|Minister of Telecommunications, Lebanon|
June 2011 – 15 February 2014
|Prime Minister||Najib Mikati|
|Preceded by||Charbel Nahas|
|Succeeded by||Butros Harb|
23 April 1967 |
|Political party||Free Patriotic Movement|
|Alma mater||Panthéon-Assas University,
Nicolas Maurice Sehnaoui (born 23 April 1967) is a Lebanese politician.
Early life and education
Sehnaoui was born in Beirut, to parents Maurice Sehnaoui and Mouna Bustros, on 23 April 1967 and grew in the Achrafieh a Beirut neighborhood. He attended Grand Lycee Franco-Libanais following which he earned a BA in Economics from  and an MBA from ESA Beirut.
In 2000, Sehnaoui became chairman of the board of Sogecap, a leading life insurance company and in 2004, chairman of the board of Sogelease Liban a financial leasing firm. He held both positions until early 2008. Since 1996, he has been a board member of Sehnaoui Plant a regional construction equipment distribution company.
Sehnaoui served as the minister of telecommunications of the Republic of Lebanon between June 2011 and February 2014. He successfully transformed Lebanon’s telecommunications infrastructure from bottom-ranked economy-stifling to leading-edge globally-competitive. Under his leadership, the Ministry of Telecommunications (1) upgraded antiquated copper backbone to fiber optics and DWDM latest technologies with plans ready for FTTC and FTTB, (2) replaced ancient EDGE cellular networks with 3G across the country and 50 Mbit/s 4G LTE in greater Beirut, (3) and increased Lebanon’s international bandwidth tenfold via IMEWE whilst securing redundancy through participation in the Alexandros submarine cable; all while reducing internet & mobile costs by over 80%. By June 2013, with the infrastructure well on its way to recovery, Sehnaoui turned his attention to Lebanon’s knowledge economy, more specifically its digital economy: he created Beirut Angels - Lebanon’s 1st tech startup angel network - and actively supported the creation of Banque du Liban Circular 331 – a groundbreaking 400 million USD equity investment guarantee initiative that transformed Lebanon’s banks into VC-oriented institutions. Sehnaoui is now leading Lebanon’s Digital Roadmap Steering Committee to ensure the successful implementation of BDL C331. All these efforts where measured & confirmed by the United Nations International Telecommunication Union that ranked Lebanon 1st in progress out of 157 countries in the 2012 ICT Development Index Report. Prior to taking office, Sehnaoui successfully managed several companies across a variety of industries. Sehnaoui is a strong advocate of a secularity political system.
Beginning in 2011 and under Sehnaoui’s management, Lebanon has witnessed significant infrastructure upgrade investments, mainly, deployment of a 4,700 km fiber-optic network linking all telecom exchanges, purchase of 25% of the Alexandros submarine cable capacity (multiplying Lebanon’s international capacity 14-fold), launch of both 3G and 4G mobiles networks and a major increase of Internet speeds (15-fold for the fixed network with an ~80% price decrease and 18-fold for the mobile network with a ~88% price decrease). In 2011, Lebanon was included among 10 countries that witnessed the greatest rank improvement according to the ICT Development Index (IDI) moving up three spots globally and ranking sixth regionally. Other notable achievements of the Ministry include:
- Opening of the fiber’s Network Operation Center
- Re-activating call centers across Lebanon One Year Progres Report
- Simplifying licensing conditions for Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
- Shortening the equipment import procedure from 21 to 3 days.
- Opening mobile data to competition by allowing entry of Mobile Internet service providers.
- Making Internet free between 12 and 7 AM in addition to launching free WIFI across seven public gardens in Lebanon One Year Progress Report
- Launching Open your Tomorrow. An ‘Affordable Tablet for Youth’ plan that seek to introduce tablets in schools and democratize access to educational and entertainment content and allow greater access to information technology among younger generations
- Offering new, more affordable mobile bundles to specific population groups including youth, students and army members.
- Introducing Raspberry Pi and coding classes to the public education system hyperlink (first in the region).
- Increasing Lebanese treasury income by more than 60 million dollars per year through the IMEI registration measure that puts a halt to mobile handsets smuggling Ministry of Telecommunication
- Collaborating with Lebanon’s central bank to launch a program that insures 400 million dollars of equity to Lebanese start ups.
- Creating a regulatory framework for digital zones in addition to preferential tariffs and tax incentive to induce growth, create jobs and develop rural areas. In line with this initiative in September 2012 the Beirut Digital District was launched covering already 8.000 sqm all occupied space and going towards 50.000 sqm in 2016. The BDD is dedicated to improving the digital industry in Lebanon by providing state of the art infrastructure and support services for businesses.
- Defending the Lebanese people’s privacy. The minister raised a red flag when security forces asked for all subscriber’s digital media passwords, VOIP content and web movement. It is worth mentioning that during his mandate all specific requests of data have been met with utmost diligence.
- Launching of local app stores for both National Mobile Operators.
- Launching of a Mobile TV service.
- Launching of an in app payment solution Business News (first in the region).
- Launching of R&D departments in both Mobile operators.
- Testing a 4G dual carrier on the 1800 and 800 bands to reach 250 Mbit/s hyperlink (first in the world).
As Minister, Nicolas Sehnaoui took many initiatives to involve Lebanese youth in deciding the future of technology in the country. Worth mentioning are the bloggers competition http://www.reinventingtheworld.net/ in which the winner got to accompany the minister free of charge on his visit to Silicon Valley and the Be The Minister competition in which the winner got to sit in the minister’s seat at the ministry for 24 hours.
In 1991, and alongside Georges Corm, Borhane Alaouie, Karim Kobeissi and Abdel Rahman Ghandour, Sehnaoui co-founded the Lebanese Citizen’s Movement that militates for a secular Lebanon. Between 91 and 95 the movement published a monthly magazine, ‘Al Mouaten’ (directly translated as ‘the citizen’), in both Arabic and French and produced a short movie titled ‘If the People One Day’ which calls for the organization of a war tribunal to judge war crimes committed during the Lebanese Civil War. The Minister has also founded the Free Patriotic Economic Committee which he headed between 2005 and 2011.
The Mouna Bustros Foundation, an NGO named after Sehnaoui’s late mother and founded in 2009, aims at assisting Lebanese citizens in need in various areas of Lebanon. The foundation contributions include:
- Equipping the Karantina Government Hospital with a new imagery wing.
- Offer free eye examinations and distributing eyeglasses to those in need.
- Running a psychotherapy center for underprivileged people in Karm El Zeitoun.
- Co-organizing the annual ‘Sports Against Violence’ event in Beirut.
- Launching and running a sports academy in Karm El Zeitoun.
- Distributing gifts to thousands of children during the holidays.
- Collaborating with YASA- Youth Association for social awareness http://www.yasa.org and the Lebanese Fire Prevention Committee http://www.lfpc.org during an awareness program and distributing fire-fighting equipment across schools.
- Co-founding Hibat, an NGO that collects used electronics and furniture from the wealthy and redistributes it to the needy.
- Offering financial aid to over 5000 Lebanese individuals in need.
- Coordinating an annual rally that calls for the improvement of prisons and their living conditions.
- Providing relief to the victims of the Achrafieh bombing in October 2012.
Nicolas Sehnaoui is married to Paula Naim and has three children: Mouna, Maurice, and Delila. His mother tongue is Arabic and he is fluent in both French and English.
- Université Panthéon-Assas University of Pantheon Assass
- ESA Beirut
- Sogecap Liban
- "Lebanese cabinet formed after 10-month stalemate". Al Arabiya. 15 February 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2014.