EconSource: World Bank Suggests New Strategy for Middle East

The World Bank has suggested a new strategy to help countries in the Middle East achieve stability that will be based on four axes, according to the Bank’s Vice President for Middle East and North Africa region Hafez Ghanem. The four axes will involve efforts to provide youth with job opportunities and better living conditions, regional cooperation, assistance to countries hosting refugees, and rebuilding countries affected by war. Ghanem noted that the Middle East suffers from little economic cooperation, and that the Bank will seek to promote regional cooperation in the areas of education, water, and energy. The World Bank projected the region’s overall gross domestic product in 2015 at about 2.8 percent, while “low oil prices, conflicts and the global economic slowdown make short-term prospects of recovery unlikely.” On Monday, the World Bank released a report exploring why the region’s aggregate export performance has been consistently weak over the past two decades. [DNE, Ahram Online, 10/6/2015]

Tunisia minister quits over ‘lack of will’ to fight graft
Tunisia’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister announced his resignation on Monday, protesting the unwillingness to battle corruption. “I can no longer be part of a government that lacks the political will to confront graft,” Lazhar Akremi said. In his resignation letter to Prime Minister Habib Essid, Akremi said his efforts to expose corruption “were crushed by corruption that multiplies daily.” Akremi, a founding member of Tunisia’s ruling party Nidaa Tounes, asked whether “there really is a will to fight against corruption in a country where the share of the shadow economy has reached 54 percent of [gross domestic product].” According to a 2014 World Bank report, corruption costs Tunisia the equivalent of two percent of gross domestic product. [AFP, 10/6/2015]

Libya’s oil output down to 300,000 bpd
Libya’s oil production has dropped to 300,000 barrels per day (bpd)–less than a quarter of what it produced before the 2011 fall of Muammar Qaddafi–due to insecurity and closed pipelines, according to the head of Libya’s eastern National Oil Corporation Naji Moghrab. “The main problem behind the low production is insecurity and of course the presence of Daesh near the oilfields,” Moghrab said, referring the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) militants who have gained ground in Libya. Gunmen allied with ISIS attacked forces guarding one of Libya Es Sider port on Thursday and attempted to detonate a car bomb. Es Sider and the nearby Ras Lanuf oil terminal have been closed since last year due to clashes between forces loyal to the country’s rival governments. [Reuters, Libya Monitor (subscription), 10/5/2015]

Egypt plans new Mediterranean gas exploration round in first half 2016
Egypt is preparing to launch a new bidding round for gas exploration off the Mediterranean coast in the first half of 2016, head of the state gas company EGAS Khaled Abdel Badie said on Tuesday. His comments come after Egypt announced it had awarded four new licenses to explore for oil and gas off its Mediterranean coast, weeks after Italy’s Eni discovered the giant Zohr gas field. Eni predicts Zohr could hold 30 trillion cubic feet of gas, covering an area of about 100 square kilometers. EGAS said in a statement that it had awarded licences to Britain’s BP, Italy’s Edison, a consortium of BP and Eni’s Egyptian subsidiary, and another consortium of BP, Eni, and France’s Total. EGAS said the companies would make investments of at least $306 million, conduct seismic studies, and sink eight discovery wells. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail pledged to end a factory gas shortage by November. [Reuters, 10/6/2015]

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