The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has met with more than 69 young entrepreneurs and distinctive ICT startup founders, during the “Startup Day” event organized by the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC) of the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) at CREATIVA Innovation Hub in Sultan Hussein Kamel Palace. The event coincides with the celebration of the World Creativity and Innovation Day.
The meeting reviewed the success stories achieved by entrepreneurs and highlighted the challenges they face and the most important mechanisms required to overcome them. The meeting also discussed their most prominent proposals to advance the ICT startups sector and innovation-based entrepreneurship.
In his speech, the ICT Minister pointed out that this meeting comes within the framework of several meetings aimed at communicating with promising startups and entrepreneurs. The meeting brought together 60 startups that succeeded during the past year in attracting investments worth US$ 240 million. He also reviewed the efforts exerted by MCIT and its affiliates to support technology innovation and digital capacity building.
Talaat added that a strategy for technical training is being implemented, including a large number of initiatives, implemented in partnership with prestigious global companies and academia to transfer global experience to Egyptian young people, with a focus on the specializations most in demand in the present and future labor market and the diversity of education mechanisms to include hybrid education that combines conventional methods and digital learning.
He also pointed out that MCIT aims to prepare generations of trained calibers, capable of competing in the regional and global markets, by providing specialized training, starting from the development of digital skills for school students through Digital Egypt Cubs Initiative, launching We schools for applied technology, for university students through Egypt University of Informatics (EUI) and ending with master’s degree scholarships in advanced specializations through Digital Egypt Builders Initiative (DEBI).
The ICT Minister stated that the training budget was doubled 22 times in three years to increase from the training of four thousand trainees with a budget of EGP 50 million to 200 thousand trainees with a budget of EGP 1.1 billion during the current fiscal year. He also showcased the launch of Future Work is Digital (Egypt FWD) initiative, which aims at qualifying young people with different academic backgrounds to obtain a distinguished job opportunity in ICT. To train 80 thousand young people in the first version of “Future Work is Digital” initiative, US$ 13 million was invested. Twenty thousand graduates succeeded in implementing independent projects worth US$ 130 million in one year. He also stressed that the initiative aims to create generations capable of building Digital Egypt and help startups find the skills they require to attract global companies to establish their outsourcing centers in Egypt.
Talaat also reviewed the most prominent achievements made by MCIT in supporting technology innovation and entrepreneurship, pointing out that eight CREATIVA Innovation Hubs were established in different governorates and 14 others are currently underway=. The hubs aim to provide technical training, develop digital and soft skills and provide incubators for startups in cooperation with major global companies specialized in technology incubation and business acceleration for the management of these hubs.
He also pointed out that MCIT is cooperating with the American University in Cairo (AUC) within the framework of its partnership with the US Babson College to carry out a training program for entrepreneurs and promising startups for three months. MCIT is also cooperating with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to accelerate the growth of entrepreneurship sector in Egypt. This is in addition to the launch of a special strategy for startups sector in cooperation with Deloitte consulting company and the launch of Digital Egypt Strategy for offshoring industry. He also referred to the growth of volume of investments in startups in Egypt that increased from US$ 90 million with 117 deals in 2020 to US$ 491 million with 147 deals in 2021.
The ICT Minister highlighted that more than US$ two billion has been invested over three years to develop the information infrastructure, which has contributed to Egypt’s ranking to become the first in Africa in average fixed Internet speed. In addition, Mobile networks are being strengthened by providing frequencies to mobile operators and increasing the number of cell sites. Talaat also pointed to the efforts exerted to formulate legislation supporting the growth of the ICT industry and to facilitate the procedures, as a protocol was signed with the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) and the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) to support startups in Egypt and facilitate procedures for investors.
During the meeting, an open discussion took place between the ICT Minister and the owners of startups, who expressed their aspirations to develop and grow their businesses. They made a number of proposals, notably networking between university students and startups to provide students with training grants within these companies. Their proposals also aimed at providing specialized training in advanced technology to make Egypt a leading country in these fields, paying attention to empowering women to become entrepreneurs in the fields of ICT, and supporting women’s capacities in e-marketing. This is in addition to launching an association for entrepreneurs and increasing the number of mentors in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and emerging technologies. A number of startup owners requested MCIT to support them to reach out to government agencies. The ICT Minister directed them to coordinate with ITIDA, which in turn will communicate with the concerned government agencies to handle the requirements of entrepreneurs and organize a joint workshop.
Talaat also underlined that MCIT is studying establishing a fund for investing in startups in cooperation with the private sector. In response to a question on the need for large Internet capacities for startups, Talaat reviewed MCIT efforts to establish a robust information infrastructure, pointing out that ITIDA is coordinating between startups and telecom companies to ensure that the requirements of startups are met. Some startup owners discussed the importance of accelerating the activation of e-signature among citizens. In this context, Talaat pointed to MCIT efforts to disseminate the use of e-signature, increase community awareness of its importance and prepare the infrastructure required for its application on a large scale.
Since a number of attendees also referred to the need to regulate data availability and provide mechanisms for startups to verify the identity of their clients, the ICT Minister pointed out that the Personal Data Protection Law has been issued and its executive regulations are being reviewed for promulgation. On the use of the technologies of Internet of Things (IoT), Talaat pointed out that a complex for electronic design and IoT will be established in the Knowledge City at the New Administrative Capital, which will serve as a free zone, through which the components can be imported with facilitated procedures.
The meeting was attended by ITIDA CEO Amr Mahfouz, Assistant ICT Minister for Strategy and Implementation Sherine El-Guindy and Advisor to the ICT Minister for Technology Innovation, Electronics Industry, and Training Hossam Osman.
The ICT Minister called upon entrepreneurs to join civil society organizations working in the ICT sector, as they organize events to promote communication among startups as well as organize meetings for them with government officials.