Lebanon Businessnews News

ICT firms to get boost with ‘Digital City’ plan
Telecoms Ministry plans ICT hubs, calls on interested developers to apply for license
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Companies in the ICT sector will soon be able to grow their businesses while benefitting from low-priced facilities through the Digital City project launched by the Ministry of Telecommunications.

“A digital city is an area equipped with high-tech communications facilities and intended to host (the offices of) firms in ICT,” said Antoine Hayek, advisor to the minister.

The project’s execution will be undertaken by the private sector. Interested developers may apply to the ministry to build a digital city. “The cities will be fully owned and operated by the private sector,” said Hayek.

He said that many companies have shown interest in the project and he expects three digital cities to be established across the country.

Digital cities will be connected to the internet through a fiber optic network. These cities, essentially ICT incubators and accelerators, will offer firms office spaces at low rents. Firms operating in these cities will also benefit from low-priced telephone and internet services.

The MoT set the guidelines for establishing digital cities through a decision issued on July 24. It called on interested companies to apply for the project. Applicants must be a consortium of companies with expertise in the fields of real estate, management, and ICT.

The built-up area of each digital city should not be less than 10,000 square meters, with a capacity to expand it to 30,000 square meters. Each digital city should include offices, assembly rooms, and accommodations for staff, as well as restaurants, coffee shops, parking lots, and green areas.

The MoT will sign memorandums of understanding with selected and approved consortia. Through these agreements, each digital city developer vows to keep rents at ‘encouraging levels.’

Developers of digital cities will be able to benefit from incentives and tax cuts offered by the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL). The prices of services offered shall be stipulated through a Cabinet decree to be issued later.

Reported by Hanadi Chami
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Date Posted: Aug 07, 2012