5 reasons to invest in Tunisia

Credit: LA Times

Credit: LA Times

Tunisia’s economy has been struggling for the past couple of years in the aftermath of the Jasmine revolution.

Unemployment rate has increased and the government has so far failed to provide enough positions in the public sector. So people turned to entrepreneurship.

The latter is tightly linked to investment, for which Tunisia has an appropriate climate. This leads us to talk about the reasons that make Tunisia a good investment hub.

1. Perfect geographic position: Tunisia is the northernmost point in Africa, thus very close to Europe. Someone could, for instance, leave their office in the capital, Tunis, at 6 p.m. and get a cappuccino in Rome at 7:15 p.m., or have a dinner in Spain at 8. There are around 50 flights per day toward European, Middle Eastern and African countries, which makes Tunisia very accessible by European markets and vice versa. Tunisia is becoming a gateway between European and African markets.

2. Skilled and cheap workforce: There are around 70,000 graduates in Tunisia per year, 35 percent of which are engineers. As the local currency is cheap, engineers’ wages are way lower than those of foreign employees. For instance, the local salary of an entry-level software engineer ranges between 286 euros (700 TND) and 448 euros (1,100 TND), whereas in France, it would range between 2,700 euros (6,620 TND) and 3,000 euros (7,356 TND). It would be much more profitable for foreign companies, especially high-tech ones, to offshore in Tunisia.  

3. Government incentives: The government offers a set of incentives for investors within the framework of promoting the Tunisian ecosystem. These incentives are in the form of tax exemptions or subsidies in some areas in Tunisia. The poorer the region the investor picks for investment, the more advantages they would get.

The government is also partnering up with the private sector when it comes to big projects like in the case of Smart Tunisia, a project aimed at making Tunisia a technological hub. This project is expected to provide 50,000 positions to local engineers over the next five years. Raouf Mhenni, the head of this project, claimed during a press conference that it would place Tunisia in a better position when it comes to offshoring, as the country is full of skilled engineers. Widad Bouchamaoui, the leader of the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA) which is an employers’ union, pointed out that these investments need to be spread out all over the country, especially in the poorer regions.

Related: Tunisian women: A history of shining stars

4. A connected society: The internet has been deeply rooted in Tunisian culture, especially after the revolution. Social networks, mostly Facebook, played a major role in the Tunisian revolution as it was a catalyst for the social movements and protests. It gave people the possibility to organize themselves and gather. There are around 5.8 million internet users in Tunisia, representing about half of the entire population. Knowing that the average internet consumption in Africa is about 28 percent while the world average is 46, we can fairly say that Tunisia is in a good position internet consumption wise.

5. Entrepreneurial mindset: Tunisia is witnessing an entrepreneurial revolution as Tunis, for instance, has been selected by Forbes as one of the 10 best places to launch a business. According to Forbes, “the Arab Spring was a turning point for the entrepreneurial mindset of the population: the focus shifted toward civic entrepreneurship.” This mindset is a major sign for an investment to be fruitful.

Related: The Jasmine is blooming: Inside Tunisia's entrepreneurial revolution

Despite these major advantages, Tunisia still has some restrictions that prevent foreign investments. It has, for example, overlapping customs and multiple taxes that are difficult to understand. Also, the procedures for registering a business in the Agency of Industrial Promotion can be time consuming in some cases. That being said, the current government is working on implementing deep reforms aiming at lowering restrictions and updating the procedures.

Cover credit: Shutterstock


Haithem Kchaou