Kairouan – Local elections: development challenges in all sectors


Geographically located in the heart of Tunisia, the governorate of Kairouan has a number of special features, including its proximity to the seaports of Sousse and Sfax, airports (Monastir, Enfidha and Sfax) and the Tunis-Sfax motorway, making it a central beacon between the four cardinal points of the country.

The region’s economy depends mainly on the agricultural sector, and the governorate has a wealth of natural resources spread over 590,000 hectares of arable land (85% of the region’s total area), including 450,000 hectares of cultivated land and 140,000 hectares of forests and natural pastures.

According to the 2014 census, the population is estimated at 570,600 (5.2% of the country’s total), of which 64.7% live in rural areas.

The cultivated agricultural area includes 180,000 hectares of olive groves (9.4 million olive trees), 227,000 hectares of fruit trees and 130,000 hectares of field crops, making the region the national leader in irrigated grain production, second in irrigated olive productio
n and the national leader in pepper, apricot and honey production.

One of the region’s distinctive features is its tourism sector, which boasts an ancient religious and cultural heritage (the Great Mosque of Oqba, the Aghlabid Basins, the Abu Zam’a Al-Balawi shrine and the medina of Kairouan), supported by a unique craft industry (carpets, El Margoum, El Hayek, wrought copper, etc.) and a number of attractive natural ecological sites.

Difficulties in many sectors

Despite significant development potential, the level of infrastructure, social services and public facilities in the governorate of Kairouan still falls short of the population’s expectations, as evidenced by the region’s position at the bottom of national rankings for social indicators and quality of life. This situation has a serious impact on Kairouan’s competitiveness and attractiveness for private investment.

The agricultural sector

The economic fabric of Kairouan is characterised by its lack of diversity and its total dependence on the agr
icultural sector, a model that has led to the depletion of the region’s water resources, resulting in the increasing salinisation of the water table and the rising cost of pumping water.

Although it employs a third of the working population, the agricultural sector, on its own and in its current state, does not appear to be able to absorb much of the region’s employment needs. The sector has failed to add value to most of its products, which are marketed outside the region in their raw state, not to mention the dilapidation and corrosion of many agricultural processing facilities and the fragmentation of farming and production systems.

Industrial sector

The industrial sector in the region is still limited to 180 units (employing 10 or more workers), which represents only 3.16% of the total number of industrial units in the country, an endemic weakness in the region’s infrastructure that is relentlessly holding back the development of the sector.

Tourism sector

Despite having a first-rate cultural heritag
e, Kairouan Governorate is far from making the most of these elements to turn the region into a centre for cultural tourism, which would pave the way for development and spread to neighbouring governorates.

Infrastructure

The region’s public infrastructure remains modest, with no motorways or modern railway lines. The region’s road network consists of numbered roads and paved agricultural tracks. The region also lacks developed industrial zones and industrial units, most of which are concentrated in 4 out of a total of 13 delegations.

Human development

The region has an urban fabric characterised by uneven and non-integrated territorial development, population dispersion, the absence of structured urban centres, low human development indicators, limited coverage and quality of health services, and a lack of infrastructure and facilities for young people and children.

Faced with these shortcomings, the inhabitants see reforms that must be taken into account in any attempt at change, in particular by linki
ng the governorate of Kairouan to Enfidha via a railway line, creating a multimodal transport logistics area, continuing the development of the Sbikha industrial area and rehabilitating the “Aghlabides Basins” to turn them into a cultural and leisure area.

They also want the economic fabric to be diversified by promoting processing industries, laying the foundations for a tourism sector and reducing the disparities in development between the delegations in the region.

The region’s inhabitants are also calling for the improvement of the education system and conditions, the strengthening of the first lines of public health, the provision of equipment for health facilities and the speeding up of the construction of the Salman bin Abdulaziz University Hospital.

The governorate of Kairouan has 13 delegations, 114 imadas, 119 constituencies and 318 polling stations.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse