The 1st German-Arab Digital Forum

  • March 21, 2017
  • CeBIT Hannover, Scale 11

We warmly invite you to participate in the first German-Arab Digital forum during CeBIT 2017. You will have the opportunity to receive first-hand information about the IT-sector in the Arab region, to share your experiences with other participants and to establish or deepen relations to business partners.

The 1st German-Arab Digital Forum

March 21st, 2017
CeBIT Hannover, Scale 11
Conference Language: German/Arabic (with simultaneous interpretation)

Due to the ever-increasing adoption of Internet and mobile technologies, digitalization in the Arab world has been registering soaring growth rates, mainly taking place via Smartphone technologies. Following the turn of the millennium, different nations in the region made significant strides in the installation of mobile communication networks, where network operator­s and Internet providers enhanced their transmission capacities to 3G and beyond.

Progressing at different paces, Internet penetration reached a peak of over 90% in GCC countries and 80% in Lebanon, in comparison to 50% in Morocco and 30% in Tunisia. Moreover, broadband extension has rapidly advanced, although it very much differs regionally. According to the International Telecommunication Union, the internet broadband per user in Egypt is around 9.302 Bit/s and 25.972 Bit/s in Tunisia respectively.

The Arab world is steadily developing into a potential production site in the IT-sector owing to a myriad of favorable circumstances, such as its geographical proximity to Europe, minor time differences, and the abundance of talent and labor.

Against the backdrop of current developments, the digital business start-up scene has been flourishing across the region, from Tunisia and Egypt, to Jordan, Lebanon and the Gulf states, spanning a multitude of sectors, including education, healthcare, finance, transport and logistics. In other words, it is nothing short of a booming, versatile and diverse scene.

Information and communication technologies play an increasingly important role for development cooperation on the African continent, too. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) supports the sector with different initiatives and instruments – amongst them through the Strategic Partnership Digital Africa and the BMZ’s Tech Entrepreneurship Initiative Make-IT.

The 1st German-Arab Digital Forum will focus on this “Digital Transformation” in the Arab World. The spectrum of debates will include the alterations in frame conditions and infrastructure, as well as the up-and-coming regional hubs that are becoming centerpieces of digital economy in North Africa and the Middle East. The discussion will be enriched by the perspectives of the BMZ, who, together with the Agency for Business & Economic Development, will provide insights into the cooperation potential for the private sector – German companies and their counterparts abroad.

Fortifying German-Arab Business Relations in a digital era

In an event that was the first of its kind, over 100 German and Arab businesspeople, experts and representatives of the digital world met at the 1st German-Arab Digital Forum. Premiering on March 21st 2017 at the CeBIT Hanover, Germany’s biggest international IT Fair, the Forum was initiated and co-hosted by the Euro-Mediterranean-Arab Association (EMA) together with its partners, the Agency forBusiness and Economic Development and the CeBIT.

The welcome speeches given by Former President of Germany and current EMA President Christian Wulff, as well as Managing Director of the Agency for Business and Economic Development Dr Corinna Franke-Wöller and Deutsche Messe Board Member Dr Andreas Gruchow praised this initiative and highlighted the need for transnational cooperation in furthering the goals of the digital revolution – especially with regard to utilizing the Arab world’s youth potential in order to foster innovation and creative business cooperation, as Mr Wulff remarked.

Economic Development and ICTs: A necessary relationship

The Forum was enriched by the attendance and enthusiastic participation of several high-level figures, such as Tunisian Minister of Digital Economy H.E. Mohamed Anouar Maarouf, who affirmed the role of governments in promoting the start-up scene in their respective countries, giving the step-by-step approach that the Tunisian government has followed towards advancing its progress towards digitalization as a leading example of the attainability of such goals.

Following His Excellency’s keynote speech, a dynamic panel discussion on “the value of cooperation in times of digital transformation” was moderated by Saxonia Systems CEO and EMA board member Viola Klein. The panel discussion revolved around the role of Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs) in strengthening digital economic development, which is particularly important when considering GCC countries’ goal to diversify their economies and become oil-independent, as SAP Saudi Arabia COO Andy Froemmel noted. This sentiment was echoed by VOICE Chairman Dr Thomas Endres, who asserted that, in an era of digitalization, companies cannot exist as single enterprises, but as interconnected entities within their fields.

In another keynote speech, Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) Commissioner for Africa Günter Nooke stressed that “modern economy is all about logistics, for which we need a strong ICT infrastructure,” in explaining the role the BMZ is currently playing in cooperating with Africa through its Marshall Plan initiative.

Future Plans: More Digitalization!

“This Forum gave us an excellent platform for developing new connections and initiating B2B exchanges with German companies who we hope to collaborate with in the very near future,” Naif AlRustamani, Senior Associate Manager at Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, said. “I don’t see limits to the digital ambitions of the Arab world.”

Amidst strong eagerness to continue these vital conversations, the EMA is committed to planning several follow-up meetings to build upon the foundation that was laid by the 1st German-Arab Digital Forum – an idea that has been met with high enthusiasm from partners, participants and speakers alike.

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