Morocco, China agree on financing for $10 billion tech city

Sunday 26/03/2017
Concrete example of partnership. Moroccan King Mohammed VI (L) and President Li Biao (2nd-L) of the Haite Group look at a model of Mohammed VI Tangier Tech City, on March 20th. (AP)

Casablanca - Morocco said a $10 bil­lion project to build an industrial and technology hub, which would create 100,000 jobs near the northern city of Tangier, would be financed by China’s Haite Group, BMCE’s Bank of Africa and the Moroccan govern­ment.
Morocco and the Chinese gov­ernment signed a memorandum of understanding last year for the 2,000-hectare city. The $10 billion investment is to be made over 10 years, Moroccan Minister of Indus­try, Trade, Investment and Digital Economy Moulay Hafid Elalamy said.
Mohammed VI Tangier Tech City will contribute to the development of economic activities in Tangier and northern Morocco. It is the re­sult of a government policy of diver­sification of economic partnerships with several countries.
In a ceremony presided over by King Mohammed VI, senior officials from the government, BMCE and the Haite Group signed a commit­ment to the project on March 20th.
Elalamy said the project was ex­pected to attract investment from 200 multinational corporations.
“The project, carried out by the Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region, Haitie Chinese Group and BMCE Bank, is a concrete example of the Chinese-Moroccan partnership and will impact not only the said region but also the whole country,” Elala­my said.
He added that the 2014-20 indus­trial acceleration plan included a strategic aspect linked to the Mo­rocco-China industrial partnership. The minister said China had im­portant experience in dealing with industrial and smart cities, which integrate industrial, commercial, entertainment and public utilities zones and provide them with need­ed technology.
Ilyas Omari, president of the Council of the Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region, said the Moham­med VI Tangier Tech City project “will create thousands of jobs, transfer advanced technology, foster national economy’s com­petitiveness and raise the region’s economic status continentally and internationally”.
Haite Group President Li Biao un­derlined that Morocco has become “a hot destination for Chinese busi­nessmen”.
“Morocco’s political and social stability, with an economy that is open on the world and well-inte­grated in international value chains and the presence of world’s indus­trial leaders in competitive sectors make the country the ideal invest­ment environment for Chinese in­vestors,” he said.
Biao noted Tangier was chosen for the project because it is at the crossroads of continents — only 15km from Europe — and because it has well-developed infrastructure, including the Tangier Med port and associated facilities.
The Mohammed VI Tangier Tech City project is expected to generate 100,000 jobs, 90,000 of which are expected to be filled by local resi­dents.
It will involve 200 Chinese com­panies operating in automotive manufacturing, aerospace, aviation spare parts, electronic information, textiles, machinery manufacturing and other industries.
“The total investment of compa­nies in the area after ten years will reach $10 billion,” Biao said.
Chairman of BMCE-Bank of Africa Othman Benjelloun said the project would contribute to the revival of the ancient Silk Road network of trade routes through Asia.
“This road will now pass through Tangier towards the rest of the Af­rican continent, Europe and Amer­ica,” he said.
King Mohammed VI made an of­ficial visit to China last year during which several deals were signed, including a 3-year currency swap agreement.
Chinese firms have been active in the Maghreb, especially in Alge­ria. In Morocco, they have been in­volved in several infrastructure pro­jects, including a suspension bridge connecting Rabat with the neigh­bouring city of Sale. The 950-metre bridge, which was completed last year, is among the longest in Africa.