Interview: Eng. Yasser El Kady

How is Egypt supporting ICT sector development?

ENG. YASSER EL KADY: The ICT sector has witnessed double-digit growth over the last two years. It is now the number-one Egyptian sector in terms of year-on-year growth, which has increased by 12.5%, making it more attractive to investors. Its contribution to GDP is currently 3.5%, and it is the leading sector when it comes to attracting foreign direct investment. Egypt’s ICT sector spearheads the government’s programme for the country’s digital transformation.

A reform plan has been implemented to advance telecoms infrastructure, develop the regulatory environment and invest in human capacity. This plan strives to build a strong foundation for the technology industry to thrive. Additionally, under the supervision of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and executed by Telecom Egypt, an aggressive plan is currently under way to replace copper cables with fibre-optic ones. Moreover, the government has successfully rolled out 4G services aiming to provide high speeds to consumers and enterprises alike.

The government, through its development agencies, facilitates numerous incentive schemes for investors and technology developers interested in being part of Egypt’s technology progress. Recent investments have consisted of creating electronic design centres, manufacturing facilities and large data centres. Because of this, Egypt continues to be a destination of choice for IT and knowledge process outsourcing.

Financial inclusion is an integral part of the country’s transformation. One of Egypt’s mega projects for accelerating the smart government project is the building of a national database.

The aim of this database is to integrate valuable information to support the government in providing better services to citizens, and to facilitate business activities, with a special focus on building a proper safety net mechanism and therefore reduce the negative effects of the informal economy and fraud.

What is being done to encourage and support ICT start-ups and digital entrepreneurship?

EL KADY: Creating an enabling environment was the first priority. After came heavy government investment aimed at fostering young talent and honing their skills in areas of focus, such as embedded systems for AI, AR, robotics and the internet of things. Diverse programmes and learning schemes were put in place to build a strong base of specialists ready to meet global growing demand and to generate real value and opportunity. Egypt created six technology zones in various locations to spread enthusiasm for technology nationwide. Such technology clusters include house incubators, research and excellence centres. These efforts have resulted in collaborations between our Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre and global technology innovators. Many of today’s well-known entrepreneurs and flourishing start-ups have benefited from the ministry’s support. For example, the production facility for smartphone SICO is located in the Technology Zone in Assiut El Gedida.

What do you expect is in store for the future of Egypt’s ICT industry?

EL KADY: Due to a number of recent financial reform efforts and the new Investment Law, which gave Egypt a much-needed competitive boost, the future looks promising and favourable. We currently have a strategic plan under implementation and central to this plan is for Egypt to become consistently competitive on both the regional and global technology scenes.

The focus is to specialise in training and technologies that will support Egypt’s planned digital transformation. Home-grown smart technologies aim to be an integral part of our transformation as we are at a stage where producing local innovation, rather than importing it, is essential. Our technology zones offer an environment that embraces innovation and incubation, while also offering training opportunities.