Summary Report on the International Workshop “Employment Creation through Industrial Policy in the MENA Countries”

Lack of productive employment is one of the most pressing challenges of countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). No other region in the world has such high rates of unemployment and underemployment. Policy makers across the region are extremely concerned about the problem but have not yet been able to identify an effective strategy to address it. Many academic publications and donor reports focus only on the labour market rather than on what is happening on the production side of the economy. In addition, there is an emerging literature stressing the need of new industrial policies in the MENA region. Very few of these, however, focus on employment creation and promotion as a distinct goal of industrial policies.

For example, the sector of information and communication technologies (ICTs) offers enormous opportunities for the creation of high-quality employment in MENA countries.

The collaborative / sharing economy (i.e., business models that build on digital platforms) provides additional employment opportunities in particular for women. Being economically active in the collaborative economy eases the access to finance, allows for more flexible working hours (particularly important for female labour force participation), and provides alternatives to public transport (also particularly important for women who are afraid of sexual harassment). The sharing economy’s potential can be raised through online education programs, crowdfunding, online marketplaces and transport platforms.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), has therefore commissioned the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) to bring international experts for industrial and labour market policies in the MENA together for a workshop and discuss what industrial policies in MENA should look like in order to generate employment that is sustainable, decent and productive. The workshop has taken place on Bonn on 21-22 September 2018. Dr. Katarzyna Sidło attended the workshop.


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