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Population growth
1.14 %  
GDP per capita
Source: World Bank, latest available data

Italian Cooperation in the country

The Italian Cooperation has been present in Tunisia since its creation in the late 80s. The reasons that make Tunisia a priority country for Italy are easily traceable in geographical and cultural proximity, in the history of human and economic exchanges and in the context of Euro-Mediterranean relations.

Indeed since 1988 the Italian Cooperation Program has been defined within the sessions of the Great Italian-Tunisian Joint Committee (GJM). During the VI - Tunisian GJM (October 2007), Italy confirmed its willingness to support Tunisia in the implementation of the economic and social development plan XI (2007-2011) through, among others, the instrument of cooperation to development.

The VII commission, aimed at identifying the guidelines for the subsequent three-year term, should have taken place in 2011. However the commision could not be organized, due to the particular political moment.

Italy is one of the main donor countries for Tunisia among the countries members of the European Union. The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS Tunis) inheriting the responsabilities of the old Local Technical Unit (UTL), part of the Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGCS), has ensured continuity to Italian support in Tunisia.

Country Context

In January 2011, Tunisia experienced a profound political upheaval with the collapse of the system that has governed this country in recent decades. Following this event, in the autumn of the same year the elections for the Constituent Assembly were called, whose work was completed on 26 January 2014 with the approval of the new Constitution. Under the new constitutional text, Tunisia has become a democratic republic. For a long time considered as a success story in the Mediterranean region, the market economy of Tunisia has gone through, since independence until today, a profound modernization, diversifying its domestic production (mainly dominated by agriculture and the extraction of raw materials) and at the same time stimulating exports, foreign investments, tourism and, to a lesser extent, manufacturing industry.

However, the growth rate of the last two years, albeit positive, is still too low to trigger a virtuous cycle capable of containing youth unemployment and too far from the average of the pre-2011 years in which the country recorded growth rates of 4 and 5%.


Strategic development document in the country

The "Plan de Développement 2016/2020" drawn up by the Tunisian Ministry of Development, Investments and International Cooperation is the country's strategic reference document for development cooperation. This document intends to implement the New Vision of Tunisia, through a participatory approach and positive discrimination between the regions of Tunisia. This model of development is based on three standards: effectiveness, equity and sustainability. These key points of a strategy that aims to involve most of Tunisia's economic and social sectors.

The document has been structured on 5 different axes in order to achieve this goal. Firstly, there is a great deal of attention to good governance, to the reform of the administration and to the fight against corruption, which are considered as fundamental objectives for the construction of a transparent democracy.

The second axis concerns the economic sector, where the Government intends to take action to transform Tunisia into a hub of reference for all the Mediterranean area. This economic development cannot be separated from a contemporary social and human development, considered as the third axis of this document.

Taking up again the principle of positive discrimination between the regions, the document introduces a fourth axis based on the realization of regional ambitions, following the model of political decentralization indicated by the new Tunisian Constitution of 2014.

Finally, as the last fifth axis, there is the will to regulate the development envisaged within a framework of sustainability and green economy, for a progressive reduction of the environmental impact and the development of renewable energy.

The Italian strategy and the areas of intervention

In addition to the projects inherited from the DGCS, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) in Tunis is engaged in the management of the initiatives undertaken in the framework of the new Memorandum of Understanding for the period 2017-2020, signed on 9 February 2017 during the Official visit of the President of the Tunisian Republic in Italy for an amount of € 165.5 million, divided into: € 100 million as aid credit; € 65.5 million as gift.


With th aim to contributing to inclusive development for the reduction of the existing strong regional and socio-economic disparities, the Memorandum focuses mainly on four components:

• Economical progress;

• Local development and decentralization;

• Education;

• Migration.


Support for economic development is a key sector. In this regard, the Italian cooperation, for several years, has put in place many programs to support small and medium Tunisian entrepreneurship with an ever-increasing focus on job creation and financial inclusion as a tool to support economic operators, often excluded from existing financial circuits. In this context it's operational a credit line for small and medium-sized enterprises - SMEs of € 73 million. This is the eighth line of credit made by the Italian Cooperation in Tunisia and this instrument, used since the 90s, has allowed the allocation of about 240 million euro and 80 million dollars in many areas of development in the country, contributing to the creation of more than 10,000 jobs. Other aid credits of € 145 million are currently underway and are intended to finance investments by the Tunisian public administration in related goods and services. A program is currently being developed for the construction of two credit lines for the Tunisian private sector dedicated to the agricultural sector and to the social and solidarity economy, for an amount of approximately 57 million euros (50 for credit and 7 a gift). Among the 50 million euros in aid credit, 20 million will be made available by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti. The program is currently in the formulation stage.


The second priority of intervention concerns local development and decentralization.

In this sector, Italian cooperation has planned actions supporting local institutions, in particular the Municipalities which, in the near future, will be called to play the role of major actors and carriers in the development of their territories as well as privileged interlocutors of local populations. In addition, Italian cooperation has put in place actions to strengthen the capacities of civil society to improve the living conditions of populations in disadvantaged and border areas and encourage the development of income generating activities. The new programs dedicated to local development, decentralization and regional development are being identified. The Memorandum provides a commitment of 40 million euros for donations and 45 million for aid credit. In 2017, a gift of 300,000 euros was approved for the Tunisian electoral process support program, implemented by UNDP. The additional donation resources will concern the financing for the creation of new municipalities, for technical assistance actions between the Italian regions and local Tunisian institutions and for the implementation of local and regional development initiatives of the Tunisian southern coast.


Other important areas of cooperation concern the topic of migration and education.

The migration theme focuses mainly on two aspects: i) enhancement and protection of migrant workers through actions aimed at improving knowledge on labor migration and ensuring better governance of labor migration and better protection of workers' rights migrants through actions to be carried out at international level involving Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Mauritania; ii) the involvement of the Tunisian diaspora in Italy in order to promote income-generating activities, able to use remittances to create productive investments. Three initiatives are currently under way. The first is dedicated to the stabilization of the populations of the north-west and south-east of Tunisia, through the improvement of their living conditions and job creation, thanks to the innovative mechanism of involvement of the Tunisian diaspora in Italy. The initiative, worth € 2.9 million, is implemented by IOM. The second initiative aims at the enhancement and protection of migrant workers, through actions carried out at regional level involving Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Mauritania through a loan of 2.4 million euro to the ILO. The third concerns the NGO CIES project which is focused ont the social inclusion of migrants.

As for the education sector, Italy supports the strategy and the path taken by the Tunisian Ministry of Education with the adoption of the Reform of the Educational System, in order to reduce the factors that influence the abandonment and the failure education and strengthening school infrastructure, including toilets, play areas and canteens. The Memorandum aims to support the public education system, in particular for basic education. In 2017, the donation initiatives envisaged in the memorandum were approved. Namely the one concerning the quality of the educational system, implemented by Unicef ​​and the one dedicated to the improvement of school education of 2.5 million euro, realized from the PAM. The new bilateral program for the improvement of infrastructure and educational services is also being identified, dedicated in particular to basic education, which will be financed through an aid credit of 25 million euro.

Alignment with the local government strategy and harmonization with donor community interventions

The identified initiatives have been elaborated, discussed and validated with the local parties involved, thus ensuring consistency with the governmental strategies in which the initiative is based. In particular for the initiatives financed on the bilateral channel, the agreed execution modalities are those that assure to Tunisia the role of execution agency, in accordance with the provisions of art. 7 of L.125 / 2014. The contracts, therefore, are entirely managed according to the Tunisian legislation (Use of country procurement system), evaluated for years in line with good practices (Reliable country system).

Furthermore, it has always been avoided to set up Parallel Implementation Units by delegating to the Tunisian Administration the task of appointing internal project management structures, made up of local administration personnel. These facilities may benefit from technical assistance, in a manner agreed with the partner country and involving local expertise as far as possible. The relative financial resources are recorded in the State budget (Use of the country public financial management system).

The definition of the lines of intervention takes into account the activities carried out by other donors in order to develop synergistic and complementary initiatives. This modus operandi minimizes the possibility of incorrect identification of intervention priorities and allows the retrieval of complete and reliable information. The cooperation initiatives financed by Italy are therefore complementary to those financed by the Community system (Strenghten capacity by co-ordinated support). In order to ensure coordination and synergies between the various donors, Italy participates in the sectoral coordination tables organized by the Delegation of the European Union. This allows us to ensure the adequate sharing of the results and lessons learned with other national and local donors and partners.

Goals and expected results

The initiatives financed are elaborated by defining objectives and results consistent with national strategies and based on measurable indicators using national statistics. Tunisia's detection system is assessed as reliable by development partners, in particular by the International Monetary Fund. The initiatives are carried out on the basis of a performance management system that implies annual and global planning of activities and results as well as specific monitoring and joint evaluation activities.

In line with the objectives and priorities of the Italian Cooperation in the Region of North Africa (MENA), the action of AICS in Tunisia will tend towards a progressive concentration of sectors, according to the principles of development effectiveness and the EU code of conduct for the division of work. Specifically, the objective of the Agency will be to support the Tunisian Government for the realization of its 2016-2020 Development Plan together with the commitments signed in the Memorandum of Understanding 2017/2020.

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COUNTRY PROGRAMME:  Memorandum d'Intesa 2017-2020 of 2017/02/09

17 Show projects list

AICS development projects

€ 13,991,168

Total resources committed

€ 8,314,544

Total resources used

What is it spent for?

The purpose/sector of destination of a bilateral contribution should be selected by answering the question “which specific area of the recipient’s economic or social structure is the transfer intended to foster”. The sector classification does not refer to the type of goods or services provided by the donor. Sector specific education or research activities (e.g. agricultural education) or construction of infrastructure (e.g. agricultural storage) should be reported under the sector to which they are directed, not under education, construction, etc. read more close

By means of?

The typology identifies the modalities that are used in aid delivery. It classifies transfers from the donor to the first recipient of funds (e.g. the recipient country, a multilateral organisation, or a basket fund).  It does not track the end uses of the funds, which is addressed in the sector classification and to some extent through the policy objective markers. read more close

Main ongoing projects

Recipient € Used resources
PRODEC: Program to support decentralization in TUNISIA TN 16,459,003
TUNISIA - Technical Cooperation Fund TN 6,416,935
Contribution to the World Bank Trust Fund for the Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme -ESMAP TN 5,000,000
Project for stabilization and socio-economic development of coastal regions in Tunisia TN 5,000,000
Integrated rural develpment project in the Hazoua and Tamerza delegations (Tozeur Governorate) TN 4,863,010
Quality education for children in Tunisia TN 4,631,928
Programme to support the private sector with regards to financial inclusion in Tunisia in agriculture and social economy sectors TN 3,500,000
Migration as a resource: Mobilization of the Tunisian diaspora and stabilization of disadvantaged communities in Tunisia TN 2,900,000
School Feeding Programme TN 2,500,000
Towards preventing school dropout and reintegrating out-of-school girls and boys in Tunisia. Unicef contribution TN 2,360,000
Improvement of migration governance and of migrant workers' rights in the Maghreb region TN 2,334,993
SUMUD - Resilience, innovation and sustainability for the Tunisian micro-small-medium enterprises in the agriculture, crafts and tourism sectors TN 2,125,694
ProAgro: Support to micro-enterprises for sustainable agri-food sector development and employment opportunities in disadvantaged areas of Tunisia. TN 1,800,000
RESTART - Ecological and Social Rehabilitation of the Territories Through the Re-launch of Youth Entrepreneurship in Tunisia TN 1,800,000
Creation of the microentreprises in Medenine and Tatouine Governatorates TN 1,750,000
PRESTo: Promote REsilience to climate change and sustainable management of natural resources in Tunisia TN 1,702,995
JASMIN: Youth Action for a society able to promote the employment and inclusion TN 1,619,975
Support to the agri-industrial sector in Tunisia TN 1,497,863
OASIS - Agriculture Oasis for Sustainable Business Development TN 1,486,167
Pilot project of socio-economic promotion in a framework of environmental sustainability and biodiversity defense TN 1,413,879
SELMA - Support to the local agriculture, micro-enterprise and women's and youth empowerment in Tunisia TN 1,348,000
START UP TUNISIA - Local market for employement TN 1,280,133
Social and economic inclusion in Tunisia TN 1,193,443
Strengthening the chain of freshwater fishing in Tunisia TN 1,055,965
Independent living: organizing a professional training pathway for the employment inclusion of persons with disabilities in Tunisia TN 1,054,448
"Job creation in the handicrafts sector through the support to the stakeholders of Tunisian migration" – Creative Tunisia 2.0 TN 1,000,000