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American Technology Transforms Egyptian Life

  • Mohamed Elshinnawi

In the past quarter century, much of the world has seen enormous changes in a variety of important areas, such as computers, communication, health care, and education. American companies and government agencies have assisted in that development. Egypt is one of the specific example.

Definitely the US has been contributing positively over the last twenty years in the overall development of the ICT (Information, Communication Technology) sector in Egypt.

Dr. Tarek Kamel is Egypt's Minister of ICT - Information and Communication Technology. He said,

'The USAID has been helping Egypt in the development of the infrastructure. U.S-based companies like Lucent as well as Microsoft, Intel and others have been helping us to develop our infrastructure. Today they are partnering with Egypt in innovation in value-added services as well as in education initiatives and health initiatives using ICT services.'

In 2005, Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft Corporation, inaugurated a number of projects in the Egyptian equivalent of California's Silicon Valley, the Smart Village near Cairo. All of the projects focus on technological development in Egypt and the region.

According to Dr. Akil Beshir, Chairman and CEO of Telecom Egypt, one of them helps Microsoft serve customers around the world.

They established the center for technical support with nine different languages in the Smart Village. Whenever a Microsoft customer in one of those countries call[s] a local company, actually the operator that answers his call is an Egyptian operator speaking his language to give him the technical support.

Dr. Beshir says Bill Gates also committed funds for research and development projects, including establishing computer centers in poor communities, and providing software and training.

Microsoft has played a pivotal role in making computers affordable, and they did that through agreements with the Egyptian government. They make computers affordable to people, make the software affordable to people, in the same time fighting piracy.

Microsoft is not the only American company involved in modernizing Egypt. Dr. Beshir says AT&T helped develop the Egyptian communication system, while Motorola contributed tremendously to wireless communication in the country. Nortel is building Egypt's ATM network, which facilitates Internet usage in rural areas.

Dr. Beshir was part of a high-level Egyptian delegation that recently visited Washington.

Technology Minister Tarek Kamel says the business and government representatives hope their visit will expand Egypt's technology sector.

'We want to promote, brand Egypt in the area of Information and Communication Technology, to build bridges between Egyptian companies and American ventures. We have had meetings with the Federal government in the U.S. as well as representatives from the business society and the civil society in the U.S. We have seen enormous interest to co-invest in Egypt and cooperate with Egypt in the area of ICT. '

The Egyptian delegation took a cue from India's model for attracting American investment and outsourcing services. They met with Egyptian American expatriates, hoping to enlist their help with technical expertise and investment, in order to connect Egyptian high-tech services with the U.S. market.

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