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AI and ICT in Egypt: Growth in the Digital Space

Introduction

In recent years, Egypt has witnessed a remarkable surge in the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Information Technology (IT) across various sectors. This transformative journey towards a more digitally advanced nation has brought about significant changes in education, healthcare, finance, and many other industries. This article will delve into the rapid growth of AI and IT in Egypt, exploring the key drivers, challenges, and the promising future it holds.

The Emergence of AI and IT in Egypt

Egypt, known for its rich history and cultural heritage, is now making strides in the digital landscape. The integration of AI and IT has become a focal point for the government and private sectors alike. Egypt will become a digital society as a result of the comprehensive vision and plan known as "Digital Egypt." "Digital Egypt" is based on a number of important pillars in order to bring about this shift to a digital society and create a robust digital economy:

Government Initiatives and Policies

The Egyptian government has played a pivotal role in fostering the growth of AI and IT. Initiatives such as "Egypt Vision 2030" and "Digital Egypt" have set the stage for innovation and digital transformation. These initiatives aim to create a conducive environment for tech startups and foreign investments. Building Digital Egypt is a mission that the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) has taken on in accordance with Egypt Vision 2030 and the country's digital transformation strategy. Mobile networks have been installed along major thoroughfares and in some governorate locations to improve communications. The speed with which cell tower permits are issued to mobile carriers, along with new frequencies that enhance network effectiveness and communication service quality, improves the quality of mobile services offered to citizens.

The Role of Education

The educational sector in Egypt has witnessed a significant overhaul. By fostering creativity and critical thinking, educational institutions in Egypt are nurturing the next generation of tech-savvy innovators. These individuals will shape the future of ICT & AI in Egypt and beyond. Universities are now offering specialized AI and IT programs, nurturing a new generation of tech-savvy professionals. This emphasis on education is fueling innovation and research in the field. Egypt also recognizes the importance of ethical considerations in the ICT & AI. Education ensures that professionals in these fields understand the ethical implications of their work, fostering a culture of responsible innovation.

The Impact on Healthcare

One of the most prominent areas where AI and IT have made a significant impact is healthcare. The implementation of electronic health records, telemedicine, and AI-driven diagnostics has improved the accessibility and quality of healthcare services across the country. Initiatives like the "Egypt Health Portal" have connected patients with healthcare providers, improving healthcare access and transparency.

Revolutionizing Finance

Egypt's financial sector has undergone a digital revolution. Fintech companies are disrupting traditional banking, offering convenient and secure digital payment solutions. AI algorithms are being employed for fraud detection and risk assessment, making financial transactions safer and more efficient. Fintech companies like "PayNile" have revolutionized payment systems, making transactions more secure and convenient for Egyptians.

Challenges on the Path to Digital Dominance

Infrastructure Development

The need for robust IT infrastructure is paramount for sustaining this growth. Egypt is actively investing in expanding its digital infrastructure, but there is still work to be done to ensure seamless connectivity across the nation. Two pillars—providing services to citizens and enhancing governmental performance, helps MCIT collaborates with all state departments and agencies to achieve digital transformation.

Cybersecurity Concerns

With increased digitization comes a greater risk of cybersecurity threats. Protecting sensitive data and critical systems is an ongoing challenge that Egypt must address to maintain trust in the digital space. The penetration of malware and ransomware, Phishing attacks, often disguised as legitimate communications, target individuals and organizations to steal sensitive information and pose a significant threat to both government and private sector organizations. Egypt's National Cybersecurity Strategy aims to eradicate these threats, enhance cybersecurity readiness, protect critical infrastructure, and promote international cooperation.

Artificial Intelligence and ICT in Egypt: Facts, Figures and Latest Statistics

  • Egypt’s economy grew 4.2% in the 2022-2023 fiscal year that ended on June 30th 2023.
  • The ICT sector in Egypt hit new heights, recording a growth rate of about 16.7%, outpacing all the state's economic sectors during the fiscal year 2021/2022
  • Over the past five years, ICT has been the fastest growing sector in Egypt at over 16% year-on-year.
  • A government intranet has been created in Egypt, connecting government buildings nationwide. More than 33,000 buildings are being connected.
  • Egypt has moved up 55 places on the Government Artificial Intelligence (AI) Readiness Index, to occupy the 56th rank out of 172 countries.
  • There were 80.75 million internet users in Egypt in January 2023.
  • Egypt's internet penetration rate stood at 72.2% of the total population at the start of 2023.
  • Internet users in Egypt increased by 1.2 million (+1.6%) between 2022 and 2023.
  • Close to 46.3 million of Egyptian internet users use social media. This represented just over 41% of the total population.
  • By the end of 2023, Egypt's IT industry is predicted to account for 5% of GDP, with plans to reach between 7% and 8% by 2025.
  • Egypt's Ministry had already attracted 29 offshoring companies to establish 34 centers, creating 34,000 jobs and increasing exports by US$1 billion annually.
  • In fiscal year 2021/2022, digital exports in Egypt topped US$4.9 billion.
  • The market size in the Egypt's Artificial Intelligence market is projected to reach US$601.80m in 2023.
  • The AI market size in Egypt is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2030) of 18.99%, resulting in a market volume of US$2,033.00m by 2030.
  • With all of the evolutions and benefits of AI, Egypt started its own forward-looking steps towards AI with the target that AI composes 7.7% of its GDP in 2030.
  • The Egypt ICT Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.9% during the forecast period from 2023-2028.
  • Egypt's aim to become a digital nation has accelerated partly because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The traffic has grown by 99%, and peak internet usage hours have increased from 7 to 15.
  • In the Digital Quality of Life ranking for the last year, Egypt scored 0.35.
  • Egypt was ranked sixth among the 23 reporting African nations and 85th overall out of 117 nations.
  • International calls in Egypt have climbed by 19%, and mobile internet usage has increased by 35%. Applications like Zoom (3465%), Telegram (1100%), and YouTube (115%) all saw significant increases in usage.
  • Notably, Egypt has increased the budget for the ICT sector by 22.6% in the current financial year 2023-24, compared to the prior fiscal year to increase exports in this industry.
  • The role of Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) is to install fiber optic cables in 4,500 villages to ensure better Internet access for 3.5 million households, serving 58% of Egypt’s population.

The Promising Future

Economic Growth

The integration of AI and IT is expected to contribute significantly to Egypt's economic growth. The digital transformation of industries will create job opportunities and attract foreign investments. All public services must be made available to citizens nationwide via digital means. Anywhere in Egypt, Egyptians will be able to access these services in a digital version. Online service charge payments can be performed using a variety of methods.

Innovation Ecosystem

Egypt is fostering an innovation ecosystem where startups and entrepreneurs can thrive. This environment encourages experimentation and the development of cutting-edge technologies. An innovative technology, e-Signature was launched as a digital means to authenticate a citizen’s identity from anywhere. Services that required face-to-face identity verification and presence at service-providing government entities can be obtained remotely using e-signature.

Conclusion

The growth of Artificial Intelligence and Information Technology in Egypt represents a transformative shift towards a more digitally advanced nation. With government support, educational reforms, and a burgeoning innovation ecosystem, Egypt is poised to make remarkable strides in the digital space.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: How has the Egyptian government supported the growth of AI and IT?

A: The Egyptian government has initiated programs like "Egypt Vision 2030" and "Digital Egypt" to create a favorable environment for tech innovation and investments.

Q2: What impact has AI and IT had on healthcare in Egypt?

A: AI and IT have improved healthcare accessibility and quality through electronic health records, telemedicine, and AI-driven diagnostics.

Q3: What challenges does Egypt face in its digital transformation journey?

A: Challenges include the development of robust infrastructure and addressing cybersecurity concerns.

Q4: How will the growth of AI and IT benefit Egypt's economy?

A: It is expected to contribute significantly to economic growth by creating job opportunities and attracting foreign investments.

Q5: What role does innovation play in Egypt's digital transformation?

A: Egypt is fostering an innovation ecosystem to support startups and entrepreneurs, driving the development of cutting-edge technologies.

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