MENA needs up to 30 mln new job opportunities over next 10 years to face growing unemployment: IMF

Doaa A.Moneim , Thursday 18 Feb 2021

The region needs to create 25 to 30 million job opportunities over the coming five to 10 years to counteract the increased unemployment caused by COVID-19


The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is expected to see higher rates of unemployment over the coming years because of the COVID-19 crisis, said Jihad Azour, director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Azour made his comments during a panel held virtually on Thursday, attended by Ahram Online, which was organised by the Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Centre.

Azour said that 75 percent of the MENA population is under 30; so, the region needs to create 25 to 30 million job opportunities over the coming five to 10 years, which is one of the severe impacts of the pandemic on the region.

He also said that securing vaccines for all the region’s countries in a must for rapid recovery from the pandemic and for protecting the recovery itself, stressing that Arab countries need to cooperate intensively to secure vaccines and to adopt short and long-term policies that guarantee the rapid exit from the pandemic.

Azour also said that the IMF has allocated $100 billion in rapid finance for all the region’s countries, $17 billion of which were allocated to MENA region, with an increase rate of 65 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Azour also noted that financial inclusion in the region is still very weak, as it records between 4 to 5 percent, stressing that financial inclusion is a critical step that the region’s countries have to take to enable small and medium-sized enterprises to gain access to finances.

It is also imperative for the region to ease the procedures for founding companies, expand in green investments and in adopting technology, especially 5G, Azour said.

On Egypt as an emerging economy, Azour said that the pandemic has hit tourism severely, as well as exports and informal sectors, adding that the $8.2 billion that Egypt has obtained from the IMF amid the crisis under the rapid finance instrument and the stand-by agreement is helping the country re-enter the global financial markets.

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