Qatar has pledged $1.25 billion in aid to shore up Tunisia’s battered economy. The announcement was made by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the opening of the Tunisia investment conference dubbed Tunisia 2020.
Sheikh Hamad al-Thani said the money would “support the Tunisian economy and strengthen its process of development”.
The money from Qatar is considered the biggest single offer of aid to Tunisia since the 2011 uprising which toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s administration and ushered in democratic transition.
Tunisia appears to be the only country in the Arab world not to have recovered from the 2011 Arab spring as it is still grappling with low growth and high levels of unemployment.
The two-day “Tunisia 2020” conference aims to put the north African nation back on the investment map of the Mediterranean according to officials.
The first day of the conference though appears has turned out to be promising as the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls also announced that the French Development Agency (AFD) would invest “at least $256 million every year in Tunisia.”
“We will also implement operations to convert Tunisian debt into development projects,” the French premier said.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) said it would lend Tunisia $2.65 billion by 2020 while the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development said it would give $1.5 billion in soft loans over the same period.
Tunisia is expecting to sign deals worth some 10 billion Tunisian dinars ($4.3 billion) during the conference to finance economic projects.
Representatives from some 40 countries and some 2000 businesses are in Tunis for the event.