18 June 2021
ICT Minister, Iraqi Counterpart Discuss Enhancing Cooperation in ICT

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has received the Iraqi Minister of Communications Arkan Shahab, who is visiting Egypt at the head of a high-level delegation including government officials and representatives of the Iraqi private sector.

The meeting aimed to enhance cooperation between Egypt and Iraq in ICT and post, in light of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the two countries at the headquarters of the Council of Ministers, in the presence of the Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.

The two ministers chaired an expanded meeting that brought together a number of executive leaders from the two sides. They discussed cooperating, exchanging experiences and stimulating joint initiatives in a number of related fields included in the MoU, namely infrastructure, digital transformation, capacity building, postal services, digital Arab content, innovation, entrepreneurship, cybersecurity, research and development (R&D), investment in ICT, satellites, legislative and regulatory framework, and technology parks.

During the meeting, Talaat stressed the depth of Egyptian-Iraqi relations, adding that there have been directives from the political leadership in the two countries to intensify joint cooperation. He said that the ICT sector is a common element in development projects in all sectors, and a driver of cooperation between the two countries, serving as an exemplary model in joint Arab cooperation.

Talaat announced that the Iraqi Minister’s proposal of establishing an Egyptian-Iraqi company to carry out digital transformation and service automation projects in Iraq has been agreed on. A joint team from the two countries will work to crystallize the idea and bring it into effect, and a joint committee will be formed to transform the pillars of cooperation into short-term operational plans. He said that he is ready to accept the Iraqi Minister’s invitation to visit Iraq, and that he looks forward to Egyptian companies working in the Iraqi market with their Iraqi counterparts.

Talaat stated that the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) puts all its capabilities and expertise to support joint cooperation. He added that, during their meeting with the Egyptian Prime Minister, Talaat and his Iraqi counterpart reviewed the pillars of cooperation agreed upon, including communications and interconnection, carrying out joint projects in digital transformation and government service automation, exchanging visions and experiences between the two post organizations, cooperating in postal services and rendering financial services to Egyptians in Iraq and to Iraqis through Egypt Post. This in addition to cooperating in building capacity and deepening technical expertise in ICTs through cooperation between Egyptian training institutions and their Iraqi counterparts, fostering creative thinking and entrepreneurship, and encouraging Iraqi and Egyptian youth to establish joint startups, as well as cooperating in cybersecurity, satellite communications, and in governing the ICT sector to render better services to citizens.

For his part, Shahab stressed that there is a political will to establish real partnerships and open avenues of cooperation between Egypt and Iraq, given the significant strategic position of the two countries, and the similarity and congruence between the two ministries, which will contribute to the completion of work. He added that Iraq attaches great importance to carrying out interconnection project, and commended the Egyptian experience in digital transformation, highlighting Iraq's interest in directly benefiting from such experiences through training, qualification, and establishing an Egyptian-Iraqi holding company to serve as a legal and regulatory framework through which the two sides can work to carry out projects in the Iraqi market to serve the Iraqi people and government institutions and represent an added investment value for both sides.

The Iraqi Minister underlined that the post project is of great importance to Iraq, adding that he looks forward to strengthening cooperation in this field and for Egypt to be one of the leading countries to which the Iraqi postal traffic is transferred, given Egypt Post’s huge experience in rendering various postal services to benefit depositors. He said that the two sides will work to establish a partnership and twinning between the Iraqi and Egyptian training institutes to qualify young people.

Moreover, Shahab invited Talaat to visit Iraq. The former stressed that a business forum will be organized in Iraq, with which Egyptian companies will be invited to get to know the promising Iraqi market and work in it. He added that the Iraqi government will provide all facilities and facilitate procedures.

The Assistant Foreign Minister for the Arab Mashreq Khaled Anis stated that the Egyptian leadership has a vision and orientation to deepen relations with Iraq. He highlighted that the Egyptian-Iraqi Higher Committee was held in Baghdad under the chairmanship of the prime ministers of the two countries, resulting in the signing of several MoUs. In addition, the past months witnessed many visits by Iraqi officials to Cairo to sign many agreements.

Anis praised the Iraqi parliament’s decision to adopt the oil-for-reconstruction mechanism with Egypt, which represents an important step in supporting bilateral relations and can be utilized in the areas of communications, transportation and housing. He referred to the development of Egyptian-Iraqi-Jordanian relations, in light of the implementation of joint strategic projects in different fields.

During the meeting, the Deputy ICT Minister for Administrative Development, Digital Transformation and Automation Khaled El Attar presented the efforts exerted to achieve digital transformation and automation of government services in Egypt.

The Deputy Minister for Institutional Development Ghada Labib presented a summary of the Iraqi delegation's visit to MCIT affiliates, explaining the proposed areas of cooperation between the two countries.

The Chairman of the Egyptian National Post Organization (ENPO) Sherif Farouk said that the common factors between Iraq Post and Egypt Post in terms of services, activities and citizens' trust help build joint innovative business models that benefit citizens in both countries.

The Executive President of the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) Hossam El-Gamal pointed out the proposed areas of cooperation between the telecommunication regulatory authorities in Egypt and Iraq.

The CEO of the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) Amr Mahfouz presented ITIDA plans and programs for promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as the opportunities of cooperation in developing joint mechanisms to raise the efficiency of startups, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

For his part, the Assistant Minister for Global Information Infrastructure (GII) Mohamed Nasr Eldin pointed out the Egyptian efforts to invest in global cables, and the proposed areas of cooperation in interconnection.

The Iraqi delegation, however, reviewed the features of the ICT and post sector in Iraq. They also shared their proposals to support bilateral cooperation between the two countries in related fields.

From the Iraqi side, the meeting was attended by the Deputy Iraqi Ambassador to Egypt and the manager of the bilateral and political files at the Iraqi Embassy Somaya Rashid; the Senior Technical Undersecretary at the Ministry of Communications Wadi Karim Wadi; the Advisor to the Ministry of Communications Hamdan Owaijel Rashed; the Director of the Planning and Follow-up Department at the Ministry of Communications Adam Najem Abd; the Director of Planning at the Post and Savings Public Company Salem Abdel Hassan Mahmoud; the Director of Informatics Directorate at the Informatics and Telecommunications Public Company Yasser Amer Abdel Jabbar; the Assistant Director of the Infrastructure Directorate at the Informatics and Telecommunications Public Company Ali Raouf Hammoud; from the Senior Technical Undersecretary Bureau Baidaa Ghazi Mahdy; from Al Salam State Company Loay Abdel Latif; from ScopeSky Ahmed Raouf; and from Earthlink Ali Hussein.

It is noteworthy that the Iraqi minister is visiting Egypt at the head of a high-level delegation, during the period from 16 to 18 June, to complete the discussions held under the chairmanship of the two ministers, last March, via videoconference. During that meeting, they discussed areas of cooperation between the two countries in light of the recommendations of the joint virtual experts meeting, held last February, with the aim to mutually explore the capabilities and resources of the ICT sectors in the two countries, and address the national challenges and how to convert them into promising and significant opportunities of cooperation between the two countries.

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