The Internet Econom The world’s economy is increasingly becoming the Internet economy. As ICT is increasingly integrated into all aspects of society and business, the two terms are becoming synonymous. Multilevel convergence of ICT is changing the way we produce, consume, innovate, learn, and communicate with each other and is redefining industry and market dynamics. The integration of ICT into all aspects of business is impacting how producers and consumers relate to each other, research and innovation, market structures, marketing models, and the expectations of consumers for access to products and services.This new paradigm presents countries with both opportunities and challenges in a wide range of areas, from the environment, health and education to the delivery of government and consumer services. How seamlessly and effectively countries meet these challenges and develop innovative solutions and services will determine in large part how successful they will be on the world stage. The Internet economy is the leading engine of economic growth, and its future needs to be secured. Policy makers cannot be complacent about growth of the Internet economy and must continue to develop and implement effective policies that support and stimulate the expansion both of Egypt’s capacity to be a competitive player in global markets as well as the growth of the local Internet economy. In particular, Egypt’s policy makers must continue to prioritize investment in education, to provide the country with the human potential it needs to expand its role in this new paradigm. Promoting the Internet economy will improve Egypt’s abilities to strengthen its economy, meet its socio-economic development goals and improve the quality of life for its citizens. The ICT Industry and the Global Financial Crisis Knowledge, innovation, and applied research are the drivers of Egypt’s ICT industry. MCIT will continue to work to develop the ICT capacity of Egypt,increase and support research and innovation, promote and expand investment in the ICT industry and develop an IT-enabled service industry.Today’s global financial crisis implies challenges, as it impacts local as well as international markets, but it also provides Egypt with special opportunities as companies around the world seek to reduce costs, attract consumers and retain market share. MCIT will work with its strategic partners in the public and private sectors to successfully brand the country as a cost- effective and competitive destination for global companies. In 2008, Egypt proved a serious contender in the outsourcing industry and produced more than $750 million in exports of ICT- based services.The government hopes to increase that number to exceed $1 billion by 2010 and $2 billion by 2013. Despite the economic crisis that began in 2008, foreign corporations expanded their investment in Egypt, expressing confidence in the potential for the next several years. Egypt’s multilingual and cost-effective workforce, the neutrality of its accent in other languages, its ability in Arabic, and its proximity in terms of geography and time zones to Europe andAsia have reinforced its competitive position in the business process outsourcing and knowledge process outsourcing industries. In addition, Egypt is staking out another niche in Arabic Natural Language Processing (NLP) and speech applications.The growing amount of digital content on the Internet and the more than 300 million citizens in the region that speak Arabic have created a pressing demand for NLP applications. Egypt has the necessary human resources, linguists, computer science graduates, and ICT engineers, as well as the history of exporting cultural content to the region, which will provide an important advantage as the country seeks a leadership position in the market. Success in these efforts will, however, depend on the country’s continued investment in creating the necessary facilitating infrastructure, including continued and comprehensive deregulation, streamlining procedures, refining incentives and addressing the growing and urgent issues of privacy, protection of intellectual property rights and cyber security.While piracy rates are dropping, Egypt needs to expand its efforts to protect and encourage innovation.MCIT will be leading the country’s efforts to developing this enabling infrastructure and will also continue to increase broadband penetration, making it more affordable and more available nationwide. The Internet Governance Forum Cyber-crime has become a multibillion dollar global industry, and experts expect it to keep growing. Protecting privacy and security has become a priority for nearly all stakeholders in the Internet economy, from governments and corporations to hospitals, schools, and individual families. 14 Looking Forward to 2009 Egypt has made protecting cyber-security and preventing cyber- crime a national priority. One of the key challenges to the spread of Internet use and growth of the Internet economy is security. MCIT and NTRA will continue to expand efforts to spread awareness of cyber-crime protection and develop appropriate regulatory measures and policies for good governance of cyberspace and Egypt's ICT industry. In 2008, Egypt launched a national dialogue on Internet safety. In addition, MCIT and its partners in the government and private sector are nearing completion of a Cyber-Security/Cyber-Crime law, and, in 2009, Egypt will be hosting the fourth Internet Governance Forum in November for the first time in Africa. The Next Billion Users Today, the number of Internet users exceeds 1.3 billion, yet 80% of the world’s population does not have access to the Internet. The next billion users will come from the developing world and particularly from countries with large populations and emerging economies like China, India and Egypt. It is critical that international organizations develop a dialogue to work seriously on global strategies to expand access, build the necessary technological and regulatory infrastructures, and assist these countries in meeting the technological, regulatory, investment, content, and societal challenges they will face. Expansion of access to ICT will be critical for these countries to leverage scarce resources to meet their socio-economic development goals and compete in global markets.Tomorrow’s topics for discussion and debate will come from these nations; by supporting their efforts to develop and expand their markets, the developed world will expand opportunities for the global industry. 82 83