Morocco makes new steps towards developing military industry

The kingdom will grant licenses for the manufacture of weapons and military and security equipment and for their export.
Thursday 09/07/2020
A boy in uniform poses in front of a Royal Moroccan Air Force helicopter at Marrakech Air Show. (AFP)

RABAT- Morocco is seeking to modernise its armed forces and further develop its domestic military industry, a development experts say is achievable and even inevitable considering regional and international turbulence.

Morocco is set to increase its defence budget in support of this ambition. On Monday, the kingdom announced related decisions taken during the Council of Ministers, chaired by  Moroccan King Mohammed VI.

As the Supreme Commander and Chief of General Staff of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR), King Mohammed VI approved three bills and a draft decree in relation with military development strategies.

The kingdom will accordingly grant licenses for the manufacture of weapons and military and security equipment and for their export.

According to the state news agency (map), the first bill concerns a cybersecurity project that will provide for a specific national safeguard against risks to the country’s technological infrastructure.

The project will also create a legal framework to enhance the security of the information systems of the country’s administrations, territorial authorities, public institutions, companies and telecommunications operators.

The second bill concerns defence and security materials and equipment, weapons and ammunition. It will regulate the manufacture, trade, import, export, transport and transit of these materials and equipment by establishing an authorisation system for the practice of these activities and a system for document tracking and control, which is considered as a qualitative shift in Morocco’s security and defense policy.

The third bill will amend the law related to the Royal Armed Forces’ (FAR) reserve army. It will integrate executives of establishments and companies that have received initial training within an establishment under the Royal Armed Forces with the reserves officers.

The draft decree is related to the reorganisation of the Royal Air School and aims to enable national air transport companies to benefit from the expertise of the Royal Armed Forces in matters of aeronautical training.

The Royal Air schools will be able to train airline pilots of national companies within a contractual framework between the administration of National Defense and national air transport companies.

These projects reflect Morocco’s ambitions to promote its arms industry programmes. Morocco’s 2020 finance bill includes an increase in the kingdom’s national defence budget by 29% in 2020.

King Mohammed VI said last year in a  speech marking the 63rd anniversary of the armed forces that “The Royal Armed Forces will focus on scientific, technical and engineering research programmes and work to strengthen and develop them in all military and security fields, at the African and international levels, in order to exchange experiences and keep up with the rapid development in the fields of security and defence.”

Morocco’s steps to develop its domestic military industry has drawn the attention of experts and foreign observers.

The American Frost and Sullivan group, a research and consulting firm focused on market research and analysis, said in a market research report that “Morocco is about to become a weapons (producing) country within the coming years…at least, it will host foreign factories, starting in the year 2025.”

Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16 fighter jet sitting on the tarmac. (AFP)
Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16 fighter jet sitting on the tarmac. (AFP)

In the same context, Strategic Defense Intelligence, a comprehensive source of business intelligence for the global defense industry, said that “Morocco’s advanced military procurement will enable it to become Africa’s leading army by 2022.”

According to the specialised military ranking website Global Firepower, Morocco made progress in strengthening its armed forces in 2020. Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces ranked 57th out of 138 militaries throughout the world in 2020, compared to 60th in 2019.