Ekne3ney Shokran Partners with AUC and PriceWaterhouse Coopers to Host its First Economic Debate in Arabic.
Cairo, July 4, 2011 – On Tuesday, July 3 at Oriental Hall, AUC Tahrir Square, Ekne3ney Shokran held its first economic debate. Conduced in Arabic, the debate addressed the motion: the government should play a major role in production. The debate was moderated by Ahmed Ezzat, co-founder of Ekne3ney Shokran initiative. Arguing for the motion and for a relatively major role of the government in production was Abdelkhalek Farouk, independent economist and founder and head of the leading centers for economic and strategic studies. On the other end of the spectrum, Ahmed Kamaly, chair of the AUC Department of Economics, argued against the motion and for a relatively minimal role of the government in production.
The debate is conducted in a competition-like structure where the audience voted once at the beginning of the debate and a second time at the end of the debate, and the goal of each panelist is to convince the greatest number of attendees with his stance on the issue. At the end of the debate, the distribution of the second votes is compared with the distribution of the first votes and the panelist that persuaded the greatest number of individuals to change their stance on the issue is named as the winner of the debate. Ashraf El Khatib, co-founder of the “Ekne3ney Shokran” initiative announced the following results at the end: the percentage of people voting for the motion decreased from around 64 percent to 49 percent, while the percentage of people voting against the motion increased from 21 percent to 33 percent and the number of undecided votes increased from 15 percent to 18 percent. These results show that the panelist arguing against the motion was able to persuade 15 percent of attendees to change their position on the motion, 12 percent switched from voting for the motion to voting against it, and surprisingly, the percentage of undecided voters increased by 3 percent.
The main purpose behind the Ekne3ney Shokran debate is to increase the economic awareness of Egypt’s general public through addressing controversial economic issues in a manner that simplifies complex economic concepts, avoids the use economic jargon, and promotes the viewer’s engagement in the debate. Since the debate is targeting the general Egyptian population, the audience present reflects the different sectors of the Egyptian community; it includes professionals, activists, students, blue collar workers, etc.
This type of debate is the first of its kind in Egypt. With the current transitional period that Egypt is undergoing, heated discussions tend to focus on political changes and pay lesser attention to the economic matters. Ekne3ney Shokran serves to fill this gap by promoting economic discussions and increasing economic awareness.
Ekne3ney Shokran would like to thank its partners: the School of Business at AUC, especially Professors Nagla Rizk and Samer Atallah, and PriceWaterhouse Coopers, especially Tarek Mansour.