Interview conducted by James Hood & Astrid Neve.
Q1. You have previously spoken about the partnership with Germany and Morocco in the form of the DESERTEC initiative and stated that Morocco is well placed to promote and develop its renewable energy resources. On a broader scale, what more do you think needs to be done by developed countries to aid African nations in developing their untapped wealth of energy resources?
Developed countries are already very much involved in the project. In the case of Morocco, companies from Germany, France the USA and Japan are all involved. The project of DESERTEC also concerns countries like Mauritania, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. To set exchanges on the project, we also have had meetings at different levels in Germany with departments in charge of DESERTEC, more precisely with the Ministry of Technology and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, trying to build partnerships that are based on sharing and developing renewable energy.
Acting as full partners means that we will help African countries and, at the same time, increase energy exports to Europe. We don’t have to consider that developed countries are only and simply working to sell their products.
With Germany, we are also leading deep discussions about know-how technology exchange and the management of renewable resources as well. We are working together for a real partnership in the field.
Q2. Climate change is now high on the global agenda. What is Morocco doing to address these concerns?
We are concerned by the problem of climate change as anybody else in the world. Developing renewable energy is an important way to protect the environment by promoting clean energy and reducing carbon emissions. This concern is also led on the level of our universities where special courses on renewable energy have been introduced.
Q3. Would you say that is now a ‘tipping point’ in developing potential of Africa and Morocco in particular, not just in terms of energy but also in other areas?
Very few people know that we have developed our industrial and technology fields in Morocco such in aeronautics, producing cables for Airbus (more precisely for the Airbus 380 planes). The repair of aircraft has also been developed in Morocco, as an example, and it is a little known fact, Lufthansa actually repairs some of its aircraft in Casablanca. We can say that our engineers and the facilities we have are, therefore, of international standards.
Furthermore, our agriculture sector has throughout the years received a major focus and has been very well developed; we have also a deep concern in water resources management. Germany, over the last thirty years, has been one of our leading partners in such an area, and is more specifically involved in water shortage issue and in water cleanness, since water is a key sector that Morocco cares very much about.
Q4. What is currently being done to improve education cooperation between Morocco and Germany?
We are keen to promote greater ties with Germany particularly in terms of furthering post graduate studies and work in promoting the possibilities offered for Moroccans to study in Germany. I have also been discussing with my German partners the possibility of establishing a German university in Morocco. Many Moroccan students are not able to come to Germany to study but they want to benefit from the high standard of German education.
This project could also be beneficial to African students who can come to Morocco to fulfill their studies, which is a win-win situation. We also have a Joint Commission on Culture with Germany which meets every 3 years. The last meeting was held in Berlin in 2009, the next one should take place in 2011 in Morocco. The job of the Commission is to measure and discuss the progress we made regarding training, education and scholarships. It is the legal framework to increase cooperation and links with Germany on the level of sports, youth, education, arts, cinema to name just few fields.
Thank you for speaking with us here at the ICD.