Business Magazine

The Role of Information in Planning for Syria’s Post-War Economic Future

Posted on the 09 May 2013 by Center For International Private Enterprise @CIPEglobal


As the world celebrates World Press Freedom Day, it is important to remember that access to information and free and unbiased reporting are vital elements for developing a democracy. According to the 2013 Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, Syria is ranked 176th out of 179 countries. Since the beginning of the uprising in March 2011, Syrian authorities have restricted coverage of the unrest and continue to misreport the civil war on state-run TV stations.

My colleague Stephen Rosenlund wrote in his blog post A Bright Light on Syria’s Horizon about CIPE’s work with the Syrian Economic Forum (SEF), a think tank dedicated to building a free, pluralistic, and independent Syrian homeland that rests on a strong economy and ensures a life of freedom and dignity for all citizens. Despite the ongoing civil war and inability to establish a home office inside Syria, SEF has established a robust online presence through its website and social media pages allowing for the exchange of ideas and knowledge.

In an effort to provide Syrians with unbiased economic news and serve as a resource on all matters relating to the Syrian economy, SEF continues to adapt to the needs of the Syrian people. Currently, SEF distributes an electronic newsletter with a circulation of over 2,500 recipients including Syrians and members of the international community. The newsletter features articles relating to the Syrian economy and SEF events.

SEF is also launching an interview series during which its executive manager will interview regional economic experts on the role of the private sector in Syria’s future, which be posted on SEF’s website and serve as a useful tool for Syrian opposition leaders. Through its online presence, SEF is fostering dialog and information sharing among its visitors.

In addition to developing a robust online presence, SEF has positioned itself as the leading think tank dedicated to developing economic policies and analysis for the Syrian opposition. SEF is conducting a damage and needs assessment of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) affected by the conflict in three governorates in Syria. This assessment will result in a report describing the condition of SMEs, local security, economic recovery priorities, policy solutions, and rehabilitation projects in the three governorates.

The report will not only be an asset to the Syrian opposition, but also to the international donor community.  SEF will use this information to help develop policy briefs designed to provide economic policy recommendations for the Syrian opposition. In the midst of the civil war, SEF continues to play a vital role in preparing the Syrian opposition and the international community for the post-war future by ensuring Syrians have the information needed to rebuild.

To subscribe to the SEF Newsletter please visit the Syrian Economic Forum’s English website.

Sara Hudak is Program Assistant for the Middle East & North Africa at CIPE.

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