There is no better way to kick off 2018 than with the opportunity to travel with 28 of my classmates to TUNISIA! Over the past two and half months spent in the classroom learning about Tunisia, Professor Jedidi has provided us with a thorough overview of the history, culture, economy, language, a few prominent companies and case studies so we are well versed on Tunisia coming into the trip. For the first year ever, the trips focus has shifted more to learning about startup methodology in Tunisia and specifically we have been given the exciting opportunity to work with the six finalist university teams that were selected out of sixteen teams in the National Open Startup competition. Our project over the seven days spent in Tunisia will be to partner with our team members and help them develop and pitch their startup ideas to present their ideas once again at the final round of the competition on January 19th!
I am writing this blog post from Marrakech as a few of us lucky CBS students have spent a few days enjoying Morocco before the Tunisia trip starts. As we are about to spend 7 days immersed in the country it is important to take a quick look at a few of the highlights that made the news from Tunisia 2017!
Tunisia in the news in 2017:
- The number of tourists boasted a record figure of 7,051,813 in 2017, a 2% rise in comparison with 2016! The UK, the Netherlands, Poland and Belgium lifted their advisory against travel to Tunisia in the aftermath of June 2015 terrorist
- December 2017 marked seven years since a wave of protests erupted across the Middle East and North Africa in what came to be known as the Arab Spring. Tunisia, the country where the uprisings began, has been saluted as the revolution’s success story for managing a relatively peaceful transition from an authoritarian regime to a functioning democracy! This article provides a great overview of both the successes and challenges that remain in Tunisia post Arab Spring: https://www.thecipherbrief.com/arab-spring-anniversary-tunisia-really-success-story
- Tunisia’s external debt jumped to about 46.8 trillion dinars (18.72 trillion U.S. dollars) as of November 2017, accounting for 48.35 percent of the GDP
- Tunisia announced the second increase in fuel prices in six months, raising the price of petrol by 2.85 percent as the government tries to rein in the budget deficit.
- Export volume accounted for one third of Tunisia’s GDP in 2017, which achieved growth of 4.1%.
- Tunisia was featured among Bloomberg’s 22 flagship tourist destinations in 2018, published Tuesday, January 2nd.
- In 2018 on May 6th, Tunisia will hold long-delayed municipal elections, the first such vote since the 2011 uprising unseated autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali. Activists hope the elections will give a new push for the North African country’s democratic transition by giving more power to local councils.
Over the next seven days we will have an action-packed itinerary with tours through Medina and Moulins Mahjoub (70-year-old family owned olive oil producer) visits with the African Development Bank, ENDA Inter Arab, Vermeg, IACE and working with our Tunisian team members before the startup competition finals.
I look forward to sharing every part of the TUNISIA 2018 trip with you!
-Sarah Spear ‘18