A joint venture between Moroccan contractors SGTM and Somagec is to build Morocco’s $1bn Atlantic port in Dakhla, a city of 100,000 in the disputed Western Sahara.
Morocco’s Transport Ministry announced on Friday that the joint bid had been chosen over a tender from Greek-owned Archirodon Group, French contractor Eiffage and Egypt’s Arab Contractors, reports Morocco World News.
The SGTM-Somagec bid will now be subject to a technical and financial review before the completion of the deal.
The Dakhla project envisages a fishing port able to import almost 1 million tonnes of seafood a year, and a container terminal able to handle 2.2 million tonnes of commercial cargo.
The project was announced in 2015, when King Mohammed VI made a speech saying the port would integrate Morocco’s southern provinces into a "unified homeland" and "enhance the influence of the Sahara region as an economic hub and a crucial link between Morocco and its African roots".
Morocco has control of most of the territory in the Western Sahara, including all the major cities and natural resources. However, the UN considers the Polisario Front to be the legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people, and maintains that the Sahrawis have a right to self-determination.
SGTM, short for Societé Générale des Travaux du Maroc, is a private contractor controlled by the Kabbaja family. It is also working on Morocco’s Nador West-Med port, a hydrocarbon handling port that should be complete in 2023.Â Â
Somagec is a Casablanca-based civil engineer with projects under way in Morocco, the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and Paraguay.
Image: Dakhla, in the Western Sahara (Ecemaml/CC BY 2.0)