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A New Economy for Middle East and North Africa Countries: Youth, Technology and Finance

March 26, 2018 | 04:00am ET

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will have to create hundreds of millions of new jobs over the next three decades. This challenge presents an opportunity for the region to transform its economies and harness both the creativity of its large youth population and the disruptive power of technology as engines of growth.

The World Bank Group in partnership with the government of Algeria and the Arab Monetary Fund, will bring together policymakers, entrepreneurs and academics from the region and beyond for a series of far reaching discussions on what it will take for MENA to seize this opportunity.

View the full agenda here

The following panels discussions will be livestreamed on this page.

PANEL SESSION 1. START-UPS AND UNICORNS - March 26th 9am Algiers/4am ET

Over the next decade, the MENA region will have to create hundreds of millions of jobs. The region has a large youth population, and increasingly better with an ever growing number of university graduates. Unlike developed countries, in MENA, the greater the level of education, the higher the likelihood of being unemployed. The disruptive power of technological innovation could play a critical role in MENA as a catalyst for growth, and the source of jobs that match the skills of the region’s growing cohort of university graduates. While there is widespread adoption of new technology in the region such as smartphones, it is rarely put to productive use. This panel will hear from some of the most successful digital start-ups, such as the ride hailing app Careem and the digital marketplace Souq.com, for a discussion on how they managed to grow and what would be needed to encourage more such ‘unicorns.’

Moderator: Rebeen Pasha, Founder of MyeDream Incubator, Iraq, and StartUP MIddle East
Keynote address: Mudassir Sheikha, CEO and Co-Founder, Careem
Keynote address: Kamran Elahian, Founder and Chairman, Global Innovation Catalyst
Panelist: Ala' Alasallal, CEO, Jamalon
Panelist: Riad Hartani, Co-founder, Xona Partners & iValley.co
Panelist: Ghinwa Jalloul, Founder and CEO, Torch
Panelist: Xavier Reille, IFC Country Manager for the Maghreb region, World Bank Group


PANEL SESSION 4. FINANCE AND DEVELOPMENT March 26th 4:30pm Algiers/11:30am ET

MENA lags behind other regions in the quality of its financial systems. This is especially true of new, peer to peer financial systems such as MPESA in Kenya, which has a dramatic impact on financial inclusion and the promotion of new businesses. This session will feature a diverse range of perspective from the frontlines of financial reform and the new ‘cashless’ frontier.

Moderator: Abderrahmane Raouya, Minister of Finance, People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria
Keynote address: Lemma Senbet, Executive Director, African Economic Research Consortium and University of Maryland
Panelist: Ragavan Venkatesan, Head, Digital Payments & Alternate Channels, IDFC Bank
Panelist: Abhishant Pant, Founder, Cashless Journey 
Panelist: Kamran Elahian, Founder and Chairman, Global Innovation Catalyst
Panelist: Habib Attia, Senior Financial Economist, Arab Monetary Fund
Panelist: Issa Aghabi, IFC Investment Officer, Venture Investing, World Bank Group



This session will focus on creating education systems that equip young people with the skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow, and to instill a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. The session will feature a blend of experts from both education and technology, for a discussion on how to create an environment that allows young people to harness both in a dynamic economy driven by innovation.

Moderator: Nadir Mohammed, GCC Country Director, World Bank Group
Keynote address: Hayat Sindi, Special Advisor to the Islamic Development Bank’s President, IsDB
Panelist: Nadir Mohammed, GCC Country Director, World Bank Group
Panelist: Salvatore Nigro, Global Vice President, Education for Employment.
Panelist: Kamran Elahian, Founder and Chairman, Global Innovation Catalyst
Panelist: Lesly Goh, Director, Information and Technology Solutions Vice Presidency, World Bank Group
Panelist: Mussaad Al-Razouki, Chief Business Development Officer, Kuwait Life Sciences

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