Interview: Jamel Ksibi
What is being done to modernise the framework governing the construction sector?
JAMEL KSIBI: We are currently witnessing a decrease in terms of public investment, as there is a significant lack of cash flow within the sector. This lack of liquidity is also affecting ongoing projects as it becomes challenging to finance activity, resulting in major delays in delivery.
There is also much to be done in terms of increasing the efficiency of the institutional framework for public procurement. Although we have made good progress on matters of transparency, the public procurement code has not yet been applied in its entirety. Public procurement is part of the negotiations around the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area agreement, so we need to bring it up to speed.
There are also several bureaucratic obstacles to investment in the country’s quarries, including those containing marble. Current administrative regulations prevent almost any kind of investment in this segment, despite its high potential, so we must prioritise this point. We need to set clear goals to install at least 100 quarries by 2022 – 30 for marble and 70 for gravel.
Also, we must modernise the specifications to be able to use the best materials available. Tunisia has one of the world’s largest reserves of gypsum; however, there is no legislation mandating the use of this material even though it is a non-energy consuming product and could boost the local economy. Lastly, the current tender regulations have hindered the development of the construction sector, and improving related attribution processes in public projects is essential.
How can the shortage of human resources in the construction industry be addressed?
KSIBI: There is a lack of trained people who know how to use cranes and hydraulic machinery, for example. Our training centres are not adequate; the buildings exist but the programmes are not consistent with our equipment and we do not have the necessary teachers because of low salaries. For the less attractive jobs, such as masonry, reinforcing iron and so on, we must change the structure of the training and move part of it on-site, alternating it with in-centre training. The second component is the general lack of workers overall because young people are no longer attracted to these manual jobs as they are taught that it is better to work in an office. Therefore, it is mandatory to change the mindset of the youth and show them the benefits of working in the construction industry.
Which areas are best prepared for development?
KSIBI: Tunisia’s construction sector currently accounts for 7% of GDP, compared to 14% on a global scale and 30% in the best-performing countries. In order to revitalise the industry, the focus must be on developing social housing. It is necessary to strike the right balance between supply and demand by taking into account financing means and the availability of land.
We also need to liberalise the real estate sector at a certain level so that foreigners can buy land without authorisation. There is untapped demand from neighbouring and Western countries. Tunisia can attract a new range of residents, such as retired people who are looking for a place to settle, and consequent purchasing power comparable to Europe.
Public-private partnerships are also a great opportunity for Tunisia. There are significant traffic delays at many points throughout the country, starting at car parks; parking projects could be an interesting public-private partnership. We could also allocate the state-owned land in the city centres to be developed by big real estate projects. And lastly, we need to modernise the transportation sector, from ports and logistics zones to roads and public transport. It is necessary to create new transversal axes, mainly east-west to connect the cities in the interior of the country, and now that the north-south highway will soon be completed, we need to connect it to Algeria.
Read More from OBG
Focus Report: Investment opportunities in African economic zones
Economic zones in Africa have had a significant impact on trade volumes across the continent, as well as on job creation and foreign direct investment inflows.
Looking skyward: Flagship development project adopts a new approach to urban design to create a future-focused economy
The country is undertaking one of its most extensive construction projects to date, which is expected to transform the Kingdom’s north-west and set a benchmark for the future of smart city development worldwide. Located in Tabuk province, close to the Jordanian and Egyptian borders, NEOM will span the Red Sea coast with mountains, deserts and plains, and aims to use smart city technologies to achieve sustainable living and zero carbon emissions. Groundbreaking began in October 2021 and is sche…
Tirer parti de la richesse souveraine de Djibouti pour stimuler le développement économique
In English Harry van Schaick, Directeur Éditorial - Afrique d'Oxford Business Group, s'entretient avec Slim Feriani, PDG du Fonds souverain de Djibouti (FSD), sur le climat d'investissement du pays, l'amélioration de la gouvernance et la Vision 2035. Djibouti s'attelle à diversifier son économie dans tous les secteurs, y compris le transport maritime, le tourisme, les services financiers et l'économie numérique, grâce à l'utilisation d'un modèle de type PPP avec d…
“High-Level Discussions are Under Way to Identify How We Can Restructure Funding For Health Care Services”
Popular Sectors in Tunisia
Popular Countries in Construction
Recent Reports in Tunisia