At a glance
One of the most pressing challenges that Tunisia faces is the high level of unemployment that has persisted for two decades, especially among youth and women. In recent years, the labor market has not been capable to provide a sufficient number of jobs to satisfy the relatively large supply of young people entering the labour market every year.
The digital economy could play an important role in meeting this challenge in the future. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INS), the ICT sector accounts for around 11% of Tunisia’s gross domestic product as of 2019, making it already a mainstay of the Tunisian economy.
With the national strategic plan “Tunisie Digitale 2020” of the Ministry of Communication Technologies as well as the Start-up Act recently adopted by parliament, the country has already set itself concrete goals for the promotion of the digital economy and the leveraging of its employment potential. The strategy aims to increase the IT sector’s contribution to economic output, creating 25,000 additional jobs annually. It also aims to increase exports from the IT sector fivefold, establishing Tunisia as a leading international location for IT services.
Tunisia is currently developing a new digital strategy. In the long term, the country strives to become a digital port for Africa (landing of submarine cables in Bizerte), a data storage facility for Europe (construction of Africa’s largest server farm), a location for offshoring investments by European companies and a pioneer for 5G technologies.
Currently, however, there are still many challenges to overcome, especially in the area of education. A central problem for companies in the digital economy in Tunisia is, on the one hand, to retain well-educated personnel and, on the other hand, to build up the lack of practical experience of university graduates that is relevant to the labour market. Due to a lack of equal opportunities, it is particularly difficult for women to enter the digital economy.
The problems outlined with regard to employment, vocational training and economic growth reflect the findings of the Tunisian government’s 2019 voluntary progress report on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and are addressed in the goals of the national implementation strategy for the 2030 Agenda, the Plan Stratégique de Développement 2016-2020 in the areas of economic development, employment and inclusion.
The Digital Transformation Center Tunisia addresses the above-mentioned challenges in the areas of training and job promotion and supports the Tunisian government in implementing digital reforms. It also cooperates with Make-IT and Orange’s public-private partnership project. In addition, the Digital Transformation Center also focuses on facilitating investment, building a start-up ecosystem, promoting innovation in the public sector, and addressing the areas of digital health and e-payment.
Launched in 2019, the Digital Transformation Center is currently known as “The DOT” since its merger with a project of Expertise France in June 2021. Inaugurated by the Tunisian Prime Minister, the “DOT” has also given a “physical home” to the Digital Transformation Center, offering services such as the AI Hub, the Industry 4.0 Hub, the GSMA Mobile Solution Hub or the Dot Landing project.
The Digital Transformation Center Tunisia can already look back on a number of success stories in its history and is one of the flagships of German digital development cooperation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, it provided individual support to 54 Tunisian export companies in order to maintain export activities even during the crisis. The companies were accompanied by qualified consultants who identified market access opportunities and created export- and specific marketing plans for each company.
Moreover, at the beginning of the pandemic, face masks were produced in 3D printers in cooperation with the Digital Transformatin Center Iraq. The Center Tunisia, together with 8 other countries, also succeeded in advising the country on the procurement of a telemedicine system.