Cairo: Times are changing in Egypt, where people have long resisted the advance of technology into everyday life.
Until a few years ago, Egyptians were even reluctant to use cards to withdraw cash from machines. However, a combination of service charges in bank branches and the way Covid-19 pandemic boosted digital payment techniques helped dismiss widespread concern about the dangers of online data security.
This breakthrough helped with another technological change: accepting Artificial Intelligence (AI) in various areas, from education to the economy and even healthcare and dealing with government agencies.
And so, a nation recently known for its tech phobia now has some state-of-the-art attitudes to AI. But as opinion surveys reveal lingering doubts and industry experts call for more government action, more is required to meet the opportunities on offer.
Strategy up and running
There has been some government support from the National Council for Artificial Intelligence established in November 2019.
It is responsible for an overall, national AI strategy. It has, so far moved quicker than the private sector, setting up an Applied Innovation Centre within the Ministry of Communications to help the country harness the technology. However, there are still bureaucratic obstacles to licensing and developing AI within the country.
It leaves the country with solid potential to harness the AI boom, but work needs to be done to capitalise on the momentum. Many of the jobs and opportunities created come from outside Egypt and rely on international services companies.