Live Blogging The 2011 TALIM April Seminar

Note: Marking its 10th edition in 2011, TALIM’s April Seminars have attracted audiences from Tangier, the rest of Morocco, and beyond.  This year, with the theme of Tangier’s Ports: Circles of Impact, we piggybacked on the US Trade Mission which participated in the Med-Log (logistics, with a focus on foreign investment) Conference.

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Day One

Two American researchers open the Seminar, which on Day One focuses on the impact on the hinterland of the construction of Tangier Med Port, some 40 km outside Tangier, towards Ceuta. Research was carrried out in 2006 through 2009.

Little formal education among the population of the hinterland (only 18% had attended school, for an average of 5 years), though the slides show very neat homes. Question: are these homes still perched on the green hillsides?  Many had to make way for the port’s construction.

In 2006, more than 84 % of those interviewed wanted to cooperate on hinterland development efforts with TMSA, the Tangier-Med executive agency.

Tan-Med’s TMSA Foundation is active in funding training (vocational job training, health, etc.), but many residents didn’t qualify for enrolment because they failed to meet the minimum educational requirements.

Companies with best results (e.g., least personnel attrition) paid special care to the interview/selection process, and treat employees with respect.

Corporate Social Responsibility – CSR or RSE in French – has come to Morocco through Transparency Maroc and the Moroccan employers federation, CGEM.

International best practice in ports also includes such concepts as a “port social license,” sustainable ports, and of course “green logistics,” stressed at this week’s Tangier Med-Log conference.

Q & A very lively, especially as the record of employment of the local population has come under criticism, including sit-ins at TMSA by locals unhappy with the employment of people from elsewhere in Morocco.

TMSA, however, has established its Foundation so that development sparked by the new port doesn’t bypass the local population.  TMSA very conscious of its social responsibilities, but equally aware that the reality of the informal economy – Ceuta and its ubiquitous “trade” – is a serious competitor for labor.

Suggestion by two audience members, from rural development and university backgrounds, that a follow up study be done on social inclusion efforts by organizations like INDH, the Moroccan national initiative for human development.  Recently, regional authorities have met with leaders from 8 local communities to discuss their needs.

One audience member reminded us that despite its middle name, Corporate Social Responsibility is in fact a capitalist concept, and not selfless charity. Another noted that the direct shipping line US-Tangier Med is at present just one-way (Tangier Med as a drop off point en route to the Middle East), and doesn’t provide a route for Moroccan exports to the US.

Looking ahead, not just behind, is essential.  Which is why TALIM plans to look forward – to the Tangier City Port’s conversion project, breaking ground this month – on Day Two, Saturday April 2.  Stay tuned.

Gerald Loftus

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