2013-03-11 16:13:59 - Lebanon is preparing a digital hub that will rival innovation monopolies due the historical DNA of its citizens, says H.E. Nicolas Sehnaoui , Minister of Telecommunications of the Republic of Lebanon at Byblos Startup weekend held at American University of Technology recently.
Lebanon’s Minister of Telecommunications Predicts Digital Oasis in Lebanon
The Middle East could be one of the last places one might expect digital innovations to emerge, but not if you ask H.E. Nicolas Sehnaoui Minister of Telecommunications of the Republic of Lebanon.
At a recent inaugural address for the Kaufman Foundation’s Start Up Weekend held at the American University of Technology in Byblos, he challenged the audience of university professors and young entrepreneurs to embrace the digital future.
Little known to the rest of the world, Lebanon’s internet services have previously ranked on the bottom of the world rankings in its ability to delivery of competitive internet speed. The infrastructure of the country in the past has been compromised, damaged and in many
cases destroyed in previous conflicts making it almost impossible to compete on a global stage in the digital revolution.
Promising his ministries commitment to take Lebanon into the future with the addition of a newer 200 Giga per second on IMEWE and soon to upgrade that to 700, the astonished audience were compelled to hear his hopeful message.
According to him there are more reasons why Lebanon can and will become a digital hub and a center for innovation in the digital space.
For starters he reminded the audience of the well known creativity in fashion, jewelry, stylists and media. Lebanon has the highest ratio of engineers per capita in the world, 1.8% per capita compared to the US at 0.6 and Singapore at 0.2.
“Lebanon is in the process of testing its roll out of a 4G network, leapfrogging it into the 21rst century digital river of ingenuity and connectivity, said H.E. Nicolas Sehnaoui
“Digital Cities regulations will provide the right incentives and ipso facto the cluster effect. Financial schemes will pollinate new start ups with VC’s and private equity to provide seed capital in a country that boasts freedom of speech and freedom of the press, rare in the region” said H.E. Nicolas Sehnaoui.
According to Michael J. Tolan, CEO of World Class Group and MC for the event, “the benefits to the land known to many as a conflict zone for decades will be to emerge as a center of innovation, exporting some of the brightest ideas and creative solutions to the rest of the world, creating an endless supply of jobs and opportunities for its youth was the central message of the minister.”
The participants were Lebanese students and graduates on the starting line of a 54 hour competition to accept the challenge of creating a new product or service in the digital space and create a prototype that could potentially be developed at a later stage into a business.
Organized by Simon Tadros a local programmer and business developer and supported by the Ministry and local business partners such as AUT, Meatel and others, the event was endorsed by the Minister’s physical presence and his commitment to take Lebanon from its traditions into a pioneering frontier of creativity in the new digital world.
According to Tadros, “the ideas and energy that the minister has of the future will enable the youth of Lebanon to feel , believe and embrace a new horizon that many countries have been exposed to for years and put us in the race”
Tadros has future plans to create a network of coders and IOS developers to participate in future events , leading to more incubation opportunities in the country with the assistance and support of the H.E. Nicolas Sehnaoui and foresighted business partners who share his vision of a digitally prosperous Lebanon, an oasis of innovation and opportunity.