Tunisian national monument on the Place de la Kasbah in Tunis

Tunisia Country in transition

Tunisia is a beacon of hope in Northern Africa in political terms and after a long period of dictatorship is now peacefully transitioning into a state based on the rule of law. Despite some political and social tensions, the way democracy is developing in Tunisia is considered exemplary.

Political renewal

In 2010/2011 mass protests all across Tunisia started what has become known as the Arab Spring. The revolution enabled the country to make a new beginning.

The first free and democratic presidential elections in Tunisia in 2014 were won by Beji Caid Essebsi, the founder of the big tent secular conservative party Nidaa Tounes ("Tunisia's call"). Following his death in July 2019, a large majority of Tunisians voted for the independent constitutional lawyer Kaïs Saïed who was elected new head of state in the presidential elections in October 2019.

In the parliamentary elections held the same month, the Ennahda party became the strongest force by winning 24 per cent of the vote. The populist party Qalb Tounes ("Heart of Tunisia") of media magnate Nabil Karoui came second, securing 17.5 per cent. Expectations are that the new government will be formed in the first quarter of 2020.

German development cooperation with Tunisia

Germany has a vested interest in seeing a region that is so close to Europe become stable again; democratic Tunisia is a strategically important partner in this. That is why the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) significantly increased its support for Tunisia following the latter's political turnaround.

Development cooperation activities focus on sustainable economic development, administrative reform and decentralisation, and water. The BMZ and Tunisia are also cooperating in the critical field of renewable energies.

The centrepiece of Germany's involvement in Tunisia is the reform partnership under the Marshall Plan with Africa. The partnership was concluded in 2017 and is a bilateral contribution to the G20 Compact with Africa initiative; it provides support for reforms in the financial and banking sector; in 2020 support was extended to cover public administration as well.

Passers-by in the bazaar of Tunis

Becoming a state governed by the rule of law Internal link

The revolution in January 2011 offered Tunisia the opportunity to become a democratic country governed by the rule of law. Important steps in this direction have already been taken.

Counter of a café in Tunisia

Unequal distri­bution of wealth and high levels of un­emplo­yment Internal link

The living conditions of Tunisians have measurably improved in the last few decades. These developments notwithstanding, the wealth that has been achieved so far is unevenly distributed.

Employee in a call center in Tunis

High dependency on Europe Internal link

Tunisia is a middle-income country with a fairly well diversified economy. Around sixty per cent of the country's gross domestic product are accounted for by the services sector, and more than twenty per cent by industry.

Tram stop in Tunis

Tram stop in Tunis

Tram stop in Tunis

German development cooperation with Tunisia

Germany and Tunisia have engaged in development cooperation since the 1960s. After the revolution in Tunisia, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) raised its funding for the country considerably, in order to support the process of peaceful transformation. In 2019, the BMZ newly committed a total of 294.8 million euros, with 139.4 million euros of that amount being allocated under the reform partnership.

The BMZ is systematically calling for the implementation of reforms in Tunisia. Cooperation focuses on the following priority areas:

  • sustainable economic development
  • administrative reform and decentralisation
  • water

The BMZ is also providing support for the expansion of renewable energies and for increasing energy efficiency, for instance by offering advice on transforming the energy system, by upskilling staff and providing financial contributions for the construction of photovoltaic and wind power stations.

Employment promotion is a topic that is mainstreamed across all development activities. Projects in these areas are being promoted especially in structurally weak regions further inland, in order to create opportunities for people there and reduce the pressure to migrate.

In addition, Tunisia is also benefitting from the BMZ's special initiative for stability and development in the MENA region.

The reform partnership

The reform partnership that was agreed with Tunisia under the G20 Compact with Africa initiative in 2017 was expanded in 2019. Increased support will go not only to the banking and financial sector, but will also be provided for the modernisation of the administration.

Interventions under the reform partnership in the banking and financial sector are already bearing fruit. With assistance from Germany, for instance, Tunisia has set up an investment agency and passed a basic law for increased transparency in the public budget. After reform steps had been successfully implemented, Germany pledged a loan in 2019 to fund the new bank "Banque des Régions" that will support small and medium-sized companies.

An apprentice in the GIZ training container in Tunis, where craftsmen are trained

Creating opportunities Internal link

Given Tunisia's high unemployment rate among young people, it is particularly important to create jobs and thus give the young people prospects for the future. Until now, a shortage of training opportunities, a lack of access to financial services and excessive bureaucracy have been acting as a curb on entrepreneurial activities.

A man sells flowers to a passer-by in the old town of Tunis.

Greater political participation Internal link

The constitution adopted in 2014 envisages the restructuring of administrative authorities at the regional and municipal level in Tunisia and a transfer of responsibilities to lower administrative tiers. The BMZ is supporting selected cities and municipalities in fulfilling their new tasks with a view to enabling the delivery of services that are more reliable, more transparent and more responsive to people's needs, and with the aim of ensuring greater political participation.

Olive harvest near Kairouan, Tunisia

Shortage of water is a threat to livelihoods Internal link

A basic prerequisite for peaceful political and social change in Tunisia is the noticeable improvement of living conditions. Increasing water scarcity poses a challenge in this respect. Drinking water is scarce in Tunisia. At the same time, demand is constantly increasing, especially in the country's irrigation-intensive agriculture. The situation is further aggravated by climate change. Tunisia is experiencing higher temperatures in summer and declining rainfalls.

Two women cut a cotton fabric in a textile factory in Bizerte.

Two women cut a cotton fabric in a textile factory in Bizerte.

Two women cut a cotton fabric in a textile factory in Bizerte.