A new World Bank Group project will boost Lebanon’s mobile Internet systems and create quality jobs for a high-skilled labor force to help reverse the spiraling trend of unemployment especially among youth and women.
The US$6.4 million Mobile Internet Ecosystem Project (MIEP) approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors today will strengthen innovation and entrepreneurship in the Lebanese mobile Internet ecosystem. Beneficiaries include software developers, university students and graduates, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) firms, industries where new software applications can improve productivity, and mobile users at large.
The project will increase entrepreneurial skills and practical training of the Lebanese talent pool to enhance competitiveness in the industry. It will help create instruments to interact and develop innovation networks to increase global competitiveness. Moreover, areas of improvement will be identified to help the government implement needed reforms.
Creating a mobile Internet ecosystem in Lebanon will have a positive impact on the country’s labor market including greater geographic diversification, improved growth and increased retention of skilled workers. With mobile technology well distributed across Lebanon, new economic opportunities will be possible in economically marginalized areas.
“Fostering investment and capital accumulation in new and innovative sectors that use existing domestic human resources and skills can help unleash Lebanon’s potential for growth and over the long-term shift the economy towards a more sustainable growth path,” said Ferid Belhaj, World Bank Country Director for the Mashreq. “Lebanon is recognized for its strong education system and its multilingual and educated entrepreneurial population. It is important to build on this human capital when addressing economic growth and job creation.”
With literacy rates above 90 percent and gross tertiary education enrollment at 54 percent, the country’s young graduates represent a competitive talent pool. However, Lebanon’s unemployment rate, particularly among young people and women, is high. While the national unemployment rate is 11 percent, 34 percent of all young people and 18 percent of women are actively looking for work.
“The mobile Internet segment can create jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities for the talented, technology savvy Lebanese youth,” said Carlo Maria Rossotto, World Bank Regional Coordinator of the ICT sector. “This project aims to strengthen digital skills and create new enterprises in the mobile Internet space which is a driver of economic growth and job creation”.
The project will be implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Telecommunications who will finance 50 percent of the total cost. The project has strong support within the Government of Lebanon and is aligned with the government’s latest Economic and Social Reform Action Plan.