Nizar Zakka is a Lebanese National, who has been a U.S. Permanent Resident since 2013. He resides in Washington, DC. Nizar strongly believes in the power of technology to provide educational and economic opportunities for all people across the Middle East and North Africa, and has dedicated his life’s work towards furthering that goal.
Born outside Tripoli, Nizar lived in Lebanon until his teenage years. Like many of his generation, due to the civil war, he left Lebanon to pursue greater educational opportunities. His parents enrolled him in Riverside Military Academy, a private college preparatory all-boys boarding school in Gainesville, Georgia for grades 7-12.
Nizar went on to attend the University of Texas, where he earned dual degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics in 1990. Upon graduation he worked as a computer software consultant with Brown & Root in Houston, Texas.
He returned to Lebanon to further his career in Information Technology, founding several IT companies and serving as a consultant in the IT sector across the Middle East.
In 1996, Nizar joined the Professional Computer Association (PCA) – a computer industry trade association — in Lebanon, which was a consortium of 110 member companies working in the IT industry in Lebanon. In 2002, he was appointed the CEO of the PCA, which made him responsible for promoting the Lebanese IT industry and community initiatives to utilize ICT tools for development. Nizar is also a Middle East and North Africa Vice President for the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA). WITSA is a consortium of IT industry association members from over 80 countries around the world, and represents over 90% of the world ICT market.
In 2005, Nizar was one of the founding members of The Arab ICT Organization – IJMA3, which was formed to represent a regional alliance of information and communication technology (ICT) organizations across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Today, the member organizations represent 18 ICT organizations, across 14 countries. In addition to being an advocate for the ICT industry, IJMA3 works on projects in the field of ICT for Development (ICT4D), which aim to promote income generating opportunities and improved livelihoods for people across the MENA region, particularly youth.
IJMA3’s ICT-for-Development projects have included funding from Mercy Corps, Microsoft, Partnership for Lebanon (a consortium of five private sector companies: Cisco, Microsoft, Intel, Oxy, and Ghafary), the Eurasia Foundation, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the US State Department, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), among other donors to support international development efforts and initiatives to improve the economic and educational livelihoods of people worldwide. Some examples of Nizar’s past work include a Youth IT Camp in Lebanon; a program to support the economic competitiveness of the IT industry in Lebanon; an IT training program on digital literacy for job creation in Iraq; a feasibility study on how to improve the IT industry in South Sudan; a program to set up an ICT association in India; implementing ICT strategy under a Community Action Program in Iraq; a computer vocational skills program to help internally displaced persons in Northern Iraq; and an agricultural livelihood improvement program utilizing IT for low-income groups in Afghanistan.