Here follows the full text of the Royal speech:
“Praise be to God,
May peace and blessings be upon the Prophet, His Kith and Kin
The commemoration of the forty-seventh anniversary of the Green March comes at a crucial time in the process to firmly establish the Moroccanness of the Sahara.
Whereas the glorious, epic Green March made it possible to liberate that part of our territory, the continuing marches I have been spearheading aim to make sure our citizens lead a dignified life, especially in those Saharan regions, which are dear to my heart.
Hence, our action to defend the Moroccanness of the Sahara is based on a holistic approach that combines not only political and diplomatic action, but also efforts to promote economic, social and human development in the region.
The development program for the southern provinces, signed during the ceremony I presided over in Laayun, in November 2015, and in Dakhla, in February 2016, is part of that endeavor.
This is an integrated development program, with a budget in excess of 77 billion dirhams. It aims to launch a real socio-economic dynamic, create jobs and investment opportunities, and provide the region with the infrastructure and facilities it needs.
It is an ambitious program which responds to the concerns and aspirations of the inhabitants of our southern provinces. The region’s local governments and elected officials are in charge of implementing the projects included under the program.
Seven years into the program, it is gratifying to note that the expenditure commitment rate stands at about 80 per cent of the total budget allocated to it.
The Tiznit-Dakhla highway is in its final stages, the region’s connection to the national electricity grid has been completed and the communication networks consolidated and extended.
Similarly, the solar and wind power plants programmed have been completed as well.
The construction of the major Dakhla-Atlantic port will begin soon, once the various studies and administrative procedures are completed.
As regards the economy, which is the main driver of development, a number of projects have been completed concerning the valorization and processing of fish products – an industry that provides thousands of jobs to the region’s inhabitants.
In the agricultural sector, more than six thousand hectares have been developed in Dakhla and Boujdour and placed at the disposal of young farmers from the region.
The implementation rate of most projects planned in the phosphate, water and sanitation sectors is quite high.
In the social and cultural sectors, many achievements have been made in the areas relating to health, education and training, support for self – employment initiatives, and the promotion of the Hassani language and culture – both of which are key constituents of our cohesive national identity.
In this regard, and in keeping with a spirit of national responsibility, I invite the private sector to continue to be engaged in productive investment in these provinces, particularly in projects of a social nature.
I also call for new prospects of action to be opened up in order to promote the development dynamic in our southern provinces, especially in the most promising sectors, the blue economy and renewable energy.
Throughout history, the Moroccan Sahara has served as a link between Morocco and its African roots at the human, spiritual, cultural and economic levels.
Through our development agenda, we seek to consolidate this historical role and make sure the region is more open to the future.
This approach is in line with the special relations Morocco enjoys with other African countries, and which I am keen to strengthen in order to serve our peoples’ shared interests.
In this regard, and together with my brother, His Excellency Muhammadu Bukhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we launched the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline Project (NMGP).
Today, I am pleased to note the progress made in this major project, in line with the terms of the contract signed in December 2016.
The Memorandum of Understanding signed recently in Rabat with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and in Nouakchott, with Mauritania and Senegal, is a key building block in the completion of this project.
That signing reflects the commitment of the countries concerned to contribute to the completion of this strategic project, and attests to their desire to see it through.
Considering the special importance I attach to the partnership with West African countries, I consider the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline Project to be more than just a bilateral project between two sister nations.
In fact, I want this to be a strategic project that benefits all of West Africa – a region which is home to more than 440 million people.
The NMGP provides opportunities as well as guarantees in terms of energy security and economic, industrial and social development for the fifteen ECOWAS Member Countries, as well as for Morocco and Mauritania.
This is a project for peace, for African economic integration and for co- development: a project for the present and for future generations.
Given the continental dimension of the NMGP, I consider it to be a major flagship project which will link Africa to Europe.
I also commend the support of regional and international financing institutions, which have expressed their wish to participate in its implementation.
I should like to stress how keen we are, in Morocco, to continue to work closely, responsibly and with the utmost degree of transparency with our brothers and sisters in Nigeria, as well as with all partners, in order to implement the NMGP as soon as possible.
I also wish to point out, once again, that we are open to all forms of constructive partnership for the implementation this major African project.
To continue to be faithful to the spirit of the Green March and to its everlasting oath, we need to remain mobilized and vigilant in order to defend our nation’s unity, achieve greater progress and strengthen Morocco’s bonds with its African roots.
Let us take this opportunity to pray that Almighty God bless the soul of the architect of the Green March, my revered father, His late Majesty King Hassan II – may he rest in peace – and of all our valiant martyrs.
I also wish to pay tribute to our Royal Armed Forces, the National Police, the Royal Gendarmerie, the local authorities, the Auxiliary Forces, and the Emergency Services for their dedication, under my leadership, in defending our country’s unity, security and stability.
Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh.”