CASABLANCA, Morocco – Israel and Morocco signed the first-ever government-to-government agreement aimed at facilitating collaborations between the two countries in the technology and science sectors on Thursday.
This agreement was signed by the Israeli Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology Orit Farkash-Hacohen and by the Moroccan Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation, Abdellatif Miraoui, twenty-four hours after the announcement by the Israeli minister of the conclusion of this memorandum of understanding during the Forum ” Israel-Morocco: Connect to Innovate which was dedicated to high tech and commerce in Casablanca and which was organized on the initiative of the non-profit organization Start-Up Nation Central (SNC).
During his speech at the closing of the three-day event on Wednesday, Farkash-Hacohen praised the rekindled ties between the two countries as well as initiatives to encourage collaboration in sectors such as renewable energy, the management of water, agriculture or food. The minister said the two countries had a “tremendous opportunity” to work together to tackle the challenges facing both nations, and this opportunity should not be missed.
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“It’s a special event. It’s only been 18 months since we signed an agreement that has restored diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Morocco. If governments sign treaties, people build peace,” she said in her speech.
The minister praised Israeli innovation in different sectors such as water technologies, energy efficiency and energy storage; she pointed to the Jewish State’s expertise in wastewater treatment and she noted that the majority of these advances had been made because reality had imposed them, following some difficult years of drought at the end of the 2000s and early 2010s.
She also paid tribute to the New Moroccan Development Model, a plan for the North African kingdom which was put in place by the government last year and which provides for investments in different sectors such as green energy. , smart agriculture and food security.
Morocco is fighting one of the worst droughts in decades this year and is trying to mitigate its impact on agriculture and the food industry. Last month, the kingdom announced the construction of a new seawater desalination plant in anticipation of future droughts. Rabat hopes that this factory, which will be installed on the outskirts of the city of Agadir, on the southern Atlantic coast, will be the largest in the world, with 275,000 cubic meters.
Farkash-Hacohen said Israel had learned a lot about droughts and water shortages and could share its practices with nations willing to cooperate.
“As all entrepreneurs know, partnerships are key to success,” explained the Minister. “Israel’s talents in terms of innovation…can help both countries achieve the goals they have set for themselves,” she added.
The Israeli government, she said, “is very committed to making this cooperation a success.”
The very broad memorandum of understanding that was signed by the two ministers “is a powerful lever and a positive step”, she said. It will focus “on agriculture, food processing technologies, water and desalination technologies, renewable energy and environmental technologies, artificial intelligence and more”, she said. revealed.
A focus on the climate and Moroccan leadership
Also speaking at the event, former Moroccan Minister of Energy, Amina Ben Khadra, who has become the current Director-General of Morocco’s National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM), explained that the global climate crisis required governments and entrepreneurs to “think green” and focus on renewable energy as a strategic asset.
Morocco, she noted, has made green energy a government policy and “a strategic choice” for more than a decade, launching an energy transition process as early as 2009 with the National Energy Strategy and building the Noor-Ouarzazate complex in 2016, the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant, installed on three hectares.
The kingdom has pledged to increase the share of renewable energy in its electricity production by increasing it to 52% in 2030 – 25% from solar energy, 20% from wind and 12 % from hydraulic power. He also hopes to reach 80% by 2050.
Moreover, Rabat was among the few countries present at the COP26 climate conference, which was organized at the end of last year in Glasgow, which promised not to build new coal-fired power plants.
While it is the public sector that finances the majority of renewable energy projects in Morocco, Ben Khadra said the kingdom now hopes to attract private investment and “position Morocco as a platform for green industries”.
“There are so many things we can do, we can take advantage of Israeli technology. We can establish strong cooperation and joint work with Israeli companies,” the former energy minister said.
Israeli climate technology
According to Start-Up Nation Central, Israel is home to around 700 start-ups and other firms working on climate-related challenges – with around 100 companies in the energy sub-sector among them. The climate sector, according to SNC, also includes companies specializing in technology industries related to transport, mobility and food.
Of these approximately 700 start-ups, 25 were invited by SNC to the Casablanca Forum to present their technologies to potential partners and customers.
Eccopia, headquartered in Tel Aviv, was able to present its robotic and analytical cleaning solutions for solar panels, solutions created to keep modules clean, during a series of presentations that took place at the conference.
Eccopia, whose shares are traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, thus offers a robotic solution that is fully automated and does not use water to keep the solar panels at an optimal level of performance and also to avoid any potential damage. The firm’s clients include solar power providers around the world.
In a related area, Calanit Valfer, managing partner at growth capital investor Elah Fund, introduced one of his portfolio companies, Zooz Power (ex-Chakratec), which has developed an ultra-fast power amplifier for electric vehicles which, she said, has become “the missing link in the value chain”.
Zooz’s offering helps solve the problem “faced by many drivers who are worried about their battery going flat before they reach their destination” and enables fast vehicle charging.
These amplifiers are modular and take up half a parking space, making them ideal for installation in critical locations such as car parks, airports and hotels. The firm says this type of system overcomes network limitations and has the potential to accelerate the adoption and deployment of electric vehicles.
Zooz shares are traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and the firm has installed its power amplifier at Vienna airport and in the hotels of a German chain. The company also has partnerships in the United States, Valfer noted.
Omer Sella-Tunis, director of business development at Tomorrow.io, developer of a weather and climate analysis platform, spoke about how his company could help Morocco, “one of the most advanced countries in the world in the fight against climate change, with its weather modeling and its climate-based decision-making process.
Tomorrow.io customers include JetBlue, Uber, Ford, and United Airlines. The firm has approximately 200 employees in offices located in Tel Aviv, Boston, and Boulder.
The company specializing in precision agriculture SupPlant, which presented itself at the conference on Tuesday, announced that it had signed an agreement with a Moroccan firm to launch a pilot project on 1,700 hectares of land hosting varied cultures.
SupPlant combines sensors placed on plants and artificial intelligence to provide data that facilitates decision-making by farmers. The sensors are placed in five places on a given plant – deep in the soil, on the soil surface, on the stem, on the leaves and on the fruit – and the data collected through this “is uploaded to the Cloud every ten minutes and combined with weather forecasts to give farmers unique insight and recommendations for irrigation,” SupPlant General Manager Ori Ben Ner explained to Times of Israel during a previous interview.
“Which is very useful in day-to-day farming but particularly crucial also when an exceptional weather event is expected, and the solution allows to offer farmers specific irrigation recommendations to ‘weather through the storm’ and not to over or not irrigate enough,” added Ben Ner.
SupPlant’s technology had been named one of TIME’s Top 100 Inventions for 2021 (alongside three other Israeli inventions).
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In Morocco, the Israeli Minister of Innovation hails a “tremendous” opportunity
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