Economic Decolonisation and the Role of the Central Bank in Post-colonial Development in Tunisia

Chafik Ben Rouine

Observing how the hegemonic neoliberal model of central banking works to undermine African agency and development in the present day, this paper charts an alternative path, drawing from Tunisia’s efforts to decolonise their monetary institutions in the immediate post-independence period. Tunisia’s construction of a developmentalist central bank played a critical role in mobilising resources to facilitate their post-independence agrarian reform agenda and industrialisation plans. Key characteristics of this model included working in tandem with the government towards shared objectives, mobilising domestic resources to finance development plans, and intervening directly through methods like incentivised savings and subsidised loans for strategic sectors. This is in contrast with the neoliberal model in which central banks are independent from the government, focused on controlling inflation above all else, and exclusively use indirect methods like interest rates to conduct monetary policy. The paper highlights the progressive and feminist potential of central bank reform in the contemporary period as a key mechanism for Africa’s economic transformation.

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President and co-founder of the Tunisian Observatory of Economy (TOE), Chafik Ben Rouine is a graduate of the Ecole Centrale Marseille (“Grande École d’Ingénieur) in Applied Mathematics and of the “Groupement de Recherche en Economie Quantitative d’Aix-Marseille” (GREQAM). He is currently Head of Quantitative Research at the TOE, specializing in international finance (offshore economics, international financial system, and international financial institutions), monetary policy (central bank, banks and finance) and development economics (regional development index, measures of inequality and poverty).

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