EBRD opens permanent office in Tunisia

By Nibal Zgheib

The EBRD has opened a permanent office in Tunisia, a further step in its long-term commitment to supporting economic development in the country. This is the first permanent office for the EBRD in the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region, in which the Bank has been investing since last year. The opening of the office in Tunisia will play a key role in accelerating the Bank’s activities and contributing to new investments there.

The EBRD’s First Vice President, Phil Bennett, said: “The opening of the first office in Tunisia and in the SEMED region is an historic moment for the EBRD. We are looking forward to accelerating our investments and leveraging our 22 years of experience. We are committed to supporting transition and the long-term economic development of the country.”

The Bank’s activities in Tunisia will emphasise the development of the private sector and support the overall modernisation of the economy.

In the coming years, and in line with the Tunisian government’s own priorities, the EBRD will help particularly in restructuring and strengthening the country’s financial sector, providing finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), boosting the creation of high-quality private sector jobs and developing a resilient and diverse economy.

The Bank will focus on supporting energy efficiency and the development of a sustainable energy sector, in order to improve energy security, sustainability and economic competitiveness. The Bank will also facilitate non-sovereign financing for infrastructure development in order to provide wider access to better quality and more efficient public services.

The EBRD has already invested in three projects in Tunisia, and has been supporting small enterprises through its technical assistance programmes.

Its focus on financing SMEs is expected to help tackle high unemployment levels, especially among the young.

The Resident Office in Tunisia will be led by Marie-Alexandra Veilleux, who joined the EBRD in 2007 and has been active during the Bank’s expansion into the SEMED region. Ms Veilleux said: “The Bank has made a long-term commitment to Tunisia. The EBRD’s high integrity and operational standards will allow it to support growth and value creation in the private sector. I look forward to working closely with key stakeholders in the country.”

The EBRD expects to be able to invest up to €2.5 billion by 2015 across the SEMED region, which in addition to Tunisia comprises Egypt, Jordan and Morocco.