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Broadband in MENA: what will it take to expand internet access?

Natalija Gelvanovska's picture
 what will it take to expand internet access?

The issue of affordable connectivity gained prominence last week when photographer John Stanmeyer won World Press Photo of the Year for his eloquent picture of people standing on a beach at night in Djibouti, trying to access cheaper wireless service from neighboring Somalia. In a new study “Broadband Networks in the Middle East and North Africa: Accelerating High –Speed Internet Access (launched February 6 in Abu Dhabi) my colleagues Carlo Maria Rossotto, Michel Rogy and I looked at prices and other market structures in places like Djibouti when we set out to understand what it will take to expand broadband internet in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) from its current low base.

Achieving Shared Prosperity in the Middle East and North Africa

Elena Ianchovichina's picture

In terms of the World Bank’s twin goals of eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, the Middle East and North Africa Region was making steady progress. The percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day was 2.4% and declining.  And the incomes of the bottom 40% have been growing at higher rates than average incomes in almost all MENA countries for which we have information.

Yet, there were revolutions in several countries and widespread discontent. Why?

 

January 25th: A Date to Remember in the Arab World

Wael Zakout's picture
January 25th
Photo: "January 25th is the best and most honorable day in the history of Egypt"

In the World Bank office in Cairo, there is a beautiful poster that proclaims January 25th as the best day in history. I do not know its origin, but it looks like a drawing made in the heart of Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the January 25th revolution. Three years later, January 25th has a deep meaning in modern Arab history. 

Can the Middle East and North Africa Break the Vicious Cycle of Low Growth and Political Instability?

Lili Mottaghi's picture
Arne Hoel

The announcement comes at a time when growth is slow, unemployment is high and the economy is still suffering from already ballooning subsidies -amounting to 9 percent of GDP- that have kept Egypt’s fiscal deficit at an exceptionally high 13.7 percent of GDP.  At least seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa Region —including all those in transition after the Arab Spring (such as Egypt)--are trapped in a low-growth-poor-policy loop. 

Slow Growth in Middle East and North Africa Calls for Bold Approach to Economic Reforms

Shanta Devarajan's picture
video

Shanta Devarajan, World Bank Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa region, discusses the latest issue of the Quarterly Economic Brief.

Smuggling Adds to Tunisia's Budget Woes

Gael Raballand's picture

This blog post was first published on the Trade Post blog by Gael Raballand and Miles McKenna.

A big issue for the business community, informal trade has been equally as troublesome for the cash-strapped transitional government. According to recent World Bank research, the Tunisian government is losing a significant amount of public revenues-- duties, value-added tax and other taxes-- from informal trade along the Libyan and Algerian borders.

Tracking Tunisia's stolen assets: the balance sheet three years on

Jean Pierre Brun's picture

This blog was first published on StAR's website by Jean-Pierre Brun.

On January 14, 2011, Tunisia’s President Zine El Abbedine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia in the wake of a popular uprising against his 24 year-long rule. Ben Ali was the first head of State to fall in the Arab Spring – the outpouring of discontent against long standing autocracies in the region. Following his forced departure, the interim Tunisian government charged the former President with money laundering and drugs trafficking, and sent out international requests to obtain his arrest and the freezing of assets he allegedly stole. In 2011, Ben Ali was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for inciting violence and murder and also convicted (along with his wife) of wide scale theft.

Smuggling Adds to Tunisia's Budget Woes

Gael Raballand's picture

The political situation in Tunisia is still volatile, as protests and riots continue to break out across the country. Source- Arne Hoel, World BankRiots broke out across Tunisia last weekend, as citizens reacted to the government’s latest efforts to trim its budget deficit. Officials are struggling to cut spending and increase revenues, all while responding to the demands of a citizenry increasingly dissatisfied with high unemployment and continued inflation.

The economy grew by close to 3 percent last year, but it has not been enough to create new jobs. Making matters worse, many manufacturers and business owners have been forced to lay off workers in response, they say, to a rise in informal trade and “unfair competition”.

A big issue for the business community, informal trade has been equally as troublesome for the cash-strapped transitional government. According to recent World Bank research, the Tunisian government is losing a significant amount of public revenues-- duties, value-added tax and other taxes-- from informal trade along the Libyan and Algerian borders.
 

Brokering knowledge on broadband investments environment: Turkey’s approach to fiber

Michel Rogy's picture

Because the penetration of high speed internet is strongly correlated with economic growth, governments around the world are eager to promote the diffusion of broadband technologies.  The Turkish Government recently set out ambitious roll-out and take up targets for broadband: 60 million subscriptions in 2023 (up from 33.7 in September 2013), at least 100 Mbps connection for every household, with fiber-optic cables deployed to most homes or buildings (in short: FTTH (Fiber to the Home) or FTTB (Fiber to the Building), diffusion of next generation mobile broadband technologies (such as 4G/LTE), and a vision of the country being a regional hub for telecommunications infrastructure.

The Missing Conversation: How to Build a Moral Capitalism in the Arab Region

Ishac Diwan's picture

A young Egyptian holding a flag The Arab transition countries, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya, are grappling with complex issues relating to personal values, the extent of freedom of speech, individual rights,  family matters, that all orbit around deep issues of identity and the respective roles of the individual, the state and society. These social conversations are constructive in that they reflect a rich pluralism of views in societies where conformity was the rule under dictatorship. But unfortunately, these dialogues are polarizing society, leading to violence and threatening chaos and a possible return to authoritarianism. In fact, the current social polarization to a large extent reflects attempts by political entrepreneurs to use existing social fault lines, and even exacerbate them, in ways that mobilize passions among possible supporters, driven to over-reach by the political vacuum created by the departure of the historical autocrats. The dynamics in Morocco, Jordan, Algeria, and Lebanon are slightly different, but here too, the intense and exclusive focus on identity is crowding out more important and immediate social and economic challenges.


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