Public Access ICT in Egypt

Public Access ICT in Egypt

Nayer Wanas (Electronics Research Institute, Egypt)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-771-5.ch034
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Executive Summary

Egypt is a vibrant modern nation and has been a major contributing influence on the world scene for thousands of years. In addition to its prominent placement in the northeastern reaches of Africa, and its historical background there, Egypt harbors a strong relationship among the Middle Eastern Arab nations, as well as with its neighboring countries in North Africa.

The rapidly growing population is estimated to have reached 80 million. Importantly, the limited amount of arable land and the country’s huge dependence on the Nile River have always exerted an enormous influence on the population, and that is no less true today as it has always been – those features of the country’s arid landscape continue to cause a high degree of stress on the people and the country’s resources.

During the past several years, Egypt’s government has invested heavily to create a physical infrastructure that encourages economic growth and invites direct foreign investment. In that respect, the government has correspondingly invested heavily in information and technological developments and has achieved an excellent return on that investment. As a key aspect of those advancements, the government has initiated an e-government program to help transform Egypt into an information-based society. Given this favorable political impetus, four key venues for public access to information stand out and were examined during this study: 1) public libraries, 2) academic libraries, 3) IT clubs, and 4) cybercafés. These four venues cover the spectrum of public access portals in Egypt and are perceived to be major contributors to public access to current and relevant information. Additionally, these venues have the potential to expand and more effectively meet the public’s information needs. The study focused directly on how these venues function, how they serve user needs, how they meet operational constraints, and how they realize successes.

Egypt is one of 25 countries participating in this international study that was designed both to assess the ability of the public to access information and communication venues, and also to review the role of ICTs across the overall economic, political, and regulatory framework. The study placed an emphasis on the information needs of underserved and remote communities.


From the outset in 2008, the study focused on four public access venues and was completed in two phases. The first phase aimed at obtaining a general understanding of the spectrum of activities that pertain to public access. The researchers interviewed users and key stakeholders associated with the key venues and, subsequently, conducted field visits in order to, first, gain an initial understanding of the technological landscape and, second, to collect literature pertaining to public access to information and ICTs.

During the second phase of the study, the team conducted detailed field surveys in 49 venues (seven public libraries, ten academic libraries, eight IT clubs, and 24 cybercafés), in eight governmental units covering both urban and non-urban locations.1 A total of 186 surveys from operators, major stakeholders, and users were completed and analyzed. The results of several user focus groups were then used to verify the survey findings.

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