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December 27, 2011

Egypt Mobile Phone Subscriptions up 26 Percent in September
By Monica Gleberman
Contributing Writer

In what comes as no surprise for a country that used Facebook, Twitter (News - Alert), and mobile phones to help overturn a political regime, the country has now seen an increase in mobile phone usage.

Egypt saw the number of mobile phone subscriptions grow almost 26 percent to 80.39 million users from January to September government figured showed on Tuesday. The number of mobile phone subscription users in August was 78.99 million.

A recent report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) stated that Egypt “is poised to emerge as a major player in the information economy.”

UNCTAD, which carried out its assessment of Egypt’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector at the request of the government, published its first-ever ICT Policy Review for the country on October 26. Speaking at an event in Geneva to mark the launch of the report, Egypt’s then-interim Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Mohamed Salem, said that 2011 was a huge year in Egypt.

“The dawn of a new era for ICT in Egypt, with even more Egyptians joining and embracing the information society as we continue to work to forge a knowledge economy,” said Salem.

Egypt is the Arab world’s most populous country, with a population of more than 80 million people. In September 2010, Egypt’s three mobile operators – Etisalat Egypt, Mobinil, and Egypt unit of Vodafone (News - Alert) had only 63.93 million subscriptions.

“ICT will continue to be a massive job creator,” said Amr S Talaat, the General Manager of IBM (News - Alert) Egypt. Talaat said that even though the country is growing in both technology and jobs – the country is still rushing to expand on their developments to prevent other countries from taking their lead.

“However, in the future the Egypt ICT sector will have to become more creative in terms of adding value to our services, to move higher in the value space. This is especially relevant now as competition is fierce with countries such as India, Vietnam, and South Africa.

However, Egyptian authorities have not always been on the side of mobile development and growth. Just last year Vodafone users saw a disruption in their service at the demands of the Egyptian government. “We would like to make it clear that the authorities in Egypt have the technical capability to close our network, and if they had done so it would have taken much longer to restore services to our customers,” said Vodafone. Vodafone said there were no legal or practical options to avoid the demands of the government.

Regardless of the government, it hasn’t stopped users from wanting to join a mobile service and continue to expand the country’s technology.

Edited by Rich Steeves


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