Tunisia to receive €450 million from EIB

The European Investment Bank (EIB) pledged a significant financial boost to Tunisia on Tuesday, unveiling a €450 million ($480 million) aid package.

This “new financial support” targets economic development and infrastructure projects, aiming to alleviate the ongoing crisis in the North African nation.

The EIB, the investment arm of the European Union, specified that the funds will be directed towards “high-impact projects” benefitting the Tunisian population.

The financing agreement will be formalized during the upcoming Tunisia Investment Forum held in Tunis on Wednesday and Thursday. EIB’s vice-president for the Maghreb region, Ioannis Tsakiris, will be present at the forum.

“This crucial investment will play a key role in job creation, fostering innovation, and promoting balanced development across Tunisia,” stated Tsakiris.

A significant portion of the funding, €170 million, will be allocated as a credit line for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These businesses form the backbone of the Tunisian economy, accounting for 90% of all businesses and employing 60% of the workforce, according to the EIB.

Furthermore, €210 million is earmarked for developing a strategic route connecting Sfax, Tunisia’s second-largest city, with the underserved western region of Kasserine. Additionally, a €45 million loan will be granted to finance the ELMED electricity linkage project between Tunisia and Italy.

Tunisia is currently grappling with a severe economic crisis, with national debt reaching 80% of GDP and rising unemployment and poverty rates. The political situation has further strained the economy, following President Kais Saied’s consolidation of power in July 2021. Negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a $2 billion loan remain stalled due to Saied’s rejection of their proposed reforms. The dire economic situation has driven many Tunisians to undertake perilous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better life in Europe.

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