Morocco's normalisation of ties with Israel and its focus on renewables opens up immense possibilities to boost its trade relations with New Delhi.
With an ambitious goal to convert 52 per cent of its national energy capacity into renewables by 2030 and the recent normalisation of relations with Israel, Morocco has fast turned into an incredible country for collaboration with India in its pursuit of a long-term energy strategy.
Morocco – which aspires to position itself as a world leader in the renewable energy sector – aims to increase its renewable energy capacity up to 6 GW by 2030, and was able to generate 34 per cent of its energy through hydropower alone in 2019.
Mohamed Maliki, Moroccan Ambassador to India
Describing Morocco as a leader in the field of renewable energy with a programme to create vast assets, Sanjay Bhattacharyya, Deputy Secretary-General in charge of the Arab world at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, called for a conference on Arab-Indian cooperation in the energy sector in Morocco. Bhattacharyya was speaking on Morocco’s renewable energy efforts during his participation in the third session of the Arab-Indian Cooperation Forum that brings together senior officials from India and Morocco.
Massive source of energy
Through its massive solar plants and wind farms across the country, Morocco has the potential to produce 96 per cent of its electricity using renewable energy sources by 2050, as per the Moroccan Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE).
Earlier this month, the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen) issued a tender to develop 400 MW of solar projects as a part of its Noor PV-II multi-site program. The scope of work includes the design, financing, and construction of solar projects and their maintenance and operation. The agency identified several sites for developing these projects, following topographic and seismic studies, and solar data measurements. These include 48 MW of solar projects each to be developed at Sidi Bennour, Kelaa Srghna, and Bejaad, while projects of 36 MW capacity each will be developed at Taroudant and El Hajeb. Projects with capacities between 12 MW and 44 MW totaling 184 MW, will be developed at Ain Bni Mathar.
While bids for that tender will have to be submitted by the end of January, in a more forward-looking scenario, Morocco aims to set up 2 GW of solar projects in five cities – Ouarzazate, Ain Bni Mathar, Foum Al Oued, Boujdour, and Sebkhat Tah. Resources for those programmes are being mobilized under the Energy Development Fund with about $500 million grant from Saudi Arabia, $300 million from the United Arab Emirates, and $200 million from the Hassan II Fund for Economic and Social Development.
For India, which hosts the International Solar Alliance and whose trade with Morocco surpassed $1.5 billion in 2018, there are opportunities galore, especially in the backdrop of the latter’s normalization of ties with Israel.
“There are many possibilities of cooperation in the field of food security, agri-business, information technology, textiles, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, fertilizers, handicrafts and tourism. I believe that the combination of the three countries can be for the benefit of all three sides, each country offers comparative advantages and a lot of added value to each other,” Mohamed Maliki, Moroccan Ambassador to India, said in an interview with Economic Times.
According to Maliki, Morocco has not just been a key player in the Arab World and a voice of moderation for decades but also a major African power with significant outreach to Europe and the US. The recent US acceptance of Morocco’s sovereignty over Moroccan Sahara and reactivation of ties between Israel and Morocco have further enhanced the latter’s geo-political role – offering significant momentum in India-Morocco relations that could now open up opportunities in key sectors.