Sale — Young people used social networking sites and SMS to bring historic change to the Maghreb. Now they are learning how to harness these tech resources to find work.
The international "TechCamp" project came to North Africa for the first time this month.
Some 100 young people from several Maghreb countries gathered in Morocco on November 13th-14th to receive hands-on training from foreign and local technology experts.
Held under the theme "Technology for Youth Employment", the Sale event trained young people in new online strategies to obtain work and strengthen community activism.
"We wanted to provide training in modern technology to help use it on a broader level," said Samuel Werberg, Deputy Cultural Attaché at the US Embassy in Rabat, which organised the TechCamp. "In co-operation with the Amal Sale association, we chose more than 50 young men and women engaged in Moroccan civil society activities," the diplomat told Magahrebia.
"We added other groups from Algeria, Libya and Egypt, with the aim of creating communication between local young people and their peers from other countries," he said.
Attendees had a chance to attend nearly thirty special presentations, including "Finding Jobs Through Mxit Apps", "Building your Online Profile" and "Using Mobile for Job Searches".
Some of the many workshops were led by representatives from US companies, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Moroccan experts in modern technology also provided training during the conference.
"I've benefited a lot from this conference regarding youth employment technologies, via cell phones and the internet," Libyan participant Oussama Belkhayal said. "These technologies will have a very positive impact at home in Libya," he said.
The networking possibilities for Maghreb youth appealed to Moroccan student Hind Ourehou.
"There are a lot of young people who have the same concerns that we do but who are working separately," she said. "These programmes help us co-operate to work together and benefit from our experiences."
"It's not technology that creates positive speech or change, but rather young people's ideas," Ourehou added.
Hamza Kodri, a young Algerian TechCamp participant, pointed out the proven value of online communication resources.
"Most of the region's populations are young, and a large section of them extensively use social networking websites, which are still the most important means, if not the only means, to pass speech among young people and urge them to support a certain issue," he told Magahrebia.
"As we have seen in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, these networks helped create substantial changes in those societies, mainly through young people who use the internet," Kodri added.
TechCamp is part of the "Civil Society 2.0" initiative launched by the US Department of State in 2009 to help civil society organisations around the world.