Second annual eventMarseille Forum to help region with knowledge-based changes [Archives:2004/719/Business & Economy]

March 11 2004

The second annual Knowledge for Development Forum will be held in the French city of Marseille March 14-16 to engage countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in a dialogue on how to take advantage of knowledge-based economies as they move towards greater integration with the global economy.
The forum is sponsored by the World Bank in partnership with the Institut de la Mediterranee and the City of Marseille.
The 'Knowledge Economy' results mainly from an intensification of the globalization process, the spread of information and communications technology, more automation and computerization of productive activities, the increasingly tight links between science and innovation, and the development of new fields such as biotechnologies.
Under the theme of Trade, Competitiveness and the Knowledge Economy, this second gathering will take stock of progress made by MENA countries in reorienting their development strategies towards knowledge-based economies by facilitating trade and investment.
Several countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates will present case studies.
The Forum also coincides with the inauguration of the Middle East and North Africa Knowledge Hub in Marseilles by the World Bank and the City of Marseilles.
The Knowledge Hub aims to respond to the challenges of globalization faced by MENA countries by facilitating the exchange of global knowledge and learning services, and connecting people, firms, institutions in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. It will be managed by the World Bank Institute, the training arm of the World Bank Group.
The two Marseilles events come as the MENA region faces unprecedented social and economic challenges. According to a recent World Bank report, the region must double today's employment levels by 2020, creating 100 million additional jobs.
An increasingly educated and young population are entering already strained labor markets, with unemployment rates averaging 15 percent . Jobless rates are on average 50 percent higher among women than among men.