The Ministry of Equipment, Transportation, Logistics, and Water awarded the conglomerate the contract, and the massive project is expected to cost nearly US$1.4 billion dollars to complete. SGTM and SOMAGEC beat several other construction companies from Greece, Egypt, and France, to win the rights to the construction contract.
Dakhla is a prime city for maritime travel, and the new port will be used for both international commerce, and fishing activities. In addition to being a positive development for the Moroccan economy, Dakhla-Atlantic will help support the West African region, by encouraging domestic and regional trade.
Dakhla’s new port is being built to support several industries, including fishing, mining, energy, tourism, trade, and manufacturing, and the port’s scalability is one of the most highlighted features. Although referred to as Dakhla-Atlantic, the port will actually be located in Ntireft, a small city approximately 25 miles north of Dakhla.
A few features of the Atlantic port include a 52 foot deep commercial port, a port dedicated to commercial fishing, and a dedicated port for the Moroccan naval industry. Additionally, areas dedicated for service docks, trade platforms, fueling, and ship repairs are also being planned.
Designers are planning to place the port on an islet and include a sea bridge to connect the infrastructure to the mainland. The structure will be supported by an industrial area of over 1,600 hectares. Experts predict within its first year of operation, Dakhla-Atlantic will facilitate over 2.2 million tons in trade goods, with over 950,000 tons in seafood trade alone.
The Dakhla project envisages a fishing port able to import almost 1 million tonnes of seafood a year, and a container terminal able to handle 2.2 million tonnes of commercial cargo.
The project was announced in 2015, when King Mohammed VI made a speech saying the port would integrate Morocco’s southern provinces into a “unified homeland” and “enhance the influence of the Sahara region as an economic hub and a crucial link between Morocco and its African roots”.
Morocco has control of most of the territory in the Western Sahara, including all the major cities and natural resources. However, the UN considers the Polisario Front to be the legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people and maintains that the Sahrawis have a right to self-determination.
SGTM, short for Societé Générale des Travaux du Maroc, is a private contractor controlled by the Kabbaja family. It is also working on Morocco’s Nador West-Med port, a hydrocarbon handling port that should be complete in 2023.