“We are not geniuses. We just use common sense.” For CEO and co-founder Ahmed Zahran of Karm Solar Egypt, a company that aims to commercialize solar technologies, it’s not about being a visionary. It is about good business. Ahmed and other young entrepreneurs and business leaders discussed the challenges and opportunities of doing business in the region.
An analysis of the quality of growth, and more specifically of the dynamics of the private sector is necessary to understand a region’s underperformance in job creation. While many countries in the Middle East and North Africa region had periods of solid growth over the past decade, they all underperformed in job creation. This is because the quality of growth matters as much as the quantity.
This weekend, as I packed my suitcase for Beirut, I thought of the warm and welcoming people I’ll be working with over the next two weeks. This is my fourth visit to Lebanon this year, and each one has provided me with a different glimpse into Lebanese politics and society. It has helped me to understand the aspirations of some of the country’s citizens and the constraints faced by its policymakers.
High unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) largely reflects the growth deficit. While China has been growing at 10 percent for a decade and has unemployment below 5 percent. MENA is the mirror image, growing at 5 percent and suffering unemployment above 10 percent. The absence of strong growth in MENA has been a serious constraint to employment. It's worth noting though that MENA’s employment situation is not accurately described by the jobless growth that has plagued much of the industrial world in recent years.
Unemployment, cronyism, bad governance and lack of transparency and accountability were factors that have contributed to the Arab Spring. However, worries over employment stem beyond the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and the challenges facing southern Mediterranean countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal and other troubled EU economies. A Gallup poll provides a global perspective on this issue
Recent events across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have underscored the urgent need to ensure job creation and an enabling environment for a young and better-educated, more skilled labor force. The international economic crisis has further deepened the problem in a region that is characterized by the world’s highest youth unemployment rate and the lowest female labor force participation.
We often hear about the Middle East and North Africa’s centrality in global energy markets as it is home to more than 52 and 42 percent of global reserves of oil and gas respectively. The region is also responsible for more than 36 and 20 percent of global oil and gas production. However, MENA is also the world leader in other aspects of the energy markets, namely energy use and energy intensity (i.e. energy use per $1,000 of output). Between 1981 and 2009 these grew faster in MENA than any other region.
I am very pleased to announce the launch of a new recruitment drive for Arabic speakers, called the SMART (Strategic MNA Arabic Recruitment of Talent) program, which will provide a small cohort of the best and brightest Arabic speakers with a unique opportunity to pursue a career at the Bank. We are very excited to introduce young, dynamic professionals to the MENA region of the World Bank and in this small way contribute to the expansion of the Arab talent in the World Bank’s MENA Region.
As a practice there has been a lot of attention recently on innovation in the water sector. And while innovation might mean using new technology to help solve old problems, it also means looking at a problem from a different angle to find possible solutions. In this post from Sana Agha Al Nimer, Senior Water Specialist at the World Bank, she shares her firsthand account of how speaking to children about water issues is a powerful tool for the sector.