The number of tourists that visited Tunisia thus far in 2017 reached 4.58 million according to the Tunisian Ministry of Tourism in a statement reported by the local media. The Tunisian radio did not specify, however, what was the rate of tourism growth compared to the same period of last year. According to FM Radio Express, tourists from neighbouring countries numbered 1.45 million of this overall figure, or 60.7% more compared to 2016. Up by 16%, the increase in the number of European tourists is also substantial, per the Tunisian Ministry of Tourism of the anticipated total 6.5 million tourists this year. These statistics were however objected to in Tunisia where some observers noted that these included all non-residents, i.e. Tunisians living abroad as well as a decreasing number of sub-Saharan students in Tunisia. Wagdy Sawahel, in a University World News of September 1st, 2017, Issue No:472 elaborates on this particular segment.
A series of new measures to reverse the sharp decline in numbers of Sub-Saharan African students in Tunisia over the next three years has been unveiled. Numbers of Sub-Saharan students in Tunisia have fallen from 12,000 in 2010 to 4,000 for the 2016-17 academic year, according to figures presented at the first meeting of the Tunisian African Empowerment Forum held at the Palais des Congrès in Tunis, Tunisia from 22-23 August. The forum was organised by the Tunisia-Africa Business Council, or TABC, in partnership with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Association of African Students and Trainees in Tunisia. The new measures, aimed at growing the number of Sub-Saharan students to 20,000 by 2020, were outlined at the forum. They include a greater focus on the internationalisation of Tunisian higher education, promotion of Tunisia as a desirable destination for students from Sub-Saharan Africa and the development of mutual trust between Tunisia and the Sub-Saharan region. A web-based platform has also been developed to encourage greater interest from and support for African students. Cooperation strategy The above measures are geared towards the implementation of the Tunisian-African higher education cooperation strategy, which was discussed at the forum. The strategy is based on two axes: the sharing of Tunisian expertise and bringing more students from all countries on the continent to Tunisia. Against this backdrop, cooperation agreements have been initiated by Tunisia with Mauritania, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso and South Africa. Official figures presented at the forum indicated that foreign students make up 2.5% of the total student population. Among this proportion, 74% are African students from 40 countries, 29% being from Sub-Saharan Africa. As many as 98% of foreign students in Tunisian private universities are Africans. Besides having 13 public universities which serve approximately 260,000 students including 6,000 foreigners, Tunisia has 72 private institutions of higher education that serve 32,000 students including 4,000 foreign students. Last month’s forum identified several factors hindering the intake of African students into Tunisian higher education. According to the Association of African Students and Trainees in Tunisia, established in 1993 to advocate on behalf of Tunisia’s Sub-Saharan community and promote Sub-Saharan culture, over 60% of requests for permission to study in the country by African students are not granted. Racism A TABC study also highlighted the problem of racism towards Sub-Saharan students in Tunisia, which has manifested recently in the form of physical and verbal violence targeting Sub-Saharan Africans. These attacks have been covered in local news reportsand the vulnerability of students from Sub-Saharan Africa in Tunisia was highlighted in a video report available on YouTube. At present, the Tunisian government is considering a draft law against racism and discrimination.
Mack Arthur Deongane Yopasho, president of the Association of African Students and Trainees in Tunisia, described the racism against the students as a “situation that ruins the lives of Sub-Saharan students [who are] often forced to desert Tunisia to continue their studies in Morocco”. Reports indicate that about 18,000 postgraduate students from Sub-Saharan Africa study at Moroccan universities. Cultural awareness Manar Sabry, Middle East and North Africa region editor for the Comparative and International Education Society newsletter and a higher education expert at Binghamton University, State University of New York, told University World News that an important first step in combating racism is raising awareness of Sub-Saharan cultural traditions on Tunisian campuses. “Teaching courses in schools and universities on racism and multi-cultural education will help Tunisians recognise their implicit biases. Implementing programmes that bring both student groups together for celebrations of African holidays will increase appreciation of national differences and spread a message of inclusive diversity,” she said. “It is vital that administrators provide institutional support for African students in the development of their own co-curricular clubs and activities.” She said faculty should also undertake proactive actions to recruit more African students to Tunisian universities. “It is essential to cultivate an image that appeals to international students and remove the financial boundaries that prevent highly qualified students from applying,” she said. “This step is essential in creating a minority African population on campus that is large enough to form interpersonal social networks that will reduce feelings of alienation,” she said. Samir Khalaf Abd-El-Aal, professor of genetics and molecular biology at the National Research Centre in Egypt, welcomed the launch of a Tunisian-African higher education cooperation strategy. “This strategy is a good start to enhance North Africa-Sub-Saharan Africa cooperation in higher education in order to promote student and staff exchange as well as facilitating knowledge and best practices transfer among universities across the African continent”, Abd-El-Aal said.
An IMF Fiscal Transparency Evaluation for Tunisia was published last week. It is based on the following understanding.
Fiscal transparency – the comprehensiveness, clarity, reliability, timeliness, and relevance of public reporting on the past, present, and future state of public finances – is critical for effective fiscal management and accountability. It helps ensure that governments have an accurate picture of their finances when making economic decisions, including of the costs and benefits of policy changes and potential risks to public finances. It also provides legislatures, markets, and citizens with the information they need to hold governments accountable.
The Fiscal Transparency Code and Evaluation are the key elements of the IMF’s ongoing efforts to strengthen fiscal surveillance, policymaking, and accountability among its member countries.
Here is this Evaluation as published on November 8, 2016.
The IMF has today published a Fiscal Transparency Evaluation (FTE) report for Tunisia, which was carried out at the request of the Government of Tunisia by a joint team from the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs and Statistics Departments that visited Tunis in November-December 2016. This report assesses Tunisia’s fiscal transparency practices based on the IMF’s Fiscal Transparency Code.
Tunisia has witnessed a profound transformation of its political institutions in the wake of the 2011 revolution, including a new Constitution that came into force on January 27, 2014. In this context, the authorities have launched several reforms with a view to modernizing public financial management and enhance the transparency of public finances. The establishment of a newly elected government in early 2015 also presents an opportunity to boost the reform agenda in this area.
The FTE—carried out by the IMF team, in close collaboration with key counterparts in the Ministry of Finance and other relevant government agencies—found that while Tunisia performs well against the Fiscal Transparency Code in some areas, improvements are needed in several other areas to bring country practices in line with international standards. Many indicators can be improved in the short term by consolidating and publishing information that are available but fragmented and also by publishing existing analyses that are prepared for internal management purposes.
The report recognizes several key strengths of fiscal transparency practices in Tunisia such as the centralized preparation of fiscal statistics in accordance with the Special Data Dissemination Standard; timely publication of monthly fiscal reports, with comparison between budget forecast and outturn, since 2014; annual reconciliation of budget outturn data with fiscal statistics and final accounts; a clear legal framework defining the time table for adoption of the budget and its key contents; and the use of a supplementary budget to authorize any material changes to the approved budget.
The evaluation also highlights the need to strengthen the government’s ongoing reform process including:
Expanding the coverage of fiscal reports to include the wider public sector and balance sheet information, with an initial emphasis on financial assets and liabilities;
Extending the horizon of fiscal and budgetary forecasts and explicitly stating and reporting on measurable medium-term fiscal policy objectives;
Disclosing financial forecasts of the social security funds in the budget documentation, including all direct and indirect support provided by the State;
Conducting an analysis of the sustainability of public finances in the longer term; and
Commencing the preparation of a fiscal risks statement that provides a consolidated view of all major risks to the public finances and associated mitigation measures.
The Tunisian authorities have welcomed the FTE report. The implementation of the reforms already planned by the authorities and recommended in this report, including publishing existing analyses that are prepared for internal management purposes, will result in a considerable improvement in fiscal transparency in Tunisia in the coming years.
Further information about the new IMF’s Fiscal Transparency Code and Evaluation can be found here.
Meanwhile, Tunisia Economic Outlook on October 31, 2016 as per FOCUSECONOMICS
In Q2, Tunisia’s economy expanded 1.4% from the same quarter of 2015. This was its best performance in more than a year and a solid improvement over Q1’s 1.0% growth, but still far from the strong figures posted before the Arab Spring. The austerity measures which the new unity government is pressing ahead with could further hamper economic growth in the short term in an environment characterized by high unemployment. In this regard, the 2017 budget bill, passed by the parliament early this month, envisages raising taxes, decreasing subsides and freezing public sector wages.
Sfax in Tunisia is to play host to an International Business Meetings on the Tunisian Olive Oil on November 9 through 11th . It is organised by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Sfax (CCIS) with the aim to promote worldwide the Tunisian olive oil in all its varieties. Tunisian Olive Oil International Sfax Meetings aim also at giving opportunities to establish links between Tunisian exporters, purchasing groups and world importers, through partnership meetings and other exhibitions on the region’s agricultural capabilities.
Trade and exports are ultimately at the base of these three-days’ international meetings that are meant to like elsewhere in the Mediterranean to revitalize the now fashionable ‘Med Diet’.
According to the World Bank and , five years after the Revolution, Tunisia’s economic performance remains weak, with growth too low to make a significant dent on unemployment, poverty and inequality amid widening fiscal and current account deficits. The country is presently relying on agricultural development, performance of which made a commendable effort in 2015, as driven by outstanding production notably in olive oil exports that generated €917.2m. This combined with falling oil prices helped reduce the trade deficit from €6.3bn of 2014 to €550.3m in 2015.
(TAP) – The 1st Sfax international olive oil business meetings, organised by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with support from the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Programme kicked off Wednesday
In addition to official representatives of four foreign embassies in Tunisia (China, Turkey, Spain and South Africa), the event saw a significant participation of importers and purchasing groups from 11 countries.
Foreign importers participating in this event come from countries that are promising markets for Tunisian olive oil (Russia, Canada, United States, Great Britain, Brazil, Thailand, South Africa, India, Portugal and France).
Speaking at the opening of the event, President of the Sfax Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ridha Fourati, highlighted the good reputation of Tunisian olive oil in the international business spheres, outlining the programmes initiated by the Chamber to enhance this product and prospect new markets.
Mohamed Namli, CEO of an import / export company based in Russia, said in a statement to TAP correspondent, on the sidelines of the event, that Russia is a promising market for Tunisian olive oil, which enjoys great interest on the part of Russian consumers.
He also predicted an increase in Tunisian exports, especially those of olive oil, dates, fruits and vegetables, and seafood, to the Russian market after the opening of a new shipping line linking the ports of Sfax and Novorossiysk (Russia).
He also said that this line, which has been operating for a week, has allowed exporters to reduce the time needed to transport goods to Russia and to avoid passing through Genoa.
US agricultural expert Paul Miller considered that Tunisia has developed important traditions in the production of extra virgin olive oil, which is highly appreciated in such countries as China, the United States, Japan, Australia, Germany, for its curative properties, its quality and its taste.
He also stressed the importance of valorising the Tunisian olive oil and ensuring its compliance with international standards, noting that the chosen orientation of developing organic oil is a good choice that must be consolidated.
For his part, Omar Béhi, Secretary of State for Agricultural Production raised problems related to the variability of olive oil production which generates a variability in the export of olive oil.
He stressed the need to redouble efforts to improve the yield and quality and valorise this product, by developing, in particular, the packaging of olive oil, which remains below expectations.
In this connection, he said the government is working to regenerate olive groves and develop their yield through the planting of 10 million olive trees, in addition to the measures and incentives provided for in the new law and which will further stabilize olive oil production.
The Secretary of State also recalled the importance of the Tunisian olive sector which has 80 thousand olive trees, making Tunisia the second largest producer of olive oil after Spain, with exports accounting for 44% of exports which in turn account for 70% of agricultural production.
Chokri Bayoudh, CEO of the National Oil Board (ONH), said Tunisia’s olive oil sector could take advantage of opportunities to achieve a qualitative leap in production and export, which would make it a sector with a knock-on effect on the national economy and social development.
The event saw a large professional exhibition of olive products, representing the different stages of olive production, from collection to export, through processing, packaging and valorisation.
27 Tunisian companies operating in the olive sector participated in this exhibition. They will have the exclusive right to participate in partnerships planned with importers and foreign purchasing groups participating in this event.
Is Tunisia heading toward a ‘thirst uprising’? Asked Perrine Massy in her article posted on Al Monitor of September 16th, 2016. The question seems to date not to get any answer soon in view of the plethora of recent articles on the subject. We reproduce here an interesting one of Today with the AFP whom perhaps on a rebound on events of 2011, does appear to cover every sign of however insignificance of contestation from the Tunisian people. In any case, would Tunisia’s ‘thirst uprising’ warning take any water now that the rainy season is in sight?
Tunis skyline by Reuters Posted on The Peninsula of Qatar
In AFRICA September 19th, 2016 with Agence France-Presse
Activists are warning of a potential “thirst uprising” in Tunisia following protests over severe water shortages after one of the North African nation’s driest summers on record.
Residents in the interior are suffering long water supply cuts, reservoirs are running dry and farmers are seeing significant losses, adding to social tensions in a country still struggling with instability since its 2011 revolution.
The Tunisian citizens’ water observatory, known as Watchwater, warned last month the country could face a “thirst uprising” reminiscent of the protest movement that spread across Tunisia nearly six years ago.
“The failure to find urgent and serious solutions will increase protests across the country,” it said.
Water scarcity has long been a problem for Tunisia, but in recent years the challenge has been exacerbated by growing urbanisation and increasing demand from agriculture and industry.
This year has seen the country particularly hard-hit, with rainfall — Tunisia’s main water source — down by some 30 percent, the state secretary for water resources and fishing, Abdallah Rabhi, told AFP.
In August, the agriculture ministry warned Tunisia would be facing a “catastrophic” situation if it did not rain by the end of the summer. The few rainstorms since have not been enough to replenish groundwater reserves or reservoirs.
Agricultural losses for this year have already reached nearly two billion dinars ($900 million/800 million euros), according to the Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fisheries.
The ministry of religious affairs has even called on the people to “pray for rain”.
Since mid-May, the authorities have announced more than 700 water supply cuts. Officially they last from several hours to three days, but Alaa Marzouki of Watchwater said that in some regions the cuts have lasted nearly a month.
Protests have erupted in several affected areas, with the water shortages adding to the frustrations of many residents who feel their concerns are being ignored by authorities in Tunis.
At one demonstration in the northwestern town of Fernana earlier this month, protesters gathered at a local pumping station and threatened to disrupt supplies to the capital, according to local media reports.
“Economic protests resembling those that sparked the 2010 Jasmine Revolution are spreading throughout Tunisia and may grow into nationwide civil unrest,” the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute warned in a report this month.
In the southwestern Gafsa region, local farmer Mabrouk said frustration was growing.
“We are suffering,” said Mabrouk, who declined to give his last name.
“We had to buy a water tank for 30 dinars for what we use and what our animals use. We’ve sent requests to the government but they remain unanswered. All we can do is wait for rain, God willing.”
Tunisia has some 30 dams and reservoirs that provide irrigation of agricultural land and drinking water, but by the end of August their reserves were less than 40 percent of what they were at the same time last year, Rabhi said.
– ‘Very dangerous situation’ –
Some, like the Nabhana reservoir in central Tunisia, are completely dry.
At the Sidi Salem dam near Beja in northern Tunisia, reserves are about half what they were last year.
“You have to go back to 1993-1994 to find such a level,” said the dam’s manager, Cherif Gasmi.
“If rain does not come by the end of September… we will have to tap the dam’s strategic reserves and that’s a very dangerous situation,” he said.
Groundwater levels in areas without dams have also fallen, in some cases by 25 percent, said Mohamed Dahech, the CEO of SONEDE, the national water supply authority.
With consumption increasing by an average of four percent a year, SONEDE has urged Tunisians to use less water.
But Marzouki of Watchwater said more needed to be done.
“The state has not put in place the necessary strategies,” he said, pointing in particular to decrepit water pipelines that leak 10 to 30 percent of supplies.
SONEDE’s Dahech said a major issue is unpaid bills, which have reached the equivalent of some 60 million euros so far this year.
The government has promised a raft of measures, including unblocking several dam projects and the construction of three desalination plants in the south.
A piece in University World News dated 12 February 2016, (Issue No. 400) reported that in Bloomberg’s index, the North African countries of Tunisia and Morocco are in the top 50 for innovation and are ranked as the 46th and 48th.
Bloomberg released its Innovation Index on 19 January, drawing on data from the International Monetary Fund, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the World Bank, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the OECD and UNESCO. According to UWN, “the ranking began with more than 200 countries. Those that did not report data for at least six of seven categories measured were eliminated, trimming the list to 84. Bloomberg released overall and category scores for the top 50 innovative economies.
Bloomberg based its methodology on seven criteria including tertiary efficiency, spending on research and development, researcher concentration and patent activity along with manufacturing value-added, productivity and high-tech density. The tertiary efficiency measure includes factors such as enrolment in higher education and the number of graduates in key innovation sectors like engineering and science. In Africa, Tunisia took the highest grade in tertiary efficiency at 30, but ranked worst in patent activity at 50 and ranked 45 in research and development intensity.
Morocco was number 46 in tertiary efficiency, 48 in patent activity and 47 in researcher concentration, which counts the number of doctoral students engaged in research. Besides Tunisia and Morocco, in the Middle East and North Africa region only Israel (11) and Turkey (36) made it into the world’s top 50 most innovative economies. In the top 10 were South Korea followed by Germany, Sweden, Japan, Switzerland, Singapore, Finland, the United States, Denmark and France. “The standings reflect the North-beats-South tale of the global economy: Africa, with No 46 Tunisia and No 48 Morocco, and Latin America with Argentina at No 49, are scarcely represented on the top 50 list. Six of the top 10 economies hail from Europe, and three from Asia,” said the Bloomberg report.
With reference to Sub-Saharan Africa, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016, published last September, indicated that the region’s economies remained largely non-competitive. The study found the 10 most competitive economies in Sub-Saharan Africa to be Mauritius (46), South Africa (49), Rwanda (58), Botswana (71), Namibia (65), Cote d’Ivoire (91), Zambia (96), Seychelles (97), Kenya (99) and Gabon (103). The Global Competitiveness Report indicated that to move further up the development ladder, Sub-Saharan Africa particularly needed to improve the quality of higher education, the rate at which it adopts new technologies and the capacity to nurture innovation.”