by Prof. Dr. József STEIER, Country Director of HTCC, Morocco
On the 14th and 15th of November, Marrakesh hosted the Energy Week: Morocco’s international energy conference. The event was also a forum for two high priority panels, the challenges of African renewable energies and natural gas.
The conference wanted to contribute to accelerate the development of the continent by strengthening regional cooperation, sharing experiences and involving private capital.
The figures are frustrating. On the continent of the future, one billion people get as much electricity as eighty million inhabitants do in Germany. The continent is struggling with a terrible paradox. While energy (mainly oil and gas) exports are significant, the final product, the fuel, is mainly imported. It is a cliché that a fragment of Sahara would be enough to supply the world with the continent’s energy, while investors and the required network is missing.
However, a major breakthrough has been observed since 2017. Morocco has returned to the African Union, became a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and signed a Trans-African gas pipeline project with Nigeria. The construction of energy networks (the so-called interconnectors) has been accelerated. Twelve out of fifteen West African countries are connected with 330 kilowatt electricity networks. However, the network is lacking in performance and the Moroccan spine is not complete, as it lacks the 440 kilowatt connection between Boujdour and Dakhla, as well as the link to Senegal.
In addition to the expanding capacity of renewable energies, storage also played an important role in the conference, as efficiency is improved by power plants with storing capacities as well as with the rental storing project with Portugal that is planned to realize with a cable under the sea. Huge wind farms are now being built with the performance of at least 4 megawatt per turbine unit, and the construction of solar heat (CSP) parks are moving on. In addition to Ourzazate El Noour 1-4 with the performance of 560 megawatt, the 800 megawatt Midelt and Boujdour parks are being built.
A breakthrough is expected concerning fossil energy integration, as the trans-African gas pipeline that is being built will connect 11 countries. In addition to Nigeria, new players, such as Ghana, Mali or Mauritania, can also come across the line. Morocco also shifts to a higher pace, and would like to reduce its import dependency ratio on fossil fuels to around 80%.That's why the country increases the number of drillings and issues more research licenses. In 2021, the first major East Moroccan gas field will be connected to a pipeline transiting to Spain.
Although the challenges and opportunities are huge, Hungarian companies were neither represented themselves nor attended the event, besides the HTCC’s Moroccan Directorate. It would be good to know where are the companies that are active in this industry, as well as the excellent engineers and their associates?! It is also interesting why our small and medium-sized innovative companies are not present when they are struggling for business positions on the Hungarian and foreign market.
HTCC has made use of the conference's networking capability and will continue to be available to Hungarian companies, either through the organization of customer programs in Morocco or through its African network system.
If you are interested in getting more information and network development, feel free to contact HTCC and request a personal consultation with our colleagues in Budapest.