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Tech investment ‘key’ to helping young jobless

Chammas says there is still much to do to address unemployment.

BEIRUT: Three new investments in the fields of technology and ICT have joined a long list of projects being executed in Lebanon, Berytech President Maroun Chammas said Wednesday. Speaking at Berytech Digital Park, Chammas listed Cardiodiagnostic (a venture offering medical testing services), Cook and Eat (an online venture focusing on food preparation), and Mistile (an Internet-based luxury goods retailer) as the latest new ventures in the country.

Other investments made in Lebanon in recent months include a $5 million information technology building as well as projects in other fields such as health and social services, Chammas said, stressing that investment in technology would help create new jobs for Lebanese youths.

He added that a second fund for technology, set up in collaboration with the Central Bank, would be launched early in 2014.

Caretaker Economy and Trade Minister Nicolas Nahas said relying on GDP growth alone was not the way to create jobs for the youths.

“We still have to do a lot to create 23,000 jobs each year in order to absorb new university graduates. In other words, GDP growth has not created additional jobs,” he explained.

He warned that Lebanon’s unemployment rate had reached 11 percent among youths and university graduates and that this figure may rise further if action was not taken to reverse this trend.

Nahas also underlined the importance of complying fully with copyright laws in order to protect the technology and ICT industries in the country.

He pointed to the introduction for the first time in Lebanon of the E-service, which allows anyone to register a trademark or patent.

Caretaker Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui said the future lay in the digital economy.

Sehnaoui added that his ministry had invested $200 million in infrastructure and discussed with the Central Bank ways to finance the technology and telecoms sectors in Lebanon.

“We need to keep the digital economy away from politics. The digital economy does not belong to any political group or sect. We are trying to accelerate the Internet speed but our efforts are being hampered,” the minister argued.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 04, 2013, on page 5.

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