Egypt ranks first in MENA for innovation, entrepreneur deals – minister

Egypt ranks first in the Middle East and North Africa in terms of the number of deals regarding innovation and entrepreneurship in 2019 and 2020, and is ranked second in the region for investment size, said Communications and Information Technology Minister on Tuesday.

Amr Talaat made these remarks at a virtual meeting organised by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Egypt, and attended by Ahram Online.

There were 113 investment deals in 2018, 142 in 2019, and 40 during the first quarter of 2020, he added.

The Egyptian minister said the size of investment in the sector surged to $107 million in the first quarter of 2020, up from $95 million in 2019 and $84 million in 2018.

The minister said the coronavirus pandemic had been a blessing for the ICT sector and for innovation and entrepreneurship, as businesses have shifted to working from home, creating new challenges that need innovative solutions.

Talaat said that the delivery and transport sector had attracted the largest investment value in 2019 with 47 percent, followed by advertising and marketing with 13 percent and e-commerce with 11 percent.

He said that there had been an increasing use of online solutions and apps amid the quarantine, with mobile internet usage increasing by 35 percent, fixed internet by 99 percent, a doubling of peak hours to 15 hours, and international calls increasing 19 percent.

The Zoom app had the lion’s share in terms of increased usage with an increase of 3,465 percent, while Telegram was up 1,100 percent and YouTube 115 percent.

Speaking about the ministry’s Digital Egypt Project, which, in light of Egypt’s plans for a digital transformation, aims to provide all government entities with fibre-optic cable connections, Talaat said the work had been completed in 5,300 government buildings nationwide so far, with a total cost of 6 billion pounds.

Regarding training provision, Talaat said that the ministry has adopted Egypt’s Future Work in Digital initiative with a market size of $380 million, and targeted to reach $580 million.

He also noted that six planned tech hubs in public universities outside Cairo and Alexandria will start operations soon, seeking to boost entrepreneurship, innovation and start-ups.

“Within a few weeks all procedures of obtaining licences or renewing them, and all public notaries, will be carried out digitally through call centres using the one-time password system (OTP),” Talaat said.

He added that the ministry is working to ensure that SMEs have a fair share in the market and the ministry has launched an online platform in order to provide training courses for them, allocating 100 million pounds for the first phase.

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