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Egypt: 50 Million Mobile Users
CAIRO: A new government report issued on Wednesday showed a massive increase in the overall number of mobile phone users and online activity. The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology reported that some 50 million Egyptians used a mobile phone in 2009 as compared to only 36.5 million the previous year.

The 20 percent increase, the ministry said, reveals the country is moving ahead on its goals of achieving wider penetration into technology sectors, especially mobile phones and the Internet.

The ministry reported that Internet users also saw an increase of over two million people, from 11.5 million users in 2008 to 13.7 million this year.

These numbers, the ministry said in a statement, are positive and “show that the trend of using technology continues to be a major part of Egyptian society and with the costs dropping in recent years, more and more people are beginning to take advantage and use these means to communicate with one another.”

For Abdu, a bowwab, or doorman, in the upscale Zamalek neighborhood of Cairo, the drops in costs have given him the ability to stay in touch with his wife more frequently.

“I can now call her in Minya [in central Egypt] more than once a week because it is cheaper. I have even talked with friends who now have email accounts. This is a first. And I hope it continues. We need to be more advanced in this country. I want it to be like America, where everyone has a computer,” he says, pointing to the advertisement on his chair.

“I am looking into buying one of these,” he says.

The ministry, established in 1999, has done much to create new infrastructure for the penetration of new and existing technologies into the Egyptian mainstream. While it has been an uphill battle, the entrance of a third mobile operate has helped bring down rising mobile costs. “It allows everyone to get a phone, we hope,” says an official.


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