ICT Strategy4Development: Public-Private Partnerships—The Case of Egypt

ICT Strategy4Development: Public-Private Partnerships—The Case of Egypt

Nagla Rizk (The American University in Cairo, Egypt) and Sherif Kamel (The American University in Cairo, Egypt)
DOI: 10.4018/jsita.2012040105
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In 2011, Egypt’s uprising was realized due to a large number of reasons, including the capitalization on information and communication technology (ICT) as an enabling platform. The experience in Egypt demonstrated the impact of ICT. However, its effect on societal transformation is not yet completed. A need exists to revisit the newly emerging role that ICT can play in the 21st century that goes beyond socioeconomic development and growth. ICT strategy development and implementation must cater to the different needs of the community while realizing universal access in terms of ICT literacy and its effective utilization for developmental purposes. Building the ICT infrastructure and infostructure in the development process must be coupled with concrete projects and initiatives that engage the society at large with its multiple stakeholders from public, private, government, and civil society organizations irrespective of their locations or background. This article describes the evolution of the ICT sector in Egypt with an emphasis on national ICT strategy development and deployment as an integral element of Egypt’s overall development process within the context of a an emerging economy and the various growing potentials ICT offers for its socioeconomic development.
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Developing nations when addressing their future development plans, they need to develop a formula that integrates the changes and developments that are taking place globally and adapt a methodology that addresses their local changing needs while optimally allocating their limited resources to serve their business and socioeconomic development requirements. Moreover, in the case of policymakers, promoting information and communication technology (ICT) for development has taken center stage due to its impact on development and on democracy across different sectors with implications on governance, better management and transparency (Frasheri, 2002).

Within the context of ICT deployment in developing nations, it is worth noting that in the 1960s and 1970s the focus was more directed to the role played by the state. In the 1980s and 1990s; the attention was shifted to the role played by the private sector and ICT multinationals. In the early years of the 21st century, the attention was shifted to the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their vital involvement in diffusing ICT among different communities at urban and rural levels and especially underprivileged groups. Moreover, the role of the civil society was coupled with the growing attention being directed to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the role of the community at large to integrate socially with the underprivileged segments in the community. The shifting role of ICT and the corresponding strategies have been consistently adapting to the dynamic changes taking place in global markets both developing and developed.

Developing nations should focus on various socioeconomic needs of the society and to the benefits that could be realized from the amalgamation of the experiences and resources of the state (government), private sector, public sector and the civil society through models of partnership and collaboration such as public-private partnership (PPP). In many cases, the national ICT strategy intends to deploy a multi stakeholders’ approach to improve social inequality, economic development and the quality of life of the citizens. The objective is usually to contribute to the long-term national development plans by capitalizing on the opportunities enabled through ICT. Alternatively, in developing strategies, nations look at competition, investment, innovation and ICT as part of an overall integrated solution that needs to be formulated for ICT to have an effective impact on business and socioeconomic development and growth (Kamel, 2009). In Egypt, the primary objective is to support national development plans while engaging all stakeholders including the government, the private sector and the civil society. ICT is perceived as an enabler for socioeconomic development and a tool that can transform the society.

ICT innovations are increasingly having important implications on business and socioeconomic development due to its role in introducing and diffusing the concepts of knowledge sharing, community development and equality. However, it is important to note that having an ICT infrastructure alone is not enough to solve all developmental problems; ICT should be looked at as a catalyst, a platform for development that needs the environmental and logistical setting to help the developmental process (Harris, 1998; Kransberg, 1991). The implications of ICT for development could be felt at the individual, organizational and societal levels. ICT advances have always changed the way human interact, learn, communicate, compete and strategize. While the basic needs of humankind have long been food, clothing and shelter, the time has come to add information to such invaluable list. Universal information access is becoming a primary need for everyone. Information and its technology platform is becoming an integral part of day-to-day lives around the world with implications on individuals, organizations and societies.

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