Morocco has accelerated, by three years, an estimated $1.6bn strategy to build a network of roads connecting the rural districts of the country.

Originally scheduled to finish by 2015, the Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry has decided to merge the first and second phases of the national rural roads programme to finish a total of 26,235 kilometres of roads by 2012.   

The first phase of the project spanned from 1995 to 2005 and saw 11,235 kilometres of roads built at an estimated cost of $732m. The second phase, which began in late-2005 is significantly more ambitious. It is an estimated $1.1bn plan to build 15,000 kilometres of roads in seven years, essentially doubling the output of the first phase.  

The second phase of the programme will include a road network that will connect 1,284 rural villages and create access for an estimated 300,000 inhabitants.  

The donors for the second phase include:

  • The World Bank
  • African Development Bank
  • French Development Agency (AFD)
  • The Foreign Economic Cooperation Fund
  • King Hasan Fund II
  • European Investment Bank (EIB)
  • Arab Fund for Economic & Social Development
  • Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)

The socioeconomic impact of the first phase has been significant. Attendance at medical centres within project-specific areas has doubled; primary school enrolment has increased by 54 per cent; the use of fertiliser in farming has increased by 60 per cent; and non-farm-related employment has increased by a factor of six.

The national rural roads programme is the result of a government study conducted in 1985. The entire project aims to build 38,000 kilometres of roads throughout the country.