When, after years of good and loyal services in the Gambia, in the hospitality sector, Mory Guéta Cissé (MGC) decided to return to his native Mauritania to, he enthused, make his contribution to the building, he did not suspect what was waiting for him. Instead of marking the ground, the State has sowed pitfalls without rational explanations. After 18 years, it’s finally, we dare to believe, the end of the tunnel. Mory Guéta Cissé, her precious sesame in hand, told Financial Afrik hot. Interview.
F.A. Our congratulations for the signing of the Decree granting you the definitive enjoyment of the land on which your holiday village is built, a tourist complex of international standing in Mauritania?
M.G.C Thank you for your congratulations on the decision taken in the Council of Ministers authorizing the final concession of the land on which my holiday village is built on the South coast, Route de Rosso by the sea and would like to remind you, in this regard, that the first decree provisionally granting us the aforementioned land with other tax advantages due to the approval of our company to the system of priority companies was taken in May 2000; that is to say, between the two decrees, 18 long years have passed.
F.A. How do you explain this unusual delay?
M.G.C. I would like to give thanks to the Lord, to pray on his prophet and to thank all the parents, friends, ordinary citizens who saw themselves in this project and have taken some pride, that a son of the people can not only consider the design but the realization and exploitation of such a development tool.
I offered myself as a social barometer, a nationwide test vis-à-vis the public authorities to give them the opportunity to apply a positive discrimination from a double point of view, but also a personal challenge and an example to the youth so that it understands that with perseverance one can and one must succeed whatever are the pitfalls which can stand up because it is only by daring that one can undertake and succeed in the test and, to overcome the clichés which constitute heavy heaviness in our conception of living together to succeed together in our intercommunity integration.
Indeed, my project, financed by equity despite a prior agreement of direct financing by the International Finance Corporation, « SFI » subsidiary of the World Bank in charge of the private sector, could not start in the time allotted because of my professional obligations outside the country.
In any case, my long stay in The Gambia, a country of tourism, allowed me to better understand this sector as operator for having renovated and exploited directly, parallel to my functions of banker, a holiday village of 200 rooms, which led me to change the orientation of my project initially modeled on our local model to adapt it to the needs and constraints of International Tour Operators to better meet the aspirations of the targeted clientele so as to contribute positively to the development of tourism in our country in respect of international conditions and constraints.
However, I must admit that, already in 1999, the reports of the independent experts commissioned and validated by the IFC highlighted the fact that no consistent accompanying measures were granted to operators in the hotel and tourism sector. in Mauritania in terms of tax benefits, land allocation or the granting by dedicated agencies, medium or long-term credit lines and concessionary rates.
IT IS URGENT FOR ALL LIMITROPIC COUNTRIES TO SET UP A SECURITY BRIGADE EXCLUSIVELY DEDICATED TO TOURISM.
It was also noted a lack of coherence and visibility for a policy of promotion and national preference for national operators as is customary throughout the Maghreb and even our neighbors in West Africa where the tourism sector occupies an increasingly important place in their economic policy with credit lines managed with the effective participation of operators in the sector.
The reservations made by the IFC consultants did not include the security aspect at the time, which was taken into account by the world tourism professionals after the unfortunate incidents around Aleg *, which had a very negative impact on the development of our nascent tourism industry and, like all neighboring countries, it is urgent to set up a security brigade exclusively dedicated to tourism.
This brigade must have adequate human and material resources to enable it to best accomplish its mission to prevent and neutralize throughout the territory any act likely to be terrorism but also to ensure the preservation of morality and adverse effects that a certain category of tourism could lead if we are not careful and our country should not be left behind in this security dynamic.
The relative support for the problems of the tourism sector in our sectoral policies and the lack of serious consultation with all the operators concerned for a real development policy in this sector explain its negligible impact on our GDP and our trade balance. while the role of a strong state is to listen and protect its economic operators to boost growth and promote full employment, which this sector can easily bring to our economy.
It must be recognized that tourism requires heavy and recurrent investments both for the construction of infrastructure and for their maintenance, the continuous training of staff to constantly improve the quality of services as well as food and physical safety. to ensure the protection of the guests of passage without forgetting the promotion and the marketing, the active participation in the foras international which require important budgets and, it is only at this price that the fall-out will be significant and beneficial as micro than macroeconomic.
My main current concern is to find the necessary funds to restart the activity after 3 years of closing just after opening, select and start the training of the staff, carry out the tests of use before proposing the receptive to the Tour Operators so that they integrate it into their future programs
F.A. In the absence of tourists how do you intend to make your holiday village profitable?
M.G.C Mauritania is a new destination to promote in the international high-end market and all means must be used to achieve this, especially since we have an airline that serves some European capitals and tourism can boost its activities and level of his traffic.
We also rely on local activities through the organization of seminars and retreats that large companies or international institutions integrate into their communication plan for a Team Building and building team spirit.
The concept of TIME SHARING will also be developed for local or foreign customers guaranteeing them accommodation with their family for longer or shorter stays over periods ranging from 5 to 10 years and by this formula we hope to drain a large part of the summer vacationers. which will be able to relieve the level of the country’s foreign exchange reserves that are under heavy pressure during the holidays.
F. A. What is your judgment of the government option regarding its current tourism policy?
M.G.C. It is highly regrettable that the operators in the Adrar region who are most affected by the distress calls have suffered, without compensation or financial support from the guardianship, the considerable loss of earnings recorded due to the absence tourists in the region as a result of the Quai d’Orsay security measures disproportionate to the reality on the ground classifying red zone the whole country despite the efforts and assurances that the Government has always deployed in term security, establishing for a long time a climate of social peace and high security within our borders.
From my point of view, discovery tourism practiced at the Adrar level, heavily financed by the Mauritanian taxpayer in favor of a single foreign operator who derives the main profits, can not alone develop or make known our country because its impact on the national economy is minimal compared to all the potential offered by this sector.
Other areas with real tourist potential should be promoted to better sell the destination, because, in addition to our legendary hospitality, historical and religious cities, pilgrimages to the various holy places, our Atlantic Coast, sport fishing, the Bench Arguin, Diawling Park, village ecotourism in our rice paddies, chemamas and cross-country hunting warthog should be the subject of an exhaustive census for a good supervision at the level of wilayas and moughatas because each regions of the country has tourist potentialities that only need to be developed and exploited.
Remember the affluence there was at the artisanal village housed in the grounds of the Nouakchott Fair and who still remembers hiking on the sand dunes behind the Ksar picking roses of the sands to garnish our salons or the Tapestry of Nouakchott with his staff, his paintings and carpets exposed worldwide and who now has only one client State for gifts to foreign guests or the decoration of some administrative offices.
Dare to inspire us with experiences from Egypt, the Kingdom of Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal or The Gambia to boost our tourism sector with the dynamism necessary to achieve economic performances that contribute to the economic and social development of the country. country with a significant share of our Gross Domestic Product
FROM MY POINT OF VIEW, DISCOVERY TOURISM PRACTICED AT THE ADRAR LEVEL, STRONGLY FINANCED BY THE MAURITANIAN CONTRIBUTABLE TO A SINGLE FOREIGN OPERATOR WHO TAKES THE ESSENTIAL PROFITS, CAN ONLY GROW OR MAKE OUR COUNTRY KNOWN. FOR ITS IMPACT ON THE NATIONAL ECONOMY IS MINIMIZED IN RELATION TO ALL THE POTENTIALITIES THAT OFFER THIS SECTOR.
My concern is not only with the tourism sector but with all the other sectors, especially mining and hydrocarbons, especially as the major oil and gas discoveries of which Grand Tortue Ahmeyin we share with our southern neighbors who have already taken the appropriate measures for the proper management of this manna: they have, in particular, planned the training of personnel responsible for monitoring future operations after having initiated the necessary consultations with intellectuals and other opinion leaders to reach a consensus on the management of future resources that will be drawn from this exploitation, while for our part we focus for the most part on considerations of political politics.
F. A. What role could the Mauritanian banking system play in financing your activities?
M.G.C. I think that we should not hide the face, the current structure of the local banks not subject to the respect of a contract-plan and not undergoing a pretty rigorous control of the monetary authority for the respect of the prudential ratios makes that to have had the bitter experience, only a certain social category can benefit from their assistance and moreover, our financial institutions of development which succeeded each one worked more on the basis of political criteria than of profitability and without a real will the promotion of SMEs or SMIs, which are essential for boosting growth and job creation, but this is not the fault of the current authorities, who inherited it as partisan management system for national financial resources.
The unstoppable pretext advanced to justify the refusal of our banks to grant certain financing would be the inadequacy of their resources compared to the long-term jobs solicited when they are over-liquid and only want to take risks on certain cases whereas International Development Finance Institutions shall make available, when eligible, appropriate credit lines which they prefer to use for their own related commercial activities or for the financing of certain projects having little impact on the development of the country, without to actually measure the risks of insolvency of the beneficiaries and to make sufficient provisions to protect them.
In such circumstances, to whom to go knowing that the various financial institutions of development have closed their doors following the catastrophic results of the management clientelists (BMDC, Crédit Agricole, Maritime Credit, UBD, FND etc ……) and that the level of unpaid registered by these financial institutions has led the public authorities to their mutations so as not to proceed with their liquidation for bankruptcy.
Trying to correct the current structure of banks’ social capital by granting new licenses to members of other communities or tribes is not a viable solution as this would be the best evidence to encourage separate development of the people and justify immaturity and poverty. inexperience of new recipients and their lack of know-how in case of non-performance; the important and / or interesting cases are already in the hands of other components of society who have taken a serious step forward and marked and secured relations with the political and economic powers, while living together means pooling resources.
Greater Nigeria, with nearly 200 million inhabitants, had, until a few years ago, nearly 200 commercial banks, financial institutions or credit institutions which the authorities reduced to 10 banks with better productivity. As far as we are concerned, we should ask ourselves questions and take stock of the impact of the proliferation of banks on the financing of our economic activity and I will be very surprised that the new principles of BASEL 3 can find a favorable echo without a strong involvement of public authorities to boost development through the promotion and financing of SMEs and SMIs, true vectors of development.
It is regrettable to note that our entire industrial fabric is now non-existent, with the exception of the fishing sector, where the national armament is shrinking, due to the lack of planning by sector leaders for a renewal of production tools for lack of financing and lack of expertise of operators as well as financial institutions; at this rate, the SMCPP (the Mauritanian Company for the Marketing of Fish) will disappear in the medium term for lack of halieutic products because of the rarefaction of our national armament with a commercial policy often hazardous because without consultation for the determination of the prices, this which explains the overstocking of our products and the subsequent sharp depreciation of their export value.
Thus, apart from general trade and wage advances domiciled granted to workers with high rates of pay, the activity of our banks, without innovation and creativity, is limited to these two products while the only trade import has never stimulated the economic and social development of a country whose SMEs and SMIs remain essential levers; in the past, ours has had a lot of success in exporting their MADE IN MAURITANIA industrial products to the ECOWAS community area.
In any case, our banks in their current structure, characterized by a weakness of their own funds accentuated by their difficulty to drain a national saving, are incapable of intervening on the international capital markets to drain, by means of the loans , resources to finance the national economy in order to play their full role, are likely to disappear soon because they can not cope with the international competition already open to some local operators benefiting from assistance and financial assistance at low cost compared to the internal supply of services.
The monetary authority will be forced in the short or medium term to put order in this sector and our participation in the Arab Maghreb Union in hibernation with all its projects and our future status within the ECOWAS will lead to greater openness our borders and will further subject our economy to international competition.
The recapitalization of the banks can only be a partial solution in the process of recovery of the banking system, especially since no constraint is imposed on them for a call for contributions from the public or even their employees for part of the capital. could avoid to our economy the situations of cartels or oligarchy towards which we tend, moreover the banks dispose in the long run of the possibility of asking the monetary authority a derogation without penalty to postpone to another deadline their obligation to proceed to increase the capital required.
Finally, there is the impression that the monetary authorities do not measure sufficiently the inflationary impact that the unrestricted freedom of monetary creation conferred on financial institutions can have a detrimental effect on economic activity by the galloping inflation it leads and we refuse to admit while most households suffer.
F. A. We are talking about the reform of the Mauritanian banking system. What is your feeling?
M.G.C. I learned the news in the press and I am shocked because in my opinion it is a big step back and a lack of consideration for all Mauritanian executives to use a white guru to diagnose and propose the reforms to be undertaken for our banking system which will impact on all economic sectors; there is still a positive point because, in any case, the change in the quality of banknotes is a good decision regardless of their issue cost.
The Central Bank of Mauritania has had in its midst competent and experienced executives who accomplished with patriotism and professionalism their missions, we also have many directors of financial boards and former senior managers of commercial banks, accountants, economists, tax experts, experienced lawyers, insurance professionals and IT specialists, wise businessmen who can all help in their field of expertise for an uncompromising and low-cost diagnosis of our banking system and advocate the appropriate solutions for better productivity and its compliance with international standards.
I do not know the terms of reference and the objectives of this restructuring probably imposed by donors but experience has shown me that nothing serious can be done by removing local skills and the main concerned better equipped and benefiting from the know-how and experience required on the ground to carry out such missions.
I am reinforced in my argument by referring to the experience of the BMCI which had originally requested a foreign firm that I will not quote for an audit and a development plan but later renounced it because the reports Intermediaries subject to internal criticism were more of a « copy / paste » than anything else, and the work and management that was carried out internally by local staff raised it to the forefront of local and African commercial banks. without any foreign technical assistance. Morality, let us trust ourselves first.
Moreover, whatever the need and relevance of a reform, there is no point in extracting some parts or recommendations that could be inconvenient for some or leave the documents in the drawers without implementing them for subjective reasons, the law must be impersonal and should apply to all operators with the same rigor; the current characteristic of our banking system is that after the BMCI of the founding father, no other national bank has been awarded by its peers internationally or even regionally.
In addition, it seems difficult to ensure the development of our banks without investing in continuing training and supervision of the human resource; it is regrettable to note that the sector does not have any training and development structure for its staff and that the Central Bank, which inherited the ISSTH facilities in Nouadhibou after its withdrawal from ECOWAS, threw in the towel. abandoning this infrastructure entirely dedicated to training.
BMCI set the example in its day and continues to recruit Maitrisards promotions that it trains in its own training center under a training contract before putting them to production and, the first class of graduates trained by the BMCI is today the management of most of the local banks.
In addition, I note with great regret that the draft Stock Exchange (premature for some) is no longer on the agenda for lack of preparation and national expertise while the said project could have played, with the public authorities, a role in the development of our economy and particularly the national private sector by playing an important leverage role for the mobilization of private investments in order to supplement the reluctance of local banks; but, the establishment of such a project assumes first a reliable harmonized accounting system while the informal still occupies a very important part in our economic activity.
F.A. What lesson do you draw from your experience in conducting a case in Mauritania?
M.G.C. The first is to have faith and self-confidence and its project by arming itself with a lot of patience and humility because the time of the Administration is different from that of Business.
The second lesson is that, contrary to what one may think, the High Authority, in view of its burdens, can not always follow all the files and that very often its plenipotentiaries, for one reason or another, become gravediggers of its commitments as well as its development policies.
Tertio not to lengthen the list, I firmly believe that for entrepreneurs of a certain social category, it is better to deal with a plenipotentiary from another community than his own parents reluctant to render any service to a member of their community despite clear directives for fear of being accused of nepotism or mere malice, convinced that the calendar of the Authority does not allow him to receive everyone and that the disillusioned of the system have only their eyes to cry that makes a bad image of the country and its leaders and grows the ranks of frustrated, disgruntled and excluded.
But, in any administration or society, we happily meet with wrongdoers who, in all their simplicity, fairness, professionalism and patriotism, carry out their missions properly, recognizing with pride the good achievements of their fellow citizens, no matter what their origins may be. that is what we expect from a development administration serving its citizens and we still have some.
F.A. If we were talking now about institutional changes in Mauritania?
M.G.C. Nature hates the void and in politics the mistakes are paid cash, our country has experienced great changes in infrastructure with profound changes very perceptible, the relevance of various institutional changes can be appreciated only with time, with good governance and effective transfer of skills and financial resources dedicated to municipalities and regional councils; thus everyone will play his score to the great happiness of the people who will be able to sanction the cases of failure.
F.A. Your opinion on the Third Mandate?
M.G.C. This is a debate that has no reason to be despite the recurring and pathetic and understandable calls of supporters and other supporters because, as soon as the President has made a pronouncement on this subject several times and no one has the right to question his word and his commitments. We like to scare ourselves and worship the political speculations and rumors from which are woven great smoking theories without much interest for the people and, regarding potential future candidates for the presidential election of 2019, expect to see the congresses parties and party coalitions to see what each of us will propose so that people can make their choice on the basis of programs and people responsible for their applications knowing that the radical opposition has not never heard on a common agenda of governance.
F.A. Your last word?
M.G.C. I did what I thought would be useful for my country by plowing my perimeter in the community field and it is up to everyone to do the same and that the Administration fully plays the game and its role without any spirit partisan by providing potential investors with the necessary assistance to ensure the sustainability of their activities for a harmonious development of all economic sectors.
I hope that my achievement will create vocations and ambitions and that the State, in its role of social regulator, will implement a policy of positive discrimination and will lay the foundations for a real incentive policy to correct certain disparities so that the poorest communities without financial institutions and not benefiting from public procurement can feel themselves citizens in their own right so that living together is no longer wishful thinking or a source of frustration.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank especially the President of the Republic, His Excellency Mohamed Abdel AZZIZ, for his constant support and to express my gratitude to him, without forgetting all the good will at all levels of the Administration who have shown professionalism in the treatment of my file and who showed me their affection and solidarity throughout this long but exhilarating test. Another phase full of uncertainty will open but we will arrive in solidarity and understanding to overcome by the grace of ALLAH for the greater good of our country.
I would also like to express to him all my compassion for the various trials he has encountered during his magisterium and for which he has shown himself as a statesman of coolness and unshakeable faith in his creator and I pray for ALLAH SWT to continue protecting and caring for him, his family and our country.
Finally, I would like the presidential election of 2019 to be held in peace and harmony of our economic and social development for a better living environment for all so that the important gas and oil discoveries are beneficial to all the Mauritanian people. to whom I wish a happy new year 2019. AMINE.
* Aleg is a city in southwestern Mauritania, located on the road of Hope, between Nouakchott and Nema. It is the capital of the Brakna region.