Tunisia's March towards Technology: The 12th Carthage Forum, Held in June, Attracted More Than 1,300 Participants from over 30 Countries around the Globe, Presenting Its Hosts with an Ideal Opportunity to Showcase Tunisia's Competitive Advantages to Foreign Business
Lancaster, Pat, The Middle East
THE ANNUAL CARTHAGE INVESTMENT FORUM has proved itself an important fixture in the business opportunities calendar and those who gathered in Carthage for the 12th event in June were not disappointed.
The Forum was launched in 1999 as a forum for local and foreign private operators to discuss trends in international investment in general and those relating to the prevailing business climate in Tunisia in particular.
Over the intervening years, the meetings have increased in maturity and credibility. A selection of themes selected over the past five years have given new focus to meetings and panel discussions, allowing Tunisia a strong platform to display its abilities.
The effects of global downturn that began to be apparent in 2008 have shown the capacity of Tunisia to face external shocks, as well as its willingness to maintain and boost investment. "International business is actively researching new destinations for their operations; the global crisis forced this on us," an Italian participant told The Middle East. "Obviously there are a number of factors to be considered, including availability and costs of trained labour, geographical positioning, ease of communications and transport logistics and not least, government incentives. Frankly, Tunisia is ticking all the boxes."
This year, the Carthage Forum took 'Moving towards Technology' as its theme. After the opening ceremony and the award of a number of prizes to foreign firms successfully operating in the country, the intense two-day programme of discussions was launched by Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, supported by a high-level delegation of government ministers and other decision makers.
The promotion of technology as a vehicle for human development in Tunisia is 100% consistent with the government's desire to promote an economy based on knowledge and expertise. Against a background of increased global competition and a keen desire to integrate and grasp the available ICT opportunities, Tunisia has developed the means to improve its competitiveness across the sector.
Closely monitoring the rising tide of ICT technology, Tunisia has banked on the development of its ICT-related infrastructure and on the continuous enhancement of human resources to help it attain its goals of sustainable growth and competitiveness that will enable the country to position itself as one of the most attractive locations in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
Tunisia has long been a keen proponent of the Information Society, identifying--some years ago--that this was an arena in which it might make a valuable regional contribution.
The ICT sector currently accounts for 11% of GDP and expansion of the sector, which fostered the service relocation trend--or offshoring--has enabled Tunisia to develop strategies entirely devoted to these new activities that include: call centres, data entry, telemarketing and basic technical support services, financial transaction processing, engineering and activities related to research and development.
Speaking at the Carthage Forum, Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi strongly reinforced the desire of the Tunisian government to strengthen the country's position in the global market. Tunisia, he pointed out, witnessed a GDP growth dynamic of 3.1% in 2009 and, while this was less than during the previous year, it represented something of a triumph when given the prevailing economic conditions brought about by the global crisis.
Unemployment increased by less than 1% and "while the economies of the Euro-Med region remain uncertain--even difficult--we must maintain and reinforce our competitive position," he observed.
Europe is the area Tunisia has in its developmental cross sights at the moment, as the country's Minister for Development and International Cooperation Nouri Jouini, explained to The Middle East. …