SDG16 | Youth
August 11, 2017

What Egypt is doing to empower youth through ICTs (Q&A)

By ITU News

International Youth Day is August 12, 2017. This article is one of a series this week dedicated to how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can improve the lives of young people worldwide.

ITU News connected with Egypt’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) to find out what their government is doing to support youth through ICTs.

Q: What can the world learn from the Egyptian experience in creating a safer online environment for youth and children? What specifically has worked for Egypt?

A: The government of Egypt places online safety at the top of its priorities for the protection, safety and security of citizens. The MCIT seeks to adopt a risk-prevention approach by promoting tools and methods in the cyber world. It promotes measures towards creating an interactive platform among all concerned stakeholders to share relevant information, best practices, concerns and resources.

This issue is given more attention and importance for children and youth. It is our shared responsibility to protect children and youth from being exposed to online threats and to help them learn new capabilities and acquire new skills. The challenge is to assist society in raising technologically savvy and resilient children.

Multi-stakeholderism was the key! Egypt created the first multi-stakeholder committee in the region, bringing all concerned parties to the table to discuss and decide the national agenda for child online safety. The committee members represent government entities, the private sector, NGOs, academia and others.

The eight-year-old committee – steered by MCIT – has succeeded to raise community awareness about online safety issues. When incorporating online safety in the educational curricula in all national schools in Egypt, MCIT successfully reached out to almost all Egyptian students in the national educational system.

Egyptian students attend a secondary school class at the 'Futures Tech' private school in Cairo. KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

During those years, Egypt participated in international events and initiatives like the Safer Internet Day and Data Privacy Day, and took part in global empirical studies done by international institutions, for example, the Children’s use of mobile phones research by GSMA and NTT DOCOMO’s Mobile Society Research Institute.

The committee has encouraged a number of existing NGOs in integrating the child online protection agenda in their work, fulfilling our conviction that the issue needs to be mainstreamed within different activities related to children.

Q: Egypt has been an active ITU Child Online Protection (COP) member and has continued to work towards the shared vision of creating a safer cyberspace online. What do you think the partnership with ITU has helped accomplish?

A: Egypt has been the first country to get membership in the ITU COP Initiative. Together with the Arab Republic of Syria, they proposed the creation of the ITU Council Working Group on Child Online Protection that has been active since 2010.  The working group had been chaired by Egypt since its inception in 2010 till early 2017. The working group has been a platform for international parties to exchange views and expertise regarding child online protection.

Egypt was also one of the first countries to promote the importance of indicators in child online protection through ITU and OECD in cooperation with UNICEF and LSE.

Q: What are other ways the government is supporting young people?

A: On January 14th, 2010, the Prime Minister of Egypt, announced the establishment of an innovation center in the Smart Village to enable Egypt to become a world class hub for ICT-based innovation and entrepreneurship. The Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC) was launched by the MCIT in September 2010.

Incubation

TIEC strives to endorse and empower entrepreneurship in the ICT sector by providing a one-year fully-fledged incubation program for innovative and commercially promising projects with the aim to develop a local, regional, and international network of stakeholders to support the program.

Numerous programs serving youth of Egypt are being supervised by TIEC:

1. Startup Support Program

The Startup Support Program, established in 2013, aims to provide support for ICT-based startups. The program provides one-on-one customized support covering a broad range of topics, services and resources. It is designed to capitalize on developing competencies through highly customized trainings under the Business and Entrepreneurship Support Training – BEST Program and Consultancy Services.

2. EgyptInnovate

Launched in 2015, EgyptInnovate is the first online innovation hub for Egypt where innovators and entrepreneurs get inspired, educated and connected. Offered in both Arabic and English, it aims at exposing the country’s innovators locally and globally, connecting nodes and building collaborative communities of Egypt’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. It also targets educating innovators, startups and businesses about technology and innovation management.

In April, EgyptInnovate participated in organizing Hack for Community Hackathon. The Hackathon aimed to use government open data to come up with solutions to societal challenges. It focused on health, education and environment data from Giza Governorate, specifically Dokki District.

3. Start IT business plan competition

Start IT is a nationwide business plan competition that targets entrepreneurs with ICT-related prototypes/ proof of concept who are willing to turn their ideas into actual enterprises. Winners are offered a unique opportunity to have their ideas incubated at one of TIEC network of incubation centers. Entrepreneurs can now apply to TIEC incubation at any time of the year with selection done on a quarterly basis.

In 2016, a total of 21 projects/ startups got incubated. Winners were given access to technical services and professional support while enjoying flexible work conditions. Some startups, formerly incubated, were recognized regionally and internationally.

For more information about Egypt’s youth initiatives visit here.

Learn more about what Egypt is doing to ensure Internet safety for children here.

Learn more about ITU’s Child Online Protection (COP) initiative and take advantage of online tools and resources here.

Learn more about how ICTs can play an important role in crisis management, humanitarian aid, and peacebuilding (SDG 16):

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