Egypt's telephone directory is to go digital in January, the Al Ahram Weekly reported. The nations' phone numbers listing will also be available on the Internet. The "Easy Call" electronic directory CD containing Egypt's telephone numbers, addresses and Web sites, will be available for only 15 Egyptian liras ($6).
Al Ahram said 4.7 million home telephone numbers and 400,000 business numbers have been put on CD-ROM under an agreement between Infosoft, a private company, and the state-owned Egypt Telecom.
Infosoft officials expect the project site to attract 20 million visitors once it goes online. "We don't expect only Egyptians will visit the Web site; anyone from anywhere in the world that needs to contact someone in Egypt may well visit the site," said Infosoft's chairman Ahmed El-Hefnawi.
El-Hefnawi said Inforsoft has been working on the Easy Call project for six years. Infosoft has spent approximately LE5 million so far. "The company will invest even more money (for the launch)," El-Hefnawi said.
El-Hefnawi said Infosoft has been approached by numerous international groups that are interested in the project, including Forbes magazine and the Library of Congress.
Al Ahram said the CD-Rom would help ease the trouble of finding accurate information which takes a lot of effort, patience and persistence, "a situation that hardly befits the "information age," Al Ahram said. Directory assistance receives 200,000 calls per day between 11:00 am and 7:00 pm.
"The electronic phone directory is only a manifestation of the proliferation of e-commerce in Egypt," Al Ahram said. For many years the most widespread form of e-commerce, credit card payments over the Internet, remains extremely unpopular in the country. Yet in spite the economic recession, every form of information technology-related business seems to be emerging.
Abdullah Abbas, of Egypt Telecom's new services and marketing department, said the company has been "opening up" to the private sector since 1998, when a presidential decree transformed the Egyptian Communications Authority into Egypt Telecom. "Lately, we have begun to feel that since there is competition, the normal thing would be for us to enter it," Abbas told Al Ahram. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
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