Africa’s First High-Speed Train Hit A New Year Green Energy Milestone

The Morocco high-speed train linking Tagiers, Casablanca, and Rabat (Photo credit: Systra)


The Morocco high-speed train linking Tagiers, Casablanca, and Rabat (Photo credit: Systra)
The Morocco high-speed train linking Tangier, Casablanca, and Rabat (Photo credit: Systra)

In November 2018, Morocco became the first African country to unveil a high-speed train. The train connected Tangier, a coastal city with Casablanca the business hub of the country, and the capital Rabat. The train line further extends to Agadir and Marrakech. The Al Boraq (meaning lightning) high-speed train can reach a speed of 320 km/hr.—the fastest in Africa.

On January 1, 2022, Al Boraq made a switch to using green energy to fuel its operations. The announcement came through a press release by the National Railways Office (ONCF). Leveraging the clean energy provided by the national operator, ONCF was able to green the national railway network’s power cycle.

The aim of ONCF is to progressively increase the green transformation. They started by switching 25% of their overall energy consumption to green energy on January 1, 2022. Subsequently, they will increase to 50% by 2023. However, the goal is to go completely green in the medium term.

The move will reduce carbon footprint by what will be the equivalent of planting 4 million trees or avoiding 120,000 tons of CO2 emissions. Renewable energy development in Morocco is led by the king of Morocco, His Majesty King Mohammed VI. The kingdom wants 52% of the total energy requirement coming from renewable energy by 2030.



King of Morocco, His Majesty King Mohammed VI (Photo credit: News Central)
King of Morocco, His Majesty King Mohammed VI (Photo credit: News Central)

This move makes Morocco the most committed developing nation to the reduction of carbon emission. They are also leading in the development of solar and wind energy on the continent.

Development of Rail Transport in Africa

To get where they are today, Morocco took loans from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, France, and other development partners to launch the €2 billion (approx. $2.28 billion) high-speed rail project in 2018. Since its operation began in November 2018, the train has carried over 3 million passengers. This is according to data from SNCF, a French railway firm that invested in the North African nation.

Other African countries including Nigeria are ramping up investment in rail infrastructure. In Nigeria, for example, the poor state of roads has increased the patronage of rail transport. However, inefficient management remains a clog in the wheel of the government from reaping the full benefit of the over $1.2 billion investment.

Egypt on September 1, 2020, signed a deal with Siemens Mobility worth $4.45 billion to build a high-speed electric rail line to link the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. Siemens will work with The Arab Contractors and Orascom Construction S.A.E. to design, install, and maintain the rail line for 15 years.



Likewise, South Africa’s Department of Transport announced in 2020 that it would introduce a new high-speed rail network. The target for the development of the project is 5 years. Thus, this means that we may see a high-speed train in South Africa by 2025.

The Ultimate Goal of Linking African Capitals

The African Union has set the ambitious goal of linking African capital cities by 2063. The multi-billion-dollar project is dubbed Africa Integrated High-Speed Railway Network (AIHSRN). The agreement of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 was reached in 2013.

The project will leverage existing rail networks in the respective countries while building over 12,000 km of new tracks. In addition to making it easier to move from one African capital city to another, the AIHSRN will foster unity and create a borderless Africa.

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