German presence in energy sector in Tunisia under scrutiny by Observatory
13/02/2017 23:01, TUNIS/Tunisia
(TAP) - Germany plays a very important role in Tunisia's new energy policy and this role sometimes exceeds the declared goals of Tunisian and German actors for other geopolitical purposes, the Tunisian Observatory of the Economy (French: OTE) pointed out in an analysis note, a copy of which was received by TAP.

"To what extent does Germany influence Tunisian energy policies and for what purpose and in what way does this phenomenon reveal a broader tendency, that of an intra-European rivalry for the supply of renewable energy resources and the sale of its advanced technology? the Observatory queried, in this study by Junior Policy Analyst Ophélie Julien-Laferrière,

According to the document, "the energy transition in Tunisia cannot be understood without analysing the German co-operation in the field; the country being a key player in the new Tunisian energy policy".

The Observatory asserts that Germany's objective with regard to its cooperation with Tunisia in this field, namely "supporting Tunisia in its post-revolutionary stabilisation, create jobs in line with European objectives and stem the flow of Migrations "does not fully reflect the reality, especially since the renewable energy sector only absorbs very little of the labour force.

For this organisation, "the assistance and the sale of technical parts with high added value could be another track" for this cooperation. The observatory puts forward an edifying figure, noting that "almost 60% of the German aid granted to the Tunisian State concerns the energy sector".

In the note, the Observatory also highlights the strong presence of German institutions in this sector, including the complex bureaucracy of the Tunisian energy administration. In this respect, the German-Tunisian energy partnership, which dates back to 2012, is mandated by the German Federal Ministry for the Economy and Energy (BMWi) and is based at the Tunisian Ministry of Energy where it has a permanent secretariat since 2013. According to the OTE, the fundamental players who are behind a new energy policy in Tunisia are the German foundations.

The Heinrich Böll Foundation, established in Tunisia since 2012, encourages ecology among Tunisian political parties. In partnership with the Tunisian association Mourakiboun, it has developed "Policies of the Futures", a project which since October 2016 aims to influence Tunisian energy policies.

The Henrich Böll Foundation, affiliated to the German Green Party, intends to promote human rights, but also energy transition and sustainable development in some sixty countries around the world, including four in the MENA region, human rights but also energy transition and sustainable development.

"Policies of the Futures", directly targets political parties "to encourage them to adopt legislation for long-term management of natural resources. The project was financed by the German Development Agency (KfW), with the idea of ​​making Tunis a "smart city".

GIZ: A very influential actor in Tunisia

Other German actors intervene more directly in Tunisia, such as the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbait), which has been present in Tunisia since 1975. This actor "very influential in Tunisia", where it deploys "150 people, including 40 German experts, is the governmental arm of Germany ".

According to Arne Schweinfurth, head of GIZ's cooperation in the energy sector in Tunisia, quoted by the OET, GIZ deploys a considerable force of action in Tunisia.

The Agency, which has an office at ANME (National Agency for Energy Management), works in close collaboration with Tunisian institutions such as STEG, Ministry of Energy, Mining and Renewable Energies, which has been charged a few time ago with the implementation of the Tunisian Solar Plan (TSP).

The industrial initiative Désertec (DII), a well-informed German company on the Tunisian energy sector, such as GIZ, for whom the energy stake is paramount, both have "a real impact in the drafting of legislation for the renewable energy market in Tunisia and its new reforms ".

They seem to be working to promote a less restrictive legislative framework that limits STEG's role to private investors, encouraging the opening of the market to foreign capital and offering tax advantages, in addition to the application of minimum tariffs and suspension of VAT on equipment and products used for the control of energy, specifies the note.

According to programme co-ordinator Simon Isle, the strategic direction of the project is to accompany other actors (besides NGOs): "the political parties, in particular, which are stabilizing and the Parliament which is very important".

Germany is contributing €112 million (about 271.64 million dinars) to the Tunisian Solar Plan (PST) project, which envisages a 30% share of renewable energies in the energy mix by 2030, according to the site of the German Embassy in Tunis, to which the analysis of the OTE refers.

Tunisia, he recalls again, has an annual sunshine duration of 3000 hours, "a fact that has not escaped Germany, a country that since 2012 supports, within the framework of the partnership, its development strategy of renewable energy ".

For the Observatory "Tunisia in this post-revolutionary period is the object of strong covetousness in the potential it represents in the Maghreb". Various objectives motivate donors and specifically German ones, it notes, citing sales of technology and the development of German influence.

Moreover, competition and parallel approaches by France and Germany in Tunisia in this field are also the expression of a "friendly tension" between these two countries and of the inability of Europe to develop a common policy, it concluded.

OTE presents itself as an independent association whose objective is to "enlighten citizens through independent, rigourous, documented and critical information on economic policies and their impact on development".

It was created by a group of young multidisciplinary researchers (jurists, engineers, economists) including Franco-Tunisians interested in Tunisian public policies, following the outbreak of the revolutionary process in Tunisia "in 2011.

It published several notes on current economic and energy issues, including those on "the independence of the Tunisian Central Bank: challenges and impacts on the Tunisian financial system" and "Customs reform under structural adjustment: fighting or promoting informal trade?
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