Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
2 October 2021
ICT Minister Delivers Inaugural Speech at Techne Summit

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has delivered a speech at the opening of the seventh edition of the Techne Summit exhibition and conference. It is held under the auspices of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), on October 2-4, at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. The event has around 16,000 attendees, participating in person or online, as well as 300 speakers, 180 exhibitors, and 800 startups.

The opening ceremony was attended by the CEO of the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) Amr Mahfouz, the Director of the National Telecommunication Institute (NTI) Iman Ashour, the Advisor to the ICT Minister for Technology Innovation, Electronics Industry and Training Hossam Osman, and the Chairman of Digital Economy and Technology General Division (DETGD) of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC) Khalil Hassan Khalil.

In his speech, Talaat said that MCIT crafted a strategy for startup development based on two main pillars; the first is fostering creativity and the second is training young people to specialize in different ICT domains. The strategy involves a range of activities, including carrying out incubator and business accelerator programs, training on in-demand skills, enabling participation in relevant projects, and providing training grants for employees at startups to hone their skills and deepen their expertise.

The ICT Minister also pointed out that the investments in startups in Egypt have grown from $190 million in 2020 to more than $390 million in 2021 so far, achieving almost double the investments made last year in only nine months. He added that the global startup economy created nearly $3 trillion in value.

Talaat explained that MCIT attaches great importance to startup development given the fact that it is one of the pillars of building Digital Egypt. The ICT sector is by nature based on creative thinking and performance, which makes it the most enabling sector for developing and upscaling startups, he said. Talaat highlighted that the ICT sector remained the highest growing state sector over the past two years; it grew by up to 16%, with the digital exports value increasing from $4.1 billion in the fiscal year 2019/2020 to $4.5 billion in the last fiscal year.

Moreover, Talaat said that since 2019, MCIT has been working on increasing the number of Creativa Innovation Hubs, from only two in Smart Village and Borg Al Arab to a Hub in every governorate. He added that four Hubs have been established in Upper Egypt and three in the Canal and Lower Egypt, inside universities. In addition, Talaat said that work is underway to establish ten more Hubs to provide technology training and foster creativity. The Hubs host activities including brainstorming camps, incubators, business accelerators, training, and matchmaking forums to bring startups together with investors. The ICT Minister underlined that the Hubs are managed in partnership with the private sector, including Plug and Play, a leading company in managing incubators and innovation centers. Another Hub is being established next to Cairo University, with an incubation capacity of 40 startups, co-working spaces, and training activities, he added.

Talaat said that MCIT established the Applied Innovation Center (AIC), which collaborates with private companies to find solutions to different societal challenges, empowering startups to develop technological solutions and employ them across different state sectors. He added that by the end of this year, MCIT plans to open the Industry 4.0 Innovation Center (IIC) at the Knowledge City in the New Administrative Capital. The IIC will include incubators for startups specializing in electronic design. In addition, Talaat highlighted that the Knowledge City will serve as an integrated information society; it boasts an ICT university; headquarters of startups, medium-sized enterprises, local and international companies, and an applied research center.

Furthermore, the ICT Minister stated that MCIT has entered into negotiations with one of the biggest consulting firms to conduct a comprehensive study to develop Egypt's ability to attract international companies for outsourcing. In this front, Egypt ranks the highest in Africa and is among the world’s top 15 outsourcing destinations.

In addition, MCIT has established cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to develop a new startup development strategy, said the ICT Minister. He added that MCIT launched the Our Digital Opportunity initiative to enable startups to carry out 10% of the Ministry’s projects. In this regard, several startups have been selected within phase one of the initiative, with others to be selected for phase two soon.

Talaat stressed that MCIT attaches high priority to training. The Ministry increased its training budget 22 fold in three years, from EGP 50 million with a target of training 4,000 young people annually, to EGP 1.1 billion with a target of training 200,000 young people, which is 50 times bigger than the target number three years ago.

There are multiple capacity-building initiatives aimed at maintaining Egypt's leading position in attracting startup investments and boosting their success and business continuity, said the ICT Minister. He added that the initiatives include training in basic skills to help young people fill in jobs. One of those initiatives is Future Work is Digital, which targets training 100,000 young people in 18 months and attracting 12,000 to work as freelancers in the local and global markets at $13 million, which per se represents an investment given those young people’s capability to export digital services worth $130 million.

Another initiative is implemented in cooperation with the French École Pour l'Informatique et les Techniques Avancées (EPITA), offering a diploma in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science. The program has qualified 500 specialists in its first cohort, the graduation of which will take place soon. The initiative will include other specializations, including cybersecurity. Talaat said that another program is implemented in collaboration with Huawei to train 10,000 people in ICTs, and another with Amazon in AI.

Talaat referred to the Freelancing and Remote Work Initiative and Digital Egypt Builders Initiative (DEBI), designed to qualify young people to become highly-skilled specialists in ICT. He added that Egypt University of Informatics (EUI) is being established in the Knowledge City as the first specialized ICT university in the Middle East and Africa. The university will operate with the next academic year.

As part of the event, Talaat inaugurated Techne Summit Exhibition, where innovators' and startups’ projects were showcased. He praised their ICT-enabled innovations that help develop solutions for challenges in different sectors.

Techne Summit is an international multi-industry-focused investment and entrepreneurship event. It aims to impact multiple sectors and stakeholders of the startup communities in the Mediterranean region through showcasing different technologies and their applications in each industry.

Techne Summit seventh edition is organized in collaboration between ITIDA, Egypt Post, the Chamber of Information Technology and Communications (CIT), DETGD, the German Agency for International Cooperation or (GIZ), Fawry, Roche, Hivos, EdVentures, Sanad Fund for MSME, Egypt Ventures, Zoho, Inertia, Novartis, and JTC. The event covers 11 topics, including innovation; technology; investment in health, education, and environment; AI, advertising; and real estate development, in addition to a new topic added for the first time, namely cinema technology.

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