Cultural and creative industries

During the last few years, cultural activities and events have bloomed throughout Tunisia, with strong participation from the private sector and cooperation from external communities. Continuity is thus a key challenge for Tunisia, as in the absence of private sponsorship these activities strongly rely on national and international support. Despite the promising potential of many initiatives, there is much sectorial fragmentation, a lack of critical mass and no local support from a value chain or productive agents. Most cultural industries (e.g. audiovisual, cinema, TV and radio, visual arts) do not qualify as clusters, partially because of their geographical dispersion. In creative industries, more clusters or concentrations of companies can be found — especially in handicrafts and design-based industries such as ceramics, pottery, carpets, embroidery, jewellery, furniture and decoration as well as a myriad of other artisanal produce.


Tunisia excels in almost all artisanal fields, with more than 117,000 craftsmen registered with the Office National de l’Artisanat (ONA or National Handicraft Office), over 12,000 workshops or artisanal companies registered by the Agence de Promotion de l’Industrie et l’Innovation (API or Industry and Innovation Promotion Agency) and around 10,000 artisanal furniture companies registered by the Centre Technique de l'Industrie du Bois et de l'Ameublement (CETIBA or  Technical Center for the Wood and Furniture Industry). Artisanal businesses benefit from a very rich heritage and are often concentrated in the same geographical areas.


Existing cluster framework and cluster programmes

Tunisia already encouraged the formation of export consortiums to foster the organization of groups of companies a decade ago. In 2008, the Strategy Study Plan for the Horizon 2016 switched to the cluster model as a key driver for growth, with a first focus on textile and clothing in Monastir, the agro food sector in Bizerte and information and communications technology in Sfax. A policy related to competitiveness hubs (Pôles de Compétitivité) and to technology parks was put in place to focus on innovation for enhanced competitiveness. At the moment, the Ministry of Industry is working on a new policy to support cluster development in collaboration with other Ministries and with support from the EU-funded programme Projet d'Appui au Système de Recherche et de l'Innovation (PASRI), which foresees the inception of 10 to 15 clusters, both in technological and more traditional sectors and covering disadvantaged regions.


Potential clusters in cultural and creative industries
  • Alfa made items in Kasserine
  • Brides in Mahdia
  • Carpets (tapis ras) in the South
  • Carpets in Keirouan, Kasserine and Sidi Bouzid
  • Ceramic building materials (and building decoration) in Nabeul
  • Decoration and table accessories (arts de la table) in Sfax
  • Decorative ceramics in Nabeul
  • Fashion clothing in Tunis
  • Fashion denim clothing in the Sahel
  • Furniture in Sousse and Monastir
  • Furniture in Sfax
  • Furniture in Tunis
  • Furniture and ornaments in Kelibia
  • Garden pottery in Moknine
  • Home textiles in Bizerte
  • Home textiles in Nabeul
  • Home textiles in the Sahel
  • Jewellery and goldsmithery in Sfax
  • Jewellery and goldsmithery in Tunis
  • Leather shoes in Tunis
  • Leather shoes in Nabeul
  • Mosaic in El Jam
  • Palm-made items in Gabes, Tozeur and Gebelli
  • Publishing in Tunis
  • Scenic arts in Tunis



Other economic realities in cultural and creative industries

The following economic realities appeared during the mapping exercise:

  • Haute couture in Tunis: there is a small concentration of fashion designers and creators in Tunis that aims to develop a complete value chain (similar to the Lebanese fashion cluster)
  • Berbère carpets in Ain Draham: while there is a concentration of artisans who manufacture Berbère carpets, the value chain is incomplete, there is a lack of critical mass
  • Rattan furniture in Air Draham: a “spontaneous” concentration of artisans working with rattan has appeared but there is no critical mass
  • Silver jewellery in Mahdia: while there is no critical mass to be able to consider it a cluster in its own right, it could integrate the “traditional brides cluster” together with clothing companies
  • Jewellery and silver smithery in Djerba: the artisans only sell locally, without ambition to export
  • White ceramics in Djerba: the potters of Djerba, essentially concentrated in Guellala, the artisans produce clay-made pottery in small underground workshops
  • Traditional pottery in Sejnane (Bizerte): the pottery of Sejnane testifies to an ancestral know-how on limestone, stoneware and red and white clay. The 250 potters of Sejnane are women who subscribed to an economic interest group but the value chain is incomplete
  • Lingerie in Monastir: the region of Monastir, which is well known for its textile production, presents a concentration of lingerie subcontractors. Some companies have already integrated design competencies but there is a lack of critical mass
  • Lingerie in Sfax: since there is not a sufficient critical mass and the value chain in incomplete, this economic reality does not reach the minimum criteria to be considered a cluster
  • Leather items (as leather shoes, etc.) in other areas, such as Tataouine, in the South and Djerba: numerous skills remain in various territories but are very dispersed
  • Briques plaines (bricks) in Tozeur: the value chain is incomplete
  • Cinema and audio-visual in Sfax, Sousse and Tunis: there is quite a complete value chain for radio and TV services and over 650 professionals, 100 active production houses and some training centres for the film value chain; however, the production is too limited to meet a broader demand
  • Heritage management: while the country has an impressive archaeological heritage, private companies were not able to grow and constitute a comprehensive value chain of heritage services. The situation is improving and could present cluster opportunities in the near future
  • Music: with more than 10,000 active musicians, 30 production houses and 70 micro enterprises, the music industry is dynamic and shows good development potential. Some elements of the value chain like distribution remain weak and public actors continue to play a predominant role in the promotion of the music industry
  • Visual arts and design: while there are already between 300 and 400 artists in the visual arts segment, the critical mass is still too low to consider this a cluster
  • Digital creative industries and media (videogames, digital applications, etc.): there are leading companies in the area of Tunis-Nabeul but not a sufficient critical mass. Indications suggest that this concentration will become a major player for the entire region in the future


The two selected clusters

Ceramics cluster in El Djem:

  • Sector: indoors and outdoors mosaic, furniture and architectural decoration
  • Strengths: unique know-how; international reputation; strong expertise rooted in local heritage; exports around the world; concentration of artisans and businesses in a single village; high level of interest from existing agents
  • Weaknesses: rather than a weakness, we could speak of an opportunity: mosaic demand is growing and craftsmen and companies located in El Djem need support to develop and take advantage of this opportunity. The cluster does have difficulties with financing, though


Arts de la table cluster in Nabeul:

  • Sector: arts de la table and home textile (ceramic and embroidery)
  • Strengths: international reputation; strong connection with heritage both for ceramic, as they produce five out of seven national ceramics, and for embroidery, which is distinctive of Nabeul; business experience and technical skills; existence of a critical mass; ongoing exports; concentration of artisans and businesses in one village. The cluster has a great opportunity to improve its designs and open up a market of international quality
  • Weaknesses: needs to update its design and move away from its “folklore” look


For more information, please contact:

Talel Sahimm
National Project Coordinator