ICT in Gaza

ICT in Gaza

With over 5000 people, the Palestinian ICT sector employs some of the most productive workers in the economy: only 3% of the workforce in the sector produces 8% of the domestic output. In addition, the ICT sector is a critical component of the Palestinian infrastructure, which is needed to sustain and develop the local economy: one new job in ICT creates three new jobs in other sectors.

High potentials: As software can be developed and marketed from any location, the ICT sector can be a way for the Palestinians to overcome the restrictions on movement and access that are imposed on the population and that hinder other industries. Education is highly valued in Palestinian society, producing a highly literate, multilingual, tech-savvy young generation with high individual ICT adoption. Moreover, diaspora and returning Palestinian communities are experienced and bring valuable networks to ICT development. Thus, ICT, with its rapid change, is an industry of niche opportunities in Palestine: strong regional growth and demand for ICT, with many multinational firms expanding throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), including a growing international ICT sector presence in the West Bank. In particular, Gazan ICT companies provide these advantages:
  • Professionals with diverse skill set (programming languages, operating systems, database) are available in the market

  • English and Arabic language skills help in training and communication with clients

  • Low employee turnover rate helps build the trust of customer and consistency in service levels

  • Geographical proximity with MENA and cultural understanding of the MENA region where Arabic law and customs are followed

  • Quality services at substantially lower cost compare to traditional outsourcing destinations (China, India, etc.)

Challenges remain: Gaza’s ICT sector faces multiple infrastructure issues, including the quality of the network, availability of electricity and bandwidth. People and goods are limited in mobility, resulting in Gaza’s isolation from other countries and the West Bank. For entrepreneurs the situation also results in poor access to venture or growth capital, impeding investment or maintenance of existing technology. However, a donor focus on ICT makes other resources available at times.

Companies worldwide play a vital role in developing the Gaza ICT sector through direct outsourcing projects, through supporting innovators and start-ups, and through investing in Gaza skills and knowledge. At the same time, the Gaza private sector also pursues more direct trading with the outside world, and establishes relationships with foreign companies to promote foreign investment in and transfer knowledge to Gaza. Gaza’s ICT sector is an industry of niche opportunities. The sector’s growth and the resulting employment is socially and economically important, with ICT being one of the few sectors open for doing business across closed borders. Years of international cooperation and private as well as non-profit investments in Gaza’s ICT sector have created a buoyant industry: ICT services are delivered to many countries across the world, such as Intel, Cisco, Siemens, and Volvo.