Nigeria and Morocco have agreed on a collaborative plan to accelerate the proposed pipeline transporting gas to the North African kingdom from the Atlantic coast.

To demonstrate their commitment to the execution of the infrastructure project, President Muhammadu Buhari and King Mohammed VI of Morocco on Sunday supervised the signing of the accord in Rabat, the capital of Morocco.

Morocco’s MAP news agency reported that the deal detailed the way forward for the mega-project first agreed in 2016.

The proposed pipeline is to measure about 5,660 kilometres and is expected to be an extension of an already existing pipeline that has been transporting gas to Benin, Togo and Ghana since 2010.

A release issued on the pact stated: “For economic, political, legal and security reasons, the choice was made for a combined onshore/offshore route.

“The proposed pipeline, to be built in several phases, will measure some 5,660 kilometres (3,500 miles)” and “respond to the growing needs of the transit countries and Europe over the next 25 years”, the statement added.

According to the statement, the next step will be to sound out countries around the region and customers in Europe and to talk to international lenders about funding the project.

It would be recalled that plans for a pipeline to take Nigeria’s vast gas resources to North Africa had long been mooted.

For instance, Algeria held talks with Nigeria as far back as 2002 for a similar pipeline crossing the Sahel region, but ultimately the Algerian government was unable to finance the project.

Analysts are of the view that with Nigeria’s untapped gas resources, the largest proven reserves in Africa and the seventh largest globally, the latest deal with the Moroccan government could help in strengthening the inter-regional economic partnership in Africa.