Maghreb: savings seek oxygen – Le Point

Since mid-February, the Maghreb has been waiting for the first detected case. “Case number one” according to Dr. Samir Abdelmoumen, Tunisian emergency doctor. It was in Algeria, in Blida. Health anxiety and socio-economic concerns ensued. March was combined with the closing of borders, a real domino effect; one after the other, each country decrees a containment in its own way. Schools become virtual, companies stop except those in strategic sectors (food, health, textiles), movements are restricted, homes become a protective vice, under curfew, confinement and other emergency weapons. Small trades are strangled, from the collective taxi driver to the craftsman around the corner. Savings is not a strong point in the region. A World Bank study published on April 9 exhilarates studies carried out in 1918 during the Spanish flu epidemic. American data showed that the more firmly a locality had acted, the faster its economy would restart, the famous V. At this gauge, the health balance is very favorable for Tunisia. By acting very quickly, the only democracy in the region will have recorded “only” 48 deaths for 1,087 cases. Its population bordering the eleven million five hundred thousand inhabitants. For fourteen days, no new internal cases. Business circles are spreading the reassuring message: Tunis seems to have stopped the epidemic.


  • On March 20, Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed announced the establishment of containment. Building in the Ariana district, in Tunis.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • April 2, 2020, the avenue Mohammed-V, one of the main arteries of Tunis, deserted.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • May 4, 2020, avenue Mohammed-V, little by little, life resumes its course.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • March and April were rather rainy in Tunis. For many Tunisians, it is easier to respect the rules of confinement and to stay at home in bad weather.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • April 9, 2020: despite the confinement, some continue to enjoy the sun on the ledge of La Marsa, Tunis.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • April 2020: the souks of the medina are closed, leaving many traders cut off from their income.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • Even if they continue to circulate, public transport is neglected by many users (April 2 and May 4, 2020).
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • From March 18, Tunisia completely closes its borders. Many people are asking to be repatriated. As of May 6, Tunisia had organized the departure of 16,626 people to their country of origin and 6,011 Tunisians had been brought back to Tunisia. They are placed in quarantine in hotels.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • The army and the police are deployed in Tunis to ensure respect for containment
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • Difficult to respect the safety distances on the markets, Bab El Falla, Tunis.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • Like many others, this woman uses her veil to protect her mouth and prevent contamination by the coronavirus, Bab El Falla market, Tunis.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • All customers have been evacuated from the market. In the loudspeakers of police cars, the message was “RETURN HOME. STAY AT HOME ”.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • The Abderrahmen-Mami Hospital of Pneumophtisiology closes its doors on March 25 to receive only patients who suffer from Covid-19. Here, a man is disinfecting the hospital courtyard.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • The Zourni robot, developed by the Tunisian start-up Enova Robotics, is deployed to allow doctors to monitor the condition of patients, perform primary diagnoses and facilitate communication between doctors, patients and their families.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • Some take advantage of their Sunday afternoon in the almost empty Belvedere Park.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • The Island’s Oasis café in Belvedere Park is usually full of people on sunny Sunday afternoons like the day I took this photo. Since March 20, the cafe is closed.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • Despite the confinement, a few people continue to enjoy the beach at La Marsa, one of the districts of Tunis on the shores of the Mediterranean. La Marsa is one of the sources of contamination identified by the Ministry of Health along with Djerba, Les Berges du Lac and La Soukra.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • To help the economically vulnerable, many civil society organizations have mobilized to distribute donations. The African Solidarity Cell was set up on April 4. A month later, 400 people had benefited from his support.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • May 4, 2020, recipients of social benefits line up at post offices to withdraw their allowances, Ariana district, Tunis. At the end of March, a few hundred people took to the streets to protest against the confinement and to claim the aid promised by the government.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • May 4, 2020: first day of deconfinement. Some sellers are starting to reopen their store. Merchants can open every other day. A round trip is organized, depending on the identity number.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • May 11, 2020: second stage of deconfinement. Huge queues are forming outside some clothing stores. “Nice to see you again,” can be read on Zara’s window. After almost two months of closure, customers are greeted with antiseptic gel and masks.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

  • May 11, 2020: clothing stores and souks can reopen, much to the relief of traders. Despite traffic jams and human tides, an atmosphere of joy reigns in Tunis center. It’s Ramadan, deconfinement and, on May 12, Tunisia counts 48 hours with no new Covid-19 cases detected. That does not mean total eradication of the epidemic, warned Nissaf Ben Alaya, director general of the National Observatory for New and Emerging Diseases.
    & copyMorgane Wirtz

In Morocco (8,003 cases, 208 deaths for a population of 35 million inhabitants), this is not yet the case. 81 new cases in the last 24 hours. Algeria remains a source of concern for its neighbors with more than one hundred new cases per day, a total of 9,733 cases, 673 deaths, for a population of 44 million individuals. The Covid-19 allowed the belligerents in Libya to speed up the military pace while the rest of the world turned to its own concerns. The World Bank explains that “depending on the future spread of the virus, the health measures taken by the public authorities, the reactions of society and the future development of world oil markets, several plausible scenarios could emerge for all or part of the economies of the region ”. Paradoxically, it is the countries with the least open economies that would do the best.

Read also Covid-19: the Tunisian example

The Moroccan hub weakened, drought in the background

If the textile industry has shown pragmatism, under the royal leadership, succeeding in transforming itself into a manufacturer of masks on a large scale, the economy of the kingdom is very exposed to the countries of the European Union, more than sixty percent of its exports, mainly to France, Italy and Spain. Three countries hit hard by the epidemic. The severe recession that has started in Europe will have repercussions. The only Maghreb country to have turned to Africa, to the point of becoming a north-south hub, Morocco will be affected by the crises of its partner countries. Agriculture, one of the strong points of Rabat, is suffering the aftermath of the other crisis, that of global warming. The winter grain harvest is down 20% from the average. High temperatures and light rains marked the first quarter. On the industry side, some European countries talk about the relocation of some of their factories to the continent. Will the phenomenon affect those who have flourished in the wake of TangerMed, the leading port in North Africa? What about car factories with cheap labor? If TangerMed has proven itself, this is not the case for Radès in Tunisia, “a boil” according to one of its users.

Read also Morocco: “Containment, when you still hold us! “

Tunisia: general mobilization for the tourist season

State, almost co-managed by the UGTT union, the port of Radès (10 km from Tunis) could take the path to the port of Marseille, sunk by the CGT in other times. Under dictatorship as under democracy, the country’s leaders have broken their teeth on the file. In 2014, the head of the technocratic government Mehdi Jomâa carried out a media visit. He took the witness, facing the camera, the customs officers with unfulfilled slips, abandoned equipment, recurring malfunctions. Six years later, a stationary state when the Tunisian economy needs to revive itself, to prove its potential, its efficiency to European countries which no longer want to entrust all their productions to China. When 80% of imports and exports go through Radès, we can define this port as strategic. Tarak Cherif, the country’s leading exporter, and also president of the Conect, sums up the situation: “By truck, if there were no closed border between Algeria and Morocco, my goods would be in two or three days ; by Radès, it’s almost three weeks. Another file, that of tourism. Whatever the nature of the event – revolution in 2011, terrorism in 2014 -, the population immediately thinks of the consequences on tourism. As a national cause. Whether they are political, professional, soft power, they are all on the move to sell the destination. The borders will reopen on June 27. The sector accounts for 10% of GDP (14% according to some). Two million jobs, direct and indirect, are affected. On June 4, cafes, restaurants and hotels reopened successfully. The catalog of barrier gestures is unrolled. Photos of Tunis-Carthage airport (5 million passengers per year) are disseminated, showing it to the new health security standards. Tunisair, which provides the majority of flights, will summon its passengers four hours before boarding so that everything goes smoothly. We have to convince the Europeans, the Russians, the Chinese that they can come back safely. In Algiers, we do not have this kind of concern, the tourist sector is fallow despite the potential for fire, 1,600 kilometers of coastline in particular.

Read also Tunisia: Tourism, rescue operation

Algeria, oil sold out and Hirak’s next return

Despite the Covid-19, the Algerian government seems to have other problems. Listening to public television, reading the dispatches from Algeria Press Service (APS), always fitting with the thought of the country’s leaders, dark plots are being waged against Algiers and the army. The protests that started in February 2019 would be funded by foreign pharmacies. Put in brackets during the epidemic, the Hirak should start all over again as the political and economic situation continues to deteriorate. The regional capital is surrounded by three complications: a barrel of brent at 40 dollars, currency reserves of twelve months (against the double, two years ago) and an economy not very open to the world. Oil and gas are the country’s two resources, contributing more than 70% to government revenues. Suffice to say that 2020 will be a dark year for state finances. For the system in power – army and FLN – for decades, the coming period is likely to be delicate. Euphemism.

Read also The so delicate after-Covid-19 that awaits the Maghreb

Maghreb, a united people, disunited leaders

On paper, the countries (Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia) have been united in the Arab Maghreb Union since 1989. In reality, this is not the case. Hakim Ben Hammouda, former Minister of Finance and Economy in Tunisia in 2014, explained to Point Afrique that “if the Maghreb leaders are unable to agree, to support the Arab Maghreb Union, the populations do it every day. ” One hundred million people share the same culture, the same language and the same history. According to the IMF and the World Bank, the region is the least well integrated in the world. An unnecessary weakness in this period. This explains why there will be no common recovery plan for the Maghreb countries. Between a Europe in recession and an Africa in difficulty, difficult hours. And many projects to finalize.

Read also Maghreb: “May God protect us all! “

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *