Aiding Lebanon’s redevelopment

Intel chairman Craig Barrett touched down in Lebanon this week to unveil initiatives to help the country back on its feet.

  • E-Mail
By  Administrator Published  April 19, 2007

As part of his role as Intel chairman, Craig Barrett is a regular visitor to the Middle East. However, his visit to Lebanon this week was a little unusual even by his standards, as he announced a series of initiatives aimed at helping to promote redevelopment of the war-torn country.

Barrett was in the country under the aegis of the Partnership for Lebanon: a group of companies dedicated to supporting the restructuring of the country following last year's conflict. Through the group, Intel, Cisco, Ghafarai, Microsoft and Occidental Petroleum are providing critically needed resources to bring long-term economic growth and stability to the country.

Speaking to IT Weekly last week, before the trip, Barrett said that the aim was to "help rebuild Lebanon in a way I think different than direct government financing [which is] trying to rebuild roads and bridges and basic infrastructure."

"Our activities are really directed more toward longer-term sustainable economic development, educational development, infrastructure development in the country," Barrett said.

The Intel chairman admitted to being "really worried" about a number of key issues affecting Lebanon's long-term recovery and development: improvement of the ICT infrastructure; workforce training and employment opportunities; development of businesses; healthcare capability and improvement in governance were some of the key areas he identified.

This week saw Intel unveil a number of key projects aimed at addressing some of those concerns, including state-of-the-art WiMax networks deployed at hospitals and community centres, the donation of high-performance computers to university engineering labs and the enrolment of up to 5,000 teachers in a technology training programme.

"It's gratifying to see concrete results at advancing the economic and social foundations of Lebanon thorough Intel's work with the US and Lebanese private sectors," Barrett said in the statement announcing these - and several other - projects.

One area where Intel is keen to support development in the region is in the creation of a stronger entrepreneurial culture. This is not altogether surprising - Intel claims to be the world's largest venture capital firm and half of its investment activities are outside North America.

In Lebanon, Intel has invested in a technology incubator fund, the Berytech Fund, which aims to invest in as many as ten technology companies in the region.

Barrett last week acknowledged that other investment initiatives that Intel has undertaken in the region have not done as well as the chip giant would have liked - a US$50million venture capital fund designed to invest in regional technology companies has seen less than 10% take-up so far.

"The way that we structure our fund is that we look for viable business plans, typically we are not in the mode of what I call angel funding or funding business ideas to turn them into plans, we typically get involved with other entities to fund what we consider viable business plans," Barrett said.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code