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Morocco, Nigeria take forward ambitious gas pipeline project

IANS | Rabat |

Morocco and Nigeria have taken a major step forward to construct an over 4,000-km gas pipeline that will carry Nigerian gas through six West African countries to Morocco, improving access to energy across the nations.

The two sides concluded an agreement for the Gazoduc pipeline project and another one for cooperation in the field of fertilisers at a ceremony in Rabat last week.

The agreements were concluded five months after the visit of Morocco's King Mohammed VI to Nigeria in December last year during which both sides signed a joint venture for the pipeline project, news agency MAP reported.

The Nigeria-Morocco pipeline, nicknamed "The Wonder of Africa", will also link Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Senegal, and Mauritania.

It will speed up electrification projects in all of west Africa and benefit over 300 million people in these countries.

It will not be a new pipeline, but will extend the current gas pipeline operated by Nigeria's West African Gas Pipeline Company, which transports natural gas from Nigeria to Benin, Togo and Ghana.

The project was first discussed by King Mohammed VI and Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari at the UN Climate Summit COP22 in Marrakech last year in November and was taken forward by the two heads of state during the Moroccan King's visit to Abuja in December.

The two countries have termed their collaboration as "a model for South-South cooperation that will act as a catalyst for African economic opportunities".

In recent years Morocco has grown to become the second investor in the continent, after South Africa.

In 2016, a total of $600 million of investments in Africa were earmarked by Morocco.

The pipeline will eventually help Nigerian gas reach Europe. Nigeria has 30 percent of the continent's gas reserves.

Agreements on the pipeline were signed by CEO of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Kacalla Baru, and the director general of the Moroccan Office for Hydrocarbons and Mining, Amina Benkhadra.

The ceremony was also marked by the signing of an agreement between the Moroccan state-owned phosphates OCP group and the Fertilizers Producers & Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN).

During the Moroccan King's visit, the two sides had signed a key agreement to build a fertilizers factory in Nigeria by OCP.

Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama who attended the ceremony said the conclusion of these agreements was evidence of the success of the Rabat-Abuja partnership.

He described the cooperation agreement with OCP group as "a great opportunity" for Nigeria, adding that this accord, "which the Sovereign has generously facilitated, is a great opportunity for Nigeria in its quest for food self-sufficiency".