Morocco asserts its power to becoming Africa lead Solar energy producer

Noor-III-solar-plant-in-Ouarzazate-Morocco [Image: courtesy]
Morocco—Dispute over contested Western Sahara territory sets Rabat against neighbors and European Union trading partners.

At the center of the installment in Morocco’s giant Noor solar station in Ouarzazate stands a 243m tower.

It houses a receptor that generates electricity from the sun rays, which are reflected onto it by 178 sqm of panels.

“Until a year and a half ago, we would have been in the presence of the tallest edifice in Africa until the construction of the Grand Mosque Algiers (265m),” notes Mustapha Sellam, site director at Masen, the publicly funded company that runs the complex, during a visit.

But the primary motivation for the country’s push towards renewables, which began in 2009, was not so much to build record-breaking structures as to reduce the kingdom’s reliance on oil and gas imports.

Its oil-rich neighbor, Algiers, cut diplomatic relations on August 24, citing “hostile actions”.

While the North African rivals have very few economic links, this rift could result in the securing of a gas pipeline that delivers natural gas to Spain and Portugal via 500km of Moroccan land and gives Morocco 7% of the gas as a transit fee.

The contract is set to expirer on October 31.

The latest Diplomatic spat marks deteriorations of already frosty relations between the two countries: tensions over the western Sahara were reignited in December when former US President Donald Trump, recognized Morocco’s claim over the contested territory.

Algeria, meanwhile, backs hosts Polisario, the movement demanding independence for the territory.

Washington’s move was a triumph for Morocco and part of a quid pro quo deal that required the normalization of its diplomatic relations with Israel.

This has also raised hopes –especially on The Moroccan side-for a possible economic exchange with Israel, says Riccardo Fabaini, project director of North Africa an International Crisis Group.