Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Majority of Moroccans Want English as Second Language

For months the debate about  linguistic identity has raged in Morocco. The tussle is between French, the English, with clear lines between those who favour retaining what they describe as the "language of history and the protectorate" and English, the language of "science and civilisation" 

The politicians have been vocal in the debate with Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, expressing his desire to give English prime importance in the educational system and to become the second language after the Arabic.  The Minister of Higher Education, Lahcen Daoudi, has repeatedly stressed of English in the scientific disciplines, saying "We are obliged to gain proficiency in English" .

According to a recent poll by the Hespress newspaper, the overwhelming majority of voters want English over French in Morocco's educational system in Morocco.

The results of the poll of  41,526  people saw the support rate for English at 85.98 with only 14.02 percent of respondents wanting to keep French.

Dr Abdel Kader Fassi Fihri
International expert in the field of  linguistics, Dr Abdel Kader Fassi Fihri, says the result was"good news", because it reflects the awareness of Moroccan citizens in regard to the choice of foreign language, and the language of education in particular.

Fassi Fihri stressed that English, "being the universal language, is the language of trading and if you want to reach out to the world or want to move between one region and another, even in the Arab countries or  China, you need English. "

He also pointed out that English is the global language of science and scientific journals internationally are all indexed in English.

Dr Abdel Kader Fassi Fihri noted that "English has become the first language in Europe.  For example, in Spain, Germany, Portugal, and France the first other language is English," adding that he "You only find  French as the first foreign language in some African countries, which were a colony of France and Belgium."

According to Morocco World News, Moroccans have become more outspoken about the importance of switching the country’s education system from French to English. For the majority of them, as it is the case with the sample surveyed by Arabic-speaking news website Hespress, French is limiting their access to knowledge and economic opportunities. Even Moroccan officials have expressed on numerous occasions the importance of adopting English over French within the Moroccan educational system. For the head of government Abdelilah Benkirane, for instance, English is the language of today’s science, technology and commerce.

However, there are still people in Morocco who fiercely lobby for French to be kept the first foreign language of the country. Their efforts have yielded results as the Supreme Council for Education, Training and Scientific Research is said to be reconsidering earlier recommendations to replace French with English in the Moroccan curriculum. The new recommendations, if adopted, will be included in the Supreme Council’s Strategic Report to be submitted to King Mohammed VI.

The council headed by Omar Azziman, an advisor to King Mohammed VI, is said to have ordered the formation of a sub-committee to review the proposal of replacing French with English, a proposal already hailed by many members of the Council’s Permanent Committee on Curriculum, Programs, Training and Teaching tools in earlier sessions.

As one school teacher in Fez summed up, "The longer we take to make the switch to English, the longer we limit Morocco's possibilities."

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Morocco - Renewable Energy Superpower?

The World Bank recently stated in an article on its website that: “Morocco is poised to make history soon when the first phase of one of the world’s largest concentrated solar power plants starts generating electricity. When fully operational, it will produce enough energy for more than one million Moroccans, with possibly extra power to export to Europe.”

In addition to providing electricity, the Noor-Ouarzazate power complex is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 760,000 tons per year which could mean a reduction of 17.5 million tons of carbon emissions over 25 years. The power complex is aimed at cost reduction whilst using new technologies to emit low-greenhouse-gas.

Morocco’s great advantage is the fact that it is the only African nation that is connected to the European electrical grid which will give Morocco access to a 400 billion Euro market for electricity.

Morocco’s environment minister, Hakima el-Haite, said that there could be a similar impact from solar energy to the region comparable to the impact of oil production in the past century. “We are very proud of this project. I think it is the most important solar plant in the world,” she said.

Environment minister, Hakima el-Haite

The Noor-Ouarzazate power complex is funded by around US$9 billion by international institutions, including the European Investment Bank and World Bank. The Saudi-built solar thermal plant will be one of the world's biggest when it is complete with mirrors that will cover the same area as the country's capital, Rabat.

Paddy Padmanathan of Saudi-owned ACWA Power, which is running the thermal project, said: "Whether you are an engineer or not, any passer-by is simply stunned by it. You have 35 soccer fields of huge parabolic mirrors pointed to the sky which are moveable so they will track the Sun throughout the day." He also predicts, "If Morocco is able to generate electricity at seven, eight cents per kilowatt - very possible - it will have thousands of megawatts excess.It's obvious this country should be able to export into Europe and it will. And it will not need to do anything at all… it needs to do is just sit there because Europe will start to need it."

The first phase (Noor 1 - 160 MW) is expected to go live by the end of the year.

The thermosolar cylindrical parabolic troughs at the 160-MW power plant will be coupled with three hours of energy storage capability. The power plant has contracted a sale price of MAD 1.6 (USD 0.159/EUR 0.150) per kWh and is expected to start feeding electricity to the grid by the end of the year.

Noor II, a 200-MW power plant with thermosolar cylindrical parabolic troughs and seven hours of energy storage capability, will sell its electricity output at MAD 1.36 per kWh.

Noor III, an installed capacity of 150 MW which will employ central tower technology with salt receivers and seven to eight hours of energy storage capability, will sell power at MAD 1.42 per kWh.

All three projects are being developed by two companies of the Saudi Arabian group Acwa Power.

Morocco's Noor 1 solar plant

Morocco has officially announced plans to continue its renewable energy development policy beyond the 2020 horizon with about 2,500 MW wind, solar and hydro capacity to come online between 2021 and 2025.

The new goals were revealed by Minister of Energy, Abdelkader Amara, at a ministerial meeting of the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris. Wind power is seen installing 1,000 MW new capacity between 2021 and 2015 while solar will contribute at least 1,100 MW and hydro will add some 450 MW.

In total, between 2015 and 2025, Morocco is planning to boost its renewable energy generation capacity by 6,760 MW, in which solar power will bring the majority with 3,120 MW, wind will add 2,740 MW more and hydro will grow by 900 MW, Amara, adding that the investment will total some USD 25 billion (EUR 23.5 bn).

With the new additions planned for after 2021, the total wind power capacity installed in the country should go over the 3,000 MW mark while solar will hit at least 3,140 MW in 2025.

Morocco's Dahr Saadane wind farm

Besides the 800 MW of wind farms which are already producing electricity, Morocco currently has 550 MW more under development and another 850 MW are soon to be awarded in a tender. The process will be finalised by the end of the year and contracts will be signed in the first quarter of 2016.

Wind power could be a major contributor in the electricity sector of Morocco. According to data presented by minister Amara in Madrid last June, the country’s onshore potential is estimated at 25 GW, of which 6 GW could be installed by 2030. The average wind speed is 5.3 metres per second (m/s) at more than 90% of the country’s territory, according to the wind atlas, developed by the Moroccan Renewable Energy Development Centre (CDER). The Tanger and Tetouan region (North of Morocco) measured particularly high at 8 to 11 m/s and 7 to 8.5 m/s were recorded for Dakhla, Tarfaya, Taza and Essaouira.

The offshore potential along the 3,500 km coast is estimated at 250 GW.

Since 2000, when the first wind farm in Morocco, the 50 MW Abdelkhalek Torres project, started turning, the sector has moved up on a steep learning curve. It had already achieved grid parity and in recent years, it has become an investment magnet with significant increase in projects.

In hydro, Morocco has 1,770 MW in operation. A further 450 MW, of which 100 MW by private investors, are expected to join the grid by 2020, and 450 MW more are now planned for construction between 2021 and 2025

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New Flights - Rabat to Abu Dhabi

Starting from January 15, 2016, Etihad Airways will launch a new line linking the two capitals Rabat and Abu Dhabi with two flights per week

The new route to and from Rabat provides travellers with more choice in both directions between the UAE and the Kingdom of Morocco, and will allow the connection to other major destinations of Etihad Airways' network including the Gulf States (GCC), Asia, India and Australia. It will ,strengthen the existing daily service to Casablanca.

Flights are on Wednesdays and Fridays: EY616 Rabat - Abu Dhabi departs at 8pm and arrives at 7.25am. EY615 Abu Dhabi - Rabat departs at 10am and arrives at 3.15pm. Normal economy seats are priced at around 8,500 Moroccan Dirhams ($848 USD, $1,176 AUD)

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Monday, November 23, 2015

French Films in Fez

The month of documentary - 16th edition - With the support of the French Institute

Thursday 26 and Friday, November 27th, 19h, Cinema Boujloud, Fez Medina.

Thursday 26: La Cour de Babel by Julie Bertuccelli - (2013)

They are college students, aged 11-15 years, together in the same reception class to learn French. A film that expresses innocence, energy and the contradictions of teenagers who, animated by the same desire to change life, challenge many ideas on youth and integration.

Friday 27: Golden Sleep by Davy Chou (2011)

The young Cambodian film world was abruptly halted in 1975 by the coming to power of the Khmer Rouge. Most movies have disappeared, the actors were killed and cinemas became karaoke restaurants. "Golden Sleep" is the story of a few survivors and tries to awaken the spirit of this forgotten film industry.

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"Mutations, l’image et ses possible" - Photographic Exhibition in Fez

Organised by Morocco's French Institute as part of the 2015 France/Morocco cultural season, the 9th International Photos of Fez takes place from the 14th of November to the 15th of December

The exhibition, curated by Jeanne Mercier, is titled Mutations, l’image et ses possible (Changes: the image and its possibilities).

In the last decade, the practice of photography is changing our image of the world. In the last five years, these changes are particularly noticeable in Africa where the younger generation uses the potential of digital media to change the methods of developing and  dissemination - allowing the image to become more fluid.

With the advent of digital technologies - mobile phones, tablets, webcams, Flickr, selfies, Instagram - there has been an  explosion of images on the web and social networks. What has emerged is a globalised world, connected with ever more immediate visibility.

The Fez Photo International photographers have in common a desire to break down barriers and become part of a global culture that questions the new temporalities and realities.

The curator, Jeanne Mercier, is an art critic and independent curator based between Europe and Africa. She is co-founder and chief editor of Afrique in visu, around the platform in Africa. She has been a photographer since 2006.

 Visit the exhibition at the Cultural Complex Sidi Mohammed Ben Youssef.

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