In 2017, Transnational Institute analyst and campaigner Hamza Hamouchene denounced the construction of the energy infrastructure project of the TuNur solar project in Tunisia as a case of “energy colonialism”, like Desertec and the Ouarzazate solar plant in Morocco. Fears are that Tunisia will run a fate similar to Morocco, experiencing structural water stress. Energy projects are also feared to undermine local employment, so farmers may contest the construction of solar plants. Our inquiry explores the perceptions of the local communities concerning energy infrastructure projects.
This research explores the TuNur solar plant and the latest Italian-founded electric grid in Tunisia. Indeed, an energy connection is planned between Italy and Tunisia, between the Cap Bon peninsula and Sicily, via a submarine electric grid project and developed by Terna and STEG, the Tunisian electricity grid operator. As we learn from the project website, "the new connection will link the Partanna electrical substation (in the province of Trapani) with a corresponding substation in the Cape Bon peninsula in Tunisia. The project will ensure greater energy supply security and facilitate increased energy production from renewable sources." This project analyzes who will actually benefit from such upscaled energy production, what information and perceptions prevail among the local population, and how the energy infrastructure may affect the local fishing economy. In a tense political frame, where Tunisia must respect the IMF guidelines, energy infrastructure can be a prism to address questions of governance, democracy, authoritarianism, and social claims.