In a firm display of resilience in the face of a national crisis caused by the earthquake last Friday, authorities in the Kingdom of Morocco have said the Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund would go on as scheduled.
They said the assurance had become necessary following the devastating earthquake, the strongest ever to hit the country, which struck 72 kilometres (45 miles) southwest of Marrakesh, the host city of the annual meetings.
Morocco, which would be hosting the annual meetings 50 years after it was first held in Africa, had maintained very high momentum in its preparation for the meetings until the earthquake struck on Friday.
However, officials of the North African nation said the meeting would be held from October 9-15, 2023, while giving the assurance that the Moroccan government remained committed to helping the victims of the earthquake.
The Moroccan Central Bank Governor, M. Abdellatif Jouahri, during a virtual chat with journalists on Tuesday, said the over 50-hectare venue of the international event was not affected by the earthquake; hence there was no need for any apprehension.
He said high-powered delegates of the World Bank led by Ferid Belhaj, the bank’s Vice President for Middle East and North Africa, had assessed the venue of the meetings in the aftermath of the earthquake and ascertained that it was not only unaffected but it offered a world-class arena conducive for such a global gathering.
Officials of the Moroccan Ministry of Economy and Finance, who asked not to be named, explained that over 9,000 accreditations had already been confirmed while over 12,000 participants were being expected at the meetings.
More than 13,000 hotel reservations were also said to have been made for the week of the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings.
Giving further details about the campus where the meetings are expected to be held, a senior economy and finance ministry official said the Kingdom of Morocco had put in place a world-class venue with 48 halls for different technical sessions, a 3,500-capacity plenary auditorium, and 650 well-equipped offices for Central Bank Governors and their delegates from 189 countries.
“The over 50 hectares campus has two clinics, two food courts and a massive press centre that can seat 600 journalists. There are two dedicated studios for the World Bank and IMF,” the official said.
The Minister of Economy and Finance, Mrs. Nadia FETTAH, had in July, said that aside from the huge facility being prepared to host the large-scale event, airports, hotels and means of transport at the national and local level had been fully mobilised.
She had said the total number of participants in the meetings was expected to reach 14,000, including 4,500 members of official delegations representing 189 countries.
In addition, the minister noted that Morocco’s hosting of the event would provide an important opportunity to shed light on the major achievements, reforms and progress made by the Kingdom.
The Acting General Director of, the Ministry of Investment, Convergence and Evaluation of Public Policies in Marrakech, Mohammed Sabibi, mourned those killed by the quake but said an impact assessment was being carried out to ensure that the affected mountainous villages were rebuilt in a resilient and sustainable manner.At the World Bank and IMF annual meetings, he said hosting global events was central to Marrakesh’s tourism and investment strategy.
He, therefore, confirmed that the city was ready to host the global meetings despite the devastating earthquake.
Sabibi advised African countries attending the event to see it as theirs with a strong agenda and be vocal about it.
In a similar vein, the Executive President of the Policy Center for the New South, Karim El Aynaoui, said African countries should mobilise themselves and form a common front at the event to ensure that the Bretton Woods institutions give priority to Africa.
“I hope African countries will mobilise themselves to make Marrakesh a milestone in terms of their long-term growth,” Aynaoui added.