8 February 2009
From Kigali to Tomorrow

Dr. Tarek Kamel
Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Egypt

One year has elapsed since the highly successful Connect Africa Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda from 29-30 October 2007 witnessed a host of leaders of governmental, business regional and international organizations gather under the patronage of the president of Rwanda to promote investment in Africa’s future through information and communications technologies (ICT).

Since then, Egypt had the honour of hosting ITU TELECOM AFRICA 2008 in May, during which a follow-up session to the Connect Africa Summit was held under the title: “Policy Agenda – From Kigali to Tomorrow”.

This special Connect Africa plenary session during the TELECOM Africa forum looked at the current and future joint work of ITU and its partners in achieving the key objectives that emerged from the summit in Kigali; specifically, connecting all African capitals and major cities by 2012.

Further important commitments were made in workforce training and policy and regulatory reform to boost investment in ICT in African countries.

We endorse ITU’s initiative to bring us together towards focusing on connecting Africa and we believe that ICT is the catalyst and accelerator enabling us to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In this context, Egypt launched in December 2003 the PC 2010 Nation Online initiative, which represents a new phase of the PC for Every Home initiative. The new initiative aims at encouraging various sectors of the Egyptian society to develop high levels of computer and Internet skills.

This, in turn, will help enhance and develop efficiency in various sectors including education, health, tourism, investment and service provision.

PC 2010 Nation Online is an excellent model of public-private partnership. The concerned government bodies have joined forces with some 17 private ICT companies to achieve national goals.

I have had the honour to chair the African Union Ministerial Conference on ICT for two years. Egypt hosted the Second Ordinary Session of the Conference of African Ministers in Charge of Communications and Information Technology in May 2008 in Cairo.

African ministers and ITU backed the African Union’s commitment to give effect to the outcomes of the meeting, including the creation of a reference framework for the harmonization of telecommunications and ICT policies and regulations across Africa. It is worth mentioning that Dr. Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General, highlighted during the opening session that Egypt provides a good example of the ongoing development of ICT in Africa.

The ministers also emphasized the importance of the 11 flagship projects under the African Regional Action Plan on the Knowledge Economy (ARAPKE). ARAPKE aims to improve other necessary elements such as infrastructure, education and capacity building (including leadership development), empowerment of women and youth, financing and ICT access. The African Union summit held in Sharm El-Sheikh in June 2008 endorsed the outcomes of the ministerial conference.

Building the capacities of ICT professionals is one of the fundamental challenges facing Africa in its endeavours to bridge the digital divide and reap the benefits of ICT for development.

Hence, capacity building has been one of the key areas of Egypt’s cooperation with regional and international partners. Egypt proposed the African Leadership in ICT Professional Development Programme, one of the flagship projects of ARAPKE.

The aim of the programme is to leverage the individual experiences and capacities of promising mid-career potential leaders in African countries, so that they can act as agents of change in the ICT sector. Egypt also proposed the Training Programme for African ICT Professionals.

This resulted in the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology’s initiation of a regional project that provides customized training to ICT experts from both the public and private sectors from around Africa.

Ever since the establishment of Egypt’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in 1999, huge efforts have been exerted leading to outstanding achievements on national, regional and international levels. Egypt has always given special attention to collaboration with the African region, as ICT has become one of the major factors contributing to the welfare of the African continent as a whole.

The year 2007 was successful for the ministry and the Egyptian ICT sector with several notable achievements. Now MCIT’s future plans are focused on a full-fledged national roll-out of broadband infrastructure. 

In 2008, the main tasks were to keep abreast of technology and government issues, to maintain infrastructure expansion, to build up the potential of Egypt’s human resources, to ensure the spread of Arabic e-content and, last but not least, to boost the business process outsourcing (BPO) and call centre industries.

Activities on all of these fronts have benefited from Egypt’s remarkable efforts and relentless presence on the world stage. Such endeavors are supported by Egypt’s distinguished global efforts and relentless presence. 

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