This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Tunisia’s 2016-2020 development plan, announced to international investors and donors at Tunisia’s November 2016 investment conference, included calls for development of Tunisia’s infrastructure, particularly in the country’s west and south-central region. Following the conference, the GOT announced the signature of about $6.5 billion of committed funding for many large infrastructure projects and $8.5 billion in additional pledges. Moreover, in September 2018, Tunisia presented to investors a list of 33 public-private partnership (PPP) projects, which included major construction projects in four sectors: 1) transportation and logistics; 2) energy, water, and environment; 3) infrastructure and urban development; and 4) science and technology. Since then, only a few projects have progressed.
U.S. vendors of heavy equipment and technology may find potential business in construction projects of hospitals, highways, port terminals, and bridges being executed by Tunisian or foreign contractors. Partnering with Tunisian enterprises is vital for extended involvement in this sector.
U.S. companies could become involved with major infrastructure projects through the provision of engineering services, design, heavy equipment, new technology, highly specialized building materials, and safety and security systems. Italian and Turkish companies are already closely linked with Tunisian construction firms. Likewise, major Chinese firms have expressed interest in Tunisia’s PPP opportunities.
Major transportation construction projects and financing sources were announced in 2016. These include a 188-kilometer toll highway that links the capital of Tunis with the towns of Kairouan, Sidi Bouzid, Kasserine, and Gafsa (a tender related to the Tunis-Kairouan portion was launched in 2021 and the start of construction works is scheduled for July 2022). The project received $520 million worth of financing from the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development and the European Investment Bank.
A 239-kilometer railway upgrade between Tunis and the city of Kasserine received $112 million in financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and a 2-kilometer suspension bridge in the city of Bizerte received $260 million in funding from the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank. The bridge project’s tender is still in progress.
Construction of two multidiciplinary hospitals in Beja and Gabes, a cancer hospital in Tunis, a children’s hospital in Manouba, and eight other regional hospitals is scheduled to start in 2022 after receieving financing from the Islamic Development Bank, the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development, and the Saudi Fund for Development. Tunisian companies will manage the project construction. There are plans to utilize some U.S.-manufactured heavy equipment, such as Caterpillar earth-movers.
One of Tunisia’s largest recent development projects is the deep-water port in Enfidha (central Tunisia). The pre-revolution government designated a 3,000-hectare area a future industrial zone and hoped to transform the region into an international logistical transportation hub served by Tunisia’s highway and railroad systems. Initial feasibility studies were carried out on developing the port, through a project worth over $1 billion, to achieve a total capacity of 4.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) per year. The first phase of the project was expected to be completed by 2024, with an initial capacity of 1 million TEU. However, tender delays will likely result in a later completion date. The port site itself will necessitate extensive dredging, and its location on wetlands could require Ministry of Environment involvement.
The Tunisian Port Authority (Office de la Marine Marchande et des Ports, or OMMP) is also planning to expand the capacity of the main country’s commercial port in Rades as well as adding an adjacent logistics zone. Creation of a dedicated container terminal, construction of two new quays at the port and investments in improved port managementare also planned, pending signing and entry into force of a U.S.-funded Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact. Compact procurement and investment opportunities would be open to U.S. companies.
After years of delays, Gulf Financial House (GFH) confirmed that it still plans to build the Tunis Financial Harbor project in the northern suburbs of Tunis. In 2014, GFH and the GOT signed an agreement to allow GFH to proceed with construction. Once completed, it would be North Africa’s first “offshore” financial center. The project, which was rebranded the Tunis Bay project, is slated to include business and banking services, a “takaful” (a form of insurance that complies with the principles of Islamic law) insurance center, a business school, and residential units. Construction started in 2017 in partnership with the French-Tunisian real estate and tourism company, the Alliance Group. The first phase of the project, named Tunis Bay Golf Residence, which includes a golf course and several residences was completed in July 2021. The second phase will include more residential space and a 100,000-square-meter shopping center is expected to be finished by the end of 2022.
In March 2022, Emirati group Bukhatir announced the resumption of its $5 billion Tunis Sport City project in the northern suburbs of Tunis, initially planned for 2008 and delayed due to financial and political constraints. The project will be carried out in three stages: the first should be completed by 2026 and includes the construction of a golf course, four training sports academies, and a residential area. The second phase would be a business district with expected completion by 2028. The third phase will include six hotels and a shopping center, among other projects, and is expected to be completed by 2031.