Maher Amara

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“Intelligence knows no borders.”

Interview with Maher Amara, Subsidiaries General Manager at Sherpa Engineering, in Tunisia and Morocco

Maher Amara has been working in the engineering industry for over 30 years. He is originally from Tunis, studied in France and obtained a PhD in engineering. Shortly after his studies he founded his first company which specialized in advanced engineering and mobile robotics. Through the years he kept close ties to his home country Tunisia and developed an in-depth knowledge of the local industrial ecosystem.

Since 2018 he is General Manager of the Moroccan branch of Sherpa Engineering, a French company specialised in modelling, simulation and controlling of complex systems. Five years later he started to build another North African branch in Tunisia. The branch benefits from the country’s large talent pool and creates decent job opportunities for young Tunisian engineering graduates. Invest for Jobs supports investors like Sherpa Engineering to set up IT businesses in Tunisia through the service initiative Soft Landing of the Digital Transformation Center in Tunis.

1. Why did you decide to do business in North Africa and what are the benefits to you?

The automotive and aerospace industries have undergone many changes. Like other companies in these industries in Europe, Sherpa Engineering found itself under pressure to increase performance. At the same time, specialised engineers have become increasingly difficult to find in Europe, with more than six months between a job offer and a possible hiring in our headquarters in Paris. And paradoxically, new recruits often came from the Maghreb region anyway. This is why we decided to create a first subsidiary in Morocco. I led this international development and initially hired four junior engineers who were trained by our academy to develop relevant skills. The subsidiary now has 100 expert engineers in the automotive field. We have decided to continue to diversify and develop our activities, particularly in aeronautics, industry 4.0 and digital. We have therefore decided to come to Tunisia to develop these activities with the well-educated and trained engineering talents here.

2. Why did you choose Tunisia?

We chose Tunisia because of its skilled IT-workforce. And because we want to be part of a network and a vital start-up ecosystem: We still have a lot to learn about the local market and creating decent employment here. With Soft Landing and Invest for Jobs, we found the advice, network and support that is needed when expanding to a new country. We also have a lot to give and we are hoping to collaborate with Tunisian start-ups to give them the needed push to succeed. This is what is most important to us: Connecting with people.

Maher Amara at Sherpa Engineering in Tunisia
© GIZ, Sami Zekri // Maher Amara at Sherpa Engineering in Tunisia

3. What form does your collaboration with Invest for Jobs take?

We benefitted from legal advice concerning setting up a branch in Tunisia and writing work contracts under Tunisian law. Working with the recruitment agency Soft Landing has connected us to had been especially helpful. We sent them job profiles of the engineering talents we were looking for and they identified, interviewed and selected the best potential candidates. We also gained a lot from being part of the Soft Landing network and are excited to give back to the community—through job creation and our expertise.

4. What business opportunities do you see for European companies in your sector in Tunisia?

Tunisians speak French perfectly, and have strong English and Italian skills, which makes communication easy. In Tunisia, we are looking to diversify towards digital activities, since the country has long been a digital frontrunner. There also exists incredible engineering expertise here, due to Tunisian experience in building roads and buildings all over Africa. The country is bustling with creativity and its youth is hyperconnected. Parents make enormous sacrifices to give their children the best education, making Tunisia an African leader in the number of graduates in the science and engineering fields: over 10,000 each year!

5. What products are you developing and how many people are you planning to hire in Tunisia?

At the moment (editor’s note: April 2023), 15 people are working for Sherpa Engineering in Tunisia, with a goal of 50 by the end of 2023. A year later, we should have 100. We want to use Tunisia as a platform or a grand laboratory for our research and development activities. We are currently in the process of systems engineering for the new Airbus European aircraft. Additionally, we are going to work on Industry 4.0 projects. Other programmes for the Sherpa Group are also in the works. We hope to launch collaborations with Tunisian start-ups in the fields of artificial intelligence applied to the fields of mobility and health.

6. What would you advise European companies considering investment projects in Africa?

If you only follow Tunisia through the media, you don't get the full and fair picture. It is a country with a lot of potential and great business opportunities. Many European IT companies are returning to Tunisia – French and Italian companies are leading the charge.

I remain true to my principle that intelligence knows no borders. People here are very smart, multicultural and open. Come to Tunisia to see for yourself, but with a clear mind and the will to share know-how. And do it with partners like Invest for Jobs. This will create value for your company and the local economy.



Sherpa Engineering received support from Soft Landing through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH within the framework of Invest for Jobs on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

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Under the Invest for Jobs brand, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has put together a package of measures to support German, European and African companies in investment activities that have a high impact on employment in Africa. The Special Initiative "Decent Work for a Just Transition" – the official title – offers comprehensive advice, contacts and financial support to overcome investment barriers. The development objective is to work together with companies to create up to 100,000 good jobs and to improve working conditions and social protection in its African partner countries.

Partner countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia.

Find out more about our services for companies, universities, chambers and associations: https://invest-for-jobs.com/en/offers

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