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Monday, 2 December 2019

Last night’s talk shows for Monday, 2 December 2019

The airwaves were awash with coverage of the Cairo ICT fair, a three-day event that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi inaugurated yesterday. Diplomatic and political issues, including the new round of talks between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia over GERD, also came up on the talking heads’ agendas.

Talking point #1: The president is personally invested in Egypt’s digitization drive. Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal took note of El Sisi saying his administration is “persistent” in efforts to “rush” Egypt toward digitization, as the 100 mn-strong population stands to benefit greatly from a digital transformation (watch, runtime: 4:44). Each of Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary (watch, runtime: 1:00), Hona Al Asema’s Reham Ibrahim (watch, runtime: 3:17), and El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 5:00) also recapped the opening ceremony.

Talaat talks “building a digital Egypt”: El Hekaya’s Adib phoned CIT Minister Amr Talaat to shed light on Cairo ICT’s main theme: Development through digital transformation and a government strategy to “build a digital Egypt” (watch, runtime: 5:32). Talaat cited as an example a project that recently piloted in Port Said to allow car owners to check up on the status of and renew licenses online using their national ID numbers. The government is also running trials in Port Said to digitize or otherwise facilitate (whether through the internet, phone, or post) government services, and are expecting to roll them out nationwide in the near future, El Watan separately quoted Talaat as saying.

We’re starting where it matters: Faster, uninterrupted internet. The average internet speed at homes could hopefully reach 20 mbps by the end of the year as the government moves forward with a plan to overhaul digital infrastructure across the country, the minister tells Adib. The caveat: We should be throwing out ADSL routers and installing those that support very high speed digital subscriber line (VDSL) technology, which the government is working on making the norm in governorates beyond Greater Cairo and Alexandria, he said (watch, runtime: 5:30).

Talking point #2: Turkey is escalating tensions in the region. Al Kahera Alaan’s Lamees El Hadidi delved into the two MoUs Turkish President Recep Erdoğan signed with Libya’s Tripoli-based PM Fayez Al Serraj last week to look at the implications and repercussions of the move (watch, runtime: 5:50).

Tensions may also escalate within Libya: Among the things El Hadidi noted is that Libya’s parliament denounced the agreement and hinted that the Libyan National Army, which is led by General Khalifa Haftar — currently in a feud with Al Serraj for control over Tripoli, may react. We have more on the story in Diplomacy + Foreign Trade, below.

Talking point #3: Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). El Hadidi held tight to her political analyst hat for a take on the second round of technical talks between irrigation ministers from Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia that are set to kick off today in our fair town. Cairo is expected to be doing more talking during the two-day meetings to present a “policy [or a more specific framework] on filling and operating the dam” after we reportedly accepted an Ethiopian-drafted proposal following last month’s first round in Addis Ababa, former Irrigation Minister Mohamed Nasr Allam tells El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 6:08).

Talking point #4: The lack of “consultation” between parliament and cabinet ministers — a theme that has been a fixture on the airwaves ever since murmurs first began of a cabinet shuffle on the horizon. Despite a number of our elected representatives apparently expressing their dissatisfaction with government performance, they seldom move to enact changes, Rep. Haitham El Hariri tells Adib (watch, runtime: 2:12).

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