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Shame on us

No one, it appears, is entirely sure just how many countries there are in the world. Some sources put the number at 196, others 195, while some say 189. Speedtest.net, for its purposes of charting the fastest and slowest nations in terms of internet uploading and downloading speeds, lists 185.
 
And guess what? Lebanon, for all its glitz and glamour, supposed sophistication and much-vaunted education standards, came last, with a snail-like download speed of 0.47mb/sec. (South Korea comes first, with 38.63mb/sec). When it comes to upload speed, we do marginally better, crawling one place to 184, with 0.10mb/sec. That’s right. We are the slowest in the world. 
 
Countries with a faster (and in all probability cheaper) internet capability include Afghanistan, a failed state, at 158;  Iraq, a country still finding its feet and plagued by violence, at 178th; and the Palestinian Territories, a divided country with Gaza’s infrastructure regularly blown to smithereens by the Israeli army, at 147th. Sri Lanka, a country that is the butt of Lebanese jokes and one perceived as being populated entirely by domestic staff, is 153rd in the global rankings.
 
Lebanon has no excuse for being at the foot of the world table, and this ranking speaks volumes about the state of neglect from which the country suffers and the fact that our national priorities are simply all wrong. The future of Lebanese business lies with a new generation of technically-minded entrepreneurs who, if the situation remains the same, will take their ideas elsewhere. As for plans to style Lebanon as the Middle East’s Silicon Valley… Don’t make us laugh.
 
Now that the March 14 alliance has bravely opted to sit on the opposition benches for the first time since 2005, the Lebanese will have an opportunity to hold accountable a government that has no excuse not to deal with urgent social issues.
 
Prime Minister-elect Najib Mikati has pledged to deliver a government that represents all Lebanese. But what the people would probably prefer to hear him say is that he will head a government that will work for all Lebanese and repair the country’s creaking infrastructure, and that means delivering 24-hour electricity, harnessing Lebanon’s plentiful water supplies so that there are no shortages, fixing the state of our roads, and, yes, giving us faster internet so we can at least try to compete economically with the rest of the world.
 
In the iPad era, the internet is a necessary educational and commercial tool that is essential in giving modern business a competitive edge, be it in sales, advertising, or simply delivering documents and images at high speed. As long as companies cannot count on Lebanon for its online reliability, they will think twice about setting up shop here.
 
In short, our competitive edge is blunted, and Telecom Minister Charbel Nahhas, a respected economist, must make this his priority, should – as is expected – he retain his portfolio.
 
We cannot talk about 6 percent economic growth and forget that this growth comes mainly from banking, remittances, real estate and tourism. We also cannot boast about economic growth when the business environment for foreign investors is hamstrung with red tape, high charges and an infrastructure that a cold war communist regime would be ashamed of.
 
If Lebanon is to be the boutique nation it claims to be, one that is committed to, and serious about, attracting foreign investment to spur job creation and sustainable economic activity, then it must have the systems in place to do it.
 
Many similar-sized countries in Central and Eastern Europe are already undertaking charm offensives to woo the investment dollar. If the next government doesn’t start laying the foundations for establishing a modern, transparent and efficient business environment, Lebanon will remain nothing more than a down-at-heel entrepôt with a middling-to-decent nightlife and a handful of good hotels. The real business will go elsewhere, and we will only have ourselves to blame.

  • Amale

    Again @ FirasKay, people like you are the problem. .Next time just comment on some video game and save yourself the embarrassment. I totally agree with the writer. Very well said.

    March 6, 2011

  • So Fed Up

    FirasKay is a fool and people like him are the problem in Lebanon. I don't want Hezballah as much as the next rational guy, but let's not pretend one group is the source of all problems in Lebanon. For the most part it is the lEBANESE PEOPLE like FirasKay, from every religious community who are holding us back with their imaginary fantasies of good vs evil, East vs West and deterministic positions. March 8th is inherently bad. March 14th is inherently good. March 8th is inherently good. March 14th is inherently good. ...

    February 24, 2011

  • Rage of The Lebanese

    FirasKay u are certainly a noob u wanna sit down and point fingers instead of taking action u gotta move nothing comes easy, they will never fix the internet connection in lebanon and u wanna know why? cuz the people are ... they "dont care about that stuff unless their leaders tell em to care" be it whomever, the lebanese people were meant to be lead by figureheads, we need to break that tradition and become a different entity than them, as u see they are not scared of the people. Lets start our new ways and ask for what we need and want and not for what they tell us to. They sit and make millions on our account, i mean who the hell pays 26 dollars for gas? and the think is that almost 10 dollars of it go as "taxes", yet they debt keeps increasing, and we never see our taxes geting invested in anything else. But we are to blame, mostly because its the people that create the country. Lets show them whos boss. Sincerely, Rage

    February 24, 2011

  • Jeremy

    hey boys & girls, visit this FB page, post, like, & share, we're building enough evidence to go with something solid and make a case to do something about the internet in Lebanon, please take the time to do it, with enough voices we can make a change. we all really want to make this change http://www.facebook.com/pages/Impove-the-Internet-Connection-in-Lebanon-Offical-Page/200005453344272

    February 24, 2011

  • Petrossou

    And I thought that Gebran Bassl was good at what he did in the Ministry. At least from his father in law point of view who called it a success!

    February 23, 2011

  • RAYMOND

    It is a shame...I live in Egypt and I can ask for a 2 or 4 Mb Internet connection and I have it in no time. I go home to Lebanon and I suffer to get my business done on time...come on there is absolutely no excuse except for government people and their croonies getting commissions from Internet companies..

    February 22, 2011

  • Neyla

    how about being the most expensive nation for mobile network!!

    February 22, 2011

  • Sami

    Firas,but there was no Hizballah prior to 1982.I hope you are not saying that the state was in good shape before 1982 and Hizballah came to ruin our it.

    February 22, 2011

  • z

    For my office i have three 1MB internet connections hooked up. Two of them go into a piece of hardware called a load splitter in order to broadcast the power of 2 connections into 1. The 3rd is the backup line. Even with the 2 in 1, the max download i can get is 0.2MB. All this just for emails and browsing research. There should be an internet intifada (not to mention electricity, water, transport, fuel... etc)

    February 22, 2011

  • abdallah

    i decided to upgrade to 1mb with ogero and when i went to pay my bill at Ogero in sa2yeh everyone looked at me like waaaaaaaattttt... too much

    February 21, 2011

  • kawsoo

    This country is a joke. they try their best to project an image... but that's all it is.. plastic image with no substance.

    February 21, 2011

  • F-Kay

    The root of the problem, and at the risk of sounding pretty wooden here, is Hezbollah. They continue to hamper the growth of the state, they continue to attack our progress, and they have it in them for the rest of the life loving Lebanese. And it is because of that Lebanon (despite its huge potential), continues to fall back behind the world. They will take you to war when they want, they will take you to civil strife when they want and they will harm investments when they want .. solve the HA problem first!

    February 21, 2011

  • joseph

    and fix the mobile phone network whilst your at it as well

    February 21, 2011