Harnessing the power of the sun – renewable energy for Tunisia

Sofiane Kallel lived and worked in Germany for many years before returning to Tunisia in 2000. Having trained as an IT engineer in Karlsruhe, he is now helping to develop renewable energy in Tunisia – with two companies of his own.

Sofiane Kallel

‘There were signs of change in the energy sector even before the political revolution. I want to play an active role in shaping the energy revolution in my country through my business activities.’

Flexibility and a willingness to take a risk on new ideas

Sofiane took a rather roundabout path into the field of renewable energy. At the age of 46, after setting up his own IT company and then an automotive supplies business, he started looking into the business potential of renewable energy. He went to international trade fairs and prepared some initial feasibility studies. It was during this period that he met his business partner. ‘That was a great piece of luck,’ he says. ‘Like me, he had spent many years in Europe and then taken a conscious decision to move back to Tunisia. Those were key experiences that formed a bond between us. As a specialist in the energy sector, he also contributed a great deal of know-how, professional experience and valuable contacts to our business partnership.’ Together, they formed Shams Energy Access to implement solar and wind energy projects.

Shams Energy Access offers project planning and implementation of solar and wind energy projects.

Sofiane Kallel (fourth from left) with the employees of Shams Technology in Kairouan.

New opportunities, even for the younger generation

Especially now, when Tunisia faces major challenges, the country urgently needs people such as Sofiane, with their entrepreneurial mind-set and vision. ‘We all need to do our bit for the revolution and try to create new opportunities for our country, especially for the younger generation.’ This conviction is also one of the reasons why Shams Technology set up its new production site 150 kilometres south-west of the capital, in the underdeveloped region of Kairouan.

The business idea

The Arabic word Shams means ‘sun’, and Sofiane Kallel has been tapping the power of the sun since 2013. Shams Energy Access, one of the companies he set up with his business partner, implements renewable energy projects. Although its focus is on solar power, the company is also involved in wind energy and biomass projects. The services offered by Shams Energy Access include project planning and implementation, as well as follow-up support and maintenance. In 2016, they went on to form Shams Technology, which produces solar modules, with the aim of reducing Tunisia’s dependence on imports, especially from China.

The companies

Shams Energy Access

  • Formed in 2013
  • Location: Tunis
  • Services: Planning and implementation of renewable energy projects (solar, wind, biomass), follow-up support and maintenance
  • 35 employees (mid-2017)

Shams Technology

  • Formed 2013, started production in 2016
  • Based in Tunis (administration) and Kairouan (production)
  • Products: solar modules in two standard designs; transparent solar modules currently under development
  • 40 employees (mid-2017)

Key financial data (both companies together)

  • Equity: approx. EUR 2 million
  • Loan capital: approx. EUR 2 million
  • Annual turnover 2016: approx. EUR 900,000
  • Forecast turnover 2017: EUR 2.9 million

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