On the 21st of March, the European Commission pledged to integrate Saharan waters in the next fisheries agreement with Morocco. A decision that goes hand in hand with the EU companies’ will.
The campaign bolstered by international NGOs has not stopped European companies from considering the Sahara when doing business. In a new report, the «Association for the Monitoring of the Natural Resources and for the Environment Protection in Western Sahara» has angrily pointed at the number of EU ships in the Sahara ports.
In its document, the NGO referred, in particular, to the presence of a Dutch ship that delivers equipments for the new Boujdour wind farm expected to start operating in 2019. It also referred to the Panamanian vessels that transport fish meal to Spain. In addition to criticizing the Moroccan authorities, the association went on stating that these activities, according to it, violate «international laws», condemning Siemens, the German conglomerate company heading the wind farm project.
Siemens, Windhoist, Wisby Tankers…
The company headquartered in Berlin is, indeed, interested in investing in Morocco. Despite the pressure put by the pro-Polisario NGO, it is working on the construction of the power plants for clean energy. On the 7th of December, 2017, «Western Sahara Resource Watch» urged Siemens in a letter to cease its activities in the territory.
For the record, WSRW has filed a complaint that led to the 27th of February ruling issued by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The latter decided that the agreement shouldn’t include the Western Sahara territorial waters.
These pro-Polisario associations are also targeting Windhoist, a British company specialized in installing wind turbines. In a press release published in October 2017, the company welcomed the installation of 56 Siemens wind turbines manufactured in Tangier for the Boujdour wind farm.
International companies and green projects
Renewable energy projects are mostly conducted in the Saharan provinces. In addition to the Boujdour and Tarfaya wind farms, the Noor solar power plant, in Laayoune and Boujdour, are also on the list.
It is not only green energy that pushes the big international companies to do business in the Sahara. This was confirmed by a WSRW's report which has compiled a list of Swedish companies working on behalf of Moroccan groups in the extraction of phosphates, the supply of petroleum products, fishing and even a tour operator that promotes kite surfing in Dakhla. Projects launched by Morocco in the Sahara have also attracted Indian and Bulgarian companies.
For the record, on the 40th anniversary of the Green March, King Mohammed VI presided in Laayoune a ceremony, signing agreements to 200 projects to be completed in the next five years in the three Saharan regions for a budget of 77 billion dirhams.