BEIRUT: Nearly 37 percent of Lebanese became smartphone users by end of 2011, according to a report released by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development Wednesday.
Director of ICT Division at ESCWA Haidar Fraihat gave an overview of “The Information Economy Report 2012” during a launching event by ESCWA at its Beirut headquarters.
He urged countries to develop software that meets local needs and capabilities and highlighted broadening prospects for expanding the region’s software industry.
Boosting the software and app development industry is important for increasing income and addressing broader economic and social development goals, Freihat said.
Highlighting the main findings of the report, IT officer at ESCWA Rami Zaatari said that Arab countries currently allocate only a fraction of their total ICT expenditures to software development.
“Local demand for software industry is increasing through the worldwide expansion in three trends, including the use of smart mobile phones, broadband connectivity, and the free and open source software,” Zaatari added.
Zaatari also discussed the main barriers facing the software industry growth, including limited access to venture capital, the lack of qualified human resources, and limited government procurement of software.
Weak demand from the private sector, high rates of software piracy, and limited technical capabilities of software firms also impede the sector.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 29, 2012, on page 5.