Information & Communication Technologies
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.
The World Bank, together with the ministries of Communications and Transport and Egypt’s information technology industry, just organized the first ever Cairo Transport App Challenge (Cairo TApp). Teams of digital innovators tackled a range of issues related to moving about the Egyptian capitol’s congested streets.
When the Arab Spring broke out and regimes began to fall under the pressure of their own citizens, a revolution on social media also took hold. During this critical period, the use of Facebook and Twitter was ubiquitous, especially in Egypt and Tunisia. Social networks and cell phones played an important role.
“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.
One could easily think that in Tunisia the "International Right to Know" day would be a celebration. As a result of the January 2011 uprising, the country hosts one of the most progressive access to information laws in the region, its press is active, and civil society has flourished. But what I experienced last Friday was hardly a celebration – it was work.
Pervasive unemployment is arguably one of the most pressing policy challenges in many countries across the Middle East and North Africa region. Youth, women, and higher education graduates seem to be the hardest hit. With reference to the latter group, some say the youth bulge combined with better access to higher education has produced more graduates, but these then entered relatively stagnant economies with rigid labor regulations.
On Monday, September 17th, I had an online chat with a number of youth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region on the topic of jobs and employment. I received hundreds of comments and questions before the chat, interacted with tens during an hour and a half and kept receiving comments and questions for two days after the chat. The process had a deep impact on me. It was refreshing, amazing, encouraging but also concerning.
I just finished our live chat on jobs in the Arab World – thank you so much everyone for contributing, commenting or just listening in. What was most impressive was the joint search for answers, the dialogue blossoming among participants; it wasn’t “just” questions and answers, but a true dialogue. Now, I promised you all that I would take what I heard and use it when I meet finance ministers and other high officials during the World Bank’s Annual Meeting. So here is what I heard.
Increased competition is critical to bringing in new ideas, new ways of thinking, new products, new markets, and new approaches, so as to generate new jobs for women, the youth of the region, and for those who live at the bottom of the pyramid. In other words, greater competition will breed greater innovation, and more of the middle income jobs that the region requires. Innovation in its simplest form means simply “Doing Different Things and Doing Things Differently” (DDT-DTD).
Call me old fashioned, but my favorite source of news is still the writing, and sometimes the voice, of a known reporter or commentator. When one falls, as Anthony Shadid fell yesterday on his way out of Syria, something so special is lost, something that binds thousands of readers in a common web of understanding and appreciation. We mourn for Anthony and his family as one might for a colleague or friend. We knew him, even though we’d never met. We feel the loss as intimately as a familiar presence in a newspaper, whether it crinkles reassuringly in our hands or slides along glass at our fingertips.