TERENA Networking Conference 2001
International Cooperation in IT
in the Middle East:
Obstacles & Opportunities
Marwan Tarazi
Birzeit University – BIT
[email protected]
IT and Globalization
Advances in IT have been so rapid that it has
changed the shape of all economic activities
in the world, and has pushed the world
towards globalization. Economies, which do
not deploy a leading edge communication
and information processing capabilities, and
which do not have the qualified human
resources to run and sustain such
capabilities, will be pushed outside the world
market gradually.
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Information Poverty
“Information poverty”, at every level of
society, impairs public and private
decision-making, policy making,
planning without facts.
low productivity, poor quality research,
and valuable time wasted hunting for
information and repeating research
already done
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Widening of the
G A P
Information Gap is resulting in Power
flow towards the elite who already
possess the power and weakening
those who are deprived
The world will experience increasing
gap between the rich and the poor
countries and rich and the poor within
developing countries
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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IT and Poverty
Alleviation
The poor are the largest human
resource in developing countries
Human Resources are amongst the few
resources the M.E. Countries possess
IT services are highly labor-intensive
(whether highly skilled or lower-skilled)
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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IT and the Political
Situation
Information Technology is abolishing distance
IT can ease restrictions of movement by
providing an alternative media for work,
education, health, etc.
One of the reasons the ME is in such a state
is due to such an information GAP:
“The only way nations can secure justice,
sovereignty and economic rights is through the
development of the means to protect such rights”
A.B. Zahlan
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Information Technology
is a
MUST
As a tool for development and for
bridging the development gap
As an industry for economic
growth, development and poverty
alleviation
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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(Quoted from A.B. Zahlan, 2000)
Technology
in the Arab
World
(Quoted from A.B. Zahlan, 2000)
Poor Knowledge
Infrastructure
No adequate libraries
Poor access to international
knowledge
No access to local knowledge
generated within the Arab world or
within each country
Weak educational systems
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Science, Technology
and Innovation in the
Arab World
(Quoted from A.B. Zahlan, 2000)
Import of ready technologies
No culture of Transfer of Knowledge

200 years ago George Stephans was awarded the
contract to build the first Egyptian railway

Arabs have failed to develop the technology base
for these and other mechanical industries.

Sept 1999: Bill Gates donates MS products to
government of Jordan… IMPACT???
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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(Quoted from A.B. Zahlan, 2000)
Very few Centers of creative work in scientific
or technical fields
Weak academic base
No pockets of high quality science and
technology (like India), even though per
capita scientific publications in India are lower
than the Arab world.
Fragmented (internally and within the
Diaspora)
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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(Quoted from A.B. Zahlan, 2000)
Research and
Development
Production and ownership of knowledge
is a serious business
Expenditure on R&D Worldwide in 1999
> $500 billion
Top 300 companies spent $253 billion
These companies spent 33% more in
1999 than in 1996 in pursuit of profit
and survival
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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(Quoted from A.B. Zahlan, 2000)
R&D in the Arab World
Widespread disregard of scientific
research by Arab governments and
industries, e.g.
Leading 30 firms in chemical industry in the
world spent $16 billion on R&D
 Although many Arab chemical firms rank
among those, not one of them has
developed its R&D capabilities

- total R&D expenditure in the Arab
World in 1999 did not exceed 1 billion
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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(Quoted from A.B. Zahlan, 2000)
HR and Brain Drain
Displacement and substitution of old
technologies by new technologies kills
jobs in Developing Countries and
creates new ones in OECD
OECD spend significant effort on
education, training and retraining
Yet rate of technological change is so
fast that existing HR production system
cannot keep up.
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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(Quoted from A.B. Zahlan, 2000)
The OECD Zero Cost Solution
OECD countries have realized that
attracting HR from Third World
Countries is a solution to their HR
needs at Zero Cost.
OECD countries will probably “drain” 50
to 80% of Arab World IT experts in the
coming few years (as with doctors and
engineers in the 70s)
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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How to Stop The “Drain”
The only way Third World countries
could afford to retain their own
human resources is if they
established a suitable infrastructure
to enable their human resources to
contribute to national economic
progress.
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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(Quoted from A.B. Zahlan, 2000)
New Rules of the Game
Innovation and skills are the
generators of economic growth
Capabilities in science depend
on sophisticated systems
sustained by an entire society
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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IT in M.E.
Growing National Awareness
Being dealt with independently from
sciences, R&D and innovation.
Serious initiatives by some countries,
e.g. Jordan and Egypt.
Varying levels of an “enabling”
environments
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Low Quality of IT
Education
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
the lack of adequately qualified trainers and
educators
Outdated curricula and methodology
Slow pace of responding to a rapidly
changing technology
Absence of vivid and dynamic linkages to
business and industry
Rigidity of the educational system
Limited Resources
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Small number of
professionals
The low intake capacity of IT education
programs: the currently available
programs produce a small number of IT
graduates in areas required by the labor
market, or necessary to create an
industry.
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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IT sector is NOT-Global
in a
GLOBAL World
Local market too small
Hardly any links with the Diaspora
No international marketing experience
No international IT business experience
Limited participation in regional and
global networks
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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International
Cooperation
Opportunities and Obstacles
Opportunities in
Knowledge Transfer
Training
Joint Projects
R&D
Exchanges
Advise
17 May 2001
Industry
Partnerships
Access to
Knowledge
Networking
Research Networks in Med Region
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Obstacles
Poor or NO Strategic Planning
National decisions are made according
to political or personal interests
Non favorable enabling environments
Individualism
Poor utilization of expatriate expertise
Political agendas imposed by
International partners
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Birzeit University
Pilot Projects in
International
Cooperation in IT
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Center of
Excellence in IT
MISSION
Building a human resource supply
infrastructure that will inject the IT
sector with highly skilled IT
professionals at the industry,
education and policy and decision
making levels.
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Target Groups
High-quality IT graduates.
High-quality graduates in non-IT disciplines
Updating of IT professionals
Short programs in specialized, focused areas
Support for undergraduate courses
Support the development of university faculty
Liaison with similar international centers
Training of the trainers facility
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Training Strategy
Identification of needs
Internationally accredited programs
Build partnerships locally, regionally and
globally for trainee placements, practical
work
Train trainers, and integrate programs into:
1.
2.
General IT training programs
Academic programs in formal education
programs
Develop specialized training programs for
partner organizations or projects.
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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R&D Activities
Research IT trends, opportunities and needs
Set strategies, policies and programs for the Center
accordingly.
Research new technologies, methodologies,
programs, etc.
Identify potential research projects, request for
proposals, etc
Develop research & development capabilities that
facilitate innovation for IT sector
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Business Development
Activities
Business opportunities for graduates through:



Advice
professional matchmaking
identification of potential partners and customers.
Develop IT incubator facilities and services
Provide consulting services
Participate in strategic projects that have a
developmental impact on IT
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Partnership Building
Build strategic
partnerships with various
stakeholders within the IT
sector locally, regionally
and internationally.
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Partnership Building
Activities
Expatriate Arabs
High Brain Drain from Arab countries
 High number of Arabs per capita basis
studying abroad

International Educational Institutes
International Companies and
corporations
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Allocated Premises
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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The Center of
Excellence is…
A national resource
Promotes “best practice”
A Pilot
Node for development
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Complementing Projects
Center of
Excellence
Center for
Vocational
and
Professional
Training
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Center for Professional and
Vocational Training
Developing a Training infrastructure for
producing a large number of qualified IT
professionals
Targeting:
The IT “labor force”: Medium to lower skilled
 The users of IT in other disciplines

Reliance is mostly on local resources
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
[email protected]
Activities
Developing Curricula
Emphasis on methodology:



Students take an active approach to learning
The role of the teacher changes from a distributor
of book learning to a tutor guiding students.
… better balance between the learning of factual
knowledge and the mastering of concepts and
processes.
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
[email protected]
…/Activities
Emphasis on soft skills:
Creative thinking, problem solving,
languages
 Team work

Industry partnerships
Practical work and placement
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Training of Trainers
Update technical skills
Pedagogy
New methodology
International Certifications
Target professionals
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Training of High School
Teachers
Ninety sever percent of all students
complete grade 10
Clear shortcomings in knowledge and
skills
The key to a qualified future workforce
is in upgrading high school education
The one most important factor is
training of high school teachers
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
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Key to Success
Students take an active approach to learning


The role of the teacher changes from a distributor
of book learning to a tutor guiding students.
… better balance between the learning of factual
knowledge and the mastering of concepts and
processes.
Emphasis on soft skills:


Creative thinking, problem solving, languages
Team work
17 May 2001
Research Networks in Med Region
[email protected]
We are looking for
PARTNERS
Marwan Tarazi
Birzeit University – BIT
[email protected]
Thank You
Marwan Tarazi
Birzeit University – BIT
[email protected]
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