“Sfax: Resilient Traders and Entrepreneurs Face Economic Crisis
The city of Sfax, located in eastern Tunisia, is considered the economic capital of the country thanks to its industrial fabric, agriculture, and its influence over southern Tunisia and the Libyan market.
However, today, like other cities in the country, it is strongly affected by inflation and rising prices. For the city’s merchants and entrepreneurs, this crisis is not the first.
From our special envoy,
At the fish market in the city center, a true institution for this port city, the economic crisis is felt in the customers’ wallets and the turnover of merchants. Sami tries to attract customers with his shrimp. Usually, during the month of Ramadan, consumers are more inclined to buy expensive products that they don’t buy daily, but this year it’s difficult. “Three years ago, royal shrimp were 15 dinars per kilo. Now, we sell them for 35, more than double. So, nobody buys them. In fact, people you see here come more to take a look at the prices than to buy.”
Sami explains that the price increase of fish and crustaceans is not just linked to inflation – which reached 10.3% in March – affecting the country. The vagaries of climate change greatly affect the fishermen’s yields: “You know, Sfax is the city of work and the poor. Here, you can turn one dinar into a hundred dinars, so we always manage to get by.”
The city of Sfax has always been known for its resilience and its ability to overcome economic crises through its dynamism. The city and its governorate have nearly 1.5 million inhabitants. It is the largest producer of olive oil and almonds in the country and has more than 2,000 manufacturing companies employing nearly 60,000 people.
Tourism to revive the economy
On the casino promenade facing the sea, Naamen Bouhamed, a consultant specializing in small and medium enterprises, is already talking about the first cruise ship that is due to dock in the industrial port in October, which is expected to boost and diversify tourism in the region. “The first ship of the French navigation company, Le Renaissance, will arrive with the first cruise passengers, and this is where it will give a new dimension to the region of Sfax and the city in terms of cultural tourism, archaeological tourism, and historical tourism.”
It is also an opportunity to restore the image of the city, which has been affected by a waste crisis for over a year, but also recently, tensions with sub-Saharan migrant workers after controversial remarks by President Kaïs Saïed. “It lasted for a time because we need so much labor that we need these people, companies, everyone, it’s an economic chain,” supports Naamen Bouhamed.
An economic chain that remains undeclared for the majority of migrant workers in the city and that is added to the informal sector, which represents nearly 40% of the GDP in the country.
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