Morocco (one of the top five African economies) is one of India’s key strategic partners in Africa and in recent years the partnership has acquired new dimensions and dynamism. Recently the two sides co-chaired the maiden India-Arab energy forum. In a wide-ranging written interview to ET’s Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury following the Forum Moroccan Minister of Energy, Mines & Environment Aziz Rabbah explained that India and Morocco can develop joint projects in the energy sector with great opportunities in renewable energy projects. Rabbah was of the opinion that both countries can jointly undertake electrification projects across Africa.
Morocco hosted the first India-Arab Energy Forum organised under the co-chairship of India and Morocco. What was the main outcome of this meeting and the perspectives of cooperation for both India and Arab countries, especially with Morocco?
The Arab countries and India emphasized the need to encourage regional electricity trade, which will allow energy suppliers and market participants to take advantage of economies of scale to develop high capacity systems and access cost-effective supply options that provide more flexibility to access generating capacity from other countries in the regions that are able to meet capacity and power reserve requirements at lower cost.
Both sides stressed the need to strengthen Arab-Indian cooperation in energy field in order to accelerate the energy transition through the optimal exploitation of renewable energies, such as solar, wind and green hydrogen, and maximizing the use of fossil fuels in sectors where is no other alternative source of energy. In addition, the two sides expressed the need to strengthen the efforts towards enhancing the energy efficiency programs and activities in various economic activities aiming to achieving sustainable development in the Arab world and India.
Many Arab countries have expressed their desire to include the option of electricity generating and sea water desalination with nuclear energy as part of their strategies to diversify energy and water supply resources. Both parties recognize the importance of cooperation and exchange of knowledge and experiences in the field of nuclear energy.
India is the third largest consumer of oil in the world and ranks 13th in gas consumption. It is expected that this consumption trend will continue until 2040. Given the limited Indian oil and gas resources and the huge potential of oil and natural gas in the Arab countries, these strengthen the importance of enhancing the relationship between India and the Arab countries in the field of oil and natural gas industry. More important in the field of trade, as India's dependence on oil and gas imports is rapidly increasing in the coming decades, where Arab countries enjoy huge surplus of oil and gas for exports.
Both sides expressed the need to exploit the investment opportunities available in the field of energy between the Arab countries and India, and the importance of exchanging experiences in the area of Research and Development (R&D), and enhancing cooperation related to training and capacity building.
Morocco has big plans for its energy sector both in renewable and non-renewable sectors. What are the incentives that Morocco offers to foreign investors and how can India partner with Morocco in this initiative?
Morocco's commitment to an energy transition is a voluntarist political choice made by King Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, more than a decade ago, through an ambitious energy strategy, based essentially on the rise of renewable energies, the development of energy efficiency and the reinforcement of regional integration, accompanied by a strong orientation of adapted innovation and local component.
Seven key factors have been adopted as part of our energy strategy, namely 1)Adequate legal framework, 2) Openness to the private sector, 3) Complementarity of institutional actions, 4) Demand structuring and reliable monitoring, 5) Support for Research and Development, 6)Innovation and industrial integration, as well as 7) Balanced international cooperation supported by such initiatives of international consultation meetings.
Morocco has regularly increased its ambition in the development of renewable energy. In 2018, the King, decided to achieve the objective announced by the Kingdom of Morocco at the COP21 by increasing the share of renewable energy to more than 52% in the electricity mix by 2030.
Morocco, as part of its sector development renewable energy policy, pays special attention to the revival of investments in the renewable energy sector.
To this end, Morocco has planned to grant specific benefits to investors, whose projects will help, firstly, to the qualitative and quantitative development of the renewable energy sector and, secondly, to improve competitiveness of the sector and job creation.
For tax incentives, among the measures provided for in the Investment Charter, there are, for certain categories of projects, exemptions or reductions in customs duties, registration fees, participation tax national solidarity, corporate tax, general income tax, tax on real estate profits and tax on licenses.
In accordance with the Royal High Orientations, new initiatives have been launched in these recent years to accelerate the Moroccan energy and the economic transition towards a low-carbon model and to meet the socio-economic needs of the population. These include in particular:
- Adoption of a roadmap for the development of green hydrogen
- Adoption of a roadmap for the energetic valorization of biomass
- Elaboration of a roadmap for marine energies
- Elaboration of an integrated program of water desalination stations, backed up by renewable energy production units, with the aim of meeting the needs of populations and farmers for drinking water and irrigation
- A program to decarbonize national industry by equipping all the industrial zones with renewable energy projects with a total capacity of more than 800 MW ;
- A plan for green and integrated equipment of the national network which provides the development of all electricity production projects programmed in renewable energy, as well as the deployment of important investments by the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water for the development and reinforcement of the national electricity network, as well as the modernization of the national electricity dispatching system to improve the monitoring of the intermittent production of renewable projects.
About 40 national and international companies from 12 countries are operating in the development of renewable energy projects in Morocco, which confirms the opening of the national market.
In order to further strengthen the attractiveness of the national energy model, a legislative and regulatory framework governing renewable energies is underway to enhance transparency, simplify authorization procedures and give investors the necessary visibility in terms of the reception capacity of the electricity system.
Morocco has been able to capitalize on this achievement for the consolidation and theincrease of foreign direct investment in the energy sector thanks to a clear legal-institutional framework, which guarantees legal security for investors and donors.
The Public Private Partnership (PPP) model has been a viable option to ensure the security of the country's electricity supply. Its development is marked by improvements and optimizations in terms of the Debt / Equity ratio, the contribution of local banks, the guarantees required and the legal framework of the projects.
Morocco and India can develop joint projects in the energy sector with great opportunities in the development of renewable energy projects. India has quite an advanced experience in terms of the development of large installations and projects; such experience can be shared and associated at the level of the African continent through Morocco.
Morocco and India are important actors in the domain of renewable energies. How can India and Morocco collaborate for the development of electrification projects in Africa? Can the International Solar Alliance, which was launched on the margin of COP 22 held in Marrakech in 2016, constitute a very good framework to do it?
With more than 15% of the world population, Africa consumes only 3.2% of the primary energy used in the world and nearly 600 million Africans, or about 70% of the population of the continent, had no access to electricity in 2018, Africa needs to add 6 to 7 GW of installed capacity each year to generalize access to electricity by 2030;
Currently, only 1 to 2 GW are deployed per year, although Africa has enormous potential in renewable energies; the energy, notably the renewables energies are one of the important vectors for boosting cooperation between Morocco and its African counterparts. Moroccan public establishments have always been associated with the implementation of African energy strategies;
Morocco is present in Africa via the National Office for Electricity and Potable Water (ONEE) as a main player in the electricity market in Africa thanks to the know-how acquired through its planning experiences, operation, maintenance and rural electrification, combined particularly within the framework of the Global Rural Electrification Program (GREP), a program qualified as successful by international institutions. It also made it possible to generalize access to electricity in record time when the rural electrification rate was only 18% in 1996;
Today, ONEE is an operator in several African countries including Senegal, Gambia, Chad, Mauritania, Mali, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde. In renewable energy, Morocco, through the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN), puts its expertise in the development of solar energy at the service of many African countries;
In order to strengthen the regional and international cooperation, in accordance with King’s vision, the Kingdom of Morocco plays a very active role in the development of international and regional cooperation in the field of energy, in particular in favour of the African continent.
In this regard, the Coalition for sustainable access to energy was co-chaired by Morocco and Ethiopia aiming to generalize access to sustainable energy and particularly to African countries. Morocco has developed an important arsenal of strategic cooperation agreement, which constitutes a real opportunity to meet the challenge of access to energy.
In addition, the International Solar Alliance (ISA), of which Morocco became a member after the signing of the framework agreement, on November 19, 2019, by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and the Environment, in accordance with the requirements of article 7 of this agreement, could play a leading role in the development of off-grid renewable energy technologies, an essential element to improve the living conditions of citizens and to ensure security, competitiveness, economic growth and skilled employment.
The ISA should further support the creation of an enabling environment for off-grid renewable energy technologies through, in particular, the transfer of technology, know-how and the sharing of the results of innovation resulting from R&D to contribute to the emergence of new products, services and processes.
Morocco has made a significant contribution to green and clean energy. How can, in your opinion, Morocco and India join hands to shape the global climate change agenda?
Despite not being responsible for the problem of climate change, Morocco has drawn up its DCN (Determined Contribution at the National level) with the conviction that global ambitions to tackle the problem of climate change call for a substantial commitment from all parties both in terms of mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation, cooperation approaches and transparency.
In terms of mitigation, Morocco has set a target for reducing GHG (Green House Gases) emissions by 42%, compared to emissions projected for the year 2030. In terms of energy, Morocco plans to reach 52% of the installed electrical power from renewable sources and reduction of energy consumption by 20% by 2030.
In fact, Morocco's energy strategy and energy efficiency strategy, both affect advancing the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Due to its strategic geographical location, Morocco continues its active role in accelerating the integration of energy markets, while striving to strengthen its electricity links with its neighbours by developing new electricity links and strengthening existing ones.
Morocco continues its active participation in the activation of the joint declaration on sustainable electricity exchanges “SET ROADMAP”, which aims to develop and implement a roadmap for sustainable electricity exchanges between Morocco and Europe. (France, Spain, Portugal and Germany).
The European Union has classified Morocco as a key country in the “Green Deal” initiative under preparation and has shown a huge interest in the Kingdom's experience in the field of renewable energies.
Aware of the great importance of cooperation to attract investments, transfer technologies and implement development projects and programs, Morocco attaches great importance to strengthening and developing international cooperation, where the Department of energy continues to cooperate with certain international organizations, organizations and bodies whose objective is to launch or contribute to the implementation of clean energy projects and programs.
The energy sector is one of the important areas for strengthening cooperation between Morocco and India. Moroccan public institutions have experience feedback in the implementation of regional energy strategies, by supporting institutions in their different areas of expertise, whether it is planning of supply and demand for electricity, engineering, rural electrification or renewable energies, not to mention capacity building work.
Morocco is encouraging foreign investments in the mining sector. India has a huge need for different mines to develop its industry. is there any plan for collaboration between the two countries or to develop a win-win partnership in this important sector?
The Moroccan mining sector is open to investors. Exploration, research and exploitation activities are carried out under a mining permit or an exploration authorization issued by the Administration in charge of mines.
The Moroccan government has always been concerned by the establishment of a business climate suitable for investments in the national mining sector. This will have been concretized by the implementation of a renewed strategy aiming at the development of this vital sector. The last strategy was illustrated by the implementation of a plan entitled “Plan Maroc Mines 2021-2030”
This plan, based on a comprehensive approach about the development of an efficient and competitive sector by 2030 working for integrated industrialization and sustainable growth, is built around four strategic pillars, namely:
• Developing a network of competitive actors;
• Overhaul of the institutional organization of the sector;
• Strengthening the social impact and the responsible and sustainable character of the sector;
• Adapting the legislative framework and financial and fiscal measures to the new ambitions of the sector.
These measures are willing to give an impetus to the national mining sector and investment opportunities in terms of exploration, research and exploitation of mining products.
In this context, strengthening collaboration and development of a partnership between Morocco and India in the Moroccan mining sector can be materialized through:
• Participation of Indian mining companies in diverse public calls for competition launched by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Environment concerning granting mining permits in the mining region of Tafilalet and Figuig (South East of Morocco).