Moroccos New Economic Model in its Western Sahara

Rabat – As part of a new economic model for its most southern provinces (dubbed in mainstream media as Western Sahara), Morocco will invest nearly MAD 77 billion in Laâyoune, Dakhla, and Tarfaya, as announced at a ceremony marking the signing of agreements, presided over by King Mohamed VI on November 7 in Laâyoune.Morocco’s new economic model for the south is based on five main foundations designed to develop and industrialize the economy of the southern provinces.In the fisheries sector, one of the main natural resources of the area, access to fishery resources will be conditioned upon the optimization of catches and production at the local level. The development plan provides for the launch of six development projects for pelagic species in Dakhla up to MAD 1.2 billion. These projects will create 4,300 jobs. In addition, MAD 2.8 billion will be invested in the aqua-culture sector in the same region, creating 3,500 direct jobs. AgricultureIn agriculture, a series of planned projects in the Southern provinces will ensure an important competitive advantage for the region. This will include the enhancement of 5,000 hectares of greenhouse agricultural products in Dakhla, and another 1000 hectares in Boujdour.The exploitation of local natural resources also seeks to enhance phosphate production by Phosboucraâ, a subsidiary of the Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP) based in Laâyoune. Chief Executive Officer of OCP, Mustapha Terrab, underlined that “investment projects include the whole production chain from the mine site to exportation, with an investment of MAD 16.8 billion.”TourismTourism will also benefit from this development model, addressing mostly the beach, desert, culture, and niche products. This will offer 800 direct job opportunities.InfrastructureAs for infrastructure, cities in the southern provinces will be equipped with sea water desalination plants, particularly for drinking water. These stations will also help meet the needs of industrial activities in Laâyoune and irrigation of agricultural projects in Dakhla.In addition, a highway, connecting Tiznit and Laâyoune (555 km) will be constructed with a budget package of MAD 6.2 billion. National road No. 1, between Laâyoune and Dakhla will also be expanded with a budget of MAD 2.3 billion.Renewable EnergiesWind power stations with a capacity of 500 MW are planned in Boujdour and Tiskrad Akhefennir. Photovoltaic solar plants are expected to be built in Laâyoune (80 MW) and Boujdour (20 MW).The southern provinces are also expected to become an export platform to Africa through the construction of the Dakhla Atlantic Port scheduled to be built as part of the new development model. The port infrastructure will include the development of product processing activities and exports to Africa. MAD 6 billion will be invested in the construction of the port, complementing the activities of the northern Moroccan port of Tangiers Med.The new development model comes as part of the advanced regionalization plan adopted by Morocco, upgrading the governance, ensuring transparency, and initiating a new development compact between the State and the southern region.Edited by Elisabeth Myers