French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Morocco on Thursday to take part in the inauguration of a high-speed railway line that boasts the fastest journey times in Africa or the Arab world.
The French leader, who was invited by King Mohammed VI, will attend a grand ceremony at Tangiers’ newly renovated train station, with heavy security measures put in place.
Macron will travel with the monarch on the high-speed train from Tangiers, a major port linking Africa and Europe, to the capital Rabat.
The service between Tangiers and Casablanca, via the capital, will slash journey times between the North African country’s economic hubs to just over two hours from nearly five.
Trains will zoom along the newly laid tracks at up to 320 kilometres per hour.
Morocco has heralded the project as a key step in modernising the country after weathering the Arab Spring uprisings born largely out of discontent over inequality and poor public services.
It wants to position itself as an African hub for foreign investors.
The French presidency hailed the railway line as a “flagship project of the bilateral relationship between France and Morocco.”
Macron’s one-day working visit “reflects the depth of bilateral relations based on a solid and strong partnership” between the two countries, said the official MAP news agency.
France hopes the high-speed rail project will demonstrate its industrial knowhow so that its companies can secure other contracts in Africa.