New controversial energy infrastructure to be built in Western Sahara

The Moroccan government has opened for a relatively large tender in Dakhla.
Published: 17.03 - 2017 12:41Printer version    
Above: Saharawis in Dakhla in Western Sahara are frustrated over unemployment, while the town experiences influx of settlers. The photo is from a demonstration in Dakhla in 2011.

The Moroccan government electricity authority, ONE, has called for a tender for energy projects at two sites in the city of Dakhla, currently under Moroccan occupation.

The two medium sized electrical distribution centers consist of transformer and switching sites, to be connected by underground electrical lines. The value of the two infrastructure projects are 45 million euros.

Dakhla is a key hub for the plunder of fisheries resources. It is also the location of large seasonal inflow of work migrants from Morocco, to work on the non-renewable agriculture, based on irrigation of fossil water reserves. It is not known how much of the energy will be supplied to the armed forces, industries or civilians.

From what Western Sahara Resource Watch has been able to establish, six named companies have so far expressed their interest in the project. The six companies are from Germany, France, Spain, China, Lebanon and Morocco. Two of these have already been involved in energy infrastructure projects in Western Sahara over the last years.

National partner organisations of Western Sahara Resource Watch are now approaching the six companies, requesting them not to bid for the tender. The government of Morocco has seemingly not yet lifted a finger to seek the consent from the people of Western Sahara, a requirement for such operation's legality according to a recent judgement from the Court of Justice of the EU.  

"Taking part in the construction of this infrastructure will contribute to cement the occupation of the territory", WSRW states in the letter to the companies.

The title of the proposed works is: “Construction of a 225/60kV site at Dakhla, a 60/22 kV site at Dakhla and construction of 60 kV [electrical] lines”. The anticipated construction time for the first site, lot no. 1, is to be 20 months, and for the second, lot no. 2, is 16 months.

The deadline for applying for the tender is 5 April 2017. WSRW has got hold parts of the tender document. Download that here. The interested suppliers are asked to put one percent of the project value, 4,5 million Moroccan dirham, on the table in advance for security.



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Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
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