Powering the Plunder: What Morocco and Siemens are hiding at COP22, Marrakech

A non-governmental body has called for Siemens and Enel to cancel wind projects in the disputed territory of Western Sahara. Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) has said that schemes agreed by Siemens, Enel Green Power and the Moroccan government are set to take place in Western Sahara; and contribute to Morocco’s illegal occupation of the area. The Sahwari people claim ownership of the region, which was a colonial power of Spain and has been formally claimed by Morocco since 1957. Spain relinquished power in 1975. This document prepared by WSRW explains the dispute.

Executive Summary: Beware of what you are told about Morocco’s efforts in the renewable energy sector.

An increasing part of the renewable energy programmes that Morocco is promoting – even on the official COP22 website – are not taking place in Morocco at all, but in Western Sahara, which it illegally and brutally occupies. 

Both the Moroccan government and a handful of renewable energy companies will actively market their efforts for the development of green energy solutions during the COP22 climate talks in Marrakech, 7-18 November 2016.

22 newly built mills by the German company Siemens supply 95% of the energy required for the highly controversial plunder of non-renewable minerals from Western Sahara. The green energy production is making Morocco’s plunder of the territory even more lucrative.

Siemens and the Italian company Enel are those most heavily involved. They win Moroccan tenders in Western Sahara by partnering with the energy company owned by the king of Morocco. When the Moroccan royal palace – which regulates the energy market – receives large energy contracts in the territory, it comes at a high price for the UN peace process in Western Sahara. By exporting the energy to Morocco proper, the country and the royal family anchors its connection to the territory. Would the king be interested in a process of self-determination and decolonisation in Western Sahara when he, himself, is benefiting from the Moroccan army’s illegal presence there?

The legal owner of the land, the Saharawi people, have never consented to the Moroccan projects. Half of the territory’s original population has fled the country since Morocco invaded it in 1975. Leading opponents of socio-economic marginalisation of the Saharawis are serving life sentences in Moroccan jails. 

This report details how Morocco plans to build over 1000 MW (megawatts) of renewable energy plants in Western Sahara. As of today, the controversial energy production from solar and wind sources in Western Sahara constitutes at most 7 percent of Morocco’s total energy production from such sources. By 2020, the amount could be increased to an astonishing 26.4 percent.

Western Sahara Resource Watch demands the involved companies to terminate such infrastructure projects in Western Sahara with the Moroccan government, in order to not lay obstacles to the UN peace process. Nearly every week, a bulk vessel docks at the port of El Aaiún in occupied Western Sahara, loading and departing with a cargo of phosphate rock. For 40 years, Morocco has exported this non-renewable, strategic and valuable mineral, selling it to fertilizer producers overseas. The trade is not well received by responsible investors internationally. Several importers have ceased their purchases after learning of the controversies, and dozens of banks and pension funds have divested from companies engaged in the trade. The exports are in general seen as violating international law and the rights of the people of the territory to manage their own resources.

Over 95% of the energy needed by the Moroccan state phosphate company, OCP, in El Aaiún is provided by a farm of 22 Siemens windmills, according to the phosphate exporter’s own webpage. 

In other words, 22 Siemens windmills, claimed to be a ‘sustainable’ contribution to Morocco’s energy demand, are today powering the entire controversial phosphate exports from the occupied territory. For the year 2015, WSRW estimated the income from the mine to be 167,8 million USD. Due to the involvement of Siemens, the profit margin increases.

Poweringplunder Eng Web

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NOV 11 2016
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