16 November 2021
ICT Minister Delivers Talk before House ICT Committee

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has delivered a speech before the House of Representatives’ Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Committee, headed by Member of Parliament (MP) Ahmed Badawy.

The meeting was attended by the Committee Undersecretary Ahmed Nashaat Mansour, the Committee Secretary Mohamed Yousry Abada, the Chairman of the Egyptian National Post Authority (ENPO) Sherif Farouk, Telecom Egypt Managing Director and CEO Adel Hamed, CEO of the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) Amr Mahfouz, and a representative of the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA).

In his speech, Talaat stated that an integrated system was created to achieve a successful digital transformation and encourage citizens to obtain digital services within the framework of the concerted efforts and continuous coordination between the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and the different state agencies and institutions to build Digital Egypt. Those efforts have resulted in the launch of more than 90 services, so far, on Digital Egypt platform, with a target to reach 100 services by the end of this year.

Talaat explained that all criteria were met to provide secure digital services through multiple channels, namely Egypt Post, the call center 15999 and mobile phone, in addition to Digital Egypt platform, with multiple payment methods, including cash payment through e-payment service providers, debit and credit cards, and mobile wallets. He added out that additional interconnection lines were added to maintain service continuity and monitor service status. In addition, citizens can have the requested documents delivered to their homes and submit their inquiries directly through social media platforms.

The ICT Minister discussed MCIT strategy and its three pillars: digital transformation, capacity building and infrastructure.

Moreover, Talaat said that Digital Egypt platform makes available 10 services in food subsidy, 22 in traffic, six in real estate registration, 21 in notarization, four in civil status, 13 in social insurance, seven in commercial registration, nine in courts and lawsuits, and two in real estate taxation.

The ICT Minister underlined that MCIT is carrying out several projects to achieve digital transformation in different sectors. The projects include cooperating with the Ministry of Agriculture in automating the agricultural tenure system and issuing the farmer card to eight million agricultural landowners in Egypt. This is in addition to cooperating with the Ministry of Health in automating the universal health insurance system, and automating university hospitals, starting with 73 hospitals in 11 universities.

Talaat added that MCIT and the Ministry of Higher Education are working to achieve digital transformation in universities through creating digital exams for a total of 2.5 million students, starting with medical colleges. MCIT, in addition, is cooperating with the Ministry of Justice to execute Digital Egypt Justice system, create a system for the remote renewal of pretrial detention, and develop economic courts. Other projects are being implemented in cooperation with different state sectors to automate the state property system, issue national identification numbers for real estate and link them with the state property system and automate the real estate licensing system.

Furthermore, Talaat highlighted that MCIT has joined forces with all the state sectors to move the government to the New Administrative Capital as a participatory, paperless government. The relocation involves several dimensions, including digitizing government operations, improving the quality of public services, connecting government agencies, managing government resources and projects effectively, developing indicators to assess the performance of government agencies and creating a system for handling citizen complaints.

The ICT Minister reviewed MCIT capacity building strategy, which involves equipping young people with in-demand skills to join the labor market and fostering innovation to create new job opportunities. He said that the number of trainees in MCIT programs increased from 4,000 trainees with a budget of EGP 50 million in 2018, to 148 thousand trainees with a budget of EGP 400 million in 2020. The aim is to reach 200,000 trainees in 2021, with a budget of EGP 1.1 billion.

MCIT training strategy is implemented based on a pyramid-shaped approach that starts with providing specialized training in technological schools, moving to offering a diploma in applied technology, then providing training through technological institutes to offer a semi-higher education diploma and a bachelor’s degree in technology. The pyramid moves up to offering an academic bachelor’s and master’s degree through Egypt University of Informatics (EUI).

The top of the pyramid, however, is represented in Digital Egypt Builders Initiative (DEBI), which offers a specialized diploma in Artificial Intelligence (AI), in collaboration with the École Pour l'Informatique et les Techniques Avancées (EPITA) and Amazon Web Services (AWS), with cybersecurity to be available as a major soon. DEBI also offers a professional master’s degree, along with hands-on training in a company and training in different technology domains and management skills for university graduates.

Talaat said that Egypt is the country with the largest number of venture deals in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). He added that MCIT is carrying out a project to establish CREATIVA Innovation Hubs nationwide; phase one of the project included establishing seven Hubs, while phase two will include establishing nine more, at a total cost of EGP 1.5 billion.

Moreover, the ICT Minister highlighted that MCIT launched Future Work is Digital (FWD) initiative, which targets training 100,000 youngsters in web development, data science and digital marketing, and equipping them with freelancing skills. He added that an all-encompassing information society is being created at the Knowledge City in the New Administrative Capital which represents a technology edifice, built based on the latest global technologies.

Talaat revealed that EGP 60 billion were injected to boost the Internet speed, resulting in raising the fixed broadband average speed from 6.5 Mbps in January 2019 to 44.1 Mbps in August 2021, placing Egypt fourth in Africa, compared with 40th in January 2019. In addition, Telecom Egypt was named North Africa’s fastest fixed network.

The ICT Minister said that to improve the quality of telecommunication services, 80 MHz frequency spectra in the 2600 MHz band were allocated to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), with revenues of $1,170 billion. He added that the number of cell towers was doubled from 600 to 1,200 in the first half of 2021, while working in parallel on the governance of telecommunications services, as several measures have been adopted since June 2020, including facilitating Mobile Number Portability (MNP) and eliminate spam messages.

Furthermore, Talaat said that Egypt Post is being developed at a total cost of about EGP 4 billion. The total number of post offices reached 4,133, with a target to reach 4,200 by the end of this year. The number of developed offices is now 2,705, with a target to reach 3,130 by the end of 2021, compared with 107 developed post offices in 2017. In addition, new post offices were introduced; 133 post offices out of a target of 200 by the end of 2021, while the total number of postal kiosks reached about 35 out of a target of 50 by the end of 2021.

Egypt Post development plan also included rolling out 75 mobile post offices equipped with employees and ATMs, with a target to reach 90 mobile offices by the end of 2021. The number of Egypt Post ATMs reached 750, out of a target of 1750 by the end of 2021.

Talaat highlighted that the ICT Indicators reflect the sector’s continuous growth, becoming the highest growing state sector. The sector grew by 16% in the fiscal year (FY) 2020-21, and its contribution to the GDP increased from 3.2% in 2017-18 to 5% in 2020-21. Digital exports also grew from $3.6 billion in 2018-19 to $4.5 billion in 2020-21, while the number of employees in the sector grew from 233,000 in 2017-18 to 281,000 in 2019-20.

The ICT Minister said that Egypt moved up eight spots on the Network Readiness Index, from the 92nd to the 84th, and was among the top 10 improvers in digital inclusion in 2020. In addition, the country moved up 55 places on the Government AI Readiness Index, occupying the 56th spot worldwide, compared with the 111th in 2019.

During the meeting, Talaat attended to inquiries and requests for briefing submitted by MPs, including providing more mobile post offices in some villages and hamlets. In response to an inquiry about the complaint of Masaken Sheraton residents on the telecommunications services in their district, Talaat clarified that work is underway to establish 71 cell towers in that area, in coordination with the Civil Aviation Authority.

Regarding boosting the Internet speed in the countryside, the ICT Minister said that the households in the villages targeted within Decent Life initiative, in its three phases, will be supplied with an Internet connection at a cost of EGP 20 billion.

During the meeting, the attendees stood in silence to remember MP for the Coordination of Youth Parties and Politicians Ahmed Zidan, who passed away today. Zidan was the ICT Committee Undersecretary during the first session of the second legislative term. Talaat mourned Zidan, praising his efforts and outstanding contributions in the ICT Committee.

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