How to build a knowledge economy in the Arab world [Report]

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Creating more decent jobs is a huge challenge the Arabic region is facing, particularly for the young, whose rates of job­lessness are among the worst in the world, reaching 25% for those between the ages of 15 and 25. Simply to maintain current unemployment levels, an estimated 200 million new jobs will have to be created in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by 2050, 75% of which will be for women.

To solve the youth employment issue, the private sector must get involved to help build an entrepreneurial culture that supports innovation and allows companies to scale. This is a point that has been made by Corporate Entrepreneurship Responsibility, and many others. 

A new report is taking another look at the problem, prescribing solutions for actually creating a knowledge economy. Yes, every country in the region wants to foster innovation, create jobs, and build a knowledge economy. But how? 

According to this report, Transforming Arab Economies: Traveling the Knowledge and Innovation Road, the key is threefold:

  • develop a better-educated and highly skilled population
  • improve innovation and research capabilities
  • expand information and communication technologies and their applications.

The report, released by the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), the World Bank, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), sets forth a roadmap for creating a knowledge economy in three parts:

Part 1 asks three fundamental questions: Why make the move to a knowledge and innovation-driven economy? What would that move entail? How should it be done?

Part 2 delves into what is needed from a policy perspective when it comes to supporting education, innovation, and ICTs, assessing the reforms and initiatives that may be needed in each area.

Part 3 discusses how to promote growth sectors and diversify an economy. 

Ultimately, when moving towards a knowledge economy, it recommends that stakeholders:

  • Facilitate the development of promising sectors and clusters.

  • Develop dynamic sites and locales

  • Implement participatory policies as the foundation for a new social contract

  • Enhance cooperation in the Arab world and the Mediterranean Basin

Read the full report by downloading it from the grey box to the right.

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