The visit to Tunisia of Philippe de Fontaine Vive, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) with responsibility for FEMIP (Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership), was marked on 10 and 11 December 2010 by the signature of two new loans totalling EUR 313m in support of public transport and energy performance in Tunisia. On this visit, a EUR 6.8m technical assistance agreement for the road sector was also signed.

Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive, EIB Vice-President with responsibility for FEMIP, signed on 10 December 2010 in Tunis a EUR 119m loan agreement for the construction of Tunis’s new suburban railway network with Réseau Ferroviaire Rapide de Tunis, represented by Mr Kamel Ben Amor, Chief Executive Officer of RFR, in the presence of Mr Mohamed Nouri Jouini, Minister of Development and International Cooperation, Mr Dov Zerah, Director General of Agence Française de Développement, Mr Wolfgang Reuß, Director of KfW with responsibility for the North Africa and Middle East Department, Mr Adrianus Koetsenruijter, Ambassador and Head of the European Union’s Delegation in Tunisia, Mr Pierre Ménat, the French Ambassador and Mr Horst-Wolfram Kerll, Germany’s ambassador. On 11 December 2010, a EUR 194m agreement for the construction of a combined-cycle gas turbine power plant in Sousse was also signed with Mr Othman Ben Arfa, Chief Executive Officer of STEG, in the presence of Mr Mohamed Nouri Jouini, Minister of Development and International Cooperation.

Efficient infrastructure underpinning economic development

“With the provision of these loans today, the EIB is once again demonstrating its genuine commitment to supporting economic development and innovation. The goal is to equip Tunisia with efficient, sustainable infrastructure that creates jobs. I also salute the fact that this infrastructure will have a direct impact on improving the daily lives of the populations concerned.”

Philippe de Fontaine Vive

EIB Vice-President

1 – Tunis suburban network: high quality public transport

The project concerns the construction of the first sections of two lines of the new suburban railway network of Tunis and the acquisition of the necessary rolling stock, namely 28 trains for suburban railway services. The length of the new infrastructure is 17.2 km and there will be 14 stations in total.

In practical terms, these first two lines of the network will serve to:

  • improve the mobility of the inhabitants of Tunis. In 2016, 352 000 passengers will be carried by this public transport;
  • reduce air and noise pollution.

It should be underlined that the financing of this project will help to serve an area of some 620 000 inhabitants, thereby increasing the share of public transport in the city to 40%. The introduction of this new public transport service will certainly raise the attractiveness of public transport compared to private cars and optimise bus services, thus reducing the overall impact of urban transport in terms of CO2 air emissions.

The project is co-financed by AFD, KfW and the European Commission (NIF).

2 – Sousse combined-cycle gas turbine power plant: highly energy efficient green energy

The construction of a single-shaft combined-cycle gas turbine power plant in Sousse meets a twofold economic and environmental objective:

  • to optimise the supply of electricity thanks to the cost-efficient production of some 400 MW. The plant will be able to meet growing energy demand and provide secure supplies, thereby contributing to the country's economic growth;
  • to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and airborne pollutants per unit of electricity generated thanks to the thermal efficiency achieved. The technology used at this plant involves using gas as the main fuel, and distillate only as a backup fuel. Greater energy efficiency is achieved in comparison with the open cycle gas turbine plants and steam cycle plants (using heavy fuel oil or natural gas) currently used for baseload electricity production in Tunisia.

This power plant is scheduled to begin operating in mid-2013.

This loan signature continues the EIB’s policy of treating energy support as key to sustainable development in the Mediterranean. Between 2002 and 2009, the Bank provided financing of EUR 3.7bn to this sector, with flagship projects such as the Ghannouch power plant (Tunisia), the Tillouguit hydroelectric plant and the Tangier wind farm (Morocco), the Gabal el-Zait wind farm (Egypt), the Jordanian gas pipeline (Jordan) and the Deir Ali I and II project (Syria). This signature also reinforces the excellent partnership between the EIB and Société Tunisienne de l’Electricité et du Gaz (STEG), which has received seven loans from the Bank totalling EUR 570m since 1995. In addition, under the mandate received within the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean, FEMIP will work alongside STEG Energies Renouvelables to promote energy efficiency and the development of Tunisia’s Solar Plan, in particular.

3. Technical assistance cooperation agreement

During his visit, Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive also entered into a EUR 6.8m technical assistance cooperation agreement with the Tunisian authorities. Financed by the FEMIP Support Fund, which includes funds granted by the European Commission, this facility will help to prepare future FEMIP operations in the road sector: (i) the future motorway in the centre of the country, which will serve to open up and promote the development of key economic sectors along the Kairouan-Gafsa route; and (ii) the construction of a bypass for the capital on which a number of motorways are gradually converging, thereby preventing congestion with all the adverse impacts, especially environmental, that would result. These projects will also help to considerably reduce the number of accidents.

Note to editors:

FEMIP is the key player in the financial partnership between Europe and the Mediterranean, providing over EUR 10bn of financing between October 2002 and December 2009.

FEMIP brings together the whole range of services provided by the EIB in the Mediterranean partner countries. Operational since October 2002, it is now the key player in the economic and financial partnership between Europe and the Mediterranean, providing over EUR 10bn in support of projects in the nine Mediterranean partner countries.