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    Morocco Ups Infrastructure Investment Amid Widespread Criticism

    Morocco is pledging more funds to roads’ development and upkeep nationwide, attempting to reinforce a crumbling infrastructure system brick by brick.

    07 Feb 2021

    Rabat – Morocco has increased its focus on the maintenance and modernization of infrastructure in recent years, growing its annual average budget for investment in roads, bridges, and expressways by 27% since the period of 2012-2016.

    The figures came from Minister of Equipment, Transport, Logistics, and Water Abdelkader Amara on Tuesday during a response to questions at Morocco’s upper house of Parliament.

    The announcement comes amid widespread criticism and calls for greater transparency after a particularly heavy rain season wrought significant infrastructure damage on Casablanca and other cities across the country.

    Per Abdelkader’s figures, the federal allocation to roads-related costs totaled MAD 42 billion ($4.4 billion) between 2017 and 2021, up from MAD 33 billion ($3.5 billion) between 2012 and 2016.

    The department dedicated the greatest share of allocated funds (46%) towards the upkeep of pre-existing roads, while other priorities included construction of new expressways and bridges.

    Notably, the department has also focused on the development of new roads in rural areas to further mitigate territorial economic disparities. Through the national rural roads program, Morocco has invested MAD 4 billion ($421 million) into the construction of 15,000 kilometers of new roads servicing three million Moroccans.

    However, many are questioning if Morocco’s recent increase in infrastructure investment is far too little, too late.

    In Casablanca, heavy rains pelted citizens who also witnessed “nightmarish floods” spread over multiple days in early January. The extreme weather resulted in traffic pileups, public transport shutdowns, and still-unquantified infrastructural damage to the city.

    As Casablanca is Morocco’s financial hub, infrastructure lapses have particularly severe economic consequences in the city of over 3 million.

    The International Labor Organization strsses that consistently effective infrastructure is essential for economic development and poverty reduction and that infrastructure failures lead to higher supply costs, shipping delays, and decreases in labor mobility and product output.

    Some even credit Morocco’s lackluster infrastructure for its unsuccessful bid to host the World Cup in 2026, which FIFA passed over for a joint “United” bid between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

    One disappointed Twitter user writes, “Well Morocco did lose their bid for 2022 as the infrastructure wasn’t up to the standard needed for world cup.”

    Per FIFA’s analysis of the two bids, Morocco did score significantly lower in the categories of stadiums, accommodation, and transportation, eventually leading the football association to pass it up for its North American counterpart.

    However, the greatest effects of Morocco’s rebuffed road system may still have yet to be seen.

    Think tank data explains that the return-on-investment in infrastructure is often not visible for years. On a more optimistic note, the data shows that, in the United States, every $1 invested into infrastructure yielded $3.70 in economic return over a 20-year period. Along these lines, over the next decade, Morocco could see its infrastructure investment pay for itself nearly four times over.

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