EBRD contributes to funding rural electrification and smart metering in Morocco

By Nibal Zgheib

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting the Kingdom of Morocco’s drive to provide electricity access to all its citizens through a €60 million sovereign loan to the Office National de l'Electricité et de l'Eau Potable (ONEE).

The loan will finance part of the final phase of the Programme d’Electrification Rurale Global (PERG) and the implementation of a smart metering pilot study.

From its launch in 1996 to the end of 2012, the PERG brought electricity to almost 2 million rural households, increasing the Moroccan rural electrification rate to 98.06 per cent.

The EBRD’s investment will provide electricity access to 1,234 remote villages and is very important for the final phase of the national rural electrification programme. The EBRD loan will also finance a pilot smart grid programme to prepare for the deployment of smart metering and decentralised renewable energy generation.

“Morocco is a front runner in establishing best practices for rural electrification and the EBRD is very pleased to support these efforts. This project marks the EBRD’s first investment in the power and energy sector in Morocco. We hope this is the beginning of a long collaboration with ONEE and the Moroccan Ministry of Energy,” said Hildegard Gacek, the EBRD’s Managing Director for the southern and eastern Mediterranean.

Ali Fassi Fihri, Director General of the ONEE, said: “Today's signing reflects the EBRD’s support to accompany us in pursuing the implementation of rural electrification projects. ONEE is happy to have the confidence of international donors for the development of structural and strategic projects with strong economic, social and sustainable development.”

Through funding from the EBRD’s SEMED Multi-Donor Account, a technical cooperation project has given a thorough assessment of the technical, economic, social and environmental challenges of electrifying rural villages, identifying areas where the impact of these works could be reduced.

Electrification provides rural communities with opportunities for employment creation and for increased efficiency and profitability for small businesses, farmers and artisans. It also improves the quality of life in these remote areas through improved safety, hygiene, medical services and educational opportunities.