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Home > Final conference - Alexandria > Introduction

EUMEDIS leaps across the finish line in final conference

From 10 to 14 June 2006 project representatives, policymakers and journalists from across Europe and all around the Mediterranean flocked to Alexandria for the final EUMEDIS conference. The celebrated library of Alexandria provided an idyllic setting for the event - the successor to Alexander the Great?s ancient library has put the city back on the cultural map and is fast becoming a leading institution of the digital era. A centre for research and innovation, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina seeks creative solutions to Egypt?s digital challenges, whilst rekindling and fostering the spirit of Egypt?s ancient civilisation.

In his opening speech, Ambassador Klaus Ebermann, Head of the EU Delegation in Egypt, stressed the importance of interconnecting the Mediterranean region. The development of ICT is in the interest of both the EU and its Mediterranean partners. It facilitates trade between the EU and the Southern Mediterranean rim, which in 2005 accounted for 183 billion both ways - a figure equivalent to business between the EU and China.

Interconnectivity through ICT is equally important in a political context. ICT is key to responding to the challenges of globalisation and stimulating a competitive economy. The EU supports regulatory reform in its Mediterranean partner countries and is encouraging governments to create a business-friendly environment, attract investment in order to build a meaningful, successful private sector. By investing in technology and creating communication networks, partner countries in the Mediterranean region are developing into fully fledged knowledge societies.

Mohammad Amran, Head of Egypt?s Information Technology Agency, shed some light on ICT developments in Egypt, highlighting the importance of close cooperation with the EU. Egypt?s legal and regulatory environment has been adjusted, making the necessary provisions for the deregulation of the telecoms sector. In addition, the Egyptian ministry has set up a range of programmes which have led to a tangible improvement in internet access.

Two full days of debates, workshops and presentations produced plenty of food for thought. Speakers addressed a wide range of issues, but all shared a common concern: the sustainability of the projects. The conference gave rise to new ideas to guarantee future activities and increase cooperation among projects. Investment opportunities and business partners, but also EU and national programmes could offer a solution. As the curtains drew on the final conference one thing had become crystal clear: EUMEDIS has propelled the Mediterranean region into the digital era, but the ICT development drive is far from over.