I started working in Morocco four years ago as a result of the government’s request for
support in implementing their national agricultural strategy, the Plan Maroc Vert. This strategy set the ambitious targets of doubling the agricultural value added and creating 1.5 million jobs in little more than a decade.
The Middle East and North Africa Transition Fund held its second steering committee meeting in the Moroccan capital, Rabat last month. Four new grants were awarded at the meeting in support of the ongoing reform process in Morocco. Jonathan Walters, World Bank coordinator for the Transition Fund was in Rabat and provided us with some background on what the Fund hopes to achieve both in Morocco and the region.
The Middle East and North Africa region is 60 percent urbanized compared to the global average of 52 percent and is home to one of the world’s most rapidly expanding populations. By 2030, a 45 percent increase of MENA’s urban population will add another 106 million people to urban centres.
Microwork presents a unique opportunity for jobs and income for sections of Palestinian society that face high levels of unemployment, such as youth and women. It is a new phenomenon in the digital economy: anyone anywhere can work through an online platform equipped with just a computer and internet access.
“If we are able to say that a poor, majority Muslim, and conservative society is capable of making a democracy of international standard, other countries in the region will have no excuse not to follow us,” says Amira Yahyaoui. “But Tunisia won’t succeed unless we continue to be bold. We must be audacious in our ambitions.”
A ground-breaking study released last month shows how the Middle East is losing its fresh water reserves. Prepared jointly by NASA and the University of California Irvine, and published by Water Resources Research, the report offers a range of alarming statistics on both the amount and rate of the region’s water loss.
For some, the Arab spring, so-called, has already turned into winter. History does not necessarily repeat itself though, but for what happens next in the Arab world to have any chance at being good, there is an urgent need for an Arab economic awakening. For without strong economic underpinnings, and without growth and quality employment for the millions of young Arab men and women who seek jobs and a decent life, the Arab democratic transition indeed faces a grim future.
Since its big-bang beginning with the “Arab Spring”, the MENA Blog has evolved and grown, featuring various perspectives from economists, young people, political commentators, and leaders in their respective fields. Each has contributed in their own way, inviting readers into their world discussing a diverse range of important issues.
Recently I attended a health strategy meeting, where indicators of health risks showed depression to be the top disease affecting women in the Middle East and North Africa but not men (where it was on average 7th place). In one sense, this is not too surprising because depression affects women more than men everywhere. On average, globally, depression ranks 6th for women and 16th for men. Still, MENA is unique.
In Morocco, a structural transformation of the economy that will lead to stronger growth and job creation will require a coordinated set of policies in several key areas. It will involve maintaining the stability of the macroeconomic environment, improving the business environment, and developing a trade policy that better supports the competitiveness of Moroccan products.