All eyes are on Morocco right now as the North African country continues to take calculated risks in its sustainability and infrastructure projects. 15 months ago Morocco launched Africa’s first and only TGV high-speed railway from Tangier to Casablanca. A discussion of a second high-speed railway is in motion.
During King Mohammed VI’s 44th commemoration of the Green March on November 6, 2019, he delivered a speech that urged Morocco to continue developing its infrastructure. The result, a second high-speed railway system between Marrakech and Agadir is currently being bid on between France and China. According to Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism, 57% of travelers stay overnight in Agadir and Marrakech. The additional railway could stimulate more tourism to the region.
Morocco is carefully considering a cost-benefit analysis for which country best meets their overall needs for economic growth. France is Morocco’s second-largest investor in the infrastructure sector and accepting China’s proposal may strain Morocco’s relationship with this nation.
The first TGV between Tangier and Casablanca cost an estimated $2.2 billion USD with 51% of the loan from France. It is likely that the large investment France made in the Casablanca-Tangier project could be interpreted as a loss to date. France also has other investments in Morocco throughout the kingdom’s education and employment sectors. The decision is not easy since China has also placed stakes in Morocco’s infrastructure and technology sectors. Furthermore, China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ with an objective to install transportation lines in foreign nations is motivating them to make their presence felt in Morocco.
In 2019, a new Chinese Cultural Center in Rabat launched a series of programs to celebrate cultural Chinese Culture Week. “We hope the China Cultural Center in Rabat will play a major role in promoting communication between the two peoples under the Belt and Road Initiative,” said cultural liaison Li Jinzao.
The second TGV railway is projected to cost in the range of $1 billion USD. Deciding from whom to borrow the additional funding, particularly when Morocco is still paying off the Tangier-Casablanca railway – is an important decision. The long term investment against regional security and profitability must both be well considered.