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Egypt: an entrepreneurial investigation

Afrinnovator, an online portal about African entrepreneurship, investigates Egypt's startup-scene, its challenges and benefits.
Afrinnovator | 18.11.2012
Much of our focus in the past has centered around Sub-Saharan Africa and in particularly key ‘hubs’ in the region – Nigeria in Western Africa, Kenya in Eastern Africa and South Africa in Southern Africa. However, it goes without saying that though these areas are much discussed and have received a lot of attention for their progress in terms of tech and innovation, there are other countries that deserve to be highlighted on. In future, we’re aiming at canvassing more of the continent and investigating other countries that normally do not pop up by default when hear about ‘tech in Africa’. For example, at the recently concluded DEMO Africa event, I had a chat with Jon Gosier, founder of Appfrica who enlightened me on some of their efforts around the continent. Part of their activities involve running an annual developer contest (Apps4Africa), as part of this they hold developer events in several nations across Africa, I was amazed to learn that some of their highest turnouts were in countries that do not feature in hyped up conversations about tech in Africa.

In this article, I’d like to turn our attention to the northern part of Africa, a region that has received wide attention particularly following the Arab Spring – but what does the technology innovation and entrepreneurship landscape look like in Northern Africa? We can consider the case of Egypt:

Basic statistics

The following data is based on indicators published by the Egyptian Ministry of ICT (MICT), specifically the March 2012 ICT Indicators Bulletin and August 2012 ICT Indicators in Brief

Telecommunications & Mobile: In July 2011, Egypt recorded 77.76 million mobile subscriptions, that number jumped to 92.64 million in July 2012, recording an annual growth rate of approximately 19%.

Internet, Web & Social: In July 2011 there were 26.54 million internet users in Egypt of whom 9.95 million were mobile internet users (37.49%), as at July 2012 this number stood at 31.03% (approx. 17% increase) of whom 10.87 million were mobile internet users. The internet penetration rising from 32.96% to 27.79% in the respective periods.

According to Alexa.com the top 10 websites in Egypt are:

1. Facebook.com
2. Google.com.eg
3. Youtube.com
4. Google.com
5. Yahoo.com
6. Hao123.com
7. Blogspot.com
8. Youm7.com
9. Fatakat.com
10. Live.com

According to social statistics website, socialbakers.com, Egypt has 11.6M Facebook users (68.21% of the online population, and 14.46% of total population), the top 5 Egyptian brands on Facebook are:

1. Vodafone Egypt ( > 2M fans)
2. Samsung Egypt ( > 2M fans)
3. Nokia Egypt ( > 2M fans)
4. Pepsi Masr ( > 1M fans)
5. Etisalat Misr ( > 1M fans)

According to the same website, the top 5 Twitter personalities in Egypt are (figures updated from their Twitter pages):

# Profile Following Followers
1. @AlMasryAlYoum 9 987,300
2. @tamerhosny 4 887,529
3. @eahram 48 715,391
4. @HamzawyAmr 10 709,837
5. @HamdeenSabahy 5 631,086
ICT Sector & Investment Landscape

According to the MICT, there were 4795 ICT companies in Egypt as at July 2012, employing 215,720 people in the ICT sector. The MICT registered EGP 12.18B in revenues from the ICT sector in the Q3 2011/2012 period contributing 4.31% of real GDP, compared to EGP 10.10B in Q3 2010/2011. Egypt also recorded USD 1487M in ICT sector exports in 2011.

Ease of doing business: According to the World Bank/IFC ease of doing business index for 2013, Egypt ranks #109 overall and 11th in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Investment landscape: According to Sindibad’s Investment Report in Internet & Technology Startups in the Arab World, Egypt attracted US $220,000 from 9 deals representing 0.9% of the investments they tracked in the MENA region between January 2010 and end of Q3 2011. According to a report by the MENA Private Equity Association the largest VC in Egypt is Ideavelopers, which manages a $50 million fund focused on early stage ICT startups.

Notable startups:

(Based on Wamda’s Top 15 MENA Tech Startups That Are Going Global)

Kngine (Knowledge Engine) aims to answer your questions (written or spoken). The Kngine team is aiming at revolutionizing search as we know it. (I wrote about this startup a long time ago, great to see they’re making headway)

Vimov: The creators of Weather HD, an amazing weather app and iSimulate, a solution for iPad developers

Notable innovations: Mohamed Sanad, a professor at the Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University, Egypt developed a low-cost, lightweight, low wind-load, foldable/deployable, multi-broadband base station antenna; using dual parabolic cylindrical reflectors with novel small size broadband resonant feeds. This won him the 2011 Innovation Prize for Africa.