Fiscal and administrative corruption continues to strain the Yemeni economy; the very same corruption that was a major driver for the 2011 street protests and the ouster of the most recent national unity government. The three year transition period has not brought any noticeable improvement in anti-corruption efforts. On the contrary, with an all but absent and weakly performing government, corruption is still rampant and growing.
Governments in the Arab world have long subsidized the price of energy. This gives citizens throughout the region access to cheap petrol and diesel, and electricity supplied at below-market rates. But what has been the real impact of subsidies, and do they justify the huge financial burden they place on national budgets? This is a critical question in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as the region represents a disproportionate share of the world’s energy subsidies.
As Tunisia approaches the country’s Presidential elections on November 23, the ‘Arab Spring’ birthplace has a lot to be proud of, having safely wrapped up its first Parliamentary elections since the new constitution was ratified. However, election observers indicate that, as expected, the youth, the revolution’s driving force, remain reluctant to cast their vote.
In December 2013, Yemen set-up an office to co-ordinate its use of development aid. Amatalim Al Soswa, one of the few women in Yemeni public life, was chosen to head the office, which is known as the Executive Bureau. Now, almost a year later, she reflects on the frustrations her Bureau has encountered, and on the progress she is making at this time of enormous political uncertainty in her country.
On October 26, Tunisians go to the polls for the first time under their new constitution to elect 217 new parliamentarians to govern their small Mediterranean country for the next five years. Besides the hectic political campaigning, though, another struggle is going on: the gender push.
My good friend and colleague Naif was furiously sketching on a flipchart. His demeanor, usually calm and scholarly, was intense. Naif was sharing with us the main outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference, the highpoint of Yemen’s state restructuring process which brought together the most disparate groups of Yemenis, from Houthis in the Northwest and Hadramis in the East to the Hirak in the South. They sat together and, through dialogue, agreed on a series of guiding principles aimed at guaranteeing fundamental rights and freedoms, reducing the centralization of power, eliminating corruption, and empowering women and youth.
Decentralization in Tunisia means empowering local government. A new World Bank project aims to build the capacity of local government and make it accountable. Jaafar Friaa, Team Leader for the Program discusses the project's goals.
Tunisia finalizes voter registration ahead of this year’s elections
The birthplace of the Arab Spring is sometimes described as the only democratic nation in the region of the Middle East and North Africa. In order to retain this distinction and uphold its new constitution, however, a legitimate voting process needs to be held this year.
Walking past the Check-in counter in Casablanca’s Mohamed V International Airport, a digital sign claims X amount of solar energy used and X amount of energy savings occurred in powering a transit hub with the use of polycrystalline panel technology. As a tourist, this may come as a pleasant surprise if she has not yet had the opportunity to see other improvements, like Rabat’s tram system. As a citizen, this may be inspiring as the term “smart city” hints at better infrastructure and technology use. However, what qualifies a city as a “smart city” is more often a topic for discussion only among Maghreb countries and not implementation.
I have just returned from London where I attended the seventh meeting of the Friends of Yemen (FoY) group. This group was created in 2010 to help support Yemen through a period of crisis. It is co-chaired by the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Yemen itself, with 36 other members, including the United States and Russia.
At the meeting, members discussed how the international community would support Yemen to complete its political transition toward federalism, implement the outcome of its national dialogue—and lay the foundations for a democratic modern civil state.