19 Jul Collaborative approach to sustainable growth
Both public and private sectors are focused on having a positive impact on economic, social and environmental development
By investing around $2 billion a year on the energy transition and renewable power over the last decade, Morocco has become a global leader in green energy. But it wants to go much further. “Our strategy for this is focused on three pillars,” says Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development Leila Benali.
“The first is ramping up renewable generation so that it reaches more than 52% of our installed energy capacity before 2030 and 80% before 2050. The second is increasing energy efficiency on both the supply and demand sides, and the third is expanding integration with regional and international markets for energy and carbon. Morocco is the only African country today that is fully connected with Europe in terms of energy, electricity and gas, and our interconnections are bidirectional. We also believe that the carbon market can be one of the major opportunities of the 21st century and we want to ensure that we are ready to capture that opportunity.”
These extensive ambitions mean that the country’s energy sector is ripe with potential for international investors. “One major area concerns, of course, renewable energies, green hydrogen and the surrounding ecosystem. A second big pocket of opportunity is gas and electricity transportation and distribution infrastructure — if we want 52% of our installed energy capacity to be based on renewables, we need our networks to support that. The third large arena is new energies and technologies, such as marine energy and green desalination plants,” reveals Benali.
A further investment priority that falls within the minister’s remit is waste management, she adds: “Morocco needs affordable technologies for waste management, because we strongly believe that waste is another area where Morocco can play a substantial role and where we have major potential to monetize waste into energy and other things.”
The nation’s new Charter of Investment takes account of the fact that both energy and waste management are considered strategic sectors for development by targeting incentives toward specific parts of those value chains. The charter also provides additional incentives for private-sector investment projects in the southern, eastern and southeastern regions of Morocco, which are the parts of the country with the highest potential in these industries.
“If we want 52% of our installed energy capacity to be based on renewables, we need our networks to support that.”
Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development
Further encouragement for investors is likely to come from an upcoming new National Strategy for Sustainable Development. Indicative of how policies tend to be designed in Morocco, this is being created after extensive and inclusive consultations across the country.
“The whole purpose is to unlock what sort of sustainable development the population, economic sectors and investors that are active in those industries want to see going forward in their regions. Once in place, the new strategy will make clear what fiscal terms, actions and incentives for investors we need to put in place to put our country on a sustainable development path,” says Benali.
Private-sector support for sustainability
Aradei Capital is a leading Moroccan commercial real estate company, which invests in, develops and manages assets across healthcare, retail, industrial, office and other sectors that produce impressive long-term rental incomes. As its CEO, Nawfal Bendefa, is keen to stress: “By definition, sustainability is about making investments that generate a return. On the environmental front, Morocco benefits from a geographical location that means initiatives connected to clean energy and energy efficiency have great returns on investment. As a developing country, there’s also a huge opportunity for investors in easily implementable projects that have a positive social impact, such as increasing access to healthcare.”
Aradei is a pioneer in the Moroccan real estate industry when it comes to the firm’s environmental and social (E&S) programs that aim to promote economic and societal development and employment, reduce its carbon footprint and provide its employees with a secure, stimulating environment to work in.
“We’re pushing ahead of others and are excited to be starting something that hopefully drives the whole sector in the right direction. As a company, our goal is to achieve the right balance between investing $1 in our E&S objectives — which prioritize higher impact — and making profitable decisions. To achieve this, we utilize a bottom-up approach and maintain proximity to the communities where we operate, allowing us to make informed decisions regarding our investments,” Bendefa asserts.
In 2022, having consulted extensively with investors, tenants, employees, local communities and other stakeholders, Aradei consolidated its E&S initiatives that span all its activities — from development, planning and construction to the management of its existing sites — under an umbrella strategy called Bricks for Impact. “We took this bottom-up approach in order to fully understand the extent of impact we need to make and we’re now able to turn our E&S initiatives into measurable performance indicators,” he explains.
The commitment of the real estate company to realizing its sustainability strategy is evident in the results it is achieving. For example, the installation of 300 photovoltaic panels on the roofs of three of its premises has brought energy savings of between 23% and 33%, while, last year, Aradei’s new Prism office block became the first building in Morocco to be EDGE certified. Developed by the International Finance Corporation, this green certification system attests to the company’s successful integration of sustainable materials, plus water-saving and energy-efficiency technologies, within the landmark building that is sited in a prime Casablanca location.
Bendefa reveals why the company is so focused on pushing E&S issues up the agenda in Moroccan real estate: “In the future, when we talk to our grandchildren, we want to proudly say that we made the decision to invest in solar energy and gender initiatives, for example, not because they were trends from abroad or imposed upon us, but because we genuinely wanted to make a positive impact.”