In the last three years, the Lebanese digital industry and private sector have been challenged beyond their capabilities from every side; with an economic meltdown, financial and monetary crises, and the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most importantly, Lebanon faced the collapse of its main economic pillar, the banking sector. This has impacted the private sector a great deal, which is having difficulties accessing funding, resources, and much-needed infrastructure since the reduction of government and banking support. Further obstacles have arisen with this; including dealing with legal compliance concerns locally, regionally and internationally. So far, the government has failed to provide a clear economic plan or implement any significant economic reforms.
Expectations for 2023
The economic and political challenges of 2021 and 2022, along with the lack of access to foreign currency, and electricity shortages have made it difficult for businesses to operate. Yet, with a higher dollarization rate in 2023, there is a need to focus on adapting to respond to the shifting economic environment. The private sector will open to new opportunities, pivot business models, and take advantage of new technologies and trends.
For instance, as a private company DxTalks will focus during 2023 on the following:
• Providing excellent customer service to both retain and attract new customers.
• Investigating new revenue streams to weather the economic downturn, such as expanding into new markets or launching new digital products or services.
• Staying ahead of the competition and prioritizing our digital innovation.
• Concentrating on expanding and improving online presence to reach a larger audience; this includes e-commerce, social media, and online marketing.
• Hunt for more grants and specially packaged aids to further support us in achieving our strategy.
When compared to 2021 and 2022, our expectation for 2023 performance is optimistic. This is because locally, dealing with US dollars is allowing some stability which is inviting new opportunities. The 2023 strategy for new channels and venturing into the region will drive sales higher by 30 to 40 percent, while focusing on optimizing operations, efficiencies and resource sustainability.
2023 priorities and needs for achieving growth
One of the main priorities is access to a skilled and educated workforce. This includes a talented pool of developers, designers, marketers, and other professionals to build and promote digital products and services. Without a skilled workforce, it can be difficult for digital companies to innovate and stay competitive in the market.
In addition, to achieve growth companies need access to markets where they can sell their products and services. This can include local and international markets; and coupled with effective marketing to reach potential customers, business can grow. This can be achieved thanks to the existing talents and Lebanon’s geographical location within the Middle East. The Gulf region in particular is witnessing one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
Strategies for the upcoming year
The Lebanese digital industry can strategize in the upcoming year, with several steps:
- Analyzing the local and regional market and identifying opportunities for growth and expansion
- Developing new products or services to cater the new opportunities
- Developing and promoting niche areas of expertise, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, or e-commerce, to help position Lebanese businesses as leaders in these fields and attract private investment and partnerships
- Investing in technology and infrastructure to support the growth of the digital industry, such as building strong and dependable networks, developing software and applications, and providing industry professionals with training and education
- Developing an ecosystem which encourages and supports entrepreneurs, digital startups, and small businesses, including with access to funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities
- Developing a positive brand image and reputation for the Lebanese digital industry and businesses by emphasizing the quality of products and services, highlighting achievements and innovations, and emphasizing their role in the local and global economy
- Creating an enabling environment for international collaboration to foster growth
- Invest in a comprehensive energy strategy (solar, wind, and storage capabilities) that considers energy security and lower energy costs
While the digital industry is constantly evolving and does not need heavy investments, to develop the economy at large, the strategy must be flexible to adapt to new trends and technologies. In this manner, the role of the private sector is a key player in Lebanon’s economic recovery. Many experts believe that the country will need to rely on the sector for job creation and to spur economic growth, while keeping one eye on the government to integrate a digital mindset into their action plan, reduce corruption and implement economic and legal reforms.