The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, is providing EUR 32 million(1) under the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership to the Kingdom of Morocco for the repair, strengthening and upgrading of breakwaters and jetties in six of Morocco's main ports (Casablanca, Mohammedia, Jorf Lasfar, Nador, Mehdia-Kenitra and Sidi Ifni).

The works in question will be implemented by the two port offices of the Ministry of Equipment, namely the Casablanca and Mohammedia Ports Authority and the State Maritime Property and Harbour Board. Both have already worked in partnership with the EIB for the purpose of seeing through a number of significant port development schemes financed in the 70s and early 80s (including Jorf Lasfar in 1979 and Mohammedia in 1983).

This is the EIB's second loan made available this year for Morocco's port infrastructure. The first, to ODEP for an amount of EUR 30 million provided under a contract signed in April 1999, went towards modernising harbour installations in eight of Morocco's main ports (Agadir, Casablanca, Jorf Lasfar, Kenitra, Mohammedia, Nador, Safi and Tangier).

The durability of these new key harbour works and their general contribution towards enhancing Morocco's port facilities will reinforce the sector's strategic position within the local economy.

The EIB is a lead player in implementing the European Union's "Euro-Mediterranean Partnership" and its priority objectives. The Bank has been mandated to provide up to EUR 2 310 million over the period 1997 - 2000 for financing projects in the 12 southern-rim Mediterranean countries which have signed cooperation and/or association agreements with the EU.Since 1979, the EIB has made available some EUR 1 500 million for projects of major importance to the Moroccan economy, such as drinking water provision, the EU-Morocco power grid interconnection (achieved by laying a submarine cable under the Strait of Gibraltar), high-voltage electricity transmission facilities within Morocco itself, including power supplies to rural areas, improvements to the trunk and international telephone networks as well as large-scale water management schemes (sewerage systems in several coastal towns, irrigation of farmland in the Upper Doukkala plain, Haouz etc.). In the rail sector, the EIB recently provided EUR 55 million for financing track realignment and dualling between Sidi Kacem and Fez. The EIB has also promoted small and medium-sized enterprises in the manufacturing and cooperative sectors through global loans to commercial banks, targeted mainly at fostering Moroccan/European joint ventures.

(1) EUR 1 = FRF 6.55957, GBP 0.666300, MAD 10.308.