Establishing Egypt’s Digital Economy
The popularity of the internet has taken awhile to catch on in Egypt, with less than 1% of the population online only a decade ago. Today though, there’s a very different picture evident, showing Egypt’s embrace of the digital realm, with Egypt’s Communications and Information Technology Department set to implement three major projects to harness Egypt’s online growth.
The government realises that the internet not only holds potential for social growth in the country, but is also a vast, and mostly yet untouched, resource to boost the economy. The Communications and Information Technology Department was established in 1999, in the view to improving the country’s ICT sector, and the recent unveiling of their National ICT Strategy for 2014-2018 is the latest in string of projects implemented since 1999 to booster growth.
According to the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Atef Helmy, this latest initiative will need an investment of more than EGP 130 billion, in order for them to reach the desired level of development by 2020.
The Proposed Projects
Helmy is confident in his department’s proposed projects, but still emphasises the need for the support of the private sector to achieve success. “The investment of the government will not exceed 15%,”claimed Helmy, “as the projects will mainly rely on the investments of the private companies.” This will allow private companies to get in on the ground floor of Egypt’s digital revolution.
- The first project: Digital Society Project: This revolves around the implementation of high speed internet. Helmy’s department has projected that the first phase of this project should be concluded by 2017, and the second phase by 2020. The first phase is estimated to cost EGP 17 billion, 20% of which the government will provide, while they are committed to footing 10% of the second phase’s bill of EGP 28 billion.
- The second project: Industry Development Project: The second project that the department of Communications and Information Technology has planned for Egypt’s digital growth is an initiative to support the success of the first project through improved infrastructure. “By 2020, around EGP 30bn will be needed to develop the infrastructure for the high speed internet project,” explains Helmy. This includes the development of technology parks in Maadi, Assuit, Burg Al-Arab City, Beni Suef, and Al-Sadat City, as well as encouraging entrepreneurial innovation, and increased growth in electronic design and manufacturing.
- The third project: Digital Hub Project: The department’s last initiative will revolve around increasing the access to the internet and communication devices of citizens, and will require an initial investment of EGP 13 billion. This will include the building of large data centers, the utilization of submarine cables, while also creating a technology valley in Ismailia. This project also aims to put communication devices, such as tablets and mobile phones, in the hands of the average Egyptian. “The third project is needed to complete the full image of technological development,” explains Helmy.
All of this development should have a range of outcomes for Egypt, starting with Egypt’s positive development in the communication sector, as well as supporting the country’s venture into democracy. Developing the ICT sector will help improve Egypt’s economy as well, as the internet fuels economic activity, and the more accessible it is, the more businesses that can go online and reach a wider audience instantly.
For further reading, go to these sites:
- “Egypt’s Digital Economy: From Planning to Execution”, Think Marketing Magazine, 6 May 2014. Available at: http://thinkmarketingmagazine.com/index.php/egypts-digital-economy-from-planning-to-execution/
- Sara Aggour, “Over EGP 130bn needed to develop Egypt’s CIT infrastructure: Communications minister”, Daily News Egypt, 6 May 2014. Available at: http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2014/05/06/egp-130bn-needed-develop-egypts-cit-infrastructure-communications-minister/
- Sara Aggour, “Information tech to double growth rate by 2020: Ministry of Communications”, Daily News Egypt, 7 May 2014. Available at: http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2014/05/07/information-tech-double-growth-rate-2020-ministry-communications/