PUBLIC ACCESS TO INFORMATION & ICTs PHASE II REPORT Egypt
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Egypt has a young and rapidly growing population, a limited amount of arable land, and a huge dependence on the Nile all which contribute to stressing society and resources in Egypt. Over the last 30 years, and more so in the last decade, the successive governments have reformed the highly centralized economy inherited from the Nasser's era. While deregulation has been in place to economic activities, the government remains to provide sizable subsidies for basic needs, which has contributed significantly to the budget deficit in Egypt. While the government boosts improved economic conditions and almost 7% growth, these improved economic conditions have yet to be seen by the broader population in Egypt, which still struggle to attain basic needs and have an estimate of 20% under the poverty line. As part of the reform process, the government has invested heavily in creating physical infrastructures across Egypt to encourage economic growth and FDI. Technology and information stand out as being areas where the government has heavily invested and achieved significant success. Through this support the government established the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) in 1999 under H.E. Ahmed Nazif, who has in 2004 become the prime minister of Egypt. MCIT has helped create an environment conductive for the development of the ICT sector. Among the major priorities set forth to the government is to establish Egypt as an information society. Over the past few years, Egypt has introduced legislations to facilitating this change and laws concerning intellectual property, e‐commerce, consumer protection, computer piracy, and e‐signature have been passed. In addition, the ICT infrastructure has received a huge boost, creating a modern ICT platform and along with deregulation has pushed prices down tremendously. The developments in the ICT sector have been considered as role models of deregulation and privatization as well as a catalyst for reform in other sectors. 5 Egypt has also introduced a number of projects that utilize ICT for development. The egovernment program has been established to modernize the citizen's experience of public service and introduce reform and efficiency to governmental operations. The Egyptian Education Initiative (EEI) was also launched to enhance the effective use of ICT at all levels of education for life‐long learning. ICT has also been deployed to upgrade scientific research, and health‐care. Several programs have been launched to increase e‐Access to citizens through the PC‐for‐every‐home, free‐internet and IT‐clubs program. The later has been the flagship of the Egyptian information society to provide public access. In addition, the government has launched national capacity building programs to improve the capabilities of the Egyptian workforce, with a focus on civil servants and young graduates. In addition, these programs have been established using a multi‐stakeholder partnership between the government, private sector and civil society. These programs intended to increase ownership and to enlarge the base of public benefit to use ICT in all sectors.
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