Local elections/Ben Arous: Diversified economic fabric despite local disparities

The Ben Arous governorate was created on December 3, 1983 and, according to the new territorial division, belongs to the second district, which also includes the governorates of Tunis, Ariana, Manouba, Nabeul and Zaghouan.

The region is the natural and geographical extension of Greater Tunis. It is made up of 12 delegations: Ben Arous, Medina Jedida, Mourouj, Hammam-Lif, Hammam-Chott, Boumhal, Ezzahra, Rades, Megrine, M’hamdia, Fouchana and Mornag.

The governorate covers an area of 761,000 km2 and is considered one of the most densely populated in terms of population and demographic burden, with an estimated population of 721,956, according to data published by the National Institute of Statistics (INS) in January 2023.

Diversified economic fabric and key development levers

The region is considered one of Tunisia’s main industrial centres, thanks in particular to its modern infrastructure. It has 22 industrial zones covering an area of more than 1,000 hectares.

The governorate is also home to the countr
y’s largest port (the Port of Rades), a commercial zone, an oil zone that provides around 70% of the country’s storage capacity, the largest electricity generator that provides around 50% of the country’s electricity production, and is located at the centre of a central road network that links it to neighbouring governorates, making it a key gateway between the north and south.

Despite increasingly scarce water resources, the agricultural sector in the region is one of the pillars of development, with an estimated 67,000 ha of arable land, including 10,460 ha of irrigated land, and is a national leader in a number of crops such as peaches, grapes and pears, making the wholesale market at Bir El Kassaa the largest market for fresh agricultural produce, providing over 30% of the national supply.

According to the latest data published by the Ministry of Economy and Planning, the agricultural sector in Ben Arous accounts for 8.1% of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), while industrial activity is divided
between manufacturing (18.7%) and non-manufacturing (18.9%).

There are 446 industrial enterprises in the region, of which 157 are fully export oriented.

The water and electricity supply rate is 99.9%, the sewerage connection rate is 91.5%, and the unemployment rate is 17.4%.

Regional development disparities among the main challenges

Despite its significant development indicators and distinct geographical location, the governorate suffers from some problems related to development disparities between its regions.

Indeed, some areas, especially in the western part of the governorate, suffer from poor infrastructure, overcrowding in working-class neighbourhoods and low levels of drinking water supply, in addition to marine pollution resulting from the industrial dumping of all kinds of pollutants and waste into the sea.

The different regions of the governorate also suffer from poor access to public transport, which requires the creation of road plans that are compatible with the region’s geography.

In the
agricultural sector, the lack of rainfall due to years of drought and water scarcity is beginning to affect crops in the region, leading to a reduction in cultivated areas, especially for fruit trees, prompting the authorities to implement a huge project to recharge the water table in the Mornag region, while farmers have been forced to change their agricultural methods to fit in with the governorate’s development strategy.

These and many other problems, mainly related to the need to modernise public services, draw up a health map and use natural and environmental resources to attract investment and create new jobs, are all major issues to be tackled once local development councils are in place.

Ben Arous has 76 imadas in 12 delegations, 80 constituencies and 156 polling stations.

Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

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