Creating the Pathways from Poverty to Prosperity

Middle East and North Africa: Slow progress over the past decade

Sustained instability across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) means progress on prosperity since 2010 has been slow, and it has underperformed compared to the global average.

The reasons for the region’s increase in prosperity, and issues holding back further improvement, are outlined below.

  • Similar to other regions, central to MENA’s improvement has been a further expansion of telecommunications infrastructure — all of the 19 countries in the region have improved dramatically, with the average number of broadband subscriptions per capita almost quadrupling in the last decade. Iran (79th) is exemplary in this regard, with 70% of the population now using the Internet, up from 12% in 2010.
  • Education has also seen consistent improvement across the Middle East and North Africa, with only Jordan (97th) and Syria (127th) deteriorating. For most countries, this has been due to an improvement in tertiary education, with enrolment rates across the region increasing from 32% to 44% since 2010. Other countries, such as Morocco (113th), have seen improvements in other areas. The secondary school completion rate has increased in the country from 43% to 62% in the same time frame.
  • Protracted conflicts across the region, such as those in Syria (165th) and Yemen (164th), as well as the Kurdish-Turkey conflict in the Syria-Turkey-Iraq nexus, continue to destabilise the region. In addition, the number of deaths due to terrorism across the region has more than doubled since 2010, and the number from two-sided conflicts has increased ten-fold to 90 deaths per million people.
  • The quality of governance has deteriorated considerably across the region, with 13 countries having a weaker performance now than in 2010. This decline has been most evident in Turkey (118th). The country has dropped 57 ranks in the pillar since 2010, due primarily to falling political accountability, with the Center for Systemic Peace assessing that Turkey has become significantly less democratic and more autocratic.