The Moroccan port breaks records for container, vehicle and passenger traffic

A visit to Tanger Med: the Mediterranean's leading logistics centre

Puerto de Tánger Med (Marruecos) - ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ
Port of Tangier Med (Morocco) - ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ

Tanger Med impresses the visitor travelling along the road linking Tangier to Tetouan: the vast expanse of land it occupies (more than a thousand hectares, the equivalent of 2,000 football pitches); the number of containers piled up around the huge cranes, like Lego pieces (7.5 million units managed in 2022); the impressive size of its cranes, particularly visible when night falls and the lights that adorn them are switched on... and that is only what one notices at first glance. 

Responsables de la Autoridad Portuaria explican a los visitantes las cifras de Tánger Med - ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ
Port Authority officials explain the figures for Tangier Med to visitors - ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ

Atalayar had the opportunity to enjoy a guided tour of the port installations, as part of the delegation attending the 3rd Logistics Forum dedicated to the Tangiers-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region, held on 26 January at the St Regis Hotel in Tetouan

Port complex of 1,000 hectares 

A port which, from a distance, impresses by its appearance and its size, which becomes apparent when you enter its installations and see the time it takes to move between the different sectors. We are talking about 1,000 hectares of extension of the port complex alone, to which must be added 5,000 hectares of industrial platform and 200 hectares of logistics area. 

Logical dimensions for an installation which, over the year 2022, processed a total of 7,596,845 containers, 2,071,504 passengers, 459,091 lorries and 478,589 vehicles. 

Conectividad del puerto de Tánger Med - IMAGEN/TÁNGER MED
Connectivity of the port of Tangier Med - IMAGE/TANGIER MED

The port of Tangier Med has weekly connectivity with more than 180 ports in more than 70 countries on five continents. This enables it to connect by sea with North and South America in 10 days; with 40 ports in 24 West African countries; with the first European port, Rotterdam (Holland), in barely three days; and with China in 20 days. 

The port's container traffic tonnage by geographical area is divided between Africa (36%), Europe (35%), Asia (18%) and the other side of the Atlantic (11%). 

A project started in 2003 

As the spokespersons of the port of Tanger Med explained to those attending the visit, the project started in 2003 and has come a long way since then. A project which was personally promoted by the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI

The monarch himself pointed out, at the start of the construction of the port, that "we are launching one of the most important economic projects in the history of our country. This is the new port of Tangier Med, which we consider as the nucleus of a great port, a logistical, industrial, commercial and tourist complex". 

Contenedores en el Puerto de Tánger Med - ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ
Containers in the Port of Tangier Med - ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ

Since then, the milestones in its construction and extension have followed one after the other. During the first decade of the century, the opening of new installations followed one after the other: 2005 saw the opening of the industrial pole; two years later, the port of Tangier Med 1 was inaugurated; in 2009, the largest industrial platform of Tangier Med was opened; in 2010, the opening of the passenger and lorry port was registered. 

In the second decade of the 21st century, new milestones marked the chronology of this installation: in 2012, the Tangier Automotive City was opened, with the presence of the Renault Group plant; in 2014, the Tangier Med Port Centre was inaugurated, while the first phase of the port, Tangier Med 1, reached its maximum capacity of three million containers per year; in 2015, the Tetouan Park was opened; in 2017, the export access began to operate... 

First extension 

The fact that the port of Tangier Med 1 had reached its maximum container processing capacity made it necessary to expand the facilities, which took effect in 2019, with the opening of the port of Tangier Med 2. 

This enabled Tangier Med to become the leading container port in the Mediterranean, processing more than twice as many containers annually as the capacity of Tangier Med 1. 

Since then, this facility has also succeeded in becoming the leading port in Africa and ranks 22nd out of the 500 largest ports in the world by volume of container traffic. 

Maqueta del puerto de Tánger Med - ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ
Model of the port of Tangier Med - ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ

As the spokespersons of the port authorities indicated to Atalayar's questions, the Tangier Med port has been created to grow, due to the increase in demand, the growth of world trade and the increase in the number of requests for calls at Tangier Med: "Given its strategic position at the maritime crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar, we have realised the first extension with Tangier Med 2 and further extensions of the port are very likely. We are now awaiting the completion and operation of Nador West Med to assess its impact and to make a study of the evolution of world container traffic". 

Investment of 11.2 billion dollars 

The economic effort made by the Moroccan government with this project has been very important: the infrastructure has required an overall investment of 11.2 billion dollars, 4.3 billion in public investment and 6.9 billion in private investment. 

With hindsight, there is no doubt that the investment has been profitable: Tangier Med has become a growing economic hub, with a large presence of key sectors for the Moroccan economy and, specifically, for the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region, such as automotive, aeronautics, electronics, textiles and agriculture. 

Puerto de Tánger Med (Marruecos - ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ
Port of Tangier Med (Morocco - ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ

The presence of the automotive sector is particularly relevant: the port is a leader in Europe, America and Asia, and has 11 of the 20 largest automotive suppliers. 

It is impressive to see the departure of the endless trains, with dozens of wagons loaded with brand new vehicles, leaving for their distribution points. 

Coordination with other Mediterranean ports 

The strategic location of Tangier Med, on the route of the Strait of Gibraltar, and its proximity to other Mediterranean ports, highlights the need for cooperation with them. 

As the port authorities point out, cooperation and coordination is constant with the nearby Port of Algeciras (less than 30 kilometres away as the crow flies), especially during the Marhaba operation, the annual transit of Moroccans living abroad, as well as during the transit of lorries and the calls of ro-ro vessels. 

Foto de familia de los visitantes al Puerto de Tánger Med (Marruecos) - ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ
Family photo of visitors to the Port of Tangier Med (Morocco) - ATALAYAR/GUILLERMO LÓPEZ

A complementarity that is facilitated by the fact that both Tangier Med and Algeciras share the same port operator, APM Terminals. 

The objective now is to achieve the same complementarity, bridging the distances, with the Port of Barcelona, a collaboration that will benefit both Spanish businessmen who want to set up in Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima, and Moroccan businessmen who want to make the leap to Europe. 

Just 14 kilometres separate Europe and Africa. In fact, from the windows of the Special Port Agency building, one can see, on a clear day, the outline of the Spanish coast, from Algeciras to Tarifa. Now, the aim is for this distance to be only symbolic.