The energy potential of Africa is considerable. However, this potential must be exploited to meet the growing energy needs on the continent.
Today, 650 million Africans do not have access to electricity, more than two thirds of the population. The energy infrastructure deficit is considered to be one of the main obstacles to development and progress in Africa. Electricity shortages are estimated to cost between 2% and 4% of the continent’s gross domestic product each year, greatly affecting prospects for economic growth, job creation and investment.
In this context, African countries have gradually strengthened their production capacities and diversified their energy mix.
Morocco aims to increase the share of renewable energy in its energy mix to 52% in 2030. The country has therefore opted for an energy transition centered on the development of renewable energies, with the aim of installing additional production capacities of electricity from a total of 6,000 megawatts of wind, hydro and solar sources. By launching the Moroccan solar program “NOOR” in 2009, Morocco has planned, for 2020, an additional capacity of at least 2,000 megawatts for the sole solar source.
The NOOR Ouarzazate solar complex, southeast of Marrakech, was the first project developed as part of this energy strategy. With a capacity of 580 megawatts distributed over four power plants, this complex is one of the largest solar parks in the world. Today, it supplies nearly two million Moroccans with electricity and avoids the emission into the atmosphere of nearly one million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year.
Structured according to a public-private partnership approach, the NOOR Ouarzazate solar complex project was supported by the African Development Bank, which was the very first financial contributor to the implementation of the first phase of the project. In total, the Bank has contributed US $ 485 million over the different phases. In 2017, the Bank mobilized $ 285 million to finance the first phase of the NOOR Midelt complex project, with a minimum capacity of 800 megawatts. Thus, the Bank’s total contribution to the Moroccan solar program amounts to $ 770 million.
The NOOR Ouarzazate complex has given new impetus to job creation. Originally from Ouarzazate, Nadia Ahansal is an engineer in her twenties, responsible for operations and maintenance. “It is a privilege for me to work in the largest and most important solar power plant in the world,” she says. This project allowed me to meet my professional expectations. I can contribute to the development of my country, while staying in my hometown, here in Ouarzazate. ”
The installation of the power plant in Ouarzazate also benefited local businesses. Khalid Taoufiq Oujam, owner in his thirties of the restaurant “Habous”, notes the impact on his daily activity. “With the arrival of the plant, our turnover increased by 20% and our workforce almost doubled. The creation of a new point of sale within the solar complex allows us to foresee projects for the future, ”he specifies.
Along with Masen, developers and partners, such as the ACWA Power group, are actively involved in supporting young people. Dozens of trainees were able to benefit from training, which enabled them to work in the solar complex. Some of them have even started their own business. Thirty year old entrepreneur in Ouarzazate, Mohamed Moumen is one of them. “I trained in welding before working on the NOOR Ouarzazate complex site for a year. I then started my own business and recruited two employees. Today, I have the firm intention of training young people in this profession, because few of them have this expertise here in Ouarzazate, ”says Mohamed.
Energy, an indisputable factor of progress, meets the most basic needs of humanity: water, food and even health. Supplying Africa with energy while preserving the environment, as in Ouarzazate, is a strategic priority of the African Development Bank, which is helping to lay the foundations for more inclusive and greener growth on the continent.
Source: Agence Ecofin