95% of the energy needed by Morocco to plunder the phosphates of Western Sahara is delivered via SiemensGamesa windmills. The company has now prolonged its service contract for the controversial windmills for another 15 years, while continuing to refuse to comment on Saharawi consent.
The role of Siemens in Morocco's illegal depletion of occupied Western Sahara's mineral resources is covered in the 2016 WSRW report Powering the Plunder. SiemensGamesa's projects are carried out in partnership with a company belonging to the king of Morocco.
WSRW also requested SiemensGamesa to clarify what it has done to seek the permission from the people of the territory. However, SiemensGamesa is still refusing to clarify that point. The CEO of SiemensGamesa Renewable Energy, Dr. Markus Tacke, wrote that the company "does not take a stance or make judgments on issues of international public law".
"We doubt Siemens would argue that benefits to the local population is a good reason to invest in occupied Crimea. So why does it argue in such way in Western Sahara? We condemn SiemensGamesa for failing to respect the rights of the Saharawi people. SiemensGamesa's approach to the conflict, telling the world that the company knows better what the Saharawis want than the Saharawis themselves, is a deeply colonialist attitude, and goes directly against the principle of self-determination", says Sara Eyckmans of Western Sahara Resource Watch.
In 2016, the Court of Justice of the EU concluded that the aspects of benefits are irrelevant to assessing the legal nature of business activities in Western Sahara. The judgment does not refer to the "population" at all. What is required is the consent of the people of the territory.
SiemensGamesa also does not respond to the question as to whether it believes Western Sahara to be separate from Morocco. The company states that "the region of Western Sahara is disputed with the United Nations", even though the UN is in fact not considering it disputed or a region. The term "region" is a Moroccan term, while the UN labels it a "territory".
To date, Siemens has been involved in practically all wind farms in the territory - all of them part of the portfolio of the King of Morocco's wind energy firm Nareva: • Siemens supplied wind mill parts for the operational 50 MW Foum el Oued park; • Together with Enel Green Energy and Nareva, Siemens won the tender for the construction of the 300 MW Tiskrad wind farm and the 100 MW Boujdour farm. • Siemens is providing the parts for the construction of the 200 MW Aftissat wind farm. There is one other 5 MW wind farm that is privately owned by the CIMAR factory in El Aaiun. In addition, WSRW has found few references to plans of building another 400 MW wind farm near Boujdour - not a lot of information is available on those plans, and WSRW has not come across Siemens' name in connection to the project.
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Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the five different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.