Interview with AfDB Executive Director for Tunisia, Morocco and Togo, Mohamed Mahroug
Question: What is Tunisia’s reaction to the Bank’s engagement in the first public-private partnership project in a sector that was exclusively the government’s?
Answer: Allow me, first and foremost, to say that Tunisia is one of the Bank’s most important partners, which for decades, has been supported by the Bank in its development efforts in all sectors, especially infrastructure development. The Enfida airport is an example, but this project is special, given that it is the first public-private partnership endeavor in aeronautics in the Maghreb. Tunisia, which is pursuing an active policy of involving the national and international private sector in the development of infrastructure, is pleased to see the Bank support this policy and considers this an exemplary project which should be followed by other public-private partnerships in other areas.
Question: Does this loan strengthen the Bank’s presence in the infrastructure sector where it has already made significant progress? What is your assessment the situation?
Answer: Indeed, the Bank played a leading role in the realization of various public infrastructure projects in Tunisia, be it roads, ports or airport maintenance, as well as other economic infrastructure in the areas of water and sanitation. If Tunisia features among Africa’s most equipped countries, I think it could be said that it has the right to support the Bank in this regard. In addition, periodic Board reviews of the Bank’s portfolio in Tunisia show an exemplary implementation of all Bank-financed projects and, in particular, those in the infrastructure sector, and this could be attributed to the quality of Tunisian project implementation agencies and efforts by Bank teams. Lastly, the effects on the development of infrastructure projects carried out with Bank support are obvious and they contribute to the continuous improvement of the country’s investment climate and the population’s well-being.
Question: Is this participation, in your opinion, suitable in terms of striking a balance between the priorities of the Bank’s 2008-2012 medium-term strategy and the objectives of the government’s 11th Development Plan? What are the prospects for greater cooperation between the Bank and Tunisia?
Answer: The Bank and the Tunisian government are working together and each partner understands and respects the priorities of the other. This relationship results in the choice of projects which the government considers as priority projects, given that they fall within the framework of the 11th National plan and which, at the same time, align with the Bank’s strategy. The last projects approved by the Board are perfect examples of what I have just said: natural gas exploitation projects, water supply and the Enfida airport. Regarding prospects for future cooperation between both parties, I think that the ambitious nature of the government’s development policy and its willingness to complete the infrastructure development programme in all regions of the country as well as the Bank’s willingness to help its member countries, particularly the most dynamic, meet their development objectives, are the best guarantees for the continuity and reinforcement of co-operation.