Casablanca back on track
Morocco’s Agence Nationale des Ports is establishing a major investment programme for the modernisation of the country’s maritime gateways, with Casablanca in particular earmarked to benefit from the scheme. The port in the nation’s largest city is set to build a new shipyard and improve the infrastructure of its links to and from the hinterland.
Over the past few years the port of Casablanca has frequently been put in the shade by the Tanger Med hub in the north, where huge new terminals were established and continue to be built. Casablanca nevertheless remains one of Morocco’s most important maritime trading centres, with around 20 million t of goods handled every year.
Now the Agence Nationale des Ports (ANP), the nation’s maritime port authority, wants to provide Casablanca with new impulses. The measures taken include the construction of a shipyard, where as many as 500 vessels can be repaired as well as maintained annually. The project also includes a crane that can lift 450 t, a hydraulic platform that can lift 5,000 t and a new 800 m quay. The ANP has estimated that these endeavours will cost it approximately EUR 76.5 million in total.
Building work has not commenced yet; the ANP is currently seeking an operator for the shipyard. The public invitation to tender was issued in January; a shortlist of candidates is expected to be published at the end of March. The concession to operate the facility will last for 30 years; this is likely to prompt rather strong interest and competition.
Phosphates and oil exports
Morocco is planning to invest substantially in all of its ports in the coming years, as predictions all point towards growth in the maritime sector. The ANP expects volumes to increase by approximately 4.5%, or 90 million t, next year, based partially on growing phosphate and oil exports. They make sure the Moroccan economy can rely on well-equipped ports the authority is preparing to invest approximately EUR 286 million in maritime port infrastructure – with the blessings of the transport ministry. Investments worth about EUR 138 million have been planned for 2019 alone.
An ‘eco city’ with logistics facilities
Plans for the Zenata industrial development zone, located between Casablanca and the city of Mohammedia, are particularly interesting for the port of Casablanca. An idea for an ‘eco city’, including logistics and industrial facilities, has been on the drawing board for years – but little has been implemented so far. An ANP investment scheme envisages a dry dock and a lorry parking area in Zenata.
The authority has around 200 ha available in the compound. New facilities there would enable the port of Casablanca to improve its hinterland links and attract more logisticians. According to the Moroccan newspaper Medias24, a free-trade zone is also a viable option. The biggest hurdle the project faces is the fact that there is no modern road linking Zenata to the port in place yet. A decision on the next stage of implementation is set to be taken in due course.