At the opening session of the 5th edition of the Spanish-Moroccan Business Meeting on renewable energies organised by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Tangier on 22 and 23 November, the economic counsellor of the Embassy of Rabat, Javier Fernández Méndez, made an economic and industrial presentation of Morocco considering the Alawi kingdom as a country in transformation since the reform of the Constitution in 2011.
This dynamic has been noted in several vital economic and social sectors; starting from the infrastructure that had experienced great progress in energy facilities (wind and photovoltaic), ports (Tangier Med, Nador, Dakhla), railways (high-speed train), air transport (Casablanca as a hub for flights between Europe and sub-Saharan Africa) and telecommunications (with 85.3% internet penetration), as explained Javier Fernández Méndez.
“At the economic level, Morocco is experiencing industrial development along the Atlantic coast, enjoying expanding ecosystems such as the automotive, aeronautical and textile sectors. Similarly, the North African country is undergoing a demographic transition at the social level, with an urbanisation rate of 64%. In this sense, Morocco is gradually extending social security coverage, as well as boosting the growth of the middle classes,” he said.
By way of implementing its strategic vision for a prosperous future, Morocco has launched a series of sectoral plans such as: National Energy Efficiency Strategy 2030, Industrial Acceleration Plan since 2014, Industrial Recovery Plan 2021-2025, Generation Green Plan 2030, National Water Plan 2020-2027, National Sustainable Development Strategy 2030, Rail Morocco 2040 Plan, Port Strategy 2030, National Strategic Plan for Health and Immigration 2021-2025, Light in Action 2023-2026, Maroc Digital 2020-2025.
Javier Fernández Méndez shed light on the prospects for investment in Morocco, stressing that major projects are called upon to discover a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) regime that prioritises local integration. “Foreign investment will be the thread of PPP operations and joint investments in sectors such as desalination and wastewater treatment, wind and photovoltaic parks, the railway and aeronautical sectors, among other industrial sectors,” he said, stressing that “the fiscal crisis is a limiting factor for public investment”.
According to data presented by the Spanish economic adviser, Morocco is the bridge to Africa, being the leading investor in West Africa (OCP) and the second in the entire continent. For Spanish companies, the main asset that Morocco offers as a gateway to Africa is the great motivation of Moroccan human resources to work on the continent. “For Morocco, Spain represents the first supplier market and the first client market, while for Spain, Morocco is considered the 9th destination market, the first African market and the third market outside the European Union”, Javier Fernández Méndez recalled.
The representative of the Spanish Embassy in Rabat concluded by listing the sectors of opportunity for Spanish investors in Morocco, which are, respectively, energy, automotive, agriculture and agribusiness, textiles, water, railways, ports, health, environment and circular economy, tourism and education. “Despite its high resilience to shocks, Morocco knows several brakes to growth such as low labour market participation, low formal employment and low investment efficiency,” he warned.
Samira Lakhlifi, representing the Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency (AMEE), presented the agency’s trajectory and its development since its creation in 1982 as a centre for the development of renewable energies, to the point of leading the transition of the national economy towards a green economy by 2020.
Listing the six missions undertaken by the AMEE to achieve energy efficiency through coordination, monitoring, the implementation of energy audits and other instruments, the head of the renewable energy division placed particular emphasis on the National Energy Efficiency Strategy, which aims to transform energy efficiency into a factor of competitiveness and social progress by placing it at the heart of Morocco’s concerns and ensuring that new investments respect the fundamentals of energy efficiency.
Within the framework of the AMEE Action Plan, the agency plans to take 80 energy efficiency measures by 2030, covering the transport sector (16), construction (20), public lighting (5), industry (6), agriculture and marine fisheries (7), and transverse sectors (25), in order to achieve an energy saving potential of almost 20% by 2030. With regard to energy service companies (ESCOs), the AMEE representative clarified the specifications defining the different types of energy performance contracts and the requirements to be met.
For her part, Loubna Farabi, Project Manager of the Production Programme at the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE), pointed out that there have been more than 20 years of cooperation and partnership with Spanish companies, including the exchange of information and visits to factories.
“In the field of renewable energy, we have written together with our Spanish friends a success story since 2010 with the first large wind farm then; trusting since always in the renewable energy sector,” Farabi said, noting that, in the wind area, Morocco has been distinguished in the region and in North Africa by the launch of the first wind farm installed in 1999 in Tangier.
“Thanks to these steps, we are today one of the leading countries in the world with our renewable energy strategy after having achieved ambitious figures; so that between 2009 and 2023 Morocco has passed to 133% of installed capacity between hydro, wind and solar and today we are at 1,700MW of hydro and 2,200 MW of wind”, said the head of the ONEE underlining the great potential, the very competitive costs and the very interesting business climate that Morocco offers in the renewable energy sector.
In this framework of decarbonisation: challenges and opportunities which represents the main panel of the Spanish-Moroccan business meeting, the CRI representative of the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region Amine El Harti highlighted the sustainable development strategy adopted by Morocco to face the various obstacles imposed by the environment and the States with which Morocco has signed trade agreements in particular the EU being the first customer of the Kingdom. “Europe is now demanding a carbon tax, so Moroccan companies or those established in Morocco must install sustainable development mechanisms, starting with the use of renewable energy,” El Harti explained.
The director of the Pole of Economic Impulse and Territorial Supply at the Regional Investment Centre of the TTA region explained the “Tatwuir Green Growth” programme, which represents support for the decarbonisation of very small, small and medium-sized industrial enterprises. This state subsidy can range from 30 to 50%, depending on the type of project, as well as providing start-ups with support for renewable energy solutions. “In parallel with the subsidies, there are credit lines through “Tamwilcom” that can reach 40% of the total financing of the project, in addition to the financing offered by the European Development Bank,” said El Harti.
The head of the CRI of Tangier, placed special emphasis on the importance of the TTA region in renewable energy, whose energy potential recognized internationally attracts investors from around the world, so that there are companies working in China and India that are landing in Morocco to exploit this energy potential. “An example of this is the Mohammed VI Tangier Tech City project, which is attracting several companies working in the electric car sector,” he added.
In a bid for sustainable development and thanks to its energy potential, the region has five wind farms plus the early implementation of a new photovoltaic park in two phases. Another future project is the support of industrial zones to make them environmentally friendly, according to Amine El Harti.
The IRESEN representative, Mouhcine Benmeziane, explained that “although it is a lesser-known actor, the Solar Energy and New Energies Research Institute works on research and development by weaving links between the research side and the socio-economic and industrial side. Since its creation in 2011, the institute’s objective has been to support this energy transition by developing research infrastructures on various topics related to renewable energy.
The head of the Institute’s communication department underlined the importance of collaboration between Moroccan companies and research centres and their Spanish counterparts on innovation projects; clarifying “IRESEN’s recent orientation towards green hydrogen in line with Morocco’s roadmap in this field which is the first in Arab and African countries,” he reported.
“The National Federation of Electronic Electricity and Renewable Energy (FENELEC) has 650 members and 650 companies in the electrical, electronic and renewable energy sector divided into five associations,” defined Mohamed Zegzouti, administrator of the Federation.
Zegzouti highlighted Morocco’s expertise in these sectors, which is reflected in the manufacture of cables in response to a huge need for cable production. The change has been the result of a combination of many factors such as reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels, climate change and positioning Morocco as a regional leader in green energy. “Finding the solution between demand and need is FENELEC’s mission,” concluded the FENELEC administrator.
The manager of the Maghreb Europe Gas Pipeline (GME) project at the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM), Tarik Ouabaih, revealed that the office is currently working on green hydrogen, production and transport projects. “In the framework of decarbonisation, the objective is to produce green hydrogen and inject it with natural gas through an ongoing study with a specialised international company in order to reach a national production with a view to exporting it internationally,” he said.
The director of the Institute for Vocational Training in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, Anass Ait Laacher, highlighted the objective of the institute, which is to accompany the national energy strategy launched in 2009 to respond to the needs of human capital by acquiring the necessary skills and accumulating the necessary knowledge in this domain.
The institute offers two types of training, one thermal and the other photovoltaic, promoting specific and cross-cutting skills; it also has a training council to train its graduates and prepare them for the job market, on the one hand, and to strengthen the relationship between the training centre and the industrial fabric in the field of renewable energies, on the other.