Hariri Opening Workshop on Digital Economy: Digitized Nations are More Intelligent
Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Wednesday that "digitization is one of the primary building blocks for national prosperity", adding that "a digitized nation is simply more intelligent and we all need to work together, cooperate and coordinate on this issue ".
Speaking at the opening of a workshop on Digital Economy at the Grand Serail, Hariri gave the following speech:
"Today, digitization is one of the primary building blocks for national prosperity. A digitized nation sparks economic growth faster, and fuels transformation across all economic sectors.A digitized nation is simply more intelligent.
By 2025, which is only six years from today, it is expected that the Digital Economy should represent anywhere between 15% and 24% of world GDP. In Lebanon, we are at 4% today.
Building a digital economy is an enormous and complex project. It needs all of its stakeholders working together and coordinating in order to be efficient and effective. Our problem in the country is that we don’t like to work together. Each one wants to compete with the other, thinking that he can do it better. We all need to work together, cooperate and coordinate. All the ministries and everyone should be cooperating on this issue. We aspire to a collaborative, connected republic where government institutions seamlessly serve businesses and citizens.
On the world Digitization Index, Lebanon ranks 105 amongst 183 countries, scoring 57% in terms of overall digital adoption, and only 49% in terms of the government’s digital adoption.
Digitization is one of the fundamental steps towards achieving the Innovation Nation. In fact, there are 12 building blocks to this vision of an Innovation Nation that I am putting forward, all of which need to be addressed before Lebanon can achieve its full innovation potential.
These 12 pillars are the same 12 used to rank every economy of the world by the World Economic Forum.
Lebanon aims to rise higher on this Global Competitiveness Index, our dashboard for national advancement.
On the Innovation scale of the Global Competitiveness Index, Lebanon ranks 61 out of 140 countries, scoring only 39% in terms of its Innovation status. Although still low, this score has been achieved thanks to the efforts of our private sector and entrepreneurial minds, both of which are looking towards the right enabling environment from our governmental institutions.
Between Digitization, which is a basic and fundamental step to be taken at Lebanon’s infrastructural level, and Innovation, which is the end objective of our Innovation Nation, is a considerable list of challenges, each of which requires a conference on its own.
Take for example the case of Infrastructure, one of the 12 founding pillars of a competitive nation. The set of challenges we are facing is monumental. From waste and air pollution all the way to mobility and telecom, Digitization is the core missing element, the primary and most efficient tool to transition from problem to solution, and the first core enabler of the Innovation Nation.
A digitized nation is simply more intelligent. Coupled with the expertise of our private sector and our highly skilled human capital, the opportunities will be endless.
Lebanon needs to strengthen its enabling environment by driving forward education, infrastructure, institutional reform and Research & Development.
Next, we must create the right legal environment to embrace the new innovative Lebanon.
We must expand every ecosystem by encouraging clustering, cooperation and support to where we have a healthy cycle of education feeding into research and innovation feeding into industry.
We must work on expanding Lebanon’s markets abroad and leverage technology to the largest extent to achieve that.
We must install a monitoring system run by national champions who nurture all these achievements.
And last but not least, we must work to continuously upgrade people, systems and institution from within, thus ensuring a sustainable Innovation Nation.
Beneath it all is Technology: an underlying common denominator for national advancement.
We are responsible for the Lebanon of tomorrow. The people of Lebanon are ready for change. They are sufficiently digitally –oriented to move forward. It is our public services that need to catch up. Beyond studies and strategies, the ball of implementation is in our court. Let us move forward, together.”