Cairo – Mubasher: Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, Rania El-Mashat participated in a virtual panel discussion titled “Technology with Purpose for the Middle East”, Organised by Siemens Middle East.
Moderated by the Co-head of Communications for Siemens in the Middle East, Mohammed Sergie, the event included the UAE’s Minister of State for International Cooperation and Managing Director of Expo 2020 Dubai, Reem Al Hashimy; President and CEO of Siemens AG, Roland Busch; and the Strategic Performance Director at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of Saudi Arabia, Deema Albasseet; alongside El-Mashat, according to a statement on Monday.
“Reform has to be continuous as the world is continuously changing. We cannot be complacent, we have to be agile, adapting and adopting new policies and structures in order to keep pushing our economies forward,” El-Mashat said.
As global economies are shifting towards digitalisation, technology has become the driving force for infrastructure, education, transportation, entrepreneurship, and industry.
In Egypt, the government is set on a digital transformation encompassing all sectors, as the country heads towards a paperless government with a clean energy transformation.
“The whole world is in a transformation, and COVID-19 also accelerated this transformation...We at Siemens aim to make people's lives better by using tech with purpose,” said Busch.
Egypt is set on building new sustainable cities, such as the New Administrative Capital (NAC) that is set to become the country’s first smart city. The NAC will include a city-wide digital security system as well as a smart infrastructure to reduce consumption and cost with a focus on renewable energy using IoT.
A key part of building new cities is ensuring strong transportation systems. One of Egypt’s mega transportation projects includes an electric high-speed rail network project that is being constructed in partnership with Siemens AG to establish an integrated electric monorail system with a total length of about 1,000 kilometres (km), connecting Ain Sokhna city with the New Alamein City, and the New Administrative Capital.
While digitalisation was catalysed by the pandemic, Egypt had already taken strides towards major transformations across sectors; education is one of the key sectors to change. Under “Education 2.0”, Egypt is focused on digitising education by providing servers, screens, and tablets to 25,000 public schools; changing the assessment model for high school and other levels of education in the future; and uploading the curricula from kindergarten through to Grade 12 to a digital library online that is freely accessible.
“Technology is essential. It is something that should be looked at like water and electricity, it is a right that every citizen should have,” said Albasseet.
Improving the quality of learning and adopting technology serves as a vehicle to achieve reform objectives and helps raise a generation of tech-savvy youth that will be ready for the future of jobs.
“2021 is the year of private-sector engagement. We are keen to bring the innovative and technologically advanced expertise of the private entities into the public sector and the development agenda in hopes to push toward the national and global sustainability targets,” said El-Mashat.
"The whole world changed due to COVID-19... the world will want to come together more than ever before given the fact that the pandemic has forced us to rethink our businesses,” said Al Hashimy.
Egypt’s flagship project, the Benban Solar Power complex, is a live example of the necessity of private sector involvement in development projects. The solar project employs over 4,000 people, and limits 2 million tons of harmful gas emissions.
So large that it is visible from space, the solar park is also the biggest signal yet of Egypt’s commitment to clean, sustainable energy, and a testament to the power of partnership between the public and private sectors as 32 companies from 12 countries participated in its implementation.
The private sector is a leading force in powering both micro, small, and medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and in pushing forward in the technological wave. El-Mashat explained that since the development financing is “purpose-driven” and mapped according to the 17 UN sustainable development goals (SDGs), engaging with the private sector is key to accelerate their embracement of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles.
In 2020, the Ministry of International Cooperation secured more than $1 billion for the digitisation wave in Egypt, and a development financing worth $3.19 billion was allocated to the support of the private sector and the MSMEs.