Interviews – Daily News Egypt https://dailynewsegypt.com Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Wed, 06 Jun 2018 10:00:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Uzbek businesspersons aim to enhance cooperation with Egypt in the field of investment and trade: Ambassador https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/06/06/uzbek-businesspersons-aim-to-enhance-cooperation-with-egypt-in-the-field-of-investment-and-trade-ambassador/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/06/06/uzbek-businesspersons-aim-to-enhance-cooperation-with-egypt-in-the-field-of-investment-and-trade-ambassador/#respond Wed, 06 Jun 2018 10:00:14 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=661775 Uzbekistan is the largest country in Central Asia with a great Islamic history. It is the country of Imam Al-Bukhari, Imam Al-Naqshabandi, scientist Al-Khawarizmi, and many others who are loved by Egyptians. From Uzbekistan came Ahmed bin Tulun, the establisher of the Tulunid dynasty. Cairo’s Azbakeya neighbourhood was named after its people. After leaving communism …

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Uzbekistan is the largest country in Central Asia with a great Islamic history. It is the country of Imam Al-Bukhari, Imam Al-Naqshabandi, scientist Al-Khawarizmi, and many others who are loved by Egyptians. From Uzbekistan came Ahmed bin Tulun, the establisher of the Tulunid dynasty. Cairo’s Azbakeya neighbourhood was named after its people.

After leaving communism behind and turning into an independent state, Uzbekistan is now noticing those who share its history and religion, with Egypt being the most prominent country, as the diplomatic relations between them began 25 years ago.

We spoke to the Uzbekistan’s ambassador to Egypt, Oybek Usmanov, about the relations between both countries, their development, their relationship with Al-Azhar, and the cooperation taking place between the two countries in terms of fighting extremism.

Why are the relations between Egypt and Uzbekistan not as deep as the historical bonds they have?

This is about to change. Many do not know that the neighbourhood of Azbakeya is named after the Uzbeks who lived there. They also do not know that Ahmed bin Tulun is the establisher of the Tulunid dynasty.

Now, after the changes that happened in Uzbekistan, we have the common will with Egypt to improve and expand relations between both counties to benefit from the experiences of each other.

When did the plan to improve the relationship start?

Since early 2005, Uzbekistan adopted a new system to develop itself through studying the situation of each country and benefiting from the positive things in it. Egypt had a great impact on the formation of the Uzbek parliament by increasing the percentage of youth and women representation to 25% and 30% respectively. Their presence is a necessity for the state’s structure.

Mass media also has an impact. Egypt is a leader in this field and has great experience that made media have a great impact on the people. We are looking forward to expanding cooperation with Egypt, especially since the current elected president of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, believes that Egypt is the gateway to Africa. Additionally, Uzbekistan holds Egypt in a very special place.

Nearly two months ago, a delegation of Uzbek businesspersons visited Egypt. What was the impact of that visit?

The visit was the first of its kind in five years. The delegation looked into enhancing cooperation opportunities in the field of investment and trade in the e-sector through forging partnerships with Egyptian businesspersons with the aim of joint manufacturing and exportation to the markets of Africa.

The delegation included the largest companies in the field of manufacturing household appliances, cables, electric wires, solar power plants, energy-saving devices, transformers, and high- and medium-voltage power cables. The embassy plans to organise several specialised visits for Uzbek businesspersons in several fields to look into entering into more partnerships over the upcoming period.

How do you see the developments in Egypt?

Uzbekistan was one of the first countries to support Egyptians to have a peaceful life and support the activities launched by the government. We believe that under the leadership of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Egypt will make many achievements and reforms in the economic and social fields in the future.

What are the objectives of the initiatives that you expanded over the past period?

These initiatives support political dialogue between the American and Uzbek leaders and support cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, agriculture, sciences, technology, tourism, and culture, as well as continue cooperation at all levels and dialogue between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of each country.

How do both countries cooperate in fighting against extremism?

President Al-Sisi and Uzbek President Mirziyoyev always stress the importance of fighting against terrorism, not only with violence but through enlightenment, education, and science. Two new Islamic centres in Uzbekistan were established. They are the International Imam Al-Bukhari Centre for Research in Samarkand and the Centre of Islamic Agriculture in Tashkent. They were established under the sponsorship of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation with the aim of enhancing tolerance, guaranteeing religious freedom, and preserving the rights of believers as well as preventing discrimination against them. 

How do you see the future of relations with Egypt?

I believe that the future is bright. Several months ago, we were celebrating 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations with Egypt. I am very confident that under the leadership of President Al-Sisi, Egypt will be achieving economic reforms and social development over the next few years. The joint political consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of both countries will work to enhance cooperation between them in all fields.

What is your relationship with Al-Azhar like, especially as the majority of Uzbeks are Muslims?

Uzbeks have great nostalgia for Egypt. A high-level delegation visited Al-Azhar and discussed several cooperation aspects with the secretary general of the Islamic Research Academy, such as utilising the expertise of Al-Azhar to establish a group of scientific centres in our country, whether through benefiting from the curricula of Al-Azhar or its educational methods, as well as generally benefiting from Al-Azhar as an educational system in that regard. This is because Al-Azhar has a special scientific and global position that makes it the most trustworthy moderate institution. This makes many countries resort to it in order to properly educate their people.

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Chinese-Egyptian cooperation expected to reach $17bn in 2019: embassy https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/06/04/chinese-egyptian-cooperation-expected-to-reach-17bn-in-2019-embassy/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/06/04/chinese-egyptian-cooperation-expected-to-reach-17bn-in-2019-embassy/#respond Mon, 04 Jun 2018 07:00:06 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=661524 Figure includes direct investments, financial agreements

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Han Bing, economic counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in Egypt, said that he expects bilateral cooperation between his country and Egypt may reach $17bn in 2019, including investments, financial support from Chinese institutions, and mutual projects, adding, “we are very optimistic regarding the future cooperation with Egypt.”

Bing told Daily News Egypt in an exclusive interview that Chinese direct investments in Egypt are just under $7bn. Moreover, Chinese financial institutions injected $5bn into the Egyptian financial market during the past two years, he said.

“Our total direct investments in Egypt are not at $600m as mentioned in some local reports. The real figure is much bigger in several sectors such as production, manufacturing, and services,” noted Bing, adding that Chinese companies have already invested more than $4bn in the oil and gas sector.

Bing said that Chinese fibreglass company Jushi invested about $570m until now into its production lines in the local market, adding that Angel Yeast Co, which is based in Beni Suef, is investing more than $130m. Moreover, New Hope Group has its own production lines for fish feed in Egypt.

A Chinese company cooperated with an Egyptian company to produce electrical transformers with about $700m in investments, added Bing.

The transcript of his interview is below, lightly edited for clarity.

Can you tell us about current financial cooperation?

During the past two years Chinese financial institutions signed agreements estimated at more than $5bn with Egyptian banks. The China Development Bank (CDB), together with Industrial Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and other Chinese financial institutions, cooperated with Egyptian banks such as the National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, and the Saudi Investment Bank.

With the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), we have a currency swap agreement, so we can say that Chinese financial institutions injected major financial packages into the local market.

A Chinese firm is cooperating with Egymac, a company producing electrical transmissions, through a Chinese loan worth more than $700m.

We are also involved in the electric train project linking Salam City and the New Administrative Capital at a total value of $1.2bn through a soft loan.

A Chinese company is implementing the Central Business District (CBD) of the New Administrative Capital with $3bn financed by Chinese banks. There is also another project being discussed by a Chinese company.

We expect another big cooperation project, which is the Hamrawein power plant project. Chinese companies offered the lowest price for the project’s tender at $4.4bn, while the Japanese offered the highest price which was $6.5bn.

Also in the energy sector, we are involved in solar stations in Benban, Aswan. The newly established bank in Egypt, Asia Infrastructure Bank (AIB), provided financing for the project.

For a long time, the CDB has been negotiating with the CBE on a new financial loan worth $1bn.When will the sides come to an agreement?

Negotiations between the China Development Bank and the Central Bank of Egypt are not concluded yet; we hope an agreement will be announced soon. However, both sides have already had very good cooperation.

A new loan is not concluded. It always requires long discussions, but it mainly depends on the Egyptian side as Egypt’s financial market has a very good situation, but if Egypt needs such a loan we will be happy to support it.

We know the financial situation in Egypt has improved compared to two years ago after offering bonds on the international markets and receiving a very good response.

We also know that international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Union praised Egypt’s economy and financial market situation.

What do you think of Egypt’s investment climate?

Reform is being implemented by the Egyptian government and I think that the investment environment in Egypt is improving, especially after issuing the new Investment Law. We notice that the authorities are more active in attracting foreign investors.

We visited the investment services centre which is very well organised and equipped to make investors feel very comfortable. We saw some international institutions were praising the Egyptian market as an investment destination.

We witnessed a new Chinese company invest in a production line for fibre optics cables in Egypt, which is the first fibre optics cables production in Egypt.

What is the name of that company?

The project was co-established by China’s Hengtong Optic-electric Co and Egypt’s HitekNOFAL Group. The company’s production of fibre optics is expected to be the world’s largest by the end of 2018.

What is the amount of their investments?

The amount of their investment is about $30m in the first phase only for one production line of the cables. However, the company will increase its investment to three of four lines to expand production.

What about the interest of new Chinese companies to invest in the market?

Some Chinese companies are mulling investment opportunities in steel production, solar energy production, and other sectors. We expect that we will have a bright future of cooperation in terms of investments.

We know Egypt is a very stable country. The election process was very smooth and we expect that the country will continue enjoying political stability.

Economic development is seeing a very good trend in Egypt. We see all the macroeconomic indicators are significantly improving. Obviously, we are very optimistic.

What are the latest trade statistics, for the first three months of 2018?

Actually, we had a decrease in our bilateral trade value last year because of the change in the market’s situation after the floatation. We see the situation now is gradually improving from the beginning of the second half of 2017 until now and we expect even better in the coming years.

Bilateral trade exchange statistics shows an increase by26% during the first quarter of 2018, reaching $2.8bn compared to the same period last year.

Are there any details about Egyptian exports in the first quarter of 2018?

Chinese imports from Egypt were at about $450m, a 50% increase when compared to last year. The trade imbalance decreased. I think bilateral trade will witness an increase by the end of the year.

What new agricultural products do you plan to import from Egypt?

We will consider importing Egyptian pomegranates.

Last year, we imported Egyptian oranges worth $90m, while we imported oranges worth only $30m in 2016, so in 2017 we more than doubled the amount of orange imports from Egypt.

China is a huge market, we expect to import a very big quantity of oranges and grapes. Last year, we opened the Chinese market to Egyptian grape imports and in 2018, we expect the amounts to increase.

Moreover, Egypt is well known for its dates production, we are implementing an evaluation process for technical assessment to allow importing Egyptian dates. We hope after the evaluation process ends, we will open the market for importing Egyptian dates.

When will you finish the evaluation process?

Importing dates and other agricultural products from Egypt is not a trade issue, but it is also a technical matter. Egypt is located in different continents and may have different agricultural product diseases, so we need to import the best to China.

Of course, Egypt exports a lot of agricultural products to European countries with very high technical standards, but Europe is very near to Egypt, to the contrary of China. We need to introduce some technical measures for Egyptian agricultural products to ensure that we have the best quality.

We are working with the Egyptian Agriculture Ministry to finish the evaluation process and adopt the technical measures. This year, we started with dates and we will have an expert group carry out investigations during the high season of dates.

We will open the Chinese market gradually, but first we need to make sure we will not be in danger, from a technical point of view.

Many media reports wrote about Chinese firms visiting Egypt recently. Can you review the outcome of their trips?

Yes, many delegations came to explore the local market’s situation, they were very interested in investing in Egypt mainly manufacture sector, but we cannot count the delegations because some delegations do not inform the embassy about their visits or ask for the embassy’s assistance.

For the outcomes, we expect that 2018 and 2019 will witness new major investments from Chinese firms in to the Egyptian market specially in textile sector.

Do you have any information about further business missions?

It is a continuous process, they are coming every month. We received some very important delegations, one of them is the visit of the China National Textile and Apparel Council, which is the former Ministry of Textiles in China. The chairperson of the council led the delegation, which included 43 members of the biggest textile companies.

The textile companies had a very good impression of Egypt. We expect some companies will make their investment decisions soon. Some delegations visited the Suez Canal Economic Zone, the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), and the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI).

Companies which visited Egypt this year are very serious, they are not only looking at the market, but they will also announce real outcomes in the future.

Are there any updates regarding Chinese companies’ interest in the New Administrative Capital?

We have two big projects there. One is being implemented, which is Central Business District (CBD). It is a huge project with 20 high-rise buildings, including one to be the tallest in Africa, at 385 metres high. In March, we had a ceremony for the start of construction. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail attended the event.

Another project is still under discussion. I hope it will be concluded soon. The project is with China Fortune Land Development Co (CFLD). They are negotiating with the authorities of the New Administrative Capital for a land area of 63 sqkm to construct an industrial city. The planned city will be a huge project established with investment in the billions of dollars.

Another Chinese company is discussing a smart city project and a wastewater treatment project. There are many discussions for the New Administrative Capital.

Last year we signed the electrical train project linking 10th of Ramadan with the New Administrative Capital.

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Egypt’s draft labour law to establish new courts to expedite adjudication https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/31/egypts-draft-labour-law-to-establish-new-courts-to-expedite-adjudication/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/31/egypts-draft-labour-law-to-establish-new-courts-to-expedite-adjudication/#respond Thu, 31 May 2018 09:00:19 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=661263 Parliament will approve new labour law soon, welcomes community dialogue over it

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The labour committee of parliament concluded a discussion on the new draft labour law which includes 276 articles. It provides each profession an official framework and entity. The draft law was referred to the general session and is pending discussion and approval. Meanwhile, internal elections of Egyptian trade unions started after a 12-year halt.
With regard to the conditions of workers, the new labour law, and trade union elections, Daily News Egypt interviewed MP Gabali Al-Maraghi, head of the labour committee of parliament and chairperson of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation.

What are the most prominent amendments to the draft labour law?

The new draft labour law was co-drafted by several parties: members of trade unions, the labour committee of parliament, employers’ organisations, investors’ associations, the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), and the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC), in addition to the Ministry of Manpower. The new draft law includes 276 articles, providing each profession an official framework and entity. The draft law was referred to the general session and is pending discussion and approval.

What would the workers gain from the new law?

The law aims to balance the relation between employers and their employees so that neither party violates the rights of the other. The employer has to provide a safe environment for workers as well as health and social care. These are the main rights secured by the Egyptian Constitution to achieve job security and stability within society.

Will the new law prevent the arbitrary dismissal of workers and protect them from the control of their employers?

The new draft law will guarantee the protection of workers and the employers’ rights through avoiding the defects of the current Law 12 of 2003. It will come in line with the recommendations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and international conventions, of which the most important will be the protection of workers from arbitrary dismissal.

Is the protection provided by the new law sufficient for workers?

The new law stipulated that employers have the right to dismiss their workers on legal terms and conditions, where an employer has the right to file a case in a specialised court demanding the dismissal of a certain worker. Meanwhile, the worker has the right to resort to the Labour Bureau to follow up the case filed against them in court. Moreover, the new draft law requires the approval of the worker’s resignation from the administrative authority to be formed and to stop the phenomenon of forcing workers to sign their resignation letters before beginning the job.

Does the draft law have other objectives?

The new labour law has several advantages, as it will contribute to encouraging young people to work in the private sector and providing a safe environment for workers. It also pays more attention to the training and education of workers, as well as people with special needs and women’s rights to work.

The draft law also stipulates that working hours shall include one or two periods for eating and rest, not less than a total of one hour, on the condition that the worker shall not work for more than five consecutive hours. Employees shall also be entitled to annual leave, not including official holidays, feasts, and weekends, up to 15 days in the first year, 21 days in the second year, 30 days for those who spent 10 years or more, and 45 days for those aged 50 years old or older and people with special needs.

The new law will maintain the workers’ rights stipulated in previous laws and provide definitions for all terms used in the law to remove any ambiguities.

The draft law specified the wage elements in detail and the workers’ rights to receive a share of profits. It also set a minimum term for contracts of not less than one year to ensure workers’ rights. The law determined that the approval or cancelling of resignation shall be conducted through an administrative authority. It also stipulated that the government shall establish new labour courts to expedite adjudication in employment cases.

Why did the new law stipulate the establishment of new labour courts?

The new labour courts will follow the steps of family courts. The law gave workers the right to resort to labour organisations to follow up on cases filed against them, while the employer shall have the right to mandate whoever he wishes in such cases.

The draft law stipulated, for the first time, the establishment of legal aid offices in courts to provide free and optional legal services. The law also ensured collective negotiation as stipulated in the constitution, while the conciliation shall be conducted by an administrative authority. In addition, an arbitration and litigation centre will be established to resolve the disputes of the employment parties instead of ordinary jurisdiction.

What about temporary employment conditions?

Normally, the temporary contract is renewed every year until it becomes a permanent contract after four years. In that case, temporary workers still face the danger of dismissal at any time as the employer can present a memorandum to the court or the Ministry of Manpower to demand the abandoning of any employee. However, the new draft law guarantees those workers the right to receive their payment as long as the contract is renewed. The new law requires employers who dismiss any temporary worker to pay them two months’ worth of wages for each year of service.

Would the new law encourage employment in the private sector?

The new labour law addresses a large group of private sector workers, avoiding all gaps in the current Law 12 of 2003. It provides a real guarantee of stability within an encouraging work environment through the abolition of arbitrary dismissal and requiring resignation approval from the Labour Bureau located in the worker’s residency area, in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

What about irregular employment which the president has asked be taken care of?

We all listened to the instructions of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and we are working to provide all support to that segment. The new draft law created a fund for irregular employment, instead of the previous fund which was created by a ministerial decree. The fund shall be managed by the concerned minister and will have branches nationwide. The law also specifies a certain fee to be paid by the entities that employ those workers of not less than 1% and not more than 3% of the total wages.

What did you do regarding the halted factories that affected the lives of thousands of families in the past years?

The new law deals with the workers as essential partners in the management of their work and the development of the production process through their elected trade unions. Also, the Ministry of Manpower, in cooperation with trade unions, organises joint seminars with the administrations of private sector establishments in the industrial cities to develop negotiation skills and provide a safe environment for the employees and work to ensure good production.

Are there specific agencies that help troubled factories and their labour?

There is a contingency fund, affiliated with the Ministry of Manpower, that supports the labourers who have been affected or lost their jobs due to closure or halting of production. That fund was established by law to support the workers and employers during the halt period. The fund pays the workers’ wages for six months until the factory’s revival. The new labour law will regulate the required procedures and rules to rescue the closed factory from its stumbling. There is also the National Council on Vocational Training (NCVT) that is responsible for training and qualifying workers to deal with modern machines and equipment. In addition, the new law regulates the scheduling or postponement of debt payments until the troubled company settles its issues.

What did the parliamentary committee do to improve pensions and social insurance laws?

The labour committee of parliament was keen from the very beginning on developing the labour legislation to keep abreast of new developments and national megaprojects. The committee contributed to the issuance of the investment, associations, media, trade unions, and the freedom of association and protection of the right to organise laws which regulated the labour union elections held on 16 May. The elections included three levels, namely the trade union committees, the general syndicates, and the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF).

How do you see setting a suitable minimum wage under the current economic conditions?

In Egypt, there are three labour laws, namely Civil Service Law 81 of 2016 concerning state employees, estimated at about 6 million, Public Sector Law 203 of 1991 concerning the workers of state-owned companies, and Labour Law 12 of 2003 which includes workers in the private sector, estimated at about 18 million.

There are also some regulations concerning the wages which are stipulated in the investment and joint stock companies laws.
There is also the National Council for Wages, established based on the Labour Law, which includes representatives from the ETUF, employers, and the government. It is concerned with studying and linking wages to the prices of goods and services. This council recommends increasing the minimum wage every three years in line with the inflation rate.


How do you see the first round of the ETUF elections?

They were the first ETUF elections since 2006 and they were launched under the trade unions and the right to organise laws which were approved by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. These laws came in line with international labour conventions, ratified by Egypt, on the exercise of trade union freedoms.

The elections were held in three rounds. The first includes the trade union committees at the production and service sites, which there are up to 5,000 of. These committees’ general assemblies, which pay monthly subscriptions to the unions, are estimated at about 6.5 million workers out of 25 million in Egypt.

The second round concerns the boards of the 24 general unions. The candidacy in that round was opened to those who won the first round. The third and last round is the election of the board of directors of the ETUF, which comprises 24 members.

The first session of the election winners shall be held to elect the chairperson, deputies, secretaries general, and treasurers.

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Bekia will take your waste, give you food, metro tickets, school supplies, medicines https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/30/bekia-will-take-your-waste-give-you-food-metro-tickets-school-supplies-medicines/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/30/bekia-will-take-your-waste-give-you-food-metro-tickets-school-supplies-medicines/#respond Wed, 30 May 2018 08:00:26 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=661090 First platform trading waste for commodities

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Bekia is a term we have been familiar with in Egyptian cultural heritage. It indicates old, unused items that are often dumped in garbage bins.

Over the past several years, Egypt has suffered from a rubbish problem, and is still suffering from the lack of separation of waste materials and their abundance on roads.

Egypt annually produces about 22bn tonnes of waste and the government cannot deal with that waste effectively, which represents a social problem.

Opportunities arise from the womb of suffering. A group of Egyptian youth decided to look between the folds of crisis for opportunities.

Alaa Afifi, co-founder of Bekia, decided to launch a platform to trade waste that can be recycled with commodities and foodstuffs.

For waste like empty plastic bottles, people can get bags of sugar or rice, metro tickets, or even medicines and household items.

Bekia plans to expand its market outside Egypt next year, its co-founder told Daily News Egypt in an interview, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity.

What is your full-time job?

I am currently a product manager at an e-commerce company in Egypt, alongside my company, which I founded almost a year ago.

How did you come up with the idea of ​​creating the Bekia platform?

Bekia is the first barter platform to replace waste that can be recycled with goods and products that we use in our daily lives.

We started the launch of the Bekia platform in May 2017, before which we conducted market research and studies for six months in the Zabaleen (Garbage Men) district to learn about the process of recycling electronic waste and what waste is valuable and how to benefit from the waste.

Our goal from the beginning at Bekia was to exploit the problems existing in Egyptian society and turn them into investment opportunities.

The problem of garbage is one of the major problems experienced by different governments, and we saw a great investment opportunity.

We came to the idea of ​​the platform in August 2016. We followed up with the workers in the Zabaleen district to learn details about investment in garbage.

But we had a problem—the extent to which the population accepted the general idea of ​​using a website for the disposal of waste, and we found a solution only after the flotation.

In November 2016, when the currency was floated, commodity prices rose dramatically and household spending on food doubled, giving us a good chance to overcome the problem of pushing people to use the platform.

We decided to link the delivery of recyclable waste to basic commodities to encourage people to use the platform to dispose of waste.

Can you further explain that point?

The concept is very simple. If you have recyclable waste, such as used oil, plastic bottles, paper, or electronic waste, you can record that on the platform for the system to evaluate them and grant you points that can be used to buy other commodities. A member of the Bekia team then communicates with the user to carry out the exchange.

Anyone can replace waste with goods through simple steps across the platform:

Here is how it works:

1. Separate each of the “bekia” items.

2. Visit www.bekia-egypt.com and chose a suitable time for you and chose the bekia you have and want to exchange.

3. Wait for our visit at the time you specified, and we will bring your goods.

Alaa Afifi, co-founder of Bekia

When did you officially start your business?

We started our activity officially in May 2017 and began covering six areas in greater Cairo: Zamalek, Dokki, Mohandessin, Agouza, Manial, and Ard El-Lewa.

These areas are close to our storage in Ard El-Lewa to cut the costs of transportation.

In the first two months from the start of our operation, we did not receive a single request.

How many people are working with you?

At first, there were two of us as co-founders, now we have five. In the coming period, we will employ more people to help our expansion plans.

How did you overcome the problem of people not responding to the idea?

During the first two months, there were not requests. We worked to improve the system and leased a car. We also launched a Facebook ad campaign to promote the car’s location, which we changed every week, so that clients could come and exchange their desired waste for commodities.

What did you achieve a year after your company started?

Currently, we are located in 16 areas in greater Cairo. We have about 2,600 customers and have conducted 7,000 replacements. We managed to get rid of 60 tonnes of waste.

What goods can customers obtain in exchange for waste?

There are more than 40 items that customers can obtain in exchange for waste, including dairy, pasta, rice, sugar, oil, flour, water, vinegar, tuna, and even Nescafé.

Since last week, we have allowed the replacement of waste for metro tickets. In the next few days, we will be replacing waste for school supplies.

We have now reached the final stages of negotiations with a company in the field of medical services so that customers receive a discount coupon on doctor bookings through that company in exchange for waste.

Why did you opt for the barter system instead of giving users money for the waste?

The financial value that the customer will receive for the delivery of waste will be low and discouraging. But getting the goods that can be used daily encourages them to exchange waste. We also have deals with hypermarkets to obtain goods at lower prices, which means that clients can get the goods cheaper than market value.

The main objective of the Bekia platform is to improve people’s lives by helping them to safely dispose of waste and to obtain added value from their waste.

What new things should we expect in your service?

In the coming days, we will allow customers to exchange their waste for medicines. We have also been able to buy a private car for the company, so that daily collection and exchange of waste will be easier.

How will you earn revenue from your business?

At the beginning, we were making big losses because there was no return. But now we are making revenue. Currently, we are working to breakeven between expenses and revenues.

But the profit is dependent on reaching a critical number of clients so that revenues can offset spending. We are working in the coming period to improve the service, and to disseminate a recycling culture among more people.

What is the fate of the waste you collect?

At first, we used to deliver the waste to the waste recycling plants, but now we are trying to repair some of the electronic waste we receive and resell it.

What is the amount of waste you have collected?

We plan to reach 500,000 tonnes by the end of the year. In two years, we plan to establish a recycling factory so that we can be self-dependant throughout the entire process.

How much investments have you made so far?

Currently, we have invested over EGP 500,000, all through self-financing.

Do you have plans to raise investments?

We already have plans for investments to support our business, but not for the time being. Most of the investors we talked to have set impossible conditions and wanted large stakes of the company for little money, which is unacceptable to us. We have confidence in our service’s growth.

How do you identify what waste can be replaced by points?

We have an accounting system in the platform that changes daily by changing the price of a certain commodity in the market. There is an estimate of the prices of the replaced waste. The system can then estimate points for waste and match them with goods points.

We determined the price of waste based on our market study.

What is the most common waste?

Plastic bottles are the most replaceable type of waste and the least valuable, as every 80 bottles equal a kilogram of plastic.

What is the most valuable waste?

Used oil and electronic waste.

What is the most common commodity users receive instead of waste?

Pasta, noodles, milk, rice, and salt.

Why did you choose the waste market to invest in?

At the beginning, we explained that we are looking into problems to find investments. Garbage is one of the main problems facing Egyptian society. There are 22bn tonnes of waste produced in Egypt every year. This highlights the importance of the market.

Do you have plans to expand beyond Egypt?

We are planning to enter new markets with our services and, therefore, we are considering expanding into a new market starting next year. We are currently studying two markets to choose one to enter.

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Low quality of services obstacle to growth of Egyptian tourism: MP Amr Sedky https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/30/low-quality-of-services-obstacle-to-growth-of-egyptian-tourism-mp-amr-sedky/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/30/low-quality-of-services-obstacle-to-growth-of-egyptian-tourism-mp-amr-sedky/#respond Wed, 30 May 2018 07:00:51 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=661093 MP Amr Sedky, member of parliament’s economic committee, is optimistic that the Egyptian tourism sector will be able to recover quickly this year as tourist arrivals increased during the first quarter of this year to 2.3 million tourists, up from 1.7 million last year. Sedky, a former board member of the Egyptian Travel Agencies Association …

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MP Amr Sedky, member of parliament’s economic committee, is optimistic that the Egyptian tourism sector will be able to recover quickly this year as tourist arrivals increased during the first quarter of this year to 2.3 million tourists, up from 1.7 million last year.

Sedky, a former board member of the Egyptian Travel Agencies Association (ETAA), said he that fears growth could be reversed by the declining quality of tourism services.

He believes that the sector needs a comprehensive vision, not just funding. He discussed the sector’s challenges in an interview with Daily News Egypt, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity.

How do you see the future growth of tourism throughout the year given the tourist arrival numbers achieved in the first quarter?

There is no dispute that there was growth in the sector’s indices during the first quarter of this year and no one can deny that.

But I fear the low quality of tourism services and the possibility of that impacting those indicators, both in terms of numbers or revenues.

I am afraid that there will be a growth in the number of tourists coming to Egypt, then that growth decline after the quality of tourism services decay.

What makes you fear that growth will reverse?

There are problems in the availability of trained labour and there are problems in financing renovation operations that should be implemented at the present time. Many facilities were halted during the past years, which decreased tourism demand in Egypt, but returned to work again during the past few months. These facilities require financial resources to cope with renovation and renewal.

Despite the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE)’s initiative to support the sector through the provision of facilities to finance renovations by 75%, it is still an obstacle facing the sector.

During the last few days, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail met with many tourism investors. What is the message from the state?

The prime minister’s meetings with tourism investors showcased the state’s support for the sector. We do not want funds only, but rather comprehensive visions for operations in the coming period, without eliminating the conflict between different agencies and pushing the growth of the sector.

Do you think that the sector suffers from the lack of a unified plan by the government?

Yes indeed, as tourist investors, despite the circumstances they have been through, are surprised that the Ministry of Irrigation imposed fees on floating hotels or asked for very expensive maintenance of hotels and raised them in dry docks, although this may be done by underwater photography, which reduces expenses.

I would like to say that we must take into account the past conditions experienced by the sector and alleviate its pain through coordination with its employees. The process of lifting the floating hotel cost over EGP 1m, as well as time. These investors stopped their work a lot during the past period.

This does not mean that I want to be lenient in granting operating licenses since the lives of tourists in Egypt are sacred. What I mean is to look for inexpensive ways to develop the sector and not overload.

How do you see the legislative aspect of the tourism sector as a member of the House of Representatives?

The sector requires several laws, the first of which is the unified tourism law which details all the information on the sector’s activities and the different ministries under one umbrella.

This project requires great effort from the state and requires concerted efforts to be undertaken by all state institutions as well as investors.

In terms of existing legislation, the sector is still unable to pay the real estate tax, which we had requested it be exempted from for at least two years to recover.

During the exemption period, investors could revalue their assets as well as reprice their products.

But the Ministry of Finance rejected the request to postpone the real estate tax on the sector.

I expect that the tourism sector will be discussed during the upcoming sessions of the economic committee of the House of Representatives in conjunction with the tourism committee.

Tourism investors are not evading the financial duties placed on them by the state. All they demand is a respite from a seven-year crisis.

In recent times, many complained about unfair pricing. How do you handle that?

Egypt is a free economic country and its economy is based on supply and demand. This phenomenon negatively affects the revenues of the state and companies, as well as Egypt’s tourism reputation due to the low quality of services.

I believe that the state cannot intervene in terms of prices, while the ETAA should treat it.

It is not reasonable that these low prices for hotel rooms in Egypt will continue despite the high cost of operating.

These prices are low due to the entry of outsiders into tourism work and a lack of knowledge of the basis of pricing, which requires a thorough understanding of direct and indirect expenses.

The owner of an establishment may be able to pay direct expenses such as wages and others but may miss the cost of training or bringing in qualified individuals, which is bad in the long term.

I believe that the sector needs to hold a large conference organised by your newspaper through its experience in the tourism sector and to be presented with all the obstacles with proposals for solutions by investors and executives.

Some investors are demanding that land offerings should be halted until recovery. What are your proposals in that regard?

That direction is good. However, the state can offer lands to investors to establish service facilities, such as entertainment or large malls in different tourism cities.

As I mentioned earlier, I invite you to hold a conference that brings together all the old and new tourism investors and coordinate among them. Some old investors may want to get financing provided by newcomers.

The new entrants will receive a very fast operating concession in exchange for the exemptions received by the old investors.

The reconstruction of tourism cities that have become ghost towns in some areas is better than the establishment of new cities.

Recently, you submitted a bill to the House of Representatives on the regulation of medical tourism. What is its status now?

The draft medical tourism law submitted to the House of Representatives has been referred to the relevant committees for study.

This law aims to regulate the relationship between tourism and all parties in relation to therapeutic tourism.

There are 1,200-1,300 sites in Egypt that are ready to receive medical tourism throughout the year.

The draft law includes the establishment of an economic authority to regulate medical tourism. There should also be a map of all sites managed by the Ministries of Health and Environment in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism.

Egypt has two types of tourists, cultural and recreational, the latter mainly for the beaches. This new product will not be linked to time or place, which means increasing the income and development of different communities that have available sites suitable for medical tourism.

The spending rate is more than $150 per night for an average two weeks, versus a spending rate of under $90 per night spanning one week for other types of tourism.

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Universal Transport Egypt to receive new wind energy equipment this year: managing director https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/28/universal-transport-egypt-to-receive-new-wind-energy-equipment-this-year-managing-director/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/28/universal-transport-egypt-to-receive-new-wind-energy-equipment-this-year-managing-director/#respond Mon, 28 May 2018 10:30:51 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=660723 Daily News Egypt sat down for an interview with the managing director of Universal Transport Egypt, Hisham El Dahshan, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity. Are you keen on participating in Breakbulk Europe this year? If so, what do you aim to achieve from participating? Universal Transport has been participating in …

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Daily News Egypt sat down for an interview with the managing director of Universal Transport Egypt, Hisham El Dahshan, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity.

Are you keen on participating in Breakbulk Europe this year? If so, what do you aim to achieve from participating?

Universal Transport has been participating in the Breakbulk Europe exhibition and conference with great success for many years now. Being one of the biggest heavy haulage companies in Europe, it is important for us to be there at such an important event. We will be highlighting Universal Transport Egypt’s existing and upcoming projects. Furthermore, we will be showcasing our new fleet that has been introduced in the Egyptian market.

Are you planning any new partnerships and do you intend to purchase new equipment?

We have already purchased new equipment mainly for the heavy haulage and ODC transport. This year we will also be receiving our new equipment dedicated for the wind energy industry.

How do you perceive the Egyptian market during the upcoming five years? Is it attractive and does it offer opportunities? How does this affect your business and your future plans?

Universal Transport only entered the Egyptian market recently, around two years ago. We saw an opportunity in the Egyptian market because of the ambitious megaprojects in infrastructure, power generation, etc. These positive developments will continue for the upcoming years and offer great opportunities for the future. There is a lot of heavy lift (HL) movement and we were aware that there was not enough high-quality equipment in the Egyptian market. We invested in brand new equipment and have a team of Egyptians and Germans operating them according to the highest standards. Our operation has been a great success and we are very optimistic about the future.

What was your turnover for 2017 and what is your expected turnover for 2018?

Our group turnover was in excess of €200m in 2017. Universal Transport Egypt’s turnover was around €3m, which was a decent figure for such a young operation. We intend to break €5m turnover in 2018.

What is the value of your expected investments in 2018 and which sectors do you aim to tackle?

Our investments in new heavy haulage equipment in 2018 are approximately €4m. We have ordered new trucks, low-beds, extendable low-beds, and axle lines geared towards the wind energy industry.

How do you perceive the Egyptian government’s economic policies and how will they affect your business?

We strongly believe that the government of President Al-Sisi is doing an excellent job and moving in a good direction to rejuvenate the Egyptian economy. The government’s investment in infrastructure and power generation projects give us excellent opportunities to do business. 

Does the Suez Canal Economic Zone development offer an opportunity for you? Do you plan any investments in that area?

The Suez Canal Economic Zone development surely offers a lot of opportunities for us, especially in the warehousing and distribution sectors. We have it in our mind to invest there, but not in the very near future.

Did you participate in energy and power generation projects during the past two years and how do you aim to compete in upcoming projects?

We participated in the biggest energy and power generation project in Egypt during the last two years: Siemens’ mega power plants in Beni Suef and the New Adminstrative Capital, where we made over 200 transports of turbines, transformers, stators, rotors, boilers, etc. We are in an excellent position to secure several new projects in 2018.

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Breakbulk Europe good opportunity to meet decision-makers, network: KML chairperson https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/28/breakbulk-europe-good-opportunity-to-meet-decision-makers-network-kml-chairperson/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/28/breakbulk-europe-good-opportunity-to-meet-decision-makers-network-kml-chairperson/#respond Mon, 28 May 2018 10:00:28 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=660719 Daily News Egypt sat down for an interview with the chairperson of Khedivial Marine Logistics (KML), Mohamed El Dahshan, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity: Are you keen on participating in Breakbulk Europe this year?  If so, what do you aim to achieve from participating? Once again, we are participating with …

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Daily News Egypt sat down for an interview with the chairperson of Khedivial Marine Logistics (KML), Mohamed El Dahshan, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Are you keen on participating in Breakbulk Europe this year?  If so, what do you aim to achieve from participating?

Once again, we are participating with our own stand at this year’s Breakbulk Europe exhibition. It is the most important international gathering of freight forwarding companies, international carriers, and shipping agents. It provides us with a good opportunity to meet the top management and decision-makers of participating companies to network and discuss future projects. 

Are you planning any new partnerships and do you intend to purchase new equipment?

We currently have a very ambitious expansion plan which we aim to fulfil. We have several new partnerships with international companies in the forwarding and warehousing distribution logistics business. 

How do you perceive the Egyptian market during the upcoming five years?  Is it attractive and does it offer opportunities?  How does this affect your business and your future plans?

I believe the Egyptian market is moving in a very good direction and there are lots of positive developments. The next five years will feature lots of government-driven investment in infrastructure, power generation, oil and gas, as well as heavy industry. This will definitely have a positive effect on our business. We are planning to invest in future expansion inside Egypt.

What was your turnover for 2017 and what is your expected turnover for 2018?

     

Our group’s turnover for the year 2017 was approximately EGP 350m.  We have been very busy with several power generation and infrastructure projects. Over and above, we have transported a huge number of production lines for the manufacturing industry, cement, steel, and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs). We expect our turnover to exceed EGP 400m in 2018. 

What is the value of your expected investments in 2018 and which sectors do you aim to tackle?

We aim to invest approximately EGP 25m in our warehousing operations where we aim to offer our customers tailor-made state-of-the-art 3PL solutions in accordance with international standards.

How do you perceive the Egyptian government’s economic policies and how will it affect your business?

I can honestly say that the policies of the Egyptian government have had a very positive impact on the economy. We are optimistic with regards to the future and hope that it will help us reach new heights.

Does the Suez Canal Economic Zone development offer an opportunity for you?  Do you plan any investments in that area?

The Suez Canal is definitely very interesting for us and I believe that it will offer opportunities for us. We plan to invest there once government plans for thatw area are more concrete.

Did you participate in energy and power generation projects during the past two years and how do you aim to compete for upcoming projects?

We participated in several energy and power generation projects in the last couple of years (Siemens, GETRA, ABB, PSP, Elsewedy amongst others). We have already secured solar and wind energy projects for 2018/2019.

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EIB expects further technical grants for Kafr El-Sheikh Wastewater Expansion project https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/28/eib-expects-further-technical-grants-for-kafr-el-sheikh-wastewater-expansion-project/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/28/eib-expects-further-technical-grants-for-kafr-el-sheikh-wastewater-expansion-project/#respond Mon, 28 May 2018 09:00:35 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=660692 Project’s total cost estimated at €163.5m, European Investment Bank providing about 47%

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Maria Diamanti, water sector expert at the European Investment Bank (EIB), told Daily News Egypt that her bank offered preparatory technical assistance from its own funds to get the Kafr El-Sheikh Wastewater Expansion (KSWWE) project started, adding that further technical assistance, to be financed through grants, is foreseen.

“The technical assistance has covered preparation and implementation of the project, transition into the operation phase and support to the Kafr El-Sheikh Water Supply and Sanitation Company in creating capacities among its personnel for managing sanitation projects,” noted Diamanti.

She discussed how the EIB is aiding Kafr El-Sheikh’s water and wastewater sectors in an interview with DNE, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity.

What is the amount of financing that the EIB is providing for the Kafr El-Sheikh project? Can you give me a short description of the project?

The project’s total cost is estimated at €163.5m, of which the EIB will provide €77m, about 47% of the whole cost, while the EU Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) is providing €15m.

Investments will be used to construct two new wastewater treatment plants, to expand three existing plants, and to lay around 690 km of sewers with the installation of 52 pump stations in the governorate of Kafr El-Sheikh.

The project involves the construction of centralised integrated wastewater sanitation systems comprising force mains and gravity mains, connections to households, pumping stations and wastewater treatment plants for villages with population exceeding 1,400 inhabitants, and decentralised on-site sanitation systems for small villages. 

For design and cost optimisation, some small size villages located near integrated wastewater systems will also be connected to centralised infrastructure.

More precisely, the project comprises, in line with the Egyptian National Rural Sanitation Strategy, the construction of two new waste water treatment plants (WWTP): Zaghlool El-Baharey WWTP with a capacity 15,000 cubic metres per day in Motobas district, expected to serve 80,000 citizens, and El-Shahbia WWTP with a capacity of 15,000 cubic metres per day in Borollos district, expected to serve 95,000 citizens. 

The project also involves the expansion of three existing WWTPs: Motobas WWTP from 10,000 up to 20,000 cubic metres per day in Motobas district, expected to serve 40,000 citizens; Chabas Al-Malh WWTP from 2,500 up to 5,000 cubic metres per day in Desoq district, expected to serve 15,000 citizens; and El-Borg WWTP from 4,800 up to 10,000 cubic metres per day in Borollos district, expected to serve 19,000 citizens. 

Moreover, the project includes laying of 694 km of sewers with the installation of 52 pump stations.

 

Maria Diamanti, water sector expert at the European Investment Bank (EIB)

When did works on the project start and when will they end?

Technical assistance and support for preparation of the investment started in 2011/2012. Construction works started in 2017 and the Kafr El-Sheikh project is expected to be operational in 2020.

What is the impact of implementing this project?

The provision of rural sanitation services will contribute to improving health standards for Kafr El-Sheikh residents and the environmental quality of the Nile, Lake Borollos, and the Mediterranean Sea. It is in line with the Egyptian national strategy to adapt with climate change and water scarcity and is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year (tCO2e/year).

The project will improve the quality of life and environment for an estimated rural population of 467,069 residents in the governorate of Kafr El-Sheikh by providing the first centralised wastewater collection networks and wastewater treatment plants. It will improve the operation of the wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal system in the above clusters/districts and extend the capacity of wastewater treatment infrastructure to keep pace with population growth.

Also, it will reduce the pollution of groundwater, water canals, and agricultural drains draining to the River Nile (Rosetta Branch) and Lake Borollos by eliminating discharges of raw sewage and septic tank/cesspit effluents to them.

Furthermore, the project will improve the quality of irrigation water in these rural areas of the KES Governorate and it will improve water quality in River Nile (Rosetta branch) and Lake Borollos, as well as the coastal Mediterranean Sea.

Project will reduce the incidence of waterborne diseases in rural areas of the governorate, provide capacity building for the operational and financial staff of KSWSSC, and strengthen job creation in Kafr El-Sheikh.

The various project components will provide aerobic treatment to wastewater that is currently discharged into drainage channels under mostly anaerobic conditions. Treating the wastewater from 500,000 population equivalent and under certain conditions this aerobic treatment will result in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Finally, the project will create an equivalent of approximately 9,400 full time job opportunities over the period of implementation. In its operational phase, the project is expected to create about 1,400 new jobs of various skills, ranging from unskilled workers to trained engineers.

Borollos Lake used to be a reliable source of fish in Egypt, but its production has declined in the past few years; how far will the project help to increase the fishing activity?

By providing first-time sanitation services to approximately half a million Kafr El-Sheikh residents, the project will contribute to the depollution of Lake Borollos. The volume and quality of fish are expected to increase. Further indirect benefits include improved conditions for tourism and safer agricultural production will be provided.

Why is the EIB financing the Kafr El-Sheikh project?

Demand for wastewater services in Egypt is high, and it will remain so for some time to come. A recent analysis of the Kafr El-Sheikh project anticipates annual growth in demand of 4.8% due to an increase in population and an increase in real wages.

In the meantime, the Egyptian government has been active in the water and wastewater treatment sector and is giving high priority to safe disposal of wastewater in rural areas, where coverage is much lower than in urban areas, and has prepared a national rural sanitation masterplan, which targets comprehensive coverage in all rural governorates by 2037.

In the past few years, the Egyptian government has dedicated increased attention and resources to this sector. The European Investment Bank is working together with the Egyptian government as well as the European Commission and other international financiers to finance a long list of water and wastewater projects in the country.

More specifically, the governorate of Kafr El-Sheikh comes at the top of the planned wastewater investments by the Egyptian Holding Company for Water and Wastewater (HCWW) in the Mediterranean coastal area.

Kafr El-Sheikh was identified by the European Commission Horizon 2020 initiative as a hotspot polluting the Mediterranean Sea. Moreover, it is consistent with the objectives of the European Investment Bank to improve socioeconomic infrastructure and to adapt with climate change.

Do you have estimates of the pollution caused by Mediterranean countries, including Egypt?

Insufficient sewerage coverage is a serious environmental concern in Kafr El-Sheikh. Before starting the project, only 26% of the total population was served by sewers and wastewater treatment facilities.

The low sewerage coverage has a negative impact on the quality of surface and groundwater and the ecosystem of Lake Borollos which, through the sea outlet of Boughaz El-Borollos, connects to the Mediterranean Sea.

This is why expansion of wastewater treatment in Kafr El-Sheikh was identified as a priority project under the Horizon 2020 Initiative led by the European Commission. The aim is to reduce the pollution of the Mediterranean by the year 2020 by tackling the sources of pollution that account for around 80% of the overall pollution of the Mediterranean Sea municipal waste, urban wastewater, and industrial pollution.

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Brickzey to launch new project in Sheikh Zayed, EGP 600m expected sales this year https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/28/brickzey-to-launch-new-project-in-sheikh-zayed-egp-600m-expected-sales-this-year/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/28/brickzey-to-launch-new-project-in-sheikh-zayed-egp-600m-expected-sales-this-year/#respond Mon, 28 May 2018 07:00:13 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=660678 Company will launch first phase of Infinity project next month, with expected sales of EGP 700m in 2018

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Cairo Capital Development Company, a sister company of Brickzey Property Management, intends to launch a new project in Sheikh Zayed, west of Cairo, next month on 22 feddans, according to Brickzey CEO Ahmed Selim.

Daily News Egypt sat down with Selim to learn about the company’s expansion and marketing plans. The transcript for the interview follows, lightly edited for clarity.

What are the details of the new project that the company will launch?

Next month, the company will launch a new project in the city of Sheikh Zayed, west Cairo, on 22 feddans and it includes 110 villas.

What is the value of the project’s expected sales?

We expect achieving sales of EGP 600m and we will begin construction works during the current year.

What are other projects you plan to launch this year?

After Eid Al-Fitr, the company will launch the first phase of the Infinity project, with expected sales of EGP 700m in the current year and a similar value in 2019. The project includes 300 hotel units and is located close to the Grand Egyptian Museum. The consulting has been assigned to a global engineering office.

It is expected that the area surrounding the museum will attract large investments during the coming period as the state revives its development and is redesigning it to suit its historical position. The airport in Sixth of October will also operate, which will attract tourist delegations to the region and re-operate the hotels surrounding Giza and the Grand Egyptian Museum.

What is the value of sales achieved by Brickzey Property Management?

The company achieved sales exceeding EGP 1bn since the beginning of the year and aims to achieve sales over the current year exceeding EGP 4bn with the addition of a number of new projects that are being developed by Cairo Capital Development.

Brickzey started its activity five years ago in real estate marketing and added consulting and project management services to its activities. Furthermore, the company established Cairo Capital Development Company in the current year as a sister company to represent its project development arm.

What is the status of Arabia Holding’s Arabiano project that your company is exclusively marketing?

Sales of the Arabiano project exceeded the timetable and are expected to be completed by October, according to the contract.

In mid-March, Brickzey Property Management celebrated with Arabia Holding the signing of a contract for the former to market the Arabiano project in Hadayek October exclusively.

Arabiano, one of Arabia Holding’s projects, consists of 46 buildings (750 units) and is located on an area of 20 feddans (84,000 sqm) and is close to medical, entertainment, and educational services such as Zewail City of Science and Technology, New Zamalek Club, Mall of Egypt, and the Egyptian Media Production City (EMPC), and is also very close to El Wahat main road.

What are other projects that the company exclusively markets?

The Primavera project in the city of Sixth of October. It includes 400 units with areas between 90 sqm and 180 sqm per unit. Moreover, the company exclusively marketed La Fontana project that included 240 units in Hadayek October with spaces ranging between 90 sqm and 180 sqm per unit.

What is the company’s expansion plan in coastal areas?

The company is negotiating to buy land in Ain Sokhna by acquiring the company that owns the land to establish a hotel project in light of the large demand in that area throughout the year. Sales ther are not only related to the summer season.

Do you plan to acquire loans from banks?

Cairo Capital relies on self-financing to implement its projects as well as proceeds from sales. Bank borrowing is not included in residential projects, but can be used in hotel projects, which require large liquidity injections in the construction phases before obtaining returns from the project after its operation.

Does the month of Ramadan affect sales?

Sales movement was not affected by Ramadan because it coincided with the main season of the real estate market, during the summer months, coupled with the rise in demand in recent months which has continued at the same rate in light of fears of more price hikes during the coming period.

What are your expectations for price increases in the current year?

I expect an increase of 30% in prices during the current year with the expected increase in cost in light of partial cutting of petroleum product and electricity subsidies. That, in addition to the expected increase in demand for purchases for the purpose of investment because real estate is still the safe haven to invest in.

What are customers’ preferences when purchasing property?

Customers prefer compound projects, even with small units, which enjoy a variety of services and a higher degree of security, in return for declining demand for separate buildings in new cities.

What are available periods of installments for purchasing units?

Payment periods set by companies are usually linked to the delivery dates. In cases of delivery within two years, the payment period does not exceed five years and exceeds eight years for companies that deliver their units after four years to maintain an appropriate proportion of cash flow relative to the value of the unit before the completion of implementation.

What are areas that will witness high demand in the coming period?

Madinaty, the New Administrative Capital, and Hadayek October will lead the demand during the coming period, especially with the state offering its units in the capital as well as the offering by Talaat Moustafa Group for its project in the capital. In addition, high infrastructure completion rates in the capital has prompted customers to buy units in the new capital. New launches by a number of senior developers has also increased demand. Nevertheless, Hadayek October has seen high demand after the launch of Sun Capital and a new project by Palm Hills, as the involvement of large companies in that area raises demand, as well as motivates more developers to invest in the city.

Reducing unit spaces aims to attract new segments of customers to developers’ projects, increasing sales rates and completion of the development process. Additionally, the demand is increasing for medium-sized units.

How do you see the city of New Alamein?

New Alamein represents a qualitative leap in the strategy of development projects in the North Coast, exploiting the land in an integrated way instead of the resorts spread along the coast, which are being visited only two months a year, despite the huge amounts spent on the facilities by the state as well as the investments pumped by the developers.

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Weelo offers cloud-based delivery platform that digitises orders, delivery https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/23/weelo-offers-cloud-based-delivery-platform-that-digitises-orders-delivery/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/23/weelo-offers-cloud-based-delivery-platform-that-digitises-orders-delivery/#respond Wed, 23 May 2018 06:00:24 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=660237 Company has 4,000 customers, more new users every day, says Asfour

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A new cloud-based delivery system is now in town. Weelo connects customers to its nearest partner supermarkets, and the users can then shop using the app available on Google Play and the App Store. While the biggest challenge facing the new company is gaining the trust of the supermarkets themselves, Weelo already has some 4,000 users and is growing.

Mohamed Asfour, fouder and CEO, and Sophia Korayim, co-founder and COO, spoke to Daily News Egypt about their initiative, their experience and their future plans.

Can you start by explaining to us what Weelo is and what services it offers?

Korayim: Weelo is a new cloud-based delivery platform that helps supermarkets digitise the order and delivery process. Through the Weelo application, we connect customers to the nearest Weelo partner supermarkets. Our partner supermarkets receive technology that helps them streamline their order and delivery process. They also receive access to dashboard and analytics, back office, and customer support, and they receive a real-time inventory management system. Weelo helps digitise traditional supermarkets, chains, and hypermarkets so they can access online customers.

Sophia Korayim, co-founder and COO,

How can customers purchase through the Weelo application?

Asfour: You can download Weelo on Google Play or the App Store in both English and Arabic versions. With Weelo, customers can browse thousands of products from the app on their smartphone from their nearest supermarket, select the groceries they want, and place an order from the comfort of their homes. Once the order is ready, Weelo drivers deliver to our happy customers in 45 minutes.

Are you buying from certain stores or from stores chosen by the customer?

Korayim: Weelo connects its customers to the nearest supermarket through geo location technology. Customers will receive their orders from a selected Weelo partner supermarket that is closest to their area so customers can receive their order in 45 minutes.

How many customers are currently online?

Asfour: We have 4,000 customers and more new users every day. We are also proud to announce that Weelo is currently featured in the App Store in Egypt this week under “New Apps We Love”. We are honoured and extremely proud that our app was selected by Apple. Each week, the local App Store editors determine the best—and most relevant—apps for their specific users. By having humans choose the apps, Apple ensures that the featured apps will be the ones most likely to appeal to local users. This accomplishment validates our technology as well as recognises that our app has an excellent user experience for our customers.

Did the demand for your services increase due to the month of Ramadan?

Korayim: Ramadan is always a busy month. We have peak times before iftar and mainly on weekends.

Do you fulfil purchases and deliveries to any place in Egypt?

Asfour: We currently deliver to residents of New Cairo in Al Yasmeen, El Banafseg, and Al Rehab areas; residents of Sixth of October in El Motamayez District, 7th district, 1st district, 2nd district, Bashayer, andSheikh Zayed. Weelo also delivers to the following compounds: Beverly Hills, Khamayel, Zayed 2000, El Mohandessin, Palm Hills, and more. We will be launching in new areas during Ramadan, covering the Third and Fifth Settlements in New Cairo. By the end of the year, we aim to expand our service throughout Cairo and Giza.

What are the most important features of your future plans?

Korayim: We plan to include personalised shopper services, as well as online payment and e-wallet functionality. We also plan to introduce a Weelo web-based platform as well as build an AI assistant to enhance customer engagement.

Mohamed Asfour, fouder and CEO

Are there plans to get investments to finance your future expansions?

Asfour: We are currently seeking interested investors and venture capital firms to help us achieve our expansion plans over the coming 18 months.

Have you received offers for your acquisition?

Korayim: We have had positive responses and feedback from potential investors in the startup ecosystem and we are currently in talks with a few investors, some of which we are negotiating terms.

What are the most important challenges you have faced?

Asfour: One of the biggest challenges we faced was gaining trust from supermarkets. Lately, retailers all over the world have been showing great interest in online shopping or e-commerce and many supermarkets are searching for the best approach to maintain their reputation in providing the best shopping experience for their customers. Weelo shares this vision with our partner supermarkets and aims to help them achieve these goals. In doing so, we are able to provide the largest selection for our customers and deliver in 45 minutes.

You are involved in helping students in Egypt benefit from Marj3. Can you explain this

experience to us?

Mohamed Asfour, fouder and CEO, and Sophia Korayim, co-founder and COO

Korayim: Weelo currently delivers in two main locations in Egypt: New Cairo and Sixth of October. These areas are populated with university students and, interestingly enough, we have found that many of them are our customers. They mainly order late night snacks, sweets, and dinks that they need delivered in 45 minutes. We wanted to help give back to these students and support them through a fun competition. So we launched the Great Grocery Giveaway Competition’in partnership with Marj3. Any student enrolled in university living in New Cairo or Sixth of October could enter the competition to win thousands of Egyptian pounds in cash to help them buy groceries. We wanted to support them while they are enrolled at universities. In the future, we plan to offer Weelo scholarships and many more initiatives to help student activities. The future of Egypt is in its youth.

Have you launched initiatives to support student activities? Can you tell us about them?

Asfour: Weelo also supports many other student activities in various universities in Egypt. Weelo proudly announces its partnership with Enactus Misr University For Science and Technology (MUST) and MUST Medical Students’ Association – MUST International Research Congress as part of the Weelo ambassadors initiative that supports the students activity scene in universities by giving them a real opportunity to compete in the market and bring their skills to action.

Weelo also offers multiple opportunities available for students and fresh graduates. Our undergraduate internship programme allows students to learn an assortment of functions and they can benefit from learning beyond the classroom when they gain hands-on experience. Based on successful performance and the talent needs of our business, interns may have the opportunity to become full-time Weelo employees.

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State Lawsuits Authority saved Egypt $5.6bn, EGP 2.4bn over 4 years: chairperson https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/22/state-lawsuits-authority-saved-egypt-5-6bn-egp-2-4bn-over-4-years-chairperson/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/22/state-lawsuits-authority-saved-egypt-5-6bn-egp-2-4bn-over-4-years-chairperson/#respond Tue, 22 May 2018 10:00:37 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=660016 SLA is now looking into 4m cases in local courts and 23 international arbitrations

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The State Lawsuits Authority (SLA) was able save the state treasury about $5.6bn and EGP 2.4bn of investors’ claims over the past four years. The SLA is now looking into 4m cases in local courts and 23 international arbitrations, according to SLA Chairperson Hussein Abdo, in an interview with Daily News Egypt.

What is the role of the SLA in combating corruption and preserving public money?

The SLA is the state’s legal prosecution with its three authorities. This includes filing lawsuits to take back rightful funds and terminating contracts whose parties breach their roles.

There is a constant contact between the SLA and the various regulatory bodies to inform them of any corruption when investigating any cases.

How many international arbitration cases were filed against Egypt and were settled? What is their total value?

Nine cases have been ruled in favour of the state since 30 June 2013, including three cases from the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), three from the Arab Investment Court, two from US courts, and a ruling from an English court.

As a result of these rulings, the SLA was able to save the state treasury some $5.683bn and EGP 2.4bn, which are the sum of the investors’ claims in these arbitrations.

Among the most prominent of these disputes is the case filed by Ahmed Bahgat against the state before the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The claims in this case amount to $4.8bn.

There is also the case filed by the American H&H against the state at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) of the World Bank, in which the company claimed $833m.

Moreover, there is the lawsuit of National Gas against the state at the ICSID worth EGP 604m, and the invalidity case filed by Malicorp Limited.

How many cases are now in courts? What are their values?

The SLA is following 4m cases filed against and by the state in local courts. The total value of the claims amount to billions of pounds, mostly linked to corruption. This includes the case against the former minister of interior Habib El-Adly and ousted president Mohamed Morsi, where the SLA is seeking civil compensation for the crimes he committed.

There are also the major gold smuggling, storming prisons, and Tiran and Sanafir cases, along with the direct misdemeanours against ministers and governors.

Abroad, the SLA is following 23 international arbitrations, including eight investment cases before the ICSID, five at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and a case at the Arab Investment Court.

What are the most important achievements of the SLA since its establishment?

The SLA has made several achievements since its inception, including winning the lawsuits related to cotton and the Suez Canal, as well as the 1932 general debt fund, DreamLand, and all other international arbitration filed against the state.

Among the most recent achievements of the SLA was the major gold smuggling case, and Tiran and Sanafir.

What are the types of arbitration addressed by the SLA?

The SLA works on two types of cases, international trade and investment cases. The international trade is based on the state violating the terms of its contracts with foreign companies, while international investment is related to claims of the state violating the bilateral investment agreements with foreign countries.

Among the arbitrations handled by the SLA are oil and gas, constructions, aviation, media, projects, and sanitation cases.

There are also compulsory arbitrations between the companies of the public sector and the various administrative bodies in which the SLA represents the administrative bodies, whether in defence or to attend as arbitrator in such arbitrations.

What are the most prominent amendments to the new law of the SLA? When will it be finalised?

After the new constitution, the SLA acquired new jurisdictions, such as supervising legal departments of the various organs of the state to improve their level and to fill gaps of time lost in the exchange of correspondence between them and the SLA, which reflects on the defence of the state in the proceedings that arise from them.

The SLA participates in the drafting of contracts for projects in which the state is a party to avoid any mistakes that may lead to lawsuits or arbitration disputes against the state, and thus avoiding arbitration involving huge sums.

The SLA is entitled to propose the settlement of disputes to which the state was a party amicably at any stage of litigation.

What are the most prominent new amendments to the law under preparation?

There are new amendments to the draft law of the SLA, such as articles related to activating the role of the SLA in settling disputes, drafting contracts, and technical supervision of the departments of legal affairs in units of the administrative body of the state.

The SLA and its supreme council finished drafting the articles of the draft law, and it was sent to the Ministry of Justice, which, after reviewing it, submitted it to the cabinet, to then send it to parliament.

What is the value the SLA saved the state since its establishment?

The SLA saved the state treasury huge sums since its inception at the end of the 19th century. Recently, the SLA was able to collect EGP 305.9m and $717,726 in the current judicial year as a result of rulings in favour of the state.

What is the future plan of the SLA for the coming years?

The SLA established 27 branches and is currently establishing two new branches in the cities of Sixth of October and New Cairo.

Is there cooperation between the SLA and similar judicial bodies inside and outside Egypt?

There is close cooperation between the SLA and all other judicial bodies—we are all working for justice.

The SLA is always cooperating with the Egyptian Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) in international disputes and arbitration, where the FRA provides the SLA with the data and paperwork necessary.

This cooperation resulted in victories for the state, such as the case against businessperson Ahmed Bahgat, which saved the state about $4.8bn.

How many judges serve in the SLA? Is there a need to increase them during the next phase?

There are about 3,300 judges. The SLA’s supreme council approved the appointment of graduates from the faculties of law, police, law, and Shariah, pending the republican decision to approve them to face the huge number of cases.

We have established a centre for judicial and legal studies in the SLA, which is taking steady steps in developing the skills of the judges.

We have held four trainings in the last two months. The SLA is keen to hold these trainings outside Cairo as well. One was held in Alexandria, and another in Aswan.

We recently agreed with Alexandria University’s Faculty of Law and the Arab Academy for Science, Technology, and Maritime Transport to benefit from mutual experiences.

What are your expectations for Egypt during the coming 10 years?

The number of cases filed against the state after the passage of the civil service law will be lower, since the law fixes several gaps inprevious laws, which caused many problems.

According to the new amendments and the SLA’s participation in the state’s contracts, the number of arbitrations will also be reduced. Moreover, the SLA’s judges have gained more experience, which would help them avoid the mistakes when they pen the state’s contracts.

What are the most important recommendations for resolving disputes faster and better to attract more investments?

The most important thing is to facilitate the procedures of litigation, which contributes to reducing the burden on the judges and litigants at the same time.

This is reflected through rapid rulings and is very important for local and foreign investors.

We look forward to the issuance of new procedural laws that are commensurate with the current era, such as the code of civil procedure and trade, or at least amend the current laws.

The legislative reform committee had earlier requested the SLA’s proposals on the planned procedure law, which regulates the procedures of litigation in civil, commercial, and administrative matters.

The SLA submitted its proposals to address the defects that we see, and we hope they are taken into account.

The new Investment Law issued last year will contribute to drawing more investments to Egypt.

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Aldawlia Developments to complete EGP 1.4bn Regent’s Park next year https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/21/aldawlia-developments-to-complete-egp-1-4bn-regents-park-next-year/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/21/aldawlia-developments-to-complete-egp-1-4bn-regents-park-next-year/#respond Mon, 21 May 2018 09:00:33 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=659879 Company directs EGP 250m to construction works in 2018

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Aldawlia Developments plans to complete its project Regent’s Park Residence in New Cairo next year, with investments worth EGP 1.4bn. The company is spending EGP 250m on construction works this year, its general manager, Ahmed Elnesr, told Daily News Egypt.

The company recently celebrated the completion of the first phase of Regent’s Park and the delivery of its first units, with the participation of its customers, real estate developers, and celebrity artists.

What is the project’s details?

The Regent’s Park project includes 496 units with sizes that range between 100 sqm and 300 sqm and its units includes duplexes, studios, and apartments.

The company started implementing the project 18 months ago and implemented a large volume of work that exceeded 60% of the total construction.

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

The company plans to direct EGP 250m into the project’s construction, of which the company has completed 60% within 18 months.

What are your sources of funding?

The company finances the project through the capital of the shareholders and the proceeds from sales, of down payments and installments, which represent 40% of the total cost. The remaining 60% of the cost is through bank financing.

What is the status of the project’s marketing?

The company has marketed 75% of the project, which includes a built-up area of only 20% while the rest of the area is dedicated to service activities, green spaces, corridors, and other services.

The company receives a 10% down payment for each unit’s value and the rest is being paid in instalments over six years. The project includes a club, a swimming pool, playgrounds and recreational areas for children, as well as a commercial part to serve the project’s residents.

Does the company plan to export real estate?

A limited percentage of units are marketed to customers outside Egypt, especially after the devaluation of the pound against the dollar. The company reaches customers through contracting with real estate brokers in some countries, along with advertisements via social media. Furthermore, the company participates in foreign exhibitions, the latest being a real estate exhibition in Dubai.

Do you plan to establish big commercial malls inside your projects?

We do not prefer to implement large service projects within our projects such as large commercial centres so as not to disturb owners and for those who prefer quiet, especially since New Cairo is characterised by the availability of services and their multiplicity.

What is the company’s expansion plan?

The company is preparing an expansion plan for the coming period, but it favours projects on medium-sized areas, which make possible their development in a short time and with the desired quality.

The company is studying the development of a project in the New Administrative Capital and another in the North Coast. The company is studying acquiring lads of areas between 40 and 50 feddans. We expect to make a decision during the coming period.

The company is studying investment opportunities in governorates other than Cairo and received offers to develop lands in the governorates of Fayoum and Assiut. The company is studying the development of these lands after conducting feasibility studies.

What are the other projects developed by the company?

The company has considerable experience in real estate activity and has developed a number of projects, including of commercial and residential activities, and is concentrated in New Cairo.

The company has developed 2.5m sqm of premium property in countries including Egypt, Sudan, and Yemen, as well as developed the Landmark Village project, besides several administrative buildings in New Cairo.

The company has completed the implementation of two administrative buildings in New Cairo on 90th Street, with leasable areas of 9,000 sqm per project.

The two buildings are leased to international companies and the company’s future plan guarantees the development of similar projects and is expected to represent 40% of the target investments compared to 60% for the integrated residential projects.

What kinds of clients do you attract?

A large percentage of buyers in the project are former clients of projects that the company has previously handed over, in addition to new customers. Our commitment to implementation and delivery times maintains the confidence of customers and aids the decision to purchase within our projects.

What is the value of the company’s capital?

The company’s capital is EGP 100m and its increase is subject to new expansions of the company and its financing needs.

Did the rain water crisis that flooded Fifth Settlement, New Cairo last month affect your sales?

The company took into account when implementing the project’s infrastructure the need for drainage of rainwater. The recent rainwater crisis did not affect our project.

Moreover, the company includes a group of departments to ensure the integration of the development of projects and the provision of services with the required quality on time, including a contracting arm and other project management to ensure the maintenance level.

Do leasable projects represent a burden on real estate developers?

The development of administrative and commercial projects with the aim of rent is a burden in the development stages, especially because the return is delayed until the completion of the project’s operation contrary to sale, which provides liquidity from down payments and instalments which contribute to covering the cost of implementation.

The company has prepared feasibility studies for the two projects with a view to lease them and has arranged the required financing. The company believes that the best investment is leasing, especially in light of the great demand for these types of units by foreign companies, which prefer rent.

What is your expectation for real estate prices in the current year?

Property prices witnessed a big boom last year as a result of the economic reform measures and raised the cost of construction, including units sold according to the cost prior to the decision to liberalise the exchange rate of the pound, but the company has committed to the values specified in the contracts and did not raise them, despite bearing additional burdens.

I expect a limited hike in prices during the coming period with the stability of the prices of building materials, but in the case of an increase in cost or value of land, that will be followed by increases in unit values.

Do you believe in an imminent real estate bubble?

The real estate market is safe from a real estate bubble because there are no reasons for the exaggerated evaluation of unit prices or the large dependence of customers on mortgage finance, in addition to the fact that the supply meets the demand from customers, whether for real housing or investment.

The reduction of banks’ interest rates spurred customers to inject liquidity into real estate and the recent period witnessed an increase in the demand for immediate repayment. Existing customers have a desire to pay the value of the unit and get a suitable offer in return.

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Old rental law to be discussed within days: MP https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/21/old-rental-law-to-be-discussed-within-days-mp/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/21/old-rental-law-to-be-discussed-within-days-mp/#respond Mon, 21 May 2018 08:00:42 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=659900 Banning rice cultivation should have excluded those irrigated with wastewater

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Mohamed El-Hammady, a member of parliament’s housing committee, said that the state’s success on the issue of slums requires laws that preserve them and demonstrate their usefulness. He criticised the inclusion of wastewater-irrigated lands in the rice cultivation law.

He noted that the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) is the body most capable of taking over and completing defaulting projects. Moreover, he pointed fingers at the entities accused of negligence in the recent rain crisis.

El-Hammady named the advantages of the new social housing law and revealed the truth of the problem with the Nation’s Future Party after its merging with the Support Egypt coalition.

Daily News Egypt sat down with El-Hammady for an interview, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity.

When are local elections set to take place?

They will take place in no less than a year from now, despite what is being said. They must be preceded by many procedures, such as the new elections law, which will take time. Parliament is expected to complete the local elections law in the current legislative session that will end in July. The bylaws will follow five months after the law is promulgated by a decree from the president.

But the talk about the corruption of localities upsets me. I worked there for many years and I know the suffering of the employees there, whose salaries are not enough to support basic life needs. This includes both employees and engineers alike.

What are the updates on the law of reconciliation regarding building violations? Why is there a delay?

Parliament agreed in principle on the draft law of reconciliation on building violations. The law includes an article that sets the violations’ costs, which are still under debate and consideration in the committee through the coming meetings. We aim to reach a final compromise formula on the determination of value and this is the concern of all members.

The delay is due to the link between the law and the definition of urban estate and the rental law, which took a great amount of time. I cannot punish a person for construction without firstly specifying the urban state areas, or it will be unjust.

Why did the urban estate issue take that long?

Because there is a big imbalance in the division of villages and cities. The identification of the borders of villages and towns was random. Hence, encroachment on agricultural land was always happening. I cannot set the boundaries of real estate without first offering an alternative.

Parliament approved the social housing law last week. What are its main advantages?

The legislation aims to facilitate obtaining social housing units through controls at the notary offices.

In addition, merging the Social Housing Fund and the Mortgage Finance Fund under one board aims to maximise their benefits for citizens.

It also aims to lend support to its beneficiaries and bans them from selling their units until they pay the full price within five years.

This law was a supplement to the old laws on social housing, but with the addition of a number of new articles that provide facilitations for citizens and guarantee the eligibility of citizens who are already eligible for state support.

There is a large housing gap between demand and supply. The state aims to solve that by offering social housing units among other projects.

The law provides social housing units for low-income citizens in different areas set by the Ministry of Housing and the NUCA and to provide land plots with a maximum area of 400 sqm and residential units of 120 sqm for middle-income citizens in new urban communities.

There will be criteria determined by the board of directors of the fund in coordination with the NUCA. The allocation will be only for the purpose of building residential units for those who have not benefited from similar initiatives or any national housing projects.

What are the updates on banning rice cultivation?

The problem with the decision is that there were lands irrigated by wastewater, which does not impact the fresh water available. Therefore, I submitted a briefing request to investigate this. The lands irrigated by wastewater have been granted approval to cultivate rice in Damietta, which will expand to new governorates in coordination between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Irrigation.

Spending on sanitation is low since it saves billions of pounds that could be spent on hospitals and diseases, as well as the low production caused by increased number of patients. Every pound spent on sanitation saves EGP 100,000 on healthcare.

The state has an ambitious plan and the president has penned a strategy to cover 40% of Egypt’s sanitation network this year. This is great, but it should be done in parallel with maintaining the old networks. Taking interest in sanitation infrastructure will serve the economy, industry, and investment.

How do you evaluate the recent rain and climate change problems?

During the crisis, we held more than one meeting, presented briefings, and stressed the need to find the direct entity responsible for the problem, especially in New Cairo and the Ring Road. The committee recommended establishing stations in several places to be ready to remove rainwater, along with preparing the electricity network to keep power plants connected through diversifying the sources of electricity to these plants. Moreover, we recommended putting together a plan to discharge rainwater without the need for stations.

Officials should keep abreast of climate change and environmental data, especially since recent days have shown that the weather in Egypt has become volatile and the best evidence is that it rained in April, which never happened before.

A vision and a crisis management plan are put in place to provide all the necessary equipment and machinery to deal with the rains and floods, with regular maintenance of all drainage networks and treatment stations, even in summers, to be ready to face problems.

What happened in new cities and Ain Sokhna Road point to negligence that must be treated. And a plan to deal with natural disasters and crises in Egypt should be developed.

What happened with the old rental law?

It was not necessary to discuss the old rental law this way. There was nothing but a draft law, but it was discussed as an actual law.

The Supreme Constitutional Court issued a ruling against extending rental terms for purposes aside from residency without the approval of the owner. This ruling forced us as parliament members to change the old law. This will happen in the next few days. The old unrealistic low rent values might be increased within a grace period of no less than five years.

The current legislative session is nearing completion, but the committee will discuss the law. If we do not finish it before July, we will be discussing it in the coming session.

The law will satisfy everyone, including owners and tenants. We will not let anyone be harmed by it.

All rumours on the new law causing the eviction of tenants are untrue. We are only working to find a solution within the framework of the constitution and the law.

All parties, including those defending rights, were consulted, in addition to hearing a large number of representatives of the tenants.

Why did the new projects lack impact on real estate prices?

This is happening because of speculators and brokers who buy lands and units then raise their selling prices. In Damietta for example, the price hiked to EGP 27,000, which is unrealistic. Those are thieves.

We seek to solve this problem, first by creating a different system of concessions in such cases, and to prepare a law to control the work of brokers.

How do you support the apparent success on the slums issue?

The housing committee agreed to increase the financial allocations for the Slum Development Fund in the fiscal year 2018/2019 budget from EGP 3.5bn to EGP 15bn to complete the development of all slums across Egypt, not only in Cairo, which amount to 35 dangerous slums.

The Slum Development Fund was established in 2008 to develop slums but has only been this active since 2014.

The fund seeks to end dangerous slums by the end of 2019 and move residents to suitable houses in close areas.

The area of ​​Rawda al-Sayeda will be an alternative to Tal al-Aqarib area in Sayeda Zeinab—a close location, but much better housing conditions.

As an MP of the Nation’s Future Party, what is the story of your party’s merger with the Support Egypt coalition?

The Support Egypt coalition started as a charity organisation. I was a member of the Nation’s Future Party when they offered to add me as a candidate to run in the election; they offered to bear the cost of the campaign. I only paid EGP 4,000 of the campaign’s cost. Support Egypt and others aimed to stand behind President Al-Sisi.

Now, the Support Egypt coalition found that the Nation’s Future Party is the closest to the state’s ideas, so they wanted to join the party. Now we have many experts that can be tasked with important roles in the party, with the approval of the party’s leader Ashraf Rashad.

There are rumours of disputes between party members and newcomers?

Not disputes, but the nature of things. For example, in Damietta, Osama El-Abd joined the party. His presence in such an entity should be appreciated, so he was given a position there. Those who were in that position before but lack expertise should have been removed.

I emphasise that all members of the party are working for the interest of the state.

How would you comment on the sad Facebook post of Ashraf Rashad?

If we think about what he wrote, we will understand very well that it is a pity for the youth of the party, who may not understand the necessity and usefulness of the party’s politicians. But I assure you that he is completely satisfied with all that is happening.

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Honor eyes 5% of smartphone sales in Egypt by end 1Q 2019 https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/16/honor-eyes-5-of-smartphone-sales-in-egypt-by-end-1q-2019/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/16/honor-eyes-5-of-smartphone-sales-in-egypt-by-end-1q-2019/#respond Wed, 16 May 2018 08:30:24 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=659581 We aim to be among top three smartphone sellers in world by 2022, says Baigong

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Honor, a sub-brand of Huawei, has its eyes on securing 5% of Egyptian smartphone sales by the end of the first quarter of 2019. Despite launching in Egypt only a few days ago, the company has already introduced four smartphone models.

Chris Sun Baigong, the vice president of Honor in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), told Daily News Egypt in an interview that the company sees opportunities for growth in the Egyptian market, where reports indicate Egypt’s growth in the smartphone sector at 22% in 2018 compared to last year.

In Egypt there are more than 26 smartphone brands, making the competition hard. What advantages do you have?

There is already fierce competition in Egypt’s smartphone market, but we have a number of key advantages, namely quality and development, which are the key factors in driving our presence and spread worldwide.

The way we communicate with the consumers we target differs from other competitors. We are a new and young brand, and we aim to communicate with young consumers, so we have a common language, which helps to increase interaction with them.

The third advantage that supports our presence among the competition is a partnership with Etisal to be the sole distributor and exclusive agent for Honor phones in Egypt.

The company helps distribute our products via different outlets and e-commerce websites.

What are your plans to set up affiliate sales centers?

We plan to place our products on the shelves of more than 1,000 locations in our first three months in Egypt, then up to 2,500 points by the end of the first year.

How many phones do you plan to sell during the first year?

We did not think about the number of phones we were aiming to sell but we are planning to acquire 5% of the market in our first year here.

The Egyptian market sells about 1m mobile phones per month, and thus, Honor aims to sell some 50,000 units per month.

Currently, the mobile market is shrinking due to the presence of many competing brands. Why did Honor separate from Huawei?

A few days ago, I read a report that says smartphone sales in Egypt will increase by 22% this year compared to the previous year, which confirms the presence of a strong opportunity for growth in the Egyptian market.

But this is because the market is not saturated with smartphones yet, but when it is. Will the market’s sales growth decline?

According to our strategy, we prefer to have two separate brands, especially given that Honor is different from Huawei. Honor focuses on youth consumers, so our main advertising and selling points are focused on digital channels.

What about aftersales services for Honor products?

We offer a one-year warranty on our products through our partners, Etisal, which has cooperated in providing maintenance services at 30 Raya Holding maintenance branches.

What are the most prominent features of your plans for the upcoming period?

Some 85% of Honor sales last year were made in China, while only 15% were abroad. By 2020, we plan to have only 50% of sales in China, and the remaining in other parts of the world.

We have a plan to be among the five biggest smartphone brands by 2020. And by 2022, we will become one of the world’s largest three smartphone brands.

There are some retailers manipulating prices in the market. How do you face it?

We have the advantage that our products have one agent in Egypt, Etisal. Hence, there is no opportunity for retailers to manipulate prices in what is known as “burning prices”, since the main provider is one company.

Do you currently have partnerships with mobile operators?

We already have plans for that kind of partnership, and we have plans to cooperate with different operators but there is no final agreement with any of them. We want to only cooperate with partners that can provide added value to consumers.

Do you have plans to manufacture in Egypt?

This is something that we can neither confirm nor deny at present. We are a new brand in the market. First, we must seek an appropriate sales volume to decide if we will need to sign partnership agreements for manufacturing here.

There is one company that controls the largest share of smartphone market sales in Egypt. Do you plan to acquire your target share at the expense of the largest company, or attract new smartphone users?

We have a very great opportunity to compete depending on the quality and development of our products and plan to acquire 5% of the market in our first year, regardless of where this figure will come from.

We do not think about competing brands, but we focus on providing the best products to our customers. All the phones we have launched in Egypt come with ultranarrow bezels and new cameras equipped with face unlock features. The phones can also be used to play video games.

What is the importance of the Egyptian market for you in the MENA region?

Currently we launched our products in various markets across the MENA region, as well as in Iran and Pakistan. Egypt is among the most important markets in the Middle East and the world for our plans.

The importance of the Egyptian market is due to the presence of a wide range of youth who are active on social networking sites.

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Ramadan will begin with moderate temperature, then hot, very hot: head of Egyptian Meteorological Authority https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/14/ramadan-will-begin-with-moderate-temperature-then-hot-very-hot-head-of-egyptian-meteorological-authority/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/14/ramadan-will-begin-with-moderate-temperature-then-hot-very-hot-head-of-egyptian-meteorological-authority/#respond Mon, 14 May 2018 10:00:40 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=659292 We warned all stakeholders 48 hours before New Cairo rain, says Abdel Aal

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Egyptians may not have ever been as interested in the weather as they are now, and perhaps this attention has turned into a global fever.

This is due to several reasons, the first of which is the severe climate change that has affected all countries of the world, including an onslaught of hurricanes, floods, droughts, and other natural disasters, and the second because of the spread of talk about global warming and its effects, which could eventually cause the full disappearance of cities and many beaches around the world.

The danger is not far from us—there are many expectations that large parts of Alexandria and the entirety of Kafr El-Sheikh will drown, and the impact could even reach all of the Nile Delta.

The body in charge of the weather in Egypt is the Egyptian Meteorological Authority (EMA) and its current head is Ahmed Abdel Aal, whom Daily News Egypt met to learn about the story of the EMA and its role. He explained these changes to us and advised citizens.

The transcript for the interview is below, lightly edited for clarity.

When was the EMA established, what is its mission, and who supervises it?

The EMA was established by royal decree in 1892, which named it the Bureau of Meteorology. In 1971, it was turned into an authority responsible for protecting all public and private property from climatic factors. After the development of air traffic, there has come to be a meteorological station in each airport. The EMA now is affiliated with the Ministry of Civil Aviation through 176 stations that issue meteorological observations every hour that are collected and sent to all agencies, ministries, and governorates.

Where does a specialist in meteorology graduate from? Is there a shortage of specialists?

There is no shortage of specialists in our department. There is a department in Cairo University and another in Al-Azhar named astronomy and meteorology. The departments’ graduates are trained for two years to be ready for work. Both department cover our needs of specialists, so we do not need more of them.

Were you surprised by the recent disturbances of rain, wind, and heat?

Not at all. Even though these fluctuations are strange to happen during the spring season, and especially the rain, we issued the data. On the issue of New Cairo, all officials said that the EMA warned 48 hours before it happened, and we sent the data to all the concerned authorities.

What is the reason for the unexpected climate change?

The spring, which ends on 21 June, is, by its nature, the season of abrupt and sharp climatic changes. This year, the events were different, including the heavy rain and the storms as well as the lightning and thunder instead of the “khamsin wind”.

Is the climate of Egypt still hot and dry in the summer and mild and rainy in winter?

We suspect that the climate of Egypt is still as we learned, but this cannot be confirmed until after study. At present, climate scientists at the EMA are working on studying the climate of Egypt during the last 50 years to find out the times of change and whether the climate has changed completely or not. If proven to have changed, we will address the Ministry of Education to change the curriculum.

What about Ramadan?

The month of Ramadan will fall entirely in the spring, and it will not be in the summer. This is a good indicator. For now, we can expect, unconfirmed still, moderate weather at the beginning of the month, less moderate in the middle, and hot towards the end.

Explain the global warming phenomenon that the world warns of.

The origin of the story is that the world used the oil and coal derivatives in a large and unnatural way, which resulted in the release of gases called greenhouse gases, consisting of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and methane. It is known that the Earth absorbs heat then releases it in the night to outer space. These gases act to form a cover of pollutants. This cover prevents the heat from going back into space, causing the Earth’s climate to heat up. This is the concept of global warming. This is a chronic phenomenon and a problem that has been extended for decades. And it is time to address it.

What are the implications of this phenomenon?

The heat should be released to outer space. And the gases should also be able to climb out of the atmosphere, but the cover prevents that from happening. This heat creates a state of imbalance in the climate that reflects differently in different regions. Some places incur floods, others droughts, while some suffer from earthquakes, and more see windstorms and blizzards. All of these events are caused by global warming. This goes beyond weather, as it poses threats to health, economies, food and water resources, and maybe even life on Earth.

What did the world do to confront this phenomenon quickly?

The Climate Summit was held in 2014, organised by the United Nations, in Morocco with the participation of a large number of countries in the world. It ended with agreements to curb carbon emissions, mobilise funds, and market to face the problem, put a price on carbon, and commit to keep the Earth’s temperature increase below two degrees Celsius. The recommendations of the conference should be implemented to save the Earth.

Why did the United States withdraw from the convention and its impact?

Because the most important items agreed upon is the provision of $125bn for the countries affected by climate change. America will pay a large part of these funds. And therefore, if America does not pay these amounts, the convention will be impacted. US President Donald Trump does not want to abide by the convention because he imagines that if he adheres to it, it will impact industry and technology as the US will be committed to limiting global warming, which will reduce the scale of industry.

Does Egypt have a role in these agreements?

Egypt plays a major role, representing the whole African continent, which has 57 countries out of the 192 participating countries, which means about one-quarter of the participating countries. Thus, Egypt’s role in this agreement is strong. President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s call during the previous climate summit to rely on new and renewable energy resources, if implemented, the world will be saved from this threatening phenomenon.

Are the expectations of the drowning of the Nile Delta, Alexandria’s beaches, and Kafr El-Sheikh real?

These expectations are very likely, though the Egyptian government is making great efforts to save the Delta from this fate. The Egyptian Shore Protection Authority (SPA) is doing its best to confront climate change and we can say that Egypt succeeded in facing the phenomenon as far as possible. I have prepared a study to fill up about one mile of the beaches in Alexandria and Delta and I presented the idea to the minister of irrigation. I can say that the citizens do not feel any change in the beaches because of the government’s efforts.

How can we contribute to resolving this crisis and reducing global warming?

In my opinion, the best solution lies in relying on new and renewable energy, especially solar energy. Egypt has at least 15 hours of daylight every day. If we use solar energy to generate electricity, we will save oil reserves. It will also ensure a clean and cheap energy source. Although the solar panels are expensive, they will cover their costs within a short period of time. In addition, we can issue a new law to light up all new cities with solar-powered electricity.
A committee from the EMA will prepare a book on solar radiation in Egypt, which will identify the most places that receive high solar radiation. The book will be used in solar power plants and will be a reference for anyone who wants to build a solar station.

Has the authority witnessed any development recently and does it receive any support from the state?

The development of the EMA continues all the time, including the training of staff internally and externally in China, Japan, the US, and France, which makes the meteorological service progress.

In terms of infrastructure, the EMA started to use solar energy and signed an EGP 182m deal with the armed forces to bring three weather radars, a giant computer, and 30 automatic stations. This equipment are modern and the EMA will not need any development for the coming 20 years.

Will the state criminalise talking about the weather?

Not exactly, but there is a draft law that will limit the authority to issue aerial forecasts or atmosphere to the EMA, as is the case in all countries because the weather is a matter of national security. No one but the EMA should have the right to speak or issue forecasts on the weather. Some media pages use terms that have never been used by the EMA and we warn the citizens that the only reliable sources for weather news are Egyptian television, radio, newspapers, or calling us.

Is there enough attention and awareness among citizens about the importance of weather reports?

Yes, there is a high level of interest among Egyptians about the atmosphere and climate change, and this reflects the development of the people, especially with the recent changes in the weather.

What is the EMA’s weather forecast for Egypt in the coming period?

We are expecting dusty “khamsin” winds that started last Thursday accompanied by a sudden rise in temperature. We warn those suffering respiratory diseases, allergies, or eye disorders to avoid open areas and to be alert in the coming period.

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Our cooperation with Central Bank of Iraq focuses on driving financial inclusion, digital payments culture: Visa GM for North Africa, Levant https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/14/our-cooperation-with-central-bank-of-iraq-focuses-on-driving-financial-inclusion-digital-payments-culture-visa-gm-for-north-africa-levant/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/14/our-cooperation-with-central-bank-of-iraq-focuses-on-driving-financial-inclusion-digital-payments-culture-visa-gm-for-north-africa-levant/#respond Mon, 14 May 2018 08:00:41 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=659299 Visa connects more than 3.2bn accounts, 46m merchant locations in 200 countries, territories

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Visa is working hard to help get merchants access tools and technologies that enable secure and convenient payment experiences

Visa is undertaking efforts to develop financial inclusion and forge a digital payments culture in Iraq as well as the wider region. Tarek Elhousseiny, Visa general manager for North Africa and the Levant, in an interview with Daily News Egypt, discussed how his company is working to achieve those goals and how Visa is working towards a cashless future in the region. The transcript for the exchange is below, lightly edited for clarity.

How was your recent trip to Iraq and was it related to driving financial inclusion efforts in North Africa and the Levant?

Our visit to the Iraqi market aimed at increasing cooperation with the Central Bank of Iraq and boosting its efforts in driving financial inclusion and a digital payments culture. As part of our cooperation with the central bank, we will be arranging for seminars and workshops covering a variety of topics, especially financial literacy, risk, and digital solutions. We are also keen on helping the Central Bank of Iraq in its endeavours to create the ecosystem conducive to a digital economy and financial inclusion.

The visit was also important to solidify our relationship with our clients and stakeholders and to provide them with the support they expect from Visa and to discuss how innovation and digital solutions can bring benefits to the efforts of reaching the underserved. We believe collaboration is the key to innovation. By collaborating with a broad range of partners that tap into the agility of financial technologies and the scale of big banks and merchants, we enable innovation to flourish so that ultimately, the consumer picks “the winners.”

Very few brands are around for 60 years. What has been the key to your success?     

Today, Visa connects more than 3.2bn Visa accounts and 46m merchant locations in 200 countries and territories. Each transaction is enabled by a global network of 16,100 financial institution partners, and VisaNet, one of the world’s most secure, reliable, and interoperable global payments networks, which processes more than 164bn transactions a year. Importantly, every Visa transaction on our network is secured by the industry’s most advanced analytics and fraud detection technology to ensure consumers and businesses can transact with trust and confidence.

Visa has been a catalyst for payments innovation, creating the world’s first digital payments network, VisaNet, and have continued to invest and grow its value by innovating and opening its platform to developers, clients, and fintechs that are innovating and extending its value across industries. VisaNet has helped us deliver market-defining innovations—debit, global travel and tourism, contactless payments, and the rise of secure mobile and IoT payments. Where there is cash, there is friction. In our increasingly digital lives, cash is increasingly out of place. Our obligation and responsibility to electronify payments has never been more important and as innovators and technologists, we are motivated by this challenge.

How will Visa sustain its business momentum in the next 10 years?

We anticipate there will be more change in the payments industry in the next few years than we have seen in the past few decades—with the digitisation of payments paving the way for a cash-free future. 

Even with our success to date, there is still tremendous room for growth—with a $17tn opportunity, represented by consumer cash and checks alone, and estimates of over $20tn in business-to-business (B2B) across the world. The majority of our growth comes from PCE penetration, which is the best way for us to create value for shareholders. PCE penetration is the most powerful driver of revenue and the reason why low nominal PCE growth (2-3% over the last several years) converts into double-digit revenue growth. E-commerce transactions are growing four to five times as fast as face-to-face commerce. Any time a transaction moves from F2F to e-commerce, the propensity for it to be a Visa transaction is twice as high because you cannot put cash into a computer.

M-commerce and the proliferation of smart devices enables every smart device to become a point of acceptance. This is all what we have referred to as “growing the pie”, which is why we keep creating value and why growing the pie is what we should be focused on.

Core to our success is Visa’s ability to anticipate the future and evolve. We have transitioned from an association to a public company, proprietary network technology to open platform, physical cards to credentials stored in devices. We have continued to evolve our strategy, business and technology including opening our network, to support the needs of FIs, merchants, developers, fintech partners, and governments. We became one Visa with the acquisition of Visa Europe. This success is also enabled by investing in contactless payments which is the natural evolution following adoption of EMV infrastructure and continuing to invest in security and cybersecurity tools and technologies that form the basis of Visa’s secure, reliable network.

What trends will shape the industry in the next five to 10 years?

There is tremendous room for growth, with more than $17tn in opportunity represented by cash and cheques across the world. We are no longer constrained by wired infrastructure, allowing us to reach the unbanked, the underserved, and entirely new merchant segments. Smartphones, IoT, and omni-channel commerce will further drive digital payments. This will continue to create tremendous economic opportunity and value for societies around the world.

What is Visa doing to help merchants navigate the world of digital payments?

The digital payments revolution presents tremendous opportunity for merchants to build stronger, more profitable relationships with their customers. It is also the biggest threat to those merchants who cannot adapt quickly. We are working hard to help get merchants access tools and technologies that enable secure and convenient payment experiences, regardless of the form factor, and help merchants prepare to operate with the next big thing. 

How do you think about the plastic card and its future?

Cards will continue to be relevant for some time to come—especially with older generations who are less likely to switch to new payment form factors. However, through the more than 20bn connected devices expected by 2020, we will see a dramatic increase in the number of form factors where digital payments can take place, like phones, TVs, cars, refrigerators, etc. With the Internet of Things, there is going to be a huge increase in the number of devices where people embed their payment credentials. Payments are increasingly becoming “invisible” and embedded in everyday experiences, like getting a taxi, streaming TV and music, or finding a hotel room. We see Visa’s role as an enabler of secure, simple, and seamless commerce, wherever and whenever people transact. In the midst of this digital revolution, Visa’s founding vision is more relevant today than ever—to be the best way to pay and be paid for everyone, everywhere.

Can you tell us about the financial literacy mobile game you just launched in Egypt?

Visa understands that teaching consumers about money through “edutainment” or “gamification” is an effective means of demystifying a complicated subject by using the compelling and familiar medium of video games to learn while having fun. Games can be powerful teaching tools. It has long been understood that young children learn through play, whether it is with blocks, picture books, or even hide and seek. Learning does not stop as we get older. Teens and even adults can learn while playing games, and there is a wide range of games available to teach a variety of topics, including financial literacy.

City of Dreams is a multi-platform game that teaches players essential financial literacy tips and increases their financial management skills. Players will have a fund to start with and are acquainted with services offered by financial institutions including credit products and loans. Players will start out with a grocery store and other businesses include a pharmacy and a music store. At the start of the game, the business will accept cash only then will receive a POS after initiating a banking relationship. Mobile payment acceptance will also be enabled once the player delves further into the gaming experience. With mobile payments acceptance, players will benefit from analytics to give them a better view of their sales, customer preferences, and products they need to acquire.

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One Global ready to roll out in Nigeria by Q3: COO https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/09/one-global-ready-roll-nigeria-q3-coo/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/09/one-global-ready-roll-nigeria-q3-coo/#respond Wed, 09 May 2018 06:00:54 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=658890 Company targets 1.5m users in first phase

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One Global is applying the final touches on its service to launch soon in Nigeria. According to the company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Akeem Baiyewu, the first phase of the launch is targeting 1.5 million users of 20 million smartphone owners in the country, which has a population of some 200 million citizens. He highlighted the great investment opportunities available in the country and said that pioneers in the ICT sector keep coming back for these opportunities.

Daily News Egypt sat down for an interview with Baiyewu, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity.

Did you initiate the launch?

No, the app is found in the store. There are also deals, but have not been yet made available to end users.

When will the official launch be?

We are launching soon. We are looking at the end of the second quarter of this year or the beginning of the third quarter. Basically, we are now applying the final touches to the services.

The economic situation in Nigeria is unstable. Is it the right time to launch the product?

There is really no crisis in Nigeria. What you are reading is from the foreign media to paint our country badly. But you are now here in Nigeria and have been to several places here, would you say the same? I believe what you are hearing is media propaganda. Our economy is stable internally and the product would be used internally.

The oil price has dropped, but it does not mean this is a problem in Nigeria. There are many people like us doing business in Nigeria. There is an e-payment platform called Konga, which is a major platform in Nigeria. There are sales conducted on Instagram, many sales on Facebook, and even more across other apps. The huge population in Nigeria is also a great advantage for any business to thrive. Even if you make a few cents per user, the huge population will boost your income. We are launching with services that people use on daily basis. I am sure we will get it right. People in Nigeria like to do their business conveniently.

Even you will be surprised that Jumia is bigger in Nigeria than in Egypt in turnover.

A big South African supermarket chain came to Nigeria with a stack of products they believed would be enough for six months, but surprisingly, they ran out in one week here. Nigeria is such a great market for people who can understand it and get it right. But if you do not understand it, you will fail awfully. In Nigeria, you are either very successful or not at all.

Where were you working before?

I have been involved in many companies. I represented a Canadian company here that worked on backing up contacts and messages on SIM cards to data centres. Each time you save a new contact, it is automatically updated, so when you get a new smartphone, you can download your contacts again on the new SIM card. I was the technical director for that app.

What are the opportunities for growth in Nigeria?

Opportunities for growth are huge with more people acquiring smartphones and the internet being more accessible to more people. I am positive that Nigeria is more advanced than most countries in Africa and even outside it. The population here is close to 200 million; this is a huge market. Bill Gates was in Nigeria a few weeks ago. That was his 8th time to visit. He said it himself, “I do not know why I keep coming back to Nigeria.” I think it is because of the great opportunities here.

Another example is the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, who visited several times. Nigeria is a country to reckon with in terms of growth opportunities.

What about the challenges?

There are challenges, of course, there is no place that is 100% perfect. There are some places that lack electricity, but many people use generators to produce their own electricity. It has become a common home appliance here.

The internet is also a challenge, but we are seeing great improvement. And I am sure that the launch of the internet balloons will speed things up sooner than we can imagine.

Moreover, the governmental policies are hindering growth, even though it is the private sector that is working on the upgrades of infrastructure. But things are moving. The government is liberalising the procedures to attract more people and investors.

I personally used to have a USB modem that I carried everywhere before ADSL existed. But a few weeks ago, a new company extended fibre optics to my area and now I finally have ADSL.

It is, of course, still challenging to cover the massive area and remote residential communities considering the huge population; but the return on investment is great in the long run.

What is your forecast for the first phase of launching the product?

We are talking with the group on launching a reward system or loyalty discount for clients to attract customers. By giving them cash back in a reward for using the service, you ensure they are loyal to you. We will also have a media campaign to announce the launch among others.

In the media, we hear about Nigerian cybersecurity problems. Is the app still safe to use?

One Global Wallet is 99.99% safe. You will be surprised how good the cybersecurity team here is. Furthermore, when users register their credit cards, the app sends an automated message to the user’s registered phone number to verify the transaction. The only time it does not ask you to verify transactions is if you use your card for three months on that platform without problems.

Do you have agreements with other companies?

We have agreements with all telecommunications companies in Nigeria as well as with the biggest electricity company here.

Are Nigerians ready to use this service?

Yes, they are.

What about the usage of smartphones in Nigeria?

I am sure it will be above 20m.

In the future, I think 1.5 million people will use our service. If smartphones are available to users, they can simply use our service and, as I said earlier, smartphone users are growing in Nigeria by the day.

Can clients use other payment methods?

They can use credit and debit cards. Clients can also use the card to recharge the wallet for extra safety. In the future, we plan to cooperate with banks to enable users to recharge their wallets through bank branches without having cards. And in the future, also through USSD for non-smartphone users.

There are 25 banks in Nigeria, but people exchange currency on the black market. Is there a problem with the exchange market?

The official currency for businesses is less profitable than the parallel market.

How many team members will you have in the future?

Eventually, we will need additional employees, maybe around two members in sales, two in accounting, and two in customer service, along with one in operations. They also have to all be Nigerians. It will be good financially and as they will know how to deal with the culture of Nigeria.

What are your transaction fees?

The bank takes 1.5% of the transaction amount, up to NGN 2,000, and our commission is 2-7%.

Are there competitors to your service?

Yes, there is a major company that does a similar business, but offline. All banks are also competitors. But people do not prefer to use banks, since it reflects directly on their accounts, whereas when they use our service, it could be easier to solve problems if any arise. We have another advantage since we provide a range of services for many segments and many areas.

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Oriflame to have 500 franchises in next five years https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/08/oriflame-500-franchises-next-five-years/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/08/oriflame-500-franchises-next-five-years/#respond Tue, 08 May 2018 12:00:27 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=658796 2017 was best year yet for Oriflame Egypt in terms of sales, says managing director

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Badr Abdel Aziz, managing director at Oriflame Egypt, said that his company plans to have 500 franchises in the next five years, noting that it already has about 140 franchises across Egypt’s governorates.

Abdel Aziz mentioned to Daily News Egypt that Oriflame Global operates in 63 countries, with its biggest operations in China, Russia, Indonesia, India, and Turkey, adding, “we hope to continue our very positive growth in Egypt to soon be one of the big countries in the Oriflame world.”

Abdel Aziz sat down for an interview with Daily News Egypt to discuss the Swedish cosmetic company’s business in Egypt and its future plans. The transcript for the exchange is below, lightly edited for clarity.

Would you please tell me more about the geographical distribution of Oriflame’s branches?

At the moment, we have five branches in Heliopolis, Mohandessin, Maadi, Alexandria, and Mansoura. We also have a franchise concept, where our independent consultants can open a service point to deliver our products. We have approximately 140 of these in governorates all over Egypt, in Upper Egypt, the Delta, North Coast, Sinai, and all the big cities. This concept has been very successful from a distribution perspective, as we now cover all governorates, and our strategic plan is to have 500 of these franchise/service points in the next five years.

Badr Abdel Aziz, managing director at Oriflame Egypt,

How are sales developing annually and what are your goals?

2017 was the best year ever for Oriflame Egypt in terms of sales, and we are very positive that we will continue that trend, both this year and in the future, thanks to an Egyptian market that is very interested in high-quality Swedish products and in the strong income opportunity that we offer.

How do you assess Oriflame Egypt’s position compared to competitors in the market?

Very hard to tell, as the information from our competitors is quite limited, but as mentioned above, we had a record sales year in 2017.

How do you depend on online purchasing?

Online is definitely the future and we see a bigger and bigger interest in online purchasing from the market. We have seen a big change in customer behaviour during the last few years, and the customer wants to decide how he orders and how he receives the order, and the easiest way to do that is online.

This is why we as a company are investing a lot in this area by having an up-to-date website, where you can easily get all required information, see our products and catalogue, and also place your order.

Social media like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp is becoming one of the main communication channels between customer and company, and it is important to always be available. We have also invested in different mobile applications, where you can get the same information as from our website, place your orders, and also see how a certain product looks to you.

How many products do you offer in the Egyptian market?

It differs from month to month, as we also try to add new exciting products every month, but approximately 700 in total.

How many people do you employ?

We employ about 170 persons.

Do you have planned marketing campaigns?

Since our business model is direct sales, where we depend on our independent consultants to sell our products, we have focused more on online and social media marketing campaigns in the last few years, as we see that this is the future.

How did the pound’s flotation affect Oriflame’s prices, especially since you import your products? How do you assess Egyptians’ purchasing power now?

Like many importing companies, we were of course affected and had to do some price adjustments. But since our business model is direct sales, where we depend on our independent consultants to sell our products, we tried to keep it at a moderate level to support them. The overall situation of the Egyptian economy looks much more stable now and we hope this continues of course.

Are there any corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities you implement or plan to?

We do a lot of CSR activities, as this is something we strongly believe in. We work with different organisations who want to help other people, and also add these CSR activities so that our consumers can take part and make a difference as well.

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Tetra Pak aims to boost Egypt sales in 2018 following inflation conditions improvement https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/08/tetra-pak-aims-boost-egypt-sales-2018-following-inflation-conditions-improvement/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/08/tetra-pak-aims-boost-egypt-sales-2018-following-inflation-conditions-improvement/#respond Tue, 08 May 2018 11:00:01 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=658768 Company has about 30 customers, including Juhayna, Faragallah, Domty

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Konstantin Kolesnik, managing director at Tetra Pak Egypt, said that his company aims to boost its sales in 2018, adding that during 2016, the company sold 3.2bn packages. However, in 2017, that number did not increase due to the small sales of the food sector in general, influenced by the economic changes that the country witnessed after the floatation decision, when inflation rose to as high as 35%.

Kolesnik told Daily News Egypt that inflation changes slowed the growth in consumer spending as rising prices affected purchasing power, adding that despite that, “we see good growth coming back and we aim to achieve very solid results in 2018.”

Daily News Egypt sat down with Kolesnik for an interview, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity.

What are your company’s main clients in the Egyptian market and how many?

We have around 30 customers, including Juhayna, Faragallah, Domty, Lamar, Obourland, Greenland, Lactalis, Danone, and Al Sakr.

What about the new products you offer on the market?

We have launched an array of new technologies and packages at Gulfood Manufacturing, such as the new Tetra Fino® Aseptic 100 Ultra MiM package, as well as new processing equipment, such as the Tetra Pak High Shear Mixer and the Tetra Pak Extrusion Wheel. There are also a number of new innovative projects in the pipeline for Egypt.

What were your sales in 2017 and what are the expected sales and plans for 2018?

Tetra Pak has been operating in the Middle East and Africa region for over 60 years, developing long-standing partnerships with many customers. This region is one of our biggest markets and we have delivered more than 28bn packages last year.

What were the sales of Tetra Pak internationally in 2017,  and what is expected in 2018? How many countries does Tetra Pak operate in?

Our strong business performance has seen Tetra Pak grow successfully year-over-year at both regional and global levels. We continue to grow in both processing and packaging. Every day the distribution of Tetra Pak packages exceeds 433m in more than 170 countries. In 2017, the number of packages sold reached 188bn and Tetra Pak’s global net sales reached €11.5bn.

What is your strategy for Egypt in the next 5 years?

Tetra Pak has been operating in Egypt for more than 35 years. We work closely with our customers to identify and resolve any issues and support them to produce the highest quality products.

Our business is in serving our customers to offer the best packaging solutions and we continue to do this with the same level of reliability, efficiency, and commitment.

The company takes pride in being the world’s leading packaging and processing company. This left us with a great responsibility for coming up with out-of-the-box innovations to meet the growing needs of our customers, especially considering the current economic challenges. There will always be room for innovation, and therefore offering products at lower prices of good quality.

We will also benefit from innovations and trends we have seen in other markets that can be suitable for the Egyptian market.

Our customers continue to run their businesses and we continue to work together with them. Tetra Pak has an unbroken track record of over 60 years of doing business in the region and we are committed to continuing this for many years to come.

How do you see the economy and the problems that the investment climate suffers from right now?

The Egyptian economy has been facing many challenges in the past period, yet there are signs indicating that Egypt is getting back on a more sensible economic track after the economic reform programme that has been applied by the government.

Generally speaking, the Egyptian market is considered a very promising one with lots of potential and very specific advantages such as the large population and various diversified market segments.

Our investments in Egypt are focused on our human resources as we invest in our employees and their trainings to make sure that we can offer our customers the most advanced packaging and processing solutions.

The combination of quality and affordability is the key to unlocking any challenges facing the industry. This is what we have always been emphasising during our Innovation Day held every year. For example, last year Tetra Pak gathered all liquid producers in Egypt to discuss the best ways to adapt to the changed market dynamics and consumer habits.

We encourage our customers to rise to the challenges by sharing with them the best global practices on moving forward in economic downturns. Also, we encourage them to introduce cost-effective innovations, which have significant benefits in operational cost reduction, to eventually enable our customers to deliver high quality products at affordable prices.

Tetra Pak invests extensively in research, product development, and innovative technology solutions. This helps reduce production costs to ensure the success of our partners and customers. Tetra Pak has introduced the new eBeam technology, which offers significant benefits in operational cost reduction by 10%.

This approach supports the companies and helps them face the problem of increasing costs, and at the same time provides innovative solutions, which affect productivity and manufacturing processes.

How do you see the opportunities in the food industries sector?

We are the leading packaging and processing company in the world. This left us with a great responsibility to lead the market with out-of-the-box innovations to meet the growing needs of our customers, especially considering the current economic challenges. There will always be room for innovation, and therefore offering products at lower prices of good quality.

We will also benefit from innovations and trends we have seen in other markets that can be suitable for the Egyptian market.

Do you have any campaigns to encourage using packaged milk or any social responsibility activities?

“Your Health is in this Package” is a campaign that aims to increase awareness about the nutritional benefits of milk, benefits of safe packaged milk, and the potential hazards of loose milk.

Tetra Pak promotes the consumption of safe packaged milk all over the world, by developing and implementing awareness campaigns, highlighting the nutritional value of milk in general, as well as listing the benefits of consuming safe packaged milk and the hazards of consuming loose milk.

The company, in cooperation with the Egyptian Paediatric Association and the Chamber of Food Industries, succeeded in executing several initiatives through “Your Health is in this Package” campaign, which helped increase the consumption of packed milk from 23.4% in 2010 to 44.6% in 2017.

About 91% of packages sold in Egypt are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) labelled and we are planning to increase the number of labelled packages. We also have plans to increase customers and consumers’ awareness about Tetra Pak’s responsible resourcing.

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Brantu to launch e-commerce website elprices end-October: co-founder https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/08/brantu-funnel-money-egyptian-market-founder/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/08/brantu-funnel-money-egyptian-market-founder/#respond Tue, 08 May 2018 10:00:42 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=658793 Investments estimated at $1.2m

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Mohamed Rizk, co-founder of Brantu, said that his company plans to launch e-commerce website elprices in the Egyptian market, with investments of $1.2m, adding that the market is still fresh and has great e-commerce potential.

Rizk told Daily New Egypt that Brantu is a Swedish-Egyptian startup company, which entered the market at the beginning of 2018, adding that the company will officially launch its e-commerce website, elprices, at the end of October.

Daily News Egypt sat down for an interview with Rizk, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity.

How did the idea first come about?

I met with my Swedish partner and friend when I was getting my master’s degree in entrepreneurship at the Swedish Institute. In our freshman year, we were thinking about creating a common venture.

We got financial support from the Swedish government, with which we opened a small office in Egypt. We were thinking about having an office in Europe, but Egypt has a lower labour force cost when compared to Sweden for example.

We felt that Egypt has a remarkably growing market in terms of data processing, development, and people’s access to technology and apps, while Sweden is one of the most innovated countries around the world.

We preferred to enter a new, fresh market like Egypt rather than invest in an extremely competitive market in Europe. We decided to shift our direction to the Middle East and changed the idea to something that fits the region.

Sweden is a very well-known country for transparency and easily accessible information system, while Middle Eastern countries still face the problem of lack of information and many people are cheated on in terms of prices, so we thought it will be beneficial if we launched a website that depends more on research and the collection of price data.

What will you offer to the market?

Simply, we will offer full data and price comparison. Elprices does not only include physical stores but offers a price comparison option for all of its signed retailers. We will give buyers the option to browse online and local stores for their desired product at the lowest cost and give sellers access to new target markets beyond their geographical reach and financial restrictions.

Elprices offers vendors’ information to the public and integrates consumer-generated feedback, unlike other e-commerce websites such as Souq or Jumia. This is a way to ensure complete transparency between both parties throughout the online buying cycle.

Although elprices is launching as a price comparison website, it is set to be the largest online database for the Egyptian market’s offerings, including listed items on online stores, available products in local stores, as well as purchases from an elprices store, a feature that continues to expand through signing more sellers, with plans to launch its own e-commerce store down the line.

Why did you choose to have elprices named in Franco-Arab?

We determined to choose a clear name that shows the purpose of the website and its goals. Moreover, elprices is a common word in the Egyptian community.

Egypt has about 17 million internet subscribers, which shows the importance of e-marketing and e-commerce.

We understand that the prices in Egypt and the emerging markets do not only depend on online stores, but also on retail stores. Therefore, if you want to make a full comparison, you will have to include local street stores as well.

We will have integrated price lists for products and then you will freely choose the best for you. When offering the idea to stores, they welcomed it and asked to join us because they realised the importance of e-commerce and want to access more clients and sales.

How many shops have you signed contracts with and what is your target?

We have agreements with about 400 shops now, and we expect them to jump to 1,000 by the official launch.

Brantu will be launching the e-commerce store, the website’s second feature, on 15 July in preparation for elprices grand launch on the 30 October 2018.

How does Brantu see the Egyptian market, especially for the Swedish partner?

Actually, I lived in Sweden for a period of time and I felt how people negatively see the terroristic attacks in Sinai, which affects the credibility of Egypt as a safe country.

I convinced my Swedish partner to come to Egypt. He closely saw the potential of the country in terms of the e-commerce field. Sweden is more advanced than Egypt in e-commerce; we thought that the market needs many services, so we began our venture in January.

Last month, there was a delegation from our head office in Sweden that came to the Egypt office and we had a tour together in the shops that we have contracted with lately, then we thought we should increase our investments.

What is the amount of the increase?

We already have $1.2m dedicated for the Egyptian market, but I cannot disclose the amount of increase right now. We will announce the new investments after receiving the board’s decision.

What is your five-year strategy for the market?

Our vision is to continue price comparison. We want to expand to other serives. We have not determined which services yet..

What are the nationalities of your employees?

The majority are Egyptian, but there are Swedish and Argentinean nationals working at the head office who visit Egypt’s office often, spending about 30% of their time here.

What about your plans for corporate social responsibility?

I think that tech education is very important. We plan to introduce some children to programming projects. When I was in Sweden, I saw six-year-old children able to learn how to program very well. I understand that programming makes children analytically think about the world around them.

We may host children from public schools at the company on a regular basis to teach them programming and help then think better, but we will not begin shortly because we are currently focusing on the launch.

When will you start campaigns in the market?

We plan to start in September. We are focusing now on building the trust that we need through the products, then marketing will be very easy.

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ABB awaits additional meeting with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/08/abb-awaits-additional-meeting-president-abdel-fattah-al-sisi/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/08/abb-awaits-additional-meeting-president-abdel-fattah-al-sisi/#respond Tue, 08 May 2018 09:00:53 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=658790 Company participating in energy hub plan, new cities discussed in first meeting

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Naji Jreijiri, chairperson and CEO of ABB in Egypt, said that his company awaits additional meetings with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi after the first meeting was held in April, to exchange visions and understand the president’s ideas about Egypt’s plan to become a regional energy hub and ABB’s participation in new cities.

“The second meeting we will be based on the plans of the president for the country. We will have to come up with proposals to meet those plans and support his vision,” Jreijiri told Daily News Egypt.

On 24 April, Al-Sisi received ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer and discussed his vision for Egypt as an energy hub in the Middle East and North Africa. Also present at the meeting were Mohamed Shaker, minister of electricity and renewable energy; Jan Thesleff, ambassador of Sweden to Egypt, and Jreijiri, according to a previous press release from ABB.

Daily News Egypt sat down for an interview with Jreijiri, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity.

What was discussed in the first meeting with the president?

The discussions were about Egypt’s plan of being an energy hub and how ABB can support the governmental vision, and also, how ABB, as well as Sweden, can support the education sector in order to prepare Egypt for the coming industrial revolution and the new automation that will be used in industry within the coming years.

Egypt has a large number of licensed engineers. Today, the educational system covers certain levels and topics of education, but since the industry is going towards new technologies and new areas like robot tech, for example, we need to adapt our educational system; this is an area where we are experts.

Egypt has plans for developing new cities like the New Administrative Capital, New Alamein, and so on, in this area there will be cooperation to provide solutions for renewable energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions and come up with more environmentally friendly solutions. We have solutions that will make the consumer use less power, while receiving the same quality and comfort.

Have you agreed with the president about specific projects that you will participate in?

Definitely, there are specific projects we are working on, but for the moment, we have a plan to meet the president again, then probably we will talk more precisely about specific projects.

The first meeting with the president was to exchange visions and understand the president’s ideas, then ABB will apply them to his plans for the country. We will have to come with proposals to meet those plans and support his visions.

For the moment, we do not make any declaration on specific projects.

Would you please tell me more about the activities of ABB? How many projects is ABB involved in?

ABB is working in two major sectors in Egypt, one is the energy sector, where our mission is to transport energy from the energy sources like power plants, solar power plants, or wind power plants to the consumers. We convert the energy to a kind that suits the consumers by using the latest technology. We care about transporting high quality energy without losses.

We also provide energy solutions in compound communities to bring power directly to the consumer and to control the power, so in this area, we were awarded recently the regional control centre for the canal with Elsewedy Electric. There are some projects which are under pursuit and discussions with the government. The solution here is to manage the canal area.

The projects which we are involved in are in the network and distribution substations of different capacities.

We have another sector, which is industrial automation, and this serves the entire industry process, which is related to the food and beverage industry, for example. Cement, oil and gas, and packaging are becoming widely automated, and we provide the electrical and automation solutions that approve the quality and reduce the processing time.

We are very active in the infrastructure and construction sector like in the New Administrative Capital, for example. We are providing solutions for most of the ministries’ buildings there, through very known contractors in the market. We have the same kind of work in New Alamein as well.

We are also working on the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM); all the electrification in the museum is done by ABB. It is a very long project which we have been working on for years now. Once it is completed, it will be a landmark in Egypt.

What is the size of the GEM’s contracts?

We do not talk about the numbers, but in long projects like the GEM, you start with conditions and end with different pillars. When we started working on the GEM, the Egyptian pound was at $5.6, but today, it is totally different. Secondly, we you are building a project like this, during the duration of implementation, you discover other needs, and we have not finished yet.

May be after finishing will you have a figure?

Yes, but unfortunately, we will not disclose it. What is important is the value added to the project, but it is a project this is expanding, and there are additional requirements that we are meeting with contractors.

All the equipment installed at the GEM include the latest technologies. You will not change them in five or 10 years, they have to last as long as the museum. We are here to serve the customer during the first stage of openings.

What is the total amount of ABB’s investments in the Egyptian market?

We have been investing in Egypt even during the past seven years since the revolution and have been here since 1979.

Seven years ago, the group decided that Egypt will be an export hub for Africa, and to do that, you need a certain capacity. We needed to upgrade our machines, we needed new specifications, so we started to analyse the requirements to cover the new markets.

Even when there was a revolution in Tahrir Square, we continued working in 10th of Ramadan City.

We use the slow demand in the Egyptian market to upgrade the factories and we invested heavily several—millions of dollars—in order to upgrade the factories to meet the expected demand in Egypt and Africa.

We will continue our investments in the market, we will continue hiring people, we still have the allocation for Africa. The Egyptian market is growing tremendously, especially demand in the construction sector and distribution. You see the expansions in these two areas.

There is more and more demand for energy in Africa; the requirements in Africa will push us to expand and serve the African markets.

How many factories do you have in Egypt?

We have two areas in 10th of Ramadan City designated for manufacturing: one is a transformer factory and the other is a campus that hosts about six factories in one place, which produces different products.

Then we have an area in Nasr City where we assemble products, and we also have a service facility in Obour City, where we do repairs for big motors, machines that are used in industry like in the cement and oil and gas fields. We also have a service workshop in the Suez region in the free zone, where we repair turbochargers that are in the generators of motors ships.

What is the value of your exports and your goals for the coming years?

Today our exports represent 18-20% of our production. Our plan was to reach 40%, but the demand of the market is growing practically twice compared to our previous expectations. We want to reach 40% so we have to expand our production to respond to the increasing demand.

We are expanding our transformer factory in 10th of Ramadan City and we recently got the land to increase its capacity.

What capacity will the expansions add to the factory?

The expansions of the transformer factory will increase its capacity by 20% compared to the current capacity. Frankly speaking, we see the market is growing even more.

Do you face any challenges while working in the Egyptian market?

Yes, we do actually. Like every business, we have some issues. We are starting to face a shortage in skilled human resources and, unfortunately, we see that a lot of the Egyptian technical resources and engineers are leaving the country for the Gulf or other countries, and this is something which causes a gap in the skilled technical resources that are needed for the current and coming developments. They are leaving not because they do not like it here, but to improve their quality of life, so unfortunately, this is creating a gap in the market in terms of skilled resources.

There are some changes in laws and administration, which sometimes affect operations. More specifically, I am talking about customs clearance. We need to work closely with the Ministry of Finance to create awareness about new imported technologies, in order to easily position these technologies, like robots for example.

When we import a robot to Egypt to be used in a manufacturing line, today because robots are new to the market, it is difficult for the customs authority to know which sector to classify the robots in.

There are more technologies that will be introduced to the market on 9 May. We will have an event to introduce many intelligent products that can communicate remotely and give you their state of operation.

I will give you an example: a transformer that can tell its problems, like heating up or needing to be oiled, without a technician going to the site, so the transformer will have a product that has a communication capacity.

When we import these new communicating transformers, the customs will have to wait for the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to approve them, and then the army has to give the approval, so it is becoming more complex. But this is the future, and we need to raise more awareness over the approval challenges of the ministries.

We respect the rules of the country, but we want to cooperate with the ministries to inform the people in charge about the new technologies to understand what to do and where to classify the products when imported.

Do you have any meeting with Egyptian ministries to discuss your challenges?

Of course, we have opened discussions. We definitely have a lot of meetings with the Ministry of Electricity. Moreover, we have discussed with the Egyptian Customs Authority. We did not talk to the minister himself, but he had the person in charge of customs. He is very open, he listens, he would like to have different opinions from other companies. He tells us to be patient and that he will solve the issue.

I am not complaining here, I am just mentioning some regulations that need to be upgraded to facilitate the current businesses.

What about your strategy in the next five years?

Our strategy is to move more towards the digital world, to offer more intelligent solutions that would reduce the time of availability of the systems. The remote services.

I will give you an example: if a technician needs to go to a site in Banha to identify a motor problem of a certain customer, he will need two hours to go and come back to have certain equipment. With the new technologies, we can do the diagnoses remotely, we do not have to waste hours on the road; we go directly and fix the motor with the needed equipment. We will apply the same concept to all of our products.

We will work on preparing the market for e-mobility, the electric vehicles in the public and private transportation, so we need from now to start working on the infrastructure of the new cities to accommodate  electric buses, for example. This means that we will have to be sure that we have suitable charging points in the stations, you will have to have the right cables and right installations to prepare the people in the coming future.

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Business Sweden to set up office in Egypt at end-2018: ambassador https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/08/business-sweden-set-office-egypt-end-2018-ambassador/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/08/business-sweden-set-office-egypt-end-2018-ambassador/#respond Tue, 08 May 2018 08:00:46 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=658774 Egyptian exports to Sweden sharply increased by 10% in 2017

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Business Sweden, a public-private export promotion organisation, will set up an office in Egypt at the end of 2018, said Swedish Ambassador to Egypt Jan Thesleff, clarifying that the aim of establishing the Egypt office is to encourage trade of goods and services, including Swedish exports and Egyptian imports, as well as investments.

Thesleff told Daily News Egypt that the presence of Business Sweden in Egypt is a sign of the great attention Sweden pays to the Egyptian market.

“We see that Egypt, with its diversified economy, large domestic market, a tradition of education, strategic geographical location, and now with a reform agenda focused on private sector growth, provides highly interesting opportunities for Swedish and international enterprises,” noted the ambassador.

“From my perspective, Egypt is well suited to be the next major regional manufacturing hub. Trade figures will certainly have significantly improved when looking back at 2018,” added Thesleff.

Thesleff sat down with DNE for an interview to explore the business relationship between his country and Egypt, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity.

What are the latest trade figures between Sweden and Egypt?

The latest trade figures show that trade between our two countries is strong. Notwithstanding the economic stagnation immediately after the devaluation, the figures were good for 2017, and Egypt is now our second market in both Africa and the Middle East.

The main commodities Sweden exports to Egypt are raw materials. Timber in the form of sawn softwood, as well as iron ore, represent over 50% of our exports. Egypt is Sweden’s second biggest market worldwide in terms of wood export. This sector is a perfect example of the symbiosis between quality Swedish raw materials, and Egyptian industrial production.

The materials are being used in the Egyptian market in, for example, the construction industry, furniture industry, and steel industry. These quality materials are being finished for use by domestic consumers, or exported as refined goods, which generates export income for Egypt.

Electrical generation, transmission, and automation are other key areas with global companies, such as ABB at the forefront. ICT, telecommunications, and the Internet of Things are others, with Ericsson, in close liaison with Egyptian partners, bringing about smart solutions and smart societies for smart people. In both areas, Egypt is set to become a regional leader.

In addition, large portions of our exports are made up of transport equipment, such as trucks, cars, construction equipment (examples: Volvo and Scania), telecommunications equipment (example: Ericsson), and paper and carton (example: Tetra Pak and SCA).

I also see great opportunities in other areas of strength for Swedish technology and business. Sustainable green tech solutions, solid waste handling, and water technology are such examples. Life science is another important area, as is education and R&D. These will be focus areas for us.

The main commodities being imported from Egypt are agricultural goods and textiles. It is encouraging to see that Egyptian exports to Sweden sharply increased by 10% in 2017. 

Swedish Ambassador to Egypt Jan Thesleff

What are the plans for upcoming official visits between both countries and trade missions?

We have had an intensive last six months since I returned to Egypt after being away for 20 years, with regards to visits to Egypt from Sweden. In February, Minister of Trade and EU Affairs Ann Linde and a major trade delegation visited Egypt and met with several ministers, including the prime minister. In November, we had our State Secretary for Policy Coordination and Energy Emil Högberg visiting Egypt.

The CEO of the ABB Group Dr Ulrich Spiesshofer was moreover received by the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on 24 April, underscoring the importance of our energy cooperation. The ambition of Egypt to become an energy hub is fast becoming a reality.

It is worth noting that Thesleff told Daily News Egypt in April that Central Bank of Egypt Governor Tarek Amer will head to Sweden in May accompanied by a delegation of Egyptian e-payments companies.

What is your view of the Egyptian reforms and business climate?

The economic reform programme has so far been a success, if we look at the current macroeconomic figures, with a current growth rate of around 5%, and higher projections going forward. We are supporting the IMF programme, and we take note of the praise that Egypt has received from the IMF and the World Bank for the implementation of the reforms.

Egypt is a very important trading partner for Sweden; our economic ties stretches far back. Many of the Swedish enterprises present in Egypt have been here for as long as 100 years and have established state of the art factories and employ thousands of Egyptians. Electrolux and ABB are examples of such companies. In later years, Swedish presence in the retail sector has also increased. Household names such as IKEA, Oriflame, H&M, and Max Burgers are now well positioned in the Egyptian market and hiring Egyptian talent. Stable and investment-friendly policies, as laid out in the new Investment Law, will further improve investment predictability and make Egypt a business destination of choice.

Women’s participation in the economy, creation of innovation hubs, stimulating entrepreneurship, rural development, but also increased value—added through design and marketing tools—are important future ingredients. I am encouraged by what I see and we stand ready to support young Egyptians in their endeavours.

Have there been meetings with Swedish investors who are interested in investing in the Egyptian market?

In fact, we see an increased interest from Swedish companies looking at the Egyptian market. The Egyptian-Swedish Business Association is thriving and meeting on a monthly basis. The association is a very important vehicle when it comes to finding synergies and promoting Swedish business in Egypt.

Sweden is a strong proponent of global free trade; around 50% of our GDP comes from trade. We see trade as an important enabler for development for spreading Swedish values, including when it comes to responsible enterprise, decent work, and human rights in general.

What are the main attractive economic sectors for Swedish companies?

Sweden has a broad diversified palette of areas of interest. From the embassy’s side, we have focused on two sides when it comes to economic promotional activities in Egypt based on our appreciation of the market. Firstly, almost all major Swedish companies are present in Egypt and we support them in developing their business domestically and regionally. Secondly, we actively support sectors and new businesses that are currently trending in Sweden and globally, such as tech and services.

The Egyptian entrepreneurship ecosystem has great potential to grow. Sweden, being a global leader in innovation, startups and tech, wants to be a part of your innovative and entrepreneurial journey. We encourage Swedish investments in Egyptian startups and we arrange delegation visits as well as participate in the RiseUp Summit held in Cairo each year. The results are already tangible, and more is to come.

Thesleff said in April that bilateral trade exchange was at €850m and there are about 70 Swedish companies investing in Egypt.

What about the cooperation with Egypt in cultural aspects? What are the programmes that the embassy implements?

The embassy works on a number of cultural projects. We have been active partners with the Panorama Festival of European Film, which is held in Cairo, Alexandria, and other locations in Egypt every year. Last year, we partnered with Panorama to screen the Swedish film that won the Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Festival. This year, we are very excited to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Sweden’s most famous director—Ingmar Bergman. We are working with El Gouna Film Festival to have a retrospective on his films, including an exhibition. We will also be working with Panorama to bring the films to audiences in Cairo.

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) supports cultural programmes through funding of the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival, D-CAF. D-CAF has programmes mainly targeting young artists, helping to strengthen their technical and artistic capabilities (directing, cinematography, etc). Tamasi is a collective established in 2008 to promote excellence in the performing arts at the local, regional, and international levels. It consists of 11 performing arts organisations from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine accomplished in the field of performing arts. We promote and support their activities

Could you tell me more about supporting Egyptian women, and the efforts exerted in that regard?

Equality between women and men is a key goal for Sweden, nationally, and it is also an integrated part of our foreign policy. Sweden adopted the world’s first feminist foreign policy in 2014, putting gender equality and women’s participation at the centre of all our work, both foreign and domestic. Only a few weeks ago, Sweden hosted the Stockholm Forum on Gender Equality—a global meeting, with participation also from Egypt.

Sida is proud to support Egyptian ministries and authorities, UN agencies, and civil society actors in setting up and implementing an integrated programme on social, economic, and legal empowerment of Egyptian women. The objective is to strengthen the role of women, as well as to increase their participation in politics, business, and society.

Through the programme, some 42,000 women had national ID cards issued in 2016, and 490,000 cases were processed in 2016 through the legal aid offices in Assiut, Al-Arish, and Minya (access to justice). One of the components of the programme includes the “Taa Marbouta” campaign, which was launched in October 2016, and has since developed into the biggest campaign in Egypt for women’s empowerment. By allowing equal access and possibilities in the economy for both women and men, the full economic potential of society is utilised. A society where half of the population is barred from economic activity will not be as productive as it could be.

With Swedish support, the regional campaign “Because I am a man” was launched, starting with Egypt in 2017. The main objectives of the campaign are raising awareness on the positive role of men in achieving gender equality and in promoting women empowerment, changing the negative stereotypes related to gender roles, fatherhood, violence against women, and employment. This campaign is part of a four-year regional UN Women programme, funded by Sweden.

In Egypt, the campaign has been endorsed by public figures including Mohamed Salah; Zap Tharwat (a rapper), Mohamed Hefzy (a producer and scriptwriter), Osama Kamal (a TV anchor/media figure), Careem (a ride-hailing app), and Aly Mazhar (an athlete and founder of BeFit Egypt).

This summer we will also be organising an exhibition that highlights the important role of fathers in the family. We hope to be able to celebrate active fathers through this exhibition which will include photos of Swedish and Egyptian dads.

What about tourism statistics and other areas of exchange?

I would especially like to mention the boom of Swedish travellers that Egypt has recently experienced. After a downturn in 2011 and the years that followed, we see greatly improved figures for 2017/2018. We are not yet back at the record figures of 2010, when 210,000 Swedes travelled to Egypt, but the trend is distinct and positive.

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Ericsson to focus on developing operators’ networks towards 5G future https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/08/ericsson-focus-developing-operators-networks-towards-5g-future/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/08/ericsson-focus-developing-operators-networks-towards-5g-future/#respond Tue, 08 May 2018 07:00:11 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=658771 5G will give birth to new businesses, fuel innovations: country manager

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Stockholm-based company Ericsson will primarily focus on fifth generation networks and developing operators’ networks in line with the 5G technology evolution, Sameh Shoukry, country manager for Egypt at Ericsson, told Daily News Egypt.

Shoukry added that the ultra-low latency and reliable communication of 5G networks will allow factories to cut cables to their machines and integrate greater intelligence into the cloud which will lead to cheaper robots, quicker change times, and much more flexible production.

“5G is not only about speed and latency, it is also about efficiency. Our 5G networks will enable 10 times lower cost per gigabyte than current 4G networks, thanks to increased spectral efficiency, higher network utilisation, greater user numbers, and higher average speeds,” said Shoukry.

Shoukry added that 5G will give birth to new businesses and fuel new innovations, noting, “we can’t fully grasp today how 5G will change not only the way we communicate, but also the ways we find solutions to create a more sustainable world in the future.”

In an interview with DNE, Shoukry explored the possibilities 5G may bring to the future. The transcript of the exchange is below, lightly edited for clarity.

 

How long has Ericsson been in Egypt?

Our relationship with Egypt is more than a century old. It began when Ericsson installed its first telephone exchange in Egypt in 1897 in Alexandria.

Together with local partners in Egypt, Ericsson has played a key role in building the country’s ICT infrastructure from 2G to 3G to 4G, and now paving the way towards 5G.

We are working with the country’s operators to help them expand their core network capabilities and develop their legacy infrastructure to address future network requirements related to 5G technologies.

Together with partners and customers, we are working on technology use cases for today and tomorrow. These include network evolution into 5G, new business models with IoT and 5G, and digital engagement for greater efficiency and an enhanced customer experience. We have also focused a lot on innovation this year, including AI/machine intelligence, robots, and AR/VR.

What is the amount of Ericsson’s investment in the Egyptian market?

Globally, Ericsson invested SEK 37.9bn (Swedish kronas) on research and development (R&D) in 2017, and this of course includes investments in the Middle East and Africa region.

There are opportunities for growth in specific areas leading to selective market expansion opportunities that are enabled by increased investments in R&D for technology and cost leadership.

What is Ericsson’s strategy for the coming five years? 

Our new CEO joined last year in January, which was when we devised our current strategy to pay greater attention to R&D.

We see that mobility is the fastest growing technology ever. Today, there are almost 8bn mobile subscriptions globally, enabling people around the world to communicate more easily than ever before. With 2G and 3G, we moved from an exclusive service to mass market and reached the first billion mobile subscriptions. With 4G, we entered the era of data, as people started streaming videos and music, posting on social media, and collaborating on the job using mobile broadband connections. It is safe to say that 4G has powered the era of the smartphones. Now, our mission has expanded beyond communications for all; now, it is internet for all. Research shows that on average, a 10% increase of mobile broadband adoption causes a 0.6–2.8% increase in economic growth in a country. Our plan in Egypt and the region is to continue paving the way towards 5G and providing internet to everything that can benefit from connectivity.

What are the new projects that the company is mulling?

Currently, we are working towards a 5G future, and the capabilities of a 5G network will be a sharp change compared to 4G. Not only will 5G data speeds be 10 to 100 times faster than 4G; 5G will also provide much lower latency—down to almost true real time. These capabilities of a 5G network will create many new uses.

Connected things can communicate with each other faster than our bodies will notice, which will revolutionise virtual and augmented reality and make voice the most common way to interact with machines.

Connected vehicles will talk to each other, enabling a future city to operate traffic lights and preventing many auto accidents.

Doctors will be able to perform remote surgery, and sensors will keep miners safe by defining their work area and alerting them to approaching dangers.

5G is not only about speed and latency; it is also about efficiency. Our 5G networks will enable 10 times lower cost per gigabyte than current 4G networks, thanks to increased spectral efficiency, higher network utilisation, greater user numbers, and higher average speeds.

What about the contribution of the Egyptian market to Ericsson’s global business?

We are not at liberty to disclose country-specific figures, but we do report them by region in our quarterly earnings reports. In Q1 2018, the Middle East and Africa region had an impressive contribution of 19% to our global business. We anticipate our operations in the Egyptian market being mutually beneficial in terms of return on investment and economic support. 

What are the latest and targeted revenues of the company?

During a challenging 2017, Ericsson developed and started to execute a focused strategy, strengthening its R&D while simultaneously introducing robust measures to reduce cost and commercial risk.

We have now laid the foundation for achieving our financial targets. The fourth quarter aligned well with our overall expectation, with gradual improving performance in networks and continued significant losses in digital services. The result was, however, far below our long-term ambition.

How do you assist the investment climate right now, especially in ICT sector?

While the investment climate in Egypt is improving, it remains challenging, despite the economic reform programme backed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in November 2016. 

There are large investments in the ICT domain, and there has been immense growth estimated at around 13% over the past 18 months in investment from our customers, ourselves, and our partners. We are working in an ecosystem where we play a role, our customers play a role, and our partners play a role. We have seen a positive correlation between GDP growth and mobile broadband in countries like Egypt, because the more access you have to mobile broadband, the more GDP grows.

Egypt’s information and communications technology (ICT) industry is expected to drive economic growth, according to Oxford Business Group. In fact, the country’s ICT sector grew by 12.5% in the 2016/2017 financial year, contributing some 3.2% to the country’s GDP. As the ICT industry continues to grow, it becomes an attractive sector for both national and international investments.

What are the challenges that face investors right now?

We are investing in an industry that services people, but we were affected by higher inflation rates too, so we faced this cycle of challenges. Nonetheless, the situation is improving.

The industry has invested more into overcoming the challenges, and I think that this year and into next year, things will be much better.

I would like to add that competition is intense in the ICT space, which is healthy for the market.

Since you faced some challenges in the past period, what is the outlook?

This year, we devised a very focused new strategy, we adopted heavy investments in R&D, and we adopted a very methodological way of working with our customers to satisfy their needs, as we always make our customers a priority.

The Middle East and Africa represents about 19% of the entire Ericsson group, which is a very sizable portion. We see that Egypt is a very promising market, with a high percentage of young people in the population, which helps create a good environment for digital solutions. We also have a high service penetration level and people are using more smartphones than ever, so these factors present good business opportunities.

However, there are risks to consider and challenges to overcome as well. The world is currently in the midst of an unparalleled digital revolution, which has translated to an industrial revolution that has shaken up the market and challenged the status quo for investors. However, this transformation works largely in favour of the ICT industry, as business has been booming in recent years and will only continue to grow in the face of immense digital adoption.

Ericsson is continuously investing in the Egyptian market as we are confident in its potential, and we are committed to participate in the country’s growth.

How do you see opportunities in Egypt’s megaprojects?

As the world becomes increasingly dependent on technology and connectivity, there is immense opportunity in projects that affect people on a large and widespread scale. For example, many ICT operators are involved in smart city projects around the world, whereby connectivity becomes the most important resource. Similarly, e-health and e-government initiatives implement data networks and ICT operations in key fundamental ways. Megaprojects like these are becoming more frequent as the world embraces digitalisation—and their success hinges on the capabilities of operators like us.

How many employees does Ericsson hire currently?

New hires depend on business needs. Hiring from within the organisation comes as a priority, and in the event of unavailability or insufficient competence inside the organisation, we seek fresh talent from the external market.

Is Egypt’s office responsible for other countries in the region?

Ericsson’s Egypt office is only responsible for Egypt. This way, we can focus all our resources in that location exclusively on operations in the country.

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La Viennoise building’s investment cost EGP 55m: Al Ismaelia chairperson https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/07/la-viennoise-buildings-investment-cost-egp-55m-al-ismaelia-chairperson/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/07/la-viennoise-buildings-investment-cost-egp-55m-al-ismaelia-chairperson/#respond Mon, 07 May 2018 07:30:08 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=658672 We are interested in renovating historical buildings, will not be real estate developer, says Shafei

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For the past 10 years, Al Ismaelia for Real Estate Investment has been pursuing a revamp of Downtown Cairo, aiming to revive the historic district to the glory of its past.

The company is passionate about creating an authentic contemporary story of a “Downtown for All”.

It has already developed and renovated several buildings in Downtown to make use of them for various purposes, including residential, administrative, and commercial activities.

On Saturday, Al Ismaelia inaugurated La Viennoise building, the first environmentally friendly historical building. The building’s investment cost amounted to EGP 55m, Karim Shafei, chairperson of Al Ismaelia for Real Estate Investment, told Daily News Egypt.

In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Shafei said that the company purchased the building for EGP 30m and invested about EGP 25m in its development and renovation.

What is the main activity of the company?

The company’s activity is based on the acquisition of properties of distinctive architectural style and then work to remove the legal complications associated with the property with several heirs. The company then negotiates with the existing tenants, taking into consideration their social dimension. These negotiations may last about five years. After that, the company starts to renovate the building and its infrastructure while preserving its original character, which represents the architectural significance of the downtown.

In light of the studies conducted by the company, it adjusts the use of many of these properties to suit the contemporary needs of the residential, commercial, and cultural areas, thus increasing the rental value of the building.

Why did you choose to invest in Downtown Cairo?

Downtown Cairo is considered an abandoned area; 30% of the units are empty, 20% are closed, 45% are for administrative and commercial activities, and less than 5% are residential. Furthermore, Property is dilapidated and lacks maintenance and services. Besides, the region includes limited commercial activities of low economic value and that are serving one segment of society.

What is the investment cost of La Viennoise building in downtown?

The investment cost of the building’s development amounted to EGP 55bn.  We purchased the building for EGP 30m and invested about EGP 25m in its development and renovation.

What is the company’s expansion plan?

Our expansion plan includes developing 23 historical buildings, including the French Consulate building and the Cinema Radio building, which was built in the late 1930s and is located on Soliman Pasha Street. It also includes the Kodak building, which was acquired in 1924 by Kodak Company where it hosted its offices until its acquisition by Al Ismaelia in 2008. The building is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.

We will invest about EGP 200m in those projects during the coming two or three years. We do not mind developing other buildings in other areas, however, we are more focused on developing the current buildings we have than buying new ones.

How many buildings has the company studied buying?

The total properties offered to the company amounted to about 200 buildings.

Do you plan to develop historical buildings in Alexandria?

Currently, we are focusing on Downtown Cairo, but maybe after three or four years we will look for other areas to develop and renovate.

You develop buildings to make them as though they are new. Do you plan to move into real estate development?

No, we are interested in the renovation of historical buildings.

What is value of the company’s investments?

The company has invested EGP 310m of its paid-up capital.

Does the company plan to list on the Egyptian Exchange?

The listing on the EGX is a proposal and we may go for it at any time.

What is the value of recurrent profits from renting buildings?

For a long time, we did not achieve profits, but our shareholders were aware of that and they had a long-term vision. However, recently we began to achieve profits to cover the projects’ investments.

How many buildings have been developed by Ismaelia?

We have developed about seven or eight buildings with an investment cost of approximately EGP 25m.

What is the demand for renting property in Downtown Cairo?

Nowadays, we have great demand on Downtown for commercial, administrative, and residential activities.

What are the challenges that the company faces when buying buildings in Downtown?

The most significant problem facing the company when buying some real estate is to communicate with the actual owner of the property, and the company negotiates with the extended family in cases where there is a large number of heirs, and there is a property purchased by the company from 60 heirs.

The company refused to buy a property of about 140 heirs due to the difficulty of reaching the owners. In some cases, the time period to negotiate the purchase of the property reaches four years.

When will the company receive the first tranche of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) loan?

It is planned to receive the first installment of the EBRD loan, of EGP 150m, within two months for use in real estate development projects.

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7th session of Egyptian-Ukrainian joint committee to be held in 2018: ambassador https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/07/7th-session-egyptian-ukrainian-joint-committee-held-2018-ambassador/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/07/7th-session-egyptian-ukrainian-joint-committee-held-2018-ambassador/#respond Mon, 07 May 2018 06:00:30 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=658669 Ukrainian companies to participate in Egypt's public sector reform

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Ukrainian Ambassador to Egypt Hennadi Latii said that 2018 will witness the seventh session of the Egyptian-Ukrainian joint committee on economic, scientific, and technical cooperation, after it was postponed several times.

Latii added to Daily News Egypt that both countries agreed on holding the joint committee’s next meeting during Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin’s visit to Egypt, which took place from 29-30 April, noting, “this time I am sure we will hold the committee meeting in 2018.”

Daily News Egypt sat down for an interview with Latii, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity.

What are the main results of the Ukrainian minister of foreign affairs’ visit to Egypt?

The Ukrainian foreign minister held several successful meetings with high-level officials from the local government, including Prime Minister Sherif Ismail; Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s foreign minister; Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal; and Arab League General Secretary Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

The high-level talks emphasised boosting bilateral relations. Activating the political governmental dialogue between both countries was a very positive sign. April was a good month of political bilateral cooperation.

On 11 April, high-profile talks between the Ukrainian’s Foreign Ministry’s director general for the Middle East and Africa, Myroslava Shcherbatyuk, and the deputy assistant minister for Eastern and Southern European affairs of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, Nahla El Zawahry, were held. Can you elaborate on that?

The two sides discussed issues of bilateral cooperation in political, trade, academic, and consular areas. Particular attention was paid to promoting bilateral contacts, according to the embassy’s website.

During the Egyptian foreign minister’s meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, both sides discussed means of cooperation through international organisations like the United Nations, especially since Egypt and Ukraine were temporary members of the Security Council in 2016 and 2017. The two ministers agreed that they had a successful cooperation.

Both ministers discussed future cooperation regarding specific regional and international issues, emphasising the importance of fighting terrorism since Ukraine suffers from a Russian occupation of an eastern area of its land, while Egypt faces security issues in North Sinai and is considered a leader in solving Middle East issues.

 

Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil and Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat attended the Ukrainian minister’s meeting with Egypt’s prime minister to discuss the possibilities of boosting trade and tourism relations between both countries.

I see great potential for increasing the trade exchange between both countries to higher figures than in 2017, which recorded $2bn, boosting tourist numbers, which were 800,000 travellers, was discussed as well.

Ukrainian tourists to Egypt got the second rank in the top nationalities list who visited the country in 2017 after Germany, which ranked number one. We expect that the numbers will jump to more than 1 million tourists in 2018 as the Ukrainian airline Ukraine International Airlines launched regular flights between the capitals of Ukraine and Egypt in April; four flights a week.

Actually, there are many charter flights between Ukrainian cities and Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada, and El Alamein. I think that connecting both countries via direct airline will help facilitate businesspersons and students’ travels and to refresh tourism relations as well.

In the past, Egyptians had to travel to a third country to reach Ukraine, which was very tiring, but now there is a direct line with reasonable prices, and in three hours and a half, you will be there.

Is Ukraine International Airlines a private or state-owned company?

Actually, it is a private sector company, but it is the largest airline in Ukraine.

Do you have any information that EgyptAir will establish a direct line too?

The potential is there for EgyptAir to have a direct line to Ukraine. However, it is their decision, the air is open for them.

   

When will Egypt’s foreign minister visit Ukraine?

He received an invitation a long time ago. Egypt’s foreign minister already agreed to visit Ukraine, but in the upcoming months, we will discuss the visit’s timing.

In August 2017, the Ukrainian ambassador said at a press conference at the embassy that his country sent the Egyptian side about four invitations, including an invitation to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry, and Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal.

 

What about the results of Egypt’s minister for public sector affairs’ visit to Ukraine?

In April, Minister of Public Sector Affairs Khaled Badawy paid a visit to Ukraine and major Ukrainian companies that participated in the reform of Egyptian metals companies were discussed during the visit.

Badawi’s visit was in response to an invitation from the Ukrainian first deputy prime minister.

In the 1960s and the early 1970s, companies from the Soviet Union participated in establishing Egyptian metals companies, and now, after years, these companies are Ukrainian and they have the modern technologies to participate in the companies reforms.

Can you tell us which Ukrainian companies want to participate in the public sector reform?

Negotiations are ongoing so we will not disclose the names until both sides come to an agreement. Egypt’s minister of public sector affairs visited the interested companies and discussed the matter with the Ukrainian first deputy prime minister.

   

On 13 March, the ambassador of Ukraine to Egypt had a meeting with Khaled Badawy. Can you further explain the details of that meeting?

The meeting was centred on possibilities of more active involvement of Ukrainian enterprises in implementing various projects related to reconstruction and supplying Egyptian state enterprises with modern machinery and appliances.

How do Ukrainian companies see opportunities in Egyptian megaprojects?

Ukrainian companies already have the ability to participate in the megaprojects. They are modernised and are ready to participate in Egypt’s major projects, but what we really need is to meet and closely discuss the opportunities.

I think that the next period will witness activating bilateral economic relations after discussing cooperation during the Ukrainian foreign minister’s visit to Egypt.

 

We have read much news regarding organising an Egyptian-Ukrainian joint committee on economic, scientific, and technical cooperation, when will it be?

Organising the joint committee was postponed many times in the past years, but during the foreign minister’s recent visit to Egypt, we agreed to arrange it in the next months, and this time I am sure we will organise it in 2018.

  

We will determine a specific timing shortly, but it will be held in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and also, we will determine other official visits between both countries.

Can you give us updates on Ukrainian companies’ activities in Egypt?

The cooperation between both counties focuses very much on trade as a priority and will focus on investments. The Ukrainian oil and gas company is the biggest investor in Egypt with about $400m. It sees potential and will continue its successful work. However, there are some small companies represented in Egypt.

I think that by the end of June, a Ukrainian company will start delivering the Alexandria tram carriages to Egypt.  

 

What about interest from new companies?

Many companies are interested in the Egyptian market, especially in the field of importation.

How do Ukrainian companies see the Egyptian market right now?

The Egyptian market is a very huge one, which offers a lot of opportunities, especially with the bilateral agreements with African and Arab countries. However, the economic situation in Ukraine will play a role in taking decisions regarding foreign investments. We expect 3.5% GDP growth by the end of 2018, so I think Ukrainians will have the opportunity to invest outside the country.

What efforts will be exerted to boost tourism figures?

I think we can bring 1 million Ukrainian tourists by the end of 2018. Egyptian companies shall present good conditions to encourage Ukrainian tourists. Egypt is well known in Ukraine as a country with a civilisation and history. Many Ukrainians like to visit Egypt during the winter and summer because of its Red Sea and I am optimistic we can gradually exceed the expected numbers.

Last year witnesses many cultural activities. Will this year witness new, similar activities?

You are right, last year we organised many cultural activities. We announced the first translated book from Ukrainian to Arabic and had the symphonic orchestra play during these activities.

On 6 November 2017, representatives of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, the Greater Cairo Public Library, cultural institutions, and universities participated in a presentation of the first ever collected poetry and letters written by outstanding Ukrainian writer and poet Lesya Ukrainka (1871-1913), translated into the Arabic language. The Embassy of Ukraine and translators handed over 10 books to the Greater Cairo Public Library.

In the second half of 2018, we are looking to organise an exhibition of Ukrainian painters in Alexandria on the occasion of celebrating 50 years of the twinning agreement between Alexandria and the Ukrainian city Odessa, which was signed in 1968. We will organise an exhibition about the city of Odessa in Alexandria and a music party as well.

How many Egyptians study in Ukraine annually? Why is Ukraine an attractive destination for Egyptian students?

A large number of Egyptian youth applied to Ukrainian universities, especially to get their master’s degrees. We have about 2,500 Egyptian students studying in Ukraine at the moment. Ukraine is well known for its good educational system in Europe. Egyptian students in Ukraine do not face any difficulties.

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Automation is Egypt’s ultimate solution to facing corruption: APA spokesperson https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/06/automation-egypts-ultimate-solution-facing-corruption-apa-spokesperson/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/06/automation-egypts-ultimate-solution-facing-corruption-apa-spokesperson/#respond Sun, 06 May 2018 10:00:33 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=658571 Authority working hard to resolve bureaucracy, bribery issues hindering investors, says Samir

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As President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi assumed a second term in office earlier this year, Egypt continues to undergo economic reforms in the hope of boosting investments. But bureaucracy and corruption remain persistent issues.

The government is implementing different means to counter such issues facing investors. The Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation has been restructured in a way to make paperwork easier. State officials have also been facing accountability over crimes of corruption.

The Administrative Prosecution Authority (APA) is a government body that is actively pursuing the elimination of corruption. The judicial entity has opened a series of investigations into corruption allegations, aimed at holding responsible those whose illegal actions lead to serious accidents with human and material losses.

In a recently issued report, the APA’s investment cases unit announced it recovered nearly EGP 16 bn of state funds, mostly from pursuing payments for state-owned lands which were previously either allocated for free to investors or sold at very low prices. The unit has also contributed to reducing the hassle of long-term dispute resolution.

In an interview with Daily News Egypt, the APA’s spokesperson, Mohamed Samir, explained how the authority’s role is expanding to seek more transparency on cases that relate to every aspect of Egyptians’ political, social, and economic lives.

Samir, who also teaches political science and constitutional law, is a strong advocate of female equality in Egypt. Amid issues facing the appointment of women in the judiciary, Samir argued that male domination and the misuse of a religious narrative prevent the protection of women’s rights.

Nonetheless, he remains optimistic that change is going to come, by the force of law and the constitution. In fact, he proudly states that the APA has a 43% female employment rate, including both the current and former presidents of the entity.

How do you view the securing of a second presidential term and what are your expectations?

The first presidential term was marked by several challenges on top of which came fighting terrorism and facing corruption. It was the foundation phase of the post-30 June state. I expect more stability to come, especially after the painful medicine of economic reform policies. What we hope for in this phase is more legislation touching upon the socio-political situation such as laws organising the work of judicial institutions like ourselves, we wish to see more women guarantees for women rights, fighting discrimination, transparency, enhancing the role of the media, and information exchange. In short, more support for media and freedoms.

The APA is investigating two recent incidents; the floods in New Cairo and the blaze at the new Grand Egyptian Museum

The APA is investigating two recent incidents; the floods in New Cairo and the blaze at the new Grand Egyptian Museum. What are the latest updates on those cases and would you say they come amid a series of failures caused by corruption and negligence?

These are accidents which grabbed the attention of public opinion. Indeed, the APA is conducting investigations. With regards to the first one, a technical committee is trying to answer a number of questions on infrastructure problems, including emergency measures during rainfall and establishing whether the infrastructure initially met the required standards. Through investigations, the APA is not only seeking accountability but also means to prevent the repetition of such crises.

As for the Grand Egyptian Museum, we already stated that there were no human losses. But there could have been, which is why it is important to find out if the blaze was cause by negligence. This museum contains things of huge value with unique pieces that do not exist elsewhere.

We regularly work on preventative measures through our annual reports or recommendations in large-scale investigations. Some may be implemented and others not, maybe due to budget problems, which leads to redundancy of events, but we are monitoring and connecting with concerned entities to minimise the pattern of accidents. I must point out it is an additional task since our job initially comes after accidents occur.

How responsive are state entities to your initiative?

Several ministries make amendments in their systems based on our advice. Our annual report, coming out soon, will detail which did and which did not.

A recent report released by the APA’s investment cases unit traces conflict resolutions achieved between investors and the state. What could you tell us about the wider investment atmosphere in Egypt?

Bureaucratic routine and corruption are two major obstacles facing foreign and local investors in Egypt. The unit was established to solve issues of investors, for whom time equals money, in the shortest time periods possible, even maybe within a day or two.

The advantage of having the unit for investors is that it enjoys non-judicial powers that move faster than traditional judicial investigations. Its role is to contact all parties of the conflict. The unit is also tasked with following up on the implementation of decisions issued in favour of investors.

We found that when pressured by such judicial monitoring, government entities tend to be more responsive.

Where does Egypt stand on fighting corruption and why do we regularly hear about officials getting arrested on charges of bribery and embezzlement?

I would say that we witnessed a turning point in corruption cases in 2011, which significantly increased due to people’s eagerness to speak out and report violations, our statistics show. People were driven by holding the regime and any public employee accountable.

It also took real political will to fight corruption; the current regime decided to take drastic measures against corruption and clearly demanded that no official gets away with it. This was after realising how much money corruption costs us.

I am not saying there isn’t widespread corruption, but we are exposing it and we are making greater efforts to combat it, hoping for public awareness and trust in the judicial system.

Do you think people’s awareness is changing? For example, would citizens not pay a bribe and have their paperwork finished faster, instead take the time to report it and wait for their legal rights?

I agree. How would I convince someone not to pay a small bribe and have their license issued and wait instead for one or two months until we investigate the complaint? This is why there is a clear and only alternative: less human involvement in the process.

Automation is not an impossible dream. It has already started in the Investment Ministry and the APA is working on introducing the system as well. The corrupt will naturally resist automation and there is a lack of awareness among some high-ranking officials. People think putting a database on the cloud is unsafe.

It will take time, but it will happen. It is not an option anymore for any country not to have automated systems.

Automation is the most efficient administrative reform needed in public sector services.

Is tax evasion a problem in Egypt?

Of course. It seems like the only people properly paying taxes are those getting their salaries from the government. Some businesspersons are experts in scheming their finances and bribing tax officials.

Again, automation is the solution. The less we depend on cash and rely on banking transactions, the better we can limit tax evasion, which is a federal felony.

There’s also a problem in reporting tax evasion because, usually, all parties are guilty.

How do you evaluate the performance of parliament?

As a political science expert, I would say that parliament was formed in critical times. I personally think parliament did not achieve the people’s ambitions after two revolutions. We are still in need of turning constitutional texts into law.

I understand why randomness and a chaotic political scene take time to stabilise after revolutions. We are still experiencing the democratic system and taking our time to learn.

What do you think of some members of parliament calling for the amendment of the constitution to extend presidential terms or length of terms?

I think this would damage the regime. I don’t think it is a right decision to extend presidential terms and I don’t think that’s what the regime wants. I think the president bears a great share of responsibility and will continue to do so in this phase. We earned good things with our constitution, let’s not ruin them.

Maybe extending the length of a term from four to six could be discussed, but not now. This would not only be a way to earn people’s trust, but also to prove that we truly are seeking democratic rule.

Could you tell us about the APA’s role in women’s rights issues?

The APA investigates cases related to women’s rights. We have brought a mosque official in for interrogation after we found out he allowed the marriage of 27 minor girls. This is a very serious issue where people lack awareness, instead committing a series of crimes against these young girls.

We have also worked with the Ministry of Education and succeeded in changing a rule to give more authority for divorced women who have child custody over their children’s education system.

The APA is further working on sexual harassment in workplaces inside public institutions. I must also point out that there is a major problem of harassment of female students in schools and we are encouraging parents to report that.

Why is the appointment of women in some judicial institutions still a problem despite the constitution and laws?

Unfortunately, the percentage of women working in the judiciary is only 0.5%, meaning that it is a very male-dominated field. No women are appointed at the State Council or the general prosecution.

There are no legal obstacles, women have that right, and even in the face of some conservative religious rhetoric, these arguments have been countered.

It remains a problem of mentality where women are stereotyped to either domestic roles or certain jobs. Saudi Arabia, which recently sought to have female prosecutors, is almost certainly going to advance ahead of Egypt in women rights.

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Renaissance Capital targets range of sectors including healthcare, consumer, financial services: MENA CEO https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/03/renaissance-capital-targets-range-of-sectors-including-healthcare-consumer-financial-services-mena-ceo/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/03/renaissance-capital-targets-range-of-sectors-including-healthcare-consumer-financial-services-mena-ceo/#respond Thu, 03 May 2018 08:00:48 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=658374 Renaissance Capital, one of leading emerging and frontier markets investment bank, opened its office in Egypt last year. Ahmed Badr leads Renaissance Capital’s MENA business and oversees growth strategy in the region. Daily News Egypt interviewed him to review his valuable insights, as well as RenCap’s latest views on the economy, and its plans going …

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Renaissance Capital, one of leading emerging and frontier markets investment bank, opened its office in Egypt last year.

Ahmed Badr leads Renaissance Capital’s MENA business and oversees growth strategy in the region. Daily News Egypt interviewed him to review his valuable insights, as well as RenCap’s latest views on the economy, and its plans going forward.

Following the launch of your office in Egypt last year, what are your targets in the market and when are you planning to announce your first deal?

We view Egypt as one of our core markets, which is why we decided to open an office in Cairo in line with our MENA and pan-Africa expansion strategy. We wanted to build a stronger platform to continue facilitating access to capital for Egypt’s leading emerging investment cases and showcasing abundant opportunities to the investor community in Africa and beyond. Our recent appointment of Ahmed Hafez as head of MENA research, based in Cairo, is a testament to our commitment to Egypt, as is our decision to organise the third Annual Egypt Investor Conference in Cape Town on 24-25 April.

We plan on becoming a fully licensed investment bank across all operations in Egypt, with the exception of brokerage services, while growing our team to five by the end of June. The expansion of our operations in Egypt is very much in line with our overall strategy to grow Renaissance Capital’s reach to frontier markets.

Are there any deals in the pipeline? Which sectors?

We are currently looking at a number of opportunities this year. We are looking at a broad range of sectors that form part of the Egyptian economy, including healthcare, consumer, financial, materials, and real estate.

Following the huge market gains and improving macroeconomic conditions, are performance evaluation measures in the private sector attracting foreign investments?

Today Egypt looks more competitive than ever before. Vision 2030, the government’s plan for Egypt’s economic development, continues to support the underlying growth story that will create plentiful investment opportunities for investors both in Africa and globally. We have seen a lot of interest from African and global investors who want to be part of this story. In addition to this, we have seen growing interest from clients who have never properly looked at the Egyptian market before.

Which sectors are RenCap’s clients focused on? What is RenCap’s perception of those sectors?

We look at a broad range of sectors that are likely to benefit from the attractive market dynamics, supported by the government’s reform agenda. These include healthcare, consumer, financial, and materials. We believe that real estate will do well in the short term as interest rates decrease and people move cash into properties, however, we are continuing to evaluate the long-term potential for the sector at the moment.

Which licences have you obtained in Egypt? Which licences are you aiming to get in that market?

Over the course of the last year, we have invested heavily to establish a strong platform in Egypt. We currently hold licenses for underwriting and promoting IPOs.

In an effort to secure recurring revenues, the non-banking financial sector recently saw a great deal of interest from investment banks. Do you consider tapping into one of those areas, either through establishing a new business or acquiring one?

We have no immediate plans to tap into the non-banking financial sector. Our short- to mid-term focus is going to be growing our operations in Egypt. We are looking to consolidate our position in North Africa and integrate regional business within the wider EMEA and frontier markets.

Regarding your third annual conference in Cape Town, how many companies, representative sectors, and investment managers will be participating? What is the overall size of assets these companies are managing?

The Annual Egypt 1:1 Investor Conference continues to be a popular event and this year again helped connect prominent South African investors with senior management representing leading Egyptian companies from a broad range of sectors—including healthcare, consumer, financial, materials, and real estate—to facilitate partnership and investment opportunities. Some of the Egyptian companies that attended the event include Cleopatra Hospital, Commercial International Bank, Edita Food Industries, Egypt Kuwait Holding, Ezz Steel, Ghabbour Auto, Housing and Development Bank, Integrated Diagnostics Holding, MM Group, Madinet Nasr Housing and Development (MNHD), Palm Hills Developments, Qalaa Holdings, and SODIC.

The business conditions within the financial services sector is developing with use of fintech. How can RenCap add value in the Egyptian market through the deployment of such technologies?

At Renaissance Capital we take innovation very seriously and have made a number of improvements to our global business proposition in order to serve our clients better than ever. Earlier this year we established an Algorithmic Trading Unit to meet growing client demand and capitalise on market opportunities.

Government issuance of bonds and sukuk are a key driver in financial markets. Are you planning to manage any of those issuances?

We do not have current plans to tap into sukuk issuances.

What are your expectations for the Egyptian market next year (ie interest rates, deficit, inflation, debt)? What is your view of the country’s restructuring efforts?

Egypt proved to be the sole reform story in the MENA region that has delivered and continues to deliver tangible results.

The government’s debt reached 108% of the GDP in June 2017, the budget deficit is expected to be 9.8% of the GDP in 2017/2018, there is double-digit inflation and the current account deficit is around 4-5% of the GDP. However, the direction remains very positive. Inflation has already been halved since the post-devaluation peak of 33%, recording 13% in March 2018, with prices recording a total increase of 2% only over the past five months. The budget is expected to show a healthy primary surplus in 2018/2019 (perhaps already in 2017/2018), helped by growth accelerating towards 6% (a figure we, the IMF, and the government all agree on).

Egypt is very committed to a reform effort, which via subsidy removals in fuel and electricity might keep inflation at around 11-12% from June 2018 to June 2020, and this fiscal effort should allow a reallocation of government spending towards infrastructure and investment.

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Wuzzuf seals agreement for further investments https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/02/wuzzuf-seals-agreement-investments/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/02/wuzzuf-seals-agreement-investments/#respond Wed, 02 May 2018 06:00:46 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=658154 We plan to provide 1m jobs by 2020, says Sharif

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Bashar Soft, an online recruitment software company and the owner of the Wuzzuf and Forasna websites, signed an agreement to obtain funding from a foreign company and is set to announce the details within days.

The company will announce new updates to its Wuzzuf website based on artificial intelligence technology to make it easier for job seekers to find suitable work opportunities, according to Amir Sharif, the company’s chief executive and founder.

Can you tell us about Wuzzuf?

Next week we will announce the new updates we have made to the Wuzzuf platform. We began the company’s activities in 2009 and launched officially in 2011. Since then, we have been helping job seekers connect to the right jobs.

Over the past period, we have tried to attract investments to finance our expansion plans. In 2013, we obtained funding from Startup 500. We were the first Egyptian company to obtain funding from them, while now there are 12 Egyptian companies.

In 2015, we attracted further funding from investors in the US, UK, and Sweden. We launched the Forasna platform that provides jobs for mid-level certificate carriers and technicians.

How many employment opportunities have you provided?

Currently we have more than 1m accounts for university graduates on Wuzzuf who submitted over 10m applications to 15,000 companies that employ over 500,000 people. This means that we have employed 180,000 people via Wuzzuf and offered 70,000 jobs via Forasna.

What is the target during the coming period?

We plan to provide 1m direct jobs through both websites by 2020.

What is new about Wuzzuf?

Currently, we have completed new updates to the Wuzzuf website, which will help facilitate the search for suitable jobs based on artificial intelligence and we will announce these updates next week.

In addition, we will provide a job service that helps job seekers obtain courses that help them develop their skills to suit the labour market.

During the last period, your focus was on Egypt, but do you intend to expand abroad?

We already have a clear goal in Egypt to help job seekers get the right job easily, and we plan to provide 1m jobs by 2020.

But we are also planning to expand to new markets during the coming period but so far, they are only plans. We are more focused on Egypt now, since there are 30m young men and women here. We may also launch new Wuzzuf products in the coming period.

 

Which fields lack expertise?

There is a high demand for technology-related jobs, such as programmers, as well as sales jobs.

What are your means of generating profits?

We get revenue from companies that advertise jobs through our site, because there are many people searching for jobs via our website.

What is the market share of Wuzzuf among online job search engines?

Currently we have 60% market share of all jobs available online in Egypt. We offer 8,000 new jobs every month.

Are there controls for job opportunities offered by companies?

We have measures to accept the offers of companies for employment opportunities to ascertain the fact that there is a job opportunity. Every month, we refuse half of the companies’ requests to offer jobs as they do not match our standards.

The most prominent of these controls is that the email is on the company’s domain, verifying the phone numbers registered by the companies, and seeing a commercial registry certificate.

Have you received offers for your acquisition?

We have received many offers to acquire us. This is normal for any company that has rapid growth rates, but we rejected these offers because we believe there is a greater chance of growth, especially since the majority of companies offering acquisitions are large companies outside Egypt that want to enter the Egyptian market through this acquisition.

We have a goal of providing 1m jobs a year, so we have rejected all acquisitions.

What market value do you intend to reach?

We do not have specific target market value, but we have plans to achieve double-digit growth rates annually.

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

So far, there is no intention, but there is a plan for that in the future. Our main goal now is to increase the company’s size.

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Korea, Egypt discuss dispersing $3bn financial package: Korean ambassador https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/30/korea-egypt-discuss-dispersing-3bn-financial-package-korean-ambassador/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/30/korea-egypt-discuss-dispersing-3bn-financial-package-korean-ambassador/#respond Mon, 30 Apr 2018 06:00:57 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=658133 MoUs were signed during President Al-Sisi’s visit to Seoul in 2016

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Yeocheol Yoon, South Korea’s ambassador to Egypt, said that Egypt has not yet received the $3bn financial package that was announced during President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s visit to his country in 2016, adding that it is a long process and the Egyptian government did not suggest specific areas for cooperation to efficiently use the sum.

Yoon told Daily News Egypt that the package has two components. The first is $700m, to be provided through the Economic Development Co-Operation Fund (EDCF), a low interest loan with a long-term repayment period over 30 years.

The ambassador said that the rest of the funding is $2.3bn, which will be used as export credit, noting, “the frame of this money is in place. Determining how Egypt spends that money in a productive area will be the subject of further discussions between the two countries.”

He added that there is collaboration between the two governments in terms of how to use the money effectively, which is more valuable than the funding itself. 

“We understand the big projects in infrastructure and energy are key to future cooperation, but it is the responsibility of the Egyptian government to define the areas where the money will be spent efficiently,” said Yoon.

In March 2016, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr signed memoranda of understating (MoUs) that resulted in a $3bn financial package from South Korea designated for development projects and export credit loans, on the sidelines of the Egyptian president’s visit to South Korea.

What is your view of the Egyptian market right now? How can you assist the situation after the reform programme is being implemented?

I understand that after adopting the floating system of the local currency, the Egyptian economy suffered many difficulties. I think that the bad days are over, and the better days are yet to come. The strong reform measures made by President Al-Sisi created a healthy environment for the economy, especially for investing.

It has been only two months and a half since my arrival in Egypt, but I tried to meet as many people as possible, including diplomats, governmental officials, and many society leaders. I felt that they all are optimistic about Egypt.

Which Egyptian officials have you met since you arrived?

Actually, I have not gotten the chance to present my credentials to the Egyptian president. Other than that, I met with his national secretary adviser and other leaders of parliament, leaders from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, other ministries. I discussed with them many things, including the bilateral relations and the political situation in the region.

I also met with religious leaders like the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb and Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church. They were both great gentlemen, I was very much inspired by their messages of peace, tolerance, and understanding. They showed that Egypt is a good model of a multi-religious country.

I met ambassadors of different countries and we discussed the situation of the country. I had the chance to go and see the Korean companies operating in Egypt, like LG, Samsung, and GS. They are all working so hard to make money, but they also help Egyptian society and the economy.

When will you meet the president?

It is up to the president’s agenda. We are waiting for a fixed a date; the last presentation ceremony took place on 22 February, and probably, the president has that ceremony every quarter, but this time, because of the election, maybe the credentials will take place later.

After meeting some of the Korean companies which are operating in Egypt, did you learn of any expansion plans for them?

There are some Egyptian initiatives to grow the economy, the investment in infrastructure, and making the future of the people better. The Korean companies can also contribute with their know-how and experience, especially in the field of information and computer technology.

We can join megaprojects you may have in the field of building roads, factories, and renewable energy sources. We have our experts, and also, we have already been working with the Egyptian government on railway computerisation systems.

Those kinds of projects can make the lives of Egyptians easier and we are ready to participate in them.

What are the plans of the Korean companies which are already present in the market?

Two of the most famous Korean electronics companies are Samsung and LG. They have their own plans here, so all together, they are producing and exporting about $300m worth of products from Egypt to the Maghreb region, Europe, and the Mediterranean region. Exporting increases foreign currency revenue for the Egyptian economy.

The companies are planning to expand their investments here; they may add new facilities and products.

The only thing that I can mention in terms of difficulties because of foreign currency regulations and Egypt’s desire to restrict imports and expand exports, sometimes it is difficult for them to expand their facilities and sometimes their plans to export their items in the region face some difficulties.

If the Egyptian government can help them to resolve these kinds of problems, they will be more than happy to expand their investments and production facilities in Egypt.

What about interest from new companies?

There are many Korean companies which are really interested in the Egyptian market. They are watching how things are going in Egypt and they may be also be watching the impact of new laws and regulations.

If the Korean investors in Egypt are telling them about the market’s advantages, this will make them take the decision of investment here easily.

Is there any information regarding new visits in 2018?

The historic visit by President Al-Sisi in March 2016 was very important, and we created a new partnership between Korea and Egypt. This developed into further highly important visits.

Egypt’s minister of defence and of military production came to Korea and we sent an economic delegation.

I hope that Korean Defence Minister Song Young-moo will be able to come to Egypt in 2018. The date has not been determined yet.

Would you tell me more information about cooperation in the field of defence?

The cooperation in the area of defence between both countries is very important because the Egyptian Embassy in Korea decided to have a military attaché office. It was a historic decision taken last year and the decision showed how deep the cooperation between Korea and Egypt in the field of defence is.

We are looking forward to having more cooperation in the field of military production. Korea has modern technology with competitive prices and very good conditions for these kinds of deals.

When will the Korean president visit Egypt?

That is what I am working very hard at. As 2018 will witness more work in the field of inter-Korean relations, President Moon Jae-in is envisioning a plan to visit this part of the world, which is the Middle East and Africa

I hope 2018 will witness the Korean president’s visit to Egypt, I am working very hard on that. Egypt is not only country of glorious history and shining civilisation, the country is totally different from the Middle East in its culture and state of mind.

What about the latest trade statistics?

For 2017, the trade exchange value was $1.4bn, which was a low point when compared to $3bn in the past years. It is low due to the revolution’s impact, which led to a difficult environment here for both trade and investment, but I think that trade exchange will recover soon as the Egyptian economy is predicted to continue growing.

The Korean Cultural Centre is quite active; what is its annual budget?

Korea chose Egypt to open its first cultural centre in MENA in 2014, which shows the importance of Egypt for Korea, but the Korean Cultural Centre’s budget is very modest. Korea sometimes looks modern and fancy, but the governmental budget is limited compared to other big countries in the world.

We are trying to concentrate our efforts in Egypt on culture exchange, to make people know more about each other. Personally, I was surprised when I heard K-pop music played and danced to by the Egyptians, they were wonderful.

Last week we had a presentation on Korean traditional music at the Cairo Opera House. It has its own elegance and dynamism.

The Korean Cultural Centre has a long way to go to achieve its main goals. We aim to show the Korean people how the Egyptians live their life now.

How do you assist the local tourism situation? How many Korean tourists visit Egypt annually?

In the past years, we had about 70,000 Koreans come to Egypt every year, but after the revolution, the situation changed. However, last year, we registered about 15,000 people which was considered an indication of improvement.

It is important to give the Korean people the impression that Egypt is safe, as Koreans get scared of the media reports they watch, which show the militant attacks in Sinai and even in Cairo.

We need to show that the militant attacks are getting less and to show how other tourists from foreign countries are coming to Egypt and enjoying safe tourism.

We need facts on the ground that the security situation is better and there are a few number of militant attacks. However, it would be perfect if there are no attacks.

Are there any expectations for tourism figures by the end of 2018?

We do not forecast the figures, but I hope that 2018’s Korean travellers to Egypt increase compared to last year. We will see.

I would like to add that Korean travellers were used to cultural sightseeing like visiting the sphinx and the pyramids, and sometimes they linked their visit to Egypt with other neighbouring countries such as Israel, but now because of the security situation it is difficult for them to come from neighbouring countries via land.

The new trend is that Koreans may come to Egypt for fun to see other cities like Hurghada, Dahab, and Luxor.

Would you please tell me more details about the Korean economic development experience? 

Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world in the 1960s. I remember that the World Bank conducted a study on Korea, concluding that there is no hope for Korea to develop.

Since 1960, we started to implement the National Economy Development Plan, which was a five-year plan. We tried to create key industries, to manufacture and export our goods. We started with small consumer goods such as Korean wigs, which were sold to the US and Japan.

Then, money first came to Korea from sending Korean miners and nurses to Germany to get foreign currency. All these efforts were invested again to achieve further impact on electronic industries and the automotive sector and we also had heavy industries like steel and shipbuilding.

Korea expanded that development strategy by putting heavy investments into human capital, not in terms of money, but the attention we paid to the education of younger generations. Now, 70% of high school graduates go to college. This is much higher than the OECD average of 40%.

Another important element to development is democracy; people feel more freedom to express their opinion. We believe in a saying: “do not give them a fish, but teach them how to catch a fish,” so we created the Knowledge Sharing Programme (KSP).  We started our KSP programme with Egypt in 2013 and we have been working in specific areas, including taxation systems and how to collect taxes efficiently and best invest them in other important projects like infrastructure, defence, and other important projects.

We do not stop at just sharing the information, but we make sure that the policies are adopted with the local views.

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What is happening in Syria is new Sykes-Picot: military expert https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/29/658024/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/29/658024/#respond Sun, 29 Apr 2018 08:00:27 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=658024 Western strikes on Syria are part of 'Theatrical play' between west, Russia , Says Al-Ghobari

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Egypt has been battling a militant insurgency, mostly based in the restive Sinai Peninsula, for years. It erupted shortly after the 25 January 2011 revolution and intensified after the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Military expert Mohamed Al-Ghobari, former manager of the National Defence College of the Nasser Military Academy, in an interview with Daily News Egypt, analysed and explained the “war on terrorism,” how it has evolved, and how it has included four phases. He explained that it is now in its final phase. Through his military expertise, he points to the decisive battles that resulted in drastic changes on the ground.

Al-Ghobari described a “theatrical play” unfolding in Syria, and explained why he believes what is happening now is only a new Sykes-Picot.

How do you evaluate the situation in Syria, especially after the recent strikes by the US, France, and the UK?

The strikes were the result of the fact that the Syrian army’s military abilities have increased, and it has started to liberate more lands.

Another reason for the strikes is improving the morale of the terrorist groups supported by America.

The strikes were carried out in coordination with Russia, not behind its back.

The participation of the UK and France was to satisfy US President Donald Trump and give him false legitimacy to rescue him from the erosion of his popularity. 

Do you mean that what occurred was done in full coordination between the US and Russia?

Of course. Everything that is happening in Syria is merely a theatrical play and a new Sykes-Picot through an between all the parties which look, from afar, like they are in conflict, but the truth is, Russians are part of this war only to get their share of the cake. Russian intervention only started when the Islamic State group (IS) was close to Latakia. Before that, they had no intention to directly intervene, but they eventually decided to intervene and have obvious military bases in the region for the first time.

Who moves the Western alliance in the region?

The UK leads all the movements, and the US follows, hand in hand with France.

Do you think that what is happening is a continuation of the so-called Greater Middle East Project?

Of course. The events stress that the plans for the region are rather old. Their implementation is still taking place. The Greater Middle East Project is still going on. It is one of the many projects sought to be implemented throughout history, under many different names, but with the same colonial goals that were determined more than once, especially in the London conference held over two years to study and discuss necessary aspects to secure Western and European interests in the Arab region. This took place from 1905 to 1907. The result was several recommendations, with the most prominent of them being that the Arab region must be fragmented in order for control to be exerted over the trade routes and international transportation between the east and the west, and the south and the north, and all their wealth. These are deemed the markets in which Western industrial products will be spread.

This means that all Arab countries are targeted and threatened by this project, especially the leading countries of the region.

Moving to the domestic situation, how do you see the developments of the “war on terrorism” in Sinai?

Operation Sinai 2018 is the fourth and final phase of the strategic plan to combat terrorism. The first phase started after the terrorist elements spread across Sinai following the 25 January revolution in 2011. Terrorism started to spread in some regions in Sinai, with only a limited number of forces from the army that was not sufficient compared to the arming of these terrorists.

The second phase began with the international community’s processing of the political scene in Egypt, because the country’s national security became infiltrated in Sinai. The armed forces had to breach the peace treaty with Israel, specifically the security annex of the peace treaty. Even if Israel did not agree, Egypt had to obtain the approval of the international community. The size of the armed forces there at the time was not enough to fight all the terrorists. However, an elite group was sent without an announcement. The result was that the armed forces and the police incurred some losses, such as the targeting of 101 battalions and the Karm al Qawadis battalion.

The third stage started after the ambush of the Abu Rifai checkpoint as some terrorist elements hoped to regain control over Sheikh Zuweid. The armed forces responded harshly to such terrorist operations. The battle of Sheikh Zuweid took place and 205 terrorist elements were killed and more were arrested. Thus, the greatest amount of information was obtained on the terrorist elements in the Sinai and their places of concentration. The Martyr’s Right operations 1, 2, 3, and 4 were carried out, clearing the Jabal Al-Halal and eliminating the logistical support of terrorist elements. The border was closed and tightened to prevent the external supply. That was then followed by the fourth phase of the military operations announced by the president. This came via several steps: the processing of the political scene since the Riyadh Conference, where he declared four points of resistance to terrorism and the United Nations adopted a method to resist terrorism but did not constitute the mechanism to implement it. The president’s visit to the United Nations in September last year followed, where he announced the fight against terrorism on behalf of the world in Egypt and proclaimed the UN’s failure. Then, the president ordered the chief of staff on 29 November to eliminate terrorism in three months, in an operation called Sinai 2018. The operation achieved great results across all facilities used by terrorists.

How do you see Human Rights Watch’s critical statements on the situation in Sinai?

Such reports are political and not about rights. The organisation works with the owners of the Greater Middle East Project, namely Western countries and Qatar.

The armed forces have a strategic view and have been keen highlighting the efforts to secure support to the civilians in Sinai with every statement it puts out.

If we read the data, we will find that the operations are accompanied by supplying food, issuing documents and IDs for residents, which means that the operations are not only security ones.

In more than one statement, the armed forces announced the release of dozens of people who had been arrested and had not been proven to be involved in any terrorist activity.

Therefore, I believe that the comprehensive Sinai 2018 operation and armed forces statements are the biggest response to the Human Rights Watch reports.

Have Egypt’s recent armaments contributed to the anti-terrorism campaign?

Of course, the results of recent military operations showed development thanks to the new weapons which also helped in avoiding losses among civilians in Sinai.


The positive effect of these armaments was not limited to the fight against terrorism. The new German submarines will protect foreign investments in Egypt’s territorial waters which increased by 125 km in the Mediterranean after the demarcation of the maritime boundary between Egypt and Cyprus and between Egypt and Greece.

Israel opposed Egypt’s acquisition of submarines to maintain the power balance in the region, but the new deals reinforced Egypt’s position.

A few days ago, Egypt celebrated Sinai Liberation Day. What were the factors that led to that success?

The preparation for the liberation war waged in 1973 began immediately after the six-day war in 1967 through intensive diplomatic efforts with international organisations, especially the United Nations, and major powers such as the United States and the Soviet Union. These diplomatic moves contributed to the condemnation of the Israeli aggression on Egypt and other Arab territories by major international powers, and the issuance of UN Resolution 242 which calls on Israel to withdraw from the territories occupied after 1967. However, Israel did not implement the resolution and continues the occupation.

Egypt then began to mobilise Arab states to put pressure on the international community with the renowned slogan “what is taken by force can only be recovered by force” announced during the Arab Summit in Khartoum, held on 29 August 1967.

Meanwhile, Egypt started to rebuild its armed forces and made a number of armaments in preparation for the liberation battle.

I remember how the general command of the armed forces prepared intensive trainings for soldiers and troops on facing water barriers and protecting defensive units and camps.

Egypt also implemented the so-called deception plan developed by Marshal Mohamed Abdul Ghani Al Gamasi, which made the enemy at the time think that Egypt was not serious about launching the liberation battle.

Before the victory, the Egyptian economy turned into a war economy and meant mobilising all factories and products to meet the needs of the armed forces first.

The peace negotiations stage was more important as the Egyptians managed to recover every inch of our land. Without the Egyptians’ insistence, we would not have celebrated every year the complete withdrawal of the enemy from the national territories. Everyone should know that the country’s anti-terrorism campaign is a completion of the liberation war. The enemy does not tire of trying to seize our land, but we also do not tire of defending it.


Do you think what is happening now is similar to the periods of the attrition and October wars and the peace negotiations?

I see many similarities between the two periods. The Arab Spring and new Middle East project are similar to the 1967 defeat, because the enemy achieved what they hoped without direct confrontation, using new tools such as terrorism, economic blockades, and psychological warfare. These plans began in the 1990s and could not be implemented before the Arab Spring. However, the 30 June revolution put the country on the right path.

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