Lebanon’s Digitalization Journey
Electronic government is not a new concept in Lebanon. In May 1997, the Government of Lebanon (GoL) formed a Ministerial Information and Communication Technology Committee (MICTC) based on decision 33/97 issued by the Prime Minister and based on decree 9500 dated 7 November 1996.
In 1998, OMSAR produced the LEBANON in the Information Age, Towards a National Information Technology Strategy to establish the groundwork for the Ministerial Information Technology Committee (MITC) and to enable it to launch its activities.
In 2001, OMSAR published the National ICT Policy and Strategy for Lebanon aiming to outline the vision for use of ICT nationally, to identify the opportunities for Lebanon, and to seek input, commitment and support to realize the national goals. This was the first government’s proposed national Information Communication Technologies (ICT) blueprint to achieve economic benefits and improve the quality of life for Lebanese citizens. The objectives of this document were to:
1. Paint a vision of the emerging information age and raise awareness on the substantial economic and social benefits for Lebanon in taking advantage of an information-based economy;
2. Identify opportunities for the different sectors of the economy in Lebanon and provide a focus for stimulating discussion on the issues, specific objectives, and priorities for the application of ICT nationally;
3. Seek input and commitment from industry, government, and citizens to develop an implementation strategy;
4. Launch several priority projects and set up specific working groups to specify sectoral requirements, e.g. Health, Education, Tourism, and others.
During the same year, a new Ministerial ICT Committee (MICTC) was established and the National ICT Policy and Strategy for Lebanon document paved the way for discussion amongst the members of this committee to set priority initiatives.
In 2002, OMSAR presented the E-Government Strategy for Lebanon after it was reviewed, enhanced, and validated by several local and international domain experts and was endorsed by the MICTC. In addition, this strategy was integrated into the OMSAR Strategy for Administrative Reform that was approved by the Council of Ministers in September 2001. The strategy included three main modules:
1. Module 1 covered a comprehensive situation analysis of E-Government enabling achievements to date in Lebanon;
2. Module 2 described the required E-Government framework (legal, technical, services, capacity building, promotion, and operations) that needed to be fulfilled;
3. Module 3 described the necessary planning steps for a phased implementation.
During this year, OMSAR organized an E-Government Applications and their Benefits to the Citizens conference that gathered national and international domain experts to raise awareness and to share experiences from other countries.
In 2003, OMSAR conducted a Readiness Assessment and produced a National eStrategy document for Lebanon. The vision of the National eStrategy was to move the economy and society of Lebanon towards a knowledge-based society in the shortest time
possible while concurrently addressing related challenges and opportunities that Lebanon was facing. This strategy was accompanied by a roadmap with priority programs and projects for all sectors in Lebanon to be implemented by private and public sector stakeholders and entities.
In 2008, the Ministerial ICT Committee requested OMSAR to update the 2002 e-Government strategy for Lebanon to focus more on the citizens. From this vantage point, the strategy aimed to go beyond data and systems by moving toward the goal of changing how the government operates. The intention was to use the strategy as a jumping board into the development of a novel, innovative, and creative plan that can convert the traditionally old-fashioned government operations of Lebanon into a modern, realistic, and applicable model of e-Government. Several priority projects were proposed for implementation over a three-year timeframe and these were discussed with key stakeholders. A high-level action plan was also developed.
In May 2017, OMSAR organized the first digital conference at the Grand Serail, with the participation of the Prime Minister of Lebanon, which brought together digital leaders from across the Lebanese government including the private sector and academia.
In June 2018, OMSAR published the first draft version of a high-level Digital Transformation Strategy.
In October 2019, the Digital Transformation Strategy and Implementation Plan (2020-2030), was built on the 2018 version by adding several important elements, such as a situational analysis, a sectoral analysis, an implementation plan, and stakeholder participation consisting of more than 300 interactions with various Lebanese and international individuals and expert organizations in civil society as well as the private and public sectors.