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Morocco's Green Makeover For 600 Mosques

Six-hundred greener mosques are going to be created in Morocco by March 2019. Greening Morocco In a national awareness-raising plan, h...

Six-hundred greener mosques are going to be created in Morocco by March 2019.

Greening Morocco
In a national awareness-raising plan, hundreds of Moroccan mosques will be fitted with solar energy systems by the government to get people more conscious of using cleaner energy.

According to the scheme, these mosques will be refitted with LED lighting installations to reduce their electric use. Solar powered thermal water heaters will also cut back water usage and electricity bills by 40%, and a photovoltaic system will harness solar energy to create a renewable power source.

This green makeover is already set for 100 mosques by the end of 2016-17 for the more populated areas of Fez, Casablanca, Rabat and Marrakesh. Moving quickly onto smaller towns, the initiative will eventually grow to cover the 15,000 state-funded mosques around Morocco (representing 30% of all mosques), creating a strong connection in this north African country.

Who's Paying For It?
This plan originated from a collaboration in 2014 between Moroccan institutions and a Germany company called GIZ. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs in Morocco has the blueprint to this scheme, paying 70% of the initial costs - with GIZ as the main partner, it is estimated that the first round of contracts will create 130 jobs.

Why Mosques?
This ambitious plan is to wean people off of imported fuel and turn to energy efficient technology and renewable energy. With the help of imams and teachers, mosques will be used to demonstrate to people that they can apply what they've learned there, to reduce their energy bill at home.

According to the International Energy Agency‌ over 90% of Morocco's energy comes from abroad. The goal is to encourage households and industry to eventually increase their electricity generating capacity from renewables to 42% by 2020.

"Mosques are not a big consumer of electricity: there is some lighting, some water heating. What we want to do is inform people," Said Mouline, director of the National Agency for the Development of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, told CNN.

In a country where religious devotees are a majority, what better for environmental change than to start with a place of worship?

LED lights, solar water heaters and solar panels were installed in the Koutoubia mosque in Marrakesh.
Making Muslims Save Energy
Morocco's environment minister, Hakima el-Haité, said that Islam could make a powerful contribution to the clean energy debate:
“It is very important for Muslim countries to come back to their traditions and remind people that we are miniscule as humans before the importance of the earth,” Hakima  said. “We need to protect it, and to save humankind in the process.” (CNN)
Jan-Christophe Kuntze, the project’s chief, said:
“We want to raise awareness and mosques are important centres of social life in Morocco. They are a place where people exchange views about all kinds of issues including, hopefully, why renewables and energy efficiency might be a good idea.” (The Guardian, 2016)


Another financial benefit to this initiative is the vast jobs created; over 8,000 Moroccans train as electricians each year and the government is hoping that thee demand for this work will spread across the country (CNNMoney).

Morocco's As-Sounna mosque in Rabat has installed energy efficient technology to slash its energy bill by more than 80%, saving $7000 annually. A shining example of potential achievements.

But Kuntze stressed that Germany was offering technological support, rather than financial opportunities for its own industries. “The good thing about this project is that the Moroccan government came up with the idea themselves. It is something new... and it has not been tried anywhere else before.”

What About Women?
The plan has broken new ground for gender equality in Morocco too. Many female clerics have been involved in the project, as well as imams. As more women are represented, they will be given a bigger platform to discuss their needs and ideas for an inclusive green mosque.

El Haité believes that religion can, therefore, offer new ways to expand that conversation.
"In the world, 85 percent of people declare to belong to a faith, which means that 85 percent of the population has a chance to hear about this global transformation when attending services, giving us a great tool of awareness over the issue of climate change." (CNN
Sources
+ The Guardian
+ CNN Money, CNN (2016)

Images
Koutoubia mosque (flickr)
+ As-Sounna moque

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