PitchFest Supports App Development in Lebanon

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Last week at AltCity in Beirut, an online education platform beat out 10 competitors to win the co-working space's first mobile app PitchFest. 

Supported by Lebanese Telecom Minister, Nicolas Sehnaoui, co-organized by Apstrata, a backend as a service for web and mobile applications, telecom company touch, and AltCity, the PitchFest offered its top three winners $5000 in cash, technical support from touch and Apstrata, 3 months of incubation support from AltCity, among other prizes.

  • In first place were Firas Wazneh and Hasan Kanj from MenaVersity, an online education platform for the Middle East. 
  • In second place were Majed Traboulsi and Mohamed Al-Amine from Lakta, a promotion medium mobile application, that delivers relative promotions to users.
  • In third place were Omar Assaf and Mazen Baroudi from Applivery, a mobile app for food delivery.

While many cite the slow infrastructure in Lebanon as a challenge, part of the goal of the DevAppLB competition was to showcase how this is changing.

“For the past year and a half, we have been focusing on the infrastructure. We have prioritized the ecosystem, and the next effort will go into finishing the ecosystem project – part of them being the financing and the other being the education. You are the future of the Lebanese economy,” stated Sehnaoui at the event.

As internet speed improves, in the meantime, users are hungry for apps. Lebanon now boasts the highest rate of mobile app downloads in the Middle East and North Africa, with 70% of internet users having downloaded at least one app and 40% having downloaded news and feeds.

3G subscriptions in the country also jumped from 280,000 users in 2011 to more than 1.3 million users by the end of 2012, according to statistics provided by both Lebanese mobile operators, Alfa and Touch.

Smartphone penetration is on the rise as well, with more than 1.8 million devices registered across the two networks.

To reveal its commitment to boosting mobile app development, Touch introduced Touch Cloud, a set of development tools and services for programmers to build mobile apps.

“At touch, we are really committed to developers and to bringing more apps to the region. I am here to reconfirm our 3 fold strategy of building apps or an app cloud to help customers pick up their apps from the market. We have also opened our network when it comes to API for operator billing to help developers monetize what they have built,” said Nadim Khater, Chief Commercial Officer at touch.

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