Tangier Med Port complex – Port of Call

We learn how the Tangier Med Port complex was founded and grew into an essential part of Morocco’s transport infrastructure.

Tanger Med is a global logistics gateway located on the Strait of Gibraltar and connected to more than 180 ports worldwide. Tanger Med has an annual handling capacity of 9 million containers, exports of 1 million new vehicles, and the transit of 7 million passengers and 700,000 trucks.

Tanger Med constitutes an industrial Hub for more than 1000 companies representing a yearly export turnover in excess of 8.8 billion USD in various sectors such as automotive, aeronautics, logistics, textile and trade.

the goal of the Tangier Med Port Complex is to develop an effective port platform integrated with trans-shipment activities, import/export and value-added logistics operations.

“Tanger Med Port Complex has been running since July 2007,” explains Port Authority Director Rachid Houari. “We’ve 12 years’ experience and an internal staff of 400 people.”

Tanger Med Port Complex is made of two complementary facilities, the three ports and the surrounding logistical zone. The first of these is the Tanger Med 1, a port that includes two container terminals, a railway terminal, a hydrocarbons terminal, a bulk terminal, and a vehicle terminal.

Meanwhile, Tanger Med 2, includes two container terminals. The Tanger Med Roro-Passengers Port is connected to the access zones and border inspections alongside the eight berths for boarding passengers and trucks.

Tangier Med Port complex

The adjacent dedicated Logistics Zone has a capacity of 200 Ha including the last generation of warehouses and offices for rent. Tanger Med also has its own Port Centre that offers 30.000 square metres of offices, banks, Hotel, food court, and multi-service spaces. Every part of the facility is connected to the rail, train, bus and maritime infrastructure.

“Tanger Med offers a unique value proposition for international investors both in logistics and industry thanks to the unique position on the strait of Gibraltar, the quality of the infrastructure and the access to target markets,” Houari explains. “We are business orientated, and we’re orientated towards making life easy for clients and being a facilitator more than anything else.”

That facilitation is going well. “We have just boosted the signal for the logistical zone inside the port,” says Houari. “In the last three years, we’ve reached 300,000 square metres of Land and 120.000 m² of warehouses, attracting large brand names like DHL, Adidas, Nippon Express, Decathlon, GEFCO, Emirates and about 30 others.”

Building the Port

“The main challenges we’ve had in past 15 years have included four years work to build the first port, which involved a number of technical challenges but was achieved well within four years,” says Houari.

Building the port itself was only a part of the challenge, however. It was also essential to find partners who could work with the Port Authority.

“We had three years of challenges to find all the main Concessions. The mainliners and terminal operators have recognized the uniqueness of Tanger Med and have invested in this platform including Maersk APM, CMA-CGM, Eurogate,” Houari points out.

Some of the port’s operations are ensured under concession contracts by world-renowned operators. Tanger Med thus includes within its ranks the world’s top shipowners (MAERSK, Hapag -Lloyd, CMA CGM, MSC, ARKAS) as well as Terminal leaders such as APM TERMINALS, EUROGATE, and Horizon Terminals.

“We closed 2019 with 65 million tons handled, across all our activities together,” Houari says. “We are the first port in Africa as we handled in 2019 nearly 5 million TEU. We are the first port with that level of capacity on the Mediterranean Sea.  We have developed the car export and import and handled half a million lbs in 2019, 80% of which is export. We have also seen the transit of almost 3 million passengers. And finally, over 350,000 trucks and lorries have crossed from Tangier Morocco to Spain, driving then all the way up to major capitals in Europe with all local Moroccan cargo.”

The effect on Tangier itself has also been enormous.

“The Tangier City that was the fifth-largest economical city of Morocco in the year 2005, and since the opening of the Port Complex and industry, now it’s the second-largest,” Houari says simply. “It’s grown a lot since the port came here, so things have moved up thanks to the Tanger Med Zone.

Tanger Med is the first out of ten commercial ports in Morocco. More than 50% of the Moroccan import-export economy goes through Tanger Med, especially industrial and agribusiness products.

Spreading the Word Tangier Med Port complex

To keep that growth trend on track, Tanger Med Port Complex has gone on the road to spread the word about what they can offer.

“Big operators wanted to have extra capacity in the Mediterranean Sea and Tanger was an excellent location, on the strait of Gibraltar,” says Houari. “What is important to know is if that the experience is satisfactory and if they will ask for extensions on their contracts, which they all did. Maersk APM is investing 900 million euros in Tanger Med 2”

Of course, to offer operators the best levels of experience and service the Port needs to have a great team on its side, and one of the bi-products of Tanger Med expansion has been an explosion in jobs.

“The Tangier Med Port complex has developed over 1,000 HA, and Tanger Med industrial Zones is operational overs 2,000 hectares, with 1,000 companies and 80,000 jobs created,” Houari says. “We’re lucky that in Morocco we have many universities to find the skills that investors need. We also have technical schools and training centres with the right skills for diverse industries”

Looking forward, Houari is excited to see how the port will progress.

“We went from 0 to 5 million containers in 12 years,” he says. “We’re in an excellent geographical position, with a good team of operators and shipowners who like to come to this port. We’re looking to the future with optimism because the sector has grown up a lot.”

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