Climate finance champion turned gamekeeper.

Author:Fox, Benjamin

Morocco leads the world with its renewable energy programme. Why aren't other African nations showing the same enthusism for alternative sources of energy?

In November, Morocco will face the task of keeping world leaders to their climate finance promises when it hosts the UN COP22 climate change conference. Its host status is apt--Morocco stands alone as the world's climate finance champion.

A report by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in December 2014 found that Morocco had received over $600m of the $7.6bn allocated to 11 major international and national funds to tackle climate change, beating Mexico and Brazil.

Between them, Morocco and Egypt have gobbled up 83% of the total climate financing in North Africa.

South Africa is the only African country to come close, securing $466m from the funds.

In Morocco's case, most of its climate finance has come from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), which has approved $725m for five projects in Morocco and Egypt. It also attracted $150m in financing from the World Bank for its National Irrigation Saving Programme aimed at vulnerable farmers.

The secret of success

Morocco's success lies in the urgency with which its government has taken up climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Lacking any natural oil resources, Morocco has the third-lowest GDP per capita in the Middle East and North Africa, and imports almost 95% of its energy. Its region is also the most vulnerable to droughts and other disasters associated with scarce and irregularly available water.

The country launched an ambitious Energy Strategy in 2009 aimed at reaching 42% of renewable energy by 2020, by increasing solar power, wind power and hydropower production by 2 GW each, as well as an energy efficiency programme aiming at reaching 12% energy savings by 2020.

The jewel in its crown is probably the Ouarzazate solar power complex in the Moroccan desert which, when fully operational, will generate 580 MW--enough energy for more than one million homes.

"The right to sustainable development does not mean protecting the environment to the detriment of the economy," says Moroccan environment minister Hakima el Haite, although she stresses that "green growth ... can minimise the impact of imports and their burden on the state budget.

A model to replicate

Backed by political will, there is little reason why Morocco's model cannot be followed across the region.

"In all these areas there is a deliberate choice and clear policies that...

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