Morocco’s government has approved a draft decree, bringing more development to the southern city of Dakhla in Western Sahara.
Rabat – On Thursday, September 5, the Government Council adopted Decree 2.19.737 to establish a committee under the Ministry of Equipment to oversee the construction of the Dakhla Atlantic port.
The committee is expected to launch a tender for the project in the last three months of this year. The government has set a seven-year deadline for the project and a budget of MAD 10 billion.
The strategy includes the construction of six ports, allowing each region to profit from the dynamic role of port activities.
Morocco’s ultimate developmental goal is to promote and enhance the investment potential of Morocco’s southern provinces. Such projects are also in line with King Mohammed VI’s vision to enable the local population to make the region an economic hub.
On the 40th anniversary of the Green March in November 2015, the monarch launched a development model in Laayoune.
In the speech, the King said that the aim of the development model in the region is to “seal” the integration of these provinces into “the unified homeland and to enhance the influence of the Sahara region as an economic hub and a crucial link between Morocco and its African roots.”
The development model includes infrastructure plans, airports, and a railway between Tangier and Lagouira. The projects aim to support the social economy and to create job opportunities, especially for the youth of the region.
Refuting Polisario’s false claims
A Moroccan diplomat, who asked to speak on the condition of anonymity, told Morocco World News that “this investment and the more than $ 7 billion that Morocco has pledged to invest in the region since 2015 are a rebuttal to Polisario’s claims that Morocco has been exploiting the natural resources” of Western Sahara.
The diplomat added that the separatist group had switched its focus to the “unfounded claims that Morocco exploits the natural resources of the region” after it failed to push the United Nations into including the monitoring of human rights in the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in the region.”
“Polisario and its cohort of supporters resort to fact-twisting and deception to lure people who are not familiar with the issue into believing that Morocco is exploiting the wealth and natural resources of Moroccan Sahara,” said the diplomat.
The source explained that “when people dig deep and look for real facts, they realize that Morocco has heavily invested in the territory over the past four decades to build much-needed infrastructure to enable the local population to lead a dignified life.”
Moroccan political analyst Abdelffatah El Fatihi told Morocco World News that the implementation of development programs in southern provinces is in line with Morocco’s ongoing strategy in favor of the local population, despite the absence of a political settlement to end the conflict.
“It is a way to assert that Morocco cannot wait forever.”
The expert added that the projects fall in the framework of Morocco’s strategy of south-south Africa cooperation
“The port is expected to play a vital role in promoting African trade.”
In July, Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani attended a regional communication meeting held in Dakhla to inspect the projects under the Southern Provinces Development program (2015-2021).
El Othmani said that the region’s development program, includes 149 projects; 21 of which are not yet complete. The other 75 projects are in progress in the final phase, while another 50 are awaiting their launch.
A more developed region
The Polisario Front has long claimed that Morocco is exploiting the region’s resources.
Polisario expressed frustration after Morocco and the European Union renewed their fisheries agreement in January, calling on the UN to intervene in Western Sahara.
Morocco’s government, however, informed the UN of its signature on the agreement. The government emphasized that the agreement is in favor of the population and for the development of the region.
El Fatihi said that it is natural to receive negative positions from the separatist “because it will strengthen the Moroccan influence in North Africa and in the West African region. 3
In a speech to celebrate the 39th anniversary of Morocco’s Green March in 2014, King Mohammed VI spoke about Morocco’s successful strategy in reviving the economy of the region as it was experiencing lower human development indicators before 1975.
The King said, “ Since we recovered the Sahara, for every single dirham of revenue from the Sahara, the state invests 7 dirhams there, as part of the solidarity between the regions and between the sons and daughters of the region.”
The King reiterated Morocco’s continued determination to boost the development of Western Sahara on every anniversary of the Green March, emphasizing that the revenue benefits the population of the region.
On the 41st anniversary of the Green March in 2016, the monarch said that Morocco’s southern provinces are “ambitious thanks to the specific development model and projects launched in the region.”