BEIRUT: In its first installment, Digital Lebanon Conference gathered a large number of ministers, technology experts, entrepreneurs, and more, in order to shed light on the necessity of digital transformation.
The opening panel addressed Lebanon’s place in the world digital economy and the importance of developing a national strategy and digital infrastructure that would transform all sectors digitally.
Among the panelists was Paul Welton, Lead Governance Specialist at the World Bank Group, who expressed that “it’s reassuring to see the steps being taken to strengthen the digital economy in Lebanon.”
Welton also highlighted digitalization’s attainable positive outcomes: “It would enable the state to establish a new social contract with businesses and citizens, as well as create jobs and opportunities.”
Minister of State for Administrative Development HE May Chidiac echoed Welton's idea, and noted the importance of digital transformation as a pillar of sustainable development.
The conference took place in Phoenicia Hotel on Friday, September 13. It illustrated widespread dedication to transforming Lebanon digitally and covered several issues and concerns, ranging from policy reforms that would enable digital growth, to the implications of digitalization on citizens and the economy.
The following panel hosted a number of innovators in the field of technology and leaders of major digital-based organizations in the country, who discussed their companies’ digital initiatives.
Nadim Z. Khater, Chief Commercial Officer at Touch Lebanon, told Annahar about the main challenges surrounding digital transformation efforts in Lebanon.
“Infrastructure is very important – making sure you have the connectivity, the system, the data centers and the fiber,” he explained.
“Another important thing for digital companies to grow is funding. Infrastructure, regulations, and securing investment are the main challenges, but they can also be catalysts for growth,” added Khater.
Acting Chairman & General Manager of Tripoli Special Economic Zone (TSEZ) Hassan Dennaoui, told Annahar about the efforts TSEZ is making towards digitalization.
“Lebanon’s structure is very far from that, but every step we take towards e-governance helps improve the country’s ranking,” Dennaoui said on the potential for a nation-wide transformation.
One of the issues discussed throughout the day was the significance of digital technology infiltrating all sectors, from education to healthcare, in order for it to improve quality of life on all levels.
Speakers from an entrepreneurial start-up background expressed their concerns with launching digital applications in Lebanon, citing the lack of local awareness that would enable them to succeed locally.
Priscilla Elora Sharuk, Co-Founder and COO of Myki, a password management application, spoke about the success of her product internationally.
“It succeeded abroad because people are already aware of the importance of password management. You go where your market is,” she said, explaining that this is not the case in Lebanon.
The event was held in partnership with the Ministry of Telecommunications, Ministry of State for Investment and Technology, and the World Bank, and under the patronage of President of the Council of Ministers HE Saad Hariri, who concluded the conference by speaking about the plan for e-governance, which is set for implementation within the next three years.
“It’s a consolidated effort. Due to the crisis we are passing through, everybody seems more dedicated to this transformation,” he said, adding “cooperation across all government departments is a must.”
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