29 June - 5 July 2000
Issue No. 488
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
Egypt Region International Economy Opinion Culture Features Travel Living Sports Profile People Time Out Chronicles Cartoons Letters
LINK Egypt, a major Egyptian Internet service provider (ISP), merged last week with InTouch, Egypt's first ISP, to form LINKdotNET. according to Khaled Bichara, president and CEO of the new company, the group is now the largest ISP in the Arab world. The new entity is estimated to control around 40 per cent of the Egyptian ISP market.
The merger did not come as a surprise to industry observers. Orascom Telecom (OT) was the majority shareholder in both companies. Last year, OT acquired a 51 per cent stake in Link Egypt. Then, a few weeks ago, OT had increased its interest in InTouch Communications Services from 40 per cent to full ownership. The exact amount of control OT has within the new firm has not been disclosed.
LINKdotNet will continue to offer the full range of services offered previously by both companies. It also plans to expand activities into a wide range of consulting services, within both the domestic and regional markets.
IT developmentLAST week, Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology Ahmed Nazif, inaugurated several projects in Port Said.
The highlight of his visit was a new IT training centre designed to accommodate 120 trainees at any one time. The facilities are administered by Suez Canal University. The new IT training centre is part of an overall plan by the ministry to train 4,000 individuals annually. Training is offered free of charge and instruction runs for 96 hours over six weeks. In total, 12 universities are overseeing training in 23 governorates.
Nazif stated, "We hope that the training programme will allow our youth to be able to find good job opportunities or to develop their own." The minister emphasised that computer proficiency and IT skills are needed for those who seek professional advancement.
While in Port Said, Nazif visited two IT clubs, one located within the premises of the governorate building and another at a children's library. "IT clubs play an important role in boosting IT awareness," Nazif said.
The minister also inaugurated a LE33 million expansion of the Port Said telephone exchange. The project added 4,000 new lines, raising the capacity of the exchange to 69,000 lines. Mustafa Kamel, governor of Port Said announced, "This latest expansion fulfills Port Said's needs and will end all waiting lists."
Online ArabicRECENTLY, the BBC Arabic online site, BBCarabic.com, announced a joint initiative with Microsoft Middle East and Arabic Windows User Magazine .
Under this initiative, a cyberspace Arabisation portal is being created, which will serve as a major reference point for all those involved in Internet Arabisation efforts. It will support the Web sites of both private and public Arabisation initiatives. The site will be free of charge and available to all Internet users.
According to Hossam El-Sokkari, head of BBC Arabic online, "this initiative will provide those interested in Arabising cyberspace with an opportunity to develop a standardised Arabic terminology on the Internet."
Places to surfMAKTOOB.COM the Arab world's first free Arabic/English e-mail provider launched in October 1998, was ranked on 1 June, 2000 as the leading Arab Web service by Alexa.com, a subsidiary of Amazon.com specialising in Internet rankings. This ranking was the result of a comprehensive independent survey run among Alexa.com users over a six-month period in order to determine the most popular 100,000 international Web sites.
Despite the fact that Maktoob.com was found to be the most visited Arabic site, it ranked internationally as 2,836th. It was followed by Ayna in the 2909th position.
Other Arabic sites include Arabia Online, which came in 5,584th, Planetarabia in the 9,104th position and Naseej as a lagging 13,923th.
Made in Egypt MercedesKARIM Ghabbour, executive director of the Manufacturing Commercial Vehicles Company (MCV) is optimistic about future profits, despite the current slump in the market, Eman Youssef reports.
An LE250 million bus and truck manufacturing venture between MCV and Daimler-Chrysler in Al-Salhiya Al-Gadida will generate LE600 million in sales, said Ghabbour. He added that 40 per cent of annual production will be exported to Middle East, African, Russian and Ukrainean markets.
The project employs 2,400 Egyptian workers. The percentage of Egyptian components is 70 per cent for buses and 50 per cent for trucks. All vehicles will be produced in accordance with the environmental standards of the Mubarak-Kohl industry development project.
Regarding the current market slump , chairman of the board of MCV, Maurice Rizk said, "It is temporary.The domestic market can still accommodate about 50,000 units annually industry wide.We hope the government activate the market through reasonable decisions." he added.