Aderee: Bringing new energy to Morocco

| The European | 25th March 2014


The ‘Agence Nationale pour le Développement des Energies Renouvelables et de l’Efficacité Energétique’ (ADEREE) is a public institution which aims at spreading the use of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. The development of alternative energy forms is bound to reduce energy dependence and consequently support Morocco’s sustainable development, in respect of good governance principles. ADEREE’s main objective is to implement the national policy in terms of renewable energy and energy efficiency development.

ADEREE aims to become the reference service agency in renewable energy and energy efficiency for national and international actors of the dedicated sector.

Recognised by this magazine as the “Energy Company of the Year” in the MENA Awards 2013, we caught up with two of ADEREE’s leaders, CEO Saïd Mouline, and Secretary General, Sonia Mezzour, to discuss the company’s ambitions and to gain insight into tackling one of North Africa’s most challenging issues, energy security.

An interview with Saïd Mouline, CEO, ADEREE

Said Mouline, CEO, Aderee

Said Mouline, CEO, Aderee

The European: Please tell us about your professional background?

Saïd Mouline: For 20 years I have been involved in energy and environment issues, not just in Morocco but also across Africa and the Mediterranean area. I am an engineer graduate from the Institut National Polytechnique (Grenoble, France) and University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA) and since 2009, CEO of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency National Development Agency (ADEREE). I was also the former President of MEDENER (2010-2011), the Mediterranean Association of the National Agencies for Energy Conservation. I am President of the Green Economy Commission at the General Confederation of the Moroccan Companies (CGEM) and President of the Moroccan Center for Clean Production. In the past I have worked within the Cabinet of the Minister of Energy and Mines and was counsellor for sustainable development of the President of OCP.

TE: What is ADEREE? How and why was it established?

SM: In 1982, after the second oil shock, the Kingdom of Morocco decided to create a centre for renewable energy. The goal at that time was just to look at new technologies because of the country’s energy dependence. In the 1990s, we started looking at developing solar PV for rural electrification and for other applications like solar pumping and electricity for telecommunication. At this time, we were also looking for connected renewable energy power and focused mainly on wind. But the real big change arrived in 2009 when the King’s letter gave priority to renewable energy and energy efficiency in our energy policy. The centre became an agency for renewable energy and energy efficiency (ADEREE). And two big programmes also were announced with the objective of having 42 per cent of our capacity coming from renewable energy by 2020. From 2 GW today (mainly hydro and wind), we expect to reach 6 GW in 2020, including 2 GW solar, 2 GW wind and 2 GW hydro. These programmes are attracting green financing and different development banks are today supporting our approach (World Bank, African Development Bank, European Investment Bank, the German KfW and the French AfD). So all these actors are now proposing green financing with interesting rates that allow us to decrease the gap between the price of electricity from renewable and from fossil fuel. At the same time, we have also a strategy for energy efficiency in industry, housing, transport, public lighting and agriculture because if we develop cleaner energy that could be more expensive we have to be really careful about energy consumption at the same level. ADEREE is a public strategic institution, at the heart of the sustainable energy development process of Morocco. It aims to implement a governmental policy which targets the reduction of energy dependence. The agency promotes, conceives and realises development programs in the area of renewable energies and energy efficiency. For example, the national programme for solar PV pumping in the agricultural sector, according subsidies and loans to small farmers to switch from diesel pumps to solar ones, or the entitled “Shemsi”, the national programme of solar water heaters development aims to set up 1.7 million sqm by 2020 mainly for social houses. The agency is also in charge of environment preservation programmes related to energy activities.

TE: Outline are the areas of competency of ADEREE?

SM: The areas of competency of ADEREE concerns the development of regulatory texts and sectorial and regional strategies of renewable energy and energy efficiency. For example, the new legislation allows anyone to produce power coming from renewable energy for his own use. Today, cement plants, steel industry, mining industry, all big consumers, are developing their own wind parks. Other missions of ADEREE are the mapping of renewable energy resources, the training covering the entire range of disciplines related to renewable energies and energy efficiency (ADEREE received the agreement from UNESCO to open a regional training center in Marrakesh) and the certification and the accreditation of equipment linked to renewable energy. Last but not least, we are advising public and private partners, as well as national and international investors. Our highly qualified team and experts are gathered around a range of strong values which strengthen the organisation and govern its relationship with all partners.

An interview with Sonia Mezzour, Secretary General, ADEREE

Sonia Mezzour, Secretary General, ADEREE

Sonia Mezzour, Secretary General, ADEREE

The European: Tell us a little about your professional background.

Sonia Mezzour: Born in 1972, I grew up in Morocco and went to college in Switzerland, where I got my Master’s degree in Mechanical and Process Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, then pursued my Master’s thesis at Harvard Medical School. After my graduation, I held different positions in the Swiss financial industry. Back in Morocco, I founded a real estate company that I managed until I got appointed as a counsellor to the Minister of Energy, then as Secretary General of ADEREE. I am a happy mother of two children.

TE: With a background in mechanical engineering, and a long experience in banking and finance, what drew you to energy efficiency and renewable energy?
SM: To me, being an engineer is a mindset; it is to find elegant solutions to problems, regardless of the sector or the field. I have been driven by challenges all of my life, and have always been eager to learn and to grow. The opportunity of a new challenge in a field set up as a national priority by His Majesty the King, May God Bless Him, was for me the start of a great adventure.

TE: What changes did ADEREE undertake in order to succeed in its mission?

SM: The predecessor of ADEREE is the Moroccan Center for Renewable Energy Development with an institutional trajectory of more than thirty years as a public-sector organisation. One of the challenges faced by ADEREE has been to expand its scope of work towards regional and international contexts, but within the constraints of a public institution.

Upon assuming the leadership of ADEREE, I quickly realised that close collaboration with international agencies could be leveraged to expand the impact of our work through the mobilization of additional funds. Internally, in order to further develop the human capital of ADEREE, I have underscored the importance of maintaining a skilled and motivated staff that should be proud of representing their country.

TE: How does ADEREE’s regional work strengthen Morocco’s position in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency?

SM: ADEREE works on the upstream level of those sectors. We work on the legal and regulatory framework, we design strategic programmes, we set up and implement high value-adding strategies. ADEREE is the roundabout between state institutions, private sector, NGOs, the donor community and international organizations. We work everyday towards matching demand and supply in expertise, training, information and investment. And I believe that by reaching out internationally, ADEREE makes a valuable contribution as a Moroccan ambassador.

TE: Highlight some of ADEREE’s major achievements?

SM: Having empowered 130 people, ADEREE has opened new horizons for them, made them perform to the best of their abilities and achieve things they hadn’t thought they were capable of. ADEREE has become the number one renewable energy & energy efficiency company in Morocco, and the only one to tackle energy efficiency concerns, a model to be followed and a source of best practices. And finally, ADEREE has become an actor in regional and international processes.

TE: Describe some of the personal challenges encountered along the way?

SM: In college, I was the only female student among 350, moreover, executive positions in the banking industry tend to be more male orientated. At first, it’s not simple, but once one shows their ethical standards and their competencies, they get the respect of others. Some people also ask me what’s it like having two children while holding this post? I am surrounded by a highly supportive family and my kids are really proud of their mom. And besides, work feels more like a family! My work is a good opportunity to elevate myself and to contribute to people’s lives, enabling their performance and their sense of responsibility. This sense of social contribution is what drives me and helps me to get the right balance in my life. 

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