Interviews – Daily News Egypt https://dailynewsegypt.com Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Sun, 22 Apr 2018 11:00:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 From public to personal: A discussion with artist Aya Tarek https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/22/public-personal-discussion-artist-aya-tarek/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/22/public-personal-discussion-artist-aya-tarek/#respond Sun, 22 Apr 2018 11:00:15 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=657540 Daily News Egypt interviewed artist Aya Tarek during the exhibition Aya Tarek’s Sprezzatura at the SOMA art gallery. In this exhibition, Tarek is taking the concept of sprezzatura from the fashion world to her own visual world. She is expressing the ease, individuality, beauty, and simplicity that come with maturity through a monochromatic scheme. She …

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Daily News Egypt interviewed artist Aya Tarek during the exhibition Aya Tarek’s Sprezzatura at the SOMA art gallery.

In this exhibition, Tarek is taking the concept of sprezzatura from the fashion world to her own visual world. She is expressing the ease, individuality, beauty, and simplicity that come with maturity through a monochromatic scheme.

She started planning for the exhibition a year ago. Before planning the exhibition, she was working in commissioned assignments and private work but needed to break from her former methods of work, which usually entailed long preparations, and formulating concepts, sketches, and ideas. “This used to take a lot of time so that I can work to modify the draft and prepare the needed techniques, in order to produce the perfect work,” she said.

Tarek is a notable figure in the contemporary Egyptian art scene. The Alexandria native has been painting since 2008, but in this recent exhibition, her aim was to break away from both the public and the commercial experiences, which put limits and restrictions on the process of painting. Her plan was to paint in a more conceptual way, and to be more expressive. For example, not to plan, but to express whatever mood or idea she had in mind, in order to break the fear of “perfect” work.

Photo Handout to DNE

What was your main strategy in this exhibition? A follower of your work can realise that it is different from your other work.

My objective was not having a previously tailored idea, and to start building some concepts based on my own mood. What was different in this technique is that I was not careful to perfect the shapes. It was more about having an idea or an expression that wants to come out now and that is it. One of the paintings, called Shacks Maekes, for example, took 30 minutes. If it had taken any longer, it wouldn’t have given the same impression. I was expressing with my body, so the idea had to come out no matter what.

I come from a background of street art, where a live audience is behind you watching. So, on this big scale, you have to be prepared. When I used to work on smaller scales, it was easier for me.

Mentally, this exhibition helped me break away from my own self-image, or from the image I want to be in. This exhibition is by far the most sincere work I have done. Maybe not the most perfect, but the most sincere. This was a very important and brief journey, and also a break from being a professional artist who has to give due care to all details.

You started with street art, and then transferred into professional art, then to the gallery scene. How did you cope with this transition? And what where the main challenges for you?

When you are a professional artist, the art market pressures you, and expects everything to be perfect, unlike when you are a child, you express in whatever manner you like.

At first, I worked with street art; there were many factors that affected the art. In the street, you deal with architecture, different places, and different audiences. So, you have to keep these factors in mind, regardless of the concepts and techniques. And my style in street art was more dependent on painting and murals, not vandalising or the other old-school methods.

There are some artists who have their own techniques and they apply it to any place or medium they work in. I wanted to break this and allow the experience to be built on the environment.  

As for my work with professional art, it helped me to diversify my work and to learn and work in different techniques that you have to digest every time. I learned new things and worked with other talents to learn more. What was interesting in this is that I didn’t stick to one school or one technique.

This helped me even when I am producing studio work, as the diversity I learned has taught me to control my tools, which benefits the process of expression.

Photo Handout to DNE

You said that this exhibition was the most expressing and sincere. Which painting did you feel you were attached to the most, or you felt deeply expressed an idea that you had in mind?

I would say Shacks Maekes. It is named after an Egyptian popular techno rap song (mahragan) with the same name. I listened to the song and liked the name. This technique is more related to having to make an instant decision. I didn’t want to follow the mundane method of symbolising every painting with a name that allegedly reflects it.

Also, there was the Citizen Erased painting. This was a unique experience. It took a lot of time, as I kept revising how I will develop the whole exhibition. If you take it and analyse it under a microscope, you will find different layers. I kept experimenting four or five times. After I figure out the technique I want to use, I am on what you can call an autopilot system. I dealt with the exhibition like this, as if a computer has the code and it is generating the shapes.

I want to problematise the issue of ‘selling art’. This is a question that I usually ask individuals who produce art. The answers I get when I ask ‘how you feel when you sell your own art’ vary a lot. Some say that they are artists, but they also have to eat and have bills due. Some say that when a person buys a piece of art, they take a part of them, but this part is alive with another person. How do you personally interact with the dilemma, if you see it as a dilemma?

When I started with street art, I had to accept that someone can come and paint over it. And in the same way, you cannot be angry about it because the street belongs to the people. I have been at peace with this notion, not only that someone can come and copy this, but also, they can sabotage or totally erase it. Even when I travel and paint something, I travel back and leave it behind. I don’t take it with me.

My philosophy in life is letting go. Anything that breaks or gets lost; whatever happens, happens. It is same with selling paintings. And keep in mind that whoever buys a painting has found part of themselves. They buy it as they found an interpretation. To me, this was never a dilemma. I always think that this is an organic process. I never keep my work in my studio for example. Neither in my home; I don’t like seeing work that I have previously done. For me, this is the past. I expressed it and that is it. Easily put, it is my waste. I flush it and don’t want to see it. For me, the act of building a portfolio and gathering pictures of my work is difficult. I always look forward to next projects.

Photo Handout to DNE

Does the current art market, if it is correct to call it a market, put restrictions on you? Or on the other hand, does it gives you space to do things that you could not have done before? And what were the challenges that you faced during the study of art?

Before I started with street art, which already existed globally, there were three scenes that existed: the visual arts exhibition belonging to the state, the private sector galleries, and the conceptual exhibitions which relied heavily on theories and text and philosophical concepts. At the time, if you want to work internationally, you had to go with the textbooks, philosophy, and concepts. For me, I didn’t belong to any of these scenes. When I was in university, being taught and having my work judged by professors didn’t make sense, as I always believed that that there are no rules in art.

The current scene has one school of art which is heavily relying on texts and theories, hence following the global trend, while in the local fine arts schools, we are following outdated curriculums. So, I decided to break away from that do something else. It is all about freedom. I shouldn’t be obliged to use and read philosophy so that people come and buy the art. This is especially imposed in the grants and funds scene, where you are obliged to write and engage with certain points and angles. The language of grants applications has a specific language which is very elitist and limited to certain people.

So, I had to go commercial to finance my own work. I was out in a situation when I should have been the artist, the curator, and the organiser. This worked, as people who previously followed my work in the street are becoming more engaged with my work in galleries, for example.

Regarding your work abroad, I noticed that some artists, especially women coming from the Middle East, are demanded by foreign organisations or funds to fit in a certain category or are demanded to discuss and engage with certain topics, like feminism, womanhood, democracy, and liberation from oppression. This trend reached a peak, I think, after the 25 January revolution when there was an influx of Western journalists coming to Egypt. For example, in film, grants are given to, or festivals feature, scripts with female protagonists, with sequences about sexuality, lesbianism, and hijab, or scripts with no middle class, just an oppressor and an oppressed.  How was your experience with such encounters?

Photo Handout to DNE

Of course, I have dealt with this a lot. Especially during the time of the revolution. I was 20 years old. Dozens of reporters wanted to interview me, and they all seemed to have a preconceived notion of me, and what I do. And they wanted me to confirm their ideas. They have a box for women, a box for activists, and they want you to confirm their ideas so that they can satisfy the fetishes of their readers who have orientalist thoughts, such as the ‘oppressed women’ so they can feel good about themselves.

If you are an educated middle-class woman who is not oppressed by your family, then you are not a good story for them. This could be my story; however, where the interesting aspect is different from their imagination.

I was always asked whether the revolution came and ‘freed’ me, which I found to be extremely stupid. Who made the revolution? The people, and I am part of the people. If we hadn’t been free, we would not have had the revolution. These journalists were not interested about my artistic journey, they were very interested in politics, religion, and other things that I am not experienced in. They wanted to box me as the ‘artist/activist’.

What do you think of the advertising business in Egypt?

It is ‘shit’, sorry about that. They take the best talent from the fine arts faculties. They take them, suck their blood, and turn them into zombies, and they believe it is art. It is sad to see people I used to know, artists, and they are now very materialistic. This is fine, no problem, but my issue is that they judge everything based on these material morals.

You should have money, of course, but through rewarding work. I am an artist myself and my work is not cheap. I passed many levels, until my work became profitable so that I can live a comfortable life. I don’t agree with the misconception that the artist has to live in poverty. But in advertising, the values of everything are surrounded around profit.

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Raya expands call centre activity, looks to hire 1,000 persons https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/18/raya-expands-call-centre-activity-looks-hire-1000-persons/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/18/raya-expands-call-centre-activity-looks-hire-1000-persons/#respond Wed, 18 Apr 2018 07:00:33 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=657235 Investment environment has improved, but some ministries were dedicated only for publicity, advertising, Khalil says

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Raya Holding for Financial Investments plans to expand its call centre activity in the Saudi Arabian and UAE markets over the upcoming period. The company has recently increased its investments in a data centre company by doubling the area of its data centres.

According to Medhat Khalil, the company’s managing director and chairperson, in an interview with Daily News Egypt, Raya Holding aims to recruit 1,000 persons by the end of this year.

What are your plans for the upcoming period?

We have a target to be an effective and a strong player in the Egyptian economy. Currently, we have over 13,000 workers, and we aim to take this number up to 20,000.

You had plans to manufacture air conditioning systems in Egypt for a specific brand. Where does this plan stand at the moment?

We are still studying this aspect and we have not made a final decision about it. However, there are negotiations with the brand we target manufacturing for.

What about the situation of the call centre activity as one of Raya Holding’s most important investments?

We are the largest call centre company in the Middle East. We have about 11,000 persons working in this field, and over eight call centres in Egypt, in Cairo and Hurghada. We also have call centres in Dubai and Poland.

Over the upcoming period, we will work to further expand in the call centre activity, and we plan to hire about 1,000 more people throughout 2018. We also plan to expand this specific activity in Saudi Arabia.

What about the data centre activity?

We were one of the first companies to inject investments into the activity of data centres. Currently, we have a large data centre located on an area of 300 sqm. Over the past few days, we doubled the size of the data centre to take it to 600 sqm.

Is there a plan to offer new Raya companies on the EGX?

Raya Holding’s policy relies on listing companies on the Egyptian Exchange (EGX). The larger these companies become, in a way, that is convenient.

Currently, we have large companies whose shares could be launched on the EGX. They are Raya Trade and Raya Information Technology.

What is the value of the company’s investments this year?

I am not able to reveal figures for this year. However, in 2017, our investments reached EGP 500m.

We have not seen any expansions made by you in the telecommunications sector. What is the reason for this?

We are one of the most important information technology companies in Egypt, and the first Egyptian company in the sector. Mainly, we are a technology company. We do not mean to withdraw from the sector just because we have not injected investments into it over the past period.

Unfortunately, there are no promising opportunities currently existent in the sector, hence, we try to push our investments in the sector of information technology. The government sector is seeing a recession and its investments are almost non-existent.

Has the diversity in the sectors you are active in helped you survive the slowdown in the telecommunications and information technology sector?

Certainly. During the period that followed the January 2011 revolution, there was a state of recession in the sector of telecommunications and information technology. It resulted in many companies shutting down, but thanks to the diversity of our investments and having a large segment of our clients live outside Egypt, we were able to survive these circumstances.

Will you continue to adopt this strategy in the future?

Our strategy relies on seeking investment opportunities that are in line with our strategy and the state’s strategy, which mainly aims to generate jobs and increase exports.

Are there expansion plans for the upcoming period?

We are moving steadily in the UAE market, and we have more than 400 people working at the company’s call centre in Dubai.

As for the Saudi Arabian market, it is strategic and important for us. We are also achieving good growth rates in the services of information technology and call centres. Moreover, we have major investments in Nigeria and over 400 employees in the Nigerian cities Lagos and Abuja.

Currently, we have an investment partnership in the largest coffee bean factory in Uganda, so we expect strong growth from the market of Uganda over the upcoming period.

Do you have plans to establish an investment fund for startups?

We have many startups offered before us, but we will not be establishing an investment fund for the sector, although we might start investing into them directly as Raya Holding. Currently, we are studying several companies to look into the mechanisms of acquiring one of them or investing in them.

What is your opinion on the reform measures of the investment climate?

The investment climate was improved well and flexible laws were passed to attract investments. However, there is still a need for activating the roles of ministries on a wider scale. Some ministries were dedicated only to advertising and publicity.

What is the dollar price in your budget?

The dollar will remain stable this year. The interest rate, however, will decline by 2-3%.

Which of Raya’s affiliates had the largest share of Raya Holding’s profits?

Over the past two years, the call centre and information technology companies were the most growing in the group. They have both earned around EGP 220m of the company’s total profits, with EGP 160m made by the call centre company and EGP 60m by the information technology company.

Raya Holding is always looking for new investment opportunities. Are there any sectors you plan to inject investments into?

Raya Holding has turned into a financial investment company, so we are looking for any promising investment opportunities in the sector. Recently, we entered into a partnership with the Italian company Piaggio to manufacture and assemble light transportation vehicles in Egypt, with investments worth over EGP 100m.

Our strategy for investment opportunities relies mainly on focusing on ones that depend on large workforces, such as call centres and manufacturing, as well as investment opportunities that could be exported from Egypt.

Are there specific sectors you will be injecting new investments in?

We are focusing on the food industries sector, and recently, we injected investments into a factory to freeze fruits and vegetables in the city of Sadat with investments over EGP 200m. We also export its products.

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ILO has 15 ongoing programmes in Egypt: director https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/17/ilo-15-ongoing-programmes-egypt-director/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/17/ilo-15-ongoing-programmes-egypt-director/#respond Tue, 17 Apr 2018 06:00:34 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=657067 2017’s financing cost $15m, upcoming support difficult to predict

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The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has about 15 ongoing programmes in the Egyptian market, said its Director Peter Van Rooij, adding, “youth employment is one of the key pillars. Over the last years we have been focusing on supporting young Egyptians to get decent jobs in different ways.”

Rooij mentioned that the ILO is very active in supporting Egyptian exports in various ways and quite active in the social protection field to help people who are unemployed.

What are the key projects that the ILO is currently implementing in Egypt?

We have an important programme, which is gender employment. It covers a number of countries including Egypt. It is a sub-regional programme in North Africa

We also have many other smaller activities, but no less important, including, for example, this year’s theme for development in Egypt announced by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is on disability. We have been working on that and we are happy to continue on that.

We are also working on the green jobs field, looking at the link between jobs and the environment, how the environment can be a source of opportunities which offers a number of openings in waste recycling. Those are the main highlights of our activities in Egypt.

What is the budget of the ongoing projects?

The annual budget for 2017 is $15m for Egypt, but our global budget is $500m for the same year. Maybe it is interesting to mention that our office here is a special one because it also has a number of international experts of the ILO’s key topics. We provide technical support for 12 countries in North Africa, so this office is not only for Egypt but has its regional functions.

Tell me more about the regional activities.

We are in a pilot phase for a new sub-regional programme called Adwaa (Lights) where we want to strengthen the connections between data and information knowledge and policymaking, including with parliament and others. 

There is a lot of research but when policies are made they are not always accessible and not always used.

We want to make sure that policymakers use the available knowledge, so we are discussing the Adwaa project with a number of countries in North Africa, including Egypt. We are in the pilot phase now and things are going well.

I want to add that last year we organised a conference on youth employment in North Africa with the member states of the ILO. We discussed what happened in the past years regarding youth employment.

Youth employment is a global challenge, but it is also important to look back and see what we can learn. For example, we have looked at what has been done in Egypt for the last several years and we found that there were 250 projects implemented in the field of employment, with good results, but at the same time, it is important that these projects are built based on the experiences of other projects.

Tunisia is a special case of unemployment challenges, which led to major protests in 2011; how do you assess the employment situation there now?

We have been working on many similar projects in Tunisia, where there are some challenges of employment. What is important is to not only look at the unemployment figures, but also to offer decent jobs that can earn people enough money.

Tunisia still faces the challenge of creating enough decent jobs. I think that population growth is a very important element in this issue because it affects addressing the problem according to a specific timing and keeping up with the needs of young people, so this is one of the challenges that we are working on with countries where the ILO operates.

We are working hard with Tunisia on that. It is one of the countries that gets a lot of support from the ILO and other international development partners and so it is a working progress and we look forward to seeing Tunisian youth have more, better jobs in the future.

Back to Egypt, how many projects are you going to begin in the coming period?

We are working a lot to implement new projects. Some were approved by different donors in the last couple of months, but we cannot expect the upcoming projects because donors have approved some projects and others are not yet approved.

If I look at the bigger picture, we were able to mobilise resources for a number of good projects because we have fine relations with the donors, and also, we have a quality relationship with Egypt and we are looking forward to building on what has already been done.

We care so much about the quality, not only the quantity, even if the ILO doubled its budget, it does not make a difference. In terms of reducing unemployment in Egypt, we try to equip the concerned institutions.

It is not the role of the ILO to solve unemployment in any specific country, we should not do that.

What about the details of the new requests?

We have about five requests for new projects, but it is not the number of requests that matters, but the projects themselves and by whom they will be implemented. But I would like to emphasise our quality relations. For example, our general director meets senior officials of the government.

 

 How do the reform procedures reflect on the employment situation?

I think that the country has made a number of important decisions, including a clear programme of reform that has been well-designed and is being implemented. The country is coming out of a transition process, unemployment is going down, and direct investments are increasing.

What about the ILO’s activities in gender employment?

Gender employment is an important topic. Women’s participation in the workforces of North African countries is fairly low, so I think that this issue requires more attention in terms of practice. SMEs, for women and for men, is a very important sector because it helps create jobs.

We are working with the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) on that important topic.

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Nissan, Toyota await Egypt’s automotive policy to expand investments: economic counsellor of Japan’s embassy https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/16/nissan-toyota-await-egypts-automotive-policy-expand-investments-economic-counsellor-japans-embassy/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/16/nissan-toyota-await-egypts-automotive-policy-expand-investments-economic-counsellor-japans-embassy/#respond Mon, 16 Apr 2018 08:30:13 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=656986 Taisei Corp, Orascom are discussing metro line 4 construction contract terms with NAT

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Japanese automobile companies operating in the Egyptian market, such as Nissan and Toyota, are looking to funnel new investments into the market, but they face some obstacles, said the political and economic counsellor at the Japanese Embassy in Cairo, Hiro Ichiba, in an interview with Daily News Egypt.

“It is necessary to finalise the new automotive policy which has been discussed by the Egyptian government for many years, otherwise it will be difficult for the automotive companies to make decisions,” Ichiba said, noting that automotive sector in Egypt requires high-quality supporting policy.

“It is important to develop this kind of supporting industry to encourage the Japanese automobile companies to invest more in the Egyptian market,” said Ichiba.

The interview, lightly edited for clarity, included many discussions of the bilateral projects, especially in the fields of education, transportation, and electricity, as well as the political situation. The interview was attended by Tatsuya Murayama, first secretary at the embassy, and Kuniko Takamatsu, also first secretary at the embassy.

In general, what do you think about the current investment climate in Egypt?

I see that the Egyptian government is working hard to improve the business climate. Egypt issued a new investment law last year, 2017, so we hope that the government of Egypt will continue to work on improving the business climate, such as speeding up administrative procedures like licensing. We think this is very important.

Do you have any additional advice to improve Egypt’s business environment?

There are some sector policies that should be made in order to create incentives for investors of foreign companies to invest more in the Egyptian market.

Could you please provide more clarification?

For example, in the automotive sector, there are some companies such as Nissan and Toyota that would like to expand their investment and manufacturing in Egypt. They need to make decisions to invest more so it is necessary to finalise the new automotive policy which has been discussed by the Egyptian government for many years. This issue needs to be finalised, otherwise it will be difficult for the automotive companies to make decisions.

The automotive sector in Egypt needs high-quality supporting industry so it is important to develop this kind of supporting industry to encourage the Japanese automobile companies to invest more in the Egyptian market.

What is your view of the Egyptian economy and investment climate?

I think that the Egyptian economy is showing some improvements due to the economic reform programme which is being implemented by the government. The macroeconomic indicators are going well, for example, real GDP growth rate is set at 5.8% for fiscal year 2018/19, the fiscal deficit is expected to be less than 10% of GDP by the end of FY 2017/18, and foreign reserves are also increasing after the introduction of the floating exchange rate in 2016, reaching $42.6bn at the end of March 2018.

I understand that the IMF positively appreciates the progress of the economic reform, so the reform programme is showing welcome signs and I think we need to maintain it, and in order to maintain the positive trajectory, we hope Egypt will continue to work on the measures like fiscal consolidation through subsidy reform and revenue increase, and also the reform of state-owned enterprises. The market needs to enhance the private sector’s competitiveness and employment measures.

Which economic sectors are attractive for the Japanese companies in the Egyptian market?

In the electricity sector, there are some projects under way, for example the Hamrawein 6,000 MW coal power plant project, which Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) is working on, while Toyota Tsusho Corporation and Marubeni Corp are participating in the project.

Another example is the Qena 1,300 MW gas-fired power plant project. Toyota Tsusho Corporation is interested in the project, and in the Gulf of Suez wind plant project as well.

Toyota Tsusho Corporation is very active in the Egyptian market and also in Africa. It is a very aggressive, active company. The company has already signed an agreement for one of the projects and now is thinking about another one.

Marubeni Corp and Toyota Tsusho are interested in solar power photovoltaic power generation in Hurghada.

The petroleum and gas sector is another attractive sector for the Japanese companies in Egypt. Toyota Tsusho is negotiating a contract to set up a refineries complex in Suez.

The Egyptian government announced last September its plan to establish a petroleum refinery complex with Toyota Tsusho Corporation with investments of more than $3bn, according to a press release of the Petroleum Ministry.

The press release added that finalising the detailed studies should be done by the end of the first quarter of 2018 to be put on the production map of 2021.

 

What is the value of Japanese FDI in the Egyptian market according to latest statistics?

Foreign direct investments (FDI) from Japan in FY 2016/17 was $93m. Actually, now, around 50 Japanese companies are working in the local market. I think the Japanese businesses are recovering after the reform procedures.

Is there interest from Japanese companies to pump investments in Egypt?

At this point, I do not hear about new Japanese companies coming shortly to the Egyptian market. However, in December 2017, Sahar Nasr, minister of investment and international cooperation, attended a seminar in Tokyo with many major Japanese companies. We felt that more and more Japanese companies are interested in investing in Egypt as a market and as a manufacturing base, and I hope that more Japanese companies will invest in Egypt in the next period.

What about expansions of Japanese companies already present in the market?

Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems has built its second factory in the market. The first one is in Port Said and the other new one is in Sixth of October.

The automobile sector will also witness new expansions if the government solves the previous obstacles which I mentioned to you.

Many people say that there is potential in the market in the food industries sector. For example, Ajinomoto Co is working in this market, as is Japan Food Solutions. We understand there is huge potential in this sector.

What about the updates of bilateral projects such as the fourth metro line; the first phase’s construction contract was supposed to be signed at the beginning of 2018? 

Taisei Corp and Orascom have not signed the construction contract yet for this project. There are many components of the phases: the first is regarding consultations, the second about civil engineering, and the third is about railway systems, then there is the implementation phase. 

The tender was closed in July 2017 and the National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) is now consulting the terms of the contract with the companies.

When do you expect the contract to be signed?

We are not sure regarding the timing. We are not negotiating, so we cannot expect.

  

What about the Japanese support for the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM)?

Last December, Sahar Nasr expressed her interest in introducing Japanese equipment and technology to the GEM during her visit to Japan. We appreciate her interest, but we prefer the project to be completed as soon as possible.

I would like to know more about the Japanese support for primary schools in Egypt. The new system was surprisingly delayed last October; what is the situation now?

I understand that the Egyptian side is now planning to open the Japanese schools in September 2018 and they will open about 40 new Japanese schools in the first phase.

We are closely cooperating with the Egyptian side right now on this file.

What will be their geographical distribution?

I’d prefer you ask the Egyptian side for more details.

Moreover, Egyptian students can benefit from the bilateral plan of sending 2,500 students and trainees to Japan in five years.


What are the updates of the Borg El-Arab Airport project?

The extensions of Borg El-Arab Airport were agreed in 2016 and we are working on it. The tender will be opened hopefully this year.

What about the outcomes of the recent JICA visit to Egypt?

Shinichi Kitaoka, president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), visited Egypt last February. He signed a Japanese official development assistance (ODA) loan agreement with the government of Egypt for the Egypt-Japan Education Partnership: Egypt-Japan School Support Programme, worth about $180m.

Kitaoka held productive meetings with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr, Minister of Education and Technical Education Tarek Shawky, Minister of Transport Hesham Arafat, and Minister of Health and Population Ahmed Emad El-Din Rady. 

Kitaoka expressed his respect for the economic reforms Egypt is carrying out and for the leadership Egypt is showing in the stability and growth of the Middle East and Africa region. 

He visited an elementary school where Japanese-style education is being introduced on a trial basis. He also visited Cairo Opera House, which was established through a Japanese grant, as well as the Grand Egyptian Museum site.

What do you think of the Egyptian presidential election?

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a congratulatory message to the Egyptian President Al-Sisi for his re-election. Abe is very happy with working again with President Al-Sisi for another four years for the peace and prosperity of the world.

So, I think Japan is looking forward to continuing working with the Egyptian leadership for the next period.

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Presidential election was not competitive, but still slap on face of conspiracies: Salama https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/12/presidential-election-not-competitive-still-slap-face-conspiracies-salama/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/12/presidential-election-not-competitive-still-slap-face-conspiracies-salama/#respond Thu, 12 Apr 2018 10:00:35 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=656736 Youth Academy will restore spirit of political life in Egypt

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After the 25 January revolution, talking about politics became so popular among Egyptians that the famous saying “Egypt has 100 million political analysts” spread.

However, politics is a science, which is why Daily News Egypt spoke to Hassan Salama, a professor of political science at Cairo University and the National Centre for Social Research, and a member of many of the political bodies that provide vision for decision-makers.

We talked to him about the presidential election, its implications, and results, as well as how to qualify young people to compete and bring the spirit back to waning political parties.

After Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi was announced the winner of the presidential election, how do you see the situation?

The situation of the election has showed the cohesion of Egyptians, as well as their awareness during historical moments. This election was true democracy.

What are the implications of the turnout announced by the National Electoral Commission?

The number of voters has showed a great degree of national cohesion with bias towards the 3 July state, which represents the national project that conflicts with “Khawarij Al Asr” project (so-called kharijites of the time [fundamentalist opposition]) and the American project. I must also make it clear that the calls to boycott the election were ignored by citizens, and the attempt of terrorists to scare citizens also failed.

  

Is the number of voters in the election and candidates for the presidency important in terms of assessing political life?

Of course it is. Elections are a real test of the loyalty of citizens to this country. The recent presidential election was a real test of the democratic construction that resulted from the 30 June revolution and the high level of awareness among citizens that followed. Egypt is fighting against terrorism and violence on behalf of the world, seeking at the same time to continue the development battle through a network of gigantic development projects that reflect a long-term strategy Egypt has been missing for years.

How do you respond to the allegations raised about the absence of competition in the past election?

The election cannot be seen as competitive, but rather, a way to highlight the value of democracy and the law, as well as a message to the world that we respect the law and the constitution.

We should not limit ourselves to numbers and figures when it comes to this election. It has reflected a civilised image of Egyptians and made them able to realise that their vote matters, and that conspiracies, of all kinds, will not be able to cause disunity.

How do we assess the performance of the National Electoral Commission?

This election is the first to be conducted after the formation of the National Electoral Commission. Its performance was impressive, starting from the first voter database until the announcement of the result.

I said the queues that some people have commented on are a positive point for the commission, since its good organisation caused no hustle and an ease of procedures; if there was poor regulation, we could had found long queues, even if the number of voters was small.

How is the commission’s work system determined?

The commission was formed according to articles 208, 209, and 210 of the Egyptian Constitution. It is formed from within the judicial system, being the trusted entity to manage the presidential, parliamentary, and local elections to be held early next year and is completely independent.

Did the commission succeed in the filtering of voters and overcoming the chronic problem in Egypt at that point?

It did succeed. It ruled out some 1.5 million votes from the databases while increasing the voter database by 10 million. This is done through periodic registration and linking between citizens’ national IDs and the voter database.

Was the transparency of the election clear to the world?

The election was held under the eyes of the whole world. The commission granted monitoring permits for more than 60 global and local organisations. This election was the focus of the world’s attention. Allowing organisations to cover the election, to follow in that big picture, gave great credibility to the process.

Why did the opposition miss the scene?

We have 104 parties in Egypt. All conditions were set to allow them to connect with citizens and compete, but they failed for a simple reason: many of them do not understand the concepts of parties or preparing candidates to compete. That is why they missed out.

Where is the role of the state in educating the youth to revive political life?

The state has established the Youth Academy and it was inaugurated in a grand ceremony in the presence of the president of the republic, which earned it credibility and assures the determination to achieve its objectives on the one hand and accountability on the other.

The formulation of a training programme is two-pronged: theoretical and field-wise, where youth from all walks of life are available, as well as from all bodies and ministries, as long as the requirements for admission to the academy apply, they can join. This is important in the integration of youth and bridging the gap between them and among different ideas. It also achieves justice among youth leaders, regardless of their intellectual and political affiliations. It will also enable the state to fill the shortage of leadership according to the needs of different ministries and agencies. These groups will be informed and trained political leaders and will change the form of political life in Egypt.

What is the difference between the Youth Academy and the Egyptian Socialist Youth Organisation of the 1960s?

There are fundamental differences between the Egyptian Socialist Youth Organisation and the Youth Academy. Each of them is the result of circumstances and the environments in which they appeared. Each of them also responds to an essential need. The Egyptian Socialist Youth Organisation was essentially a political organisation that aimed to ensure the support for the existing regime. This is unlike the academy, which will train young people on the science of management and leadership based on the philosophy of participation and positive interaction.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Socialist Youth Organisation was organised under a single political organisation that needed an arm to mobilise young people around the system of government.

The academy comes in the shadow of partisan pluralism approved by the constitution, but a fragile pluralism by virtue of the recent emergence of existing parties.

The task of the academy here is to rehabilitate young people professionally, administratively, intellectually, and politically, so that the parties are able to perform their functions of political formation and recruiting qualified youth to participate in political work. In other words, we can say that the academy is an elite factory.

How do you evaluate the experience of Al-Wafd Party in the past election?

The observation of the election indicates the participation of Al-Wafd Party in it. Al-Wafd has many leaders and is one of the parties that practice the political process professionally, aware of the meaning of competition. As Bahaa El-Din Abu Shoqa said, they will be ready to compete in 2022.

How do you explain the absence of a political party or movement for the president?

The president has the popular backing of ordinary citizens. The achievements of his first term gained him credibility that reflected on the turnout during the election. Al-Sisi did not want to form a party of stakeholders like other regimes, because we are in the process of development for the ordinary citizens who usually do not practice political life or enrol in any parties.

What is the president’s plan for the next stage?

The stage since 2014 until now aimed to stabilise the pillars of the Egyptian state and institutionalise it. We will gain the fruits of this effort in the coming four years. All of us have to bear it, as we do not have other alternatives.

The president will complete the course of economic reform he has initiated and will expand national and development projects.

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VoxEra offers new solution to high roaming charges https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/11/voxera-offers-new-solution-high-roaming-charges/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/11/voxera-offers-new-solution-high-roaming-charges/#respond Wed, 11 Apr 2018 08:00:47 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=656585 After a seven-day business trip, Amr Elgbaly, VoxEra founder and CEO, incurred over $500 of roaming charges. As necessity is the mother of invention, Elgbaly did not stop at paying his bill. Instead, he decided to exploit his seven years of experience in VoIP technologies to come up with a new technology. After some tests …

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After a seven-day business trip, Amr Elgbaly, VoxEra founder and CEO, incurred over $500 of roaming charges. As necessity is the mother of invention, Elgbaly did not stop at paying his bill. Instead, he decided to exploit his seven years of experience in VoIP technologies to come up with a new technology. After some tests and experiments, the new solution saw the light and emerged as a new startup, raising funds through a Kickstarter campaign.

Elgbaly does not intend to stop there. Investors are lined up to pour money into the new solution. He expects to collect $1m this round to scale up the company. Within three years, Elgbaly told Daily News Egypt, he plans to list the company on the Egyptian Exchange.

When it was launched, VoxEra was strongly criticised by one of the experts in this domain, Wael Fakhrany (currently the vice president and general manager for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at Incorta). Despite that criticism, you still have a determination to succeed. Please explain how you can turn the criticism to elements that will eventually help you succeed?

We strongly believe that each initiative, when starting, should be criticised. If not, then you have a problem. People can’t understand and accept new things, ideas, and changes too fast. They should criticise and this is the first generator of your success, as you made something that deserves their criticism. But here comes the second side of the coin; you as an entrepreneur should not feel disappointed or let down, but on the contrary, you should try to understand why you are criticised, how you  can gain lessons for yourself, what is the core meaning of this criticism, and when you accept and filter healthy suggestions and criticism, your way up will be ensured. This is what happened to us, of course you cannot be wise from the start, but you learn during your path and this is great.

How do you describe your company’s prospects of reaching a $1bn value?

This is our target. As the market is so huge, at $48bn and growing rapidly, because of the raising number of travellers, we have the chance to become a $1bn valuation company very soon. The basics and fundamental of each startup is its team; we believe we gathered the right specialists to be part of the team and this is our main value.

We would like you to take us through the ideation process of VoxEra, ie how you came up with the idea, what was the trigger, etc. Moreover, what were the first steps you took to implement it?

The idea came naturally as we felt the pain of paying high roaming charges. After a seven-day business trip in October 2015, I paid more than $500 for using voice roaming. At first, we decided to do some research to find alternatives, but we did not find anything except SkypeOut, Viber Out, and some roaming apps, which did not solve the problem. With over seven years of experience in VoIP technologies, I conducted a few experiments and made the first prototype of VoxEra, which I successfully tested on a few trips of my own. With a seemingly good minimum viable product, we decided to survey our friends who regularly rely on mobile roaming services, and after positive results, we arrived at a decision to convert our idea to a startup.

How are you planning to attract investments for your startup?

We already have offers from investors who are very interested in VoxEra. Our Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign helped us a lot with raising awareness about VoxEra. Now we are working on acquiring the right investments from people who have domain expertise in telecom in the MENA region, the US, the EU, and China. We are contacting investors through various platforms, like f6s or angel.co, and use different tips to attract them. The most important thing in this process is that the investor should be interested in this field and should have an idea about the market and technology.

What is the value of investments that you are aiming to attract?

In this round we are seeking $1m in investments. We have 1,000 customers and now we need funds to attract more customers and to enter new markets.

How would you describe your upcoming participation in the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition?

In fact, it is a pleasure and responsibility to be a part of one of the most influential events not only in the MENA region, but in the whole entrepreneurship ecosystem. We believe MIT will open new doors and opportunities for us. We are so motivated to join this competition and we are sure we will establish important connections during the event.

What are your upcoming plans for VoxEra?

In two weeks we will deliver the product and will step into a fully functioning mode. We will start to sell it through our website, distributor network, partner GigSky, and we will expand our team, hiring more people.

What are the main challenges you have faced so far? How did you overcome them?

The most difficult challenge for us was hardware design, as we changed it a lot, to provide good functionality and high-quality voice. Before you start, everything seems so easy: you will get funds, you will manufacture and ship, and that is it. But believe me, it is not easy at all, especially with a hardware startup, as very small components can destroy all your plans and consume thousands of dollars, nerves, and time. Finally, we passed this stage and we started manufacturing the product.

Do you expect VoxEra to be the first Egyptian company to have a market value equivalent to $1bn?

We will do our best to reach that target.

When will you start selling/providing your solutions to the market/clients?

In two weeks we will ship the device to backers and will start to sell through VoxEra.com and partners.

Are you currently coordinating with telecom operators to improve your solutions?

Until now no, but we grabbed the attention of many telecom operators.

Do you have any plans to list your company on the stock market?

Yes, we hope we can do this within three years.

Do you believe that you will have to resort to Silicon Valley to get funds?

We, like every startup, dream to enter Silicon Valley…and we believe we can grow from there.

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Egyptian government has bold vision to develop, digitise its economy: Visa CEO https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/10/egyptian-government-bold-vision-develop-digitise-economy-visa-ceo/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/10/egyptian-government-bold-vision-develop-digitise-economy-visa-ceo/#respond Tue, 10 Apr 2018 11:00:25 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=656402 Migration to digital payments improves lives of individuals, spurs economic progress, prosperity

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In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Visa CEO Alfred Kelly praised efforts of the Egyptian government to digitise the country’s economy.

How would you describe the significance of your visit to Egypt and how important is this market to Visa?

The government of Egypt has a bold vision to develop and digitise its economy, increase the efficiency of services for citizens, and bring millions of people into the formal financial system to the benefit of the entire country.

This is my first visit to Egypt as the CEO of Visa. Our president, Ryan McInerney, met His Excellency President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and members of the government in May 2017 and signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to lay out our willingness to support this vision. That MoU, and the work we have started, alongside our partnerships with entities like Egypt Post, signifies how importantly we take our responsibility as a partner to the government in its efforts to digitise Egypt’s economy, for the benefit of millions of people.

The government is creating a strong environment for that transformation. It founded the National Payment Council, a forum where Egyptian entities can discuss issues, and has enacted regulations designed to curb the use of cash in government circles. Its efforts to digitise the payroll and pensions system are all examples of the progress made. Visa’s role is to support and help realise the government’s strategy using our global expertise and technology.

Digital payments are the catalyst for innovations in commerce around the world. The power, speed, reliability, and security of our global network makes Visa the right organisation to partner with the Egyptian government.

In your opinion, what are the main building blocks for this transformation?

The migration to digital payments improves the lives of individuals, supports stronger businesses, spurs economic progress, and prosperity. Transformation starts with a bold government vision that balances economic growth for all citizens with consumer and data protection, as well as economic security.

Then it is a case of assessing how digitisation can help improve communities. Digital payments have several advantages over cash. First, they are transparent so there is less leakage from the system. There are records, which helps improve things like accurate tax accounting. Disbursements can be delivered direct to bank accounts. This means that more people are able to access other important financial services. It also means that the informal economy, which works against economic growth and traps people in a cycle of poverty, is reduced.

User experience is key. People will not use anything that is harder or less efficient than the alternative. People want to pay their bills, collect their benefits, pick up a coffee, go to the movies, order groceries, and send money to their parents. If the user experience is not good, they will not use it. Therefore, we have to spend time to make digital solutions better than cash. In a place like Egypt, mobile services are also critical—so we must develop everything as mobile-first.

Another critical element is to ensure we are helping micro and small businesses accept digital payments. These businesses are the lifeblood of the economy—transacting over $6.5tn per year and interacting with more than 4.5 billion customers every day. We must ensure they are integrating into the digital economy. 

How can we drive a cashless culture and promote the benefits of digital payments?

We certainly see a global shift towards digital payments. Digital payments exceeded cash payments for the first time in 2016. In places like the UK, cash now accounts for around 40% of all payments, down from around 62% in 2006 according to reports. In India, the government’s demonetisation programme has really accelerated digital payments.

However, cash is still a useful payment vehicle for millions of people, and in some cases, it is their only payment tool.  For this reason, we do not want to take cash away from people, but instead, promote the digital alternative—which is a better, safer, and a more reliable alternative.

The breakthrough for us is in mobile. While the adoption of payment cards is still relatively low—90% of consumer spending is still in cash across MENA—now everyone has a phone—possibly two or three. This is transformational because we can now offer financial products through those devices, including payments. Mobile devices are a great game changer for us.

On the other side we have the retailer or the merchant. Point of sale devices are costly and require fixed line internet and power, which is not accessible to everyone. Again, mobile is a game changer. With a mobile phone and a USSD number, or a QR code—that little black and white box you now see on many products that can be read by your smartphone camera—suddenly a merchant can accept a payment via a mobile phone, allowing funds to go straight to their bank accounts safely, conveniently, and instantly.

Hence suddenly, we have the ability to connect billions of people to our network. In many ways, it represents the beginning of a new era, in which digital payments are no longer constrained by wired infrastructure. Any connected device can be transformed into a Visa digital payment device, allowing digital commerce to extend to parts of the world where it was not previously possible. 

How can mobile payments help achieve this cashless culture in Egypt?

Mobile penetration is more than 100% in Egypt, and as I say, we see this as a great opportunity for us to work on increasing the adoption of digital payments in the market.

This year we launched a service that enables people to scan a QR code to pay with QNB Alahli and the National Bank of Egypt, and we are getting ready to launch it with other banks. The QR code is also a low-cost acceptance tool, which helps smaller merchants.

We think this innovation is transformational and will bring millions of people and merchants into the formal financial system, which will benefit the whole economy. 

How do you think about leadership and what are some of your top priorities for being a successful leader?

Great leaders and great companies encourage leadership at every level. As leaders, we set the tone for the entire organisation.  We should be role models for how we want everyone to act.  At Visa, our leadership principles are as important as our business mission and vision—what we do and how we do it are both critical to our success.

In my view, leaders earn respect rather than expecting it, just because we happen to be the leader. When people take the time to be present, to remember small details, to listen, it goes a long way to engaging people and helping them understand what kind of organisation they work in.

This year marks the 10th anniversary for Visa as a listed company and the 60th since the company started its journey, what has been the key to the success of Visa?

What few people realise is that Visa was probably the original fintech company 60 years ago.

We think we have certainly led the way during those years in the digital transformation of commerce.

We created the world’s first digital payment network, VisaNet, which continues to be the foundation for innovations. We saw the shift to contactless payment technology, to the rise of secure mobile and Internet of Things payments. We have transitioned from being a bank-owned association to a publicly traded company. We went from being a proprietary network technology to an open platform, where people can build solutions on our network. We are moving from physical cards to account details stored on mobile devices. We continue to evolve our technology, opening up our network, to support the needs of financial institutions, merchants, developers, and governments to help them access and benefit from digital payments.

When we went public 10 years ago, in 2008, it was the most valuable IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in US history, and it remains a pivotal moment that put Visa on the path to becoming the company it is today. At that time, Visa had just 5,200 employees and a stock price of $11. We are now a global enterprise of more than 15,000 exceptionally talented and dedicated employees.

The last 60 years has been defined by change, as we have led the migration from paper to plastic to digital payments, but there has been one constant—the driving force behind Visa’s growth and value has always been our employees. Our people drive the change in the industry and in Visa.

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Germany discusses with Egyptian government timing of disbursing €225m: KfW https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/10/germany-discusses-egyptian-government-timing-disbursing-e225m-kfw/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/10/germany-discusses-egyptian-government-timing-disbursing-e225m-kfw/#respond Tue, 10 Apr 2018 07:00:49 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=656348 Bank financed projects in Egypt worth €6bn, active portfolio at €1.8bn

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KfW, the German government-owned development bank, signed a loan agreement last October for the enhancement of the Egyptian economic reform programme on behalf of the German government. A first tranche of €225m has already been disbursed, said Burkhard Hinz, director of the KfW Development Bank Office in Cairo, in an interview with Daily News Egypt, adding that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had discussed the possibility of a second tranche of the loan.

Why was the loan not disbursed in dollars and when might a potential second tranche be disbursed?

The Egyptian side requested the loan be disbursed in euros. I am not aware of the reasoning, but I could imagine that relatively favourable interest rates in euros—when compared to US dollars—might have been a strong argument. The timing of disbursement of the second tranche will depend on the conclusion of various formal requirements.

What are the details of KfW’s portfolio in Egypt?

The KfW Group consists of three segments. First, the KfW Development Bank, on behalf of the German government, has provided around €6bn to projects in Egypt by now and has an active portfolio of €1.8bn.

The second segment is KfW IPEX Bank, which offers tailored financing for German and European exports and investments. KfW IPEX Bank, for example, together with HSBC and Deutsche Bank, was the coordinating initial mandated lead arranger for the three gas power stations built by Elsewedy, Orascom, and Siemens with a total debt financing volume of €3.5bn.

The third segment is KfW DEG, which caters to private companies operating in emerging markets, with a current portfolio of about €100m in Egypt.

What is your opinion on the current state of the Egyptian economy?

It was a very brave decision by the Egyptian government to implement such fundamental reform measures. This is especially impressive since very few governments find the courage and the foresight—although obviously needed—to improve the future prospects of an economy at the expense of swallowing the bitter pill of major economic reform. However, if the Egyptian government is consistently implementing this comprehensive reform programme, it is likely that people will look back one day and realise that the current hardships were a temporary phenomenon followed by economic growth and employment.

Burkhard Hinz, director of the KfW Development Bank Office in Cairo

What is your view of Egypt’s investment climate?

The Egyptian investment climate looks increasingly favourable with foreign direct investment picking up. Another clear sign of betterment is the decline in interest rates on the bond market, indicating that investors perceive less risk in lending money to the Egyptian government. This suggests that Egyptian debt is increasingly popular among investors. At the same time, recent external debt increases were substantial and are best to be kept at moderate levels.

To me, there is no doubt that Egypt will do better once the adjustment period of the structural reform is over. It’s a rocky road that entails many frictions in the short-run and it takes time until improvements reach employment levels and job creation in the medium- to long-run. However, indicators already point to success of the reforms.

What are the main challenges facing the country now?

For me, the big challenge is job creation, especially for the youth. On one hand, jobs are the economic foundations of families and are crucial to maintaining and improving standards of living. On the other hand, young people require jobs to apply and enhance their skills as well as to increase their aspiration of what they can achieve in life.

How can this issue be resolved?

I am constantly impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit in Egypt. There is great potential for job creation and innovativeness, since a certain entrepreneurial mindset is deeply rooted in Egyptian culture. At the same time, as outlined by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the current population growth of more than 2% poses a big challenge to the public and private sectors. First, there is a permanently increasing need for investments in infrastructure, such as schools, roads, health services, water supply, and energy. In addition—and probably equally challenging—is the creation of jobs for about 1 million youth entering the labour market each year. I am optimistic that with the right measures, this challenge can be turned into one of the assets of the Egyptian economy.

My personal impression—without being able to follow Arabic-language media—is that it might be beneficial to actively communicate the purpose of the ongoing reforms. Making people aware of the necessity and the prospects of the current adjustments may invoke understanding of the reasons behind short-term frictions and might help to get everyone on the same page.

Tell me about KfW’s efforts in job creation.

We believe that job creation is key and we can see that the government is working on many aspects in this regard. It is unlikely that the public sector has potential for further employment opportunities, thus recent efforts by the Egyptian government to strengthen the private sector employment are highly appreciated.

First, in terms of political/legal groundwork, the new bankruptcy and investment laws contribute to a convenient investment climate and eventually to job creation.

Second, quality infrastructure is a necessity for economic growth. Within our mandate of the Federal Government of Germany, we are working with the Egyptian government to upgrade and expand energy and water infrastructure which indirectly contributes to job creation.

Moreover, we promote sustainable economic development by fostering vocational training and access to finance for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). These measures improve job availability directly. In this respect, KfW initiated, on behalf of the German government, the SANAD Fund for MSME, which facilitates access to finance for companies which usually find it hard to obtain credit on viable terms. In addition, we were setting up a credit line directed at MSMEs largely outside of Cairo via the National Bank of Egypt (NBE).

What are the details of the vocational training projects?

Within our mandate, we are funding a study to assess the potential of two projects: first, the rehabilitation of technical schools by ensuring that they are equipped with labs and further tools that qualify students to have a smooth transition into the labour market, matching the skills demanded by the private sector. Second, from our experience in financing wind energy projects, we know that wind farms require strong operations and maintenance, thus we are looking at boosting the graduation of technicians potentially in the field of renewable energy.

What is the value of financing allocated for both projects?

We will have to wait for the results of the study in order to make an informed decision on the financing.

When will these projects start?

Conditional on the study findings, the projects are likely to start at the end of this year.

Which is the main local entity you work with in this context?

We are cooperating with the Ministry of Education and Technical Education as the main governmental entity. Moreover, it is likely that the private sector will be especially relevant for training vocational students.

Which companies will you work with?

We will wait for the results of the study and afterwards choose potential companies. To this end, we will also work with international and Egyptian associations. The private sector is likely to be very interested in such forms of cooperation.

You mentioned in a previous interview that KfW is involved in building roughly 100 schools in Upper Egypt. What are the updates of this project?

On behalf of the German government, we are supporting Egypt in building public primary schools in different regions. Currently, we are financing the Quality Education Support Programme with a first phase that includes 70 schools in Assiut and Sohag. A second phase will involve around 16 schools in Belbis, Sharqeya.

What is difference about these schools?

The schools create an environment that is especially conducive to effective learning. A combination of angling the buildings north and installing sun-blinds in front of the windows leads to classrooms being flooded with daylight without students being blinded by the sun. This makes the buildings also more ecological, requiring less artificial light. The school premises include playgrounds, which create a safe environment for kids to relax and have fun during breaks. Moreover, the design of the schools allows for renting out some of the unused space over the weekend to generate additional income.

These schools do not only teach how to read, write, and calculate, but they have a special emphasis on imparting so-called life skills, such as creative thinking, taking responsibility, assertiveness, or simply being on time. In a sound learning environment, such skills can be taught more effectively.

One of the most important benefits is that these kinds of learning-friendly schools are not more expensive to complete than usual public school buildings. Also, starting with the beginning of construction, a committee involving, for example, parents, teachers, or representatives of the municipality helps to establish ownership of the community.

Another feature is the School Maintenance Allocation Fund (SMAF), which rewards especially clean and well-maintained schools, setting incentives for school staff and students to take good care of the facilities.

We work with the General Authority for Educational Buildings to focus especially on areas that really need schools. Since 1996, we have completed six phases of school constructions under different project names.

When will the current phase be finished?

The schools are currently built by local contractors. This means that if a school is to be built in Assiut, we are carefully choosing contractors from Assiut to facilitate local job creation. I expect construction to be finished mid-next year. The German taxpayers supported the first phase with €36m, whereas the second phase costs €10m.

Would you please tell me more about your cooperation with other financial institutions in Egypt?

Currently, we are cooperating with European partners, including French and Swiss development agencies as well as institutions of the EU. This kind of cooperation significantly reduces transaction costs and can increase development impact, although each donor follows their own rules. However, we place great emphasis on the fact that the Egyptian project implementing agency is in the driver seat of each project.

While this cooperation has significant advantages, it also requires a more complex coordination as all partners need to follow their own rules and regulations. An early harmonisation and coordination of the processes is certainly challenging for all involved, but then results in a considerable efficiency gain during project implementation. In one water sector programme, for example, 71 single water supply and sanitation projects are being implemented under one umbrella.

Together with our European and Egyptian partners we also explore possibilities of a more rapid project implementation—of course within the framework of valid approval processes and procurement guidelines. It simply makes a big difference for the direct beneficiary whether a reliable water supply or a school is available in his town or village two years earlier or later.

What about KfW projects in the energy efficiency sector?

On behalf of the German government, KfW is currently establishing a couple of projects in the domain of energy efficiency. From our experience in Germany, we know that by adding insulation or solar heating, energy efficient real estate increases in value due to lower energy consumption and higher financial saving potential. With rising tariffs on electricity, such investments become increasingly relevant.

We are also considering credit lines which may target MSMEs or the vast potential for solar heating on rooftops.

KfW once mistakenly transferred money. Could that happen again?

A long time ago, KfW mistakenly transferred money due to an IT-automatism to another financial institution in the US. It goes without saying that this should have never happened. The reasons for this were examined in detail and comprehensive consequences were drawn, particularly by overhauling the IT infrastructure.

However, most of the money was transferred back to KfW. And, it has to be kept in mind that KfW, with its AAA rating has been consistently rated “world’s safest bank” by Global Finance Magazine for the last couple of years.

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Cardo plans to expand into Saudi market in early 2019 https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/04/cardo-plans-expand-saudi-market-early-2019/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/04/cardo-plans-expand-saudi-market-early-2019/#respond Wed, 04 Apr 2018 07:00:36 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=656118 Company will double its investments in Egypt during 2H 2018

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Cardo Virtual Reality (VR), an Egyptian company specialised in manufacturing VR headsets, plans to expand its products and technology solutions to foreign markets starting in 2019. Saudi Arabia will be its first overseas market. According to Ahmed Adel, the company’s founder and chief executive, the company’s investments amount to EGP 5m.

The company plans to double its investments by the second half of this year by receiving EGP 5m of funding from several Egyptian banks as part of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE)’s initiative to support small and medium enterprises.

How did you start Cardo, given that its staff are all young?

We are a team of young people. Even myself, head of the company and its founder, I am 25 years old. We began our activities immediately after completing our university degrees.

Then we were looking for an investment opportunity in Egypt, and we found strong opportunities for growth in the technology market. After some market research in 2014, we found that VR technology is projected to grow at the global level, despite its absence in Egypt.

We believed in it as an investment opportunity and decided to start our activity in this sector to establish a company to produce VR headsets in Egypt.

We launched our first products in February 2016 and saw good results.

What are the most important challenges you faced?

We faced many challenges, most notably the lack of awareness among many users about the VR technology. There were also manufacturing challenges as we experienced a shortage of many raw materials used in manufacturing as well as difficulties in the absence of certain manufacturing technologies.

We manufactured the first and second version of VR headsets in Egypt, but the third version was manufactured abroad, though it was of our design and development.

Among the challenges that came was also the quick pace of development in the technology sector. New innovations emerge almost biannually. Hence, we had to be ready to introduce new products with the most sophisticated technologies.

Do you offer other products?

We have a wide range of services and solutions starting with the VR app and VR headsets. Starting from the third quarter this year, we will launch 10 new products, including some that are manufactured in Egypt.

Do you have patents?

We applied for patents for nine products.

What solutions can VR be used in?

Virtual reality solutions are sophisticated solutions that can be used in several fields. Ultimately, it is a simulation of reality. This can be used even in education to help students grasp some lessons that need to be simulated.

The VR can also be utilised in the scientific and medical sectors to train doctors on surgical operations, as well as in the media sector, for live broadcasting of concerts and football matches. For example, the next World Cup in Russia will be transmitted via VR.

Do you have partnerships with schools or universities to benefit from your solutions?

We have already studied the market in this aspect and have held meetings with a number of school administrators to determine their ability to rely on VR to improve the students’ learning experience and to increase their educational attainment.

We have found positive results through these meetings and we can start on this plan during the coming period.

What are your plans for expansion outside Egypt?

We plan to expand to overseas markets with our products and solutions by 2019. We will launch expansion plans in the Saudi market in preparation for expanding to a number of other markets.

What is your current business size?

Currently, we offer our products to over 80,000 clients, with plans to raise the number to 160,000 by the end of this year, especially as we introduce new products in the third quarter this year.

How much have you invested since you started your business?

The company started out through one person, who is me, as a founder. Now, we have over 70 employees working at the company directly. Our investments have amounted to EGP 5m. Our company was transformed from a startup into an Egyptian joint stock company.

Do you have plans to list the company on the Egyptian Exchange?

We do have plans to list our company on the Egyptian Exchange, but it will not be before 2020.

Do you have plans to attract new investments?

By the second half of this year, we will be receiving financing of EGP 5m from banks within the CBE initiative to support small and medium enterprises, and we plan to double this funding by end of this year.

We also plan to attract new investments from companies and investors to cover our future expansions outside Egypt, so we closed the option of obtaining funding until next year.

What is the growth rate of your business?

Currently, we are achieving rapid growth rates increasing up to 30% per month.

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Factoring market holds EGP 10bn expected value: Muharram https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/04/factoring-market-holds-egp-10bn-expected-value-muharram/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/04/factoring-market-holds-egp-10bn-expected-value-muharram/#respond Wed, 04 Apr 2018 06:00:42 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=656108 A client's case study requires one week to 10 days: Sadeq

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Gamal Muharram, chairperson of the Egyptian Factoring Association (EFA), expected the activity of the sector to reach EGP 10bn this year, versus EGP 5bn in 2017.

Muharram attributed his expectation to the fact that Egypt is considered a promising market in terms of financial tools, especially in factoring activity, in light of the decision made by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) on Thursday to reduce interest rates by 1%.

During a seminar led by Daily News Egypt that discussed the future of non-Egyptian financial tools, Muharram said that factoring and financial leasing are expected to see more regulations over the upcoming period, especially with parliament discussing these two topics.

What do you know about the financial leasing and factoring bill being discussed by the economic committee of parliament and to what extent is there communication with the committee?

The Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) informed us of the law and chose a group of experts in the advisory committee supervising the draft law.

Over the past period, there was dialogue between us and the FRA which resulted in a flexible draft law, and the decision to leave executive tasks to the FRA. All the details of the law were agreed upon.

In economic laws, the legislative framework must be decided, and freedom should be given to the supervisory bodies, which happened in the case of this law, making it come out as small as 81 articles.

Did you have discretion regarding the law?

First, I would like to point out that the current administration of the FRA is very different from past administrations, and it understands what its job requires very well. They are conducting their supervisory role wisely and provide us with all the information we need.

We do have reservations, of course, but they are not many. Our reservations are about some articles in the draft law, such as the penalties on a chairperson who makes a credit decision and has to bear the risk to some degree. We believe he should only be held accountable in the cases of corruption or negligence.

The conditions adjustment period set by the project is six months, and the authority has the freedom to extend this period. However, we also believe this period is suitable for companies working in the field of factoring, but not for those working in the field of financial leasing, so we requested amending this article.

Additionally, the new license allows adding the factoring activity to financial leasing companies; however, there is the issue of the company having to process the data in two different records because the standards are different for each company, as well as the regulating rules.

Tamer Sadeq

Why do you not prefer the company combining two activities with two separate records?

I do not advise companies to combine both activities because there are regulatory rules such as determining the credit concentration ratios and the volume of credit facilitations for a single client out of the total capital base or the credit portfolio, which may range from 20% to 50%, which would be unfair for one of the activities.

If we say that the credit portfolio is 20% of the total capital base, this would be unfair for the financial leasing company. The opposite is true. If we say the credit portfolio will be 50%, this will be unfair for the factoring company. Processing allocations is different. Factoring deals with capital finance, but financial leasing deals with long-term needs.

We have delayed allowing I-Score in the field of factoring, especially since the debtor is not a client of the company’s. However, the I-Score system will be valid for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) within the transferred guarantee records, which will expand the base of clients and the information about them.

Is there communication between you and the economic committee of parliament regarding the draft law, the first part of which is complete and involves financial leasing?

There was no communication between the association and the committee, but I welcome any form of communication with them, especially since the factoring system is rather new for the Egyptian market, and financial leasing is facing some issues regarding accounting standards.

It is important to communicate with financial leasing companies and the EFA to discuss the means of applying international accounting standards to avoid issues in the sector.

How do you see the future of factoring in the Egyptian market?

It is one of the promising non-banking activities in the Egyptian market. However, the number of companies with licenses to practice the activity is still as little as eight.

The eight companies made transactions worth EGP 4.945bn last year compared to EGP 4bn in 2016, which means that the activity achieved a growth of 21.2%. I expect the number of companies to become 13 this year.

Noteworthy, the minimum capital required to establish a factoring company is only EGP 10m.

According to the data of the FRA, the volume of securities deducted last year reached EGP 8.9bn compared to EGP 6.068bn in 2016. Also, the number of factoring clients reached 304 compared to 256, a growth rate of 18.8%.

You said that the factoring activity was affected by the initiative of President Al-Sisi to provide EGP 200bn for small projects, do you plan to address the CBE to be part of that initiative?

Factoring is more susceptible to the effects of interest rates compared to financial leasing, as it funds quick and short working capital cycles, sometimes just 45 days. This does not allow distributing the cost of funding in intervals, unlike financial leasing, which sells assets with long intervals in between. 

The growth of factoring in the required way depends mainly on the reduction of interest rates and providing sufficient awareness regarding the activity in the target sectors.

Tamer Sadeq, the director general of Cairo Factoring Company, said that the initiative of SMEs has been a strong competitor of factoring companies over the past period, so he plans to address the CBE to allow factoring companies to enter under the umbrella of the initiative. 

Are there discussions with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority to fund factoring companies? 

Sadeq: There are discussions taking place with the SMEDA to fund factoring companies with a maximum of EGP 1m with a 12% interest rate.

Muharram: I expect the EGP 200bn CBE initiative to be aborted over the upcoming period.

With these factors and obstacles, how do you see the future of factoring?

Muharram: If we compare the data of factoring activity in Turkey, with the size of the market reaching $30bn for 304,000 clients through 1000 companies, including 66 companies in the field of export factoring to the case in Egypt, we will see that Egypt is still an emerging country in the field of factoring and has great chances for growth, especially that SMEs are taking over the Egyptian market right now.

What is most attractive to factoring companies, local or international securities?

Muharram: Both are important for the economy. Currently, international factoring may be deemed more attractive because the interest on the dollar is less, and exporters guarantee their funds without factoring companies having to deal with the risks.

Companies engaged in the activity of international factoring must be members in the International Factoring Association (IFA) and communication must take place between the Egyptian company and the foreign factoring company, or at least a study about the foreign company must be provided.

Eighty percent of Egyptian companies are members of the IFA. However, the high membership cost is an obstacle.

Do the financial leasing and factoring companies affiliated with the banking sector reduce their loaning costs?

Muharram: This is unlikely because margins of banks are very close to the companies working in the sector.

Sadeq: According to what we have learned from the market, banks may give the companies affiliated with them a lower interest rate.

Do you expect banks to establish factoring companies?

Sadeq: Yes I do, especially with the increased awareness. However, too much of that would not be good because the non-banking sector requires a different way of thinking.

Are there other funding sources, such as securitisation or bonds?

Sadeq: Unfortunately, securitisation would not be suitable as a funding source. However, it is beneficial for financial leasing companies.

What are the most prominent challenges facing factoring?

Sadeq: Developing awareness of the sector, creating competent individuals with expertise, and coordinating with other sectors, such as banks, which need to realise that factoring and financial leasing are not competitors. There is a plan to hold a seminar for workers in the field of insurance, in coordination with Alaa El-Zohairy, in order to raise awareness about the available opportunities in the field of insurance on the risks of repayment.

Were there increases in the rate of delinquency in the past period?

Muharram: The risks of securities has increased from 2% to 3%, but companies faced this by scheduling debts based on the circumstances of clients or resorting to the economic court.

Sadeq: A study conducted on the condition of a client requires a period ranging from one week to 10 days and requires an availability of a budget from two years, or one year in the case of startups. We offer the required support and consultations for clients to prepare them.

What is the role of the association in spreading awareness about factoring?

Sadeq: The association is the most appropriate body for spreading awareness. We seek to hold conferences in cooperation with many bodies, such as the IFA, African Export-Import Bank, and the Federations of Industries, as well as export councils, the media, and other bodies.

What about financial inclusion and integrating the informal sector into the formal sector?

Sadeq: Factoring is the most effective tool for spreading financial inclusion and has already contributed to the entry of many microprojects into the formal sector and opening a trade register since the regulating laws require this.

Who are potential factoring clients?

Muharram: They are any manufacturers or producers who sold goods with delayed payments and require liquidity to start a new production cycle. The law allows factoring for periods of up to three years, except for construction companies at the moment.

Sadeq: On average, most factored securities are no less than EGP 100,000, however, there is no minimum value for factoring. Clients can repeat the factoring process based on the production cycle, and every company sets the maximum limit of the allowed amounts for clients, as well as the debt rate of the capital base.

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New Administrative Capital will become unique symbol among African smart cities: Alstom https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/29/new-administrative-capital-will-become-unique-symbol-among-african-smart-cities-alstom/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/29/new-administrative-capital-will-become-unique-symbol-among-african-smart-cities-alstom/#respond Thu, 29 Mar 2018 12:00:20 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=655455 The French company Alstom, one of the biggest railway, tram, and metro manufacturers in the world, said that the New Administrative Capital that is being implemented by the Egyptian government will become a unique creation among smart cities in Africa. “We are interested in the implementation of metro and tram lines in the New Administrative …

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The French company Alstom, one of the biggest railway, tram, and metro manufacturers in the world, said that the New Administrative Capital that is being implemented by the Egyptian government will become a unique creation among smart cities in Africa.

“We are interested in the implementation of metro and tram lines in the New Administrative Capital, as well as the restoration and renovation of the tram line in Alexandria,” said Didier Pfleger, senior vice president for the Middle East and Africa, during a tour organised by the company.

He added that Alstom has global experience in providing transportation solutions and has a prominent position in the Egyptian market, as it has already implemented the first and second lines of the metro in the capital Cairo and is currently carrying out the maintenance of infrastructure and signals for the first and second phases of the third metro line in Cairo. It is also participating in the third and fourth stages of the third line and renewing the main railway in coordination with the Egyptian National Railways.

He explained that Alstom’s international experience and its notable experience in the Egyptian market makes it an ideal partner for the Egyptian government to participate in the implementation of the development projects to be completed in the new capital and other new projects announced by the Egyptian government, such as high-speed trains, electric trains, and new metro lines.

Daily News Egypt sat down for an interview with Pfleger to discuss Egypt’s infrastructure boom and how Alstom can play a role in it.

What is your opinion about the actions taken by the Egyptian government on infrastructure?

Alstom has been present in the country for over 35 years and is very proud to support the important trend of infrastructure development in the country. Indeed, our vision is to be committed and engaged to become among the first to contribute to this positive change in Egypt, in relation to plans announced by Minister of Transport Hesham Arafat.

Is Alstom in negotiations with the Egyptian government about mobility and railway projects now? Especially since Egypt declared that it will launch seven metro lines instead of three, high speed trains, and metro projects in the new capital. Also, line 4 is being built by a Japanese company. What is Alstom’s position on this?

All the new projects that have been announced by the government are being taken into consideration by Alstom and we are looking forward to participating in several of them as soon as they are tendered.  With recognised international industrial expertise in developing sustainable mobility solutions and a real local footprint in Egypt, Alstom is well positioned to be part of the development of the new capital [east of] Cairo; indeed, we believe that this project will be a symbol of smart cities in Africa.

Alstom built line 1 and 2 of the metro in Cairo; is there follow up of the two lines in terms of maintenance or renovation? Or has Alstom’s role ended?

Alstom is willing to participate in the renovation of line 1 as a starting point. The scope of Alstom will bid for includes the renovation of the signalling system and work on power stations. However, Alstom is currently in charge of infrastructure and signalling maintenance of line 3’s first and second phase and is participating in the third and fourth phase too.

Egypt has signed contracts with a Japanese company to execute line 4. Is the financial scheme adopted in the project compatible with Alstom, in terms of financing projects through loans to the Egyptian government?

Line 4 is being built by a Japanese-Egyptian alliance, and therefore, Alstom is looking at how to best contribute to this project. As for all our tender offers, a dedicated team is committed to ensuring we propose the best scheme for the project and the customer.

Do you have a cooperation strategy with African nations to develop their transport infrastructures? Are you interested in participating in the project to connect north and south Africa (Alexandria to Cape Town)?

Alstom is a company with a large portfolio including several innovations to better address mobility needs with products and solutions adapted to the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region. Therefore, we are ready to answer all mobility needs in all MEA countries, including requests to develop transport infrastructures in African nations.  We want to offer our support to participate in the rail industry revitalisation of countries and assist MEA countries in their rail development. Regarding the project to connect North and South Africa, we will study the case if we are requested to do so.

Tell me about the latest technology in mobility that Alstom has launched?

Didier Pfleger, senior vice president for the Middle East and Africa
(Photo Handout to DNE)

We aim to achieve smarter mobility for passengers and we are doing so through a range of products. 

Optimet OrbanMap is an intelligent metro map, a real-time dynamic information for metro networks that was designed for collective use, and to be located in metro stations. It allows visualising, at a glance, the metro network, its activity, train positions, travel times, service interruptions, and the level of comfort aboard the trains.

As passengers are requiring more and more flexibility and seamless transport from door to door, Alstom has invested
€14m in EasyMile, an innovative startup which manufactures an electric autonomous shuttle called EZ10, defined as an electric collective shuttle that can accommodate up to 12 passengers.

Since April 2015, EZ10 has been deployed in more than 50 locations in 14 countries in Asia, North America, the Middle East (ME), and Europe. In France, it is now being tested in Paris. The testing started in September 2016.

Alstom, together with its subsidiary NTL, has launched a new experience of mobility to complete our emission-free, 100% electric range of solutions

Aptis’ design is inspired by the look of a tram. It offers passengers a never seen before full low floor. Aptis can carry up to 95 passengers on board.

In our strategy to enhance passenger experience and accelerate digitalisation of our offerings, Alstom acquired Nomad Digital, a world leading provider of passenger and fleet connectivity solutions for the railway industry. Nomad’s solutions include wifi connection solutions as well as entertainment platforms (video, music, and playback) or connected on-board services, for example, passengers ordering coffee from their seats.

We also have driving assistance, which increases the capacity and quality of service for metros. Alstom has equipped more than 50 lines with Automatic Train Operation (ATO) in cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Lausanne, and Panama City.

The company has implemented some of the first driverless metros in the world (Lille Metro in the 1980s and first driverless heavy metro in Singapore).

To make maintenance more efficient, we have formulated predictive maintenance mechanisms through advanced data science. HealthHub is a solution that collects data from rolling stock, infrastructure, and signalling systems and allows predictive maintenance across all assets. The solution enables shifting from traditional mileage-based maintenance towards condition-based and predictive maintenance. To achieve this, the algorithms developed combine advanced data analysis with the technical system experience from design and operation.

What are your projects and the value of your investments in the MEA region?

We have several emblematic projects in the MEA region. Some of our projects are ongoing and others are already in commercial service.

We developed several urban projects in North and Central Africa and in the Middle East, especially in tramways and metros. For example, we developed tramways in several cities in Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria through our Cital joint venture (JV). We have several projects in Egypt, including the Cairo Metro and renovation of main rail lines with Egyptian National Railways.

Thanks to strong expertise in integrated solutions (leadership in systems), we succeeded in implementing several projects, such as the Dubai Tram, Dubai Metro extension, Lusail Tram, and Riyadh Metro.

In term of regional trains, several projects have been awarded to Alstom, including regional trains in Algeria and Senegal, and the suburban train being built by Prasa in collaboration with Gibela JV, which is the most important contract won by Alstom, with 600 trains and a local factory.

We also have projects in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan with 2 JVs: EKZ & KEP, as well as work on signalling, services, and infrastructures projects.

We also expect to win other contracts in the MEA, including in new emerging countries located in Central Africa.

How many countries do you have a project or more in and where? Especially tram and metro projects.

Alstom has a wide footprint in several MEA countries, including Western and Central Asia. Our vision is to be close to our customers and to well understand their mobility needs.  Therefore, proximity is key to our strategy.  With almost 4,000 employees, as well as design and project management offices, project worksites, and maintenance facilities, Alstom has been well established in the Middle East and Africa region for a long time.

We have succeeded in creating a real regional railway ecosystem; we have supplied trains, signalling systems, infrastructure, and maintenance services in the region’s main cities with the support of a mix of international and local teams—more than 64 nationalities are working on our projects.

Finally, corporate social responsibility is a key element in the deployment of our strategy in the region. Indeed, one of the key actions we have undertaken is the several partnerships with schools and universities we have secured.

Today, we are present in more than 14 countries, including Algeria (trams in Algiers, Oran, Constantine, and Sidi Bel Abbes); Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan (freight and passenger locomotives); Egypt (Cairo Metro, renovation, signalling, and infrastructure); Saudi Arabia (metro); Morocco (trams in Rabat and Casablanca, Prima locomotives, electrification, signalling system, and maintenance); Qatar (tram); Senegal (regional trains); South Africa (suburban trains); Tunisia (tram in Tunis and electrification); Turkey (Istanbul Tram and Metro, ERTMS signalling, and high-speed train maintenance); and the UAE (Dubai Tram, maintenance and extension/capacity enhancement of Dubai Metro).

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Tatweer Misr launches 1st phase of its project Bloomfields at Cityscape https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/28/tatweer-misr-launches-1st-phase-project-bloomfields-cityscape/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/28/tatweer-misr-launches-1st-phase-project-bloomfields-cityscape/#respond Wed, 28 Mar 2018 13:30:36 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=655297 Company aims to market 25% of Il Monte Galala’s units abroad, says CEO

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Tatweer Misr will launch the first phase of its Bloomfields project at the Cityscape exhibition. The first phase is located on an area of 51 feddans and includes about 3,600 residential units with areas ranging from 80-350 sqm. Bloomfields is Tatweer Misr’s latest project in Mostakbal City, situated only 15 minutes away from the American University in Cairo and 10 minutes from the New Administrative Capital. It is a 325-feddan mixed-use development that includes 10,000 units and an entertainment area. The project also encompasses a 90-feddan school district comprised of international schools on 20 feddans, as well as a 70-feddan international university.

Daily News Egypt sat down with Ahmed Shalaby, CEO and managing director at Tatweer Misr, to learn about the company’s new offering at the Cityscape exhibition.

Tell us about Bloomfields in more detail

Bloomfields is a full-fledged project on an area of 325 feddans, including 10,600 units, a 39-feddan entertainment area, and  a 90-feddan entrepreneurial hub, which foresees the establishment of an international university on 70 feddans, and international schools covering an area of 20 feddans in Mostakbal City. Tatweer Misr signed a partnership agreement with El Mostakbal for Urban Development to develop 415 feddans in Mostakbal City last December. Bloomfields will be developed over 10 years, with investments of EGP 28bn in the residential area, and EGP 5bn in the entrepreneurial college.

What makes Bloomfields different?

The project offers a new real estate product capable of competing in the local and global markets.

Establishing a distinct and integrated real estate project, that meets the different needs of our target customers, represents what Tatweer Misr is about.

Tatweer Misr partnered with two renowned design firms; the famous Italian design firm Gianluca Peluffo and Partners and the Egyptian Design firm of Raeef Fahmy, to work on the unique designs of this project.

 

What does the college town mainly focus on?

The college town focuses mainly on the idea of entrepreneurship, which will serve the administrative and commercial parts of the project in the future. The university project is the result of a two-year journey of preparation, ranging from concept and architectural designs to finding the right international university to partner with, which reflects the size of the challenge imposed on us in order to provide an Egyptian university model with international standards.

What are the sources of funding for the educational project?

We plan to look for new financing mechanisms for the educational part of the project within Mostakbal City, which may include investment funds. The process to finalise the establishment of the university includes obtaining the university permits, reaching an agreement with foreign universities, and finalising studies for required syllabuses, all of which can take about a year or two.

What was the value of investments in 2017, and the expected investments in 2018?

2017 saw Tatweer Misr invest EGP 1.5bn in Il Monte Galala, and we intend to allocate EGP 2bn more in 2018.

Investments in Il Monte Galala will cover land levelling, bearing walls, lagoons, and road works, all standing at a total value of EGP 450m. Meanwhile, a part of the infrastructure work will be tendered with an amount of EGP 300m, while construction of the lagoons will cost EGP 100m.

Fouka Bay’s share of this year’s plan is EGP 1bn, compared to EGP 500m in 2017.

Accelerating the construction processes is a top priority during the current phase in order to avoid risks of the continued cost increase and to deliver on time as promised.

Any updates regarding Il Monte Galala?

Il Monte Galala is being built on an area of 2.2m sqm in Ain Sokhna. The project is a mixed-use development focused on a diverse range of lifestyle options and will be developed over 10 years.

Assigned to Top Tech Contracting Company, the first phase of the project covers 400,000 sqm of land levelling and bearing walls with investments of EGP 600m. Nadinco Construction Co will build 511 units at a cost of EGP 500m, while 556 units were assigned to Inshaa for Contracting Investments and Trading at a total of EGP 500m. Accordingly, Tatweer Misr is currently planning to allocate 600 more units to other contractors at a cost of EGP 700m. It is worth mentioning that General Contracting Company (Fawzy Abdo) will carry out road, facilities, digging, and excavation works throughout the project at a total value of EGP 450m.

So far, we have successfully sold around 2,500 units at Il Monte Galala.

Any construction updates you can provide regarding Fouka Bay, Ras El Hekma?

Fouka Bay is being built on 1m sqm in the North Coast and is being developed over five years. First deliveries in phase one will start in December 2018. The total units sold so far have reached 1,300.

General Contracting Company (Fawzy Abdo) is currently doing digging and excavation work on 3m cubic metres, valued at EGP 200m, 1.5m cubic metres of which is now complete. The first phase of the project includes construction works on 45 villas, with 966 units currently under construction at a total cost of EGP 1.5bn. Work on the lagoons will start this year at a total value of EGP 200m.

What is the value of targeted sales in 2018?

We plan to achieve contractual sales ranging from EGP 7bn to EGP 8bn in all projects this year, driven by the real estate market boom and the launch of Bloomfields’ first phase. We are also counting on the fact that the first phase of any project is usually able to attract a larger segment of the targeted customers, in comparison to later phases.

How do you see the real estate market after the decrease of interest rates? 

The lower interest rates, which are expected to continue declining during the coming period, will be in favour of the real estate market, as customers will be inclined to invest in high-yielding property.

Moreover, the boom in the real estate market is a result of different aspects, mainly the increased land offerings, and the different offering methods by the government, and this is clearly reflecting the development currently taking place all over Egypt. In addition, the government, represented by the Ministry of Housing, has an interest in the real estate investment sector and will have to deal with and consider the crisis of land shortage; one of the biggest problems being faced by real estate investors for decades.

Will the company apply for the third partnership projects offering by the Ministry of Housing?

We are waiting for the third tender of the partnership projects, which the Ministry of Housing intends to offer during the current year, in order to determine the possibility of investment opportunities available at this stage and how those fit with our expansion plans.

What are Tatweer Misr’s sources of funding?

The company currently finances its projects through self-financing and sales revenues. It is more difficult to resort to bank financing for funding, due to the high interest rate. The current rate burdens the project with additional financial costs, ultimately affecting the sales prices of units.

What is Tatweer Misr’s vision regarding the export of real estate?

Plans of exporting our real estate projects do not target Egyptian citizens working abroad, but mainly foreign clients. Studies show that British and Russian citizens, along with Arabian Gulf citizens, are the most interested in owning units in Egypt, which makes these countries fertile markets for this objective.

It is important to provide a real estate product that aligns with the requirements of this target group of customers, especially that British and Russian citizens prefer touristic residential units as second homes, prompting the company to market Il Monte Galala according to their criteria. We aim to market 25% of total units in Il Monte Galala project abroad. As for the Gulf area, they prefer first home projects, so we plan to participate in real estate exhibitions in the cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai this year, to focus on marketing the company’s new project in Mostakbal City.

The Egyptian real estate market is regarded as the most affordable, compared to others in the region, giving us a more competitive advantage to expand. In addition, we have recently partnered with Liverpool FC to stimulate the company’s sales using the club’s name for marketing our projects in the UK; this represents another part of our strategy to export our projects to Europe.

What is your opinion regarding the mortgage finance system in Egypt?

The market is in need of strong real estate mortgage finance system to support customers’ purchasing decisions, where a large segment of the market is still not able to afford units, even with the facilities recently provided by real estate developers.

Moreover, mortgages help real estate companies take over their role as developers instead of financers; being both hinders expansion plans.

What is the company’s expansion plan and what are the targeted areas?

We plan to expand in West Cairo and Upper Egypt. However, investing in Upper Egypt requires a clear and strong vision by the government to provide integrated services to facilitate business in this region.

Is the company planning an initial public offering (IPO) at the Egyptian Exchange?

The IPO is one of the most important expansion plans for the company, which we will not be able to put into effect at this point. There are several requirements, which include three years of profitable financial statements, which we cannot currently meet , since the financial statements of real estate companies start showing profit after delivery and not after sale.

Should we expect a bubble in the Egyptian real estate market?

The real estate market in Egypt is extremely far from reaching a bubble. It is a real market that depends on actual needs and real purchases and prices, not abstract ones. The pricing of a unit is based on realistic costs of construction, not speculation. This, among other things, helps ensure the survival of this market.

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ARCO to invest EGP 2.2bn in projects in 2018 https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/28/arco-invest-egp-2-2bn-projects-2018/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/28/arco-invest-egp-2-2bn-projects-2018/#respond Wed, 28 Mar 2018 13:00:16 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=655295 ARCO negotiating with ACUD to acquire 500 feddans

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The real estate developer ARCO plans to invest EGP 2.2bn in its projects during the current year, CEO Ayman Ibrahim told Daily News Egypt in an interview.

What is the value of ARCO’s investments in 2018?

ARCO plans to invest EGP 2.2bn in its projects during the current year, of which EGP 500m are to be paid to repay the company’s land installments to the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA), and the rest of the money is being directed to construction contracts for the implementation of projects.

This amount of investments covers only the existing projects, which can be increased in case the company’s targeted expansion plan is met during the current year.

What are the company’s plans to expand?

The company made offers to obtain four plots of land within the second phase of partnership projects launched by the NUCA at the end of last year. Moreover, the company successfully passed the technical decision phase and is awaiting the financial decision.

The offers were submitted to acquire 194 feddans in New Cairo, 410 feddans in Sheikh Zayed, 500 feddans in Sheikh Zayed’s expansion areas, in addition to another 103 feddans in New Cairo. The company aims to implement residential projects in case it wins. However, in the case of not winning the bid, the company has a plan B.

What is your opinion regarding the governmental partnership system?

Partnership between the state and the private sector is important to achieve the state’s development plan and for the optimal exploitation of its land, in addition to supporting developers indirectly and allowing them to pump investments into the implementation of projects instead of paying installments for land’s price.

Further, I believe that there is a need to expand its application to increase the development rates of the cities in the system.

What is your expectation for price hikes in real estate this year?

The real estate market is expected to witness price increases of about 20% during the current year, which is a natural increase in the market, as I expect that there will not be a price spike as happened during last year following the floatation decision and the high cost of implementation. The price of real estate in the local market is still the lowest compared to other markets in the region, making it the most attractive for buying and investing.

What is your opinion regarding Egypt’s mortgage financing system?

There is a need to support the mortgage finance sector to support clients in obtaining the housing they need. Some portions of the mortgage law need to be modified to cope with other international markets that use this system.

Nevertheless, the Central Bank of Egypt’s initiative for real estate mortgage funding to low- and middle-income individuals is a good step in this regard, but this initiative needs other aspects to include above middle-income and luxury units.

Do you think a real estate bubble is imminent?

The local real estate market is still the most able market to attract investments, especially with the continued housing demand, and not for investment only, which makes this market far from the idea of a real estate bubble despite the high prices. The continued gap between supply and demand needs to combine the efforts of all real estate companies operating in the local market for the implementation of units for different segments of the market.

What is the value of contractual sales targeted in the current year?

The company aims to achieve contractual sales of about EGP 5bn from its projects this year, driven by launching new phases in our existing projects and the market booming, in addition to expanding participation at external exhibitions to market the company’s projects to Egyptian expatriates and non-Egyptians. Egyptian real estate has many advantages in being marketed abroad compared to competing markets.

What exhibitions does the company intend to participate in this year?

The company is participating in Cityscape Egypt and will participate in the International Property Show (IPS) exhibition in Dubai next month.

What is the total area of the company’s land bank?

The company’s total land bank reaches 5m sqm, which is still under development. The company focuses on the specific development of its projects and the provision of deluxe units capable of local and international competition.

Moreover, the company is diversifying its project portfolio between residential and touristic projects, as well as diversifying unit spaces and payment systems to suit all customers.

ARCO was one of the first companies to offer installment periods of up to 10 years during Cityscape 2017, depending on our possession of strong solvency.

What is the status of your unit delivery?

The company aims to increase the construction rates of its projects during the current period, in preparation for the delivery of about 750 units in early 2020, 250 units in La Fontaine project, and 500 units in CityStars Al Sahel project. The company’s project portfolio includes the implementation of a number of major projects on 743 feddans, mainly CityStars Al Sahel on 73 feddans, constituting 88 buildings, and the 33-feddan Lagoon project in Alamein.

What is the value of investments to be allocated in the current year?

ARCO plans to pump EGP 32bn in investments into the real estate market over the next five years, according to the company’s announced investment plan to define its strategy in the Egyptian market.

What are the projects that will be launching this year?

The company is going to launch a new phase of its Lavande project in Sheikh Zayed, which includes 100 housing units, during the first quarter of the current year, with expected sales of approximately EGP 1bn. The company succeeded in marketing the whole first phase of the project. The company is waiting for the ministerial decision in preparation to begin the implementation of the project, which includes a total of 450 units.

What is the status of La Fontaine project’s marketing?

The company has completed marketing the first and second phases of La Fontaine project in New Cairo, where the project is located on a total area of 143,000 sqm and includes 565 units of different sizes in addition to internal services. The project’s installments period is up to 10 years.

What is the value of investments directed to CityStars Al Sahel project?

The value of investments directed to CityStars Al Sahel project has so far reached about EGP 1bn and this amount was directed to the implementation of earthworks and the contract with Crystal Lagoons to implement an artificial lake on an area of 60,000 sqm within the project. The project is located on an area of 743 feddans and will be developed over 10 years.

Does the company plan to acquire land at the New Administrative Capital?

The company is negotiating with the Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD) to acquire 500 feddans to implement an integrated residential project.

Do you have any plans to launch projects in Upper Egypt?

Launching projects in Upper Egypt and the Nile Delta regions is necessary to diversify the investment portfolio of real estate companies during the coming period, especially with the high purchasing power of customers in these areas. Furthermore, the government is interested in launching development and infrastructure projects in new cities such as New Mansoura, West Qena, and West Assiut.

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Projects company targets increasing Blues Tiffany sales to EGP 2bn by year-end https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/28/projects-company-targets-increasing-blues-tiffany-sales-egp-2bn-year-end/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/28/projects-company-targets-increasing-blues-tiffany-sales-egp-2bn-year-end/#respond Wed, 28 Mar 2018 12:00:15 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=655275 Blues Tiffany total investments reach EGP 10bn, says CEO

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Projects Real Estate Development is developing the project Blues Tiffany North Coast with total investments of EGP 10bn.

The company was established in 2015. Its board members have more than 35 years of experience in Egypt and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region in construction and engineering.

Daily News Egypt sat down with Hossam Bahaa, CEO of Projects, to learn about the developmental status of the project and the company’s future plans.

What are the details of Blues Tiffany North Coast?

Blues Tiffany is a touristic hotel project, located on an area of 250 feddans in Ras El-Hekma, North Coast, with a total of 4,000 units with sizes ranging from 48-300 sqm.

The company has allocated about 75 feddans of the project’s land to establishing artificial lakes.

We launched the first phase of the project in July, which includes about 1,200 units, and have marketed about 70% of it so far. Furthermore, the company targets completing the marketing of the phase during the current year.

A new phase will be launched within the project during the Cityscape exhibition, which is an island within the project with about 30 units. This phase will be marketed in parallel with the marketing of the first phase of the project. We aim to market and implement the project over four phases.

As for the operational status of the project, the company contracted with Sabbour Consulting Company to design and supervise the project. Building licenses are also being obtained from Marsa Matrouh Governorate, in addition to signing contracting contracts worth EGP 100m to carry out the project’s earthworks. 

What is the value of achieved sales from Blues Tiffany?

The company has achieved EGP 700m in contractual sales from Blues Tiffany.

What is the value of targeted sales by the end of the year?

The company targets increasing the project sales to reach EGP 2bn by the end of the current year, driven by the launch of new phases of the project and expanding its marketing in the local market and abroad.

What is the value of investments to be directed to the project?

The investments targeted for the project during the current year are expected to reach about EGP 400m, and that the value will increase during the next year to accelerate the implementation rate of the project. It is planned to hand over the first phase of the project in 2020, while the entire project will be implemented and marketed within seven years, with a total investment of EGP 10bn.

What is the company’s expansion plan?

The company is negotiating to buy two plots of land in New Cairo and Sheikh Zayed to implement a residential project on areas starting from 100 feddans. Moreover, the company is also awaiting the next investment offering by the New Urban Communities Authority to identify opportunities for participation.

What is your opinion regarding the New Administrative Capital?

The New Administrative Capital is of one of the new, strong, and integrated communities being developed by the government and receives national support and investment for integration and success. The company is waiting to see the results of investors’ experiences for a final study and to identify the negative and positive aspects of those experiences, to avoid falling into troubles when investing in a project.

Will the project have hotel activities?

The project includes space for a 20-feddan hotel. The company aims to contract with a global brand for its management. The company is currently preparing for the hotel’s designs, and it is planned to be implemented at the end of the project.

Will you market the project abroad?

Marketing the company’s project overseas comes at the forefront of our marketing plans. We intend to participate at the International Property Show (IPS) exhibition in Dubai next month.

Expanding in the export of Egyptian real estate abroad, especially to foreign customers, is necessary, as studies confirmed that English customers are buy the most property outside their home country, which means that England is a very important destination for real estate export, especially residential tourism projects.

Therefore, real estate developers have to produce projects that are capable of competing abroad, and to identify the needs of foreign customers for property.  Moreover, Egyptian property has many advantages, most notably the low value compared to other countries of the region, which creates opportunity to provide hard currency for the state.

What issues in the market need to be addressed?

Real estate appraisal is one of the issues that should be addressed to improve the local real estate market and encourage foreign and domestic investment, which investors rely on to determine the fair value and balanced price of lands or units, which keeps the real estate market away from approaching a bubble. Real pricing is an essential way to attract foreign investors who seek to determine their investments based on clear and announced prices.

Meanwhile, the absence of a database containing all needed indicators and figures that real estate developers need is one of the challenges facing the real estate sector. Data is needed to know promising investment areas and areas that customers are interested in, in addition to knowing the nature of the product that the developer must implement to meet market demand.

In this regard, the company has launched an initiative to establish a database needed by the market in cooperation with the rest of the real estate developers and with the other stakeholders in the sector in order to support market continuation and increase revenues, especially since real estate is one of the locomotives of development, which the state depends on to promote its economic situation.

How do you see the state’s role in the sector?

The state has to exit the arena of competition with real estate developers and return as a supervisor of the performance of the local market, while maintaining its role in implementing social housing. Further, the state has to make use of real estate appraisal experts in evaluating land prices to determine affordable prices for lands to be offered.

What are your expectations for price hikes in the sector?

I expect relative stability in the prices of real estate units during the current year. Nevertheless, I think that the sector will experience a great boom following the recent decision to cut the interest rate and I expect there will be further decline in the interest rate in the coming period, which will push customers to invest in property as a safe haven for investment.

In addition, the continued real demand on real estate needs further construction of projects for different segments of clients.

What are the promising areas for investment?

Investing in new urban communities such as New Alamein and Sheikh Zayed represents a strong trend for the real estate market during the coming period, which is one of the roles required of the private sector in order to support the country’s development plans. Therefore, the state has to provide initial investment incentives in these cities to encourage more investors to launch projects at these cities.

Furthermore, investing in Upper Egypt and New Alamein is one of the company’s priorities during the coming period to diversify its investment portfolio.

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Beta Egypt to implement first phase of Beta Greens New Cairo with EGP 1bn investments  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/28/beta-egypt-implement-first-phase-beta-greens-new-cairo-egp-1bn-investments/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/28/beta-egypt-implement-first-phase-beta-greens-new-cairo-egp-1bn-investments/#respond Wed, 28 Mar 2018 10:30:31 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=655271 Company targets EGP 2bn sales from project during 2018, says chairperson

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Beta Egypt for Urban Development intends to implement the first phase of its Beta Greens New Cairo project early next year, which includes about 500 housing units with initial investments of about EGP 1bn, Chairperson Alaa Fekri told Daily News Egypt.

What are the details of Beta Greens New Cairo?

The project is on an area of 85 feddans in Mostakbal City, New Cairo and is being implemented over six phases with initial investments of EGP 6bn.

The company intends to implement the first phase of the project early next year, which includes about 500 housing units with total initial investments of about EGP 1bn, out of a total of EGP 6bn for the whole project. The total project includes 3,000 housing units, which include 100 villas, and the other units are apartments of different sizes. The built-up area represents only 20% of the whole project. The first phase will be delivered in 2021.

Did the company acquire the ministerial approval for the project?

The ministerial approval for the project has been obtained and licenses are being issued, which are expected to be completed during the current year. The company will begin preparing the site for construction during the current year. We have already launched marketing for the project’s first phase.

What is the value of targeted contractual sales this year?

The company aims to achieve contractual sales from the project during the current year worth EGP 2bn, especially with the current activity in the real estate market, which is expected to continue during the coming period, driven by the continued existence of real demand, and turning of customers invest in property after interest rates were lowered. The current period is most appropriate to buy property before prices of property increase.

Does the company plan to acquire lands at the New Administrative Capital?

The New Administrative Capital is one of the most important national and investment projects. Further, the project represents a strong development opportunity for all developers in the real estate market, especially with the strong national and government support directed towards it, which contributes to overcoming all obstacles facing developers working within the project.

The company was planning to acquire a plot of land in the capital at the time we were in negotiations with El Mostakbal for Urban Development Company. However, the fast pace of negotiations with El Mostakbal led us to direct the company’s investments to this project, which does not mean cancelling the company’s intention to invest in the New Administrative Capital, especially because it is a very distinctive project for investment.

Do you think that there is a shortage of mortgage financing in the market?

The price increases that happened last year in the real estate market following the flotation did not represent the full increase in the cost of implementation, as the developer had to bear part of that increase in order to maintain sales activity, which comes out of revenue for the continued implementation of projects, as developers are committed to delivering units at their scheduled time. I think developers will not be able to continue to act as financiers of clients.

Real estate developers and clients have a financial crisis, both in the implementation of units and buying, a problem that developers may be able to solve, but clients are facing a real crisis, especially with the absence of the role of mortgage financing in support of them, as a result of the difficulty of procedures and requirements.

I believe that the government has to interfere to restructure the mortgage finance system and to reconsider laws regulating the system to facilitate financing for citizens, which in turn ensures the provision of liquidity to developers to enable their expansion plans instead of pumping investments into the implementation of projects and financing clients so as not to seize any other investment opportunities.

What is the value of investments Beta is directing to projects this year?

The company aims to direct EGP 400m to our projects in the current year. As the Golf Mall is being built on an area of 5,000 sqm in Sixth of October with investments of EGP 45m. In addition, the Greens Mall will be implemented on an area of 8,000 sqm at a total cost of EGP 90m, as well as the construction works on Beta Greens New Cairo project.

What is the update regarding the Beta Greens Sixth of October project?

Currently, the company is marketing 120 units of the Beta Greens project with targeted sales of approximately EGP 200m. These units are the last of the project, which the company expects to market during the current year.

What is your opinion regarding the state’s real estate export strategy?

Exporting property represents a strong opportunity for real estate developers to take advantage of the currency devaluation following the flotation, whether to Egyptian expatriates or to foreigners, which necessitates the need to provide distinctive real estate products capable of competing in global markets. In addition, we must design real estate units to meet the requirements of the target customers.

What is the company’s plan to export real estate?

We will participate in a real estate exhibition in Kuwait this year. The company is also considering participating in another real estate exhibition in Dubai, where the company aims to market its units to Egyptians working in these countries as well as non-Egyptian citizens.

Given the direction of the state to develop areas such as Upper Egypt, Sinai, and New Alamein, do you plan to invest in these areas?

These areas supposed to be developed in parallel to ensure comprehensive and accelerated development, which is not only achieved by the state only, but also with the participation of the private sector in its implementation. Nevertheless, it is necessary to encourage cooperation between the private sector and the state for these cities’ development.

Furthermore, there is a need for a comprehensive development map that ensures the creation of employment and housing opportunities within the same city in order to attract citizens to live in it. In addition to that, announcing the investment map, and disclosure of the investment opportunities offered in those cities and the benefits of participating in them, will encourage the private sector to join and develop those regions.

What are your expectations for investments in the sector this year?

The improvement of the investment climate in the real estate market during the recent period and the speeding up of issuing ministerial approvals and building permits for real estate projects, as well as overcoming all investment disputes with different companies, encourages local and foreign developers to inject new investments into the domestic market in the coming period.

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40% of new capital government district complete:  ACUD https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/28/40-new-capital-government-district-complete-acud/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/28/40-new-capital-government-district-complete-acud/#respond Wed, 28 Mar 2018 10:00:45 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=655267 40,000-feddan 1st phase of new capital infrastructure costs reach EGP 130bn, says ACUD spokesperson

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President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi laid the first stone of the New Administrative Capital east of Cairo on Wednesday. With an area of 170,000 feddans, the new capital will include 20 residential areas expected to accommodate 6.5 million people and a 650-km road network. The capital will include an international airport and an electric train to link it with the 10th of Ramadan and El-Salam cities.

It will feature 1,250 mosques and churches, a 5,000-seat conference center, nearly 2,000 schools and colleges, over 600 medical facilities, and a park that is projected to be the world’s largest.

The New Administrative Capital is located in the area between the Cairo-Suez and Cairo-Ain Sokhna roads, east of the regional ring road. Its location is roughly 60 km from the cities of Suez and Ain Sokhna.

The Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD) is 51% owned by the Egyptian Armed Forces and 49% by the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA). The paid-up capital of the company amounts to EGP 20bn, including contributions from the armed forces and NUCA, and its authorised capital is EGP 204bn.

Daily News Egypt sat down with ACUD spokesperson Khaled El Hosseini to talk about the development of the project and ongoing infrastructure works.

What is the developmental status of the government district of the New Administrative Capital?

We have completed 40% of the government district’s construction.

The government district will house the presidency and parliament and they are to be transferred to the new capital by mid-2019.

With regard to the embassies district at the capital, what are its updates?

The embassies district is on an area of 1,600 feddans. It will be divided into unequal areas ranging between 1 to 20 feddans for each embassy.

On 21 March, the ACUD held a conference at the premises of the ACUD for 180 diplomats from 80 countries to inform them of developments in the New Administrative Capital during the past two years and our plans for the coming period.

After that, we will specify the price for each feddan.

Which embassies expressed interest in acquiring land to transfer their premises to the capital?

All embassies expressed their desire to transfer their premises to the capital. Moreover, we cannot oblige them to transfer their embassies, but them moving depends on their desire to or not.

What is the price to be set per feddan?

For the pricing of land in the capital in general, a committee was created to price the land, which has held two sessions. The first session was held for the first offering of lands, and then a second session was held to evaluate the prices for further offerings. The committee is headed by the company and includes specialists in pricing evaluation. The committee will evaluate and define prices for each activity: residential, commercial, administrative, and for the embassies district.

With every offering, the committee will be held to set new prices for every activity inside the capital.

What are the updates regarding the monorail and the electric train?

The capital project is currently close to being linked to other cities through the implementation of the electric train project, which is scheduled to launch with a Chinese loan worth $2.3bn.  The project’s procedures have already begun and the electric train is scheduled to extend to the heart of the new capital.  Further, the extension of the project came in accordance with the requirements stipulated by the ACUD to link the capital with other means of transport commensurate with its level of development.

We hope that, after finishing the government district, the train will be ready and in full operation to transport citizens.

The second project to connect the New Administrative Capital with the new cities is a monorail. The Ministries of Housing and Transport have started seeking investors to submit their offers during the coming period. The selection of companies is expected within one month after the submission of bids, with a planned completion of the project within two years.

The ACUD announced that it will provide citizens with an affordable transport system. What are the steps that have been taken in that regard?

The company has received several offers for the implementation of mass transport projects in the city. The most prominent offer was from an Italian company in addition to some French companies. These offers are being evaluated in order to implement means of internal transport to connect the new capital to Cairo.

The company also has also received offers from several Egyptian companies for the implementation of mass transport projects, which are good offers. There are companies that have offered means of transport that are environmentally friendly, such as providing buses and cars run by natural gas or electricity, to suit the planned sustainability goals of the new capital.

The company is currently negotiating with some foreign companies to determine the price of bus tickets.  The foreign companies that have offered means of transport in the capital do not take into account the demographic they are targeting when valuing the fare price. However, the AUCD takes into account, in its negotiations with the companies to determine appropriate ticket prices, that the price be suited to the needs of citizens, especially since the capital is planned to include all segments of society. This necessitates the company’s management to provide transportation at prices that suit the capabilities of citizens.

The AUCD plans for the commercial district, the Central Business District, to be home to the tallest tower in Africa, in addition to some other towers. What are the updates regarding the project?

The Central Business District (CBD) at the New Administrative Capital will include a 345-metre tower, the tallest in Africa. It is a 120-floor skyscraper being implemented by a China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) with a world-class hotel, residential units, swimming pools, a commercial area, Africa’s largest car showroom, and a helicopter landing pad. The CBD will be the commercial heart of the city.

The Chinese company has already started the implementation of the district. The update is that the project was originally supposed to be built on 170 feddans, but the company demanded a 26-feddan extension to the area and we approved the extension. The district will be fully complete in three years.

What is the status of the city’s infrastructure, including roads and bridges?

We have not had any problems in the implementation of roads and bridges and we have made great achievements in this regard, represented by the completion of 60% of the city’s roads and bridges.

With regards to other infrastructure, we have different rates of achievement.

For the sanitation services, we divided the sanitation system into three phases. The first phase will be connected to the residential neighbourhoods north of the city and will reach the ring road and we have completed 40% of this phase.  In addition, we have developed 10% of the second phase but we did not start implementation of the third phase of sanitation.

I do not believe that we will start implementing the third phase in the current year. Nevertheless, we are working on the first two phases in parallel.

Moreover, we do not have any problems with electricity services, as the New Administrative Capital power plant, with capacity of 4,800 MW, which is being implemented by Siemens, will supply the capital with sufficient power. In addition, we are establishing three lower-voltage plants.

We are currently implementing a gas plant, in addition to a water plant, which already exists and supplies 125,000 cubic metres of water per day, as well as establishing a water pumping station, which will also pump 125,000 cubic metres of water per day.

What is the cost of infrastructure for the capital?

Infrastructure of the first phase, which constitutes 40,000 feddans, reaches EGP 130bn.

What are other activities the company is working on?

We are now examining technical offers submitted by 13 companies to participate in building the smart infrastructure of the capital.

Moreover, it is planned for 63 schools to be built. Meanwhile, six universities have already been built and we are planning for another four universities. By the way, in mid-April, the Canadian International College will inaugurate its work in the capital.

Also, we are establishing a knowledge city, similar to Smart Village. The city will be established to host research, innovation, and entrepreneurship centres focusing on the fields of advanced digital technologies, like the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, embedded systems, and electronic design.

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Schneider Electric’s Egypt operations reach €180m in 2018: energy vice president https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/28/schneider-electrics-egypt-operations-reach-e180m-2018-energy-vice-president/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/28/schneider-electrics-egypt-operations-reach-e180m-2018-energy-vice-president/#respond Wed, 28 Mar 2018 08:00:03 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=654964 Company constructing 40 MW solar power plants in Sharm El-Sheikh, Kamel says

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The business value of Schneider Electric’s operations in the Egyptian market during the current year reached €180m, which the company aims to boost in the coming years through new projects that are being established.

Schneider Electric’s Vice President of Energy and Energy Director for Northeast Africa and the Levant Khaled Kamel told Daily News Egypt in an interview that the projects implemented by the state over the last four years are impossible for other countries to fulfil and would need 30 years, not four.

What are the projects contracted by Schneider Electric in Egypt?

The company contracted to supply equipment and electrical transformers for the Port Said and Ismailia tunnels, which are expected to be completed this year. The company also participated in a number of national projects in Egypt, such as the development of the Zohr gas field through supplying buildings on 3,800 sqm, which are equipped with gas-insulated panels, low pressure panels, and control systems and equipment, in cooperation with Petrobel. In addition, there is the project to develop the West Nile Delta gas field, in which the company is designing and supplying 45 medium-voltage panels, 250 low-voltage panels, and energy control systems, as well as the fourth phase of the Sukari mine with a value of €3.5m.

The company is currently constructing solar power plants in the city of Sharm El-Sheikh with a capacity of 40 MW and investments worth €50m. We completed the implementation of a 5 MW plant and are now negotiating with solar energy projects to cooperate on constructing more stations, boosting capacities to 40 MW.

In December, Schneider Electric will complete its works in the Alwaleedia and West Cairo electricity power plants, which have total investments of €100m.

Schneider Electric’s Vice President of Energy and Energy Director for Northeast Africa and the Levant Khaled Kamel

Is Schneider Electric involved in desalination plants?

The company contributes to the installation and operation of motor control systems and participates in two water pumping stations in the first Tushka area to supply water, for an area of 3,000 feddans, and the second area is 30,000 feddans, with a total value of €3.1m. We contracted with the Egyptian Armed Forces to supply the transformers and the medium-voltage system for water desalination plants with a capacity of up to 600,000 cubic metres per day.

The government also negotiated on cooperating with the US company Seven Seas Energy to implement water desalination plants, which will be established through phases, beginning with a station with a 300-cubic metre per day capacity. The US company will secure funding for the project and sell the desalinated water to the government for 20 years. We are now negotiating on the selling price.

The US company offered to sell a cubic metre of water at EGP 17, but the government said that the maximum they would pay is EGP 5. They agreed to allocate land for the project in the North Coast or South Sinai.

The company is conducting intensive negotiations with the government for the agreement on the implementation of projects, as well as discussions on the value of the land allocated for the project and means of tax or customs exemptions on equipment.

What is your assessment of the participation of Schneider Electric in Zohr field?

The link between gas and electricity is tight. This transformation in Egypt is good. It has become a gas platform and can benefit from gas not only in generating electricity, but also through its export, which adds value by linking the Egyptian electricity network with neighbouring countries.

The company contributed to the development of the Zohr gas field through the installation of a number of medium-voltage electric panels, insulated panels, low-voltage electric panels, distribution transformers, uninterruptible power supplies, and control systems with a business value of €60m.

Will the company participate in the second phase of the project?

We are in ongoing negotiations with the Italian oil company Eni to participate in the second phase of the Zohr field and supply medium-voltage panels, distribution transformers, and power supplies. The project is expected to be completed this year. The total business value of the second phase of Zohr field is expected to be €25m.

What is the role of Schneider Electric in the Dabaa plant?

We have submitted an official request to the Russian company Rosatom to participate in the Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant works and supply some equipment for the station. The company also submitted reports to Egyptian Minister of Military Production Mohamed Al-Assar concerning the factories of Schneider Electric in France and the experts we have. We aim to sign agreements to participate in the project in the coming period.

Is the company planning to increase its business in North Africa and the Levant?

We are working on medium- and long-term plans to implement contracts in North African and Levant countries, and we set our priorities to expand our volume of business during the coming period in Libya, Iraq, and Syria, given political and economic stability. Schneider Electric will participate in an exhibition in Iraq next week.

Syria, Libya, and Iraq need to establish new infrastructure. We can implement projects with investments of up to €600m. Schneider Electric supplied 80% of the electrical grid in Sudan.

What are the latest developments and solutions provided by the company in the Egyptian market?

The company is leading the digital transformation of power management and automated control of homes, buildings, data centres, infrastructure, and industries, and it collaborates with the Egyptian electricity sector to support the development plans of energy production facilities and strengthening the energy sector strategy in all fields of energy production, whether traditional or renewable.

The company allocates 5% of its annual revenues to research, development, and training sectors, which it uses to implement its commitments to the communities in which it operates.

Is Schneider Electric involved in the promotion of electric vehicle technology?

Schneider Electric specialises in energy management and automatated control, and it signed a partnership with Revolta Egypt, the leading company in the construction of the first infrastructure for electric vehicles in Egypt, to create the first network of charging stations for electric cars in the country.

Schneider Electric will provide electric vehicle charging solutions (EVLink) in several governorates. The first phase includes the establishment of 65 charging stations in seven governorates to enable owners of electric cars to charge their vehicles at gas stations, shopping malls, restaurants, clubs, cinemas, and universities.

Revolta Egypt will be the first supplier of electric cars in the Egyptian market by offering a range of electric cars from Hyundai and Tesla.

 

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El Mostakbal negotiates with pioneering companies to develop 1,000 feddans in Mostakbal City https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/28/el-mostakbal-negotiates-pioneering-companies-develop-1000-feddans-mostakbal-city/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/28/el-mostakbal-negotiates-pioneering-companies-develop-1000-feddans-mostakbal-city/#respond Wed, 28 Mar 2018 07:00:57 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=655249 EGP 3.5bn total contract for first, third phases of Mostakbal City, says Nasif

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El Mostakbal for Urban Development, the master developer of Mostakbal City, located in the eastern extension of New Cairo on an area of 11,000 feddans, the equivalent of 45 million square meters, will complete the city’s infrastructure by the end of 2019, according to Essam Nasif, chairperson of El Mostakbal for Urban Development.

Daily News Egypt sat down with Nasif to discuss the details of partnership agreements and Mostakbal City’s development process.

What are the current negotiations with real estate developers to acquire lands at Mostakbal City?

Negotiations are under way with Pioneers real estate developers for nearly 1,000 feddans of Mostakbal City. We are scheduled to decide on these offers during the current year.

El Mostakbal aims to cooperate with real estate developers in different sectors (residential, educational, health, commercial, retail, entertainment, hospitality, sports, and clubs) to take part in the development of Mostakbal City. The cooperation with those developers requires different interfaces, as a flexible approach to address the various needs and requirements of Mostakbal City.

What is the update regarding the third phase of the city?

The company has successfully completed the contract for the development of all residential areas of the third phase, which is located on an area of approximately 1,700 Feddans, by the end of 2017. Only some service areas remain in the framework of rapid development rates In order to deal with the successive changes in the local real estate market, which is forcing the company to review and modernize its plans constantly in line with those changes.

Who are the company’s main clients?

The company has completed contracts for the first and third phase of Mostakbal City with a total area of about 3200 Acres, ranging from residential to service areas.

The company has contracted with Al Ahly for Real Estate Development, ARDIC for Real Estate Development and Investment, Wadi Degla Development, Grand Plaza for Real Estate and Touristic Investment, Al Rabwa for Integrated Educational Services, Beta Egypt, Tatweer Misr, Hassan Allam Properties, and the last client the company has contracted with is Maxim for Real Estate Investment. These contracts varied between bids, direct allocations, and partnerships

As the master developer of Mostakbal City, we have a strong selection process in place for developers—based on a number of technical and financial criteria—who are willing to partner with us in developing the city, as El Mostakbal is flexible in the methods of land allocation for developers, using different tools such as biddings, direct allocation, or partnerships.  This is a necessary part of our process to ensure that we select developers with strong credentials in terms of resources, capabilities, and expertise.

What are the updates regarding the infrastructure of Mostakbal City?

A protocol has been signed with the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) to supply Mostakbal City project with water at a cost of EGP 1.7bn. According to the protocol, the NUCA will provide the drinking water needed for the city, about 250,000-300,000 cubic metres per day.

The company has already completed the contract on the main utilities for the first and third phases. The contract for the supply and implementation of the 220/22K of the city terminal (1) was completed at a total cost of EGP 300m.

The completion of the works is expected to be completed during the last quarter of 2019. In addition, the contract for the supply and implementation of medium-voltage and telecommunications networks for the first phase was completed at a cost of EGP 620m and the completion of the works is expected during the last quarter of 2019.

The contract for the supply and implementation of 220 kb ground connection cables at a cost of EGP 321m is expected to be completed during the fourth quarter of 2019.

The contract is being finalised for the implementation of 220 kb aerial cables at a cost of EGP 151m. The completion of the works is expected during the last quarter of 2019. Contract procedures are being completed for the transfer of lines on the northern border and the eastern border of Mostakbal City project at a total cost of EGP 180m and expected completion of the works during the last quarter of 2019.

What is the value of the contracts?

We have contracts worth EGP 3.5bn signed with construction companies for the infrastructure and facilitates of the city, with a fixed price for 18 months.
Starting in 2020, companies will begin to deliver the first phase of their projects.

What other activities will the city include?

The company has received offers for the implementation of some logistical projects in the city, which are currently being studied. The activities should be chosen in a way that does not conflict with the nature of the project and in accordance with the general policy of the company and according to the master plan of the city.

What is your opinion regarding the New Administrative Capital project?

The New Administrative Capital, with its activities and achievements, raises the level of urbanisation in East Cairo. Also, the services carried out contribute positively to all ongoing projects in the region and to the expected urban integration.

It is necessary to have some kind of integration between the master plan and the work plan for all projects that are implemented in the extension of New Cairo, so as not to duplicate these projects.

What is your opinion regarding the real estate market?

Real estate investment in Egypt showed great flexibility and consistency during 2017, as all the indicators showed that the real estate market will be confused by the changes to reform the economic situation, but the companies were able to achieve good sales during 2017, reflecting the strength and solidity of this sector and its ability to cope with various crises.

This is due to its many factors, the most important of which is that the demand for real estate activities in Egypt is driven by a large purchasing power resulting from the large population increase, which requires the provision of units that meet the needs of all segments, which makes the demand in the market real and directed to the actual use of housing.

The relative stability in the exchange rate of the pound against the dollar, and the stability of construction prices, push for relative stability in real estate prices. I expect that the real estate market will not see any new price hikes in 2018, but I expect a slight increase in cost prices and thus selling prices can be absorbed by the market. 

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City Edge Developments targets EGP 1bn in sales this year in Etapa Project https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/28/city-edge-developments-targets-egp-1bn-sales-year-etapa-project/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/28/city-edge-developments-targets-egp-1bn-sales-year-etapa-project/#respond Wed, 28 Mar 2018 06:00:41 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=655241 Company plans to launch a new project in the North Coast this summer, says CEO

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Daily News Egypt sat down with Amr El Kady, CEO of City Edge Developments, to discuss the company’s development plans.

What are the projects the company is developing?

The company is developing two projects with total investments of EGP 5.5bn; a residential compound in Shiekh Zayed City, and a mixed-use project located 400 meters away from the first one.

Etapa, our flagship project, is an integrated smart residential compound that allocates 86% of its area for greenery and open spaces, while the remaining 14% is dedicated to the establishment of 493 units. The project is located on an area of 77 acres, with total initial investment of approximately EGP 2bn, provided by self-financing with the value of the land fully paid. The first phase of the project was launched last month achieved EGP 250m in sales, this phase represents about 10% of the project’s total number of units. The company also plans to launch the second phase next month, which represents another 10% of the project’s units and other phases throughout the year according to the construction and sales rates.

We started the earth works at Etapa after obtaining the ministerial approval for the project. Moreover, the mixed-use project licenses are currently in progress and we expect to obtain it very soon especially in light of the facilitations offered by the Ministry of Housing for the real estate developers to support the development movement and real estate investment.

The second project is a mixed-use development covering 14 acres with total investments of EGP 3.5bn, offering a range of commercial buildings along with medical, entertainment, as well as hospitality. The commercial part will be offered for rent to maintain and control the quality and activities of the project, while the medical and administrative parts of the project will be offered for sale.

What is the value of investment that will be allocated in 2018?

We plan to inject investments of EGP 1bn in both projects during the current year, especially with the company’s plan to accelerate construction rates. City Edge aims to achieve contractual sales of EGP 1bn in Etapa project by the end of 2018. In addition, the company plans to expand its participation in regional and international exhibitions to market both projects.

What are the company’s expansion plans?

The company plans to launch a new project in the North Coast next summer, in order to diversify its investment portfolio, and we will announce its details when it is launched, which will be a first of its kind.

The company’s vision is to ultimately be the national brand for premium real estate developments in Egypt, based on an ambitious expansion strategy capitalizing on its shareholder operational, financial resources and administrative structure capable of implementing that ambitious plan.

How do you see the competition between real estate developers?

There is a great competition in the real estate market in general and in Sixth of October city in particular, especially with the emergence of a range of projects with a high level of distinction recently. In addition, companies are providing different mechanisms of paying instalments that are attractive to clients, which leaves the client to be the main factor in this competition.

Moreover, target clients will be divided on all real estate companies operating in the market, especially with multiple options available to them, which is in the interest of clients, who are able to choose from many available choices. Therefore we aspire to set trends through the products we present to the market and achieve a satisfying customer experience.

How do you promote your export real estate strategy?

The export of real estate properties should primarily target non-Egyptian clients in order to obtain foreign currency to support the local economy. In addition, studies show that there are several nationalities that prefer to buy properties outside their home countries, which encourages real estate investors to compete in providing products appropriate for exporting.

What are the most promising areas for investing in real estate?

The new cities in general are the most promising; such as New Mansoura and New Alamein, as well as Upper Egypt’s new cities. These areas also include potential clients with high purchasing power according to studies and market research; also, previous experiences of developers in these areas support this trend.

Given its expansion plan, will the company resort to taking loans from banks?

All financing choices are available to the company as needed, and it seeks to create a strong management structure capable of achieving the ambitious expansion plan of the company. City Edge Developments is a partnership between the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) owning 60%, the Housing and Development Bank (HDB) with 38%, and the Holding Company for Investment & Development with 2%, with a total capital of EGP 1.3bn. Through providing the best in class standards, the company’s vision is to ultimately be the national brand for premium real estate developments in Egypt.

What are the international real estate exhibitions that the company will participate in?

The company plans to participate in the Egyptian Property Show in Dubai in April, targeting Egyptian expatriates there, in addition to GCC clients who want to acquire units in Egypt. Furthermore, granting accommodation for foreigners who purchase property in Egypt is the most important mechanism supporting that trend. Nevertheless, the presence of the NUCA in the company’s structure gives us great confidence both in the domestic and foreign markets.

What is your opinion regarding price increase in the market in 2018?

The market has experienced price increases of 30% since the floatation of the Egyptian pound, which does not represent the full increase in the cost of construction, as developers have endured part of the increase through offering payment periods up to 10 years in addition to lowering down-payments, which sometimes reach 0%, despite the price increases. This year I expect a reasonable increase in prices ranges between 15 – 20% if construction materials remain controllable.

 

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Egypt to inaugurate Grand Egyptian Museum in H2 2018  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/26/egypt-inaugurate-grand-egyptian-museum-h2-2018/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/26/egypt-inaugurate-grand-egyptian-museum-h2-2018/#respond Mon, 26 Mar 2018 08:00:58 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=654890 We received new $450m loan from Japan to complete museum, Tawfik says

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On the opposite side of the Giza pyramid complex, the Grand Egyptian Museum is being built, planned to be the world’s largest museum, aiming to attract 5 million visitors annually in its first phase and 10 million in the second phase.

The museum includes commercial and recreational services, restoration centres, and a garden where there will be special species of trees displayed that used to be planted in ancient Egypt. The project’s cost is estimated at $1bn, of which Japan offered $300m as a soft loan. The museum is expected to feature more than 100,000 artefacts from the Pharaonic, Greek, and Roman eras, which will greatly boost the tourism sector in Egypt. The museum is due to be partly opened in the second half of this year.

Director General of the Grand Egyptian Museum Tarek Tawfik spoke to Daily News Egypt on the preparations for the museum’s opening and the challenges and obstacles that faced its leadership in the construction phase.

What has been accomplished so far in the Grand Egyptian Museum?
We have completed the concrete and metal works, while the interior and exterior finishing, main squares, and roads leading to the museum will be completed within a few weeks. The new Cairo West Airport will be near the Grand Egyptian Museum and this will contribute to more tourist inflow to Giza.

Director General of the Grand Egyptian Museum Tarek Tawfik spoke to Daily News Egypt on the preparations for the museum’s opening and the challenges and obstacles that faced its leadership in the construction phase.  
(DNE Photo)

What were the main challenges that faced the construction of the museum and how did you overcome them?
The nature of the museum’s location was an obstacle, but we managed to overcome that problem.

What do the preparations for the museum’s opening entail? 

The iconic statue of Ramses II, transferred from Ramses Square, will be the first thing visitors see at the museum’s main entrance, followed by the great stairway, which will feature about 87 artefacts including statues and architectural elements. It will lead to the two halls of Tutankhamun, which were built on an area of ​​7,000 sqm. They include 5,000 artefacts, of which 4,200 pieces have been already sent to the storages and laboratories of the Grand Egyptian Museum. Only the large Tutankhamun artefacts are still featured at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Tahrir Square, and they will be transferred to the Grand Egyptian Museum right before the opening. The theatrical exhibition of Tutankhamun in the first phase of the museum was prepared in parallel, and we took serious steps to complete it soon.

How are you preparing for the opening and when do you expect it to be? 

The opening will be in the second half of 2018. We are currently coordinating with all concerned bodies, most notably the Ministries of Antiquities and Tourism, the cabinet, and the presidency, to determine the appropriate date of the inauguration. We aim to open the first phase in the coming tourist season of 2018. We recently watched the huge opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and we aim to capture the attention of the world through the opening ceremony of the Grand Egyptian Museum, benefiting from the unique location of the museum beside the Giza pyramids.

We target 5 million visitors annually in the first phase of the museum, and 10 million in the second phase two years later. The Egyptian president and a number of world leaders are expected to attend the opening ceremony, including the emperor of Japan or his representative and the Indian president.

What steps have you taken to restore the artefacts that will be featured in the museum?
We will pose a global tender soon for the preparation of the two main halls. We have also set the layout for featuring huge monuments that will be placed in the main atrium. It was agreed that 87 monuments and paintings should be placed there. We were planning to feature more than that, but we reconsidered the number of monuments, taking into account the visual dimension of the stairway, the size of each piece, and the distribution which would allow visitors to understand the story of each artefact.

How do you see the criticism of the partial opening of the museum, instead of a full opening? 

I respect all the views, but it is normal for large projects to be opened in phases. The partial opening will be spectacular and will feature more than 5,000 artefacts, which is larger than any other complete museums’ openings in major foreign countries. Therefore, this partial opening can be considered a full opening of the museum.

What is the total area of ​​the first phase?
The main atrium, the great stairway, and the two Tutankhamun halls were built on an area of 23,000 sqm, besides another 27,000 sqm area. It means that the first phase will be on an area of ​​50,000 sqm out of total 117 feddans allocated for the project. The remaining area will include hotels, restaurants, and other exhibition areas.

How was the funding for the Grand Egyptian Museum secured? 

The museum’s management, in cooperation with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, succeeded in obtaining another loan from Japan worth $450m in 2016, besides the first loan worth $300m. The Armed Forces Engineering Authority also contributed to rationing expenditures to overcome the challenges of inflation and the flotation of the pound. The cost of construction has not increased despite the inflation, as we used local materials instead of imported ones.

Explain further how you were able to overcome the financing problem after the flotation? 

We used local materials of high quality. Some of the museum’s walls will be covered with local marble to give the sense of sunlight, with the same quality of imported materials. It saved a lot of expenses, up to several millions of dollars.

Why did the museum’s management not use local materials from the very beginning? 

When Egyptian officials launched the project in 2002, the economic situation was different, and the tourist flow was great. However, when we started to implement the first phase, we faced a budget deficit. Therefore, we used appropriate local alternatives to reduce spending without affecting the design of the building.

How will the museum be a part of the pyramids area? 

Currently, we are working on a plan to develop El Remaya Square in cooperation with the Ministries of Planning, Tourism, Antiquities, Interior, and Transportation. The plan aims to expand the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road alongside the Grand Egyptian Museum. The local development authority will relocate a bus stop to another area far from the museum, so that buses can drop off visitors at the museum and then return to their stop.

What about the new metro station planned for the area? 

We are coordinating with the National Authority for Tunnels to open the Grand Egyptian Museum metro station to serve the Egyptians who wish to visit the museum and to reduce traffic congestion.

 

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Human resources, immigration, public education are recipe for Swiss success: James Breiding   https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/25/human-resources-immigration-public-education-recipe-swiss-success-james-breiding/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/25/human-resources-immigration-public-education-recipe-swiss-success-james-breiding/#respond Sun, 25 Mar 2018 06:00:18 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=654693 Author of Swiss Made: The Untold Story Behind Switzerland's Success visited Cairo to sign Arabic edition of his best-seller book

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Switzerland, a tiny country with limited natural resources, brightly succeeded in turning from poverty to prosperity and has reached a high status among international economies. Swiss Made: The Untold Story Behind Switzerland’s Success discusses how such a small country could achieve such progress. In the book, by American-Swiss writer R James Breiding, the author tries to reveal Switzerland’s recipe for success in producing remarkable innovations, ideas, and products in various industries, not just the well-known ones like banking, watchmaking, and chocolates, but also pharmaceuticals, machinery, and even textiles, explaining how Switzerland has become an entrepreneurship “paradise” for investors from across the world.

Breiding is an investor and visiting scholar, elected a fellow at Harvard’s Center for International Development, and is the founder and owner of Naissance Capital, a Zurich-based investment firm. He writes for The Financial Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist. He visited Cairo from 18-23 March to launch the Arabic edition of his book. His best-selling book has already been translated to seven languages, including French, German, Japanese, and Chinese. It was originally published by the British book publishing firm Profile Books in the UK in 2013.

“The book is issued in seven languages before we decided to include Arabic too, especially since we have more than 350 million Arab readers, so ‘why don’t we issue an edition in Arabic?’ I asked Breiding, and he agreed, so I acquired the rights to start,” said John McCarthy, publisher of the book’s Arabic edition, adding both men are very excited to launch it from Cairo as it is “the culture capital of the Arab world.”

Daily News Egypt interviewed Breiding to discuss about his book, his visit to Cairo, key aspects of Swiss success, and whether Egypt can follow the Swiss model. Below is the transcript of the conversation, lightly edited for clarity.

How did Switzerland change its past, present, and future to be at the top of the international market with a strong economy and success in different industries?

Well, there are many secret aspects that contribute to this success. We are a very poor country in terms of natural resources, so we decided to depend on human resources instead. We had no oil or cows, except maybe for milk cows. So we started producing innovations, ideas, and products.

Speaking of human resources, Switzerland has notable experience in qualifying individuals through public education. How has this helped the country?

I think the biggest secret of the country’s success is that everyone is guaranteed equal opportunities for outstanding levels of education.  Switzerland has a comprehensive public schools system of a very high level, which is for all people without discrimination. All citizens start in the same system. The success of this model of public schooling makes going to a private school considered a failure. It’s a negative aspect in our country. This is opposite to other places which look at private schools as a positive thing.

I think the third aspect of success is that you don’t have to hold a college degree from an outstanding university. This tends to be the mindset in France, the US, and the UK, not in Switzerland. Here, young individuals have choices from an early age (15-18 years old) to decide whether they are meant to enter the academic field, research, or meant to be applying knowledge through repairing elevators and making watches, etc. Even if after that you feel your choice was wrong, you have the chance to start again due to the flexibility in the education system, which prepares them to get better jobs that match the economy as well as their skills.

Do think all these advantages that Swiss people enjoy are the result of the country’s success or causes?

I believe they are causes more than results. Public education is a cause, immigration is a cause, human resources are a cause.
How does immigration contribute to this success?

Immigrants are very important to Switzerland’s success; they are bringing new ideas and more energy. They are more prepared to take risks, they are already outside of their comfort zones, they don’t have families or friends, and all they want is to start, from a new country, their projects. I think that all the major Swiss companies had been founded usually by an immigrant alone or in partnership with Swiss citizens.

How did Switzerland’s political system affect the country’s progress?

I believe that the political system is very unique in Switzerland as it gives people a hand in controlling their own lives without someone who determines their future. Self-reliance upgrades our society. Even though countries such as France, Egypt, and China are top-down, Switzerland is not like them, as the most important person is the citizen, with the people at the top. The system should give people power to make achievements.

Can Switzerland maintain such success?

We can maintain our achievements through appreciating and understanding where we came from, reminding ourselves that it is not easy, but is getting more difficult. This is something we should be proud of. I think what makes Swiss people successful is that they put values and social norms into success.

Swiss voters rejected, by nearly 77%, a proposal to introduce a universal basic income in 2016. Do you think this goes against Swiss values?

Well I think that Switzerland is like a laboratory, in need of a political system which has so many referendums to decide a lot of issues publicly and openly. But sometimes, we have referendums which are negative, and then five years later they may pass. However, this has benefits in raising debates and awareness of many issues. I think in these cases, people are sensitised to the issue and it isn’t rejected a hundred percent. But it goes against the core concepts of self-reliance.

Do think that Egypt can apply the Swiss model?

Of course, if it can create an environment to attract entrepreneurs, for example, and young people, encouraging them to take risks and undertake new businesses. If it could do things to encourage them, it would be something positive. If it could improve its education system and allow people to have an equal opportunity of outstanding education, that would be also a plus. It also can look at how Switzerland is very successful in developing certain clusters of industries, such as machines or pet food, whatever it might be.

You are here in Cairo, signing the Arabic edition of your book. How do you feel about that?

I am very excited to be in Cairo, and to be honest, I wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea at the beginning. It was John [McCarthy]’s idea, I was a little bit busy with my new book. But I realised that there are more than 350 million people who speak the Arabic language and that I don’t know so much about the Arab world and culture, so I found it as an opportunity for me to learn more about them.

Tell us more about your next book?

My new book, Too Small to Fail, talks about how some small countries are very successful, depending on the environment, clean energy, etc, like Ireland and Singapore.  And how they excel over big countries.

What’s your advice for individuals and countries which are struggling to succeed?

Pick a little area and dominate it, pick some part of a business and be extremely good at it. That would be my advice and then the whole world is yours. Why is Egypt successful at running the Suez Canal? Because it is a unique project and it runs it very well, though of course it can be taken to the extreme. Also, Egyptian cotton is the best cotton in the world; you can have that again. We live in a world where customers can come from anywhere and money can come from anywhere, thanks to technology.

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$5.6bn in trade between Egypt, US; expectations of greater growth this year: Boughner https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/22/5-6bn-trade-egypt-us-expectations-greater-growth-year-boughner/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/22/5-6bn-trade-egypt-us-expectations-greater-growth-year-boughner/#respond Thu, 22 Mar 2018 06:00:21 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=654475 The United States is actively working with Egypt to enhance trade relations between them and expand their bilateral trade flow, said Minister Counsellor for Economic Affairs at the US Embassy in Cairo James Boughner. He added, in response to emailed questions from Daily News Egypt, that the US is deliberating “with the Egyptian government to …

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The United States is actively working with Egypt to enhance trade relations between them and expand their bilateral trade flow, said Minister Counsellor for Economic Affairs at the US Embassy in Cairo James Boughner. He added, in response to emailed questions from Daily News Egypt, that the US is deliberating “with the Egyptian government to facilitate US exports, including by recognising international standards on food products and automobiles, and eliminating extra tariffs on consumer products that increase the costs of some US products for Egyptian consumers.” Below is a lightly edited transcript of his remarks.

What measures can be taken to increase trade between the United States and Egypt?

The US-Egypt Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) forum meets periodically to discuss issues impacting the two countries; the last meeting took place in Cairo in December, with meetings between senior representatives of the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and the Office of the US Trade Representative. A follow up meeting is planned for the near future. The goal of these talks is to eliminate barriers to increased bilateral trade.
There are also a number of areas where we are now working with the Egyptian government to facilitate US exports, including by recognising international standards on food products and automobiles, and eliminating extra tariffs on consumer products that increase the costs of some US products for Egyptian consumers.
Over $700m per year in Egyptian goods are able to enter the United States market duty-free under the Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ) programme.

What is the expected growth rate of trade between Egypt and the US in 2018?
Two-way trade between the US and Egypt reached $5.6bn in 2017. This is a 13% increase over 2016. The textiles and petroleum sectors are the largest sources of Egyptian exports to the United States. Given the efforts that the Egyptian government has made to improve economic conditions, and the strong interest from US companies in doing business in Egypt, we are optimistic that the growth will continue and even accelerate.

A tour of a group of Egyptian companies, the door-knock mission to the United States, just concluded. Will Egypt have similar visits from American companies to invest in Egypt?
We are looking forward to welcoming a major business delegation from the United States later in the year.
The US Embassy in Cairo also regularly hosts visits by US companies that come to look for opportunities in Egypt.

What are the most important incentives that the Egyptian government should provide to American companies for investment?
US companies typically look at a range of parameters. A stable regulatory environment, for example, is important to businesses wanting to invest for the long-term. Simplifying procedures for exporters is another important element.  Many investors looking at Egypt see the potential for the country to serve as an export hub. That is good for the investors and good for Egypt.

When will the second TIFA meeting between the two countries take place and when will the agreement be activated?
We are planning to hold the next round of TIFA talks soon. The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement has been in place for several years; it is essentially an agreement to meet regularly to discuss and resolve trade issues.

What are the industries that have the possibility of joining the free zones agreement known as the QIZ to achieve maximum benefit from the agreement?
We have a great tool in the Qualifying Industrial Zone (QIZ) programme. It is a terrific opportunity for Egypt and we hope to see more activity in it over the coming years. It offers duty-free treatment for all exports to the US, across all sectors, for qualifying participants, who incorporate a certain amount of inputs or raw materials from Israel in the product being exported.
There is no limitation on sectors that can be included in the QIZ. All sectors are eligible. The current companies utilising the QIZ benefits are textile manufacturers and food processing plants, but other industries are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity. We see potential in ICT products, footwear, and higher-end textile products.

What is the impact of the economic reforms undertaken by the Egyptian government on the climate of foreign investment in general and on American companies in particular?
As the economy continues to strengthen and financial conditions improve under the reforms currently being implemented, including new laws governing investment, industrial licensing, bankruptcy, capital markets, and other measures, we expect to see continued increases in foreign investment in the stock market and in foreign direct investment. We also expect that more foreign companies will consider making investments in Egypt, including expanding existing operations, mergers and acquisitions, and in greenfield investments.

How do you see the Suez Canal development project and do US companies want to invest in that region? What kind of investments or projects can US companies operate in?
The Suez Canal Special Economic Zone represents a real opportunity for foreign companies that want to take advantage of a favourable regulatory environment and Egypt’s free trade agreements to manufacture goods for export to Africa and the Middle East.

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30-50% increase in Umrah programme prices in upcoming season: Basel El-Sisi  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/21/30-50-increase-umrah-programme-prices-upcoming-season-basel-el-sisi/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/21/30-50-increase-umrah-programme-prices-upcoming-season-basel-el-sisi/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:00:04 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=654366 The prices of Umrah programmes will increase by at least 30–50% in the first phase of the upcoming pilgrimage season, according to Basel El-Sisi, former trustee of the Egyptian Travel Agents Association. A programme that was worth EGP 8,000 last season will be worth EGP 13,000 this season, he said, and the prices will jump …

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The prices of Umrah programmes will increase by at least 30–50% in the first phase of the upcoming pilgrimage season, according to Basel El-Sisi, former trustee of the Egyptian Travel Agents Association. A programme that was worth EGP 8,000 last season will be worth EGP 13,000 this season, he said, and the prices will jump to EGP 21,000 and EGP 25,000 in Ramadan. The prices of VIP Umrah programmes are expected to reach EGP 75,000 to EGP 100,000 per pilgrim.

He expects the number of Umrah pilgrims to reach 400,000 during the upcoming season.

El-Sisi added, during an interview with Daily News Egypt, that the obstacles facing the Umrah season have already started to show, from the government setting the number of pilgrims 500,000 to the logistics of transporting the pilgrims and obtaining their retinal scans through the company Tasaheel.

What are your expectations for the upcoming Umrah season?

The prices of Umrah programmes will increase by at least 30-50% during the first phase. A programme that cost EGP 8,000 last season will reach about EGP 13,000 this season.

The Ministry of Tourism has determined the number of Umrah pilgrims to be 500,000. The season will be divided into two parts, the first extending until the end of Shaaban, which targets about 400,000 pilgrims. The second starts from early Ramadan and targets 100,00 pilgrims.

How do you see the obstacles of the upcoming Umrah season?

The main obstacle is the company that manages the procedures of retinal scanning. If 15 people applied to obtain the scans, this would require 25 days to finish the process, which is a long period that obliges tourism companies to gather the final count of pilgrims at once and submit their applications at the same time to save time.

This obstacle will result in reducing the number of Umrah pilgrims during the first phase to become less than 300,000, while the targeted number is 400,000. The issue of retinal scans was not considered by tourism companies.

The difficulty of the current period due to the retinal scanning process will lead to an increase in prices, which will eventually have a negative impact on pilgrims. Additionally, there are the fees determined by Saudi Arabia, which are worth SAR 2,000.

Tasaheel increased the cost of the retinal scanning during the past two days per person from EGP 95 to EGP 150 without justification nor oversight by the concerned authorities.

Is the Ministry of Tourism aware of this increase in the retinal scan fees?

This increased happened suddenly. The Ministry of Tourism does not really play a supervisory role over Tasaheel. The concerned parties in this case would be both the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior. In the end, the government is fully responsible for this issue.

I wonder why the process of obtaining the retinal scans is not the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior instead of Tasaheel. It can be carried out only once, and information would be saved about each pilgrim for further use.

The government is not fully able to handle this issue.

Has the tourism sector taken part in determining the number of pilgrims with the government?

The determined number by the government is 500,000. Tourism companies have offered to postpone the upcoming season if it is in the best interest of the state.

We must be aware that Saudi Arabia has imposed a fee of SAR 2,000 for those who have already performed the rituals of Umrah during the past three years. The value will jump to SAR 3,000 if Umrah was performed in the same year. Additionally, the Egyptian government has also imposed a EGP 10,000 fee on individuals who have performed the pilgrimage in the past three years.

There is an increase in the cost of services in Saudi Arabia as well as value added tax and imposed fees. The EGP 8,000 programme will be EGP 13,000 in the upcoming season. Additionally, flight prices will increase by 75%.

How do you see the impact of the low number of pilgrims on the revenues of tourism companies?

The decline in the number of pilgrims will have a negative impact on the companies, which, in turn, will have to reduce their employment. The jobs of about 125,000 employees are threatened.

Companies that do not have the ability to provide salaries for a year will have a major crisis, as a large percentage of these companies did not expect the situation to be this bad.

The fees imposed on Umrah pilgrims will force a large number of people to resort to a visit visa, which will be equal in expenses but will allow a higher number of visits. The prices of their flights are also much lower.

I would also like to point out that the process of gathering Egyptian pilgrims and the crowding that happens at the airport is the result of Egyptians’ culture and desire to travel in large groups and return at the same time. There is no proper infrastructure for this kind of crowding.

When 300,000 Egyptians travel during the 45-day period before Ramadan, the prices of accommodation at hotels will increase, and this is something that the pilgrims themselves will have to bear.

Do you think that tourism companies will market Umrah trips during the upcoming season?

The limited timeframe will make the idea of marketing a bit difficult because marketing requires sufficient time, and companies were surprised with the start of the season. As a result, the idea of practical marketing is absent.

Tourism companies must begin preparing for the following season and must carry out necessary studies as well as prepare solutions to problems.

There are over 2,000 tourism companies working in Hajj and Umrah programmes. Do you think the market really needs all these companies?

The past period has seen many companies entering the sector of religious tourism which created a lot more supply than needed. We have about 2,500 companies working in Hajj and Umrah programmes, which came at the expense of foreign tourism in light of the decline in inbound tourists over the past seven years.

The short-term solution for this issue is making quick decisions that address the informal entities working in the field. As for the long-term strategy, it requires making changes to the legislative structure of the entire tourism sector.

Moreover, there must be a community discussion about a unified tourism law, and the time of its issuance must be made clear, all of which requires quick procedures to control the market.

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Heitkenoffel plans to export fibre optics to Nile Basin, COMESA countries in 2019 https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/21/heitkenoffel-plans-export-fibre-optics-nile-basin-comesa-countries-2019/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/21/heitkenoffel-plans-export-fibre-optics-nile-basin-comesa-countries-2019/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 06:00:50 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=654256 Company targets 25% annual growth, plans to increase local components to 80%, Nofal says

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Heitkenoffel plans to export fibre optics manufactured at its plant in the city of Badr starting from the second half of 2019. The company aims to export to Nile Basin and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) countries, according to company chairperson Mohamed Nofal.

What are the most prominent investment opportunities you see in the sector now?

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has an initiative to expand the availability of ADSL broadband, which played a great role in stimulating the sector, especially as the plan aims to connect all government facilities via broadband services to offer sophisticated services to citizens in the sectors of health and education.

The plan required a network of modern fibre optic cables to improve the sector’s infrastructure. This development will become the backbone of 4G services, which were launched a few months ago, along with the 5G services that will be launched in the future.

This trend contributed to creating new investment opportunities in the infrastructure sector and helped us inject new investments in the sector, both in manufacturing fibre optics and their accessories.

What are the challenges facing you in the market?

Bureaucracy is among the biggest challenges we face. Some service sectors are suffering from bureaucracy, which impacts us negatively.

But last year, the sector saw an unprecedented change. The performance of many government sectors, especially those related to investment and industrial development, improved.

Heitkenoffel chairperson Mohamed Nofal

Did the investment climate improve in Egypt?

The investment climate saw much improvement recently. The simplest example is that we signed a partnership agreement with a foreign company to manufacture fibre optics in Egypt and we will, in that way, absorb new foreign direct investments. This is evidence of foreign investor confidence in Egypt and proves the improvement of the investment climate.

Hang Tung Resources is the second largest company in China in the field of manufacturing fibre optics and the fourth biggest company globally in terms of market share. Its decision to turn to Egypt reflects the strength and the importance of the Egyptian market and the investment climate here.

The company also has a plan to cooperate with us to raise the local components ratio to 80% or more, supported by manufacturing the silicon-based core parts locally within two years at most.

What is the company’s strategy in the coming period?

We aim to improve the research department of the company in cooperation with centres of the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry, such as the Industry Development Authority, to gradually increase the local component ratio.

We also aim to create an integrated community between labour and technicians involved in the manufacturing of fibre optics. This plan was initiated four years ago, but it will grow and expand faster to benefit from the presence of the modern fibre optics factory and a strong Chinese partner.

Is there a problem with finding trained labour for the industry?

There is definitely a shortage in labour. We are now working to improve expertise in the field of design and installation of fibre optics and train labour on manufacturing stages.

Do you believe the communications infrastructure is good enough?

The current infrastructure requires further modernisation and development. The available infrastructure is 60% sufficient. Telecom Egypt is still working to improve the sector in Egypt.

How did the development of infrastructure help the company’s growth?

Recently, we have experienced annual growth of 25-30%, supported by new projects to improve the communications infrastructure in cooperation with Telecom Egypt.

What about manufacturing in Egypt?

We have an operational factory in the city of Sixth of October since 1994, which produces fibre optics and copper accessories, such as conductors and network distributors. This factory offers its products to many companies, including competitors. We are one of the largest suppliers of these accessories in Egypt.

Our factory in Badr is specialised in fibre optics. It is the only factory in Egypt in that field. We operate it in partnership with one of the biggest manufacturers of fibre optics in the world.

We believe that our factory will play a big role in developing Egypt’s infrastructure as technology improves and access to internet become a necessity. Reports show that by 2022, every person will have seven devices linked to the internet, which would then require a strong infrastructure.

What is the factory’s investment value?

Total investments amount to EGP 250-300m. It is built on 27,000 sqm. The factory is being implemented over three phases, one of them is to locally manufacture the fibre optics core.

What are your plans to export fibre optics?

We plan to cover the Egyptian market’s needs of fibre optics in the first year of production. In the second half of 2019, we will begin exporting to Africa, especially the Nile Basin countries and COMESA member states.

What is the magnitude of the local market’s needs of fibre optics?

The market needs about 50,000 km of fibre optics. We had two production lines in China’s Hang Tung factory that produced 20,000 km of fibre optics per year. Now, one production line has been moved to the new factory in Badr, which is expected to output 9,000 km per year. The production capacity is expected to reach 22,000 km by the second half of 2019.

What is your targeted business volume growth?

We aim to increase our business size by 25% per year. This can be achieved when we rely on trained Egyptian labour. We also have a modern centre to test fibre optics, which is the largest of its kind in the Middle East and will help us expand in Africa.

Who are the most prominent partners for you in Egypt?

We have strong partnerships with many major companies, including Telecom Egypt, Vodafone, Orange, and Etisalat, along with security agencies and oil companies. Moreover, we are offering our services to the New Administrative Capital. Our team will implement installation procedures in cooperation with Telecom Egypt.

What is your plan to expand your training centre?

We offer training for fresh university graduates and undergraduates for free in cooperation with the American Fiber Optic Association (FOA), which is the largest training company for engineers and technicians in the world.

 

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Development of Sinai started in 1980s, was obstructed by terrorism: Hamid https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/20/development-sinai-started-1980s-obstructed-terrorism-hamid/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/20/development-sinai-started-1980s-obstructed-terrorism-hamid/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 06:00:47 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=654198 Authority allocated EGP 109m to provide electricity to Bedouin communities, Jubail area 

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In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Sinai Development Authority Chairperson Mohsen Hamid spoke about the development plans of the Sinai Peninsula, the conditions for land ownership and leasing in the region, and other issues that concern the people of Sinai.

What is the Sinai Development Authority?
It is an administrative authority established in the early 1980s after the great victory in the October 1973 war. It contributed to the establishment of current cities and services in Sinai.

Why was the development of Sinai delayed for years? 
The development process in Sinai began in the early 1980s, and there was a plan to settle three million citizens there, but there are only 700,000 people living in Sinai now. All the ministries and state institutions were responsible for the delay in implementing the development plans in Sinai.

How can this situation change?
There was only one tunnel connecting Sinai with the rest of Egypt. This was a big obstacle to the development there, but we now have five tunnels, and this will accelerate the development process in the Sinai Peninsula.

 

Sinai Development Authority Chairperson Mohsen Hamid

What are other factors that disrupted Sinai’s development?
In recent years, terrorism has become a major obstacle in the face of the development of Sinai. Therefore, the 2018 comprehensive military operation (Sinai 2018) was necessary to resume development there after the establishment of new tunnels.

What was the authority’s role in countering terrorism?
After the mosque attack in Bir al-Abed city, the Sinai Development Authority launched a campaign to develop houses, roads, and utilities in the region. We also carried out a cadastral survey of new Bir al-Abed city, which will be the most beautiful in Sinai.

Do current military operations affect the development process in Sinai? 

The military operations do not affect the development process in South Sinai. Actually, in some cases, they are helping it move faster. In North Sinai, the military has tightened its grip on the region and somewhat limited the movement of raw materials, but this situation will end soon after eliminating terrorism there.

Did the newcomers and new residents of Sinai integrate with the original community there? 
There is wide integration among the people of Sinai, and the authority established many housing projects there to integrate new residents with Bedouins.

Since you have lived in Sinai for many years, how do you see terrorist operations there? 

From my experience in Sinai, I realised that terrorism has no relation with the residents of Sinai, who are actually the people who most reject it, because they suffered from its effects on their lives. The Sinai people know very well that those criminals are outsiders.

What are the most important upcoming projects in Sinai?
Sinai will witness a fivefold increase in development after the 2018 comprehensive military operation, as each ministry will take charge of part of the development process there.

What are the last projects in South Sinai?

The last project was the development of Umm Al-Sayed area in Sharm El-Sheikh, which was subject to complete collapse. In addition, the authority completed the development of the Old Market area in Sharm El-Sheikh at a cost of EGP 6m, including the development of entrances to the market in Al-Nour neighbourhood, as well as the police station there. The authority is also working on the development of a number of internal roads in the city at a cost of EGP 8m.

Moreover, the authority provided basic utilities to 604 land plots in Al-Ruwaysat area and established 31 buildings, comprising 496 units, at a total cost of EGP 133.053m. The Sinai Development Authority is working now on paving the roads between residential units in Al-Ruwaysat.

The authority allocated EGP 109m to provide electricity to some Bedouin communities, Jubail area, and some places in El-Tor city.

The development work in El-Tor cost EGP 30m, while the electricity projects in Jubail are worth EGP 9m and will be completed by the end of the current fiscal year 2017/2018.

The authority provided electricity to Ramla 1, 2, 3, and 4 areas, as well as Bedouin communities of Sa’ud, Dabba Ghari, Umm Radeem, Al-Bida’a farm, Al-Huweish, and other places, at a total cost of EGP 70m.

What about the new committee formed by President Al-Sisi and headed by former PM Ibrahim Mahlab to offer land in Sinai?

The newly established North Sinai development committee, led by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s Adviser for National Projects Ibrahim Mahlab, will focus on water resources and infrastructure projects over 400,000 feddans. The committee is also preparing to tender 156,500 feddans for development projects by the end of this year.

The committee completed infrastructure works of about 125,000 feddans located in Port Said and Ismailia governorates.

The other areas are located in ​​Rabaa and Bir al-Abed and include 156,500 feddans. Another area lies in Quarer region and includes 85,000 feddans in the North Sinai.

This development project is not limited to agricultural projects, but includes the establishment of seven new urban communities, of which two are located in Qantara city. Many industries can be established in these areas, such as sugar and olive factories.

What are the obstacles that faced the project?
Some of the land owners turned their agricultural lands into fish farms. The areas in violation amount to 16,000 feddans. The fish farms consume large quantities of water. Therefore, the violators should pay fines to compensate for the wasted water. Bad security conditions in Sinai also affected the movement of companies and individuals.

What is the next step in the development plan? 
The remaining allocated feddans will be offered soon to companies and fresh graduates under an usufruct system only, unlike the first stage, where the government allowed ownership of land. All the companies operating in these areas are Egyptian. It is unlikely to accept foreign companies in the next stage. Any person or company that seeks to obtain a piece of land there must receive the necessary approval to preserve the safety of Sinai.

 

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Egypt is not on international real estate export map: Albert https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/19/egypt-not-international-real-estate-export-map-albert/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/19/egypt-not-international-real-estate-export-map-albert/#respond Mon, 19 Mar 2018 07:00:12 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=654035 Colliers expects prices to rise 10% in 2018-2019, says Colliers International Middle East director

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In an interview with Daily News Egypt, the Middle East regional director of Colliers International, Ian Albert, said that middle-market investors are facing financial issues which the government needs to address.

Since a year ago, a lot of changes have been happened in the real estate market. How do you view them?

The market is very solid. However, the currency flotation came in, the market spiked, especially the residential market, and also, there was significant positive change in the retail, lands, and office markets due to the devaluation of the Egyptian pound, which was better overall. In addition, the launching of the New Administrative Capital has a massive impact on Cairo, not only in terms of the development itself, but also what will follow it.

After cutting interest rates by 1% and the expiry of high-interest rate certificates, how do you see the market?

Interest rate statistics imply that there many are interested in the real estate market. However, inflation has a great impact on decreasing liquidity in the market. I think the parallel market was impacted by the devaluation, the development market was affected by the high interest rates, and there is a vast number of investors occupying both markets.

When inflation began to come down, that was the start of stabilisation for the parallel market and the decrease of interest rates is good for the development market.

Moreover, the type of supply which is coming from Cairo or other areas will be delivered, for example, after four, five, or seven years. The question here is where the funds will come from to execute this supply. Therefore, the government needs to address these finance issues, particularity for the middle-market sector.

I know that there are some changes in the laws, but mortgage finance should play a deep role in the development.

Do you believe that the Egyptian real estate market is facing a financial gap?

There is a gap. The country also has to address cash flow issues to allow developers to advance their businesses, as mid-size developers are facing cash flow issues.

The state has achieved great success in providing middle-income housing, like Dar Misr and Beit AlWatan projects. Do you think the state competes with developers in this area?

Absolutely, the government has achieved a boom in providing this kind of housing. The developers complain because they want to make money, but the government’s responsibility is to provide housing and push this market segment forward.

So that the developers may complain about the government is taking the market away from them. However, the developers have lots of lands and they may offer them for retail, clubs, and also residential use, and can do so alongside the government. It is a short-term effect but has a long-term impact.

Moreover, developers have to be distinctive in providing high quality products, but the government provides basic services and is not providing luxury housing.

What is your expectation for prices in the current year?

Prices are going to stabilise, and I expect that prices in 2018-2019 will increase by 10%. Besides, I think affordability is also of primary concern, as consumers are becoming more price sensitive and competition is becoming intense.

Which sectors are facing a gap in meeting demand for residential, retail, administrative, and offices?

The Egyptian population drives everything and has needs for all these sectors. I think retail activities are in most demand, specifically community retail, as there are a lot of places in entertainment retail and destination retail and new formats and new styles are needed for new generations. Nevertheless, the state is in need for educational activities and hospitals.

A bright star in Egypt’s real estate sector is office activity. Over the past five years, 90th Street in New Cairo has been rapidly establishing itself as a major commercial hub or strip in the city.

Notwithstanding, by the end of 2018, the residential market will be undersupplied by 320,000 units, a gap that will increase to 580,000 units by 2022.

This translates into approximately 52,000 required units per annum, while supply is expected to grow by 20,000 units per annum.

What is your opinion and expectation for New Alamein city, which is being developed by the state?

The development of that area is important for the development process in general, as the country needs to push and grow the middle class forward in terms of education and job opportunities. The country needs to diversify the market with blue-collar and white-collar employees, which may be achieved through providing high quality educational projects whether in New Alamein or in other areas.

How do you see the state and developers’ strategy to export real estate?

Exporting real estate is mainly aimed at Egyptian expatriates, as Egyptians who do not live in Egypt want to buy property in their country. Nevertheless, foreigners who would like to buy property in Egypt are not very many.

How do foreigners see buying Egyptian real estate property?

They do not know that there are properties to buy. Egypt, for some foreigners, is only the pyramids. Thus, it is difficult for them to invest in a market they do not really understand.

It is going to take few years for non-Arabs to invest in the real estate market in Egypt. Hence, Egypt does not have a meaningful share in exporting real estate abroad until now.

How do you see Egypt’s second homes market?

Definitely, the second homes market is seeing more growth and is developing, especially after the currency flotation, as there is much more interest for this market in the country and for some foreigners who want to buy property overseas because Egyptian property is cheap.

Which are the most promising areas in the second homes market?

Sharm El-Sheikh is still struggling to brand itself, meanwhile, the North Coast is doing good and Ain Sokhna is also popular.

How do you view the Cityscape Conference that will be held by the end of the current month?

I think it will be an interesting Cityscape this year compared to last year due to the currency fluctuations that happened in the past year. However, this year, we have worries about too much supply; where will the buyers come from? I think such conversations need to be discussed.

 

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Innoventures seeks to establish investment fund with EGP 100m capital https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/14/innoventures-seeks-establish-investment-fund-egp-100m-capital/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/14/innoventures-seeks-establish-investment-fund-egp-100m-capital/#respond Wed, 14 Mar 2018 06:00:40 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=653440 Startup Reactor offers up to EGP 300,000 funding for emerging companies

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Innoventures aims to establish an investment fund with capital of EGP 100m before the end of this year to invest in emerging enterprises. Chief executive officer, Hesham Wahby, said that the company is negotiating with several parties to establish this fund.

Wahby told Daily News Egypt in an interview that the Startup Reactor, a startup incubation programme, will hold a new round this year to increase the number of incubated companies within the programme to 20 companies before the end of 2018.

How do you see the entrepreneurship and startup sector?

The entrepreneurship sector prior to January 2011 was there, but it only kicked off and started growing exponentially following 2011. We were one of the first entities that started to encourage the industry and support entrepreneurship through the organisation of the competition Start with Google, which graduated several experts that launched their own startups shortly after.

After that, many organisations started arranging activities and launching support programmes for entrepreneurs, which contributed to the growth of this industry in the past years, especially that entrepreneurship and emerging companies have become a global trend.

Entrepreneurship creates new employment opportunities and solves many problems in terms of the environment, economy, and other aspects of life, because the solutions of entrepreneurs are dependent on innovation and creativity.

Entrepreneurship is an important industry and needs more support. In Egypt, part of the industry is unfortunately a bubble, but another part is real. This is normal in any new field.

What opportunities and challenges do you see for entrepreneurship?

Lack of funding is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry of entrepreneurship. Therefore, the sector needs greater awareness of investors about the importance of entrepreneurship and the feasibility of investing in it.

In addition, there is a particular challenge: most entrepreneurs do not have marketing, management, or other important skills to lead an emerging company.

What is the Startup Reactor? What does it offer to entrepreneurs?

The reactor is a six-month intensive programme that could extend over a year. The emerging companies are incubated for six months, during which we finance and train them to develop their skills and help them succeed, in exchange for a stake in these companies.

We invest in incubated companies with an amount ranging from EGP 50,000 to EGP 300,000. We also train them and link them to experts in their fields to help them. We also provide additional services to emerging companies, such as legal procedures for establishing the company and training them on mechanisms for developing marketing and work plans.

During the incubation period of six months, we agree with the companies to set several goals to achieve during that period, such as sales of a certain amount, or launching a certain version for the service and other short-term goals. We usually set five main goals and give the companies’ teams the flexibility to set their own goals in consultation with us. The more goals they achieve, the more funding they receive.

How many companies are incubated?

In the training we are currently working on, we will incubate 10 companies. Last year, we incubated 10 companies, following 10 others in 2016. The total number of companies that befitted from the programme now stands at 25.

This year, we aim to hold the incubation cycle twice, to work with 20 companies in one year. This will be done through an incubation cycle in the second half of this year. We also aim to launch an incubation round in Alexandria for five companies.

What are the basic criteria for incubated companies to be chosen?

There are a number of important criteria that should be present in the candidate company for incubation. The first is the presence of a strong and cohesive team with a passion for achieving their goals who have taken serious and practical steps in implementing their project. Statistics indicate that lack of a good team is the reason behind the failure of 60% of emerging companies.

The second criterion is that the idea of ​​the project must be distinct from other competitors, or entirely new and has no competitors. The service or product they offer must also have a potential for growth and expansion, locally, regionally, or globally.

The business model is also one of the most important criteria, where it must be logical and enforceable on the ground.

What share is acquired from the incubated company?

We usually hold a stake of 3-13%. Sometimes, we get less than that. This happens when we do not inject funds into the companies.

What is the total investment of the reactor so far?

So far, the total investment of the programme amounts to EGP 2m. Most of this figure was secured internally, alongside some individual investors. We also have several partnerships with strong entities, such as VC4Africa, one of the main sponsors of the reactor.

We also have a partnership with IBM, where they offer training for entrepreneurs who provide cloud computing services. We have a partnership with Studio 14, which is a design company that helps emerging companies. In addition, we also have a partnership with The Plant that assists emerging companies in terms of digital media.

Are you considering increasing investments in the reactor programme?

We are already planning to establish an investment fund with a capital of EGP 100m. There are now negotiations with several entities to establish this fund. We plan to complete the first phase in April and complete the capital fund before the end of the year.

What sectors do you focus on in startups?

We are not looking at a specific sector, but we are looking for ground-breaking new technology based on innovation and creativity. For instance, we invested in a company that manufactures agricultural waste wood and patented it.

We are also interested in investing in innovative companies, especially in the field of design.

What sectors do you see as opportunities for growth for emerging companies?

In Egypt, we see a strong opportunity for growth in the field of software and information technology, in addition to ideas related to clean technology such as waste recycling or environmentally friendly products and services, and technology related to improving efficiency in the industrial and agricultural sectors.

For example, a company that has been incubated in this cycle of the programme creates a machine to cut sugar cane automatically, which reduces the cost of harvesting the crop, and reduces waste of the crop.

When do you leave the company you invest in?

The overall success rate of startup companies is no more than 10%. If the companies attract funding from venture capital funds, the expected success rate increases to 20-30%. We aim to exit companies in four to five years.

How many companies have you left so far?

We have exited one company: QP. This company works to improve the productivity of small cheese factories using advanced machines that are manufactured in Egypt. We exited this company after one year, with a value five times the funds we injected.

Are the current economic conditions affecting the investment climate in the emerging companies sector?

Economic conditions have affected traditional sectors such as real estate, tourism, and leisure activities. Long-term investments have not been affected. In addition, more attention has been paid to technology that solves problems, despite economic conditions.

How do you see Egypt compared to other countries in the Middle East in the field of entrepreneurship?

There is a greater attraction to the UAE and Jordan in entrepreneurship as the entrepreneurial environment is clearer and more mature than Egypt. The laws are easier. The Egyptian market is still the largest in this activity. Even Dubai-based investment funds monitor emerging companies in Egypt to invest in them.

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Egypt among countries facing cyber threats in 2018: Kaspersky Lab https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/07/egypt-among-countries-facing-cyber-threats-2018-kaspersky-lab/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/07/egypt-among-countries-facing-cyber-threats-2018-kaspersky-lab/#respond Wed, 07 Mar 2018 11:00:57 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=652781 2018 could see ransomware attacks on industrial sector to obtain cryptocurrency, Suvorov says

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Egypt is one of the countries likely to face cyber threats in this age, according to a report by Kaspersky Lab. About 58% of computers in Egypt have fallen victim to hackers.

Andrey Suvorov, Kaspersky Lab’s head of critical infrastructure protection for global markets, told Daily News Egypt that digital attacks includes 11 trends, most prominently ransomware attacks on the industrial sector to obtain cryptocurrency payments.

What is your vision of opportunities and challenges in the Egyptian market in 2018?

There is always research in the global and regional markets seeking cybersecurity against potential cyber threats. We are always sharing the findings of such research with the government and industry officials and major companies for them to be aware of possible threats.

According to our researches, there are 400 million users linked to Kaspersky’s network, which reflects confidence in our solutions. Many of those clients have a direct connection to the company’s cloud computing network, which enables them to receive updates immediately to face any potential risk or threats.

For instance, if a threat is found in Asia, all clients linked to Kaspersky’s cloud will receive the security updates for this threat, even if they are located far from the region where the threat emerged.

Our data show that cyber threats and digital attacks on the industrial sector account for 25% of total computers, meaning that one in every four computers in the industry sector is exposed to hacks.

Moreover, we can see that Egypt is one of the main countries that faces cyber threats, especially on computers linked to the industrial sector.

A study conducted by the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) at Kaspersky showed that Egypt was the country facing most attacks on critical infrastructure in the Arab region in 2017 through to January 2018.The study revealed that the alarming rate amounted to  58% of computers linked to industry in Egypt, including supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and human machine interface being attacked in that period. The main sources of threats faced by these systems came from the internet (37%), removable devices (23%), email (5%), and networked folders (2%).

Internationally, reports suggest that 54% of the industry sector suffered one to five hacking attempts over one year.

A year ago, the situation was different. Clients did not want to share the threats they face. Yet, now, they resort to our company for advice if they face cyber threats.

How can users be encouraged to use cybersecurity applications?

As an official tasked with the global market, not the Egyptian one alone, I can tell you that there is a noticeable interest in Egypt in reliance on security solutions. Many of the industrial companies are now in talks with us to obtain our solutions.

Through our expertise in the Middle East; there are projects to be discussed with our partners. In general, in Egypt we focus on education and awareness to advise on the importance of Kaspersky solutions.

We also work on analysing the cybersecurity status of the targeted factory and its usage of cybersecurity solutions to identify its weak spots. For example, we conduct tests on hacking the important data filed via wifi.

In Egypt, we focus on the energy sector, being the main source for the industry field. If a security problem is incurred, many other services and factories will stop, causing many risks and financial damage.

There is a trend in Egypt to attack using the internet to hack databases of companies and government agencies. In addition, all removable storage devices could be used to spread cyber threats.

The American government removed Kaspersky’s solutions from a number of governmental agencies, allegedly for being involved in spying?

Yes, the American government did so. However, we are not spying on any of our clients. Our services are offered to many clients in the private sector in the United States with contracts worth millions of dollars.

We are now working on establishing three transparency centres that would enable clients and government agencies to test our solutions to confirm they are not used for spying and affirm the transparency level of our operations.

We offer our services for commercial purposes only without entailing any political aspects. The Interpol and the Europol both use our services.

One of the centres will be based in the United States, another in Europe, and the third in Asia.

We are also working to take all the legal measures to pursue the American government in courts on its decision to remove our programmes from their computers.

What are the global trends of cyber threats in 2018?

We have recently published our security projections for 2018, which included 11 trends on the industry sector. The most important of them is ransomware. Hackers could penetrate factories’ computers and stop their operations, seeking a ransom of millions of dollars obtained in cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin.

Researchers at Kaspersky Lab found vulnerabilities in smart hubs used to manager smart devices and sensors installed in homes. The analysis reveals that an attacker can remotely access the server of that router and download an archived file containing personal data for users within the network, which can be used to access the user’s accounts and control their home systems.

Demand for smart home network hubs is growing amid increasing popularity of smart devices that facilitate home management and make it easier for users to administer all devices and control them via the web and applications. Some of the hubs even work as a security parameter. But unifying the devices in one system makes the hub an attractive target for cybercriminals who could take it as a launching pad for remote attacks. Earlier in the year, Kaspersky Lab tested a smart home network switch to find that it had become a platform for widespread attacks based on weak password-generation algorithms and open ports. Researchers discovered during the investigation that unsafe design and many gaps in the structure of the smart device could allow criminals to reach someone’s home and control their systems.

The researchers first discovered that when a hub communicates with a server, the smart network hub sends user data that includes their credentials (username and password) necessary to log on through the web interface of the hub. In addition, other personal information such as the phone number for receiving alerts can also be included. An attacker can download the archive containing this information by sending a system request to the server that contains the serial number of the network hub, which the analysis showed the ability of criminals to discover because of simple ways to generate it.

Criminals can access serial numbers through a blind power attack, a kind of attack based on only an encrypted number. It includes trying all possible keys to decrypt this number using logic analysis, and then confirm the validity of the number by making a request to the server. If a device is registered with this serial number in a cloud system, the criminals receive a positive response confirming that the number is correct, so that they can log on to the user account and control the sensor settings and network-related controls.

Kaspersky Lab has released a report of all the information about the detected vulnerabilities to the manufacturer of the hub, which is now being addressed and repaired.

Does cryptocurrency mining form a threat?

There are several challenges there. It is linked to money, not technology. A few years ago, the bitcoin was worth $600, which now soared to over $10,000. Hackers believe that cryptocurrencies are a good source of funds and can use victims’ computers for mining.

We recently added a new tool in our software to protect computers from the risk of mining.

 

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The world has become more accepting of violence: former foreign minister https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/05/world-become-accepting-violence-former-foreign-minister/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/05/world-become-accepting-violence-former-foreign-minister/#respond Mon, 05 Mar 2018 10:00:07 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=652506 Dream of Ottoman caliphate is one of reasons why Turkey entered Syrian territory

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Nabil Ismail Fahmy is an Egyptian diplomat, from a family with a long diplomatic history. His father, a former Egyptian foreign minister, Ismail Fahmy, resigned during the Camp David negotiations in 1979. Nabil Fahmy served as foreign minister following the June 30 revolution and played a major role in resisting the isolation imposed on Egypt after the ouster of Islamist former president Mohamed Morsi.

He previously served as Egypt’s ambassador to the United States, and in August 2009, he was the founding dean of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo.

Daily News Egypt sat down with him for a wide-ranging discussion, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity and flow.

How do you see the situation in Syria after the agreement for a 30-day ceasefire?

At the beginning, we must admit that the world has become more accepting of violence against peoples. The international community has become inhumane. Syria is totally destroyed and those killed in the past few years since the beginning of the events there are more than those killed in all Arab wars with Israel.

Here, I talk about all sides; everyone bears the guilt. What happened over the years in Syria is a disgrace to everyone.

As for the ceasefire agreement, I strongly support it. And I must emphasise that it is an opportunity for serious and constructive dialogue that must be used to begin to resolve the crisis.

What caused the delayed approval of the ceasefire for more than a day in the UN Security Council?

The reason for this is the disagreement between the pro-regime and pro-opposition camps over the definition of who the terrorists are.

There is agreement that the ceasefire does not apply to fighting terrorists such as the Islamic State group (IS) and the Nusra Front. But there is disagreement over the other factions fighting the regime. While one party may regard them as terrorists, another considers them to be mere opposition factions. There are money and double standards at play here.

There was something resembling a Russian victory in Syria when Putin visited it a short while ago. Was this a temporary victory, lost to the other parties?

There is no victor in Syria and there will be no victor. Whoever claims a victory overlooks many facts. For the Russian side, it played a positive role in Syria when it restored the balance on the military’s side and also tried to find this balance on the political path.

And where does the political path go?

In any case, it is no longer acceptable to go ahead with the political process. The path of Astana, which resulted from the Sochi Conference—which included Russia, Turkey, and Iran—is not enough, and perhaps has a certain advantage at a certain stage.

But what should be done now is a three-level dialogue. First, a serious Russian-American dialogue on what is acceptable to both parties. In parallel, there must be a serious regional dialogue between Arab countries on the one hand and the stakeholders that intervene legally and illegally in Syria (Iran and Turkey) on the other.

Then, in parallel with those tracks, there should be a serious Syrian-Syrian dialogue for the original stakeholders in the matter.

We must not forget that the basis of conflict is the role and sovereignty of democracy, so the decision must ultimately be purely Syrian.

Without that, there will be no solution and no one side, or party, can resolve the conflict alone.

Of course, the solution is difficult, but the situation remains difficult and impossible.

Syrians are dying while major countries are arguing about a chapter, a point, and a word!

 

What about the Turkish intervention in Afrin? Were they obliged to intervene?

I do not see Turkey as being forced to intervene, but it is clear that Turkey is taking advantage of the imbalance in the Arab situation, to trample what it considers to be connected to Turkish territory, an ambition that ends with its desire to restore the glory of the Ottoman caliphate.

But in any case, it is totally unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.

 

 

What about the Iranian role in Syria?

The Iranian role in Syria cannot be seen in isolation from its role in the region as a whole. I generally support dialogue with Iran, but this dialogue must be preceded by confidence-building steps by Iran, especially on the security side.

Iran must start this with Saudi Arabia with measures that restore a minimum of confidence to start a dialogue that includes Syria and others. Iran now claims to have the upper hand in six Arab countries, and this is dangerous and unacceptable.

What about America’s role and its escalation against Iran?

America is not really showing a very high interest in Iran, as reflected in the statements of White House officials. America is currently busy with itself. If there is an American obsession, it is that of Trump himself, who is now facing state institutions.

Is there a movement towards American institutions isolating Trump or not enabling him to continue in office?

Indeed, there is strong opposition to him even amid the large blocs that elected him. Crises pursued him. Approval ratings reached the lowest records.

Do you think the American-Russian conflict is developing?

In the US, most institutions have a belief that Russia is the number one enemy, and this creates a crisis between the presidency and those institutions. During Trump’s campaign, his position on Russia was more positive than those institutions. He is now accused of coordinating with Russia during the presidential election. This is a very serious accusation, which, if proven, could have him ousted.

Yet, a new trend in America is emerging and highlighting the upcoming main danger: China. These matters are more important to the US than the Middle East.

Can you see a direct American intervention in the region?

I do not think so. Despite all that is said, the US is not threatened by the events in the Middle East. A direct intervention from America is not on the table so long as Israel is not in danger.

Even for Iran and the upcoming visits of a number of Gulf rulers to America, I do not think they will lead to direct confrontations and may be limited to the tightening on Iran in countries where it has intervened such as Yemen, Syria, and others.

 

What about the so-called deal of the century?

The so-called deal of the century is not clear. I do not expect that under those circumstances a final solution to the Palestinian issue will be passed. The situation is not appropriate on the ground. I only see that the expected outcome is just a kind of entertainment for the Palestinians. Of course, this has nothing to do with the Palestinian cause.

But what I fear so much is that the Palestinian issue will be traded in exchange for solving the situation in Syria as part of an agreement among a group of countries.

Everyone asks about China and its role. How do you see it?

China is coming but slowly. This is its approach. It has become the largest creditor to America and sometimes occupies the top position in the world. Economics will inevitably force it to play a political role to protect its economy. China has begun to deploy its forces in international waters after piracy started in Somalia. However, China does not tend to play an imperial or colonial role.

How do you explain Western media attacks on Egypt in the recent period?

Anyone who thinks that everything we are going through is a matter of a grand conspiracy is exaggerating, and vice versa. Not all attacks are rightful. We must not lose sight of it completely and not believe it all. It is certain that there are forces that do not want the emergence of a strong Arab country in the Middle East to become a model celebrated by others. There are also countries and political currents that always oppose us and strengthen the negative role against us.

How do we face it?

The first thing is to have great confidence. Egypt is a country that is already ancient, with a great civilisation and history.

We have held on during the past years. We must continue to endure, because independence in decisions does not come by talking, but rather, by the ability to compete in all areas. We are far behind. How come we import iron and steel from Saudi Arabia and Turkey after previously being the number one exporter of these products?

How can we strengthen our position in the region and the world?

Through expanding participation with others and with ourselves. The shrinking of the Egyptian political role is always harmful. Egypt has always been the source of all ideas and currents. We must not expand in dependence on foreign aid. Sometimes the increase in aid imposes certain opinions on you. We must continue to build ourselves economically and diversify our external relations. We have already begun to do so. Egypt is a country with a nature that forces it to improve its relationship with all parties.

 

What does the world expect from Egypt?

Egyptian leadership is not always economic, but intellectual, and political. The world is waiting for our initiatives and us moving towards resolve the crises of the region. I get asked a lot abroad: what do you want, as Arabs, in the future? Do you want a region divided on a sectarian basis or are you waiting for a new Sykes–Picot Agreement? We must look ahead to the future.

 

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MBG launches Pukka project in New Administrative Capital worth EGP 4bn https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/05/mbg-launches-pukka-project-new-administrative-capital-worth-egp-4bn/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/05/mbg-launches-pukka-project-new-administrative-capital-worth-egp-4bn/#respond Mon, 05 Mar 2018 08:00:42 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=652483 Company plans to launch another residential project in capital: Capital View, says chairman

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Master Builders Group (MBG) celebrated Saturday launching its new project “Pukka” in the New Administrative Capital for sale of its first phase, which includes 1,500 units, with prices ranging from EGP 9,000 to EGP 11,000 per sqm.

Pukka is the company’s newest project in the new capital. The project is built on 40 feddans. It consists of 50 buildings and 1,500 units.

Daily News Egypt sat down with Mahmoud Al Adl, chairperson of Master Builders Group, to talk about the project’s details and the company’s business plan.

What are the details of the Pukka project in the New Administrative Capital?

The company is one of the companies that won land from the New Administrative Capital Company to develop projects in the New Administrative Capital. Furthermore, the company has acquired the ministerial approval for project implementation.

The project is on 50 feedans; 10 of them are specified for the roads and it is located in the heart of the capital, close to at the new Nativity of Christ Cathedral. The construction area of the project represents 22.5% of the total project’s size and the rest of the space, 77.5%, is allocated for green areas, landscape, squares, and a commercial mall.

The project includes 50 buildings with sizes ranging between 800 and 900 sqm and consists of eight floors.

The mall will be built on 11% of the project’s size to serve all the residents in the project and surrounding areas, on 6,000 sqm, compromising three floors. This area will also include commercial, administrative, and medical activities.

What is the value of the investment cost for the project?

The investment cost reaches approximately EGP 4bn, which will be distributed over the four phases of the project, which will be developed over four years. Therefore, the company will develop a phase each year of the project’s lifespan. It includes 1,500 units.

What are the sizes of units in the project?

We have different sizes of units. The small sizes start from 112 sqm, to 140 sqm, 160 sqm, while the other larger sizes start from 180 sqm, 190 sqm, 215 sqm, to 230 sqm.

What is the price per square metre?

The price of a square metre ranges between EGP 9,000 and EGP 11,000, depending on the location and size of the unit.

What is the scheduled period for marketing the first phase of the project?

We will complete marketing of the first phase within three months. We offer a payment plan with a 10% down payment and installments over seven years.

What is the construction status of the project?

The company began to work on project drawings and measurements, and to study soil and boring works. However, in the first year of the project, we will start small construction works of the first 5% of the project until we collect sufficient amount of sales to start the implementation process.

What are the targeted sales of the project?

The company targets achieving EGP 5bn in sales.

What are the distinctive activities that the company will provide in its project in the New Administrative Capital?

What makes Pukka unique is the prime location, green areas, event lounge, swimming pools, clubhouse, solar system panels, pet care service, premium mall, health club, spa, and a food court.

What is the source of project funding?

The project is self-financed by the shareholders, who are investors, and also the sales of the project.

What other projects is the company developing?

We are developing several residential villages in the cities of Damietta, Mansoura, and Ras El Bar. In Ras El Bar, we have three villages: Sunset Festival, Sunset El Nakheel, and Sunset Gardens. In Mansoura, we have Al Oula City on 27,000 sqm and World Trade Centre on an area of 20,000sqm, in addition to the International Medical Centre on an area of 10,000 sqm consisting of specialised medical centres on the Nile in Mansoura city.

What is the company’s expansion plan?

I believe that the future of real estate investment is in the New Administrative Capital. From my experience, I see that all investors and clients have an eye on the capital and I think investment in the capital will last for more than 100 years.

Therefore, we plan to expand in the capital to achieve and develop more projects. Moreover, we have a plot of land in the capital on 42 feddans to launch our “Capital View” residential project.

We will start preparing for the project within a month.

Moreover, the Ministry of Health is planning to establish an integrated medical city in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital. Therefore, we plan to apply for acquiring land on 10 feedans for implementing a rehabilitation centre for disabled people, as well as for physical therapy and treatment of stadium injuries, besides clinics for sports medicine.

The price of a square metre at the medical city starts at EGP 4,500 and the construction area represents 30% of the project.

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