The construction sector in Tunisia is at the beginning of what may prove to be a long-lasting recovery. In the aftermath of the 2011 revolution, contractors saw a slowdown in activity as a result of lower public investment levels, sluggish growth in the property sector and broader macroeconomic instability. However, an increase in donor-backed transport infrastructure projects and the recent announcement of Tunisia 2020 – a $60bn all-encompassing capital development programme – is painting a more optimistic picture. Although activity has been subdued in recent years, Tunisia’s construction sector is poised to rebound, with growth forecast to reach 1.54% in real terms in the 2016-20 period. Driven by fast-paced urbanisation and strong population growth, the Tunisian housing sector has expanded rapidly over the past decade. While the government continues to have a strong presence, the private sector has become the largest source of residential and non-residential development. Albeit one of the most solid in the region, Tunisia’s housing market has nonetheless been grappling with several challenges in recent years, including rising costs, land and labour shortages, and administrative bottlenecks. With construction costs outstripping property price ceilings for social housing units, most developers are catering to the mid- to higher-range segments. However, authorities are keen to re-energise the social housing segment with the introduction of new tenders.
This, in addition to the implementation of the Tunisia 2020 strategy, which prioritises the sector, could see an increase in activity in the country’s real estate sector in 2017. This chapter contains an interview with Ahmed Bouzguenda, General Manager, Société Bouzguenda Frères.