Using technology to fight poverty in Yemen

Published December 25th, 2012 - 06:00 GMT
A new campaign is hoping to use technology to reduce poverty
A new campaign is hoping to use technology to reduce poverty

The poverty rate in Yemen has reached almost 55 percent and poverty among youth has increased to 60 percent, according to a report released by the World Bank in 2012. 

Using these troubling statistics, the Information Technology and Humanitarian Development Foundation (iDev), in cooperation with Sheba Center for Strategic Studies, have been working together to use modern technology in Yemen as a vehicle to combat poverty and unemployment across the nation, particularly amongst the young.

Hashim Al-Mansur, head of technology programs in iDev, said they have conducted a study on the role of technology in reducing the operational costs of the private sector and are providing work opportunities for unemployed male and female youth.  

The study also explained how to expand the regional and international labor market through the buying and selling of products and services online. They cite examples of developing countries like Afghanistan, Palestine and Kenya, where an online presence has increased over the past few years. 

These countries face the same structural obstacles and geographical challenges as Yemen, but they were noticeably able to reduce poverty and unemployment in the last few years by the use of this technology, according to the study.

Al-Mansur pointed out that Yemen comes up against many challenges if it is to increase its commercial presence online.  A few of the obstacles are the lack of telecommunication and Internet services in many areas in the country. Yemen also does not have any current laws that regulate online trade.

“Applying technology to the development of Yemen is very weak. Some major organizations in Yemen such as the World Bank and the United Nations are trying to figure out how to invest and employ technology more broadly,” he said. 

Mohammed Al-Ryashi, head of the Technology and Telecommunication Syndicate, emphasized the potential for technology in Yemen.

“Technology has become a way to develop and keep pace with current times. We should integrate technology in the curricula because the majority of university graduates lack training in technology,” he said.  

“Between 80-90 percent of work in the world depends on technology whether in software or systems, which indicates the power of technology in employing the workforce,” he added, saying that Yemen currently lacks  training centers and labs in both schools and institutes to keep up with this.  

Maher Al-Doba’i, the head of the Fiscal and Administrative Department in Sheba Center, indicated that the concept of technology is not embedded in Yemen's culture as it has largely missed out on the electronics revolution. 

“Unfortunately, technology for the young means just the surfing Internet and social networks,” he said.

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