MENA JWP: Tunisia- Urbanization Review



Approval Date
Core Focus
Secondary Cities
Country Type


Tunisia is a highly urbanized country with the urbanization rate reaching 66% in 2009. The urban population is projected to reach 70% by the year 2020. In fact, urbanization is a historic phenomenon; by 1975 50% of the country’s population already lived in cities. This urbanization is characterized by: (i) a pronounced coastal urbanization amounting to 75% of the total urban population grouped in a number of agglomerations less than 500,000 inhabitants each (with the exception of Greater Tunis), (ii) the preponderance of the agglomeration of Greater Tunis with 2.5 million inhabitants equivalent to 20% of the urban population , and (iii) the relative demographic growth of the smaller cities of the central Sahel. Finally, low fertility and rural to urban migration rates have stabilized urban growth.
The objective of the proposed study is to develop an analytical framework that would help guide sustainable urban investment, with a particular emphasis on: a) Tunisia’s growth poles to maximize urban growth while ensuring the livability, ecological sustainability and economic competitiveness of urban areas b) on secondary cities to strengthen their role in driving local development with disadvantaged rural areas through urban policies.
Task 1: Review the rules and laws governing decision-making about land markets, urban planning, competitive policies and infrastructure in Tunisian cities Task 2: Assess regional (city-region) and local (within city) connectivity, and as classification of binding/critical investments in Tunisian cities and metropolitan areas Task 3: Examine of the financial means as well as the organizational set-up and coordination mechanisms needed up to implement these priority investments at city level Task 4: Dissemination of findings
Expected Impacts and Results
1) Advance the policy dialogue on urban, local and regional development with relevant ministries and counterparts: The analytical report informed development of the new Tunisia constitution, which contains two articles on decentralization promoted by the Bank and also impacted government plans and underpinning Bank dialogue with the Government. The Bank will be preparing a short briefing memo to the in-coming Tunisia cabinet that will stress four points coming out of the UR and the other two pieces of work: 1. Importance of land management 2. Reform of fiscal transfers 3. Focus on cities (and not on urban) 4. Do not prioritize lagging regions at this time, and instead focus on growth poles (Tunis and the coastal cities) 2) Guide the work of decision-makers for investment decisions in Tunisian cities 3) Provide recommendation to local counterparts to enhance the coherence and efficiency between strategic planning and investment programs 4) Serve as an input in the design of the future urban operation of the Bank. It is being used to inform development of a $300m P4R loan that is being fast tracked.