India bolsters Egypt ties with IT power

egypt-ministerThe ongoing churn in Egypt’s political transition has not deterred India from going ahead with the setting up of an IT training institute in Cairo that seeks to empower the burgeoning population of the young and the enterprising in the Arab country.

India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid conveyed to his Egyptian counterpart Nabil Fahmy that New Delhi will go ahead with the setting up of a Centre of Excellence in Information Technology at the Al Azhar University in Cairo, the hub of Arabic literature and Islamic learning in the world.

The two foreign ministers met in the Indian capital, New Delhi, December 4 to discuss ways to sustain the momentum in bilateral ties as the Arab world’s influential country navigates its fraught transition after the overthrow of the Mohamed Morsi government in July.

The IT Centre, to be set up under the India-Africa Forum Summit process, seeks to train 500 Egyptian students annually.  It is expected to be completed in a year after the host institution puts in place the requisite approvals and infrastructure.

The pact for setting up the IT centre was signed during the visit of then Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy to India in March this year. India and Egypt have identified forging of a knowledge partnership as a key pillar of bilateral relations.

The seven pacts signed during Mr Morsi’s visit encompassed areas, including cyber security, IT, protection of intellectual property rights and the prevention of illicit traffic of antiquities, and reflected the focus on deepening knowledge partnership, driven by enterprise and innovation.

Egypt has shown enthusiasm to benefit from India’s IT proven prowess. The areas identified for cooperation include among others, e-governance and e-education, IT and electronics hardware, sharing of experiences in the creation of Technology Parks and IT clusters, and strengthening the cooperation between ICT companies in the private sector.

Cairo signalled the importance of ties with New Delhi by sending its foreign minister to India, his first stop in Asia after taking charge.

“The focus of the two-hour long deliberations was to sustain the momentum in India-Egypt bilateral relations and to expand the interactions to wider areas of regional and international issues of interest,” said official sources.

The two ministers are understood to have discussed the Middle East Peace Process and the possibilities of resolving the Syrian conflict by encouraging a Syrian-led reconciliation process. The Egyptian foreign minister also outlined the developments in Egypt and the roadmap ahead.

The two ministers also discussed various specific issues related to enhancing economic cooperation including the need to ease work permit regulations for professionals, said official sources.

Currently, India-Egypt bilateral trade is estimated to be USD 5.4 billion. India is the third largest destination of Egyptian exports of USD 2.6 billion and Egypt is the 11th largest destination of Indian exports of USD 2.9 billion.


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