CAIRO: Egypt will host the Imagine Cup 2009 finals organized by Microsoft, the company announced Tuesday, making it the first time the technology tournament will be held in the Middle East and Africa region.
The announcement was made at the closing ceremony of the Imagine Cup 2008 finals held in Paris.
The tournament will be held as part of the Technology for Peace Initiative of the Suzanne Mubarak International Women for Peace Association, in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), Microsoft and other international partners.
Now in its sixth year, the Imagine Cup, the largest global university students’ competition, challenges students to imagine a better world enabled by their own talent and also to contribute directly to the future of technology, software and computing.
Teams develop innovative technological and digital media projects that offer real-world solutions to real-world problems.
“Microsoft Egypt has always been committed to help students realize their full potential and play a major role in supporting the education system in Egypt, Kareem Ramadan, Microsoft Egypt general manager, told Daily News Egypt.
Microsoft Egypt does not think of Imagine Cup as a mere tournament, rather “it is a learning platform for the technology students from all over the world that we believe will grant international exposure, global knowledge and practical experience to Egyptian students, he said.
At the same time, the international event will help shed light on technology talent in Egypt and the development in the IT sector, Ramadan explained.
A high-level Egyptian delegation was present at the Paris finals this year to promote next year s finals in Egypt.
Preparations for the wide-scale international event kicked off as Hoda Baraka, deputy to Egypt’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, received the Imagine Cup flag in Paris.
IT leaders, university professors and hundreds of students from around the world attended this year’s closing ceremony.
“This year there was one team from Helwan University’s faculty of computer and information science [representing Egypt in the tournament], Ramadan said.
The team – called “Creative Mind composed of four students and a mentor – were selected from the top five teams for a special award for rural areas development, he explained.
MCIT Minister Tarek Kamel said that the selection of Egypt to host next year’s international finals underlines the country’s regional position in the technology field.
Egypt’s efforts to make IT tools accessible to all levels of society, especially those efforts done in cooperation with large corporations, have improved the IT sector and qualified the country to host such a global event, he added.
Although the race to host the Imagine Cup 2009 finals was competitive – with candidates including USA, Mexico, Poland, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Singapore and Russia – Egypt’s proposal was welcomed.
Since the announcement was made, Microsoft Egypt began preparing for the event, which will bring together IT experts from around the world.
“The planning for the event has already started today. This year we had 3,249 Egyptian students registered in Imagine Cup and one team made it to the finals. Next year, we are planning for a larger participation from the Egyptian students and more teams to reach the finals, Ramadan said.
Microsoft Egypt will be in charge of all the organizational details.
“Thanks to the support of Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, the International Women for Peace Association, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and our local sponsors, we were able to give Egypt the chance it deserves to show the world its potential and successes in the IT industry thus far, he said.