When people hear the term “aerospace”, they don’t often think about Tunisia. Instead, it’s mainly about the U.S. and Russia and considering their vast history in space, it really comes as no surprise.
However, over the past decade at least this is an industry which has grown substantially. There are now around 70 countries involved in aerospace, and around 13,000 people who work directly with it. Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that around 1,000 jobs are being created each and every year – it is an industry which is soaring.
From an investment point of view, the Tunisian aerospace industry is one which seemingly oozes opportunities. Through this guide we will now take a look at some of the biggest strengths of it, as well as what could be appealing to investors in the future.
What are the strengths of the Tunisian aerospace sector?
We’ve already spoken briefly about the figures involved in this industry. To throw a few more out there, it’s understood that by the end of 2016 there were TND 550 million of exports. The vast majority of this, around 70% to be precise, was exported to the European Union.
However, figures aside, there are some strengths which have made this industry really favorable for the people of Tunisia. Let’s take a look at some of these in detail.
Subcontractors appear in the entire chain
It goes without saying that aerospace is unlike most other industries; complex is perhaps an understatement. As such, it’s quite surprising that Tunisia has such a wealth of subcontractors involved in each stage of the value chain.
In the form of engineering, or specifically software development and the manufacturing of electronic components, the likes of Altran, Telnet and Aeroconseil are huge players and have huge experience within this.
Then, there’s the production phase, with this involving casting and machining, aircraft assembly, electrical systems and wiring amongst a whole host of other tasks. Again, subcontracting such tasks isn’t a problem due to the companies that are available in Tunisia, with Stelia, Vignal Artru and Map being just several examples.
Finally, services is something else which the country can comfortably satisfy. Companies such as Thales, Tunisair Technics and Sabena Technics are all able to work with engine repair, maintenance and other services which are so crucial for aerospace.
A lot of countries aren’t able to satisfy all three of these areas, which makes Tunisia’s ability quite unique.
Following on from the above, it perhaps won’t come as a surprise to read that Tunisia has invested heavily in its technology infrastructure to facilitate growth in this industry.
For example, if we take a look at El-Mghira, there is an aerospace cluster covering over 200 hectares. This includes around 20 hectares of the Stelia Aerospace Park, which happens to be a branch of Airbus.
There are various science and business parks which fuel the industry as well. In relation to the former, this covers around 60 hectares in Sousse and specifically focusses on computing, mechanics and electronics. The business parks meanwhile are over in Bizerte and Zarzis, which have excellent sea and air links respectively.
In addition to the above, there are around one hundred industrial zones based in all regions that continue to aid the development.
Excellent human resource value
This strength is going to be of particular interest to investors. Even though Tunisian skills are the equivalent to those abroad, the cost of a Tunisian engineer tends to be about 20% of the cost of someone from southern Europe.
Additionally, the outlook of this only appears to be improving. For example, over 4,500 engineers every year are being trained accordingly for this industry through various engineering schools and Polytechnic schools.
Something that gives Tunisia a huge boost in this industry is the manner in which it is corrected to the rest of the world. With no fewer than nine international airports, there are around 2,000 flights every week to Europe.
Then, if we turn to maritime infrastructure, there are currently eight commercial ports which provide further transport opportunities.
When you then add the domestic transport system, with 20,000km of paved roads and a railway network that breaches 2,000km, you immediately have a country which is more than equipped to handle large-scale exporting.
What opportunities exist for investors in Tunisia?
As the above should have highlighted, aerospace is a significant industry in the country. While it is constantly improving, there are umpteen ways in which investors can take advantage.
For example, equipment manufacturing is still somewhat of an untapped market if you start going into some of the more granular components. We’re specifically referring to the likes of battery chargers and wound elements.
While the components themselves represent a solid opportunity for investors, there are other ways which are available as well. For example, aircraft assembly is still a huge opportunity, while if we shift the emphasis to software there are plenty of ways to benefit from this industry. Simulators for avionics equipment is said to be an upcoming field, while general embedded software is as well.
A closing note on investing in Tunisian aerospace
As we mentioned at the start of this guide, the general consensus is that aerospace is something reserved for just a select few countries.
However, Tunisia has completely proved this this isn’t the case in the slightest. While the industry is still quite young in the country, it would be fair to say that it has developed significantly over the last few years and only seems to be increasing (see that statistic on the number of jobs that are constantly being created).
It has a lot of strengths that many people fail to realize, while at the same time boasting an array of opportunities that are just waiting for savvy investors to take advantage of. When you start to consider the immense exporting stats, one would have to assume that it’s just a matter of time before investors start flocking to this field.