Tunisia’s desert landscapes, Roman ruins, and golden beaches have made it one of Africa’s top tourist destinations, providing employment for about 15 percent of the country’s population. IFC has worked to make that an enduring success, helping to finance the construction of a modern airport capable of bringing in seven million tourists a year.
As the global economic crisis spread in 2008 and 2009, private financing for the Enfidha Zine El Abidine Ben Ali International Airport became much harder to obtain. TAV Airports, the Turkish company building the airport, needed loans with a longer term than commercial banks would provide. Only a fraction of the €250 million in syndications could be placed.
Legal agreements suddenly needed to be rewritten. The situation called for innovation and agility — and IFC responded to the call. We initially provided €135 million in loans with maturities up to 20 years, making it easier for TAV’s Tunisian subsidiary to reconcile its repayment obligations with its steep up-front construction costs. When syndication became difficult, we helped bring in major development finance institutions — the European Investment Bank, the African Development Bank, French development bank PROPARCO, and the OPEC Fund for International Development.
IFC also helped clarify the legal agreements, making the project more attractive to investors. Those amendments were negotiated with the Tunisian government in just 30 days — a record for a public-private-partnership project — reflecting the goodwill IFC enjoys in the country.
Enfidha airport, one of the largest in Africa, is set to open in October 2009, with the latest technology and facilities capable of accommodating 18 aircraft. It is expected to generate 500 permanent jobs at the airport, and indirectly spur the creation of up to
25,000 jobs in the tourist resort of Monastir and nearby areas. In a time of crisis, its ability to attract financing owed much to the participation of IFC,