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Lebanon aims to position itself as a strategic hub in the Middle East and North Africa by becoming one of the top-performing countries in the region in terms of datacom infrastructure and IT business environment.
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The IT Industry in Lebanon: Companies, Insights & Data
Lebanon aims to position itself as a strategic hub in the Middle East and North Africa by becoming one of the top-performing countries in the region in terms of datacoms infrastructure and IT business environment.
The results of the Lebanese Innovation Survey concerning ICTs indicate a very dynamic portion of the entrepreneurial activities, with strong export orientation, including Gulf countries, and rather young personnel indicates that the performance of the Lebanese ICT Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)s depends largely on their leader
Why you should work with Lebanon IT companies
Low prices and experienced professionals are the main reasons why Lebanon managed to attract direct foreign investments from international companies and organizations. Since the country has focused a lot on BPO services, it may be challenging for locals to establish their own IT and digital companies in a country with a poorly developed IT industry.
At the same time, Kaysar Daou from Leoceros relates that Lebanon has a highly educated and skilled workforce, including in the IT sector. The country also has a strategic location. Its potential lies within the talented and resilient minds that are enduring the toughest of challenges. And unfortunately for the Lebanese, but luckily for IT service seekers, the Lebanese workforce is considered cheaper than others due to the economic crisis. However, political instability and economic challenges, such as the lack of access to foreign currency and high inflation rates, may deter international IT companies from investing in the country.
What you should pay attention to when working with Lebanese IT companies
The Lebanese economy is often described as open and liberal with minimal state intervention. This was always considered as an advantage since the private sector has to survive and prosper despite the lack of assistance from the public sector. As indicated by Chakour, Lebanese people do not rely on the government to provide for their well-being. The Lebanese government’s actions are weak for the following two main reasons.
Disabled by those issues, the Lebanese state has a relatively weak capacity. Public actions in favor of research and innovation have been very timidly developed. There is no ministry in charge of national S&T policymaking in Lebanon or a clear national strategy for technology. The Lebanese ICT policy was limited in terms of government usage and priority. According to the World Economic Forum, Lebanon is ranked 135 out of 142 countries, in terms of government prioritization of ICT. In the same report, Lebanon was ranked 141 out of 142 in the importance of ICT to government vision and government procurement of advanced technologies.
In addition, when working with a local IT company from Lebanon, others should be aware of the potential challenges posed by the economic crisis and political instability in the country. Communication and transparency are key to managing expectations and ensuring the success of the project. Additionally, it is important to work with a reputable company that has a proven track record and strong references.
How reliable are Lebanese IT companies
In terms of reliability, Lebanese IT companies benefit from foreign companies’ reputations. 86% of all IT companies from Lebanon are multinational or international agencies and investors aiming to attract a low-cost and decent-quality workforce.
The main investors in the Lebanon IT industry are French tech companies, which are extending their network and influence in North Africa and the Mediterranean regions.
How does the Lebanese IT industry relate to the region?
The ICT sector is recognized as a key driving force for Lebanon’s economy. It is a fast-growing sector with an estimated market size of USD 436.2 million in 2016. In 2013, the ICT sector contributed to 3% of Lebanon’s GDP. Furthermore, Lebanon is emerging as a leading exporter of software development and services in the region. Comparatively, to other Lebanese sectors, the software sector is distinguished by its dynamism, innovation, and its good capacity of identifying future technologies.
Overall, while Lebanon's IT industry may not be as large or developed as some of its neighbors, it has a strong reputation for innovation and creativity. However, the challenges posed by the economic and political climate in the country can make it difficult for companies to operate and grow.
How is the Business Environment in Lebanon?
According to Kaysar Daou from Leoceros, a leading IT company in Lebanon, The country is considered a small hub in the Middle East with a diverse economy, ranging from agriculture to services. However, the country has been facing economic and political challenges, including a major financial crisis, since 2019. This has led to high inflation rates, limited access to foreign currency, and a drop in purchasing power. The business environment in Lebanon is currently challenging, with many businesses struggling to survive.
In addition, Kaysar relates that based on his knowledge and experience, the business climate to open a new IT company as a local entrepreneur in Lebanon can be challenging due to the economic crisis and limited access to foreign currency. However, the highly skilled workforce and supportive ecosystem for startups can be advantages for local entrepreneurs.
The World Bank reported that Lebanon's GDP contracted by around 40% between 2017 and 2021, highlighting the severity of the economic downturn. Additionally, corruption, inadequate infrastructure, and a challenging regulatory environment further hampered business growth and investor confidence during this period.
Beirut and Tripoli - named the best places in Lebanon for IT Businesses
Kaysar adds on this topic that two of the best cities for IT companies in Lebanon are Beirut and Tripoli. Beirut is the capital and largest city, with a vibrant startup ecosystem and access to a skilled workforce. Tripoli is the second-largest city and has been developing as a hub for IT companies, with a growing number of startups and a lower cost of living compared to Beirut.
Despite all, Lebanon's talent poll described as skilled and educated
The local talent pool in Lebanon is highly educated and skilled in various IT fields, including software development, graphic design, and digital marketing. Many young people are attracted to the IT industry due to its potential for innovation and entrepreneurship. However, the economic crisis has led to a brain drain, with many skilled professionals leaving the country in search of better opportunities.
This article was created together with prominent figures and professionals coming from reputable Lebanese IT companies. Special credits: Kaysar Daou