Governance in Heels

Héla Cheikhrouhou: Driving Affordable and Sustainable Energy for All in Africa

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By Tanya Maswaure

Héla Cheikhrouhou has spent the last 25 years trying to make energy more affordable in Africa, first at Citibank, then at the World Bank, African Development Bank, the UN’s Green Climate Fund, and Tunisia’s ministry of energy. Her innovations and mindset have seen her leading several organizations and working hard to create a greener, cleaner and better society for the future.

Hela Cheikhrouhou is the Chairman and CEO of Nithio Holdings, an African distributed energy financing platform. Ms. Cheikhrouhou served as the Minister of Energy, Mining, and Renewables of Tunisia from 2016-2017. Before that, she was the founding Executive Director of the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund, leading the launch of the Fund between 2013-2016. Ms. Cheikhrouhou had previously worked at the African Development Bank from 2007-2013, where she served as Director for the Energy, Environment, and Climate Change Department and earlier led the private Infrastructure Finance division of the AfDB. Ms. Cheikhrouhou worked at the World Bank from 2003-2007 in the Finance, Private Sector and Infrastructure Department for Latin America and the Caribbean region. Between 1996-2003, she also worked in Citigroup’s Corporate and Investment Banking in North Africa, progressing in different duties, including Morocco Country Treasurer and Vice President for North Africa Market Risk.

In 2016 HE Minister Cheikhrouhou presented and adopted the 2030 Tunisian energy strategy. The Strategy aimed to rebuild Tunisian’s energy reserve and strengthen the country’s capacity to guarantee its energy independence in terms of fossil energy and primary energy production. The 2030 Tunisian energy strategy also planned to reach 30% of renewable energies in 2030.

Strengthening the electricity grid is also highly important in developing smart grids and energy efficiency solutions. The plan will further promote energy efficiency by improving energy intensity by up to 3% annually from 2016-2030. The strategy also aimed to save energy by 17% from 2016-2020. Creating jobs was at the heart of the energy transition in Tunisia. “The growth has to be shared, inclusive and just, and the ultimate goal is to supply all Tunisian citizens with affordable, sustainable, competitive, and reliable energy”, concluded Minister Cheikhrouhou. The Energy Strategy is still being implemented, paving the way to a greener society.

Ms. Cheikhrouhou holds a Master of Science in Finance from HEC Montreal, Canada, and a Bachelor in Business Administration from IHEC Carthage, Tunisia.

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