Is Policy Analysis needed in Tunisia?


That was the theme of the Round Table organized on March 17th in Tunis by Young Arab Analysts Network International (YAANI).  This is an initiative of the British Council in partnership with Chatham House, in the region of Middle East and North Africa.

YAANI aims to help the creation of a generation of young policy analysts focussing on the future of the region.  Mondher Khanfir, as State Counselor and Mohamed Malouche as TAYP chairman were guest speakers with Mrs Amel Karboul, Minister of Tourism, Mr Jaloul Ayed, former Minister of Finance, Pr Jelel Ezzine, academicians and young candidates to YAANI program, with the presence of Mr Nigel Bellingham, Director Tunisia, British Council and HM Ambassador to Tunisia, Mr Hamish Cowell.

In a post Revolution context, after decades of political oppression and lack of freedom of speech, young people in MENA showed their inability to engage with the policy process.  Such initiatives will facilitate including their voice in forums and political structures they were traditionally excluded from.  Such exclusion is partly due to the lack of the required skills and knowledge that would enable them to move forward and effectively engage as a positive force for change in their countries.

All participants confirmed the importance of the initiative.  The question however is the capacity of the Government to take consider the recommendations of think tanks knowing, and as Jaloul Ayed stated, there are many cemeteries where hundreds of policy advocacy reports is buried.

From a personal perspective, Mondher Khanfir exposed how he got concerned about a highly specialized field, the supply chain. It was after an experience with the customs in the 90s, during an operation of raw materials importation for a new company he had created in Tunisia. It is for the sake of knowledge capitalization and to contribute to the improvement of a public service that Mondher committed as Policy Adviser, and he succeeded in doing so in 2003 when he undertook the first study on logistics performance in the Tunisian foreign trade funded by the World Bank on behalf of the Government of Tunisia. Through this experience, Mondher stated that he contributed to the creation of a new reality for the logistics system in Tunisia… and he’s still aiming to go on today in the transition period where many achievements are threaten by the collapse. Mondher exposed his perception of the Policy Advocacy process, which could be summarized into three stages to build up a new reality; the perception stage where occurs the first confrontation between the real and the required, then the conceptualization stage which is the moment where the ideas for change are explored. This step requires some technical knowledge, and finally the inception stage, where the paper is ready and needs to be adopted by the stakeholders, in order to ignite a change project … this step can be iteratively to achieve the expected result.

A debate followed on the mechanisms that integrate policy analysis in the implementation of a sustainable model for economic and social development in Tunisia.