The internet has not facilitated the interactions of Egyptians with business or government organisations, a report published by digital consulting company eMarketing Egypt stated.
The report, which is based on a survey conducted by the company, indicated that 51% of Egyptian internet users believed the internet had not influenced their interaction with business organisations while 16% believe it did not facilitate it. For their interaction with the government, 50% of Egyptian users believe the internet did not influence communication while 27% argue that it did not facilitate it.
The report called “The Sixth Annual E-Marketing Insights Report” monitored closely the attitude of Egyptians regarding internet use, the social media website Facebook, and their behaviour towards online advertising.
Around 64% of Egyptian internet users think the internet has offered them more learning opportunities while 62% said it helped network and increased their social activity.
The survey said that Egyptians use the internet mainly to access social media websites, find information through search engines, follow events and news, access their emails, and download software. Egyptians also use internet for online gaming and shopping.
The sample size totalled 1,500 Egyptians and responses were collected between mid October to mid December. “This sample size and structure assures a representation of total internet users in Egypt with a 99% confidence level and +/- 4.0 margin of error,” the company stated.
The report indicated that the initial response for 55% of respondents when seeing an online ad is to click on it while 51% search for the product or the brand on a search engine.
The report also said that 51% “investigated the product or the brand through online communities and discussions” and 35% “typed the company website address into the browser and visited it”.
On the attitude of Egyptians towards online advertising, the company’s report said Egyptians had a negative attitude towards them and they believe they are “all over the place” and 47% stated they are “distracting”. Some 35% found the ads were annoying and 25% disagreed.
The report mentioned that 6% of respondents said they found online ads eye-catching but only 34% said that these ads should be followed. The report also highlighted that only 28% believed online ads were credible.
The credibility of ads mainly referred to results displayed in search and social media ads. The least credible ads were the ones displayed in applications and mobile ads.
When asked which ads seemed most trustworthy, respondents said they tended to trusted ads from the communications sector, home appliances, technology, food and beverages, and clothing.
Facebook in Egypt
The report discussed Egypt’s position with regard to the social media website Facebook, highlighting that the country ranked 13th among countries using Facebook, with 28 million users and lead Arab countries in user count, representing almost 30% of Arab total users.
In 2015, around 31% of the Egyptian population use Facebook. The number of users rose significantly in the past five years. In July 2010, there were 3.79 million and jumped to 8.18 million in same month in 2011. By July 2012, there were 11.38 million Facebook users and increased almost five million in July 2013 to reach a total of 16 million.
The most notable year-on-year increase however was between July 2013 and July 2014 with the user figures jumping by 6.4 million to reach 22.4 million users.
Sixty five percent of the users are male while the remaining 35% are female. Around 17% of users were between 13 and 17 years of age. Users between 18 and 34 years of age dominated this age-group category with 65%. The age range of 35 and 44 years of age represented 11% of the users while the remaining 7% was for those ages 45 and above.
The main tool for social media access is mobile phones mainly Samsung, iPhone, and Nokia. The number one phone used was Samsung, which represented 67% of total phones used.
The report highlighted that Google Chrome is the most used browser for accessing Facebook with 53%. Firefox comes far behind with 8% while Internet Explorer failed to make the list.
The report mentioned that 97% of Facebook users access the website on a daily basis, with 26% staying active between two and six hours.
Activities online included uploading photos and videos, the report added. Around 37% of respondents stated that they also share and comment on content. Providing further details on the uses of the social media website, the company pointed out that Egyptians tend to like pages rather than join groups.
“Status updates are the most frequent activity undertaken by users to express themselves,” the report read. “Liking others’ content is the most frequent activity by undertaken users to interact with others.”
Lawyer at the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) Hassan al-Azhary said that a status update from an Egyptian citizen could be used in court as evidence against them.
“There is a hostile legislative environment to freedom of expression; a status update could be used to try an Egyptian citizen or held up as evidence of their incitement against the State or their belonging to a terrorist organisation,” he said.
In 2015, following an agreement between telecommunications company Etisalat and Facebook, which gave up to one million Egyptians free access to the website, the Egyptian government shut down the service after three months of its launch, insisting the closure was unrelated to security concerns.
There have been previous attempts by the government to limit internet access. In January 2011, during the uprising that deposed former president Hosni Mubarak, the government blocked internet access for a short period of time. A statement by the Ministry of Interior last Sunday stated that 23 Facebook pages were accused of inciting violence against the State and were shut down. Three people were arrested on charges of managing some of the pages.