UN tips Egypt to emerge as major player in information economy

Egypt is poised to emerge as a major player in the information economy, says United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) after it’s first information communications and technology (ICT) policy review of the country.

According to UNCTAD, the review evaluates the main achievements and remaining challenges in the areas of ICT infrastructure, skills developments for the ICT sector, ICT use in the educational system, e-content development in Arabic and the promotion of an export-oriented ICT sector.

“The Review points to the success of Egypt in establishing itself as a recognized location for outsourcing business processes and services. Egypt has surged from twelfth position in 2007 to fourth in 2011 in A.T. Kearney’s Global Services Location Index, and exports of ICT-enabled services have expanded greatly,” the UN body in charge of trade said in a statement October 26, 2011 and copied to ghanabusinessnews.com.

It adds, “UNCTAD underlined the importance of building a more inclusive information economy, seizing the full economic potential of new ICTs and making the new national ICT strategy more demand-driven by assessing priority needs of Egyptian consumers and businesses.”

To extend the reach and benefits of ICTs, UNCTAD urged Egypt to enhance infrastructure coverage in underserved areas, promote greater use of ICTs among enterprises that are located outside the technology parks and find ways to reach Arabic-speaking users.

Adequate attention should also be paid to the provision of services and content development using mobile platforms, as mobile phones are the most widespread ICT tool, it said.

The statement noted that UNCTAD proposed to Egyptian authorities on ways to move towards exports of higher value-added services, such as knowledge process outsourcing, information technology outsourcing, business application development, remote infrastructure management and the Arabization of software.

The contributions of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should be better harnessed in the next strategy, UNCTAD said. “SMEs should play a greater role as producers as well as users of ICT goods and services. They represent an untapped potential for the ICT sector of Egypt to expand, produce local content and boost export revenues.”

At a special session in Geneva, the statement indicated that Egypt’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, H.E. Mohamed Salem, welcomed the UNCTAD recommendations, stating that he sees “2011 as the dawn of a new era for ICT in Egypt, with even more Egyptians joining and embracing the information society as we continue to work to forge a knowledge economy”.

By Ekow Quandzie

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