Helping Morocco and Tunisia boost their knowledge economy

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The EBRD has identified local knowledge-intensive services and industries with strong drive to innovate and great potential for investment.

By investing in ICT infrastructure (networks), production (IT systems, software) and services (such as internet service providers) the Bank supports those economic sectors with the greatest potential for innovation in its countries of operations. Most recently, the EBRD has studied prospects for innovation in the knowledge-intensive sectors of Morocco and Tunisia.

Assessing capability and innovation gaps

As a first step toward local involvement in these sectors, the Bank assessed their current state of development. The EBRD identified key advantages and barriers to innovation in both countries through a technical cooperation (TC) project funded by the donors to the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) Multi-Donor Account (MDA)*.

The studies carried out by the Bank surveyed major participants in the knowledge economy including private firms and business associations, science and research institutes and economic development agencies. The research addressed an overriding question: in which sectors and companies could investment and support boost innovation, create jobs, and develop the knowledge economies of Tunisia and Morocco while generating returns?

The ICT sector as a driver of innovation

Findings have revealed potential for knowledge development, with the ICT sector as the main —but not the exclusive — source of innovation. For example, in Morocco, the studies highlighted commercial niches such as payment processing, software security and applied electronics. In Tunisia, e-payment, software security, applied electronics and pharmaceuticals were identified as key investment areas.

The project findings and practical recommendations will inform the next phase of EBRD engagement with the knowledge economies of these two countries, providing a basis for policy dialogue and identifying investment opportunities for the Bank.

* The MDA is supported by Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.