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Morocco turns the Sahara desert into a solar energy oasis
20 February 2018 - Morocco says it wants to be the Saudi Arabia of solar energy. Its flagship project is a first-of-its-kind, 9-billion dollar energy plant called Noor, meaning 'light' in Arabic, and is the size of the city of Paris. Today, the planet Earth meets over 80 percent of its energy needs with either coal, oil, or gas. But ... Morocco is taking advantage of an abundant natural resource, unobstructed sunlight, to power part of the North African nation. (more)

Struggling Moroccan youth find hope in cooking school
7 July 2017 - A retired French chef is working to solve Morocco's youth unemployment crisis. Robert Labat, a former chef, is founder of Agape, an informal cooking school. The goal of the non-profit program is to train students for the work force, and its graduates are already finding solid work in Moroccan restaurants. (more)

Morocco rejoins African Union after more than 30 years
2 February 2017 - Morocco has been readmitted to the African Union more than three decades after it left when the continental body recognised the independence of the disputed territory of Western Sahara. Hopes that the move could pave the way for peace-building were bolstered after Western Sahara - regarded by Morocco as part of its historic territory - welcomed the readmission. Morocco's King Mohammed VI, who had been campaigning since last year to join the bloc, told African leaders at the AU summit in Addis Ababa: 'Africa is my home, and I am coming back home.' (more)

Olive business roots young farmers in drying rural Morocco
24 November 2016 - Standing amid rows of healthy fava bean plants, El Badaoui Abdelatif explains how his team of young technicians has helped farmers in rural Sidi Badhaj, at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, grow more olives -- and earn more money -- despite a drying climate. (more)

Morocco lights the way for Africa on renewable energy
17 November 2016 - As the host of this year's COP22 climate change conference in Marrakech, Morocco has been keen to demonstrate its green credentials and make this COP the 'African COP'. [COP22 stands for 22nd Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC or UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.] In the past year, Morocco has banned the use of plastic bags, launched new plans for extending the urban tram networks in Casablanca and Rabat, started the process of replacing its dirty old fleet of buses and taxis, launched Africa's first city bicycle hire scheme . . . (more)

Moroccan vault protects seeds from climate change and war
13 November 2016 - Should a doomsday agricultural crisis hit the world's driest environments, scientists and farmers will turn to an up-and-coming research center and seed bank in Morocco to restock their harvests. The crucial role of seed banks in protecting biodiversity is receiving increasing attention because of climate change, which threatens to wipe out crops as dry areas of the world get even hotter and drier. The impact on African agriculture is among the topics being discussed at U.N. climate talks taking place through next week in Morocco. The Rabat center holds tens of thousands of seeds spanning from wheat and barley to lentils and chickpeas. (more)

Solar power agency Masen issues Morocco's first green bond
7 November 2016 - The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) has issued Morocco's first green bond to help to finance the country's development of solar power, it said on Monday. The 1.15 billion dirham ($118 million) bond issue will help to fund three schemes that form part of the NOOR PV 1 solar power project. The schemes are to be developed in Laayoune, Boujdour, and Ouarzazate with total capacity of at least 170 megawatts. Green bonds are a fixed-income security designed to raise capital for low-carbon or clean energy investments. (more)

Michelle Obama, daughters, and mom promote girls' education in Morocco
28 June 2016 - U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, her mother, and daughters Sasha and Malia were joined by Meryl Streep in Morocco's Marrakesh on Tuesday on a six-day tour to try to promote girls' education. More than a third of Morocco's population of 34 million is illiterate -- one of the highest rates in North Africa, and the rate is higher for women at 41 percent, official data shows. She spent Sunday and Monday in Liberia promoting Let Girls Learn, a U.S. government initiative begun with her husband in 2015. (more)

US First Lady promotes learning to empower Moroccan girls
28 June 2016 - U.S First Lady Michelle Obama spoke with teenage girls in Marrakech, Morocco, Tuesday, June 28. Michelle Obama was visiting Morocco to promote for the 'Let Girls Learn' in the North African kingdom, where only 36 percent of girls continue school beyond the primary level. Actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto joined the visit. The 'Let Girls Learn' initiative, launched in March 2015 by President Barack Obama and the First Lady, is to be extended to Morocco, the White House announced Tuesday. It said the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. government foreign aid agency working in partnership with the Moroccan government, is investing nearly $100 million to transform secondary education in the country. USAID is also giving $400,000 to create five new girls' dormitories to improve educational opportunities for girls from rural areas. (more)

In Morocco's Atlas mountains, Berber girls find the way out of rural poverty: an education
18 June 2016 - lliteracy rates for rural women and girls in Morocco remain as high as 90 per cent. Girls, especially those in areas such as the High Atlas, are more likely to drop out after primary school. Only 26 per cent of girls in rural areas enrol for secondary education, according to the World Bank. These problems disproportionately affect the Amazigh, commonly known as Berbers, the indigenous people of Morocco. A small Moroccan NGO, Education For All (EFA), is helping. EFA's solution is to bring the girls to the schools, an approach which is beginning to change the lives of Berber girls in a way that could transform the region's future. Their boarding houses, which are run solely by Berber women, provide accommodation, healthy food, support with homework, and extra French and English lessons. On average, the pass rate for all academic years is 97 per cent. (more)

Success of Maharishi's Programmes
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Two beautiful sites offer ideal setting for Maharishi's programmes in Morocco
4 December 2008 - Dr Paul Gelderloos, National Director of Invincible Netherlands for the Global Country of World Peace, recently reported that there are two beautiful pieces of land in Morocco, which could potentially serve as ideal locations for Maharishi's programmes in that nation. (more)

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Western Sahara dispute dims Morocco's solar dreams
4 January 2014 - A Moroccan solar project worth some $9 billion (6.6 billion euros) aimed at turning desert sun into lucrative power exports to Europe could be at risk as international lenders balk at plants planned for the disputed Western Sahara. Morocco drew up plans in 2009 to build solar plants and wind farms to generate 4 gigawatts of power by 2020 but much of that output is to come from sites planned in Western Sahara, the focus of a decades-old territorial dispute. Morocco has controlled most of Western Sahara since 1975 and claims the sparsely populated stretch of desert, which has offshore fishing, phosphate reserves, and oilfield potential, as its own. However, the Algeria-backed Polisario Front seeks independence and a United Nations mission was formed more than 20 years ago ahead of an expected referendum on Western Sahara's political future which has never taken place. The dispute was rekindled in October when Morocco recalled its ambassador from Algeria after that country's president upset Rabat by calling for human rights monitors to be sent to the region. (more)

Morocco activist arrests up since charter
27 May 2013 - Since Morocco's adoption of more democratic constitution during the Arab Spring, the arrest of political activists has increased, the country's main human rights group said Monday. Morocco prided itself for avoiding the turmoil of the Arab Spring by enacting reforms and amending the constitution, but activists say at least 70 members of their pro-democracy 20 February movement remain in prison. 'The arrests of activists have increased since the adoption of a new constitution in July 2011,' Mohammed Sadkou of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights said. 'The most worrying is that they are prosecuting political activists for ordinary criminal offenses... we are returning to the Tunisian model.' King Mohammed VI defused popular anger by amending the constitution to give more power to elected officials and then holding early elections that were won by an Islamist opposition party. Activists from the 20 February movement, named for the day in 2011 their protests began, maintain the reforms are illusory and the corruption and despotism of the system persists. (more)

Drought, falling tourism threaten Morocco economy
14 April 2012 - Morocco's new Islamist government finally passed its 2012 budget last week -- four months late -- while outside parliament hundreds of unemployed protesters demanding government jobs clashed with police. Long seen as a haven of stability and relative prosperity in North Africa, this close US ally has a rough year ahead. Its budget is overstretched, its farm fields drought-stricken, its credit rating is wobbly, and economic crisis is hobbling its closest trading partners in Europe, even as protests by disgruntled Moroccans are on the rise. Morocco escaped much of the unrest linked to the Arab Spring elsewhere in North Africa, where the governments of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt all fell, but it could face new troubles this year. The Islamist government elected in November has to pay off a heavy bill of salary increases and promised new government jobs made by its predecessors. Meanwhile, the skies and Morocco's northern neighbours have made things even worse than originally expected. (more)

Many wounded as Moroccan police beat protestors
23 May 2011 - Moroccan police beat protesters who defied a ban on demonstrations across the country on Sunday, leading to arrests and dozens of injuries, some of them life threatening, witnesses said. The violence appears to signal a tougher government line against the protest movement, which has become more defiant after festive demonstrations starting in February, but has yet to attract mass public support. Morocco has the lowest per capita GDP in the Maghreb region that also includes Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. Many live in poverty and nearly half of the population is illiterate. (more)

Morocco: Terrorist attack hits cafe leaving 14 dead
28 April 2011 - A massive terrorist bombing tore through a tourist cafe in the bustling heart of Marrakech's old quarter, killing at least 11 foreigners and three Moroccans in the country's deadliest attack in eight years. At least 23 people were wounded in the Thursday blast a few minutes before noon in Djemma el-Fna square, one of the top attractions in a country that depends heavily on tourism, Moroccan Interior Minister Taib Chergaoui said. Government spokesman Khalid Naciri told the AP it was too soon to lay blame for what he called a terrorist attack but he noted that Morocco regularly dismantles cells linked to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and says it has disrupted several plots. (more)

New violence reported in Western Sahara
9 November 2010 - New clashes erupted in the Western Sahara between Moroccan security forces and local people seeking independence for the region. People used rocks and sticks in street battles with Moroccan police conducting house-to-house searches on Tuesday. Violence exploded Monday after Moroccan forces using tear-gas and high-pressure water cannons tore down a tent camp set up by some 20,000 Saharawi outside of the territory's main city, Laayoune, to protest discrimination and deprivation at the hands of the Moroccan government. The camp dwellers fought the government forces and both sides reported casualties, although the figures were conflicting could not be independently confirmed. Despite the clashes, informal talks between Morocco and the Polisario Front went ahead as scheduled in the US, but each party 'continues to reject the proposal of the other as a basis for future negotiations.' (more)

Deadly clashes as Morocco storms Western Sahara camp
8 November 2010 - Clashes between security forces and protesters in Western Sahara killed several people on Monday after Moroccan authorities stormed the site of the disputed territory's biggest anti-government protest in decades. Morocco said four of its police officers and a firefighter were killed by protesters, while the pro-independence Polisario Front said Moroccan security forces killed a 26-year-old activist during a raid on a protest camp in the desert. The violence was some of the worst in years in Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony that was annexed by Morocco in 1975 and ever since has been the subject of a bitter dispute between Rabat and independence campaigners. (more)

Morocco blames Algiers for Western Sahara 'truce breach'
12 April 2009 - Morocco blamed Algeria on Saturday for a 'serious and blatant' violation by the Polisario Front of an 18-year-long ceasefire in the disputed Western Sahara and urged the United Nations to intervene. Some 1,400 supporters of the Algeria-backed Polisario Front independence movement, including foreigners, crossed the border from Algeria into a closed military zone where they uprooted barbed wire and fired shots in the air, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. (more)

Moroccan town tense after port protest broken up
11 June 2008 - Residents of a Moroccan town where police used force to end a week-long blockade complained of heavy-handed tactics on Wednesday and said hundreds of protesters were hiding in nearby hills. The government has denied allegations by some eyewitnesses that demonstrators were killed and dozens injured when police moved in on Saturday to break up the demonstration at Sidi Ifni by youths protesting against poverty and a lack of jobs. Human rights activist Mohamed Essam said the authorities had now moved into the mountain areas, forcing those seeking refuge to flee again. (more)

Rationing looms in Africa energy crisis
8 July 2007 - Morocco has raised its terrorism threat level to 'maximum', the highest category indicating a radical Islamist attack is expected imminently, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Friday. The ministry urged Moroccans to be more vigilant and support the country's efforts against the threat of terrorism, adding more police were being deployed to step up surveillance. It warned that the security threat against the country would not be short-lived. (more)


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