WSRW asks French ENGIE about business ethics

The French multinational ENGIE operates in occupied Western Sahara. WSRW today wrote the company, asking how they consider the legal-ethical aspects of such operations.
Published: 11.01 - 2019 14:23Printer version    
Above: The controversial Foum El Oued wind project, seen from air. The project supplies energy to Morocco's plunder of phosphate rock at the Bou Craa mine. Photo: Google.

The French electric utility company ENGIE has recently won a tender for a controversial deal for a desalinization plant in the occupied city of Dakhla, according to the news service Africa Intelligence. The tender was won in partnership with the company Nareva, which is owned by the Moroccan king's holding company.

Western Sahara Resource Watch and the French association APSO today wrote the company to inquire whether it has secured the consent of the representatives of the Saharawi people to bid for a Moroccan tender on the occupied land.

The associations also inquired about two other recent projects, undertaken by ENGIE.

First, the company supposedly in 2016 signed a comprehensive agreement [or download] with the same Nareva in the renewable energy sector. According to the website, the company has a co-ownership stake (together with NAREVA) in two wind farms in the occupied territories of Western Sahara: the Foum El Oued [or download] wind farm and the Aftissat [or download] wind farm.

Second, ENGIE is according to its own website [or download] developing a Moroccan university complex 13 km from the occupied capital of Western Sahara, El Aaiun. The company calls the location as “in the Moroccan desert”.

The complex is dubbed a “sustainable city” and will go by the name of “Foum El Oued Technopole” [or download]. It will be 100% financed by the Moroccan state-owned company OCP [or download] through its Foundation Phosbucraa. This “sustainable city” will be powered by the the nearby Foum El Oued wind farm, which ENGIE reportedly co-owns.

The plan for the “city” is to host an education and research complex, as well as a branch of the Mohamed VI Polytechnic University, which will be called the “Mohamed VI Polytechnic University of Laayoune”. According to photos posted online, construction has reportedly begun.

ENGIE has also tried other projects, which failed. In 2013, the company (at the time called GDF Suez) took part in the tender for the Tiskrad and Boujdour wind parks, but did not win it. WSRW wrote the company on 2 July 2013 regarding its participation in the tender, without receiving an answer. The letter was directed at International Power PLC from the UK - then a subsidiary of GDF Suez, today renamed Engie Energy International, and wholly owned by ENGIE.

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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.
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