Morocco to build “trade hub” in Dakhla’s Atlantic port

Atlantic port

Morocco is rapidly developing its disputed southern provinces in recent years, in a bid to assert its sovereignty and local legitimacy, while expanding its influence in Africa. The kingdom hopes to turn occupied Western Sahara into a major trade hub with massive investment in Dakhla’s Atlantic port, according to CNN.

In its “Connecting Africa” program aired on May 10th , CNN showcased the Atlantic port as building works progress.

The 10 bn dirhams project is part of a larger port development strategy by Morocco as the country strives to build its economic power across Africa, with the Dakhla port consisting of three parts dedicated to trade, fishing, and ship repair with an estimated annual traffic of 35 million tons.

READ: Morocco: EU advisor pushes to scrap Sahara fishing deal

The General Director of the Dakhla-Oued Ed-Dahab Regional Investment Center, Mounir Houari, stressed that the port infrastructure, as-well-as road and renewable energy projects, should be an attractive prospect for investors seeking to enter the rapidly growing West African market.

After the 2019 implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, Houari said Dakhla’s port will allow the continent to maintain control over the production of raw materials for export, pointing out that less than 5% of Africa’s rural resources are currently processed in African countries.

Houari attributed Africa’s lack of processing capabilities to low levels of industrial and export infrastructure, adding that developing projects will create jobs, improve skills, and strengthen counties’ domestic industries.

The Dakhla mega-project was signed by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI in 2016 in a bid to boost development in Western Sahara and to strengthen cooperation with other African nations.

Western Sahara is a resource rich, disputed territory between Morocco, Algeria, and Mauritania, increasingly accepted as Moroccan by foreign powers, while its separatist Polisario Front movement demand a UN-supervised self-determination referendum.

READ: UN chief urges Algeria to clarify stance on Western Sahara

A referendum for the “Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic” was promised in a 1991 ceasefire accord that ended a 15-year war between Polisario Front and Rabat, with the group reiterating demands for countries and companies to boycott Moroccan projects in the territory on April 5th, according to Reuters.

CNN / Reuters


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