Information and communication technology (ICT)

2nd Tunisia-Korea-Africa Business Forum (ICT)
Embassy of the Republic of Tunisia

With regard to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, which was selected as one of the five focus areas of the 2nd Korea-Tunisia-Africa Business Forum, we would like to provide the following information on promising areas for cooperation in Tunisia for the benefit of business representatives who are still considering participating in the event.

1. National strategy and possible areas of cooperation

A. Tunisia’s IT Strategy and New Demands

(In order to overcome the pandemic situation, the Tunisian government has established the National Digital Strategy 2025 (see appendix) to compensate for the weaknesses in the technological and industrial environment in the field of information and communication and to use it as a real driving force for the country’s economic development (which experts say is still far from achieving tangible results), and the core of the strategy is as follows.

– Introducing innovative digital technologies that can meet rapidly changing real-world needs in the short term, such as during the pandemic (especially in healthcare and education).

– Completing the digitisation of national systems, including administrative systems, to respond to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and legislating proven measures to drive this.

(Need for digital integration) In order to achieve pan-national digital integration in Tunisia, industry players agree that the issues of preventing brain drain and bridging the digital divide (between regions and social classes) need to be addressed first.

– According to recent local media reports, more than 20 per cent of Tunisian IT majors migrate to OECD countries every year, and the trend is expected to continue.

– A recent joint survey by the UNDP Tunisia Office and the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (Digital Public Service Utilisation Index and Vulnerability Analysis for 24 Governorates in the country, released on 27 February 2023) identified the following as priorities: bridging the digital public service utilisation gap between regions (due to technological, economic and cultural disparities), expanding remote healthcare and education services, and finding ways to integrate women and rural populations (computer illiterate) in the central and western hinterland, which are classified as remote areas.

B. Possible areas for investment and cooperation

(Pharmaceutical sector) As part of the Bio Tech 4.0 project, Tunisia opened a Bio Tech Pole within the Sidi Thabet Medical and Pharmaceutical Technopole in Tunis in October 2022 to promote the digitalisation of drug production processes for small and medium-sized pharmaceutical companies.
The project, which was launched in 2018, is being implemented through the Tunisian Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy with funding from the European Union and the German Development Agency (GIZ).

– Potential for cooperation also exists in telemedicine check-ups and the establishment of a rapid and systematic health check-up system.

(AI applications) In the fields of deep learning, machine learning, and robotics, it is expected that cooperation between Tunisian companies and Korean companies will be possible, and please refer to the recent mergers and acquisitions of InstaDeep in the attached materials.

(Joint R&D projects) Exchanges with Tunisia’s technoparks specialising in IT and the discovery of cooperation projects with start-ups in technoparks are also possible areas for consideration.

– Technoparks play a role in supporting the start-up of IT companies, supporting cross-industry collaboration, leading innovative technologies, and providing incentives to encourage foreign direct investment. In particular, S2T, located in the El Ghazela Technopark (the first in North Africa in August 1997), matches IT-related research institutes, SMEs, and multinational companies operating in Tunisia.

– There are also a number of specialised technology parks, including the ICT Sfax Technopole and Novation City in Sousse.
(Cross-sectoral cooperation) Beyond IT, the development of IT solutions that meet the paradigm shift in other industries such as agriculture, fisheries, food processing, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals can also be considered as possible areas for cooperation with Tunisia.

– In particular, it is possible to co-invest with Tunisian companies with low initial capital and receive support from the CDC in the form of PPP.

2. Observations and Outlook

The information and communication technology sector is a sector where the Tunisian government’s efforts and investments have been focused on building a good industrial ecosystem, fostering excellent human resources, and providing enhanced investment incentives compared to other industries, and it is believed that there is sufficient potential for joint research and cooperation between Korean SMEs and start-ups and local companies.

In particular, Korean SMEs that are experiencing difficulties in recruiting IT professionals due to high labour costs and domestic start-ups that are seeking support for their start-ups are expected to benefit from this event, which will provide them with an opportunity to explore the Tunisian and African markets.

For your information, Korean companies can also consider utilising the innovation startup ecosystem provided by the Tunisian government (Tunisian IT Special Zone), startup support measures for telecommunications professionals (financial support from the ‘National Depository and Trust Fund’ (CDC)), and incentives for companies investing in special development zones.