Tunisia will this week host an investment conference with the hopes of making it back onto the investor-friendly map after the 2011 revolution.
The Tunisia 2020 investment conference aims to build support for the country’s economic, social and sustainable development.
Six years after the revolution which toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s regime, Tunisia appears to be the only country affected by the Arab spring that has not fully recovered.
The country is still caught up in an economic gloom with sluggish growth and massive unemployment which has caused it to lose its appeal to investors.
“Tunisia has suffered from this image of a country in political transition,” said the country’s Minister for Investment and International Cooperation, Fadhel Abdelkefi, an image he wants changed because “this transition is over and today all the focus is on investment, (and) growth which we want to simply consolidate this transition”.
Abdelkefi argues that “Tunisia is an extremely competitive site south of the Mediterranean” as it has “attracted more than 3500 companies that produce in Tunisia for export using Tunisian logistics”.
The government intends to mobilize some $60 billion in investments over the next five years and create 400,000 jobs but it can only do this effectively if it can restore investor confidence in the country’s economic stability and security.
Some 2,000 participants, from forty countries, are expected at the Palais des Congrès in Tunis for the international investor conference as well as the World Bank, African Development Bank and European Investment Bank.
And for the man in charge of investment and international cooperation, it is an opportunity to put on a charm offensive with the hope that after the conference, “Tunisia is reinstated in the field of investment, with Tunisia back on the map as the investment destination in the Southern Mediterranean”.
The Tunisian government will present 140 public, private and joint public-private projects valued at nearly 30 billion euros to investors from 20 different sectors during the conference.
Some analysts say the conference will be an important test of the new government of Prime Minister Youssef Chahed’s ability to bring much-needed foreign investment into the country.