Morocco celebrated the 47th anniversary of the Green March on Sunday 6 November. It is a commemoration of the declaration of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. Indeed, on 6 November 1975, at the call of the late Moroccan King Hassan II, a great peaceful march left Morocco towards the Spanish Sahara. It thus aims to peacefully reclaim a vast desert area bordering the extreme west coast of Africa, which was claimed by both Morocco and Mauritania.
Historically, this area was considered part of the Moroccan Sahara. But instead of weapons, the approximately 350,000 Moroccan civilian volunteers mobilised by the march waved green banners symbolising Islam, Korans and portraits of King Hassan II. But instead of weapons, the approximately 350,000 Moroccan civilian volunteers mobilised by the march waved green banners symbolising Islam, Korans and portraits of King Hassan II. The king of the Atlas country devoted his speech to the assessment of the development plan for the southern provinces launched seven years ago. Here is his full statement
This year we celebrate the forty-seventh anniversary of the Green Walk at a time when the process of consolidating the Moroccanity of the Sahara has entered a crucial phase.
In its time, this glorious epic allowed the liberation of the despoiled land. From now on, the Walks that We are conducting without respite are intended to ensure that Moroccan citizens have the conditions for a dignified life, particularly in these territories that We cherish so much.
Our approach to defending the Moroccanness of the Sahara is based on an integrated vision that combines political and diplomatic action with the promotion of socio-economic and human development in the region.
It is precisely in this perspective that the Program for the Development of the Southern Provinces, which signature we presided over in Laayoune in November 2015 and in Dakhla in February 2016, fits in.
With a budget of over 77 billion dirhams, this integrated development program is designed to initiate a real economic and social dynamic in the region. Its purpose is to stimulate job creation in these territories, to ensure a climate conducive to investment, and to provide them with the infrastructure and equipment they need.
This ambitious project responds exactly to the concerns and expectations of the population of the Southern Provinces. The responsibility for overseeing the delivery of its component projects lies with local authorities and elected councils.
Today, more than seven years after the launch of this program, and with a commitment rate close to 80% of the allocated budget, we are pleased with the positive results achieved.
In fact, the Tiznit-Dakhla expressway is already being completed. The region is well connected to the national electricity grid and its communication networks have also benefited from a strengthening and extension plan. In addition, the programme’s solar and wind power station project was completed.
In addition, the studies and administrative formalities related to the great port of Dakhla Atlantic having been finalised, the construction work will start soon.
With regard to the economic aspect, which is considered to be the main catalyst for development, a series of projects have been carried out in the context of the development and processing of fishery products. As a result, thousands of jobs have been created and offered to the region’s inhabitants.
In the agricultural field, more than six thousand hectares developed in Dakhla and Boujdour were made available to young farmers in the region.
In addition, most of the projects planned in the phosphate, water and sanitation sectors have advanced completion rates.
In the social and cultural sphere, several achievements have been recorded in the areas of health, education and training. In the same spirit, self-employment initiatives and the promotion of the Hasanic language and culture, which are at the heart of the unified national identity, were supported.
In line with this context of national responsibility, we urge the private sector to maintain its commitment to raising the level of productive investment in these provinces, with particular emphasis on socially oriented projects.
Furthermore, we call for the development dynamic in our Southern Provinces to explore new possibilities and new horizons, particularly in the promising sectors of the blue economy and renewable energy.
Throughout history, the Moroccan Sahara has been a constant link between Morocco and its African depth on human, cultural and economic levels.
Thus, the development effort we are conducting in the Sahara enables us to consolidate this historic role in a firm and sustainable manner and, beyond that, to place it in a resolutely future-oriented perspective.
This orientation is fundamentally in line with the very nature of the privileged relations linking Morocco to the rest of the African countries, which we are keen to develop in the best interests of our brotherly peoples.
In this context, together with Our Brother, His Excellency Mr. Muhammadu Bouhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we have taken the initiative to launch the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline Project.
We are pleased to note the current state of progress of this major project, in accordance with the Agreement signed in December 2016.
In this respect, the Memorandum of Understanding recently signed in Rabat with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and in Nouakchott with Mauritania and Senegal marks an essential milestone in the project’s implementation process.
The signing of this memorandum reflects the commitment of the countries concerned to contribute to the realisation of this strategic project and illustrates their political will to ensure its success.
Given Our special interest in partnership with the western states of the continent, the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline is more than a bilateral project between two sister countries.
Our hope is that it will be a strategic project that benefits the entire West African region, which has a population of over 440 million.
Indeed, in addition to Morocco and Mauritania, this pipeline offers the fifteen ECOWAS countries opportunities and guarantees for energy security and socio-economic and industrial development.
Aimed at present and future generations, the project works for peace, economic integration of the African continent and its common development.
Given the continental dimension of the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline, we also see it as a structuring project that promises to link Africa and Europe.
We therefore welcome the support of regional and international financial institutions that have expressed their wish to provide effective support for its implementation.
In this regard, we would like to affirm Morocco’s concern to always act in concert with our Nigerian brothers and all partners, in all transparency and responsibility, so that this project is completed as soon as possible.
Furthermore, we reaffirm our receptivity to any form of fruitful partnership aimed at the successful completion of this major African project.
Loyalty to the spirit and eternal oath of the Green Walk requires that all Moroccans remain mobilised and vigilant in order to defend the national unity of their country, to promote its full development and to strengthen its attachment to its African depth.
This is an opportunity for us to pay tribute to the immaculate memory of the architect of the Green Walk, Our Venerable Father, the late King Hassan II, may God rest his soul, and to the valiant martyrs of the Fatherland.
We also express Our consideration to Our Royal Armed Forces, the National Security, the Royal Gendarmerie, the Territorial Administration, the Auxiliary Forces and the Civil Protection for their dedication and self-sacrifice in defending, under Our command, the territorial integrity of the country and in preserving its security and stability.