Amr Talaat, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, said that all African countries, including Egypt, face the same challenges, and have plenty of opportunities and ambition to achieve the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which aims to improve the standard of living of the continent’s citizens.
Talaat delivered a speech Sunday at the Gitex Global 2021 exhibition and conference.
He pointed out that several factors can enable the African continent to achieve its vision, including developing the communications infrastructure and providing Internet services at reasonable prices, while developing the legislative and regulatory framework.
He highlighted Egypt’s cooperation with the African countries in developing communications infrastructure. This included implementing a project through Telecom Egypt, which provides high-quality and high-speed Internet services to African countries, in addition to many other Egyptian projects in African countries to enable them to reach Internet and digital inclusion.
During the session, Talaat added that the communications and information technology sector is the country’s fastest growing sector, with a growth rate of 16%. He pointed out that Egypt’s efforts in developing the communications infrastructure contributed to challenging the changes resulting from the pandemic. Furthermore, a massive project is being implemented to provide high-speed internet to one million households within the first phase of the “Decent Life” initiative.
He pointed out that Egypt hosts data centers to serve local, regional and global markets. It is also adopting a legislative framework that reflects Egypt’s digital needs, including the law of electronic signatures, intellectual property, information technology crimes, personal data protection, and the anticipated e-commerce law. The National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) also approved the regulatory framework for establishing data centers and providing cloud computing services.
Talaat stressed that young people are the real wealth in Africa, and also a key driver of digital transformation. He stressed the state’s keenness on empowering youth and building digital capabilities by providing specialized training at multiple levels and with different models, including the digital learning model, while giving attention to refining young people’s skills to qualify them for the free labor market. This is in addition to providing programs to sponsor technological innovation and develop startups. It resulted in establishing seven Digital Egypt Creativity Centers in Egyptian governorates. Moreover, 10 others are being established, to support entrepreneurs and SMEs and provide incubators for startups.
He pointed out that the Knowledge City is being established in the New Administrative Capital as an integrated information society that includes all elements of the communications and information technology system.
He also reviewed the efforts exerted in the framework of cooperation with the countries of the African continent, including the implementation of an initiative to develop the capabilities of 10,000 Egyptian and African youth to develop digital games and applications using the latest technologies, as well as stimulate the establishment of 100 Egyptian and African startup companies in this field. 7,000 young people and 78 startups have benefited from the initiative so far.
Furthermore, the Egyptian-African Center for Training in the Field of Communications Regulation was established, with the aim of creating professional cadres capable of dealing with the challenges of the sector. It is the first of its kind in Africa. In addition, a training center specialized in building capacity through the Regional Postal Training Center is established. The center was accredited by the Universal Postal Union as a regional postal training center in the Middle East and Africa.
He also explained that cooperation is taking place within the framework of the activities of the work group of artificial intelligence within the African Union to utilize this technology to meet the needs of several sectors in the African continent, including health, education and agriculture. He explained that Egypt University of Informatics (EUI) was also established as the first university in Africa and the Middle East specialized in communications and information technology and related fields. It aims to create professional cadres in the field of information and communication technology through partnership with prestigious international universities.
He went on to explain that Africa has opportunities for joint cooperation in several areas, including digital inclusion, global communication, capacity building, and the use of artificial intelligence technology, in addition to enhancing confidence and security in the digital environment in a way that is in line with the continent’s goals for the year 2063.
The African Continental Free Trade Zone can be used in deepening the integration of African countries into regional and global value chains. It is also essential to prioritize work according to the needs of African countries, while relying on their peoples to implement projects in cooperation with partners from inside and outside the continent. He highlighted the increase in the number of population within the continent with access to the Internet, which increased from 21.8% in 2013 to 41.9% in 2019.