Tunisia welcomes Turkish investors in clean energy

Tunisian Energy Minister: Country promoting renewable energy, welcomes investments from Turkey.

Tunisia welcomes Turkish investors in clean energy

World Bulletin / News Desk

When your country is washed by abundant sunshine and strong desert winds, it makes sense to harness the sun and wind as sources of power.

And that is just what Tunisia has decided to do, a senior Tunisian official told The Anadolu Agency in an interview.

Kamel Bennaceur, the Tunisian minister of Industry, Energy and Mines told AA that his country's future lies in renewable energy -- and clean-energy investments by Turkey and other countries will be welcomed.

So much so, Bennaceur said, that Tunisia amended its laws two weeks ago to make investing in renewable energy there easier.

Bennaceur was interviewed Sunday in Istanbul at the World Economic Forum Special meeting on Unlocking Resources for Regional development.

Until now, the country has relied on fossil fuel reserves, and there has been a lack of political support for renewable energy, he said. But that is changing. And with good reason, he said

"If the world continues to do things like they do today in terms of using fossil energy resources, and this will cause the temperature increase, let's invest in clean technology," Bennaceur said. "With the clean technology, we can go to much lower carbon emissions than today; we can cut emissions and the world would be exactly much better."

Tunisia is a place with the potential -- and the motivation -- to change its mix of energy sources. The country's oil production has been steadily declining from its peak of 120,000 barrels per day in the mid-1980s to 67,000 barrels per day in 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Administration.

The country does not produce enough oil to meet its needs and must import most of the oil it uses, the U.S. agency said.

Tunisia is a small country in North Africa, just across the Mediterranean from Malta and the boot of Italy. To the south, it borders the Sahara Desert. From May to October, in particular, dessert winds sweep over parts of the country.

Tunisia also benefits from abundant sunshine and little rain: July, the driest month of the year, averages only a single day of rain all month. The wettest months -- November, December and January -- average only seven days of rain, meaning each has on average three weeks of pure sunshine.

Tunisia, Bennaceur said, has the potential to generate 1,800 megawatts of solar energy and 1,700 megawatts from wind -- sources of energy that have yet to be harnessed.

The government plans to increase the share of renewables in the energy mix to 4 percent by 2014, he said.

In 2009, the Tunisian government adopted the “Plan Solaire Tunisien,” or the Tunisian Solar Plan, to achieve a capacity of 4.7 gigawatts of renewable energy 2030.

Bennaceur said economic development in North Africa will be impossible without making use of all energy sources. He said the Tunisian government is welcoming investment by the Turkish government, and by private Turkish investors, as well.

Like other countries in North Africa, Tunisia experienced unrest during the Arab Spring. Protests in the country began in December, 2010, and led in January, 2011, to the ouster of longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, 2011, and to the establishment of a democratic government.

Bennaceur said he wanted to assure investors that the country is now stable.

"Since 2011 January, Tunisia has been -- in terms of security for foreigners and for its own citizens -- a very stable and reliable place," he said.

There has been no unrest since the Arab Spring, he said.

More than 60 foreign companies are operating in the country, working to find oil and gas as well as to build infrastructure, he said.

Bennaceur said Tunisian authorities have had discussions with the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO). He said Tunisian officials are expecting investments in the country's energy sector, and the talks will continue.

Tunisia’s political transition gained new momentum in early 2014, with the resolution of a political deadlock, the adoption of a new Constitution and the appointment of a new government.

Turkey’s Africa policy grew stronger in 2013 in what has been described as a mutually beneficial political, economic and cultural partnership.

Turkish companies have more than $800 million investment in Tunisia, particularly in construction.

Trade volume between Turkey and Tunisia amounted to $992 million in 2012, a decrease of 6 percent compared to 2011. In 2012, imports from Tunisia were $196 million, and exports to Tunisia were $797 million.

Trade volume between Turkey and Africa as a whole reached $23.4 billion in 2013. 

Last Mod: 29 Eylül 2014, 11:38
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