Egypt’s tech industry is breaking ground for the future, say the sector’s giants

Driving Egypt’s future, digital transformation has been a prime priority for the government for the past five years, driving cross-sector growth as an integral aspect of Egypt’s 2030 vision.

Hisham El Nazer is Google Egypt’s Country Director

“We are optimistic about Egypt’s future, and we are certain that we can accelerate the process of overcoming the crisis and revitalizing the economy by capitalizing on digital transformation,” said Hisham El Nazer ‘96, Google Egypt’s country director. In a recent video by the Narrative Summit- a series of video episodes titled ‘Reshaping Norms’ by the leading PR agency CC Plus– he describes the telecom sector’s unprecedented growth, the accelerated level of change during the coronavirus pandemic, and how technology is playing a major role in adjusting to a post-coronavirus reality.

“Egypt is taking set, standard steps in its move towards digital transformation; if we look at the recent period, or more specifically, the latest fiscal year, we will find that the ICT sector has achieved 16 percent growth, contributing around EGP 125bn to GDP,” affirmed Mirna Arif ’02, ‘07, Microsoft Egypt’s country general manager, in the same Narrative Summit episode. “This demonstrates the government’s commitment to actionable steps on the path to digital transformation across sectoral and organizational levels.”

Mirna Arif is Country General Manager of Microsoft Egypt

The episode also explored the adjustment to teleworking, e-learning and Egypt’s e-commerce boom, all industries that are likely to be forever changed under the current new normal. El Nazer noted a statistic of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) searches on YouTube rising by 55 percent, reflecting a global trend where people developed a greater keenness to developing themselves through autonomous learning. Youth specifically demonstrated an interest in learning digital marketing skills, a need that Google’s Maharat platform is fulfilling by offering a training course entirely for free. In Egypt, the number of people who signed up for the program has risen by 200 percent in the last year, the highest rate in any country in the Middle East and Africa region.

“200 percent in the last year, the highest rate in any country in the Middle East and Africa region. In just the past year, years’ worth of digital transformation progress was taken, and it was accelerated in all sectors and companies in terms of adopting and using technology,” Arif explained, lauding Egypt’s capacity for economic sustainability during the pandemic and how digitalization helped revolutionize Egypt’s labor market. Microsoft Egypt partnered with Egypt’s Ministry of Education during the pandemic to allow 20 million students free access to programs like the Microsoft Office suite. The hybrid learning environment has also led the leading tech company to partner with the Ministry of Higher Education, as well as universities and institutes nation-wide.

Digital technologies are likely to create annual opportunity of up to $3.4 trillion in economic impact across 16 emerging economies by 2030, including Egypt and regional peers such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel, according to a November 2020 report by the economic consultancy AlphaBeta. The report called these countries “digital sprinters”, expressing optimism in their capacity to build future-proof digital infrastructure.

“Digital transformation can help companies innovate and achieve sustainable prospective economic gains. At Google, we have a responsibility towards individuals, companies, and society overall to aid in overcoming the crisis and accelerate the process of reaching economic revival, by making use of the digitalization opportunities available,” said El Nazer. Google is partnering with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Egypt’s Federation of Tourist Chambers, and the Ministry of Youth and Sports to offer trainings on digitalization to throes of stakeholders across the MENA region.

Arif also affirmed the importance of investing in talents, alongside the technological ecosystem, to further possibilities for digital transformation. “We are truly a country that is rich in human capital. At Microsoft, we believe that investing in developing talents is one of our most important investments in Egypt.”

Digital transformation is unarguably changing the world of work, how we do business, and even how we learn, go to school, or upskill. While this does present challenges, it also comes with opportunities and solutions, showing promise for the world’s most populous Arab country.

Click here to watch the full episode.

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