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Main Lebanese Companies :
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Internet
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The Information and Communications Technology Industry in Lebanon - Results of the 2004 ICT - August 2004
....................................................................................................................................

ICT

Lebanon rapidly understood the importance of having a strong IT industry and in 2000 the country ranked amongst the highest rates of internet users in the region. The national ISP industry has seen changes in recent times with the merger of two leading companies.

Five companies dominate a market evaluated at almost 250 000 internet users (2004) and already offer high speed connections (ISDN).

A technological Pole, Berytech, was open in 2000 offering, on the same site high added value services : scientific research, technological innovation, economic dynamism and business experience. In 2004, 30 companies are established in Berytech and 185 jobs have been created on the pole. Companies can be split in two main activities, image and IT.

Today, the whole business community has understood the importance of being part of the e-revolution. Some of the leading companies are in the process of developing a web site, a majority already has a presence on the net, and a few are using e-commerce solutions. Only two companies provide such solutions, backed by financial institutions and ISPs, offering secure payment gateways to companies willing to sell their products abroad. E-commerce is well adapted to products that are appreciated abroad, and the Lebanese community living in foreign countries widely contributes to the success of Lebanese e-commerce web sites.

Mobile communication is part of Lebanese life, and the average time spent over the phone per month at peak hours is one of the highest in the world. Mobile phones were introduced in the early nineties and experienced a boom due the bad quality of the fixed line network that had been partially destroyed during the war and two companies currently operate in this market.

A conflict is currently underway between the two mobile operators and the ministry of post and telecommunications. The BOT contracts that were awarded in 1995 for ten years have been denounced by the ministry and the licences will be submit to tenders. Today, the State pays the operators to run and maintain the network.

The full range of wireless applications are available from WAP to MMS. The first testing of GPRS in the region was done in Lebanon.

The limited size of the domestic market causes companies to look for neighbouring markets to expand their activities. The country could become a centre of software development in the coming years. Several companies are already competing to get outsourcing contracts from international software development companies, and programs are being implemented to establish start-up incubators since the growth potential of this industry is among the highest in the country. The media has a tradition of freedom in Lebanon and this has led to tough competition in this sector: The number of printed and audiovisual media has risen without advertising expenses being taken into account, and the quality of daily newspapers and TV are considered the best in the Middle-East.


Yann Rotil
February 2004
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