Morocco on Friday unveiled two new terminals at its vast Tanger Med port, tripling its capacity to make it the Mediterranean’s biggest facility for maritime cargo.

The extension at the site on the Strait of Gibraltar, already one of Africa’s biggest ports, was officially opened by Prince Moulay Hassan, son of Morocco’s King Mohammed VI.

The megaport’s management said two new terminals would boost Tanger Med’s overall capacity from 3.47 million to nine million twenty-foot equivalent units, a rough measure based on the capacity of standard shipping containers.

“Tanger today represents the top port in the Mediterranean in terms of capacity,” said Fouad Brini, head of the Tanger Med special agency that developed the site.

“That’s something to be proud of.”

The extension is the result of nine years of work and 1.3 billion euros of public funding along with an equivalent amount pumped in by private investors, said port director Rachid Houari.

Tanger Med, in operation since 2007, occupies a strategic position on the entrance to the Mediterranean, within sight of the Spanish coast.

That enables it to utilise its proximity to European markets as well as cheap Moroccan labour.

An industrial zone at the site employs some 70,000 people.

Last year the port handled 52.2 million tonnes of cargo, over a third of it destined for Africa.

It also has a passenger terminal that last year welcomed some three million travellers.