Themes: Culture and Participation
Iain McKinnon and Tim Adlam visited British Council Egypt
11th October 2019
Our colleagues Iain McKinnon and Tim Adlam visited Egypt in September. This was GDI Hub’s first engagement with the country and was arranged by the British Council following a request from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT).
MCIT is running a programme to improve the accessibility of digital services to disabled people, including improving government websites and educating children and adults. They are also working closely with the British Council through the ‘Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies’ programme (DICE). The DICE programme is providing funding for projects that support opportunities in business for women and girls, core skills for young people, and innovation and enterprise skills in the creative industries for disabled people and other minorities.
The Egyptian government has set up the National Academy for Information Technology for Persons with Disabilities (NAiD), which is providing training and education for disabled people, and supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in assistive technology. It has also trained 30,000 teachers in IT skills for accessible education.
During our 2-day visit, we met the ICT Minister’s Advisor for Social Responsibility and Services, the British Council Head of Inclusive and Creative Economies programme and Country Director, the Microsoft Head of Philanthropies in Egypt, and visited the NAiD Academy. We learned about the activities of the Academy and met some of the students and digital entrepreneurs; they were keen to tell us about their experiences of studying with a disability and creating new businesses. Finally, we explored possibilities for collaboration between GDI Hub, the British Council and the Egyptian government. Ideas discussed included: supporting the creation of an Egyptian ‘Centre of Excellence in Inclusive Design’; providing opportunities for student exchanges and internships; and supporting the organisation of an innovation competition, similar to ‘Innovate Now!’ in Kenya.
Egypt is a meeting point of Arabic, Mediterranean and African cultures and although we didn’t have time to be tourists, we discovered Egyptian cuisine (similar to Lebanese) and an interesting, vibrant roof-top bar that reached through twisting corridors and stairs in a shabby, old hotel.