Tunisian Revolution: AfDB Brief on Economic Outlook

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Tunis, April 11, 2011 – Tunisia is a longstanding partner of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and, as the Bank’s client, ranks second after Morocco. The Bank’s North Africa Operations department and the development research department, have just published a Brief on Tunisia’s economic challenges and prospects in the aftermath of the revolution, at a time when the country’s transitional government announced its plan for economic recovery. in order to back the institution’s assistance strategy in Tunisia.

This publication, intended to inform the Bank’s assistance strategy in Tunisia, reviews the major development challenges that were part of the drivers of revolution and still persist. These include unemployment rate among young graduates, regional disparities, governance and business climate. These challenges are further amplified by the impacts of the revolution on an economy already weakened by the financial crisis through lower tourism revenues, suspension of investments, weakening of the banking system and rising unemployment.

All these factors were taken into account to set up three economic scenarios covering the next two years. The publication showcases 2011 growth forecasts for the Tunisian economy ranging from 3.6 to -2.5% from the most optimistic to the worst-case scenario. The Brief provides detailed macro-economic indicators for the three scenarios proposed.

Tunisia’s recent political events took place at a very swift pace. Today the political and social situation appears to have settled down with the start of the democratic transition process. The AfDB Brief states in conclusion that: "the two months following the departure of Ben Ali call for cautions optimism, and longer term benefits of the revolution could be more important, in terms of economic growth, equity and social cohesion”.

The next months will be critical in determining whether Tunisia achieves sufficient progress. To do so, the country needs concerted and rapid support from major development partners. Since the former regime was overthrown last January, the AfDB, through its president, Donald Kaberuka, has continually stated the Bank’s willingness to support the transitional authorities and the Tunisian people in priority reforms decided upon. Project and operation financing in Tunisia for 2011 could reach up to one billion dollars.

A discussion will be organized by the end of April between Bank experts and the country’s various economic stakeholders on the main economic challenges.