The importance of strong cybersecurity measures became more evident as companies shifted operations online amid the pandemic. The volume of additional transactions and communications in Egypt and the wider Middle East carried out over the internet exacerbated concerns about cyberthreats that existed before Covid-19; cybercrime in Egypt rose by 190% between 2012 and 2017, according to the Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Centre. Furthermore, a 2019 report by international consultancy PwC found that 70% of companies in the region cited cyberthreats as a risk to their growth.

With more firms conducting business operations online, a high level of awareness of data security and the required protections will be necessary for companies to thrive in 2021 and beyond. As of early that year the government was working to create a cybersecurity framework and infrastructure to allow the country to more proactively tackle data-management issues.

Recent developments to codify data protection should help Egypt attract foreign investment by establishing clear measures for companies looking to operate in the market, while at the same time increasing consumer confidence in digital data processing.

In July 2020 the country’s first standalone data-protection law came into force. Modelled on the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, the law established a centre composed of representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the General Intelligence Service and the Administrative Control Authority to oversee data protection and prevent breaches. This management model signals to potential investors the importance Egyptian officials place on data protection.

Moves to strengthen online security are paying off: Egypt ranked 84th out of 134 countries in the 2020 Network
Readiness Index, placing it first in North Africa. Importantly, it ranked 16th in terms of research and development
expenditure by government and higher education, and 25th in terms of cybersecurity in governance.

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