Arab youth vent their anger at broken economic promises

Unemployment and lack of reforms underpin protests in Middle East and north Africa

When Lebanon imposed a fee on WhatsApp calls to boost government coffers, it was another example of Arab politicians misreading the public mood. Within hours, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese were on the streets, their disillusionment with their leaders exploding to the surface as mass protests erupted in Beirut and other cities. It was just the latest example of the rage simmering across the Arab world as ruling elites oversee rotten political systems that fail to deliver basic economic needs.

Last month, it was the redeployment of a popular commander of Iraq’s counter-terrorism forces that sparked the worst unrest in Baghdad for years. Before that, it was a little-known contractor’s diatribes against Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egyptian president, and allegations of corruption that provoked rare protests in one of the Middle East’s most oppressive states.

The trigger points were different and each country has its own dynamics. But the roots of the anger are similar and echo those that fuelled the uprisings that rocked the Arab world in 2011: leaders failing to meet the aspirations of their youthful populations.

Experts have long warned about the fragility of the status quo in the Middle East and north Africa, a repressive region blighted by rampant youth unemployment.

Protesters in Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt all chanted similar mantras: regimes must fall. In Jordan, demonstrations last year forced the prime minister from office. In April, popular demonstrations toppled two veteran leaders within days — Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir and Abdulaziz Bouteflika in Algeria. Protests continue in the latter.

“As long as there is inequality, social injustice and marginalisation — political and economic — and corruption, nepotism and patronage exists, the people will not stop,” said Dalia Ghanem Yazbeck at the Beirut-based Carnegie Middle East Centre. “Their patience has reached its apex and they want change.”

As the outrage mounts, so too the social pressures. About 60 per cent of the region’s population is aged under 30. The IMF estimates that 27m youths will enter the labour market over the next five years.

The region’s average economic growth since 2009 has been one-third slower than the previous eight years. Per capita incomes have been “near stagnant” and youth unemployment has “worsened significantly”, the IMF says.

The state is the largest employer in many countries. But young jobseekers complain that patronage networks act as barriers. Many governments, meanwhile, have pushed through austerity measures to narrow budget deficits and keep rising debts in check. But that has meant slashing food, fuel and energy subsidies, squeezing household budgets.

All the while, ruling elites and their cronies are seen to enjoy opulent lives with zero accountability.

Mohamed Ali, the contractor who posted videos that encouraged the Egyptian protests, ranted about the palaces being built by Mr Sisi and the state funds wasted on vanity projects.

Saad Hariri, the billionaire prime minister of Lebanon, a country gripped by its worst economic crisis in years, was recently embarrassed by revelations that he paid $16m to a South African model before he took office.

In Iraq, there are perennial complaints that the system produces weak coalitions that foster rampant corruption, while failing to deliver the development that Iraqis were promised after the 2003 US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein.

Often, the uprisings are crushed by force. In Egypt, more than 3,500 people have been arrested since September. In Iraq, more than 100 people died amid reports of demonstrators being targeted by snipers.

In Lebanon, the government reversed its decision to impose a fee on WhatsApp calls and announced reforms. The protests continue.

Governments have little choice but to push through economic reforms. Lebanon, for example, is burdened with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 150 per cent, dwindling foreign reserves and a stagnant economy. But, as long as measures are imposed by regimes lacking political accountability and failing to address people’s anger over injustices, Arab leaders will continue to stoke the flames of unrest.

Written by Andrew England


Egyptian youth and sports ministry announces new leadership fellowship for young Africans

By (Azugbene Solomon)

The Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports has announced it will implement the new Nasser Fellowship for African Leadership, which will take place from 8 to 22 June in Cairo.

The fellowship targets 100 young leaders from the African Union member states, including decision-makers in the government sector, executive leaders in the private sector, civil society activists, heads of national councils for youth, faculty members at universities, researchers in strategic research centres, members of trade unions, and journalists.

The aim of the fellowship is to transfer the long-established Egyptian experience in national institution-building and to create a new generation of transformational African leadership, whose vision is in line with the orientations of Egypt’s presidency of the African Union.

The fellowship is one of the mechanisms to implement the Million by 2021 initiative, launched to empower and develop young people in Africa by building the capacities of one million young Africans in the areas of education, employment, entrepreneurship and participation by 2021.

The fellowship also comes in 2019, which President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has said will be the year of education.

Participants must be Africans; Egyptian citizens and residents are excluded.

World Bank Supports Job Creation for Youths and Women in Egypt through $200 Million Investment

By Rinchi

The World Bank supports youth and women entrepreneurship in Egypt through a $200 million investment. This investment will go to youth and women-led startups and increase their financial access.

The project is called Catalyzing Entrepreneurship for Job Creation and will channel US$245 million through non-bank financial institutions which will offer loans to small businesses led by youths and women in the country.

Besides youth and women businesses, it also targets first-time borrowers and small businesses in the underserved regions across the country. The project also uncovers coaching opportunities to help them build the necessary skills and capacity to strive for success.

Dr. Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation: “Our partnership with the World Bank Group aims to empower Egyptian women and youth to become successful entrepreneurs. This is an investment that offers many opportunities to improve the livelihoods of Egyptians through job creation and contributing a solid foundation for the country’s economy.”

The World Bank’s project investment in Egypt aims at increasing the supply of seed, early-stage, and venture capital for startups and SMEs with high potential for growth and job creation.

The project succeeds the ongoing “Promoting Innovation for Inclusive Financial Access” which support SMEs by providing access to finance and promoting job creation in the country’s private sector. Today, the project has created approximately 300,000 jobs and around 70,000 women and 56,000 youths are benefited from it.

Source Tech In Africa

Egypt: Wounded Ahly seeking some solace in Egyptian league

Ahly, licking their wounds following a humiliating 5-0 African Champions League defeat, are seeking some solace in the Egyptian Premier League as they meet Maqassa on Wednesday.

The Red Devils suffered their worst ever defeat in an African competition after being embarrassed in Pretoria as South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns put one foot in the Champions League semis.

Barring a miraculous comeback in Saturday’s second leg, Ahly, who lost in the final of the previous two Champions League editions, will exit the prestigious competition that they last won in 2013.

That will leave them with only two domestic titles to fight for, including the league where they are locked in a tight battle with bitter Cairo rivals Zamalek.

With only two points separating them from leaders Zamalek, Ahly are aware they can ill-afford to drop any points at this crucial stage of the season.

They will move top, at least temporarily, should they beat Maqassa on Wednesday. Zamalek meet Masry one day later.

“I’m responsible for the result against Sundowns and I’m determined to change that situation as soon as possible,” Ahly coach Martin Lasarte said on the club’s official website.

“All of us, including me and the players, will do our best to make up for this cruel defeat,” the Uruguayan added.

Maqassa, who lie fifth in the table with 42 points from 26 matches, drew three of their past five games, winning twice.

Lasarte opted to leave Marwan Mohsen and playmaker Nasser Maher out of Ahly’s squad for the game. Key left-back Ali Maaloul and Angolan winger Geraldo are also out due to automatic suspension.

Ahly comfortably won the reverse league fixture 3-0 in January.

Source Abram Online

Youth’s role in achieving peace

By Ekleel Badr Sallam

As a young Saudi woman, I am glad to be part of such a tremendous forum that believes in youth’s role in achieving peace, development and creativity for the world; a forum that prepares members of the current generation to become the leaders of the future, ensuring and maintaining the coexistence between all communities.

Regardless of religious, cultural and language differences, the world’s youth face similar challenges and obstacles. Therefore, cooperation between young people is essential for the development of their countries through the exchange of knowledge and awareness.

The Arab and African Youth Platform was a three-day event that took place from 16 to 18 March 2019 in Aswan, Egypt. The city of Aswan is proof that Egypt benefited from colonization while maintaining its language, culture and traditions and is now one of the world’s largest tourist attractions.

In preparing the younger generations, the forum held roundtable discussions and workshops to maintain and enhance cooperation between current leaders and young promising future leaders.

The World Youth Forum opens dialogue on topics of interest to international youth. It engages youth and allows them to exchange views and recommend initiatives to decision-makers, influential figures and policymakers.

In the wake of massive advancements in the field of technology, international issues dominate media and are of global concern. Therefore, young people should be aware of international relations that draw on contributions from politics, history, media, sociology, law, ideas, societies and economics. Young people need to acquire the skills of diplomacy to debate and discuss issues internationally.

Youth unity is a must to create solutions to reduce pollution and poverty in all parts of the world, as well as to focus on enhancing coexistence through sharing common interests and similarities.

After personally meeting Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, I believe that more forums will provide a platform for proactive international youth to unite in shaping a message of humanity, peace, progress and harmony.

Source Saudi Gazette

Egypt hopes to transfer its experience with youth, development to Africa

By Egypt Today staff

Egypt hopes to transfer its experience in organizing youth conferences to the African countries, presidential spokesperson Bassam Radi said on Monday.

He added in statements to the national television that Egypt aspires to enhance its cooperation with Africa on several levels including youth and development.

“President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi prioritizes youth as they aspire to establish a prosperous future,” Radi explained.

He added that Egypt established more than one model of youth conferences. “Three years ago, we called for organizing local youth conferences in different cities and governorates all over the country; then we established the World Youth Forum in November 2017 for the first time, and finally we witnessed inaugurating the Arab and African youth Forum in 2019,” Radi said.

The Arab and African youth forum comes in light of carrying out the recommendations of the second edition of the World Youth Forum (WYF), which was held in Sharm El-Sheikh in November 2018. At the closing ceremony of the WYF, President Sisi named Aswan the capital of African Youths in 2019.

At the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa on February 10, President Sisi, who is currently heading the African Union, invited heads and presidents of African countries to attend the forum.

President Sisi has commissioned the National Academy for Training and Rehabilitation of Youth with setting executive mechanisms for training the African youth in the economic, political and social levels, said Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli in a statement on December 2, 2018.

Source Egypt Today

Youth conferences great opportunity for interaction among youths – Sisi

17 March 2019: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi voiced hope for maintaining the convocation of the youth conference in Egypt every three months in order to find a platform for dialogue among youths and reach tangible results.

The President asserted that Egypt was in dire need of a program to qualify youths for leadership. Afterwards, the presidential program for training youths was floated and an agreement was reached with a national academy to work on such training and depend on the qualified youths in various jobs in the state especially in high positions.

The academy is now up and running and its graduates would certainly benefit the government and administrative State bodies, he added.

Egypt faces political, economic and security challenges, not different from those facing fellow Arab and African nations, he said, noting that they all should be firmly confronted.

He pressed the need for more dialogue and interaction among all stakeholders in any country, especially youths, noting that many ideas which had been raised at the first youth forum were implemented.

“Scientific research is an industry; its components could be available in Egypt and other countries. But this does not mean its efficiency is similar to that in developed countries.” he said.

However, the possibility of having intellectual minds is higher in our countries as we have large number of manpower, he said.

We try to give opportunities to youth through quality education to use his mental powers to distinguish. Even if he couldn’t get the chance in his country, he can seek it in another country for the sake of humanity. We should not be selfish dealing with cadres.”he added.

The Arab and African Youth Forum launches in Aswan on Saturday, and set to last for three days until March 18 under the patronage of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

The forum will tackle topics such as the future of scientific research and health care, the impact of advanced technology and innovation in Africa and the Arab region.

The forum’s agenda revolves around Arab and African subjects of concern in light of Egypt’s presidency of the African Union in 2019. The Youth forum’s activities include open discussions, workshops, seminars and round tables gathering senior officials, decision-makers and a large number of young people from all over Africa.

Source Egypt Today

Egypt: Arab and African Youth Platform: Investing in young people

Young and promising leaders in Africa and the Arab world are all set to gather in Aswan, the 2019 Capital for African Youth

By Inas Mazhar

Youth in the Arab region and Africa share history and present circumstances, making cooperation among them essential for the development of their countries. Young people in both regions have proven they are capable of developing a promising vision of integration.

In this context, the Arab and African Youth Platform is founded for youth in the two regions to share and exchange experiences. Participants will have the chance to discuss various topics that are of concern to both Arab and African youth with the aim of fostering cooperation.

The forum’s agenda focuses on Arab and African matters, themes and questions of concern in light of Egypt’s presidency of the African Union in 2019.

Activities include open discussions, workshops, seminars and roundtable discussions gathering senior officials, decision-makers and a large number of young people from all over Africa.

In addition to the sessions and workshops, various cultural and entertainment activities will be held on the sidelines. Guests and participants will also have the chance to discover Egypt through Aswan as the organisers have planned many sightseeing visits and tours in celebration of Aswan being chosen the Capital for African Youth in 2019.

The forum’s colourful slogan reflects the spirit and authenticity of Arab and African countries. It is set to start on 16 March at 5pm with a celebration of Egypt taking over the chairmanship of the African Union.

The forum will kick-off with the opening ceremony followed by an open discussion entitled “The Future of Scientific Research and Healthcare” after which a roundtable titled “Nile Valley: The Pathway for Arab and African Integration” will be held in the afternoon.

The second day includes a session under the theme “The Impact of Financial Technology and Innovation on Africa and the Arab Region”. It will then be followed by two workshops: “Social Entrepreneurship from an African Perspective” and “Implementing Youth’s Agenda of Safety and Security in the Coastal Zone”. The forum will conclude with a closing ceremony in the evening.

While the World Youth Forum sees the participation of young people from all over the world and tackles the issues of the world on a broad scale, this platform has been narrowed down to tackle topics of concern to the African continent and the Arab region.

Accordingly, topics to be broached involve the future of scientific research and healthcare, and the impact of advanced technology and innovation in Africa and the Arab region.

The aim is to see young people and senior officials and experts finding optimal benefits, given that the Nile Valley is the pathway for Arab and African integration.

There is also a workshop called “Developing Coastal Regions”. Furthermore, two entrepreneur workshops entitled “How to be a Successful Entrepreneur” and “Social Entrepreneurship from an African Perspective” are scheduled to be held to guide young people by using a blueprint for business and research: how to start, work and succeed.

The point of the forum is not just young people meeting and mingling, but sharing their experiences, cultures, hopes and aspirations for the future of their countries and themselves.

This is what young people are expected to share in the three-day platform in Aswan from 16 to18 March under the patronage of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi.

“Egyptian youth should be proud that their leader President Al-Sisi shows great interest and pays attention to their current issues and ambitions and is also keen on maintaining communication and dialogue with them on all levels through regular forums,” Ashraf Sobhi, Egypt’s minister of youth and sports, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

“Believing in the fact that the future belongs to youths and that they should be the leaders of their generation in planning and shaping the future of their nations, the president has been working for the past years on reaching out to them, primarily in Egypt, by listening and discussing, and getting veteran pioneers in every field involved, by advising and teaching them how to make their ambitions real,” Sobhi added.

The minister revealed that what was new in this conference was “getting youth involved in the future of scientific research, healthcare and advanced technology and innovation in Africa and the Arab region.

It is time our continent and region catch up with the world’s most developed countries and this will only be achieved by our young people.

“It is very important to have such a dialogue between past, present and future generations as it helps in sharing experiences and learning about new scientific technology which is spreading rapidly. And who can cope with these speedy innovations other than young people? This is why the president has decided to invest in his youth and has been giving his vote of confidence in their capabilities and potential, deciding to put in their hands a better future,” Sobhi said.

Ashraf Mahmoud, president of the Arab and African Sports Culture Associations, says that holding the forum in Aswan under the auspices of Egypt’s head of state confirms the deep-rooted relationship and ties between Egypt and its fellow countries in the African continent and the Arab region.

“It also endorses the fact that Egypt will remain the nation that serves as a communications link between African and the Arab nations. Accordingly, with those two dimensions in mind, African and Arab youth will be meeting in Aswan, the city that represents the portal for those two gateways,” Mahmoud said.

“This conference reveals the sincere and serious initiative by President Al-Sisi to bring young people from around the globe together through world forums which started in 2017. It also shows how the Egyptian regime is keen on the continuity of these forums, by taking them to continental and regional levels.It also reflects the president’s desire and eagerness to maintain a dialogue which he started with Egyptian youth, then added the world’s youth to the dialogue, and now Africans, in his capacity as chair of the African Union, and Arabs, in the capacity of Egypt’s leadership of the region. Egypt understands the challenges facing the continent and region and accordingly recognises the fact that only young people can make the changes for the future. So came the idea of bringing them together,” Mahmoud added.

Menna Ghazi, a young accountant at the Central Auditing Organisation, is looking forward to the forum as a participant representing Egypt. Ghazi went a week before the event to prepare receiving guests in Aswan and making sure they are comfortable.

“I have participated in almost all the youth forums, whether as an organiser or a participant and I have learned a lot in these events: time management, communication with people from all over the world, how to promote Egypt as a historic and civilised nation. As an organiser and together with my colleagues, we’ve been introduced to many nationalities and associated with them. We still maintain contacts with all of them. The forums also gave us the chance to bring young people together by introducing various nationalities to each other and where they can exchange their life experiences, cultures and traditions.

“Being a participant has also developed my skills, reflected in our personalities as Egyptians, into becoming open-minded individuals towards accepting the differences of others and learning from them,” Ghazi said. “It taught us how to listen, learn and exchange views, visions and opinions without any prejudice or fanaticism. Actually, these forums have taught us as young people the art of dialogue and persuasion. These platforms have given us the opportunity to work on strengthening ties between us Egyptians and our counterparts in Africa and all over the world. They have revived existing relations among young people through events like this forum and the Africa Cup of Nations in June. We all need each other because there are mutual benefits among us as leaders of the future in Africa. That is why we should cooperate more in economic investment that would benefit us all, and our role is to acknowledge our African counterparts in the role of Egypt in Africa.”

Alaa Zein, Egyptian national coordinator of the African Artists Peace Initiative, told the Weekly that African and Arab youth share the same challenges and have a lot in common. “One is being misperceived and looked at by the world as being Third World countries that need more development, when indeed they are innovative and creative. They just need that chance to prove it and this forum is the best platform for their initiative, she said.

“The forum is also a great opportunity for African youth to change the world’s misconceptions about Africa as a continent full of hunger and disease. They only remember Africa when it comes to football’s Africa Cup of Nations. This is why Africa should use these occasions more to change such misconceptions,” she added.

Zein, from Aswan, believes selecting the location of any event is most important when it comes to organisation.

“I am a Nubian and Aswan’s culture is the closest to Africa especially to those of Sudan and Ethiopia. We share a lot in common when it comes to clothing, music and traditions. This forum will be the first to change the stereotypical image of Egyptians in Africa and vice versa. Africans will also get the chance to change their typical perception of Egypt as only an African country by geography. They are that, but also Africans by heart.”

*A version of this article appears in print in the 14 March, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Investing in young people.

Source Ahram Online

Nigeria: Junior Ajayi signs Al Ahly extension

By Tolu Olasoji

The former CS Sfaxien marksman has penned a new deal that runs through till 2022

Junior Ajayi has signed a new three-year contract with Al Ahly.

In the summer of 2016, the Nigeria striker joined the Egyptian giants for a reported fee of $2million from Tunisian side CS Sfaxien.

Ajayi helped the Red Devils to two consecutive Egyptian Premier League titles in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 campaigns.

This season, the former Nigeria youth international missed the first five months of the season due to a knee ligament injury against Township Rollers on July 28 and returned in a Caf Champions League game against JS Saoura.

He has since played eight games across all competitions, finding the back of the net thrice.

Al Ahly, placed third in the Egyptian top-flight log, play El Daklyeh in a league game on Wednesday and Ajayi will be expected to play a crucial role.

Source Goal

How Wataneya is Influencing the Children Without Parental Care Sector in Egypt


After realizing that the quality of Egyptian orphanages were subpar, Wataneya Society began in 2008 with the sole purpose of improving the quality of care and living standards of Egypt’s orphaned youth.

“In the beginning it was very difficult, because we were fighting for quality standards and no one understood what that meant. In Egypt, when we say [taking care of the] orphans, it refers to celebrations like orphans day, giving them food, clothes and that was it,” Yasmine El Hagary, Deputy Executive Director of Wataneya Society shares before adding that “Development is different than charity, and it takes time but it is more effective. It is more beneficial for the children with long-term effects as opposed to a hit and run event, party or trip.”

For projects to have a trackable impact, they need to be implemented for a few years. In an attempt to introduce this concept in Egypt, Wataneya Society collaborated with the Swiss NGO Drosos Foundation and launched “Quality of Care for Children without Parental Care” project. The five year project aimed to improve the capacities of institutional care homes by collaborating with the Egyptian Ministry of Social Solidarity,” in order to improve the quality of services provided to children without parental care.”

The project set guidelines for the optimal care standards the orphaned youth should receive. The ministry’s staff had to become familiar with these standards to ensure that all the institutional homes are following the new rules and regulations set by Wataneya Soceity and Drosos Foundation.

This also included the quality of caregivers that are hired at these institutions. Caregivers vary from alternative mother to managers, founders, volunteers and social workers.

“The level of involvement of the care givers determines whether they’re a caregiver or not. Social workers such as alternative mothers who are in direct, day-to-day contact with the children and provide them with care. Psychologists and volunteers who visit the children regularly and have a close relationship with them are also considered caregivers,” El Hagary explains.

The importance of the role of caregivers stems from their impact on the child. If caregivers are well trained, this will ensure the best care for the child. In order to achieve this, Wataneya Society launched several programs and training sessions to help caregivers improve their services to the children.

These programs teach caregivers how to protect the child, how to teach the child how to protect themselves, how to handle the pre-teen phase, how to handle the teenage years and more so.

One program is ‘Hamzet Wasl,’ which is an intensive course for fresh graduates, that was launched to teach them the practical side of the theoretical skills they learned in school.

Over the past 10 years, the NGO trained over 2000 caregivers and implemented quality control standards in at least 120 orphanages in 13 governorates across Egypt.

Nahed Hegazy, the director of Resala Organization, believes that the most impactful person in an orphanage is the caregiver. “In order to further enhance the orphanages in Egypt, I really wish that those who choose to take on this profession really want to have an impact and enjoy what they are doing rather than view it as any other job,” she emphasizes.

This is why follow-up visits by the ministry’s staff are important at the orphanages to assess the living conditions and care quality the children are receiving.

According to a census the UNICEF did in 2015, there are 1.7 million orphaned children in Egypt. Egypt has been actively improving the living conditions in orphanages following years of reported abysmal management of orphanages, which are often overcrowded, and child abuse.

However, Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity announced, in late 2018, that all orphanages would be closed by 2025. A recent study by the ministry revealed that the number of orphans has vastly decreased which nullified many existing orphanages’ licenses.

The ministry believes that children will receive the best care if placed in foster homes because it is better for their psychological well-being. It is important to note that in 2014, Wataneya Society introduced alternative families’s assessment standards to the Ministry of Social Solidarity by joining the Higher Committee of Alternative Families in the ministry.

With this, the Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali wants to create a new selection committee after the amended child’s law to assess the foster families. The ministry also launched a hotline 19828 to answer any questions foster parents may have.

Source Egyptian Streets