Tunisia promotes IT investments

The Tunisian IT industry is out in force at Gitex 2005, dsiplaying a wide variety of its homegrown technology innovations. Organised by the Tunisian Trade Office, in association with the Tunisian Export Promotion Center (CEPEX), the Tunisian pavilion is composed of ten IT companies which represent a diverse set of technology products and solutions.

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By  Caroline Denslow Published  September 26, 2005

The Tunisian IT industry is out in force at Gitex 2005, dsiplaying a wide variety of its homegrown technology innovations. Organised by the Tunisian Trade Office, in association with the Tunisian Export Promotion Center (CEPEX), the Tunisian pavilion is composed of ten IT companies which represent a diverse set of technology products and solutions. This is the first time that Tunisia has has a national pavilion at the show. The country, which is on the last leg of its latest five-year economic and social plan, has been making an aggressive push to develop its ICT economy, especially the software, content and services industry The country is now looking to export these products overseas, and the government believes that Gitex is an ideal launch pad for Tunisian entrepreneurs to break into the Middle East market. “We used to focus on Europe before because of our historical links to the region,” reveals Mohamed Ali Hasni, director of the Tunisian Trade Office in Dubai. “But we have now seen the potential for growth in the Middle East, so we are very interested in forging relations with the local businesses here.” As the Tunisian government’s trade promotion agency, the Tunisian Trade Office actively markets Tunisian products abroad. Attending international exhibitions is one of the agency’s key activities for advertising its pool of local IT talent. “We participate in fairs and exhibitions to highlight and push Tunisian entrepreneurs to the forefront of the global economy,” Ali Hasni says. “As for Gitex, it gives our exhibitors a good opportunity to meet with people — potential partners, investors and customers.” While its main objective is to export its products, the Tunisian Trade Office also wants to promote its country as an ideal ground for new investments. “We want to find people from the Middle East who would be interested to invest in Tunisia,” says Ali Hasni. “The Tunisian government realises the importance of entrepreneurship and has set up an environment that encourages people to do so. It gives a lot of incentives to those who want to invest in Tunisia,” he explains. Among the incentives that the government has on offer are specific legislation for stock options and VAT exemptions, a 50% tax break for IT investors, a ten-year exemption from income tax for totally exporting companies, and state payment of employer’s national contribution for a five-year period for higher education graduates upon their first employment. Some of the Tunisian companies at the show include Oxia, a software engineering company that provides IT and management consulting services; Sotetel, which focuses on of telecommunications networks; and, digital content provider, Sanabil Med.

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