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Spain and France Compete for Railway Projects in Morocco

Many countries are looking with interest at the potential and opportunities offered by investments in Morocco’s railway sector. Rabat has invested 35 billion in improving the country’s infrastructure, including the construction of high-speed lines and better connections, according to figures from Rue20.

According to the Moroccan newspaper, Rabat has designed a plan to reinforce the national railway network valued at 34.722 billion euros. Through this project, which will run until 2040, 1,100 kilometres of new high-speed lines will be built, such as the route between Kenitra, Casablanca and Marrakech. Likewise, a possible expansion towards the coastal city of Agadir is being considered, as well as a west-east line linking Rabat, the capital, with Oujda, near the Algerian border. 


In this regard, the newspaper La Información recalls that railway initiatives were a key issue at the High Level Meeting (HLM) between Morocco and Spain last February. The Moroccan Ministry of Transport revealed that several Spanish companies are interested in railway projects in the Kingdom. In fact, the Spanish Minister of Transport, Raquel Sánchez, discussed this issue with her Moroccan counterpart, Mohammed Abdeljalil, with whom she also reached a Memorandum of Understanding with the aim of ‘promoting several and numerous areas of collaboration in all transport sectors, highlighting the railway and its infrastructures’.  

Sánchez revealed the wish of Spanish companies to take part in Moroccan railway projects. “Spain wants to be present in the new infrastructure developments, particularly in the plans to expand the high-speed rail network and the airport network,” said the head of Madrid’s Transport Ministry.

The Spanish newspaper points out numerous agreements between Renfe and Adif with ONCF, the Moroccan railway company. Similarly, other Spanish transport companies such as ALSA and Balearia, which already operate in Morocco, have also expressed their desire to continue investing in the North African country.  

France hopes to maintain its presence in Morocco despite the cooling of relations with Rabat 

However, despite the important presence and influence of Spanish transport companies in Morocco, France – Rabat’s historical partner – is another nation that is looking with great interest at the Moroccan railway sector. According to figures gathered by La InformaciónParis devoted 1 billion euros to finance the first high-speed line in Africa, Al-Boraq, which links Tangier with Casablanca. Thanks to its speed of 320, this train connects both cities in two hours and ten minutes, instead of five hours, which is what the previous route took. 

France wants to continue to maintain and promote projects in Morocco, despite the new and positive phase in Spanish-Moroccan relations, which promises to promote Spanish investment in the Kingdom. But while Rabat and Madrid are forging closer relations, French President Emmanuel Macron seems to be moving further and further away from what was once his main ally in North Africa. Macron’s government has opted to seek a rapprochement with Algerian President Abdelmajdid Tebboune, especially on energy issues, which has cooled relations with the Alawi kingdom.

On the other hand, French migration policy – which has significantly reduced visas for Moroccans – and the smear campaigns that Morocco accuses France of, have created tensions between the two countries that could have an impact on trade and business ties.

Spain may take advantage of this crisis to consolidate its position as Morocco’s main partner in this regard, as Germany has already tried to do, and has also expressed its interest in participating in the high-speed rail link between Casablanca and Agadir. According to Bladi‘this partnership between Morocco and Germany is not good news for France’

Source: Atalayar