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Tripoli Vision 2020
  • A joint initiative
    In 2010, prompted by Robert Fadel and in accordance with their election commitments (see Al Tadamon Al Traboulsi), Tripoli’s MPs joined Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to launch the Tripoli Vision 2020 project. A detailed study of Tripoli’s economic situation and a specially tailored development program, Tripoli Vision 2020 was born of the desire of the Tripoli’s elected representatives to solve their city’s problems. Northern Lebanon contributes 13% of Lebanon’s GDP but is home to 20% of the country’s population. With some 320,000 inhabitants, Tripoli is Lebanon's second largest city but still it struggles to be the motor powering the north’s economy.
    Published in April 2011, funding for the Tripoli Vision 2020 report was provided by outgoing Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati, outgoing Minister of Economy, Mohammed Safadi and Tripoli MP Robert Fadel.
    The report’s diagnosis was uncompromising: Tripoli faces multiple challenges. In order to overcome them, the report - which was produced by analysts at SCAS - proposes the implementation of a comprehensive development plan for the city.
    Supported overwhelmingly by Tripoli’s elected representatives, the first phase of the Vision 2020 programme is set to launch at the end of 2011.
  • The findings, a weak economy
    Neglected human capital: unemployment and poverty.
    Tripoli’s unemployment rate, which stands at 16% of the population according to figures released in 2007, is currently on the rise. The main culprit fuelling this growth appears to be the gulf between actual business needs and local skill-sets. Tripoli’s workforce is often unskilled. A significant percentage of its young people leave school well before they reach the intermediate level. In the suburbs, the most disadvantaged sectors of the city, that percentage can be as high as 50%. Nearly half of Tripoli’s population lives below Lebanon’s poverty line, currently set at US$4 a day.

    Low Growth Prospects for Existing Businesses.
    The prospects for business growth in Tripoli are low. The public sector is the city’s largest employer, through the Army and Internal Security Forces. The private sector is overwhelmingly (99%) comprised of micro-enterprises, most of which are unlikely to grow. This explains the low level of investment in the region. Tripoli’s businesses struggle to find funding. Microcredit institutions are less present in northern Lebanon than elsewhere in the country and bank lending in the region accounts for only 3% of all lending in Lebanon.

    A Failing Infrastructure.
    Tripoli must also face the problems the rest of the country faces. In terms of the provision of electricity or quality of telecommunications, for example, conditions in Tripoli are not suited to economic development. The city has a number of important facilities, a port, an airport and an International Fair, but these are often neglected, if not completely abandoned. The René Moawad Airport, for example, has not been made available for commercial purposes.
  • Figures, warning signs





  • Recommendations: a vision for overcoming the challenges of Tripoli
    A Comprehensive and Apolitical Plan:
    Prepared with the strengths and weaknesses of the city in mind, Tripoli Vision 2020 takes a comprehensive approach to accelerating the development of the city. While several projects have already been launched, the objective of the plan is to group all initiatives likely to improve the situation in Tripoli together, classifying them according to priority. To avoid unnecessary bureaucracy, ensure proper adherence to the plan and guarantee its implementation, a city development committee must be created. This autonomous body should be charged with overseeing the plan.

    Priority for Employment:
    With the aim of creating 30,000 jobs by 2020, Tripoli Vision places the reduction of unemployment at the heart of the development program for the city. Amongst the recommended measures is improving service for those already unemployed, ensuring the proper functioning of Tripoli’s Employment Bureau and providing access to training for those currently employed. To ensure a long-term reduction in unemployment, efforts must be made to develop links between the academic and the corporate worlds.

    Renewing the Economic Fabric:
    To overcome the inability of Tripoli’s current economy to create sufficient employment, steps must be taken to promote the development of new businesses. An investment fund should be created to support businesses. The power of the Chamber of Commerce could be extended to provide advice and support to existing small businesses. Support should also be given to those sectors that provide most employment: industry, service and agriculture.

    Support Projects:
    A number of projects initiated by both the government and the private sector are already underway in Tripoli. Some could play a major role in the economic development of the city. The Tripoli Vision plan therefore proposes support to further accelerate implementation of these projects. The creation of the Special Economic Zone for example, could create upwards of 10,000 jobs if it is properly completed. The plan recommends the enlargement of the zone by expanding it to include the René Moawad Airport and the International Fair. The latter space could easily accommodate a university campus and become a technology hub.
Tripoli Vision 2020