"Prospects for Africa" Great As New Spaces Open Up for Tunisia's Youth in Industry

6 September 2019
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African Development Bank (Abidjan)

Smartly dressed Maroua Khemiri is ready to start a busy day. The young engineer has secured a contract with Eleonetech in Tunisia, an electro-mechanical firm that specialises in producing cables and electronic assembly.

Having risen through the ranks to become the first female project manager at the electro-mechanical firm, Khemiri's achievement as a female engineer in this part of North Africa is rare, especially in the industrial sector.

"After I finished my studies, I was struggling to find a job. It was frustrating, to the point that I thought about leaving the country. Today, I'm a project manager. It's the first time a woman has occupied this role in the group. I feel very proud, satisfied and very pleased to be given this level of responsibility. It's really restored my confidence," said Khemiri, who relishes in her role at Eleonetech, which leads in the integration of electromechanical systems for industrial automation, energy, telecommunication and automotive sectors.

"A stable company creates a positive environment to work in. It's reassuring, because it gives you the resources and opportunity to thrive and grow, little by little. It inspires you to go further and set the bar a little bit higher," Khemiri, who lives in Bizerte, in north-western Tunisia, with her parents, says.

To create job opportunities for a new generation of young Tunisians like Khemiri, the African Development Bank has launched private sector support initiatives, including investing in private Africinvest fund, to drive growth and development in Tunisia. This has contributed to the development and emergence of technology companies and created around 2,500 jobs since 2011.

"We believe in the capacity of these young people. We have a group of young people and thanks to their talents, we've been able to develop and manufacture good quality, high-tech products," said Eleonetech managing director Slim Sellami.

The company is keen to push innovation to a higher level by recruiting talented young Tunisians. This has allowed the business to expand from producing cables to electronic components - an area of specialisation that engages the majority of its 4,200 employees.

A model of success in Tunisia, Eleonetech - like many other Tunisian businesses -plans to extend its services to the rest of Africa.

"I've seen clients who have decided to come and invest in Tunisia after visiting facilities here. It's helped to create a new image for a country that is no longer confined to tourism or the textiles industry. We're confident and we're making progress. We have assets and skills that will help us move into the future. There are prospects for Africa," Sellami added.

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