Tunisians: Finding a Job in Sub-Saharan Africa | Middle East | DW

Insaf Boughdiri likes to participate regularly in the public Umuganda cleanup campaign that takes place once a month. The Tunisian, who lives in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, finds the campaign impressive.

“The campaign is rooted in the tradition that the people of Rwanda keep their country clean and at the same time promote volunteering to strengthen the community,” says the Tunisian. “It promotes discipline, a sense of cleanliness and work, and a shared will to build and promote a country,” DW said. According to the Tunisian, these virtues made the greatest impression on her.

Boughdiri recently came to Rwanda from Tunis. He holds a Master’s Degree in Law and brings around twenty years of experience in French-language press and television in Tunisia. In Kigali, he works for the African Agriculture Organization, where he is part of the communication and information team. After a three-month trial period, he now has a two-year contract in his hands.

A conscious decision for the south

She made a very conscious decision to move to a foreign country, says Boughdiri. Like many other residents, she was enthusiastic about the 2010 revolution. But now she is looking for a new experience. Why, she asked herself, not in sub-Saharan Africa?

A decision for Africa instead of Europe: Insaf Boughdiri

Insaf is one of the thousands of Tunisians, most of whom are just starting their professional lives, who in the face of the economic and political crisis in this country are no longer looking for opportunities in Europe or the Gulf countries, but on their own continent. In Tunisia, there are approximately 226,000 unemployed with higher education. And many of them look at emigration with new eyes.

According to a recently published study by an employer-oriented institute in Tunisia, more than 70 percent of university graduates surveyed are considering emigrating abroad. It is especially important for graduates to find the right goal.

Europe does not accept migrants

She herself never considered emigrating to Europe, says Insaf. “Because it requires a legally correct regulation, such as an employment contract. If you don’t have it, you have to be prepared for many difficulties and problems ”. She wanted to avoid it.

Before leaving the country, Insaf only managed to obtain very rudimentary information about Rwanda. However, since her arrival a few months ago, her knowledge has grown significantly. “I discovered the land of solidarity,” says DW. “People abandoned civil war and genocide and started building their country. Now it’s clean and organized here and the country has a good digital infrastructure. It is very good to live here. “

Attractive emerging markets

About 1.7 million Tunisians have left their country in search of work. Over 80 percent of them live in Europe. However, there are also colonies in countries as far away as China, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and India.

There are still no reliable statistics on the number of Tunisians trying their luck in Sub-Saharan Africa. What is certain, however, is that some countries south of the Sahara are becoming increasingly attractive to foreign workers – also thanks to subsidy and investment programs financed by the European Union.

Elephants in the Ivindo National Park in Gabon

Landscape attraction: Ivindo National Park in Gabon

In fact, the north is no longer the only place that comes to mind for young Tunisians looking for a job, said DW Ramadan Ben Omar, a migration expert and member of the Tunisian Economic and Social Rights Forum. “At the same time, the demand for workers in South Africa is growing, not only for graduates, but also for people with primary education. So two matching trends converge. “

Happy in Gabon

This development is also confirmed by Anis Belidi. A young Tunisian works in Libreville, the capital of Gabon, in a trading company supported by Lebanese investors.

Anis decided to emigrate to Gabon in 2018. He left his wife and two daughters in Tunisia. “It was a difficult decision that surprised my family,” DW said. “I actually wanted to go to France, but it turned out to be difficult.” It wasn’t easy in Gabon at first. “But things have gradually improved. Now I am doing better here than before in Tunisia – also financially. ‘

Dynamic economic growth

The current dynamics is mainly due to the development of several economies in West Africa, says Ben Omar. This trend will continue in the coming decade, especially with the expected completion of the African part of China’s New Silk Road. This is expected to connect the most important cities in Sub-Saharan Africa with those in North Africa. Despite the gray economy and the lack of transparency, the economy is booming in some countries of the continent.

Portrait of Sonya Mounir

Works in West African countries: Sonya Mounir

Sonya Mounir sees it similarly. The psychotherapist has been working for over eleven years for the aid organization Doctors Without Borders in several countries of West Africa. He has been living in Dakar, the capital of Senegal since 2019, and is the Regional Director for Reproductive Health Programs for West and Central Africa.

Thanks to her qualifications, she was able to find a job in Europe, says DW. “Nevertheless, I decided to live in Senegal. I really like working here. Life is enjoyable, there are opportunities for study and work, and good recreational activities, ”said Sonya Mounir DW.

The tendency to migrate south is also promoted by a number of Tunisian companies that set up offices and representative offices there. The market is booming and Tunisian entrepreneurs don’t want to miss out on these opportunities. In turn, their branches offer numerous countrymen a chance.

Adapted from Arabic by Kersten Knipp.

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