Prior to 2007, it was a poor city in North Africa. But in just 12 years, it transformed into an industrial hub and a darling for foreign investors. It all began with the construction of a new world-class port in 2007 near the city. This city is none other than Tangier, a city in Morocco, and its port is Tanger Med.
This sort of thing only happens in Morocco, a country ruled by reformist King Mohammed VI. The development of the port as well as its industrial zone were part of Morocco’s Industrial Acceleration Plan 2014-2020. It is a success story in Africa.
Morocco is a country that always throws punches above its weight. It is already Africa’s top tourism destination. It is also the biggest producer of automobiles in Africa. Recently, it built a new terminal with all the latest facilities at Tangier port, a strategic port located on the Strait of Gibraltar.
Morocco’s Crown Prince Moulay El Hassan inaugurated the Tanger Med II extension project on June 28. It took nine years to complete the US$1.47 billion project in two phases. The first phase began in May 2010 and was completed in 2016, while the second phase was finished three years later.
The Tanger Med port has emerged as the biggest port in Africa in terms of container capacity, surpassing Africa’s bigger ports like Durban (South Africa) and Mombasa (Kenya).
The Tanger Med port now connects Morocco to 77 countries and 186 ports around the world.
The Tanger Med II has two new container terminals – TC3 and TC4 – with an additional 6 million container capacity. The TC3, which is operated by Morocco’s main port operator Marsa Maroc, has a capacity of 1 million TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units).
The TC4, which is operated by the Netherlands-based APM Terminals, has a capacity of 5 million TEUs.
According to the Tanger Med Port Authority, with its new terminals, Tanger Med port will have a capacity of processing 9 million containers, 7 million passengers, 1 million vehicles and 700,000 trucks.
Thanks to its extensions, Tanger Med port has now become the largest port in the Mediterranean region, surpassing some of the region’s top ports like Algeciras (Spain), Valencia (Spain) and Gioia (Italy). The port is located 40 kilometers east of the Moroccan town of Tangier, which is a gateway to both Europe and Africa.
“Our aim is to develop an effective port platform integrated with transshipment activities, imports and exports,” Tanger Med Port Authority said on its website.
The Tanger Med port has become vital for Morocco’s economy as it handled 317 billion Moroccan dirhams (US$33.14 billion) worth of exports and imports in 2018. It processed an overall tonnage of 52.24 tonnes last year.
The development of Tanger Med port is part of Moroccan King Mohammed VI’s vision for making Tangier city and its surroundings an international industrial hub.
“This port’s strategic position, on the Strait of Gibraltar, makes it unique. More than 100,000 ships pass through here each year and more than 200 cargo ships cross the strait every day,” Tanger Med port director Hassan Abkari told journalists recently.
Thanks to the Tanger Med Port, many multinational companies have established their plants in Tangier and its surroundings. According to Abkari, 912 companies – mostly from logistics, automotive, aeronautics, textiles and other industrial sectors – are currently operating near the port and using it for transporting their goods. These companies also provide 75,000 jobs.
Morocco created the Tangier Automotive City (TAC), a free industrial zone, in 2011 to attract international companies to establish their plants for manufacturing vehicles, spare parts, logistics and other tertiary activities. The TAC transports trucks to Europe in less than 48 hours. The automotive sector has become an important pillar of the Moroccan economy.
Aside from the automotive sector, aeronautics is another sector that has been providing many jobs and investments. The aeronautics sector, which is worth more than US$1 billion, is expected to provide 33,000 jobs by 2020, a huge increase from 11,000 jobs in 2015.
Another important sector is logistics. Many international logistics companies have established their offices and storage units near Tanger Med port.
In April of this year, the world’s leading provider of air, sea and road freight services, DHL Global Forwarding, signed an agreement with Tanger Med Port Authority to set up a new Africa-Europe Logistics Hub in Tanger Med port.
“The strategic location of Tanger Med presents a huge opportunity for us. Its ability to support multi-modal connectivity, especially its maritime, as well as road connections to Casablanca and the South will allow us to expand and enhance our customer service offering,” DHL Global Forwarding general manager Christelle Fadel said in a press release recently.
Casablanca is the largest city and financial hub in Morocco.
Foreign investors poured billions of dollars into Tangier and its surroundings. As a result, thousands of new jobs have been created. This trend will continue in the future.
Tanger Med port is the pride of Morocco. In March 2016, it received the first ever EcoPort certificate from the European Organization of Ports for having strict anti-pollution regulations. It was the first port in Africa to receive this honor.
Since Morocco is on the move in many sectors, the Tanger Med II will undoubtedly be a big boost for the North African country and its economy.