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At the international “Tunisia 2020” conference, President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Werner Hoyer announced that Tunisia would receive up to EUR 2.5bn of support by 2020. The objective is to promote inclusive and sustainable growth, the main source of jobs for young people.

This is an exceptional measure,” stated President Werner Hoyer. “In view of the challenges currently facing Tunisia, it is our responsibility to act rapidly and decisively to restore the confidence of public and private investors. This is why we have decided to step up substantially our activity in Tunisia from now until 2020, with an overall investment of EUR 2.5bn to support the public and private sector in key sectors of the Tunisian economy such as private entrepreneurship, sustainable infrastructure, social housing, energy, education and training of young people and also foreign direct investment and innovation. In this way, we are providing fresh stimulus to investment and job creation and opening up new opportunities for Tunisia’s youth.”

The EIB’s President pointed out that Tunisia would also be supported via the EIB’s new resilience initiative for the European Union's (EU) Southern Neighbourhood and the European External Investment Plan (EEIP) which is intended to encourage investment in Africa and in the EU Neighbourhood Countries.

On the strength of its expertise and the partnership based on trust that has linked the EIB and Tunisia for many years, the EU bank has channelled, since the 2011 revolution, EUR 1.4bn of loans into public and private-sector projects, which have mobilised EUR 3.4bn of new financing.

New loans totalling EUR 369.5m for the key sectors of innovation, support for businesses and climate action

During his official visit to Tunisia, EIB President Werner Hoyer also signed several finance contracts for a total of EUR 389,1m, reflecting the EIB’s strong commitment to assisting Tunisia with its economic and social development programme. The President was accompanied during the trip by EIB Vice-President Román Escolano.

  • First “InnovFin” loan outside the European Union with Tunisie Telecom

On 28 November 2016, EIB President Werner Hoyer signed the first “InnovFin” loan outside the European Union in Africa with the company Tunisie Telecom. This EUR 100m loan will contribute to developing the mobile wifi of the "4th generation" (4G) network to improve Internet access throughout Tunisia, particularly in the interior regions.

This project is supported by ‘InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators’ – Large projects, with the financial backing of the European Union under Horizon 2020 Financial Instruments. This initiative is revitalising the corporate lending market and attracting private investors.

  • A flagship project: the Pont de Bizerte bridge

On 29 November 2016, EIB Vice-President Román Escolano delivered on the Bank’s commitment to the flagship Pont de Bizerte project with the signature of a EUR 123m finance contract, granted with a maturity of 30 years. “This financing will have a major economic impact for the whole region”, said Vice-President Roman Escolano at the signing ceremony.  “By financing such projects, we are preparing the future for the generations to come.

Key to this new loan is the construction of the new Pont de Bizerte bridge, which will connect the Sidi Hamad region to the city of Bizerte at Beni Nafaa.   A 9.5 km long urban expressway will include a 2 km viaduct across the lake. The region’s attractiveness and sustainable development are at the heart of this project, which will help to lower urban traffic congestion and reduce air pollution.  The EIB has also supported the preparatory studies via a grant of over EUR 2m.

  • Increased support for Tunisian firms

Support for company heads and small-scale project promoters also took centre stage in the EIB President’s official visit, with the signing – on 28 November – of a new EUR 50m financing operation with Banque de Tunisie in partnership with Réseau Entreprendre.

This is a financing operation with a strong social and economic dimension, the third of this kind after those signed with BTK and Amen Bank, and is based on close cooperation with civil society (Réseau Entreprendre) and a major player in the banking sector. Banque de Tunisie has undertaken to devote 10% of the credit line made available by the EIB to Tunisian microenterprises, which will benefit from a preferential interest rate. There will be a particular focus on the rapid processing of loan applications and the implementation of good governance within all these small firms. The Réseau Entreprendre association will play a role in coaching and monitoring these firms and be Banque de Tunisie’s main point of contact in facilitating their access to finance. 

  • DEPOLMED, a climate action project

The DEPOLMED project, which is being financed by the EIB to the tune of EUR 69.5m, is aimed at safeguarding the quality of Tunisia’s Mediterranean coastal waters by reducing waterborne pollution.  The DEPOLMED programme will support ONAS in implementing the first part of an ambitious sanitation investment programme in coastal areas involving the rehabilitation and extension of four coastal water treatment plants (South Méliane, Sousse North, Jedaida and Kelibia) and refurbishment of around 540 km of the sewerage network, 53 pumping stations and 29 000 connection boxes.  This project will improve the living conditions of coastal dwellers by providing access to affordable and good quality sanitation services.  It is being cofinanced in partnership with AFD and the European Commission.

During the signing ceremony, President Werner Hoyer stressed that starting in 2020 the EIB would be devoting at least 35% of its lending in developing countries to promoting low carbon, climate resilient growth.

  • Developing a secure and competitive energy supply

The EIB President also signed a finance contract in the energy sector: a EUR 46.5m loan to Société Tunisienne de l’Electricité et du Gaz (STEG) aimed at supporting the extension and enhancing the efficiency of the existing electricity distribution network and feeding power generated from renewables into the grid.  This project will help to meet the growing needs of the Tunisian economy, including at peak times, and ensure the long-term security of supply.  The project is being cofinanced in partnership with the EBRD.

Background information:

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term financing institution of the European Union (EU). The shareholders of the Bank are the 28 EU Member States. In the Mediterranean region, the EIB is committed to helping the Mediterranean partner countries (MPCs) achieve sustainable development and growth. Specifically, the Bank has two core investment priorities in the region: to create an investment-friendly environment and to provide direct support to the private sector. The Bank also seeks to promote dialogue between the Euro-Mediterranean partners.

The EIB offers financial and advisory services tailored to meet the needs of project promoters in the Mediterranean partner countries. Large-scale infrastructure investments, loans for SMEs, guarantees for riskier projects, technical advice to ensure optimum project design and partnerships for new entrepreneurs are all services provided by the EIB. Responding to the changing environment in the Mediterranean region, the EIB continues to diversify its range of instruments in order to boost employment and sustainable growth.

About InnovFin

Under Horizon 2020, the EU research programme for 2014-20, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank Group (EIB and EIF) have launched a new generation of financial instruments and advisory services in 2014 to help innovative firms access finance more easily. Until 2020, "InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators" offers a range of tailored products which will make available more than EUR 24bn of financing support for research and innovation (R&I) by small, medium-sized and large companies and the promoters of research infrastructures. This finance is expected to support up to EUR 48bn of final R&I investments.

Backed by funds set aside under Horizon 2020 and by the EIB Group, InnovFin financial products support R&I activities, which by their nature are riskier and harder to assess than traditional investments, and therefore often face difficulties in accessing finance. All are demand-driven instruments, with no prior allocations between sectors, countries or regions. Firms and other entities located in EU Member States and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries will be eligible as final beneficiaries.