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AfDB and Tunisia Sign 340 Million Dinars Loan Agreements
Support to Gabes-Ras Jdir Highway and Tunisian SMEs
The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Tunisian government, on 19 September 2011, signed two loan agreements totaling 340 million dinars. Both loans will finances projects/programs in conformity with Tunisia’s new focus on inclusive growth.
The first €137,340 (268 million TND), will finance the construction of the Medenine-Jdir Highway. The project will help to create about 2,000 direct jobs during the construction phase. In the medium-term, the project should also facilitate the creation some 30,000 jobs in the tourism sector alone, by improving access to the south-eastern parts of Tunisia.
The current road, the National Road No. 1, connecting Tunis to the Libyan border, is expected to reach saturation by 2015. Traffic conditions on this strategic road are constantly deteriorating, resulting in increased maintenance costs on the road and operational costs for vehicles, a decline in safety, environmental degradation and increased air pollution.
The second transaction is a USD 50-million line of credit to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Tunisia. It will be available to Tunisian SMEs in the 24 governorates, through local commercial banks. It will give loans ranging from 50,000 to 1,500,000 TND.
The line of credit is thus expected to benefit some 250 commercially-sustainable small and medium Tunisian enterprises, which have been adversely affected by recent events. One-third of resources provided by the AfDB will go to developing regions in the country. The funds should help to maintain existing jobs and create up to 6,000 new jobs in the next five years, including at least 700 jobs for women.
The loan agreement to support SMEs was signed by the Tunisian Planning and International Cooperation Minister, Abdelhamid Triki, and Gilbert Mbesherubusa, AfDB Director, Transportation and Information Technology Department. The loan agreement for the highway was signed by Mr. Mbesherubusa and the CEO of Tunisie Autoroutes company, Jamel Zrig,.
Mr. Mbesherubusa, representing the AfDB Vice President for Infrastructure, recalled that the AfDB was "the first institution to support Tunisia immediately after the 14 January Revolution".
Since January 2011, in the aftermath of the Revolution, the AfDB has financed a number of operations to support Tunisia in its democratic transition. A governance and inclusive development support programme, to the tune of USD 500 million was financed by the AfDB in May. This program was followed by a USD 1 million humanitarian emergency grant in March, designed to assist displaced persons and refugees at the Tunisian-Libyan border. In June, the Bank provided a USD 700,000 grant to the Tunisian committee in charge of recovering assets stolen by the former regime, through the African Legal Support Facility housed at the AfDB. Finally, in July 2011, the Bank invested €20 million in the Maghreb Private Equity Fund III ( Tuninvest Finance Group) to support investments in the private sector.
Mr. Adbelhamid Triki, on behalf of the government thanked the AfDB for its commitment to support Tunisia and its role in mobilizing additional resources for the country.