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Leveraging Data to Foster Development: Where does the MENA Region Stand?

December 6, 2021



A livestream will be available, above, on Monday, December 6. Tune in.
  • Insights from the World Development Report 2021

    The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region finds itself at an important crossroads of its digital transformation journey. Most countries are more connected than ever before, with broadband access advancing and data traffic rising exponentially. However, harnessing the development potential of these growing volumes of data requires bridging critical gaps in the legal and regulatory frameworks for data creation, use and reuse. According to the World Development Report 2021: Data for Better Lives, this ecosystem comprises data infrastructure policy, the legal and regulatory framework for data, and the related economic policy framework, as well as the data institutions supporting implementation. Effectively leveraging data to boost development requires forging a new social contract that seeks to deliver the potential value of data equitably while fostering trust by safeguarding against data misuse.

    In this regional webinar, the World Development Report team will present insights from the World Development Report 2021 and its relevance to the MENA region. A green, resilient, and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will hinge on the region’s potential to leverage its data effectively for better policymaking, private sector growth, and more efficient and transparent service delivery. The webinar seeks to support regional key stakeholders in forging their own new social contracts that help realize the potential value of data while rooted in the principles of trust and equity.

    This regional workshop is designed to raise awareness of WDR 2021 policy messages and promote dialogue with regional policymakers, as a means of identifying possible downstream engagements for World Bank teams and could be delivered in local languages as needed. The workshop will be accompanied by the release of a region-specific briefing note that brings together all the geographically relevant findings and messages of the WDR 2021 translated into local languages.


    Time (ET) AGENDA
    9:00 – 9:05

    Opening Remarks:


    Mr. Ferid Belhaj
    Regional Vice President, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank

    9:05 – 9:30 

    Keynotes on World Development Report 2021


    Mr. Dean M. Jolliffe
    Co-Director, WDR 2021 and Lead Economist, Development Economics Vice Presidency (DEC), World Bank

    Ms. Vivien Foster
    Co-Director, WDR 2021 and Chief Economist, Infrastructure, World Bank

    9:30 – 10:20

    Panel Discussion



    Ms. Roberta Gatti, MENA Chief Economist, World Bank


    High-Level Representatives on the Panel:

    Ahmad Hanandeh
    Minister, Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship (MODEE), Jordan

    Dr. Ghita Mezzour
    Minister Delegate to the Head of Government in charge of Digital Transition and Administrative Reform, Morocco

    Ms. Hanan Abdel Meguid
    Founder and CEO, Kamelizer, Angel Invest Studio, Egypt

    Dr. Ola Awad
    Director General, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics

    Adnen Lassoued
    Director General, Institut National de la Statistique (INS), Tunisia


    Q & A

    10:20 – 10:25 

    A World Bank Initiative: Statistics Compact


    Mr. Johannes G. Hoogeveen
    Practice Manager, MENA Poverty and Equity Global Practice, World Bank

    10:25 – 10:30 

    Closing Remarks


    Mr. Ferid Belhaj
    Regional Vice President, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank


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    Ferid Belhaj

    Vice President for Middle East and North Africa, World Bank

    Ferid Belhaj is the World Bank Group Vice President for Middle East and North Africa since July 2018. Prior to this, Ferid served in several different position at the Bank including as the Chief of Staff of the President of the World Bank Group; as the Director for the Middle East in charge of World Bank work programs in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Iran, based in Beirut, Lebanon; and as the World Bank’s Special Representative to the United Nations in New York. A Tunisian national, Ferid joined the Bank in 1996 as Senior Counsel in the Legal Department, managing legal and judicial reform projects, and serving as the Bank Counsel for countries, including Egypt, Morocco, Iran, Algeria and Thailand.


    Roberta Gatti

    Chief Economist of the Middle East and North Africa, World Bank

    Roberta Gatti is the Chief Economist of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region of the World Bank. In that role, she oversees analytical work to support the Bank’s operations and economic surveillance in countries in the region. In her previous capacity of Chief Economist for the Human Development practice group, she co-led the conceptualization and release of the World Bank Human Capital Index and oversaw the Service Delivery Indicators data initiative. Roberta joined the World Bank in 1998 as a Young Professional in the Macro unit of the Development Research Group. She has since led analytical agendas on growth, firm productivity, gender, social inclusion and labor markets, including as the Global Lead for Labor policies. She has also managed teams and lending portfolios in both the MENA and the Europe and Central Asia regions.


    Ghita Mezzour

    Minister Delegate, Head of Government of Digital Transition and Administrative Reform, Morocco

    Ghita Mezzour is Minister Delegate to the Head of Government in charge of Digital Transition and Administrative Reform in Morocco. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor at the International University of Rabat and a visiting research scientist at the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. Mezzour received her Ph.D. degree from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in the United States in May 2015, where she was part of both the School of Computer Science and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Her research interests are at the intersection of cyber security, big data, and socio-technical systems. She holds a Master and a Bachelor in Communication Systems from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.


    Ahmad Hanandeh

    Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship, Jordan

    Ahmad Hanandeh has been the Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship in Jordan, since October 2020, where he overseas the development of Jordan's ICT and digital infrastructure and the state's mandate to grow the digital economy. His most recent role has been the Chief Executive Officer of Zain Jordan, a leading Telecommunications company with more than 1300 employees and over 469 million US Dollars in revenues. In 2011, He Joined Zain Group as Zain Sudan Chief Financial Officer and after less than three months and demonstrating leadership and business acumen, has been appointed the CEO of Zain Jordan in June 2011.


    Hanan Abdel Meguid

    Founder, Kamelizer

    Hanan Abdel Meguid founded and leads Kamelizer, a Cairo-based venture that aims to accelerate and energize the startup scene, leveraging her more than 25 years of experience in the technology field. Prior to this, she was Chief Executive Officer of OTVentures, a fully owned Orascom Telecom subsidiary founded to lead the digital world in the online and mobile spheres and operating across more than 17 countries, from 2010 until 2014. Abdel Meguid has been a successful serial entrepreneur since the earliest days of the internet, serving as a mentor for incubators such as Flat6labs, Tahrir2, and Google’s Ebda2 initiative. Abdel Meguid received her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the American University in Cairo in 1988.


    Ola Awad

    President, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics

    Ola Awad is the president of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) and the former president of the International Association of Office Statistics (IAOS). She has been the President of PCBS since 2009, leading the successful development and implementation of various statistical and non-statistical programs on the local, regional and international levels. Awad is the first woman elected from developing countries and the Arab region to lead the IAOS. She is currently a council member in the ISI for the years 2017-2021. Awad also represents the Arab region in the HLG-SDGs for a second round, is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, and has been a fellow of the Aspen Institute Middle East Leadership Initiative (MELI) since 2013. She holds a Doctorate in Business Management from the University of Liverpool.


    Adnen Lassoued

    Director General, Tunisian National Statistics Institute

    Adnen Lassoued is currently the Director General of the Tunisian National Statistics Institute, since February 2019. Previously, for five years, he was a senior economist at the IMF Resident Representative office in Tunisia. Prior to joining the Fund, he was senior statistician at the Centre for Social Research and Studies (CRES), in charge of the evaluation of social assistance programs in Tunisia. He began his carrier in the Tunisian statistical office where he spent ten years at the Observatory of Economic Trends. He holds a Master’s degree in Mathematical Economics and Econometrics and an Engineer’s degree in Statistics and Information Analysis.

    Photo of Vivien Foster

    Vivien Foster

    Chief Economist for the Infrastructure Vice-Presidency, World Bank

    Vivien Foster is the Chief Economist for the Infrastructure Vice-Presidency of the World Bank; which covers the areas of Digital Development, Energy & Extractives, Transport and Infrastructure Finance. During her 20 years at the World Bank she has played a variety of leadership roles, including: Global Lead for Energy Economics, Markets and Institutions (2016-18); Practice Manager of the Global Energy Anchor (2012-16); and Lead Economist for Infrastructure in the Africa Region (2006-11). Throughout, her focus has been on the intersection between network infrastructures and economic policy. She has contributed to client dialogue, as well as advisory and lending engagements, in more than 30 countries across Africa, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

    Photo of Dean Jolliffe

    Dean Jolliffe

    Lead Economist in the Development Data Group, World Bank

    Dean Jolliffe is a Lead Economist in the Development Data Group of the World Bank and member of the LSMS-ISA team. He has extensive experience in the design and implementation of household surveys and is currently managing ongoing LSMS-ISA work in Ethiopia. He has also worked in the South Asia region at the Bank on poverty assessments for Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Previously, he was a Research Economist at the Economic Research Service of USDA, an Adjunct Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, an Assistant Professor at the Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education in Prague, and a Post-doctoral Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute.


    Johannes Hoogeveen

    Practice Manager for North Africa and the Middle East at the Poverty and Equity Global Practice, World Bank

    Johannes (Hans) Hoogeveen is Practice Manager for North Africa and the Middle East at the Poverty and Equity Global Practice of the World Bank. He has worked in fragile countries including in Africa and South Asia, and was country economist for Togo. Between 2004 and 2011 he lived in Tanzania, where he worked as poverty economist at the World Bank. Between 2009 and 2011 he was manager at Twaweza, a national NGO operating in the area of citizen engagement.