Blogs & Comment

Protest like an Egyptian

Will Egypt's tourism and mobile phone industry be hit hard by the country's ongoing turmoil?

Just two notes on the brave protesters in the Egyptian streets marching against the Mubarak regime in Egypt. The Achilles heel of the Egyptian economy is tourism; the industry contributes 11%, or $9 billion, to the Egyptian GDP. The country’s stock market has tumbled for two consecutive days. If protests continue, tourism dollars are likely to drop severely and put even more pressure on the government to accommodate those who are calling for a more open society. Perhaps instead of marching in front of government offices, protesters should peacefully block the entrance of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo or the way to the Sphinx as an effective method to exert economic influence.

I also note that the mobile phone industry in Egypt is among the largest and fastest-growing in the world. Reuters says Egypt has 51 million subscribers out of a population of 77 million. The industry there is competitive with three mobile operators fighting to offer the average Egyptian a phone and a plan. Could the rapid and widespread use of mobile be the unseen catalyst behind these demonstrations?

Needless to say, you must use mobile phones and social media if you are to stage a revolution in 2011. The ability to communicate quickly and anonymously brought people to the street in Iran two years ago. And it is the most effective way for protest groups to disseminate their news and mandates to the outside world, while avoiding conventional and government-controlled infrastructure.

Want to know where the next revolution will be? Check which developing country has the deepest mobile or internet penetration.