The centre will create about 800 jobs in the first year, providing marketing, sales support and helpdesk services by 2010.

HP says the location was chosen over a number of others in Africa because of the availability of well-trained staff and good technology infrastructure.

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Though Tunisia is in the process of economic liberalisation and has seen sustained growth over the past 10 years, chronic unemployment among a young and educated population persists, making the location attractive for business services operators.

The World Economic Forum 2008/09 Global Competitiveness Report ranks Tunisia first in Africa and 36th globally for economic competitiveness.