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“Does COVID-19 Pandemic Spur Digital Business Transformation in The MENA Region? Evidence From Firm Level Data” by Mohammed Elhaj Mustafa Ali and Ebaidalla Mahjoub Ebaidalla (ILO/ERF Working Paper, May 2022).

he worldwide precautionary measures adopted to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 imposed a drastic negative impact on the performance of the business sector. To avoid losses and negative consequences, many firms have adopted digital solutions. This study assesses the role of the COVID-19 outbreak in accelerating digital transformation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The analysis relied on micro data collected from 5,480 firms surveyed by the ILO/ERF COVID-19 MENA Monitor Enterprise Survey (CMMENT) in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia. The analysis shows that the characteristics of the firm, including firm size and foreign ownership, spur digital transformation in the business sector. Moreover, firms encountering challenges, complying with pandemic containment measures, receiving support from government are more likely to digitize. Furthermore, the results demonstrate a strong association between the pandemic outbreak and digitization and that the firms operating in the service sector have a higher likelihood to adopt digital solutions.