Up to 81% of all land that the Moroccan government has allocated for new, gigantic plans for renewable energy, green hydrogen and ammonia, is located outside of Morocco's international borders, in occupied Western Sahara.
The Moroccan government has revealed massive plans for investments in the energy sector in occupied Western Sahara. The intentions appeared in the Moroccan government's 2024 Finance Bill [or download] last week.
A string of reports was released to support the plans outlined in the bill. One of these reports, [or download], specifies how public land - defined as “private domain of the state, of which the state is the owner” - will be utilised in view of the planned investments.
It is a testimony of the plans of the Moroccan government to create a renewable energy and green hydrogen hub in occupied Western Sahara - which can hardly be described as land owned by the Moroccan state.
Possibly as much as 81% of all the land that the Moroccan government has earmarked for renewable energy and green hydrogen or ammonia projects, is located in occupied Western Sahara.
The report describes the territory using the administrative regions that the Moroccan authorities have imposed on the territory: the regions of “Dakhla-Oued Eddahab" and “Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra”, which combined make up the entirety of occupied Western Sahara. The latter region, “Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra”, spans the northern part of occupied Western Sahara but also overlaps the border with Morocco. It thus includes a small sliver of land that internationally is regarded as Morocco. As the report does not give specific locations for the mentioned projects, it is not possible to state with a 100% certainty that those listed for this region will all be implemented in what is actually Western Sahara.
In “Dakhla-Oued Eddahab”, the region corresponding to the southern half of the territory, around 800,000 ha have been made available to accommodate 5 mega projects, corresponding to an investment of 231 billion Dirham. The northern half of the territory - referred to as the "Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra region" by the Moroccan government - will host 9 projects on 371,675 ha, with a financial injection of 228 billion Dirham.
Concretely, the following projects have been listed by the Moroccan government in occupied Western Sahara:
Eight of these projects will be developed within the framework of what is referred to as the “régime conventionné”, that is explained in the report: the five projects in the Dakhla area, in addition to the 100 MW Boujdour Wind Farm and the two farms planned by EEM. This system reportedly offers several advantages, including tax and customs exemptions, as well as state support for the costs of external infrastructure, professional training and land acquisition.
WSRW has in the past tried to get comments from ACWA Power and Taqa, without obtaining any response. WSRW wrote Nordex on 31 October 2023. WSRW has not yet contacted the other companies mentioned in this article.
Through its roll-out of massive energy projects in occupied Western Sahara, Morocco becomes more economically connected to, and dependent on, the territory it holds under illegal, military occupation. It intends to export energy generated in the territory to Morocco proper, and to sell off any surplus to surrounding countries, including the EU. As such, the development further diminishes Morocco's already small incentive to engage in the UN peace process, all the more so given that many of the projects in occupied Western Sahara are in the portfolio of companies that are owned by the king of Morocco or its prime minister Aziz Akhannouch.
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