12 May 2017
BEIRUT: Lebanon is expected to launch its biggest-ever fiber optics tender in a month’s time, Telecoms Minister Jamal Jarrah said Thursday.
“We will launch the biggest and most important tender in Lebanon’s history after one month for the installation of fiber optics cabinets to be able to provide our citizens with high-speed internet services,” he said at SmartEx at Forum de Beyrouth.
SmartEx, which is being held for the first time in Lebanon, aims to gather technology experts to showcase their latest products and innovations. The four-day event offers over 15 workshops and seminars for industry professionals.
Jarrah said the Cabinet approved Wednesday the seventh phase of the fiber optics networks project and allocated the necessary funds to facilitate the ministry’s mission in delivering its work in a timely manner.
An IT expert previously told The Daily Star that fiber optics have already been installed between the main centers in different areas of Lebanon, but still need to be connected to big enterprises and houses. “Right now we are in the process of connecting fiber optics to houses and big enterprises,” he said.
Jarrah said fiber optics will allow the Lebanese to access high internet speeds at affordable prices.
He added that the ministry asked the Cabinet to reduce internet prices by 20-50 percent to enable citizens to easily access the service.
For his part, Mohamed Choucair, head of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, praised the minister for the great efforts he is making to improve the sector and reach concrete results in this field.
“We also feel at ease about the future of this sector because of the great importance that Prime Minister Saad Hariri is giving to this sector,” he said.
Choucair added that the information technology sector was a very necessary component to succeed economically in the 21st century.
His views were echoed by the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon’s chairman Nabil Itani, who said the biggest challenges facing worldwide economies today was the capacity to attract investments and maintain them while keeping up-to-date with technological innovations. Itani said the sector registered 7 percent growth between 2014 and 2016 and it is expected to grow by 9 percent in the coming three years. “The value of this sector reached $436 million during that period and it provided 6,000 direct job opportunities,” he said.
Itani added that the sector’s impact on GDP will exceed $6 billion in 2017 but is still facing huge challenges in terms of spending and development in addition to securing the proper infrastructure, including fast internet services.
© Copyright The Daily Star 2017.