Wednesday, June 19, 2019



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Tunisian Minister of Industry and Energy Slim Feriani announced Wednesday (June 12, 2019) that Tunisia will select the winners of its 500 megawatt (MW) solar power concession contract by September, in order to attract more foreign investment in renewable energies.

The 16 successful candidates will submit their final offers to the government next month, the minister said on the sidelines of the Africa Energy Forum in Lisbon, Portugal.

Interested investors come mainly from Europe, but also from North America and Asia, according to Reuters.

Describing the bid as ambitious, Feriani said he expects the winners to start producing solar power within 12 to 18 months of the announcement.

“The call for tenders will change things, because we will stimulate energy production in Tunisia thanks to an environmentally friendly energy … That’s how the world goes,” said the minister.

The 500 MW tender is part of a broader program launched by the Tunisian government, which plans to reach 3,500 MW of renewable, solar and wind energy by 2030, covering 30 % of the country’s electricity needs.

The Minister of Industry now believes that the country can go one step further in this energy transition. “When we set ourselves the goal of 3,500 MW, we were cautious, but today, given the speed at which things are changing, we have seen an acceleration of the pace, “he said.

“If we keep pushing, we can do a lot more … we think the 3,500 MW can be achieved much faster than 2030,” he added.

Over the last 20 years, Tunisia has been able to produce only about 300 MW of renewable energy, mainly wind and hydroelectric, according to S. Feriani.

Despite numerous economic problems, such as high inflation and high unemployment, which remain to be solved, the minister said that since the democratic transition of Tunisia in 2011, the country has been able to restore investor confidence in various sectors beyond traditional tourism.

“The democratic world is eager to see Tunisia as a success in this part of the world,” he pointed out, “The economy is a matter of trust, we need the confidence of consumers, but also of investors.”

Asked if the conflict in Libya, a neighboring country, could have a negative impact on the Tunisian energy sector, S. Feriani acknowledged “that there are some problems”, while stating that Tunisia should “continue to advance “and was” open to business “.

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Salma Elloumi, who was recently named president of Nida Tounes, gave this brief interview to Africanmanager.

She talks about her work as re-unifier of the party, its rapprochement with Mohsen Marzouk’s Machrou and contacts with Youssef Chahed’s Tahya Tounes in particular.

She also responds to the results of the latest opinion poll, considered by some as a political earthquake, because of the dramatic ascent of anti-system figure Nabil Karoui.


Now that you are at the head of Nidaa, part of Nidaa, or Nidaa Hammamet, what is the program?

I would first like to clarify something. We held a congress on April 6, 2019 in Monastir. An executive committee with 217 members was elected and accepted by everyone.

This committee had subsequently submitted a list of the political bureau, signed by all sides, including the dissidents who joined the other party.

I will not want to dwell on divisions. We are now talking about a unified Nidaa. Our program is therefore to reunite our party, those who rejected political parties and the entire political class, because of disputes on TV and those who no longer identify themselves with them. We want to moralize politics through the reunification of the different factions, all from Nidaa.

Which ones do you target in particular?

There were important personalities, at the birth of Nidaa, who left. We must recognize our mistakes and reach out to them to put the interest of Tunisia above all

Can you give some names?

For example, Machrou and Mohsen Marzouk who is a founding member, with whom we are already starting a process of unification.

Other national figures, such as Boujemaa Rmili are also involved. We also talk with Tahya Tounes, whom I met with the chief and others.

Did you find an availability for discussion in Tahya Tounes?

Yes. The discussions exist because we are part of the same political family and we are both driven by the national interest and our concern for the situation in our country. We can go beyond it and be operational in the 2019 elections, only by unifying our forces.

Essential question. What place, if any, could have Hafedh Caïed Essebssi in this reunification program of Nidaa?

I do not want to mention names.

We ask this question, because the whole political place in Tunisia agrees on the fact that the problem of Nidaa remains Hafedh Caïed Essebsi

(With an embarrassed smile). I will not answer your question. Hafedh Caïd Essebssi was in Nidaa and is no longer in the current Nidaa. We want to rebuild and avoid destructive attacks and we will call all those who criticize us to join us.

You have certainly read the results of Sigma Conseil’s latest opinion poll. Your party is making a very big decline. What is your comment?

This is the expected result of all the quarrels experienced. We are starting a reunification process and entering a new dynamic. We are therefore strongly convinced that all this will change. Our bases ask us and wonder why this decline compared to 2012, while affirming their attachment to Nidaa.

What is your comment on the voting intentions for the legislative as it appeared in the last opinion poll, where the party of Nabil Karoui is in the first place, while it does not even exist yet?

This is the result of a general disaffection of Tunisian voters with regard to politics, although we consider that this is not completely true, considering the very large number of new registered voters: 1.4 million of which 70% are 18-35 and over 45% of women.

This shows the renewed interest of the Tunisian for politics. If there is rejection, it concerns the current political class that relays on TV and offers no alternative.

This explains the popularity of opinion polls for Nabil Karoui’s party. In 2020, we will need builders, who are there to solve problems and who are listening to deep Tunisia.

And what do you think about the rise of the name of Nabil Karoui in these polls?

I am watching. The rejection of the political class could partly explain it. But perhaps also the fact that he stayed for two years in a situation of proximity, very close to a certain population, whom, I would not say are forgotten, but who has problems that have not been addressed by others.

Is there a possibility of rapprochement with the one who was one of the founders of NidaaTounes?

Currently, we unite and reunite national personalities and parties that are close to us. I cannot comment on Nabil Karoui, it is not yet the moment!

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    Tunisia has been ranked 15th in Africa in terms of hosting foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, with $ 1 billion in 2018, against 888 million in 2017, reveals the UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2019, published on Wednesday.

    As for North Africa, Tunisia is last, despite an of 18% increase compared to 2017, behind Sudan, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt.

    Egypt leads the African countries with $ 6.8 billion, followed by South Africa ($ 5.3 billion, Republic of Congo ($ 4.3 billion) Morocco ($ 3.6 billion) and Ethiopia ($ 3.3 billion).

    For Tunisia, the industrial sector attracted the most FDI, for $ 375 million, followed by energy ($ 300 million) and services ($ 200 million).

    France is the largest investor country in Tunisia, followed by Qatar. In addition, Chinese companies have announced significant investments, particularly in the automotive sector.

    In September 2018, Chinese automaker SAIC Motors signed an agreement with the Tunisian group Meninx for the creation of a manufacturing plant targeting the African and European markets, specialized in the production of Morris Garage (MG) vehicles, owned by the Chinese group.

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      The food trade balance posted a deficit of 534 million dinars (MD) in the first five months of 2019, which stands at 6.5% of the total trade balance deficit, against a surplus of 219.3 MD during the same period in 2018, thus registering a coverage rate of 80% against 109.6% during the same period in 2018.

      According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Human Resources and Fisheries, this is due to the increase in the value of food imports by 16% and the decrease in exports by 15.5, because of the decline by 43% in the olive oil revenues.

      Food exports in the first five months of 2019 dropped by 15.5%, compared to the same period in 2018, due to a 43% decline in value and 40% in quantity.

      Revenues from other food exports edged up 11% due to the rise by 7% in the revenues of date exports, citrus fruits (19%), seafood (29%), fresh vegetables (27%), canned vegetables, fruit and fish (48%) and pasta (62%).

      The value of food exports in the first five months of 2019 reached 10.8 of the country’s total exports against 14.7 during the same period the year before.

      In addition, the value of food imports in the first five months of 2019 stood at 2,654 MD, up by 16%, compared to 2018, following the increase in the import value of certain food products, including soft wheat (52%), barley (87%), maize (33%) in addition to other food products and milk and meat products at consecutive rates of 50% and 22%.

      Other imported food products declined in terms of value, including sugar (15%), vegetable oils (12%) and potatoes (35%) due to lower import volumes.

      The value of food imports during the first five months of 2019 stabilized at 9.7% compared to the same period in 2018.

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        Tunisia’s international tourist receipts amounted to 1.55 billion dinars at the end of the first five months of the year, compared with 1.08 billion a year earlier, i.e. a growth of 466 million dinars or more than 43%, according to data from the Central Bank of Tunisia.

        This growth is partly due to the exchange rate effect, since the dinar depreciated by 9% against the euro between the end of May 2018 (1 euro = 3.054 dinars) and the end of May 2019 (1 euro = 3.328 TND).

        Compared to the dollar, the national currency depreciated by 15.7% from 2.574 dinars to 2.980 dinars between the two dates.

        Tourism sector indicators for the current year show a clear improvement. According to the Ministry of Tourism, the number of arrivals in Tunisia increased by 14.5% until May 10, compared to the same period last year, reaching more than 2.44 million foreign visitors.

        The Tunisian tourism recorded good figures last year with nearly 8.3 million foreign visitors having stayed in Tunisia, compared to 7 million in 2017.

        For the current year, the Ministry of Tourism expects 9 million tourists.

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          The balance of Tunisia’s trade balance posted a deficit of 8,106 MD, at the end of the first five months of the current year, according to figures of the INS, resulting from the deficit recorded with some countries, such as China (-2497.7 MD), Italy (-1,360.9 MD), Algeria (1,348.3 MD), Turkey (1,156.2 MD) and Russia (700 MD).

          On the other hand, the balance of the trade balance registered a surplus with other countries, mainly France by 2,095 MD, Libya by 577 MD and Morocco by 243.7 MD.

          Trade is in deficit under the general regime by 13,502.7 MD (-10,851 MD during the same period of the year 2018); however, it showed surplus under the offshore regime by 5,396.7 MD (+ 4,226.5 MD during the same period of 2018).

          Excluding energy, the deficit on the trade balance is reduced to 4,973.4 MD. The deficit in the energy balance stands at 3,132.6 MD (38.6% of the total deficit) against 2,054 MD during the same period in 2018.

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            Tunisia’s imports grew 17.2% at the end of the first 5 months of 2019, said the National Institute of Statistics (INS), adding that the increase was observed in all sectors.

            Indeed, imports recorded increases of 39.9% for energy products due to higher purchases of refined products (2,621.5 MD against 2,205.7 MD) and natural gas (1,606.5 MD against 735.2 MD).

            Imports also grew 34.8% for mines, phosphates and derivatives, by 20.4% for basic agricultural and food products, by 20.3% for capital goods and by 9.2% for raw materials and semi-finished products.

            For imports, trade in goods with the European Union (52.2% of total imports) went up by 16.9% to reach 14,453.1 MD.

            Imports increased 17% with Italy and 10.8% with France.

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              The results of Tunisia’s foreign trade at current prices during the first five months of 2019 show that exports increased by 15.1% (+ 27.5% during the same period of the year 2018), according to the National Institute of Statistics (INS).

              Exports reached 19,590.2 MD against 17,016,4 MD during the first five months of the year 2018.

              Moreover, imports also grew 17.2% (+ 19.2% during the same period of 2018). They reached the value of 27,696,2 MD against 23,640,9 MD during the first five months of the year 2018.

              Following this rise in terms of exports (+ 15.1%) and imports (+ 17.2%), the deficit stood at 8,106 MD against 6,624.5 MD during the five months of the year 2018.

              The coverage rate decreased by 1.3 points compared to the first five months of 2018 to 70.7% compared to 72%.

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                The increase observed in exports (+ 15.1%) in the first five months of 2019 concerns the majority of sectors, according to the latest figures from the National Institute of Statistics (INS) for May 2019.

                According to the same source, increases were recorded in the mining, phosphates and derivatives sector by 44.2%, the mechanical and electrical industries sector by 21.7%, the textile and clothing and leather sector by 14.4%. %, the energy sector by 13.3% and other manufacturing industries by 26.3%.

                On the other hand, the agriculture and agribusiness sector recorded a decrease of 13.7%, following lower olive oil sales (687.3 MD vs. 1216.2 MD).

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                  The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday completed the Fifth Review of Tunisia’s economic program, supported by an arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

                  The Board’s decision makes available to Tunisia an amount equivalent to SDR 176.7824 million (about US$245 million), bringing total disbursements to SDR 1,161.7133 million (about US$1.6 billion), and catalyze much-needed financing from other partners and international markets.

                  According to the IMF, socially-balanced macroeconomic stabilization remains the government’s priority for 2019.

                  Fiscal policies aim at mobilizing revenue and containing current spending to reduce Tunisia’s budget deficit, while maintaining public investment and strengthening the social safety-net for low-income households.

                  Monetary policy focuses on curbing inflation, and continued exchange rate flexibility will help to improve the current account deficit and international reserves. Structural reforms supported under the arrangement include measures to improve the business climate, broaden access to finance, and reduce corruption, says the IMF.

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