The potential for increased business from the region’s telecommunications expansion was underlined by the large turnout of companies for the Africa Telecom trade fair, held in Cairo on 25-29 April. The event attracted 270 companies and institutions from 34 countries.

In his opening address, Egypt’s President Mubarak called for accelerated development to create ‘a modern economic grouping linking the peoples of Africa’. Forty telecoms ministers attended the event to debate strategies.

Africa Telecom gave Israeli telecoms companies their first opportunity to promote sales by exhibiting at an event in the Arab world. Six Israeli firms attended and told Reuters that, to circumvent the Arab boycott, they looked to Egypt as a springboard to sell their goods into the Middle East.

Egypt is ‘a stepping point to the other Arab countries,’ Elisha Ben-Nachum of Israeli cables manufacturer Teldor said. ‘We already sell in Morocco, but we’re looking for the regional market now.’