A moonshot for MENA: laying the groundwork for a modern digital economy

Rabah Arzeki is the Chief Economist for Middle East and North Africa Region at the World Bank. During the recent ERF 24th Annual Conference he presented in the third plenary session, during which he argued for the foundation of a new economic reality for the MENA region. In his words, the region can leapfrog to a new digital economy, an economy that can offer good jobs for a young, educated population.       To make this possible, according to Mr. Arzeki it is important that governments remove the obstacles that are coming in the way to connect a young, educated population with technology. For example, in the telecom sector, the lack of high quality, affordable, internet and the lack of e-payment and m-payment are presenting huge barriers for the new digital economy to emerge.   Mr. Arzeki concludes that there is a need for an aggressive plan - a moonshot approach as he calls it - to leap forward and move the MENA region into the fourth industrial revolution.   The Economic Research Forum’s 24th Annual Conference is held in Cairo, Egypt, on 8-10 July, 2018. The main theme of the plenary sessions is “The New Normal in the Global Economy: Challenges and Prospects for MENA”. The conference aims to draw on the lessons learned from the restructuring of the economic order across the region, particularly in light of the wide-ranging consequences of the decline in oil prices. With social turbulence and conflict persist in several MENA countries, the main goal is adequately reconciling short-term social and economic concerns with long-term growth and reform efforts. Visit the conference website to find out more about the event and access papers, videos and blogs.
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