While the city of Alexandria in Egypt saw a major regional tech innovation and entrepreneurship conference take place last weekend, the country’s government officials were laying the foundation for nurturing innovation ecosystems beyond the capital city Cairo.
Egypt’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Yasser ElKady, signed an MoU to develop a national project to spread technology parks outside Cairo, by building a strategic base of graduate talent in ICT (information and communications technology) and innovation to take advantage of employment opportunities in the various technology parks. Two technology parks are already being developed and planned to be completed by the end of 2016, at Borg El-Arab and New Assiut. A third technology park is due to be established in the Tenth of Ramadan city.
In addition to the MoU, a university and an international school was also announced in the city of Borg El- Arab to become a center of knowledge and an attractive area for investments in the areas of technology innovation and entrepreneurship, consistent with the objective of establishing the technology park at Borg El-Arab.
The ministry aims to develop youth skills in the new cities and tech parks, helping them to work in the ICT industry or become entrepreneurs. This will be achieved through an integrated plan implementing programs and initiatives in coordination with various government agencies, marketing and promoting programs and initiatives designed to attract graduates and develop their skills. A database will be created to link university graduates in engineering, commerce, literature, law and languages with companies specialized in the ICT field through technology parks.
The project includes identifying the geographic scope of governorates and neighboring cities for building technology parks, and assessing the key basic features of work for graduates and job seekers, while providing effective communication between graduates and companies operating within each technology park.
The agreement also entails launching an initiative to establish an integrated community for the development of innovation and entrepreneurship within the technological parks at the Borg El-Arab and New Assiut clusters. It aims to configure and manage work groups of entrepreneurs and innovators from universities, based on creating circles of communication among entrepreneurs, community elements of universities, non-profit organizations and funding entities for projects in each city.
The announcements came as the minister opened the Techne Summit in Alexandria, a conference aimed at helping startups in the Middle East and Africa region learn from successful international entrepreneurs, companies and investors, and to open channels of communication between Egyptian startups and international companies. It also aimed to transfer expertise from international companies to Egyptian startups, and provide direct investment opportunities in potential Egyptian companies either through investors or incubating companies.
The conference, the second annual event to be held in Alexandria, provided a platform helping create new opportunities for regional entrepreneurs and national startups, and for them to learn about new markets. This in turn would hopefully feed opportunities in the new technology parks set to be established in Egypt, and ultimately, as hoped by the government, increasing Egyptian high value-added technology exports.
Around 70-100 technology startups from many countries of the world participated, as well as venture capitalists and angel investors. A keynote group of international, local and regional speakers with global expertise in technology, entrepreneurship and finance participated in the summit.
[Photo: Egypt Tourism Authority]