Tunisia: From Revolutions to Institutions
Understanding how the World Bank can leverage technology to support good governance, economic development, and social cohesion in post-revolution Tunisia.
Beginning with a fruit vendor’s last act of defiance, the Tunisian Revolution saw ordinary citizens unite across physical and digital spaces to express their frustrations as a powerful collective. In 28 days, this force unseated a despot, and cleared the way for Tunisians to remake the country in their own image.
One year later, Tunisia remains a work in progress. Uncertainties proliferate, as the country faces transitions across every sector of society, from politics to business to education, and comes to terms with the impact of increasingly influential digital communities.
How Tunisia’s new policymakers and the international community respond to these uncertainties will play a substantial role in determining whether the story of post-revolutionary Tunisia will be a positive one—or one marked by continued frustration. The World Bank asked Reboot to investigate how ICTs are influencing every facet of post-Ben Ali Tunisia, and how the Bank can best support Tunisia’s growth moving forward.
Tunisia’s revolution was truly a popular uprising. Our investigation into Tunisia’s growth after the revolution therefore drew input from a diverse range of Tunisian citizens. The team traveled throughout the country, with an intentional focus on the country’s interior, as resources and power have historically been concentrated along Tunisia’s coast. The interviewed over 100 Tunisians—from youth hacktivists to government officials to rural farmers—and learned about their hopes, their grievances, and their visions for a new Tunisia.
By engaging with all socioeconomic levels, the process developed a nuanced and broadly representative portrait of the needs of Tunisians in the postrevolutionary period. The resulting insights were combined with a rigorous analysis of Tunisia’s economy, education system, and civil society in order to gain a complete picture of post-revolution Tunisia.
Listening to these conversations, two themes pervaded: First, Tunisians everywhere recognized the deep disparities that divide their country between a wealthy urban coast and an underserved rural interior. Without a concerted, continuous effort to repair these opportunities gap, the country could face further unrest.
Second, there was boundless optimism about the potential of technology to improve lives, communities, and the country as a whole. Students, entrepreneurs, and government officials all emphasized that the sprawling––but still adolescent—digital sector is key to the country’s future ascendancy, and policies should be designed to nurture and support its continued growth, and provide citizens with the skills to use this technology to improve their lives and livelihoods.
Our findings were published by the World Bank in Tunisia: From Revolutions to Institutions. The report highlights opportunities and challenges in the critical spheres of politics, education, and business, and how these are affected by regional inequality and the blossoming of an online civil society.
Although there is much work to be done, the mood of the country is positive, and Tunisians are eager to leverage their newfound empowerment to improve the lives of all. It is up to decision-makers to meet the people halfway. Tunisia has the potential to be a model for post-revolutionary states in the 21st century, and we hope the insights gathered in this report will shed light on how Tunisians and the international community can best identify and respond to the country’s changing needs.