Egypt highlights ICT sector's pivotal role during COVID-19 through multi-stakeholder platforms

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Mon, 28 Jun 2021 - 03:40 GMT

Minister of International Cooperation H.E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat- Press photo

Minister of International Cooperation H.E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat- Press photo

CAIRO – 28 June 2021: Information and communication technology (ICT) sector proved pivotal during the COVID-19 pandemic, as all countries around the world had to depend on technology to continue businesses and day-to-day activities, Minister of International Cooperation stated Monday.

“As this past year witnessed the significant growth of this sector, the Ministry of International Cooperation held a multi-stakeholder platform to promote and present the structural reforms that have taken place in the ICT sector to the development partners,” Al-Mashat clarified.

Al-Mashat added that hosting multi-stakeholder platforms is the first principle that is part of the Ministry’s Economic Diplomacy, launched in early 2020, to advance international partnerships that support in achieving the SDGs. The Minister added that multi-stakeholder platforms aim to promote structural reforms across sectors; share the stories of development efforts being made; open the door to cooperation between government entities, private sector and development partners; discuss opportunities of partnership; and define development priorities.

 

 

This comes during a Multi-stakeholder Platform held by Al-Mashat under the title “Communications and Information Technology for Development” in the presence of the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat, and a number of officials from both Ministries, and multilateral and bilateral development partners, including the UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt, Elena Panova, and representatives from the African Development Bank (AfDB).

 

The discussion circulated around strategies for the development of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, and its role in supporting Egypt’s development vision.

This comes as part of the regular multi-stakeholder platforms held by the Ministry of International Cooperation to present development efforts and reforms being implemented across various sectors, alongside the participation of multilateral and bilateral development partners, and relevant entities to create effective communication that will aid in accelerating the pace of development financing to implement Egypt’s Vision 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Government of Egypt aims to maximize the participation of the private sector in the development agenda, and to implement structural reforms that support such public-private cooperation, said Al-Mashat. She added that the inclusion of development partners in these meetings has given them the opportunity to get acquainted with the procedures, the reforms and the development plans to map out effective future partnerships.

Al-Mashat applauded the development partners, including the United Nations, African Development Bank (AfDB), and the World Bank, who have all contributed to the multi-stakeholder platforms held this year; on petroleum and gas, supply, private sector, and SMEs. These platforms seek to translate the ongoing discussions into tangible partnerships to develop various sectors and enhance cooperation between development partners, government entities, and the private sector.

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Amr Talaat expressed that ICT  is an essential component of development across various sectors. He pointed out that the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology aims to build bridges of cooperation with international institutions to establish constructive partnerships and maximise the use of technology in achieving development. Talaat stressed that the Ministry is cooperating with state entities and institutions to implement Egypt’s digital strategy, revolving  around adapting digital technologies to serve the needs of the people.

Talaat added that Egypt is witnessing an unprecedented boom in the digital transformation; with 75 digitized government services launched on the Digital Egypt platform. He further elaborated saying that many efforts have been made by the state in order to implement projects that support the move of the government to the New Administrative Capital, in preparation for the paperless government action plan.

Explaining the Ministry’s initiatives in supporting technological innovation and entrepreneurship, H.E. Talaat added that the Ministry is implementing an integrated strategy to create exceptional digital cadres; via establishing the School of Applied Technology jointly with the Ministry of Education with the aim to build five more schools to prepare a generation of qualified employees in the ICT sector. Egypt University of Informatics (EUI) will also be established in the Knowledge City in the New Administrative Capital, along with the implementation of the Digital Egypt Builders Initiative (DEBI) that grants a specialized professional Master’s degree to 1,000 students annually.

Talaat stated that $1.6 billion worth of financing was secured to raise the efficiency of the internet services in the past 2 years. He stressed that the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology participates in the Presidential Initiative “Decent Life” through 4 main pillars; linking villages with fiber-optic cables to raise efficiency of internet services for one million homes; developing 906 post offices and providing them with automatic teller machines; improving the quality of communication services by providing villages with 1,000 mobile network stations; and implementing a training project for digital literacy and capacity building in technology.

From his part, Adel Hamed, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Telecom Egypt, proposed investment opportunities in the company in order to develop the infrastructure of communications. He clarified that the company plans to implement a project to raise the efficiency of internet services in the villages that fall under “Decent Life”, as well as implementing projects for connecting fiber-optic networks to homes across the country.

Vice President of the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), Hossam Osman also reviewed priority projects that fall within the presidential initiative “Egypt Makes Electronics” (EME) that focuses on the development of the electronics sector including the knowledge and expertise to build electronic boards and circuits, lithium batteries in portable electronic devices, and LED lighting products. This contributes to filling local, regional and global market needs, and also provides added value to local products while increasing their global competitiveness.

Dr. Golestan Radwan, the Advisor to the Minister for Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology confirmed that a number of projects are being implemented within the framework of the national strategy for artificial intelligence. This includes utilizing artificial intelligence applications and innovative solutions to enhance and develop government operations, as well as development sectors with a focus on agriculture, health, planning, economy, infrastructure, smart cities, trade and industry, and Arabic language processing.

The National Academy of Information Technology for Persons with Disabilities (NAID) Chairman Abdel-Monem El-Sharkawy presented the academy’s strategic pillars of work, and desired aspects of cooperation, particularly in the field of supporting and stimulating assistive technologies; as the academy aspires to become a regional center to support research, development, and industry in the assistive technologies field. Moreover, a project proposal for technological access to facilitate the use of some public transportation (trains and metros) was pitched to the participants.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt, Elena Panova was pleased to take part in the telecommunications multi-stakeholder platform; emphasizing that this is one of the promising sectors that played a major role during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that major efforts have been made to develop it continuously.

It is worth noting that the Ministry of International Cooperation held a number of multi-stakeholder platforms during the past year, covering transportation, agriculture, and the public business sectors. The Ministry also secured development financing agreements worth $9.8 billion for various state and private sectors.

 

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