Much of politics, little of technology! This is the impression one would get from following the launch of "Beirut Digital District," which is a good step but it needs more explaining, clarification and marketing.
It needs this because the information communications technology sector is one of the prominent economic development, innovative and technological sectors in Lebanon, a country which "believes in knowledge economies" as Prime Minister Najib Mikati said. But there should not be a mix of technological needs and political agendas and there should not be an exaggeration in the promises to "compete with Dubai" by creating a small and modest "Digital District" as Information Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui said.
The first question revolves around the economic value --supported by facts and figures --in launching the Digital District, which may require five years to complete. Other questions are related to its ownership, the total cost of its building, management, maintenance, and development, and to its expected revenues, the parities charged with its re-investment, control and supervision. It is also noteworthy to ask what kind of projects it will implement and whether it will provide necessary infrastructure and secure the climate will encourage businesses "in principle."
Or will the Digital Districtgo as to provide modern facilities and advanced digital services with valuable copyrights and provide financial, managerial and logistical incentives and tax breaks or easy "technology loans" to encourage investments, innovations, creativity, and individual initiative, especially from the globalized and creative Lebanese youth.
Another question about this Digital District concerns the participation of the private sector and the latter's role in its development and its success. The question also concerns the freedom of movement of ideas and capitals and the residence of companies, exchange of expertise and the "best of practices."
It is also important to know the conditions and criteria for new investors from knowledge and technology institutions and emerging companies and individuals. The last question is related to the extent to which the Digital District will contribute to in speeding up the digital networking and the enhancement of internet in Lebanon as a whole, outside of the narrow Digital District, which is supposed to enjoy alone a modern and developed infrastructure and a fast and high-quality digital network through fiber optic and satellite.
The major challenge for the Digital Districtlies in whether it will be able to form a role model and in whether the sector of communication technologies will be liberated and its competitiveness strengthened to lead the process of economic development and attract investments and contribute to creating jobs...through an ecological system for the internet, trade, digital applications, and technological services.
So, are there any convincing answers for us to say: much of technology...and little very little of politics?!