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