To combat climate change, Morocco’s government is advocating greater energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies. The country’s mosques and their Islamic clerics are helping to make people recognise the benefits of saving energy.
Green Mosques and the transition to clean energy
There are around 51,000 mosques in Morocco and the Moroccan Ministry of Habous and Islamic Affairs foots the bill for some 15,000 of them – costs it aims to substantially reduce while raising citizens’ awareness of the benefits of renewable energies and energy efficiency.
By 2030, Morocco intends to source 52 percent of its electricity from renewable energy.
With the country’s mosques and their imams acting as key ambassadors for the scheduled transition to clean energy, Morocco’s Ministry of Habous and Islamic Affairs has joined forces with the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development and two other state-owned partners to launch a scheme targeting the nationwide energy-efficient modification of the country’s mosques.
This move is to create a new market for energy services and more jobs in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energies, including corresponding basic and further training for experts.
Training for experts and multipliers to implement clean energy
On behalf of Germany’s Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German development agency GIZ is supporting this Moroccan initiative with strategic advisory and training services.
A key component of this project, which is being implemented as part of the Special Initiative on Stabilisation and Development of North Africa and the Middle East, focuses on enabling the private sector to deliver solutions for energy-efficiency and renewable energies itself in future.
Given the lack of experts to date, the project has, for example, targeted the unemployed in Marrakesh in a bid to train them to develop and market energy projects for public and private customers.
In the meantime, 15 of them are now working as freelancers. Project activities have already resulted in some 117 new jobs. In addition, the project has boosted the employability of over 250 people.
To sensitise the population to this topic, imams and female clerics – mourchidates – are undergoing training in energy efficiency.
The rationale behind this decision is that religious clerics have a high social standing in Morocco. In the interim, some 400 imams, mourchidates and officials from the Ministry of Habous and Islamic Affairs (94 of them women) have already adopted arguments in favour of the transition to clean energy.
By the end of 2018, more than 2,100 religious clerics are to have distributed their new knowledge in their communities, for example via their sermons. To achieve this, the ministry has drawn up guidelines with religion-based arguments promoting energy efficiency and wider use of renewable energies that it will distribute to all the country’s imams and mourchidates.
Energy-efficient technologies for Mosques
At the same time, and by way of an initial measure, more than 100 mosques are to be fitted with energy-efficient technologies.
For example, energy-saving lighting systems, solar water-heating plants and photovoltaic systems will be installed at these “Green Mosques”.
The commission for the work has been awarded to a consortium of companies via a public invitation to tender. Moroccan companies are carrying out the modernisation work.
The project has devised an interesting financing system for this purpose: the companies foot the bill for the required energy modifications themselves.
Their earnings then depend on the volume of energy saved as a result of the technologies they install – which means the more efficient the buildings are, the more money they earn.
The energy entrepreneur Yassine Alj is among those who have benefited from this experience. “We have been able to improve our work in the field of energy efficiency in public buildings and so become more internationally competitive, too.”
For the Moroccan companies, working on the project is thus an investment in the future – particularly as, looking ahead, there are plans to optimise energy use in other buildings in Morocco or to construct new ones.