Although it has a shortage of lithium, Morocco is making considerable efforts to be a promising destination for investors in the electric car sector, particularly with regard to batteries.
The European Union (EU) wants to generalize the use of electric cars by 2035. Morocco, as the leading car producer on the African continent and in the MENA region, must adapt to this new reality. .
In an electric car, the battery is the centerpiece and the most expensive. Indeed, it consists mainly of lithium. On this, a frantic race for this ore was imposed between the various actors of this energy transition. The objective is to set up gigafactories to remain competitive in this very high technology and high added value sector.
In a cooperative approach and with the aim of improving lithium extraction methods, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Sino European group Gotion High Tech and Morocco on May 31, in order to define the contours of a GigaFactory project for the production of batteries for electric vehicles. A promising investment for the Kingdom. However, does the country have the raw materials for setting up such an investment?
Morocco has considerable reserves of phosphate, certain derivatives of phosphoric acid, cobalt, manganese, nickel and other raw materials which can enter into the production of these electric batteries. But the country suffers from a shortage of lithium.
Adel Chagar, president of the federation of chemistry and parachemistry explained that “Finding lithium in Morocco is like finding oil or a refinery”.
Besides the the Kingdom’s potential to sustain its automotive industry, in addition to the tax benefits it offers to investors, its strategic location as a competitive and low-carbon hub, as well as its proximity to Europe. All these benefits also make it possible to present the main operators in the sector with a reliable and credible place to set up production units in order to support the main world markets. However, the implementation of electric batteries poses other challenges that Morocco must face.
Mohamed Bachiri, chairman of the innovation and industrial development commission of the General Confederation of Enterprises in Morocco (CGEM) argued that “The last issue is the recycling of used batteries at the end of their life, which refers to the hazardous industrial waste management sector in Morocco. The cobalt that goes into the construction of electric batteries can be recycled dozens of times to be reinjected into the manufacture of new electric batteries”.
“If we succeed in developing a circular economy in connection with the battery ecosystem, we will be able to establish our industrial sovereignty, in particular over a certain number of so-called critical raw materials”, he believes.
The electric car sector is gaining market share globally. The battery sector represents an activity of 27 MM dollars per year and could reach 127 MM dollars in 2027.
The multiplication of cooperation and partnerships is becoming more and more necessary. The industrial and economic sovereignty of the Kingdom is at the heart of government priorities. The “made in Morocco” label is becoming a concern of the country which is trying to assert itself in the energy transition sector.