MOROCCO – Morocco has secured a US$500 million loan from the World Bank to support the its plan to boost digital inclusion reforms.

A statement from the World Bank announced the decision of the institutions’ Board of Executive Directors to approve the loan request by the North African country.

The loan, according to Morocco World News, is part of the Financial and Digital Inclusion Development Policy Financing Project (DPF) to support mechanisms to promote digital transformation in Morocco.

The program seeks to enhance financial inclusion and  enhance “access to more competitive digital infrastructure and services for business and individuals.”

The World Bank in its statement lauded Morocco’s  “rapid” digital transition initiative during COVID-19, emphasizing that the pandemic has exacerbated the need for digitalization

The COVID-19 crisis has forced the world to adopt alternative plans as private and public institutions shut their doors to avoid COVID-19 infections in working environments.

The shunning of public gathering has made many countries including Morocco’s to fast track digitization of their economies to support critical functions including remote education, work, and judicial processes.

During the crisis, “Morocco’s digital transition accelerated rapidly, showing the country’s capacity for a greater scale-up,” said World Bank Maghreb Country Director Jesko Hentschel.

Hentschel explained that digitalization offers new opportunities for Morocco, ranging from “more fluid economic transactions to better services to citizens and businesses.”

Dalia Al Kadi, senior economist and co-task team leader at the World Bank stressed the importance of the program, which will allow Moroccan startups to “import digital services that are not available in Morocco.”

The digital services aim to enhance the startups’ products and services and increase competitiveness, Al Kadi added.

The new loan is the second of its kind from the World Bank to Morocco within the same week having earlier approved a $48 million loan to help Morocco tackle the COVID-19 crisis.

The World Bank has also expressed its satisfaction with Morocco’s “effective approach” to curbing the spread of the pandemic.

“Today, more than three months after the start of the crisis, Morocco has one of the lowest fatality rates (the number of deaths compared to the total number of infections) in the world (less than 2.6%), while 90% of cases are cured,” the World Bank noted.

Despite the importance of the loans in consolidating Morocco’s COVID-19 response, concerns have however been raised on the country’s susceptibility to the effects of increased external debts.

Morocco has received multiple loans from international banking institutions during the pandemic.

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