43m | Alan Burkitt-Gray
Egypt is to upgrade internet speeds for 60 million people in rural areas, the minister of communications and information technology announced at a conference in Cairo.
Amr Talaat (pictured), speaking at the Egypt – International Cooperation Forum, said the country will spend US$360 million on fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) for a million households as part of that programme.
“We want to improve internet connectivity for 60 million Egyptians living in around 4,500 villages by upgrading broadband infrastructure,” said Talaat.
The population of Egypt is just over 100 million, so those 60 million rural dwellers make up 60% of the country’s people.
“We plan to invest more than $360 million to connect one million households with fibre-optic cables that will ensure youth can access the internet and thus the knowledge, training and career opportunities offered by the digital world.”
That spending is on top of $2 billion that Egypt has already spent on increasing urban internet speeds from 6.5 to 42.5 Mbps, he said. He said the country will continue to upgrade its metropolitan internet infrastructure to level up its economy.
Talaat said the plain aimed to unlock new pathways for economic growth, and was part of a nationwide effort to develop the digital economy and drive job creation.
At the same event, which concluded yesterday, Rania Al-Mashat, Egypt’s minister of international cooperation, said: “Africa is considered the youngest continent on the planet, with around 60% of its population under the age of 25. There is no more urgent or important topic than youth empowerment, entrepreneurship and digital innovation. Creating a framework to support the young is vital; Africa’s future depends on it.”
Google VP Vint Cerf called on Africa to turn “digital technology into digital opportunity” by upskilling youth in order to drive GDP growth that raises living standards.
He said: “This is a time of unprecedented challenge – a pandemic, climate change and a host of other issues lie before us. But there is also opportunity. However, the technologies that offer the most potential will deliver little value if we do not have trained, skilled, thoughtful and creative people driving applications and new business models to take advantage of the digital infrastructure.”
Cerf, one of the creators of the TCP/IP protocol that led to the development of the internet, said: “The internet will not work well if it is not surrounded by talented people and a cooperative environment of like-minded countries.”