What makes Egypt attractive
Egypt’s growing IT services and technology sector has been built on important natural advantages and few forward-looking investments in recent years. The country’s proximity to Europe, considerably large and educated talent pool, and relatively low costs compared to nearshore locations such as Poland, Romania and Bulgaria make Egypt a natural hub for IT services, just as it has been a hub for commerce for millenniums. In addition, multinational companies have long-established histories of doing business in Egypt, building up the trust and goodwill needed for large investments and sustained operations. IBM has had a presence in the country for 66 years, and in addition to its six regional delivery centers in Cairo, in 2019 it opened two new centers — an Innovation and Industry Client Center and a Marketing Services Center — to accelerate digital transformation for public and private sector clients through next-generation solutions such as AI, cybersecurity, digital technology, blockchain and hybrid cloud. Sharing a time zone with much of Europe provides Egypt with a natural advantage, particularly relative to India and the Philippines, two outsourcing megacenters.
Atop these advantages and potentially separating Egypt from other growing outsourcing locations has been active investment by the Egyptian government in developing a business ecosystem, creating jobs and exports, fostering entrepreneurship, encouraging foreign direct investment, and assisting Egyptians in innovation efforts. While this mandate may sound ambitious, Egypt, a country known for large projects, has kept a tight focus on successful development of IT services and technology exports.
Sustained investment in talent
Egypt’s critical advantage could be its talent base, particularly due to the group’s size, technology skills and fluency in multiple languages. According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics in Egypt, approximately 500,000 students graduate from universities in Egypt every year, of which around 90,000 speak English. To assist graduates in finding employment with multinational companies — and to help those companies develop their employees’ skills — the Egyptian government, through ITIDA, partners with companies to provide mentoring, tools and competitions for startups as well as sponsor various hackathons and other initiatives.
The Egyptian IT sector exported around $4.2 billion in services in 2019, according to the Egyptian Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA). The country’s IT sector has become a substantial part of the overall economy growth, contributing both jobs and export revenues, primarily from BPO, software, application development and maintenance, and technical support services. TBR sees advantages for Egypt in the post-coronavirus world.