The Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC) has launched the “Digital Future” initiative to support digital transformation for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) sector.

It has been set up in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Enterprises Sector, Microsoft, and Fiber Misr Systems.

The event was attended by Minister of Public Enterprises Sector Hisham Tawfik, Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea, FEDCOC Head Ibrahim El-Arabi, and Chairperson and CEO of Benya Capital Ahmed Mekki.

Tawfik said that his ministry and FEDCOC’s cooperation on the initiative reflects an unprecedented shift in transferring the experiences of Egypt’s public enterprises sector to private sector companies. This is particularly given the magnitude of the digital transformation project that the Ministry of Public Enterprises Sector has implemented in its subsidiaries.

The initiative will be implemented through over 20 contracts that have been signed with international and local companies.

This confirms the ministry’s previously announced ambitious programme for digital transformation, which aims to affect about 30% of the job market in the IT field, in line with the state’s policy of digitisation.

Tawfik explained that his ministry has started implementing an ambitious and far-reaching digital transformation programme at its subsidiaries. A total of 63 holding and affiliated companies in 12 different sectors will take part in the first phase, representing about half of the number of companies affiliated to the ministry.

The minister noted that the digital transformation programme will occur through four main routes, the first of which was completed in November 2019 and saw the preparation of digital policies and regulations.

The second route will see introducing enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications with investments worth $50m and they were contracted upon in January 2020. The third route will be establishing a data and technical support centre with an annual budget of $3m. The fourth route is about staff training for systems management skills.

In May, the Ministry of Public Enterprises Sector signed a cooperation protocol with the Cairo Chamber of Commerce’s Digital Economy and Technology Division. The protocol will see the transfer of the ministry’s experience in digital transformation at the lowest prices to startups and small companies.

The ministry has undertaken negotiations with international companies to choose the best partner for an initiative with the Cairo Chamber of Commerce to provide ERP programmes for startups and small companies.

Talking on the initiative, Mohamed Masoud, advisor for digital transformation at the Ministry of Public Enterprises Sector, said beneficiaries will only pay a symbolic monthly subscription. This will occur using a technology from Microsoft and the support of Fiber Misr Systems, as this service is the cheapest, does not contain any additional expenses and includes full technical support.

The “Digital Future” initiative is the first of its kind to focus on SMEs, as it provides this growing segment of Egypt’s business sector with professional planning and organisation services for institutional resources.

The initiative will provide SMEs with an innovative concept where they can access the latest technology at affordable prices. It will be responsible for qualifying technology providers to work with these companies and facilitate payment procedures, in addition to providing professional support services to end users.

For her part, Nevine Gamea, who is also Executive Director of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA), said the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) highlighted the significance of technology in business.

She added that the partial lockdown and working from home precautions also illustrated technology’s various applications in the growth of global and local economies.

This has been through companies seeing technology’s importance in how they undertake various projects, and its expansion in electronic marketing through company websites. It has also proven to be important in terms of communicating with the target customers through websites or mobile devices.

The Digital Future initiative aims to help and enable SMEs in Egypt to cope with digital transformation and market their services and products through digital means.

Gamea noted that MSMEDA has implemented several initiatives in this field, providing a set of non-financial services and entrepreneurship programmes that have been remotely implemented in cooperation with the International Labor Organisation (ILO).

These training programmes are also available to access online. Furthermore, over the upcoming period, expansions will take place to provide another set of non-financial services depending on technological applications.

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