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American Technology Transforms Egyptian Life

In the past quarter century, much of the world has seen enormous changes in a variety of important areas: computers, communication, health care, and education. In many cases, American companies and government agencies have assisted in that development. That has been the case in Egypt.

"The U.S has been contributing positively over the last 20 years in the overall development of the ICT (Information, Communication Technology) sector in Egypt," says Dr. Tarek Kamel, Egypt's Minister of ICT. Kamel says the U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S.-based companies like Lucent, Microsoft, Intel and others have been helping to develop Egypt's infrastructure. They are also working with Egypt on health and education programs using new technologies.

In 2005, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates inaugurated a number of projects in the Smart Village near Cairo, Egypt's equivalent to the Silicon Valley.

Gates also committed funds for research and development projects, established computer centers in poor communities, and provided software and training. "Microsoft has played a pivotal role in making computers available," says Akil Beshir, Chairman and CEO of Telecom Egypt. "They did that through agreements with the Egyptian government. They made computers available to people and made the software affordable to people."

Microsoft isn't the only American company involved in modernizing Egypt. Beshir says AT&T helped develop the Egyptian communication system, while Motorola contributed tremendously to wireless communication in the country. Nortel is building Egypt's ATM network, which facilitates Internet usage in rural areas.

Akil Beshir was part of a high-level Egyptian delegation of business and government representatives that recently visited Washington. While here they had meeting with government officials and business leaders.

"[We want] to promote, brand Egypt in the area of information and communication technology, to build bridges between Egyptian companies and American ventures," says Egyptian technology minister Tarek Kamel. "We have seen enormous interest to co-invest in Egypt and cooperate with Egypt in the area of ICT."

Taking a cue from India's model for attracting American investment and outsourcing services, the Egyptian delegation met with Egyptian American expatriates to enlist their help to connect Egyptian high-tech services with the U.S. market.