As previously reported by Crypto Disrupt, New York-based Soluna Technologies has embarked on a Western Sahara blockchain project that will look to combine renewable energy and cryptocurrency mining.
Plans are to develop a 900MW wind farm close to the town of Dakhla, which will be used to power a blockchain computing facility, with backing from private equity firm Brookstone Partners.
Activists contest the rights of Morocco over the region
News of the Western Sahara blockchain facility has proven to be a controversial subject, especially with activists who are campaigning for Western Saharan independence from Morocco.
They claim that the Moroccan government has no right to provide licenses for the Western Sahara blockchain facility.
Sara Eyckmans, the coordinator for Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW), claims that Dakhla is “situated on land under foreign military occupation. Any agreement that Brookstone has signed with the Moroccan government for that particular area is thus null and void.”
Upon the departure of Spain, the recognized colonial ruler of the region in 1975, the area surrounding Dakhla was initially taken by Mauritania, and then by Morocco.
Today Morocco claims Western Sahara as an integral part of their nation, but it’s worth pointing out that the United Nations does not officially recognize such claims.
The United Nations Economic and Social Council called on Morocco to ensure that the indigenous population of Western Sahara gave their “prior, free and informed consent” before any developments or changes are made to the regions natural resources.
In February of this year, the European Court of Justice ruled that any agricultural agreement between the EU and Morocco does not cover Western Sahara, essentially supporting the position of the Polisario Front Liberation movement and the self-declared Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.
Positive initiatives in the pipeline
Soluna CEO John Belizaire claims that his company is “aware of the political sensitivities of the region and our investments in Dakhla fully respect the international legal status of this territory.”
“We have and will continue to conduct our activities in strict accordance with the governing laws of the region. We are also conscientious of the importance of ensuring our project is aligned with the principles that the interest of the inhabitants of these territories is paramount.”
Belizaire is keen to stress that the Western Sahara blockchain project will also see a number of initiatives which should benefit the local community, which includes one percent of revenues generated from the enterprise going towards funds for schools.
“We hope to create a community of trained resources in blockchain computing and launch a center of excellence in the region,” he says. “This will create many jobs in electrical engineering, software, and mechanical engineering.”
Despite these promises, activists are still urging Soluna and Brookstone not to go ahead with the Western Sahara blockchain initiative, with Eyckmans asking that those involved respect the United Nations peace process in the region and to not engage in a project on disputed lands.
In an open letter to Brookstone Partners founder Michael Toporek, Sara Eyckmans asked that he and his partners in the Western Sahara blockchain project “look for another area to build the planned wind farm, and allow the UN process to run its course so that the people of Western Sahara can finally exercise their right to self-determination and decide the future course of their land.”
Lover of all things crypto, blockchain and AI, professional tech scribe & part of the editorial team at Crypto Disrupt.