How do you perceive the investment and doing business environment in Egypt?
Egypt’s investment map offers opportunities in almost all sectors, covered by strong incentives under Egypt’s investment law. It is fertile ground for attracting investment. Despite the Covid-19 crisis, Egypt’s economy has become one of the most dynamic, especially in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Its economy is very stable, and the government provides everything to achieve sustainable economic growth for the country.
As I have been here in Egypt for three-and-a-half years now, I see that the country is progressing very well to achieving its 2030 Vision, particularly towards digital transformation.
Egypt’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector is very robust and has seen a significant rise in recent years. We see substantial room for growth in Egypt’s domestic digital infrastructure and human capital development, including telecommunications, broadband infrastructure, advanced wireless networks, cloud services, and digital platforms integrated with ultra-modern technologies.
All this requires a strong collaboration strategy and a long-term partnership development plan through open-collaboration platforms with Egypt’s key sectors.
What is your perception of Egypt’s efforts to bolster the private sector’s role in the country’s recovery and development process?
Egypt’s Vision 2030 agenda is very clear in building a more competitive economy and developing a sustainable ecosystem while also securing the safety and peace of the country. Public-private partnerships are the key to the country’s recovery and success in the development process.
How do you assess recent developments in the ICT and telecoms sectors in Egypt?
The ICT sector has been on the rise in recent years, as it plays a major role in enabling the development of a knowledge-based society and a strong digital economy. It is the driving force for economies to grow, including the economy of Egypt.
Egypt has developed its ICT 2030 Strategy that contributes to achieving the objectives of building a digital Egypt. That requires continuously developing modern ICT infrastructure with the latest advanced technologies, building capacities, and encouraging innovation.
How do you see Egypt’s digital transformation efforts?
Egypt has clearly laid out its strategy to achieve the goal of moving towards a digital society, and we see sectors that have achieved very good results in the right direction. For example, while the Covid-19 pandemic severely impacted economies around the world, recent digital-transformation efforts have provided Egypt with a more secure economic base for resilience in the face of the crisis.
The initial shift to the digital economy by most businesses caused an increase in demand for ICT services and highlighted the need to expand ICT infrastructure and capacity further. Trends such as the wider acceptance of remote working, digital payments, e-government, and e-commerce platforms are expected to accelerate in the years ahead. This will lead to opportunities not only for investment, but also for public-private collaboration to strengthen the digital infrastructure for digital transformation.
Which kind of solutions has Huawei provided to Egypt or plans to provide in the future regarding backing the country’s efforts towards digital transformation?
Huawei works closely with both the public and private sectors in Egypt across different industries, including education, healthcare, transportation, urban development, and research centres. We offer the latest digital platforms, advanced data centres and ICT infrastructure, and advanced solutions, as well as supporting Egypt’s digital path in capacity building.
For example, in the educational sector, we are partnering with the ministry of higher education and universities to provide solutions and offers through one of our top capabilities-development programmes called the ICT Talent Bank (ITB) to train and prepare the new generation to enter the digital job market.
In addition to ICT solutions, over the last 20 years Huawei has established one of the largest local presences and employs the best talents to support transferring Huawei’s global expertise and best practices into Egypt’s market. Huawei has been awarded Top Employers Egypt and Top Employers Africa certification.
We continuously strive to support Egypt’s Digital Strategy. Recently, we established the Cairo New Campus Club (CNCC) in partnership with more than 100 industrial partners in the field of both education and urban expansion in Egypt, aiming to develop new and smart network solutions for enterprises by providing a smarter, simpler, more efficient, and environmentally sustainable communication network for the education and urbanisation sectors and helping Egypt to advance urban-wheel development and digital transformation.
In the transportation sector, we hold industry digitisation summits that demonstrate proven solutions and provide state-of-the-art technologies to customers like the Egyptian Railways, helping them to secure a safe and efficient transportation system as part of an integrated national grand transportation vision.
We have also invested in OpenLab Cairo, the only such lab in North Africa and based in Cairo, to promote joint innovation and joint solutions for customers and partners adapting the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and the Internet of things (IOT), while keeping the local context and market needs as priorities.
What could qualify Egypt to be a pioneer in the ICT sector in the region?
Egypt possesses a competitive, balanced, and diversified economy and is rich in human resources with diverse and growing talents and capable of learning and innovating. The country is on a path to growth thanks to its diversified collaboration system and investment in ICT, all helping to achieve Egypt’s sustainable development and improve the quality of life of the Egyptian people.
Egypt’s strategic location, skilled workforce, advanced digital transformation agenda, and real implementation based on the latest ICT technologies all qualify Egypt to be a regional hub and pioneer in the ICT sector and capable of exporting its expertise to the region.
What are your future plans for the Egyptian market?
Egypt is one of the pioneering countries in the MENA region in digitally transforming its economy to accelerate growth, modernise its economy, and enhance the daily lives of its citizens. Huawei is committed to supporting Egypt in its ambitious plans for digital transformation. Advanced ICT infrastructure is a core foundation for this journey.
Huawei brings not only the latest technologies, but also the best global expertise, to support the private and public sectors to advance the agenda of the country’s modernisation and its plans for its 2030 sustainable development strategy. The company’s strategy is to work closely with key private-sector companies, governmental institutions, and ministries to help them implement their digital transformation plans. That includes supporting them in developing the necessary digital infrastructure for sectors such as transportation, education, energy, and smart cities.
That is part of our strategy to achieve a global paradigm shift in digital transformation, create sustainable growth, and support the Egyptian government’s efforts to attain the goals of Egypt’s 2030 Vision.
Meanwhile, we have inaugurated our OpenLab in Cairo and five other innovation and resource centres nationwide. They aim to promote innovation, develop creative-industry solutions to spur digital transformation, and build the necessary digital infrastructure to address pressing problems. Huawei is also continuing to expand with its partners via joint projects to provide the latest solutions and technologies with a focus on capacity-building programmes to make more social contributions and develop the capabilities of young people in the ICT sector through three main programmes to achieve its targets.
These programmes include the ICT Talent Bank (ITB), launched in 2019, which focuses on developing young people’s capabilities in the universities. Since it started, Huawei has successfully trained over 15,000 talents. Over 5,000 of these have received Huawei’s international certificate; of those, over 400 were university professors.
The programmes also include the Recruitment Union, through which Huawei collaborated with its partners in 2020. So far, it has found jobs for more than 200 certificate-holders through the ITB programme. In addition, there is the Seeds for the Future programme, which is Huawei’s global corporate social-responsibility flagship programme, introduced in 2008. Its first edition launched in Egypt in 2015.
Seeds for the Future launched its seventh edition in Egypt this year, continuing its journey to develop local ICT talents and promoting creativity and innovation to establish digital communities.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 21 October, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly