Morocco inaugurates Africa’s fastest train

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French President Emmanuel Macron and Moroccan King Mohammed VI review a honour guard after launching Africa's fastest train. (AFP)
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President Emmanuel Macron and King Mohammed VI shake hands as they inaugurate a high-speed line. (Reuters)
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President Emmanuel Macron and King Mohammed VI arrive to inaugurate high-speed train. (Reuters)
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Morocco inaugurates Africa’s fastest train. (AFP)
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President Emmanuel Macron is welcomed by King Mohammed VI at Tangiers' airport, Morocco. (AP)
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President Emmanuel Macron and King Mohammed VI pose for a photograph at Rabat train station. (Reuters)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Morocco inaugurates Africa’s fastest train

  • King Mohammed VI and French President Emmanuel Macron boarded the train for the inaugural trip from Tangier to the capital Rabat
  • The high-speed line was completed at a total cost of 22.9 billion dirhams ($2.4 billion)

RABAT: Morocco inaugurated on Thursday Africa’s fastest train which will halve traveling time between the commercial and industrial hubs of Casablanca and Tangier.
After seven years of work on the high-speed railway line, King Mohammed VI and French President Emmanuel Macron boarded the train for the inaugural trip from Tangier to the capital Rabat.
The train, which was tested at a speed of 357 km (222 miles)per hour and is planned to run at 320 km (198 miles) per hour, will more than halve the 200 km (124 miles)Casablanca-Tangier journey to around two hours. It is about twice as fast as South Africa’s high-speed Gautrain linking Johannesburg’s international airport to the city’s financial district Sandton.

The high-speed line was completed at a total cost of 22.9 billion dirhams ($2.4 billion), according to state news agency MAP. Transport officials were not immediately available for comment. 51 percent of the project was financed by France, Morocco contributed 28 percent and the remaining 21 percent was provided by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. 
Morocco bought 12 double-decker high-speed-trains from French group Alstom that will be operated by state-owned railway ONCF which expects six million passengers on the new train service annually.
The king named the first line Al Boraq after a mythical winged creature that transported the prophets to the heavens. While the Moroccan government and businesses praised the project as a key achievement in developing the country's infrastructure, the line has sparked controversy for its high cost. Critics say that Morocco should be investing in education and health instead.

Officials have said the project will boost growth in Tangier and help attract more investments to northern Morocco where one of Africa’s largest ports is located.
But critics perceive the project as symbolising a two-speed Morocco further accentuating disparities between territories as vast regions in the south and key cities such as Agadir remain without a basic train service.
A train derailment last month near Kenitra 15 km (10 miles) north of Rabat, which killed seven people and injured 125 others, triggered calls for a better allocation of resources by giving priority to improving safety and infrastructure as well as punctuality of basic railway services.

 


OIC foreign ministers to meet in Abu Dhabi

Updated 19 February 2019
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OIC foreign ministers to meet in Abu Dhabi

  • The meeting will be held in UAE’s capital from March 1
JEDDAH: The foreign ministers of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states will meet in Abu Dhabi on March 1-2 to discuss the OIC’s role in promoting development in member states.
Secretary-General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen said reaching higher levels of development and prosperity for member states, and strengthening economic and trade relations between them, are among the most important pillars of the OIC’s economic program.
“Economic cooperation between OIC member states is based on the established connection between development and peace, security and stability,” he added.
Al-Othaimeen cited the number of member states (57), and the diversity of their natural sources, as positive factors in terms of economic cooperation.
To improve economic and social cooperation between member states, he called for the implementation of joint programs to mobilize resources and maximize opportunities.
The foreign ministers will discuss the effectiveness and adoption of the OIC’s various programs and measures.
They will also highlight their national priorities for economic development, and areas of convergence with the OIC’s objectives, plans and programs.
The ministers will discuss activating different financing mechanisms, and the development and marketing of Islamic financial products and other innovative financing tools.
They will also explore the active participation of community-based organizations in developing the rural sector; promoting employment of the youth, women and vulnerable people; promoting economic best practices; improving the quality of human resources; and providing appropriate institutional frameworks for national economic development strategies.