Minister of Communication and Information Technology Atef Helmy on 8 and 9 September visited Saudi Arabia to discuss cooperation in the communication and information technology (IT) sectors.
Saudi Commincation Minister Mohamed Jamil Bin Ahmed Mulla discussed with Helmy a range of upcoming Saudi development projects in the information technology and electronic services sector, and ways to help preserve the country’s Islamic and Arabic digital identity. Helmy meanwhile discussed the details of Egypt’s own development projects within the communications sector over the next five years, which would seek to promote social and economic development via the digital community.
Helmy also emphasised the need to promote industrial communications development, create new jobs and seek new sources of foreign investment. Such projects would seek to take advantage of Egypt’s geographic location, in addition to the 18 maritime electric cables leading in and out of the country, which have helped to connect the networks of countries located on various continents. Egypt is the second largest nation in the world in terms of the number of maritime electric cables located within its borders.
The two ministers signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to support joint cooperation between Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the electronic signatures sector. The MOU would seek to achieve cooperation between the High Authority for Digital Certification in Egypt and the government of Saudi Arabia, in addition to mutual recognition of certificates provided by companies operating in the electronic signatures sector in both countries.
Other points of cooperation would include the exchange of electronic applications which provide digital signature and digital identity services, putting forth investment in joint sectors, whether legal or technical, in addition to achieving joint cooperation during meetings, conferences and specialized forums discussing issues related to the electronic signature sector.
Members of Helmy’s delegation included high ranking leaders within Egyptian ministries, chairmen of government agencies and private corporations, in addition to leaders of civil society organisations and NGOs.
Helmy hosted a meeting on Sunday within the headquarters of the Communications and Information Technology Commission, attended by Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Darab, Governor of Communications, in which the two sought to promote cooperation between the Commission and the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority.
Mulla said during the meeting that Egyptian-Saudi relations have been everlasting since ancient times, and that they would remain so in the future, regardless of any such changes that may occur. He further pointed out that a memorandum of understanding had been signed between the National Center for Digital Certification in Saudi Arabia and its counterpart in Egypt, in order to foster the exchange of skills and experience between the two countries. He went on to say that Saudi businessmen were keen to invest in Egypt, considering the number of advantages and incentives provided by the latter’s government to investors.
Mulla added that the two countries cooperated in a diverse array of service provider and electronic application sectors, with both governments working to coordinate and consolidate their positions in a number of international conferences and forums. Mulla further called on businessmen operating in the telecommunications sector in both countries to work to provide the citizens of Saudi Arabia and Egypt with mutual international telecommunications (roaming) services, in addition to working to decrease the cost of such services.
“We have come to Riyadh bearing a message of love and cooperation, not just between two governments and nations, but between two peoples as well, whose relationship is old and recognized historically,” Helmy said. He added that Egypt would launch at the end of the month the first stage of the country’s high speed internet (broadband) project with $2bn worth of investments, with the government contributing an additional EGP300m. Total investments obtained for the project over the last 4 years have reached more than $4bn.
Helmy extended an invitation to his Saudi counterpart to visit Egypt as soon as possible and review projects currently being implemented within the country. These included the creation of “smart villages” throughout the country, in addition to the creation of a technology zone in the Cairo suburb of Maadi.
Translated from Al Borsa newspaper