GE at WEF Middle East and North Africa: A Future Built on Job Creation and Entrepreneurship
Nine months into one the most dramatic declines in global oil prices, you might think that oil importers and oil exports in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region would face very different policy prescriptions.
The reality is more complicated, with the IMF recently making a remarkably similar suggestion to both groups of countries: implement multifaceted reforms to boost job creation.
The prescription was more elaborated for oil exporters, with the call to create “incentives for private entrepreneurship in the tradable goods sectors, improving the match between education and skills required by the private sector, and increasing private employment of nationals.”
This requires better and more accessible education, expanding STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) programs in universities, fostering entrepreneurship, building innovation into the economy, and boosting female labor participation rates, Maseed Ahmed, the International Monetary Fund’s Middle East and Central Asia Director, says.
It’s no surprise, then, that many of these themes will form the heart of discussions at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa 2015, which begins today in Jordan. The theme is “Creating a Regional Framework for Prosperity and Peace through Public-Private Cooperation.”
WEF Middle East and North Africa is exploring issues such as youth development and initiatives to jump-start growth, foster job creation and entrepreneurship, and supporting the role that private sector companies can play in this development. More specifically, the Forum’s broad themes look to transform “industry and competitiveness,” “employment and entrepreneurship,” “governance and institutions” and “geo-economics and geopolitics.”
GE has taken an active role across the region to help realize many of these development goals, and also is taking an active role in the Forum itself, with GE Vice-Chairman John Rice serving as a co-chair of the event.
At WEF Middle East, Rice and other GE participants will champion solutions that reflect three key points:
- Emerging economic realities call for newer business models to enhance entrepreneurship and infrastructure development.
- Achieving productivity and efficiency leaps is critical in today’s economic environment, and this means tapping the potential of Industrial Internet and Advanced Manufacturing.
- Creating a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem that promotes talent and innovation by fostering a culture of entrepreneurship.
GE is working to expand all three elements within the region, complementing its localization, which drives the company’s substantial presence in the region. For example, two-thirds of all power generation in the Middle East and North Africa uses GE technology, as does purification equipment that processes 800 million liters of water a day. Alongside this vital infrastructure, GE also has a profound presence in transportation and health care: two-thirds of all engines powering the region’s aviation fleets use GE technology, and 90% of regional hospitals use GE technology to benefit patients.
The scope of this footprint reflects GE’s 80-year legacy in the region, where today more than 6,000 employees work across 35 facilities in 19 countries.
Another element of GE’s regional commitment is a substantial financial, human and material investment that includes US$ 500 million within the past 24 months in projects that have contributed to local human resources and manufacturing capacity. These include the US$ 250 million GE Energy Manufacturing Technology Center in Saudi Arabia, the expansion of the GE Water & Process Technologies Regional Center of Excellence in Jebel Ali, the GE Advanced Technology Research Center in Qatar, the Ecomagination Center in Masdar City, the General Electric Algeria Turbines (GEAT) manufacturing facility in Algeria, and a multimodal facility in Egypt.
Skills development includes the Leadership Accelerating Business program in Abu Dhabi; the technical training academy program implemented with the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation in Saudi Arabia; the GE-ATRC Aviation Training Center in Qatar; and knowledge partnerships with more than 25 universities and educational institutions, including the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
Local partnerships span geographies and industries, with GE collaborating with blue chip companies and government entities in key infrastructure sectors such as transportation, oil and gas, aviation, power, water and industrial manufacturing.