Egypt is situated in Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea and sharing boundaries with Libya and the Gaza Strip. It has a surface area of 1,001,450 square km, made up of twenty-seven administrative divisions. The population is estimated at 88.49 million inhabitants (July 2015 CIA World FactBook) with literacy rate of 73.8%. 62.9% of the total population is between 15 and 64 years of age. Cairo has a population of 18.77 million and Alexandria 4.778 million (2015). The official languages are Arabic, English and French.
The Government of Egypt recognizes the ICT sector as a critical component of the national economy, not only due to its substantial contribution to employment, exports and diversification of the economy, but for its dynamic and innovative potential, and its broader role in providing enabling technologies, products and services that underpin the development of Egypt as a knowledge-based economy in the global market.
In relation to Communications, according to MCIT and NTRA published statistics, there were 6.22 million fixed line subscribers and 93.24 million mobile subscribers (107.01% penetration) as at 30 September 2015. There were 25.04 million mobile Internet subscriptions, 4 million USB modem subscribers and 3.65 ADSL subscribers as at 30 September 2015.
In terms of ICT Infrastructure, FLAG, SMW4 and SMW3 are the three marine cables connecting Egypt to the rest of the world. The existing backbone is a result of the PPP between the Egyptian Government and the private sector. Telecom Egypt is the largest provider of fixed line services. It also provides retail telecommunications services (voice, Internet and data) and is the sole provider of wholesale telecommunications services. It provides broadband capacity leasing to ISPs and national and international interconnection services. Egypt has three mobile providers.
CAIX, the National IXP, was established in 2002, funded by the Government of Egypt through MCIT and managed by National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA). CAIX's mission is to connect all Class A and B ISPs in Egypt to exchange the local traffic inside Egypt and safe their international bandwidth. All Class A ISPs are members in CAIX. There are four ISPs (TEDATA, Vodafone, Linkdotnet, Etisalat) connected via giga interface and three ISPs (Noor, MenaNet, YALLA) via Fast Ethernet.
The Government established a root certificate authority (PKI Trust center) at the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) and Governmental Certificate Authority at the Ministry of Finance. 3 private sector owned CAs were licensed, of which two are operational. Plans are ongoing to integrate the PKI digital certificates within the (contactless smart) national ID card. Several PKI based pilot projects and services have been launched in the governmental sector, banks and stock market.
There are 29 public universities, 33 private universities and more than 400 private institutions of higher education. Of these 35 have Departments focused on ICT/Engineering.
There is a strong emphasis on applied ICT research and development as Egypt diversifies from natural resources to a focus on creativity and innovation. The Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (MCIT) launched an R&D initiative with a set of strategic objectives to emphasise the importance of, and promote, R&D in the ICT industry and the applications of ICT R&D in other sectors. This initiative launched Research and Development Centres of Excellence to support collaboration between academic and industrial institutions at a national and international level. The Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre (TIEC) aims to support innovation and entrepreneurship in ICT and thus drive the economy.
In the formulation of Egypt's ICT Policy (2013 - 2017), the primary consideration were the political and economic changes in Egypt since the 25th January 2011 revolution, the development of the communications sector both regionally and internationally, supporting the country's transition to democracy and Egypt's national development priorities. The new strategy is focused on achieving sustainable socio-economic development through Digital Identify using ICT solutions, ICT Industry Development, creating job opportunities and attracting Foreign Direct Investment. It focuses on integrating ICTs across all sectors to serve national development priorities, including preserving natural resources and the environment. Key ICT sectors to be supported include Digital Identity, Egypt Digital Hub, Basic Infrastructure (Broadband, Cloud Computing, Submarine Cables), Cyber Security & eSignature, Information Infrastructure & Digital Content, Electronics Design & Manufacturing, Legislative and Policies Framework.
The National ICT Policy (2013 - 2017) is an important part of the National Development Plan building on Egypt's unique geographical location and optimum utilisation of Submarine Cables to become a Global Internet Hub. The eGovernment Strategy has been in place with MCIT's policies since 2003 and its implementation follows three guiding policies: Citizen Centric Service Delivery; Community Participation and Efficient Allocation of Government Resources. The policies are sub-divided by the primary sector that will implement them:
- Government - focused on Cloud Computing, Digital Identity Management, Open Source Software, Access to information, Green ICT and Arabic Digital Content
- CIvil Society - focused on Mobile Phone Applications, Arabic Digital Content, Empowering people with disabilities
- Private sector - focused on eCommerce
In February 2012, the five-year ICDL-Egypt Scholarship Program concluded, having provided ICDL certification to 836,801 Egyptians, 58% of whom were female. The MCIT and the ECDL Foundation launched a new phase of the ICDL-Egypt Scholarship Program, running from 2012 to 2013, with a further 5,530 candidates certified in November 2013.
In September 2011, MCIT launched the IT Houses initiative to offer training courses, eGovernment service and SMS services. As at August 2014, there were 126 IT Houses established across the country. There were 2,163 IT Clubs of which 1,955 are connected to the Internet.
MCIT supports the development of a knowledge and digital economy by providing affordable access to knowledge and development of a competitive, innovative national ICT industry. Egypt's ICT 2020 Strategy is currently being finalised and aims to support the development of the communications sector both regionally and internationally.