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AbstractThis research focuses on the public access to information and communication landscapes in 24
countries, with specific focus on public libraries, to understand the information needs of underserved
communities, public access to information and communication venues, and the role of ICT.
Through field research in 24 countries conducted by local research partners, and cross-country
comparative analyses based on common research design elements (see list of countries and research
design overview in Appendix), the project aims to contribute to the knowledge in the field of
information and ICT for development. Of particular interest and value are: the comparative look at
key venues (libraries and other), and the mix of depth of in-country knowledge with breadth of global
comparison to elicit success factors and scenarios to understand how diverse populations can and do
access and use ICT to improve their lives. All outputs of this research will be broadly disseminated to
interested stakeholders and placed in the public domain.
Egypt has a young and rapidly growing population, a limited amount of arable land, and a
huge dependence on the Nile all which contribute to stressing society and resources in
Egypt. Over the last 30 years, and more so in the last decade, the successive governments
have reformed the highly centralized economy inherited from the Nasser's era. While
deregulation has been in place to economic activities, the government remains to provide
sizable subsidies for basic needs, which has contributed significantly to the budget deficit
in Egypt. While the government boosts improved economic conditions and almost 7%
growth, these improved economic conditions have yet to be seen by the broader population
in Egypt, which still struggle to attain basic needs and have an estimate of 20% under the
As part of the reform process, the government has invested heavily in creating physical
infrastructures across Egypt to encourage economic growth and FDI. Technology and
information stand out as being areas where the government has heavily invested and
achieved significant success. Through this support the government established the Ministry
of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) in 1999 under H.E. Ahmed Nazif,
who has in 2004 become the prime minister of Egypt. MCIT has helped create an
environment conductive for the development of the ICT sector. Among the major priorities
set forth to the government is to establish Egypt as an information society. Over the past
few years, Egypt has introduced legislations to facilitating this change and laws concerning
intellectual property, e‐commerce, consumer protection, computer piracy, and e‐signature
have been passed. In addition, the ICT infrastructure has received a huge boost, creating a
modern ICT platform and along with deregulation has pushed prices down tremendously.
The developments in the ICT sector have been considered as role models of deregulation
and privatization as well as a catalyst for reform in other sectors.
Egypt has also introduced a number of projects that utilize ICT for development. The egovernment
program has been established to modernize the citizen's experience of public
service and introduce reform and efficiency to governmental operations. The Egyptian
Education Initiative (EEI) was also launched to enhance the effective use of ICT at all levels
of education for life‐long learning. ICT has also been deployed to upgrade scientific
research, and health‐care. Several programs have been launched to increase e‐Access to
citizens through the PC‐for‐every‐home, free‐internet and IT‐clubs program. The later has
been the flagship of the Egyptian information society to provide public access. In addition,
the government has launched national capacity building programs to improve the
capabilities of the Egyptian workforce, with a focus on civil servants and young graduates.
In addition, these programs have been established using a multi‐stakeholder partnership
between the government, private sector and civil society. These programs intended to
increase ownership and to enlarge the base of public benefit to use ICT in all sectors.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Wanas, N. (2008). Public access to information & ICTs: Egypt. Public Access Landscape Study final report, presented to University of Washington Center for Information & Society (CIS), Seattle.