Arab Spring economies: Egypt hopes the information, communications and technology sectors will be at the vanguard of the country's job creation efforts with plans to open up as many as 20,000 graduate positions in the industry every year from next year.
Egypt plans 20,000 tech jobs a year
Egypt hopes the information, communications and technology (ICT) sectors will be at the vanguard of the country's job creation efforts with plans to open up as many as 20,000 graduate positions in the industry every year from next year.
Hany Mahmoud, Egypt's recently appointed communications and technology minister, is confident his sector will return to the double-digit growth achieved before the revolution that toppled the former president Hosni Mubarak in February last year.
"Since the revolution, the whole country and the economy slowed down. The ICT sector was one of the best sectors in terms of growth rate in the past 18 months, we have still been growing between 7 to 9 per cent and the number of people working in the sector grew 4 per cent. This is good news," he said.
The ministry along with the government-run Information technology and industry development agency has created 7,000 jobs so far this year. Mr Mahmoud expects another 3,000 jobs to be added before the end of this year.
"With the election of the first freely elected president, we are trying to move things back to normality. Politically, we are in the last phase of finalising the constitution and we need to have the referendum and then the parliamentary elections. If we have those three things, hopefully next year will be a different year for Egypt," said Mr Mahmoud.
Much of the ministry's efforts are being placed on the country's IT outsourcing capabilities to stimulate the job market and open the door for exports.
Despite the political upheaval, Egypt has maintained its spot as the top outsourcing destination in the Middle East. It is still fourth in the world after India, China and Poland, according to the top 100 outsourcing cities report, published by Global Services-Tholons.
"We have the best diversified talent pool in Africa. We have more than 400,000 graduates every year in Egypt across all disciplines. We are working with the universities and other institutions to build capacity for our sector," said Mr Mahmoud.
The government is funding programmes to prepare graduates for the programming and knowledge outsourcing sector.
One such programme is the education development programme for Egyptian universities, which trains 2,000 Egyptian graduates every year to prepare them for the outsourcing sector.
"This is our way to be ready for the outsourcing boom. We already have 17 outsourcing companies working in Egypt. The cost of running such a business in Egypt is much less than in Europe or elsewhere," said Mr Mahmoud.
"We are in touch with multinational companies to see how they can start up in Egypt or expand their companies in Egypt."
Even without the smooth completion of the political phases, Mr Mahmoud is confident he can push ahead with his plans.
Much, however, will depend on the stability of the country to lure in international firms to set up in the country's dedicated ICT villages.