Europe's opportunities to forge ties with Africa are growing, and the Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa, has seen an opportunity with Morocco to encourage the entry of renewable energies into Portugal. "If we can produce renewable energy from solar sources at a lower cost, Morocco, for many reasons, will be able to do so," António Costa told the Portuguese parliament, according to news portal expresso.pt.
Due to Portugal's proximity to Morocco, the Prime Minister sees the Portuguese country as a possible bridge between Africa and Europe for the supply of clean energy, something he considers to be a niche for cooperation that the European Union can and should develop in order to achieve energy security.
These declarations were made at a key moment for Europe and for electricity consumption. So much so that this energy issue was a central theme at the European Council summit held on 21 and 22 October in Brussels. The recent drastic increase in energy prices was addressed and the repercussion of price rises for citizens were considered.
The Portuguese Prime Minister noted on his Twitter account that he saw at this summit "a broad consensus on the need to accelerate the energy transition process". For its part, the official account of the Cabinet of the Ministry of State and Business published the statements of Thiago Antunes, deputy secretary of state regarding the "need for a real Energy Union, with more integrated and interconnected markets" and "diversifying our sources of supply".
Parallel to the EU Council summit, the fourth edition of the Eurafrian Forum, promoted by the Diaspora Council, was also held to bring together ties of free trade and interaction between Europe and Africa. The Portuguese Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, addressed the summit, arguing that Europe and Africa are close neighbours and complementary realities, and that Euro-African cooperation is a partnership of equals.
This is why Portugal wants to build bridges with its neighbouring country in order to obtain urgent solutions to the EU's energy security problems, as well as to cooperate on other economic issues. This new request for cooperation is not the first between the two countries. Morocco and Portugal have previously agreed on other energy-related issues, such as the declaration signed on 2 February in Rabat on cooperation on green hydrogen, which aimed to lay the foundations for the development of clean energy between the two countries. The Minister of Energy, Mines and Environment, Aziz Rabbah, and his Portuguese counterpart, Matos Fernandez, forged ties to create decarbonisation strategies linked to the Paris Agreement and foster commercial demand for green hydrogen for the benefit of both countries.
However, the agreement between Portugal and Morocco that is now being sought is different and is framed under the Moroccan Solar Energy Plan or the so-called "Moroccan Solar Energy Project". This new policy aims to make Morocco a reference country in the field of solar energy with the construction of five new solar centres in different parts of the country. The main objective of the Moroccan proposal is to reduce the Kingdom's energy dependence and fight against climate change, protecting the environment by limiting greenhouse gas emissions, among other measures. The project, which also involves the transfer of know-how, promotes an integrated solar energy industry that desalinates seawater to obtain more resources for Morocco.
This Moroccan solar energy project could offer supply to other countries if the expected results are achieved, which has raised the Portuguese prime minister's awareness of the opportunity to produce renewable energy at a lower cost.