The ‘Big Shift’: Morocco shows the way by going green
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27 كانون2/يناير 2017 Author :   Isaiah Esipisu
A wind power generating plant in Kenya

ADDIS ABABA (PAMACC News) - Morocco, a nation in the northern part of Africa has been showcased as the best example of African countries that are shifting from nonrenewable energy to green energy, but a senior government official says it takes more than availability of resources.

The country, which has been importing most of its energy particularly from Spain targets to generate 40 percent of grid electricity from renewable sources mainly solar, wind and hydroelectric by 2020.

“We got to this level because there was good political will from the Royal Kingdom, there was transparency, sound policies and direct involvement of the private sector,” Said Mouline, the head of Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency (MAEE) told a high level dialogue on sustainable energy held on the sidelines of the Africa Union Summit, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Today, the country has the world’s largest concentrated solar plant on the fringe of the Sahara desert already generating 180 megawatts of electricity, and is set to generate 580 megawatts once the solar plant is completed in 2018.

All the projects are handled by the private sector, but with very close involvement of the government to ensure that there is sound policy environment and transparency at all steps, according to Mouline.

In 2011 for example, the Royal Government made changes in its constitution so as to bring out the aspect of sustainable development, and at the same time stopped subsidising fossil fuels to make renewable energy more competitive, and started welcoming private investments in the clean energy sector.

As a result for example, some of the public transport buses in Morocco, and private cars run purely using electric energy.

“Apart from the mega energy projects, the government encourages investment in solar roofs, solar pumping systems among others by reducing the prices of the gadgets,” Mouline told participants.

So far, there are over 100 small companies in Morocco investing in solar related businesses such as irrigation pumps, repair of the gadgets, disposal of obsolete batteries among other areas. “There is a huge potential in small projects,” said Mouline.

According to Augustine Njamnshi of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, time has come for Africa to invest in solar energy not just for lighting, but for irrigation, heating, refrigeration among other uses.

“We need to change the notion that non-grid energy belongs to the poor, but at the same time try to improve it so that it does more than just lighting the house,” said Njamnshi.

In Morocco, nearly every household in the cities and rural areas have access to electricity. “15 years ago, only 25 percent of the total households in rural areas had access to electricity. But today, 99 percent have access to power,” said Mouline.

Benson Ireri of ChristianAid also wondered why a country like Kenya would invest so much in coal production, when the country has a potential of over 10,000 megawatts of electricity, which is totally underutilized.

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