Cairo ICT History
To create a meeting place for amateurs and professionals alike in the IT business field (Cairo ICT exhibitors). But it seemed the PC market was quite unwelcoming, let alone the fact that no IT infrastructure was laid so far.
The stage was bare; nothing existed beyond the infant local PC industries which never harboured the idea of organizing events as such. Likewise, Multinational companies were left in the dark about what was going on in the Egyptian market and so, directing their investment to our market was even unthinkable.
Therefore, special attention was devoted to organization. This is where the German partner did an efficient job, particularly with regard to the conference details. In becoming an integrated forum for the exchange of thoughts and ideas regarding the upgrading of IT potentials and not merely a place where business transactions are concluded, the ICT gained itself an additional value in both the business and IT circles.
Among key planners for the 1996 ICT conference was Dr. Tarek Kamel, the current Minister of Communications and Information Technology who devoted his expertise in running technology events towards the ideal organization of the conference.
The opening attended by several Egyptian ministers like Safwat El Sherif, Suliman Metwally as well as by dignitaries and high ranking officials came out glamorous.
Though the event was mainly dominated by local entrepreneurs, many well established Arab firms – such as Etisalat of UAE - were among the top list of participants.
It is worth noting, international participation was solicited at a large scale, yet the result was not quite positive as business chances were quite limited in such a narrow market like ours, particularly with a monopoly of the ICT activity at that time by Egypt Telecom. Yet, among these multinationals some – such as Alcatel, Siemens, Motorola, Ericsson, Lucent and Three Com – had the expert vision not to refrain from having a foothold in the Egyptian market.
Currently, these companies are practically the market leaders in the telecom sector in Egypt.
IT giants - particularly in the sector of data such as NCR, IBM and Microsoft were also present in the 1996 ICT.
It was overwhelming, particularly with the announcement made by COMDEX – the renowned American IT fair- that it will soon be represented in Egypt.
Therefore, there was a fierce competition to anticipate, particularly with the high turn out on the part of IT companies in favour of COMDEX due to its solid reputation.
On the other hand, the fact that the 1995 ICT was mainly devoted to telecom service providers excluded other categories of participants.
Yet, it is important to draw attention to the fact that the dominant share in the 1996 ICT given to telecom sector is justified by the peak in telecommunications businesses witnessed at that time, around which our activities had to revolve.
Therefore, our activities had to be consistent, bearing in mind that IT- either locally or globally - was not yet on its current prosperous track.
The year 1997 is also remembered in terms of politics, as unexpected requests for participation in ICT came from Israel, then making its way strongly in IT and telecom fields.
Israel's several requests for participation - denied even on the level of non official visits- were explained by its wish to feature as the technology gateway to the Middle East.
A different date had to be selected for logistical purposes this year.
January was the alternative date many foreign international participants found more convenient. Likewise, the 1999 ICT is remembered, but by what we can term as a bid for “haggling”, as the exhibition hall was reserved by another organizer at the customary time of the event.
It was up to us if we wished to retrieve the hall in return for $100.000. But we turned down the offer and shifted the event into the other date. When competition is considered, similar exhibitions in the calendar of a single year should be outlined. In the same year the Cairo ICT was supposed to see the light in January, while GITEX was scheduled for April, COMDEX for May and finally ACITEX of Al-Ahram organization to be held annually in February.
So within only the span of six months there was a jam of competing events.
Yet first to remember is how the participation of Mobinil was a real incentive.
Mobinil’s presence in the event - out of its drive to promote the use of mobile phones – attracted a huge number of visitors. Therefore, it was decided to launch a separate shopping pavilion in the forthcoming year. The unprecedented visit of top ranking Arab state officials including ministers and other dignitaries was indicative of the fact that the ICT was coming further into the limelight. The event hosted more than 110 exhibitors in all telecom Internet and IT fields, with the participation share in favour of IT companies. At a certain time it seemed it was such a risky bet to expect promising results out of trade fairs other than food stuff or fashion. But in fact the new technology put on display turned out to be a safer bet. Capitalizing on the success gained so far, it was proposed to stretch the scope of the event beyond the limits of the local market. Instead of venturing into the already saturated Gulf, our sight turned towards North Africa. This is where our upcoming event - Morocco Telecomp - was planned. It was at that time that the
German partner decided to go through that project with other entrepreneurs, thus bringing to an end the partnership with our company.
Competitors dissatisfied with their performance over the past year, decided to brace for more competition. It seemed then every body was geared towards fulfilment at any cost.
The race was even more powerful to win the trust of the newly launched ministry of communication and information technology headed by Dr Ahmed Nazief. Throughout the race rounds COMDEX fell behind and walked out while GITEX – relying on a direct support from Dubai – insisted to press on till the end.
But this came to nothing and that year happened to witness the end of its business in the Egyptian market. So, Cairo ICT was left as the one and only player in the IT and telecom scene, grabbing the interest of an increasing number of companies which - for the first time - exceeded 200 by the
year 2000.Here it is of crucial importance to note that the business of "exporting exhibitions"
(Organizing events in foreign markets) is not a smooth task. The failure of COMDEX when it was held outside the USA is powerful evidence. In fact organizing exhibitions has more to do with the ambience where the event is held and not only the image of the exhibition.
...as the ICT witnessed the visit of the head of International Telecom Union along with many African and Arab ministers, in response to an invitation by Dr. Nazif. Furthermore, that year brought Cairo ICT as the sole technology event, representing a real window for local companies on IT and telecommunications worldwide, and equally for international business leaders seeking access to the Egyptian market.
The ICT had a noticeable advantage over other similar events in being the magnet for different categories of shoppers due to the presence of mobile phone and ISP's ICT Business Report 16 ICT Business Report 17 companies which started to gain a bigger foothold in the market.
Moreover, the 2001 ICT devoted a whole pavilion bearing the name "e-town" where high tech, Internet and online companies displayed their wide range of services.
It was also the first time an equal share was given to the IT and telecom sectors seen in the fair presentation of multimedia and hardware companies.
In 2002, competition was nothing to worry about as JITEX and COMDEX were already out of the Egyptian market.
Yet, ICT had to stand another test as the opening was supposed to take place only three months after the 11th Sept 2001 which brought world markets to a standstill.
Marketing the event was an uphill task. Furthermore, many telecom and IT companies – representing a considerable number of the ICT clients were already gone to the Africa Telecom which, held earlier in October.
Once more it was as if the ICT was destined to meet more difficulties as the organizers were informed almost 3 days before the ICT opening that President Mubarak was going to attend the ICT opening.
Nevertheless, the 2002 ICT which carried the slogan "Two Steps Ahead" lived another successful experience when it witnessed the launch of the "Free Internet" initiative which brought up the number of Internet users to more than 1 million in 2002 and almost 5 million in 2006.
It is worth noting the 2002 ICT saw a notable participation of the MCIT through an independent pavilion which displayed the ministry's achievements in the area of upgrading "IT society".
On the other hand, the ICT conference was able to boast a series of sessions discussing vital issues such as E- Learning, E-Health, and E-Gov.
If the German partnership was at a certain period a true back-up to the company, it was the support of Dr. Ahmed Nazif - then Minister of Communications and Information Technology - which gave the event a better chance for repeated success.
In fact President Mubarak' visit to the 2002 ICT supplied the event with weight which served to attract more companies and visitors alike to the 2003 ICT.
After the "Free Dial up Internet" initiative of 2002, the MCIT took the ICT as the launching pad for more consecutive initiatives. In 2003, the MCIT declared its "PC for Every Home" initiative which involved many private sector companies. In the same year, shopping was carried out in a separate pavilion which attracted a huge number of visitors who were allowed to benefit from the facility of one step shopping. It was pride to the ICT that the sales volume achieved for clients was equal to that achieved throughout a whole year.
The stimulating activities such as the live panel described as a "forum for thought exchange" and the "Free Internet" seminar which reviewed the results accomplished since the launch of the initiative were key topics in the ICT conference.
Competition was strongly the headline that year as Africa Telecom was scheduled to be held in Egypt. It was even assumed by some the ICT was scheduled for postponement. But postponement was never a choice.
One here can recall the incessant support of the MCIT officials when they decided to take part in the ICT though the Africa Telecom in which they also participated was only 5 months earlier.
The 2004 event carried the slogan "The Age of Mobility" – a concept no longer confined to mobile phones, which also includes all modern technologies that present mobility and wireless approaches.
It is worth mentioning the 2004 ICT grabbed the participants' interest as it was held after the WSIS (World Summit of Information Society -2003).
Arab and African delegates came to the ICT where they discussed the summit results in a session chaired by Dr. Tarek Kamel among other 50 sessions which gathered developers from both Egypt and the whole Middle East.
Of particular interest was the "Broadband" initiative seminar which tackled the difficulties
impeding Broadband uses in Egypt. The seminar came out with the conclusion that pricing – along with applications - are decisive factors in the promotion of Broadband.
4 months later, the "Broadband" initiative saw the light with offers starting from LE150.
The 2005 ICT which adopted the slogan "Access the World of Tomorrow" started to reap the fruits of the credibility it managed to achieve in the previous years. In this respect the ICT became the voice through which concerns and ambitions related to the nascent IT industry were expressed. This was the focus point that year, meanwhile addressing a new angle, namely to render IT and telecommunication industries interactive with other sectors.
It is worth noting, the conference on the margin of the exhibition was the most successful one ever held during the ICT life.
A bridge was built, connecting the IT world - through the ICT – to sectors of petroleum, transportation, tourism, education, mass media and other sectors of industry.
The new cabinet included many ministers with powerful IT background such as
Dr. Ahmed Darwish – the current Administrative Development Minister who was previously in charge of the E-government project. It was not really a difficult task to have the big gallery of local, regional and international companies as participants as a new 6000 meter hall was added to the ICT which received the extra 30% bookings for participation.
Under the slogan, “The X Generation”, the official inauguration of Cairo ICT 2006 on February 5th witnessed a large number of ministers and government officials headed by HE Dr. Tarek Kamel – Minister of Communications & Information Technology, during which the ICT minister announced offering two licenses for international communications and four licenses of E-Signing, the bidding schedule for the third mobile network, as well as the official launch of the “Low Cost PC Initiative”.
HE Dr. Tarek Kamel and TradeFairs International (organizer of Cairo ICT) honored on this occasion distinguished ICT figures at this year’s gala dinner hosted by Telecom Egypt – Official Sponsor of Cairo ICT 2006; and attended by over 700 invitees. The closing session saw the honoring of ICT companies for the number of participations at Cairo ICT since its inceptions among those companies where: Telecom Egypt, Etisalat, Siemens, Huawei Technologies, Flag Telecom, Ericsson, Lucent Technologies and many others.
450 exhibitors from 30 countries representing over 1000 companies participated at Cairo ICT 2006 on a total area of 20,000 m2, a 45% increase in exhibition space as compared to 2005 (including Cairo ICT 2006 Consumer section – The Mall).
For the first time since its inception Cairo ICT 2006 international and regional participations represented nearly 70% of the total exhibitors.
Under the slogan “The Shape of Things to Come”, Cairo ICT 2007 brought a concept of visualizing what the future holds for the ICT industry and the Arab region at large as it relates to new solutions and services, economic growth and regional investment. Cairo ICT 2007 opened its doors on February 4th to receive an unprecedented number of prominent ministers, government officials, dignitaries, businessmen and VIP figures from the ICT industry headed by Dr. Tarek Kamel, Minister of Communications & Information Technology.
Renowned ministers toured the four exhibitions halls, commenting on the new dimension Cairo ICT took this year and noticed the success it accomplished by doubling both the number of participants and international attendees. Followed by the official opening session with the CIT minister as the keynote speaker and Minister of Finance Dr. Youssef Boutros Ghali gave a presentation as a guest speaker. Panelists on additional forums included: Eng. Akil Beshir – Chairman Telecom Egypt, Mr. Amr Badawi – Executive Director National Telecom Regulatory Authority, Eng. Mohamed Omran – Chairman Etisalat U.A.E, Mr. Ian Grey – CEO Vodafone Egypt and Mr. Omar Hijazi – CEO Tijari Holding, with moderator Ms. Lamis El Hadidy debating and questioning the panelists and speakers on their visions and views of the future of technology in the ICT industry.
The session speakers concluded that further investments in the Middle East, particularly in the ICT industry, would be needed to continue developing the region. Moreover, the ministers also agreed that technology will affect every industry; it will help improve social sectors such as health & education. Panelists added that with competition still rising; the future still has so much more to offer.
An Unparalleled Conference
More than 500 VIPs, businessmen and government officials from the region, attended the Cairo ICT 2007 opening session, headed by Minister of Communication & Information Technology Dr. Tarek Kamel. With guest speaker, Minister of Finance Dr. Youssef Boutros Ghali, the opening followed the conference title, “The Shape of Things to Come.” The session opened a gateway to discuss the challenges facing the Arab world and the need to cope with fast moving pace of technology. The general consensus was to either adopt ICT or remain behind the times. The speakers agreed that technology was no longer a choice, but the only option for countries to develop, improve and advance.
Cairo ICT 2007 had more than 33 official conference sessions, 24 significant corporate announcements, press conferences, workshops and roundtables. More than 10,000 conference attendees, delegates, speakers, consultants and professors attended the four-day conference.
The business sessions confirmed the correlation between ICT and important business, industrial and social sectors. New government initiatives in health & education were announced to the public for the first time during Cairo ICT, by Dr. Hoda Baraka, senior advisor to the minister, who adeptly moderated these sessions. Government services, social solidarity, and financial solutions were thoroughly discussed and debated by the relevant ministers and selective local and international experts.
The technology sessions tackled issues such as the impact of 3G services in Egypt by a 3rd mobile operator, which has been a controversial subject in the Egyptian ICT industry. The sessions brought together the country’s three mobile operators in a roundtable discussion to debate their views, challenges and strategies to selective guests. The four-day conference also covered topics such as next generation networks, Internet 2, IP Networks, convergence of services and data storage.
Government & Corporate Announcements
Cairo ICT 2007, the 11th year of the conference, proved to be not only a regional platform for the ICT industry to showcase their most innovative and ground-breaking technologies but also a local showcase of Egypt’s government initiatives and announcements. During the conference the following declarations were brought to the light by both the exhibitors & government officials:
- HE Dr. Tarek Kamel – Minister of Communication & Information Technology:
Announced the launch of Egypt’s 2010 PC Initiative with a long-term aim of selling 5,000-6,000 PCs annually until the end of 2010 at a more affordable price and convenient payment method. HE Dr. Kamel also made public the lowering of the DSL initiative to become LE 95 per month.
- HE Dr. Hatem El-Gabali – Minister of Health & Population:
Presented the Egyptian Health Services Development Initiative under the auspices of HE Suzan Mubarak, the initiative which was discussed during the Davos World Economic forum aiming at developing the healthcare service in Egypt through the adoption of ICT tools, with a main focus on further development of employee/worker skills and enhancing the healthcare units in 2nd and 3rd tier hospitals.
Egypt Post Organization:
Launched the first Egyptian e-mail portal “Misr Mail,” which offers a variety of new electronic services and a free Egyptian email account to all users.
Etisalat Misr: Officially launched Egypt’s third mobile license with live demonstration of a diversified number of different 3.5 G applications.
Microsoft Egypt: Uncovered the long-awaited Microsoft Windows Vista and Office 2007
"The World As You Know It…Is Now Changing" was a very true statement during the last few months of 2007, and became particularly true as 2008 hit the calendar. So, what better slogan to come up with than that? This slogan/concept targeted each and every sector present at Cairo ICT in 2008. The World As You Know it in Mobility is Now Changing. The World As You Know it in Money is Now Changing. The World As You Know it in Media in Now Changing. The World As You Know it in Management is now Changing.
The annual forum which runs in parallel to the Fair played a major role in instilling this message of change, by selecting topics that discuss various changes in all four sectors: Mobility, Money, Media, and Management. It gave the participants the necessary exposure and latest solutions offered in various sectors, and this was done by a selected number of key note speakers and renowned panellists.
The Fair also did the same by featuring sectors such as the Banking and Finance. A partnership agreement was signed with Smart Villages Egypt by which a "Smart Village Financial District" was built at Cairo ICT 2008. Exhibiting in it, were tenants of the actual Financial District at Smart Village, and they had the opportunity to introduce there new state of the art services and technologies to both fellow exhibitors and visitors. In addition, the same took place in all the other regular sectors exhibiting at Cairo ICT. The latest in mobility and broadband was available, as well as in the telecommunications and Information Technology. It was a concept that was widely appreciated by all those attending the Fair and did truly assist in providing insight and guidelines to how the World is changing in different vital sectors of business.
So again, Cairo ICT proved to be the right place to be for decision makers and those seeking the latest in the world of ICT.
"Know Before You Go" was the slogan of this difficult year. The Global Financial Crisis had hit hard, and the World was waiting in anticipation to see where all this was going…where it was leading to. Meanwhile, it was Cairo ICT's thirteenth round and it was of vital importance to us as organizers to make it as successful as all other years. Therefore, 2009 was an immense challenge to the team and proved to be a growing one as the months leading up to Cairo ICT became closer and closer.
Yet, we were adamant to make this round a successful one and came up with various concepts to enhance the market situation and accommodate to the temporary modified requests/demands of exhibitors and visitors alike. Sectors such as the Financial and Real Estate were strongly present at both "The Financial Lounge" and "The Future Living Lounge". Both were gladly welcomed by visitors and other exhibitors alike, as they served many interests on the corporate and commercial levels.
While we cannot deny that a bulk of the regular companies in fields such as Telecommunications and Information Technology were affected by the crisis, they still wished to be present at Cairo ICT 2009. Since its establishment, Cairo ICT has developed and maintained a personal relationship with all its clients in a form of a partnership. A concept appreciated highly by all exhibitors and hence loyalty and continuous participation from their side has always been apparent.
So, we opted to accommodate their circumstances and maybe for the first time redesigned the floor plan and design of Halls 1, 2, and 3 for this very purpose. The outcome was amazing and yet again for the thirteenth consecutive year we made it…Cairo ICT 2009 was a hit despite the crisis…despite the rumours that spread prior to its date that it will be called off…despite the challenges and downturns…despite everything…we did not let our clients down or our visitors and partners. "Know Before You Go" helped those in various fields be up-to-date with all major occurrences and developments and provided useful tools for decision makers to use while taking important decisions for their companies. Cairo ICT 2009 was, by the testimonials given by its major participants and regulars an unanticipated success, and an appreciated one.
From February 7th-10th, Cairo ICT hosted regional business leaders, government officials, foreign dignitaries and VIPs to discuss the current state of the ICT industry in Egypt and the region. The exhibition hosted the U.S.A as country guest of honour, thus paying tribute to the long line of major American companies that have been an integral part of the exhibition from its inception. The four exhibition halls featured the largest players in the industry; the event had grown tremendously in size, scope, number of exhibitors, number of visitors , and new domains have been added to it; an
impressive scene truly fulfilling its theme, “Destination Egypt.”
Around 77, 421 visitors, VIPs, business people, officials, delegates and media personnel attended Cairo ICT 2010 to take advantage of the unique opportunity of access to so many of their colleagues and partners. The ICT industry as well as the vertical sectors of oil and gas, banking, retail, tourism, manufacturing, real-estate and other industries were all significantly represented at the conference.
Exhibitors from the U.S.A, Poland, Canada, China, Egypt, Finland, France, Holland, India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, UAE, UK reported positive prospects for engaging in new business from attending the exhibition. 73% of the overall exhibitors reported immediately that they would continue participation in Cairo ICT rounds.
New Features at CAIRO ICT 2010
- The introduction of Cairo MET
- CXO Networking Event
- Green ICT & E-Waste
- GPS Forum
- Broadband Forum
- Future Bridge
- SMB Chambers
- Future Living
Despite the repercussions of the January 25 Revolution, Cairo ICT in its 15th round kept the same size and scope of 2010’s round which indicates that the ICT industry is a key sector for the revival of the Egyptian economy and all its other sectors, while also indicating the strength of the event.
From May 25 – 28, Cairo ICT hosted business leaders from Egypt, the Arab Region and Africa, government officials, foreign dignitaries and VIPs to discuss the current state of the ICT industry in Egypt after the revolution.
The four exhibition halls played host to the largest players in the industry. The sheer size of the exhibition and the number of attendees was impressive to everyone, fulfilling the slogan: “Destination Egypt ….. A Future in The Making”.
France was Guest of Honor this round. French Ambassador in Egypt Jean Felix- Paganon headed a delegation to the exhibition. The visit was followed by a meeting attended by businessmen and members of the French Chamber of Commerce in Cairo and governmental officials.
The participation of several regional and international companies was stronger than in previous years, to
confirm the confidence in the Egyptian industry as Cairo ICT is considered the meeting point of the ICT and related communities in Egypt and the region. Despite the aftermath of the revolution that has affected many sectors and other events Cairo ICT kept the number of exhibitors of 2010 round and also the size of the event.
Cisco Announces $10 Million Investment For Egypt:
Cisco announced that it will invest $10 million to seed a sustainable model of job-creation and economic development in Egypt. The venture capital investment will be targeted at high-potential small businesses that provide innovative products and services. Job creation and a chance for greater opportunities are of clear importance to Egyptian citizens. Through this investment Cisco is demonstrating its commitment to
assisting the people of Egypt to begin to invest in meeting these needs. Cisco also intends to engage in a multi-stakeholder collaboration to encourage further inward investment into the Egyptian economy from local, regional and global organizations.
TIEC and Nokia signed an MOU for training:
TIEC and Nokia signed a memorandum in the field of training and skill development for Egyptian youth, as well as embracing their creative projects.
Huawei and National Telecommunications institute signed 2 memorandums for training programs
The Minister witnessed also the signing of 2 memoranda of understanding between Huawei and The
National Telecommunications Institute dealing with launching the Egyptian training program, which comes in a Chinese grant at about USD 4 million.
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