“Widespread access to fast, cheap and reliable internet would help to solve labour market related problems in the MENA region,” said dr. Katarzyna W. Sidło during a workshop on the employment in the Middle East and North Africa.

Dr. Katarzyna Sidło, CASE Political Economist, attended a workshop “Employment creation through industrial policy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)” organized by the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) on September  21-22 in Bonn, Germany.

The main aim of the workshop, commissioned by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) was fostering a discussion on efficient and effective industrial policies in the MENA region in order to generate sustainable, decent, and productive employment. Lack of productive employment is one of the most pressing challenges of countries in the Middle East and North Africa. No other region in the world has such high rates of unemployment and underemployment.

Dr. Katarzyna Sidło in her presentation, based on her recently published CASE-FEMISE policy brief, argued that collaborative (sharing) economy - business model that create an open marketplace for access to goods and services thanks to the use of modern technology - has a potential to increase labour force participation of women in the MENA region. Specifically, it provides them with opportunities to join labour market despite various practical (lack of jobs, difficult commutes), societal (restrictions on outside-of-the-house activities), or family-related (caring responsibilities) obstacles. However, access to internet is a condition sine qua non to ripe its benefits. The main recommendation provided by dr Sidło was therefore to provide affordable, fast and reliable internet to people in MENA, a solution which while surely would not solve all the labour market related problems in the region, could help to (self-)create numerous job from men and women via various online channels.

It is planned that a joint publication will be prepared as a follow-up of the workshop.