Clusters in the Maghreb: Between Globalization and Territorialization

Written by | Sunday, March 29th, 2020

Clusters have the function of accelerating the development of SMEs and VSEs. They play a decisive role in the economy since they make it possible to connect these companies to large companies, to offer them chances to get closer to the world of research and innovation, to define the skills that will be useful tomorrow, to prepare activities of the future, while also contributing to the development of international markets.This study is an update of a 2014 report entitled ‘Clusters in the Maghreb, Towards a Specific Maghreb Cluster Model’, which drew up an inventory of clusters in Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. As the first of its kind, the 2014 report had effects on both the actors and the attitudes of the public authorities, notably because of the expertise produced and the exchanges it has generated both within and between countries.

Fast forward five years, and to reflect on the changes in the dynamics of creation and development of clusters, ‘Clusters in the Maghreb, Between Globalization and Territorialization’ draws up a new map of clusters in the Maghreb to identify and analyze the changes that have occurred since 2014, such as the public policies of the countries concerned towards clusters.Following a detailed review of clusters in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, we need to once again underline the vitality of the clustering movement and the confidence that entrepreneurs have in them. Clusters are made up of entrepreneurs who are aware that isolation is a threat, grouping an opportunity.

Morocco, which has been committed for more than ten years to an industrial policy focused on innovation, relies particularly on innovative clusters with high technological potential. Measures in favor of this category of clusters are one of the strands of Morocco’s strategy for a more competitive economy through innovation. In Algeria, the situation of clusters has undergone a favorable change in the last few years. A change mainly due not only to the mobilization of enthusiastic entrepreneurs but also to the commitment of the public authorities. Finally, in Tunisia, the clustering movement keeps developing, led in particular by the network of competitiveness hubs and technopoles set up in the early 2000’s.

This trend is welcomed by public authorities, whereby the methods of public support are well defined here, being either in the process of being developed or improved. There can be no single model, but constant and sustained support for these groups to help them pass stages, solve technical or legal problems, find the optimal response in terms of resources (animation, rental of offices, etc.) or to design the economic model guaranteeing their sustainability is essential. The gains in competitiveness they bring to countries justify this strong and regular support. And a sustained dialogue between public authorities and entrepreneurs engaged in cluster approaches could give rise to responses to social issues, such as employment, integration of young people, training, sustainable development or uneven regional development.

With the help of these public support policies, an increasingly dense network of clusters on both shores of the Mediterranean is established.This study thus also studies the dynamics of promising cooperation between clusters on both sides of the Mediterranean and to open the analysis to Libya and Mauritania in order to cover all the Southern Mediterranean countries participating in the “Dialogue 5 + 5”. Thanks to the tremendous resources of the exchange platforms, the stakeholders get to meet and talk to each other. Through many projects, there is a growing desire on both shores of the Mediterranean to jointly meet the challenges of sustainable and equitable development.

Based on the author’s observations and meetings with the main protagonists – the representatives of clusters, but also the relevant institutions, the beneficiary companies, the territories involved – the study puts forward the research findings whilst emphasizing the need to appreciate the clustering movement and the importance of government initiatives to encourage and support these high-potential ecosystems.

‘Clusters in the Maghreb: Between Globalization and Territorialization’ – Study by Paulette Pommier (Author), Kelly Robin and Mayssa Allani (Coordinators) – The Mediterranean World Economic Foresight Institute / IPEMED.

The Study can be downloaded here

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