The Middle East projects market has a habit of being counter-cyclical to what is happening in the rest of the world.

When other regions were shutting down aluminium smelters due to high energy prices, the GCC started a building programme that has added more than 3 million tonnes a year of raw metal capacity.

The golden age of capital expenditure in aluminium production is now over. This is not the case with the phosphate fertiliser sector, which has the potential to grow in any country that has recoverable phosphate resources.

Morocco owns about 75 per cent of global phosphate reserves and is in the process of evolving from being an exporter of phosphate rock to becoming a massive producer of fertilisers and phosphoric acid.

Rabat has an opportunity to become a global power in the fertiliser market and it is arguable that even more could be done in its downstream industries. There is very little in the way of foreign direct investment in Morocco’s phosphate industry. Opening the sector up could accelerate job and wealth creation far more quickly than keeping it a strictly domestic affair.

Saudi Arabia has far smaller reserves of phosphate than Morocco, but has managed to attract the US’ Mosaic, the world’s largest phosphate fertiliser producer, to come onboard for the world-scale Waad al-Shamal mining city project. Morocco should be working harder to attract similar-sized players. 

With the right management from Rabat, there is no reason why the North African state cannot completely control the phosphates market west of the Suez Canal within the next decade.   

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