Morocco and Spain are planning to create a transport and energy link from Africa to Europe. This will facilitate the export of Moroccan products and thus change Egypt's competitive situation in Europe.
It has been talked about for more than 40 years, and now it is to become reality. Now that Morocco and Spain have overcome their diplomatic crisis, the governments are planning a project that will bring the two kingdoms closer together.
At a top-level meeting in early February, Madrid and Rabat agreed to build a tunnel under the Strait of Gibraltar. The construction costs are huge. Estimates of five to ten billion euros are circulating, but they are not yet reliable. The World Bank, the European Investment Bank, the African Fund for Development of the African Development Bank and Arab donors have already promised to finance the project of the century.
This time, the will is there to really build the tunnel. After all, West Africa and Morocco in particular have developed so much economically in recent years that the corresponding demand for such a tunnel is also coming from the business community. Especially the north of Morocco around the port city of Tangier is firmly integrated into the value creation of European industry.
The economic impact of the tunnel will be enormous. The two countries have founded state project companies to oversee the construction; for Morocco it is SNED, for Spain SECEGSA. The two companies expect 12.8 million passengers per year and 13 million tonnes of goods after the planned completion in 2035.
The tunnel will connect Morocco's rail network to the European rail network. The rail network already has a high-speed line from Tangier to Casablanca, and other lines are currently being planned. There will also be a tube for cars and trucks, and another for a gas pipeline. As soon as the 5,660-kilometre gas pipeline from Nigeria and Morocco is built, Nigerian natural gas can flow directly to Spain.
The two governments are now stepping up the pace. The Spanish side has already commissioned a new feasibility study, for which the state has earmarked 750,000 euros this year alone. Only when this is available can a serious estimate be made of how expensive the construction will be.
The tunnel will be 38.7 kilometres long and will run under the Strait of Gibraltar from Punta Paloma across to Tangier. Almost 28 kilometres of the tunnel will be under water to a depth of 475 metres. Most importantly, the project lies on two tectonic plates, the European and the African. Construction work is scheduled to begin in 2030.