Interviews – Daily News Egypt Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Thu, 13 Dec 2018 10:00:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Democracy in Arab world leads to civil wars, I refuse calls to amend Constitution: Dr. Abdelmoneim El Saeed Thu, 13 Dec 2018 10:00:17 +0000 Files of terrorism, water, regional situation, not completely in our hands

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Dr Abdelmoneim El Saeed has worked in Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies since 1975 as an assistant researcher, then as a researcher, then head of the department of International Relations, and he has many writings concerned with the new international system, Arab affairs, the European partnership and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In addition, he has articles on security issues in the Middle East, Egyptian policy, arms control, as well as many articles which were published in the US, Asia, and Europe. Daily News Egypt interviewed Dr El Saeed, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How do you view journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s case and its developments?

The developments of the case cannot be separated from the reform which was launched in Saudi Arabia a year ago or more. The kingdom is turning from an oil state to one with industrialisation and development, and of course with such reforms, and quick measures, blatant mistakes take place, which is why the king started reforming security bodies.

Photo by Asmaa Gamal

Will this problem hinder reforms?

On the contrary, it may speed it up, and it all comes down to the way the government handles the situation. Almost all the truths were revealed except for who gave the order to kill Jamal.

How do you see Saudi Arabia’s future ruling after the repercussions of Khashoggi’s case?

I’m against analysis that believes this case will change the ruling system in Saudi Arabia. There are much bigger and more dangerous challenges in Saudi Arabia.

Will the reforms led by the crown prince survive this crisis?

Yes, because even though the incident is terrible, it should not waste the great geostrategic gains reached by far.

What are these gains?

A country as important as Saudi Arabia is starting to see all these major reforms in terms of women’s position in society, in addition to the change in Salafism, all of which are major changes. It is hard to sacrifice all of that despite the ugliness of the case.

As for the Arab situation, is establishing an Arab deterrent force becoming a reality?

The manoeuvres taking place regularly are a type of military alliance, and I believe that there could be a strong balance, which was the case in Europe after Napoleon’s defeat.

What about Kuwait’s reservations and the Qatari dispute in this alliance?

The alliance will include those who were present. If Europe waited to include all countries into its alliance, there would have been no alliance at all.

Do you believe there are signs for resolving the Arab-Qatari dispute?

Of course, there are signs for this seeing the positive way Qatar was mentioned by the Saudi Crown Prince and President Al Sisi. The problem with Qatar revolves around one point, which is opening media platforms to attack Arab countries and hosting groups which adopt violence and terrorism against Arab regimes.

Why does Qatar insist on this?

To be fair, some of the groups hosted in Qatar arrived with an American desire involved. Why you may ask, because America wants to keep them to cooperate with them whenever needed. For example, the Taliban are in Qatar. At the same time, the Qatari conflict embarrasses the US. Qatar has the largest US regional military base.

What is your opinion on the current situation in Syria?

The US and Russia are in control. They agree that they do not want Iranian presence in Syria because it would lead to a direct confrontation with Israel, which is a scenario that scares everyone, and will force the US to intervene in ways it does not want. During the current phase, there is more focus on fighting Da’esh in Syria.

How do you expect the situation to end?

With a US-Russian agreement for everyone, according to their interests.

Are the Russian and Egyptian viewpoints in Syria identical?

No, there is a conflict. Egypt does not prefer the Russian military presence in Syria continues, and sends clear signals concerning this. It appreciates the importance of the Russian role in the stability and transformation that took place in Syria, though.

Was the Russian role crucial in changing the situation in Syria?

To a great extent, yes. Before the Russian presence, Bashar controlled less than 30% of Syrian lands, and this has currently changed. Russia has also played a major role in the negotiations that prevented many battles and saved many victims.

Regarding Israel, do you believe that the truce with Hamas is a victory for it?

Saying that a truce between Hamas and Isreal is a victory for Hamas is erroneous. Isreal was in Gaza and executed operations. It found that further presence in Gaza costs human lives, and will irritate the international community and it does not want that, so it resorted to truces. As for Hamas’s rhetoric about victory in light of the starvation and siege its population is facing, it is absurd.

Do you believe that the status of the Palestinian cause has changed in the minds of Arabs?

Unfortunately, Arab countries are in a coma and do not realise the major changes that occurred. The US has acknowledged Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and thousands of Palestinians enter Israel on a daily basis to work there. There is currently a significant integration of both countries and it is difficult to find a solution for that. Israel is the country in control of the entire situation, and there are 21% Arab Israelis and the majority of people in Eastern Jerusalem are Jewish. There are no constants in this case anymore.

What can Palestinians do now?

There 12 million there between the river and the sea, including six million Arabs. They must be helped to develop in order to prove they deserve a Palestinian state.

What is the US’s role in all of this?

It the biggest supporter and Trump is very biased towards Israel, and this is what he said before he took office.

What is your opinion of Trump now?

Trump is a new version of the US leadership, and there has not been that model of the US leadership since George Washington. Until this moment, some are still very worried because Trump is trying to change some constants in US trends, such as building barriers before freedom of trade. The US is the messenger of this freedom, but I believe Trump has a deal and only does that to improve the negotiation conditions with other countries. He does not rely on specialists we are familiar with in political and strategic sciences, but unlike previous leaders, he has no problem with authoritarianism.

How can the results of the recent elections in the US be analysed?

Both parties have designated their weapons in ideologies and propaganda but summoning Barack Obama to the elections has made the competition not only between two parties (Democratic and Republican), or between two ideologies (liberal and nationalist), but also between two presidents in a in a battle whose time is in 2020.

What are the most prominent conflicts between the two sides?

Both parties have considered the electoral battle historic because it is a chance to return to historical values and state defence against a minority of domestic liberals and the media, and countries abusing the US’s generosity abroad. This “critical mass” of politicians who agree that the US must run the universe has disappeared. It also believed that the free market is the essence of the US economic regime which is armed with a social protection umbrella. This was clear when Trump said that the names Barack and Obama come with Hussein in the middle, and that was not the sole hit below the belt, and Obama was not the kind of man to take more hits. He said that during his tenure, no one was presented to the judiciary, but in the tenure of Trump that followed, enough people for an American football stadium were presented to the judiciary.

Is the US at a crossroads?

That is right. This has been the case since WWII. Up until now, everything that’s happened has reflected Roosevelt’s new deal inside and the foreign alliances outside leading the world towards liberalism and capitalism founded by Truman and Eisenhower abroad. Now there is new path recalling history post WWI where there was isolation and selective interventions outside, and non-liberal capitalism inside.

What comes after the elections?

The elections are over, and perhaps their results were a lesson by the US to politicians. The Democrats are back to the political field by a majority win in the parliament, as for Republicans, they have kept the majority in the Senate.

Democrats have the highest number of state governors, but the majority remain Republicans. There is balance at a point that theoretically allows negotiations rather than conflict, and there is room for cooperation to build the infrastructure and the deal between building the wall with Mexico in exchange for giving legitimacy to the project of the “Dreamers”—the younger ones who came with their families to the US but have not yet obtained the nationality.

The room for deals is big, and maybe there is now a different political climate based on the belief that in democracy, everybody wins.

Obama still believes that the war continues but winning that war would happen through more than one battle as long as Trump is the ruler.

Is our relationship with America at its best?

Bilateral relations between the US and Egypt are going through a good stage. There is great confidence between the Egyptian and American presidents, even the trade war between the US and China gives a major chance for Egyptian products. Of course, there are conflicts, but this is healthy to have between countries.

Given the internal situation, how do you view the economic reform?

I support the economic reform plan, and there always the tendency to focus on the seas rather than the river, because now we see focus on the Suez Canal, the North Coast, and the Red Sea.

I believe what is currently happening answers the question “Where is Egypt headed?” I believe that Egypt is headed towards implementing the 2030 plan. The problem now is moving a country towards one which has a strong media that still allows a certain kind of opposition.

What about the experiences of the past period?

Unfortunately, they are all amateurish. There is not a single current Egyptian media expert that makes one optimistic. We either see the media as blind supporters or as a political platform and this does not benefit the community.

What about new media organisations?

I do not believe these organisations have succeeded. Sure, they are good people, but we have not become better in terms of the press and media institutions, and we obviously perceive an economic and intellectual crisis.

Is this why the state controlled media to a great extent?

It is not the only or main reason. Before, we could see a more balanced equation. I remember during the tenure of Mubarak when I presented a programme whose episodes solely focused on opposition.

How do you see the anticipated changes in media leaders?

I believe they are necessary because the nature of people creates a difference in the situation. A single person can make a change in an entire institution. Whoever comes after Supreme Media Council Head, Makram Mohamed Ahmed, must plan a new strategy and must have time to write the constitution. I was against the presence of such institutions because there is an international way to be followed to control media.

As is the case in media, do we need political reform?

Political reform is one of the most difficult things to be carried out in society. When globalisation appeared, we thought that countries’ experiences can be exchanged as they are with other countries, but it turns out that this is not true for many things, especially political reform. What works for a country may not work for another. Experiences like China’s, Russia’s and other countries in Asia have reinforced this trend because they have managed to succeed even though they did not follow the Western model.

In Egypt, the final result that is most suitable will be determined by the nature of the current community social and political interactions, rather than by a decision.

We must understand that democracy is good until it turns into ultra-nationalism. When this happens in the west, the most that happens is electing a Nazi party by 10-20% then it is not elected again, but in the Arab world, the result would be a civil war.

What concerns you the most for Egypt now?

Terrorism, water, and the deteriorating situation of the region. We have no control over them, but we must at least learn from the lesson of the Renaissance Dam. We have to have a “sea” policy not a “river” policy. This means that we must diversify our water sources, which is something we have already started working on. We must focus on water desalination plants, especially that modern technology has relatively reduced the cost and I’m optimistic about the path the president is taking.

How do you see the calls for amending the constitution?

I refuse these calls. At least not before the full constitutional session is completed.

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Philip Morris is building future on smoke-free products Wed, 12 Dec 2018 13:30:00 +0000 PMI has invested over USD 4.5 billion in research, development and commercialization of smoke-free products

The post Philip Morris is building future on smoke-free products appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Philip Morris International (PMI) is a leading global cigarette and tobacco manufacturing company, with products sold in over 180 countries.

PMI is building a future on smoke-free products (also referred by the company as Reduced Risk Products or RRPs) that are a much better consumer choice than continuing to smoke cigarettes. In its 2017 Sustainability Report, PMI has stated the ambition that by 2025, at least 30% of its volume would come from smoke-free products.

“We would like to offer better alternatives to adult smokers in Egypt”, Managing Director Philip Morris Misr (PMM) and Levant, Vassilis Gkatzelis, informed Daily News Egypt in an interview at his office.

An INSEAD Global EMBA graduate, Gkatzelis has held key positions throughout his 15-year career at PMI, and enjoys a broad geographical exposure spanning Asia, the European Union, North Africa and the Middle East.

“Philip Morris Misr (PMM) is the number one international player in the Egyptian tobacco industry, with a 22% market share. The company provides numerous job opportunities, as it employs around 2,500 people, whether directly or indirectly, across its value chain, including manufacturing, supply chain, and distribution, among others. This comes in addition to over 100,000 retailers who sell PMI products on a daily basis,” Gkatzelis stated.

DNE interviewed Gkatzelis to learn more about their smoke-free products, the cigarette industry in general and its challenges, as well as PMI and PMM’s future plans, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Could you please give us a general brief about the tobacco industry in Egypt and how PMM perceives the country’s tobacco market and the manufacturing process, given that this industry is one of the key pillars of the economy, and the country is considered the largest tobacco market in the Middle East and Africa? According to Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics, the tobacco tax revenue represents over 8.5% of government tax revenues, and is considered the second largest income contributor to the Egyptian state finances, following revenues from the Suez Canal.

The industry has significantly evolved, and PMM has been playing a major role in its development. The Egyptian market is witnessing strong competition, thanks to the presence of international tobacco companies besides Eastern Tobacco Company (ETC). ETC manufactures a total of 86bn cigarettes annually for all tobacco companies operating in Egypt.

PMM is the number one international player in the industry with a 22% market share. The company provides various job opportunities, as it employs around 2,500 people, whether directly or indirectly.

Are all PMM products manufactured locally rather than imported from other countries? Are there any imported brands?

We manufacture all our products locally at ETC, with whom we have a strong, long-term partnership based on mutual benefits.

Import are a possibility; however, imported cigarettes currently available in Egypt are most likely part of illicit trade, which is regarded as a global major issue. Illicit trade represents 10% of the global tobacco industry and is known to fund illegal activities, negatively affecting tax revenues, and posing a risk to adult consumers, since illicit products’ quality are not regulated nor bound by internationally accepted standards.

What are the reasons behind the price increase of cigarettes? What is the difference between the price increase and the tax increase?

There are several factors that determine tobacco prices. For your reference, around 70% of the retail cigarette price is comprised of tax, which has multiple components. So, if the price of a cigarette pack is EGP 30, around EGP 21 would be tax.

The other critical factor relates to the import of raw materials, given that tobacco is not domestically grown in Egypt. Imported tobacco, which is bought with a different currency, represents an increased cost after the floatation of the Egyptian pound. The other expenses that have to be considered are the manufacturing and distribution processes.

Who takes the decision to increase the price? Is it PMM or the government or is it an agreement between both sides?

The market is governed by the price freedom principle, so tobacco companies may set their product prices as long as they are in compliance with the government’s rules and regulations. Sometimes, the price increase is triggered by a tax change.

Governments increase taxes as a tactic to help decrease the number of smokers. In your opinion, did they succeed?

Taxation is one of the tools that governments use to reduce the harm of smoking.

Smoking cigarettes causes serious diseases, and the best way to avoid the harm of smoking is never to start, or to quit. 

Smoking prevalence globally, which was estimated at 22.1% in 2010, has been in constant decline for several decades, and the World Health Organization forecasts it will continue declining by 0.2% per annum. At that pace, it will take almost 100 years until the world is smoke-free.

But much more can be done to reduce health risks for the world’s 1.1 billion men and women who would otherwise continue to smoke, thus transitioning faster to a smoke-free future.

If the price increase does not help as all the statistics proved, what else did PMI achieve in that area?

PMI built its reputation as a leading cigarette company, with the world’s most iconic brands in the category.

Still, many would be surprised to know that PMI began to explore the viability and product development of smoke-free alternatives in the early 2000s. And that, in recent years, we have hired over 430 R&D experts, among whom 300 are world-class scientists, and have invested over $4.5bn to ensure adult smokers have better options. In fact, our vision is that these products—which present less risk of harm than continuing to smoke but are still satisfying to smokers—will one day completely replace cigarettes.

And this is not just a theory. PMI’s diverse smoke-free portfolio includes heated tobacco and nicotine-containing vapor products. Our flagship heated tobacco product, the IQOS, is now commercialised in 43 countries.

So far, 5.9 million adult smokers around the world have already stopped smoking cigarettes and switched to one of our alternative products. This number is growing, with approximately 10,000 smokers switching on a daily basis.

Also, the IQOS tobacco heating system has a very high conversion rate, with more than 70% of people purchasing the IQOS and using it exclusively or predominantly.

After a long history of manufacturing cigarettes, is PMI shifting its core mission to produce a different product?

PMI is transforming itself from a cigarette manufacturer to a science and technology-driven organisation. We have two state-of-the-art global R&D centres in Switzerland and Singapore.  Additionally, we have published over 250 peer-reviewed scientific papers since 2011, and have been granted more than 3,400 patents.

Smoking is harmful, this is a fact that is commonly known. But people often don’t know the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of this harm.  Though there is much misunderstanding, experts agree that nicotine, while addictive and not risk-free, is not the primary cause of most smoking-related illnesses. It is the burning process that creates smoke, which contains harmful toxicants.

Throughout years of testing and learning, we may now heat tobacco to release a satisfying aerosol without burning. This tobacco aerosol, which has dramatically lower levels of harmful toxins than cigarette smoke, still delivers nicotine at the same time as providing the taste and ritual that smokers demand. While heating tobacco is one possibility in developing alternatives to cigarette smoking, another approach is to produce a nicotine-containing aerosol without the use of tobacco.

How does your new the IQOS platform work?

Whereas the idea of heating tobacco, instead of burning it, has been around for over two decades, it is only now that we have finally managed to find ways to heat tobacco which results in products that satisfy adult smokers. The IQOS uses sophisticated electronics to heat specially prepared and blended tobacco. Furthermore, the IQOS heats the tobacco just enough to release a flavourful nicotine-containing vapor but without burning it.

Although the tobacco in a cigarette burns at temperatures in excess of 600°C, the IQOS heats it to much lower temperatures, below 350°C, generating a nicotine-containing vapor without combustion, fire, ash, or smoke. The lower temperature heating releases the true taste of heated tobacco. Because the tobacco is heated and not burned, the levels of harmful chemicals are significantly reduced, compared to cigarette smoke.

The IQOS experience has evolved over time based on consumer feedback. With our fourth and latest product iteration, the IQOS 3, which has just been launched in select countries around the world, we are not just delivering upgrades to the product’s design and functionality, but also to the way we engage with adult consumers. There are few products which revolutionise their sector and change holistically the consumer experience. We believe the IQOS is one of those products.

Do you have a certain criteria which countries must meet to qualify for the IQOS to be launched in?

PMI has made a public commitment to pave the way for a smoke-free future as soon as possible. The shift will take time, given that convincing 1.1 billion adult smokers is a very challenging task on its own.

The science shows that these smoke-free products are a better choice for smokers and those around them. When we can reach a critical mass of men and women who have switched, we can deliver a broader reduction in population harm. Innovation, therefore, has the power to change lives for individuals, and, collectively, the future of public health.

However, innovative products do nothing if people do not know about them. Getting the word out is difficult without support from regulators, public health experts, NGOs, and all those who care about smokers. This support is a key criterion to prioritise investments in countries, so that the related investment pays off not only financially, but also in terms of positive impact on society.

What is keeping you from launching the IQOS in Egypt? What do you need from the Egyptian government in order to introduce the IQOS into the Egyptian market?

From our end, we are committed to offer a portfolio of better alternatives to adult smokers while being transparent in our research and findings. But we can’t do it alone. Governments have a unique opportunity to help facilitate informed choices.

We are working together with the government and our partners to turn this into a reality.

Actually, when I go out, I see numerous adult users of the IQOS who have already stopped smoking cigarettes. Although the product has not been launched in Egypt yet, incoming travellers still manage to bring it into the country.

Are there other tobacco companies that produce alternatives? Why doesn’t the entire industry move together towards achieving one common goal?

We believe that the entire industry will ultimately move in the same direction. PMI has taken a global leading role with regards to the harm-reduction approach, and we will be glad if the industry’s key players follow suit, in order to ensure a sustainable smoke-free vision.

Did you choose Egypt to be PMI’s cluster hub because it is considered to be the biggest regional cigarette consuming country?

We trust the Egyptian economy and its potential to grow and prosper. The capabilities and talents of the Egyptian organisation serve as strong testimonies. We are proud that our people from Egypt have undertaken management roles of increased responsibilities in 12 different countries. The newly established Management Hub for Egypt and Levant in Cairo adds regional accountabilities in key areas like finance, marketing, IT, and human resources.

I am also happy to say that we have been certified for the third year in a row as a ‘Top Employer in Egypt’, in line with our global certification.

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Egyptian exports still lack international quality standards, which require us to reconsider all our regulations related to product quality censorship Wed, 12 Dec 2018 11:00:02 +0000 Accrediting Egyptian trademark is a must, says Abo Elmakarem

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According to the Head of the Chemical and Fertilisers Export Council (CFEC), Khaled Abo Elmakarem, economic reforms affected the exports sector positively and negatively similarly.

In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Abo Elmakarem unveiled the details of the government strategy which aims to boost the sector, and his CFEC plan to a improve performance within coming three years, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How was the exports sector affected by the economic reforms?

Although the reforms affected all the economic sectors in the domestic market, but all current divisions including exports are reaping the rewards. Even the performance of imports in the three quarters of 2018 prove the improvement of the Egyptian economic climate.

What evidence do you have which proves your perspective?

According to the General Authority for the Control of Exports and Imports (GOEIC), exports performed better from January 2018 to September 2018 in 13 export sectors exceeding $18bn compared to about $16b in the same period in 2017, with a raise average of 11%. This means that the sector is successfully following the growth rates which were set by the ministry of trade and industry that aims to reach an annual growth average of 10%.

Can you elaborate?

New export sectors performed better in this period and achieved growth, such as handicraft industries which recorded a growth rate of 10% compared to the same period in 2017, and ready-made garments with a growth rate of 9.2%, textiles with a higher growth rate by 10.3%, in addition to pharmaceutical industries which achieved a growth rate of 13%.

So, how is the new strategy of boosting exports going to work?

By heading towards promising markets, especially African markets. The exports boosting strategy set 18 African countries to become the new destinations of our exports including Kenya, Sudan, Zambia, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Angola, Gabon, Senegal, Cameron, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic republic of the Congo, South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, Somalia, and Côte d’Ivoire. These new destinations will be entered by most the exporting competitive sectors including building materials, food, pharmaceutical, engineering, and chemical industries.

And what about other proposed procedures?

The new proposed strategy is to establish a new exports body to maximise the benefits of all potentials that all concerned bodies are experiencing, and to become the only link between exporters, industrial sectors, companies, and the government in a frame of integration to develop exports which is the basic goal of the strategy itself.

The export sector is facing significant challenges, do you agree with that?

Indeed, the exports sector is generally affected by challenges of the Egyptian industry. These include the spread of the informal sector and its negative effect on the competitiveness of the formal sector, as informal entities do not bear any financial expenses such as taxes, duties, and fees. In addition, the government does not offer yet offer any incentives for the sake of integrating this sector to the formal one.

What about the aftermath of the economic reforms?

They caused a big raise in production costs due to raw material and inputs price increases. Moreover, there were increases in service prices related to exports such as stockpiling, shipping, and transportation. Additionally, there were higher prices of energy resources which were raised from July 2014 to date, as natural gas prices increased by 133%, and electricity consumption prices were increased by 40% until now. In addition, there were petroleum resources’ prices hikes, which, ultimately, led to dramatic increases of the final product.

How do you evaluate the government’s performance in dealing with this serious situation?

Unfortunately, the government does not allocate any funds to support export shipping to global markets, including East Europe, Central Asia, Russia, and MERCOSUR regional groups. These ones are considered the only alternative markets Egypt can depend on to compensate markets which exit our export destinations due to political instability. On the other hand, Egyptian exports still lack international quality standards, which require us to reconsider all of our regulations related to product quality censorship.

In your opinion, what should be done now?

The government must take active steps to cope with all challenges I discussed. In addition, economic reforms and their useful achievements over the coming years will guarantee good performance for the sector. Furthermore, the MURCUSOR agreement is going to be applicable soon, and interest rates will be decreased. All these conditions will push the sector to achieve the required 10% growth rate, hence reaching a volume of $25bn.

For the chemical sector, what does your council plan to do to boost its exports within the state’s strategy?

We aim to achieve an annual growth rate of 20%, and to double our chemical exports within the coming three years.

What mechanisms does your strategy include?

Expanding our activities to include small, medium, and micro enterprises, and eliciting new exporters to the sector. In addition, enhancing the transition towards exports of high value-added quality products. Furthermore, heading strongly into the African market, increasing the logistics areas to guarantee the availability of our products. This will be accompanied by offering beneficial training courses for exporters in order to enhance human resources in both the quality of marketing and products.

Back to exports sector in general, how can it overcome its troubles?

The rules of the subsidy payment to exporters who pay in cash should be reconsidered, by offering 50% of the subsidy, while offering 50% by the end of the year by virtue of verifying their financial statements and tax returns, claiming for a concession to hand the worth of these subsidies to exporters through an offset from their property taxes or other tax sources. In addition, we need to set some procedures which help manufactures to reduce imported raw material costs through a new technique of group purchasing through specialised companies and receive the benefits from global tenders.

Are there any other procedures to propose?

To set a new unexpected risk insurance programme to help exporters enter global markets without fearing unexpected risks such as buyers’ bankruptcy or political troubles in case of wars or uprisings in heated countries. Furthermore, compliant financing programmes should be considered to suit the nature of industry characteristics in the Egyptian market, and accrediting the Egyptian trademark promoting Egyptian products in global and regional markets. 

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Egypt’s wood industry has potential to export to US, Europe, Africa Mon, 10 Dec 2018 18:27:09 +0000 WoodShow achieved EGP 1bn deals, sales

The post Egypt’s wood industry has potential to export to US, Europe, Africa appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

The Strategic Marketing and Exhibitions company has concluded the fourth edition of the Cairo WoodShow platform under the patronage of the ministry of trade and industry from the 30 November of to 3 December with the participation of 175 companies from 24 countries, headed by China, Turkey, the US, Spain, Italy, and Germany.

The WoodShow has achieved EGP 1bn in sales and deals during the exhibit’s period, according to Walid Farghal director general of Strategic Marketing and Exhibitions company.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Farghal to discuss the show and its achieved deals, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

First, tell us more about WoodShow:

We inaugurated the first edition of the show in 2005, as it is the fourth in the world. We launched the first edition in Egypt in 2011, and the second was in 2012, then we stopped due to the political and economic circumstances at that time. Nevertheless, we resumed in 2017 with the participation of 150 local and international exhibitors and 8,295 visitors, and currently we have concluded the fourth edition which took place from 30 November to 3 December. However, the first edition was very successful as it exceeded our expectations. Cairo is the biggest furniture manufacturing market and the fair was very successful. 

How many companies exhibited in the WoodShow?

We have 175 companies out of 27 Egyptian manufacturers. The exhibitors are from 24 countries, headed by China, Turkey, the US, Spain, Italy, and Germany.

In addition, leading Egyptian companies in all production inputs of wood and furniture industry such as Good Wood, ARO Art, Abu Khaled Wood Trade, and other Egyptian agencies participated in the exhibition.

What is the target behind holding the WoodShow?

The show aims to allow exhibitors to present their latest technology in the wood industry and enables Egyptian final products to compete in international markets.

Furthermore, the competition between Egyptian and companies from other nationalities encourages the Egyptian product to enhance its quality.

What are the show’s achieved deals and sales?

The achieved sales amounted to approximately EGP 1bn.

How many WoodShow’s visitors were there?

The number of visitors reached 9,300.

How do you view the Egyptian wood and furniture industry?

The Egyptian furniture industry is qualified to lead the operations of Egyptian exports due to the quality of the Egyptian product and its foreign reputation, especially the Damietta products and the quality of the furniture required internationally, in addition to the considerable development in the tools of the furniture and wood industry.

Above all however, the Egyptian government launched several initiatives aiming to transform Egypt into a strategic hub for wood trading in Africa with reduced customs, tariffs, and corporate taxes.

Wood-based furniture domestic production is valued at $750m. Moreover, investment generated by over 1,325 companies registered with the Egyptian Industrial Modernisation Centre (IMC) reached $7.2bn.

Do Egyptian companies have a big share in the export market?

Egyptian companies do not have a big share of the export market because Egypt’s wood imports are not small as Egypt imports wooden raw material at a value of EGP 1.4bn from 10 African markets.

Moreover, a large percentage of domestic production is directed towards the local market instead of export, due to the decline in furniture imports due to the development of domestic products and policies. 

Egypt’s wood exports reached EGP 5.939bn by the end of 2017, a growth rate of 54% compared to the previous year.

Consequently, the show succeeded in attracting foreign investors to import wood from Egyptian companies.

Did the WoodShow witness an increase in demand compared to last year?

Indeed, the show attracted investors from different countries as well as more buyers than last year’s show.

However, last year achieved remarkable success as 40 exhibitors acquired some deals with Egyptian ones. In addition, some of them launched businesses in Egypt whether through establishing their own factories or through joint ventures.

What are the countries that the show focuses on?

We target mainly North African countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya as well as some other African countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Sudan.

What is the African country the WoodShow will be held in?

We held WoodShow in Gabon in June and it will be held next year in June in the same country.

Egyptian companies always have great potential in Gabon because there are Egyptian companies investing there and exporting to the world.

What are the potential markets to import Egyptian wood?

The best promising markets for importing Egyptian wood products are the US, European and African markets, as well as, North Africa, such as Morocco. 

Moreover, we aim to strongly enter the African market in order to encourage Egypt’s exports of wood products because Africa does not have a wood industry.

What is the role of the IMC in the WoodShow?

The IMC is our strategic partner and it plays an important role in business-to-business meetings between companies to support Egyptian manufacturers in promoting their products for export.

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MBDA studies partnership with ministry of military production in some local missiles production in Egypt: Fouche Mon, 10 Dec 2018 11:00:24 +0000 Middle East represents 25% of our market, annual turnover, says MBDA's Regional Executive export, Sales Director

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In view of the closing of Egypt’s Defence Expo, EDEX 2018, the first exhibition of its kind, not only in Egypt, which holds a leading position in the purchase of armaments in the region, but also in the entire African content, Daily News Egypt interviewed laurnet Fouche, regional executive export, and sales director for the MBDA, which specialises in designing and producing missiles. The MBDA Company was among the exhibitors in the EDEX, with its own pavilion.

Notably, the EDEX lasted from 3 to 5 December in Cairo, bringing together 373 Egyptian and foreign companies engaged in the manufacture and delivery of modern security and defence technologies and systems from 41 countries.

The interview addressed the company’s expansion plans in Egypt, in addition to its services, and also discussed the Egyptian market, the EDEX, and mentioned the obstacles facing Egypt in manufacturing weapons, underlining how beneficial the EDEX was for the industry, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What kind of services does the MBDA provide? And how many products does it offer?

Let me first say that the MBDA is a multi-national group with 10,500 employees working together in our branches. It is a joint venture of the three European leaders in aerospace and defence, Airbus with 37.5 %, BAE systems with 37.5%, and Leonardo with 25%.

It’s important also to mention that the MBDA works with over 90 armed forces worldwide.

In terms of the MBDA’s services, it is the only European group capable of designing, developing, and producing missiles and missile systems to meet the whole range of current and future needs of the three armed forces, including air, navy, and land armed forces.

Overall, the group offers a range of 45 products in service and another 15 in development.

How many branches does the company have? Any plans to expand ?in the Middle East, especially in Egypt?

The company has five branches in Europe, based in Spain, Italy, France, the UK and Germany.

Concerning the Middle East, we have only one branch based in Dubai, with offices also set up in the US.

Concerning your question of expanding in Egypt, I think this is something that we can look into, but it depends also on the projects that we will have here in the country and the activities.

Which are the most significant import countries?

It’s difficult to mention certain countries, but I can state that the Middle East is a major importing area for our products.

Daily News Egypt interviewed laurnet Fouche, regional executive export, and sales director for the MBDA, which specialises in designing and producing missiles

Can we estimate how much the Middle East represents for your market?

Up to date, the Middle East represents 25% of our market, of our annual.

To further elaborate, the order to take coming from the Middle East represents 25% of all orders that we receive.

How many factories do you have across the world? Do you have any plans to expand your factories in Egypt?

Currently, we have 10 factories across Europe, while concerning the Middle East we have only an office.

In terms of expansion in Egypt, I think it depends on customers’ needs in Egypt, but we are thinking of partnering with the Egyptian Ministry of Military Production, so that we can strengthen the relationships between the ministry of defence, armed forces, and the MBDA in some missile local production in the future here in Egypt, hence we will start discussions to help the Egyptian side to integrate our products into vehicles for example.

In addition, we will help them to establish an Egyptian system by transferring knowledge and technology, which will subsequently increase autonomy in production in Egypt.

Do you have any negotiations in that subject with the ministry of military production?

No, we are now just at the beginning of studying the partnership and will try to meet the expectations of the ministry of defence, as we understand well that it is an important need for the country.

How do you evaluate the Egyptian market currently?

I think Egypt is taking good steps, including the Egypt Defence Expo, EDEX 2018, which is the first event of this type in Egypt.

Let’s talk about EDEX in depth, including your experience with it, how was it?

I think it was a successful event as the companies that were present in the EDEX were very important companies, and subsequently the level of attendees was very important.

Notably, there is a demand in the region to know the latest technology of the defence industry.

I think the EDEX was extremely good, extremely professional, and the organisation was perfect, and it met our expectation, all the way from the top to the lower ranking officer in MBDA.

In your opinion, how was this event beneficial?

For our own side as a company, the event was very beneficial, to be there, to meet all the levels of highly-ranked officers will contribute towards strengthening our relationship.

To elaborate more, this event was important to strengthen and link relationships between the companies and the ministry of defence, and this kind of event is well spread out across the world, so it was very important for the MBDA to be present here in Egypt.

What are the obstacles that Egypt faces in manufacturing weapons?

The competence and manpower to be part of the sector, hence it needs help from all the different sectors to bring in and transform in knowledge and technology, then after that I think Egypt will face no obstacles to be able to manufacture.

Does the cooperation between Egypt and France in Rafale aircrafts, lead towards increasing orders to take of your missiles?

We have a long experience, and history of relationships between the MBDA and the Egyptian forces, especially the air forces, because in the past, we used to also equip aircrafts and helicopters from air forces to air forces with our missiles.

Thus, the new technology arriving with Rafale, are also equipped with our missiles, so we were part of the deal.

What are the obstacles that you face as a company in this sector?

I don’t see any obstacle to be mentioned.

You don’t face any difficulty in marketing your products?

No, as we are following the international standards to export our products, this is dealt with according to the level of the relationships between the government of the five countries of the MDBA and the customers.

What about the MBDA’s last financial results in terms of revenues, orders to take? And what are its targets?

FOR the MBDA we are achieving the target in terms of revenues, sales, and orders to take.

All these last years, we were around the target of about 3bn in revenues, and orders were around €4bn per year.

Concerning 2017, the MBDA achieved revenues worth €3.1bn, order backlogs were €16.8bn.

In terms of the financial results for 2018, it has not yet been consolidated, but I think that we are on the track to achieve our target.

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Boeing seeks new deals with EgyptAir for more Dreamliner jet airliners Mon, 10 Dec 2018 07:00:05 +0000 Company in talks with Egyptian armed forces to boost cooperation, says Dunn

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Boeing, an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanes, aims to sign new contracts with EgyptAir in order to supply more Dreamliner jet airliners for the Egyptian company, as both companies are in ongoing cooperation talks, Bernard J Dunn, president of Boeing Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey (MENAT), informed Daily News Egypt.

“There are some plans for signing future sales’ contracts with EgyptAir after the Egyptian flag carrier airline recognised the advantages of our Dreamliner jets, and will put them into operation after next March. Hopefully, we will provide EgyptAir with more Dreamliner jets as they to be of proved high quality,” mentioned Dunn.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Dunn; Tim Buerk, Boeing Global Services’ (BGS) director for Middle East and Africa; and Paul Curlett, senior manager at Boeing for international government services, during EDEX 2018, Egypt’s first tri-service defence exhibition covering air, land, and sea, held from 3 to 5 December, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

We know that you met with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi during EDEX 2018, what did you discuss?

Dunn: I had the honour of welcoming President Al-Sisi at Boeing’s pavilion in EDEX 2018, and showed him some of our products. We are in ongoing talks with the Egyptian armed forces to boost cooperation and supply the required equipment. I was very honoured to have a short conversation with the president about this issue.

Are there any updates regarding the company’s plans to open a local office in Egypt?

Our plans for opening a local office in Egypt are still alive. We just need to sign a couple of deals first that will allow us to move this step forward.

Would you please elaborate about your plans to open a STEM education centre in Egypt?

We implement an extensive programme called the Boeing Global Engagement (BGE) which primarily focuses on community engagement activities. It comes in line with the company’s commitment towards giving something back to the world markets in which we work.

We gradually increased our BGE work in Egypt during the last two years, as we aim to focus on this market and give it the attention that it always deserves. Meanwhile, we are proud to launch a new edition of the BGE programme, which is a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) centre.

It comes in conjunction with the World Learning Organisation, a non-profit international entity which focuses on knowledge, education, and exchanging programmes.

Boeing will allocate a special budget for the STEM Centre in 2019. We expect that it will include 12,000 young people in its first year.

Where will you establish the STEM Centre? 

We have not yet chosen the centre’s location. However, it will be in Cairo because it will suitable for us.

Paul Curlett, senior manager at Boeing for international government services

Do you plan to open more STEM Centres in other governorates?

Yes, we have plans to expand our STEM Centres nationwide but after the first year. We plan to inaugurate three STEM Centres over the next three years. The first will be in Cairo, the second will likely be in Alexandria, and the third one’s location is still under discussion.

What is the expected budget for the planned STEM Centres?

I cannot tell you how much it will be exactly, but it will be large and last until 2021, which illustrates Boeing’s confidence in the market.

What are Boeing’s goals for establishing STEM Centres?

The concept of STEM Centres is to provide a place for young people where they can learn about STEM through interactive online activities, which they can access under the supervision of the centre’s staff. STEM is one of the BGE’s main pillars around the world. It is also a field that President Al-Sisi works on promoting in Egypt. The president wants his citizens to be technologically trained, and capable of working in aviation, as well as other high-tech industries. 

I also talked with various civil society leaders in Egypt, and they would love to see the day when Egyptians can work in international companies like Boeing. The STEM Centre will help to discover young talents and support them with STEM education to change their lives for the better.

Do you coordinate with the Egyptian education ministry regarding STEM Centres?

Sure, we are coordinating with the ministry of education and they are very supportive. Boeing will bear all the expenses of the STEM Centres, without burdening the Egyptian government. The STEM Centres’ target students aged 12-16. The curriculum will be provided in cooperation with World Learning.

Tim Buerk, Boeing Global Services’ director for Middle East and Africa

What are the latest developments of Boeing’s other activities, including those with INJAZ Egypt?

We are implementing other programmes with INJAZ Egypt; the Education For Employment (EFE), a leading youth employment organisation; and the Al-Nour Wal Amal Association (Light and Hope), where we are helping blind ladies to become musicians.

Our cooperation with INJAZ is going very well. We have reached out to a large number of people and helped them to create their own companies during the last two years. Our programmes in Egypt are actually very successful. Egyptian youth are so enthusiastic and desirous.

What about the company’s cooperation with Egyptian universities?

We have a partnership with Cairo University over the last two years. We are in talks with Ain Shams University and Alexandria University over more cooperation agreements. We would definitely like to expand our activities in Egyptian universities similar to the STEM concept which can be a good way to reach out to young people and prepare them for the labour market.

Are there any updates regarding the cooperation with EgyptAir?

EgyptAir is our customer and we are keen on keeping continuous discussions about sales, services, and everything they need. We are in ongoing talks with EgyptAir. We have some plans for future sales contracts.

EgyptAir will add new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner jets to its fleet next year. The Egyptian flag carrier airline recognised the advantages of our Dreamliner jets and will put them in operation after next March. Hopefully, we will provide EgyptAir with more Dreamliner jets as they proved to be of high quality. Boeing and AerCap announced during the 2017 Dubai Airshow that EgyptAir will lease six Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner jets.

How do you assess the cooperation with the MENAT region in 2018? And what are the company’s 2019 plans?

There are many regional economic and political changes. This is something everybody is aware of. We are in touch with all of our partners and customers. We have sales contracts of about 2,990 new commercial airplanes in this region over the next 20 years. It shows the need for about 63,000 new pilots and 67,000 new technicians as well as 92,000 air crew. It is a growing market.

On 17 July, Boeing lifted its long-term forecast for commercial airplanes as rising passenger traffic and upcoming airplane retirements drove the need for 42,730 new jets – valued at $6.3tn – over the next 20 years. The global airplane fleet will also sustain growing demand for commercial aviation services, leading to a total market opportunity of $15tn.

For defence industries, the Middle East is always a good market, and we have strong coordination with all of our customers

What are the top five regional airlines which purchase your airplanes?

Boeing respects all its customers. However, the top five airlines are Emirates, which is currently the world’s largest operator of the 777 and the only airline that operates all the variants of this aircraft; Flydubai with an all-Boeing fleet; Saudi Arabian Airlines, which operates Boeing twin-aisle airplanes; Qatar Airways, which has the largest 787 fleet in the Middle East; and EgyptAir.

Bernard J. Dunn, president of Boeing Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey

Does Boeing have airplane factories in the MENA region?

We are set to launch factories in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. However, most of our manufacturing is done in the United States.

In April 2012, Boeing and Mubadala announced a 10-year direct contract for Strata Manufacturing, an advanced composite aerostructures manufacturing company wholly owned by Mubadala in Al Ain, to produce commercial composite aerostructures for the 777 and the 787 Dreamliner. Strata currently manufactures ribs for the empennage of the 777 and vertical fin ribs for the 787 Dreamliner.

In 2014, Strata’s first shipset of empennage ribs was installed in a 777-300ER (Extended Range) which was delivered to Emirates Airline. In 2015, Strata’s first shipset of 787 vertical fin ribs was installed in a 787-9 Dreamliner delivered to Etihad Airways. At the 2016 Farnborough Air Show, the companies announced that Strata would expand its work statement for Boeing as a supplier of the 787 vertical fin—a major composite assembly for Boeing’s most advanced airplane programme. Additionally, Boeing agreed to source pre-impregnated composite materials for the new 777X from a new, UAE-based joint venture created by Mubadala and Solvay, making Boeing their first customer.

Also, Boeing is supporting the UAE’s research and development objectives in order to ensure sustainable growth of its booming aerospace industry. In 2016, Boeing and Mubadala signed an agreement to support bilateral research projects conducted at the Khalifa University and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.

At the 2013 Dubai Airshow, Boeing signed a partnership with the Tawazun Precision Industries (TPI), an Emirates Defence Industries Company (EDIC) subsidiary, to establish a new aerospace surface treatment facility in Abu Dhabi. The certified, state-of-the-art facility enables the TPI to produce complex metallic assemblies for Boeing, its suppliers, and other aerospace manufacturers worldwide.

At the 2015 Dubai Airshow, the TPI and Boeing announced the first award of complex metallic machined parts for Boeing tactical aircraft to be built at the TPI’s new facility. At the 2017 Dubai Airshow, Tawazun Economic Council and Boeing signed an agreement to expand the UAE’s role by enabling advanced materials manufacturing. 

For Saudi Arabia, Boeing signed an agreement in 2015 with Saudia Aerospace Engineering Industries (SAEI) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to create the Saudi Rotorcraft Support Company (SRSC) in the kingdom. The joint venture opened in April 2017 with facilities in Riyadh and Jeddah. Through in-country cooperation, the partner companies focus on expanding the Saudi workforce through the creation of self-sustaining jobs, technical, and aerospace skills development for local workers, and further involvement of the Saudi aerospace supply base. The joint venture supports the kingdom’s commercial and defence rotorcraft platforms, including the AH-64 Apache, the H-47 Chinook, and the AH-6i.

What was the Middle East countries’ reaction towards the Boeing Global Services unit?

Buerk: Our customers were excited about the launch of the Boeing Global Services unit in 2017, Boeing’s newest business unit. It comes in the framework of the world’s largest aerospace company’s commitment to significantly invest in aftermarket service capability innovation. Egypt and the Middle East are priority markets for Boeing Global Services.

Formed by merging the services’ sectors of Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes and Defence, Space, and Security businesses, the Global Services is designed to provide commercial and governmental customers with unprecedented value, and the best experience in the aerospace services industry.

Boeing forecasts that the MENA region’s age of existing military aircraft, and the operating tempo for those platforms, will warrant a $90bn investment in services over the next 10 years. By advancing technologies and systems that support this level of growth, Global Services plans to change the way airplanes and defence systems are operated, upgraded, and maintained throughout the products’ lifecycle.

Curlett: Boeing has a strong platform. We have the best engineers who are capable of providing Boeing’s products and services for both the defence and commercial sectors.

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IATF is an instrument to support continent’s free trade area, 30 agreements expected to be signed Sun, 09 Dec 2018 10:00:35 +0000 Afreximbank disbursed various loans to Egypt exceeding of $2.7bn in diverse sectors in 2018, says Kamel

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Large corporations will participate in their own capacities in the Intra African Trade Fair (IATF) in addition to countries which support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as over 40 pavilions representing more than 40 countries will be in the fair.

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is organising the inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2018) which is being held in Cairo from 11 to 17 December.

The IATF is hosted by Egypt, through the Export Development Authority (EDA), and organised in collaboration with the African Union and several other partners.

Kanayo Awani, managing director (Intra-African Trade Initiative) to discuss the launch of the ITAF and its sustainable plan for Africa transformation

Furthermore, the IATF 2018 is the first of its kind in Africa, consisting of a 7-day trade fair which provides a platform to share trade, investment, and market information, thereby enabling buyers and sellers, investors and countries to meet, as well as to discuss and conclude business deals. 

Moreover, the IATF 2018 will provide an arena for the exchange of information on markets, dialogue, and meetings among businesses. It will also provide traders with opportunities to conclude deals and access information about investment opportunities.

Daily News Egypt sat down with heads from Afreximbank, Amr Kamel, executive vice-president (Business Development & Corporate Banking) and Kanayo Awani, managing director (Intra-African Trade Initiative) to discuss the launch of the ITAF and its sustainable plan for Africa transformation, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What is the value of funds allocated to Egypt in 2018?

Kamel: This year we disbursed different loans to Egypt exceeding $2.7bn in different sectors and banks receive a large share of these loans. Next year, we plan to provide some transactions in different sectors. Currently, Egypt’s share of the total bank’s portfolio is 24%.

Does the Afreximbank plan to provide new loans to Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to support foreign reserves?

Kamel: The CBE is a very important partner to us and we cooperate in various sectors together. I do not think that the CBE will demand new funds in the coming period but we collaborate with it in other fields such as facilitating trade in light of our programmes.

What is the size of the funds to be allocated by the bank for Egypt in the coming year?

Kamel: we are studying financing some sectors in excess of $1bn in oil, energy and banks.

What is the size of intra African trade?

Awani: Our expenditures in Africa are about $10bn in diverse sectors to support the private sector, trade and industrialisation in the continent. We are working on a 5-year strategy from 2017-2022 which is called ‘Africa transformed’ as we focus on developing industry and agriculture and transforming Africa.

What are your efforts in promoting sustainable development in the entire continent?

Kamel: As I mentioned obviously, we are a development bank, so all our transactions have to have a developmental angle, as it is a part of what we do in our credit assessment. Consequently, our strategy has several key pillars we rely upon, namely, intra-African trade promotion, industrialisation, development manufacturing, and trade finance leadership and so on.

We have sectors which we think we will a have maximum impact in terms of promoting trade. For example, we try to discover in each country we finance what their comparative advantage is and which sector needs financing and we urge them to manufacture. One of the important things we do is develop industrial parks in Africa, where we look at what these countries have in terms of comparative advantage in manufacturing.

What are efforts were exerted by the bank to facilitate electronic payment of trade transactions?

Awani: the bank is working on the payment and settlements platform. We have exerted efforts to enable payments across Africa, not only in goods, but also in services. We provide a payment gateway to settle issues related to foreign currency. It is not helping African countries to trade with each other but we also deal with issues related to informal trade as we do not say that intra-African trade is low, but about 16-17% is formal trade as statistics reveal, which is considered low. The payments and settlements platform has a special feature, which is that countries can buy and sell in local currency to solve problems in intra-African trade. In the IATF we are going to launch online payment but also by the next year it should have been launched.

What are the most promising sectors in Africa to invest in?

Kamel: Africa has many natural resources. The idea is to try to transform these natural resources rather than exporting them. For example, Africa is the biggest cacao supplier to the world, but, unfortunately, it only receives about 5-10% of the value chain of the cacao industry. Therefore, we work on several initiatives to ensure that instead of exporting cacao, Africa transforms and manufactures it and produces chocolate.

What is the value of financial increase to Africa in the coming year?

Kamel: For our current strategy for 2020-2021, we hope to have a balance sheet of $17bn, however at this current time currently it is around $12bn. We do anticipate to reach that growth level and we have been growing at an average of 15% every year.

Daily News Egypt sat down with heads from Afreximbank

Do you plan to finance new sectors in Egypt and Africa?

Kamel: We are very innovative as innovation is finding what is most in need for funds and thus we found that one of funds which is missing is equity investments, therefore, the bank has set up an Investment Holding company (FUNFED) under its Equity Investment.

In addition, we also discovered some problems related to project preparation as some projects were not properly launched nor properly prepared so for that we have approved a programme called ‘Project Preparation Facility.’ It will primarily ensure that projects do thus type of initial work and then review it with bank’s situation. We continue to make different projects  and different areas according to scope. Project Preparation Facility was launched in March.

Regarding FUNFED it was approved by the bank’s board and we think it will be launched in the first quarter of 2019.

Awani: We have a trade finance initiative to promote finance across Africa in order to fill the gap in trade finance. Besides, we also provide trade finance instruments such as factoring to the continent’s countries.

How many Afreximbank’s member states are there?

Kamel: There is a great demand by the African countries to become bank members. Furthermore, in the last two years, about 19 countries joined the bank and we have reached 50 member states. Moreover, we are in negotiations with Algeria, Libya, Somalia and Eswatini, known previously as Swaziland.

What is the value of the bank’s capital?

Kamel: The Afreximbank’s capital reaches $2.4bn.

What is the value of the credit lines provided to Egypt by the bank?

Kamel: We provided Egypt with more than $11bn credit lines’ value since the bank’s establishment. However, in the last three years only, the bank has provided $10.3bn. Moreover, approximately $2.750bn were provided to Egypt in 2018.

What is the size of fund to be allocated for banks to support SMEs and trade development?

Kamel: We discussed with some Egyptian banks to finance in support of SMES and trade development, and we will allocate about$200m-$300m for banks in the coming year.

Moreover, we agreed with some big Egyptian companies from the private sector that have the ability to enter African markets and play a role in supporting and encouraging investment in Africa such as El Sewedy Electric, Arab Contactors, and Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding (OTMT).

In view of Egypt’s reform programme, does the bank plan to provide more funds to the Egyptian government to support it?

Kamel: We have a great and continuous cooperation with the CBE, and we are ready to cooperate with the CBE in sectors that need to be financed. In addition, the bank sometimes provides the CBE with advice on some non-financial topics.

Are there any outstanding loans to the CBE? Are new loans being negotiated?

Kamel: the CBE has paid the value of all loans and there are no current negotiations on loans.

What is the idea behind the launch of  the IATF?

Awani: in light of our strategy for 2021 ‘Transforming Africa’, we are working on promoting intra-African trade. What’s more, we want to increase intra-African trade for it to become more than its current percentage, which is about 15-17%, meaning that about 85% comes from the rest of the world. Therefore, we want to give special attention to industrialisation because  substantial African commodities come from outside Africa. If we industrialise we will sell more among each other because all commodities are produced from natural resources.

Over and above, we work as much as possible to deal with intra-African challenges. We realised that limited information about Africans is one of the main challenges which hinder trade especially regarding information related to what they purchase and which markets sell.

For example, Egyptians do not understand African markets, so what we want to do is to shape the market, which is why we are supporting the launch of the African market. Nevertheless, we need to deal with limited information concerning the market, which is the first reason behind holding the IATF. The second reason related to bringing together buyers and sellers of goods and services is to showcase African investment opportunities.

The Afreximbank has launched a trade information department, one platform providinginformation on trade in the fair. Besides, people can physically attend the fair and can also trade in the fair through that online platform.

How many countries participating in the IATF?

Awani: A large number of corporations will participate in their own capacities and also countries which support SMEs. We have over 40 pavilions representing more than 40 countries.

What are your expectations after ending the fair?

Awani: The IATF is not an end itself. It is just an instrument to support the continent’s free trade area. The continent’s free trade area is supposed to represent one market, a customs market like the EU.

During the IATF, b2b meetings and trade deals are supposed to be signed. What is your role in financing these businesses and the type of finance?

Awani: We provide trade finance and we also partner with some financial institutions to finance trade transactions. Additionally,we provide grantees, finance liquidity, and advisory services.

How many agreements will be signed during the fair?

Awani: Over 30 agreements will be signed throughout the fair.

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NUCA to launch third phase of partnership projects early next year Mon, 03 Dec 2018 07:00:23 +0000 EGP 7.8bn of sales achieved from offering 5 skyscrapers in New Alamein city, says Abbas

The post NUCA to launch third phase of partnership projects early next year appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Waleed Abbas, assistant housing minister for the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) said that the authority has adopted 15 ministerial approvals for projects in the New Administrative Capital, expecting to reach 19 approvals by the end of the current calendar year.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Abbas to discuss the NUCA’s development strategy regarding the new cities, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

The government has recently announced 20 new cities. When will the NUCA deliver the first phase of these cities?

Implementing 20 new urban cities is underway, representing the fourth-generation cities, including several cities, most notably the New Administrative Capital, New Fashn, New Mallawi, New Sphinx, New Obour, New Alamein, and New Mansoura. The NUCA plans to deliver the first phase of the 20 new cities by the end of the fiscal year 2020/21 in preparation to accommodate people in the same year.

Are there any updates regarding the New Alamein sales?

The sales achieved from offering 5 skyscrapers in New Alamein city have reached EGP 7.8bn out of a total of 15 skyscrapers, and will be launched in the city which is being implemented by the NUCA, and City Edge Developments is marketing them.

The city will include housing units for community segments starting from social housing to luxury housing. We believe that a successful city is where all residential segments live in, not just one.

What is current situation of the development process in New Mansoura city?

The first phase of New Mansoura city includes the implementation of the units of the projects Sakan Misr, Dar Misr, and villas. Moreover, we plan to offer units for middle-income housing in the city soon, as the NUCA began to offer projects with an investment return to direct sales proceeds in order to implement facilities’ work and other housing projects in the city.

Furthermore, road development is being constructed to link the cities of New Mansoura and old Mansoura for transportation between the two cities. The road already exists, but the authority is developing it.

Waleed Abbas, assistant housing minister for the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA)

The government has made great progress in the New Alamein city. Can you explain the current development process?

The government is currently developing 14,000 feddan representing the first city phase, where the NUCA is currently completing the construction and buildings of the National University, in cooperation with the University of Alexandria. Furthermore, 7.5 km out of a total of 14 km of the tourist walkway in the city are completed, and the authority aims to run this walkway and open it to citizens by next summer.

The general master plans for three industrial developers are being implemented with a total area of 625 feddan, and 500 units of the Sakan Misr project are being implemented and will be offered early next year.

Some developers blame the NUCA because it competes with them in offering units for specific segments. What is your opinion?

The residential units that the NUCA offers to citizens are not considered competitive with the private sector’s units, but a means of controlling the prices in the real estate market, and the client is the final judge to choose between the NUCA’s units and what developers offers.

The NUCA offers unit prices lower than developers, therefore, contractors who offer units with high prices must provide additional benefits for their customers.

The prices determined by the authority include the cost of land and the implementation cost as well as profit margins and yet, still they are lower prices than the prices of developers.

How many developers bought booklets of conditions for the last investment offering in New Mansoura and New Alamein?

Four plots of land were offered for urban activity in New Mansoura city, and 16 booklets of conditions were sold by mid-November. Moreover, one plot of land was offered in New Alamein and 14 real estate developers have bought booklets of conditions, which reflects the importance of the location of that plot of land and the flow of demand for investing in the city.

How many ministerial approvals have been issued in the current year and what is the target by the end of the year?

The NUCA has approved 81 investment projects in over 16 cities, spread out over a total of 13,697 feddan.

Moreover, nine other ministerial approvals for new projects will be received before year-end, bringing the total to 90 projects approved by the ministry by the end of 2018.

Additionally, 15 ministerial approvals were issued for projects within the New Administrative Capital, with four more ministerial approvals are expected to be issued soon, bringing the total ministerial approvals for projects in the Administrative Capital to 19 approvals by year-end.

How do you see demand on implementing projects in Upper Egypt?

It is noteworthy that there is increased demand by developers to invest in Upper Egypt and new cities outside Cairo and traditional cities, as the NUCA has many requests for acquiring lands in new cities in Upper Egypt.

The latest investment offering did not meet the expected demand by developers and we found that no one applied to invest in some cities. What is the fate of the development of those cities that no one has applied to invest in?

There are three plots of lands which were offered in Sixth of October City and seven investors have applied, and seven plots of land were offered in Sheikh Zayed city and three developers have applied. In addition, two plots of land in Sohag interested four investors, and three plots were offered in New Assiut by three developers who have applied, and three plots in New Damietta and only one developer has applied, plus only one investor applied for one plot of land out of a total of six plots which were offered in Sadat city, Menofiya governorate. Meanwhile, no developers have applied to acquire lands in New Cairo, New Aswan, Qena, and Akhmim.

The cities that have not witnessed demand or have few requests will be re-examined to determine the reason for the lack of interest through a study by the authority’s development of those projects. We expect to start the launch of the third phase of the partnership projects early next year.

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Tetra Pak: time for a sharp choice cut Sun, 02 Dec 2018 15:56:33 +0000 Egyptian market is very promising with potential and very specific advantages, says Tetra Pak Egypt managing director

The post Tetra Pak: time for a sharp choice cut appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Tetra Pak, the company specialised in food processing and packaging solutions, believes that the Egyptian economy has been facing many challenges during the past period, according to the Managing Director of Tetra Pak Egypt Konstantin Kolesnik.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Kolesnik to get an insight into how the economy has affected Tetra Pak, as well as his general outlook for Egypt’s forecasted recovery programme, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

To what extent where you affected by the increasing exchange rate of foreign currency?

Foreign exchange rate (FX) is a challenge facing all companies operating in Egypt and it has affected prices of everything.

How long have you been working in Tetra Pak? And how long have you been in Egypt for?

I have been part of the Tetra Pak family for 16 years and now part of Tetra Pak Egypt for more than 2 years.

Where were you located before Egypt?

I joined Tetra Pak in 2000, and since then held a number of different responsibilities within the company. In 2014, I was appointed as the managing director at Tetra Pak Iran. Before that I held different positions in Tetra Pak in the Ukraine, Russia and West Siberia.

What are the challenges you have witnessed in the Egyptian market?

The Egyptian market is a very promising market with a lot of potential and very specific advantages, such as the large population and various diversified market segments. However, there are several challenges such as the shortage in foreign currency and increasing FX rate. The biggest challenges that are directly related to our field are that the consumption of loose milk is still very high in comparison to packed milk, which is why Tetra Pak is constantly working on raising awareness about the benefits of packed milk and the hazards of loose milk through taking part in the ‘Your Health is in this Package’ campaign. The second direct challenge is that the consumption of milk in general in Egypt at 13 litres per capita is still very low when compared to the global average consumption rate at 33.3 litres per capita.

How much are your total investments in Egypt?

Tetra Pak is a privately-owned company by a Swedish family, and is not registered in any stock markets. Therefore, the company does not disclose its investment figures. However, our investments in Egypt are focused on our human resources as we invest in our employees and their trainings to ensure that we are capable of offering our customers the most advanced packaging and processing solutions.

What are you anticipated sales this year and next year?

This year we are expecting to sell 2.3bn packs. As for next year we foresee a further increase in our sales.

Besides packing, what other services do you provide for your customers?

Today, we are the world’s leading company in packaging and processing solutions, and we have the largest portfolio of packages in the world; therefore, this enables us to provide an integrated processing, packaging, and distribution line and plant solutions for food manufacturing. Additionally, we constantly try to provide our customers with the latest innovations and market trends from around the world to offer the highest quality products to Egyptian consumers, and a perfect example of these efforts would be the Innovation Day we are holding today.

Do you have any plans to establish a factory in Egypt anytime soon?

The number of packages we currently produce in Egypt does not allow us to establish a factory; however, we have an ambitious plan to build our first factory here once our production reaches higher levels to make sure the factory is fully utilised. 

Why do you consider yourself Domty’s partner?

We work as one team. We think innovate and accomplish projects together. Throughout 10 years of partnership we have managed to provide Domty with end-to-end solutions including processing, packaging, and services, while maintaining the highest standards of food safety, operational performance, and sustainability. Add to this, we share with Domty market research findings, latest trends, innovations from around the world, and product ideas.

How did this partnership help Domty to grow in the Egyptian market?

The partnership started in 2008 with 4 production lines, 2 products, and 1,300 employees. In 2018, 23 there were production lines, 160 products and 3,263 employees. Domty increased their production capacity from 3m packs in 2008 to 420m packs in 2018. Now Domty was able to expand to 39 new markets across Europe, Asia, and Africa and they are one of the biggest white cheese producers in Tetra Pak in the world.

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Egypt implements unprecedented reforms, yet policy instability, inflation, corruption, government bureaucracy remain challenging: Country Senior Partner at PwC Egypt Thu, 29 Nov 2018 10:00:07 +0000 Strategic location, diversified economy, multilateral trade agreements place country favourably, says Ezzeldeen

The post Egypt implements unprecedented reforms, yet policy instability, inflation, corruption, government bureaucracy remain challenging: Country Senior Partner at PwC Egypt appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Throughout the past three years, Egypt has been through tough but necessary economic reforms undertaken by state authorities, and supported by the IMF. Aiming to resolve economy’s structural issues, curb the budget deficit, eliminate currency shortages, all while achieving sustainable growth, the Egyptian government has adopted a diversified set of economic measures, including currency flotation, subsidy cuts, imposing value-added tax (VAT), and introducing social protection programmes.

Egypt’s unprecedented reform measures of macroeconomic and business legislation are bearing positively on the country’s competitiveness standing for the first time in eight years, Maged Ezzeldeen Country Senior Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Egypt (PwC) told Daily News Egypt.

He said that various opportunities exist in the energy sector ranging from exploration and processing of crude oil, liquefying gas, and exportation of such products.

Ezzeldeen elaborated that the PwC support investors to place FDI by developing their portfolios through building or buying. The PwC is a network of firms with more than 236,000 people operating from 158 countries globally, making them the largest professional services provider in the world.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Ezzeldeen, and the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Which are the main challenges Egypt faces to increase its competitiveness in the region?

Egypt’s unprecedented reform measures of macroeconomic and business legislation are bearing positively on the country’s competitiveness standing for the first time in eight years. Egypt’s ranking on the global competitiveness report witnessed a significant jump of 15 places in 2017. Underpinning this was a remarkable improvement in the public institutions and infrastructure indices, signalling the payoff of significant public investments in recent years. Despite such improvement, Egypt still lags on other important competitiveness drivers. The most problematic factors for doing business in Egypt are policy instability, inflation, corruption, government bureaucracy, and the inadequately educated workforce. In comparison to other countries, Egypt ranked 134th out of 137 countries in 2017 on the Labour Market Efficiency Index, followed by macroeconomic environment (132nd) and Innovation (109th).

One of the greatest challenges Egypt faces is its rapid youth population growth, by 2023 the country is expected to have 3.5 million entrants into the labour force which, if properly supported, could present a great opportunity to build a strong private sector that has been lagging over the past several decades compared to its peer MENA region countries. Similarly, Egypt attempts to fully benefit from its skilled workforce by tapping into start-ups and the technology sector, which has made other parts of MENA, such as Dubai, competitive. Also, the floatation of the Egyptian Pound, although a necessary step, led to a further loss in the economy’s competitiveness, making trade balance issues more pronounced. Another major challenge is the structural imbalances in Egypt’s economy which leads to weak productivity and slow growth of industries thereby decreasing its competitiveness. This is exemplified by the country’s increase in public debt, both internally and externally, which accounts for 106% of GDP. To combat such structural imbalances, it is necessary to put in place and implement policies that support productivity bases.

Corruption and red tape have proven to be continuous challenges in Egypt and have thus limited its competitiveness in the region. However, legal reforms have taken place to create a business environment that is more conducive to transparency and to crack down corruption. These efforts have been made through anti-corruption campaigns which incentivise bureaucrats to make decisions and to eliminate the fear of decision making. Also, Egypt is a member of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information and must adhere to certain standards by the third quarter (Q3) of 2019 which further reflects the country’s shift to become increasingly transparent. With regards to red tape, the government is working on establishing a new era of technical and strategic bureaucracy which is expected to reduce red tape.

Another challenge faced by Egypt is the region’s no corporate tax environment making it difficult for Egypt to be as competitive as its regional neighbours.

What are the main three competitive advantages when investing in Egypt compared to the MENA region?

One of the most important competitive advantages is the country’s strategic location. Egypt is on the crossroads between the Middle East and the Far East from one side and Europe and the East Coast of the Americas on the other side. More importantly, the Suez Canal offers the shortest link between East and West for international trade. Another competitive advantage is the availability of human resources on all employment levels, particularly its strong manual labour force making it independent from migrant workers unlike, its neighbouring Gulf States.

Among other competitive advantages, Egypt has a diversified economy compared to its energy dependant neighbouring rentier states of the Gulf. Moreover, Egypt’s population accounts for one-third of the Middle East’s population comprising more than 100 million with a large, young, and growing consumer market and a competitively priced labour force make it attractive to investors.

Egypt is the signatory to an extensive number of multilateral trade agreements, such as GAAT, GATS, PAFTA and QIZ, in addition to bilateral agreements with countries including Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, and Lebanon. These trade agreements present investors with a myriad of opportunities that position Egypt as a strategic trade hub.

Egypt’s policy is positioning it as a global and regional services, production, and re-export hub; creating jobs and economic growth by opening new markets for Egyptian products while simultaneously attracting FDI from corporations looking to harness Egypt’s unique basket of preferential trade agreements, highly competitive labour and utility costs, talented labour force, and proximity to key global markets. Together, these advantages make Egypt an ideal hub from which to export to Europe, the Arab world, the United States, and Africa.

Diversity is a key strength in the Egyptian economy where growth is driven by many sectors, both conventional and unconventional. This enhances the economy’s ability to absorb internal as well as external shocks. It also presents multiple opportunities for investors across many sectors compared to its energy dependant neighbouring GCC countries.

Egypt’s recent significant gas discoveries in the Zohr field in the Mediterranean Sea have further diversified its economy in addition to other discoveries underway such as BP’s Atoll and East Nile Delta projects, as well as Nooros field. Egypt’s hot climate coupled with high wind speeds makes it an ideal hub for renewable energy sources.  By 2022, Egypt aims to shift 20% of energy supply for electricity generation to renewable energy with wind, hydropower, and solar providing 12%, 5.8%, and 2.2%, respectively. Geothermal energy is also playing a key role with the recent agreement between the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) and Ganoub El Wadi Petroleum Company (GANOPE) to utilise geothermal energy to generate power. These recent developments in Egypt’s energy sector are enhancing its position as the potential energy hub, both regionally and globally. In fact, FDI in Egypt’s petroleum sector represented 64.6% of total FDIs during the first half (H1) of fiscal year 2017/18.

Could you please explain to our readers, how can the new Investment Law and Company Law improve the investment climate and offer security for international investors?

The new Investment Law, passed in May 2017, offers foreign investors a plethora of financial, administrative, and tax incentives in addition to safeguards to facilitate the investment process and to protect foreign investors. Some of these incentives include exemption from stamp tax, fees of notarisation, and registration of the Memoranda of Incorporation for five years from a company’s registration day. Investors are also exempted from contract fees for company registration and 2% on overall customs tax on the value of all imported machinery, equipment, and devices required to set up companies. Moreover, in order to facilitate and encourage the development of various industries, foreign investors are able to import casts and moulds to manufacture products with no customs duties that are to be re-exported after being introduced and implemented. In addition, investors are given discounts on investment projects made in Sectors A and B of 50% and 30%, respectively. Sector A comprises of underdeveloped areas with a high level of poverty and unemployment rate in addition to zones, such as the Suez Canal Economic Zone and the Golden Triangle Economic Zones. Sector B entails small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), renewable energy projects, tourism projects, and infrastructural projects. The aim of these discounts is to encourage development, reduce income inequality, and create jobs.

Furthermore, safeguards put in place involve ensuring similar treatment of foreign investors equal to that of national investors and granting them immediate residency in Egypt throughout the duration of their project. A particularly progressive safeguard is that investment projects can not face nationalisation, providing investors comfort towards the government. Foreign investors are also allowed to own an investment project, profit and transfer related profits without restrictions.

Most importantly, the unifying notion of the law is to cut bureaucracy, promote fair competition, combat antitrust practices, and ensure transparency to ultimately make Egypt’s investment climate appealing to foreign investors. It is evident that Egypt is reaping the benefits of the new Investment Law through a promising rise in foreign direct investment by 15% in April 2018.

Which are the key sectors in which foreign investors can find unparalleled opportunities in Egypt?

Egypt has many resources that have made it appealing to foreign investors. After the discovery of Egypt’s massive Zohr natural gas field, the country has been placed on the international energy map. The Zohr field is the first mega discovery in the Mediterranean area with proven reserves of 30tn cubic feet making it a real jewel to the Egyptian economy and a very promising step for energy self-sufficiency and for further explorations to the Egyptian territorial waters in the Mediterranean. Various opportunities exist in the energy sector starting from the exploration and processing of crude oil, liquefying gas, and export of such products. There are other various discoveries whether in gas or crude oil underway such as BP’s Atoll and West Delta Nile projects, as well as Nooros field, which are enhancing Egypt’s position as the potential energy hub of the region and a key player on the world energy scene.

Real estate in Egypt, unlike the region, has been continuously expanding and we have been witnessing an unparalleled real estate appreciation in the last two decades. In 2017, the real estate sector has contributed to 10% of GDP and 15% of total investments in the economy, positioning Egypt as second in the region with regards to real estate investment returns. Despite the decreased purchasing power resulting from the devaluation of the Egyptian Pound, an influx of foreign investment in the sector was evidenced exemplified by an increase of 90% of Egyptians living in the GCC countries after floatation. Various Arab investors who are concerned about the unstable political climate in their countries, such as Libya, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria are investing. Also, the New Administrative Capital and Alamein City are vivid examples of how a new city is coming to life with all its infrastructural requirements.

Although still lower than pre-2011 levels, Egypt’s tourism sector is strongly rebounding (37.7% real growth in FY 2017/18) and tourism receipts posting 123.9% increase compared to the previous year. With continued political stability, Egypt has the potential to captivate its fair share of tourism regionally as well as globally.

Moreover, Egypt has the largest education system in the MENA region at both the school and higher education levels. Egypt has observed a significant increase of 32% in enrolment rates over the last decade. Foreign investors can benefit from the education opportunities as demand exceeds the current level of supply in the country’s education sector.

Also, the country’s recently passed universal healthcare covers all citizens with world-class quality service offerings. The bill aims to cut high medical costs of the private sector and increases efficiency. It will first be implemented in five governorates and then further spread across the country in the coming years.

The information and communications technology (ICT) industry has remained remarkably resilient post the 2011 revolution, recording 10.4% annual real growth in FY 2017/18. Beyond the basics of national internet infrastructure, Egypt offers a number of benefits for potential ICT investors, among which its proximity to the lucrative European markets.

In 2016, Egypt was shortlisted for the Outsourcing Destination of the Year globally by the European Outsourcing Association (EOA). The relatively high computational efficiency and multilingual skills of Egyptians sheds light on the 50,000 employed in offshore BPO and the 40,000 in regional outsourcing in 2015 alone in addition to the ICT sector contributing to 4.1% of GDP. This has positioned Egypt strategically to further attract BPO contracts making it a hub for outsourcing activities.

The food and beverages sector has also appeared promising through an increase in local restaurant and café services. These include chains, such as Mori Sushi, Nola’s Cupcakes, and Bocca which have decreased the need for franchises to set up in Egypt.

How are you planning to benefit from a cheaper Egyptian Pound as the main driver to attract foreign private investment?

Despite the competitiveness gains brought about by the cheaper currency following the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) decision to shift to a managed-float exchange rate regime and country’s unprecedented macroeconomic and legislative reform measures implemented over the past two years, foreign direct investment in Egypt remain lacklustre, contracting by 2.7% on annual basis in FY 2017/18. A material boost to the FDI is awaiting further consolidation of the fiscal accounts and deeper reforms to the business environment.

Nevertheless, a cheaper Egyptian Pound has made Egypt very competitive in several areas. Many efforts are underway to implement import substitution by encouraging local manufacturing and thus export. Egypt has already seen improvements in export activities demonstrated by an increase of 14% in H1 2018 which has made it more competitive. Also, a cheaper currency gives foreign investors more equity for the investment compared to Egypt’s Gulf Mena-peers. Egypt, also plans to take advantage of the Egyptian pound by marketing itself as a cheap tourist destination exemplified by low ticket and hotel rates for inbound tourists allowing them to gain more for their money. In addition, a cheaper Egyptian Pound allows foreign investors to benefit from the country’s low-cost human resources on a broad spectrum of employment giving it a competitive quality.

What do you think are the main concerns of foreign investors to come and do business in Egypt (beyond safety)?

We can proudly say that safety has been restored in Egypt evidenced by the increase in the number of tourists arrivals by 30% in Q1 2018 compared to that in 2017 and 730,000 tourists in February 2018 alone, making it no longer a main concern. A major concern to foreign investors could be the instability in Egypt’s policies which are often amended. This is exemplified through Egypt’s tax system which remains a source of discomfort to investors as numerous changes have been made to its tax code as a result of the country’s past political instability. The tax code’s complexity and difficulties with tax administration mean that companies often face uncertainty about how tax collectors will interpret the law. Many investors are therefore unable to make long-term decisions as they can not plan effectively for their tax treatment. However, the increased level of stability in the Egyptian cabinet and its leaning towards reform, point to the possibility that tax administration might be clarified. Similarly, the safeguards put in place through the new Investment Law offer protection for foreign investors, for example, investment projects can not be nationalised by the government. Moreover, as part of economic reform, Egypt passed its first Bankruptcy Law in January 2018, which further protects foreign investors in the event of bankruptcy by eradicating imprisonment and simplifying post-bankruptcy procedures.

Furthermore, the country’s underground economy, which accounts for 40% of the Egyptian economy, creates an unlevelled playing field and decreases the competitiveness of investors that adhere to the law. This represents a major issue for foreign investors as they do not participate in tax evasion and have different margins to those in the informal sector. The crowding out of Egypt’s private sector, particularly in the construction industry, also limits foreign investor’s chances to compete in the sector.

The lack of a solid legal and regulatory framework in Egypt makes foreign investors apprehensive as they would encounter difficulties to gain justice and would need to resort to the costly solution of arbitration to settle legal disputes. Similarly, while the legal system supports foreign investors to enter Egypt, it presents difficulties in the event of exiting the country reflecting a Hotel California model. Therefore, it is imperative to improve and accelerate the settlement of disputes which is an issue that the new Investment Law tackles. Measures to achieve these goals would have a significant effect on investor confidence. The first step towards this goal would be to call on additional expert witnesses who are well versed in aspects of financial services. This would require judges to become specialised in the financial sector and might even require the formation of a separate court under the auspices of the Egyptian Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA). This would greatly accelerate the judicial process, reducing costs for all parties involved. This would allow foreign investors to enforce their rights in a timely manner and enhance their confidence in the country’s business environment.

Furthermore, the devaluation of the Egyptian pound has not only pose an issue to foreign investors with regards to the value of their investments decreasing by more than half, but also presents an issue regarding high borrowing costs on loans.

Moreover, the World Bank and IMF’s intervention in the economic decisions in Egypt could be a major concern to foreign investors, exemplified by the decrease in subsidies for energy. However, the elimination of energy subsidies may allow for improved resource allocation.

What are your main concerns in regard to reducing the red tape?

It is the government’s role to ensure investors that the new Investment Law will be enforced and red tape will be fought in an effective way. With the current government support to investors and determination to succeed, we believe the red tape will be reduced significantly.

The concept of a one-stop shop for establishing a company, although has helped to expedite the process of starting a firm, has not solved the underlying issue, as firms still need to obtain a majority of the permits, licenses, and approvals from multiple authorities and ministries in order to begin operations. The time spent in obtaining those can often delay projects for months, even if only one or two licenses remain outstanding. In order to reduce the red tape on the firm establishment to have all interactions with businesses take place through this single authority, rather than simply placing multiple authorities in a single location, which is the approach that the ‘one-stop shop’ uses.

Furthermore, redundancy in the deeply entrenched layers of bureaucracy is a major source of red tape, however, the concept of a one-stop shop aims to eliminate such inefficiency.

Could you share with us the story of PWC in Egypt and your main strategy in the country?

PwC was formed in 1998 by the merger of two legacy firms, Price Waterhouse and Coopers and Lybrand. The PwC later acquired Booz and Company in 2014 to make it part of its network. The PwC office in Egypt was established in 1974. Our office in Egypt includes 13 partners and 395 professional staff working in Cairo and Alexandria.

Our ambition is to be the largest and most professional services firm in Egypt that delivers a distinctive experience to our clients and stakeholders. We aim to be the firm of choice for our clients, to offer a nurturing yet challenging environment for our employees and lastly to be an active supporter of our community. Moreover, we support the government with transformational projects and support SMEs initiatives through our strong leadership qualities.

Our strategy is embodied in three core objectives that guide our behaviour and decision making, firstly to enhance the engagement internally amongst our teams, secondly to invest smarter in our clients, talent and infrastructure to ensure sustained leadership in our market, and lastly to excel in our market in order to achieve continuous growth, profitability and quality. Our people have a detailed understanding of the local market, business standards, and culture, and are passionate about working in one of the most exciting and dynamic places in the Middle East.

How can PWC encourage international investors to inject FDI in Egypt?

PwC is proudly a network of firms with more than 236,000 people operating from 158 countries globally, making us the largest professional services provider in the world. We support investors to inject FDI by developing their portfolios through building or buying. Building entails providing clients with market assessment and financial feasibility study. Buying involves offering clients financial tax due diligence of a target firm, valuation of business, internal setup of policies and procedures, audit tax compliance, post-purchase support with a 100-day plan, and exit strategies along with other services.

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MBG to complete marketing of Pukka project in New Capital by end of 2019 Wed, 28 Nov 2018 09:30:25 +0000 Company intends to launch international medical centre at New Capital with EGP 2bn investments

The post MBG to complete marketing of Pukka project in New Capital by end of 2019 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

MBG plans to direct EGP 500m investments in the Pukka project in the New Administrative Capital, according to Mahmoud Al Adl, chairperson of MBG.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Al Adl to talk about the development process of the company’s projects in the new capital, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What are the updates regarding Pukka project?

The company has begun earth works of the project, after obtaining the ministerial approval for the project implementation, to begin construction works of the first phase in the beginning of the coming year. The contract with the Administrative Capital for Urban Development company (ACUD) obliges companies to develop at least 10% of the project within the first phase of the project, and 30% for the next 3 years, with completion of the project within 4 years.

The project’s investments are estimated at EGP 4bn and is it being developed on 50 feddan, 9 of them are specified for the roads, It is located in the heart of the Capital, close to at the new Nativity of Christ Cathedral. The construction area of the project represents 22.5% of the total project’s size, and the rest of the space, 77.5%, is allocated for green areas, landscape, squares, and a commercial mall. The project includes 50 buildings, comprised of 1,700 units with sizes ranging between 800 and 900 sqm consisting of eight floors.

What is the value of investments will be directed in the project in 2019?

The company plans to direct approximately EGP 500m in the project in the coming year.

What is value of the project’s targeted sales?

The company aims to achieve sales of EGP 2.5bn next year, compared to achieved sales of EGP 2bn within a year of its launch.

What is percentage of the project marketing so far?

The company has succeeded in marketing about 50% of the total units of the project.

What is the update regarding the mall inside the project?

The company will begin the implementation of the mall in the beginning of the coming year. Furthermore, the company has launched it for marketing a month ago and has marketed 15% of the commercial part of the mall. The mall will include commercial, administrative, and medical activities.

The mall spans over 18,000 sqm with net building area of 6,000 sqm, and comprises of three floors and the company has allocated 4,000 sqm for commercial activities, 1,000 sqm for medical activities, and another 1,000 sqm for administrative activities.

What is the source of the project funding?

The project is self-financed by the shareholders, who are investors, and also the project sales.

What is value of the project’s target revenues?

The project’s target revenues amounted to EGP 5bn, which the company aims to achieve based on the strength of Egypt’s real estate market, and the great demand by the customers, especially in the New Administrative Capital, as one of the new urban communities supported by national and investment interest.

You announced that the company intends to launch and international medical centre at the New Capital. What is the update regarding this project?

We plan to launch a new medical project at the Capital with initial investments of EGP 2bn on 5 feddan for implementing a rehabilitation centre for disabled people, as well as for physical therapy, and treatment of stadium injuries, in addition to clinics for sports medicine. However, we still in negotiations with the ACUD to obtain the land and agree on the price of the square metre. I expect to reach an agreement with the Capital within a month.

What is the company’s expansion plan?

The company is negotiating two plots of land with a total area of 130 feddan in the North Coast and Ain Sokhna, as the company plans to get one of them to implement a residential tourist project in one of those areas. It is expected to agree on one plot of land before the end of this year, in preparation for the launch of the project next year. One of these two plots of land is located in the North Coast on an area of 100 feddan and the other on 30 feddan in Ain Sokhna. Moreover, the company plans to diversify in land portfolio in the Capital and coastal areas.

How do you see the role of the government in the sector?

I call upon the state to implement comprehensive development projects which not only focus on the real estate sector but also on implementing new projects in the agricultural and industrial sectors in order to achieve strong growth rates. Implementation of this great volume of real estate projects may adversely affect the operations of the real estate market.

Do you think that the market faces decreased sales?

The stability or the decline of purchasing power of customers during the previous period was associated with general economic difficulties, as a result of the economic reform procedures which were taken by the government, yet, will benefit citizens in the coming period. Therefore, the real estate market depends on improving the general economic situation in the country, and improving the customers’ financial ability.

Nevertheless, the real estate market has so far been able to meet challenges, and citizens continued to buy because of a real demand based on the increase in population. Noteworthy, purchase for investment purposes has recently declined since the launch of high-yield savings vessels.

I believe that real estate companies continue to innovate new marketing solutions to support customers to take decisions to buy property and maintain sales operations, especially with the continued absence of mortgage financing system—a role that should not take long to maintain cash liquidity for those real estate companies. Thus, the state is required to intervene to review the mortgage finance system as one of the sector’s development mechanisms.

I want to confirm the high volume of competition between companies in the New Administrative Capital, a pressuring all companies to imitate each other in payment systems, which may be a burden on them, but they are all obliged to do.

Do you think that the government’s offering for real estate projects in New Capital, New Mansoura and New Alamein will affect the company’s sales in these areas?

It is not a competition with real estate developers who implement units for the same residential segment in the same areas, because Egypt is a large market and can accommodate all real estate projects produced by all companies.

What are the distinct activities that the company will provide in its project in the New Administrative Capital?

What makes Pukka unique is the prime location, green areas, event lounge, swimming pools, clubhouse, solar system panels, pet care service, premium mall, health club, spa, and a food court.

What other projects is the company developing?

We are developing several residential villages in the cities of Damietta, Mansoura, and Ras El Bar. In Ras El Bar, we have three villas: Sunset Festival, Sunset El Nakheel, and Sunset Gardens. In Mansoura, we have Al Oula City on 27,000 sqm and a World Trade Centre on an area of ​​20,000 sqm, in addition to the International Medical Centre on an area of ​​10,000 sqm consisting of specialised medical centres on the Nile in Mansoura city.

What is the company’s expansion plan?

I believe that the future of real estate investment is in the New Administrative Capital. From my experience, I see that all investors and clients have an eye on the Capital, and I think investment in the Capital will last for over 100 years.

What is the engineering consultant office?

Since we contracted with the Administrative Capital for Urban Development company, we planned to be unique in our designs, then, we contracted with one of the most famous offices in this sector. We assigned Raafat Miller Consulting to design the project.

What is the company’s plan to participate in foreign real estate exhibitions?

Participating in real estate exhibitions is very important to promote companies’ sales and to allow developers to expand, as well as boost hard currency in the country.

Therefore, the company plans to participate in several foreign real estate exhibitions to promote sales for foreigners, mainly real estate exhibition in Melanoma, Italy.The company targets about 15% of the project’s sales to foreigners.

How do you view the competition between developers within the New Administrative Capital?

There are too many developers in the Capital who launched their projects which led to fragmentation of purchasing power of the customers. Besides, the state offering for a group of projects in different places at the same time contributed to the fragmentation and weakening of purchasing power.

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King Salman Bridge between Saudi and Egypt awaits international approval: Bin Mahfouz Tue, 27 Nov 2018 09:00:04 +0000 Upcoming partnership between Aramco, SABIC with public business companies to execute large export-oriented projects

The post King Salman Bridge between Saudi and Egypt awaits international approval: Bin Mahfouz appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Since Saudi investors’ visit to Egypt in March, several companies were established worth more than $8bn, said the Head of the Saudi Egyptian Business Council, Abdullah bin Mahfouz, in an interview with Daily News Egypt during his visit to Cairo on Monday accompanying the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman.

“We believe that Egypt has achieved the highest growth rate in the entire Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” he stated

Bin Mahfouz pointed out that the Saudi investments that flowed in the past months were carried out by a large number of prominent Saudi businesspersons, including Abdulrahman Hassan Sharbatly, Abdullah Al-Othaim, and Khaled Al-Ghamdi, in various fields across different regions, especially the Suez Canal and Sharm El-Sheikh.

He said that the delegation accompanying the Saudi Crown Prince listened to the speech of the Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, at the recent Davos in the Desert, conference which briefed the economic achievements of Egypt, recent agricultural and industrial investments, and the opportunities available in southern Egypt.

“We showed interest in investing in the region, which has tourism and mining opportunities,” he added.

Bin Mahfouz noted that, “This is our sixth visit to Egypt since 2013. We want to review the achievements of the kingdom’s investors in tourism, real estate, and industrial projects that were implemented after these visits, as well as discuss opportunities in other sectors, particularly agriculture, mining, health, and education.”

He predicted that Egypt will witness major investments in the health and education sectors in the coming period for their great need for development. He said that these sectors require foreign rather than Arab investment, since foreign countries have the technology and knowledge, as was the case in Jordan.

He added that investment in the health sector requires a clear investment map for the sector that guarantees investors that laws and regulations will not change, such as the new Investment Law, which is valid for 50 years.

He pointed out that serious discussions held between the Saudi and Egyptian governments on a mining partnership, to which the kingdom gave particular importance and allocated huge investments, particularly aluminium, phosphate, and gold.

“Saudi Arabia has finally realised the importance of phosphate, aluminium, and gold mining, and invested $55bn in this sector. The three elements are available in northern parts of Saudi Arabia and southern Egypt, and I hope to cooperate in this field both at the level of governments and private sector,” Bin Mahfouz said.

He said that the Saudi private sector always accompanies Bin Salman in his foreign visits to benefit from investments that can be implemented in various sectors. The current visit to Egypt will seize any investment opportunity to implement new projects.

During its visit to Egypt, the Saudi delegation will focus on investment opportunities in the tourism and mining sectors, as well as projects in the New Administrative Capital and the Suez Canal.

The Saudi-Egyptian Business Council is planning to increase the kingdom’s investments by at least 10% per annum, but this interest is accompanied by a stronger desire for added value for those investments to Egypt, he said. “Saudi investments can only be secured to output high quality that can be exported.”

Bin Mahfouz expressed his desire to boos cooperation in the petrochemical sector. “Egypt is the kingdom’s gate of exporting to Europe by virtue of its foreign agreements. If Aramco and SABIC succeeded in taking an important and strong position in Egypt, the Saudi private sector can invest in medium-sized projects with $50-100m.”

He added that the current period is seeing joint talks for the implementation of pharmaceutical and petrochemical projects. The coming days will witness the signing of some agreements and cooperation protocols between Aramco and SABIC, as well as other companies in the pharmaceutical sector.

He explained that the Saudi and Egyptian companies, if agreed, will implement large projects in the pharmaceutical sector aimed for exporting to Europe and Africa.

“As a Saudi business community, we are waiting for Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit because we know that it will witness the signing of several major agreements that will be announced during the visit,” Bin Mahfouz stated.

“We are now using Egypt to enter the European and African markets. We have been very late in expanding in Africa, allowing other countries to reap most of the benefit and replace us.”

He pointed out that there are many areas for partnership, including pharmaceuticals and communications, in Egypt.

He remarked that Egypt is producing high quality medicines but its exports are still very low, and that there are discussions underway to register Egyptian medicines in Saudi Arabia and the UAE at different prices.

Egypt’s medicine exports reached about $300m annually to different countries that purchase the production at local prices.

Bin Mahfouz discussed the situation of the suspended agreements between Egypt and the kingdom which were signed during King Salman’s visit to Cairo in mid-2016, which witnessed pledges of investments worth $23-25bn.

He said that about $1.5bn out of $2.5bn have been allocated for Sinai development projects, while the remaining funds will be disbursed in 2019 and 2020.

The Sinai development project agreement includes the construction of a three-phase wastewater treatment plant, the implementation of residential communities in Phase II, and the construction of the 90 km-long development axis, as well as four road links with a total length of 61 km, linking the development axis to the coastal road.

The agreement also includes the implementation of the Taba Road, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz University in Al-Tur in Phase II as well, Al-Gady Road, 13 agricultural projects, and a canal for transporting water to the peninsula.

Bin Mahfouz pointed out that the agreement on the construction of the bridge between the two countries, known as the King Salman Bridge, is subject to the implementation of an international political decision, stressing that it will bring about a qualitative leap in the joint relations between the kingdom and Bahrain.

He added that in order to implement the bridge, some design and construction procedures still have to be completed, noting that all this requires an international resolution and coordination with several countries such as Russia, America, China, and India because it is an international corridor.

“We need to coordinate with those countries before proceeding with implementation. The date for this will be determined by the governments of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.”

The agreements signed during King Salman’s visit included the construction of a bridge connecting Egypt and the kingdom with a length of 30 km and a width of 36 metres, in addition to a double railway line in the middle of the bridge with a width of 11.30 metres allowing the passage of trains at 250 km/h.

According to the agreement, the bridge extends from the north of the Egyptian city of Ras Nasrani, near Sharm El-Sheikh, to the eastern shore of Ras al-Sheikh Humaid, north of the port of Daba, passing through Tiran Island in the Red Sea.

Bin Mahfouz expected to activate the Egyptian-Saudi investment fund, which is included in the agreements, soon, without specifying a date.

He said: “This fund is of particular interest to both countries, because it will push the joint investment to record levels, especially as it will be one of the largest Arab investment funds.”

He added that the activation of the fund is an economic decision and not a political one, and it will include major assets of both countries, so was delayed.

The agreements signed during King Salman’s visit included one to establish a Saudi-Egyptian investment fund with a capital of SR 60bn, to be financed by the Saudi Investment Fund, its affiliated entities, and the Egyptian government, and its affiliated entities.

Bin Mahfouz revealed the decision of Saudi businessperson Sheikh Saleh Kamel and 32 other investors in the kingdom to liquidate Gosoor El Mahaba company, whose establishment began in 2014 and was completed at the end of last year with a capital of EGP 6bn.

He said that the company’s operational steps showed no economic feasibility, so it was agreed to be liquidated and allowed all its investors to form smaller companies and invest in all the logistics services provided by the Suez Canal.

“Instead of one company, there are more than 30 smaller companies with a collective capital of EGP 6bn which will afford more success,” he added.

“The company was established with a large capital based on good sentiments and intentions. But the business process showed bad economic viability, so we decided to liquidate, and leave Saudi investors to make individual investment decisions alone with foreign partners to implement projects in the Suez Canal.”

The company was established to invest in Suez Canal services, ship maintenance, and the exploitation of shipping lines, transporting goods between the Suez Canal and Arab and African countries, and providing various logistical services.

He pointed out that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia continues to increase its investments in the Egyptian market, and when it announced in 2017 that there was an increase in investments, it was marketed as a “media talk.” But the fact is that these visits resulted in the establishment of 229 new companies in the period from March and November with capital of $8bn.

“Egypt is a land of goods. It has an attractive environment for investment from God, fertile soil for all countries, attracting Saudi and foreign investments and enjoying great growth,” said Bin Mahfouz.

“Citizens may not feel the impact of these long-term economic reforms, but we as Gulfis look at them and see that they are on the right track, even with the problems of rising prices and foreign currency shortage, but the situation is being properly addressed,” he said.

He continued: “We believe in investing in Egypt more than the Egyptians, who do not believe in it. We achieve greater success. People can follow the results of the work of Gulf companies . Every pound in Egypt is fruitful.”

He pointed to some of the measures taken by the kingdom under its 2030 plan, including the trend towards Saudization of some professions and its impact on Egyptian labour. He said that the number of Egyptians in the kingdom is about 1.9 million, and if some of them return, they will bring benefits to Egypt thanks to the advantageous experience they gained in Saudi Arabia.

“Countries do not benefit from foreign currency remittances abroad as much as they have benefited from the experience they have gained in development,” he added.

He urged the need to amend the Arab-Arab cooperation strategies and should be in large and huge industries such as petrochemicals and mining, while other sectors such as tourism and real estate have not achieved any success at the level of employment.

The post King Salman Bridge between Saudi and Egypt awaits international approval: Bin Mahfouz appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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High-level Japanese business mission to visit Egypt early 2019 Mon, 26 Nov 2018 07:00:37 +0000 I am expecting further increase of Japanese tourists to this country: Japanese ambassador to Egypt

The post High-level Japanese business mission to visit Egypt early 2019 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Masaki Noke, Japanese ambassador to Egypt said that a high-level mission is expected to visit Egypt early 2019, adding, “Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) has an idea to send a mission to Egypt early next year, including representatives from the major Japanese companies as well as JETRO officials.”

On the occasion of the Japanese embassy in Egypt celebrating the National Day today, Daily News Egypt interviewed Noke, to shed light on the diversified aspects of cooperation with Egypt including trade, investments, economy, tourism and culture, the transcript of which below, lightly edited for clarity:

Initially, would you give us a briefing about your past experiences before coming to Egypt in September?

Immediately before coming here, I was working at headquarters of Japan’s cabinet office as director general for International Peace Cooperation. Before that I was at Japan’s Foreign Ministry as a director general for the Consular Affairs Bureau.

I arrived at Cairo in September so only two months have passed, however, I have a very positive impression of this country and the Egyptians.

Since September, what are the meetings you have attended with Egyptian officials?

On the 22 of October, I presented my letter of credentials to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, then I had a number of meetings with government officials and with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.

One of my immediate jobs after my arrival was to accompany Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry for a visit to Japan from 4 to 6 of October, so I attended all the key meetings he had there with the Japanese Prime Minister, vice prime minister as well as finance minister.

Shoukry came to Japan to participate in the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) ministerial meetings, and also paid Japan a bilateral visit. Shoukry had very good and strategic dialogue with our foreign minister.

Shoukry headed to Tokyo on 4 October on a bilateral visit to discuss joint cooperation and regional issues of common interest and to take part in the ministerial meeting of the TICAD, scheduled on October 6-7 in order to promote cooperation between Japan and Africa, and to support the continent’s comprehensive development efforts, according to a past ministerial statement in October.

What about your meetings with other Egyptian Ministers?

On the economic front, I met with the ministers of finance, Minister of Transport Hisham Arafat, Minister of Trade and Industry Amr Nassar, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr, Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhy, Minister of Education Tarek Shawkey, Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel Ghafar, as educations is a key area of our joint cooperation with Egypt.

The antiquities subject is very important, so I met with the Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Anani three times. I also had many other meetings with senior government officials. I participated in a very big seminar on Japanese history held at Cairo University where I met with experts on Japanese language not only from Egypt but also from Arab countries.

As for the future meetings, we are still in the process to meet ministers I have not met yet, so there will be many meetings.

Additionally, I have already visited some of the Japanese companies operating in Egypt and the Suez Canal zone. One important meeting I held was with Imam of Al-Azahr Ahmed Al-Tayeb, and this meeting was very impressive for me.

During your recent meetings with the Japanese companies’ representatives, How they assess the Egyptian investment climate?

Generally, Japanese companies are very positive about their investments in Egypt, as there is huge potential in the Egyptian market. There is a growing population of about100 million citizens. Egypt’s macroeconomic figures are improving so there is very good and positive general trend.

At the same time, the companies’ expansions and new companies’ investments depend on their own researches and studies. However, some companies face challenges like bureaucratic procedures, tax measures, trade policy and so on. What I do now is to exchange views with Japanese companies. We ask Minister of Finance Mohamed Moeit to pay attention to the customs issues and facilitate our investment and activities.

What was the response of the finance minister on the issues that face some of the Japanese businesses?

He was very keen on helping the companies to solve the issues. The Egyptian government is listening carefully to Japanese companies and government voices, and this is an ongoing process. I look forward to additional decisions that take our concerns into consideration.

How do you assess the political and economic cooperation between both countries?

Actually, our joint relations are excellent, and we have been enjoying positive and historical relations. Exchanging high-level visits was a boost towards our relationship as in 2015 Prime Minister Ape visited Egypt and President Al-Sisi came to Japan in 2016, which was the first presidential visit in 17 years.

During President Al-Sisi’s visit, an important declaration was announced, one of the fruits of that cooperation is the most recent visit of Foreign Minister Shoukry to Japan. The visit provided a strategic dialogue between both countries, so it is a key mechanism of boosting political cooperation between both countries.

Additionally, we have a very good record of economic cooperation, including joint cooperation in the opera house establishment, and the Suez Canal bridges. we are now working on two significant projects which are the introduction of the Japanese Education System and the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM ) where the Japanese and Egyptians are working seriously.

On the economic front, I would like to emphasise the role of the private sector. Many Japanese companies are already working here, and there are about 50 Japanese companies in Egypt.

As a trade partner, Egypt is already a good export destination, but the amount of trade exchange is still modest, roughly 100bn Japanese yen which is less than $1bn.

What about the trade and business missions between Egypt and Japan in 2019?

There is an idea from the JETRO to send a mission to Egypt early next year, including representatives from major Japanese companies as well as JETRO officials.

There is a framework of joint economic committees between Japan and Egypt, so on the occasion of the JETRO mission, the Japanese chamber of commerce is expected to organise a meeting for the Egypt-Japan economic committee.

How many Japanese companies are expected to participate in the coming mission?

It is still in the early stage, so I have no idea, but it is not about the number. There are major companies like Toyota, Tsusho, and other trading companies and manufacturing companies are usual members. Major car automakers are included as well as light industries and banking sectors. So, it will be a cross sector visit.

What about the future official visits between both countries?

About the official visits between both countries in the future, just until yesterday, high-level officials visit Egypt including the senior vice minister for environment, who participated in the Biodiversity Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh.

I don’t have a concrete calendar of the future visits. However, I expect that 2019 will witness many visits between both countries as Egypt is going to take the presidency of the African Union (AU) next year and Japan will host the at the end of August, that’s why both countries have to consult and cooperate a lot.

For the GEM, would you please elaborate about the project’s updates?

Actually, I visited the GEM three times since my arrival in September, and I witnessed the seriousness of the work which is being conducted on there. Our current target is to fully open it in 2020, so we have to work on the constructions of the facilities, preparation for management, the services and software.

About Metro line 4, there were some rumours that there are some issues?

The National Tunnel Authority is under consultations with the Japanese side on some technical discussions. I hope the project will be launched as early as possible and I do not care about the rumours.

Does the Egyptian government discuss with you any new development projects?

There are lots of developmental projects going on and under discussion. Infrastructure is key that is why we finance the Borg El-Arab International Airport Project. We are now implementing the project’s expansions and introducing top level environmental technology in solar energy.

Would you please elaborate more about the cooperation in improving Egypt’s educational system?

We have been active in the area of education and high education for a long time. In 2009, We opened the Egyptian Japanese University for Science and Technology (EJUST) which is a top-level university in the area of science and technology.

Now we are working on enlarging EJUST to develop the undergraduate’s faculty level, not only in science and technology but also in the business management and human sciences areas.

More recently, with a direct initiative of President Al-Sisi, we launched the Egypt-Japan school system to introduce the Japanese educational system in primary and secondary education in Egypt. Last year, we began with 12 pilot schools and from this year we began with the 35 new schools.

We think that there are two characteristics which distinguish us from Egyptian and the European school systems. The first is the students’ intellectual development, as we put emphasis not only on the student’s memorising of data, but we also encourage developing students’ way of thinking and finding solutions by themselves to some questions. The second characteristic is developing the mental and physical capacity of the students.

In many countries, schools are required to develop the students intellectually, but they don’t emphasise developing the mind and body. It is usually the role of the family and community and not of the schools, as it is in Japan.

In Japan, it is important for schools and educational authorities to develop the mind and body and intelligence over Tokktsu or special activities, which encourage students to think together.

When I visited a pilot school in Cairo which introduces Tokktsu system, I saw the children myself, they were discussing a way to find a slogan for the classroom on three stages, the first was the classroom’s chairperson asking his classmates for ideas and proposals, the second was classifying the ideas in too many segments as unity and power of the class and the beauty of the class which means to keep the class good condition, while the last stage is to have a decision through voting.

It was very interesting to see the children encouraged to work together and boosting their human relations.

To have those kinds of activities in Egypt, you should have an appropriate size of the classroom, and numbers of the students have to be less than 40 for example.

Education is the foundation of the society, and we have our example so we can share it with Egypt, but it is totally on the Egyptian side to choose what you pick up and what is appropriate for implementing here.

Additionally, we pay great attention to communication and training for Egyptian teachers, and we send Japanese trainers here and we also invited some Egyptians to learn about our education system in Japan.

However, some people get cultural shocks when they see children have to clean their classes, but it is very important for us to clean the class. when I was child, I used to clean the class with my classmates together and the teacher told me “cleaning the class purifies your hearts”.

Egyptians also keep the mosques clean and when they pray, they clean their hands and body first, so we have kind of similar concept. Some might think that the Japanese are using the children as a labour force which is a misunderstanding.

Are there any new negotiations for further assistance for education?

We have already agreed on an education sector loan worth about $150m, and we will continue consultation on the items where we disburse the loan.

Apart from business, what are the cultural programme plans?

This year we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Cairo Opera House which was established with Japanese assistance in 1988, so from 4 to 7 December, we will be having the Opera Aida performance in participation with a Japanese soprano singer, playing the title role.

Next June a top-level violinist will come play with the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, and we will also be showing some important documentary movies.

The post High-level Japanese business mission to visit Egypt early 2019 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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IDB aims to complete treatment plan, put bank on right track by mid-2019: chairperson Sun, 25 Nov 2018 07:30:54 +0000 We are working on new beginning of bank to serve economy, especially industrial sector, retail development purposes, provision of modern technological services: Fahmy

The post IDB aims to complete treatment plan, put bank on right track by mid-2019: chairperson appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

The management of the Industrial Development Bank (IDB) aims to complete its treatment plan and put the bank on the right track by mid-2019, according to the bank’s chairperson Maged Fahmy.

Fahmy assumed his position in April 2016. According to him, he has since been working on giving rise to a new bank that can better serve the economy, especially the industrial sector, retail services for development, and the provision of modern technology services.

He noted that floating the bank on the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) is likely unless the stakeholder (the ministry of finance) raises the bank’s capital when the new Banking Law passes.

The bank’s capital currently stands at EGP 500m. The new Law, which was lately discussed, stipulates a minimum capital of EGP 1.5bn.

In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Fahmy explained that the bank’s new management was dreaming at the beginning of assuming the responsibility of reviving the bank, before the limit for their expectations increased in the wake of the bank’s recent strong performance. the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

You have been responsible for the bank since April 2016. What problems have you faced and how have you overcome them?

When I assumed responsibility of the bank, it was only natural to first diagnose the first, pen a prescription, then follow it. This is what happened.

There have been several problems and files that must be solved, such as the serious imbalance in the bank’s administrative structure.

To overcome this problem, PricewaterhouseCoopers was hired to work on an administrative restructuring of the bank. This has been already completed.

We also opened the door for early retirement options for those who wish to leave. They were granted decent compensations to guarantee a good life in addition to their monthly pensions.

Some 260 employees have so far retired, and there are still pending requests. We now have 757 employees including the support staff.

At the same time, a number of experts from other banks were recruited, along with fresh graduates.

This comes in tandem with the work of reassessing employees’ salaries to match the market.

What about the plan to train these employees?

We are already working on an intensive training plan for all employees, but we were waiting for PricewaterhouseCoopers to finish its restructuring plan, and also for the employees who sought retirement to finish their procedures.

We have allocated a large budget for training in 2019. The training will be conducted in cooperation with the Egyptian Banking Institute and other training organisations.

What is the second file on which the new bank management has worked?

The second file was the activity of the bank and the services it provides.

When I assumed responsibility for the bank, the size of the deposit portfolio was only EGP 2.1bn, which is very low. In October 2018, deposits hiked to EGP 14bn, with plans reaching EGP 20bn by the end of this year.

The loans portfolio was also about EGP 3bn, and now it is up to EGP 7.6bn, growing by over 100%. We plan to boost loans to EGP 8bn by the end of this year, even though we are taking a cautious less risky approach to accomplish this.

The bank’s financial position also rose by 252%, reaching EGP 21.8bn at the end of October 2018 against EGP 16.1bn in October 2017.

An index issued by Business News has ranked the bank as the fastest growing in 2017. Of course, repeating such jumps in the future will not be easy, given the limited size of the bank, which would impede such swift improvements in the short-term.

Despite the small size and circumstances of the bank, it is the fifth top bank, financing small and medium enterprises, and fourth top bank with regards to mortgage financing towards limited and medium income citizens across the banking market.

The bank is also active in retail banking for development purposes, such as the delivery of natural gas to homes. The bank has so far delivered gas to about 125,000 units.

IDB has also financed the establishment of the commodity exchange, the Rubikki Leather City, and Damietta Furniture City. It is keen to finance any project that serves the development process.

What about the third file?

The third file was related to the bank’s technology.

We were facing a real disaster regarding the bank’s technological infrastructure, both in terms of labour systems and security.

We have worked on this file with great effort, and we have come a long way in the process of development and modernisation, so we recently received a prize from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) for being the fastest bank in developing its technological infrastructure.

The technology development process included updating all the bank’s servers and transferring them to a safe place. The corpbanking systems have also been updated in cooperation with a European-Jordanian company. And since assuming office, we have bought all the applications and software needed for modern technological products.

We are already planning to launch mobile and internet services in the first half of 2019.

Can you elaborate on the bank’s crisis with the Egyptian Tax Authority (ETA)?

This was the fourth file we worked on and we achieved very good results after suffering for 22 years.

The ETA has been demanding taxes of EGP 750m, with interest. The bank lost all the cases it raised against the ETA except for a case in the Court of Cassation and the bank was not likely to win.

In order to resolve this dispute, we used an office specialising in tax settlements, and we worked hard with the ETA. We reached an agreement to pay EGP 120m only. However, we had allocated EGP 265m for this, we paid the amount we agreed upon, and kept EGP 145m in the bank’s profits.

Can you tell us about changing the bank’s name?

We were keen to change the name of the bank to the Industrial Development Bank (IDB), as the old name was too long and had a negative reputation and we had to change that. As of October, 2018, we changed the name and the logos in all of our branches and we are now working on the new website.

What is the role of IDB in serving the industrial sector?

The industry alone accounts for about 48% of the bank’s total loan portfolio.

Still, the bank chose to be a development bank, financing all activities that serve the national economy, including industry.

Naturally, we care about industry. The history of the bank and its name is a good positive proof of that, and this is consistent with my orientation and tendency, and I believe that the country’s future and economy is in the industry sector.

But I personally do not prefer specialised banks, aside from the banks concerned with agricultural development or real estate, because they need to finance certain sectors and allocate the larger long-term financing, but all banks can finance industry.

Is the bank considering establishing companies in certain sectors soon?

The bank owns Senaey Financial Leasing with a capital of EGP 175m, but it was not active.

When we took over the bank’s responsibility, we revived the company and changed the name to Egy Lease for financial leasing. We also changed the management and separated it from the bank. The company is now working well with a portfolio of some EGP 350m in financial leasing.

The bank also has stakes in a few companies, including the Medical Union Pharmaceuticals, which is one of the bank’s best contributors. We are still considering buying stakes in other companies in various sectors.

It is also not unlikely that the bank will set up new companies in the microfinance and real estate mortgage finance sectors.

What about investing in the EGX?

This is something that I do not like at all. The stock market is very risky, and we are working with depositors’ money and I cannot risk it.

What about the bank’s investments in government debt instruments?

I like to confirm that investment in government debt instruments is not a bad idea as some may think. It is a method to exploit the bank’s surplus funds. Yet, we cut these investments from EGP 2bn to EGP 1bn now.

What is the bank’s geographic expansion plan?

We currently have 18 branches in 16 locations. All these branches need to be restructured, developed and redistributed.

We aim to open 50 branches within five years. We are presently replacing branches as well. We received the CBE’s approval to open nine new branches in 2019 to cover many areas in Cairo, Upper, and Lower Egypt.

We also recently relocated the bank’s main departments to the new headquarters in downtown Cairo on Kasr Al Ainy Street instead of being scattered around Cairo.

Are you planning to be in the New Administrative Capital?

We have already purchased a plot of land of 5,350 sqm in the business district in the New Capital to build new headquarters there within three years.

What of the bank’s unused asset portfolio?

The bank already has many untapped assets, such as its headquarters on Teseen street in New Cairo, the bank building on Al-Galaa street and a number of other branches inside and outside Cairo.

The market value of these assets are currently around EGP 1.5bn. If sold, they can realise capital gains of some EGP 1bn.

The bank was already planning to sell these assets this year, to direct the value of those assets to close the deferred losses, but it seems that we will not be able to do so, and the sale will be carried out next year.

How will the deferred losses be handled?

Deferred losses amounted to EGP 1.65bn when I assumed office. Now, they are down to EGP 1bn. We plan to reach EGP 650m by the end of this year. We also expect to make profits of EGP 350m by the end of this year.

How much is the bank’s capital now, and will it be increased?

The bank’s capital is currently EGP 500m, excluding the losses it has achieved over the past years, and the bank has received a support loan of EGP 2.5bn from the CBE to strengthen its capital base and face losses.

If the new Banking Law comes into force, we will be required to increase the capital to EGP 1.5bn. We will have to talk to the stakeholder of the bank, i.e. the ministry of finance, to decide if they will raise the capital.

All we are currently working on is the completion of the bank’s restructuring plan, its development and modernisation and ending its problems. We hope to finish this task by the mid-2019. Then, we will use the help of a rating company to evaluate the bank. If the ministry of finance refuses to increase the capital, we will have to float the bank on the EGX or merge with another bank.

When we took over the responsibility of the bank it was our utmost ambition to revive the bank. But now, the limits were removed after achieving amazing results recently. We are now dreaming of a novel beginning for a new bank that can support the economy and serve all sectors by providing the latest series. Our team can do that.

The post IDB aims to complete treatment plan, put bank on right track by mid-2019: chairperson appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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US companies likely to boost their energy investments in Egypt Wed, 21 Nov 2018 07:00:42 +0000 We aren’t in investment race with any other nationalities, says Francis Fannon

The post US companies likely to boost their energy investments in Egypt appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

The US’ Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, Francis Fannon, expected the American energy companies to boost their investments in Egypt, adding, “My visit to Cairo is a part of a regional trip which included Israel as well as Cyprus. My impression is that the Egyptian government has been improving the investment conditions to attract more companies and that is why I fully expect increasing interest from US companies to invest here.” Daily News Egypt interviewed Fannon to unravel his perspective on investment and the economy, the transcript for which is below lightly edited for clarity:

There are many other nationalities heavily investing in Egypt’s energy sector, Italians are in gas fields and Russis is establishing the nuclear Dabaa station. How do you see this?

We don’t direct Us companies to invest in a certain area because of some political reasons. They can choose where they want to invest.  The companies eye the best opportunity to make investments in an attractive investment climate. We aren’t in an investment race with any of the other nationalities. 

 Does the US plan to enter Egypt’s gas sector as German companies are in the lead now?

The US is here, we continue to be active and we are looking for that all the time. I think that the US has the best technology in both the oil and gas sectors and the renewable energy sector. We also have the best health and safety environment records, the best trainings and investment in local people programmes.

US companies have a longer-term commitment of investment. For example, General Electric (GE) is very interested to continue their investments and we also continue to talk to GE to encourage their plans here.

We would like to see more US companies in all of Egypt’s sectors particularly in the energy sectors. This is my first trip to Cairo and it won’t be my last as we look forward to deepening the relations.

There are many developments in the gas area, additionally, we know that Egypt targets to have 20% of its generally produced energy of renewable by 2022, and 37% by 2035, so we think that Egypt’s renewable energy sector development is very much beginning and there is a long way to go, and we expect US companies to help on that.

What is the current amount of US energy investments in Egypt?

For companies, actually I don’t have the figures, however, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will be part of the International Finance & Development Corporation (IFDC) which will support the existing US investments in the Egyptian market as well as other markets. I think that OPIC has about 3 ongoing projects in Egypt now.

Does the US stand on equal distance from Israel, Egypt and Cyprus?

We view the Eastern Mediterranean as a region when it comes to energy.  What we see are the interconnections that are happening between the three countries which are actual facts. We think that joint discussions about gas discoveries will allow the three countries to be winners.


The US has been involved in energy issues since the1800s when the US government opened markets for US oil exports. Energy was managed through a bureau affiliated to the economic and business affairs bureau of the US Department of State, but since 2010, the US government recognised that energy is critical to foreign policy and geopolitics so it established a standalone bureau.

Since 2010, there is an energy team working all over the world. I am pleased to be the first confirmed assistant secretary to lead the bureau, and to be part of the US energy revolution that has changed dynamics for our country as well as many other countries.

I worked for the government, then the private sector and now I am back to the government, I have been serving for the bureau for the past 6 months now. There is incredible energy transformation in the US and there is a similar level of promise here in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Energy is something that can create conflict among countries or can be a chance for cooperation and we see a chance for cooperation here in the region.

Would you please elaborate about your current regional trip?

My trip to Cairo is part of a regional trip as previously I was in Israel, Cyprus, to talk to the governments and private sector and other energy industry voices and stakeholders, for better understanding of the developments and to recognise where the US positively can engage and support this very significant reform in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Egypt is very central to the entire Eastern Mediterranean region discoveries. Egypt has the domestic demand, it is developing its existing infrastructure and we see this as a positive development, as well as positive cooperation with Israel and Cyprus. This triple cooperation serves the development in Europe which is aiming at energy diversification.

Egypt is also implementing energy diversification plans and benefiting potential exports to other parts of the world. We also see that this is a very positive development.

US companies have a longstanding cooperation with Egypt as well as the region. Some companies have been working here for over 100 years in the region. Despite the challenges that the region has gone through, companies are here investing and cooperating with Egyptian partners and serving the region’s developmental goals. For example, we have here GE, ExxonMobil and Apache.

These long years of partnerships are an obvious indicator that our businesses have made a commitment to this country. We are very pleased to see some of the reforms. I met with many officials from the Egyptian government where all of them affirmed their welcoming of American businesses, encouraging increases of US investments.

The Egyptian government isn’t only wishing the businesses to come but they are also enacting many reforms including the gradual energy subsidy lifting and reimbursing foreign oil companies. These significant reforms are done and were critically important for attracting new investments to the market and to support the economy.

Lifting energy subsidy is the hardest thing to do around the world, but it’s critically important, we also realise that the government is enhancing the country’s regulations to attract investments in gas and the power sector. We see that the government is creating an enabling environment to attract more investments.

Reforms allow US officials to encourage US companies to come to Egypt. I used to work in the oil, gas and mining industry and would say that “everyplace has good rocks,” but what makes it worth investments is what is above the rocks; I mean the appropriate policies, procedures and reforms. It is not only about the availability of the natural resources, it is also about the suitable policies for good investments.

I know that there is a big focus on the gas and the discovery of the Zohr field in Egypt, but it is not the only focus, there is the renewable energy where Egypt is implementing  major projects in Benban. We believe that the country plans for diversification makes the energy sector more resilient and encourages companies to make significant investments.

According to Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity, the Benban Solar Park is a photovoltaic power station under construction. Production capacity of the project might reach 2,000 MW. It is located in Benban in the western desert, approximately 650 km south of Cairo and 40 km northwest of Aswan. Benban’s solar power project is considered to be one of the largest solar generation facilities in the world. The project’s purpose is to contribute to Egypt’s energy self-sufficiency.

After your recent visit to Cyprus; how do you see Turkey’s attitude in the Eastern Mediterranean region’ discoveries?

Towards Cyprus, the US fully supports Cyprus’s rights to develop the resources in its economic areas. We believe that the natural resource wealth should be shared equally. We also believe that any use of military action is inappropriate to the peaceful commercial development of these resources.

Would you please tell me more about the US R&D’ activities?

US companies pay great attention to training people around the world, with special focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)’ programmes. We see further interest from US companies to invest in Egypt.

How do you see the future of the Eastern Mediterranean region, over the next 5years, in light of political conflicts?

As I mentioned, we have interconnectivity between the countries which can positively change the relations in other areas towards a type of agreement even if there are other political tensions.

I think that there is a shared understanding of the development of the region, as the region’s people want reasonable and affordable energy prices.

What is the message you will deliver back to the US after your regional visit?

My impression is that the region is open for businesses, good partnerships, with huge demand. For Egypt, there are many reforms that enable businesses to come. The region is in the very beginning but it is very promising.

Notably, Fannon serves as the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR) at the US Department of State. He oversees US foreign policy in the critical intersection of energy and national security and promotes US interests to ensure energy resources are used to increase economic opportunity, stability, and prosperity around the world. Fannon advises the Secretary on strategies to promote universal access to affordable and reliable energy resources and to strengthen energy security through policies which advance diverse, transparent, and secure global markets for all energy types. Prior to this role, Fannon was the Managing Director of BHP’s Washington, D.C. Corporate Affairs office, where he developed a comprehensive US strategy for the world’s largest diversified resources company. Before BHP, Fannon was a Senior Director at Murphy Oil Corporation in Washington, D.C.

Fannon previously served as Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. 

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Only 4% is share of Egyptian medication in exports, says head of ECPI Fri, 16 Nov 2018 14:05:51 +0000 Our medication exports reached $678m in 2005, representing six times current volume, says George

The post Only 4% is share of Egyptian medication in exports, says head of ECPI appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Amid the current controversy, Maged George, head of the Export Council for Pharmaceutical Industries ‘ECPI,’ highlighted that the Egyptian medicine exports sector is going through a serious situation.

He informed Daily News Egypt that this sector is the only one that is not provided with any financial support, especially from the Egyptian Exports Support Programme, and unveiled that many foreign companies have started to decrease their activities due to the Egyptian pound floatation and its aftermath. DNE interviewed George to find out more about the sector’s challenges, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How could you evaluate the situation of drugs exports?

Well, I can say it is very bad. There are many reasons which led to a complicated situation which the sector is going through but the government does not take any step towards finding solutions.

What about these reasons?

All in all, countries which were considered as top ranked for our medication exports, occupy 45% of Egypt’s drugs exports volume, including Iraq, Libya, and Yemen who are currently suffering from instability in all aspects of life. These countries are facing political, economic, and social turmoil, therefore we lost these market. Indeed, the Arab Spring revolutions and the aftermath deeply affected the pharmaceutical sector.

Is there an estimate of our medicine exports volume to these countries before 2011?

It was between 70 and 90% of the total exports, so it is considered as a great loss that is affecting the Egyptian economy and market.

And what other obstacles is this sector currently facing?

Unfortunately, since the Central Bank of Egypt has taken the decision to float the Egyptian pound the situation became worse. There is an implemented rule, several years ago, which allows Gulf countries to sell medications that are imported from Egypt according to the price set in the country of origin, which means that these medications are available in the Gulf countries at the same price of those in the local Egyptian market. This condition harmed our exports, especially the floatation of the Egyptian pound in November 2016, as prices influenced by the rising of the dollar hit the roof. Otherwise, the costs of raw materials have tripled since then. In the meantime, the government does not support the pharmaceutical sector at all.

What do you mean by government support?

It is financial support. As opposed to other export sectors, the government does not offer any financial support, or even any intensives for the medication exports sector. For instance, the sector is not enrolled in the list of industries that receive funds from the Egyptian Exports Support Programme “EESP”, even though medication exports are estimated at EGP 112m in 2018 out of about EGP 800m out of the total volume of pharmaceutical sector exports.

What is the share of medicine exports in the Egyptian exports volume?

It does not exceed 4%.

Do not you think it represents a poor percentage that discourages the government from supporting it?

That is correct, but the situation is influenced by the instability that Egypt faced during the 25th January revolution 2011. Official data reveals that our medication exports had reached $678m in 2005, which represents about six times the current volume.

How many factories already are producing medications in the local market? And are there any new investments attracted to this field, or any investments that have had to exit the Egyptian market?

We have about 120 factories, 20 of them are following both the public business sector and private sector. In addition to up to 30 factories are waiting to obtain licenses to work. Meanwhile, there are about 12 foreign plants. All foreign investments are still working, and did not leave the market, but they eventually had to, due to the aftermath of the floatation of the Egyptian pound, as it decrease some of their activities. For instance, all foreign companies cancelled their industrial improvement programmes a few years ago, as they found that they would not make any profits. On the other hand, all proposals that have been introduced by these companies to cope with this complicated situation and to overcome all troubles that these companies are facing were refused by the ministry of health.

Then, why is the Egyptian market facing a lack of medications and obstacles in exporting while we have this large number of factories?

Because of the rise in production costs, as well as the unfair prices, especially for the exported medications. This situation is forcing production companies to depend on the production of its factories that are located in other countries such as Turkey and Jordan, at the expense of its counterparts in Egypt, for exporting. Indeed, these countries are selling medications according their actual costs, and they make five times their profits from their enterprises in Egypt. Even the step that the ministry of health has taken in 2017 to increase the prices by 50% did not help companies to compensate their losses due to increasing costs that the producers faced because of dollar price hike.

What are the procedures you can propose to deal with the current situation based on what you previously clarified?

First of all, the ministry of health must be not be involved in medication pricing. Pricing policy should be set by an independent authority, and it must consider the real costs, in addition the current price of dollar before the Egyptian pound. Moreover, we need to head to alternative markets as a step to overcome our top markets in the Middle East.

The ministry of health has already announced the African market as the new destination of our medication exports, what do you think?

Actually, as head of the Council of Pharmaceutical Industries ‘CPI’ and its members, we attended several meetings with the Minister of Health, Hala Zayed, to discuss this issue to find solutions. Yet, these meetings meant nothing without taking real actions on the ground. I can say that the government does not intend to enter the African market and lacks a clear vision related to this point.

Does it mean that you are not going to work on this issue especially since your council is the representative of medications exports sector?

We already took serious steps towards establishing a new firm in alliance with 26 firms in the sector belonging to the private sector to work on the African market. This step is not just for exporting our productions, but also for constructing factories there. This market is promising and has many incentives that can be tapped such as cheap labour, and it needs cures that treatments for the endemic diseases there. Moreover, the production costs in this market are the cheapest.

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Egypt’s aviation security shows progress, yet requires continuous efforts: US embassy in Cairo Wed, 14 Nov 2018 13:13:28 +0000 We are working with government on education as main component of country's infrastructure

The post Egypt’s aviation security shows progress, yet requires continuous efforts: US embassy in Cairo appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Egypt’s aviation security showed some progress and American experts periodically meet with Egyptian counterparts to exchange experience, Deputy Chief of US mission in Cairo Dorothy Shea said.

“Aviation security is not an area where we can say ‘it is okay we do not have to worry!’ It requires continuous efforts. We are happy that we were able to [provide] Egypt with some scanners,” Shea said.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Shea, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Can you explain the cooperation level between Egypt and US in aviation?

We provided Egypt with very well-trained dogs which can perfectly identify smells. We also trained some Egyptian security employees in the US to handle these dogs. Some American trainers may be sent to Egypt to follow-up on the dogs’ performance. We aim to get the optimum use of this cooperation.

About 45 US companies visited Egypt in October, what are the initial outcomes of the visits in terms of investment?

Only one company has made a public announcement about their new investment in Egypt following the visit, which is PepsiCo. They announced injecting over $500m, which is going to create many jobs. Many of the companies that participated in the US business mission came to Egypt to explore investment opportunities.

I felt a lot of enthusiasm among that mission, especially during their meeting with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. They heard him directly saying that he wants to give companies the chance to thrive in Egypt. Al-Sisi instructed the ministers who attended the meeting to remove any obstacles or challenges facing US companies to pave the way for new investments and a better business climate.

On 23 October, PepsiCo announced that it plans to inject $515m worth of investments in Egypt over the coming four years until 2021. It came during a conference held to mark PepsiCo’s 70th anniversary in Egypt. The conference was attended by Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham), in coordination with the US-Egypt Business Council (USEBC), organised the visit of an US business mission to Egypt between 23 and 25 October, according to a statement by AmCham Egypt.

The government issued a New Investment Law, what specifically did you discuss in terms of improving the regulatory framework?

Each company has a different area of focus. I think a lot of them wanted to know the executive regulations of such laws and how they can be applied. Some of the new laws have not had any regulations yet, which are very important.

I think the parliament should listen to companies to take their concerns into consideration when creating new regulations. Some businesspersons are worried about the application of the Value Added Tax (VAT).

The mission also discussed applying US standards to agricultural and automotive spare parts’ exports to Egypt. In the US, we always ensure that US standards are accepted as similarly as we accept world standards.

When we create a regulation, we take into consideration all the standards that companies comply with, rather than creating new different standards. This process will increase US companies’ confidence.

In December, Egypt and Israel will hold a joint convention on the Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ). Will they discuss increasing the Israeli component?

Actually, I did not hear that they were talking about increasing the Israeli component in the QIZ agreement. I think what would be more interesting is to branch out from the traditional areas of textile, towards manufacturing and agriculture, and activating other sectors. However, the governments only encourage businesspersons, as it is a business decision, not a government one.

The QIZ concept was introduced by the United States in 1996 with the aim of reinforcing peace in the Middle East, through regional economic partnerships which benefit both Arab countries and Israel. To this end, the US issued the decree 6955, in December 1996, which authorised duty-free entry into the US for industrial products originating in Egypt and manufactured jointly with Israel, in compliance with the international rules of origin, according to the ministry of trade and industry’s website.

During your speech at the Global Entrepreneurship Week’s (GEW) inauguration, you mentioned important words about the US’s support for this sector. Can you elaborate about the US’s efforts to promote entrepreneurship in Egypt?

Initially, we were very happy to be gathering in the Maadi Public Library for the 11th GEW’s inauguration. GEW is a worldwide phenomenaWe are happy that we were part of this worldwide energy entrepreneurship week.

In Egypt, we need to create about 800,000 jobs a year to accommodate all job seekers. As I understand, the required jobs already exist, and are just waiting to be filled. What we do is to help the young people find the resources that they need, and develop plans to have their own jobs. Once start-ups succeed, they will help in creating job opportunities for other people. 

Entrepreneurship is a multi-approach. At the US embassy, we organise events like GEW. Every day, we provide training, workshops, and meetings with motivational speakers. For example, we host some successful entrepreneurs to share their experiences. It is very important to let them talk about their successes and failures, because other people are afraid to start their own business due to failure possibilities. Sometimes failure is not the last result. It can be a step on the way of success and make the people learn.

Is there any financial allocation from US to Egypt to support entrepreneurship?

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has dedicated $42.8m for entrepreneurship activities in Egypt so far. The USAID is also very engaged in the entrepreneurships’ scholarships and we are also working with the government of Egypt to create new regulatory infrastructure frameworks that can be more convenient for start-ups in particular.

The focus of the US activities regarding entrepreneurship aims at developing the young peoples’ skills that are needed in the today’s market: strengthening entrepreneurship training and enterprises’ development.

The USAID’s entrepreneurship investment is the easier to count. However, we are also doing many other activities to inspire the youth through educating the needed skills that can help them to turn their ideas into real projects. The young people need somebody that believes in them and we do so.

What about future entrepreneurship programmes?

Now we have lots of exchange programmes that target specific sectors. We have sent several people to trade fairs in the US to boost their skills and enter the job market.

Our exchange programmes also target Egypt’s women entrepreneurs. Many Egyptians had the chance to visit Silicon Valley to focus on software development, high-tech, and information and communications technology fields that are needed in today’s market.

What are the main Egyptian entrepreneurship organisations supported by the US embassy?

I hesitate to mention them by name as they are so many, and I may not be able to mention all of them, However, Injaz-Egypt is doing very good work with the young people. They help youth to step their skills forwards and create their own companies. We work with a group of the young visionary social entrepreneurs for better planning. We also have partners, such as Flat6Labs and the Greek Campus.

We are really doing a lot with the American Centre Cairo on virtual reality, 3D paintings, and boosting super technical capabilities. We are providing very specific trainings. I am amazed with the trainings we offer, I have never seen that in a US embassy.

What are the pros and cons of the Egyptian entrepreneurship market? How do you assess it?

The first part of the question is an easy one, It is the human capital. You have very bright, well-educated and motivated people. You can say that Egypt exports about 10% of its population to the world. They are even successful when they work inside their country.

We are working with the government on education as a main component of the country’s infrastructure to create jobs in today’s and tomorrow’s market.

For the cons or let us say the areas where we can focus more, I hesitate to be too critical because we are all human and make mistakes, which means that institutions are also imperfect. However, we would like to have a more conducive regulatory environment, so that it can be easy for start-ups to develop further.

Start-ups have to work with different ministries. We aim to have a streamlined approach to simplify the process of launching businesses. Some countries have done better than Egypt did with regards to entrepreneurship, so we have to learn from other countries’ positive experiences in attracting businesses.

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Parents @ BAT: new policy to help new parents at a time when they need it most Wed, 14 Nov 2018 11:25:06 +0000 With the goal to simplify their lives as new parents and support them at a time when they need it most, British American Tobacco Egypt (BAT Egypt) has launched the Parents @ BAT, a new policy for fresh parents, which facilitates what is considered the hardest year of being a parent. The policy, which will …

The post Parents @ BAT: new policy to help new parents at a time when they need it most appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

With the goal to simplify their lives as new parents and support them at a time when they need it most, British American Tobacco Egypt (BAT Egypt) has launched the Parents @ BAT, a new policy for fresh parents, which facilitates what is considered the hardest year of being a parent.

The policy, which will be applied effective 1st of January 2019 offers the following:

16 weeks of fully-paid maternity leave to mothers with a guarantee to return to their existing job or a suitable alternative.

It also offers employees flexible working options following mothers’ return to work during the first year, which includes reduced working hours and working from home. While fathers get days of fully paid paternity leave to fathers.

Moreover, the policy includes online parental coaching platform for mothers & line managers to support and manage career discussions and ease the transition to & from maternity leave.

Daily News Egypt met Human Resources Director of BAT Egypt, Hesham Helmy, and asked him about the details of the new policy applied across BAT globally, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Why did you decide to apply this programme in BAT worldwide?

At BAT, we always strive to build a pool of diverse leaders. A diverse workforce brings variety of ideas, new ways of thinking and decision making to the table which reflects our consumer base and gives us a competitive advantage. We recognise that our leaders are progressing through different life stages and in addition to providing our employees with challenging and exciting careers, we are committed to supporting working parents to optimise their work and family responsibilities, especially in those critical early years. Our working environment acknowledges and supports parental responsibility, modern family dynamics and work-life balance. In line with this framework, BAT launched several initiatives; one of them is Parents @ BAT policy.

What was the criteria the programme pillars were decided upon?

BAT conducted an internal research globally to understand existing supporting tools offered to parents across different BAT end markets. Based on the research outcome Parents @ BAT guidelines were introduced and establish what we recommend as a minimum standard to provide support to new parents at all BAT entities. We intend that all new parents should be eligible to participate in the Parents @ BAT programme, regardless of how long they have been employed by the company.

As BAT Egypt management, we supported going beyond local regulations, specifically when it comes to maternity and paternity leaves to help new parents in their early parenthood.

Would you please elaborate about the five days paternity leave for fathers your programme offers?

We believe that providing fathers with five fully-paid days off is essential for them to support both new-born and mother throughout this critical period.

Are there any plans to increase that period of time for fathers?

This leave is not covered by Egyptian labour law. Nevertheless, as BAT Egypt we lead by example through introducing such an extra benefit to our employees.

If we identify a need for extending the leave beyond 5 days, we will put this into discussion as it will still serve the overall objectives of Parents @ BAT policy.

What other services do you provide children of your employees with?

We offer our employees’ dependants including their children a competitive medical insurance scheme which includes inpatient, outpatient, dental and optical coverages.

It’s worth  mentioning that BAT Egypt covers new-borns from day one which is considered a competitive advantage when compared to other companies, where new-borns coverage usually starts 2 weeks post the delivery date.

What is the content of Parents @ BAT online platform?

BAT will provide access to Parents @ BAT Online to all new parents and their line managers as needed, to ease transition into parenthood, maternity leave and return to work. Toolkit is available to new parents and their line managers until up to 6 months after returning from leave.

Parents @ BAT offers the following:

Online coaching & learning modules to mothers and line managers which support throughout the full journey, designed in three stages: preparing for leave, preparing for return and post-return.

It also offers access to related policies and procedures.

Adding to that, networking opportunities through communities. Each community is made of three elements:

News & Knowledge: gets the latest updates & join newsworthy discussions on gender diversity, wellbeing, inclusion and women’s leadership. On top of that, top tips & recommendations from world class coaches on related topics.

Shared Communities: Browse and join online shared communities for peer support and moderated discussions on topics of special interest.

Private Communities: where you can post secure documents, host Q&A sessions and moderate closed discussions

What are the languages these platforms are offered to employees in?

The global Parents @ BAT site is accessible in English. Since a pre-requisite for BAT Egypt selection process is to have at least basic understanding of English, therefore it is convenient for us.

It is worth mentioning that other BAT End Markets can translate the content to their local languages if there is a need.


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Dr. Anisa Hassouna: leader of charity work, cancer conqueror: “Love saved me” Mon, 12 Nov 2018 12:46:03 +0000 “You need two years of treatment and a surgery, and still the illness might return. In that case, the illness will take you down”.

The post Dr. Anisa Hassouna: leader of charity work, cancer conqueror: “Love saved me” appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

That is what Anisa Hassouna was told, but she insisted on  fighting and travelled to receive her treatment then returned – much stronger and fresher this time.

Having told her story in a book and on TV, she became an icon and an idol.

Anisa Hassouna is a writer, a political researcher, and a member of the Egyptian parliament. She was the executive director of Magdy Yakoub’s foundation for heart illnesses and research. She was also the director general of the Egypt International Economic Forum, as well as member of the American Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Anisa is the first woman to be elected as a secretary general of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs. She was chosen by Arabian Business in 2014 on its annual list for the 100 strongest Arab women in the world.

Daily News Egypt interviewed her to discuss with her politics, economics, and parliament affairs as well as her journey fighting against cancer, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How did you start in charity work?

It started in 2009, and I greatly benefited from it. It was by mere coincidence. When I was working at Magdy Yakoub’s Heart Centre in Aswan and I met Dr. Magdy Yakoub, he asked me about my experience in the medical field. I told him that I get sick a lot and that this is my experience, but I learned so much later and enjoyed the work a lot.

What are the requirements for charitable work?

Honesty and sincerity. When you are sincere, people feel that, and they even offer you help. You must have transparency and allow people to understand how their money is used.

Do you think that the lack of transparency is the cause for 57357 hospital’s issue with writer Waheed Hamed?

Certainly, and the ministry of social solidarity should have announced all the facts with transparency so that people understand everything, but unfortunately that is not what happened.

I demanded that the committee formed by the ministry announce the results of the investigations immediately, and prohibit using the money of donors in wrongful ways.

How is Dr. Magdy Yakoub now that you have worked with him for years?

He is a man of great morals and is only concerned about his patients and their health, therefore I never had a grudge or was mad at him when I left the foundation.

How did you receive the news of your cancer diagnosis?

I was a shocked and I started denying it. I had an infinite number of questions in my head and not a moment of peace. I kept wondering: Why me? What I did I do to deserve this? Will I leave my children, grandchildren, husband, home and all the things I love? Why do people not feel that I am a cancer patient? Was my feeling of weakness a reason why my immunity got weak too?

All these questions remained unanswered, and I was close to breaking down, but I saw spiritual proofs that life would go on normally even after someone leaves or gets sick, and that I must fight alone for my life, to stay in my children and grandchildren’s lives, for my husband, and the moments of victory and breakingdowns. I documented my experience in my book “Without a Warning”.

What made you write the book?

First, my husband who kept encouraging me from day one and reassured me that I will be okay again. Second, my grandchildren who were keen on understanding what is going on with me, and third, my youngest daughter who recommended I write the book for others to learn from me and help others conquer their illnesses.

What was the book’s message?

It was a message of gratitude and thanks for my family because they helped me beat my illness. My husband travelled with me to Germany for the surgery and when I returned to Cairo he looked after me himself with so much attention and care; he refused that a nurse would do that for me.

Another important message of the book is warning readers from the effect of psychological stress. Cancer viciously attacked me after I was fired from the Heart Foundation where I worked as an executive director, right after I was appointed in parliament. I felt very sad because I had never failed to do the duties required from me, and I believed in what I did for the patients. Drowning in grief may easily result in negative consequences on health level, as was the case with me.

There is also an awareness message in the book. There are many wrong health habits we practice, such as eating lots of processed meat and not doing any sports. I wanted also to stress that family communication and support are just as important as medications and surgical procedures.

Have you tried to help patients more after your illness?

Of course. The illness opened my eyes to so much, including the absence of periodic examinations for women, and I still demand providing women in Egypt with at least a free examination once a year. Lots of women die with cancer without even knowing they had it because they do not have the funds for a medical examination. I am also working on donations  from businesspersons to build hospitals specialised in cancer treatment which attacks only women. In Egypt there is only one hospital for treating women with cancer. There must also be hospitals for uterus cancer because now there are several cases that are on the waiting list to get into the Oncology Institute. In order for me to get the treatment I needed, I had to sell the flat I inherited from my late father, but many other people would not have any money to receive treatment, therefore, more hospitals must be available.

What is your advice for cancer patients?

There is hope. You could get very lucky. You must hold on to that hope and enjoy all the moments that may never come back, because only God knows what tomorrow brings.

What is the difference between health care in Egypt and Germany?

In Germany, there is so much accuracy at everything. You would not -for example- find a phone with a patient or a doctor, and they find no shame in saying “I do not know” if they really do not have an answer to your questions. Also, everyone there is very specialised. The nurse taking the blood sample from you is different from the one helping you with taking medications, and it is impossible to find a nurse who takes money from you, because they receive high wages and do not need to resort to such ways. This is why, since my return, I have been demanding increasing the wages of nurses.

Do you remember the moment you were chosen by Arabian Business as one of the 100 strongest Arab women in the world?

Of course I do, because it was a surprise. When I received the email, I thought it was sent by mistake, but then I was very happy and proud, and I know it is all thanks to my work in charity.

Were you expecting being in parliament?

No, and I saw predictions in newspapers and just looked at them the way all regular readers would.

How do you evaluate the parliament’s performance so far?

The parliament has lots of competent individuals, but the government does not pay attention to them. Some laws were approved, and I support them, such as the investment, women, and civil service laws, even though they have not been activated until now.

How do you see the laws of economic reform?

I  completely support them even though they are very difficult. I understand they are the accumulations of long decades that someone should have done something about, which is what president Al-Sisi is doing now.

What about the personal status law which is creating controversy especially in hosting?

We have not seen the law until now, but I have stressed before that the hosting law protects children and their dignity as a humane right for them  and their  parents, but this must happen without affecting the child’s need of his mother, according to the law.

The personal status laws are inherently problematic, with so many details that require looking at the reality first in order to solve them. The only reference to consider is the child’s best interest.

Now, the parliament has more than a single draft law regarding personal status, and they are all concerned with equality. I do not advocate a certain law, but I look at the child’s best interest as the top priority.

I will certainly not allow children to be used as a means of pressure between two parties. Children are the future of this country, so we will always work on making sure they are brought up in a healthy environment between parents after the divorce.

Do you like the parliament’s role in this phase?

What I do not like is the parliament’s waiting for government projects. The parliament’s right is to propose laws, and like the rest of my colleagues, I proposed three laws, but they were not discussed or approved yet. It is not acceptable that a parliament awaits government projects only.

In my opinion, legislations must also be passed  from the parliament not only the government.

What is the reason for that?

I do not know, but parliament is named  through elections and represents Egyptians, and this must be respected. A simple example is a project I submitted requiring all shops to install surveillance cameras. This is necessary, especially that we are fighting terrorism and for security reasons, as all countries of the world apply this system now. I found out that the government has submitted nearly the same project then withdrew it later, and I do not know why. I do not know why the law I proposed was not issued, despite the approval of the legislative committee.

Is the political situation affecting the role of the parliament?

Yes, the parliament needs different voices that work for the country’s best interest even if they come with different views. Where are political parties like Al Wafd and Free Egyptians?

How do you see the case of Jamal Khashoggi?

The issue has many dimensions. He is a human being at the end of the day, who entered the consulate of his country, which is supposed to be the safest place for anyone who is Saudi Arabian. Aside from any political views, this case is shocking and terrifying.

Does the case have other dimensions?

Of course, it has a very opportunistic political dimensions for political reasons and any parties trying to make strategic, political and economic gains from something like that. These dimensions seem to never end, and this does not go with the scarcity of a human life. Qatar has also played a shameful role exploiting a human’s life for political purposes. As someone who worked in diplomacy, I am particularly sensitive to such a crime.

How do you evaluate the Turkish stance?

I was shocked to hear Erdogan’s speech, when everyone waited for him to reveal the truth and he disappointed everyone and said nothing. The news blackout is mainly Turkish.

Would this case make some changes in the region?

Yes, but quietly, not dramatically. There is already talks about the need for change and reform in the Arab region.

Regarding foreign affairs, how are relations between Egypt and America?

The Egyptian-American relations are not steady nor are they at their best. I believe more visits are required, as well as dialogues. The relations are strategic and neither parties can let go of the other. American investments also must increase in Egypt, because our country needs that, and economic stability will affect the peace, and security in the region.

What about the talks about American pressure on Egypt?

This will just continue to happen. Egypt is always under pressure given its position by all parties because it is such an important number in all equations. As for Egyptian-American relations, I always blame the American side. Egypt has offered so much to the region’s stability, and plays a major role in the surrounding issues.

How can you create balance between your work in parliament, your writings and your family with your illness?

Family comes first, and then work comes second. Even though Friday is my only day off during the week, I am always keen on going with my grandchild to her practice on this day. Also, the pride of my husband and daughter in what I do always helps me in balancing  my responsibilities.

The post Dr. Anisa Hassouna: leader of charity work, cancer conqueror: “Love saved me” appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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What constitutes good leadership is changing, as expectations, demands, of followers alter: Gordon Tredgold Sun, 11 Nov 2018 10:00:40 +0000 Leaders do not need to have all answers or to be heroes

The post What constitutes good leadership is changing, as expectations, demands, of followers alter: Gordon Tredgold appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Undoubtably the importance of leadership for any organisation’s success, as it is what dictates the ability of an individual or a group of individuals to lead, guide, and influence other groups of people or an organisation.

Leadership entails, having a clear vision, an ability to communicate the vision to team members, an ability to organise in an effective and efficient manner, inspiring subordinates towards the fulfilment of the organisation’s goals, and balancing the conflict of interest of all subordinates and stakeholders.

Leadership encompasses all spheres of life: family, political, management or economic.

To understand leadership and its importance, Daily News Egypt interviewed Gordon Tredgold, CEO of Leadership Principles LLC.

With over 25 years of experience in senior leadership positions, for Fortune 100 companies, successfully delivering $100m projects, running $300m departments, and leading teams of 1,000 staff, Tredgold has helped companies reduce costs by $350m, increase performance by 50-500%, and helped entrepreneurs triple their revenue in just 12 months.

Now Gordon speaks, writes, and consults on Leadership and Business. He has written 3 books, over 1,200 articles, contributed to Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, Business Insider, Fortune, Addicted 2Success, and he is also a visiting professor at Staffordshire University.

“People are not afraid of hard work, they are afraid of failure, and by giving them simple plans they believe you help build their self-confidence, which is key to success,” Tredgold told Daily News Egypt in an interview.

Tredgold was one of the speakers of ‘The Narrative PR Summit 2018,’ which first started in 2016, organised by CC Plus, to become the first of its type of public relations events for the Egyptian market.

The summit was attended by ministers, global professionals, policymakers, as well as community leaders, to discuss their distinct stories, lessons, and experiences that can create a bank of first-class knowledge, available for everyone and anyone in Egypt.

Following ‘The Narrative PR Summit 2018,’ DNE interviewed Tredgold, to get a better understanding of how the basic concept of leadership has evolved, and his participation in the summit, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What motivated you to take part in ‘PR Narrative summit’?

I was approached by CCplus, who has been following me on Twitter for some time, and they asked me if I would be interested in speaking at the ‘Narrative’ to give some insights on how leadership could be best used to help promote Egypt.  I immediately said yes, as I love Egypt. I have visited it many times, including doing the Nile Cruise twice. I also have lots of friends and followers in Egypt, so to have the chance to help promote Egypt was an opportunity for me to give something back, and I felt compelled doing it. It was an amazing event, and the warmth and friendliness of the people really touched me. I created a Facebook live session talking about my visit which has now been viewed and shared over 35,000 times.


Gordon Tredgold, CEO of Leadership Principles LLC

What inspired you to write a book on leadership?

I thought that by helping the next generation of leaders become better ones, it would help increase the positive impact that I could make on the world. The more ‘great leaders’ that we have, the better the world would be, and I found that my approach to leadership not only allowed me to generate great results, but was also appreciated by the people who I led, so why not share it.

I also believe that leadership is a lot simpler than we think, and I wanted to help share those simple things which I found worked, so that others could benefit. 

What advice do you have for those pursuing leadership roles, and entrepreneurs?

Obviously the first thing I would say would be to read my book ‘FAST’ – 4 Principles Everyone Needs To Achieve Success, which is all about improving your Focus (the What), Accountability (the Who), Simplicity (the How), and Transparency (How Far). It is poor performance in one of these areas, that account for practically all failures.

For potential leaders I would add that they should take any opportunity to lead, as it will help build their experience and understanding. These opportunities could be within their communities, in sports, as well as in business, and they will all help them improve.

How can leaders maintain employee engagement?

Employee engagement, according to Gallup, is around 30%. Interesting leadership involvement is also around 30%, which I think is a major cause of employee disengagement, as it is hard to enlist people if you are not.

So, to create engaged teams, it starts with you as the leader being committed. Then you have to provide clarity of focus, so that your teams know what the goals are, and give them a plan for how they can be successful. When you do that, not only do you have engrossed teams, but also enthusiastic teams which can achieve amazing results.

People are not afraid of hard work, they are afraid of failure, and by giving them simple plans they will believe you, help build their self-confidence which is key to success.

How do you view the state of leadership in business of the past decade?

I think leadership is going through a fundamental change. It is not that what constitutes good leadership that is changing, it is that the expectation and demands of followers are changing. They are insisting that more people exhibit good leadership. We live in a hyper-connected world, and teams want to feel connected to leaders.

The days of command and control, where leaders just issue orders are disappearing. Teams want to communicate directly with their leaders and they are expecting to be informed and inspired.

With the increase in distributed virtual teams, leaders need to be able to inspire remotely, without having physical presence, which requires much better, and much more frequent communication, often via social media tools.

From your perspective, what differentiates a good leader, from a bad one?

Bad leaders make it all about them, their success, and their results.  They think that leadership is about being served, but in reality, it is about serving.

Great leaders, on the other hand, put their teams first. They look to put them in a position where they can succeed, and then they look to recognise that success. Leadership is about creating the vision for your teams, setting them off on a journey, and then focusing on clearing any roadblocks that appear or hinder progress.

Leadership is not about being first across the finish line, it is about ensuring that everyone gets over the finish line.


What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

We are moving from a central command and control style of working and leadership, to a central command but distributed control. This requires leaders to give up some of the control, to delegate it to others, to be more involving of their teams and more trusting.  This can be difficult, especially for those who got into leadership for the power, but real leadership is about empowering their teams, not hoarding power.

What advice would you give someone assuming a leadership position for the first time?

Do not assume you know everything, and if you need help ask for it, even from your team.  Do not constantly remind people you are the leader, they know, and bragging about it just makes you appear lacking in confidence.  Leaders don’t need to have all the answers or need to be the hero. Leadership is about getting the best out of your team, not being the best on your team.

If you insist on being the best, then you become the limit of what can be achieved. The more you can leverage your teams, the higher up the leadership ladder you can go.

The post What constitutes good leadership is changing, as expectations, demands, of followers alter: Gordon Tredgold appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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I trust in the ability of Egyptian companies to get a share of Chinese market: Nassar Wed, 07 Nov 2018 14:08:55 +0000 Exchange of presidential visits between Egypt, China is great proof of strength of their bilateral relations

The post I trust in the ability of Egyptian companies to get a share of Chinese market: Nassar appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Four months after he assumed office, Minister of Trade and Industry, Amr Nassar’s approach became more obvious: focus on exploiting the available resources internally, and intensify the domestic industry in order to boost industrial growth and increase the local product’s competitiveness. Nevine Kamel met with the minister in Shanghai during the opening of the China International Import Expo between 5 and 10 November, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Egypt is currently participating in the first China International Import Expo and has been selected as a guest of honour from among 10 other countries, with approximately 150 countries participating in the exhibition.

Minister of Trade and Industry, Amr Nassar

What is the significance of Egypt’s special presence of in this exhibition?

For the very first time, there is a Chinese imports exhibition, whereas we always talk about imports from China. China’s import exhibition is new, and reflects several aspects: the beginning of China’s passageway to the world. This is because China’s social level has improved, and income is rising owing to its economic upsurge. Hence, the decision was taken to start importing, which is a new approach to China’s international policy. The fact that Egypt is participating in this exhibition is normal, because China’s market size is a huge opportunity for any country. If any country succeeds in gaining a share in this market—even up to half a percent of it— then we have succeeded in achieving a real increase in exports, especially with the country’s substantial population, estimated at 1.5 billion.  Egypt has an excellent chance of getting a share in this market, but it is related to the producers’ abilities and their efforts in achieving this. I am confident in their ability to succeed in this task, due to the quality and competitiveness of the Egyptian product. In short, Egypt’s choice as a guest of honour reflects its political and economic value on the ground, the amicable relationship between Egypt and China, and the prospects for positive economic cooperation between the two sides.

What is the importance of the Chinese market for Egypt currently, and how is our interest in this market reflected presently?

The Ministry of Trade and Industry affords immense importance towards supporting the Egyptian-Chinese relations, especially as the commercial cooperation and industrial investments between Egypt and China constitute an intrinsic foundation in the joint relations between both countries. Therefore, the ministry, in cooperation with the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation, is coordinating with all relevant ministries to enhance cooperation with the Chinese side, especially concerning priority projects agreed upon between the two countries in the scheme of the technical committee to increase production capacities— an important instrument towards supporting Egyptian-Chinese investments. The exchange of presidential visits between Egypt and China is a great proof of the strength of their bilateral relations and their desire to develop this relationship. These visits have resulted in remarkable outcomes and helped to develop the joint relations between the two countries in various fields, including trade and investment. In terms of trade, Egypt started to direct more exports towards the Chinese market, especially Egyptian exports of agricultural crops, where many steps were taken to enable Egyptian agricultural crops more accessible to the Chinese market. In November 2017, grapes became the second Egyptian agricultural crops after citrus to enter the Chinese market as a result of signing a cooperation protocol between the two countries. Egypt’s citrus exports to China witnessed a considerable development last year, rising from $23m in 2016 to $78.3m in 2017, an increase of 240%, a significant increase reflecting the status of Egyptian citrus in the Chinese market, and it provided an opportunity for further exports of other Egyptian agricultural crops into the Chinese market. Further exports of Egyptian agricultural crops are expected to enter the Chinese market during the coming period, especially from dates, which are currently being prepared for.

China is not the only destination for the Egyptian government now, there is also a special approach towards Africa. What is the significance of this long-neglected market for Egypt?

We look at Africa with a lens different from all the other world countries. We view it as a partner with whom we share our experiences, not just as a market we want to sell or export to, or as a source of raw material. We aim to cooperate with African partners in a mutually beneficial manner. Why not manufacture their raw materials through Egyptian factories and investments? This is an ideal form of cooperation between the two sides, and this is what we are aiming for. We want to deliver a message to the entire world, that those who want to invest in Africa will only do so through us. Egypt will be the strong and stable gateway into Africa for the coming period. Here, I should highlight the importance of enhancing the role of the Egyptian and African private sector in playing an active role towards developing the foreign trade operations, and attracting more Arab and foreign capital to invest in both Egypt and African countries, as well as the need to move from bilateral cooperation to begin active continental cooperation.  The continental free trade area of the three major African blocs, with a purchasing power exceeding $1.3tn, is expected to contribute significantly towards boosting economic cooperation among a large number of African countries as the first phase of the Comprehensive African Free Trade Area, especially with the possibility of implementing  joint Egyptian industrial projects in the fields of transport, logistics, infrastructure, and electricity, major projects, food, engineering and leather industries. In this context, we decided to head into Africa through a group of African countries in the East and West, initially reaching 10 countries, instead of working on 40 countries. We will work on 10 countries simultaneously. Africa has tremendous untapped wealth.

In recognition of Africa’s importance, we will host three events in Africa in December, the African Investment Conference from 8-9 December, the Inter-African Trade Fair from 11 to 17 December, and the African Trade Ministers Conference in Egypt on 12 and 13 December. At the end of the events, Egypt will start the new year with the chairmanship of the African Union headed by President Al-Sisi.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has adopted a new industrial approach selected by your excellency since your assumption of the ministry. What is the most important programme of this approach and what has been achieved in this regard?

The ministry’s plan during the last period targeted a number of axes, the most important of which is to exploit the existing capacities in the current factories, before expanding and establishing new factories. If I want to achieve rapid industrial growth, I must focus on what I have in a manner which achieves the best results. While I was in China, I met with a Chinese company that was running 3 shifts and a half, and that is what we are trying to follow, before expanding any new plants. However, that does not mean we will not develop new factories. Identifying industries that can be competitive is also in one of our new approaches. It is impossible to manufacture everything, but the main objective is to identify the country’s available resources and to exploit them appropriately.

Regarding the export sector, what are the current challenges facing it and how does the ministry  address them?

Before I mention the challenges, I want to talk at the outset about some important points that we are focusing on in order to boost exports. We currently focus on two points: Egyptian products with a competitive advantage, and the most attractive markets for Egyptian products. This is what we are trying to focus on to demonstrate the result of our target. The ministry then identified export sectors in which Egypt has fine experience, as well as markets which can be opened soon. The target markets are concentrated in 3 regions, Africa in the first place, and these markets are also looking for industrialisation, so we suggested exporting materials that will help African countries in the manufacturing process, which helps us to penetrate them even more. After that, the countries of Central Asia and then some of the countries of Eastern Europe, are countries that want premium products at reasonable prices. That does not mean that we export to Europe. We have very important exports, but we are talking here about the regions that are rapidly contributing to the export value. The real challenges we face are the fierce competition from exporters playing at the same level— China, India, Turkey, and Morocco. This is a very stiff challenge, as the exports subsidy they receive from governments are very high, which places Egyptian exports in the middle of a very strong competitive market.

What about Egyptian export subsidies, what is our position on paying arrears so far?

The problem with export subsidies is that with the flotation of the pound, some of the arrears doubled in value, thereby increasing the value of arrears. Meanwhile, the allocations for the subsidies have not increased, therefore their value have been halved for exporters. We are trying with the state to refund arrears as soon as possible in order to encourage exporters, and to increase their ability to compete with external products. This is one of my tasks and the country has shown its full readiness to pay, and is expected to do so as soon as possible because export subsidies are part of basic export incentives.  The ministry is currently working to solve exporters’ problems, and delay the serious delay of export subsidies because this problem represents a negative point for investments, not only for exports. We should not just set targets but more importantly commit ourselves to give a message to investors and exporters.

What about faltering factories? Shouldn’t this file be resolved to boost confidence?

The distressed factories’ file is a complex one. If we analyse these factories, we find that the reasons for the failure of each group of them is different from the other. Most of them have defaulted financially; while others conducted wrong feasibility studies. This was the reason for the loss of money, and if we solve the problem and give them money, they will lose it again. A third group has a management problem, and if we exclude these cases, the remaining number will be very few. This remaining group, the ministry is working with them to form a team of the Industrial Modernization Centre (IMC) which is working to solve their problems, but without the support of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).

What is the Ministry’s plan to push industrial growth in the coming period? 

The state focuses heavily on industries that have high added values. We do not want to create a product where most of its raw materials are imported, and this is clear to us as we analyse the industrial sector with the Minister of Planning and the Minister of Finance. We are not a rich country and if we have better resources, we should give them to sectors that rely more on domestic products, and then encourage local industries. Hence the importance of the ministry’s focus on the industrial intensification programme, which aims to increase production inputs with good added value in Egypt. This is aimed at reducing the import bill, as the proportion of imports of components alone reaches 40%, and if we can reduce this, it will make an enormous difference in the trade deficit.

For exhibitions, does the ministry consider participating in international exhibitions to contribute to increasing exports?

For exhibitions, we are interested in choosing to participate in those that our customers participate in, and therefore not all international exhibitions are important to us. Today’s exhibitions, with e-commerce, are no longer the only way to increase exports. The issue is complex, but with the Export Development Authority (EDA), we want to put in place a plan that will make us become more effective. Hence, we aim to attract some international exhibitions into Egypt in the coming period. Thus, we allow the participation of a larger number of exhibitors who do not have the possibility to participate externally, and on the other hand, we allow the revitalisation of tourism. There are negotiations with some countries and international exhibitions such as Big Five, InterTabac in Germany, and Premier vision to attract their exhibitions into Egypt. This is the policy of exhibition’s new direction in the coming period. We have the infrastructure which allows us to host these exhibitions, such as Al Manarah Conference Hall and Sharm El Sheikh Hall. We want to tap what it available.

If we talk about the Free Trade Agreement (FTA)with Turkey, what is the current position of the Ministry of this convention?

The FTA with Turkey, like all FTAs, is periodically reviewed and has no exceptional status. The FTA with Turkey is currently being evaluated, and, according to the results, our position will be determined. If it is in the interest of Egypt, we will not approach them. To say, if it could attract 10 times the Turkish investment to Egypt, I would not be deterred from doing so. Trade has no direct relationship to politics.

The post I trust in the ability of Egyptian companies to get a share of Chinese market: Nassar appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Al Ahly achieves EGP 5bn in sales end-October Wed, 07 Nov 2018 08:00:22 +0000 Company launched The RIDGE project with EGP 2.5bn investments

The post Al Ahly achieves EGP 5bn in sales end-October appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Al Ahly for Real Estate Development (Sabbour) managed to achieve EGP 5bn in sales at the end of October, compared to target sales of EGP 7.5bn by end of 2018.

Over the course of 30 years, the company has successfully developed 57 projects in diverse fields, including residential, retail, office buildings, tourist, and social and sports clubs across Egypt on total area of 12m sqm, Managing Director of Al Ahly, Ahmed Sabbour, said in an interview with Daily News Egypt, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How much is the value of RIDGE’s investment?

The RIDGE project was launched with a total investment of EGP 2.5bn. It is the second residential compound following Alaire, to be developed within Odyssia’s project, implemented by the company in El Mostakbal City, East Cairo. The project, built on an area of 220 feddans (1m sqm), included 1,400 units ranging from villas, townhouses, and twin houses, with an approximate built-up area of 400,000 sqm. The delivery of the project’s first phase is projected in 2023. The first phase was planned in different spaces with targeted sales of EGP 3bn. Al Ahly aims to achieve EGP 2bn in sales within two months.

When will the company complete the project’s marketing?

Marketing of the first phase will be completed by the beginning of 2019, while marketing of the whole project will be concluded by 2020. Odyssia was built on an area of 578 feddan in El Mostakbal city, close to New Cairo, with a total investment of EGP 32bn. It will provide about 15,000 jobs, and sales of EGP 2.3bn, only in the first phase.

What are the total sales of Al Ahly in the third quarter of 2018?

The company has achieved EGP 5bn in sales at the end of October, compared to target sales of EGP 7.5bn by end of the year, driven by new offerings and high demand.

Can you tell us more details about the company’s new project in West Cairo?

We are currently preparing designs of a new project in the Sixth of October City, on an area of 144 feddan, obtained by the company in a land offering by the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA), after a competition with two big real estate developers. The company intends to launch there an integrated residential project that includes villas, townhouses, and twin houses. The project’s plan will be officially announced next year, and we will begin construction work before the end of 2019.

Have you obtained the ministerial approval for the project?

No, we are still awaiting the ministerial approval.

What of the developments of Green Square project?

The company has completed 45% of the construction works of Green Square project in El Mostakbal City. We plan to finish 70% of the project by the end of the year, and deliver the whole project by the end of 2020. We have succeeded in marketing 75% of the project’s units, and aim to market 90% before the end of the year. The project includes 1,027 units with construction costs of EGP 1bn.

Speaking of the company’s projects in El Mostakbal city, what are the developments of L’Avenir?

About 25% of the L’Avenir project has been implemented, with plans to execute 50% by the end of the year. We have marketed 90% of the project. Its construction costs reached EGP 1.8bn.

What about Gaia North Coast?

We launched the first phase of Gaia in the North Coast on an area of 285 feddan. The company has completed the project’s designs, and currently we are awaiting construction permits. We expect to start construction next year, at a total cost of EGP 5bn. The project’s sales reached approximately EGP 1.25bn in only one month.

Are you planning to apply for the first investment offering in New Alamein and New Mansoura cities?

We will buy the booklet of conditions of the new offering for a total of five plots of lands in both areas. We will study the conditions and see whether to apply or not. However, we have a great interest in acquiring lands in these cities to diversify our land bank, as we want to launch new projects in Nile Delta and Upper Egypt. The company is currently negotiating with the Minya governorate to obtain a piece of land for developing an integrated residential project.

Does the company plan to launch projects in New Administrative Capital?

We are interested in investing in the New Administrative Capital for its national and investment importance, distinguished location, and high demand. We will consider investment opportunities there next year.

What are the opportunities and challenges of Egypt’s real estate sector?

The speed of granting ministerial approvals for real estate projects compared to previous times is one of the important achievements which contributed to boosting investment and speeding up construction. One of the main challenges facing the real estate market currently is the presence of non-professional companies which threatens the field. These companies do not have a strong technical or financial solvency to face the challenges and market fluctuations. The government is also trading, not offering lands for development purpose, since they are means of development, not a commodity to be traded.

Do you think the real estate sector is facing a deceleration?

The market has witnessed a relative downturn during the last period, but it will be temporary until the rebalance of the purchasing power of target customers returns as regards to housing prices. This places the spotlight on the mortgage finance law for reconsideration, in order to activate its items so as to increase the amount of sales in the real estate market.

The post Al Ahly achieves EGP 5bn in sales end-October appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Egypt can bring investments worth $6bn in renewable energy until 2022: Amen Tue, 06 Nov 2018 08:00:25 +0000 Policy stability, ease of regulating legislations, highlight what investors need most

The post Egypt can bring investments worth $6bn in renewable energy until 2022: Amen appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Adnan Amen’s visit, the director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), to Egypt, shows that Cairo is still attractive for investments and has many promising opportunities to achieve a breakthrough in electricity and new and renewable energy production.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Adnan Amen in order to talk about his view of the investment climate in Egypt, and the way he sees new and renewable energy projects currently implemented, as well as the requirements needed during the upcoming period in order to expand projects.

He believes that the MENA region has been taking slow steps in the field of renewable energy, however, the developments were quick. Egypt is one of the quickest countries to develop in the region at the present time, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How do you assess new and renewable energy projects in Egypt?

Egypt is a very promising market for investments thanks to the political leadership which has adopted an ambitious plan for electricity production from renewable sources, and reduced the reliance on traditional fuel in production plan— a trend that many countries have adopted in order to achieve sustainability.

Is Egypt successful in the new and renewable energy sector?

The solar energy projects implemented in Benban, Aswan, have been implemented with investments worth $2bn. They are important steps and Egypt can double these investments up to $6bn by 2022. The investments may exceed that as the number of projects increase.

Egypt enjoys abundant sunshine in many areas and has substantial potential, which enables it to reduce the cost of producing electricity, and providing millions of dollars with its ability to take energy production to 53% of the total electricity produced from renewable energy sources by 2035. The Egyptian government is working hard to meet the growing demand on electricity, as the total installed capacity from renewable sources is estimated to be 3,900MW of wind, solar and hydropower energy up until now.

What measures does Egypt need to take to become a regional energy centre?

Egypt’s potential of renewable energies is enormous, and the government is moving quickly towards accelerating its utilisation. Based on the achievements already made, Egypt would have a chance to increase its ambitions and become a regional centre for energy as well as increase investments.

Attracting these investments requires stable policy frameworks, in addition to simple regulations that provide clarity and confidence. Additionally, investments in renewable energy not only meet the growing needs for energy, but also help enhance economic growth, generate jobs, and develop local manufacturing.

What are the latest developments of the ‘Clean Energy Centre in Africa’?

I discussed with President Al Sisi the ‘Clean Energy Centre in Africa’, and the results of this trend are deemed huge, and can serve as one of the central concepts of Africa’s economic transformation towards the future, relying on clean energy, whether solar, wind or earth-core energy.

Right now, the world is seeing great and rapid changes in the field of electricity and energy. This change will have a great impact on the production, distribution and trade of electricity in the future.

Currently, we are looking at the geopolitical changes in terms of pipelines, oil shipping and related strategic issues. In the future, the focus will be more on generating, producing and distributing energy, through the border via clean corridors, all of which would have a positive impact on all the cooperating companies, with Egypt being the most prominent.

How do you see the reduction in the prices of components and costs of renewable energy?

The significant decline in renewable energy costs in recent years has encouraged governments around the world to reconsider energy strategies so as to better reflect the new economics of renewable energies.

The main reason for the low costs is due to the huge development of the technology used to manufacture solar cells and wind turbines.

Why was IRENA established?

IRENA was established in 2009 by 75 countries, with 170 member countries. It is an intergovernmental organisation to encourage the reliance on renewable energy worldwide. IRENA aims to support countries in their transformation to a sustainable future for energy, as well as a main platform for international cooperation and a centre for policies, technology, financial resources, and knowledge in the field of renewable energy. It provides a group of services, including annual reviews of renewable energy employment, statistics, cost studies, and readiness assessments conducted in partnership with governments and regional organisations to help promote renewable energy development which is country-specific.

What is your vision of the renewable energy sector?

We seek to achieve sustainable development and reach energy security as well as low-carbon economic growth, in addition to facilitating the exchange of knowledge and technology transfer in order to provide clean and sustainable energy. IRENA aims to be the main driving force in promoting the rapid transition and sustainable use of renewable energy on a global scale.

The post Egypt can bring investments worth $6bn in renewable energy until 2022: Amen appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Sayed Ragab: representative of simple citizen in Egyptian cinema Mon, 05 Nov 2018 11:00:04 +0000 Married twice, jailed twice, fame arrived after his 50th birthday

The post Sayed Ragab: representative of simple citizen in Egyptian cinema  appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Sayed Ragab was born in 16 November 1950. His career began as an engineer at Nasr Company, before he resigned and segued to acting.

He graduated from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts and then worked for several years in the field of experimental and improvisational theatre. He performed in Egypt and abroad and won the Best Actor award in the Cairo International Festival of Experimental Theatre in 1992.

He married a woman from outside the art scene and gave birth to Amira and Zeyad. However, the social gap between the couple finally broke the marriage apart after 13 years. He then got remarried to an American woman. The couple fell in love as she was funding the band he was acting with. She encouraged him to continue his acting career.

Sayed Ragab, an educated and well-informed artist by virtue of his participation in the political work of the Tagamoa Party for some time. He said politics never hindered him, but rather expanded his thoughts. He stressed that working in politics was not because he liked it, but because it was a duty to him. Yet, when he had to choose between art and politics, he went with art.

Sayed Ragab did not forget being tortured in prison during the era of Mubarak. He still thinks it was the hardest time in his life before he retired politics.

He has participated in nearly 50 works of art, the most famous of which are films such as: Welad Rizk, The Big Night, Lion Heart and series such as: “Sunset Oasis, Ramadan Karim, and Afrah Al Kubba”, as well as Nesr El Saeed and Abou Al-Arousa.

Ragab is the representative of the simple citizen as he is called, perhaps because of his appearance, which is very similar to the simple street man who suffers from the pressures of life.

Better late than never applies to the great actor Sayed Ragab, whose fame only started after his 50th birthday, and on this occasion Daily New Egypt interviewed Ragab to learn about his roots and his path to fame, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How did Sayed Ragab start?

I graduated from the Faculty of Engineering, the department of Automotive Technology, and worked for a period in one of the companies specialised in this field. This company included a team specialised for all kinds of arts, from sport and art, and theatre and poetry. This was how I became more interested in art.

I participated in the theatre team in small performances, and we performed a theatre performance called “Omna Al Ghoola”. It was attended by Hussein Al-Gritli. He proposed I join a new band that he founded named El-Warsha (the Workshop). I agreed. Through this workshop, I met directors and became even more interested in acting, especially experimental theatres. We were amateurs but we travelled the world to represent Egypt in international festivals. Every year, I won more awards—it made me happy.

Why did your sudden fame develop recently?

This was my fate. I did not seek fame. Some actors died before they become stars, but they died happy as they did what they liked. This is my goal in life.

How do you evaluate your participation in the Gouna Festival?

Organisation, management, and selected films were all excellent. I was happy with the Italian film. The festival is a good chance to view international cinema, exchange expertise, which would reflect on Arab and Egyptian cinema, and boost cooperation between artists around the world. By time, maybe we can even compete with international festivals.

When will we see you in international cinema?

I worked in a French film called “Dawn of the World” with an Iraqi-French director a few years ago. Gharabeeb Soud (Black Grows) was also a different Arab experience. I am waiting for a special role or an opportunity that deserves the adventure.

Hitler was positively and successfully received, why did you choose it, and was it difficult?

Hitler is a new and distinctive character which attracted me because of the constant conflict between good and evil. I love diversity in my work. The character was different from my other roles, and it was the first time to play the Upper Egyptian man. Part of the reason why I agreed to play it was the producer: El-Adl Group.

Apart from the character of Hitler, any character performed by an artist needs to be studied to understand its dimensions. It also needs preparation and reading to learn all its aspects. We all need to work hard to give the audience a believable performance.

Were you not surprised by Hitler’s name, which is almost non-existent in Egypt?

This is wrong information. This name does exist in Egypt, but it is rare. Recently I met someone who wanted to take a picture with me. He told me that he loved me very much as the name of the character is the same as his nephew in Upper Egypt. The name was more common in several shows following World War II, and became a title for a lot of people, like Gamal Abdel Nasser, for example.

In the series, it is a description of the character not just a name. The character portrays sadism, Nazism, fascism and violence.

Did you find difficulty with the Upper Egypt dialect?

Of course not. Everything is easier with effort for us as actors, on the level of character, acting, or dialect. As long as you can see and hear the dialect and follow the instructions, your performance will be good. I hope audiences liked my performance.

After Nesr El-Saeed some people thought you have Upper Egyptian roots?

I was born in Cairo, my father was born in Alexandria, and my grandfather is from Upper Egypt. I am Egyptian, but I consider myself to be a Cairean because I lived my whole life here.

You have been associated with many works of Mohamed Ramadan. How do you see him?

Mohamed Ramadan is diligent and talented. Our relationship is only a business one, and I enjoy working with him as he is dedicated to his efforts. I worked with him four times in total. We always agree and meet, as well as exchange views that concern work.

How do you view the success of Abu Al Arousa series, and what about its second part?

I’m preparing to shoot the second part this month, for the winter season. I expect the second part of the work to be a great success.

It is a social work and it is important for Egyptian families. It deals with issues that everyone suffers from, as well as the romantic situations witnessed by the events.

I am happy with my role in this series, because it revived my performance after I was limited to the evil character roles, which audiences now believe so much.

I took off the evil mantle, and in its place wore a new mantle in this series. I did not expect the public to accept my role as a good and simple man, suffering like millions of Egyptians trying to live their daily lives.

Why did you refuse to participate in the White House series?

The schedule conflicted with the second part of “Abu Al Arousa”, and also because the two series are considered long social series, and will be playing at the same time, so I could not work in both of them. In 2013, I appeared in several works at once, but I decided not to repeat that again.

Why did you appear in advertisement?

Of course, it was beneficial. For me, it was a chance to rap. There is also the financial side, as well as working with new directors and exploring more characters.

What character do you think is closest to the real you?

This is a difficult question, because I leave my mark on all my characters. Every character I represent is part of my personality.

If we went to your primary home, theatre, what does it mean to you?

Theatre is my first teacher, which gave me the drive to work in cinema and television drama.

How do you see our theatres now?

I am unsatisfied about the current condition. I hope it improves. We should not leave this to artists, as they see the quality of the theatre through the audience. When a new play appears, and people go watch it, some talk about the revival of theatre in the play, which is unrealistic.

If this is the real theatre, I hope it never recovers. Theatre has left Egypt 30 years ago. We should follow the theatre abroad and learn the techniques and technologies it uses, and how it impacts people and we should try to imitate it here.

Who is responsible for the theatre’s decline?

The theatre crisis is primarily the responsibility of the state, not the producers, because the producer in the end is only looking to profit. They call this weekly play theatre, as audiences attend and producers benefit. But real theatre needs a future vision in its form and impact on reality and as an economic subject that can benefit the state. But I do not know what they want.    

Have you been saddened by your work in experimental theatre for years getting famous?

I did not feel sad at participating in experimental theatre at all, as I learned a lot. I still work in theatre. Most recently, I participated in a play called “Last Supper” with director Ahmed Attar, and it was shown at the theatre of the American University in downtown, Italy, France, Germany, Singapore, and Belgium. I will soon travel to participate in another play. A real actor never stops learning and awaits a role that can give him an Oscar.

Why have you written any films after El-Shawq?

I wrote mini scripts and trained in writing then wrote this film. I took it to many workshops and acted in the film. I did consider trying this again, but, honestly, I am a lazy person. Even though I have good ideas, my time does not let me follow through with them, which is just an excuse to justify my laziness.

Have you left politics forever?

I think so. After two times in prison, during which I was tortured in the era of Mubarak, I decided to leave. Combining politics and art is very difficult. However, I still follow political events and have my own point of view. Politics, to me, is a duty, not love.

The post Sayed Ragab: representative of simple citizen in Egyptian cinema  appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Energy sector has lion’s share of Schneider Electric’s investments in Egypt: Sheta Sun, 04 Nov 2018 10:00:50 +0000 Company works on desalination, bringing sea water capacity to 2.5bn cubic metres a day

The post Energy sector has lion’s share of Schneider Electric’s investments in Egypt: Sheta appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

The country aspires to have an energy sector which meets national sustainable development requirements, while maximising the efficient use of various traditional and renewable resources contributing to economic growth, competitiveness, achieving social justice, and preserving the environment.

To find out the sector’s latest updates, Daily News Egypt interviewed Walid Sheta, Schneider Electric’s Regional Cluster head of North East Africa and Levant, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What are the new megaprojects the company is participating in, in Egypt?

Schneider Electric Egypt is working together with the Egyptian government in several major national projects. We have offered our smart energy management solutions in two power plants in Assiut Governorate.

Schneider Electric is effectively contributing to achieving the country’s strategy to meet 20% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020. We have been part of building wind farms in the Gulf of Suez and the Solar Benban complex in southern Egypt.

Schneider Electric is also taking part in the construction of the New Administrative Capital, east of Cairo, a key national project to turn 1.5m feddan of desert area into agricultural land, the giant Zohr gas field, as well the development of an industrial and logistics hub in the Suez Canal area.

We are also participating in the strong desalination effort to bring the desalination of the sea water capacity of to 2.5bn cubic metres a day. We contributed through supplying state-of-the-art control systems, and electrical distribution equipment to main desalination plants in the country.

We have offered smart energy optimisation solutions at a number of water desalination plants.

Additionally, Schneider Electric Egypt has been working to develop a national charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, by setting up charging points at a few state-run gas stations countrywide.

What are the new products the company intends to launch in Egypt soon?

The most important set of new products are mainly linked with digitisation of our industry, through the comprehensive EcoStruxure platform, which aims to obtain the most from each installation, factory, building, city, making it more efficient, safe, green, and reliable.

I am proud to say most of the products are developed or adapted by our Egyptian engineers.

Schneider Electric considers Egypt its regional hub in North Africa and the Levant. We have offered a range of our latest energy and automation solutions in Egypt in recent months, and soon plan to launch high-quality gas insulated switchgears which are entirely manufactured in Egypt by applying quality standards adopted in France.

What are the company’s expansion plans in Egypt?

We have embarked on a plan to scale up our business in Egypt to catch up with an ambitious development drive by the Egyptian government, which involves several national megaprojects. We increased the capacity of our production in Badr City, that is currently doubling its capacity. We also moved our distribution centre to a brand-new facility that is already working, which will be formally inaugurated before year’s end.

Do you plan to expand the production capacity at your plants in Egypt?

We aim to double the capacity of our regional plant in Badr City. It is Schneider Electric’s largest electric distribution panel plant. This mirrors the confidence we have in Egypt’s economic growth rates in the near future.

Are you in any discussions with the government to provide technology for the New Administrative Capital?

Taking part in the construction of the New Administrative Capital marks the beginning of building smart cities in Egypt. Schneider Electric is providing energy management and automation solutions to integrate smart technology within the city. 

Schneider Electric has been working together with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to build a Knowledge City at the New Capital east of Cairo. Schneider Electric is providing its innovative IoT-enabled EcoStruxure operating technologies to build smart, sustainable and efficient buildings, and enable implement city digitalisation strategies.

The Ministry of Housing intends to work together with Schneider Electric in the seawater desalination and sewage treatment plants. What are the developments regarding this issue?

We have been working together with the Housing Ministry in a number of seawater desalination and water treatment projects. Schneider Electric was involved in building the Yosr seawater desalination plant in Hurghada, which is the biggest in East Africa, as well as a number of stations in Al-Jalala City and the New Alamein City.

Do you have plans to invest in the Suez Canal development project?

We have been part of a number of projects in the Suez Canal Economic Zone megaproject. This includes the digging of new tunnels in the cities of Port Said and Ismailia.

How many electric vehicles’ charging points has the company installed to-date? What are the expected number of charging points by 2020?

Schneider Electric is planning to build 65 charging sites across seven Egyptian governorates, with the figure estimated to double over the next few years. The drive is aimed to boost local charging infrastructure which would encourage drivers to switch to electric cars, and promote mainstream acceptance of these types of vehicles.

Regarding Schneider Electric’s participation in the Benban Solar Park project, are there any short-term plans to increase the company’s investments in the renewable energy sector?

The energy sector has the lion’s share of our investments in Egypt. We are effectively contributing towards achieving Egypt’s strategy to meet 20% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020 through offering multiple solutions to transfer energy from renewable power stations, and linking them to power grids, including wind farms in the Gulf of Suez and the Solar Benban complex in southern Egypt.

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ABE to offer global tender in 6 months to develop its technological structure: Chairperson Sun, 04 Nov 2018 08:30:55 +0000 We addressed 26,000 defaults in EGP 1.5bn debts, settled 2,700 worth EGP 175m, says Elkosayer

The post ABE to offer global tender in 6 months to develop its technological structure: Chairperson appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

The Agricultural Bank of Egypt (ABE) is set to offer a global tender within six months to companies specialised in electronic banking systems, in order to develop the bank’s technological infrastructure, according to Elsayed Elkosayer, chairperson of the ABE.

This comes under the umbrella of the plan’s restructuring of the bank, initiated by Elkosayer since he took charge in March 2016, along with the new board.

In a previous interview with Daily News Egypt, Elkosayer said that developing the bank’s technological infrastructure would cost over EGP 1bn, and could take up to three years.

The ABE has 1,210 units across Egypt, including 20 Islamic branches, and it aims to increase these Islamic branches to 30.

The development of the bank differs from its restructuring plan, which costs more than that. The bank is seeking funds from international financing institutions, including the World Bank. DNEW interviewed Elkosayer to discover the ban’s latest development, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What is new about the bank’s development plan?

Ernst & Young has been our consultants for about six months, in cooperation with one of the country’s sovereigns entities, to assess the bank’s current state. This could take six more months, after which, we will offer a global tender to choose the company that will electronically develop the bank.

The development process aims to provide the best modern banking services, and expand the electronic services system to better satisfy its customers, farmers and their families, especially in the payroll, payments, and remittances, as well as developing the ATM network and electronic points of sale (POS).

You started the bank’s restructuring process since you assumed responsibility in March 2016, what has been achieved so far in that process?

The restructuring of the bank is carried out through several stages and consists of several axes starting by supporting the capital base of the bank, through the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), which has injected a support deposit worth EGP 10bn for 20 years.

We have also established several new regulatory departments, and separated some existing departments from one another, such as the internal control from the inspection department.

Additionally, we surveyed the bank’s assets, and improved their efficiency, while eliminating other assets so as to use the proceeds in the development of the bank’s branches.

On the other hand, there is a plan to completely restructure the human resources department. and review of the bank’s organisational structure, in order to raise the employees’ efficiency through the human resources development programmes. Over 8,000 training opportunities were granted to the employees, in addition to the recruitment of experts  and specialists from other banks.

The bank has contracted with international banks to implement its development plan. Rabobank, one of the largest agricultural banks in the world, is supporting the ABE’s comprehensive reform and development plan, including the development of human resources management, as well as risk and product management. We also obtained training opportunities in cooperation with the USAID, Germany’s SANAD, and Ernst & Young.

The bank is also in the process of contracting with a specialised external offices to study its aptitude to implement the International Accounting Standard IFRS 9, which evaluates the bank’s  internal control, separates jurisdictions, and implements risk management.

ABE focused on achieving agricultural and rural development through small, medium and micro enterprises

What about the technological development plan within the bank?

The restructuring plan also includes the development of information technology and business systems within the bank, and the implementation of the core banking system, which qualifies the bank to achieve its objectives required during the coming period.

Consistent with this plan, we have provided our branches with electronic services. We added 100 new ATMs, and equipped all branches with POS, in cooperation with e-finance and Fawry.

All of the bank’s branches are expected to be equipped by ATMs through three phases, each by 400 ATMs.

Moreover, the bank will develop and modernise about 250 branches to befit the banking sector’s developments, so that the customers feel that there is a convenient place and that they provided with first-rate banking service, in addition to reviewing the bank’s geographical spread, given that some of the branches are in the same areas.

A strategic plan for the bank’s operations has been developed. What are the main features of this plan?

The bank’s strategy has been developed for the first time, in a long time. There is a strategic direction and objectives we are working to achieve, including attainig annual growth rates of at least 15% across all banking activities, such as deposits, loans, or the total return of the bank’s activity.

One of the first results of this plan was an increase in the volume of bank deposits to EGP 50bn, up from EGP 35bn in March 2016. Loans have also grown to EGP 26bn, despite real settlements with defaulting clients.

How did the bank increase its loan portfolio, while many reconciliations are occuring for insolvent customers?

During the past period, the bank participated in joint loans for the housing, oil and energy sectors.

At present, the bank is focused on achieving agricultural and rural development through small, medium and micro enterprises, by financing plant and animal production, as well as and funding the packaging and feed projects throughout all its branches within the country.

The volume of small finance has reached EGP 598m of 955 projects included in the CBE’s initiative.

The bank’s cooperation with the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDA) has reached EGP 3.037bn through funding 156,000 projects. We also signed a new agreement with SMEDA worth EGP 50m.

The amount of funding in the Ibdaa Masho3ak ( Start Your Project) initiative, has also reached EGP 1.257bn for 22,000 projects. The ABE is ranked third among the participating banks in this initiative.

I would like to emphasise that the ABE aims to achieve rural and agricultural development. Regarding this, our primary concern is farmers, fish farms, livestock and poultry production, exporting agricultural products, fertilisers, pesticides and all activities related to agriculture, such as feed production, livestock development, meat manufacturing, dairy products, and agricultural equipment and machinery.

The foundation is the agricultural and rural development, the farmer and the Egyptian farms, and to revive the agricultural field, provide funding for all stages from production to consumption, and assist in the marketing of agricultural commodities and all related activities. The bank has an effective role in this regard, especially that we have the bank’s commercial division, the Egyptian Company for Agricultural and Rural Development.

What has been done concerning the defaulting problem?

We have managed to reduce the proportion of non-performing loans (NPL) from 20% of the total loan portfolio in March 2016 to a current 12%. Plus, we aim to cut the ratio to 10% by the end of 2018, and then lower in the coming years.

Likewise, we have already treated 26,000 defaulting cases with debts amounting to EGP 1.5bn. Conjointly, we settled loans with 2,700 further customers with debts worth EGP 175mm during the CBE’s initiative to settle debts of defaulters and individuals whose debts are less than EGP 10m.

What about covering the provision gap for other NPLs?

Recently, we have obtained the CBE’s approval to compensate the provision gap within the bank over the coming five years.

What is new about the smart farmer card that the bank is issuing?

The Smart Farm Card is one of the projects of the Ministry of Agriculture, in coordination with the ministries of military production and planning, which is being implemented via e-finance. This the real alternative to agricultural tenure, and will contribute to the assembly of agricultural policies and benefit from in-kind support.

We have printed 2.2m cards to far, but distribution was delayed until the finalisation of the infrastructure of agricultural associations, so that farmers can use and benefit from the card. Fayoum and Gharbiya will witness the pilot programme before we apply it for all other governorates.

The post ABE to offer global tender in 6 months to develop its technological structure: Chairperson appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Presentation won Al Ahly sponsorship after difficult negotiations, new Zamalek contract worth EGP 450m: Wahby Thu, 01 Nov 2018 10:00:29 +0000 Egyptian league broadcast worth EGP 500m

The post Presentation won Al Ahly sponsorship after difficult negotiations, new Zamalek contract worth EGP 450m: Wahby appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Amr Wahby, the director of Presentation Sport, the exclusive sponsor of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) and the league, talked about sponsoring Al Ahly, Zamalek contract, and the company’s journey in the football sponsorship in Egypt, during an interview with Daily News Egypt, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How did Presentation win after the dispute between Sela and Al Ahly?

In fact, they were very difficult negotiations. We had to offer over EGP 500m. Hours before the contract’s announcement at the press conference, Al Ahly did not reply to the offer we presented. This is a great breakthrough for us and for Al Ahly as well. I Hope the quality of service we provide will be adequate for both parties.

What about your contract with Zamalek?

Zamalek’s previous contract with the company was for EGP 86m for our years in 2014. As the club gained the league and the cup, they hiked it to EGP 140m. The current contract could reach EGP 450m if the team wins all championships.

But the club announced the termination of the contract with you. What is your comment?

No comment. We have offered much to the club, and have we were very attached to it. It is an honour for us to be sponsors of the two largest clubs in Egypt. We carefully study any deals away from emotions.

Do you see a gap between Al Ahly and Zamalek’s sponsorship contracts?

There is no gap between both teams in terms of the worth of contracts which could almost be double. Zamalek is not doing itself favours in terms of marketing, due to lack of long-term stability and the presence of appointed boards, unlike Al Ahly, which was chaired by Hassan Hamdy.

How many clubs do you sponsor?

The company owns the exclusive rights to television broadcasts of all the Premier League clubs. And in terms of commercial rights, we owns those of 14 clubs, and 50% of Wadi Degla’s, which preferred to keep half the rights to market its products. Only Al Ahly, Pyramids, and Gouna did not contract with us. We also have the commercial rights of the EFA.

How do you evaluate clubs to determine the amount of responsibility?

The way we evaluate clubs in terms of the value of their commercial and broadcast rights depends on the points system, through the popularity and history in the Egyptian league since 1948, its achievements, and ranking in the past five years. The points are then converted into financial transactions. Out assessment is always correct. We work on promoting clubs by offering incentives for their achievements.

Amr Wahby, the director of Presentation Sport

How much do you think the Egyptian league is worth?

The Egyptian league championship, in terms of television broadcasts in the current season, is estimated at about EGP 500m. This could double if six things happen: fans return to stadiums, raising the efficiency of stadiums, improving television broadcast rights, improving the performance of referees, imposing strict regulations, and announcing dates of matches earlier. These could all have a major impact.

Do you have specific plans for that?

We established Estadat-Stadiums to raise the efficiency of pitches, and improve them to match the value of the Egyptian league. The same goes for Live, which we aim to use to reach the best means of television broadcasts, and provide HD quality for viewers.

What are the damages caused by Sela terminating the broadcast television contract with you?

The termination of the contract caused a crisis, given the contract’s high value, after which the cost of broadcasting games hiked, along with sponsorship contracts, which caused huge losses. We are now trying to offset this by looking for alternative funding resources to avoid pressuring clubs.

What is the secret of not having a strong competitor?

We entered at the right time and managed to win the confidence of the clubs in terms of dealing with credibility. We had a vision and entered seriously at a time when others were worried about this, which enabled us to gain the confidence of these clubs.

How much is your investment in Egyptian football?

The company, with its launch in 2013, was aiming to reach EGP 1.2bn in 2018. We went even further with EGP 250m.

Is it possible to set up a network of subscription channels?

No, it is not possible that the company establishes a network of subscription channels to broadcast the league games, because of the high costs. I am surprised that some ignore the establishment cost of subscription-based platforms. We are a commercial rights company and we sell and broadcast.

And what about buying the rights to broadcast major tournaments?

With regard to the purchase of the rights of major tournaments such as the World Cup and the CAF tournament, they also require huge funds and investors that trust the company. More importantly, there are rights up for sale. The African Nations tournament was sold until 2028 and the World Cup until 2026.

Can you buy or establish a club?

The company cannot think of buying or establishing clubs unless it changes the activity, so that there is no conflict of interest which is not legally or morally permissible.

What is the positive impact of football on the sponsors?

Football’s positive influence on the sponsors is tangible through SAIB Bank, which was present since 1976. The bank’s ranking was 24th before signing the contract with Zamalek. Now the bank has managed to become the 6th top bank.

Do you face any difficulties with sponsors?

The difficulties in marketing sponsors are with the clubs of associated with institutions and companies, not popular clubs. We want to distribute sponsorships across clubs so that everyone can get a good financial return.

What do you think of the new sports law?

The new sports law will not affect the sports movement. It is for the benefit only for the concerned bodies, but it is not in favour of sports in terms of investment.

Can you tell us about the company’s start?

In 2013, I presented the matter to Mohamed Kamel, who is now the company’s CEO. It was then specialised in outdoor marketing. We seized the commercial and broadcast rights for six clubs. Out first deal was worth EGP 4m with Al Ittihad Alexandria Club, then Ismaili, ENPPI, and Petrojet. We aimed to contract with 16 clubs, which we failed to achieve in the first season. Then, we contracted with MBC in the following season for $15m. The number of clubs reached 13, including Zamalek.

You faced a major crisis following MBC’s withdrawal from broadcasting the league in 2015. How did you overcome this?

The biggest crisis we have experienced after the Air Defence Stadiums incident was the termination of the MBC contract. We received support from the SAIB Bank. The clubs supported us by waiting for their dues. The broadcasting of the league on Nile Sport only was one of the solutions, even though we were paying EGP 64m for broadcasting rights. Yet, we concluded the season and paid all the clubs’ rights.

Did things settle down after that?

In the following seasons it stabilised with the entry of ON channel and their purchase of the rights to broadcast the games for EGP 250m for two seasons. The contract was then renewed for EGP 320m. The current season is one of the rights, on which basis the partnership with Al-masryeen media was signed.

You have substantial experience in the EFA. Tell us about this?

I was a former football player in Zamalek and the Egyptian National Team. I suffered an injury and travelled to England to play in a third-class club. There, I looked at football differently. I gained some experience. When I came back to Cairo, I met with Ahmed Shobeir, through whom I entered the EFA with several marketing ideas.

What are your most important contributions?

I contributed in 1998 with the first prospectus to be put in the association to sell the rights. I started officially working in 2000. My most prominent contribution was the proposal to play the Super Game in 2001. The association’s rights increased to EGP 4m in 1998. After adding some products, such as friendly games, the value increased to EGP 16m in the 2002-2006 contract, then to EGP 32m in 2006-2010. Following that, came the contract, which was not finalised, with Promo Ad, worth EGP 52.25m. Afterwards I left the association in 2013.

That was in terms of commercial rights but what about broadcast rights?

I contributed a project similar to Presentation to the association. It was listed in the council of Samir Zaher’s electoral programme in 2008. At the time, I was in charge of this programme, but the clubs did not all agree on collective selling, which caused the programme to fail. When the broadcasting rights of Al Ahly, Zamalek, and Ismailiy were sold for EGP 1m to ART, OSN, and Dream in 2006, the collective selling happened. Then the sale took place for EGP 3m to Modern, Dream, and AlHayah. We then reached an idea for collective selling. We had a problem in convincing the administrations of Al Ahly and Zamalek. The biggest problem was the instability of Zamalek. Eventually, we formed a seven-party committee, which was the core of the clubs’ committees in 2009. We hit the bylaws at the time, as the EFA was selling for the benefit of the clubs to match the bylaws. I managed to bring in an offer from EMG for EGP 180m in 2010 when Anas ElFeky was Minister of Media and aborted this decision to support private channels. The games were broadcasted on nine channels, which devaluated the product. The league was sold to all of them for EGP 100m. Clubs agreed on commercial and broadcast rights’ marketing through a company to be established when Hassan Sakr was the Minister of Sports. The decision was aborted through officials in the association who believed it was better for them to keep the situation as it was. When Taher Abou Zeid took over the Ministry of Sports, Hassan Hamdy left the committee. I was thanked in 2013.

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Partisan politics dead, new alliance between military, NGOs needed: Badrawi Wed, 31 Oct 2018 09:00:45 +0000 ‘We need $100bn investments to create million jobs, to cover the foreign debt’, says veteran politician

The post Partisan politics dead, new alliance between military, NGOs needed: Badrawi appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

During a long journey of service in the public sphere, Hossam Badrawi, the prominent politician and physician, has engaged in many vital roles in the fields of politics, education, writing and NGO activities.

The 65-year old statesman is the founder of both the Union Party and the Egyptian Council of Competitiveness ENCC. He also serves as ENCC honorary chairperson.

Badrawi, known for his reformist stances, chaired the defunct National Democratic Party (NDP) a few days before it was dissolved in April 2011, during the 18 days of the January 25th uprising which toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.

When he was a Parliament Member and chairperson of the Education and Scientific Research Committee from 2000 to 2005, he launched several education initiatives aiming to improve Egypt’s educational system, both within the NDP and the parliament.

Additionally, he proposed many policy documents and reform plans for high school and university education, which, according to his personal website, “constitute the core of all current strategies of education nowadays.”

Daily News Egypt interviewed Hossam Badrawi to discuss the current Egyptian political scene, the status of NGO activities, and the new educational system. He also contemplated the country’s economic situation, the long-awaited local municipal elections, as well as the preparations of the Union Party which he chairs. The transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Hossam Badrawi, the prominent politician and physician

Considering your expertise in education development, how do you view the new educational system?

It is very early to judge the new system. I am an optimistic person by nature, and I believe it is a promising plan on a theoretical level, regarding the concept of the digitalising the whole structure. I think this is just a part of the new educational method.

The scheme allows students to rely on technology in the educational process, which is good. But, it is still just an idea. When it is actually applied in reality, then I will praise it, but not before witnessing real measures or results.

The Ministry of Education’s efforts to offer high quality and equal opportunities for all students, as well as building their characters, are also still unclear for evaluation.

Parents are concerned about improving the school curriculum, but the point is not about the curriculum, it is about teachers themselves, and whether they are well-prepared to deliver knowledge to students. Teachers [should be] able to create a satisfactory atmosphere for students in order to build their characters.

You can have a doctor who will turn out to be a criminal or a terrorist. So, building the personality is more important than the curriculum, as it is the teacher’s responsibility.

Additionally, to help students being creative and innovative, the ministry must reach a balance between setting up a plan and opening the door for creativity. The more the state controls the educational system, the less innovation and creativity there will be.

Ahead of the expected local municipal elections, is your party ready to compete?

We are waiting for the local administrative law to be issued. But there are two points I would like to clarify. First, there is a constitutional pillar to transform from centralisation to decentralisation in five years. This decentralised administration means every governorate must have its own budget, elected local council, as well as rules.

In order to attend to health-care, education, transportation and sanitation, there is a need for social responsibility, and for local authorities to be held accountable.

Second, given the experiences of other countries, this transition to decentralisation takes time. In France, it took 20 years. I am very concerned that we might ruin the whole process of decentralisation if we do not prepare well for the election.

The election is not the solution, it is a part of a process which should be processed and followed by efforts. Regarding my party’s preparations, we are not ready. Nobody is ready if there is no law yet.

How is the absence of local municipal councils affecting political life in the country and the status of local neighbourhoods? Also, do you have any remarks on the local law?

Of course, the absence of local councils for the last 10 years has affected services. Moreover, the expected new councils might include young members without experience in dealing with such issues, but in any case, elections do no bring the best-qualified people into office. However, democracy requires elections, and we have no other option.     

Concerning the law, I think it missed identifying authority roles, and it should stipulate that governorates must have fiscal and economic decentralisation.

How do see the current parliament’s performance? Given the number of independent MPs, do believe partisan politics is gradually disappearing? 

I can’t evaluate the current parliament’s performance as I am not well informed of all that is going on inside it. Maybe there are good steps taken that I do not know about. 

Traditional partisan politics are gradually disappearing in Egypt and in the whole world. These types of politics cannot be found anymore amid the rise of the social media effects, which offer direct communication between authorities and people.

In the past, this direct communication was only through a political party. Now, US President Donald Trump communicates with Americans via Twitter. Similarly, Egyptian officials do so.

Therefore, recycling the same policies and practices of needing to have a political party such as Al-Wafd Party and the NDP are no longer efficient. It is like taking the same action hoping for different results. Therefore, politicians need to discuss the balance of forces.

The world is currently ruled by four powers: the armed forces, theocratic ideologies, strong economic powers, or political ideologies such as communism. Such political ideologies collapsed, and we rejected theocratic ideologies. The armed forces, economic powers, and the civil society are what remain.

In the West, the three harmonised, however, in developing countries, civil society is weak, and not taken into consideration. The economic power [represented in businesspersons and corporations] is rejected, hence we do not have another option but the military.

Yet, the country’s management by the military is not sustainable. We need consistency between the military and civil society leaders, so we can apply a new democratic formula. I named it “the fourth generation of democracy”.

Because of the previous failed experiences, and the fact that democracy in the West is heading towards the far-right wing, political parties have lost their influence in convening people.

Hossam Badrawi, the prominent politician and physician

Do you not believe it is important for the next president to have a political party or organisation which supports him or her?

At first, you need to know what the president’s ideology before you elect him or her. I believe whatever the adopted ideology is, it should be left as soon as the president assumes office.

Eventually, I hope the current government is evaluated based on their application of Egypt’s Vision 2030 objectives. I suggest launching two monitoring initiatives, one for education and another for health-care. They will track tracking the efforts of ministers. This is the role of civil society.

The government is takes ambitious steps to reform the economy, are you optimistic or concerned?

I believe that the Egyptian government took brave steps in saying the truth about the status of the current economic situation. Later, they started with lifting subsidies and improving infrastructure, measures that contributed to the economy’s recovery.

But I have some reservations. The investment atmosphere is not attractive for financiers. Moreover, repeated changes in the taxing system repels financial backers.

Additionally, the Egyptian state is investing on its own projects [via state-owned national projects], a measure which brings the public sector back to the scene. However, this has [previously] failed in Egypt, and in the Soviet Union.

I am very concerned over the amount of foreign debt, which almost equals the revenues, according to the statements issued by the Minister of Finance. This means we will not have enough money to invest in infrastructure.

Therefore, we need to investments of at least $100bn annually to create a million job opportunities, and to exit the current situation.

Finally, the general atmosphere is not encouraging for the private sector, which has been repeatedly accused of corruption.

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World focuses on Egyptian female graphic designer: Ghada Wali Mon, 29 Oct 2018 10:00:21 +0000 I gained global recognition for works which especially portrayed my identity, says award-winning graphic designer

The post World focuses on Egyptian female graphic designer: Ghada Wali appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

The graphic design industry, like other industries, was historically dominated by men. In the 20th century, the world began to witness the emergence of female graphic designers. Gradually, the number of female graphic designers started to increase. However, there is still a stereotype when it comes to hiring video editors or graphic designers, as most companies prefer to assign men for the job, believing that they are more efficient. A pioneering graphic designer in Egypt, Ghada Wali, showed the entire world that female graphic designers can be just as successful as men, and that they should not be judged according to gender, as talent and qualifications are what really count.  Wali also proved that Egyptian women are an extremely resilient, hardworking and profound workforce in the world. 

Based on Wali’s remarkable works, she was the only woman selected to represent Egyptian youth at the 2017 World Youth Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh’s opening ceremony, where she was honoured by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, as the first Egyptian in the graphic design-visual communication field to receive recognition and award for her work.

Wali was selected among the 2017 Forbes “30 Under 30” list. The Society of Typographic Arts in Chicago perceived the young artist as one of the best 100 graphic designers in the world.

During her speech at the Sharm El-Sheikh conference, Wali highlighted the importance of visual communication in promoting world peace, and finding plausible solutions for the ongoing refugees’ dilemma.

“Graphic design does not only facilitate our lives, but can also change the fate of nations, because the effect of one picture can be stronger than that of words,” Wali stated.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Wali to learn more about her graphic design journey, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Can you give briefly introduce yourself and how you started your career in graphic design?

I am 28-year-old Egyptian artist, illustrator, and graphic designer based in Cairo. I received a BA degree in graphic design from the German University in Cairo. I was one of the first graphic design graduation batch, and then I received an master’s degree from Istituto Europeo di Design in Italy. I started my journey with graphic design since I was in college through several freelancing jobs. I worked with Mi7 Cairo, Fortune Promoseven, and J. Walter Thompson. I also taught graphic design in the German and American universities in Cairo.

Which graphic design direction or approach do you prefer?

There are many graphic design directions. I love to try different styles and approaches.

What obstacles did you face as a female designer at the beginning of your career?

Cairo is a male-dominated city. I face difficulties in leading teams that involve young men because they do not accept a female leader. Globally, you are automatically seen as ‘terrorist-danger’ being an Arab citizen. It is even worse for female Arabs. Women get through a million battles in Arab societies which they have to resolve before starting to focus on their careers. There are layers of gender inequality, peer pressure, religious and race conflicts. If a woman manages to get through these obstacles, only then can she be free to fight her own life battles.

You were part of 7UP Egypt’s campaign, can you tell us more about it?

Each artwork has its own story, and I wanted to give customers a special experience in each 7UP tin inspired by our culture and history with a modern flavour. My design had a customised feel rather than a generic one, establishing a connection between the different designs of 7UP tins. This was a very challenging task, especially since I was restricted to a limited number of colours. I tried hundreds of colour combinations until I reached the final design that we see in the Egyptian market today.

It took many hours of research and scientific studies to come up with a powerful unique design.

I am influenced by the amazing Egyptian artist Hussein Bicar, and by cubist guru Pablo Picasso, and the Egyptian patterns collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum. I was also inspired by the Nubian culture and local truck drivers in Cairo, who are artists by nature. Inspiration has no distinctive limit. It can be extreme, complicated, simple, or generated from absolute infinite and unpredictable sources. All places, people, and things inspire me.

The 7UP campaign aimed to document the chronological graphical evolution of Egyptian visual culture. Each tin features a different era and illustration technique.

You were the youngest speaker in Sharm El-Sheikh, can you tell us about your experience there?

First of all, I was honoured to be part of this conference. It was the biggest youth event in Egypt, and it exceeded my expectations, not just in terms of topics and how well organised it was, but also the incredible number of Egyptian youths who for months dedicated their time and effort to deliver that enormous event.

I would like to thank them for inviting me, and giving me the chance to talk about my passion and graphic design. They made me feel like contributing to my country and career. I felt I was among my larger family.

It is incredible to discover how much we love this country, and have the continuous ability to keep falling in love over and over again. For me, this is the conference’s true essence.

You worked with several significant advertising companies inside and outside Egypt, and participated in over 360 advertising campaigns worldwide. How do you evaluate the status of female graphic designers now?

I am sure that there are many successful stories that did not make it to the public. If my work could truly inspire at least one person, this beats anything else that anyone can ever experience.

Forbes recently selected you among its “30 Under 30” list for 2017, and you were also named as one of the top 100 graphic designers in the world by the Chicago Art Society. What do these honours mean to you, and is there a hidden message in your work?

I always believe that those who do not have a history will not have a future. I create work that is relevant to who I am and where I come from. I have gained global recognition for the works that specifically celebrate my identity. My aim is to add Arab and Egyptian flavours in my work, and merge them with global trends. The Egyptian ancient civilisation has been abused with commercial clichés. A graphic designer’s role is fostering cultures, scripts, history, and finding innovative ways to preserve history while keeping up with modern trends. Exploiting historical civilisation with a contemporary approach is my objective, so our beautiful Egyptian and Arab identity can be proudly showcased to the world.

What are the main awards you received?

In 2018, I received the silver award from the A’ Design Award and Competition in Milan in 2018, the 100 Women OkayAfrica award, and was selected among the top 50 most influential women in Egypt. In 2017, I got the World Youth Forum Presidential Award, the Aiap Women in Design award, and the Adobe Design Achievement award. In 2016, I won the Granshan Design award, and the STA Design award from Chicago.

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New mega petrochemical projects to be launched soon: El-Gabaly Mon, 29 Oct 2018 09:00:01 +0000 Petrochemical industry’s development leads to manufacturing establishments’ fibre, plastic, related manufacturers’ progress

The post New mega petrochemical projects to be launched soon: El-Gabaly appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

New mega petrochemical projects will be launched in the coming period that will create an upswing in the sector, including a project for Phosphate Misr Company, according to Chairperson of the Chamber of Chemical Industries at the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), Sherif El-Gabaly.

El-Gabaly, is also chairperson of the Egyptian exporter’s association at the Federation of Egyptian Chamber of Commerce; chairperson of Africa committee at the FEI; chairperson of Egypt-Korea Business Council; chairperson of Egypt – Malaysia Business Council; chairperson of Egypt – Indonesia Business Council; board member of Egypt – China Business Council; board member of Egypt – Ethiopia Business Council; board member of Egypt – Spain Business Council as well as board member of the industry committee.

El-Gabaly sat down for an interview with Daily News Egypt to discus the latest industry developments, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

First of all El-Gabaly revealed the establishment of a joint venture between Phosphate Misr—proprietor of Abu Tartour Phosphate project— and Abu Qir Fertilisers Company is underway, with total  investments ranging between $500 and 600m. The project includes phosphoric acid production units in its first phase.

The plant’s first phase with a maximum production capacity of 250,000 tonnes whereas the sulphuric acid unit production capacity is about 750,000 tonnes.

In addition, the plant’s production capacity’s second phase includes 250,000 tonnes of phosphoric acid, 750,000 tonnes of sulphuric acid,525,000 tonnes from the granulation unit to produce SSP, TSP, and complex phosphate fertilisers. Furthermore, the ammonia unit will produce 330,000 tonnes.

El-Gabaly added that Ain-Sokhna Phosphatic Fertiliser Complex project is under construction for El Nasr Company for Intermediate Chemicals. The project will include two sulphuric acid units with a maximum production capacity of 570,000 tonnes per year; two phosphoric acid production units with a capacity of 180,000 tonnes annually; a diammonium phosphate, (DAP) production unit with a capacity of 400,000 tonnes per year; the construction of a TSP production unit with a capacity of 225,000 tonnes per year; a Monoammonium phosphate (MAP) and a DAP with a capacity of 180,000 tonnes per year.

Additionally, El-Gabaly indicated that one of the most important recent projects in the field of nitrogen fertilisers for the Egyptian Chemical Industries Company – KIMA. The project includes an annual production capacity of 396,000 tonnes of urea and an ammonium nitrate with a production capacity of 240,000 tonnes per year, with production set to begin in 2019.

“The second project, which is under review, is for Delta Company for Fertilisers and Chemical Industries. The project includes two production lines for ammonia with an annual capacity of 396,000 tonnes, and a urea production line of 650,000 tonnes per year,” El-Gabaly disclosed.

In addition, he explained that the petrochemical industry’s development leads to the downstream manufacturing industries’ development for fibre, plastic, and other related industries.

He declared that one of the most important future petrochemical projects is the Tahrir Petrochemical Complex in Ain Sokhna, which will produce ethylene with an annual production capacity of 1.4m tonnes, and propylene with an annual production capacity of 960,000 tonnes, in addition to butadiene with a capacity of 10,000 tonnes per year.

Furthermore, Aromatics Complex project to produce paraxylene will soon be launched with an annual production capacity of 350,000 tonnes, in addition to producing gasoline with a capacity of 300,000 tonnes per, according to El-Gabaly.

He elaborated that one of the important projects is Naphtha Refinery-Integrated Petrochemical Complex for the production of ethylene, propylene and potadine and their compounds, as well as benzene and xylene.

Likewise, El-Gabaly noted further that the Double Complex for Olefins project will be set up for the production of ethylene, monoethylene glycol, and polyethene terephthalate PET, with a total annual production capacity of 600,000 tonnes.

The chairperson of the Chamber of Chemical Industries declared that a new project for converting gas to olefins to produce polypropylene, will be established with an annual production capacity of 600,000 tonnes, and polyethene with a production capacity of 400,000 tonnes per year.

Fuel price hikes will impact chemicals industry within three months

Regarding the impact of the government’s decision to increase the price of gasoline in June, El-Gabaly said that the impact of the fuel price increase has not yet resonated in the chemicals industry, as it takes time to affect production inputs. However, this increase could have an impact on the transport sector, which increased by about 20%.

He explained that the impact of the increase may appear three months after the government’s decision to raise gasoline prices.

On 16 June, the Egyptian government raised the prices of petroleum products by 17.4% to 66.6%. The government raised the price of gasoline 92 to EGP 6.75 per litre from EGP 5, an increase of about 35%, and raised the price of gasoline 80 to EGP 5.50 from EGP 3.65, up 50%. The price of gasoline 95 increased to EGP 7.75 per litre from EGP 6.60, up 17.4%, and the price of diesel to EGP 5.50 per litre from EGP 3.65, up 50%. The price of the domestic LPG cylinder was also raised by 66.6% to EGP 50, and EGP 100 for commercial use.

Egypt’s local component in the chemicals industry extremely sufficient

El-Gabaly remarked that the percentage of local components in the chemicals industry vary from one industry to another. For example, the fertiliser industry depends on 60 to 70% on the local components, and sometimes even 80%. In the petrochemical industry, local components comprise 60%, and reach 40 to 70% in plastics and manufacturing industries, while in the detergent industry it is about 60 to 70% in local components, however, in the paint industry, the Egyptian component decreases to about 40%.

He denied access to 100% Egyptian products, as this never occurred anywhere in the world, stressing that the chemicals industry is one of the most widely-used industries for local components, noting that local components are sufficient in most chemical industries.

Chairperson of the Chamber of Chemical Industries at the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), Sherif El-Gabaly

License for industrial establishments’ law, one of most important legislative reforms

El-Gabaly said that one of the most important legislative reforms that took place in the last period in favour of the Egyptian industry, especially the chemical industry, is the issuance of Law 15 of 2017, which of facilitates the procedures for licensing industrial establishments.

In May 2017, former Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil issued a law to simplify industrial licensing procedures, and to facilitate procedures for obtaining approvals and industrial licenses, operating licenses as well as overcoming bureaucracy. The law provides a reduction in the licence receival period from 634 days to only seven days for low-risk industries, and 30 days for high-risk industries.

Into the bargain, El-Gabaly added that there are several other complementary laws required for the development of the industrial system, including the Labour Law and the Mineral Resources Law.

He announced that a number of joint proposals between the Chamber of Chemical Industries and the Chamber of Mining Industries will be presented to parliament in the event they discuss the Mineral Resources Law.

Meanwhile, El-Gabaly expressed that there is still no current discussion concerning developing cities for some industries such as the plastics city in Margham, Alexandria, observing that some of the most important industries that need the establishment of their own complexes are the paints and glass industries, two of the most important industries whose raw materials are available in Egypt, in addition to the detergent industry.

Lack of serviced industrial land considered most important problem hindering Egyptian industry

He maintained that the lack of industrial lands which are connected to services and utilities is also a problem facing other industries in general, not just the chemicals industry, as well as stumbling factories.

“Likewise, some chemical industries suffer from high gasoline prices, such as basic chemical industries, glass, and highly-priced raw materials. However, the Industrial Development Agency is working seriously on developing available employment within the next three years,” he explained, adding, “problems related to customs clearance of paint factories are being solved.”

African market promising, however, several issues need solutions

With regard to the African market, he said it is a very promising market, but there are a number of issues to be worked on. The first is the Egyptian presence in these markets, such as presence during visits or the presence of Egyptian companies in African markets as well as participation in exhibitions and opening new branches.

With that, he stressed the FEI’s interest to send promotional missions to open new African markets, imparting that a delegation of 10 companies visited Rwanda, and that a few FEI members met with a Ugandan delegation.

A visit to Tanzania is scheduled in early November, with at least 30 companies anticipated to participate in the Egyptian delegation to Tanzania, he mentioned.

Subsequently, El-Gabaly highlighted that Egypt’s exports to Africa need to be stimulated and supported by the government to exporters, noting that total Egyptian exports to Africa amount to $2bn.

One of the government’s incentives was to provide 50% support for shipping costs to Africa, while the Export Development Authority would provide some logistical incentives to African countries’ promotional missions, he divulged.

Upper Egypt is very promising in terms of chemical industries, due to the availability of the industry’s most raw materials in that area, according to El-Gabaly.

$40.13bn total production of chemical, petrochemical industries in 2017

On the production of chemical and petrochemical industries, the chairperson of the Chamber of Chemical Industries said that Egypt has great potential to promote its chemical industries. In fact, the chemical industry sector is a promising sector for foreign and Arab direct investments in Egypt in the next 10 years, and they clearly indicated that in the master plan of the Holding Company for Pharmaceuticals.

He unveiled that the total production of chemical and petrochemical industries reached $40.13bn in 2017.

“The value of paper and cardboard companies’ production reached about $4.18bn, while detergent companies recorded $4.29bn, and paints and resins accounted for $9.68bn. Miscellaneous chemical and fertiliser companies recorded a production value of $12.3bn, while plastics and rubber companies’ production registered $9.68bn.

6,559 companies registered in Chemical Industries Chamber

The number of companies registered in the Chamber of Chemical Industries according to industrial activity is 6,559—460 of which are in the paper and cardboard sector, 513 are in the detergent sector, 689 are in the paint sector, 1,410 are in miscellaneous chemicals and fertilisers sector, 3246 are in plastics, rubber and petrochemicals sector, and 241 in waste recycling sector.

On the geographical distribution of the member companies for 2018, Sharkya ranked first with 1,119 companies, followed by Qalyubia with 1,058 companies, Giza with 965 companies, Alexandria with 815 companies, and Cairo with 751 companies.

Menoufia registered 579 companies, followed by Dakahlia with 320 companies, while Gharbiya registered 301 companies, while the number of companies in Beheira reached 239 companies.

In Upper Egypt, there are 170 companies in Assiut, followed by Sohag with 142 companies, Beni Suef with 115 companies, and 100 companies in Minya. The number of companies in Fayoum reached 76 companies, followed by Qena with 39 companies, Aswan with 12 companies, and Luxor only has four companies.

The Red Sea governorate has only five companies. New Valley, Matrouh, and North Sinai each have three companies, while South Sinai has only one company.

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