5G is a key component of the MCIT’s strategy to encourage technological innovation and sustainable development, and both the government and private telecoms providers have invested in necessary upgrades. In 2018 the National Telecom Regulatory Authority deployed broadband fibre optics, a central requirement for 5G. In November 2019 state-owned Telecom Egypt signed an agreement with Sweden’s Ericsson to make its core cloud network 5G ready, and the same month signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Finnish multinational Nokia to introduce 5G test use cases. The following month Etisalat Misr tested commercial 5G services in partnership with Ericsson, reaching speeds of up to 1.4 Gbps. A year later, in December 2020, Vodafone Egypt announced it would begin 5G tests in the New Administrative Capital (NAC). Once widespread, 5G could facilitate the use of IoT devices, AI and other next-generation technologies. This will not only attract both foreign and domestic investment, but help companies enhance efficiency and service dependability. There are early signs this shift is already taking place: in September 2020 representatives from Chinese telecoms equipment provider Huawei met with Mohamed Shaker El Markabi, the minister of electricity and renewable energy, to discuss ways to facilitate the wider use of smart electricity grids in Egypt.

Subsea fibre-optic cables are also central to Egypt’s ICT infrastructure, as the country is connected to more than 60 other nations through 17 submarine fibre-optic cables. However, Egypt’s internet is typically slower and more costly than that of many of its neighbours, despite long-running investment to bolster capacity. To help address these challenges, Telecom Egypt invested LE17bn in both 2019 and 2020 to shift domestic cables from copper to fibre optic. These investments also helped to maintain internet performance during the lockdown and curfew periods in early 2020, when demand from homebound Egyptians spiked.

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