The quality of infrastructure is an essential lever of economic development that contributes to attracting national and international investors. Over the last twenty years, about 40 million USD have been devoted annually to infrastructure development projects.
The Airline Industry
In a dozen years or so, Open Sky policies have made it possible to significantly increase the number of weekly air links, from 438 to over 1,265 (i.e. +9% per year) as well as the number of tourists by the end of 2018 (12.5 million). In total there are 18 airports throughout the country.
The Tanger Med Port project was launched in 2002 and construction work on Tanger Med 1 started in 2004; in 2019 Tanger Med 2 was inaugurated making Tanger Med the largest port in Africa and able to rival the port of Algeciras. 4.8 million containers were handled in 2019, up 38% year-on-year and 65 million tonnes of goods handled. But it is the figures of vehicle traffic that are perhaps the most impressive: 500,000 vehicles were handled in 2019, including 350,000 Renault vehicles for export; 2019 also saw the first exports of PSA vehicles from the Kenitra plant.
In Casablanca, the Wessal project is reshaping the existing port and the coastal road walk, with the construction of a new shipyard, the first lot of which consists of a dry dock, mainly intended for large ships; it is equipped with a 460 ml quay of which 350 ml is for repairs while afloat and 110 ml is for linking purposes and a 450-ton gantry crane.
The port of Tanger Ville now houses a passenger port and a marina with a capacity of 1400 moorings which will make it the largest marina in the Strait of Gibraltar. The passenger port can accommodate the largest cruise ships in the world.
The Railway System and the Advent of High-speed Trains
The High Speed Line linking Tangier to Kenitra and Casablanca was inaugurated on November 15, 2018, by King Mohammed VI; it required an investment of 23 billion dirhams. But the results are in: 3 million passengers by the end of 2019 and an exemplary carbon footprint with 200,000 tonnes of carbon equivalent saved. Not to mention the effects induced by making distances shorter; there is no doubt that the LGV factored in the decision of PSA to settle in Kenitra, in addition to the opening of Tanger Med 2.
Beyond that, the Marrakesh-Agadir LGV project (a distance of 230 km traveled in just one hour), a strong component of ONCF’s 2040 Rail Strategy, is fast advancing and is foreshowing future extensions towards the south of the Kingdom.
The Road Network
With its 57,000 km, 43,000 of which are paved, the network has become significantly denser in the last twenty years, especially in rural areas through the National Rural Roads Program, which has helped connecting the most isolated areas of Morocco. 1800 km of motorways connect all major cities (over 400,000 inhabitants) and 85% of the inhabitants live less than an hour away from a motorway.
The Latest in Urban Mobility
Rabat and Casablanca have had a tramway network for several years now, and is growing extensively every year. It benefits large segments of the population and is backed by a dense and bus network being upgraded. In Marrakesh, High Service Level Buses (HSLB) have started to appear. At the same time, urban infrastructure such as cable-stayed bridges, tunnels and the widening of lanes are helping to keep traffic flowing in all major cities. Futuristic projects are being studied, including an aerial transit system in Casablanca; the feasibility of clean mobility (i.e. electric buses) is being assessed; and a manufacturing plant at Tangier Tech, as part of a mega project part of a China-Morocco cooperation.
Morocco’s renewable energy strategy is widely known; it is a reference in Africa and beyond, with ambitious goals that are well on the way to being achieved: 42% of the energy mix from renewable sources by 2020, and 52% by 2030. Flagship projects include the Noor Ouarzazate IV solar plant, the world’s largest thermo-solar energy complex and the largest wind power plant in Africa, with a capacity of 300 MW, enough to supply 1.5 million homes.
Access to electricity and drinking water
Morocco continues to invest to expand access to basic services throughout the country.
In this manner, 52 billion dirhams will be invested over the 2019-2023 period to secure the supply of electricity and drinking water and strengthen liquid waste sanitation. Part of this amount will also be used to exceed the initial target of 52% renewable energy in the energy mix by 2030. Budgets of MAD 4.2 billion and MAD 1 billion respectively will be devoted to improving the performance and quality of basic services and to extending the distribution network and electrifying 30,900 households in 1,270 villages.
High and very high-speed internet access is a key factor in the country’s competitiveness and attractiveness. The National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ANRT) ensures that there is healthy competition on the telecoms market in general and on the broadband internet market in particular. Reforms are being implemented to bridge the digital divide by making broadband accessible throughout the territory and at lower cost.
Digital transformation as a lever for economic development and social inclusion
Both public authorities, and first and foremost the administration, as well as economic operators and citizens, are faced with changes of which the digital transformation is one of the most profound and rapid.
It involves fundamental issues of sovereignty and security, equality and democracy, but also competitiveness and therefore development.
Morocco has developed over the past decade a quality electronic administration, particularly in the tax (online declaration and payment of income tax and corporate income tax, declaration and payment of VAT …) and social (online tax reporting).
The dematerialization of flows is constantly expanding, and with it the challenges of security and protection of personal data (creation of a National Commission for the Control of Personal Data Protection created by Law No. 09-08 of 18 February 2009).
Today the national digital transformation strategy, in line with Morocco Numeric 2013, is based on 5 pillars, some of which are well advanced:
- The profound transformation of public administration
- The relaunch of the IT investment dynamic
- Digital governance
- IT integration and interoperability
- SME competitiveness through IT.
What about tomorrow?
Infrastructure development will not stop anytime soon and will affect all sectors and industries.
In order to further open up the regions of the Eastern Rif, a new port is being built on the Mediterranean, Nador West End, dedicated to oil transhipment; the works will last until 2023 for a budget of 4.5 billion dirhams. Also in the plans is a rail link project worth 3.3 billion dirhams. In the north of the country, the 500-hectare Tanger Tech free zone project is well under way and the first companies are set to arrive as early as 2020. The Casablanca region has already budgeted for work on the Casablanca bypass motorway (31 km) in order to reduce traffic on the ring road and improve north—south connectivity. Other projects of a social nature will be launched, particularly in the context of the implementation of the Programme to Combat Territorial and Social Disparities in the Rural World. These aim to improve the population’s access to basic services (roads, health, education, water, electricity, etc.). Public investment will continue to be the essential lever of private investment, the aim of which is to improve the country’s regions’ attractiveness to national and foreign investment. In wind energy, two major public institutions, ONEE and MASEN, have reached an agreement with a private developer for an 850 MW integrated wind power projects in Boujdour, where work is scheduled to begin in 2021.