Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are increasingly widespread in the world and are of growing importance to economic and social development.
The international community has recognized the potential benefits of ICTs and encouraged governments to elaborate comprehensive, forward-looking and sustainable national ICT strategies as an integral part of their development plans and poverty reduction strategies.
Many developing countries have already put in place one or several national ICT plans and others are in the process of doing so.
Regular reviews of ICT policy plans, involving the different stakeholders, are important. Failure to take early steps to monitor the implementation of ICT policy measures can delay ICT developments and restrict future policy measures. At the same time, assessing the impact of policy measures and sector-specific interventions is a challenging task.
Against this background, UNCTAD has developed a model policy review framework. It draws on our ongoing work on ICT policies and on ICT measurement for economic development and trade.
The core aim of the ICT Policy Review (ICTPR) is to assess the implementation of national ICT strategies by examining how ICT and e-business development issues have been operationalized in the development strategies and to identify policies, programs and implementation mechanisms favouring the development of the information economy.
At the request of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) of Egypt, UNCTAD has carried out this first ICTPR from 2009 to 2010. It focuses on selected policies and initiatives contained in Egypt´s ICT Strategy 2007-2010, and proposes a set of recommendations intended to serve as inputs into the next national ICT strategy, which is currently being prepared.
It should be noted that the Review was concluded before the "25 January 2011 revolution". Thus, it does not take into consideration the implications of recent political events in Egypt.
Egypt has a unique set of circumstances and strengths that could help the country emerge as a major ICT player among information economies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
It is my hope that the Review will help the Government to quantify the main achievements regarding the implementation of ICT policymeasures as foreseen in its ICT strategy.
I also expect it to facilitate the identification of critical success factors, best practices and conditions, as well as reasons for failure to be able to adjust and reform ICT policies.
Understanding past developments is important in formulating new and targeted policy proposals that can support and accelerate ICT penetration within government, businesses and the society at large.
More broadly, the ICTPR can help the Government to evaluate the extent to which national ICT policies have contributed to the country´s overall development strategy. In this context, the Review will also help other countries in their policy-making process by the sharing of best practices.
The ICT Policy Review of Egypt concentrate on five areas:
- Development of infrastructure - with particular emphasis on broadband
- Development of human resources/skills required by a growing ICT industry
- Development of ICT use in education
- Development of local content in key ICT applications (especially the Internet)
- Promotion of an export-oriented ICT sector, notable in the area of ICT-enabled services
The Review has benefited from excellent contributions from the MCIT, other government ministries and agencies, as well as representatives of the private sector and civil society. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all involved.