30 May 2021
During Senate Committee Meeting, ICT Minister Presents ‘Digital Egypt’ Strategy


The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has delivered a talk during the meeting of the Senate’s Education, Scientific Research, Telecommunication and IT Committee, in the presence of the Chair of the Committee Mohamed Dabas, Undersecretaries Ahmed El Badry and Randa Mostafa, Secretary Nageh Mohamed Sayed, and the Committee Members.

The ICT Minister commenced his visit to the Senate with meeting the President of the Senate Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razeq. The meeting stressed the significance of cooperation between the legislative and executive authorities, given its importance in completing the legislation system and serving the country and citizens.

In his talk, Talaat underlined that modern technology is exploited to create an integrated digital society where excellent government services are rendered, which will help improve the citizens’ welfare in light of Digital Egypt strategy. It includes three pillars: achieving digital transformation, building capacity, and fostering innovation, based on three planks: robust infrastructure, international leadership, and a legislative and governance framework.

He added that 60 digital governmental services are rendered through Digital Egypt platform. This comes as part of an EGP three billion project for digitizing and rendering governmental services through different channels to suit all the segments of the society, including Digital Egypt platform, which currently has over 2.1 million users; post offices; governmental services centers; and the call center 15999.

The ICT Minister pointed out the major service projects implemented in cooperation with the State sectors to achieve the digital transformation. The projects include developing the agricultural tenure system, issuing the farmer’s smart card, automating the universal health insurance system and university hospitals, telemedicine, and the digital transformation of higher education. This is in addition to issuing one and a half million pay cards for irregular workers.

In an effort to achieve the digital transformation, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) is working to develop the government performance through cooperation with the State sectors in moving the government to the New Administrative Capital to achieve the transition into a smart participatory paperless government, as well as in implementing projects including the law enforcement system, Digital Egypt justice, the digital transformation of prisons and of the State property management system, and the real estate national ID.

Talaat added that the capacity building strategy targets creating specialists in different technology fields. This involves training 115,000 people this year, with an EGP 400 million budget, according to a pyramidal approach that moves up the levels. The pyramid starts at providing beginner-level programs, then intermediate technology training programs through the applied technology schools, followed by advanced programs such as the Artificial Intelligence Professional Program (AI Pro), provided in collaboration with the École Pour l'Informatique et les Techniques Avancées (EPITA), and Future Work is Digital (FWD) initiative.

The next level involves providing specialized university education in modern technologies through Egypt University of Informatics (EUI), the first specialized informatics university in Africa and the Middle East, which will be established at the Knowledge City in the New Administrative Capital with EGP eight billion investments. The highest level of training, namely the top of the pyramid, is Digital Egypt Builders Initiative (DEBI) that aims to grant professional master’s degree to 1,000 students every year.

On the innovation front, the ICT Minister said that the Applied Innovation Center (AIC) was established with the aim to develop AI-powered solutions for problems in several areas, including agriculture, health, and urban planning. Egypt’s huge efforts in that field helped improve its rank on the Government AI Readiness Index to occupy the 56th spot in 2020, up from the 111th in 2019.

Moreover, the first phase of the Knowledge City project is implemented in the New Administrative Capital, with investments of more than EGP two billion. MCIT is also working to establish Creativa Innovation Hubs to provide specialized technical training and programs to promote technology innovation and entrepreneurship among young people nationwide. MCIT also launched Our Digital Opportunity initiative to help develop small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and freelancers, where 10% of Digital Egypt projects are assigned for them to carry out.

The ICT Minister highlighted that there is an ongoing plan for developing and increasing the number of post offices, this year, with EGP four billion investments. The plan involves establishing 500 new offices to reach 4,500 post offices by the end of this year, and developing 1,500 offices to bring the number of developed post offices to 3,100. This is in addition to equipping post offices with 1,000 ATMs to reach 1,750 machines, and increasing the number of postal kiosks from 30 to 100, as well as rolling out 50 mobile post offices to reach 85 mobile offices.

The development plan includes achieving a qualitative transformation in Egypt Post services to include, along with postal services, vital services, most notably Digital Egypt and financial inclusion services.

Moreover, a project was carried out to renovate and develop the Postal Museum in Attaba, in preparation for its reopening. The project involved capitalizing on modern technologies to develop means for displaying the Museum’s collection using AI, Augmented Reality (AR), and QR codes.

Talaat presented the project for boosting the Internet, where EGP 30 billion investments were infused over the past two years, and EGP 5.5 billion this year. The project helped raise the average Internet speed in Egypt from 6.5 Mbps in January 2019 to 39.6 Mbps in April 2021, and having Telecom Egypt named the fastest fixed network in North Africa.

He added that 13,000 government buildings were successfully connected with fiber optic cables, as part of a project for connecting all 31,500 government buildings in 24 months, with EGP six billion investments. In addition, 2,563 high schools in different governorates were also connected with fiber optic cables. MCIT also agreed on updating the Egyptian building code.

In an effort to improve telecommunication services, a plan is implemented where main roads and areas in governorates are covered with mobile networks, with investments of EGP one billion. New frequencies were also allocated to mobile network operators (MNOs), allocating 80 MHz frequency spectra in the 2600 MHz band, with a USD 1.170 billion budget. MCIT also established the National Center for ICT Services Quality Control and Monitoring, and took measures for governing mobile phone services and protecting telecom users’ rights.

Furthermore, MCIT is participating in Haya Karima (Decent Life) presidential initiative through raising the efficiency of the information infrastructure in the villages included in phase one. This is based on three main pillars: connecting the villages with fiber optic cables to increase Internet speed for one million homes at a cost of about EGP 5.6 billion; developing and equipping 906 post offices with ATMs at a cost of about EGP 2.1 billion; and improving the quality of telecommunication services through establishing mobile phone base stations in the villages.

Talaat pointed out MCIT efforts to augment Egypt’s international leadership in ICT, which culminated in selecting the New Administrative Capital as the Arab Digital Capital for 2021. On the legislative framework front, the Personal Data Protection Law was issued last year, as well as the executive regulations implementing the Anti-Cybercrime Law. MCIT is also collaborating with the House of Representatives to discuss issuing a law on electronic transactions, and the executive regulations implementing the Personal Data Protection Law.

The ICT Minister said that Egypt's ranking improved in a number of international reports on ICT indices. The country occupied the top spot in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region in offshore outsourcing, and ranked 15th out of 60 countries around the world. According to Kearney’s Global Services Location Index (GSLI) 2021, Egypt possesses the largest number of skilled employees and the highest ability to achieve the digital transformation, on the regional level.

Furthermore, IDC estimated Egypt’s global Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) market share at almost 17%. The country was also listed among the top 10 improvers in digital inclusion in 2020. In addition, Egypt had the largest share of startup investment deals in the MENA region, and retained the 84th spot on the Network Readiness Index (NRI), up from the 92nd last year.

Talaat underscored that the ICT sector is the fastest growing State sector; it is expected to achieve a growth rate of 16% during the current fiscal year. The ICT indicators of the last fiscal year also show a noticeable improvement compared to the previous fiscal year; the sector’s GDP grew from EGP 93.5 billion to EGP 107.7 billion. In addition, the sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP increased from 4% to 4.4%, with the value of digital exports growing from $1.5 billion in 2016 to $4.1 billion in 2020.

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