ICT and Building a Knowledge-Based Society in Egypt

ICT and Building a Knowledge-Based Society in Egypt

Nagla Rizk, Sherif Kamel
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8468-3.ch010
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This article aims to evaluate Egypt's progress on the road towards a knowledge society. The paper discusses the evolution and assesses the outcomes of ICT initiatives in place in Egypt. Equally, the paper analyzes the status and potential of factors that are necessary for the realization of such a society at this turning point in the country's history. The paper pinpoints the progress achieved on many fronts and identifies necessary steps to match leading knowledge and digital societies. The paper suggests some useful strategies for the government to expand access and contribution to knowledge – promoting a shared knowledge society in co-operation with the private sector in order to bridge the gaps. Efforts should not only be focused on expanding and enhancing connectivity and technology, but should also promote content development, provide educational opportunities and foster a comprehensive enabling environment.
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Synopsis Of Information, Knowledge And Ict Strategy Evolution In Egypt

Through its ancient history that extends over 3000 years B.C, Egypt has witnessed massive information flows from Rosetta stones and papyrus papers, to the establishment of the Library of Alexandria. During the middle ages, Arabic manuscripts became one of the most common means for information and knowledge dissemination. In the early 19th century, Egypt witnessed the publishing of the first journal and the establishment of the first national archive system (Kamel, 1998a).

Yet in the 20th century and prior to 1985, Egypt was perceived as being rich in data but poor in information. Computers were viewed as ends and not means; accumulated bureaucracy through red tape and the existence of islands of innovation with no connecting bridges restrained the production of information (Kamel, 1999; Kamel, 1998b). Moreover, government focus was on technical issues and not decision outcomes; multi-sector coordination was poor, synergy between information and socioeconomic development strategies was lacking and a clear case of the ‘brain drain’ became evident. Given how important and useful ICT has proven to be to socioeconomic development elsewhere around the world, building the required information infrastructure for Egypt was a necessity. The strategy deployed had to have a two-tier approach. Society with its different stakeholders can contribute in shaping the infostructure, which in turn will effectively contribute in the socioeconomic development and growth. (World Bank, 2006). Table 1 demonstrates the development of the information society in Egypt during the 20th and 21st century (Kamel, 2007).

Table 1.
The development of the information society in Egypt
Open Door Policy1974
Economic Reform Program1985
Information Project Cabinet of Ministers (IPCOM)1985
Information and Decision Support Program (IDSC)1985
National Information and Administrative Reform Initiative1989
Egypt Information Highway1994
Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT)1999
National Information and Communications Technology Master Plan2000
Egypt Information Society Initiative (EISI)2003
Extending ICT to public services2004
Egypt ICT Strategy 2007-20102007

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