China Eximbank provides $184 million buyer's credit loan for 38.6 km Berrechid-Ben Ahmed Section of Berrechid–Beni Mellal (A4) Expressway Construction Project
Constant 2017 USD
Funding agency [Type]
Export-Import Bank of China [State-owned Policy Bank]
Transport and storage (Code: 210)
Export Buyer's Credit
On February 7, 2011, China Eximbank and the National Society of Highways of Morocco (French: Société Nationale des Autoroutes du Maroc or ADM) — a state-owned company in Morocco — signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the Berrechid–Beni (A4) Mellal Expressway Construction Project. The MOU indicated that China Eximbank was willing, in principle, to lend as much as $248 million to ADM for the project. According to the MOU, China International Water & Electric Corporation (CWE) and China Overseas Engineering Group (COVEC) would be responsible for the construction of several segments of the expressway. The Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) also agreed to contribute KD 55 million and EUR 220 million, respectively, for the project. The purpose of the project was to construct a two-way, four-lane, 173 km expressway from Berrechid to Beni Mellal that runs straight through the Atlas Mountains. The expressway would run parallel to highway N11 and it was designed to relieve traffic on highway N11. The Berrechid–Beni Mellal Expressway Construction Project consisted of five sections. The first section between Berrechid and Ben Ahmed (38.6 km) was built by CWE. It originates on the existing Casablanca-Settat motorway north of Berrechid. It then bypasses the city of Morjana (PK 3) from the south and passes north of the Mbarkine region. It crosses the RP 3602 and the RP3625 at the level of the Oulad Sghir locality. It then crosses, in Lourarga, the RP3606 and bypasses the mountainous area of Oulad Amar to the north before crossing the RR305 at Oulad Damar (PK 35). The second section, between Ben Ahmed and Khouribga (38.5 km) and the third section between Khouribga and Oued Zem (33 km), was built by four local Moroccan contractors: Société Internationale De Travaux Maroc (SINTRAM), LRN, Seprob and the Société Nouvelle Des Conduites d'Eau (SNCE). The fourth section between Oued Zem and Kasba Tadla (40 km) was built by a Moroccan contractor, Houar. The fifth section, between Kasba Tadla and Beni Mellal (22 km) was built by COVEC. In 2011, China Eximbank and ADM signed a $184 million buyer's credit loan agreement for 38.6 km Berrechid-Ben Ahmed Section of Berrechid–Beni Mellal Expressway Construction Project (i.e. the first section). This loan carried an interest rate of 2%. However, its grace period and maturity length are unknown. The borrower was to use the proceeds of the loan to finance approximately 85% of the cost of a $216 million commercial (EPC) contract with CWE. It also agreed to repay the loan with toll road revenue. CWE was the EPC contractor responsible for implementation. A formal groundbreaking ceremony took place on April 12, 2010. However, the project did not commence until April 16, 2010. It ultimately took 63 months to complete. The road was officially opened to traffic on July 16, 2015. With traffic estimated at 3,700 vehicles per day (as of 2018), the Berrechid–Beni Mellal (A4) Expressway serves the cities of Ben Ahmed, Khouribga, Oued Zem, Bejaad and Kasba Tadla. It includes 7 junctions and 3 bridges across the Oum Errabiaa, Oued Derna and Oued Oum Errabia Bouqroum rivers as well as 28 underground and aerial passages.
This project is also known as Section 1 of the Berrechid–Beni Mellal Expressway Construction Project, the Berrechid-Ben Ahmed Expressway Project, and the Berrechid-Ben Ahmed Motorway Project. The French project title is l'autoroute Berrechid-Béni Mellal. The Chinese project title is 省举行的贝哈希德-拜尼梅拉高速公路项目 or 摩洛哥拜本高速公路项目 or 拜莱希德-贝尼梅拉尔高速公路项目的第一标段. Although the February 7, 2011 MOU indicated that China Eximbank was willing, in principle to lend as much $248 million to ADM for the project, it is unclear if China Eximbank ever issued a loan for the fifth section (Kasba Tadla-Beni Mellal) of the Berrechid–Beni Mellal (A4) Expressway Construction Project, which was implemented by COVEC. This issue merits further investigation.Also, given that the borrower was to use the proceeds of the China Eximbank loan for the 38.6 km Berrechid-Ben Ahmed Section of Berrechid–Beni Mellal (A4) Expressway Construction Project to finance 85% of the cost of the commercial contract with CWE, it is possible (and even likely) that this loan took the form of a preferential buyer’s credit. However, AidData has not yet confirmed that this is the case. This issue also merits further investigation.
Number of official sources
Number of unofficial sources
Cofinancing agencies [Type]
Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development [Intergovernmental Organization]; European Investment Bank [Intergovernmental Organization]
Receiving agencies [Type]
National Society of Highways of Morocco [Government Agency]
Implementing agencies [Type]
China International Water and Electrical Corporation (CWE) [State-owned Company]; China Overseas Engineering Group Co., Ltd. [State-owned Company]