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Morocco: Macron and Mohammed VI Inaugurate the First African TGV Against A Backdrop of Controversy

Seven years after the launch of the works, the first Moroccan TGV was inaugurated this November 15, 2018 by Emmanuel Macron and Mohamed VI, Tangier. A project of two billion euros which is not without controversy on the Moroccan side.

Morocco: Macron and Mohammed VI inaugurate the first African TGV against a backdrop of controversy© CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT Source: AFP
The President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron and King Mohammed VI of Morocco inaugurate a high-speed line at Tangier railway station on November 15, 2018.

French President Emmanuel Macron and King Mohammed VI inaugurated this November 15 Tangier-Casablanca high-speed line, presented as “the fastest in Africa” ​​and a symbol of the “depth” of the partnership between Paris and Rabat. The new LGV line, which according to information obtained by AFP, should be open to travelers by the end of the month, runs from Tangier to Casablanca over 350 km, including 180 to 320 km / h, connecting the two economic centers in 2h10 instead of 4h45 currently.

The two heads of state made no official statement but displayed their closeness during the inauguration ceremonies. They shared a working lunch aboard the brand new train, after leaving the immense renovated train station Tangier, a large maritime node between Africa and Europe. 

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The launch of the first Moroccan TGV, dubbed “Al Boraq” in reference to a fantastic winged mount of the Islamic tradition, disrupted the movement of trains on the conventional network, according to information published by the local press and on social networks, in the absence of any official communication. Emmanuel Macron was to leave the kingdom at the end of the day at the end of this short visit which, according to the Moroccan press agency (MAP), “reflects the depth of bilateral relations based on a strong and strong partnership”. 

An investment financed for more than half by France

The launch of the LGV is seen on the French side as an opportunity to showcase the know-how of companies. For Morocco, which wants to position itself as an “African hub”, this major project opens “the path of modernity, development and technological progress,” according to the MAP. A total of 70 billion dirhams (about 6.5 billion euros), of which a third for LGV alone, have been invested in recent years for the modernization of the Moroccan rail network, according to official figures. The cost of LGV, financed 50% by France via various loans, amounts to about 23 billion dirhams (2 billion euros), about 15% more than initial estimates, but well below European average costs, according to the Moroccan Ministry of Transport.

“This TGV is a scandal in the current conditions of Morocco”

Since its launch, the project has been criticized, users regularly complaining about the state of the existing network and train delays, two points pinned in the latest report of the Moroccan court of accounts. The debate was revived in mid-October with the derailment of a shuttle train that killed 7 people and injured 125 in Kenitra (west), on the Tangier-Casablanca axis.

Moreover, critics of the project believe that the amount invested for its implementation would have helped to reduce socio-economic inequalities. “This TGV is a scandal in the current conditions of Morocco,” was outraged by the economist Fouad Abdelmouni, quoted by the Express , when launching the work in 2011. 

France is the main economic partner of Morocco but saw Spain take away in 2014 the first place for trade. Bilateral trade between these two countries recorded an average growth of 5.8% per year, rising from 79.9 to 109.3 billion dirhams (7.4 to 10.3 billion euros) between 2010 and 2017, according to figures published this November 15 by the Moroccan Ministry of Economy.

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Written by How Africa

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