Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
21 July 2020
ICT Minister Witnesses Signing Agreement between AIC, iFLYTEK in AI-Powered NLP

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has witnessed, through videoconference, the signing of an agreement between the Applied Innovation Center (AIC), an affiliate of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), and iFLYTEK Chinese company. The aim is to cooperate in implementing a Research and Development (R&D) project in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine translation, capitalizing on Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The three-year agreement targets enhancing Egyptian-Chinese cooperation for developing an AI powered bilingual Arabic-Chinese translation system, to provide technical solutions for processing the Arabic language, in Egyptian dialect, and translating it into the Chinese language, and vice versa. The project will help create 80 job opportunities for young specialists in IT, linguistics and translation.

The agreement was signed by the AIC Head Ahmed Tantawy and the Deputy Director of iFLYTEK’s AI research institute Liu Junhao. The signing ceremony was attended by the Ambassador of Egypt to China Mohamed El Badry, the Ambassador of China to Egypt Liao Liqiang, the Advisor to the ICT Minister for AI Golestan Radwan, iFLYTEK President Hu Yu, the Vice President, CFO and Director General of International Cooperation at iFLYTEK Dua Doi and a number of officials from MCIT, AIC and iFLYTEK.

The ICT Minister stated that the agreement will contribute to transferring science and knowledge between the two great countries, Egypt and China, as languages reflect, document and transfer civilizations. He said that the agreement represents mixing originality with modernity through cooperating at the highest scientific and technical levels in one of the latest ICT areas, namely modern languages recognition, which represents a key step towards building Digital Egypt.

Talaat said that the project is the starting point for the projects of the AIC that MCIT established. The project serves as a digital bridge between the Arabic and the Chinese languages, which will have a socioeconomic impact on the two languages speakers, he said, adding that this comes within the framework of the strategy of the Egyptian government and MCIT for building the Egyptian citizen, based on civilization and science.

El Badry highlighted that there is a comprehensive strategic partnership between Egypt and China, referring to the significant economic ties between the two countries, including investments of Chinese companies operating in Egypt. He added that the agreement will play a pivotal role in driving the Egyptian-Chinese relations and help connect the Egyptians with the Chinese people.

For his part, Liqiang stressed the depth of the Egyptian-Chinese ties, expressing his pleasure with the cooperation in AI, which will serve mutual interests in the future and provide a remarkable communication bridge for quarter the world's population, Arabic and Chinese speakers. He also commended MCIT efforts in achieving the digital transformation in different sectors.

Tantawy said that the AIC aims to develop solutions in emerging technologies and capacity building in IT, adding that the project that the AIC and iFLYTEK will implement together targets creating a translation system from Chinese to Arabic and vice versa.

iFLYTEK President Hu Yu stated that he was pleased to witness the signing of this strategic cooperation agreement between his company and MCIT, which represents a milestone in the journey of joint cooperation. He referred to iFLYTEK work areas in capitalizing on AI to develop NLP solutions, such as machine translation, speech recognition techniques and others, adding that the project will contribute to establishing communication between China and the Arab countries.

iFLYTEK is a leading Chinese company, specializing in smart voice and speech technologies, AI, integrated circuit products development and e-government services integration.

It is worth mentioning that the discussions with the Chinese company started during the ICT Minister’s visit to China, in April 2019, heading a high level delegation, followed by another visit in August. During the visit, the ICT Minister witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chinese side, for cooperation in NLP and human speech recognition.

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