Category Archives: Middle East and North Africa

Private Sector Plays Crucial Role in Improving Public Services in Arab Nations

Electricity workers repair cables in Sidon, Lebanon (via The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

When governments have exclusive control over the provision of goods and services, citizens are trapped without an alternative. Because the state monopolizes the entire market, there is no competition to ensure fair prices, sufficient quality, and satisfactory customer service. Taxpayer money is poured into government services, ostensibly to improve their quality, yet private citizens rarely see improvements. For example, many homes and businesses in Lebanon lose power for hours on a daily basis. Public servants are similarly inefficient, making basic bureaucratic procedures a nightmare.

The Lebanese Institute for Market Studies (LIMS), an independent economic think tank in Beirut, advocates for the implementation of free-market economic policies in Lebanon. LIMS’ current work focuses on the government’s inability to reliably provide electricity throughout the country. With CIPE’s support, LIMS launched a campaign to create awareness of the need to repeal the electricity subsidy, stop government investment in the sector, and open the sector to private competition. As a result of LIMS’ advocacy efforts, the Lebanese government announced in February that it would repeal the electricity subsidy this year. The government also announced in June that it decided not to lease Turkish power-generating ships after Lebanese officials discovered bidding process irregularities. These decisions represent progress towards LIMS’ reform objectives.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #82: Karim Shaaban on Economic Growth in Local Communities in Jordan

From left: guest host Anna Kompanek and podcast guest Karim Shaaban

This week’s guest on CIPE’s Democracy that Delivers podcast is Karim Shaaban, CIPE’s program director in Jordan. In this podcast, Shaaban discusses the positive effects that CIPE and the USAID Jordan Local Enterprise Support (LENS) Project have had on economic growth in local communities in Jordan.

LENS was created to support the growth of micro and small enterprises, particularly those led by women. Three associations involved in LENS focus primarily on empowering working women and women entrepreneurs.

LENS and CIPE have also worked to bolster Jordan’s tourism sector. Despite the country’s appeal as a hiking and rock climbing destination for international tourists, the tourism industry has historically lacked structure. CIPE partnered with the Jordan Mountaineering Association, which is composed of tour guides and tourism operators, to help the association plan and organize its first board of directors’ election.

In addition, Shaaban credits CIPE with providing local businesses with training and technical assistance. He says that with CIPE’s support, seven business associations were able to increase their revenue and diversify their revenue streams.

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

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Uniting to Achieve a Common Goal: Advocating for Economic Reform in Algeria

CARE’s Project Coordinator Amel Belaid (right) and CIPE Advocacy Expert Haroune Sidatt (center) deliver an advocacy training to members of the Association for Business Development and Promotion in Algiers.

Algeria is a country in dire need of economic reform. As global oil prices have dropped and the dinar has depreciated, Algeria’s export revenues have been cut in half, and the state deficit has risen rapidly. Unemployment continues to go unchecked, and job creation is not high enough to keep up with a population in which 70 percent of people are under age 30.

For nearly three years, the Circle for Reflection and Action on Business (“CARE” in French) has mobilized members of Algeria’s business community to work with each other — and with the Algerian government — to bring about much-needed economic reform. With support from CIPE and funding from the Middle East Partnership Initiative, CARE recently achieved a major milestone that puts it on the path to success.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #73: Majdi Hassen on Economic Reform Initiatives in Tunisia

Podcast guest Majdi Hassen and guest host Anna Kompanek

On this week’s Democracy the Delivers podcast, Institut arabe des chefs d’entreprises (IACE) Executive Director Majdi Hassen talks with CIPE’s Anna Kompanek about the economic reform initiatives his organization is undertaking in Tunisia. IACE is an independent, non-profit think tank based in Tunis. Since Tunisia’s revolution, Hassen has overseen IACE’s growth into a “think-and-do” tank that plays a vital role in convening diverse political and civic actors to discuss urgent economic problems.

Hassen has developed a series of IACE programs designed to bring leadership skills and civic awareness to young entrepreneurs, policymakers, and stakeholders in Tunisia. He has been instrumental in organizing IACE’s Enterprise Days, Tunisia’s biggest economic forum, which gathers over 1,000 national and international policymakers, business leaders, and experts to discuss critical private sector issues.

Kompanek and Hassen discuss a public-private dialogue effort – the National Business Agenda – that has brought together voices in the business community to provide the government with constructive recommendations for economic reform. They also discuss a hotline that has been set up in Tunisia to help local businesses deal with red tape and bureaucratic hurdles.

Learn more about IACE’s work: http://www.iace.tn/

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes.

Democracy that Delivers Podcast #72: Randa Al-Zoghbi on the launch of finance app Tamweely

Podcast guest Randa Al-Zoghbi

In this episode of Democracy that Delivers, podcast guest Randa Al-Zoghbi, CIPE’s Program Director in Egypt, discussed the release of their new app, Tamweely, in partnership with the World Bank.

The app is designed to connect financiers to small businesses and entrepreneurs in Egypt seeking start-up funding, as well as to provide business education tools and information about the institutional and legal environment for entrepreneurs and startups. Al-Zoghbi also discusses the economic situation in Egypt and the many challenges facing the business community there, and where she sees the app going in the future.

To find out more about Tamweely, visit the app store, android store, or go to their website: tamweely.org.

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes.

Democracy that Delivers #69: Oraib Al Rantawi on opportunities for public-private dialogue in Jordan

Guest host Anna Kompanek with podcast guest Oraib Al Rantawi

On this week’s Democracy That Delivers podcast, director of the Al Quds Center for Political Studies, Oraib Al Rantawi, talks about how he moved from being a journalist to the head of the Al Quds Think-Tank. Al Rantawi was a reporter and journalist from 1978-1993, covering a wide array of topics for pan-Arab newspapers, including the civil war in Lebanon and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Al Rantawi and guest host Anna Kompanek further discuss Al Quds partnership with CIPE, working for the past decade to engage political parties in Jordan with the economic reform process. They discuss the progress that has been made since the beginning of the partnership, as well as the political climate in Jordan and the opening space for public-private dialogue.

This podcast was recorded in the field, and the sound quality may vary.

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes

Women Head More than a Quarter of Refugee Households. What’s Next for Them?

I am their father. I am their mother. I am everything to them. 

Each year on March 8, the world observes International Women’s Day, a day to recognize both how far we as a global community have come, and also how far we have to go, in achieving gender parity. The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that the gender gap won’t close until 2186. 2017’s theme, “Be Bold for Change,” challenges both men and women to take bold actions that will advance the gender agenda; the WEF study also indicates that the economic gender gap is widening—following a peak in 2013, the global economic gap between men and women has now reverted to where it stood in 2008. At this rate, it will take another 170 years to achieve parity.

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