Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat said that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has contributed to accelerating the pace of digital transformation and the growth of demand for the communications and information technology industry.
He explained that the most prominent features of the new reality after the pandemic is the devotion to digital transformation as a basic business model in the private sector, in addition to changing the nature of jobs in light of the growing demand for specialists in data sciences, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and other technological functions.
Talaat added that the current era is witnessing a growing importance of data as a wealth that drives progress and serves citizens, and as the challenge of ensuring the accuracy of data emerges, the need for artificial intelligence systems has increased.
The minister made these statements during his speech at the “Digital Egypt: Vision and Implementation” symposium organised by the German University in Cairo in the presence of President of the GUC Yasser Hegazy; Nehad Zekry, the Head of International Policies Planning at the GUC; the deans of the faculties; as well as faculty members.
Talaat added that digital transformation is the mainstay in achieving comprehensive and sustainable development goals, dealing with climate challenges, increasing the efficiency of administrative systems, and providing job opportunities.
He explained that according to the analyses of experts, the pandemic has reduced the duration of the technology adoption process for individuals and companies to one-fifth of the period required before the pandemic. The Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development said that nearly 70% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) globally have intensified their efforts for digital transformation.
Various statistics showed an increase in percentages of digital transformation and an increase in internet use ranging between 50-70% compared to pre-pandemic levels. There is also a growing consumption of digital content by citizens. He pointed out that with the onset of the pandemic, internet usage rates in Egypt increased by 100%, while peak hours increased from three to 16-18 hours.
Talaat also noted that the world is witnessing a change in the dynamics of work and economic activities, which has resulted in the reshaping of individual preferences and the priorities of different sectors, as the trend towards remote work has increased worldwide, reaching 60%, according to a survey conducted by a consulting firm.
Moreover, the trend towards digital transformation in education has increased in light of expectations for the continuation of the hybrid education system and the importance of digital skills at all levels has increased. He added that the pandemic has created requirements to facilitate the lives of citizens, including providing digital services, providing access to the internet, creating mechanisms for remote work, as well as increasing interest in innovation and training.
Talaat reviewed the efforts made by the communications ministry to keep pace with the requirements of the new reality by transforming into an integrated digital society. More than 125 government services have been launched on the Digital Egypt Platform, and work is underway to move the government to the New Administrative Capital as a participatory, paperless government.
Additionally, applications are being developed using artificial intelligence at the Applied Innovation Centre. He explained that within the framework of enhancing internet access, the efficiency of the network was enhanced through a project that was launched in early 2019 to develop the information infrastructure, which contributed to doubling the speed of the internet about eight times, making Egypt the first in Africa — in terms of internet speed — to connect villages with fiber-optic cables to deliver high-speed Internet to 3.5m homes and serve 60 million residents of the villages of the Decent Life Presidential Initiative in three years.
The minister added that work is underway to create an environment that stimulates innovation and provides specialised training for youths in governorates outside the Greater Cairo area. Seven innovation centres have been established as a first stage, and 14 new centres are being established as a second stage. The number of digital skills trainees has also seen a 50-fold increase, and the technical training budget has increased 22 times within three years to reach a target of 200,000 trainees with a budget of EGP 1.1bn this fiscal year.