Report – MedaWeek Barcelona 2018

Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders | 21 – 23 Nov 2018


Official Opening Statement – 21/11/2018

Anwar Zibaoui, General Coordinator of the MedaWeek Barcelona warmly welcomed participants to the event noted that in the twelve years since the project started members and staff have worked hard on the economic development of the Mediterranean region. Challenges and opportunities include synergies between organisations, a myriad of networks and sectors, demographic factors, natural resources and the strategic vision to develop the region, Africa and Asia. The underlying trends include a restless Europe with a rise in populism, Trump and China. While world trade and GDP have risen significantly, political developments have seen a rise in the level of uncertainty recently. He cited youth, women in employment, scientific exchange, digital transformation, the circular economy and the African dimension as issues that are of importance to the region. Growth opportunities in the region are significant and the youth will play a major part in solutions to many issues as will the capacity of stakeholders to work together. Three thousand years of Mediterranean wine and agriculture are evolving into a digital landscape but the region would shape its destiny in a positive way.

Miguel Valls, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Barcelona welcomed participants including, for the first time, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), highlighting the diversity, resource base and history of the region and Africa. Solutions must be found by the European Union and the region for challenges, including trade imbalances, losers, the capacity of the private sector, climate change and immigration. The Mediterranean needed a new roadmap to increase the economy, develop and benefit from synergies, build infrastructure and bridges, not walls, with the private sector playing a key role.

Maria Angels Chacon, Minister of Business and Knowledge, Government of Catalonia noted that the focus on business, women and the digital transformation highlights the huge opportunities in the region. Her ministry’s emphasis is defending production ensuring an innovative and open economy, which has resulted in a 3.4% growth rate that is higher than levels for the whole of Spain and Europe. The region has a strong industrial base, accounting for 21% of Spain’s GDP with supercomputing, mobility, universities and R&D centres. She stated that Barcelona is the most attractive place in Europe for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and digital transformation. Her Ministry will ensure that Catalonia continues to be the major start-up hub (ranked 1st), the destination for capital investment (ranked 4th) and 4.0 industry in Europe. Three-quarters of investment are currently from overseas, investment to Africa has increased by 14% and imports from North Africa are Euro 3.9 billion. Catalonia will continue to work on collaboration and strengthening its brand.

Senén Florensa, President of the Executive Committee, European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) highlighted the work of his organisation in linking the world with the Mediterranean, having liaised with forty heads of states and efforts to promote trade and investment in the region including Catalan stakeholders.

Laura Perez of Barcelona City Council noted that Barcelona has the reputation, interest, history, demographic background to play a major role in the region which is no doubt why it was chosen as the headquarter of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) giving birth to a major institution of the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean is largely urbanised so cities have to provide solutions to problems and they are currently working on a project involving four cities in the region, to develop economic links and new healthier economy and science. The city has a digital platform to nurture creative talent, empower citizens, transform lives, minimise job insecurity and protect women and youth rights.  Challenges include promoting values and cooperation between citizens, the region and making the city the hub for peace and sustainability issues.

Nasser Kamel, Secretary General of Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) stated that his organisation’s goal is promoting economic development, peace and prosperity in the region. The private sector, which although only controlling 60% of GDP accounts for 80% of capital flows and 90% of jobs. He noted that 30% of the youth were unemployed and advocated a multi-stake approach involving private sector development, a 10-year programme of inclusive development, a flagship programme targeting youth, women, SMEs and incubators for start-ups. The region must try to develop cutting-edge, disruptive, game changers and halal to create jobs. It must build synergies to achieve common goals.

Salaheddine Mezouar, President of the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM) & Future President of the MedaWeek Advisory Council highlighted three topics, namely, opportunities, the private sector and intellectual development and the dynamics of the digital age in terms of the speed in messaging and trade transactions. The irony is the US and the UK spearheaded globalisation, which the US and other nations are retreating from citing immigration and populism as major factors.  Touching on the EU/African dimension, he noted the Compact with Africa project, backed by Angela Merkel, has significant potential in harnessing the private sector for development of Africa. Politicians were in a state of flux because they lacked solutions in the face of technological change hurtling away at a speed unimaginable, notably, concepts like Artificial Intelligence. Stakeholders need to work together on these issues.

Ruben Hannun, President, Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the unique opportunity awarded to his organisation to address the forum and invited the group to a major conference in São Paulo in April 2020.  He highlighted and supported the synergy between stakeholders and sustainable development, noting the significant increase in trade between the region and Brazil in the last few years, 50% for exports and 89% for imports. There were opportunities to increase this trade and his organisation would act as a bridge in the process, citing food safety as one of the issues that need to be addressed.


North Africa Business and Development Forum

Presentation of the EBSOMED project

Anaël Le Bihan, Head of Cooperation Projects of the ASCAME, stressed the need to increase sustainable management forums in promoting economic development in the region. All stakeholders need to work together to promote positive socio-economic goals in the region.

Western Mediterranean: A Hub for Europe and Africa

Mireia Borrell, Director for Foreign Relations, Government of Catalonia stated that Catalonia is a significant neighbourhood space in strengthening the relationship and consolidation of trading and links between Africa and the world. Challenges and opportunities include immigration, SMEs who generate most jobs and a major project with Morocco that started in 1989. Morocco and Tunisia are crucial links relating to infrastructure and trade with Sub-Saharan countries.

Fathallah Sijilmassi, Former Secretary General of the UfM highlighted three metrics, namely, grassroots, the private sector and pragmatism. There should be increased regional cooperation and a global vision, increased European/African cooperation and more work on resolving climate change and migration issues. The private sector, which is more nimble than the public sector, should be supported to facilitate job creation for young people and make companies more competitive. Policymakers should realise that the pace of change has to be gradual, involving all stakeholders and networks; they must develop synergies connecting project managers, entrepreneurs and governments to obtain tangible outcomes and; performance indicators must be set and reviewed, possibly every five years.

Arslan Chikhaoui, Chairman, Morocco Spain Economic Council (CEMAES) highlighted the difficulties since 2011 (the Arab Spring), low commodity prices affecting SSA countries and migration. The major challenge is to trust with many projects failing because of lack of trust, highlighting the Odyssey project and the difficulties of mobility between countries in the region.

Roger Albinyana, Director of Mediterranean Regional Policies and Human Development, IEMed focussed on the relationship between Europe and Africa with a view to improving connections, noting the significant increase in the population of the continent, generating migration as a major challenge.  He highlighted high tariffs on Moroccan exports to Europe and suggested developing trade between SSA and Europe and improved transport infrastructure in that region. The “spaghetti bowl” of trade agreements in the continent, which is being rationalised with the recent Africa Free Trade agreement, the CFA Franc agreement and efforts by Tunisia and Morocco to join ECOWAS, were positive factors in the region. Economic and trade integration within the Mediterranean region and Africa cause some job losses but the result is a net gain in jobs and the economy. The educational system must improve to ensure maximum benefits from structural changes.

Houda Benghazi, General Manager, CEMAES, noted the very significant trade links that have developed between Spain and Morocco, strongly endorsed by their royal families. Morocco, a major investor in Africa in agriculture, industry and infrastructure, can be a bridge between Spain and the continent. Spanish Moroccan trade is now more balanced and a win-win situation for both countries, a development that can be extended to the rest of Africa, making use of Moroccan links. He pointed to some of the positive aspects of migration.

Yanis Ben Yelles, Director, Co Gest Development highlighted the difficulties of companies in exporting to Algeria relating to economic, marketing and time issues. The emphasis should be on the development of links between SMEs who are more inclined to take risks and make efforts to minimise risks.

Comments. Collaboration and data are solutions to many issues discussed. Having a data hub in Barcelona would make the region more competitive. Governments must be lobbied to deal with logistic challenges. The European Union should accelerate visa applications for entrepreneurs from Africa and elsewhere. Social cohesion is a significant factor particularly because of high levels of unemployment among the youth, inequality in incomes generated by the new economy and the high levels of population growth in the Middle East and North Africa.

Senegal Investment Opportunities for Mediterranean Countries

José R. Mohedano, Associate Counsellor, AXIS Africa reported that although the delegation from Senegal was unable to attend because of flight complications he would give a synopsis of the background and opportunities in the country. Senegal he noted is a stable democracy that had never experienced a coup, with a skilled workforce, notable engineers. Priority sectors include motorways, railways, education, healthcare, agriculture, tourism (hotels) and housing. Foreign investors are tax exempt for the first five years, can repatriate profits and there is an independent arbitration mechanism.

Joseph Maria Gomes, Specialist in African Markets of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce reported that his unit undertakes trade missions to SSA with Senegal being one of its target markets because it is quite close to the Canary Islands and the country has experienced rapid economic growth recently averaging 6-9% per year. There has been rapid growth in trade with the country, with Spanish exports between 1997 and 2017 increasing by 400% and imports by 200%.  Spain exports mostly machinery with imports being more varied. Spanish companies had set up fish factories in the country. Africa is a priority for the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce with 14 Catalan companies investing, over 100 exporting to the continent and agreements with main associations. A delegation will shortly be going to Africa, scheduled to visit Senegal and the Ivory Coast.

Comments: Spain’s strong relationship with Morocco could be leveraged in developing links with Senegal. It was noted that the positive outlook of Senegal presented is at variance with the fact that a high proportion of migrants to Europe come from that country.

Rising Software Driven Generation

Roger Albinyana highlighted the sharing economy, caused by the internet which has significantly reduced transaction costs, spurring the innovative sector. The sharing economy is disruptive and has brought about the political debate regarding the rights of individuals. He referred to two videos which show how entrepreneurial success is seen as a threat that politicians find hard to cope with and raises the following questions: what can be done for entrepreneurs to make the public understand them; how to engage entrepreneurs and; how to link entrepreneurs with governments.   The other video focussed on; the advent of the gig economy; the impossibility of regulators foreseeing changes. There are many obstacles relating to the move from traditional marketing to the new marketing paradigm and a policy framework that is appropriate for the new landscape. Players need to make it right, legal and sustainable.

Joan Romero, CEO, Agency for Business Competitiveness (ACCIO) and Catalonia Trade & Investment, Government of Catalonia noted that disruptions are bigger and faster than ever. New players will rule the world and start-ups will disrupt the business model and the environmental framework. Start-ups are a tool that helps established companies become more innovative. Experience varies according to the sector but a crucial missing factor is an ex-ante assessment. Start-ups require, attract and facilitate the movement of talent, with 36% of their employees in Barcelona coming from abroad.

Davide Rovera, Eworks Manager, ESADE Entrepreneurship Institute challenged the video’s concept, noting that entrepreneurs must be aware of the regulatory framework even though, depending on the country or culture, the new players will challenge that framework. Some countries, notably those in Northern Europe, are more used to challenging the culture. The perception of the government is important, with the vast majority seeing it as trying to block them or biased. Governments should reduce restrictions and add value – the speed of relevant changes in regulations can impact companies and customers. Governments act faster if they employ people who are more open to changing legislation to introduce new standards and frameworks.

Bacely Yorobi, CEO and Co-Founder ConnectX Global noted that the subservient African and Mediterranean perspective is a negative factor. Countries need to be run as start-ups, citing Israel and Rwanda as countries with conducive environments. Disruptions have a positive effect and SMEs are crucial in the development of the sector. Diversity, a fast-paced environment, education and development of an appropriate eco-system are crucial.

Marc Realp, General Manager, Catalan Competition Authority noted that entrepreneurs are penalized by big players and policymakers need to reduce entry barriers and increase competition by investigating anti-trust behaviour and unfair competition and; analyse regulations to see how efficient and effective they are, appealing to courts when regulations do not work. Asymmetrical compensation does not work anymore, hence the need to review regulations, possibly by setting only minimum security and health standards. He suggested regulatory platforms that promote portability, identify negative externalities, make demands for data in real time and levy penalties in real time.

Moises Santana, Managing Director, EMERGE Association stated that regulation and access to finance are crucial and not all entrepreneurs are disruptive or should be labelled as start-ups. Governments are confused in dealing with entrepreneurs in the 21st century and still act like they are in the 20th century. This is why so many start-ups move to the US where there is a more conducive environment. He posed the question of whether governments in the region want to embrace disruptions.

Rym Bourguiba reported that his organisation lobbies the Tunisian government to create an enabling environment for start-ups and leads and guides young entrepreneurs, in line with the government’s objective of increasing youth employment. His organisation, operating in a country which inherited a bureaucratic system from France, acts as a bridge between a government with controlling tendencies and a new technologically innovative landscape.

Paul Fox, Director of Entrepreneurship Studies, La Salle Campus Barcelona highlighted the difference between the US and the situation in the region, noting that dramatic changes have occurred in Barcelona. In the US if there is a regulatory vacuum, you can initiate it unlike the situation in Europe. The issue is when you start something without a regulatory framework in place, the questions arise regarding who are you protecting and; what/who are you promoting? Regulations can be barriers that stifle innovation. The issue of bankruptcy laws in Europe can be a big burden because often they do not allow a clean break, unlike the US where such breaks are routine.

Toni Mascaró, President, Barcelona Loves Entrepreneurs (BLE) noted the significant changes over the last 20 years, in Barcelona society and the economy. Language skills, critical in being competitive, have improved significantly. He cited increased rents as a major problem associated with the disruptive economy and talent mobility, negatively impacting the long-established population. US companies have bought start-ups and moved them away.

Comments: On the issue of the disruptions and losers in the new economy, a high proportion of jobs will change which will necessitate a change in the quality of the workforce and authorities and residents need to adjust to the new economy. Governments need to act quickly to prepare people and address the issue of social cohesion. People would need to consider dual education and constantly upgrading their skill profile. Governments need to act in the face of gentrification and rising rents. Companies bought out by US corporations will be replaced by second-generation of entrepreneurs and it will be a spur for stakeholders to develop the eco-system to ensure that start-ups stay and grow to be major brands. Governments often do not know the effects/outcomes of innovators and politicians cannot often manage the process but history tells us that the Mediterranean has adapted over 3000 years. The consensus is that the disruptive sectors are here to stay and governments and other stakeholders just have to adapt to the new reality.


Opening Statement – 22/11/2018

Anwar Zibaoui stated that the future of Europe and Africa will be based on cooperation and innovation. Eighty per cent of job losses will be caused by innovation, highlighting robotics and Artificial Intelligence as key factors. The region needs to embrace innovation but new ideas involve significant risks and reduce the concentration of economic power. SMEs, which account for the bulk of jobs in the private sector, receive only a fraction of loans. He emphasized developing a dialogue, supporting members, facilitating networking, lobbying policymakers and promoting investment.

Miquel Valls highlighted the need for laying the grounds for the digital transformation, which is disruptive, with the list of top companies constantly changing because of new entrants. Member states must improve their competitive positions, noting the importance of young people and educations as the main challenges of the digital revolution.

Xavier Tarra, President of Technology Centre of Catalonia (EURECAT) noted the need for Catalonia and Spain to embrace internationalization to become more competitive, offer better service and be more relevant to stakeholders. This entails more investment in research and development.

Miquel Marti, CEO of Barcelona Tech City stated that efforts to increase the digital eco-system must: consolidate the hub with the right information; make Barcelona more competitive/ knowledge-based; improve talent commitment in schools and universities, in particular by reducing the gap between universities and enterprises and; take a more international outlook. Relationships must be developed between the region and Northern Europe, North Africa and Asia through workshops on knowledge concepts.

Philippe Guillaumet, General Secretary of MedPorts reported on work in developing networks between ports in Europe, Asia and Africa, highlighting recent developments with significant impacts, namely, improvements in the Panama and Suez canals, the new Silk Road and climate change. His goals are increasing efficiency and visibility, new locks, improved data, promoting best practice and improved communication between stakeholders. They will be launching a Barcelona project/harbour event on 24th June 2019.

Jorge Borrego, Deputy Secretary General for Energy and Climate Action of the UfM noted that his organisation represents the entire ecosystem of the region and that it was essential that all approaches must have as a goal the development of the Mediterranean community. Challenging issues include the democratic process, climate change, human capital, globalisation and the youth. Many issues were common to all members and cannot be resolved by individual states and the region must look at models in Northern Europe, South East Asia and North America. The culture of innovation is a challenge and his organisation is working on developing a conducive regulatory framework at national and regional levels.

Natàlia Mas, Secretary for Foreign and European Union Action, Government of Catalonia is happy that many actors are based in Catalonia and noted the need to foster public/private/open structures. Catalonia wants to enhance an innovative policy framework and is launching a med project to foster innovation.


Mediterranean Innovation

Carmen Margelí, Head of International Development, Technology Centre of Catalonia (EURECAT) reviewed world trends, which ranked regional leader Israel, at number 10 in the Global Innovating Index. Stakeholders in member states must work, in collaboration, to improve their rankings/competitive positions in the index. Challenges and opportunities highlighted include lack of proximity and trust, improving cooperation between countries, new policies to promote competitiveness, encouraging entrepreneurship, improved standards and increased mobility of researchers and talent within the region.

Ramy Boujawdeh, Deputy General Manager Baytech in a review of the Lebanese experience in developing its ecosystem noted that the country ranked 15th on the Global Innovation Index in human capital and is an exporter of labour because of lack of jobs in the country. The Lebanese Central Bank had initiated a project, with a budget of $600 million, to support entrepreneurs, promoting collaboration and projects to develop them to regional and global scales. They had joined the EU network to develop synergies and clusters.

Murat Erten, General Manager, Izmir Techno Park reported that his university offered undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in English and operated an innovation ecosystem which provides ideas for the industry, an infrastructure, social welfare and employment for graduates. The infrastructure develops knowledge, realisation, creation, support for start-ups and management of intellectual property. Since its inception, it has developed 145 companies, generating $650 million in revenue and exports of $60 million. It actively encourages graduates to set up companies rather than just look for jobs and assists them with technical and marketing expertise. It is working with the government to foster technology and on projects with Poland, Lithuania and the Newton Fund in the UK. Under the Hackathon programme, it is assisting in the promotion of clean energy and organises events and acceleration programmes.

Fadi Mikati, Co-Founder and President, Tripoli Entrepreneur Club said her organisation aims to promote knowledge, economic activity and capacity development by shifting the business model, creating three start-ups to develop soft skills, digital marketing and mentorship, focusing is on the youth.

Joan Parra, Technology Partner of DFactory/Executive Vice President of Leitat reported that their work is on digitalisation focussing on 4.0, 3D tech incubation, open innovation culture, local impact, best international practice, talents and social responsibility. The three phases of their approach are high 3D tech incubator; industrial hub assisting in digital transformation and; building new reality space, mode, areas and reference centre.

Emmanuel Noutary, General Delegate, ANIMA Investment Network reported that they had received EU funding to create value networks. They are reviewing regions in areas that are producing solutions, guided by their belief, approach and objectives. They believe in reverse innovation, solutions from emerging countries; shared values with balanced partnerships; social responsibility, inclusive and engaged local communities; leadership, innovative leaders that can spot and develop new trends. Their approach is to mobilise communities, create brands, and open platforms. The objective is to create networks and promote innovators, enhance and coordinate innovation strategies, working through policy frameworks, technology transfer mechanism, start-up booster tracks and cluster booster tracks.

Jose Manuel Duran, North Africa and Middle East Delegate, CDTI reported that they work in eleven countries on a variety of projects, planning, implementing and monitoring projects. In surveys conducted of companies, 47% say that R&D gave them prominence in the market, 11% of SMEs said it increases their sales, a third of countries say innovation increases their presence in international markets and collaboration between countries and partners is very productive. Their conclusion is that there is a need to increase R&D activity in all states.

Rachid El Mrabet, Innovation Manager, Research Institute for Solar Energy and New Energies (IRESEN) gave a report on the use and efficiency of green energy highlighting the impressive gains made in Morocco and challenges/opportunities in Africa, noting that lack of access to power is the most debilitating factor. After a rigorous debate, Morocco has planned and implemented projects, which have increased renewable generation significantly, and by 2030, this should account for 52% of total energy production. The country has created a research institute for solar energy, financing mechanism and open space project for Spain and Morocco. Morocco is looking at improving energy efficiency in homes, in different scenarios and smart green technology. He cited opportunities for private/public partnership opportunities in Spain, Algeria and Mauretania, smart city, green technology parks and electric mobility. Morocco is working with the Ivory Coast on solar energy projects and exploring opportunities in other African countries, notably, through events that it organises. Morocco is a good conduit for European companies intending to enter the African market because of its knowledge and presence in other African states, notably, its prominent role in the Green Africa Innovation Network project.


Digital Transformation in the Mediterranean – Opportunities and Challenges

Joan Guasch, Senior Area Manager, Public Programme Manager, Area, EURECAT highlighted the four major elements in digital transformation, namely, technical developments/business models, the digital infrastructure, digital skills and digital hubs. The key drivers are Big Data and SMEs.

Mª Helena de Felipe, President, Federation of Mediterranean Women Entrepreneurs (AFAEMME) reported that her organisation promotes the interest of entrepreneurial women, focussing on closing the digital gap through best practice by promoting science education for girls, improving the labour market, closing the wage gap and generally developing platforms and the environment for women.

Hakam Kanafani, Chairman, Arab Advisors Group noted the need for everyone to be digitalised because every industry is affected by the digital transformation, taking place all around us, on the beach, cars, cinemas, passport control etc. The government’s role is less regulation, Public-Private Partnership (PPP), finance, incentivising the public, e-government programmes and digital education.

Luis Badrinas, CEO, Barcelona Health Hub reported that his organisation promotes innovation in digital health, working to develop the ecosystem for start-ups in the sector to improve competitiveness, leadership and collaboration in the region.

Elif Coskunkan, Managing Partner, Etohum & Start-up Turkey, a private accelerator and working on PR, marketing and ecosystems, stressed the need for a good infrastructure.

Sisco Sapena, President and CEO, noted the huge opportunities in the sector, pointing out though that the new landscape is merely a repeat of challenges and opportunities faced by forebears in the region three thousand years ago, the main difference being the new digital tool.

Youssef El Alaoui, Vice President General, Apebi Morocco reported that in his role representing IT companies in Morocco he lobbies for companies and universities and helps organise an annual African event which covers agro-technology and networking. He proposed that the event include Africa, China, Canada, and corporations.


Mediterranean Start-up and Entrepreneurship

Diana Kobayter, Founder, Oils and Beyond & Young Entrepreneurs Working Commission of ASCAME gave a report of her work on her family business and with young entrepreneurs in Lebanon, which she embarked on after work and skills, gained in a variety of projects. She is applying digital tools to traditional industry and an NGO she founded.

Roula Moussa, Managing Partner/Diaspora ID reported they had developed an accelerator in Dubai with an Artificial Intelligence start-up to provide socio-economic services to the Lebanese diaspora working with the chamber of commerce. The 30 million Lebanese diaspora who far outnumber the 4 million citizens living in the country are provided support with regards to markets, capital and knowledge access.

Aintzane Arbide, Technology Partner, DFactory Incubator/Business Development Manager, Leitat operates a 3D factory incubator and chooses the best 25 projects to support, providing them training, networking, advice, technical services, certification and other relevant resources. Their criterion is that the project must be technologically related to 3D printing.

Stefano Bonfa, Owner and Manager, Oxford Sustainable Development Enterprise (OxSDE) gave a report of his organisations work on strategic, scalable multi-sensor analysis of big remote sensing data making use of the data cube concept. The goal is to develop an integrated processing pipeline. OxSDE is working on deep learning, linking major brands with SMEs and in Italy; it is working on climate, health and tourism issues.

Almudena Solera, Global Head of Strategic Partnership & Business Development, Spain Start-up – South Summit focusses on innovation in tourism linking projects requiring funding. The objective is to identify start-ups that will have a significant impact, link them to large corporations by organising open innovation fora inviting business leaders.

Vincent Ernoux, Coordinator, Branch Office for the Western Mediterranean, ENI CBC MED operates in 13 countries with a budget of Euro 209 million focussing on socio-economic, R&D, education and social inclusion issues. He noted that while SMEs played a significant role in the socio-economic fabric in the region they accounted for only 2% of R&D spend. His organisation targets start-ups and local authorities to provide finance, training, management and development of local hubs and accelerators. They build partnership and cooperative projects to solve shared needs.

Burcu Tuncer, Team Leader – Networking and Partnership, UN Environment MAP Regional Activity Center for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP/RAC)  posed the question of what the region is trying to achieve, noting that the Mediterranean has been a cradle of innovation. Switchers/change makers work in many different sectors and so the approach should be to work with the whole eco-system. This involves stimulating and nurturing great ideas, providing training, business planning, incubation, reviewing results and assessment of start-ups, funding and business support facility services. Every two years there should be a networking forum/review.

Comment:  It was noted that to build a legacy and enhance the infrastructure of the region, fora like this event document and develop a database incorporating initiatives outlined and with the assistance of academics/the European Commission map and link them to be used as a resource and the development of networks throughout the region and the EU.


Finance and Funds for Mediterranean Entrepreneurship

Ricard Garriga, CEO Trioteca/Co-founder & GP, Torret Road Capital stated that there is not much link in the region other than sharing the Mediterranean Sea and the event and his role as a venture capitalist is to try to amend this anomaly.

Boutheina Ben Yaghlane, Director General, Caisse des Depots et Consignations of Tunisia reviewed the role of banks, focussing on Tunisia, where there are only four active players. Because many of the players are young there is a need to assist in the development of professional management teams, strengthen finance infrastructure and set up best practice processes. Tunisia has the potential to be a hub with a youthful and educated population and a large diaspora. The country is the top-ranked place for start-ups in the Arab world and in Africa according to Bloomberg. Her organisation works on developing legal, financial, talent and inclusion infrastructure. It is developing start-up funding using a public/private initiative and partnership model.

Daniel Romy, CEO, Media Digital Ventures reported that his organisation provides media partnership links with companies to assist in advertising campaigns, focussing on start-ups as part of a venture capital project, taking shares in companies they work with.

Mathieu Carenzo, Director, IESE Entrepreneurship Centre stated that his organisation focusses on the missing link in the ecosystem with the aim of building the right financial system. They teach business angels how to build start-up portfolios strategically, making use of investment criteria as part of the plan.

Zakaria Fahim, Hub Africa reported that their unique hub provides a platform that allows entrepreneurs to develop their business, network and raise funds. They engage the diaspora many of whom are very rich. The hub is a good forum for European companies who want to trade and/or invest in Africa.

Tamer Taha, Founder and CEO Yamken noted that start-ups in the region are underperforming and need more than just funding and new ideas. The skillsets needed include product design, trust, proven solutions and ability to minimise risks. Crowdsourced solutions are the most efficient way. His organisation works with many partners and organise workshops in many countries, including Palestine, Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia.

Adil Rzal, President, Association Marocaine des Investisseurs en Capital (AMIC) reported that his organisation has invested Euro 5 billion over the last fifteen years in public/private start-ups, averaging Euro 1 million per startup. They have developed incubators and now operate in France and Morocco. The company has made use of Big Data in the agricultural sector.

Fadi Saab, Chairman, Trans Capital Finance/President, Integrity Values and Business Ethics Working Committee of ASCAME noted that a recurring issue is why finance companies should provide funding for any project. They can only do so if it is a great idea, with a credible plan, vision and presentation. A major issue is the fear factor; finance companies will not make investments if the business/project is not good and/or they do not have confidence in management. Companies need proper corporate governance particularly in the case of start-ups needing to scale up. He cited Nissan and Tesla as two companies with recent governance issues.


Opening Statement – 23/11/2018

Anwar Zibaoui stated that he was pleased with the active participation in the event so far and gave highlights of proceedings for the day. The tourism sector, accounting for 10% of the GDP of the region is crucial but with huge challenges, notably, integrating new technology and competition from other regions. Recent gas discoveries in the region pose huge opportunities and risks. The Halal sector with a total spend of Euro 2.5 billion requires harmonisation between governments on certification. The Blue economy, making the best use of the Mediterranean Sea, to provide livelihoods in the form of tourism and fishing for the 800 million people that share its shores requires cooperation on how the sea is managed.

Miquel Valls highlighted the Public-Private Partnership in managing the sectors covered in the day’s proceedings, noting the crucial role of tourism and how the sea is important for the Mediterranean diet. He noted the political risks involved in the exploitation of the resources for all countries in the region.

Ahmed M. El Wakil stressed the importance of the Blue economy to the region in terms of its contribution to GDP, trade and jobs and reminded participants of the next ASCAME forum on 18/19 January in Alexandra, with the host nation, Egypt, also holding the position of chair of the African Union being in the ideal position of linking the African perspective to ASCAME.


The Future of Natural Gas Supply and Demand

Jorge Borrego, Deputy Secretary General for Energy and Climate Action, UFM noted the huge potential of the sector and efforts to improve efficiency and networks. He highlighted geopolitical challenges, pointing out that dialogue is essential. Significant discoveries of gas supplies have been made recently and the forecasts are very positive for more discoveries but the region also has to take into account tourism and that the development of energy is clean and secure. The region must take into account its commitment to the Paris accord on climate change. Increased investment is needed but that must involve all stakeholders and the meeting scheduled on 16th December is part of the process, providing a platform to promote the security and long-term interests of the region. This is because of the interconnected agenda, in particular, the fact that increased demand and infrastructure for LNG will: require storage facilities; connecting elements and; innovative solutions. His unit will work closely with Mediterranean Energy Observatory (OME).

Leonidas Kioussis, Senior Expert, DG ENR/European Commission stated that natural gas is a topical issue in the Mediterranean and the EU in terms of energy security. The EU together with UfM is working on a clear framework to ensure closer cooperation between producers, consumers and transit countries on energy security. The objective is for a common policy on environmental issues, taking into account job creation, technological developments and climate change commitments.

Houda Ben Jannet Allal, Mediterranean Energy Observatory (OME) stated that in the previous days’ conclusion, it was noted that natural gas is here to stay and stakeholders need to work on cooperation and dialogue for new solutions and envisaged a close working relationship between OME and UfM on this objective.

Rosa Maria Sanz, CEO EMEA Infrastructure Naturgy sees the challenges faced by the Mediterranean and the world in the context of history and trade balances. The trade balance for the region is negative with 64% of supplies being used in countries where they are produced. The challenges for addressing gas demand in the 28 countries in the EU are political instability in producing countries, renewable energy development and the reduction in gas production in the EU. Algeria with huge reserves is a key supplier but noted geopolitical issues with new suppliers, namely Israel, Cyprus and Lebanon. Turkey is key transit route. There is a need for more collaboration between producers and consumers. Climate change is the biggest challenges for the EU and the world, notably, in efforts to reduce carbonisation and but at the same time, there is a need for secure, stable market and prices to ensure that the EU is competitive.

Sohbet Karbuz, Director of Hydrocarbons, OME in a precis of a forthcoming book, commented on the two scenarios in their energy model, namely, business as usual or a big push for renewables. The major changes are likely to be in the south of the region where much of the population and GNP growth rates will occur. Their analysis covers energy security, demand, supply, fuel types such as gas and oil and other relevant factors. Electricity generation will treble with much faster growth in renewables. Gas production, which doubled in the last twenty years, will double again by 2040.

Charles Ellinas, CEO e-CNHC reviewed production and markets in Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and Cyprus, highlighting challenges and the fact that there is significant potential yet to be explored. Egypt is now a net exporter, the market is more liberalised and there has been a significant increase in renewable energy production. Israel is having problems in securing export outlets and in the face of Russian and US supplies, may not be a competitive source. There are issues between Cyprus and Turkey with the former contemplating building LNG plants. On the global front, the increased supply of gas is likely to further depress price which means suppliers would have to focus on the regional market.

Francis Ghiles, Associate Senior Researcher, CIDOB reported that 2018 will be a record for consumption of gas in Europe. Europe is divided on Nordstream, wants to reduce its dependency on Russian gas but also wants competitive prices. He noted the potential for Algerian gas, highlighting the recent agreement for that country to increase supplies to Spain. Morocco does not trust Algeria as a gas supplier and Tunisia has recently made moves to increase supplies from Libya in return for selling more goods to that country although continued instability in Libya means supplies from that source is not secure. In the longer term, Algeria has substantial deposits of gas and there are huge parts of the country with potential that are still unexplored. There is potential for shale in the region but exploitation is likely to face opposition on environmental grounds. Gas imports to Northern Europe face opposition from the nuclear lobby, particularly in France where that lobby is strong and has stymied efforts to increase gas imports.


Report by J Boima Rogers,

European Regional Development Fund              A way to make Europe