The Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITDA) announced it is working with a global partner on formulating an integrated strategy to promote Egypt as a prime location for technology innovation and a hub for information and communication technology (ICT) startups, with a focus on attracting venture capital (VC) investments, newly-appointed CEO of ITIDA, Amr Mahfouz, said.
Mahfouz was speaking at the opening of Techne Summit, a leading investment and entrepreneurship event in the Mediterranean region, on Tuesday at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
He explained that Egypt is becoming the fastest-growing startup ecosystem in the MENA region as the country enjoys a unique value proposition with a vibrant entrepreneurship scene that has vast opportunities to scale up globally.
Mahfouz added that Egypt’s startup ecosystem has evolved dynamically where the government is actively supporting tech innovation nationwide and the number of technology startups has amplified fast with increased attention from local and international VCs.
On entrepreneurship and startups, Mahfouz confirmed that Egypt has performed outstandingly and achieved positive results thanks to the efforts of the public and private sectors in fostering a growth-oriented ecosystem for startups.
According to Magnitt's Investment report for the first half of 2020, Egypt ranks first where it attracted the largest number of startup investment deals in the MENA region, and ranked second in the size of these investments.
The Egyptian startup ecosystem came in the top 50 global ecosystems. Cairo stood among the top 10 global ecosystems for affordable talent in 2020, according to the 2020 Global Startup Ecosystem Report.
The report highlighted that Cairo provides a perfect testbed for innovation and an attractive market for scalability. Consequently, Egypt’s Ministry of Communications along with its affiliate ITIDA are investing heavily in developing the skills of Egyptian youth, with a target to train 115,000 talents at a total cost of EGP 400 million in the current fiscal year.
Mahfouz noted that the coronavirus outbreak acted as a catalyst for growth in the information technology (IT) sector, as it instilled and fostered technology innovation, urging the rise up of many entrepreneurial businesses and innovative solutions to counter the pandemic. Additionally, it has led to the birth of new startups with an unprecedented success rate.
“Apart from the impact of the global pandemic, the crisis represented a real test for the network readiness and business continuity in Egypt where the country has successfully passed it and proven to be resilient, as widely recognised by many international institutions and featured in reports, which compared the global IT and shared service providers’ response to the pandemic,” according to Mahfouz.
He added that ITIDA is enthusiastically engaged in establishing and spreading Digital Egypt Innovation Hubs, with an estimated investment of EGP 300 million, where it has already started providing training and support services to entrepreneurs and startups in five governorates across Egypt.
“Despite the pandemic and associated challenges, the agency has managed to support and provide fund, mentoring, business information, advisory services, and promotion opportunities to 175 startups, incubated 18 startups, and has succeeded in graduating 12 out of them through its affiliate The Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre,” said Mahfouz.
He added that ITIDA has provided training to more than 660 entrepreneurs, 100 of which are female entrepreneurs. The agency has also provided awareness sessions and training to more than 1,300 senior government officials on the basics of innovation and design thinking.