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Round Table on ICT as an Enabler for Economic Development
Beirut, 29-30 April 2004

Information Note


The Roundtable on "ICT as an enabler for economic development" is the first in a series of roundtables planned by the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division in ESCWA during the first half of 2004 focused on building the information society in Western Asia.  It is also a regional preparatory activity towards the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS-2) to be held in Tunis during 16-18 November 2005[1]; its outcome will constitute important material for the Second Western Asia Preparatory Conference, planned for 28-30 September 2004[2]

Socio-economic development is a key concern of countries of the South struggling to emerge from decades and even centuries of exploitation, political conflicts, and armed struggles. Today, opportunities offered by harnessing ICT for economic development are numerous. Trade and commerce, manufacturing, transport, banking, supply chain are all economic sectors that are heavily facilitated by ICT.  Furthermore, ICT is essential for increasing competitiveness and efficiency of enterprises, whether small, medium or large.  Most importantly, the ICT sector, on its own, provides countless opportunities for wealth creation on the one hand, and employment creation on the other. 

Furthermore, ESCWA member countries could benefit from looking at examples where ICT is increasingly used as an enabler for economic development stemming from countries of the South, not only those of the North. The Roundtable will showcase such examples[3] and will attempt to draw useful and applicable analogies for ESCWA member countriesí governments and private sectors. 


This Roundtable will aim at:

  1. Catalysing the deployment of ICT in the process of economic development;

  2. Highlighting the importance of the ICT sector and its economic added value;

  3. Instigating collaboration and partnership among the various stakeholders to achieve the economic development goals of the region;

  4. Identifying business opportunities for the private sector and public-private-partnership;

  5. Identifying appropriate frameworks for measuring the impact of ICT on the economic development process;

  6. Recommending ICT-based enabling solutions for economic development of the ESCWA region.


The main topics to be covered in the Roundtable are:

  1. Opportunities of economic development offered by ICT: priority initiatives and key-projects.

  2. Case studies, success stories, and lessons learned in harnessing ICT for economic development and in increasing competitiveness in selected sectors, e.g. technologically enabling a multi-modal logistics, trade and industry platform;

  3. ICT tools and standards for trade and transport facilitation;

  4. Creation of employment opportunities through ICT dissemination and sector development;

  5. Enabling environment and challenges facing dissemination of ICT in various sectors;

  6. ICT applications with high return on investment and accelerated economic development;

  7. Economies of selected segments of the ICT sector (infrastructure, software and services) and related issues of partnership, financing, investment and returns.


Participants to the Roundtable will include decision makers, business executives and experts from countries within Western Asia region, such as:

  1. Senior delegates from ministries of ICT, Transport, Industry, Economy and Trade in ESCWA member countries;

  2. Senior delegates from United Nations agencies and multi-lateral development and funding agencies;

  3. Private sector executives from economic development consulting companies and project implementation enterprises working in strategic sectors such as agriculture, textiles, tourism, and transport;

  4. Senior representatives from key financial institutions in the region;

  5. ICT economists, experts and development practitioners.


The major expected results from this roundtable are:

  1. Increasing the decision makersí understanding of the relationship between ICT and economic development through concrete case studies;

  2. Identification of key opportunities and outlining an initiative or projects involving partnerships among stakeholders to harness ICT for economic development in the region;

  3. Identification of operational steps for technologically enabling some existing projects in the region.


The event will be organized by the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division in ESCWA, in collaboration with Kaiser Associates, during 29-30 April 2004 in the United Nations House in Beirut.  It will include a keynote address, a limited number of presentations on the above topics and discussion sessions focusing on concrete actions, recommendations and an initiative.

The first day will involve experts in the various technological, economic and financial fields to discuss technical issues, clarify various concepts and present case studies related to ICT and economic development.  During the second day the focus will be on the elaboration of a regional initiative comprising concrete projects.


Contributions would be in either Arabic or English with an adequate summary in the other language.  Simultaneous translation from Arabic to English and vice-versa will be provided.

Additional Information

Any inquiries and requests for additional information should be addressed to:

Mr. Ahmed Farahat, Director
ICT Division, ESCWA
P.O. Box 11-8575
Beirut, Lebanon
Email: Farahat@un.org
Tel: +961-1-981301 ext 1549
Fax: +961-1-981510

Mr. Mazen Khoury, Managing Director
Kaiser Associates (Dubai)
Economic Development Practice
P.O. Box 54271
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Email: Mkhoury@kaiseredp.com
Tel: +971-4-2996563
Fax: +971-4-2996564

[3] In coordination with Kaiser Associates (Dubai), a presentation on the South African Dube Tradeport and Cyberport will be given, as the model combines ICT solutions with logistics and trade bases.


Final Report

Information Note



List of Participants (PDF)

List of Speakers (PDF)