Tangier - On the hill that borders the space east of the docks at the Tanger Med mega port, there is a huge inscription that summarizes the pillars of today’s Morocco after overcoming the turbulence of the Arab Spring: God, Country, King. The construction of the super terminal is signed by King Mohammed VI, who is convinced of the strategic position of Morocco for trade with West Africa, one of the regions with the highest growth rate in the world, as well as with Europe. The idea is simple: the King invests in the infrastructure and the private companies, mostly European, invest in and manage the docks. One thousand six hundred meters of piers divided among the terminals of Maersk, APMT, and Eurogate. The latter is in a consortium with MSC and CMA CGM. “But with the growth forecast, we are already tight” says Marco Mignogna, president of Eurogate Tanger, while we wait at the pier for the arrival of Jules Verne, one of the largest ships in the world, and flagship of the French company CMA CGM. The investment is Moroccan, the precision of the terminal is German and the management is Italian. Marco Mignogna is from Livorno, he worked at Genoa for a long time and then travelled all over the world, managing terminals for the Contship group. The last stop for this Italian manager is Morocco, “the place to be” in terms of large investments in infrastructure: the government’s programme in Rabat includes the construction of an additional 4 brand new ports.
Tangier has a privileged geographical position because it is in front of the Gibraltar Strait, less than 15 km away from the Spanish shores and in the middle of one of the busiest routes in the world. The Moroccan economy is in full sail towards wealth: GDP has grown by 4.3% and Casablanca is a huge construction site where avenues are lined by billboards with CAD drawings of the future city. One of them, showing the future 650-km traffic-free highway between Marrakech and Tangier, runs parallel to the construction site of the first high-speed section: “made in Morocco”. Today Tanger Med manages mostly transshipment, so it serves as a supplier to other markets. “But it will not always be like this,” Mignogna explains, “Morocco is evolving quickly. Now transshipment represents 96% of our traffic, and only 4% is import-export. The infrastructure is already into place: the highway is new and the railroads are becoming important. There is no cabotage because there is no fleet under the Moroccan flag. We at Eurogate are working towards this end. We do not exclude the possibility of becoming ship-owners, which is in our DNA as part of Contship.
There is a market demand for it.” Eurogate Tanger may become ship-owners and build a Moroccan fleet, but there are more investments in the programme. The expansion of the port calls for the construction of a new terminal that is expected to be fully operational by 2016: Tanger Med II. There’s another 1,600 meters of quay for each of the two terminals in the project. Eurogate seems to be really interested in participating in the new structure: “we would be able to reach 1.5 million TEU but the market keeps expanding”.