Morocco unveils Africa’s first high-speed train line

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French President Emmanuel Macron and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI are inaugurating Morocco’s first high-speed rail line, the first ever such line in Africa.

The $2 billion project was launched in September 2011 by the king and Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president of France, which jointly funded the line with several Arab states.

Known as the LGV — French for “high-speed line” — it will connect the economic hubs of Tangier and Casablanca in 2 hours 10 minutes at a speed of 320 km/h (199m/h) instead of almost 5 hours on a regular train. It will be inaugurated Thursday.

Morocco bought 12 high-speed trains from French train manufacturer Alstom.

Fewer than 100 years after their independence, countries like Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia are still influenced by France. Paris has maintained a strong financial presence in Africa as the continent’s largest EU trading partner.

Recently, France has attempted to boost its investment presence. Last week, 150 French business professionals traveled to Laayoune for a forum, where several pledged further investments in Africa.

King Mohammed VI named the first line Al Boraq after a mythical winged creature that transported the prophets to the heavens.