Egypt, the Arab world's most populous nation, will connect more than 60 million people living in rural areas with high-speed internet, according to the country's communications and information technology minister.
“We want to improve internet connectivity for 60 million Egyptians living in about 4,500 villages by upgrading broadband infrastructure,” Amr Talaat said at the International Co-operation Forum in the capital Cairo.
“We plan to invest more than $360 million to connect one million households with fibre-optic cables that will ensure youth can access the internet and thus the knowledge, training, and career opportunities offered by the digital world," he said.
Internet penetration in Egypt was 57.3 per cent in January 2021, according to Data Reportal. The country of 103.3 million had 95.75 million mobile phone users. Greater connectivity in Egypt will also help the country's booming e-commerce sector and mobile economy. The country has invested more than $2 billion to increase average internet speeds in major cities to 42.5 megabytes per second from 6.5 megabytes per second, in two years.
"Africa is considered the youngest continent on the planet, with about 60 per cent of its population under the age of 25. There is no more urgent or important topic than youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, and digital innovation," said Rania Al Mashat, the country's minister of international co-operation.
"Creating a framework to support the young is vital; Africa’s future depends on it," she said.
Separately at the forum, Egyptian leaders stressed the importance of implementing agri-tech solutions to guarantee the continent's food security.
Ensuring food security is particularly important for Egypt, which is the biggest wheat importer in the world.
"The work we have done with the World Food Programme, and how we have been able to work with farmers to move from more traditional ways of farming, from diesel-powered irrigation to solar, is a great example of co-ordination between local agencies and international partners,” Ms Al Mashat said.
Calls for greater innovation in food security in Africa comes amid concerns that more than 100 million people on the continent face catastrophic levels of food insecurity, exacerbated by the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic.