Moroccan Airports Authority Partners with National Aviation Services to bring Innovation to Airports in Marrakech

First of its kind solution across Africa; E-gates offer quicker lounge access to passengers

The Moroccan Airports Authority (ONDA) partnered with National Aviation Services (NAS) (, the fastest growing aviation services provider in the emerging markets to launch the first electronic gates (E-gates) at the Pearl Lounge in the Marrakech Menara Airport departures area. This is the first of its kind solution across Africa.

With this new state-of-the-art, self-service check in, guests visiting the Pearl Lounge can access the lounge faster without checking in at the reception desk or waiting in a queue.  The passengers simply scans their printed or online boarding pass at the gate and enter the lounge.

The E-gate effectively captures all the boarding pass data, checks eligibility, enters the transaction into a database for billing and reporting, and opens the gate for eligible passengers – all in less than 2 seconds.  The E-gate also supports lounge membership cards and vouchers. 

The same technology will soon be adopted at other Pearl Lounges in Morocco as well as across other lounges in the NAS network.

NAS has been exclusively managing the refurbishment and operations of 16 lounges across nine airports in Morocco, following a ten-year concession awarded by the Moroccan Airports Authority (ONDA).

Hassan El-Houry, Group CEO of NAS said “As the exclusive lounge operator for the Moroccan Airports Authority (ONDA) in Morocco, NAS is responsible for bringing world class facilities and services to the local airports. Since kicking off operations in the country, we have invested in infrastructure, resources and training; provided operational expertise, state of the art technology solutions and industry benchmarked services, to launch and manage refurbished lounges across the country. The newly introduced E-gates will help enhance our offerings in the country and amplify our efforts to ensure that Moroccan airports supersede recognized international airports around the world.”

NAS is currently present in 17 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa; providing ground handling services to seven out of the world’s top ten airlines and managing 31 airport lounges. With an expanded portfolio of aviation services and certified by IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO), NAS also has demonstrated expertise in supporting local hub carriers in the Middle East and Africa. 

African Countries Can Stand Tall by Eschewing the Begging Bowl: Part 3

by John I. Akhile Sr.

Leaders are supposed to inspire, exhort, teach, and correct but in African countries, most leaders are raping and stealing from their people. As such, they have no voice to exhort and inspire because a rapist and a robber can do neither. As a result, a vast array of opportunity is left by the wayside without a promoter or shepherd.

What African leaders have failed to ask themselves is why their citizens are desperate to leave their countries? So much so that many will brave deadly journeys to cross mighty seas for a chance to reach foreign countries. Why, for example, are companies like Google training Africans for leadership? Facebook and Google have combined to create a Masters program in “Machine Intelligence.” Why, in the face of crushing poverty, are African leaders refusing to accept responsibility for the condition of their countries and to do whatever it takes to change the status quo?

In part two of this piece, there was a brief introduction to the Joint Stock Company, which is a precursor of the modern corporation. Most fascinating is how the Dutch used the mechanism to evolve a community and group investing that launched what many consider the most prosperous business venture in history, the “Dutch East India Company.” The recent ascent of Apple Corporation to one trillion dollars in shares outstanding, for a public corporation is instructive of the power of group or community investing. In this case many people have committed their financial resources to Apple’s management because of their inherent belief in the ability of the company’s management to shepherd the company’s affairs in a manner that will generate good return on their investment funds. Apple and many other enterprises clearly demonstrate the importance of corporations in the modern era.

From North Africa to the southernmost tip of South Africa and from the Eastern shores to the Western shores, there is abundant latent economic power in Africa. It is evident in the natural endowments of the continent and the ingenuity and resilience of the people. A paramount responsibility of leaders is to transform latent to dynamic economic power for the benefit of society at large. The predicate is that African countries have more than enough latent economic power in the human and material resources in every nation to unleash a tsunami of prosperity across the continent. African leaders should, therefore, approach the world for investment capital to fund their dreams instead of a begging bowl that accentuates the myth of the futility of African initiative.

The myth that Africa and Africans are a lost course and eminently ungovernable is perpetuated by “rogue” leaders who ferment anarchy by their own individualistic and selfish desire to arrogate power to themselves not for doing good but to rape and rob the people of their natural resources. They are the leaders that foreign miscreants gravitate towards in order to latch themselves and their enterprises to a gravy train of wealth at the cost of African prosperity and lives. The myth persists despite the accomplishments of some of the most enterprising people in the world who happen to originate from the continent of Africa. Including: Strive Musiyiwa; Aliko Dangote; Mike Adenuga; Nassef Sawiris (I know that there are a lot of people in the world who refuse to accept the geographical reality that Egypt is in Africa and consequently, an African country); Issad Rebrab; Patrice Motsepe, etc, to list a few names. The reality is that Africans are capable and enterprising. The challenge is in the political leadership and its failure to walk the talk on behalf of the people of the countries.

There are many ways to walk the talk. The first and perhaps most paramount is to refrain from raping and stealing the people’s resources. The second is to inspire Africans to create enterprises that will not only solve the supply-chain problems of society but also create massive quantities of jobs. It is not necessary to build massive government-owned businesses. It is necessary to start privately-owned enterprises that will solve society’s problems. For instance, African countries have huge hard currency problems. In order to solve it, Africans are running to China for “freebies,” as in “gimme…gimme free money.” China built the headquarters of African Union, a two hundred million dollar construction project at no cost to the African Union. Most people would have asked why? But not the Africans!

However, everyone in the world knows that there are no “freebies.” China is giving to get. They need African markets because as recent history is proving the Chinese know that it is not feasible to depend on Western markets indefinitely. So they are using freebies to gain permanent access with full support and acquiescence of African leaders. Meanwhile, Africans are not creating enterprises to produce goods for export because Chinese enterprises are flooding markets and neutering the initiative of African entrepreneurs to produce for export.

The late Deng Xiaoping, a great man of any country and any era, who willed China out of poverty, inspired the Chinese with his wise and powerful word pictures. Here are a few examples of words that lifted China from an impoverished basket case to a global economic power. “It doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.” “If today we do not set about the task of improving the socialist system, people will ask why it cannot solve the problems that its capitalist counterpart can.” “To be rich is glorious.” “If you want to bring the initiative of peasants into play you should give them the power to make money.” These sayings and many more transformed the Chinese mindset from one that was a latent economic mindset to a dynamic globally-dominant one. To do that Deng Xiaoping incorporated capitalist economic principles into a command society. The Chinese are using the tools created by Western societies, including the joint stock company.

Under Mao Zedong, the people and economy of China were impoverished. Under Deng Xiaoping, the same people were activated by words that unleashed a burning desire to succeed economically. They turned over every rock and found gems of prosperity for themselves and their country. Not to take away from the leadership of Mao Zedong who was a seminal personality. He is arguably one of greatest personages in the history of the world. In retrospect, however, he was as politically astute as he was economically blind. His political achievements though gargantuan in scope pales in comparison to the economic revolution set in motion by the little big man of China, Deng Xiaoping.

Instead of running to China begging bowl in hand to beg for handouts, leaders should study Deng Xiaoping to learn how he turned around his country and people. How he went on trips to many countries including to the United States to study how capitalism created wealth at the same time as it solved socio-economic problems and the supply chain of countries. Likewise, leaders should be exhorting their people to band together to invest in enterprises that will in turn constitute the vanguard of economic emancipation of their nations.

African leaders must “stop the begging” strategy of capital acquisition for development. Instead they should focus on lifting their people and society because there is more than enough internal resources of money and ideas to begin economic transformation of every country on the continent. To earn more hard currency, countries should wholeheartedly embrace export-oriented growth similar to the Asian Tigers and China. It is being replicated in Vietnam and Bangladesh, even as African leaders and naysayers prognosticate that it won’t work in African countries because Africans are too “ignorant” to apply the positive aspects without inviting authoritarianism along with it.

The math and pathway are simple to navigate. The first step is to promote an aggressive savings culture. In South Korea, the banks—all under government ownership at the time, increased savings rates massively to incentivize savings. Second, is to quell the cultural tendency of conspicuous consumerism in most countries but especially in countries like Nigeria. The third is to energize it with massive entrepreneurship and enterprise promotion with emphasis on exporting but also on fixing supply chain issues in society. Government ownership of banks is not a prerequisite for solving the economic challenges facing African countries. However, having a banking community willing to cooperate with government is crucial. For banks, managing shareholder equity and achieving necessary profitability, while championing economic policies that are oriented towards exporting as well as amplifying supply chain structures are not mutually exclusive but, in fact, is good business.

51a7fcd5-0b30-4081-9ba6-6b6bc965a6c0John I. Akhile Sr. is the author of two books: Compensatory Trade Strategy: How to Fund Import-Export Trade and Industrial Projects When Hard Currency is in Short Supply and now Unleashed: A New Paradigm of African Trade with the World. He is also the President of African Trade Group LLC., a U.S. based trading company.

IMF COUNTRY FOCUS: Egypt Moving Forward, Key Challenges and Opportunities

The most important issues that face Egypt over the coming years are tied to a rapidly growing population, the modernization of its economy, and how best to ensure a modern social safety net to protect the most vulnerable in society. Below, Subir Lall, who leads the IMF team on Egypt, discusses these three issues. 


Cairo, Egypt: Scene from the busy Khan El Khalili bazaar in Cairo. Khan El Khalili is a major souk in the Islamic district of Cairo (photo: Ictor/Getty Images by iStock)

1. Take advantage of the rapidly growing population

Over the next five years, around 3.5 million young Egyptians are projected to join the labor force. Absorbing these new entrants into the labor market will be a challenge. However, this also creates a tremendous opportunity for faster growth—if Egypt can support the emergence of a strong and vibrant private sector to productively employ this emerging generation of workers.

Over the past several decades, the private sector in Egypt has been less dynamic and outward-oriented than in peer countries, with a small share of firms able to compete outside the domestic market. To foster greater private sector development and export-led growth, the authorities have broadened the structural reform agenda under their program, initiating reforms to improve the efficiency of land allocation, strengthen competition and public procurement, improve transparency of state-owned enterprises, and tackle corruption.

2. Modernize the economy

With nearly 100 million people and a geographic location that provides excellent access to important foreign markets, Egypt has immense potential. However, economic development has been constrained by the legacy of inward-oriented economic policies, weak governance, and a large role for the state in economic activity that has resulted in significant misallocation of resources.

With the economy now stabilizing, Egypt’s challenge is to modernize its economy to better take advantage of its potential. An essential element of that process is to ensure the best allocation of resources to generate higher growth, and remove price distortions that impede markets from functioning efficiently.

Energy subsidies have been among the most significant price distortions. They keep fuel costs well below the market price, which encourage inefficient use of energy and overinvestment in capital intensive industries to take advantage of low fuel costs. Energy subsidies are costly and inequitable, tending to benefit the well-off who are disproportionately large energy consumers.

Pricing energy correctly will help improve economic efficiency so that investment is not channeled to capital intensive and heavy energy-use sectors. Rather, investment should be made into job creating sectors that benefit small and medium-sized businesses that take advantage of Egypt’s strengths, and help integrate the country into global supply chains. Reducing energy subsidies also frees up resources for health and education—critical to long-term economic growth and societal progress.

3. Provide a modern social safety net to protect the vulnerable

As Egypt begins to modernize its economy and make it more competitive, it will also need to continue to bring down public debt to a level consistent with long-term sustainability. The challenge is to ensure that the most vulnerable segments of society are protected during this process, and that fiscal resources are safeguarded for spending on health and education.

The shift away from a social protection system based on energy subsidies is crucial in moving toward a better-targeted and more effective social safety net. The 2018/19 budget will continue to replace poorly-targeted energy subsidies with programs that directly support the poorest households through expanded cash transfer and food subsidy programs. The authorities have strengthened programs like food smart cards, and more than doubled the amount of assistance provided through these cards.

The government has also strengthened social solidarity pensions, and the Takaful and Karama cash transfer programs. Takaful is an income support program for families with children, and Karama is a social inclusion program for persons who cannot work, specifically the elderly and people with disabilities.

These efforts are also being supported by reforms to improve the efficiency of government spending and tax collection to ensure that pro-poor spending and investments in health and education are protected. More broadly, the faster creation of private sector job opportunities and the integration of women into the labor force as part of the authorities’ inclusive growth strategy is expected to steadily improve living standards, including for lower-skilled workers.

The article is published courtesy of the IMF

Two pilots spend savings on plane to rescue migrants in Mediterranean Sea


José Benavente, right, and Benoit Micolon founded Pilotes Volontaires to scan the Mediterranean for migrant vessels in distress.Isabelle Serro/Pilotes Volontaires

Two French pilots, José Benavente and Benoit Micolon, have bought a plane with their own savings to rescue migrants at sea.

Their first mission on May 12 proved a turning point for rescue efforts at sea when Benavente and Micolon spotted two boats.

According to NBC, the first was empty. It had been marked “SAR 12/05/18,” indicating the migrants had been rescued earlier in the day. The other, a Zodiac inflatable boat with over 100 people on board, was in the midst of its own rescue operation.

After six hours and 870 miles in the air, Benavente and Micolon returned to Malta satisfied.

“Today was rich in emotion,” they posted on the Facebook page of their aid group, Pilotes Volontaires (Volunteer Pilots). “After three months of preparation, we were finally able to carry out our first surveillance flight.”

Benavente, 49, has been involved in humanitarian work for 25 years. He told NBC News he’d been mulling how to put his passion for flying to good use since first hearing of migrants dying at sea some 15 years ago while stationed in Africa for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The haunting image of Aylan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach in September 2015, spurred him into action and he began following the work of nonprofit groups in the Mediterranean.


Image: Pilotes VolontairesPilotes Volontaires made their first flight over the Mediterranean on May 12. Isabelle Serro/Pilotes Volontaires

They named their single-engined MCR 4 plane “Colibri” — “Hummingbird” — after a Native American legend in which a hummingbird tries to stop a forest fire by picking up water and putting it, drop by drop, onto the burning trees. Asked by other animals what it is doing, the little bird replies: “I’m doing what I can.”

The friends raced against the clock to get their venture off the ground by May, when favorable weather conditions bring a surge in the number of migrants boats — and with it, the death toll.