Saturday, October 01, 2005

Cairo here I come

I have landed at 00.30h in Cairo, a crazy city with 16 million people and a 24 hours economy. Traffic is crazy and drivers signal with lights and the hooter that they need some space as most roads are not marked.

View from my hotel room on the river Nile by night and daytime. The bridge with the lions is an old one. It was filmed by the brothers Lumière, when they made a special about Cairo. At the beginning of the 20th century.

As member of the board of the World Summit Award, I have been invited to be present at the award ceremony of the first Egyptian e-Content Awards. The ceremony is at the business park Smart Village. No less than 250 people showed up for the ceremony, which is held outside at a very comfortable temperature. The minister of communication and information technology, Mr Tarek Kamel, is present to hand out the awards.

The venue for the e-Content Award ceremony

In his speech before handing out the awards the minister mentions that this event is threefold. Two years ago he had never heard of the World Summit Award; now that Egypt has won an award for the production Eternal Egypt he knows the organisation and the impact. And thirdly, he promised that his ministry was going to support the WSA in their ventures.

Minister Tarek Kamel giving an interview for Egyptian TV about the importance of content. Mr Kamel was one of the Internet pioneers in Egypt and in the region

He was very proud that due to the WSA a local competition has been created. In his opinion content added a new, creative dimension to information technology. This year no less than 200 entries were sent I and evaluated by jurors. Winners in 8 categories and two special categories were awarded with a certificate and a statue.

The local event has been inspired by two people. Effat e-Shooky, a charming, smart lady who works for the Regional Information Technology and Software Engineering Center (RITSEC); I have known her since the WSA Grand Jury 2003, which was held in Dubai. She has cooperated with Mohamed Omran, the CEO of Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), a developing agency set up by decree of the government but supported financially by the industry. Both have worked very hard towards this event and it was great, complete with television, photographers and writing press. For the Egyptians it was a historic event as the digital creative industry was started.

After the ceremony was over I got into a discussion with one of the participants about the difference between software and content. During the jury process there had been a long discussion about this. And of course, the discussion comes always back especially in e-business. Are we talking about smart portal software or are we talking about content as a result of the creative process using information technology. Also the definition of e-Inclusion was brought in the discussion. The definition as used by the WSA in their explanatory notes was not enough as there is also some regional connotation, something to do with domination. But we left that discussion for tomorrow as there will be meetings outside Cairo in Smart Village, at Ritsec and with two global companies in Cairo itself.

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