The Moroccan government is expected to award a contract in the coming weeks for the building of a massive solar power plant in Morocco, using UK aid money to produce electricity for Europe.
Money taken from the UK aid budget is to be used by the World Bank to finance the Ouarzazate solar project, designed to prioritise export to Europe rather than ensure that ordinary Moroccans can access affordable electricity.
The project is part funded the World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund, which receives 14 per cent of its money - or £385 million – from the UK overseas aid budget. The fund’s objectives include poverty reduction, but a report launched today by the World Development Movement argues that the project could in fact exacerbate poverty in Morocco.
The report’s author Oscar Reyes said today: “Investment in renewable energy is essential to the fight against climate change. But measures to tackle climate change will only work if they also address poverty and inequality. By setting in place an export-led model that is likely to see electricity costs for the Moroccan people increase, and by asking the Moroccan government to subsidise the creation of a risky mega-project, Ouarzazate could make it more difficult for ordinary Moroccans to access electricity, especially in rural areas. And yet the project is being funded from the UK’s overseas aid project, the very purpose of which is to reduce poverty.”
The World Development Movement is calling for the new global Green Climate Fund, intended to replace temporary arrangements such the World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund, to prioritise projects that tackle poverty and aid transition to a low carbon economy, instead of subsidising multinational companies.
In December the anti-poverty group revealed that UK aid money channelled through the World Bank is also being used to produce cheap electricity for the US multinational Walmart, through a project that violates the rights of indigenous people in Mexico.
The Ouarzazate solar project in Morocco is part of Desertec, a plan by a consortium of energy and finance multinationals to construct an energy ‘super-grid’ connecting Europe with the Middle East and North Africa.
The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy is expected to award the contract for the Ouarzazate project to one of three groups, led by Abeinsa ICI, Enel SpA (ENEL) and ACWA Power International.