Egypt’s IT industry has this week celebrated the launch of e-signature services for the public and private sector. The electronic signature will authorize the Ministry of Finance and a number of companies to offer the first authentication services to governmental entities, public sector companies and individuals in Egypt.
This E-Signature Law, issued in 2004 and established the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), is the first Egyptian legislation for regulating electronic business and highlights the advancements in Egypt’s IT industry. All e-signature services are to be connected through a Root-CA authority established at ITIDA.
Commenting on the launch, Dr. Sherif Hashim, Vice Executive President of ITIDA said: “The e-signature is the pillar in e-transactions for all governmental, commercial or administrative sectors. The law marks a key achievement across the IT industry in Egypt and raises the country’s competitiveness as a key provider of ground-breaking IT services.” With the law in place, electronic tools can be used to issue and exchange documents, preserve rights and maintain credibility. The law will cover the necessary transient and technical regulations for legal confirmation on e-signature, e-writing, and e-documents and will have the same binding legal status as a traditional signature. Prior to the inauguration of this law, there was no electronic documentation that could be used as proof within court.
The use of e-signature will not only increase the capabilities of administrative operations and governmental service but will also advance e-commerce transactions, including the various technical areas of sales, other contracts and legal acts, commercial import and export activities, ticket bookings and banking transactions.
The Law also established the e-signature regulatory authority, namely the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA). ITIDA, as a regulator for electronic signature, is related to the national Root CA establishment – the E-Signature CA Licensing Unit. This Unit was set up to address complaints, offer technical counseling, and mediate between disputing parties relating to e-signature services and forms part of the ICT industry ombudsman within the ITIDA framework.
Egypt’s government recognizes e-business security not only as a necessity to computer users, but as an asset to the ICT industry. In 2007, the country spent nearly 1.17 billion US Dollars on information technology, which included computers, peripherals, network equipment, packaged software and IT services. At 1% of the GDP, that expenditure sustained 1,700 companies in the information and communications technology sector with a staff of approximately 49,000 talented IT experts (ICD, 2008).
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