EconSource: Report Says Gender Equality Could Yield $2.7 Trillion in Economic Gains for the Region

A new study by the McKinsey Global Institute finds that were women in the Middle East and North Africa to enjoy the same economic opportunities as men, the region would be $2.7 trillion better off between now and 2025. That is equivalent to a 4 point boost to regional economic growth every year. Female economic disadvantage takes at least three main forms, as measured in the report. Fewer women work, most work fewer hours than men, and most work in lower-productivity sectors such as agriculture as opposed to high-productivity sectors such as finance and engineering.​ The report found that high rates of female education in the Gulf have not filtered through into high rates of female labor force participation. The authors argue that governments should focus on boosting education among women, increasing financial inclusion, upgrading legal protections for women at work, and providing alternatives to maternal provision of care for children and the elderly. [The National, 9/24/2015]

Deadlock in battle for Iraq refinery casts doubts on Mosul campaign
The Iraqi army’s failure to recapture the country’s largest oil refinery from Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) after fifteen months of fighting is calling into question the government’s plans to retake the northern city of Mosul from the jihadists. Iraq’s military has been trying to build momentum at the Baiji refinery and in Anbar province in the west before attempting to seize Mosul. Baiji has repeatedly changed hands since it was captured by ISIS last year. Complex tribal dynamics and oil wealth from the refinery have complicated government attempts to wrest control of Baiji from insurgents since the US invasion in 2003, according to Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Nobody ever takes Baiji,” he said. “It was out of bounds to multinational forces in Iraq the whole time. It was never liberated, it was never surged.” Knights said Baiji’s fragmented tribes make it difficult to forge consensus among local leaders, while insurgents have used money from refining and smuggling oil to coopt the local population. [Reuters, 9/24/2015]

Russia-Turkey gas link plans intact despite ‘difficulties’
Plans for a new gas pipeline between Russia and Turkey remain intact despite difficulties, the Kremlin said on Wednesday, days after Ankara said talks on the deal were frozen. At a meeting in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed that “work would continue” on the project, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “It is complex work, which implies difficulties, but it will all follow its course,” he said, indicating the two would meet again before the end of the year “to coordinate their approaches” to the partnership. On September 11, Turkey said talks on the new pipeline were suspended because of preconditions imposed by Russian gas giant Gazprom over the discount Turkey wants in the price of Russian gas imports. Putin had announced the plan for a Turkstream pipeline in December 2014. However, construction of the pipeline has never properly got under way, leaving analysts suspicious over the feasibility of the project. [AFP, 9/23/2015]

Ismail assigns Salman to report on Sharm al-Sheikh projects
Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail has tasked Minister of Investment Ashraf Salman with compiling a comprehensive report on projects from the Sharm al-Sheikh conference that are facing difficulty being implemented. According to Cabinet Spokesman Hossam al-Kawish, Ismail requested that Salman identify the actions the government will take to finalize and implement the projects. The projects are in several sectors, including electricity, supply, agriculture, housing, transportation, and planning. Ismail reportedly ordered meetings with relevant ministries to study the obstacles facing the projects and to take the necessary steps quickly to proceed with their implementation. According to Salman, six signed agreements worth $30.215 billion are currently being implemented in the sectors of petroleum, electricity, and transportation. Ismail added that five memoranda of understanding have been converted into agreements worth $10.526 billion, while twenty-two agreements have been converted into contracts. [DNE, 9/25/2015]

Also of interest
Egypt’s Investment Ministry plans to exploit public companies’ unused assets | DNE
USAID provides $76 million grant to support Egyptian SMEs | Cairo Post
Tunisia to hold conference on budget and investment opportunities | ANSAmed
Tourists desert Tunisia after June terror attack | The Guardian
Algerian Business Council in Dubai to boost investment flows | Algerie Presse Service
Iran sees Oil exports starting to rise as early as late November | WSJ