World Bank invests $15 million in Palestinian IT sector

Twenty-five percent of working Palestinians were unemployed in 2019.

By Aaron Sull, World Israel News

The World Bank, an international financial institution that allocates funds to poor countries, approved a $15 million grant to boost the information technology (IT) sector in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria.

The initiative, called the Technology for Youth and Jobs Project, aims to help create more high-quality jobs for IT graduates and help boost the capabilities of existing companies in the field.

“The IT sector has the potential to make a strong contribution to economic growth. It can offer opportunities to Palestinian youth, who constitute 30 percent of the population and suffer from acute unemployment,” said Kanchan Shankar, World Bank Country Director of Judea and Samaria and Gaza.

According to statistical data provided by the World Bank, 37 percent of Palestinian graduates in Judea and Samaria, 61 percent in Gaza, and 25 percent of working Palestinians overall were unemployed in 2019.

“There are more than 3,000 IT graduates every year from Palestinian universities, and most of them do not have a job,” Shankar said. “Moreover, the sector is less vulnerable during crises and can accommodate remote work during times like the COVID-19 pandemic or other restrictions on movement.”

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Besides the demand for IT services in the Palestinian territories, the project is expected to attract foreign investment, partnerships with global tech companies, and improve market access.

“The outlook for the Palestinian IT sector is promising if the right actions are taken,” said Iulia Cojocaru, World Bank Senior Private Sector Specialist.

“The project offers a set of interventions to support the transfer of high-tech knowledge and build the practical skills of graduates, and, at the same time, increase sector competitiveness and expose IT firms to global best practices and standards,” Cojocaru said.