CI VIEW: Avelar making preliminary study of Tunisia/North Africa renewable market

 

TRIESTE (CI MENA) – Avelar Energy Group, the Zurich-based renewable energy company, is engaged in a preliminary study to determine whether to enter the Tunisian and North African renewable energy sector, Avelar chief executive officer Igor Akmerov said.

[Renova chairman Viktor Vekselberg speaks to Capitol Intelligence using CI Glass at Italo-Russia Summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian PM Enrico Letta]

Akhmerov said Tunisia and the North African markets of Libya and Algeria could offer interesting opportunities to the group owned by the Renova Group of Russia’s leading industrialist Viktor F. Vekselberg.

Speaking to Capitol Intelligence on the sideline of the Italo-Russia summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, Akhmerov said that Avelar is more than willing enter in the Tunisian market under certain conditions.

Akhmerov said that the company needs its legal and financial advisors to carry-out an in depth study of Tunisia’s energy tariffs and regulatory structure.

Renova Group chairman Viktor Vekselberg was part of the delegation of high-level Russian business figures who travelled with Putin and held meetings with Assicurazioni Generali chairman Gabriele Galateri di Genola,  ENI chairman Giuseppe Recchi and CEO Paolo Scaroni, ENEL CEO Fulvio Conti, Finmeccanica CEO Alessandro Pansa, Astaldi general manager Cesare Bernadini, and Unicredit CEO Federico Ghizzoni.

Avelar is a EUR 2.1bn company and is active in the production and installation of solar modules through Aion Renewables, solar parks through Aveleos SA and wind projects and has an important conventional energy trading business.

In an interview with Capitol Intel at the company’s Zurich headquarters, Avelar’s business development director Markus H. Schrauf said Avelar is willing to set-up operations in Tunisia if the company is confident they can win government-sponsored contracts.

Schrauf noted that Avelar has already expanded its current operations in Italy to markets such as South Africa and have all the necessary skill-sets to be a successful operator in Tunisia and North Africa.

One of the leading members of the Tunisian government, Transport Minister Abdelkarim Harouni told Capitol Intelligence that the government is very positive regarding Russian investment in the country.

Harouni noted that the country has very strong ties with Russia after it gave asylum to Russian refugees who fled with the Crimean fleet to Bizerte, Tunisia in 1917.  Tunisia currently has a number functioning Russian Orthodox Churches and Djerba is the site of the oldest synagogue in North Africa.

Financial sources in Tunisia said that renewable energy subsidiary of the state utility Societe’ Tunisienne de l’Electricite et du Gas could offer a perfect opportunity for Avelar for potential partnership or eventual takeover.  While the state utility faces many challenges in the regulated market in its home market, its Steg International arm has been very successful in West African markets such Burkina Faso.

Germany’s Conergy has already built a 210-kilowatt solar plant in Ben Guardane to power a desalination plant near the Tunisia-Libyan border while a number of companies have opened manufacturing plants in Tabarka next to the Algerian border.

“What (than) Conergy and others are doing is extremely smart,” said the regional director of a multilateral bank.  “By placing operations in Tunisia they have given themselves a privileged platform to win giant contracts in Algeria and Libya.”

Algeria plans to produce up to 20% of its energy needs through renewable energy while Libya has set a near-to-short-term target of 6%.

Another advantage of Tunisia is that it is the headquarters of the African Development Bank and at the same time the regional headquarters of groups such as Shell, British Gas, Texas-based Anadarko and Austria’s OMV.

By PK Semler in Trieste, Italy; Zurich, Switzerland; and Tunis. Copyright of CI MENA, part of the Capitol Intelligence Group, INC. For more information please call 202-549-3399 or email: pks@capitolintelgroup.com

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