UNCTAD to support Government of Egypt in developing a national e-commerce strategy

30 November 2015

At the request of Egypt's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and with the support from MasterCard, UNCTAD launched an ICT Policy Review to assist Egypt in developing its national e-commerce strategy.

With the rapid uptake of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in developing countries and the catalytic role of new technological innovations in global value chains and international trade, e-commerce is increasingly transforming the global economy, affecting economic growth, competitiveness and socio-economic development.

At the opening of the first fact-finding mission in Cairo on 1-5 November 2015, Egypt's Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Yasser El-Kady, welcomed the UNCTAD team and highlighted the urgency and importance of developing a national e-commerce strategy.

UNCTAD representatives meet with Egypt's Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Yasser El-Kady


While the potential for growth in e-commerce is strong in the country, only a very small percentage of the population currently buys online. Mr. El-Kady said that raising technological literacy and awareness of e-commerce among the Egyptian population was an important aim.

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), the government body responsible for ICT issues in Egypt, has long recognized ICTs as enablers of national economic and social development and as a tool for strengthening the country's competitiveness. In its 2012-2017 National ICT Plan, MCIT committed to increasing the volume of e-commerce by 20 per cent.

The number of Internet users in Egypt is large for the Middle East, representing 31 per cent of the population, according to the Undersecretary for Information and Strategic Planning and Chairperson of the E-commerce Committee at the MCIT, Nagwa Ebrahim El-Shenawi.

Greater efforts are needed to tap Egypt's potential for e-commerce, she added. While Egypt has made good progress in past decades in building up its telecommunications infrastructure, business process outsourcing industry, human resource base and other key areas, it lags in the uptake of e-commerce among consumers and small and medium-sized enterprises.

As a means of injecting dynamism into the Egyptian economy, the full potential of e-commerce has not yet been fully harnessed.

The ICT Policy Review will conduct a comprehensive assessment and diagnostic of the current status of e-commerce in Egypt on the basis of several fact finding missions, interviews with government officials, consultations with key stakeholders, desk research and surveys.

UNCTAD will collaborate with the World Bank on the e-payment component of the e-commerce strategy.

The findings will be used to establish short, medium and long-term targets and policy recommendations for implementation in an integrated framework of policy areas of strategic importance to e-commerce development set out in UNCTAD's Information Economy Report 2015.

Fig VI.1

These include ICT infrastructure and telecom services; logistics and trade facilitation; the legal and regulatory environment; electronic payments; skills development and building talent.

Strategic measures to help galvanize e-commerce include fostering micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, facilitating innovation, exports and cross-border trade capability, promoting new payment solutions, the buildup of the consumer market, local productivity, inclusive rural development as well as the creation of job opportunities in the IT and business process outsourcing sectors.

UNCTAD's ICT Policy Review (ICTPR) Programme

UNCTAD is mandated to promote trade in developing countries, and serves as a focal point within the United Nations on issues of science, technology and innovation for development.  In this context, it assists countries in reaping greater development gains from ICTs through trade. Its ICT Policy Review Programme provides advisory services and technical assistance on e-commerce and ICT development at the request of governments.



For further information, contact:

Torbjörn Fredriksson
Chief, ICT Analysis Section
Division on Technology and Logistics
Tel: +41 22 917 2143
Email: [email protected]

Marie Sicat
Associate Economic Affairs Officer (ICTPR Programme Coordinator)
ICT Analysis Section
Division on Technology and Logistics
Tel: +41 22 917 3447
Email: [email protected]