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In July 2012, the African Development Bank (AfDB) granted a EUR 105 million loan to the Green Morocco Plan Support Programme (PAPMV). Approved by the Moroccan authorities in April 2008, the Green Morocco Plan (PMV) will be spread out over twelve years (2008-2020).
The plan was launched to implement and concretize a vast array of structural and sector reforms in agriculture, the mainstay of the country’s economy.
The PMV's strategic objective is to help strengthen the sector’s competitiveness, while promoting inclusive economic growth. It also aims at stimulating massive agricultural investments estimated at MAD 10 billion per year to bolster the agricultural sector – and all of its stakeholders, starting with Moroccan farmers – into a real socio-economic development engine.
The agricultural sector accounts for 15- 20% of Morocco's GDP. This is proof of its importance to the country's economy, especially as it accounts for close to 40% of all job creation. The agricultural sector remains the country’s largest employer in rural areas and the main source of income for 1.5 million Moroccan farmers.
Scheduled to end in 2014, PAPMV aims specifically at improving the business environment and sustainable agricultural water management in a context of an increasing scarcity of resources. It also seeks to modernize irrigation infrastructure; improve the governance of water resources management (at an expected savings of 360 million m3 of agricultural water by project end); develop agricultural water; improve the business environment; promote gender; and ensure energy savings.
On the left bank of the Oum Rabi, in the Tadla Plain, the rich crop fields of Beni Moussa bask under the scorching sun. For Salah Atir, a farmer in this small rural community 200 km southeast of Casablanca, change and modern technology bring benefits. "Prior to the drip irrigation system, there was waste. Today, with less water, we have good crops," he said.
Salah Atir is a member of the Al Raja ("Hope") Association, which brings together 819 local farmers. The head of the young association founded in 2010, Chikaoui Najih, explained its role: "The association aims at minimizing water consumption and promoting quality, while reducing costs and labour." The association also trains farmers and "serves as an interface with the Office des Bassins Hydrauliques (Water Basin Agency)," he added.
"With well distributed fertilizers, we are producing 50 tonnes per hectare as compared to 30 tonnes in the past,” Atir said happily, adding that “quality has also improved.”
Beni Moussa and Beni Amir on the left and right banks, respectively, of the Oum Rabi, constitute the two 100-hectare irrigation schemes that received EUR 53.59 million in AfDB financing in December 2009.
Experiencing severe water stress, Morocco has no choice: Managing increasingly scarce water resources effectively and efficiently is an imperative. This necessarily involves efficient and sustainable use of irrigation water, which accounts for more than 80% of mobilized water resources. It is in this context that the Moroccan government has adopted the National Irrigation Water Saving Programme Support Project (PAPNEEI) whose aim is to transform 500,000 ha of land to drip irrigation.
Approved by AfDB in December 2009, PAPNEEI involves budget support (EUR 53.59 million) provided at the request of the Moroccan authorities. The project – which focuses on the agricultural regions of Loukkos, Tadla, Doukkala and Moulouya spread over about 20,000 ha of land — provides an excellent framework for a triple conversion: shifting irrigation potential from gravity and sprinkler to drip irrigation; a conversion to high value added crops; and an institutional move towards new organizational systems (aggregation, delegated management, etc.). The fact that sustainable water resources management will only help to improve the living conditions of the rural population is not the least of the project’s benefits.
Located 81 km south of Oujda and some 30 kilometres from the Algerian border, the Ain Beni Mathar Thermosolar Power Station was inaugurated on 12 May 2010 – a first for Africa and, indeed, the world. At the cutting edge of technology, this combined-cycle power plant (solar, gas and vapor) covers a 160 ha surface and has a 472 MW capacity supplied via a 12.6 km pipeline connected to the Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline. Its solar field covers about 88 ha. Sunlight helps increase the power plant’s capacity by as much as 20 MW.
The environment remains a priority for the plant’s officials as Mohamed Bouziane, engineer and head of the water treatment section, explains: "We do not use chemicals or fuels. It is an environment-friendly power plant."
Total project cost was EUR 420 million. Co-financed by the Global Environment Fund through the World Bank, Spain’s Instituto de Credito Oficial and ONEE ( French acronym for the Moroccan national institution for electricity and water), the project received two loans amounting to EUR 287 million from the African Development Bank.
"The AfDB was our major donor,” said Noureddine Badawi, ONEE project manager, adding “it helped us during market establishment, bid invitation and contract award."
In less than ten years, energy consumption has increased by 41.24%, reaching 13.7 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) in 2007, as compared to 9.7 million toe in 1999. Net electric energy increased even more dramatically, from 13,263 GWh in 1999 to 22,608 GWh eight years later (a jump of 70.46%).