Wide Angle

France wants its share of Moroccan projects in the Sahara

France is encouraging French companies to get involved in development projects in the Sahara. This move aims to secure a larger economic role in the region for France, competing with other countries like Spain, Germany, and the United States.

Estimated read time: 2'

France wants its share of Moroccan projects in the Sahara. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Quai d'Orsay) is now encouraging French groups to «position themselves» in the province, reveals Africa Intelligence. Paris doesn't want to be left behind by Spain, Germany, or the United States.

In late February, Stéphane Séjourné affirmed his government's willingness to «accompany Morocco in the development» of the Sahara. «Morocco has invested heavily in development projects for the benefit of local populations and in training, renewable energy, tourism and the blue economy linked to aquatic resources», he acknowledged in a statement following his meeting with Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita.

Algeria reacted strongly to Africa Intelligence's revelations. «This would be synonymous with France's frank and direct support for Morocco's colonialist and illegal occupation of these non-autonomous territories. In diplomatic and geostrategic terms, events are accelerating at an unexpected pace, to say the least», an Algerian media outlet pointed out yesterday.

Indeed, just weeks before, the Algerian press welcomed the fact that Séjourné's visit to Morocco had ended without France recognizing the Moroccan Sahara.

Moving to action

The publication by Africa Intelligence yesterday of this instruction given by Paris to French companies was preceded by the announcement, by the same media, of the arrival in the kingdom, on April 4, of the French Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade, Franck Riester.

In Rabat, he will hold separate talks with Ryad Mezzour, Minister of Industry and Trade, and Mohcine Jazouli, Minister Delegate in charge of Investment, Convergence and Evaluation of Public Policies. The two-day visit is yet another sign ofdiscussed during Riester's visit. 

France's economic presence in the Sahara is well ahead of that of other Western countries. Indeed, the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Morocco (CFCIM) has regional delegations in the three Saharan regions : Laayoune Sakia El Hamra, Dakhla Oued Eddahab, and Guelmim Oued Noun; inaugurated in 2017, 2019 and February 2024 respectively. All that's missing is a political and diplomatic presence in the province.

A month after the United States recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara, on December 10, 2020, by former President Donald Trump, a CFCIM delegation visited Dakhla.

For the record, 94 French parliamentarians had pointed out, in a collective tribune published in August 2023, «France's procrastination on the Sahara and the Quai d'Orsay's balancing act with Algeria are pushing the Royal Palace to look elsewhere than Paris for military or economic partners».

Be the first one to comment on our articles...