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MENA Leadership Academy III: Shaping the Digital Future

Civil Society Organizations in a Digital Space

The third edition of the MENA Leadership Academy came together in Tunis from 6-9 March for a training on civil society organizations in the digital space with workshops on new forms and formats of digital communication. The 24 young participants from eight countries of the Middle East and North Africa had also the chance to meet and exchange with local civil society organizations as well as key players of the digital transformation process in Tunisia. The first training is part of a series of three more trainings on the topic of digital transformation in the realm of the MENA Leadership Academy in the upcoming two years.

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The first training of the two-year MENA Leadership Academy brought together 24 young adults from the Middle East and North Africa that are engaged in their respective local civil societies. The theme of the first training was civil society organizations in the digital space and had a particular focus on the new forms and formats of digital communication.

During the opening of the third batch of the MENA Leadership Academy, the Director of the Regional Program South Mediterranean of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Dr. Canan Atilgan, welcomed the participants at the KAS PolDiMed office in Tunis and underlined the successes of previous batches of the flagship event as well as the opportunities that derive from the two-year program. The welcoming remarks were followed by the keynote speaker Mr. Noomane Fehri, High Commissioner for Digital Transformation at the World Business Angel Investment Forum and former Tunisian Minister of Information and Communication. Mr. Fehri looked at the digital transformation process from a broader perspective of human development and encouraged the participants to be actice changemakers that are shaping the transformation process in their respective communities as it is a highly dynamic process that no one can predict how exactly it will unfold in the future. It is all of our responsibilities, nonetheless, to be raising awareness about the opportunities and risks that derive from one of the most important dynamics that we are witnessing in our world.

After the opening, the participants had the chance to visit the Greenhouse Innovation Lab of Deloitte Tunisia, where they received first-hand insights on how to adapt an organizations’ strategy on digital transformation and why it is so important for even smaller initiatives to grapple with the subject. The first day of the training ended with practical exchanges with local civil society organizations that are located in the Medina of Tunis that are seeking to revitalize the historic part of the city through innovative ideas and initiatives.

The second and third day of the MENA Leadership Academy was led by hands-on workshops on digital communication strategies that were facilitated by the communication expert Jacob Schrot. Mr. Schrot gave the participants practical first-hand experiences and introduced new and innovative formats for channeling digital communication. Beyond underlining the crucial importance of identifying the right target group for each communication tool, he approached the theme from a broader perspective in that digital transformation inherently changed traditional understandings of outreach. Through social media, the audience becomes much more actively involved and it should be an organization's goal to engage their followers as constructively as possible. The participants had the opportunity to not only present their personal experiences from their respective organizations, but also to come up with a new digital communication strategy in small groups.

These plans were then presented in front of an expert jury on the last day of the training that was headed by Amel Saidane, President of Tunisian Startups and Board Member at Digital Arabia Network. The three-day training was finalized with an information and exchange session where the participants had the opportunity to receive practical insights and advise from Tunisian civil society organizations and private sector companies as well as former MENA LA alumni. In this open and informal exchange session, participants were free to ask the representatives questions about their experiences regarding digital transformation and communication strategies as well as advise for their own projects. After all, this was just the opening of the two-year Leadership Academy and the knowledge and experiences the participants gained in Tunis, will be accompanying them for the upcoming trainings of the MENA Leadership Academy and beyond.

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Malte Gasseling

malte.gasseling@kas.de

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