The 3rd German-Arab Digitalforum

  • November 25, 2019
  • 1:45 pm to 3:40 pm
  • Estrel Congress Center, Saal A, Sonnenallee 225, 12057 Berlin

On November 25, the EMA will shed light on the issues of digitization and digital transformation in the Mediterranean and Middle East region as part of the Internet Governance Forum initiated by the UN in Berlin. We cordially invite you to inform yourself about developments in the IT sector in the Arab world, to share your experience with other participants, and to establish relationships with business partners.

The 3rd German-Arab Digital Forum

November 25, 2019 | 1:45 pm – 3:40 pm
Estrel Congress Center, Saal A, Sonnenallee 225, 12057 Berlin


Conference Language: English*
* If necessary, translation will be provided by the organizers for French and/or Arabic.


Growth rates in the digital economy in the Mediterranean and Middle East regions continue to be high. Telecom and Internet providers have worked tirelessly on increasing bandwidth capacities to 4G and more. But there are differences between the countries in the region. While Internet penetration in the small Arab Gulf countries is at a record high of more than 90 percent, figures in North African countries such as Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia range between 44 and 65 percent.

The geographical proximity to Europe, small to no time differences, and the potential for qualified workers put especially North Africa at a competitive advantage. It is against this background that start-up scenes have developed in many Arab countries. No matter if education, healthcare, financial services, fashion or transport & logistics: start-ups in the Mediterranean and Middle East region make smart use of digitization in a variety of business sectors.

The 3rd German-Arab Digital Forum sheds light on the digital transformation in the region. It combines the issues of sustainability and digitization by addressing two core topics – empowerment and artificial intelligence (AI) – as well as the question of how the expansion of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector increases job creation and perspectives for young people in those countries. It aims thusly to highlight success stories and best practice examples and intends to sensitize relevant stakeholders and actors for a sustainable dialog with the region.

The Forum is directed at economic, political, and civil society decision-makers and multipliers from all countries in the Mediterranean and Middle East region including the member states of the Arab League and of the European Union in addition to the other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It aims to highlight the diversity of different perspectives especially regarding social start-ups and female entrepreneurs. Furthermore, the Forum wishes to bring political decision-makers from the mentioned region in contact with representatives of start-ups, associations, and the digital economy at large.


Michael Krake is the Deputy Director General at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). He leads the directorate “Private sector; trade, employment; digital technologies”.
Over the last 15 years, Mr. Krake has served in various functions for the German Government. As Head of Political Staff, he led the Ministry’s divisions responsible for strategic planning and policy analysis, communications and relations to parliament and cabinet. As Head of Development Cooperation, he worked at the German Embassy Kampala/Uganda for three years. For two years he worked in Nairobi/Kenya as a consultant and BMZ’s regional Coordinator on drought resilience at the Horn of Africa.
Before joining BMZ he has worked as a management consultant for McKinsey &Company. Michael Krake holds a degree in Economics from the University of Bonn (Germany).


Jana Dotschkal is a Senior Project Manager in the Coordination Office of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy’s “Africa Business Network”. She has been focusing on trade and investment promotion for more than eight years: Before joining the Africa Business Network, Mrs. Dotschkal managed international projects financed by the European Union and GIZ in the area of SME development and trade promotion. Previously, she worked as a Regional Manager in the Latin American Business Association and gained professional experience in a GIZ project on private sector development in Egypt. Mrs. Dotschkal studied Economics and Political Sciences in Cologne, Paris, and Florianópolis (Brazil).


After finishing his Bachelor in Political Science & Administration and graduating with a Master in International Relations from Martin Luther Universität Halle/Wittenberg, Sebastian Kliem joined VOICE e.V. – Federal Association of IT Users in 2016. VOICE brings together IT and digital business decision-makers of leading companies of all sizes and sectors and offers its members a competent, attractive, and dynamic knowledge exchange platform. Mr. Kliem has been the contact person of VOICE’s Special Interest Groups since the beginning of 2019.


With more than 15 years of professional experience in IT project management and software selection & purchasing, Steffi Kirchberger is currently the CEO of JARO Services GmbH. She is a certified Project Manager (Prince 2 Foundation & Agile) and a certified IT Service Manager (ITIL Foundation). Mrs. Kirchberger started her career with DHL and played a key role in developing the Packstation software in preparation for the Germany-wide rollout. Afterwards, she worked with leading companies in the automotive industry and telecommunication sector as a consultant on sensible contract structure and target-oriented negotiation strategies for IT projects. Mrs. Kirchberger also worked with Zalando SE as a project manager where she evaluated, negotiated, and implemented various systems, including a Zalando-wide eProcurement solution as well as the Travel Booking and Expense solution. Using her experience from the past, she is now focusing on sustainability in digitalization.


Amel Saidane studied Electrotechnical Engineering at Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany, and also holds a Master of Science degree in Business and Digital Economy from the University of Maryland. She is the co-founder of Seedstars, which is a tech startup building and acceleration company focusing on impacting people’s lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship. Before that, she worked as an account manager in Microsoft and Nokia. Currently, she is the President of Tunisian Startups, the association giving a voice to Tunisian startups, and also works as a management consultant specializing in digital transformation and business strategy.


Christian Kallenbach has worked in the IT industry, mainly focused on the international Datacenter market, for more than 20 years. He is responsible for international sales at Cloud&Heat Technologies since the beginning of 2019. The main focus is the development of all international sales activities and winning new customers, based on the main strategic topics, sustainability and security.
After completing his Master of Business and Engineering, he worked successfully for IT infrastructure providers, such as Rittal, as well as for Datacenter companies, like Verne Global. In his various management roles, he was responsible for global, multidisciplinary teams and large global accounts from different vertical markets. Mr.Kallenbach is married, has one daughter and lives in the Frankfurt am Main area.
Welcome & Opening session
Opening remarks from the moderators

Mrs. Clara Gruitrooy | Secretary General | EMA  &  Mr. Ian Lachmund | Senior Advisor | AWE

Best Practice Discussion (Panel I)

“Achieving Sustainability through Digitalization”

  • Mr. Michael Krake | Director „Private sector; trade, employment; digital technologies“ | German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
  • Mrs. Jana Dotschkal | Senior Project Manager | Wirtschaftsnetzwerk Afrika / Business Network Africa
  • Mr. Sebastian Kliem | Head of Special Interest Groups | Voice e.V. – Federal Association of IT Users
  • +1 empty seat for active audience participation
Best Practice Discussion (Panel II)

“The Impact of Digitalization on the Future of Work”

  • Mrs. Steffi Kirchberger | Managing Director | JARO
  • Mrs. Amel Saidane | President | Tunisian Startups | Tunisia
  • Mr. Christian Kallenbach | Senior Sales Advisor | Cloud & Heat
  • +1 empty seat for active audience participation
Concluding Remarks by the Moderators 

Achieving Sustainability through Digitalization

On November 25, as part of the 14th Internet Governance Forum initiated by the United Nations, the 3rd German-Arab Forum on the Digital Economy organized by the EMA in collaboration with Agency for Business & Economic Development (AWE) and VOICE, shed light on the two critical aspects of digitalization: sustainability and the future of work. The fishbowl feature of the forum allowed the entire audience to actively participate, making the forum highly interactive and fostering thought-provoking discussions. The forum commenced with words of welcome from the Secretary General of the EMA, Mrs. Clara Gruitrooy, emphasizing on the positive impact that digitalization should have on everyone’s life and wishing for enhanced cooperation between Germany, Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

Achieving Sustainability through Digitalization

“Digital technologies are all about trial and error. You start something but you don’t necessarily know where it will end up”, said Mr. Michael Krake, Director of the Private sector; trade, employment; digital technologies of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), at the beginning of the discussion on achieving sustainability through digitalization. Giving an example of ‘Planitx’, a mobile application used by the farmers in Tunisia to receive expert advice on their crops, he further stated that, ‘there are a lot of reverse innovation taking place in developing countries, and the developed nations can learn a lot from it’.

Discussing about the impact of digitalization on a macro level, Mr. Sebastian Kliem, the Head of Special Interest Groups of VOICE e.V., stated that “digitalization will change politics, the society, and the economy” and stressed on the fact that to tackle the challenges accompanying the changes caused by digitalization, international cooperation, and effective communication is highly required. Supporting this notion Ms. Jana Dotschkal, Senior Project Manager of Africa Business Network, added that, the ideas and the solutions to these challenges are there. All that is needed is working together at a regional level. Moreover, emphasizing on the urgency of combining sustainability to the digitalization plans, Ms. Steffi Kirchberger (CEO of JARO) commented that, “It’s time. We cannot wait until digitalization takes off & sustainability falls behind. For that, we need new contracts”

The Impact of Digitalization on the Future of Work

With the inauguration of the 4th industrial revolution characterized by rapid advancement in digital technologies, the global concern about the future of work was the epicenter of discussion of the second panel. The dialogue commenced, following the moderation of Mr. Ian Lachmund, the Senior Advisor of AWE.  Describing the startup scene in Tunisia, Ms. Amel Saidane, the President of Tunisian Startups, started with her contribution saying that “it is a very high potential and vibrant scene”. She adds that the Tunisian market is small compared to many other African countries, which the startups acknowledge and hence the digital component in their business is very strong as they mostly aim international coverage. Regarding the impact of digitalization on the future of work in Tunisia, Ms. Saidane stressed on the need for re-skilling of existing work. She added that “South is less aware of the impact on the future of work due to digitalization, which will be way more dramatic than the North. Both in terms of challenges and opportunities”. According to her, the demographic shift in the North African countries with a lot of youth entering the labor market, should be used as an opportunity. The demographic change in Germany though, is the exact opposite, with a disproportionate increase in the old age population, stated Ms. Kirchberger. She advised to invest in change management for the older generation and recommended to put more effort into understanding the digital technologies rather than just consuming it.

“Digitalization as a tool to achieve the objective of sustainability”

Refocusing on the issue of sustainability, the Senior Sales Advisor of Cloud & Heat Technologies, Mr. Christian Kallenbach, the Senior Sales Advisor of Cloud & Heat Technologies,  raised the concern that by 2030, data centers around the world would require 21% of the global energy, compared to the 5% current energy requirement. Giving the example of designing efficient cooling systems for the data centers, which is the fundamental operation of his company, Mr. Kallenbach stressed on the necessity of emission reduction initiatives across the world. Besides, he suggested that security is the base of sustainability. He further stated that “security is something people don’t speak about because everybody believes it’s there anyway”, but there needs to be a set of comprehensive standards and regulations implemented throughout the entire IT sector.

In fine, Mrs. Gruitrooy invited the audience to align with the EMA’s goal, to be smart and build solutions together. She added that the forum would not have been such a success without the support of the partners, AWE and VOICE, and the team members of EMA. Lastly she expressed her gratitude for the opportunity given by the hosts, the United Nations and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi).

Thank you very much for your interest in participating in the 3rd German-Arab Forum on the Digital Economy! Onsite registration on November 25 is open and free: Participants need to provide their non-expired passport or official ID with picture, issued by authorities of a UN-recognized country and can register onsite.

We look forward to welcoming you in Berlin very soon!

2019-11-25 13:45 2019-11-25 15:40 Europe/London The 3rd German-Arab Digitalforum Estrel Congress Center, Saal A, Sonnenallee 225, 12057 Berlin
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