A two-day Tech Summit kicked off today in Amman, featuring tech-enabled solutions to connect learning to earning for young people in the Middle East and North Africa.
The summit, organised by UNICEF and NetHope, in collaboration with youth and nine United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations from the “No Lost Generation” initiative, brings together young people from all over the Middle East and North Africa region, private sector companies, development and humanitarian experts, academics and donors.
The summit is being held under the Patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, President of the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan and Chairman of the Board of Trustees – Princess Sumaya University for Technology. In addition to HRH, speakers include Thierry Marigny, Chief Executive Officer of Orange Jordan.
“We must create employment opportunities that are worthy of our talented young people,” said Princess Sumaya in her opening remarks. “It is inconceivable that we should squander our greatest asset – the youth of our region – through neglect and poor planning. Let’s all help to build an empowered future for our people, based on knowledge, opportunity and innovation.”
“This summit is a step towards the future for us young people in the region,” said Salam Freihat, 25, one of the youth participating in the summit. “I have been waiting for this opportunity to showcase my tech skills to companies and institutions. Helping to organise the summit has empowered me to work with my peers to find solutions to our common challenges together.”
The Middle East and North Africa region has the highest youth unemployment rate in the world, at nearly 30 per cent in North Africa and over 22 per cent across the rest of the region. For female youth, unemployment rates are even higher, reaching up to 40 per cent across the region.
Bridging the gap between learning and earning is one of the main challenges that young people face once they finish their education. New employment opportunities are much needed: between now and 2030, there will be an additional 39 million young people to absorb in the workforce in the region.
“Young people around the region are keen to find solutions to the challenges they face in securing paid and dignified employment,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “This summit offers a unique opportunity to engage young people in creatively finding change for themselves and their peers. But it’s a drop in the ocean and much more needs to be done in this critical area.”
“This Tech Summit will feature promising tech-enabled solutions that leverage the power of technology and partnerships to connect young people in the region to lifelong learning and dignified work,” said Leila Toplic, Lead for the “No Lost Generation” Tech Task Force at NetHope. “These solutions come from all over the region and the world and offer a diverse set of opportunities and resources such as online learning, mentoring, co-working spaces, internships, and freelance work among other initiatives.”
“Orange Jordan is committed to empowering youth through education, training and employment, where the private sector has an important role to play. Through our growth-mode accelerator program, ‘BIG’, Orange Jordan has helped six startups access growth opportunities. We have also partnered with several institutions on education, including UNICEF, and with universities, offering students scholarships,” said Theirry Marigny, CEO of Orange Jordan. “This month, in collaboration with Simplon Co., Orange Jordan will inaugurate a ‘Coding Academy’ – the first of its kind in the Middle East. The academy will provide free training courses in programming languages for young people to help them create opportunities in the field of technology.”
Young people have played an active role in organising the summit to reflect their needs, ideas and solutions. The summit is the first of its kind to engage, involve and connect these young people – especially the most vulnerable – to opportunities and to recognize their leading role in developing their own capacities.