Oral history interview with Kamel Bennaceur, 2015
Kamel Bennaceur has worked for Schlumberger Limited since 1981. He progressed from project manager to global director of technology in 1999, to vice president of market development in 2001, to chief economist in 2009, and to president of the technology center in 2012. In these capacities, he worked in the United States, Algeria, Venezuela, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, England, Brazil, and Egypt. In 2014, he was appointed minister of industry, energy and mines by Mehdi Jomaa.
Scope and Contents
Kamel Bennaceur, former Minister of Industry in the Jomaa cabinet, describes his experience growing up in Gafsa during the 1960s and 1970s as "a golden age" in Tunisian history. He speaks about his studies in France, which prepared him for a career in engineering. He describes working in Research & Development and Management for the French oil and gas company Schlumberger Limited, which required around 10 moves over a period of about 30 years. During the revolution, he was surprised that Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was so easily displaced, optimistic about the responses of ordinary Tunisians, and disapproving of many transition government decisions. He describes how he became a part of the provisional government; Bennaceur easily adjusted to working in the Tunisian government, and his wife was very supportive. He describes how the cabinet quickly became a team and faced several crises together, including their approval by the National Assembly and the Chaambi Mountain attacks in 2014. Bennaceur characterizes the mining and energy sectors as challenges, particularly negotiations with labor. He discusses his biggest challenge as working in a system that was neither organized nor adequately prepared for personnel changes; his biggest successes were the positive feedback about cabinet leadership from all ministries, and the friendly contacts established with foreign embassies. In analyzing the future, he does not wish to continue in Tunisian politics, but has some goals for the administration.
Copyright by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 2015.