The IT field in Egypt is one of the country’s most significant sectors that has great potential for growth. IBM is currently discussing with authorities how many of the mega projects in Egypt could benefit from their technologies, according to Amr Talaat, general manager of IBM Egypt.
What is your vision of the investment climate in 2018’s requirements? What are the opportunities for growth under the State Plan for Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is important for Egypt for more than one reason. First, because it will increase the level of services provided to citizens and help to exploit resources optimally, as well as provide new jobs in areas not previously available.
The simplest proof of this is the provision of thousands of jobs through smart applications for transporting people, such as Uber and Careem, which proves that the digital economy is capable of achieving many advantages.
We are currently in discussions with our customers to implement technological solutions in all our services.
The digital economy creates new opportunities and new applications in all fields, including the banking sector, government services, education, security, and communications.
Among the directions of the state is to achieve financial inclusion. This will expand the IT market. How do you view these efforts?
Financial coverage means that banking institutions must offer advantages in their systems to attract lower-income citizens. For example, if an employee transfers their cash salary to the banking system, they should be given advantages if they get the salary through bank cards. Additional services can be performed through the card, like paying utility bills or other services.
By achieving financial inclusion, decision makers can analyse cash movements, which helps improve the economy and track exchange trends to provide better services. Mobile transport apps are the most prominent example.
How do you see the current investment climate and its needs during the coming period?
Undoubtedly, the creation of a good investment climate in the country has led to a remarkable boom with the implementation of monetary policies announced in 2016. There is a regulated currency trading system which has helped in trading and managing foreign currency, which helped create a more transparent environment.
In addition, the investment law is promising and will create better opportunities for growth, all of which reflects the improvement of Egypt’s investment climate, as evidenced by the improvement of the country’s rating in the evaluations of a number of international institutions, such as Standard & Poor’s.
All this reflects the improvement of indicators starting from the stability of monetary policy and improving the index of transparency and clarity, and we only lack the provision of more accurate, integrated, and diverse data.
The Ministry of Communications plans to spread in technological areas aiming to create new job opportunities and nationalise technology. Do you plan to be present in these areas?
IT has become dominated by two axes, one for localising technology through technological zones, and another for employing technology in other industries and their ability to enable these sectors to provide better opportunities.
Technology zones represent an opportunity because they combine the elements of an activity in one place, and this will not happen without creating sophisticated, trained, and qualified human cadres to be able to deal with modern technology in these areas, which helps to exploit technology optimially.
Our presence in technological areas does not have to be through buildings or centres, but may be by creating human cadres, or supporting entrepreneurs and supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Tell us about your role in each of these three axes?
For entrepreneurs, in 2017, IBM Egypt supported the Egyptian Minister of Higher Education in officially launching the first business incubator for governmental universities, led by the Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences at Cairo University, to support young Egyptian entrepreneurs to develop innovative business ideas and solutions that will solve some of the most pressing problems in Egypt.
Also, we are supporting SMEs by providing advanced technological solutions that help increase productivity and reduce costs such as IBM Cloud.
On the other hand, we help to qualify technical staff through cooperation with the Faculty of Engineering and the Information Technology Institute (ITI) to produce a generation capable of dealing with technological innovations.
Is artificial intelligence a threat to humanity?
Artificial intelligence is the exploitation of data generated by humans to derive expectations and the ability to improve this analysis is what is known as artificial intelligence and in the end, artificial intelligence is a technology that has its pros or cons.
Actually, IBM believes the future of AI/cognitive systems will be amplifying human capability, not replacing it. We call it “augmented intelligence”, with humans and machines working side-by-side and in a complementary manner.
What are the most prominent technology solutions that will see increased demand from the private sector?
The private sector focuses on solutions to improve customer experience, resulting in the need to analyse and use a lot of data that helps companies improve and develop customer relationships. Here enter our technological solutions for combining proven data, analytics, and AI technology, as well as expertise across all industries, available on the cloud, on-premises, or in hybrid deployments.
Has the government sector regained its spending on technology?
Recovery is now being achieved through government-initiated projects, but the main challenge for IT companies is to provide integrated technology solutions, rather than simply supplying hardware.
Are there discussions with officials of the New Administrative Capital?
Egypt’s vision for the conception of the New Administrative Capital is to provide jobs and housing to millions seeking social and economic mobility as the country’s population booms. As the Egyptian government increasingly focuses on national issues, cities must take greater advantage of the most advanced technologies to update services.
IBM can drive innovation and introduce fresh opportunities for organisations to improve citizens’ lives and the business environment through IBM cognitive solutions over the cloud, adopting blockchain technology, and supporting organisations to identify and remove security threats faster to safeguard critical data.
What is the most important strategic axis for the company in 2018?
We will focus on communicating with our customers, both in the public sector and in the private sector, offering them the latest technologies and proposing suitable solutions to overcome the challenges facing them.
The second axis is to continue on exporting IT services from Egypt to the rest of the world through our six centres in Egypt.
The third axis is to encourage entrepreneurship and young people to create their own projects and help them expand them.