26 December 2021
ICT Minister Chairs ATICM 25th Session Meeting

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has chaired the meeting of the 25th Session of the Arab Telecommunications and Information Council of Ministers (ATICM). The meeting was organized by the League of Arab States (LAS) Technical Secretariat, chaired by the Director of the ICT Department - Economic Affairs Sector at LAS Khaled Wali.

In his speech, Talaat said that the meeting builds on the joint Arab action towards unifying efforts and objectives to build a citizen-centric digital Arab society, with its main pillar being ICT. He reviewed the seven pillars of work adopted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED), including access to ICT means, infrastructure, services, and data; maximizing the effective and diversified use of digital technologies and data; tech- and data-based innovation; providing relevant job opportunities; covering citizens’ basic needs with inclusion; boosting institutions and individuals’ confidence in the digital economy; and striving for more open markets.

Talaat stressed the need to upgrade the digital information infrastructure as one of the key pillars of joint Arab action given its importance in laying the foundations of the digital economy. He added that Egypt has been keen to pour big money to boost the information infrastructure, resulting in increasing the fixed broadband internet speed ninefold; improving the quality of mobile phone services by accelerating the licensing process for building cellular towers for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs); and making new frequency bands available to boost network efficacy and improve the quality of telecommunication services.

The ICT Minister reviewed the efforts made by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) to connect 32,500 government buildings through a fiber-optic network, in addition to participating in the Decent Life presidential initiative, one of the biggest development projects in the world. The initiative will help change the lives of nearly 60 million Egyptian citizens by developing 4,500 rural villages.

Moreover, Talaat said that Egypt is working on developing a robust global infrastructure through international cables and expanding to reach Arab, African and Asian countries by investing in terrestrial cable routes and multiple landing stations that add the necessary pluralism. Egypt is also working to create an enabling environment to attract investments from international ICT companies by providing legislation that guarantees transparency and governance. The Personal Data Protection Law and the Anti-Cybercrime Law have been enacted, Talaat added, stressing that Egypt is eager to share its experience and benefit from the experiences of brotherly Arab countries in those areas.

The ICT Minister commended the efforts made by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in cooperation with LAS to issue Arab national reports and added that he looks forward to finalizing the Arab strategy for digital transformation. He called for adopting an all-encompassing vision for an inclusive digital society, focusing on e-commerce and digital economy development plans in the Arab region, and utilizing the region's resources and digital readiness to make optimum use of e-commerce for the sustainable development of Arab peoples, whether by setting necessary policies, putting regional agreements into effect, or sharing best practices.

Furthermore, Talaat called for discussing how to leverage tech-enabled innovation in the Arab region to improve the region's participation in Global Value Chains (GVCs), which are witnessing a post-pandemic reconfiguration. He added that he looks forward to exchanging visions on IT-enabled innovation strategies, innovation systems, technology introduction, and the role of ICT in attaining sustainable recovery, especially as Egypt will host the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The ICT Minister highlighted the growth of the Egyptian startup and entrepreneurship sector, which managed to attract the most Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in the region. He explained that Egypt now has an innovation ecosystem that involves technology incubators and business accelerators, in addition to seven CREATIVA Innovation Hubs and 10 more under-construction, to support and assist entrepreneurs and startups by offering necessary facilitations for innovation and growth.

Talaat revealed that Egypt University of Informatics (EUI), established in the New Administrative Capital, is witnessing the start of its first academic year, welcoming young Arabs. EUI offers dual degrees and academic programs in partnership with top-notch international universities.

He congratulated the Sultanate of Oman on choosing Muscat to be the Arab Digital Capital for the year 2022. Riyadh was the Arab Digital Capital in 2020, while Egypt’s New Administrative Capital was chosen in 2021.

The meeting discussed the outcomes of the 40th Session of the Arab Permanent Postal Commission (APPC) and the 46th Session of the Arab Permanent Committee for ICT, which addressed topics pertaining to digital economy; cybersecurity; the role of ICT in early warning and alert mechanisms to reduce disaster risks in the region; Arab cooperation with regional groups and organizations and stakeholders in ICT issues; and issues specific to the State of Palestine.

In addition, the meeting reviewed the activities of ATICM observatory bodies, including the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Regional office for Arab States; the Arab Information and Communication Technology Organization (AICTO); the Arab Regulators Network (AREGNET); and China-Arab States Technology Transfer Center of the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (CASTTC-AASTMT).

Other topics were discussed, most notably the adoption of the report and recommendations of the 48th and 49th sessions of ATICM Executive Bureau, and the date and location of its 50th and 51st sessions, as well as ATICM 26th session.

The meeting was attended by the Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah bin Amer Alswaha; the Palestinian Minister of Communication and Information Technology Ishaq Sider; the Algerian Minister of Post and Telecommunications Karim BIBI TRIKI; Yemeni Minister of Communications and Information Technology Najeeb Mansour Al-Auj; the Jordanian Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship Ahmad Hanandeh; the Qatari Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammed Ali Al Mannai; the Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Majed Al Mesmar; Undersecretary for Communications and Information Technology at the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology in Oman Ali Al Shidhani; and AICTO Director General Mohamed Ben Amor.

It is worth mentioning that the Deputy ICT Minister for Infrastructure Raafat Hindy chaired the meeting of the 49th Ordinary Session of ATICM Executive Bureau, which was held on December 23.

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