Morocco will help 500 young entrepreneurs from rural areas set up 'Energy Shops' to sell solar panels and water heaters, improved ovens and other equipment, distribute butane gas, and promote awareness of rural energy programs.
The aim is to improve rural access to renewable and clean energy and create a regulatory and financial framework, with public and private sector support, so the shops can be spark plugs for rural development, stated a press release.
The four-year initiative will begin with feasibility studies for potential store locations that local communities will choose. A United Nations Development Program (UNDP)-supported pilot had earlier established 50 shops.
The program's budget is $1.5 million, for which is UNDP contributing $200,000. Each shop costs about $10,000 to set up, and the entrepreneurs will make an initial investment of $3,000. They can apply for loans through a partnership with Fondation Banque Populaire to cover the rest of the start-up costs. The bank will also train them in business management.
Each shop will get $5,000 worth of tools and equipment as well as technical and business support. "Our aim is to bring this new concept to scale throughout the country, thus promoting employment and local expertise," said Minister of Energy and Mining Mohammed Boutaleb.
Partners with UNDP in the program include the Ministry of Energy and Mining, the Centre for the Development of Renewable Energy (CDER), the National Electricity Office, the Agency for Socio-Economic Development of the Northern Provinces, the Moroccan Association of Private Solar and Wind Energy, the Near East Foundation, Spanish Cooperation, local communities, and national and local civil society organizations.
Negotiations are underway with the National Employment Agency and the solar power and gas industries to develop further business opportunities with the shops. — (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )