Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
17 September 2021
ICT Minister Witnesses Signing Agreement to Offer M.Sc. in Data Science, AI from Queen’s University within DEBI

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has witnessed via conference the signing of a cooperation agreement between the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) and Queen’s University in Canada. The agreement is aimed at offering Digital Egypt Builders Initiative (DEBI) students an M.Sc. in data science and Artificial Intelligence (AI) from Queen’s School of Computing.

The Ambassador of Canada to Egypt Louis Dumas and the Ambassador of Egypt to Canada Ahmed Abu Zeid attended the signing ceremony via videoconference.

DEBI is a scholarship funded by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) that qualifies young people to become highly skilled specialists through a comprehensive academic course. The Initiative allows learners to obtain a professional Master’s degree from a top-notch university in one of six majors: data science and AI, cybersecurity, robotics and automation, digital architecture, digital arts, and fintech. Learners also receive training certificates from major technology companies and certifications in leadership and management, and English language.

Queen’s University has placed first in Canada and fifth in the world in its global ranking of universities advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within and beyond their local communities. Queen's is well-known for its notable students and alumni, including government officials, scholars, business leaders, and Nobel laureates.

The cooperation aims to upskill DEBI students in AI and data science while creating an environment conducive to creativity and innovation through applying modern data science tools and employing machine learning to develop solutions to today’s problems.

The academic course is offered online over a year, divided into three semesters. Each course has 26 credit hours. The courses are delivered by professors at Queen's University in collaboration with Egyptian professors.

The ICT Minister underlined that the agreement is a new building block in a series of partnerships that DEBI concluded with world-class universities such as Ottawa University in Canada and Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in Korea. In addition, DEBI concluded agreements with nine multinationals to provide hands-on experience-building opportunities and enrich education in management and leadership.

Talaat said that DEBI is engaging in UNESCO Open Education Resource Program to develop its management and faculty team's skills. He added that he looks forward to the collaboration between the Applied Innovation Center (AIC) and Queen’s esteemed Research and Development (R&D) community, especially with the School of Computing, which is well known for its outstanding research record in a broad range of areas.

The AIC was established by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT). The Center develops ICT solutions to societal challenges, capitalizing on emerging technologies.

Moreover, the ICT Minister highlighted that the first step in building a digital society is by having the right expertise and human resources to carry on that mission. He added that DEBI helps hone youth’s practical, technological and personal skills while creating an enabling environment for nurturing innovation and excellence and providing the qualifications needed by local and global companies specializing in ICT.

Talaat said that he was proud of the progress that DEBI achieved in a short time, not only in terms of collaboration with world-class universities but also with industry partners and international organizations.

For his part, Abu Zeid said he was pleased with the agreement between DEBI and Queen's University, one of Canada’s top universities. He added that he is confident that DEBI students would be able to leverage the excellent opportunity offered by the Egyptian government as part of its strategy to qualify young people to drive technology innovation in Egypt.

The Canadian Ambassador to Egypt stated that the agreement reinforces Canada’s academic presence in Egypt and serves the latter through investing in human capital, which represents the primary driver of progress. He added that the cooperation opens a new phase of long-term academic collaboration, pointing out the great potential possessed by the Egyptian ICT sector.

ITIDA CEO Amr Mahfouz underlined that the agreement is part of the efforts to boost Egypt's competitive edge and augment its position as a leading IT hub. He said that the initiatives offered by MCIT and its affiliates target upskilling young Egyptians to fill in-demand jobs in light of the global orientation towards building a technology- and innovation-based economy.

The Advisor to the ICT Minister for Technological Talents Hoda Baraka explained that the agreement would help DEBI participants obtain an M.Sc. in data science and AI, which represent a top priority for the Initiative and attaining national goals. Furthermore, she hoped that the agreement would help qualify young people to become specialists capable of serving different state sectors.

For his part, Principal of Queen's University Patrick Deane stated that under the agreement, each academic year, 100 Egyptian students will have the opportunity to study at Queen’s University through an interactive online course of study. This comes as part of a vision to create a digital future and build a society that embraces the essential technology skills required to keep up with the 21st century.

Deane explained that the participants would implement projects that help them understand the fundamentals of data science and machine learning and develop technology solutions to global challenges, considering the ethical and privacy implications of AI-based solutions. He stressed Queen’s commitment to global engagement through its responsibility towards sustainable development and the promotion of mutually beneficial partnerships.

Mahfouz and Deane signed the agreement. The virtual signing ceremony was attended by the Advisor to the ICT Minister for Technology Innovation, Electronics Industry and Training Hossam Osman, AIC Head Ahmed Tantawy, officials from MCIT, professors of engineering and computer science, academic advisors to MCIT, and officials from Queen’s University.

Launched in September 2020, DEBI is a scholarship that offers a professional Master’s degree from world-class universities. The Initiative targets top Egyptian graduates at the Faculty of Engineering or Computers and Information, Departments of Mathematics – Computers or Statistics, the Faculty of Applied Arts, Fine Arts, Economics, Business Administration, or Urban Planning, in different governorates. DEBI participants are selected following specific admission criteria.

The Initiative is implemented in collaboration with major international universities specializing in advanced technology domains and with local and international companies specializing in ICT and leadership and language skills development.

The third semester of the Spring 2021 batch and the second semester of the Summer 2021 batch started in early September. Applications for the Fall and Winter 2021/2022 semesters are now open in two new majors: digital arts and fintech. DEBI is planning to ink more agreements with major international universities soon.

For more info on DEBI, kindly call 15388, or visit this website.

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