery minerals endowment, a relatively robust automotive industrial base, as well as currently being the only African country eligible under America's Inflation Reduction Act, has made it quite attractive for EV-related investment, especially from China," Raji told Business Insider.

Morocco has also spent on infrastructure and training skilled workers, which means it could be in a favorable position to attract investment from car makers looking to expand their electric vehicle supply chains, Abdelmonim Amachraa, a Moroccan supply chain expert, told AP.

And it appears the kingdom is already making moves in the EV space.

This week, Moroccan officials revealed that Chinese auto battery manufacturers Hailiang and Shinzoom would build two separate battery plants in the country's Tanger Tech industrial zone.

Another Chinese battery maker, BTR New Material Group, will also build a factory near Tangier — a coastal city with strong links to a host of American writers — to produce key component cathodes, it was announced in April.

CNGR Advanced Material is also expected to set up a cathode plant in the country.

"BTR and CNGR or other plants will be able to supply gigafactories in Morocco and abroad," Mezzour told Reuters.




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