Study: „Starting Points for a National Employment Strategy for Tunisia“


Starting Points for a National Employment Strategy for Tunisia

Hans-Heinrich Bass, Robert Kappel and Karl Wohlmuth

Tunis, April 2017.

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Economic problems and social injustices triggered the 2011 revolution in Tunisia. Much has happened in Tunisia since then; the democratic development of the country has reaped praise worldwide. However, efforts towards economic reform have so far been scant. The young Tunisians, especially in the interior of the country, are still awaiting an economic and social »dividend« from the democratic revolution. If there is not a new impetus from employment policy, the political process in Tunisia is in danger of faltering.
The best way to achieve social justice and societal stability over the long term is through decent, dignified and adequately remunerated work. Tunisia is characterised by underemployment, while the proportion of jobs that are precarious has been skyrocketing for some time. Many graduates of schools of higher learning and people with vocational degrees are no longer finding adequate jobs, while many others are working in the steadily growing informal sector. For this reason, Tunisia urgently needs a new industrial policy and a broad, all-embracing national employment strategy.
There are conceivable ways out of Tunisia’s job crisis. An effective employment policy presupposes a strengthening of the private business sector, especially through the promotion of small and medium-scale enterprises. Beyond this, new forms of integration of the Tunisian economy into regional and global value chains need to be instituted. It is only through reindustrialisation along a broad front that the jobs needed can be created and safeguarded on a sustainable basis.
further reading:
Kappel, Robert / Pfeiffer, Birte / Reisen, Helmut (2017): Compact with Africa. Fostering Private Long-term Investment in Africa, Bonn: GDI Discussion Paper.

Rise of the „African Mittelstand“

Robert Kappel

Rise of the „African Mittelstand“

GIGA Focus | Africa | Number 05 |November 2016 | ISSN 1862-3603

On the African continent, a few powerful large companies dominate, and there is an overwhelming number of mostly informal micro- and small businesses; however, African entrepreneurship is diverse and increasing urbanisation has been accompanied by the emergence of modern enterprises, which constitute an “African Mittelstand.”

  • The rise of an entrepreneurial Mittelstand in Africa is being fuelled by the growing income of the middle classes in Africa’s cities, where industrial clusters are developing. Many Mittelstand enterprises have even managed to integrate themselves into global or regional value chains.
  • Engineers and skilled workers are particularly important for industrial innovation processes and for the development of an “African Mittelstand.” In the urban centres, companies can draw on a growing pool of skilled workers.
  • Both Uganda and Nigeria have a rather small middle classes and low numbers of Mittelstand enterprises, whereas Tunisia has a very large middle class. Nevertheless, large export-oriented enterprises are prevalent in Tunisia, and its Mittelstand is extremely small.
  • Due to numerous obstacles, a Mittelstand cannot develop optimally in Africa. These hindrances include inadequate financial and legal systems, a lack of electricity and water supply, and a system of “favouritism,” whereby large enterprises receive government contracts, while small and medium-sized enterprises are usually awarded nothing.

Policy Implications

In Africa the expansion of modern entrepreneurship in its growing urban centres and the increasing purchasing power of its middle classes could initiate growth momentum, which would also lead to higher employment. However, this will require that governments promote the development of industrial clusters and eliminate the numerous obstacles facing small and medium-sized enterprises.