Sustainable energy transition in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region: A case study on Algeria and Morocco

  • Lakshmi Natarajan

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Population growth, economic development and rising desalination translate to increasing energy demand in the MENA region. Concerns of climate change and depleting resources create a need to find alternatives and secure future energy supply. The region is also blessed with huge potentials for renewable energy. Hence the MENA region has an opportunity to reinvent its energy sector by capitalizing on this potential and transitioning from a hydrocarbon driven regime into an alternative energy regime. In addition, there is growing interest from Europe to develop projects like Desertec that aim at exporting electricity from renewable sources to Europe. Algeria is an energy exporter and Morocco is an energy importer. They are chosen for the case study because they represent the diversity within the region. Through this research, we identify what policies/ strategies have worked and if not then why. This would help critically analyze the energy strategy for the UAE. Within this context, this research aims to answer the following questions: •What is sustainable energy transition? •What energy transition pathways can be observed in Algeria and Morocco? •What differences can be observed between the two countries and why? •What implications/ policy recommendations can be drawn for the MENA region? To answer these questions, I have used the conceptual frameworks of Multi-Level Perspective and Transition Management. This is a novel application of the framework. In order to gain better insight of the situation, fieldwork was conducted both in Algeria and Morocco. Based on the analysis, I find that energy need is the main driver for renewable energy in the region. Bureaucracy; limited expertise level; underdeveloped private sector and most importantly fossil fuel subsidies are the main barriers that hinder the diffusion of renewable energies. It is proposed that in order to ensure that transition follows a purposive route, coordination is required at different levels. A regional body like Union for Mediterranean or Arab League that has more accountability and realizable roadmaps should be created. This must be complemented with a robust institutional and regulatory framework for member countries. Efforts need to be made to develop the private sector to avoid energy dependency translating into technology dependency.
Date of Award2012
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorScott Kennedy (Supervisor)


  • Sustainable engineering
  • Morocco
  • Algeria

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