|17th Prime Minister of Morocco|
|Assumed office |
7 October 2021
|Preceded by||Saadeddine Othmani|
|Leader of the National Rally of Independents|
|Assumed office |
12 October 2016
|Preceded by||Salaheddine Mezouar|
|Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, Water and Forests|
6 April 2017 – 10 September 2021
|Prime Minister||Saadeddine Othmani|
|Preceded by||Himself (as Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries)|
|Succeeded by||Mohamed Sadiki|
|Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries|
15 October 2007 – 6 April 2017
|Prime Minister||Abbas El Fassi|
|Preceded by||Mohand Laenser|
|Succeeded by||Himself (as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, Water and Forests)|
|Born||1961 (age 60–61)|
|Political party||National Rally of Independents|
|Spouse(s)||Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch|
|Alma mater||Université de Sherbrooke|
Aziz Akhannouch (Tachelhit: ⵄⴰⵣⵉⵣ ⴰⵅⵏⵏⵓⵛ, romanized: Ɛaziz Axnnuc; Arabic: عزيز أخنوش; born 1961) is a Moroccan politician, businessman, and billionaire who is currently the Prime Minister of Morocco since his government took office on 7 October 2021. He is the CEO of Akwa Group and also served as Minister of Agriculture from 2007 to 2021.
Early life and education
Akhannouch was born in 1961 in Tafraout and raised in Casablanca. His mother and sister were survivors of the Agadir earthquake from a year earlier that killed ten of his family members: they were reported to have been left buried beneath rubble for several hours before being rescued.
He is the CEO of Akwa Group, a Moroccan conglomerate particularly active in the oil and gas sector. Forbes estimated his net worth as $1.4 billion in November 2013. Akhannouch inherited Akwa from his father. In 2020, he was ranked 12th on Forbes's annual list of Africa's wealthiest billionaires, with an estimated net worth of $2 billion.
From 2003 to 2007, Akhannouch was the president of the Souss-Massa-Drâa regional council. He was a member of the National Rally of Independents Party, before leaving it on 2 January 2012. On 23 August 2013 he was appointed by King Mohammed VI as Minister of Finance on an interim basis after Istiqlal ministers resigned from Benkirane's cabinet, a position he kept until 9 October 2013. On 29 October 2016, Akhannouch rejoined the RNI after being elected the president of the party. He took over Salaheddine Mezouar's position, who had resigned.
On 27 July 2016, Akhannouch met with Jonathan Pershing, Special Envoy for Climate Change for the United States. They spoke about preparations for the 2016 United Nations Conference of the Parties.
In March 2020, through his company Afriquia, a subsidiary of the Akwa group, Akhannouch donated roughly one billion dirhams ($103.5 million) to a COVID-19 pandemic management fund founded by King Mohammed VI.
In the 2021 general election, his party placed first, winning 102 seats of the 395 seats. On 10 September 2021, he was appointed as Prime Minister by King Mohammed VI, succeeding Saadeddine Othmani, and was tasked by the King to form a new government. Akhannouch announced the formation of an official coalition government alongside the PAM and Istiqlal parties on 22 September 2021, thus officializing his status as Prime Minister of Morocco.
In late October, Akhannouch represented King Mohammed VI at a Green Initiative event in Saudi Arabia, and was criticized by Moroccan citizens for wearing a pin of the MENA region that excluded Western Sahara.
17 billion case
In 2015 and 2016, after the Moroccan government decided to liberalize fuel prices, the fuel companies decided to collude with each other and not reduce prices. Among those companies was the Akwa company, owned by Akhannouch.
The profits of these companies amounted to about 17 billion dirhams (around US$1.75 billion), and several parties described them as immoral and illegal profits on the back of the Moroccan people. There were still several demands to restore them, whether in Parliament or in the media.
During the period following the case, the head of the Competition Council, Driss El Karaoui, prepared a report on Akhannouch's illegal profits, and submitted it to King Mohammed VI. In March 2021, Al-Karawi was relieved of his position and replaced by Ahmed Rahu.
As of 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture spent several million dirhams annually in massive advertising in the country's print press. If a newspaper criticized Akhannouch or his Maroc Vert plan, it immediately saw its advertisements cut off, along with those of the Akwa group.
In 2017, he sued three journalists from the Badil news site for having criticized him. He demanded that they pay him 1 million dirhams.
In the spring of 2018, Morocco was shaken by a boycott movement launched against Centrale Danone, Sidi Ali (mineral water) and Akwa's subsidiary Afriquia. These three brands, leaders in three basic products – milk, water and fuel – were accused by the population of charging very high prices. The movement became extremely popular, leading to reactions from the government.
According to the French think tank School of Thought on Economic Warfare (EPGE), which investigated the boycott movement, it would be a campaign of disinformation “hierarchized therefore orchestrated by a precise political agenda”. This destabilization initiative would even have benefited from a substantial budget, with for example between 100,000 and 500,000 euros for the purchase of online space to disseminate the ideas of the movement. To this must be added expensive donation campaigns to the poor to mobilize public opinion. According to the same study, the movement of Al Adl Wa Al Ihssan would be behind this boycott campaign with the aim of removing Akhanouch from the political scene.
At the end of November 2018, the King reacted by appointing the members of the Competition Council. In 2020, the latter recognized that the three brands behind the 2018 boycott campaign had reached an agreement on prices.
In December 2019, during a meeting in Milan with Moroccans living in Italy, Akhannouch declared, "Whoever believes that they can come and insult the institutions of the country has no place in Morocco. Whoever wants to [live] in Morocco must respect its motto and its democracy. Insults will not move us forward. And excuse me, but it is not justice that should do this job. […] We must re-educate Moroccans who lack education." The remarks triggered strong reactions from Moroccan politicians and netizens as well as a call for the resuming of the 2018 boycott of his companies. TelQuel attributed his comments in relation to the arrest & prosecution of a Moroccan YouTuber after he published a video criticizing King Mohammed VI's speeches.
Rising prices and inflation
Throughout less than 200 days into Akhannouch's time in office, he became a target of Moroccans calling for his resignation, accusing him of corruption. The prices of fuel and several essential food products have skyrocketed in recent months, as the price of a 5-litre bottle increased by 27 dirhams, while the price of 25 kg of semolina, widely used in Moroccan cuisine, increased by 50 dirhams. The inflation affected many vulnerable families, in which more than 430,000 Moroccans lost their jobs.
- Bihmidine, Omar (12 October 2013). "Profile of Aziz Akhannouch, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Fisheries". Morocco World News. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
- "Parcours : Les success stories du souss". Archived from the original on 19 April 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- "Le Roi Mohammed VI nomme Aziz Akhannouch chef du gouvernement". Medias24 (in French). 10 September 2021. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
- "Aziz Akhannouch, the billionaire ally of Morocco's Mohammed VI". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
- Boum, Aomar; Park, Thomas K. (2016). Historical Dictionary of Morocco (3rd ed.). pp. 34–35. ISBN 9781442262966. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
- "Aziz Akhannouch & family". Forbes. Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- "Africa's Richest Billionaires 2020". forbes.com. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
- Saad-Alami, Youness (27 September 2011). "Agriculture solidaire: Le coup de pouce d'Akhannouch Entretien avec le ministre de l'Agriculture et de la Pêche maritime". L'Economiste. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- "Morocco: Gov't Advocates Comparative Advantages Benefiting Agricultural Countries in International Markets". allafrica.com. 9 September 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2011.(subscription required)
- "Aziz Akhannouch Elected President of RNI". moroccoworldnews.com. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
- "US Climate Change Special Envoy in Morocco for COP 22 Discussions". Retrieved 10 November 2016.
- Hekking, Morgan (17 March 2020). "Moroccan Government Members Donate Salaries to COVID-19 Fund". Morocco World News. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
- "Morocco to create $1 billion fund to counter coronavirus outbreak". Reuters. 15 March 2020. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
- "Mohammed VI nomme Aziz Akhannouch Chef de gouvernement". Telquel (in French). Retrieved 10 September 2021.
- "Morocco's premier Akhannouch announces coalition agreement". Al Jazeera. 22 September 2021. Archived from the original on 22 September 2021. Retrieved 22 September 2021.
- "Morocco names new government, keeps foreign, interior ministers". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
- Reuters (8 October 2021). "Morocco names new government, keeps foreign and interior ministers". Reuters. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
- "Aziz Akhannouch Faces Backlash for Tolerating Display of Incomplete Moroccan Map".
- "شبيبة البيجيدي تطلق النار على "أخنوش" وتطالب باستعادة 17 مليار". هوية بريس (in Arabic). 19 January 2019. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- akhbarona.com. ""بلافريج" يكشف المستور لـ"أخبارنا" ويفضح بالأدلة تواطؤ حكومة "العثماني" مع شركات المحروقات". akhbarona.com (in Arabic). Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- "برلمانية تسائل مقترح استرجاع 17 مليار درهم من شركات المحروقات". فبراير.كوم | موقع مغربي إخباري شامل يتجدد على مدار الساعة. 17 November 2018. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- ""البيجيدي": شركات المحروقات مطالبة بإرجاع مبلغ 17 مليار درهم ومنحه لصندوق "كورونا"". لكم-lakome2 (in Arabic). Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- "مقترح لاسترجاع 17 مليارا من الأرباح غير المشروعة للمحروقات". هوية بريس (in Arabic). 13 June 2018. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- "هكذا أحرقت المحروقات الكراوي وأبعدته عن مجلس المنافسة – الجريدة 24". aljarida24.ma. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- "خلافات حول تقرير المحروقات تُبعد إدريس الكراوي من "مجلس المنافسة" المغربي". القدس العربي (in Arabic). 24 March 2021. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- "Maroc : Aziz Akhannouch, le magnat qui bouscule la politique". Middle East Eye édition française (in French). Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- Yabiladi.com. "Médias : Akhannouch porte plainte contre trois journalistes marocains". www.yabiladi.com (in French). Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- Saleh, Heba (7 June 2018). "Morocco's biggest businesses hit by online boycott campaign". Financial Times. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- "Maroc : le boycott aura coûté 178 millions d'euros à Danone – Jeune Afrique". JeuneAfrique.com (in French). Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- Ollivier, Théa. "Au Maroc, un boycott surprise contre la vie chère". Libération (in French). Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- HARBULOT, Christian (25 September 2019). "Boycott au Maroc en 2018 Analyse d'une campagne de déstabilisation informationnelle". EPGE - Ecole de Pensée sur la Guerre Economique (in French). Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- "Maroc : les dossiers qui attendent Driss Guerraoui, nouveau président du Conseil de la concurrence – Jeune Afrique". JeuneAfrique.com (in French). Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- "Aziz Akhannouch, milliardaire et premier ministre du Maroc". LEFIGARO (in French). 17 September 2021. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- ""Il faut rééduquer les Marocains" : les propos d'Akhannouch suscitent l'indignation". Telquel.ma (in French). Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- "Morocco: YouTuber jailed for 'insulting the king'". Middle East Monitor. 27 December 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
- Rabat, Basma El Atti ــ (16 February 2022). "'Akhannouch out': Moroccans call on PM to resign over rising prices". english.alaraby.co.uk/. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- "Moroccans call on PM Akhannouch to resign over rising prices". Newstrail.com. 16 February 2022. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
- "Aziz Akhannouch & family". Forbes. Retrieved 28 December 2021.