Mohamed Ayachi Ajroudi: An Orphan Wandering in France Turned into Inventor, Politician

Mohamed Ayachi Ajroudi
Mohamed Ayachi Ajroudi

Mohamed Ayachi Ajroudi: An Orphan Wandering in France Turned into Inventor, Politician

This man has all the recipes for success. He built himself silently; sometimes by suffering, sometimes by ignoring obstacles and insults.

Even today, Mohamed Ayachi Ajroudi defines himself paradoxically, humbly as an industrialist when asked about his career.

What drives him in his personal and professional life? What are his primary motives and goals?

“I am always looking for ways to improve a tool, according to the needs of others," he says.

He also describes himself as a contractor who is very happy to start building a project.

On the other hand, when asked about his recent political commitments, mentioning his deep African roots, which go far beyond simple Tunisian identity, he says, “I came from southern Tunisia, from a tribe, from a warrior and a military family. We had access to all from the south. I am a child from the desert. I hunted there. I wandered there.”

Living a semi-paradisiacal childhood in Gabes, he says, “We loved our director, who was of the Jewish faith. There were people of all faiths and races in our area, Muslims, Jews, Christians, atheists, Maltese, Sicilian. “

“We all grew up together and, every day we sat on the beach, looking at the sea and asking ourselves: What is on the other side?”

He continued, “At the age of eight, it was the first ordeal, when the Jews left Gabes on a large scale.”

“One morning I went out and couldn't find my friends,” he said.

“I knocked on every door, but no answer. They had gone to the other side and the shock was awful. The second shock was my father's death. In fact, it was very difficult.” Ajroudi was 14 years old at the time.

One of his uncles decided to send him to study in France. “This stage completely changed my life,” he said. “I was an orphan. I could not carry a suitcase. I left with my mother's scarf, and I was smelling it.”

Ajroudi attended the Naval School in Saint-Malo. About this stage, he said, “I spent five years, three months and 23 days of navigation.” Then, he took a course in bridges and machines at the Maritime Multidisciplinary School, from which he graduated as an engineer.

First Invention

Despite his impressive results, none of the companies that hire immediately after school offered him any job offer. In the seventies in France, it was not a good idea to be called Mohamed Ayachi Ajroudi. "But at the time, I wasn't thinking about it. I thought there were other reasons."

Ajroudi set up his own foundation. He was short of 5000 French francs for a total amount of 20,000 francs, the minimum amount required to form the capital of the company, but the banks refused to grant him a loan for the project.

The parents of his friend, a fellow-engineer, offered him the amount that allowed him to set up his first company, AMIS (Artois for Maintenance Services).

The capital was in the bank, but the latter still refused to provide credit facilities or even checks.

Ajroudi had an idea arising from his observations at sea during his training, a flexible link that prevents frequent outages in pipelines while assembling offshore oil rigs.

Nobody thought about that. “You must know the sea, understand the suffering of the sea.” But while the idea was simple, implementing it had been difficult.

Providing him with free abandoned, non-air-conditioned buildings, the mayor of the village of Pas-de-Calais hoped he would boost employment opportunities for residents.

With seven engineering friends like him, Ajroudi  managed to invent a prototype, with patience and forbearance and then patented it.

Ajroudi later contacted a subsidiary of the French oil company Elf Aquitaine specializing in offshore drilling and platforms.

It was impressed by his invention and placed an order for ten units. The bank then immediately granted him a line of credit of 8 million francs, or 1.2 million euros, to provide financing for the manufacturing.

Wealth at the time allowed him to go to Malaysia and Gabon to observe the process of making connections himself.

Attention to Renewable Energies

Since then, Ajroudi has not stopped a series of innovations, patents and many successes.

His company grew and other successes were achieved.

Always, with the same idea of ​​looking for the problem or defect in a technical process in order to improve the tool to reduce the time and trouble of those using it, he invented a pressure system based on the principle of pressure in order to shorten the time of drilling at sea.

This drilling process is inspired by the one used in the tunnel under the English Channel or the construction of subway tunnels.

All inventions have received multiple awards in France from the National Agency for the Promotion of Research (ANVAR). What now?

“I've done my best in renewable energies, absolutely. There are nearly two billion people without water or electricity, and soon there will be nine billion. It's a huge market!”

Only seawater desalination can meet the water needs. But such desalination consumes a lot of energy, and fossil fuels are expensive and at risk of collapse.

Ajroudi thought of waste-generating solar energy systems. "Waste can be converted into energy, one million tons of garbage is equivalent to 250,000 tons of fuel," he said.

As for solar energy, the system of photovoltaic panels connected to the boiler operating turbines could one day solve the thorny problem of energy storage and Africa will become fertile ground for this pioneering and promising sector.

That is because the energy future for 600 million people who do not have access to it depends on simple solutions that will soon replace oil and fuel with archaic fossil fuels.

Good Offices Man

Ajroudi loves Africa in particular, which he left at a young age, and to which he was late to return. As an African, love for the continent is tied to the soul, not just to being a businessman.

“There are many beasts that will take over the continent if we do nothing and fight it and for this to work, you need someone in return, someone else who will listen to you, as there must be patriots.”

He ended up immersing himself in Tunisian politics, glancing at it without complacency regarding the Arab Spring as a disaster for Tunisia.

“I left this beautiful country in tears when I was fourteen. I cannot accept what is happening to it today. A fire is burning in the country and Tunisia is burning.”

Public debt exploded. For him, the management of the country has failed completely due to the inefficiency of the bloated public service.

“Ten million people against 800,000 public servants, this is very huge. They did not help the country to stand on its feet, it has no two feet, nothing remains of it.”

To this disaster must be added the disaster of Libya, whose fate is believed to affect the fate of Tunisia. "If Libya finds its stability, Tunisia will find it," he says.

This man of the desert who knows the south well has been involved in many good office missions between the two countries. “I have an official mandate from the tribal leaders that I represent and defend.

Ajroudi did not hesitate to involve Congolese President Sassou Nguesso in this project, because of the links between the latter and the late Gaddafi, and “because the Libyan people want an African solution.” A vision is not just limited to politics, he said.

As a savvy industrialist, he sees no future for Tunisia except in ambitious rail and port infrastructure projects especially in Gabes, where a deep-water port could "supply Africa", and whose airport, now "abandoned", could receive A380s.

“Tunisia completely turns its back on Africa,” says Agroudi. It is not Arab. It is not European. It is African! It must be oriented towards Africa.”

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