The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, is providing EUR 50 million (1) for schemes to supply drinking water to some 70 medium-sized local authorities in Morocco. The finance contract was signed today in Rabat by the Chief Executive of ONEP, Mr Fassi Fihri, and EIB President, Mr Philippe Maystadt, during the latter's first official visit to Morocco. 

The Office National de l'Eau Potable (ONEP), established in 1972 for the purpose of producing and distributing drinking water, is being granted this EIB loan with a view to enhancing water supply services by means of individual small- and medium-scale schemes in localities whose water production and distribution capacities are already or will soon become overloaded.

The works will be carried out over the period 2001-2004. The various components of the project will increase coverage to 84%-90% of requirements in urban areas, and boost water supply services for some 500 000 town dwellers and 800 000 people living in rural communities.

This third EIB loan to ONEP brings the total amount advanced to this utility for water supply schemes to EUR 140 million. It illustrates the importance that the EIB, along with all EU Member States, attaches to supporting the water sector in Morocco and complements the Bank's various operations in favour of agricultural irrigation and sewerage projects, so covering all stages of the water cycle.

The EIB is a lead player in implementing the European Union's priority objectives. In 2000, the EIB provided finance totalling EUR 36 billion, of which EUR 30.6 billion for projects in the EU Member States, almost EUR 3 billion in the Accession Countries and EUR 2.4 billion in other non-member countries. The EIB is at the forefront of implementing the European Union's "Mediterranean Partnership". Against this background, it has been entrusted with a mandate to make available up to EUR 6 425 million over the period 2000-2007 for financing capital projects in the EU's 12 Mediterranean partner countries.

Since 1978, the EIB has advanced EUR 1.8 billion for projects of key importance for the Moroccan economy, such as the EU-Morocco power grid interconnection via the Strait of Gibraltar, high-voltage electricity transmission facilities and power supplies to rural areas, the construction of 500 km of motorway, and large-scale water management schemes (sewerage systems in several coastal towns, irrigation of farmland in the Doukkala Plain, etc.); the EIB has also contributed towards long-term and risk capital funding for SMEs in the productive and cooperative sectors through global loans intended particularly to pave the way for joint ventures between Moroccan and European operators.

(1) EUR 1 = GBP 0.638700, USD 0.924800, MAD 10.2965.