Projects, optimism and a strong appeal from Lisbon

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Tunisian Minister of Industry and Energy Slim Feriani announced Wednesday (June 12, 2019) that Tunisia will select the winners of its 500 megawatt (MW) solar power concession contract by September, in order to attract more foreign investment in renewable energies.

The 16 successful candidates will submit their final offers to the government next month, the minister said on the sidelines of the Africa Energy Forum in Lisbon, Portugal.

Interested investors come mainly from Europe, but also from North America and Asia, according to Reuters.

Describing the bid as ambitious, Feriani said he expects the winners to start producing solar power within 12 to 18 months of the announcement.

“The call for tenders will change things, because we will stimulate energy production in Tunisia thanks to an environmentally friendly energy … That’s how the world goes,” said the minister.

The 500 MW tender is part of a broader program launched by the Tunisian government, which plans to reach 3,500 MW of renewable, solar and wind energy by 2030, covering 30 % of the country’s electricity needs.

The Minister of Industry now believes that the country can go one step further in this energy transition. “When we set ourselves the goal of 3,500 MW, we were cautious, but today, given the speed at which things are changing, we have seen an acceleration of the pace, “he said.

“If we keep pushing, we can do a lot more … we think the 3,500 MW can be achieved much faster than 2030,” he added.

Over the last 20 years, Tunisia has been able to produce only about 300 MW of renewable energy, mainly wind and hydroelectric, according to S. Feriani.

Despite numerous economic problems, such as high inflation and high unemployment, which remain to be solved, the minister said that since the democratic transition of Tunisia in 2011, the country has been able to restore investor confidence in various sectors beyond traditional tourism.

“The democratic world is eager to see Tunisia as a success in this part of the world,” he pointed out, “The economy is a matter of trust, we need the confidence of consumers, but also of investors.”

Asked if the conflict in Libya, a neighboring country, could have a negative impact on the Tunisian energy sector, S. Feriani acknowledged “that there are some problems”, while stating that Tunisia should “continue to advance “and was” open to business “.

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