Despite Lebanon’s vulnerable economic predicament, the country’s information technology (IT) industry has witnessed a significant growth over the past few years. There are as many as 410 IT companies currently operating in Lebanon, employing some 3,000 persons with annual revenues totaling between $100-150 million. The sector was represented by 13 firms in the latest edition of GITEX, the Middle East’s biggest IT event.
In a recent interview with the General Manager of Internet Facilities Group, Michel Kilzi, menareport was briefed on the company’s activities and received information regarding the future of the country’s IT sector.
What are your company’s main activities?
We specialize in software engineering and web development that meet international standards. Headquartered in Beirut, we export our products mainly to European markets, but we have plans to expand and penetrate into the American market.
We recently signed a partnership agreement the multinational Microsoft company for the development of PCI solutions. We are the only company in the Middle East to develop interactive television software, either through cable or satellite. We also develop business applications and security solutions, as well as provide high tech consultancy.
Who are the company’s key investors?
Internet Facilities Group is a holding company, whose main investors include myself, Abdel Latif Shammaa and the Abu Ghazaleh Group.
Do you face difficulties in production?
We do not sell our products on the local market, but rather utilize local human resources for exporting purposes. We Arabs have the same capabilities as Americans and Europeans, and so our company invests in training a local workforce for the production of computer software. We work on the concept of offshore software development, meaning outsourcing to provide cost effective services.
How do you assess the Internet service in Lebanon?
Internet service is witnessing success in Lebanon as compared with other countries in the Middle East. The only problem is the high cost of Bandwidth. We are currently negotiating with the Lebanese Ministry of Communications in an attempt to have prices lowered in the near future.
How do you assess the impact of the current economic situation in Lebanon on the Internet and IT?
The economic situation in Lebanon affects companies in all sectors, not just the IT. Our company in particular has not been affected much by the economic situation because we export our products abroad and do not produce for the local market.
How many Internet subscribers are there in Lebanon?
There currently are 80,000 Internet subscribers in Lebanon but the number of users actually amounts to 200,000-220,000, in a country whose population does not exceed four million. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )