Western sahara Major events

IMF Says Morocco Ready To Start Floating Currency

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 07/12/2017 - 02:18

Source: Xinhua
Editor: ying

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Morocco is ready to start floating its currency, local media reported on Tuesday.

In June, the country’s central bank announced Morocco will start the first step of floating Dirham, Morocco’s official currency, in early July.

“Morocco has been ready, as we’ve already said. It’s a sovereign and voluntary decision the Moroccan authorities have taken as part of a long process of integrating the country into the world economy,” the Moroccan financial daily l’Economiste quoted Nicolas Blancher, head of mission for Morocco in the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, as saying. “We don’t see any big exposure to risk,” he noted.

The Moroccan government has said studies are being carried out to ensure enough time for the decision to take effect.

Currently, the Dirham is fixed via a peg that is 60 percent weighted to the euro and 40 percent to the U.S. dollar.

The first stage will ease that peg to allow the currency to trade in a narrow range, which will expand gradually over a few years.

‘TechGirls’ From Middle East And North Africa Head To US

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 07/11/2017 - 18:27


The girls, aged between 15 and 17, from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, and Tunisia, will take part in a 22 day summer exchange program in Washington DC and Virginia between July 12 and August 3.

Previously the program had also included girls from Libya and Yemen, however this year they are not on the list of participating countries.

TechGirls is an initiative of the US Department of State that began in 2012 during the Obama administration.

Since its inception the program administered by youth organisation, Legacy International, has brought 158 teenage girls from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, and Yemen to the US for “a supercharged three-week program including coding camp, job shadow experiences and meetings with tech industry leaders.”

The US State Department says girls will attend leadership clinics and project management workshops at Virginia Tech and in Washington DC.

They’ll also be mentored by leaders in the tech industry from the US, the Middle East and North Africa.

It comes amid President Donald Trump’s 90 day travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries; which also places a 120-day ban on all refugees.

The Supreme Court in June announced it would allow a revised version of the ban to take effect before the justices will hear full arguments in October.

Afghan girls’ robotics team

Meanwhile six Afghan girls who were denied visas to enter the US for an international robotics competition will be watching their robot participate in the FIRST Global challenge on July 16 by Skype.

The high school girls had made the perilous journey – twice – from Herat to Kabul to apply unsuccessfully for their visas.

Teenage girls from Afghanistan Robotic House, a private training institute, practice at the Better Idea Organization center in Herat, Afghanistan.

“We still don’t know the reason why we were not granted visas, because other countries participating in the competition have been given visas,” 14 year old Fatemah Qaderyan told Reuters.

Fitch Says Moroccan Covered Bonds Market Would Boost Housing Finance​

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 07/11/2017 - 18:07


* ‍Fitch says Moroccan covered bonds market would boost housing finance​

* Fitch says ‍introduction of a covered bonds market in Morocco would support continued strong growth of retail mortgage lending​

* ‍Fitch says asset quality in Moroccan banking sector is weak by international standards​

* Fitch says Moroccan covered bonds​ would lessen maturity mismatches between banks’ assets and liabilities, reducing liquidity risk – a credit positive Source text for Eikon.

Polisario leaders infuriated by delimitation of Moroccan maritime waters

Polisario-confidential - Tue, 07/11/2017 - 12:53
Morocco is about to undertake, through “sophisticated technologies”, the procedural operations of delimiting its maritime space, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf, announced Thursday evening, the government spokesman, Mustapha El Khalfi, after the cabinet’s weekly meeting. The Moroccan government adopted two draft laws and a draft decree on the delimitation of the country’s […]

Southern African Economies The Most Competitive In Africa

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 07/10/2017 - 23:50

Southern Times Africa
By Magreth Nunuhe

WINDHOEK – Mauritius, South Africa, Rwanda, Botswana, Morocco, Namibia, Algeria, Tunisia, Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire are the 10 most competitive economies in Africa, according to the Africa Competitiveness Report 2017.

In all of Sub-Saharan Africa, Mauritius leads the pack as the topmost efficient country, while on the global scale it ranks as the 45th most attractive country in which to do business, having dropped from its 39th spot from last year.

Mauritius is followed by South Africa, whose global ranking has substantially improved from 56 to 47, while Rwanda has also upgraded from position 62 to 52. Botswana is up from 74th spot to 64 with Morocco at 70, while Namibia has only slightly improved from 88th place to 84.

Tunisia is at 95, Kenya (96) and Côte d’Ivoire (99). The May 2017 report was published by the African Development Bank (AfDB), World Economic Forum and World Bank.

It assesses competitiveness landscape of economies, providing insight into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity, while also assessing national competitiveness worldwide and providing a platform for dialogue between stakeholders.

Mauritius continues to outperform its continental peers because “its leaders have removed the hurdles that prevent so many other countries from achieving prosperity; in this case, streamlining its goods market, building solid infrastructure and promoting a healthy workforce”.

South Africa and Rwanda have also improved their global ranking since the last index was released in 2015, with their continued growth being attributed to the uptake of technology, efficient financial markets and a focus on strengthening institutions. The report indicates that creating jobs can lead to Africa’s economic revival that may sweep the continent to prosperity. But in general, countries that have put in place sound fiscal and monetary policies, by keeping inflation, debt, and current accounts in check, have tended to see improvements in their macroeconomic environment, counterbalancing the negative effects of shrinking revenues.

“This is an aspect where many African countries have improved significantly, having better control of inflation and government accounts compared to 20 years ago, and in some cases achieving a performance in line with advanced economies,” reads the report.

Countries like Gabon were hailed in the report for maintaining a low inflation rate, relatively high national savings, and a contained budget deficit, while Botswana, although impacted by shrinking mineral exports, has done well in ranking globally, thanks to good management of its resource fund, low public debt and inflation, and high national savings.

Together with Mauritius, Gabon and Botswana are said to have developed the soundest macroeconomic environments in Africa.

Mauritius is the only African country in transition from an efficiency driven economy to an innovation driven one, in the league of advanced economies, like Germany, Korea, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The innovation-driven economies are characterised by the ability of a country to sustain higher wages and an associated level of productivity only if their businesses are able to compete with new and unique products using sophisticated management methods.

African countries in the efficiency driven stage of development are Namibia, South Africa, Cape Verde, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, whose economies are categorised by more efficient production and increased product quality, higher education and training, developed financial markets and the ability to make use of latest technological developments.

The above African countries are on par with countries such as Peru, Jordan, Indonesia, Albania, Belize, China and Colombia in terms of their stage of economic development.

The majority of African countries remain in the first stage of development – the factor-driven stage, where they are required to prioritise in building sound institutions and providing macro-economic policies, adequate infrastructure and ensuring a healthy and educated workforce.

According to the report, Africa has shown a five percent improvement, but compared to 10 years ago, Africa’s gap has started to widen with the world’s most advanced economies this year.

On a positive note, the quality of seaports and roads in some African countries, like Namibia and South Africa, perform relatively well, with the quality in line with average levels in advanced economies.

Africa has made significant progress on a number of crucial competitiveness dimensions over the past decade, such as on health and literacy, child mortality sharply declining from 83 to 47 percent, and primary school enrollment having grown to above 80 percent, according to the report.

East Africa is reported to be the sub-region that has managed to improve its competitiveness performance the most, gaining 8 percent in score since 2007, followed by Southern Africa, which has gained 6 percent.

West Africa and North Africa, after a short period of improvement, the competitive index note they are today at the same level of competitiveness they used to be 10 years ago.

ABB To Build Substation For Nareva Wind Farm In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 07/10/2017 - 13:24

Renewables Now
Wind turbines in Morocco.
Source: ABB (http://www.abb.com)

ABB (VTX:ABBN) will deliver a 225/33-kV hybrid substation for a wind farm in Morocco under a partnership with local energy group Energie Eolienne du Maroc.

The substation, worth USD 16 million (EUR 14m), will be installed at a wind farm owned by Moroccan firm Nareva, a subsidiary of the royal holding company Societe Nationale d’Investissement (SNI). Its capacity can be increased to up to 400 kV, or the wind park can be upgraded to 300 MW, ABB said on Friday.

The substation will be constructed in southern Morocco and will be linked to the national power grid. It will be the first of its kind in the African country, designed to withstand the desert climate and marine air conditions, the Swiss power and automation technology company explained. The facility will be equipped with ABB’s ZS2 MV switchgear, 150 MW of power transformers, instrument transformers, surge arresters, substation automation system and protection and control.

Morocco is forecast to face rising power demand in the coming years. The north African country is targeting a 42% share of renewables in the total electricity generation capacity by 2020, and 52% by 2030.

Analysis: Now It’s Their Turn

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 07/10/2017 - 13:01


Either Amir Peretz or Avi Gabbay will lead the ‘white tribe’ of Israel’s Labor Party.

Regardless of who will be elected to be the new head of Israel’s Labor Party in the second round – Amir Peretz or Avi Gabbay – one fact is already known: the person to replace Isaac Herzog is of Moroccan origin. “So what?” is the wrong reaction to this statement.

What should really be very irrelevant in Israel 2017– is actually very relevant. To begin with, in the 70 years of the State of Israel there has never been a Sephardi [descended from the Jews of the Iberian peninsula]prime minister, Moroccan or otherwise.

Now two contestants from Moroccan families and the social and geographical peripheries are competing for the leadership of the political party still strongly identified with the “white tribe,” an unsavory term gaining momentum as society matures. In fact, Labor has actually already had two Sephardi chairs: Benjamin Ben-Eliezer of Iraqi descent and Amir Peretz himself over ten years ago.

Nevertheless, the party is still perceived as the Bastille of the white Ashkenazi [Jews of Eastern European descent] hegemony, resented and rejected by masses of Sephardi voters.The roots of this phenomenon are deeply embedded into the history of Israel. They are the crime and the punishment for wrongdoings perpetrated by the then-ruling old Labor in the process of absorption of Jewish immigration from North Africa. Humiliation is the key word.

The wound refuses to heal despite the belated public “forgive us” act by Ehud Barak as a Labor prime minister in 1999; The gaps opened over decades between Ashkenazi and Sephardi have not closed despite the attempt to verbally bury what is called in Hebrew “the ethnic devil.”

This time, it feels different. The two – Peretz and Gabbay, of humble background, defeated two who best represent the old elite of Labor Party. One is the acting chair, Isaac Herzog, son of the late Gen. Haim Herzog, Labor politician and sixth president of Israel; the other is Omer Bar-Lev, son of the late Lt-Gen. Haim Bar Lev, one of the stars of the old Labor and a cabinet minister on multiple occasions. A world-renowned Israeli writer of Iraqi origin, Eli Amir, defined the victory of the two runner-uppers over the crown princes as the emergence of a “new aristocracy.”

He strongly believes that the outcome of this election marks a conceptual change.He might be right, although not necessarily. The recognition that no party in Israel can win the elections without Sephardi voters and the assumption that a Sephardi leader may attract those votes, might provide an alternative explanation.

It might be both. In any case, both candidates hate the reference to their ethnic background. They hardly mention it, if ever. They let others do for them what is still considered to be an unpleasant job in Israeli society.

Gabbay, by now a millionaire with an impressive record in the sphere of business and management, hardly mentions his roots, though he makes wise use of the hardships of his youth, growing up in a tiny house with eight siblings. Peretz’s biography is well known to Israelis, and so is his statement of wishful thinking ten years ago that the ethnic problem is non-existent.

Little did he know.Whatever the future holds, the two victories over the old elites are an event of historic importance. Unlike the two former short-lived episodes of Sephardi leadership of Labor party, this one grows of from fertile ground in a more comfortable climate.

Not yet golden, but changing

About two years ago, a new social movement emerged on the Israeli scene. Young intellectuals of Sephardi origin formed an organization under the name “Golden age – it is our turn now.” The name “Golden Age” refers to those days of Jewish cultural prosperity in Spain in the Middle Ages; “now is our turn” was their way of saying that the days of the exclusive Ashkenazi hegemony in Israel are over – now is the turn of Mizrachi Israel, to get control of all the strongholds in society that really matter.So far, the new movement has had limited success.

Nevertheless, the double victory of the two contestants in the Labor Party certainly has a lot to do with the changing social climate and audacious, unapologetic Sephardi discourse relentlessly spread by public opinion leaders and intellectuals of Sephardi origin.

It certainly was not like that just 11 years ago when Peretz was first elected to lead the party, many veteran Ashkenazi members left in angry protest. He just did not fit in. The most radical reaction was that of the then-new Russian speaking community in Israel. One of the major local newspapers in Russian called Peretz a “garbage alley-cat from Sderot,” in reference to the small town in the southern periphery where he chose to live. They hated his roots, his looks, and his accent.

Everything. Peretz himself admitted then that he expected some dissatisfaction, but this level of racism surprised him.Twelve years later, the same party has chosen not only him, but also another candidate of Moroccan origin to possibly lead the party. Ethnicity makes Israeli politics go round. The official reaction is that there is good reason to celebrate the success of two Moroccans, but that the revolution is far from over.”

In July 2017, the two emerge on apolitical scene in days of a vocal, self-assured Sephardi discourse. The one elected will be on a double-pronged mission: to rephrase the left and right discourse and fine-tuning adjustments based on both security and identity. The rest just might become history.

Lily Galili is a feature writer, analyst of Israeli society and expert on immigration from the former Soviet Union. She is the co-author of “The Million that Changed the Middle East.”

1,000,000th Dacia Car Built By Morocco Plant

Western Sahara Worldnews - Mon, 07/10/2017 - 10:00


Dacia’s factory in Tangier, Morocco has just built its millionth car and is recognised as the greenest car plant in the world.

Dacia is celebrating a notable landmark with the production of the 1,000,000th car at a factory hailed as the most environmentally friendly in the automotive world.

The Azurite Blue Dacia Lodgy rolled off the line in Tangier, Morocco, just over five years after the opening of the facility in February 2012.

Since then, 474,840 Sanderos, 320,078 Dokkers and 193,181 Lodgys have been manufactured there, bound for 37 markets around the world.

• Cheapest cars to run

The production success at the 300-hectare site has been achieved in tandem with an environmental policy that is setting a blueprint for other manufacturers.

Tangier is considered zero emissions in terms of CO2, with more than 90 per cent of its requirements fulfilled by renewable energies. This is in the main thanks to a biomass heating plant and a programme designed to minimise consumption without compromising performance, leading to savings of 100,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.

Led By Pakistan And Morocco, Troop Contributors To UN Form Group

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sun, 07/09/2017 - 04:20

Pakistan Today
Foreign National
by Staff Report

UNITED NATIONS: Troop and police contributing countries to the United Nations peacekeeping operations launched an informal group on Friday, under the leadership of Pakistan and Morocco, to discuss strategic issues affecting their personnel and to brainstorm responses to the new challenges facing world peace and security.

The group, co-chaired by Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi and her Moroccan counterpart Omar Hilale, met on the sidelines of Chiefs of Defence Conference at UN Headquarters in New York.

The meeting was largely attended by ambassadors and senior diplomats from the troop countries who praised the initiative taken by Pakistan and Morocco for discussions of their common problems, offering their full support in ensuring that the group’s voice was heard.

“This group will serve as a sounding board for new ideas and innovative solutions to confront the emerging challenges to international peace and security,” ambassador Lodhi told the inaugural meeting.

She said it will also be a collective reaffirmation of the troop-contributing countries abiding commitment to bring the promise of hope and prosperity to those affected by war and conflict.

The calls for doing more with less, despite the fact that peacekeeping was the most cost effective way of restoring peace and lives, was neither realistic nor sustainable, ambassador Lodhi said, while outlining the factors that prompted the formation of the group.

Also, she said, the demands for cuts in peacekeeping budgets needed to be questioned and countered.

The ongoing review of the UN peace and security architecture and the impending strategic reviews of peacekeeping missions provide troop and police contributors an opportunity to have their voices heard, the Pakistani envoy said.

In addition, she urged the need to provide a balance to the trend of focusing just on a few black sheep, who tarnish the image of Blue Helmets, rather than looking at the full picture.

“The efforts and contributions of our heroes, who take huge risks and make the ultimate sacrifice to uphold international peace and security, need to be more effectively highlighted.”

Ambassador Lodhi pointed out that troop and police contributing countries place their best resources and expertise at the UN’s disposal, and have a huge stake in the success of these peacekeeping missions.

“It is, therefore, imperative that we, as a group, should be able to voice their views and concerns effectively.”

She said there was a need to focus on some areas – including the fact that success of UN peacekeeping hinges on having a robust political track that leads to political solutions. As such, addressing the root causes of conflicts was critical. Among others areas was the optimum use of modern technology in peacekeeping, and adequate resources for effectively carrying out diverse mandates.

Ambassadors and senior diplomats from Uruguay, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Cameroon, Egypt, Jordan, China, and Ethiopia endorsed the views expressed by the Pakistani envoy and wished the group a success in its efforts to highlight the issues facing the troop contributing countries.

In his concluding remarks, the Moroccan ambassador said that the group would be open, flexible and provide an opportunity to share their experiences. It would also look for out-of-box solutions aimed at making peacekeeping more efficient.

Earlier, Ian Martin, a senior UN peacekeeping official, welcomed the formation of the group and briefed its members about efforts being made at UN to streamline the peacekeeping operations.

Sound Energy Reports Successful Koba-1 Well Test In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sat, 07/08/2017 - 04:27

World Oil

Sound Energy, the Moroccan and European focused upstream gas company, is delighted to report the success of operations to date at the Koba-1 well at Sidi Moktar, onshore Morocco.

The Company has successfully re-entered, completed, perforated and flared gas at surface from the Argovian reservoir (historically the main producing reservoir in the Kechoula discovery).

A five metre interval was perforated in the Argovian reservoir at a MD of 1406 m, where the static pressure was measured at 98 bar, confirming a producible gas accumulation. The Company has now temporarily suspended the well in preparation for a rigless extended well test – after which the Company hopes to move rapidly to production. The Koba-1 well, drilled at the crest of the Kechoula discovery, is close to existing infrastructure and gas demand, including the large scale Moroccan state owned OCP Phosphate plant.

The Company believes the Sidi Moktar licences also contain significant pre-salt potential and notes the quantitive assesment prepared by a previous operator in 1998 which referred to exploration potential of the Sidi Moktar licences of up to 9 Tcf unrisked gas originally in place (gross) in the TAGI and Paleozoic. The Company will require the reprocessing of existing 2D seismic, acquisition of new 2D seismic and drilling results before forming its own volume estimates for the exploration potential of the Sidi Moktar licences.

The Company also advises that due to poor quality cement bonding across the Lower Liassic in the Koba-1, and likely the Kamar-1, wells, the Company no longer intends to immediately re-enter the Kamar-1 well (subject to agreement with the regulatory authorities). The Lower Liassic at Kechoula will therefore be evaluated at a later date together with the deeper pre-salt.

As a result, the rig will be immediately released from Sidi Moktar and will likely return to the Company’s licences in Eastern Morocco.

Sahara: Morocco Scores Points At African Union Summit

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 15:58

Sahara News
by Ali Haidar

Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita on Tuesday (July 4) in Addis Ababa expressed Morocco’s satisfaction at the decisions taken on the Sahara at the 29th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (EU).

“Morocco is very pleased with the debates and decisions that have been taken place at this session,” Nasser Bourita told a press conference after the summit, saying that “maneuvers and procrastination (by Morocco’s opponents) have been discarded. Today, we have positions that go in the right direction”.

The head of Moroccan diplomacy also welcomed the wording of the resolution on the Sahara in which African Heads of state call for “appropriate support” for the UN Secretary-General to resolve the Sahara dispute. The resolution, he said, is “very important and is an evolution”, since it “recognizes the leadership of the United Nations and the handling of the issue in New York”.

Actually, contrary to the South African Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who was completely aligned with the Algerian position in the Sahara issue and openly displayed her hostility to Morocco, the new chairman of the AU Commission, Chadian Moussa Faki Mahamat, adopted a more balanced tone in addressing this issue.

Faki Mahamat affirmed to have taken note of the solid arguments of Morocco and of its serious and credible efforts, acknowledged by the international community, to settle definitively this issue.

He also welcomed the calming down of tension in the Guerguerat area and welcomed the intention of the new representative of the UN Secretary General, German Horst Köhler, to launch a new initiative to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Moreover, after it had been manipulated for a long time to side with the separatist theses of the Polisario and the geostrategic interests of the Algerian regime, in collusion with South Africa, the AU commission broke with this alignment and pronounced itself for a “consensual” solution to the artificial Western Sahara conflict.

Morocco also succeeded to have the AU Executive Council delete the words “occupied territory” from the report of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and from the Summit resolution on the Sahara.

The wording of this resolution and the AU Commission’s call for a consensual solution to the Sahara conflict are certainly not to the taste of the leaders of Algiers and their protégés, the Polisario, who perceive there the beginning of a turnaround on the African chessboard in favor of Morocco.

Spike In Migrant Boats To Spain May Signal Shift In Africa Exodus

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 14:50

By Paul Day and Edward McAllister
photo by Reuters/Jon Nazca

The number of migrants crossing into Spain by sea from North Africa has doubled in 2017 from last year, outpacing the Libya-Italy route as the fastest growing entry point to Europe.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says the spike in migrant boats is already putting a lot of stress on Spain’s insufficient migration structures.

* Migrants reaching Spain by sea doubles in 2017

* Spain is fastest growing entry point to Europe

* UNHCR says country ill prepared to handle crisis

Escaping poverty and conflicts, more than 360,000 refugees and migrants arrived on European shores across the Mediterranean last year, according to the UNHCR. More than 85,000 have reached Italy so far this year.

Spain’s interior ministry did not return calls and emails seeking comment.

While the Italian sea route remains the most popular overall with 59,000 migrants between January and May, up 32 percent from last year, the Spanish route further west has gathered steam with 6,800 migrants using it in the same period, a 75 percent increase from 2016.

In June, the trend was even more pronounced as 1,900 migrants, mostly young men originating from Guinea, Ivory Coast, Gambia and Cameroon, reached the shores of the Southern region of Andalusia, quadrupling the numbers registered the same month last year.

Further South, just as dramatic is the fall in the number of migrants spotted in the Agadez region of Niger, a key stop on the way to Libya from West Africa.

“People are talking about going to Spain. It seems like it is safer to go through Morocco to Spain than through Libya. The difference is that Libya doesn’t have a president and Morocco does – there are not guns like in Libya,” said Buba Fubareh, a 27-year-old mason from Banjul, Gambia, who tried and failed to get to Europe via Libya earlier this year.

Many African migrants passing through Libya have reported having been beaten up, detained in camps with no food or water and even traded as slaves before being held for ransom, forced labour or sexual exploitation.


A similar reorganization has also taken place within the Western Mediterranean route itself, with the Alboran Sea, which connects North-Eastern Morocco and South-Eastern Spain, being now more popular than the previously favoured Gibraltar strait or Ceuta and Melilla land borders where policing has increased.

Migrant arrivals on the Spanish coastline averaged just under 5,000 a year between 2010 and 2016, according to government data, down from peak of 39,180 in 2006. It is on track to top 11,000 this year, government data shows.

The country was unprepared to handle vulnerabile groups such as victims of trafficking or unaccompanied minors and refugees who should be channelled through asylum procedures, the UNHCR said.

Spain has so far given a lukewarm response to a request from Italy to fellow European Union countries to allow rescue boats carrying African migrants across the Mediterranean to dock in their ports and help handle tens of thousands of arrivals.

“What is clear is that, they (Spain’s government) have to get ready. They can’t be caught unprepared. What started happening elsewhere in Europe in 2015 can’t be allowed to happen here,” spokeswoman for the UNHCR in Spain Maria Jesus Vega said.

“It’s not yet an emergency, but you have to take into account that there are no structures here to deal with more arrivals.” (Writing by Julien Toyer; editing by Ralph Boulton)

Groupe PSA Creates A New OpenLab For Research On Sustainable Mobility For Africa

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 13:04

Automative world

Groupe PSA signed an agreement with five Moroccan universities, two American universities with campuses in Morocco, an engineering school of Ecoles Centrales based in Morocco, and a technological centre at the International University of Rabat.

The “Sustainable Mobility for Africa” OpenLab has committed to a four-year research program to explore sustainable mobility systems focused on three major areas:

• Electric mobility for the future to develop electric powertrains adapted to the African market,
• Renewable energy to support the spread of ecological and economical energy sectors,
• Logistics of the future, to find the optimum combination that meets the needs of the supply chain of a production unit and corresponds to local constraints.

It will draw on Groupe PSA’s scientific expertise and its university partners, as well as on the technology platforms in Morocco.

The Sustainable Mobility for Africa OpenLab partners are:

– International University of Rabat
– Université Mohammed V de Rabat
– Ibn Tofail University (Kenitra)
– Université Cadi Ayyad (Marrakesh)
– Euro-Mediterranean University of Fes (INSA EuroMéditerranée)
– Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)
– Mississippi State University
– Ecole Centrale Casablanca
– Lafayette Institute

Groupe PSA is committed to an Open Innovation policy, involving building and managing relationships with different ecosystems: individuals, businesses, academia and institutions.Within the academia ecosystem, StelLab, established to strengthen scientific partnerships with public laboratories on the leading edge of innovation, forms a network of OpenLabs and academic chairs.

To better respond to social, environmental and economic challenges presented by the “car of the future”, this network of OpenLabs is spread across locations around the world. This allows it to share research teams and experimental resources from PSA and partner laboratories.

The Sustainable Mobility for Africa OpenLab strengthens a network of 17 active OpenLabs made up of 12 in France, 4 in China (1 in Beijing, 2 in Shanghai and 1 in Wuhan), and 1 in Brazil.

Moroccan Cement Market Contracts 8% In May

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 13:00

Cement News
By ICR Newsroom

Cement sales in Morocco fell 7.6 per cent to 1.24Mt in May. The drop has been attributed to the recession in the real estate sector following a slump in social housing and the slowdown on construction sites as a result of the delay in the formation of a new government and adoption of Finance Law 2017.

In the first five months of 2017, cement sales retreated six per cent to 6.05Mt YoY.

Diversification For Moroccan Citrus Exports In 2016-17

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 12:52


The Moroccan citrus industry was able to successfully tap new markets while maintaining traditional ones in 2016-17, according to a recent report published by a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) agency.

A recently published report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) highlighted a 2% increase in mandarin/tangerine exports, a 19% uptick in orange shipments and a 64% rise in lemons, although the latter was more of a rebound to normal levels.

“Morocco continues to make strides to diversify its exports, sending greater and greater volumes to Sub-Saharan Africa and finding new markets in the Middle East,” the FAS said in the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report.

“Reemerging MedFly problems were particularly disruptive to Morocco’s citrus exports in February 2017, including specifically its exports to the United States.”

Despite this issue, the United States still recorded a 7% rise in imports of Moroccan mandarins/tangerines to 41,173 metric tons (MT). However, this quantity is relatively small compared to exports to leading markets Russia and the EU, which combined account for a 70% share and both notched rises of 3% in volume.

The increase in volume was supported by an increase of around 5,000 hectares in the harvested area, while just over 1,000 extra hectares were added to the planting area in mandarins/tangerines.

It was in oranges that the diversification could truly be seen though, with Sub-Saharan Africa overtaking Russia to become Morocco’s second-largest destination for the crop with 9,812MT. This still falls significantly short of the EU’s 30,304MT of imports, but the old continent did see a sharp drop of 8% year-on-year.

Russia’s imports of the fruit did not fall however, increasing 5% to 8,189MT, while Canada (+392%; 2,766MT) and the Middle East (+4102%; 2,101MT) saw exponential rises in Moroccan orange purchases.

Leading lemon market Russia saw an 81% uptick in imports to hit 6,584MT, while Canada’s rose sharply by 962% up to 875MT and the EU fell 44% to 710MT.

Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Sahara: Morocco scores points at African Union summit

Sahara News - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 11:58
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita on Tuesday (July 4) in Addis Ababa expressed Morocco’s satisfaction at the decisions taken on the Sahara at the 29th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (EU).  “Morocco is very pleased with the debates and decisions that have been taken place at this session,” Nasser […]

Morocco Set To Implement Midelt Phase I CSP Project

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 09:42

ESI Africa

Morocco is set to construct the Midelt Phase I CSP Project, which will generate solar power through an innovative hybrid concentrated solar power (CSP) and photovoltaic (PV) solution.

This is after the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank each approved finance of $25 million for the project.

The funds will be channeled via the Climate Investment Funds’ Clean Technology Fund (CIF CTF), the AfDB explained.

The project consists of two separate CSP plants, each with 150-190MW CSP capacity and a minimum of five hours of thermal storage.

Midelt Phase I CSP Project

The project’s innovative hybrid solar design will be built on a unique Public-Private Partnership between the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN) and private sector sponsors – with a build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) project structure and implementation approach.

The envisaged installed capacity of the PV component could reach approximately 150-210MW, making the total capacity of each of the proposed plants 300-400MW; and the total capacity of this first phase 600-800MW.

AfDB’s Director, Climate Change and Green Growth, Anthony Nyong, said: “In 2015, the world saw an important shift in CSP investment from the developed to the developing world, particularly in Morocco.”

Nyong added: “Morocco’s path-changing Noor CSP programme under CTF, for which we serve as implementing agency, has been a critical element of that shift.

“This new project, which will be modelled on the Noor operational and financial structure, will increase the development of solar energy and further help diversify the country’s energy mix and enhance its energy security.

“We believe that the project can serve as a model for other countries in the region and beyond.”

Morocco’s renewable energy plan

The Midelt Phase I CSP Project is expected will significantly contribute to Morocco’s achievement of its Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, including its goal of achieving 52% of installed capacity from renewable energy (20% from solar) by 2030. Read more…

Morocco’s solar plan will also contribute to industrial development, competitiveness and could create about 30,000 jobs.

“Until now, CSP has been the dominant renewable energy technology assuring electricity during peak hours and by adding a PV component, we expect enhancing the reliability of the power plant,” AfDB’s CIF Programme Coordinator and Senior Climate Finance Officer, Leandro Azevedo, stated.

“The combination of these two technologies will allow Morocco to optimise the dispatch of generated power during the daytime by ensuring that the utilisation of the CSP component can be maximised during night-time through the use of thermal storage,” Azevedo said.

Royal Air Maroc Expects U.S. Laptop Ban To End By July 19

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 07:56

By Aziz El Yaakoubi

Royal Air Maroc expects the U.S. ban on laptops and other large electronic devices in aircraft cabins on direct flights to the United States to be lifted by July 19, a senior official from the state-owned airline said on Thursday.

The U.S. banned laptops in cabins on flights originating at 10 airports in eight countries – Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey – in March to address fears that bombs could be concealed in them.

“Negotiations with the U.S. authorities are underway and we expect the ban to end by July 19 at the latest,” the official, who declined to be named, said.

U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokesman Mike England said in an email that it was too early to confirm Royal Air Maroc’s compliance.

Royal Air Maroc operates flights to the United States from Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport.

Qatar Airways said on Thursday the ban had been lifted on its flights from Doha’s Hamad International Airport.

Emirates, Turkish Airlines and Etihad also announced a lifting of the ban on their flights this week.

Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has said it expects the ban to be lifted on flights from Jeddah and Riyadh by July 19.

Other airlines affected by the ban include Royal Jordanian , Kuwait Airways and EgyptAir.

The United States announced enhanced security measures for flights to the country on June 29. These require additional time to screen passengers and personal electronic devices for possible explosives.

Airlines that fail to meet the new security requirements could still face in-cabin electronics restrictions.

(Editing by Alexander Cornwell and Alexander Smith)

Morocco Secures $25m Loan From The Clean Technology Fund For Hybrid Solar Project

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 03:59


Morocco received approval for a US $25 million loan from the Climate Investment Funds’ Clean Technology Fund (CIF CTF) for a project to generate solar power through an innovative hybrid Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and Photovoltaic (PV) solution.

The Midelt Phase I Concentrated Solar Power Project is being supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank with an additional allocation of US$ 25 million in CTF resources.

The project consists of two separate CSP plants, each with 150-190 MW CSP capacity and a minimum of 5 hours of thermal storage. The envisaged installed capacity of the PV component could reach approximately 150-210 MW, making the total capacity of each of the proposed plants 300-400 MW and the total capacity of this first phase 600-800 MW.

The project’s innovative hybrid solar design is also built on a unique Public-Private Partnership between the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN) and private sector sponsors – with a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer project structure and implementation approach. Selected sponsors are expected to form a Special Purpose Company to build and operate the plants and sell the generated electricity to MASEN under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). The process will be designed to allow the award of the plants to different bidders. The support from the CTF and AfDB is critical in driving down the cost of the project’s capital and lowering the Levelized Cost of Electricity.

“In 2015, the world saw an important shift in CSP investment from the developed to the developing world, particularly in Morocco” stated Anthony Nyong, AfDB’s Director, Climate Change and Green Growth. “Morocco’s path-changing Noor CSP program under CTF, for which we serve as implementing agency, has been a critical element of that shift. This new project, which will be modelled on the Noor operational and financial structure, will increase the development of solar energy and further help diversify the country’s energy mix and enhance its energy security. We believe that the project can serve as a model for other countries in the region and beyond,” he added.

The project will significantly contribute to the Government of Morocco’s achievement of its Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, including its goal of achieving 52% of installed capacity from renewable energy (20% from solar) by 2030. Morocco’s Solar Plan will also contribute to industrial development, competitiveness and could create about 30,000 jobs.

“Until now, CSP has been the dominant renewable energy technology assuring electricity during peak hours and by adding a PV component, we expect enhancing the reliability of the power plant” stated Leandro Azevedo, AfDB’s CIF Program Coordinator and Senior Climate Finance Officer. “The combination of these two technologies will allow Morocco to optimize the dispatch of generated power during the daytime by ensuring that the utilization of the CSP component can be maximized during night-time through the use of thermal storage,” he said.

Estimated greenhouse gas savings for the Noor-Midelt Phase 1 project is about 1.2 million tCO2 equivalent per year and 36 million tCO2 equivalent over the project’s 25 year-lifetime.

Sound Energy Has Gas Success In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 17:31

Energy Voice
Written by Stuart Monteith – 05/07/2017 11:31 am

UK player Sound Energy has successfully extracted gas from the its Kechoula Discovery in Morocco.

The company confirmed that a test drill at a measured depth of 4612 feet confirmed a “producible gas accumulation”.

The company’s chief executive James Parsons said: “We are delighted by this early success at the Kechoula discovery and look forward to both the extended well test and to unlocking the deeper, and much larger, pre-salt potential in the future.

“Our attention now turns back to our very significant position in Eastern Morocco where we are preparing for further near term drilling and seismic.”

The company added that it believes the Sidi Moktar licence contains gas – based on a quantitive assessment prepared by a previous operator in 1998.

The company will now be required to reprocess the existing 2D seismic, acquire new 2D seismic and drilling results before forming its own estimate on the exploration potential at the site.