Expanding its presence in Morocco, STMicroelectronics last week announced the inauguration of its new IC design and software development centre in Rabat. The ceremony, held Wednesday, was attended by the Prime Minister of Morocco, Driss Jettou, with Pasquale Pistorio, ST’s president and CEO, in the presence of the French and Italian ambassadors to Morocco, and adds to the company’s original back-end and test operations.

Initially, the Rabat plant will focus on IC design for digital consumer applications ­ specifically digital TV, DVD players, flat-screen displays and digital still and video cameras - and the development of customer application software. The scope of the centre’s activities will be extended over time to include the development of embedded systems and application boards, with the aim of establishing expertise in this field in Morocco, ST added.

ST said it plans to employ close to 150 Moroccan engineers by the end of 2004, many of which will be recruited directly out of university. Around 20 graduates from the Mohammadia School of Engineers, which houses the design centre, in addition to another 20 from other schools in Morocco and around the world have already been recruited for the first phase of the centre’s development.

"Complementing the long-standing success of our manufacturing facilities in the country, our latest IC design and software development centre takes our relationship with the people of Morocco to a new level," Pistorio said. "We have been impressed by the skill and enthusiasm of young Moroccan engineers and are excited by both the contribution they can make to our world-beating portfolio of innovative products and technologies and the contribution that we can make in stimulating the growth of a dynamic semiconductor design industry in Morocco."