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Algeria cuts spending as energy revenue forecast falls 50 percent

Algeria will trim spending in its 2015 budget by 1.35 percent, expecting a slump in oil prices to reduce its energy earnings by 50 percent, the government said on Thursday.
Oil and gas account for 95 percent of Algeria's exports and energy revenues make up 60 percent of the budget.
The government expects economic growth outside oil and gas to reach 5.1 percent, unchanged from an initial forecast early this year, the cabinet said in a statement.
Inflation is expected to be 4 percent in 2015, up from the 3 percent initially expected, it said.
The budget is now based on an oil price of $60 a barrel, much lower than the $90 initially anticipated.
Oil and gas earnings are expected to drop to $34 billion from the $68 billion earned in 2014, the statement said.
Imports are projected at $57.3 billion for this year, exceeding by far exports for the first time.
The supplementary budget law sets spending at 7,692 billion dinars, down from 7,588 billion dinars ($112 billion) approved earlier this year.
Aiming to avert social unrest, the government has said the drop in energy revenues would affect social programmes.
 read more : the africa report

FiSahara International Film Festival Screen of the desert

IT IS a miracle that anything can happen in the scorched patch of the Sahara known as "the devil's garden"—let alone an international film festival. The sandstorms are so intense they can topple the festival tents, forcing locals to run and hide in cement toilet blocks. The sun is so hot it can melt a solar charger as temperatures soar to 50 degrees.
This is Dakhla, a camp in the Algerian desert for 30,000 refugees forced out of Western Sahara 40 years ago. It takes almost 24 hours to get there from Madrid. FiSahara, the Spanish NGO that organises the festival, arranges charter flights to the western Algerian town of Tindouf. From there an army-escorted convoy of buses bumps for 100 miles across the wilderness until it reaches a tiny spot of light.
Maria Carrion, a director of FiSahara, describes the festival as a "Trojan horse" that brings leading figures from the worlds of film and human rights to hear the story of the Sahrawis—the people of Western Sahara—and then sends them home to fight for the cause. It attracts Hollywood stars such as Javier Bardem, a Spanish actor who called the festival "little short of a miracle" and made a film about the plight of the Sahrawis called "Children of the Clouds".
The Sahrawis had no sooner pushed the Spanish from the territory in 1975 than the Moroccans came in. In 1991 the Sahrawis laid down their guns in exchange for a referendum that the United Nations was meant to broker. But thanks to a sequence of disagreements it has not yet taken place, and 14 years later, they are still practising peaceful resistance in the Algerian refugee camps and the eastern strip of Western Sahara that they control. This is separated from the larger, Moroccan-controlled part by a lengthy, fortified wall that the Moroccans built to keep them out. They are trying to get the world's attention through what Khadija Hamdi, their culture minister, calls a "cultural war" with Morocco.

read more: economist 

France's Orange builds 49 pct stake in Moroccan telecom firm Meditel

French telecom operator Orange said on Friday it had acquired an additional 9 percent stake in Moroccan operator Meditel, raising its total holding to 49 percent. Meditel, created in 1999, commands a 31 percent share of the Moroccan mobile phone market with 13 million subscribers, the former French telecom monopoly said in a statement.

Meditel's board will now be composed of five members named by Orange, and four by Moroccan shareholders. The company will be fully consolidated in Orange's accounts.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
 source: zawya

Monaco Eye Morocco’s Achraf Lazaar

After signing AC Milan’s striker Stephan El Shaarawy on a season-long loan, Monaco is keen to add another player from the Calcio.
According to Italian sport website Le Corriere dello Sport, Monaco has set their sights on a summer swap for Palermo’s left-back Achraf Lazaar.
However, multiple reports suggested that such trade is unlikely, since Palermo will not let Lazaar go cheaply, especially because they would need to find a replacement.
The price tag of the 23-year-old is around €3million.
AchrafLazaar joined Palermo from Varese in the summer of 2014 and cemented his place in the side almost straight away.
Lazaar, who can also play on the left wing, made his debut for Morocco in May against Mozambique.

source:  moroccoworldnews

Moroccan journalists protest for hunger striking colleague

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Some 100 Moroccan journalists and activists demonstrated Friday in front of the parliament in solidarity with an editor on a monthlong hunger strike over his treatment by the government.
Ali Mrabet, editor of DemainOnline, has been on a hunger strike in front of Geneva's Palais des Nations since June 24 over what he is calling government harassment preventing him from working.
Omar Brouksy, a journalist at the demonstration, said Mrabet was being targeted for his outspoken criticism of the state but also it was an attack on journalists in general despite a reformist constitution and public commitment to press freedoms.
"The problem with Morocco is the flagrant incoherence between the laws and the official discourse, on one hand, and the reality, which is very repressive," he said.
Morocco, a popular tourist destination, is generally considered more stable and open than its North African neighbors, but it still ranks low on press freedom indexes.
Mrabet was banned by a judge from practicing journalism for a decade. During that time he published the French-language DemainOnline, which was critical of the state and often poked fun at it.
When the ban expired in April, he announced plans to bring back the print version of his weekly. Since then he said he has been repeatedly harassed and authorities refuse to issue him a certificate of residence so he cannot renew his identity card, passport or set up his newspaper.
Most of Morocco's print and broadcast media now strictly follow official red lines — avoiding criticism of the king, the country's policies in the Western Sahara or Islam.
Many independent-minded journalists have gone online instead, but in 2014, news website was shut down after its editor was briefly charged with abetting terrorism by writing about an al-Qaida video.

read more -> andiegouniontribune

MASEN concludes integrated partnership on solar technology

Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), the Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA) and the Alcen group signed, on Monday in Rabat, several parallel and complementary agreements to develop industry and R&D in the field of solar energy to boost their expertize and know-how.

 Initialed by chairman of MASEN's board of directors Mustapha Bakkoury, CEO of CEA Daniel Verwaerde and president of Alcen group Pierre Prieux, this partnership was made possible thanks to the partners' conviction that the development of renewable energy is necessary to be part of the energy transition dynamic under way, by giving concrete substance to the underlying socio-economic opportunity.

 These agreements concern MASEN's strategic acquisition of 50%, alongside Alcen group, in the Alsolen company, which is active in solar thermal technology, in addition to the establishment of a research laboratory in Morocco by MASEN and CEA and the launch of several collaboration and competence transfer projects.

 Speaking on this occasion, Bakkoury said that these tripartite agreements seek to promote solar technology as the fresnel, with the prospect of developing an industrial basis for R&D and innovation.

 For his part, Verwaerde said that this partnerships is a real industrial experience of using thermodynamic solar technology, citing seven future areas of cooperation which will enable to develop technologies that are a generation ahead of competition.

 Prieux noted that the success of this large-scale project hinges on a continuous technological optimization and competence-building.
source: maroc

Morocco's skirt length battle: What are the deeper questions?

When two Moroccan women were accused of gross indecency earlier this month, for wearing clothing deemed “too tight” as they walked through a market in Inezgane, near the southern city of Agadir in Morocco, the headlines were focused on yet another Muslim country’s seeming obsession with women’s sartorial choices.
In an indication of the inflammatory nature of such issues, rallies in support of the two women were held in both Agadir and Casablanca, while hundreds of lawyers offered their services in defence of the women.
Certainly the issue of what women can - or can’t - wear in Morocco continues to cause debate, whether on the streets where women, whether in the traditional djelaba or in short skirts, invariably experience some form of sexual harassment, or on the pages of the nation’s dailies. And although the question is tied into a broader struggle for women’s greater autonomy and individual freedom in a deeply patriarchal context, the debate also speaks to a much deeper, underlying question over the very nature of Moroccan society, and who gets to define it.
The issues at stake are far wider than women’s hems.
In particular, Moroccan law in the form of Article 483 of the penal code, carries a penalty of up to two years in jail for anyone found guilty of committing an act of “public obscenity”. In recent years, women’s groups in particular have sought to challenge what they perceive as undue restrictions on women’s choices enshrined in law, as well as a lack of legal protection for women in cases such as marital rape or domestic violence more broadly, among a range of other issues.
Just last month, one of Morocco’s most critically acclaimed film directors, Nabil Ayouch, was summoned to court on charges of “pornography, indecency and inciting minors to debauchery” for his portrayal of the Moroccan prostitution industry, in his latest film Much Loved (“Zine Li Fik” in Moroccan Arabic). Thousands called for the film to be banned and the Minister of Communication Mustapha al-Khalfi, from the Islamist-inclined Justice and Development Party (PJD), decried the film as undermining “the moral values and dignity of Moroccan women”.
And in June, two Moroccan gay men were sentenced to jail in another case which caused uproar, after they were arrested as they posed for a photograph in the political capital of Rabat. One of the country’s most provocative, French-speaking publications, Tel Quel, regularly enflames such debates by featuring nudity and sex in its pages, and most recently, an editorial describing “consensual love between two adults” as “not a crime,” despite homosexuality remaining illegal in the kingdom.

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