Tunisia

Gulf Finance House begins new #land #acquisition drive

Even though its Tunis Financial Harbour (TFH) mega-project has barely got off the ground, Bahrain's Gulf Finance House (GFH) is already looking to acquire adjacent land.

#Tunisia starts preparatory work for debut #sukuk issuance

The government of Tunisia is preparing its first ever issuance of a sukuk with the Tunisian stock exchange, Bourse de Tunis and Nasdaq Dubai. Preparation work will consider commercial, legal and regulatory issues, including sharia-compliance aspects. This January finance minister Lamia Zribi said that Tunisia needs about $2.85 billion in external funding in 2017 and plans to issue a sukuk of $500 million to cover its budget deficit. Then in February the North African country issued a €850 million bond with a seven-year maturity.

#Tunisia: GFH would like to pass “Financial Port” to another investor

The Bahraini Gulf Finance House (GFH) would seek to get rid of its Tunisian project, the Tunis Financial Harbor. The project was to be one of the largest Bahraini investments in Tunisia, which would be worth 7.5 billion USD. Tunis Financial Harbor was initially designed to make Tunisia a regional financial hub, but eventually turned into a simple real estate program. GFH is currently seeking to pass the hand and to pass the project on to another investor. The cause would be the financial difficulties of the Bahraini group.

Swiss #fintech drives African banking revolution

The Swiss start-up Monetas claims a new mobile phone payment technology will transform people’s lives in Africa. The Tunisian National Post invited the Swiss firm to pilot its technology in October in conjunction with local firm DigitUs. Once all integrations with the existing e-dinar system are finalised, the Monetas system will first target retailers before reaching out to the general population. Monetas has big plans for expansion, having started exploratory talks with 12 other African nations with a combined population of 300 million. It is also developing savings accounts and is looking into other financial services, such as micro credits.

Tunisia: realization of Tunis Financial Harbour starts

Governor of Ariana, Mehdi Zaoui announced the start of work on the construction of the Tunis Financial Harbour. Zaoui said they finished the dispute regarding the expropriation for public use under habitat. The Tunis Financial Harbour, considered as a mega project developed by the Gulf Finance House in the northern suburbs near Raoued, extends over 523 hectares with a total investment of USD 5 billion.

"Omar Al Mukhtar" social housing project in Sijoumi reaches progress rate of 65%

The progress rate of the second phase of the social housing project "Omar Al Mukhtar" in Sidi Hassine Sijoumi (capital western suburbs) is now 65% and the project will be completed by late August 2016. The handover of keys is expected before the end of 2016, noted the Minister of Public Works, Housing and Spatial Planning Mohamed Salah Arfaoui, at a visit Tuesday to the site of the project along with Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani. The project with an estimated cost of nearly 54 million dinars financed by Qatar through a donation (40%) and a free-interest loan (60%) will help build 810 social residential units.

Banks: Tunisian Zitouna invests on Islamic finance

Tunisian Islamic bank Zitouna was the first to succeed in placing on the national financial market in December 2015 the Islamic bonds sukuk for a value of 22.5 million euros. The result exceeded expectations - set at 20 million euros - the management of Zitouna said. at a Forum on Islamic finance held at Kram in Tunis. The Forum was attended by several protagonists of the Tunisian economic and financial scenario like central bank governor, Chedly Ayari, the president of Cmf, Salah Sayel and former finance minister, Jalloul Ayed. Zitouna bank, on behalf of its president Ezzedine Khoja, has announced it is launching a new business plan in 2016-2020 with the objective of becoming the bank of reference in Tunisia and a leading Islamic bank in Africa.

Tunisia, Bahrain agree to revival Tunis Financial Harbor

President Beji Caid Essebsi and the Bahrain Prime Minister agreed to restart the mega project Tunis Financial Harbor, said official spokesman for the Presidency of the Republic, Moez Sinaoui. This mega project is financed by the Gulf Finance House, an Islamic Investment Bank of Bahrain, with a budget of 7.5 billion dinars. It will set up the first financial center for offshore banking institutions in North Africa. The Financial Harbor will house a set of shopping centers and residential units and recreation spaces: marina, golf courses.

What is the social contract and why does the Arab world need a new one?

The ‘social contract’ is an idea that dates back to the ancient Greeks, and refers to the implicit agreement among members of a society that defines their relationship with each other and the state. That relationship holds the key to unravelling the puzzle of the ‘Arab Spring.’

To development economists, the uprisings that started in Tunisia and spread to several countries in the Arab world in 2010-11 came as somewhat of a surprise. For the previous decade, almost all the indicators of economic well-being were strong and improving. GDP growth was substantial, at about 5 percent a year. Extreme poverty (people living on $1.25 a day) was low and declining. Conventional measures of inequality, such as the Gini coefficient, were lower than in other middle-income countries, and in some cases declining. In Egypt and Tunisia, the per-capita income of the bottom 40 percent was growing faster than the average. In terms of human development, the Middle East and North Africa region recorded the fastest decline in child mortality rates and the steepest increase in school attainment.

Financial Inclusion Opportunities and Challenges in Tunisia

Financial inclusion is one of many the areas that caught the new public authorities’ attention in Tunisia. A decree-law was passed in November 2011 that authorized the establishment of credit institutions dedicated to low-income people. It also created a modern regulatory agency, the microfinance supervisory authority. Beyond micro-lending, the Ministry of Finance now aims at modernizing the entire financial sector in Tunisia by 2020. Such a plan is timely and provides hope for further financial deepening. In this regard, a recent snapshot on financial inclusion completed by CGAP and the World Bank provides insights.

Tunisian firms prepare to issue Islamic bonds

Tunisian firms are preparing to issue Islamic bonds as the government finalises rules covering the sector, creating a new funding option for companies in an economy buffeted by labour unrest and militant attacks. Best Lease aims to raise up to 30 million dinars ($15.6 million) to finance its growth, with Banque Zitouna and El Wifack Leasing also considering sukuk issues. State-owned electricity and water utilities may follow suit, while national carrier Tunisair could tap the market later after clearing legislative hurdles. The government is also preparing to issue its first sovereign sukuk this year. Meanwhile, the IDB is helping to establish an Islamic microfinance institution in Tunisia.

Advancing Global Solidarity at the Tunis World Social Forum and Beyond

The World Social Forum continues to be the pivotal global venue for left and progressive forces to advance struggles and create internationalist alliances to make another world possible. Tunisia, which provided the spark for the Arab Spring, hosted its second WSF from 24-28 March in its capital Tunis. Tunisia has unfortunately seen an increment in terrorist attacks and, according to estimates, is the largest source of recruits to the Islamic State (IS). Tunisia’s rate of unemployment is at its highest since the 2011 revolution with a huge percentage being educated youth.

World Social Forum concludes in Tunisia

The 13th World Social Forum (WSF) came to a close after discussing a range of political, social and cultural issues, notably the phenomenon of terrorism and its impacts on democracy. The attendees delivered a message of peace and solidarity from Tunisia's National Bardo Museum, the site of a recent deadly attack. The four-day gathering was held under the slogan of "Together to pursue the revolution of rights and dignity." It gathered representatives of over 5,000 national and multi-national NGOs, including worker, peasant and feminist movements, from 121 countries.

Tunisia: El Wifack Leasing to convert to Islamic bank in Q3

Tunisia's El Wifack Leasing plans to become the country's third full-fledged Islamic bank by August and will receive a capital injection from the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD). The ICD will not only provide technical assistance, but also inject up to 30 percent of the bank's capital, helping it increase its authorized capital to at least 150 million dinars ($77 million), El Wifack's general manager Mohammed Mellousse said. It will start offering sharia-compliant deposits through eight branches and build a network of 60 branches within five years, aiming for a 1.5 percent share of Tunisia's total banking market, he added. Currently, there are two full-fledged Islamic banks in Tunisia, Zitouna Bank and the Tunisian arm of Bahrain's Al Baraka Banking Group.

Tunisia: World Social Forum from 24/3 to 28/3

For the second time after the 2013 edition, Tunisia has been chosen to host the World Social Forum. The forum will be held from March 24 to March 28 at the Farhat-Hached university campus in the capital Tunis. The organizational committee for the 2015 forum, under the head of Tunisia's social and economic rights forum, Abderrahmane Hedhili, said that civil society would be mobilized for the event as it was in 2013.

Strong demand for Tunisia's $1bn bond

Tunisia was once one of Africa's most sophisticated and prolific bond issuers, selling bonds denominated in euros, dollars and yen, and later this year it is expected to issue its first Islamic government bond. International investors keen to capitalise on the country's recent presidential elections put in orders of more than $4bn for the $1bn bond, allowing the country to borrow at a lower than expected rate of 5.875 per cent over 10 years.

Tunisia to delay Sukuk issue until third quarter of 2015 - minister

Tunisia will delay its planned issue of $500 million in Islamic bonds until the third quarter of the year to allow parliament time to rectify a law concerning the sale, Finance Minister Hakim Ben Hamouda said on Monday. Tunisia had initially said it would issue the Sukuk by the end of last year.

Private-sector moves keep Tunisia’s Islamic finance hopes alive

Amen Bank, Tunisia’s second-largest private sector bank, launched two Islamic mutual funds this week, managed by Tunis-based United Gulf Financial Services-North Africa. In October, El Wifack Leasing said it had received central bank approval to become the country’s third full-fledged Islamic bank, with 150mn dinars ($80mn) in capital, adding the firm would bring international shareholders to the venture. These are welcome steps for the Islamic finance industry which has been waiting for the government to issue a debut Islamic bond. Earlier this year the private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank teamed up with Tunisia’s newly created sovereign wealth fund, Caisse de Depot de Tunisie, to set up a $30mn fund to support local businesses.

Private-sector moves keep Tunisia's Islamic finance hopes alive

Tunisia's Amen Bank launched two Islamic mutual funds this week, managed by Tunis-based United Gulf Financial Services-North Africa. Moreover, El Wifack Leasing said it had received central bank approval to become the country's third full-fledged Islamic bank, with 150 million dinars ($80 million) in capital, adding the firm would bring international shareholders to the venture. These are welcome steps for the industry which has been waiting for the government to issue a debut Islamic bond. Meanwhile, the Islamic Development Bank teamed up with Tunisia's newly created sovereign wealth fund, Caisse de Depot de Tunisie, to set up a $30 million fund to support local businesses.

Bahrain's GFH inks JV deal to kickstart $3bn Tunis project

Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House has signed a joint venture with France's Alliance International Holding which is likely to kick-start the Tunis Bay project. Tunis Bay is part of the overall $3 billion Tunis Financial Harbour project. Alliance International Holding is a French consortium which specialises in the building of golf course projects and new community developments. It said it has signed a deal with the GFH-owned Tunis Bay Project Company which will see more than 800,000 sq m of land developed into a golf course with surrounding villas and apartments. Construction work by the joint venture will start next year as part of the first phase of the Tunis Bay development.

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