The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is strengthening the competitiveness of the private manufacturing and service sector in Morocco, with a €12 million loan to Morocco Mobility and Automotive Centre (ATC), a Moroccan company involved in automotive testing.

In a statement released on Wednesday, EBRD noted that the funds will help ATC acquire equipment to set up the first automotive testing centre of its kind in Africa.

This large-scale centre is expected to start operations in 2022, according to the Bank, noting that it will contribute to the sector’s competitiveness and the extension of supply chains in the country by introducing new types of service at different stages of the production process or distribution channels that are currently unavailable on the market.

The automotive industry is a key driver of exports and employment in the country, contributing to 25 per cent of exports, involving more than 260 suppliers and supporting over 148,000 jobs, added the same source.

Currently, Morocco has four integrated industrial clusters for the industry, in Casablanca, Kenitra, Rabat and Tangier, EBRD said, noting that as part of the new collaboration with the Bank, the company will create and conduct a training programme for young people in the technical skills of automotive testing in Oued Zem.

According to EBRD, the testing centre will be certified to ISO 9001 for its quality management system for testing, analysis, construction of equipment and prototyping of vehicle powertrains and powertrain components.

The loan agreement was signed at the EU Africa Business Forum in Brussels, co-organised by the European Commission, the African Union Commission, and African and European Union business organisations.

Morocco is a founding member of the EBRD. To date, the Bank has invested nearly €3.2 billion in Morocco through 80 projects.