The second day of the Mediterranean Economic Leaders' Week 2022 in Barcelona has brought together dozens of experts, politicians and entrepreneurs to address the transition of the Mediterranean region towards a digital economy in which its members, as evenly as possible, can facilitate access - to its citizens and its business fabric - to financing and digital services.
Thus, this day officially began with the intervention of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Mònica Roca i Aparici, who welcomed all the participants to the event - both in person and online - and underlined the importance of this type of forum for all the economic sectors of the region.
The "Mediterranean Innovation and Digital Forum" started right after -parallel to the celebration of the "Mediterranean Innovation Hub: Funding opportunities for civil society organisations and entrepreneurs"-, and counted with the participation of figures such as the president and founder of Cluster Digital Africa, Amadou Diawara; the CEO and founder of International Strategic Management (ISM), Faris Alami; or the partner of McKinsey & Company in the Middle East, Chiara Marcati; among others. All of them moderated by the regional director for Southern Europe and North Africa of BBi Communication, Nina Heindrichs, as moderator.
Along the same lines of regional cooperation in the area of ideas and knowledge, MedaWeek also included the "Second Barcelona Conference: Capturing more talent and the startup ecosystem", and the "Second Mediterranean Space Forum", in which speakers highlighted the role of the Catalan city of Barcelona in innovation and the supply of new digital business opportunities and addressed the needs of users in the context of the new digital era in the Mediterranean region, respectively. These roundtables served as a meeting place for the contributions of Anwar Zibaoui, General Coordinator of the Association of Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce (ASCAME); Marín Orriols, Director of the International Department of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce; and Pau Solanilla, Commissioner for Economic Promotion of the Barcelona City Council, among many others.
The afternoon sessions, four 'Hot Seat Salks' -small half-hour talks in which two or three specialists and entrepreneurs presented the most important ideas from different technological fields- moderated by the general director of the Spanish campuses of the Geneva Business School, Nicola Jackman, revolved around the digital and collaborative economy, investments in the field of cybersecurity, the mobile industry, and the potential of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.
"It is essential to reduce the digital divide between the northern territories and the southern territories of the Mediterranean", summarised Aadel Benyoussef, CTO of inHovate Solutions, one of the key speakers at the "Digital economy and collaborative economy Hot Seat Talk" meeting, which was also attended by the EESC (European Economic and Social Committee) Monitoring Committee member and farmer, José Manuel Roche Ramo. The latter, for his part, emphasised the agriculture 4.0 Model as a tool for generating added value for the agricultural sector, and pointed to the need to digitise the countryside. "The agricultural sector cannot miss the digitalisation train", he explained.
The space reserved for "Investments in Cybersecurity" gave the floor to Zouheir Lakhdissi, CEO of Africa and technological director of KLAIM.AI, and the director of the Innovation and Competition Centre of the Cybersecurity Agency of Catalonia, Tomás Roy Catalá, who agreed on the key importance of cybersecurity, but diverged when asked about the role of governments in boosting this sector. "If today's wars are caused by natural resources, tomorrow's wars will be about data," said Lakhdissi, arguing that data security in the digital environment is a key issue for the sovereignty of nations.
Roy Catalá warned that, in the future, "everyone will have to participate in their own protection in cyberspace, just as we do today with our physical security, in one way or another".
Nicola Jackman then moderated the Hot Seat Talk "Mobile Industry in the Mediterranean", which featured only the GSMA's Head of Middle East and North Africa regions, Jawad Jalal Abbassi, to highlight not only the gaps between the northern and southern Mediterranean at an economic level, but also the gaps in coverage and use of mobile opportunities between regions, cities, and generations. "To improve this, we need to work together, extending infrastructure and developing digital learning," said Jalal Abbassi.
The table focused on the potential of blockchain technology in the Mediterranean region was the closing session of presentations before a space aimed at companies and specialists for the development of personal and business links. The final Hot Seat Talk brought together Luis Carbajo, Co-founder and CEO of Vottun, and Quirze Salomo, CEO of the Blockchain Centre of Catalonia, to explore the opportunities of this novel digital security technology in the private sector in the Mediterranean region, and to consider the requirements for growth in this area.