Tunisian national monument on the Place de la Kasbah in Tunis

Tunisia A country in transition

What has become known as the Arab Spring began in Tunisia in 2010/2011. Political power struggles, increasing autocratisation and the fact that in economic and social terms things are not changing for the better for the population have so far prevented democracy from being established more firmly in Tunisia. Tunisia’s process of transformation has reached a turning point.

Straight to
Passers-by in the bazaar of Tunis

The country – which was long regarded as a beacon of hope in Northern Africa – has to contend with political instability, social inequalities and a severe economic crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a serious economic downturn (8.8 per cent) in 2020 and highlighted the fact that much needed structural reforms had been delayed.

Power struggles within the government, frequent changes of government, a fragmented party political landscape and widespread corruption have all played a part in stalling the reform process. The living conditions of ordinary Tunisians have barely improved since the political changes that took place ten years ago. The hoped for “democracy dividend” did not materialise. Discontent over this finds expression in frequent strikes and sometimes violent protests.

In late July 2021, President Kais Saied took over the running of the government and dissolved parliament. The democratisation process was disrupted; in late July 2022 a new constitution was established by referendum, weakening the division of powers even more and increasing the concentration of power in the hands of President Saied. Now the time has come to safeguard the democratic achievements made so far and place the country on a solid basis in both economic and financial policy terms.

German development cooperation with Tunisia

Germany has a vested interest in seeing a region that is so close to Europe become stable again. Tunisia is an important strategic partner in realising that goal. In view of the political developments, the BMZ will not continue the reform partnership with Tunisia. In addition, the option of refocusing the development policy portfolio to continuously move towards operating at grassroots level is being examined so as to align measures even more with the basic needs of the people in Tunisia.

Cooperation in four core areas

The focus of development cooperation with Tunisia is currently on the following four core areas:

  • Sustainable economic development, training and employment | Areas of intervention: technical and vocational education and training, private sector and financial sector development
  • Peaceful and inclusive societies | Area of intervention: good governance
  • Climate and energy, just transition | Area of intervention: renewable energy and energy efficiency
  • Conserving nature and natural resources, protecting life on Earth | Area of intervention: water

The overarching objective of the development cooperation activities is to improve people's general opportunities in life by promoting employment opportunities, technologies of the future and basic services. Projects in these areas are being promoted especially in structurally weak regions further inland, in order to create opportunities for people there and thus prevent irregular migration. In addition, and in line with its feminist development policy strategy, the BMZ will increase its efforts to actively promote gender equality and safeguard and strengthen the vital role women play in Tunisia.

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

Core area “Sustainable economic development, training and employment” Improving the job prospects for young people 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.

Core area “Peaceful and inclusive societies” Responsive services for the people Internal link

Germany is supporting the Tunisian government in its efforts to lessen red tape, make administrative procedures more efficient and transparent, and strengthen responsible financial management.

Wind turbines in El Alia, Tunisia

Core area “Climate and energy, just transition” Promoting renewable energies, launching an energy transition Internal link

Tunisia has set itself the ambitious goal of generating about a third of its energy demand from renewable sources by the year 2030. Currently, the country’s energy production is almost exclusively derived from fossil fuels, mainly imported from abroad.

Olive harvest near Kairouan, Tunisia

Core area “Conserving nature and natural resources, protecting life on Earth” Threat of water shortages Internal link

In many regions in the interior of Tunisia, people's livelihoods are under threat because of the increasing shortage of water. At the same time, demand is constantly increasing, especially in the country's irrigation-intensive agriculture.

Current situation

Passers-by in the bazaar of Tunis
Counter of a café in Tunisia
Employee in a call center in Tunis

As at: 28/03/2023