Posted by: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Five economic sectors related to building and public works, information and communication technologies (ICT), higher education, health and agriculture will be discussed at debates during the African Economic Forum that will be held on April 24-25 in Tunis, forum’s Chief Commissioner Radhi Meddeb indicated.

These sectors were chosen according the major needs of the African market and its demands is so far as Africa is a young continent with 1.3 billion inhabitants including 700 million youths.

In addition, Tunisia has defined itself in these sectors and has internationally recognised means, experience, skills and competitive advantages that help the country export these sectors towards Africa, he pointed out during a press conference held in Tuesday in Tunis.

Meddeb further revealed that the organisation of this forum is an official announcement of Tunisia’s strategy to conquer the African market that has an average growth rate of over 7%.

“However, the private sector did not wait for the implementation of its strategy that remains incomplete despite efforts made by the government in this matter,” he indicated.

In this respect he added that “the private sector that has advanced the public sector in conquering the African market is nonetheless in need of overcoming some obstacles halting its competitiveness, notably through strengthening logistics and inking double taxation agreements between Tunisia and African countries.”

“Conquering the African market is part of the diversification of market, partnership and retail destinations; however it cannot replace Tunisia’s relation with Europe that dates back to centuries. Africa with its 54 states does not represent an economic power of a single European state such as France. In fact, Africa’s economy represents 2/3 of France’s economy, he pointed out.

Meddeb further indicated that “Tunisia’s relations with Europe are the strongest worldwide at all levels with commercial transactions representing 80% of the country’s exchanges with the rest of the world.”

In turn, Trade Minister Omar El Behi revealed that the forum is a component of the State’s strategy to orient towards the African market which is the bridge of the global growth during the upcoming years.

Tunisia’s goal is to edge up Tunisian-African commercial transactions, currently at 6 billion dinars, by 3 billion dinars by 2020, he added.

“Tunisia’s commercial transactions towards Sub-Saharan countries are less than 2%, representing a low value of 850 million dinars,” he added.

This forum, which will be an annual event, will be marked by a strong presence of the private sector with 38 states and 200 senior African officials and 800 participants (experts, businessmen…), according to the organisers.

The minister further recalled the achievements of the government to promote trade towards the African market, quoting in this respect Tunisia’s adhesion in July to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the upcoming opening of a maritime line towards Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Benin as well as measures taken during the High Exports Council by granting preferential bonuses to exports towards the African market (premium for air and sea transport, export operation and export insurance…)

Five workshops that will gather representatives of the public and private sectors are on this forum’s agenda.

This event will be held by the Trade Ministry, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), the German Agency for International Co-operation (GIZ) and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC).