With this loan of EUR 166 million – nearly TSD 500 million – the European Investment Bank (EIB) is supporting the “Autoroute du Centre” project, which is vital for Tunisia’s economic and social development: the project will centre on the construction of the motorway section between Sbikha and Jelma in the governorates of Kairouan and Sidi Bouzid.

The finance contract was signed today in Tunis by His Excellency Zied Ladhari, Minister of Development, Investment and International Cooperation of the Tunisian Republic, and Ulrich Brunnhuber, head of the EIB’s diplomatic representation in Tunisia, in the presence of His Excellency Mohamed Salah Arfaoui, Minister of Equipment, Housing and Regional Development and Ms Sophie Vanhaeverbeke, head of European Union cooperation in Tunisia.

“This is a major loan that reflects our strong engagement in support of Tunisia and its people in line with our undertaking at the “Tunisia 2020”conference. I am delighted to sign this new financing agreement with the Tunisian Republic, with which we have had a high quality partnership of trust for more than 40 years” said Ulrich Brunnhuber, head of the EIB’s diplomatic representation in Tunisia. The development of the roads sector is vital for Tunisia’s economic and social development. It is by opening up the governorates in the country’s interior that we will succeed together in diversifying and developing these regions’ economy and offering new job prospects for young Tunisians.”

Granted on highly attractive terms, including an exceptionally long maturity of 30 years, this loan will finance the construction of a 99 km section of 2 x 2-lane trunk road linking the towns of Sbikha and Jelma. This project is one of the top priorities of the Tunisian Republic’s five-year plan as it forms part of the “Autoroute du Centre”, a 186 km network that will cover the country. It will have real impact on people’s daily lives in the two governorates, especially in terms of transport and quality of life. It will create 140 direct jobs and 9 400 temporary jobs during the construction stage.

This project has been supported by the EIB since 2011. Aware of its importance for Tunisia, in the immediate aftermath of the revolution and with the aid of EUR 4.7 million worth of grants from the European Union and its Member States, the EIB helped finance the preparatory studies (technical, economic, environmental and social) needed to launch the works.

As the leading international development financer in Tunisia, at the “Tunisia 2020” international conference in November 2016 the EIB committed to supporting the transformation of Tunisia through the implementation of its development priorities to the tune of up to EUR 2.5 billion by 2020. This loan forms part of the major efforts to provide finance and other assistance to Tunisia. In the roads sector alone, the EIB has already supported 11 operations representing total investment of TSD 2.5 billion.