CAIRO: With studies indicating only 4 percent of Egyptians own computers, the state of information technology in Egypt needs to be reviewed. The country, like the rest of the world, is entering into a vicious circle where increasing accessibility demands a boost in the IT industry, which requires a qualified workforce, which in turn necessitates high accessibility.
Shortly after celebrating Intel s fifth anniversary in Egypt, Khaled El-Amrawi, country manager of Egypt, the Levant and North Africa, discusses the company s development in light of these issues and the three pillars of potential development: connectivity, accessibility and education.
In an optimistic tone, El-Amrawi points to noticeable development in the local IT industry, albeit on a relatively small scale. He says he can t measure the company s progress in Egypt in numbers but points to expansion and initiatives in several fields.
We have seen significant results in these sectors [information and communication technology], and moving forward we will build on our current activities and increase the company’s investment in four key areas: local entrepreneurship, digital accessibility, specialized technical competencies and education, says El-Amrawi.
The company is involved in several initiatives and projects involving education, training, product development and enhancing the local IT industry.
We have an active role in the educational segment, explains El-Amrawi. Training teachers and youth in computer usage, enhancing computer skills and cooperating with local universities in research and different technologies are but parts of the several education and training initiatives.
We have a product development center, one of four centers in the world to develop products for emerging markets, he adds. The company also offers programming and software solutions to businesses, with a focus on small and medium establishments.
Entrepreneurship and small and medium businesses is the segment we are trying to focus on these days, he notes. He explains that communications and IT can t be separated from the economy – on the contrary, they can lead the way to economic development. The efficiency computer usage adds to companies would have a tremendous effect on increasing productivity and overall development, he explains.
If we can provide this technology for small and medium companies in a simple way at reasonable prices, he continues, these companies could benefit from IT to achieve a competitive edge, expand commercial work, open up to the outer world and increase their exports.
The company also works with local partners in mutual marketing plans and technical training programs.
We hope that two or three companies with high technical capabilities would emerge in the local market and would have a unique trademark on the local and regional level, he says.
While there is a focus on assembling desktops locally, El-Amrawi says he hopes to see an expansion to include notebooks and servers.
In the meanwhile, several training programs aim to provide a qualified workforce. El-Amrawi expresses confidence in the local workforce’s ability to provide qualified employees to operate such ambitious plans in the local market. He says the proof is in Intel’s choice of Egypt over regional neighbors as the location for one of its four development centers.
You try to attach parts to the chain to complete the circle, says El-Amrawi in reference to the cycle of developing the IT business. He notes, however, that education and investing in human resources are the most important parts.
Connectivity, education and accessibility are the three folds of Intel s global initiative: World Ahead, says El-Amrawi. These are the three segments the country needs to focus on in order to boost its IT field.
Tightening and eliminating the internal and the international digital divide requires attention to these three pillars. Providing affordable computers tailored to local usage and climate is high on the list of objectives. Several initiatives involving Intel and other IT companies on one side and the government on the other have been launched, but with limited progress. While eliminating language barriers and simplifying purchase and payment procedures could lead to a boost in these initiatives, El-Amrawi also notes the effect of providing affordable, fast Internet connections, with an emphasis on the wireless type.
El-Amrawi notes that spreading awareness of the importance of computer usage should lead to better accessibility and ownership.