World Bank supports knowledge and learning needs of the Middle East
Middle East and North Africa Knowledge Hub inaugurated in Marseilles, Second Conference on Knowledge Economy kicks off in same city
The World Bank, the City of Marseilles, and the Institut de la Méditerranée yesterday opened the Middle East and North Africa Knowledge Hub (MKH) in Marseilles. Using information and communications technologies, the center will help boost capacity for knowledge sharing and learning in the MENA region.
The knowledge hub inauguration follows the launch of the second annual Knowledge for Development Conference in Marseilles. Sponsored by the World Bank, and the Institut de la Méditerranée, the two-day conference explores the nexus of trade, competitiveness, and the knowledge economy.
The two Marseilles events come as the MENA region faces unprecedented social and economic challenges. According to a recent World Bank report, the region must double today's employment levels by 2020, creating 100 million additional jobs. An increasingly educated and young population is entering already strained labor markets, with unemployment rates averaging 15 percent. Jobless rates are on average 50 percent higher among women than among men.
“Given the demographic trend in the region, boosting trade and competitiveness will be key to creating jobs for the burgeoning youth population—and this will require tapping into people’s quality of education, creativity, and entrepreneurial skills,” says Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa at the World Bank, Christiaan Poortman. "This second Knowledge for Development Conference in Marseilles, offers an important opportunity for MENA countries to share each other’s experiences in harnessing the information and knowledge revolution to spur trade and growth—and ultimately meet the region’s employment challenge.”
MENA remains poorly integrated with the rest of the world. Trade represents 12 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) compared to almost 50 percent in East Asia. For example: the region’s manufactured exports, at $40 billion, are the same as those of Finland, with a population 55 times that of Finland. Foreign direct investment is about one percent of the GDP, less than in Sub-Saharan Africa. The region has five percent of the world population, but only 0.7 percent of the internet connections. — (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)