PCNS-COMEXI: Energy Dialogue

September 18, 2023

Mexico's federal government and Morocco’s central government have traditionally played an important role in the domestic market via their management of economic policies and their extensive reach in some sectors of the economy. Recent administrations had followed prudent and credible economic policies that fostered a stable investment climate while maintaining government control over certain industries. Currently, the states’ role remains prominent in electricity services. The two countries have many lessons to share in terms of electricity sector reform and energy transition choices and their impact on regional integration. What can be learned from both experiences in terms of electricity sector reform?  How have both countries managed their energy transition and what are areas of improvement? What are success and failure factors for regional integration between North and South in both instances and do they truly share a common agenda? What perspectives on the continental level and cross-continental?

Electricity sector reforms

In Mexico, energy reform was the centerpiece of attempts both by former President Enrique Peña Nieto whose enormous feat was unbundling the electricity sector, and the leftist administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who frequently voiced concerns about the previous administration's reform, and presented constitutional amendments to turn back the clock. In Morocco, the power sector transition has been a pillar of growth in the country and a locomotive for creating economic opportunities for the country. Electricity sector reforms over the past decades have however entailed gradual but limited participation of the private sector. The electricity sector reform has not followed suit. ONEE has remained a strong and vertically integrated public utility operating as a single buyer and transmission system officer and owns part of the distribution network. What can both countries share in terms of best practices and lessons learned?

Energy transition policies – opportunities and setbacks

It is also thought that the López Obrador administration’s policy may also undermine Mexico’s pledge to produce 35% of electricity from clean sources by 2024.  Morocco likes to present itself as a pioneer in energy transition, from a ban on plastic bags to the world’s largest solar parc. However, the 42% REn capacity share goal by 2020 was not reached due to several policy setbacks. Energy transition 2.0 has already started in both countries. In Mexico, an increasing interest in developing metals critical for EV batteries, especially lithium, has peaked. In April 2022 the government approved legislation under which Mexico's lithium reserves-the ninth largest in the world, are deemed to be of national strategic importance. While recently, Morocco has initiated a new process aimed at creating an economic and industrial sector around green molecules- namely hydrogen, ammonia, and methanol- to strengthen its transition in sectors that are difficult to decarbonize. How have both countries managed their energy transition and what are areas of improvement? How can both countries explore synergies for future collaboration in this area?

North-South regional integration

In July 2022, the US and Canada formally requested consultations with Mexico under the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), arguing that these energy policies are discriminatory and violate provisions of the agreement. How have electrical sector reforms undermined sectoral and regional integration between the US, Canada and Mexico? What does that entail for Mexico? In Morocco, the legal framework can jeopardize the implementation of renewables projects and undermine the trust of private investors, and Morocco’s cross-border integration with the EU grid which have taken many forms in the past but never succeeded (Desertec, Roadmap for Sustainable Electricity Trade (SET) between Morocco and the European Internal Energy Market following COP22 in Marrakech). How will the recently signed “Sustainable Electricity Trade Roadmap” on the sidelines of the COP27 be any different? What does that entail for regional integration? What are real perspectives on the continental and cross-continental levels?

Rim Berahab
Senior Economist
Rim Berahab is Senior Economist at the Policy Center for the New South, which she joined in 2014. She is currently working on themes related to energy issues and their impacts on economic growth and long-term development. Her research areas also cover trade and regional integration challenges in Africa. Previously, she has also worked on questions related to gender inequalities in the labor market of North African countries. Rim spent three months at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in 2016, in the Commodities Unit of the Research Department. She holds a State Engineering degree from the National Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics (INSEA). ...
Karim El Aynaoui
Executive President
Karim El Aynaoui is Executive Vice-President of Mohammed VI Polytechnic University and Dean of its Humanities, Economics and Social Sciences Cluster. He is also Executive President of the Policy Center for the New South. Karim El Aynaoui is an economist. From 2005 to 2012, he worked at the Central Bank of Morocco where he held the position of Director of Economics, Statistics, and International Relations. At the Central Bank of Morocco, he was in charge of the Research Department and equally a member of the Governor’s Cabinet. Previously, he worked for eight years at the World Bank as an Economist for its regional units of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as well as Africa. Karim El Aynaoui has published books and journal articles on macroeconomic issues in developin ...
Julia González
Co-coordinator of the Energy and Sustainability Working Group at COMEXI.
Writer and lecturer, she is a leader in regulatory issues, social and environmental impact, strategic litigation and citizen participation. She is a lawyer, holds a master’s degree in law, and has different trainings in social impact, environmental law, corporate social responsibility and law enforcement. At Gonzalez Calvillo, a legal firm in Mexico, Julia advices on social impact, stakeholder relations and implementation of complaints, grievance mechanisms, and strategic litigation. She was a founding partner and COO at Enûma, where she led more than 40 social impact assessments for the energy sector. She served as an expert in administrative and constitutional law for the Security, Energy and Environmental Agency (ASEA, for its acronym in Spanish) where she identified th ...
Montserrat Ramiro Ximénez
Co-coordinator of the Energy and Sustainability Working Group at COMEXI. 
She was appointed Commissioner of the Mexican Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) by the Senate on September 18, 2014, for a period of five years. In 2018, she became the Chair of the OECD Network of Economic Regulators (NER). During her tenure at the CRE, she focused on renewable integration and the development of a regulatory framework that sought to promote the collective generation and distribution of energy and its storage. She has also held various consulting positions, as well as on independent boards such as BlackRock Mexico. She worked in different areas of Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) and was Energy Director at, the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO), an independent think-tank. She holds a degree in Economics from ITAM, a masters in Economics from Universi ...
Nathán Wolf
Director General, COMEXI
He was Director of Strategic International Relations at Tecnológico de Monterrey University. He was a career diplomat for more than 20 years, holding relevant positions in Mexico and abroad. He was Deputy Private Secretary of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Diplomatic Adviser to the Presidency and General Director of International Economic Promotion of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Abroad, he was posted as a diplomatic officer at the Mexican Embassies in Montevideo, Uruguay and Washington DC, USA. He was head of the Consulate of Mexico in Saint Paul, Minnesota and his last diplomatic position was as Ambassador of Mexico in Singapore, concurrent to Myanmar and Brunei. He has also worked in the private sector on renewable energy and sustainability issues. He has a degree ...
Afaf Zarkik
Afaf Zarkik is an economist at the Policy Center for the New South and a graduate in energy strategies from Ecole des Mines de Paris. Among her areas of research and reflection: energy commodities monitoring and energy transition and sustainable development policies analysis. Before joining the Policy Center, A. Zarkik was an analyst in oil and gas mergers and acquisitions, a venture capital analyst in a cleantech fund, and a senior analyst in asset management. Afaf Zarkik est économiste au Policy Center for the New South et ingénieur titulaire d'un Master en stratégies énergétiques de l'École des Mines de Paris. Parmi ses axes de recherche et de réflexion : la veille des marchés des matières premières énergétiques et l'analyse des politiques de transition énergétique et de ...


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