The development of the southern provinces is gaining momentum

Morocco is developing its Sahara with the participation and inclusion of all components

As it was presented at the time of its launch, the development program for the southern provinces 2016-2021 is a realization of the new development model for the southern provinces. This program, the launch of which was the subject of several framework agreements, signed before HM the King, for an initial total amount of approximately MAD 77 billion. This envelope has been revised upwards to currently reach approximately DH 80 billion.

This program provides for a large number of structuring projects aimed, mainly, at strengthening infrastructure and networks, encouraging private investment, supporting projects relating to human and social development, enhancing natural resources and promoting culture in the three regions.

Thus, according to a note from the Ministry of the Economy and Finance, at the end of August 2021, some 202 projects had been completed for an overall cost of MAD 15.17 billion and 279 projects were underway for an amount of 42.92 MMDH. As regards the projects programmed within this framework, they number 216 projects for a total cost of 21.26 billion dirhams.

In addition, in the current context impacted by the effects of the health crisis, all the necessary measures have been taken with a view to revitalizing the rate of implementation of the programs.

In his last report presented to the Security Council, the UN Secretary General also underlined the scale of the investments made in the Saharan provinces and the level of development of these regions. He thus emphasized the economic and infrastructural development of the Moroccan Sahara, as well as the continuation of Morocco’s investments in its southern provinces. He said in this regard that “on April 30, the Moroccan authorities announced the winner of the bid for the construction of the Atlantic port of Dakhla and that its construction is underway.”

Likewise, the UN Secretary-General noted the continued construction of a highway linking Tiznit to Dakhla. Large-scale projects that several Arab countries witnessed during their field visit last June. Indeed, as the Secretary-General attests in his report, diplomatic delegations from several countries have visited Dakhla and Laâyoune this year to explore investment opportunities in the Sahara.

In addition, the efforts made by the authorities have made it possible to transform and improve the lives of the inhabitants of the Sahara thanks, among other things, to good management of water resources and better water distribution. Indeed, among the major works carried out in the Sahara, the mega-projects of seawater desalination in the regions of Laâyoune and Dakhla-Oued Eddahab which constitute structuring projects. These factories, considered to be the most important stations in the world in the field of water desalination, will allow a better supply of drinking water for consumption, as well as the irrigation of agricultural lands. This is to say that Morocco is developing its Sahara with the participation and inclusion of all components of the local population, including tribes, women, young people and political actors. The colossal investments made in socio-economic and structural projects at the regional level attest to this. For the current year alone, the imminent start of construction work on the Dakhla Atlantic port, the largest deep-water port in Africa, and the opening of the Laâyoune University of Medicine and Pharmacy, one of the larger in the Kingdom, are examples. This is not to mention the renewable energy production projects carried out or underway in these provinces. We will also mention other large-scale projects that are in progress, particularly in the region of Dakhla-Oued Eddahab, such as the logistics platforms at Bir Gandouz and El Guerguarat of 35 ha each, the wind farm of 900 MW, the Zone Franche West Africa backing onto the new port, as well as the seawater desalination project to irrigate 5,000 hectares of agricultural land. In the 2022 draft finance law, the government is still planning a series of no less important projects.

(See tables)