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    ICT Minister Delivers Talk at AmCham Webinar ‘Digital Egypt: Unleashing the Power’

    Cairo, 16 June 2020

    The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has delivered a talk in the webinar organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham), titled “Digital Egypt: Unleashing the Power.”

    The webinar was moderated by AmCham President Sherif Kamel, in the presence of the United States Ambassador to Egypt Jonathan Cohen and AmCham CEO Sylvia Menassa. It was joined by 450 representatives of the U.S.-Egypt Business Council (USEBC) in Washington, Egypt-US Business Council (EUSBC), the Middle East Council of American Chambers of Commerce (MECACC), major multinational companies and companies operating in the Egyptian ICT sector.

    In his talk, Talaat stated that 150 digital government services were launched in Port Said, within the framework of the building Digital Egypt strategy, with four new sets of services to launch in July, nationwide, including 36 digital government services. These services include traffic, provided in collaboration with the Public Prosecution and the Ministry of Interior; notary and law suits, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice; food subsidy, in collaboration with the Ministry of Supply; and Investment. The services will be rendered through five different outlets: mobile application, e-portal, service centers, call centers and Egypt Post.

    A number of 5,300 government buildings have been connected through a fiber-optic cable network, within the framework of the State’s plan for connecting the 32,000 government buildings nationwide within this network, in 36 months, with a total cost of EGP six billion, said the ICT Minister. The aim is to continue rendering decent digital government services to citizens, without relying on the Internet.

    Talaat referred to the underway major digital transformation projects, including the universal health insurance automation project, implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health; the law enforcement system automation “Digital Egypt Justice,” in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice; and transforming education “Digital Universities,” including conducting digital exams for medical students, in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

    Moreover, the ICT Minister said that the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) targets training 95,000 people, within its plan for building the Egyptian citizen. The plan entails collaborating with international companies to upskill 55,000 trainees in different technology specializations. This is in addition to continuing MCIT programs and initiatives for upskilling 20,000 trainees in advanced technology fields, also including developing the digital skills of government employees and training 20,000 people in basic digital skills.

    Talaat added that an integrated platform will be created to serve as a skill bank, receiving applications to the training programs carried out by MCIT and its affiliates. This will help establish a central database for applicants and provide them with suitable trainings, thus achieving enrolment governance, measuring youth’s skills and connecting them with employment companies to find jobs.

    Furthermore, the Applied Innovation Center (AIC) was established, said Talaat, through which partnerships shall be forged with major international companies specializing in Artificial Intelligence (AI). The first phase of the Center focuses on health, agriculture, macroeconomy, Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine translation.

    Six technology innovation hubs were also established in regional universities, including Mansoura, Menoufia, Minya, Sohag, Aswan and South Valley (Qena). The first phase of the Knowledge City is also under construction, in the New Administrative Capital, highlighted the ICT Minister.

    He said that a number of initiatives were launched in 2020, with the aim to hone youth’s digital skills. Initiatives include the Freelancing and Remote Work Initiative, for developing freelancing skills; and the Future Work is Digital (FWD) scholarship, for training 100,000 young people in web development, data science and digital marketing. This is in addition to the Digital Egypt Youth initiative, for providing loans with favorable terms for the trainees at MCIT training programs to purchase laptops; and the Our Opportunity is Digital initiative, for enhancing the contribution of Small and medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to the implementation of digital transformation projects.

    Talaat highlighted that Egypt was ranked first in terms of the number of startup investment deals in the Middles East and North Africa (MENA) region, scoring 40 deals in the first quarter of 2020. Deals with USD 107 million were also made in the first half of 2020, compared to 142 deals with USD 95 million, in 2019, and 113 deals with USD 84 million, in 2018, he added.

    Investments with USD 1.6 billion were infused, confirmed the ICT Minister, over the past two years to develop the ICT infrastructure, leading to boosting Internet speed to 30.9 Mbps, in March 2020, compared to 6.5 Mbps, in January 2019, according to Ookla’s Speedtest. This helped meet the increased Internet usage amid the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) lockdown, where home Internet usage upped by 99% and mobile internet, by 35%. The lockdown also led to a 15 hour surge in internet traffic and a 19% increase in international calls.

    Talaat presented MCIT efforts in developing and improving the telecommunication system. This included establishing the National Center for ICT Services Quality Control and Monitoring. The center provides monthly Quality of Service (QoS) Benchmark Reports, shedding light on the quality of voice and internet services provided by the four telecommunication operators in Egypt.

    In addition, the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) service, enabling mobile telephone subscribers to retain their mobile telephone numbers when changing from one mobile network to another, was launched after applying new regulations set by the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA), according to international standards. The aim was to facilitate the transfer process for subscribers and reduce the time needed to switch between mobile networks, in a maximum of 24 hours, added the ICT Minister.

    After his talk, Talaat answered questions of the webinar participants, including enquiries on the projects that MCIT is carrying out to boost the ICT industry and implement the building digital Egypt strategy. He showcased the initiatives launched to stimulate the growth of ICT SMEs and make sure they receive a specified share in the building digital Egypt projects. This is in addition to providing specialized training for SMEs employees, professionals and freelancers, with assigning a number of technical tasks, after concluding training, to those skilled SMEs.

    The ICT Minister also referred to Egypt’s potentials that qualify it to have a robust data center industry, as well as MCIT efforts for developing such industry. He said that all NTRA services will be provided digitally by the end of 2020.

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