Local elections/Zaghouan: real development prospects undermined by chronic formalities

The governorate of Zaghouan was created in November 1976 over an area of 2820 km2. Its current population stands at 191,066, that is 1.8% of the country’s total population and 23% of the 2nd district to which the region now belongs following the new territorial division, according to National Institute of Statistics (French: INS) figures.

The governorate has a differential advantage owing to its geographic location – a continuation of the economic role of the governorate of Greater Tunis, the Cap Bon region as well as coastal governorates.

The governorate’s proximity to Carthage and Enfidha airports, Radés commercial port and the planned deepwater port of Enfidha, as well as its openness to tourist areas of Nabeul, Hammamet and Sousse offers a distinguished status to Zaghouan in achieving its development goals. Such a status is expected to gain momentum as the road network linking the governorate to other parts of the country improves.

Industrial sector

These factors and many others have helped make Zagh
ouan a prime investment location for industrialists. In fact, some 300 enterprises started operating in 2023 in ten industrial zones in the governorate, 35% of which are fully exporting businesses providing 30,000 direct jobs.

Most of these companies are operating in the electronic and electrical engineering industries and automotive components. The sector will get a boost once works to build a 50-hectare mega-industrial zone in El Fahs delegation are completed.

Activities in the industrial sector are concentrated in the north, especially in the delegations of Bir Mcherga, Fahs, Zeriba and Zaghouan. The delegations of Nadhour and Saouaf remain on the margins of this dynamic, with a low development index and an unemployment rate soaring to 25%, despite recurring calls for the creation of a joint industrial zone involving the two neighbour delegations.

Agricultural sector

The agricultural sector in Zaghouan plays a key role in its economic fabric; it employs around 32% of the active population and represent
s the main source of income for most families in rural areas.

Field crops cover an estimated area of 100,000 ha. Olive groves extend over 100,000 ha, with around 8.4 million olive trees, that is 8% of the total area under olive groves nationwide. The livestock includes 250,000 sheep and over 10,000 cattle.

Despite the pivotal role played by field crops and the olive growing sector in stimulating economic activity in the region, climate change, as reflected in increasingly scarce rainfall, has caused a drop of over 35% in the volume of investment in the agricultural sector, estimates provided by the Agricultural Investment Promotion Agency (French: APIA) show.

Similarly, years of drought have led to the depletion of ground and surface water reserves at an unprecedented rate, creating a drinking and irrigation water crisis with serious fallouts on agricultural products and the sector in general.

Tourism sector

Zaghouan boasts a rich cultural heritage with almost 650 archaeological sites, the most prominent
of which are the Temple of the Waters, the two Berber villages of Jradou and the Roman aqueducts.

Its 70,000 ha of forest cover and hot groundwater are insufficiently tapped in the bathing therapy in Djebel Oust and Zriba.

Tourism in this governorate is a seasonal activity, and the region is therefore forced to content itself with the status of a transit site, due to the lack of classified hotels with a high accommodation capacity.

To make up for this, a number of self-catering cottages were set up in the region in an attempt to boost ecological and alternative tourism in the area. But, having seven alternative tourism projects stalled in the governorate and inability of their owners to obtain operating licences due to restrictive laws has likely stunted the hoped-for boost.

Giving impetus to the tourism sector in Zaghouan, experts says, requires the development of an integrated strategy – the fruit of joint action involving the private sector- which will be based on the development of a tourism in line w
ith the region’s differential advantages (mountain tourism, spa tourism, alternative tourism, etc).

Health sector

The health system in the region consists of a regional hospital in Zaghouan City, 2 local hospitals in El Fahs and Nadhour, two emergency services, 49 basic health centres, a health complex and a private health facility.

Healthcare services in Zaghouan declined considerably in recent years due to the lack of specialists and medical equipment and the scarcity of medicines which caused the disruption of surgeries and prompted citizens to seek healthcare in neighbouring governorates.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse