A few years ago, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, therichest monarch in Africa, decided that his country should turn toward the sun. His advisers drafted an ambitious national energy strategy, aimed at generating 42 percent of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Its flagship project comprised a complex of four solar power plants using cutting-edge technology to generate hundreds of megawatts of electricity. In May 2013, the king personally traveled into the desert tolaunch construction of the first plant.
Skeptics within government ministries and donor agencies quietly noted the weak points in the plan. Morocco is alower-middle-income country with multiple competing priorities, and many of its 34 million peoplestill live in poverty. In effect, Morocco would be footing the bill for providing two global goods, reduced carbon pollution and early stage eco-technology development.
Why should Moroccan taxpayers, poor households or struggling local industries pay extra for solar-generated power when available conventional alternatives were significantly cheaper?
“We had a big debate with the Ministry of Finance about this,” recalled Said Mouline, who heads ADEREE, the national renewable energy agency. “Per capita, Moroccansonly emit a 10th as much [carbon dioxide] as Americans do, and the electricity produced by the first power plant came out at twice the market price.”
Till Bruckner is a freelance consultant who has worked extensively with and for local NGOs, including for Transparency International Georgia in 2008-2009. He is the author of the book "Aid Without Accountability: How 4.5 Billion Dollars in Aid to Georgia Helped the Rich and (Sometimes) the Poor." He is currently based in Morocco. The views expressed here are his own.
Subscribe to Devex Newswire
Top international development headlines emailed to you every day