Transport & Logistics mode

Tanger Med: chronology of an ambition

January 02 2020

DOSSIER. In the space of 20 years, Morocco has developed a logistics ecosystem in Tanger Med that has attracted both major maritime operators and leading shippers. How was this success built? Upply retraces this adventure in a series of articles that begins with this chronology of operations.

The project to create a transhipment hub in Tangier dates back to the mid-1990s. Several zones were studied at the time in order to choose a location for this vast logistics project. The Mediterranean finally won through, beating the Atlantic coast. It was therefore in the Straits of Gibraltar, facing the port of Algeciras, that the Alaouite Kingdom laid the foundation stone of the port. "The Mediterranean choice is explained by its position at the crossroads between the east-west and north-south maritime routes, as well as by the king's desire to establish himself in the Euro-Mediterranean area," explains Hassan Abkari, Deputy Director General of the Tanger Med Port Authority.

1/ Tanger Med 1

In 1999, the choice for the site for Tanger Med was fixed and in 2002, King Mohammed VI laid the first stone at a ceremony to inaugurate the works. Construction of the Tanger Med 1 site began two years later, and in 2006, the first gantries were installed. Tanger Med 1's first terminal officially opened in July 2007 and the second the following year.

  • Terminal 1 is licensed to APM Terminals, a subsidiary of APM Moller Mærsk, and also to Akwa, a consortium of Moroccan companies. It has a quay length of 800 m and offers a capacity of 1.5M TEUs.
  • Terminal 2 is allocated to a consortium composed of Eurogate (40%), CMA CGM (40%) and MSC (20%). It has 800 linear metres of quay space.

In 2008, work also began on the Tanger Med passenger terminal and Ro-Ro port, which adjoins Tanger Med 1. The opening took place in 2010.

  • The Ro-Ro terminal played a major role in Renault's installation near the port, which took place in 2012. Operated by the French company STVA, a subsidiary of the CAT group, the Ro-Ro terminal has 440 linear metres of quay space. It is spread over 20 hectares, 13 of which have been granted to STVA on behalf of the Renault group, for whom the subsidiary of the CAT group manages almost all traffic flows. The remaining 7 hectares are managed by a Geodis subsidiary with a common user status which allows all car manufacturers to work out of Tangier. In this way the terminal handles shipping of automobiles from the PSA plant in Kenitra. The vehicles are transported in by train. The investment came from Gefco, which leases these trains to PSA. The handling in the terminal is then carried out by STVA. In 2018, Tanger Med handled 479,321 vehicles at the Ro-Ro terminal as a whole, which was an 11% increase compared to the previous year. The part of the terminal dedicated to Renault generated traffic of 383,715 cars, of which 351,191 were for export. On the import side, the terminal processed 39,679 units. For the "common user" part of the terminal, 88,451 vehicles were processed. This traffic is expected to increase in 2019 with the ramp-up of the PSA plant in Kenitra.
  • The passenger terminal, which has now opened to ferries, allows the port of Tangier to avoid the queues of trucks in the city centre. It covers 30 hectares, of which 10 are dedicated to road transport, and includes scanners and truck search areas, an area for vehicles leaving Morocco with inspection posts, an area for vehicles entering into Morocco and finally a regulation area for international road traffic. In 2018, 2.8 million passengers used this terminal. As for international road traffic, it amounted to 326,773 units, up 14% compared to 2017.

2/ Free zones

In 2009, it was the turn of the industrial and logistics free zones to sprout up. A total of six logistics zones were created. The first was located behind the port. The other five, Tanger Free Zone, Tanger Automotive City, Renault Tanger Med, Tetouan Park and Tetouan Shore, gradually emerged.

In total, the industrial and logistics free zones now cover 1,600 hectares. Around 900 companies are established on the land:

  • Major names in international logistics such as DHL, Bolloré Logistics, Panalpina or a subsidiary of the Sharaf group from the UAE, the Emirates Logistics Group.
  • Retailers: Decathlon, Adidas, Bosch and Huawei have chosen to set up logistics centres in the Moroccan port, from here they are able to cover the entire western Mediterranean, from Morocco to Algeria, and also to Spain and France.
  • Manufacturers: The automobile industry with Renault and PSA, but also Siemens, which builds wind turbine blades for wind farms all over the world, automotive subcontractors such as the Japanese company JTeckt, Hands from Korea and the Chinese company ZTT.

These free zones still have development potential. Tanger Med Zones has commissioned several studies with a view to new openings. With an additional land reserve of 3,600 hectares, Tanger Med wants to confirm its position as the leading hub for port logistics in the Mediterranean. Projects are already underway. Last April, for example, the Japanese automotive component supplier Mitsui Kinzoku Act launched the construction of its door-locking mechanism production plant, with a total investment of €12.5 million.

3/ Tanger Med 2

Immediately after the inauguration of Tanger Med 1 terminal, King Mohammed VI requested the construction of a second container port. In 2008, the decision was made in the midst of the global economic crisis. The construction of Tanger Med 2 began in 2015.

This new infrastructure includes two terminals. The first, Terminal 4, began operations on June 28, 2019. It was licensed to APM Terminals and has a quay length of 820m which allows for a capacity of 5M TEUs. In January 2020, Terminal 3 will in turn become operational. Licensed to Marsa Maroc, it extends over 800 linear metres with a capacity of 1M TEUs. Tanger Med 2 offers a total of 1,600 linear metres of quay space and a capacity of 6M TEUs per year. The entire port complex now has a total capacity of 9M TEUs. The two terminals of Tanger Med 2 required an investment of just over €1 billion from operators. Each will have four over-Panamax gantries.

After Tanger Med 1 and 2, the special agency (TMSA) has no plans to build a third terminal. TMSA holds a stake in the future port of Nador, located on the Mediterranean, which will complete the Moroccan port offer. While Nador is expected to be mostly dedicated to bulk cargo, such as hydrocarbons, cereals and minerals, a conventional cargo terminal, including containers, is also planned with a quay length of 1,520 metres. This port should be operational in 2021.

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Graduated in law, Herve Deiss joined the transport, logistic and shipping press more than 20 years ago. From over these years, he has developed a specific expertise in all ports systems around the world