Morocco: Yassine Alj, energy entrepreneur

Yassine Alj, Energy entrepreneur from Morocco

By the year 2020, Morocco aims to meet more than 40 per cent of its domestic energy needs from renewable sources and to create jobs in the field of energy-efficiency. As part of the Special Initiative MENA North Africa/Middle East by Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is assisting Morocco to modernise energy use in the country's mosques. The plan is to green 100 hundred mosques by the end of 2016, and to raise the environmental awareness of more than 300 imams. For GIZ, this also means working with Moroccan entrepreneurs, like the young Yassine Alj – with great results!

How do you rate the situation in Morocco with regard to energy supply?

Morocco is more than 95 per cent dependent on the import of fossil fuels and electricity. Between 2000 and 2010, energy consumption in Morocco doubled and it’s set to quadruple by 2020. Given that the biggest energy consumers have not changed their ways in spite of the excessive power bills, I really wanted to show that it’s possible to do things differently. After all, the solutions are already on hand!

How is business in the energy services sector in Morocco?

I set up my company Ecotaqa in Agadir just two years ago. Things were tough at the start, but in the meantime our business has begun to pick up. There's a lot of potential in the field of renewable energies and energy efficiency. Cooperating with GIZ on pilot projects like the 'Green Mosques' has enabled us to improve our experience with public buildings and so become more internationally competitive, too.

What part did Ecotaqa play in the 'Green Mosques' project?

By 2019, it is planned to equip at least 600 mosques across the country with LED lighting, solar thermal water heaters and photovoltaic systems. To get the 'Green Mosque' project going, we conducted inventories in fourteen mosques in Agadir. We recorded the precise amount of energy used – the illuminated surface areas and the number of light bulbs etc. But the mosques are just the starting point for disseminating energy efficiency measures in other public buildings, too.

How is cooperation set to continue?

We've conducted energy audits, i.e. on-site energy consultations, in eleven faculties at the University of Ibn Zohr. And we recently worked with GIZ on web videos to raise awareness of energy efficiency. I'm convinced that the transition to clean energy depends greatly on helping people understand how energy is used.

How do you envisage your future?

Personally, I'd like to visit as many cities in the world as I can. Professionally, I've taken on a lot of responsibility: I've created six jobs in all. Two of my employees are fathers and in the process of building a future for their families. I would like to secure a steady income for my workforce by acquiring new projects. I've got a lot of plans: I want to continue to expand my know-how and make my mark on my generation.


        
    
Adnane Azizi © GIZ
At the age of 25, Moroccan national Yassine Alj is already running a company that employs six staff members. His university backed his plans to set up a company and provided him with an office.

        
    
Adnane Azizi © GIZ
His company Ecotaqa provides energy services in the field of renewable energies and energy efficiency.

        
    
Adnane Azizi © GIZ
Alj and his employees compile expert reports and advise the operators of public buildings on ways of becoming more energy efficient.

        
    
Adnane Azizi © GIZ
Renewables offer substantial energy savings potential. That’s why Morocco’s policy-makers also regard the expansion of these technologies as an important objective.

        
    
Adnane Azizi © GIZ
A programme designed to create 'Green Mosques' was started by four Moroccan institutions in 2014. GIZ is providing support.

        
    
Adnane Azizi © GIZ
Ecotaqa conducted energy inventories in a total of 14 mosques. The next step involves finding out where energy can be saved

        
    
Adnane Azizi © GIZ
The period up to the COP22 climate summit at the start of November 2016 already saw several mosques ‘go green’. They are role models for a clean energy transition.

        
    
Adnane Azizi © GIZ
Overall some 600 mosques up and down the country are to be made more energy efficient by the end of 2019.

        
    
Adnane Azizi © GIZ
The Moroccan companies taking part will be paid through the energy savings they achieve – this approach strengthens the market and creates jobs.

        
    
Adnane Azizi © GIZ
Yassine Alj aims to encourage people to embrace the energy transition and wants to help protect the environment. He also wants to install solar panels at his family home.