Monday 27, November 2017 by Jessica Combes

The One Million Arab Coder Initiative can help attract billions in FDI to MENA


The recently launched One Million Arab Coders Initiative by Dubai Future Foundation, supported by the Hussain Sajwani-DAMAC Foundation, could be an important catalyst in helping to fill millions of jobs in the software, smartphone applications and web development industries, from the 80 million jobs expected to be created by 2020, according to the findings of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) report.

Developing advanced ICT skill sets in the region will deliver a boost to regional economies by helping them increase productivity and attract billions of Dollars in FDI to the MENA region over the next decade.

“The initiative, which was launched at the end of October, will empower one million Arabs with the skills and technical expertise required for jobs of the future, and enables the region to take a leadership role in the creation and adoption of new technologies as we enter the fourth industrial revolution. The success of the initiative in attracting more than half a million applications from over 22 countries in the first few weeks is a testament to its impact on regional societies and demonstrates the thirst for knowledge and skills by its youth,” said Hussain Sajwani, Chairman of DAMAC.

Academic and market research shows strong links between ICT development and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). In the MENA region, initiatives like the One Million Arab Coders will drive foreign investment in a number of ways. First, a growing digital economy will spark investor interest in apps, online marketplaces and smart mobile services, to serve the 437 million population in the region.

Second, an ICT economy helps SMEs attract investment partners as they use technology to sharpen production, grow their customer base and bring down the cost of delivering goods and services. Digitalisation creates growth in industries ranging from banking, insurance and telecoms, to consumer goods retail, utilities, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, and travel and hospitality.

Third, the digital economy delivers greater transparency in public services and paves the way for smart government to improve business-friendliness across the MENA region.

“Apart from generating new business models and creating new jobs, the digital economy also improves management decisions, speeds up product and service development, empowers employees and leads to far better performance management. This creates a positive multiplier effect, where the benefits of investing in the digital economy aren’t restricted to the jobs immediately created,” said Sajwani.

Using India as a case study in powering economic growth through ICT and digital investments, analysts estimate this emerging market to have a seven per cent share of the global IT industry, with 60 per cent of global firms using the Indian market to test services before taking software products global. The country’s ICT sector is expected to post a 10 per cent CAGR over the next few years, and revenues from the sector are expected to total $154 billion for 2017. The IT sector in India is the country’s largest private sector employer, accounting for some 3.7 million jobs. It also contributes 38 per cent of the country’s total services exports.

“India is a case study and benchmark as we explore how the development of vibrant digital economies can benefit the MENA region. As we move to post-industrial service-based economies, the digital frontier is a very exciting way of creating jobs and future-proofing employment for Arab youth, while helping galvanise economic growth and prosperity,” added Sajwani.

The One Million Arab Coders initiative is part of the Mohammed bin Rashid Global Initiatives (MBRGI), the charitable foundation dedicated to spreading education and knowledge to contribute to a renaissance in the Arab world, and to advance the region by investing in youth, whose energies and abilities will build the future. The initiative is managed by the Dubai Future Foundation and supported by the Hussain Sajwani-DAMAC Foundation.



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