In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Mobilizing Decentralized, Participatory Energy Transition in Morocco
  • Yossef Ben-Meir (bio), Kerstin Opfer (bio), and Imane Akhezzane (bio)

North Africa is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change. Severe environmental degradation threatens the scarce natural resources of countries in the region like Morocco and jeopardizes local economic performance, which is often heavily dependent on natural capital such as agriculture, mineral resources, and fisheries.1 This in turn entails consequences for human development. Creeping desertification, compromised forest areas, diminishing water resource potential, the sharp degradation of fragile ecosystems like oases and the coast, and high vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters are not only threatening Morocco’s rich biodiversity but also the livelihoods, well-being, and health of its people.2 Swift action to combat climate change and increase energy security in Morocco must be taken.

Morocco’s government has realized the urgency of these issues and has accordingly devoted large sums into climate mitigation and adaptation.3 Morocco is one of the first countries in Africa to champion renewable energy (RE) and to align economic development with environmental protection and sustainable development. Morocco’s RE program is one of the most ambitious in the world and is unique in its emphasis on decentralization as a way to achieve sustainable development. While Morocco’s deployment of RE relies mostly on large-scale installations, Morocco has also piloted small-scale RE projects that promote sustainable development initiatives centered on civil society’s capacities to manage their own affairs. Yet despite Morocco’s well-developed guidelines for regional and community-level emphases for decentralization in the MENA region, the country has not applied its own guidelines consistently.4 The major challenges to implementing renewable energy projects with local communities [End Page 80] through the decentralization mechanism are not sector specific, but relate to the national need for a singular decentralization strategy that is furthered by the quality implementation of Morocco’s existing participatory frameworks for sustainable development.

This article analyzes Morocco’s governmental approaches to creating a decentralized management system, particularly as they may impact, and in turn be shaped by, community based RE and development. Decentralization is discussed in regard to how it may be built alongside the fulfillment of Morocco’s Municipal Charter and its commitment to ensure the community planning of projects, as well as with an enhanced National Initiative for Human Development, the government’s flagship funding program for local sustainability. Recommendations are given as to how Morocco may accelerate community managed RE by achieving decentralization assisted by effectively implementing existing national structures for the people’s development.

Morocco’s energy sector -current state

Morocco’s energy sector is carbon intensive. Fossil fuels account for almost 90% of total primary energy supply (TPES), with oil constituting 62% of TPES in 2017, followed by coal (22%) and natural gas (5%).5 As Morocco does not produce any of these resources in a significant capacity, the Kingdom is heavily dependent on energy imports. In 2017, total energy imports of Morocco accounted for 95% of TPES.6. Hence political unrest in supply countries often affects Morocco’s energy sector, subjecting it to price shocks and fluctuations in external supply patterns, which can lead to domestic fuel insecurity.7

As a result of population growth, economic development, and the achievement of near universal access to electricity, the demand for and generation of electricity have increased dramatically in Morocco, with electricity consumption projected to double by 2025.8 To fuel increasing demand, electricity generation in Morocco has grown by 65% over the past decade, with fossil energy—especially coal and gas—accounting for 82% of the total electricity generation.9 Electricity imports from Spain and Algeria, which account for 14% of the total electrical supply, help with meeting the rising demand, in particular peak demands.10 Although the bulk of power generation is still produced from fossil fuels, RE sources have risen to almost 16% of total electricity generation.

In an effort to reduce the country’s dependence on energy imports and lessen the share of fossil fuels in energy generation to combat climate change, Morocco aims to increase the share of electricity-generating capacity from renewables to...


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pp. 80-89
Launched on MUSE
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