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Young Arabs are increasingly turning their backs on cushy public sector jobs in favour of working for private companies and starting their own businesses, a survey in 16 countries has found.

There has also been an erosion in optimism that the “Arab spring” uprisings in recent years against authoritarian governments across the region will translate into better lives for ordinary people, the survey found. Continue reading »

Tunisia became the third African sovereign to be downgraded by rating agency Fitch in October on Wednesday, alongside Zambia and Ghana.

The agency reduced the long term foreign currency rating on the north African state by two notches, from ‘BB+’ to ‘BB-’. Having been just one level below investment grade, Tunisia now finds itself three places below. Fitch cited the political crisis as the major factor. Continue reading »

Political turmoil in Tunisia has struck a heavy blow to the country’s economy. The assassination of opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi last Thursday and the killing of eight soldiers by militants near the Algerian border on Monday have shaken investors’ nerves once again. Continue reading »

Smiles all round on the faces of those officials of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development who successfully lobbied for their role to be broadened from their traditional stamping grounds in eastern Europe to Turkey, North Africa and beyond.

As any visitor to the organisation’s annual meeting in Istanbul on Friday would have seen, top officials from the likes of Poland, Ukraine and Russia were notable for their absence. But there to fill the gap were the prime ministers of Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan, not to mention the host, Turkey’s premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In the ex-Communist bloc, the EBRD is now old hat. In and around the Mediterranean, it still makes news. Continue reading »

For Tunisia, the deal is done. But as far as the bigger, trickier north African question goes, there are merely encouraging words.

On Saturday, the IMF concluded terms with the Tunisian government on a crucial loan. Meanwhile for Egypt, while talks continue in Washington on the sidelines of the IMF spring meeting, no news is a worry. Continue reading »

A mixed bag for the IMF in north Africa in April, if early reports are anything to go by.

Egypt’s talks with the Fund over a $4.8bn (plus) deal have floundered – again. But there is better news 2,000km to the west, where Tunisia looks to have sealed a $1.78bn loan. Continue reading »

Tunisia is hoping that the country’s first government sukuk, or Islamic bond, scheduled for later this year could spur companies in the North African country to raise Islamic debt and boost its sharia-compliant finance industry, writes Camilla Hall.

The government is working alongside the Islamic Development Bank – the multilateral lender – to pave the way for a 1bn dinar ($700m) sukuk sale that would set a benchmark for companies seeking to tap the Islamic debt markets, Elyes Fakhfakh, finance minister, told the Financial Times. Continue reading »

April looks set to be a busy time for the IMF. Two crucial meetings have been put in the diary – one with Tunisia, and one with Egypt (again).

The two potential deals have a lot at stake, and not just in monetary terms. Tunisia’s possible $1.7bn loan will help shield the country from the European downturn. Egypt’s on-off $4.8bn loan is even more important, as it should unlock other sources of funding, and avert what could become a complete collapse of the economy. Continue reading »

Inflation is on the rise in the Middle East and north Africa, bringing risks to consumption-driven growth and adding to political strains in the transitional countries least able to cope with them. Continue reading »

Egyptians are not the only Arabs who are grappling with the place of religion in their emerging democracy. In Tunisia, perhaps even more so than Cairo, the battle between liberals and Islamists has been raging since last year’s ousting of the Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali regime.

In a country where the state has been staunchly secular – there was a time when police would detain women wearing the headscarf – Islamists in all their shades have faced a more determined opposition than in Egypt.

 Continue reading »

Escalating disputes between labour unions and employers in north Africa are threatening to derail economic recovery after the uprisings that ousted long-ruling dictators in the region, writes Farah Halime.

Emboldened by the spirit of political change, thousands of workers in Egypt and Tunisia have staged a series of protests and are now in deadlocked talks with companies over demands for a minimum wage. Continue reading »

Economies in north Africa have suffered a sharp drop in direct foreign investment since last year’s Arab uprisings, and they have been hit hard by the eurozone crisis. What can they do to rekindle investors’ interest?

Libya barely has a functioning government. Armed militias that overthrew Muammer Gaddafi last year still roam the land. And some eastern Libyans want to bolt from the union. But people still have to eat…

Despite political and security worries, Tunisia’s largest food retailer has announced plans to expand operations into Libya. Monoprix Tunisia, an affiliate of the French supermarket giant, will begin opening 10 new stores this year in Libya, the company announced last week, according to the official Tunisian news agencyContinue reading »

Construction of Tunisia’s first-ever privately owned oil refinery will begin later this year with an investment by Qatar, which has been busy buying up properties in north African states emerging from a year of political tumult.

The state-owned Qatar Petroleum Company agreed years ago to build the refinery, just outside of Tunisia’s industrial port city of Sfax. But the deal was only set to be finalised on Sunday, according to Kuwait’s official news agencyContinue reading »

More evidence, as if it were necessary, of the damage done to tourism by the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East. Tui Travel, the UK-based operator, on Tuesday reported a £23m increase in its operating losses for the three months to December.

The blame was put squarely on North Africa, with French travellers, in particular, staying away in droves from their traditional winter sunshine haunts. But Tui is taking this in its stride: as expected, it is doing much better than rival Thomas Cook, where the impact of North Africa has been compounded by financing challenges. Continue reading »