Interviews – Daily News Egypt https://dailynewsegypt.com Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Sun, 25 Feb 2018 08:00:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 IMC to restructure 6 defaulting companies as part of plan to revive factories https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/25/imc-restructure-6-defaulting-companies-part-plan-revive-factories/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/25/imc-restructure-6-defaulting-companies-part-plan-revive-factories/#respond Sun, 25 Feb 2018 06:00:25 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=651485 871 inventories carried out for companies from 2013-2017, only 74 can be rescued

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The Industrial Modernisation Centre (IMC), affiliated with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, has completed transferring the first six companies in the industrial sector to Union Capital to ink their restructuring plans, as part of a plan to save defaulting factories. The IMC now awaits obtaining the approval of its board of directors to begin funding them.

Ghada El-Gohary, head of financial services at the IMC and member of the board of directors at Misr Venture Capital, said that the centre is the body responsible for studying the case of defaulting loans to determine their ability to be reopened.

El-Gohary, who has  16 years of experience in the banking sector, told Daily News Egypt in an interview that the IMC set the strategy to support defaulting factories, which resulted in the establishment of Misr Venture Capital that aims to transfer three companies per month to the company.

How many faltering factories has the centre recorded during the last period?

The distressed factory inventories carried out by the IMC between 2013 and 2017 reached 871 companies. After studying them, we found out that only 74 of them have problems that can be solved.

What is the average financing for troubled companies?

The average financing for enterprises ranges from a minimum of EGP 1m to a maximum of EGP 15m to serve the largest number of factories. The allocations are expected to increase after the capital of Misr Venture Capital increases.

What are the mechanisms of financing troubled factories?

There are thee methods; through shareholding, lending, or murabaha. The perfect path is determined based on the financing need of each case.

In your opinion, what are the best funding mechanisms?

In most cases, the lending process is preferred as a way to finance the working capital cycle (buying production input) then to finance the production process through to the end of the cycle. This varies from an activity to another, as some cycles take three months only, while others take up to one year.

How does the IMC exit the factory following the end of the reopening process?

There are several methods of exit; either small and medium factories repurchase shares from Misr Venture Capital or a public offering is made through Nile Stock Exchange.

Why did the IMC not choose bank loans to end the problems of defaulting factories?

The IMC intended to head to the banking sector to resolve the problems of defaulting factories. But we changed our plan since most factories are already in debt to banks.

Hence, we decided to deal with non-banking financial institutions to help factories. This was the reason behind establishing Misr Venture Capital in May last year with a paid-up capital of EGP 150m and authorised capital of EGP 1bn.

The IMC, Ayady for Investment and Development, National Investment Bank, and Tahya Misr Fund are all shareholders in Misr Venture Capital, which received its license to operate in December last year.

What are the IMC’s basic criteria to finance defaulting factories?

There is a basic criterion for reopening factories within the private sector, as it is difficult to deal with public sector factories due to their large size. The priority is for labour-intensive factories with the aim of gradually reducing unemployment rates in the case the factories go back into production. In addition, the priority is given to factories that use Egyptian raw materials or produce market-needed output, on the condition that they face no judicial verdicts nor suffer capital erosion.

The factory must also be operational, not defaulted or suspended, as it will be hard to reopen totally closed factories as most of them have exited the market, next to the possibility of depreciation of the machines, in addition to a large volume of debts.

How does the reopening of faltering factories happen?

It begins with the assignment of a technical and financial team from the IMC. The team then measures the course and the production capacity of the factories in addition to the production volume and the condition of the machines. The financial team analyses the budgets of the factories, prepares a complete report and transforms the consulting company to develop the restructuring plan and then transfer it to the board of directors of Misr Venture Capital for final approval.

Each factory differs from the other when it comes to resolving default problems. However, in the end, a complete plan is put in place to restructure the factories, which may require taking some procedures, for example, the appointment of a financial manager in the factory, or a marketing director, or members of the boards of directors of factories to complete the restructuring process.

How long does it take for the IMC to study the status of defaulting factories?

The IMC takes about two weeks to study the condition of a factory, if they promptly provide the required documents and data and cooperate with the centre as soon as possible.

We ask the factories to cooperate with the IMC through the delivery of the required documents as soon as possible and to respond to the queries of the working team so as to be able to work to reopen the factories in the most appropriate manner and the soonest time.

What is the total number of faltering factories that the centre recorded during the current year?

The centre receives a number of defaults each month, which are difficult to reduce to specific numbers, especially that some of them can be re-operated while others cannot.

What are the main factors leading to the failure of factories?

The bad management of financial resources is the main reason. Most of the defaults are due to the misuse of the financing provided to the company. For example, some factories receive short term financing but use them to buy machines that are financed by long term financing or vice versa.

What are the services provided by the IMC to help solve the problems of faltering factories?

The centre employs all its technical and financial services to support these factories in the process of restructuring through the provision of services, such as the preparation of feasibility studies, the development of an accounting system for the companies, the development of a cost and pricing system, quality certificates, in addition to various technical and marketing services.

Does the IMC benefit from Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) programmes to finance small and medium enterprises?

Certainly, Misr Venture Capital seeks to cooperate with the CBE to benefit from the SME initiative.

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International law firms attracted by legislative changes in Egypt: Secondari https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/22/international-law-firms-attracted-legislative-changes-egypt-secondari/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/22/international-law-firms-attracted-legislative-changes-egypt-secondari/#respond Thu, 22 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=651325 The Italian law firm BonelliErede recently began operating in Egypt. Its local partner for Egypt is Francesca Secondari, who joined the firm in 2003 and whose expertise is in mergers and acquisitions, banking, corporations, commercial agreements, and real estate transactions. She is in charge of leading BonelliErede’s Cairo office and coordinating its work with the …

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The Italian law firm BonelliErede recently began operating in Egypt. Its local partner for Egypt is Francesca Secondari, who joined the firm in 2003 and whose expertise is in mergers and acquisitions, banking, corporations, commercial agreements, and real estate transactions. She is in charge of leading BonelliErede’s Cairo office and coordinating its work with the firm’s other offices, as well as with its Egyptian partner Kosheri Rashed & Riad. She sat down with Daily News Egypt to discuss and review the legislative changes that have opened up more space for international law firms to operate in the Egyptian market.

What changes happened recently that made Italian law firms more interested in being here in Egypt? 

First of all, I wish to specify that our firm is Italian, but we are an international law firm with an international client base. Needless to say, Italian clients are easier for us as well as our firm is easier for them: not only we share the same language, but they are also able to easily pop up in one of our three offices in Italy as well as in Cairo. Egypt is an interesting country per se, not only for Italians.

Do you have other branches in other countries? Is it a part of the firm’s strategy to be present in emerging markets? 

Yes, we already have offices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and another one in Dubai. We’d love to expand in other African countries. However, for the time being, we’re working on these three offices which are very important for our strategy. We consider Dubai our hub in the Middle East, while Cairo is more functional both for North Africa and for interactions between the Middle East and Africa. Ethiopia is our hub for the East Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

How do you evaluate legislative changes in Egypt during the past two years?

Very very well; we witnessed a very interesting evolution in the country in the last two years. Starting from the financial measures, like the liberalisation of the exchange rate and flotation of the Egyptian pound. That was maybe the beginning of the last year, and then we witnessed a very interesting evolution in the legal environment. To this regard I can pinpoint the Investment Law and the Industrial Licensing Law.

Do you think that the legislative reforms provided new investment opportunities in the private sector? Did it increase the attractiveness of the private sector to foreigners? 

I would say yes. Although, financial measures have a more immediate impact, legislative changes need to time to develop their effects. Several new laws have very recently been issued (consider the Companies Law on top of those already mentioned) and we, as lawyers, value them very much.

Does that mean that there are opportunities in which the office is currently engaged in deals or are there expectations of deals that are based on these legislative changes? 

One of the key topic for us here is how to structure an investment in Egypt (e.g. whether to set up a branch, a company, which kind of company and the like). With respect to these topics the new laws immediately come into play.

What sectors attract investors the most? 

Infrastructure and energy are classical [investment attractions] in Egypt but we’ve seen a growing interest in renewable energy.

Does that mean that some of your clients are currently engaged in something? 

Yes, but we cannot disclose the names.

Does Egypt’s capacity to attract international law firms indicate that clients want top legal service providers?

I’d say yes, the presence of international law firms is definitely an indicator, but more of how the market is appealing. I have a great respect for Egyptian law firms, many of them have a long-standing tradition and very high reputation. [This is the case of KRR, the firm with whom BonelliErede cooperates in Egypt.

Is having an Italian law firm in Egypt is because the presence of Italian investors? 

There are Italian clients interested in here and others are actually investing here, but as I said at the beginning, we are not only aiming for Italian clients; we are an international law firm like any other firm and we can serve, among others, all international clients including Chinese clients as many years ago we set up a China Desk which include Chinese speaking lawyers].

Do you have an office in London? 

We have an office in London, one in Brussels, and three offices in Italy, and as mentioned earlier, in Ethiopia, the UAE, and Egypt.

How do we evaluate the quality of service of other law firms, especially that there are other international law firms here in Egypt? What makes you special? 

We believe in accuracy and excellence. We wanted to bring our brand, which is synonym of excellent quality, because we believe that being present with a team of our professionals based in Egypt will make the difference for our clients.

What are the main engagements of the firm here in Egypt? What were the main activities you had since your establishment? 

Well as I said, from a how to structure a presence in Egypt, matters relating the construction law, dispute resolutions and structuring of project financing.

Are you interested to participate in the public company IPOs and providing them legal advice? 

Of course, we are open to that.

What are the things that you found different in the Egyptian market than any other market and the see that it needs improvement? 

The concept of the “one stop shop” is a very good one. I think that more than changing the laws, everybody is waiting to see how the laws that are being issued will be implemented.

The latest legislative changes such as the latest investment laws granted investors 30% tax deduction and 50% in free zones; how do you see these changes? 

Very well, I think that these are very interesting changes: free zones are a good tool to attract investments, especially in the manufacturing sector. Especially when I look at the private free zones, what investors can do is to develop a free zone as a whole and then lease out the individual spaces. We know that the Chinese are very active in this kind of initiatives in other countries. I think that private free zones will definitely encourage investments in the manufacturing sector.

The whole world deals with single persons companies, does the new companies law face difficulties to follow international standards in this regard? 

As the executive regulations are yet to be issued, we’ll keep our impressions for a later stage.

Are there any other sectors here in Egypt that you don’t cover, or you are willing to expand to cover this year or in the following years? 

We are willing to focus on corporate governance, project financing, and international taxation issues.

Were inflation levels a reason for not attracting investors last year? Will decreasing inflation levels attract investors this year? 

Maybe more than the inflation level itself, the lack of hard currency was badly affecting investors it made very difficult for them to import and perform payments and get payments (with hard currency).

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Egyptian woman digs her name among the world caricaturists https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/22/egyptian-woman-digs-name-among-world-caricaturists/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/22/egyptian-woman-digs-name-among-world-caricaturists/#respond Thu, 22 Feb 2018 08:00:52 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=651230 I preferred to make women the heroines for my first book as I found that women have no caricature book that focuses on their issues in the Arab world, Says El Adl

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For many years, the field of the caricatures was limited to men, but in the last 11 years, Doaa El Adl proved that women could break the barrier of the male-dominated field, becoming one of the most influential women around the world because of her caricatures, according to the BBC’s selection in 2016.

She has managed to leave her mark among the world’s caricaturists, becoming a fierce competitor in a field where female presence in it is rare.

El Adl was the first caricaturist in the Arab world to create a caricature book that portrays women’s issues. It is named “50 drawings and more about women.”

Daily News Egypt interviewed El Adl to learn more about her journey with caricatures and how she managed to prove herself in the male-dominated field.

 

In depth, who is Doaa El Adl is and when did your career as a caricaturist start?

I graduated from a faculty of fine arts, department of theatre and cinema décor. Then I worked in interior designing in Damietta, then I moved to Cairo where I worked as a graphic designer. Then in 2007, one of my friends told me that Amr Selim, who was working at that time for El Dostor Newspaper, needs female caricaturists, then my friend showed Selim some of my works and he liked them so I joined El Dostor.

I worked as a caricaturist at El Dostor then I worked at Sabah el Kheir and Rose al-Yūsuf magazines, and finally, I am now working at Al-Masry Al-Youm.

What were the obstacles that you faced at the beginning of your career as a woman? 

It was not common for a female to be a caricaturist, so most people were expecting me to leave this career and that I would not continue. Moreover, they told me that I would not be able to continue for more than three years in the field, however, I had the passion and love for what I do and I think that after 11 years, I was able to do something.

How do you choose the ideas for your caricatures?

A daily caricaturist should follow all the events that take place in their country, then according to their interests and visions, they choose the idea or the incident that they will work on.

For me, my interests are women and marginalised people, who have no voice in the media, either in local or international issues.

You mentioned your interest in women’s issues. In depth, can you tell us about your book ” 50 drawings and more about women?”

I preferred to make women the heroines of my first book as I have a library of most Arab caricatures and I found that women have no caricature book that focuses on their issues in the Arab world.

In the book I tried to present different aspects of women and their different issues.

We could say that it’s not a book in the traditional sense, but it is closer to an album of caricatures, in which it is divided into three sections. Each one discusses part of the suffering of women from discrimination, sexual harassment, violence, and the crimes against them as well, as the unfair laws that don’t protect women.

What was the message that you want to send through this book?

The message for every woman is to be what she would like to be, not what the society wants her to be.

In your opinion, what are the differences between male and female caricaturists?

 

In general, in drawing most issues, there is no difference between a male and a female. I think that the power of the idea of a caricature is what makes people follow a particular caricature, regardless of the person who drew it, whether a man or a woman.

But in women’s issues, if the female caricaturist is aware about her role and women’s problems, she will be able to express women’s problems and women’s value better than men. For example, she will draw about sexual harassment or female genital mutilation (FGM) by a different spirit than men, as she feels these problems.

Meanwhile, this doesn’t preclude the fact that there are male caricaturists who draw in defence of women’s rights, which is an amazing transformation that did not exist in previous generations.

How can you evaluate the status of female caricaturists nowadays? Are they successful?

The number of female caricaturists is very small when compared to their male counterparts, but I think the future will witness an increase in the number of the female caricaturists, as there are many of them who have the talent but they need some time to see the results of their talent.

What are the schools of caricature and which type do you prefer?

There are two schools: the first is when the caricaturist doesn’t choose the idea of their caricature, as there is an editorial board that chooses the ideas, such as American caricatures.

The other school is when caricaturists think and implement their ideas. I prefer this school such as the golden generation of caricatures in Egypt that includes Bahgat Osman, Mohy El Din El Labad, El Leithy, Salah Jahin, and George Bahgoury.

Do you think the art of the caricature is currently in decline? 

Yes. Journalism in general is in decline. This is reflected in the speed of publishing news, the accuracy of news, and of course, in areas or spaces specialised for caricatures.

In your opinion, what are the reasons for this decline?

Lack of criticism affects journalism in general because there are no different voices.

Caricatures are cynical opinions; they depend on the availability of accurate information, from which artists can form opinions. In the absence of freedom of opinion and accurate information, there will be a decline in caricatures but they will not disappear, as there are still some spaces for artists to express opinions, but these spaces are also decreasing.

Have your caricature drawings been banned from publishing?

Yes, but so few times that I can’t remember them.

You were chosen by the BBC in 2016 as one of the 100 most inspirational and influential women around the world. Tell us about this selection and how you achieved it?

I was very happy because an Egyptian was chosen among this list and after receiving the call from the BBC, I was keen to know if there were other Egyptians on the list. Also, I was happy to learn there were other Arab caricaturists on the list.

What are the other awards that you received?

I participated in many exhibitions in France, Italy, Spain, and Tunisia. I won a local award from the Journalists Syndicate for best caricature in 2009, then later in 2015, I received the Mustafa and Ali Amin award.

I also won international awards: one for the art of  political satire from Italy, the Mahmoud Khalil award from Lebanon, Geneva Press Club from Switzerland, and many other awards from European countries such as France.

But it’s worth mentioning that the Egyptian awards are the dearest to my heart.

What is your caricature drawing that you most like?

All my drawings, but I remember there was the accident of the Rashid illegal migration boat where many young Egyptians died, so I drew a caricature about this and wrote under it the famous saying of Palestinian author Ghassan Kanafni, “Safeya, do you know what the homeland is?” The homeland is where nothing like this can happen. I found that many people liked it and interacted with it.

What are your aspirations?

Before, I used to say that I want to continue in this field for more than three years, as I mentioned that people would say women cannot continue in the field for more than three years. But now, my hope is to not lose passion for my work, in light of the journalistic atmosphere that I mentioned before.

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Transfast looks to expand in Egyptian market as it launches new cross-border payment platform https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/19/transfast-looks-expand-egyptian-market-launches-new-cross-border-payment-platform/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/19/transfast-looks-expand-egyptian-market-launches-new-cross-border-payment-platform/#respond Mon, 19 Feb 2018 06:00:25 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=650806 Company signs contracts with local banks, including CIB, United Bank, to facilitate money transfer

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Samish Kumar, Transfast CEO, said Egypt is an important market for his company, which is expanding in the Middle East through launching a new product that mainly focus on small- and medium-enterprises that sell services and products online.

In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Kumar revealed that his company has signed contracts with local lenders, including Commercial International Bank (CIB) and United Bank, to serve as their local agents in the Egyptian market.

“Transpay is a cross-border payments platform that allows businesses to process mass payouts within minutes to a recipient’s bank account or direct fund payouts (one-to-many payments),” Kumar said, defining the new product that was launched last July.

The following is a transcript of DNE’s interview with the CEO.

Would you first introduce Transfast to our readers?

Transfast is a global company for finance transfers and payments and covers 125 countries across the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Europe. We have licences for safety transactions around the world. We are considered the best network to move funds across the world. We have 300,000 points of payment around the world.

Moving to the Egyptian market, why is it so important to your company?

Egypt is a very important market for us for two reasons. First, for remittances, Egypt is the top recipient of them around the world. Remittances come from North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. Secondly, we operate the largest network to source remittances from North America, Europe, and the Middle East.

What is unique to Transfast is that 8 million Egyptians live abroad and they can send remittances through our network via multiple channels. This means Egyptians can go to locations to send money through a bank, financial institution, or retail partner. In addition, they can send money via mobile or online. So Transfast can provide a cheaper channel that is more convenient for Egyptians abroad when they send money home.

Egyptians send about $20bn per year. Approximately 60% of that amount comes from the Gulf counties, such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain, while the rest comes from the US, Canada, Europe and other parts of Africa.

So are you in talks with Egyptian banks to boost your presence in the Egyptian market?

We are working with Egyptian banks to continue expanding our presence in Egypt. We cooperate with Banque du Caire and the United Bank of Egypt. We have also signed a new deal with CIB to boost our network in Egypt.

In the Middle East, we operate the largest network of partners that includes banks and financial institutions, which is very important in bringing remittances to Egypt. Through our partners in places like the US, Canada, and Europe, Egyptians can go to banking or retail locations and send money to Egypt.

What about your transfer fee rates to the Egyptian market?

We offer very competitive fees as we charge much lower than banks charge. In North America, fees for sending money are much higher. If you send money home via JP Morgan Chase, for example, you pay $40 to $45 just to send $500 to Egypt. With us you can send this same amount for less than $10.

We have 44 customer service centres for customers to call when there is any issue and they can have the problem solved.

Talk to us about your new product Transpay. 

The Transpay product, which is designed to transfer payments from abroad to Egypt, is related to the private sector. This product is also suitable for freelancers, another area I think is important for Egypt. Transpay facilitates the transfer of money for Egyptian freelancers who work for companies abroad so they can be paid in dollars.

Transpay is a payments platform built exclusively for cross-border and alternative payments.

It is the world’s largest, independent, global proprietary payments network to enable real-time payouts/pay ins with direct-to-bank, cash ,and wallet payment methods.

We offer coverage for over 90% of the world population (6.4 billion people).

What is the value of the company’s investments?

We have about $1.5bn at an investment fund called Growth Capital Partners (GCP). The fund is based in New York and licensed to send transactions around the world.

We have 200,000 payment point locations.

What is the value of the transfer fees levied on the amounts to be remitted?

Our transfer fees are 80% lower on average than what US banks charge. Our fees are 50% better than Egyptian banks.

What currencies does the company permit for Egyptian remittances?

In term of currency pairs, we transfer from dollars into Egyptian pounds, from dollar into Indian rupees, euros into Egyptian pounds, as well as 1,000 further currency pairs.

After the pound was devalued, how did this step affect Egyptian remittances?

Remittances are the most reliable source of capital for developing countries like Egypt, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, and others. Remittances continue to grow in Egypt. In a slow economy, foreign investment can slow down remittances, but generally, remittances remain stable because people abroad send more money to support their families back in Egypt. Therefore, remittances remain steady and continue to grow and support the economy, as the $20bn received in remittances contribute to finance, education, and other economic activities and provide hard currency for the Central Bank of Egypt.

How will the company compete with other money transfer companies in the Egyptian market?

Firstly, we are pioneers of launching instant banking and direct banking deposits. Today, we are the largest direct bank network in the world. In 2009, we were the first to launch instant banking. In Egypt, we offer customers the choice to send money using cash or from their bank account.

We are 20% to 25% cheaper than other traditional money transfers. We can transfer money in seconds instead of the five days that other channels take.

What is the period taken to transfer mobile money?

If a customer sends cash, it will take minutes. If the customer sends money online, we have two products: a three-day product and a minutes product. The three-day product is at a lower rate than the latter. The minutes product is designed for urgent cases.

How many Egyptians use mobile money?

The number of Egyptians using mobile money is still small but is growing dramatically and I expect that it will become 40% to 50% of the total market.

How do you guarantee low-risk services for online remittances?

We invest heavily in security, which is very important to our business. We perform background checks and ensure that our online and mobile services are secure to prevent fraud or theft.

How many African countries are served by the company?

About 20 countries we serve are part of our network, as we are very committed to Africa. We serve all francophone countries. We started in Nigeria about three years ago and we transferred about $700m in total last year.

About the company

Transfast is a simple and affordable way to send money around the world. For 30 years, its strong network of trusted financial partners, combined with best-in-class technology, have enabled the company to deliver savings, convenience, and peace of mind to millions of customers in over 125 countries.

Transfast CEO Samish Kumar spoke at premier fintech conference Seamless North Africa on 7 February in Cairo, Egypt. Addressing an audience that included Egypt’s central bank leadership and more than 1,000 decision-making executives across financial services, technology, retail, and e-commerce, Kumar discussed notable trends in the cross-border repayments sphere relevant to the MENA region and broader global payments ecosystem.

In a session titled Establishing Frictionless Cross-Border Payments, Kumar shed light on how to develop a digital payments platform that can be scaled to deliver cross-currency, cross-border, and cross-network payments. This will include Transfast’s own experience adding speed, transparency, and end-to-end tracking to existing workflows.

“The North Africa region has taken solid steps towards reinventing the way people and industries can benefit from global digital transformation already underway,” Kumar said. “It will be my honour to share Transfast’s experience in delivering convenient, transparent, and compliant cross-border payments that benefit senders and receivers alike, including those among Seamless’ visionary audience.”

With a population that exceeds 190 million people, North Africa is embarking on a transformational economic journey underpinned by a flurry of global and local innovations in financial technology.

Seamless has become an unrivalled platform to discuss new trends, launch products, and share best practices relevant to payments and commerce. Its North Africa edition saw a stellar line-up of speakers discussing the various disruptors and innovations that are revolutionising the financial services industry.

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MIGA sees increased interest from foreign investors in Egypt this fiscal year: Keiko Honda https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/13/miga-sees-increased-interest-from-foreign-investors-in-egypt-this-fiscal-year-keiko-honda/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/13/miga-sees-increased-interest-from-foreign-investors-in-egypt-this-fiscal-year-keiko-honda/#respond Tue, 13 Feb 2018 08:00:54 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=649122 Agency looking to support projects in Egypt for domestic, export markets, says the MIGA CEO

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In 2014, the Egyptian government started implementing its reform programme aimed at enhancing the economy and the business environment in Egypt. The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (the MIGA) is a member of the World Bank Group; its mission is to promote foreign direct investment into developing countries to help support economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve people’s lives.
Daily News Egypt interviewed the MIGA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Keiko Honda to explain the MIGA’s outlook for and work in Egypt, its expectations about the business environment in Egypt in 2018, the challenges that Egypt faces, and what investors need in Egypt to increase their investments.

In your opinion, what are the reforms that the government should carry out in 2018?

The Egyptian government has already made significant progress. Looking forward, it is important for the government to continue implementing business climate reforms that instil confidence among foreign direct investors to engage in Egypt and create private sector jobs, in alignment with the World Bank Group’s Country Partnership Framework for Egypt for FY 2015-19. The private sector has the potential to play an important role for job creation and growth going forward, including in lagging regions. An investment environment conducive to foreign private sector encouragement would help these impacts materialise.

How can you evaluate the business environment in 2017, do you expect 2018 to be better, worse, or similar to 2017, and why?

The business environment in 2017 has shown improvements over 2016. The MIGA has particularly welcomed the improved availability of foreign exchange to foreign investors over the course of 2017, and how the new Investment Law offers improved protection for investors. These changes have constituted important improvements in the business environment for cross-border investors that are likely to bear fruit in terms of higher flows of foreign direct investment going forward.

What are your expectations for the growth rate this current year? And what are the most important sectors that contribute to increasing the growth rate?

The World Bank is forecasting GDP growth to accelerate to 4.9% in 2018 and 5.6% in 2019 (Global Economic Prospects January 2018). Egypt has experienced strong industrial production, investment, and exports, supported by the effects of the exchange rate devaluation on competitiveness.
What are the most important sectors that the MIGA targets in increasing the Egyptian exports rate?
The MIGA is looking to support projects in Egypt geared to both domestic and export markets. Projects in the manufacturing sector fit well with the objective of increasing exports, both within and across regions. To this end, Egypt can take advantage of preferential trade agreements and position itself as a launch pad from where foreign investors can service foreign markets.

What are the obstacles or problems that the industry sectors in Egypt face? And how can the MIGA help Egypt in overcoming these obstacles?

Egypt has implemented important reforms, and as with other countries, there is still room for improving the business environment.
The MIGA recently supported six solar projects in Egypt, and the tariff-related reforms undertaken in the energy sector have been impressive.

What are the MIGA’s expectations about increasing or decreasing foreign direct investments in Egypt? And what is its role in contributing to increasing FDI in Egypt?

The MIGA is seeing an increasing interest by foreign investors in Egypt this fiscal year (ending in June 2018). So far, we have issued guarantees valued at $102m (gross issuance) in support of six projects in renewable energy. This compares favourably with the previous two fiscal years. Our portfolio at present stands at 11 projects, including in manufacturing and energy. Our project pipeline is solid and we expect to do more business in the near future supporting foreign investments into Egypt.

What are the obstacles that Egypt faces in increasing investments? What role does the MIGA play in helping Egypt overcome these obstacles?

Egypt’s improving economy bodes well for increasing foreign investments. But even in the context of economic improvements, foreign investors can face uncertainties and may require a level of comfort to proceed with their investment plans. The MIGA’s role is to provide comfort to foreign investors interested in Egypt by de-risking projects. To this end, the MIGA, as part of the World Bank Group, is working together with the World Bank and IFC, our sister organisations, to help unleash foreign private investments in support of Egypt’s growth and development.

In your opinion, what are the demands of investors so that they can increase their investments?

Getting comfortable vis-à-vis non-commercial risks is an important consideration for foreign investors, especially those who are investing in Egypt for the very first time. The MIGA’s suite of non-commercial risk guarantees provides investors with a range of instruments they can consider for de-risking projects. Ultimately, it will be the government’s policy reforms and improvements to the business environment that will be the main driver to increasing private sector investment.

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East Port Said Development Co receives 250,000 sqm of land from SCZone in April: company director https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/13/east-port-said-development-co-receives-250000-sqm-land-sczone-april-company-director/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/13/east-port-said-development-co-receives-250000-sqm-land-sczone-april-company-director/#respond Tue, 13 Feb 2018 07:00:32 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=650191 Two foreign companies to improve soil properties in East Port Said area

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East Port Said Development Company is set to receive 250,000 sqm of land from the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) in April.

Ahmed Al-Mufti, general manager of commercial affairs at East Port Said Development Company, said that the SCZone will hand over the land to the company gradually following the completion of improving soil properties in the area.

SCZone had signed a contract with East Port Said Development Company to link utilities to 16m sqm in the economic zone of the Suez Canal during the World Youth Congress last November.

The stakeholders of East Port Said Development Company, established in 2016, includes Samcrete, National Service Products Organisation (NASPO), and Hassan Allam Holding.

Al-Mufti told Daily News Egypt in an interview that the Armed Forces Engineering Authority used two foreign companies to improve the soil properties of the land to increase its ability to absorb groundwater and prepare it to carry certain loads to build factories.

What is the time period needed for completing the improvement of soil properties in the area? 

The process of soil improvement takes months. The state will hand over the land to the company along several phases.

Has the SCZone set a timetable for the delivery of 16m sqm to the company?

We are looking forward to receiving about 1-1.5m sqm of land from the SCZone this year.

Has the company signed contracts with investors to invest in the region?

We have not signed definitive contracts with investors during the current time, especially as an investment decision needs time for the investor to evaluate the advantages offered by the government and the Suez Canal Economic Zone, in addition to the incentives provided by industrial developers to investors.

What incentives does East Port Said provide to investors?

East Port Said Development Company offers a number of incentives, the most important of which is the completion of all governmental procedures, starting from the procedures of establishing a company through licenses and other matters, and providing its trained labour for factories, as well as security and maintenance services.

Have some foreign investors expressed interest in investing in the area?

Last November, the company signed memoranda of understanding with Germany’s Business Avenue Group (BAG). Five companies have entered into partnerships with the German group to open their factories in the economic zone in various fields.

During the current time, three companies engaged in the sectors of underground irrigation hoses, armoured doors, and solar and electric cars are in serious talks to sign investment contracts in the area.

What industries does the company aim to attract to the zone?

We aim to attract the automotive and assembly industries, feeder industries, electronic industries, building materials and their own feeding industries, and agricultural tractors because they have great uses in Africa, especially because Egypt is a gateway to Africa.

In addition, we want to attract the industries specified by the state, namely engineering, household appliances, and chemical industries.

Are there industries that the company does not want to attract to the region?

Certainly, it is not intended to attract industries that are polluting to the environment, such as cement, fertilisers, and heavy industries such as iron, steel, and petrochemicals. These industries are better located in Ain Sokhna.

What are the features of the company’s promotional plan for the region?

The company has been following a plan of local and international promotion for the region for a year and a half, and is seeking to attract a number of foreign investors to invest in the region.

East Port Said Development Company also participated in a number of international exhibitions in Frankfurt and Dubai and promoted the project in a number of European countries. The company successfully cooperated with the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ) to host the conference on sustainable industrial cities in March.

What is the company’s promotion plan for this year?

During the current year, the company will focus on East Asian countries. It will organise a visit to China to present the project. It will also meet with delegations of foreign companies visiting Egypt in the coming period to discuss investment opportunities, especially following the legislative and economic reforms adopted by the government, including the floatation of the pound and the passage of investment and industrial licenses laws.

The company will meet with a delegation of 22 British companies, which will visit Egypt from 10-13 February, and their industrial activities will vary between transport and healthcare, to promote the project.

What is the time period for completion of the project?

The company aims to complete the development of the central region on an area of 4m sqm by the end of June, depending on the areas the company would receive from SCZone after improving soil properties. This is part of the contractually agreed 16m sqm which the company will receive from the SCZone on an usufruct basis.

The company is about to complete three main buildings in the zone on an area of 9,000 sqm, within two months, each building estimated at 3,000 sqm. This includes an administrative building with offices for investors, a vocational training centre, and a conference hall.

Has the company completed some buildings in the zone?

The company has completed the construction of a prototype plant in the region and has received a number of requests from investors to rent that plant. Two leasing applications are being studied for a Ukrainian company and a German company.

How much is the rent value of the plant?

It is difficult to announce the rent value of the plant or the sale price per square metre in the area. It is determined according to a number of factors such as industry type and factory location, given that the price of the square metre varies from one area to another, and according to the time frame for constructing the plant and its completion.

What other projects does the company intend to build within the central area, which is estimated at 4m sqm?

The company aims to establish a commercial zone designed to serve the needs of the region and to establish another branch of the National Academy of Science and Skills (NASS), which was established by the Industrial Development Group, one of Sami Saad Holding (Samcrete)’s companies.

NASS, the first integrated training academy in the Industrial Development Zone in the Sixth of October City, was accredited by Siemens International and the Industrial Training Council (ITC) of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority at the Ministry of Trade and Industry to prepare training courses for workers and technical students in the fields of plumbing, electricity, mechanics, and car maintenance.

The company is also considering the establishment of a hotel or two in the region during the second half of the year on an area of 3,000 sqm.

Has the company received serious requests from Sami Saad Holding to invest in the region?

East Port Said Development Company has not received any requests from any of Sami Saad Holding’s companies to invest in the region. This does not prevent the group from injecting investments if they see any investments that serve the region.

What consulting firms did the company use to prepare the general plan for the area?

The company used Dar Al-Handasah and Dr Ahmed Abdel Warith Office to prepare a plan for the establishment of East Port Said Development Company, along with a number of other Egyptian consulting offices to prepare other studies for the region.

Is the company seeking to establish units for small and medium enterprises in the region?

The company seeks to establish units for small and medium enterprises during the next phase in the region, especially as it serves the owners of small and medium factories.

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Foreign partner investments to reach $10bn in FY 2017/2018: El-Molla https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/12/foreign-partner-investments-reach-10bn-fy-2017-2018-el-molla/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/12/foreign-partner-investments-reach-10bn-fy-2017-2018-el-molla/#respond Mon, 12 Feb 2018 09:00:59 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=650075 The ministry pays its dues to foreign partners regularly

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The Egyptian petroleum sector has witnessed the launch of a number of new large natural gas projects that will contribute to achieving self-sufficiency in natural gas supply, bringing Egypt once again among gas exporting countries after a several-year hiatus.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla to learn about the ministry’s next steps in the coming period, as well as the message that the ministry aims to send during the second round of the Egypt Petroleum Show 2018 (EGYPS 2018).

What is the message that the ministry aims to send during the second round of the EGYPS 2018?

Holding the Egypt Petroleum Show 2018 (EGYPS 2018) for the second consecutive year represents an important occasion to bring together major oil and gas companies regionally and globally in a special forum to discuss the future of the petroleum industry in Egypt.

EGYPS 2018 will offer its participants the chance to know about promising investment opportunities in the petroleum sector. We also consider this conference as part of Egypt’s campaign to announce its development plans in the oil and gas sectors. Egypt seeks to make the most of its available natural resources to support its national economy.

What is the volume of investments of Egyptian government’s foreign partners in the fiscal year (FY) 2017/2018? 

 

Foreign investments in the oil and gas sector will reach about $10bn during the current FY 2017/2018, an increase of $2bn against last fiscal year, as many foreign companies seek to increase production from Mediterranean gas fields. Moreover, Egypt’s investment climate has become more attractive for foreign companies as the government became fully committed to paying its dues to foreign companies regularly as well as reducing the accumulated payables from previous years.

Does the ministry intend to pay part of its dues to foreign partners before the end of the first half of this year? And how much is it expected to pay?

The ministry pays its payables for foreign partners regularly, and we plan to continue reducing the accumulated dues to foreign companies as soon as possible.

The ministry repaid about $2.2bn to foreign oil companies last June, including exploration costs, reducing the total amounts due to $2.3bn, the lowest level since 2013.

Will new bids be offered for oil or gas exploration by the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC), the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), or the Ganoub El Wadi Petroleum Holding Company this year?

The ministry intends to pose new international bids this year to search for oil and gas in Egypt’s land and sea areas, especially the Mediterranean. A new international bid will be announced in the second half of FY 2017/2018 to search for natural gas and oil in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Nile Delta regions. We also aim to conduct a seismic survey in the western region of the Mediterranean in preparation for launching a global marketing campaign for this region.

The ministry is currently implementing geophysical data collection in the Red Sea Egyptian economic waters and southern Egypt in preparation to offer the first international bid for oil and gas exploration in this area.

The global bids for gas and oil exploration come within the framework of the Ministry of Petroleum’s strategy to attract new investments in this field to increase foreign exchange reserves and petroleum production with the aim of meeting local market needs.

What is the current volume of Egypt’s natural gas and crude oil production? And what is the ministry’s target production by the end of this year?

New natural gas discoveries in 2017 will increase the country’s production to more than 6bn cubic feet of gas per day by the end of FY 2017/2018, while the current production level is about 5.5bn cubic feet per day. The average oil production currently reached about 650,000 barrels of crude oil and condensates per day, with plans to increase them to about 700,000 barrels per day.

When will Egypt become a regional energy hub?

Egypt has a clear potential to become a trading and exporting hub for natural gas and oil over the next few years through a clear strategy that benefits from Egypt’s infrastructure and facilities for refining, storage, and trade. These facilities include the liquefaction factories in Idku and Damietta, as well as the storage and regasification unit in Ain Sokhna.

On the other hand, the issuing of the new law regulating the gas market, prepared by the Ministry of Petroleum, played a major role in attracting foreign investments to the gas sector. A committee was also formed by the cabinet, headed by me and involving a number of concerned ministries to follow this national project and provide the required support.

There are two liquefaction plants in Egypt: the first is located in Idku, and it is owned by the Egyptian Liquefied Natural Gas Company (Egyptian LNG). It has two liquefaction units. The other plant, owned by Unión Fenosa, is in Damietta and has one liquefaction unit.

Egyptian LNG is the largest operator in the gas industry in the Mediterranean region and used to be among the 13th largest LNG exporters in the world before the sharp drop in gas supply to the units.

Will we stop importing LNG this year? And when will Egypt start exporting gas again?

Egypt is likely to achieve self-sufficiency by the end of this year after the gradual increase of production from the new fields, bridging the gap between production and domestic consumption. Hence, we will not be obliged to import LNG.

After fulfilling our consumption needs of gas, we aim to achieve a surplus to do two things: first, we aim to expand value-added industries such as the petrochemicals industry. Second, we have contractual obligations for gas exports that we could not meet over the past years because of the challenges that we have experienced that led to a gap between gas production and local consumption.

How would the ministry deal with the current floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs)?

 

We will maintain only one vessel to receive and regasify LNG. The system of providing energy supplies to the local market requires a strategy with ready alternatives to meet market needs continuously.

We are aware of the importance of maintaining the required infrastructure to supply and receive natural gas in accordance with the gas market regulations issued by the state to allow the private sector to trade in natural gas using the infrastructure of the sector.

The EGAS has leased two liquefaction vessels in 2015. The first one, affiliated with Hoegh Gallant, arrived in Egypt in April 2015, while the second, BW Singapore, arrived in Egypt in November. This FSRU is owned and operated by Norwegian BW Gas.

When will Egypt start importing gas from Cyprus?

As you know, Egypt is in the process of becoming a regional hub for oil and gas trade. Our agreement with Cyprus on the transfer of gas to Egyptian liquefaction plants is one of the axes of this national project. We are still studying the transport of Cypriot natural gas to Egypt via pipelines, in the framework of the memorandum of understanding signed on the sidelines of the economic conference held between Egypt and Cyprus in this regard.

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Society is embracing ideas of hardliners: Amna Nosseir https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/07/society-embracing-ideas-hardliners-amna-nosseir/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/07/society-embracing-ideas-hardliners-amna-nosseir/#respond Wed, 07 Feb 2018 10:00:28 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=649558 I support Al-Sisi in the coming election for his accomplishments and I told him he needs better aides

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Amna Nosseir is a philosophy professor, and despite her roots from Upper Egypt, she was taught in a missionary school. Her conservative upbringing and her education at a nuns’ school created a conflict that she settled through her study of philosophy. Her speciality was fundamentalist philosophy. She also studied Ibn Taymiyyah and Mohamed Ibn Abdulwahab’s ideas.

For all these reasons, fundamentalists and extremists fear Nosseir, the professor of philosophy and religious doctrine, former dean of the faculty of human studies at Al-Azhar University, and member of the foreign affairs committee of parliament.

How do you evaluate the intellectual situation in Egypt?

Unfortunately, the fundamentalist Salafist movement has control over the minds of people, and most of them go back to the teachings of Ibn Taymiyyah, who is a great, creative man, by the way, but only belongs to his time and his environment—something that hardliners are not aware of.

Who is responsible for this?

I feel that university professors and the elite are the ones to blame, because they isolated themselves from society, then some of them wrote books but in language and intellectual levels that are difficult for regular people to understand, making them repulsed by these ideas and writings. On the other hand, thinkers of the more conservative movements were able to simplify their ideas, hence reaching the simple people, and used religion in malicious ways to spread their ideas.

How did a girl like you, from Upper Egypt, continue her education and philosophy speciality?

My father was initially reluctant and thought I lost my mind, and after many attempts, the principal of my school, who was also a friend of ours, intervened. He promised my father I would be admitted into a school that was more like a prison.

I entered the American missionary boarding school. Its fee at the time was EGP 250, which was the price of three acres of land. After finishing my secondary education, I decided to attend university, and again, my father refused. This is when I resorted to one of my relatives living in Alexandria and by chance I found out I’m a blood relative of Dr. Fathia Soliman, the dean of the Faculty of Women at Ain Shams University and the wife of Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Said, the minister of higher education at the time. I spoke with her to persuade my father to let me travel to Cairo to continue my education, and eventually, that happened.

There is a large spread of modernisation in society, how do you see this issue?

At this point, society has gone beyond the level of reactionary ideas and started embracing the ideas of ignorance. We have a strict religious culture based on conservative doctrine that spread in the region as hardliners started coming to Egypt and having their own satellite channels, especially with the drawback of Al-Azhar in the second half of the past century. This gap, besides illiteracy, especially amongst women, created the perfect environment for hardliner clerics. All we have seen over the past 60 years was not pure Egyptian, but the impact of these hardliners.

Do you think that Al-Azhar is still in a state of drawback? 

Yes, and right now it has unclear trends. It is full of Muslim Brotherhood members and Salafists.

Are you waiting for these individuals to be removed from Al-Azhar?

Of course not, because I call for freedoms, and the ideas people hold are none of my business. However, there must be regulations and laws to strengthen the more moderate movements.

How do you evaluate the performance of parliament in terms of discussing citizens’ issues?

I believe whoever leads the sessions of parliament should give experts more room in order to benefit from their experience. Laws should also be discussed on a wider scale.

Why did you move from the education committee to the foreign affairs committee?

The story behind this is not really a good one. I was in the education committee due to my long years in the field of teaching, and at the beginning of the voting for committee heads, I asked my colleagues and they agreed to support me. After the voting, I was shocked to learn that I only got one vote, and that was mine, out of the 16 votes. I felt I was deceived, so I had to move to the foreign affairs committee.

How do you evaluate your parliamentary experience?

I regretted that experience very much and I will never forgive Dr. Kamal El-Ganzouri, Osama Haikal, and Dr. Moustafa Al-Fiqy because they persuaded me to run for the election, however, I am still very keen on attending the sessions and never neglected my role as a representative at parliament out of respect to those who elected me.

What do you think about the role of the 90 women in parliament?

They do not have a concrete role. Their greatest ambition seems to be their membership in parliament, and this may be the result of their young ages and limited experience in political and parliamentary work.

Do you think women are still oppressed in our society?

Yes, I do. I believe women do not receive their full rights. Idioms and traditions that undermine and humiliate women are still widespread and they are a main reason for insulting women and their dignity. I have attacked the suggestion to reduce the marriage age for girls to 16 years old in order to protect those younger girls. However, I never received any response from the concerned bodies or parliament. When I went to the National Council for Women during Ramadan, I demanded laws that protect women in order to be presented in parliament, but again, I received no response.

Can laws alone give women their rights?

Laws alone are not enough to respect women and give them their rights. What is more important is how we raise our children at home. This is the fault of parents who leave their adolescents in closed rooms with technology. In addition, the media is greatly responsible. Now we only watch aggression, cruelty, and blood in films and series on TVs, and this surely has an impact.

Schools also play a major role. Teachers have abandoned their main role to take on private tutoring because of their significantly low salaries. So we need to look into the lie of “free education” that has resulted in corrupting education. If we double the fees of government schools to give teachers decent salaries, we would see schools and their message rejuvenated. Entertainment and culture also need to return to schools, including theatre acting and other student activities of all kinds. Unfortunately, everything in the constitution regarding education and health is gone with the wind. I must stress that in parliament.

How do you see terrorism that has been striking countries every now and then?

Terrorism is now much more dangerous than it was in the 1990s. It now resembles the terrorism of the Tatars. They destroy everything and have no red lines. They also do not adhere to the religious books they claim they adhere to, and what is even more dangerous is that they use the latest technological tools to increase their destructive powers.

Why have you signed a petition form to support President Al-Sisi for a second term?

I have evaluated his achievements over the past four years and I can see them clearly and the way he deals with difficulties. This petition is a responsibility, and I must support whomever I believe does the best for Egypt, and I think Al-Sisi does this.

I must add, though, that he is working alone with nearly no one. He needs many helpers to support him and I gave him this advice at the beginning of his rule.

In the committee of foreign affairs of parliament, how do you see the American accusations regarding the rights of minorities in Egypt?

They are all untrue. We have responded to them in a detailed note that we sent to them and the media. I visited America several months ago and we spoke to them about this. Despite the enthusiastic welcome, I felt that these people are liars and exploit the issue of human rights for malicious political goals.

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Egypt is strategic market for us in MENA: Rhines https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/07/egypt-strategic-market-us-mena-rhines/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/07/egypt-strategic-market-us-mena-rhines/#respond Wed, 07 Feb 2018 07:00:49 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=649469 Siemens deal will increase Mentor Graphics' revenue by €100m in 5 years

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Mentor Graphics, a subsidiary of Siemens, intends to continue its expansion strategy in the Egyptian market after being acquired by the German conglomerate. Walden C. “Wally” Rhines, CEO and president of Mentor Graphics, told Daily News Egypt in an interview that the company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Communications to establish a centre for the design of electronic circuits and software in Egypt.

What is the purpose of the president and CEO of Mentor Graphics’ visit to Egypt?

Mentor Graphics started working in Egypt in 1995. The research and development (R&D) centre in Egypt is one of the largest R&D centres outside the United States for the company. Due to the importance of the Egyptian market for the global company, we are keen to visit Egypt regularly. This is the first visit after Siemens acquired Mentor Graphics.

During the visit, I met with Mentor’s staff in Egypt and Communications Minister Yaser El-Kady.

Is this your first visit to Egypt?

No, it may be the twelfth. I am used to visiting Egypt at least once every two years, and I visit other countries in the Middle East to give keynote speeches at conferences as a keynote speaker. I have been a keynote speaker at Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers conferences too in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Abu Dhabi, and other countries.

What did you discuss during your visit to Cairo?

During El-Kady’s visit to the headquarters of Mentor Graphics in March 2017, we talked, along with senior company officials, about ways to enhance the success of the company in Egypt, and discussed the idea of creating a Mentor Graphics centre of excellence for automotive electronics in Egypt.

My visit to Egypt comes to emphasise the implementation progress of the centre of excellence, which will be in the technological parks that the Egyptian state is focusing on now, which would also support the initiative of new technology pioneers announced two years ago by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

Have you signed a number of protocols of cooperation with the Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Higher Education, or Egyptian universities?

In the past, we signed a protocol of cooperation with the Minister of Higher Education where Mentor Graphics donated software solutions to 10 universities in Egypt. The value of each software package was estimated to be about $2m. We have donated a laboratory for intellectual property measures to Ain Shams University, and also donated a simulation hardware verification tool to Cairo University, Ain Shams University, and the American University in Cairo. We do not currently have any protocols signed, but we agreed, in principle, and drafted a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology on the centre of excellence for automotive electronics.

After Siemens acquired Mentor Graphics, what is the company’s vision for the Middle East market in general and the Egyptian market in particular?

Siemens acquired Mentor Graphics to support its innovative products, technology, and employees. Mentor Graphics Egypt is one of the largest R&D centres outside the United States, as Mentor Egypt has very talented engineers.

The centre has unique expertise in various fields of technology such as physical verification, functional verification, analogue or hybrid signal design, virtual primary models, and basic automotive software. The centre plays an important role in the development of the company’s technology. Employees have published over 420 papers in global magazines and journals. They also have 26 patents from the United States. With this technical capability, the centre will not be researching and developing with Mentor only, but also with Siemens.

We have invested tens of millions of dollars in Egypt over the past 20 years to employ the top 5% talented university graduates. This made our centre in Egypt one of the most attractive institutions for employees in the country. Our company has also played a major role in cooperation with universities at the higher education level. In the future, Siemens technology will also be provided. This will all support our strategy in the Middle East and North Africa. Siemens will also continue to focus on contributing to the already existing educational technology environment.

The acquisition deal was valued at $4.5bn. How will the company be managed in the future, given its large number of employees? Will some be fired?

At the time of the acquisition, Siemens announced that it intends to invest in Mentor Graphics and increase its growth and technology development. We expect increased R&D spending as well as total employment. As previously announced, Siemens believes that increased investment in Mentor Graphics will add revenue of €100m annually after the fifth year since the acquisition, along with the growth that Mentor can realise on its own. This is similar the Softbank Group’s acquisition of ARM Holdings in several aspects, including investing in an acquired company to boost its growth, instead of attempting to cut down costs.

Will the trademark of Mentor Graphics be retained or will it be merged with Siemens?

Siemens will retain the names of products and identities known to clients of Mentor. The company will come to be known as Mentor, a Siemens subsidiary.

What is the Egyptian market for Mentor Graphics?

We have three research and development centres in the Middle East and North Africa region: in Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia. The Cairo centre is the largest and oldest of them. We use Egypt’s centre and its talented engineers not only to support the development of our products but to envision and develop entirely new technologies and design tools. Egypt is very attractive to us as a hub for the Middle East and North Africa, from where we build relationships with other markets in the Gulf and North Africa.

The Egyptian market continues to be the leading market in the region. And we have contributed, throughout our history, to the development of the electronics design ecosystem in collaboration with universities, governments, small and medium enterprises, and other multinational companies. We are pleased that we came to Egypt 23 years ago and we plan to capitalise on our success here. Egypt is also an important major market for Siemens.

Do you think there is any contradiction between the German Siemens’ technologies and the American Mentor Graphics’ technology?

Mentor and Siemens have a very consistent business and staff culture. We serve many customers and subscribers. Siemens PLM Software, of Siemens’ Digital Factory Division, is a software trading company that focuses on formulating ideas, designing, developing, manufacturing, and supporting products that are the same as Mentor’s. With regard to the cultures of the two companies, both have a strong commitment to the companies’ rules, to serve our customers and provide an environment conducive to innovation.

What is the added value of the acquisition of Mentor Graphics at the moment?

Siemens has the capabilities that enable Mentor’s vision to be a reality. Mentor Graphics has long believed that the application of computer systems to virtual design and verification of integrated circuits and printed circuit boards is only the first step in the automation of electronic design. At the end of these stages, complete systems such as cars, aircraft, and trains will be designed by default, using digital twin modules on computers.

Mentor shares the electronic dimension with Siemens’ leadership in system design, data management, and the entire virtual design world.

Will the company’s policies towards the Egyptian market change by closing, maintaining, or opening new branches?

Siemens plans to continue the successful Mentor strategy in Egypt. They appreciate Mentor’s talent and the innovative results achieved.

Siemens is one of the global companies that have partnerships with the Egyptian government in many areas, including technology and energy. How will this process be invested in the future?

Siemens will continue to build on its success in the Egyptian market. Siemens will now add the benefits of electronic design and manufacturing technology to its products and strong position in the Egyptian market.

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Egypt becoming electricity hub between region, Europe: minister of electricity https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/06/egypt-becoming-electricity-hub-region-europe-minister-electricity/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/06/egypt-becoming-electricity-hub-region-europe-minister-electricity/#respond Tue, 06 Feb 2018 08:00:39 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=649383 Study underway to link Inga dams to Aswan to export 49,000 MW

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The Egyptian government aims to transform Egypt into a hub for energy trade between Europe, Arab, and African countries.

The Ministry of Electricity has developed a plan that includes many investment opportunities in the energy sector in all its fields, including the production of new and renewable energy, electrical interconnection, and water pumping and storage projects to produce electricity.

Mohamed Shaker, minister of electricity and renewable energy, told Daily News Egypt in an interview the details of the ministry’s strategy for electricity interconnection projects for Egypt with the countries of the world, and the ministry’s preparations for exporting surplus electricity production to neighbouring countries.

What is the benefit of electrical connection projects?

The economic benefits of electrical connection projects include saving the costs of fuel consumed in power plants, benefiting from peak times, and achieving financial returns for the countries through which the lines pass.

Environmental benefits include reducing emissions, using all sustainable energy sources, while technical benefits include reducing fixed and rotary reserve ratios for emergencies and facilitating the diversification of energy sources.

The electrical interconnection project of the Arab Maghreb countries aims to connect the electrical networks in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Egypt with 200 kV and 400 kV lines.

The operation of the electricity network between Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Spain has been active since 1997. As the link between Tunisia and Libya concludes, the European network will be also linked through Spain and Morocco.

How much power is exchanged with Jordan?

The Egyptian-Jordanian electrical connection is a beginning to connect with the Arab Mashreq countries, including Syria and Lebanon. This is the first project that will be implemented to connect the electricity networks through ultra-high-voltage (UHV) transmissions.

Egypt and Jordan have medium-voltage lines of 400 kV, with a capacity of 450 MW. In October, it was agreed to form a specialised technical committee to update studies to enhance the Egyptian-Jordanian electricity connection and increase the mutual capacity between the two parties to reach 2,000 MW.

The exchange of energy with Syria is by connecting with Jordan, through the exchange of 150 MW outside peak times of the total 450 MW passing through Jordan.

What are the latest developments on the electric interconnection project with Saudi Arabia?

The electrical connection project with Saudi Arabia is being processed, at an investment cost of $1.56bn. Egypt’s share is $626m.

The pilot operation of the project will start in April 2021, while full operation by April 2022. The opening of the financial offers for the tender of the Badr-Madinah-Tabuk conversion stations will take place in March and contracts will be signed in April.

Has there been a study to connect with African countries?

There is a project for interconnection between Congo, Egypt, Nigeria, Zambia, and Angola, which is of interest to the Congolese side as Egypt is an electrical centre with the ability to export the energy generated from the project to European countries.

A study was conducted to determine the total cost of implementation and the transfer of energy to be presented to financial institutions. The study is expected to be completed this year, especially since the last update of the study was in September 2013.

The project linking Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo includes a feasibility study for the exploitation of hydropower from the Inga dams and linking it to the city of Aswan for the two countries to be able to export about 49,000 MW of power.

The capacity can be transferred via routes in Central Africa, Chad, and Sudan to Egypt at a distance of 5,300 kilometres and at a cost of 3.72 to 3.94 US cents per kWh, as estimated when the study was conducted.

What are the latest developments on the green energy corridor project in Africa?

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has prepared a study on the green energy corridor project in Africa, which includes the implementation of projects for the exploitation of new and renewable energy in African countries and linking projects through the electrical grid to exchange energy produced through them.

How can Egypt be a centre for energy trading?

The Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC) signed a memorandum of understanding with Cyprus’ EuroAfrica Interconnector to conduct a technical and economic feasibility study in the field of electrical interconnection between Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus. There is potential for exchanging up to 3,000 MW through this project.

The ministry also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organisation (GEIDCO) to promote the concept of international electrical connection of energy in Egypt and Arab countries based on the technology of direct current, telecommunications, and renewable energy.

The completion of the interconnection projects referred to will make Egypt a central hub for electrical connectivity in the region.

The idea of electrical interconnection is based intercontinental UHV through direct and alternating currents (AC and DC) and smart grid technology to provide electricity transmission and distribution services of different voltages from new and renewable power plants, including solar plants, wind farms, and hydropower.

It also relies on global theoretical reserves of renewable energy sources, where 0.05% of clean energy resources are capable of meeting global energy demand. The theoretical reserves of renewable energy worldwide are about 152,000 terrawatt hours (TWh) per year.

What are the stages of implementation for the global electricity interconnection project?

It will be implemented between 2020 and 2030. The project includes linking grids of neighbouring countries and building strong transmission grids spanning all countries to reach the desired outcome before 2020.

The cross-border interconnection projects in each continent will be developed across different types of electric power to improve efficiency.

From 2030 to 2040, emphasis will be placed on broad-based development with continuous improvement in interconnected, intercontinental network architecture and the development of renewable energy projects worldwide.

This includes interconnection of intercontinental networks and the strengthening of transmission lines for the export of energy between Asia and Europe as well as transmission lines between Asia and North America and between Europe, Africa, South Asia, North, and South America. An agency will be established to coordinate efforts and develop cooperation mechanisms.

How did the Ministry of Electricity get out of its electricity insufficiency problem?

Measures taken by the electricity sector to overcome the problems of capacity deficit include the implementation of power plants from 2014 to November 2017 with a total capacity of 1,5911 MW, which is seven times more than the capacity generated from the High Dam, at a cost of EGP 197bn.

The sector was able to overcome the problems of capacity deficit after completing the implementation of electricity production projects with a total capacity of 4,650 MW, which were executed before 2014, next to the emergency plan projects that output 3,636 MW.

The maintenance and upgrading programmes for stations were 100% completed in April 2017 instead of the end of May. Coordination with the Ministry of Petroleum to provide fuel for the stations is ongoing.

The ministry contracted with the German company Siemens to build stations with a capacity of 14,400 MW with efficiency that is greater by up to 60%, at a cost of €6bn.

How much power is produced from new and renewable power plants?

The total capacity connected to the national grid from solar power plants and wind farms amounts to 890 MW. This includes the first solar thermal power station in Koraymat with a capacity of 140 MW, as well as 120 thermal plants and 20 solar plants, in addition to 750 MW from wind farms in Zaafarana.

The area of Jebel al-Zayt is witnessing the implementation of wind farms that produce 200 MW. There is also a project to install solar cells with a capacity of 2 MW for residential communities not connected to the electrical network in the governorates of Sohag, Matrouh, Qena, Luxor, and Aswan.

When will the solar energy projects in Aswan be operational?

This year will see the implementation of solar power plants in Aswan, as part of the feed-in tariff scheme that will produce 1,500 MW at an investment cost of $2bn, becoming the largest solar park in the Middle East and the world.

The studies for the pumping and storage of water for energy production in Ataqa will be completed in June. The project will generate about 2,400 MW via eight units, each of 300 MW capacity. The project will be implemented by Sinohydro at a cost of $2.6bn over seven years.

What are the latest developments of the Dabaa nuclear station?

Work on the Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant is underway. Russia’s Rosatom will build four reactors with a total capacity of 4,800 MW at a cost of $21.3bn. According to the agreement with the Russian company, the first nuclear reactor will begin production in 2026. The remaining reactors will join production one by one until 2029.

The nuclear reactors that will be implemented have all the combinations of nuclear safety systems and have an unprecedented level of protection against internal events and external factors.

The design of the reactor can bear the collision of a large commercial plane to the outer shell of the station, in addition to earthquakes, floods, storms, snowfalls, and external explosions.

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EBI kicks off 2018 with launch of e-learning services: executive director https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/04/ebi-kicks-off-2018-launch-e-learning-services-executive-director/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/02/04/ebi-kicks-off-2018-launch-e-learning-services-executive-director/#respond Sun, 04 Feb 2018 06:00:50 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=648936 EBI trains more than 50,000 trainees annually, provides over 63,000 training hours, 3,200 training programmes, says Nossier

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The Egyptian Banking Institute (EBI) will launch e-learning services in 2018, according to Abdel Aziz Nossier, the institute’s executive director.

In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Nossier said that the EBI has completed the infrastructure work and prepared the specialised experts necessary to provide these services to its bank and non-bank clients.

In this interview, Nossier reveals the efforts of the EBI to serve banking sector employees and bank clients.

Here is the transcript of the interview:

What is a simplified definition of the EBI?

The EBI is the training arm of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), which was established in 1991 with the aim of developing and improving the skills of the banking sector’s employees.

The institute has four branches, including two branches in Cairo, one branch in Alexandria, and one branch in Port Said. It has 30 lecture halls and nine computer labs.

What are the most important departments of the institute?

The institute consists of six departments offering training and assessment services, as well as three other supporting departments.

The largest department providing training services is the banking and finance operations department. This department provides training to banking professionals in the technical part of their business, such as credit, financing, risk, compliance, retail banking, and branch management through dozens of training programmes.

The second is the performance development department, which focuses on management training programmes, such as leadership, strategic management, and behavioural skills.

This department also includes the future leadership development programme and the youth leadership programme.

The third department is the management of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which provides training programmes for employees in the SME sectors of banks, as well as for clients who own such businesses and deal with banks.

The fourth department is the IT training department, which provides programmes related to the development of the information sector in banks, including computer and network security.

The fifth is the governance department and the executive leadership training, which is responsible for the governance programmes, and the departments related to the development of the skills of senior bank leaders such as board members, managing directors, and non-executive members.

The sixth department is the assessment department, which provides services to evaluate the banking sector at three levels, an assessment for recruitment, an evaluation for promotions, or an assessment for development.

What does assessment for recruitment mean?

Any bank that wants to appoint new employees comes to the institute and asks us to evaluate applicants for these jobs. We test them in several areas in agreement with the bank and the types of tests usually varies from one bank to another.

What about evaluation for development or promotions?

Each bank has a set of skills and criteria that needs the promotion candidates need to possess.

Therefore, it is the bank that determines the specifications it desires from an employee sent to us for assessment. Based on their grades, the promotion is determined or the appropriate tasks are assigned to them.

What about the supporting departments?

There is the total quality management, which is the department concerned with ensuring and confirming the quality of the educational process, and is specialised in the preparation and selection of lecturers, and evaluation of the scientific material being taught.

This department is also responsible for ensuring the commitment of the lecturers and all the educational process to the international accreditation standards obtained from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET). The ACCET has been officially recognised by the U.S. Department of Education since 1978.

The EBI was the first in Egypt to receive this accreditation in April 2009 for five years. The accreditation was renewed on December 2014 for another five years, and we await its renewal for a third time in 2019.

Another department is the international cooperation department, which is concerned with certificates and agreements with international institutions or universities. It is also concerned in organising field visits by the EBI to foreign countries to learn about the experiences of these countries and the latest experiences in the banking sector.

The third department is the department of research and awareness, which is concerned with all research and awareness-raising activities, as well as organising the annual conference of the institute, the publication of a quarterly magazine, and all related to activities and research competitions conducted by the institute.

What are the most important training courses offered by the institute?

The EBI has hundreds of training programmes, but there are several major programmes, the most important of which is the credit course, which is conducted by the department of banking operations, with a duration of six months.

The institute is constantly updating the scientific material for this course in line with the latest international applications in banking.

The second programme is the future leadership programme, which is presented by the institute once or twice a year. It concerns the senior candidates for leadership positions in the banking sector. It includes a theoretical part, as well as two visits to two developed countries, usually America, Switzerland, or Germany to learn about the latest international applications in the banking sector.

I would like to point out that a number of the programmes’ graduates are currently at the top of a number of Egyptian banks.

We also have an emerging young leaders programme, which is related to young bankers to qualify them for an advanced stage in banking.

The programme was offered in a lecture hall only, but the institute decided to add experimental training in external areas.

There is also a training for employment programme, which comes within the EBI’s social responsibility.

This programme serves both the banking sector and the community in general.

The banking sector suffers greatly from the absence of young experts suitable for banking work from university youth, which is important for banks that expand geographically and require qualified experts to join them.

It is no secret that we in Egypt suffer from a gap between the graduates and the level needed by the labour market. And we, at the institute, are working to bridge this gap.

Since 2008, the programme has been attended by more than 17,000 graduates from 17 public universities, including Cairo, Ain Shams, Banha, Zagazig, Mansoura, Tanta, Kafr El Sheikh, Damietta, Alexandria, Beni Suef, Assiut, South Valley, Sohag, Aswan, and Suez Canal, as well as Al-Azhar University, which recently joined.

This programme is offered through a grant provided by the CBE to students of public universities; a free grant, which is presented to students after passing several tests.

This programme is also offered to students of private universities for payment of certain fees, which vary according to the student’s grades in previous years.

In both cases, the student joins a programme of up to 132 hours of training. The student is then given a certificate at the end of the period after passing several tests.

A large number of graduates of this programme have already been enrolled in banks, as banks are keen to take advantage of such graduates who are eligible for banking work.

Are there programmes for SMEs?

I can say that since the CBE launched an initiative to finance and support SMEs in 2016, there has been a 30% increase in the number of trainees in this sector.

The institute has a number of programmes related to this sector, in addition to the development of its scientific material, as well as field visits to countries that have successful experiences in financing SMEs.

In this context, the institute has organised visits to Malaysia, Kenya, and other countries to identify new funding and support means for these projects.

The SME Certificate, which the institute intends to present in the coming period, is in cooperation with the Frankfurt School of Banking and Finance.

How many banks are receiving training programmes for their employees in this field?

There were 30 banks that trained their employees at the EBI SMEs unit in 2017.

It has not only stopped at the training, but some banks have asked the institute for technical consultations to establish specialised SMEs units, and the development of policies and regulatory procedures for these departments. We provide them with local and foreign expertise to help them in this regard.

What about the SME owners. Does the EBI train them?

The institute has trained hundreds of entrepreneurs on entrepreneurship, how to read budgets, how to develop a business plan for their project, feasibility studies, and marketing plans.

Moreover, the institute has trained 170 participants through the Ministry of Youth and Sports to be trainers for entrepreneurship, train other trainers, and so on, to increase the number of trainers.

What is the mechanism for SME owners to access the EBI training?

This is often done through the protocols signed by the institute with the bodies and ministries that send the owners of these projects to the institute, as well as some banks that want to train the owners of those projects who received loans from them.

What are the most prominent international bodies dealing with the EBI?

We deal with all known international bodies, both in obtaining programmes and training courses, field visits, or the recruitment of experts from them.

Among these institutions are Euromoney, Fitch Ratings, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, Moody’s, as well as Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, London School of Economics, and other universities.

What are the EBI’s resources?

The institute is a non-profit organisation that funds its services from more than one source. In general, the EBI receives fees in return for the training services it provides. In addition, the EBI receives annual subscriptions for the training services provided to the banks. These contributions vary according to the circumstances of each bank and their number of employees and trainees.

Where is the EBI positioned among training bodies in Egypt?

We are the first party in the Egyptian market to offer training and banking development services.

If we translate this in figures, the institute trains more than 50,000 trainees per year, more than 63,000 training hours, and more than 3,200 training programmes.

Where do the lecturers or trainers come from?

A large number of trainers are from the banking sector, and experts in their sectors, depending on the type of training programme.

The institute conducts a very rigorous selection process for these trainers to ensure they are eligible and qualified for training. We also invite international lecturers so that they can constantly develop them.

What will the institute offer in the coming period?

The institute will launch e-learning this year. This will be a training course offered through virtual education systems, whether using the internet or through electronic media used on computers. Non-bankers can also access this programme.

The institute has worked over the past period on the preparation of a team of workers and specialists, and the preparation of the infrastructure necessary to provide this type of education, and we are already ready to start.

The institute also has a ready-made number of programmes for this type of education, as well as its willingness to design any programme wanted by banks.

The trainee can get this programme anywhere in the bank and away from the training rooms of the institute, which saves time for bank employees.

What is the role of the institute in honing the skills of Egyptian bankers in dealing with international standards?

We are always aware of what is new in banking and related international standards, through the institute’s research and awareness department, in the framework of the institute’s keenness to make Egyptian bankers aware of all that is new.

Since April 2017, the institute has trained more than 300 trainees on the IFRS 9 standards. In January 2018, we also held a seminar attended by more than 100 employees in the banking sector to identify the dimensions of this new standard and the possibility of its application. The EBI will hold another seminar in February.

In 2017, the institute trained 85 trainees on Basel standards and conducted several training programmes on Basel III measures.

What is the role of the institute in financial education?

The institute started the “Alashan Bokra” (Shaping the Future) initiative to educate children and young people financially in 2012. The number of beneficiaries has so far reached 5.5 million children and youth.

The institute has materials and programmes available on its Facebook page to educate children and young people. The institute’s efforts have been crowned with five international awards in this regard.

The institute’s training for employment programme also includes educational programmes for students who are prepared to work in the banking sector.

The institute has also prepared the initial conception of the national strategy for financial education, in cooperation with a number of ministries and bodies and about 12 banks, and we are continuously communicating with various parties to activate this strategy.

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Iran intervenes in Africa to besiege Arab countries: Diaa https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/29/iran-intervenes-africa-besiege-arab-countries-diaa/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/29/iran-intervenes-africa-besiege-arab-countries-diaa/#respond Mon, 29 Jan 2018 07:00:28 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=648361 Qatar acts as proxy for major powers to achieve its interests

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Mahmoud Diaa, a former brigadier general, is a national security counsellor whose studies and views in the field of national security are always considered by many decision makers.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Diaa to discuss the most prominent national security issues regionally and internationally.

Can you tell us about the Iranian role in Africa as you mentioned in several articles?

To understand this issue properly, we should know the importance of Africa in many aspects. Regarding the economic aspect, Africa has huge resources that came under the focus of the whole world because it has a promising market. Africa has a population of 1.2 billion people who produce almost nothing. It is considered a large consumption market. Politically, Africa has 27 votes in international forums.

My studies focus basically on the Iranian role in Africa, because there are few studies that have tackled this issue. I wanted to present my writings to decision makers to help them see the full image of the political scene on the continent.

I realised that the Iranian role in Africa is represented in several circles.

They include East Africa and the Nile Basin countries; the West Africa region, where it aims to spread its Shiite ideology; and southern Africa.

What are the African countries that are most under Iranian focus?

I believe Iran is interested the most in Sudan. The bilateral relations have been developed significantly in the last several years. A large number of Shiite Hussainiat have been established there, benefiting from the Sufi orientation among the Sudanese people, but their influence did not last long, as they resulted in several problems.

On the other hand, Iran also tries to intervene in the 11 East African countries to put pressure on the neighbouring Arab countries located on the Red Sea.

What are the most prominent features of the Iranian presence in Africa?

Iran had prominent influence in Sudan before the recent problems emerged due to building the Hussainiat. It also has strong connections with Ethiopia and Somalia.

Could the Iranian influence on such African countries affect our interests on the continent?

Of course; the Iranian presence in any region would limit our influence in that area. It is a matter of fact—the more the Iranian influence increases in any country, the more Arab and Egyptian influence decreases. Moreover, Iran intervenes in the African region that matters the most for our national security recently.

Regarding the external relations, how far has our role in the surrounding region and the world developed during the last period?

We suffered a severe setback in Egypt’s external relations during the 25 January revolution and the aftermath that destabilised the country. This situation continued during the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule, but the current situation has changed a lot and I will give examples of this development.

After the 2011 revolution, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces named Mostafa Al-Fekki as secretary general of the Arab League, but Qatar objected to the Egyptian candidate and mobilised a large number of Arab countries to refuse Al-Fekki at the time. Therefore, Egypt was forced to nominate Nabil Al-Araby to assume the position rather than Al-Fekki after some countries threatened to choose the secretary general of the Arab League from a country other than Egypt.

In 2016, Egypt named Ahmed Aboul Gheit to the same position, while Qatar and Sudan objected to the nomination.

Egypt, under Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, threatened to call for a poll among the Arab League members in the case of refusing Aboul Gheit, so the countries unanimously voted in favour of the Egyptian candidate. This incident reflected the strength of Egypt’s position in the Arab region.

On the other hand, Egypt managed to forge a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas after the seven-year-long crisis between the rival Palestinian factions.

How do you classify the regional situation of any state?

There are necessary qualifications and decisions to be made by any country to have a significant regional influence, including the area, location, population, human and economic resources, and vital presence in international forums. Regional influence takes a lot of time to be maximised and developed, not overnight.

How do you see the growing influence of some small countries in the region?

We cannot describe this situation as regional influence. It is just an exceptional phase that resulted from their connection with large countries that use them to serve their interests in the region.

How do you evaluate the state’s performance in the counterterrorism issue, and how do you see the importance of establishing a national council to combat terrorism?

I appreciated the establishment of the Supreme Council for Combating Terrorism and Extremism, because it aims to unite all state institutions to combat terrorism. It is a different and effective mechanism for fighting terrorism besides the current security efforts. It also reflects a comprehensive view of tackling the crisis.

What are the advantages of the new council?

The council will coordinate between the bodies and elements involved in the fight against terrorism, whether the police or the armed forces. In addition, it will include representatives of the security services and significant research centres to present all visions. The council will also cooperate with Al-Azhar and the churches to activate their role in facing extreme ideologies, because the fight against terrorism is basically intellectual. I think there will also be representatives from the Ministries of Education and Social Solidarity to address the social, educational, and cultural aspects that contribute to terrorism.

How do you see the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) talks?

Despite all the media reports on the issue, I am still confident in the Egyptian leadership’s ability to protect the country’s interests for several reasons. Notably, the Egyptian negotiators are fully aware of the Ethiopian side, and they know very well how to complete the job, similar to the Taba and Camp David negotiations.

How do you see the Sudanese escalation against Egypt?

Sudan is an important country for Egypt and represents an important strategic depth for Egypt, and we are one nation.

However, the current ruling regime in Sudan raises a lot of confusion. The Sudanese issues are difficult, but Egypt is obliged to solve them. Sudan is used as a tool to create problems for Egypt.

Moreover, the US administration surprisingly lifted its sanctions on Sudan without any new moves or regulations taken by Sudan. There is no logical explanation for the American decision except that they wanted to use Sudan to serve their interests in the region.

It should be noted that the Sudanese complaint concerning the Halayeb Triangle is periodic, because if Sudan stopped submitting complaints on the issue for five years in the UN Security Council, the case would automatically end.

In addition, the Sudanese regime uses its dispute with Egypt to camouflage its economic problems. Therefore, we should differentiate between the Sudanese people who love the Egyptians and the ruling regime that is used by foreign powers to achieve their agendas.

What are the parties that use Sudan to attack Egypt?

Turkey and Qatar are the main influencing powers in Sudan. There was a meeting held recently between the chiefs of staff of the three countries. It can be linked to the recent Sudanese media escalation against Egypt, as well as the changing positions of Sudan regarding the GERD.

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Egypt’s food industry capable of doubling exports https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/28/egypts-food-industry-capable-doubling-exports/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/28/egypts-food-industry-capable-doubling-exports/#respond Sun, 28 Jan 2018 14:32:50 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=648305 Economy is progressing, but reforms benefits not completely visible yet

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Daily News Egypt takes a closer look at Egypt’s food and beverages sector through the eyes of an expert: Mohamed Shelbaya, PepsiCo’s CEO, who shares his insights on the sector’s performance and his expectations for it in 2018.

  • What are your expectations for the targeted growth rates in the upcoming year?

PepsiCo perceives Egypt as a country with rich history and diversified resources, which projects a very bright future. Over the past period, several reforms have taken place and several important milestones have been reached. Although some of the adopted measures have shown less positive repercussions in the short term and created economic pressures on consumers, they are positively expected to assemble a more favourable environment in the long term.

Egypt’s macro indicators, as reported by international institutions and credit rating agencies, illustrate that the country is moving towards an increased provisionary growth rate. As per the State Information Service, the portfolio of investments in Egypt has hit $16bn this year and foreign direct investment rose by 13%. This is also strengthened by the business sector’s future plans to rely on local components in their production process benefiting from the difference in exchange rates and the diminishing value of the pound against the dollar.

We deliberate the government’s recent efforts towards supporting SMEs and raising a financial inclusion notion of great value to the market, specifically at this phase.

In my opinion, a competitive and inclusive private sector, supported by sustainable and more commercially-run infrastructure, is crucial. In addition, being enabled by a fair and more conducive business environment, are key engines for economic growth and job creation.

We place confidence in Egypt’s potentials and we are concurrently working through our “Performance with Purpose” strategy to certify that both the public and private sectors are working hand in hand to ensure the wellbeing of all Egyptians. PWP is our fundamental belief that the success of our company is inextricably linked to the sustainability of the world around us. However, one of the fundamental challenges faced by the sector is embodied by the mismatch between the educational system’s provisions and job market requirements. Hence, PepsiCo has been fixated on developing and empowering the youth through a group of initiatives that invest in young calibres, create an entrepreneurial ecosystem and enabling innovation. All delivered it in a way that is responsible and responsive to the needs of society.

  • What are the main sectors that could strongly participate in this growth?

Last year’s achieved growth was higher than expected, thus the GDP growth rates in the first quarter of 2017 accelerated from 3.6% to 4.3%. Surely, this was led by manufacturing, construction, tourism, and retail trade, in addition to an augmented foreign direct investment that rose by 13%. Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) solely contributed 15.7% of Egypt’s GDP with an estimated market value of $29.2bn in 2015/2016, gradually increasing over the years. The FMCG sector is superbly vibrant and has abundant exporting potentials. Moreover, the industrial and agricultural sector are both vital in order to efficaciously achieve sustainable growth.

Consequently, the agriculture sector plays a major role in supporting national income, achieving food security, and providing raw materials for numerous significant industries. PepsiCo grasped the importance of this sector years ago. Accordingly, in cooperation with 3,000 Egyptian farmers, we productively managed to cultivate 40,000 acres of farmland (Egypt is PepsiCo’s third-largest agro programme anywhere in the world by volume) to produce our snacks from 100% locally-produced potatoes.

  • What are your thoughts on the inflation and interest rates?

Definitely, the first wave was difficult, and had an impact on all businesses and individuals in Egypt. However, I strongly believe that the economy is strongly recovering. This opinion was formed according to reports from international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and credit rating agencies. The reforms have not yet demonstrated all their results. However, I personally believe 2018 will hold a remarkable rise for the Egyptian economy. The numbers also prove that, as the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) remains committed to achieve its goal of reigning inflation, which is expected to decline to about 13% in the quarter ending in December 2018. We even ended 2017 with good numbers, as inflation rates reached 21.9% in December 2017 (according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics).

Regarding interest rates, it is highly implied that the CBE would keep rates steady, citing still-high inflation as a reason for the central bank to delay loosening its policy. However, that does not mean that it’s not on the government’s agenda, but it’s just a matter of time.

  • What are the F&B sector’s main plans for the upcoming phase?

The food and beverages sector is considered one of the leading sectors. According to non-oil related investment hotspots, the F&B sector was named one of the sectors of interest in the new Investment Law issued in May 2017. Lucratively, Egypt is among the top 25 markets in the world (according to the 2017 Africa Competitiveness Report).

The food and beverage sector is an exceptionally dynamic one and has huge exporting potential. Henceforward, we expect that this sector will bear to grow, mainly due to the government’s newly adopted direction. The government is persistently working hard to supervise the market and guarantee both fairness and quality across Egypt. In addition to generating the Egypt National Cleaner Production Centre (ENCPC), to guarantee and supervise the overall quality of all operating companies in the F&B sector in Egypt.

We also see Egypt’s potential in being a main exporting hub for the MENA region, with an expanded production and augmented quality.

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Will Egypt join dawn of electric vehicles?  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/28/will-egypt-join-dawn-electric-vehicles/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/28/will-egypt-join-dawn-electric-vehicles/#respond Sun, 28 Jan 2018 06:00:33 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=648278 A boom in electric vehicles (EVs) is spreading across the globe nowadays. The number of EVs on the world’s roads is increasing rapidly, with China, Europe, and the US at the forefront in terms of the increasing number of policy and business incentives. China already has 200m electric two-wheelers and 300,000 electric buses on its …

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A boom in electric vehicles (EVs) is spreading across the globe nowadays. The number of EVs on the world’s roads is increasing rapidly, with China, Europe, and the US at the forefront in terms of the increasing number of policy and business incentives.

China already has 200m electric two-wheelers and 300,000 electric buses on its roads. The Chinese government has projected that, by 2020, there will be 5m EVs in the country. Meanwhile, the total EVs on the road globally are about 2m.

However, EVs still comprise only 1% of auto sales worldwide and are projected to account for just 2.4% of demand in the US, and less than 10% globally by 2025, according to research company LMC Automotive. Yet, no EVs were offered in the Egyptian market until a company named Revolta Egypt announced that it is planning to import EVs and install the required infrastructure in Egypt. To understand the company’s plans in the Egyptian market and the prospect of EVs, DNE sat with Mohamed Badawy, CEO and founder of Revolta Egypt.

Tell us more about Revolta. What motivated you to start the company?

Revolta is originally a Russian company, started in 2012. I was the company’s operations manager in Moscow in 2013, and I fell in love with the idea and concept of electric vehicles (EV) and their infrastructure. So we started studying the possibility of establishing Revolta Egypt at that time, and we planned to launch in late 2015.

But as you know, in 2015 and 2016, Egypt was suffering from foreign currency shortages, and it was hard to know the future of foreign exchange (FX) values and to conduct a valid business model, so we decided to postpone. However, following the economic reform programme adopted by the government and the currency flotation that took place in November 2016, the vision became clear, so we considered 2017 as the first year of operation.

Can you tell us about the company’s investments in infrastructure?

When we decided to start, we were faced with “the chicken or the egg” dilemma—whether we should start by importing EVs first, or should we start by installing EV infrastructure. We decided to take the risk and start by investing in infrastructure, with EGP 100m investments, as it seemed to be the obvious choice that will allow Revolta to market EVs in the Egyptian market.

When will you launch the first phase of charging stations?

Our first phase, which is planned to launch on 11 February, will include around 65 charging points that will cover seven main governorates, including Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez. We will have two types of charging points—first are charging points that will be inside Watania filling stations, and the second are charging points in shopping malls and in many parking lots at clubs, cinemas, universities, etc. Many of these charging points will support fast charging, especially the ones on highways or the Ring Road.

What about government support and incentives; did the government provide any?

We are still negotiating with the government in terms of support and incentives, but I believe that the authorities want to know that we are serious and determined, and to see action on the ground before they provide any serious incentives. In our official launch, we have invited government and official figures, so they can see what we have accomplished.

In terms or customs and tax exemptions, EVs are currently exempted from customs based on a law issued by the Shura Council in 2013, and that is the only legislative mention ever of EVs. We at Revolta had to dig out this law from the archives, and this is what made the idea of importing EVs feasible, because without such exemption, it would be very hard for EVs to exist in the Egyptian market.

How can the government support EVs in Egypt?

That can be done in various ways. First, we hope that the government would allow the imports of used EVs, so that cheaper EVs can be available in the market, within the EGP 200,000 range. This isn’t an odd request; it’s the same way the government allowed the imports of used cars for people with physical disabilities. This is the case in many countries, such as Jordan. That way, EVs would be more affordable, and in this case, Revolta will provide five-year warranties for such cars.

Second is including EVs in the new traffic law, as they aren’t mentioned yet. In terms of licensing EVs, currently the general directorate of traffic has found a workaround, which is calculating a motor equivalent of petrol engines. However, this isn’t the best way going forward.

What are the possible benefits of EVs for the Egyptian economy? 

We have been trying to convince the authorities of the economic benefits of EVs. Take a look at the amount of foreign currency currently being wasted on importing spare parts regularly, such as fuel filters, brake lining, and camshafts, which register at about $1bn annually, not to mention fuel imports.

Moreover, there are other indirect benefits, which is the savings that everyone who would use EVs will make. Let’s say if a regular vehicle owner spends about EGP 1,500 monthly on gasoline, by switching to EVs he will save up to EGP 1,200 on a monthly basis.

Egypt has more than 6m individual cars, which would be equivalent to billions of savings that would be spent on something different and boost the economy.

Is it wise to start with EVs without first going through a transition period of hybrid vehicles?

Well, hybrid cars might seem like the reasonable thing to do at first, but in practice, the time has moved past hybrids already. That was good five years ago, but currently EVs are the future. Five years ago, EV technology and infrastructure was still primitive, but this is not the case any more. Hybrid car sales in Europe are dramatically falling, and now many countries are targeting only EVs. Even here in the region, Jordan, for example, lifted the customs exemption for hybrid cars that they had implemented earlier, and now they only exempt EVs.

How does the company plan to market EVs, given their higher initial cost compared to regular vehicles?

Although EVs have higher initial costs, they prove to be less costly in the long term, as they require lower maintenance, and they are, of course, more economical in terms of their running cost (energy consumption).

Consequently, we aim to first target corporations, which have large fleets. As you know, corporations wouldn’t only care about the initial cost, but they will consider the overall equation, especially as such fleets usually cover large distances on a daily basis; thus converting to EVs would cut their costs by a huge amount, not to mention their maintenance costs. That’s why many of the first vehicles that we will offer will be minivans.

On the other hand, with regards to individual vehicles, there are different strong points in favour of EVs. First is their hassle-free operation; second is the environment, as they have a very low carbon footprint; and more importantly, the EV uniqueness. As a company, we want EV buyers to know and feel that they own something different and special, and that is very important to many prospective buyers, and we hope that media as well can play a large role in explaining the benefits of EVs.

What about the charging costs? 

We will provide 100 hours of free charges for everyone who will purchase a car through Revolta, which would be the equivalent of around 40,000-50,000 kilometres.

After that, a full charge, which is equivalent to about 250 kilometres, will cost around EGP 50 only, which is way cheaper than gasoline or diesel.

Will all your charging stations offer fast charging?

We will have fast charging stations on the highways and the Ring Road, which takes less than one hour for a full charge, but in malls and parking lots, we will install the normal charging stations that take from three to four hours for a full charge.

Can you tell us about the auto dealers and manufacturers that you have already negotiated with?

Most of the auto dealers in Egypt view EVs with doubt, and they want to wait to see if they will be successful before they commit.

However, Nissan Egypt and Hyundai are very supportive of the idea, and they are the only two brands that we will offer, besides Tesla, which will be the luxurious line of our company. However, we will not be a Tesla dealer; as you know, they don’t have any official dealers in any country, yet we will provide all the aftersales services needed (spare parts, maintenance, etc.).

What about importing Chinese cars, especially with the EV strategy currently adopted by the Chinese government? 

Chinese cars are either low-quality cheap cars, which would give EVs a very bad reputation in the Egyptian market, or high-quality cars which cost almost the same as any other EV such as the Nissan Leaf, which is more preferable for Egyptian consumers.

Are EVs already available for purchase at Revolta, and what is your sales target?

Currently, EVs are available for pre-orders, where you can order any of the cars offered and will receive them within a three- to four-month period, as we currently only import by order.

We plan to have 10,000 cars on the Egyptian streets by 2020, and hopefully even more.

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Lexium plans to provide legal advice via smartphones to 100m Arab citizens https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/24/lexium-plans-provide-legal-advice-via-smartphones-100m-arab-citizens/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/24/lexium-plans-provide-legal-advice-via-smartphones-100m-arab-citizens/#respond Wed, 24 Jan 2018 06:00:17 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=647822 Company aims to increase network of lawyers, legal experts to 1,000, says Allama

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Lexium, a legal consultancy smartphone application, has decided to expand its services to the Egyptian market during the coming period, according to Rami Allam, executive director of Lexium.

The company’s services are provided by 100 lawyers and 50 legal experts.

Lexium plans to increase the number of lawyers to 1,000 by the end of this year, while the company targets providing legal advice through smartphones to provide services to 100 million people in the Arab region.

Tell us about the nature of the service provided by your company and how emerging companies can benefit from it?

Lexium is an application that allows each user to obtain legal answers and models and authorises them to communicate with lawyers in the legal field required.

Lexium is unique in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). This service is especially geared towards startups that suffer from many burdens at the beginning of their journey and thus facilitates access to legal information and consultancy at a lower cost.

Do you see legal advice as a major challenge for startups?

Legal consulting is one of the major and outstanding challenges for emerging companies. It is the backbone of any company aspiring to expand its business.

Indeed, each company should consult legal experts to determine whether they can trade in the product or service they want to distribute.

In addition, startups need consultancy in the protection of intellectual property, trademarks, and brands.

Legal consultation is essential in the investment phase. Partners should use a lawyer to guide them in all matters relating to the terms of the partnership contract and contracts with investors.

All this is essential, not to mention the complexities of labour laws and social security that require legal wisdom in order to avoid taxes and fines that may affect the business of an emerging company.

What is distinctive about your services compared to traditional legal advice services?

The Lexium application opens up a new horizon in the world of law and rights. We at Lexium believe that everyone has the natural right to free access to basic legal information that allows them to appreciate their rights and duties in society.

The application is unique because it is the first application that allows users to obtain free legal information and essential basic models in modern society.

In addition to that, the application allows anyone to complete a search to find the right lawyer for what they need.

Most importantly, the application exists in most Arab countries and thus allows all Arab peoples to communicate with each other through a common language, the language of law and truth.

You are a newly established company, what are the main features of your plans during the coming period?

The company is a new company but it aspires to expand in all Arab countries and to empower people who need help.

We started in Lebanon and we aspire to expand in Egypt and the Gulf countries during 2018 and 2019.

How many customers are you targeting providing services to?

Our team is very ambitious and therefore our goal is very broad. We aspire to provide services to more than 100 million young Arab men and women, enabling them to determine their fate and claim their rights and be aware of their duties.

You mentioned that your services are free, how will you make profit?

The application aims to achieve social justice and enable everyone to have access to all necessary legal information and consult with competent lawyers so as not to be in error or any violation of the law.

In terms of profitability, we rely primarily on advertising and services offered by Lexium, such as models that can be directly modified on site for profit.

How many lawyers and advocates work with you?

The application today brings together more than 100 lawyers and 50 legal experts who collaborate and use the service on a regular basis.

Lexium is aiming to bring the number of lawyers to 1,000 by the end of this year.

Do you have expansion plans for countries in the Middle East?

Of course, the goal of Lexium is to unite the Arab countries through the language of truth and law.

We will look at the future with an open eye and see in our eyes the young Arabs who have the right to have a wide legal gate and an application that understands their needs and equates them before the law.

Egypt is one of the most bureaucratic countries in the Arab region. Do you have plans to provide services in Egypt?

Egypt is the mother of the world. And we, as Lebanese people, see Egypt as an example of us in love, ethics, divinity, and history.

In addition, the Egyptian people are in dire need of such a service and need an application through which they can know their rights and duties, and this is what we offer.

The Egyptian market is the most important after the Lebanese market for the team at Lexium.

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 2018 will see end of 351 areas dangerous to lives of Egyptians: deputy housing minister https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/22/2018-will-see-end-351-areas-dangerous-lives-egyptians-deputy-housing-minister/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/22/2018-will-see-end-351-areas-dangerous-lives-egyptians-deputy-housing-minister/#respond Mon, 22 Jan 2018 08:30:42 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=647601 All Maspero landowners chose partnership with state except one company

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Perhaps the issue of development and removal of slums in Egypt is one of the country’s problems that no eye can miss. The amount of success and achievement that occurred is visible to all. Slums have always been a stigma of Egyptian culture and a wound that has not been dealt with except in the last three years, when it was approached and treated through massive procedures that realised many goals and still have more to go.

Daily News Egypt sat down with Deputy Housing Minister Ahmed Adel Darwish, who is also the first official in charge of this file, for him to to tell us about his mandate, what was done, and what is to come.

 

Can you explain informal settlements and their real size in Egypt?

Informal settlements are areas deprived of services such as water, electricity, or architectural requirements.

Slums could either be unsafe or unplanned. Approximately 40% of Egyptian cities are slums, according to the aforementioned definition. Here, we are only talking about the urban areas, not the rural as well.

 

What is the plan to deal with each of the two types of slums?

 

The state gives priority to unsafe slums, which represent a danger to the people living in them. There are 351 slums across Egypt of this type.

The state has developed 105 areas and is now working on the remaining 246 areas, which will be completed by the end of 2018. As for unplanned settlements, they require long- and medium-term plan. The long-term plans extend over 10-15 years to develop these areas. In the long term, we work on limiting the possibility of emergence of similar settlements by providing appropriate alternatives.

What is expected to happen in 2018?

We will announce the completion of the development of the 351 unsafe slums, which we have been working which we were mandated with in 2014.

We will declare Port Said a zone free of slums. The governorate was a priority since its is included in a major investment plan, being the face of Egypt for foreign investments and because of the Suez Canal and megaprojects there.

 

What are the latest developments in the Maspero Triangle issue?

We settled the disputes of 62% of its residents, through direct financial compensation or granting alternative apartments in Al-Asmarat neighbourhood. There are 850 families that chose to stay in the area and 2,200 families that obtained compensations worth a total EGP 300m.

 

Were the inhabitants of Maspero Triangle convinced or pressured?

 

There has been no pressure on the people of the area. In our latest meeting with them, we said, clearly, that nobody will leave the area unless fuelled by their own will.

Moreover, they have the right to take the compensation and return to the area again.

What about the landowners?

The state respects the landowners because the constitution and the law respects private property. The president always emphasises this. The compensation was appropriate, which is why 70% of the people took it.

 

Everyone should know that the state does not own any land in the area of Maspero. However, the state will spend EGP 4bn to develop the area and make it suitable as part of Downtown Cairo.

The owners were given the choice of partnering with the state, giving the latter a 40% share. All the major owners took this partnership, except for the Kuwaiti company that requested to sell the land.

 

What is the future vision for the Maspero Triangle after development?

 

A part will be for housing the old residents that chose to stay there. The other parts will be utilised for different purposes: entertainment, tourism, and commercial sectors. The area will be planned in specific areas and predetermined heights.

 

Is Al-Asmarat your biggest slum development project?

 

Of course, Al-Asmarat is the largest residential project for us. After the completion of its three stages, it will have 18,500 residential units.

 

What about the impact of slum development on the lives of these people?

 

The first personal observation is the interest in education. All those who have been transferred have their kids remain in schools. This was one of the most pleasing outcomes for us. It also proves that housing in slums was not optional for these citizens, as immediately after they moved to better areas with better services, their lives improved.

 

What is the reason for the spread of slums in Egypt?

Lack of spatial justice in the distribution of investments is the main reason. For example, there is a small city in Sohag governorate that has no jobs, services, or facilities in the capital. Therefore, migration takes place to the areas where these services exist most. In addition, long-term leases contributed to creating these slums.

 

Is there partnership between you and the private sector?

 

Most of these projects are implemented by the private sector, but via the governorates. We give them the plans and funding required, while governorates agree with the companies. We maintain our supervisory role and follow up on the projects until they are delivered.

 

Does your role interfere with the role of the social housing project?

 

Our role is complementary to it. In order to limit the emergence of new slums, housing must be provided. Here comes the role of the state’s agencies that fulfills the role of social housing. What they provide limits the emergence of new slums.

 

Is the establishment of alternative areas and the removal of slums the only solution for them?

 

No, this only applies to 1% of slums that are unsafe for housing.

 

The rest of the slums have other strategic plans. We will start working on them in the coming five years, in partnership with the residents and private sector companies.

 

The areas will be modified, where the streets will be expanded and a very limited number of buildings will be removed, while providing alternatives for their residents.

 

What has been done in Tal El Akareb?

 

The area is now known as Hope Hills, which was chosen by the residents. We gave residents there two options; either to live in Sixth of October City until the project is completed or receive EGP 1,200 per month to rent a place of their choice.

What about the Alexandria slums in Tolombat El-Max?

 

The area has been developed and the residents will return in two weeks.

 

What about the Red Sea governorate?

We work there in many areas. The projects in Ras Ghareb and Safaga have been completed and El Qoseir will be completed within three months.

In Halayeb and Shalatin, we have projects that will start within two weeks. We will build 1,500 Bedouin homes, to suit the nature of the nomadic life of the people there. We will be finished by the end of 2018.

 

How many informal markets are there and what are the plans to face them?

 

We have about 1,090 informal markets in Egypt that were counted long ago. Some are based on railways or next to above-ground metro stops. This year, we have moved and developed 39 markets, such as Al-Tunisi in the Citadel area.

How do you assess what was accomplished in the previous period with regards to slums?

 

In order to see the real picture, we can make a simple comparison between two periods. In 2008-2014, about EGP 2.3bn was spent. In contrast, since 2014 until now, we spent over EGP 14bn on slum development. The number of housing units is 10 times more than before.

 

Are there financial contributions from non-state parties?

 

Unfortunately, there is no real funding except from the state. Since 2017, all the necessary funding was provided by the state.

 

When will the Ramla Bulaq area be developed?

After finishing the Maspero Triangle.

What is happening with the Ain Al-Hayat area in Ain Al-Sira?

Cairo Governorate will conduct an investigation and review of the residents of the region and examine each case on its own. Whoever proves their entitlement gets a residential apartment in preparation for the transfer to Al-Asmarat.

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ARCO to pump EGP 1.7bn into construction contracts in 2018 https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/22/arco-pump-egp-1-7bn-construction-contracts-2018/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/22/arco-pump-egp-1-7bn-construction-contracts-2018/#respond Mon, 22 Jan 2018 06:00:32 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=647604 Company targets achieving 20% increase in sales this year, says executive director 

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Al Arabia Real Estate and Development (ARCO) aims to achieve contractual sales worth EGP 5bn during the current year, driven by the real estate market boom and the launch of new projects in 2018, according to ARCO Egypt’s executive director, Ayman Ibrahim.

Ibrahim said that the market has seen many strong changes over the past year as the market in the current year is witnessing strong improvement, especially with the continued presence of real demand which depends on the increase in population, in addition to the continued gap between supply and demand that not all companies operating in the market can meet.

In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Ibrahim said that ARCO seeks launching business in the Delta and Upper Egypt regions.

What will ARCO launch this year?

The company is going to launch a new phase of the Lavande project, which is located in Sixth of October City on 56 feddans and includes townhouses and villas. It is located in front of the New Gezira Club and features 345 units. The design will be inspired by southern France.

The first phase consists of 100 units and launched on 24 November 2016, with total investments worth EGP 1.5bn.

Further, the company is developing a new phase of the Citystars Al Sahel project, which includes 900 residential units.

Moreover, ARCO is processing a partnership with the Ministry of Housing to develop new projects in New Cairo and Sheikh Zayed cities.

What is the value of construction contracts for the current year?

Our plan for this year is to pump EGP 1.7bn into construction contracts for our development projects.

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

The company targets achieving contractual sales worth about EGP 5bn in the current year, an increase of about 20%, as the market supports the investment plans of the company.

What is the company’s expansion plan?
The Delta and Upper Egypt regions are at the top of the company’s expansion plan and is a key step that will likely come later for all companies. Currently we do not have a specific focus, but Upper Egypt will inevitably come as part of our investment plan.

How many units will be delivered in the coming period?

By the end of 2019, the first phase of La Fontaine project and consists of about 250 units. La Fontaine is located in New Cairo on an area of 34 feddans. It is located in front of Wadi Degla and just three minutes from the American University in Cairo (AUC).

The project include 85 townhouses and 565 units. Each group of buildings will have an indoor swimming pool and health club.

Moreover, the company will deliver 500 units of City Stars Al Sahel project. The project’s total area is 743 feddans and we are currently working on the first phase on 120 feddans. The project is being developed over 10 years.

The new phase of Citystars Al Sahel is sponsored by an international sports celebrity. Its lagoon area, 480,000 sqm in size, will be surrounded by 130 villas, both separate and stand-alone.

In early May 2017, ARCO signed Brazilian football star Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior as its brand ambassador for Egypt and the Arab world.

Neymar serves as the company’s public face across the MENA region as ARCO prepares to launch a host of new developments as well as developing phases of its existing communities.

What is the value of investments that have been spent on the project so far?

We have invested a total of EGP 1bn on the project so far. We contracted with Crystal Lagoons for the construction of an industrial lake on an area of 60,000 sqm within the project. During the current year, the project will see a big boom in construction work.

Does the company intend to invest in the New Administrative Capital?

The New Administrative Capital is part of our plan for the coming phase.

Do you expect a real estate bubble in the coming period?

The current period is witnessing great demand for investments in the sector, as Egypt’s real estate prices are unmatched compared to neighbouring and foreign markets, therefore the market is very far away from reaching a bubble.

We need to develop partnerships to carry out projects suitable for all segments of clients. Moreover, clients’ purchasing power is still strong in the sector.

What is your opinion regarding mortgage financing in Egypt?
The government has to support the mortgage financing system. In foreign countries, real estate financing is essential and Egypt needs it very much to meet the great demand on property.

What do you think about the overall real estate export strategy?
We target Egyptian expatriates to export property to in particular, as we go to the Gulf markets because the purchasing power of the Egyptians there is strong. In addition, we target the Arabs in residential tourism projects and we may target foreign clients, especially as the country aims to operate areas such as the North Coast throughout the year.

What are your expectations for this year’s prices?
I expect a 20% increase in prices by the end of the current year, and the price is still low compared to other markets of the region. Egypt has good investment opportunities in real estate, which I hope will benefit all investors.

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Aim to raise EGX market capitalisation to 60% of GDP in 5 years: minister of finance https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/21/aim-raise-egx-market-capitalisation-60-gdp-5-years-minister-finance/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/21/aim-raise-egx-market-capitalisation-60-gdp-5-years-minister-finance/#respond Sun, 21 Jan 2018 08:00:38 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=647471 8 oil, industry, petrochemical, banks public companies will be IPO-ed in 18 months

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What was done after the Ministry of Finance took over the supervision of the government proposals programme?

The government aims to offer six to eight of its companies on the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) within the coming 18 months. This will include a stake of 20-30% of the capital of each company.

The government’s companies’ initial public offering (IPO) programme aims to offer three companies before June.

The government is seeking to implement an agreed programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to list a number of its companies on the EGX. The programme is expected to begin with Enppi and Banque du Caire.

What are some sectors the ministry is considering listing on the EGX?

We are working on developing an integrated vision for the programmes and forecasting some of the companies that can be put forward in the coming period in a way that ensures continuity for periods of up to three to five years, in the sectors of oil, banking, industry, and petrochemicals.

The basic principle of the programme is the ability of companies to attract capital to contribute to the achievement of their expansion and growth plans. The report of the IPO committee was approved for Enppi, which will be sent to NI Capital, which is consulting on the programme, for review.

The Ministry of Finance is working with other ministries such as the Ministries of Planning and Petroleum, the public business sector, and public banks on this programme which includes more than one model for the offering process, including the presence of major companies that include banks, oil, and insurance companies. This makes the government eager to maximise revenues not just for the budget but for the development of these companies.

What are the objectives of the government proposals program?

One of the objectives of the programme is to increase the market capitalisation of the EGX, which is now less than 20% of GDP.

The government aims to increase the market capitalisation of the EGX to 50-60% of GDP in three to five years. During that period, the economy’s size will have reached EGP 7tn. This means that the EGX’s value will be in the range of EGP 4tn, up from EGP 800bn now.

What is the value of the funding gap for the next fiscal year?

The estimated financing gap during the next fiscal year ranges between $10bn and $12bn, which will be bridged through an IMF loan worth $4bn, which is part of the $12bn loan agreement. We will also borrow $5-6bn from other sources.

Egypt expanded its dependence on external funding last year to adjust the balance of payments and ease pressure on domestic lenders who offer high-interest rates and to deal with its short-term external commitments, which have been high in recent years.

The government and the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) borrowed some $18.8bn last year, including bonds worth $7bn, $3.3bn from the IMF, $3.3bn from international banks, and is planning to offer more international bonds in the coming month worth $4bn.

What are the latest developments in the international USD bond market in international markets?

Egypt’s programme on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange will be increased to $2bn, in the framework of working to offer $4bn worth of bonds in the first half of February.

There may be a short promotional visit of two or three days before the offering, amid the presence of meetings with foreign investors in Egypt and abroad to advise them on the latest economic developments and the improvement of the Egyptian economy’s state, supported by the positive forecast of international credit rating institutions.

The improved credit rating would help increase demand for future bonds, which would lead to lower interest rates.

The yield on the five-year Egyptian bonds offered in January 2016 fell from 6.125% to 4.8%.

This is a drop of 1.35%. The interest on the 10-year bonds also lowered from 7.5% to 6.2%, down 1.3%. The interest on the 30-year bonds also decreased from 8.5% when they were issued in January 2016 to 7.2% now.

What about euro-denominated bonds?

We are targeting between €1bn and €1.5bn worth of bonds in April if there is a chance at that time.

What is the plan to reduce public debt?

The government aims to reduce the public debt to GDP by 10% to reach 97% compared to 108% at the end of last fiscal year.

The improvement on the deficit side on the budget contributes to reducing the dependence on borrowing through treasury bonds and bills, which leads to a reduction in the interest rate, which leads to the reduction of interests compared to GDP.

The government aims to reduce the interests of public debt to 6% of GDP and 19% of the budget in three to five years.

The provisions for interests this fiscal year amount to EGP 410bn, which is equivalent to 9% of GDP and 33% of the budget, which are all high figures.

What are the targets of debt decline for the next fiscal year?

The Ministry of Finance aims to reach debt rates during the next fiscal year between 90 and 91% of GDP.

The Ministry of Finance is looking to achieve a debt to GDP ratio of 75% by 2022. At the same time, reduce the external debt service cost as a proportion of exports of goods and services to become 20-25% as soon as possible.

The government needs high funding rates. Moody’s Credit Rating says that Egypt’s total funding needs are 40% of GDP for debt service and bridging the budget deficit, which is one of the highest in the world.

The interest provisions in this year’s budget were affected by CBE’s war on inflation, in which it uses the high-interest rates as the main weapon. CBE raised interest rates after the depreciation of the pound value in the process of adjusting the exchange rate market, which hiked to 19.755 on the corridor rule, leaving interest rates on government debt instruments at their highest in more than a quarter of a century.

What about the budget deficit?

The ministry aims at the end of June to achieve a positive initial surplus of 0.2% of GDP compared to an initial deficit of 1.8% at the end of the past fiscal year.

The initial deficit in the first half of the fiscal year 2017/2018 reached 0.3% of GDP compared to 1.1% of the total GDP in the same period last year.

We seek to achieve a final deficit of 9.5% at the end of the current fiscal year, down from 10.9% in the fiscal year 2016/2017.

The government is looking to reduce the total deficit in the next fiscal year to reach between 8.25% and 8.5% of GDP and an initial surplus higher than the current fiscal year.

Achieving an initial surplus means that income surpasses expenditure, which helps to pay part of interest on debt, hence decreasing reliance on debt in financing the budget, which eventually stabilises debt to GDP and reduces the cost of borrowing.

What about inflation?

The CBE aims to reduce inflation rates to 13% at the end of 2018, which can easily be achieved amid the good economic indicators in the first half of the fiscal year.

The government is currently considering the value of the social protection package that will be implemented in the next fiscal year, in light of expected inflation rates. This will be completed and presented to parliament as part of the budget in March.

Has the social protection package been identified for the next fiscal year?

When we work on the package, we seek to protect the groups most vulnerable to the economic reform process. We are conducting an ongoing study on the value of subsidies for commodities, after increasing the value this year by an unprecedented 141% to reach EGP 50 up from EGP 21. This will contribute to increasing the package from EGP 44bn in the past fiscal year to a projected EGP 82bn by the end of June.

There is no reason at this time for high inflation rates as productivity improves and food commodities prices decline on the global level.

Inflation peaked in July 2017 hitting its all-time record of 35% on an annual basis, excluding vegetables, fruits, and administratively determined commodities.

When will the IMF’s second review be?

The IMF’s second review of the economic reform programme will be held in April. They will review what has been done in the previous period of the fiscal year and determine the future forecast. The government confirms its commitment to completing the economic reform programme.

What about energy subsidies?

Egypt’s production of natural gas will offset part of the new cost. Also, the high oil prices in the world market contributed to rationing consumption.

Zohr gas field in the Mediterranean began production last month, which is expected to reduce the government’s gas import requirements for the coming period.

What about payment of foreign partners’ dues?

We have a plan to pay $750m, of which we have already paid $200m. We are working to pay $550m by the end of February or early March.

What are your expectations for growth rates and foreign direct investment by the end of the current fiscal year?

I expect foreign direct investments of $10bn this fiscal year.

We also look to achieve high growth rates of 5.25-5.5% at the end of this fiscal year, as we realised 5.2% in the first half of this year.

In the next fiscal year, we expect rates to reach 6% of GDP, considering our ability to read the global situation and the variables which contribute to taking proper measures so as to ensure high growth for long periods of time.

In your opinion, how will foreign subscriptions proceed after lower interest rates?

We did not assume foreigners will keep their subscriptions at the same pace forever. The lower interest rate means improved credit rating. Hence, foreigners have more appetite to invest with lower interest rates, especially with the presence of positive indicators from credit rating agencies and IMF reviews.

Foreign investment in government debt in 2017 was very high. We achieved investments of $20bn up from less than $1bn before the economic reform programme.

What is the number of feed-in tariff companies in the second phase that you issued guarantees for?

The ministry had completed the financial guarantees for 15 companies that are part of the second phase of the feed-in tariff project. We are working to complete the guarantee for the rest of the companies.

The support of the political leadership for all the real efforts being made and its continuous and periodic follow-up on all economic issues give us a strong push to make every effort to restore Egypt’s status.

The size of the major national projects that have been completed during the last four years have made remarkable progress in the growth of the national economy and have contributed to the creation of many jobs.

The staunch response to the thorny economic files had the greatest impact on such reforms.

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Economic growth, high standard of living depend on SMEs expansion: Abdeen https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/21/economic-growth-high-standard-living-depend-smes-expansion-abdeen/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/21/economic-growth-high-standard-living-depend-smes-expansion-abdeen/#respond Sun, 21 Jan 2018 07:00:14 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=647432 Banks working to accelerate production, achieve sustainable development by focusing on funding vital sectors such as industry, agriculture, renewable energy

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Mohamed Nasr Abdeen, vice chairperson of Union National Bank-Egypt, said that economic growth and achieving a high standard of living for citizens in Egypt depend on the expansion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which absorb more workers and raise productivity.

This interview examines the outlook for the performance of the Egyptian economy and the banking sector in the new year 2018.

What is the role that banks can play in supporting investors during the new year?

Banks operating in the Egyptian market have a large volume of deposits, in addition to the banking expertise and the confidence of international financial institutions.

In addition, all banks are ready to finance various development projects, where they have a huge budget that makes them thirsty to finance investment projects, especially if they enjoy competitive advantages and a rewarding return, such as the projects of the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

However, it is necessary to reduce the cost of financing to help investors bear the burden of their investments and achieve profitable returns.

What are the most important sectors that the bank will focus on financing?

We are working to accelerate production and achieve sustainable development by focusing on vital sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, and renewable energy, which will give a strong boost to the Egyptian economy.

In addition, we have an interest in financing SMEs. This sector represents a fundamental pillar, which helps to create employment opportunities for young people, reduce unemployment rates, and raise levels of income, in addition to increasing the GDP, stimulating Egyptian exports abroad, and limiting the import of alternative goods.

What is the bank’s action plan in the Egyptian market during the coming period?

The Union National Bank – Egypt will see a great start during the coming period. We eye a market share of over 5% in the next 10 years, next to increasing profits this year.

To do so, we are relying on an approved plan, which focuses on developing the means of reaching customers by offering a range of new products and services to suit different segments, and completing the expansion and geographical spread through the opening of five new branches during the current year to reach 48 branches in total.

The bank is also very interested in the SMEs sector, which accounts for 10% of the bank’s total loan portfolio at present. The bank is seeking to reach 20% over the next three years.

What are your expectations for inflation and interest rate trends in 2018?

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has gradually succeeded in targeting inflation. The last three months witnessed a significant slowdown in rates. The basic inflation index prepared by the CBE settled at 19.86% at the end of December 2017. The interest rates are up to the CBE, though, it being the monetary policymaker.

What is your view of the future of the foreign exchange reserves and the ability of the CBE to meet external commitments?

The CBE was able to pay its external dues on time without delay or postponement.

Despite the difficulties facing the Egyptian economy, the CBE pays annual premiums, debts, and deposits to countries and international financial institutions, as a result of a prudent monetary policy to maintain foreign exchange reserves and even rise to record levels. Furthermore, the CBE took several actions to limit the erosion of the reserves, which is an excellent indicator of efficient performance and ability to meet external obligations.

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Banks to continue supporting government developmental plan in 2018: Fayed https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/21/banks-continue-supporting-government-developmental-plan-2018-fayed/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/21/banks-continue-supporting-government-developmental-plan-2018-fayed/#respond Sun, 21 Jan 2018 06:00:10 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=647430 We expect Egyptian economy in 2018 to witness higher growth rates reaching 4.5-5% more than prior year

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In 2018, banks will continue to support the developmental plan of the government, according to Mohamed Abbas Fayed, CEO and managing director of Bank Audi Egypt.

What are your expectations for the targeted growth rates for 2018?

We expect that the Egyptian economy in 2018 is going to witness higher growth rates reaching 4.5 to 5% more than the prior year, due to the beginning of reaping the benefits of the government’s reform programme for the Egyptian economy implemented throughout the previous years.

What are the most important sectors that can significantly contribute to this growth?

Based on our point of view, the real estate investment and contracting sectors are expected to lead the growth rates, due to the near completion of several national projects, in addition to the energy and petroleum sectors, especially after the recent petroleum discoveries. The developmental projects in the agricultural sector are expected to contribute to boosting the growth rates as well.

What is the forecasted value of the EGP against the USD and what are the reasons behind the value?

Since November 2016, the exchange rate value has been determined through supply and demand mechanisms as a consequence of adopting the decision to float the exchange rate. Currently, the exchange rate gets lower in parallel with increasing the supply of foreign currency to meet demand. Based on our forecasts for the coming period, we expect the supply of foreign currency to increase and the value of national currency is going to increase against foreign currency as well. Such economic achievements take place through the expected economic growth, driven by foreign investments alongside strong recovery of the tourism sector within the next year.

What are your expectations for inflation trends and interest rates trends?

The current inflation rates are temporary as they are due to the impact of the decision to float the exchange rate. However, through following up the monthly indicators of inflation rates, one can notice the stability of these indicators since three months, as well as their decline downward.

We can also expect that this stability and decline in the inflation indicators will be ongoing within the coming months, due to the central bank’s pivotal role in facing inflation through its monetary methods. Such plan aims at driving the inflation rates to reach 13% (±3%) before the end of 2018 and Egypt is capable of achieving this rate owing to the expected growth in GDP as a result of the increase in the revenues of tourism, exports, and oil discoveries.

What is the role played by banks in supporting investors and increasing lending instead of investing in debt instruments?

Undoubtedly, the banking sector throughout the past years plays the biggest role in the process of economic stability, where banks currently own significant amounts of liquidity and enjoy strong financial positions.

Moreover, banks are required to be more engaged in funding small and medium enterprise (SME) projects, as these SMEs have the ability to increase the levels of local production and reduce the processes of importing, as well as providing and creating job opportunities to decrease the unemployment rates.

In your opinion, what are the most important sectors that banks will focus on more in 2018?

We expect that in 2018, banks will keep on supporting the developmental plan of the government, in addition to expanding the funding of vital economic sectors such as the energy, agricultural, industrial, servicing, and real estate investment sectors. Banks in 2018 will also expand the funding of large national projects, due to the fact that these projects are the main pillar in consolidating the national economy. Additionally, as aforementioned, banks this year will focus on supporting SME projects with their funding requirements.

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Honeywell negotiates to provide smart solutions for New Administrative Capital https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/17/honeywell-negotiates-provide-smart-solutions-new-administrative-capital/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/17/honeywell-negotiates-provide-smart-solutions-new-administrative-capital/#respond Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:00:36 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=646920 We plan to turn Egypt into a major hub for our Middle East operations in the coming years, says Hashim

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Honeywell International aims to transform its Egyptian branch into operations centre in the Middle East.

This comes as part of the company’s plan to increase its investments in Egypt. In addition to that, the company is negotiating with the Ministry of Petroleum to supply integrated technological solutions for petrochemical projects, according to Khaled Hashim, president for Honeywell in Egypt and Libya.

What are the main features of your plans for the coming period?

We have been operating in Egypt for 50 years. However, in the last two years, our number of employees increased by 100% as a result of the projects implemented with our increased investments in Egypt.

We aim to transform Egypt into a major hub for our Middle East operations in the coming years.

Over the past years, the company has invested heavily in the field of connectivity and the Internet of Things.

The company is currently implementing projects with the Egyptian government and the private sector in various commercial, health, and security sectors

Do you have plans to provide technological solutions to the new capital?

Negotiations are currently underway with the management of the New Administrative Capital to implement projects in several areas of smart cities that contribute to the transformation into an integrated smart city.

We have technological solutions and we have implemented them in a number of countries.

We are also cooperating with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and all its affiliates to implement projects in both security and fire systems.

Are there any future projects you are working on?

The company is currently coordinating with the Ministry of Petroleum to implement all projects related to petrochemicals and refineries, etc.

Furthermore, we aim to provide all technological solutions and techniques that contribute to maximising the targeted utilisation of these projects for the benefit of the ministry.

What is the size of your business?

The volume of Honeywell’s global business reached $40bn in 2016.

We provide many technological solutions such as automated control centres locally through various projects. This contributes to providing the highest level of control, efficient productivity, and security in various projects.

Such solutions will be of benefit when smart city projects are implemented if they allow city-based management to take full control of security and productivity in industrial or residential areas 24/7.

How do you see investment opportunities in Egypt under the state plan for digital transformation?

Digital transformation will provide new opportunities for extensive investment in the coming period.

Digital transformation communities must have a clear vision of how the digital transformation takes place, and there are many users who do not understand the digital transformation process.

Digital transformation needs three key factors for success: the human element, the component of the machine, and the component of operations.

How do you see the economic reforms carried out by Egypt recently?

Egypt has taken many reform measures, for example, the decision of the Central Bank of Egypt to float the pound is one of the most important decisions, which we expected to bring about significant achievements, in addition to recent economic reforms, which help companies to increase their investments in Egypt.

A third-party study was conducted on African markets, Asia, and the Middle East recently. This study showed that Egypt provides the best market to achieve high growth rates.

Digital transformation is also an essential part of the solutions we are implementing. This is the basis on which the project itself is built, whether a city, building, or airport, where we study the steps required in these processes in order to build integrated solutions.

These integrated solutions are built on Honeywell products and software, which distinguishes them from other companies.

What are the most prominent technological solutions for the company?

Honeywell has an integrated portfolio of software and products, including training and qualification for the human element.

In the past two years, Honeywell has undergone a number of changes from a product-based company to integrated solutions based on the internet of things. Thus, it has changed its logo to be based on the power of connected.

The company focuses on software and integrated solutions, and is not solely an industrial company anymore. It has become an integrated industrial software company that offers solutions in all fields from aviation, health, infrastructure, oil, gas, and chemicals, to software solutions for businesses and homes.

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Sudan is last stronghold of MB now, main reason for current tensions: Hatem Bashat https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/15/sudan-last-stronghold-mb-now-main-reason-current-tensions-hatem-bashat/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/15/sudan-last-stronghold-mb-now-main-reason-current-tensions-hatem-bashat/#respond Mon, 15 Jan 2018 10:00:37 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=646763 We are preparing a popular delegation that includes respected Egyptian leaders in Africa to travel to Ethiopia

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By virtue of his long experience in the General Intelligence Directorate, having served for over 17 years, Hatem Bashat has experience in the region, especially on African matters and on our southern border, of which he was in charge during his work, in addition to his experience in modern parliamentary affairs. He spoke to Daily News Egypt about all of this and analysed the current situation in this interview.

1. How do you assess parliament’s performance in the recent period?

At the beginning of the parliamentary session, most of us lacked experience, including myself. An atmosphere of mistrust prevailed among parliament members, including the speaker of the parliament himself. This happened at a time when we needed to put together the parliament’s bylaws, form committees, and discuss a large number of laws.

But in the second session, we began to gain experience and things got much better. I believe this was the real beginning of parliament’s work. It appeared that the parliament has a large number of competencies, but there is an absence of fair participation in parliament.

2. Why did you join the parliament through the Free Egyptians Party?

Because it was the most youthful party and their [youth] participation is great. Today’s youth are different. I was astonished when my son asked me for a copy of the Egyptian Constitution to read. At the same time, I was provoked by mottos like “in the love of Egypt” and “the support of Egypt”—all of us love and support Egypt!

3. Do you support broadcasting parliamentary sessions on air?

Yes, I support the broadcasting, although some MPs have used this for grandstanding. Sometimes, many used to adopt certain ideas in front of the cameras and make arguments inside the committees. It will, however, be better. I hope the broadcasting resumes with the next session.

4. How do you see the 25-30 Alliance’s performance?

We have great respect and I appreciate them. I have confidence in their patriotism. Yet, they lack experience in a number of files that they are enthusiastic about. We have suffered several times because of that before. There must be respect for specialisation. This is why there are specialised committees in parliament.

5. What are the best laws passed by parliament? What laws did you not accept?

The Health Insurance, Investment, and the Disabled Persons’ Laws were among the best laws. I was not satisfied with the Civil Service Law in its final form. The law in its first form was more useful to the state and a powerful blow to bureaucracy.

6. But what about popular opposition to the law in its initial form, which made the president return it to parliament?

The [Muslim] Brotherhood was behind the opposition because it was against their conglomerations in all institutions. But, unfortunately, they got what they wanted. The president was unsatisfied but preferred to respond to popular opposition.

There are ministries full of minefield areas as a result of the failure to approve the initial version of the law.

7. As a general intelligence employee for 17 years, how do you see the concept of national security?

National security encompasses all areas of life. Campaigns must be carried out in light of the current media openness and the penetration of the social media. But there are many who appeared on the screens saying many things that harm national security very much. I demand the presence of a media minister to control these matters.

7. Is the type of terrorism prevalent in the current period different from the 1990s?

Of course. The terrorism of the nineties90s was individual or of small groups, limited in number and possibilities. But, now,; terrorism is carried out by armies. The only thing that will end this terrorism is the will of the international community with all of the its superpowers. The funding of terrorism now is now flowing from entire countries, not just individuals or groups.

8. What is our position now under this huge attack from terrorist groups?

Egypt is already guarded by God. The internal front is also solid, but we must remain vigilant, and not rely on this. The enemy will not sit still.

9. How do you see the massacre of Bir al-Abed?

It was the biggest hit on Egypt. It also resulted in the largest number of martyrs in one incident. There is also a small sectarian part, which is not strange for those groups. I lived through similar incidents in Sudan while I was there. Many were killed at a mosque on a background of sectarian conflict.

10. How do you see the Qatari role in the region?

Qatar plays the role that Israel cannot play in the region because we share the same language and religion, which gives it the freedom to move between Arab circles and Arab youth.

And the idea of the so-called Arab Spring was launched by Qatar itself. The black box of the American administration in the period of Obama is in Qatar. The Brotherhood knows it because they are partners in the planning. Trump completed the scenario. Ousted president Mohamed Morsi’s son threatened America, saying that he has papers in his possession.

11. How do you assess our ability for military confrontation currently?

We have strong agencies and an army that is the ninth in the world, not the tenth, in the global ranking in terms of capabilities and power. We have monitored the scenario of the move of terrorists from Syria to Sinai before the plan was exposed by Erdogan and the dissidents of the Syrian opposition. But this is not good for us. We obtain accurate, timely information, but the information is worrying.

12. What is the purpose of all this, is it Sinai or is to involve the army in Sinai?

The goal is planned—from the Nile to the Euphrates. But many are absent-minded, such as Arab youth who are being distracted through many schemes away from the master plan.

13. How do you see Sudan’s moves of recalling its ambassador and offensive statements by the Sudanese leadership?

Sudan knows very well that Egypt is right. The whirlwind raised around Halayeb and Shalateen is seasonal. And unfortunately, in some cases, Sudan uses it as a tool that harms both countries, Egypt and Sudan.

I call upon the Sudanese youth to pay attention to the scheme that their country is being dragged into. They lost the southern part, despite Egypt’s best efforts.

The sweeping movements in Sudan are due to another major reason: Sudan has become the last stronghold of the Brotherhood.

14. Is South Sudan a threat to the region?

Of course, if the tribal conflict erupts in the south, no one can contain it, and it would represent a serious danger to many countries, including Egypt, especially with regard to the Nile’s water.

Therefore, the Egyptian intelligence service intervened to conclude agreements to defuse the crises in the south. We succeeded in this. An agreement was signed between the conflicting parties and Egypt is the observer for the implementation of the agreements. This indicates the full approval of a strong Egyptian presence there.

15. Why did we move away from Africa for so long?

In the era of Abdel Nasser, we had a long-standing and strong recognition in Africa due to a history of support known to everyone. This was very good for us during the 6 October 1973 war, as all African countries boycotted Israel and the West.

One of the negative consequences of the peace agreements and the approach to the West is the neglect of Africa and its wealth.

 

16. Have we ruled out the military option to an exaggerated extent in dealing with the file of the Renaissance Dam?

It is not exaggerated, but it is unlikely. We have many cards to wave. And unfortunately, the reaction toward Africa concerning the attempt to assassinate Mubarak was exaggerated. We in the intelligence service were aware of this and worked to stop it.

 

17. Why was the visit of the Ethiopian prime minister to Egypt postponed from December to January and what are the facts about the negotiations?

The visit was postponed for protocol reasons and not because of the failure of negotiations. The negotiations did not fail, but they faltered and will return again.

The assessment company proved that the Egyptian position is correct. We finally proposed the entry of the World Bank as a party in negotiations because it can stop the construction of the dam if the damage is proved.

18. Do you see a change in the global balance of power?

Of course, we are in the era of American withdrawal. Trump is collecting money to retreat to America and to stay away from the region except with regard to Israel.

China and Russia fill the empty space that America leaves behind. Russia has begun to establish bases in the region. What is coming will be different.

19. Are there any crises between us and certain countries?

Of course, with a clear plan. As the gas finds emerged and cooperation with Italian companies started, the Italian Regeni story was plotted. As tourism revived, the Russian airliner was hit.

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3 real estate laws to be issued during current legislative session https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/15/3-real-estate-laws-issued-current-legislative-session/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/15/3-real-estate-laws-issued-current-legislative-session/#respond Mon, 15 Jan 2018 07:00:49 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=646754 Reconciliation on Building Violations Law will save government about EGP 150bn, says Abdel Ghani

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The Tenders Law is currently being discussed in the Egyptian Parliament and may be approved within a month, member of parliament’s housing committee Mohamed Abdel Ghany told Daily News Egypt.

Daily News Egypt sat down with Abdel Ghany to discuss the laws which are expected to be issued during the current session of parliament.

What laws are being discussed in your committee?

The most discussed law is the one concerning amendments to the Tenders Law. The draft law consists of about 84 articles and is being discussed in the planning and budget committee with a joint committee gathering the Ministries of Housing, Energy, and Local Development to redraft the law and send it to the general committee for approval.

The old law was full of problems such as long procedures, corruption in assignments, and sometimes wrong direct orders or assignments by direct order to sovereign authorities to avoid falling under the law.
The current law does not address these problems. Furthermore, the awarding of bids and tenders is not clear and can cause corruption instead of eliminating it.

I think the law may be approved within a month.

Regarding the amendment of the Unified Building Law, the law has not been discussed yet and was not issued by parliament so far, after two years of the current parliament’s term.

Two months ago, the government submitted a draft law for amending the Unified Building Law and I submitted a parallel law to amend it. However, the government demanded delaying the discussion because they have further amendments to the law.

Moreover, a law was supposed to be issued but it was not; specifically the Reconciliation of Building Violations, which was being discussed during the first session of the parliament. I myself submitted another law to tackle all building violations including those on agricultural lands which was discussed in a joint committee of the housing, planning and budget, local development, constitutional and legislative affairs, and agriculture committees in April 2017. Although the joint committee approved the law more than eight months ago, it was not submitted to the general committee. Moreover, the government’s draft law on Reconciliation of Building Violations was discussed by the same joint committee and was not referred to the general committee for approval.

The Reconciliation of Building Violations is a temporary law as it will be applied for only 10 months from its issuance.

The government disagrees with parliament members on two issues. The first issue is building on agricultural land, as members see that it has never been that any building on such land was demolished and then rehabilitated to be planted. I put forward a solution for reconciliation where a violator would have to pay five times the reclamation cost for each metre built on, in addition to the building violation cost. This would be applied on violations prior to January 2017, while buildings constructed after that date will be demolished and fines will be imposed on violators.

The government disagrees with this solution.

Secondly, the method of calculating the fines on violation, as the government demanded the fine to be calculated based on the cost of construction but members see that this method of calculation is unjust because the value of land and building differ in different areas and that it should be linked to the value of the unit not the cost of construction. Members see that the fine should range between 10-15% of the value of the unit.

We also have the Developers Union draft law, which was submitted by the Real Estate Development Chamber at the Federation of Egyptian Industries. The draft law’s name was changed to Real Estate Development Law.

The law is being discussed as there are some disputes around the law, in addition to some reservations by developers on the period of completing projects, their delivery, and the fines imposed on them. There is a case of silence around discussing the law.

What are the top priority laws for the committee?

The highest priority is completing discussions on the Reconciliation of Building Violations Law, which in case of issuing, is expected to provide about EGP 150bn to the government.

Second is the Unified Building Law as it is one of the important laws that will handle the issues of building violations, besides the Tenders Law.

Currently, the housing committee is discussing the Social Housing draft law to establish an authority commissioned to oversee social housing projects and their organisation, as well as their financial resources. The draft was submitted by the Ministry of Housing.

I believe this law will be issued soon. Additionally, the real estate appraisal draft law, which was submitted by an MP, will be discussed.

When will the Unified Building Law be issued?

We held about 50 sessions inside parliament to discuss that law. Also, several sessions were held inside the Ministry of Housing to discuss the draft law.

MPs suggested some amendments to the draft law. However, the final version of the law neglected all these suggestions.

Currently, the law submitted by the government has not yet been discussed in parliament.

There were talks that parliament will discuss the amendment of the Old Rental Law. Why has it not been discussed so far?

There is a draft law submitted by some members, but this law is very crucial as there are about 2.5 million people who will be affected by that law. Thus, we should find real solutions for those people.

Therefore, handling this issue is supposed to be done in phases. First, we should start with commercial and administrative units and then housing units, through increasing the value of the rent or finding other alternatives for people with low finances who have rented units at a low value.

In addition, the government has to create a database for supporting people with low financial capabilities, providing them units from people who have them but do not inhabit them.

The draft law has never been discussed in parliament.

By the end of the current legislative session, which laws are expected to be issued?

Three laws are supposed to be issued: the Tenders Law, the Unified Building Law, and the Reconciliation of Building Violations Law before the end of December.

Once these laws are issued, what will be the effect on the real estate sector?

If we achieve progress in issuing the Reconciliation of Building Violations Law, the government will gain a large amount of money to be secured for the government budget and directed to infrastructure and land reclamation projects. Furthermore, the issuing of a Unified Building Law will organise and restrict building on agricultural lands, especially in rural areas. In addition, the Tenders Law will improve competitiveness between real estate companies and decrease corruption.

What are problems that hinder investments in the sector?

The sector’s main problem is the high price of land, which directly affects unit price. The second problem is price hikes with regards to construction materials due to the recent economic decisions taken by the government.

Within the past two years, the prices of construction materials doubled. The third problem is the lack of qualified manpower in the sector and in other sectors in general.

Add this to lack of using technology in the sector, which would decrease the cost of construction.

Do you think the government is a competitor to real estate companies?

The government trades in land. Further, the government’s role in providing middle-income housing is incomprehensible, in the context of providing lands for companies at high prices at the same time while providing these projects in the same areas that companies build in.

How did the devaluation of the Egyptian pound affect the sector?

The devaluation directly increased the prices of the raw materials necessary for construction. Developers were affected by the devaluation because they had already sold units based on the old prices and had to compensate the contractors due to increases in building material prices.

What are your expectations for real estate prices in the current year?

I think the prices will increase by 10% to 15% in the current year.

What is your opinion regarding launching new mega projects in the real estate sector such as New Alamein and the New Administrative Capital?

There is no doubt that these projects add to the development and renaissance of the country. However, I hoped that these projects would’ve been accompanied with industrial and commercial projects or to be prior to real estate projects, which should follow them.

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Sustainable economy is way forward for MENA region: Sicre https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/14/sustainable-economy-way-forward-mena-region-sicre/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/14/sustainable-economy-way-forward-mena-region-sicre/#respond Sun, 14 Jan 2018 08:00:47 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=646629 Media should highlight true success stories to attract investments, says Abraaj Group managing director

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In the wake of the ongoing economic reforms and the need to adopt more sustainable economic strategies, Daily News Egypt interviewed Frederic Sicre, managing director of Abraaj Group. The global institution is investing in growing markets across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, with a total of around $13.6bn worth of assets under its management, and DNE sought to find out his thoughts about how the MENA region can attract further investment and create more jobs, while achieving the sustainable goals of 2030.

Why are many investors hesitant to inject capital into the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and how can we make the region more attractive?

I think there is no perfect region to invest in. When it comes to the MENA region, investors tend to see the region through the lens of CNN. Other than the facts on the ground, there is opportunity here, but I think we must look at the MENA region as two entities; one is the oil producing countries, and the other is the non-oil producing ones. Oil producing countries have seen the prices of oil going down which forced them to diversify their economy. You can see in Saudi Arabia, with the latest 2030 vision, the reforms that the crown prince is implementing. So, reforms in oil producing countries are on the way. Some like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been doing this for a long time.

Then you have the oil consuming countries, they also are undertaking reforms, because subsidies to energy, homes, and electricity are no longer feasible to operate an advanced economy. I guess the Middle East and North Africa region is in a period of transition. There is a lot more investment coming into the region than there was 10-15 years ago. What we need is more success stories, we need the media to talk a lot about such stories.

Following the 2011 revolution in Egypt, Abraaj bought Integrating Diagnostic Holdings (IDH), where we were able to achieve 20% growth per annum, and initiated a listing on the London Stock Exchange. A true success story like this should be highlighted by the media to attract investments. It is very possible to run a successful business, whatever the conditions, as long as you work with the right people. At Abraaj, we always invest at the micro level.

What are the main economic challenges facing the region in your view?

One of the big obstacles to the fact that the MENA region has to create so many jobs is that entrepreneurship is not supported enough. Young Arabs wanting to start their own company find it difficult to access capital, access mentorship, and support. But I think this is changing as well; Egypt hosted “RiseUp” in December, and “Tech Crunch” is coming to Dubai in April. I think there is a movement of young Arabs, that are no longer looking for the government for jobs but want to start their own businesses.

Making sure that these millennials and young people have all the support they need is key.

The Business & Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC) ‘Better Business, Better World MENA’ report, published in December, mentioned that sustainable economies will create 12.4m jobs in MENA by 2030. Is this not a very optimistic number?

I think it is a low number. Do not forget that in the report, those jobs are focused on four sectors only, such as cities, agriculture, energy, and healthcare. So, if you take the 17 sustainable development goals, and the 169 subgoals underneath them, I think that number has the potential to be far larger than it is.

How can the MENA region finance the investment gap needed to achieve such goals?

Different pockets of society have different responsibilities. First of all, let’s look at the governments, conflicts that are spreading in the MENA region are obviously not helpful for attracting investments. So, creating peace and conflict-free areas in this part of the world is of paramount importance. Secondly, governments need to make it easy for people to move people, goods, and services between countries. They need to adapt regulations so that things like train trucks and machines can cross borders without having to change. The whole regional infrastructure needs to happen, which goes back to politics. Morocco and Algeria, for example, are two big countries, yet they do not allow cross-border movement. That means that every investor cannot come and look at the place as a region but has to come and look at each different country individually and that is not helpful.

And I believe that the MENA region has to be very careful, as other regions such as sub Saharan Africa, are gaining a lot of interest and attraction from investors in infrastructure.

Infrastructure is also soft infrastructure such as education and healthcare. Here, I guess we will see a lot more investment in the region, not only in Gulf countries, but also everywhere else. That is another important development. If I were in charge of the economy, I would be talking to the Chinese because of the One Belt One Road Initiative, which is the equivalent of 15 Marshall Plans. So there is going to be a lot of investment in these infrastructures, energy, and transport corridors led by the Chinese, and this is a big opportunity for MENA; reviving the ‘Silk Road’.

We have spoken with the Chinese and they are very interested. they have a strategy in place, they have the capital to spend, so I strongly believe it is an important route for the development of infrastructure.

What about affordable housing, especially when taking into consideration the largely young population in Egypt and the MENA region?

The private sector needs to consider ‘base of the pyramid’ investing, whereby it can provide affordable services to lower-income groups that have not been previously considered due to assumptions about low-profit margins. Cities are key centres for promoting social inclusion and economic dynamism. Affordable housing can provide around one-fifth of the total employment potential in the region; around 2.2m jobs comes from this one opportunity, The MENA region needs at least an additional 3.5m affordable homes, for which demand is expected to increase sharply over the next five years. The greatest shortfall in the region is currently in Egypt, where more than 1.5m additional houses are needed, and the average home price is 18 times the typical annual salary.

To convert such a gap into an opportunity, we will need to act on three broad initiatives. Firstly, by pursuing inclusionary housing development strategies that increase the supply of low-cost housing by giving developers planning concessions in return for providing affordable housing units. Secondly, through adopting more lean construction practices, which lower the building costs by adopting industrial techniques such as prefabricating components offsite and assembling them onsite, and standardising major operations like the structural design and finishing elements. And finally, by implementing low-cost property management, which reduces the cost of running homes, by using techniques that include retrofitting units with more energy-efficient appliances and integrating repair and maintenance services in a one-stop shop.

What are Abraaj Group’s investments in Egypt?

We have a partnership, through our second generation North Africa Fund (ANAF II), with Tiba Group, which is a leading education service provider in Egypt. Tiba operates across three verticals and through seven educational institutions in Egypt, serving approximately 20,000 students. We also formed an education management company that provides management support services to educational institutions in Egypt, in addition to our investment in CIRA, the largest K-12 private schools group in Egypt with over 20 owned and operated schools under the widely recognised ‘Future Schools’ brand. Egypt’s education sector is experiencing rising demand, which is mainly driven by favourable demographics, in addition to a growing aspirational population keen to invest in high quality education for their children. In every academic year, there are over 20 million enrolled students nationwide, 18.3 million of whom are in K-12 schools.

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Nokia plans to regain its market position in 2018 https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/10/nokia-plans-regain-market-position-2018/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/10/nokia-plans-regain-market-position-2018/#respond Wed, 10 Jan 2018 06:00:06 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=646349 We aim to compete with the top three brands selling smart phones: Orabi

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Nokia is ready to compete in the mobile phone market again, prepared with smart devices using Android operating system, which its abandonment caused the disappearance of the brand from the market over the past years.

According to Moataz Orabi, marketing director of HMD in Egypt, owner of the Nokia brand, the company aims to be among the top three brands selling smart phones in Egypt in 2018.

The Mobile market changed from the past period, how do you see these changes after a long period of absence?

Certainly, the mobile phone market has changed a lot over the last few years, so we have relied on our new phones to provide them with modern technology. All of our smart phones are running Android free of bloatware without any additions or modifications, which is the most missing customers and the public phone in the past period.

Do you think that not using the Android operating system was the only problem in Nokia phones?

We are not talking about problems, but I am trying to review our strategy in some of the basic specifications that will be present in our smart phones during the last period.

Despite this absence, the Nokia logo still has the ability and intimacy of our customers. Some of the launched products of the first phone, affected the market positively and were accepted and loved bythe public and interact with them, so the year 2017 was a step in the way of Nokia’s return to the market was a good step.

There are many strong competitors in the Egyptian market, How do you see Nokia’s chance in the competition after returning to Egypt again?

We have so many different modes with different prices that would suite all, but generally we understand what distinguishes our products from other competitors is the operating system “Android”

The android which is being used by other brands is without any additions or adjustments to the rest of the manufacturers of smart phones to add some modifications, which does not give the consumer the performance required.

And the Android we use does not have any redundant applications, which gives the consumer a better and faster performance for his phone. Moreover, our devices are fully secure for user data.

Many customers fear Android because it is an open-source algorithm, and we are the only company in the world to launch monthly updates to security applications in our operating system, giving the consumer a strong and secure performance.

In addition, we are distinguished by our agreement with Google to get the latest Android applications immediately before the competitors. For example, all of our phones currently support the update of the operating system to Android Oryo.

Our phones are as strong as they were in the past, and battery power is one of the most important features of Nokia phones in the past.

What is your impression on the Egyptian consumer?

The Egyptian consumer is smart and knows his needs very well. He knows the latest technologies, and the different manufacturers know the Egyptian market and the advantages of each. Therefore, we put the Egyptian consumer at the top of our list of priorities during the coming period. Our strategy is to launch phones that meet consumer needs.

There are some competitors distinguish themselves in prices and others in batteries and others in cameras .. What is distinctive in Nokia phones?

In each price category, we have a phone with all the technical needs of this price category as well as a competitive prices. For example, we recently launched in Egypt a Nokia phone with a strong battery that can last for two days with a capacity of 4000 mA, and its price is competitive compared to other companies.

For those who are interested in filming with mobile, we launched for them last December the Nokia 8 camera with the cooperation of one of the largest companies developed for the lenses of cameras, all of these features of our devices meet the wishes of customers of each price category.

Do you see difficulties in the Egyptian market now?

Absolutely, we are optimistic about the Egyptian market, but there is a major challenge in the Egyptian market, which is a large number of brands in the smart phone industry, but this also gives the market an advantage where it allows the consumer to identify different technologies and companies, making our opportunities better because of the strength of our products and their competitive price.

What are your powerful phones that is expected to perform well in the market in 2018?

We have a partnership with Telecom Egypt to launch the phone through it, adding another advantage is that any customer buys this phone gets 10 times its charge for 10 months, which is so far Strongly leading the market and achieving greater results than our expectations.

At one point you were the number one in Egypt before your brand disappeared from the market .. What center to target in 2018 after your return to the Egyptian market?

In 2018, HMD aims to be Nokia’s brand among the top three mobile brands in Egypt.

How will you be among the top three leading companies in 2018 despite the long period of absence from the market?

We start in 2018 with the presence of five smart phones in the Egyptian market and represent the various target price groups starting from EGP 1750 to EGP 10,000.
The company owns the Nokia brand as a top priority. Our main goal is to meet consumer desires and provide high-tech products to meet all price segments, which will support us in occupying advanced positions in the mobile market.

There is fierce competition between companies on the merchants through banners, how do you deal with it?

We cooperate with Raya as our authorized distributor. We also have programs to cooperate with chain stores, as well as with traditional traders who own small shops. Just as we care about the customer’s satisfaction, we are also interested in the satisfaction of traders and understanding of our partners in this market. During 2018 we will introduce a number of new incentive programs for traders.

What about your deployment plans in 2018?

Since 2017 we are working on spreading in various governorates of Egypt, we are located in Cairo, Alexandria, Delta, Upper Egypt, and Canal cities through our partnership with Raya.

What are your plans for developing after sales services?

We offer after-sale services in cooperation with Raya exclusively during the current period. The branch of Raya can be obtained through the after-sales service of Nokia phones.

There is a trend during the current period for the collection of smart phones in Egypt .. Do you have plans in this direction?

There are companies that have started plans to manufacture in the Egyptian market. In the coming period, we will wait to see what these products are and how customers will accept them.

From your experience, does Egypt have the ability to manufacture locally?
Why not? We can do that even with simple local participation rates that increase over time.

The order of the Egyptian market for Nokia in the Middle East
It is currently a major concern of the parent company, Egypt is one of the major countries we focus on because of the population and the growth opportunities there.

After the liberalization of the exchange rate, the prices of mobile phones increased the demand for installment. Do you have to form partnerships to facilitate installment procedures?

We offer offers with Raya and B.Tech for our products in installments, and in 2018 we will make the same offers again to facilitate the purchase of our products at the lowest prices, while giving Nokia additional features such as longer repayment period or lower interest rate.

Have you been able to educate consumers in Egypt about Nokia ?

Statistics show that 98% of the brand’s consumer knowledge is answered, and in the coming period we will set up new advertising campaigns for our return

Do you have plans to revive old models again?

We launched the Nokia 3310 in a modern way and achieved strong results and brought the Nokia brand back to mind, so far we do not have a clear decision to introduce another phone from old phones.

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Art’s role in countering terrorism was greater in Mubarak’s era: Ashraf Zaki https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/08/arts-role-countering-terrorism-greater-mubaraks-era-ashraf-zaki/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/08/arts-role-countering-terrorism-greater-mubaraks-era-ashraf-zaki/#respond Mon, 08 Jan 2018 12:00:27 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=646050 Some projects were rejected by the censorship authority, yet they were presented

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Ashraf Zaki, head of the Egyptian Actors Syndicate and dean of the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts, has been a director for over 30 years. His name has been circulating for many years in politics, although he has not directly work in it.

He reached the position of heading the syndicate twice, the first during the end of the Mubarak era, when he stepped down voluntarily after attacks against a number of fellow artists after the 25 January revolution, and returned to office again through elections in 2015.

Ashraf Hassan Zaki is brother to actress Magda Zaki, married to actress Rogina, and is a father to two daughters, Maya and Mariam.

1. In the beginning, how can Ashraf Zaki balance the administrative work of the syndicate with academic teaching duties alongside acting?

It is not a matter of course because the three tasks are closely linked to each other. I am here to teach acting and directing and in the syndicate I deal with actors and dramatists. In my work, I also practice acting and directing. There are examples among our great professors such as Saad Ardash, Galal Al-Sharqawi, and Ahmed Abdel Halim who were leaders in the same fields in parallel.

2. Did academic and syndicate work affect the number and quality of the works that you could have provided?

I cannot say this. I am satisfied with my destiny, and God always helps me for the best, I am in great grace and can perform well in the fields I work in.

3 – What is the difference between heading the Syndicate now and the period before 2011?

There are many differences and many people changed. The conditions and the circumstances changed, the Egyptian people themselves changed a lot, and I enjoy serving my colleagues even those who did not elect me, or were against me because I believe that I am only a tool in the hands of God to fulfil the needs of the people. There is a great status for those who serve others which I wish to achieve. But now, there are no words of thanks or appreciation, and with the spread of social media, tarnishing people’s reputation became widespread, and this makes me very sad because of the absence of the strong Egyptian values.

4 – Do you think the people’s love to old-time artists is used to defame the syndicate and distort your image such as in the story of artist Amal Farid?

Indeed, Amal Farid is well-off, and I am not responsible for a superficial person, who saw her in a cafe showing the natural signs of the passage of time and depicted the lady as having a difficult life. While all there is to it are the time and changes in people’s shapes that affects us all.

5 – There is a question among a large number of simple citizens who are surprised  that some artists and actors need financial help in light of what they hear about actors’ high wages, how do you comment on that?

This is a very respectable question. The syndicate includes thousands of people who are not paid high wages, except for a number not exceeding 10 names.

In addition to this, the syndicate includes, for example, people who work in the folk arts field, and those have very low wages, their work is cumbersome, and is limited to a specific age range such as a puppeteer or a circus performer. How do they live after reaching the age of 50?  For this reason, we have to honour and help them.

6 – Is honouring artists in various fields the task of the Syndicate only?

Of course not, this is the duty of the state as well, and there are parties involved in honouring these people only for fame.

There are two ways of honouring artists. First, the recognition of established professional institutions. This is what is required, similar to what was done with Madiha Yusri and Nadia Lutfi, which is a respectable thing. There are other kinds of honouring anyone for the sake of show and fame only.

7. As for works of art, the debates that is going about them and their relevance to Egyptian society, who is responsible for selecting these works?

Unfortunately, no one is. Back in the days, the Ministry of Information was involved in the production sector and in the Egyptian Media Production City (EMPC), but now anyone can display anything on the screen, and things are left to the agreement between the producer and the owner of the channel, which is also not fixed. Every few months, channels are sold and the ownership changes. We never know who sold and who bought, the work is aired without even knowing the content.

I am now addressing Makram Mohamed Ahmed, chairperson of the National Media Authority to find solutions to that problem.

8. Does the syndicate work according to a professional code of conduct?

Although we have a code of conduct, we cannot be sure that people are not seriously adhering to it. Our basic problem, as we learned at the Institute of Dramatic Arts, is that the only rule in art is that it has no rule. It has no specific and disciplined mechanisms. For example, sometimes an artist succeeds and becomes popular and his wage is doubled, and in another cases, we find the same artist unwanted. There are no specific measures that can be used to judge and work through.

9. Where does Haifa Wehbe’s issue with Mohammed Al-Sobki stand?

The conflict was due to a film titled “Thanya Wahda” (One Second) by Al-Sobki and Haifa starring, and after filming two days before last Ramadan, and because of her preoccupation with her series “Al-Herbaya”, she decided not to complete it, which drove Al-Sobki to file a complaint to the syndicate.

We formed a committee, composed of the head of the syndicates, Director Omar Abdel Aziz, president of the Chamber of Cinema Industry, and head of the Cinematographers Syndicate.  They decided that Haifa should incur the cost of two days of filming and return the down payment, and that the project would stop. This committee continues to look into similar problems, and God willing the crisis is on its way to being resolved soon.

10. Do these conflicts affect your work in the syndicate?

This is one of the syndicate’s roles in accordance with the law. We resolve disputes that arise between art makers and members of the syndicate, and we will keep doing so forever. Therefore, that does not stop me at all from the practicing my duties, because there are specialised committees including legal advisers for consideration and determination in such problems.

11. How do you assess the great spread of foreign drama in Egypt, such as Turkish and Indian series?

We are coming in strongly. We have great artists and great directors. We are heading for the best. We have a special place in the market. Egypt is still the Hollywood of the East, and we are number one in the Arab world.

It is expected that the Egyptian drama will impose itself on the western screens, but we have passed through a difficult stage, we will pass it soon.

12 –You have a vision for the youth and you always send them messages, why?

Because young people are everything in this country, and I always advise them to take things slowly. Things have to be planned patiently. I kept working hard for 30 years to reach where I am now.

Even a model such as Mohammed Ramadan did not arrive quickly. He has works with us since 2005 and over the years he worked hard until the opportunity came to him.

13 – How do you respond to the accusations to the art’s sector of depending on connections?

I will not deny the importance of connections in art as the phenomenon is present in other sectors of society as well. However, in art, it gives you the opportunity only but cannot guarantee you success.

14- Why did your decision to restrict the work of foreign actors in Egyptian drama fail?

Because the attack on me was great, and now all the disadvantages that I expected are happening, and the producers are the ones who made the decision fail.

15. With regard to terrorism, do you think that artists contribute adequately to the war against terrorism?

Unfortunately, the role of the artists was greater in the era of Mubarak, because the media was a state media, producing what corresponds to its priorities.

Now, the private sector is targeting other things, the most important of which is profit. Despite its advantages, it sometimes harms national security, so I still demand that the content be passed by a responsible party.

There are works that stopped but after they have been presented with large parts and this is a later intervention, but there must be a primary intervention, and I see the content at the same time as any citizen.

 

16. What did you notice when you visited “Beer El Abd” area after the recent terrorist incident?

I noticed that these citizens are not on the cultural or artistic agenda which leaves them feeling wounded, and they sent me personal messages that they wanted art and culture.

17. Who is responsible for this role and why do not you start acting upon it?

I do not know what they will do. For my part, I will work on a number of documentaries to commemorate the martyrs of terrorism and will soon be released.

18. Have the Brotherhood artists been dismissed from the syndicate because of their affiliation?

Of course not. They were dismissed because they did not pay the fees, we do not question people over their political affiliations.

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Tabarak Developments to launch 3 projects in H12018 https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/08/tabarak-holding-launch-3-projects-h12018/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/08/tabarak-holding-launch-3-projects-h12018/#respond Mon, 08 Jan 2018 06:00:39 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=645998 Company's land bank about 7m sqm, contracts for the implementation of projects in the North Coast

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Tabarak Developments for real estate is considering competing for new land plots, especially in 6th of October city, as it seeks to increase the size of its land bank, according to chairperson Ali El-Shorbany.

In an interview with Daily News Egypt, El-Shorbany said that in the first quarter of 2018, the company plans to open a new phase in 90 Avenue and Fantasia Resort Ras Sudr. The company would also launch new projects on the Cairo-Alexandria desert road in June 2018.

What projects are currently being implemented by the company? What are the projects implemented by the company outside of Egypt?

We launched a new phase of the first phase of the 90 Avenue project, which in turn was very successful in sales for its unique services and unique construction methods used for the first time in Egypt. The company worked in collaboration with Wimberly Allison Tong and Goo (WATG), an American architectural design company, for architectural design and location, collaborating at the same time with international Cracknell for landscape design.

Additionally, a group of international engineering consultancy offices cooperated with Tabarak Developments’ engineering department to produce a new vision that has not been introduced in Egypt before to give our customers the life they dream of in its finest details.

We offer “90 Avenue”, which is divided into three districts, each district is different from the other, and established on an area of 200,000sqm. The construction of the first phase has been completed and the finishing works are now underway. furthermore, the company is currently preparing for an integrated marketing campaign that will be launched in the first quarter of 2018.

In addition, there is the Capital East Residence project, which was launched by the company in February with investments estimated at EGP 900m.
The company has also provided six different and unique payment methods, which has greatly contributed to increasing the demand for the project where customers were offered their choices in the easiest way possible. The project provides units completely finished ranging from 84sqm to 150sqm, and includes walkways, a commercial mall, children’s play area, and entertainment centres.

As for “Fantasia Ras Sudr”, the landscape and the first phase have been completed. A new reception building has been built and the hotel is undergoing renovations. The company has begun construction in the new phase of the project which is expected to be completed in the coming year besides starting the third phase. The actual cost of the project to date is EGP 750m.

Regarding projects carried out by the company outside Egypt, we have a “Riyadh Heights” project, a residential compound in Saudi Arabia, through which we aim to transfer the idea of Egyptian architecture abroad. We are currently studying a marketing plan for marketing their project in the Gulf region as well.

What is the company’s expansion plan? What projects will be implemented by the company in the coming period?

We are currently working on supporting the shares of Tabarak Developments Group’s subsidiaries but will not be offered in the current period in the Egyptian Exchange (EGX). However, the offer will be in accordance with the situation of the EGX in the coming period. However, Tabarak’s portfolio is now under development in the next quarter.

The step of making an initial public offering (IPO) on the EGX is an inevitable plan now, especially with the size of the company’s transactions inside and outside Egypt. EGX is a forum for finance and investment as it is an opportunity for commercial exchange. Therefore, it is an open field for people who prefer to savings to work and invest their money. Under the IPO, we would sell company shares in exchange for cash. This financial return is not considered as interest as in the case of borrowing from banks.

The company is also considering competing for new land plots, especially in 6th of October city, as it seeks to increase the size of its land bank.

In the first quarter of 2018, we plan to open a new phase in 90 Avenue and Fantasia-Ras Sudr and in June 2018, we will launch a new project on the Cairo-Alexandria desert road.

What was the volume of sales in 2017? What are the target sales in 2018?

The company has achieved sales in the first quarter of 2017 estimated at EGP 180m, an increase of EGP70m compared to the same period in 2016. Furthermore, the company succeeded in paying EGP 130m to the New Urban Communities Authority, which strengthens the financial position of the company in the market where thus, 70% of the land value was paid. Moreover, the company has pumped EGP 700m for investments in 2017.

Where do current investments stand? What investments will the company invest in the coming period?

Approximately EGP1.150bn will be pumped into the projects. For 90 Avenue, EGP 800m will be injected to complete construction of the second phase, the facilities and landscape of the first phase, in addition to EGP 200m for Capital East Residence project and EGP150m for Fantasia Resort Ras Sudr.

What is the size of construction contracts implemented by the company?

A new group of contracting, finishing, and land scape companies are being contracted with a value of more than EGP 200m for the 90 Avenue and Capital East projects. It is healthy to diversify and create a competitive spirit to achieve the highest quality in the production provided to our customers.

How did the floatation of the Egyptian pound affect the activities of the company? And how did it affect property exports?

The decision to liberalise the exchange rate of the pound against the dollar was necessary in order to implement the economic reform programme; but this decision had positive and negative effects on the real estate sector in particular. In terms of positive effects, the decision has led to good financial surpluses for Egyptians who have dollar savings. In addition, property value depreciated by up to 40% for other currencies, where the property’s value by the pound has increased almost to the double. All of these factors prompted many people to pump their financial surpluses in the real estate market for two reasons. First, they believe that investing in real estate is the best and the save haven. The second reason is that ending fluctuation of the dollar prices – as the official price now approximates the parallel market price – made the hoarding of dollar savings useless.

In terms of negative impacts, the floatation has led to an increase in the construction cost of the projects to a large extent due to the increase in construction material prices by 20% to 80%, away from the cost of the land price. This led some companies to increasing the prices of their units by 20% starting last year.

I think land prices were not affected by the floatation decision. However, land prices are expected to increase by up to 25% in the coming period. Developers have been forced to reduce their profit margins so that real estate prices do not jump to fancy values. The challenge of real estate developers is to have lands provided with utilities at an affordable price, in addition to administrative issues.

What is the size of the company’s land bank and what is the size of unused lands?

The company’s land bank is about 7m sqm, along with 2.2m sqm in the North Coast. The company has recently signed land contracts in the North Coast for the implementation of a real estate project on an area of 450 feddans. It is planned to build chalets with spaces suitable for all tastes and will be 80% of the size of the project.

Does the company intend to acquire land in the New Administrative Capital?
Five offers are currently being studied to establish projects there.

How do you see the performance of the real estate market in 2017?

Egyptian developers and investors are strong enough to provide the best and finest projects and compete globally. But the real estate market needs cooperation and partnership between real estate companies and the state in many aspects, including the establishment of a state authority affiliated with the presidency to regulate the real estate market. This, in addition to amending the laws regulating real estate investment. Moreover, the government has to lift its hands off lands so as not to act as a contractor and only focus on its role as a supervisor over the land offering process.

What are your expectations for property prices in 2018?

According to the current situation and the increase in construction cost, I think the percentage of the increase would ranging from 10% to 25%.

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US planned to destabilise Middle East long ago: former US Congress adviser https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/04/us-planned-destabilise-middle-east-long-ago-former-us-congress-adviser/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/04/us-planned-destabilise-middle-east-long-ago-former-us-congress-adviser/#respond Thu, 04 Jan 2018 09:00:03 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=645809 US has already implemented its Israeli plan in the region

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In his own words, Ahmed Swan is a former member of the Congressional Advisory Committee, who took office after the September 11 attacks in 2001 and held the position for eight years. The committee is an advisory unit that cooperates with Republican members of Congress and the president of the United States, in the case that is he from the Republican party, to assist and cooperate with them.

Ahmed Swan says that America is moving behind Israel, that the latter has become a major influencer in American elections, and that America is no longer the only pole in the world and that many alliances have been formed against it.

All these new ideas came up during our dialogue with Swan and the text of the dialogue was as follows:

1. How does the US administration make decisions?

America is a state based on institutions and any decision is made after many opinions and assessments, from the competent and concerned, but this does not apply to the Trump presidency.

The way he governs, his decisions are based on reactions, as the case was during the presidency of George W. Bush.

2. Why did Trump decide to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?

Trump came under pressure from the Jewish lobby in America, and Trump did not consult with the institutions concerned, nor even with his Republican Party.

3. Is the Republican Party satisfied with Trump’s performance?

Not at all, there is strong opposition to him now within the party, because no one took his statements during the election seriously, but Trump surprised everyone, and is still doing what he promised to do during the election campaign.

4. Was Trump pressured to make such a decision?

Of course, Trump is in trouble and there is a plan to sack him and perhaps imprison him as well. He needs a strong ally who strengthens his position in the media. The Jewish lobby controls the media and they have to be satisfied to cover up his scandals, especially since Trump started his term with the Russian scandal.

5. What can we do about the Palestinian issue after Trump’s decision?

It is not in our hands to do anything to repel Israel after Trump’s decision, except an intifada (uprising). The world will respect the uprising of the Palestinian people and occupied citizens, as they respected the people of South Africa when they rose up against the apartheid regime, which will bring the Palestinian people their rights. Arab countries have nothing in their hands to do but to support the intifada.

Here I must emphasise that the stance taken by Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and the Coptic Orthodox Pope, by refusing to meet with the US Vice President, is a strong, practical response and will have a large impact in the world later on.

6. What explains Condoleezza Rice’s sudden appearance on the political scene and her visit to Saudi Arabia in conjunction with the Trump decision on Jerusalem?

They asked Rice for help due to her experience in the Middle East in difficult times such as the Iraq war. Asking her for help now is particularly associated with the term creative chaos. Perhaps that is her mandate, to show them how to be creative.

7. Has American bias towards Israel increased lately?

Yes, it increased so much so that there is a general feeling that Israel is leading America and flattering Israel to an unprecedented degree.

8.What is forcing them to do so?

Elections are the biggest reason. The Jewish lobby controls the joints of American society, especially in the media, and uses it to blackmail all presidents of America. In the case of Trump, he is completely under Israel’s control.

9. How do you see America’s role in Syria?

America arranges the situation in the region according to both its interests and Israel’s.

Today, western countries do not fight using their armies as much as possible, employing groups or militias, and sometimes other countries, to implement their plans.

America, or actually Israel, wants to end the Palestinian issue, therefore they eliminated the ‘axis of resistance’ represented in Syria. Both Israel and America exploited the Syrian revolution to disintegrate Syria and push it out of the equation completely.

10. Were the incidents in Syria planned?

The plot to strike Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan preceded the 9/11 attack, but the attacks were taken as a pretext for its implementation. Bush rejected it back then, but now the plan is in action,

not to mention the famous article about the green enemy, which must replace communism.

11. How do you see Russia entering the confrontation in Syria and establishing rules that it says are permanent?

It is common belief that America is the only pole in the world and this is a misconception. America, with all its might, could not overcome North Korea or Iran. The world does not stand idly before American hegemony, and so many alliances have been established in several regions of the world against America. Russia is trying to create an axis in the region to resist American hegemony, and I think it has come a long way in this with Turkey and Iran.

This is useful for the countries of the region in general, so that there is not one entity in control of the region, especially with the significant shift in US moves in favour of Israel. Yet we must be aware that Israel is also present in Russia and shares interests there, but it is not comparable to the case in America.

12. To what extent did the Egyptian rapprochement with Russia and East Asian countries affect American decision-makers regarding relations with Egypt?

For many years, I have been calling for strengthening ties with Russia and China, and not relying on one country, namely America. It is not true that Egypt has only one ally with great power represented in America, which is at the same time Israel’s biggest ally, guaranteeing its security and superiority over all Arabs and using the American veto as it has in previous eras.

It was necessary for Egyptian decision-makers to turn to other countries, to rely on ourselves, and not be totally dependent on America or in fear of it. This is what President [Abdel Fattah] Al-Sisi has already done in going to China and Russia, which grants Egypt more respect from the American side and does not harm our relations with them. The move does not weaken relations, but it will not improve them. What will happen is that they will deal respectfully with Egypt, knowing that we are an independent sovereign state, free to act as it will and be hostile towards whomever it wishes, not based on pressure from the US or any other state.

13. Is the former US administration directly or indirectly responsible for plans to divide the Middle East?

America does not act as a single government, but there is a continuous policy that does not change with the change of governments. Some presidents are able to change this policy, and make it a public policy of the state. One example is the policy initiated by US President Bush Jr. under the name of creative chaos. Without being aware of it, successive administrations are attempting to meet the needs of Israel. Creative chaos, the division of the Middle East and its fragmentation are what Israel wants, which American research centres have said is the best thing for Israel’s security. Hence, it is the strategy of the United States of America and it will continue to be so.

14. Did Trump harm Republicans?

Yes, and a strong opposition for Trump grew inside the party, as the charges directed to him and his administration may amount to treason. There is a widespread expectation in American circles that the upcoming elections will be won by the Democrats and this would be a rapid transformation.

15.Why did Democrats lose elections in the last period?

One reason is Democrats’ slackness and their belief that the elections were decided, but they were wronged in other factors, such as the Jewish lobby helping Trump and the spread of accusations against Hillary Clinton, which turned out to all be false.

16. What is the current feeling among the American electorate?

There is a general feeling that Trump is the American Gorbachev, and that if he continues with this mentality, he will destroy America. But I do not think he will complete his mandate to do so to America.

17. Did America succeed in fighting terrorism and did it contribute to the elimination of the Islamic State (IS)?

Of course it did not succeed and terrorism is on the rise and America supported terrorism in Afghanistan until it finally turned against it. In Syria, many news and evidence emerged about deals between America and IS and their exit from Raqqa under the eyes and ears of America. We all heard the statements from leaders of Kurdish forces about the battle being a “theatrical play”. America is losing its credibility in the fight against terrorism and is seeking to secure itself and its interests rather than combat terrorism.

18. What are your fears for the coming period in the region?

I am afraid that Arabs will push for war against Iran in the next stage. And although Trump declared that America will not act as a policeman of the world, Israel rejects this because it wants to strike Iran. Egypt is the only country capable of stopping Iran’s ambitions in the Gulf states and it does not want and would not support a war against Iran.

19. What does Egypt do in light of this confusion and these major transformations?

I am not exaggerating if I say that the leadership in Egypt is walking on the right path, “by the book”. The Egyptian army, already a giant, as it is referred to abroad, is being strengthened. It is the 10th in the world. The regime in Egypt is trying to balance relations between America, Russia, and take Egypt back to its status in the world after losing its impact for a long time.

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SEDICO looks to permeate European markets through Italy: chairperson https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/04/sedico-looks-permeate-european-markets-italy-chairperson/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/04/sedico-looks-permeate-european-markets-italy-chairperson/#respond Thu, 04 Jan 2018 06:00:28 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=645812 Company 2017 sales reached EGP 1bn for first time

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Awad Gabr, chairperson and managing director of SEDICO Pharmaceutical Company, revealed that his company witnessed a notable increase in sales, as they reached EGP 1bn for the first time in its history, leading the profits to amount about EGP 150m. He said the reason behind the strong performance was a surge in drug prices, in addition to producing new product types.

Moreover, Gabr asserted that the company has an ambitious investment plan, as it aims at pumping investments in 2018 worth EGP 250m. Furthermore, he illustrated that the company targets adding five new product types in 2018.

According to Gabr, SEDICO established a commercial company under the name SEDICO Italy, which has registered three product types there. Furthermore, he assured that the company targets marketing them in Italy during 2018, after getting a technical approbation from Italy for the factory located in Egypt to export the company’s products there.

In this regard, he revealed that this can be achieved in about a year. In addition to this, he noted that the company has a potential to increase its exports’ value in 2018 to EGP 150m.

How were the company’s financials in 2017?
SEDICO witnessed a great increase in terms of value of sales, which reached about EGP 1bn for the first time in the company’s history. This pushed the company’s profits to about EGP 150m by the end of 2017. In this respect, sales inched up 39% over the previous year.

What are the reasons for the surge in sales?
A hike in drug prices led to the increase in sales, in addition to us producing new product types. Moreover, the company’s large market share, in terms of producing insulin, supported the profitability. To illustrate, some competitive companies could not import insulin. Consequently, SEDICO’s market share was increased.

What is the company’s market share?
SEDICO’s market share is 2.7% of the local market.

How did the floatation decision affect your financials?

Floatation had a negative effect on the company’s financials during the first quarter of 2017. However, the government’s decision to raise the prices of some product types created a balance in the company’s financials during the rest of the year. Furthermore, about 85% of product types’ prices were not raised.

Does the company intend to stop producing some products?
Never. This trend is out of question. The pharmaceutical sector is a vital one. As long as the company achieves profitability, there will never be a direction to stop producing any product. I think that the newly launched factories will face a dilemma because of a changeable currency price, which may lead them to stop producing some product types. In contrast, older, stable companies will not face this problem.

Do you believe drug prices will increase in the coming period?
Raising drugs prices is a sovereignty decision. However, pharmaceutical companies call on the decision makers to raise the prices of products. This is because drugs are the only commodity subject to compulsory quotation. In spite of that, it is not subsidised.

What about SEDICO’s 2018 investment plan?
The company has an ambitious investment plan. In this respect, we aim at updating some existing production areas to cope with the new manufacturing requirements. Moreover, the company will launch new production areas. For instance, a penicillin production area will be launched in the coming period, in addition to adding some new equipment and machines for new storages we are building. Furthermore, we are building a new management building beside the company’s factory.

How much is the investment plan’s value?
The company will pump investments in 2018 worth EGP 250m.

In this respect, how much profit does SEDICO target in 2018?
The board has pointed out the company’s potential of profits, but it has not approved the balance sheet yet. Thus, I am still not authorised to announce the company’s profitability potential.

How many product types does SEDICO produce?
The company produces about 200 product type, which represent about 2.7% from the total market. However, we targets to add new 5 product types to our products in 2018. In this respect, every year we add some new products.

To which markets abroad does the company export?
SEDICO exports to Africa and the Gulf area, however, we aim at exporting to European markets during the coming years. We have already launched a new project in Italy. To illustrate, we established a commercial company under the name SEDICO Italy, which has been registered there for two years. Moreover, SEDICO Italy has registered three product types there. The company is looking to market them in Italy during 2018. To achieve this, we seek to get a technical approbation from Italy for the factory located in Egypt to export the company’s products there. I think this will be achieved in about a year.

How much were SEDICO’s 2017 exports worth?
The company’s exports values came to about EGP 130m. Moreover, we target increasing our exports value to reach about EGP 150m in 2018.

Is there an inclination to increase the company’s capital?
The board has already approved increasing the company’s capital up to EGP 450m, from EGP 375m, to be supplied by the main shareholders. They are Academia (31%), Egypt for Insurance and Egypt Life Insurance (20%), HoldiPharma (7%), and a Saudi partner (15%). However, it has not been recorded at the Commercial Registry Authority.

Is listing SEDICO on the Egyptian Exchange a likely matter?

Yes, of course. However, this can take place in the long term.

How do you evaluate Egypt’s drug exports?
They are very low. I think $250m is a lean number in comparison to the region’s market shares. For instance, Jordan’s drug exports excel ours seven-fold.

How can Egypt push its drug exports to growth?
The government has to reach a settlement regarding pricing the drugs abroad. To illustrate, local drug prices are so low in comparison to international pricing. After floatation, this problem was aggravated. In this regard, exported drugs will not be sold abroad, because they will be met with scepticism due to their low prices. For a period of time, Egypt signed agreements with Saudi Arabia and Jordan to export some drugs after changing their prices, as they are subsidised in Egypt. This happened against registering their products in Egypt. In this regard, we can open new markets abroad. I think neighbouring countries whose exports are large had built a strategy to export when they launched their drug manufacturing.

Can Egypt locally manufacture drugs?
I think the government tends to apply an ambitious plan to support manufacturing imported drugs, which represent only about 7% of the total market, but they are crucial. It is worth mentioning that there is no country all over the world that manufactures all raw materials used in drug production, for it is a pollutant industry. India and China are the only two countries that manufacture most of the raw materials used in producing drugs, as environmental laws do not have the upper hand in these countries. Thus, we can develop and increase the manufacturing of some raw materials, on the condition that we place a strategy to target markets abroad to achieve profitability. In fact, relying on the local market will lead to losses.

How many drug factories are there in the country?
They are about 150 factories.

Has the drug market been affected by the surge in prices?
Never. Clients are obliged to buy drugs. It is better for them to accept the increase in prices. This is because the alternative choice is worse.

Do you think the drug market is a promising one in terms of investment?
Absolutely. The Egyptian drug market is the top market in the MENA region in terms of volume and the second market in terms of value. Moreover, an increasing population supports the sector’s growth chances.

Finally, what are the main problems that face the local drug sector?
Low prices of sold units and bureaucracy companies face in the process of drug registry.

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Current government lacks ability to attract FDI: MP Amr El-Gohary https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/03/current-government-lacks-ability-attract-fdi-mp-amr-el-gohary/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/01/03/current-government-lacks-ability-attract-fdi-mp-amr-el-gohary/#respond Wed, 03 Jan 2018 06:00:05 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=645746 Profit attracts foreign investors, high interest rate at 20% curbs investor expansions

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Member of the Egyptian Parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee Amr El-Gohary said that the current government lacks the ability to attract foreign direct investment despite many economic legislation recently approved by parliament.

In an interview with Daily News Egypt, El-Gohary said that attracting FDI is not only linked to legislation, but also relies on the business environment and the ability to counter bureaucracy and routine.

He said that history will recall that the investment law approved by parliament during the last legislative term waived the state’s rights in collecting revenues through offering huge incentives and facilities.

How do you see Egypt’s ability to attract foreign direct investment following the adoption of the Investment Law and issuing its regulations?

I would like to say something very important: the ability to attract foreign direct investment is not related to the recently approved legislative package, but rather an environment and a climate that incubates capital in a manner that can overcome the bureaucracy and routine of the administrative apparatus.

The second critical point is that the law created a wide range of incentives and guarantees for investors, which denied the state its right to collect taxes and will force foreign funds out.

Moreover, foreign investors look at Egyptian businesspersons and the profits they make. So they come here to split the profits with their Egyptian counterparts.

But now in Egypt, there is a big increase in the interest rate approaching 20%, which stops many investors from expanding and launching new lines for their existing projects or creating new ones. It is simply very expensive.

The intervention by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to raise the interest rate was necessary to curb inflation. In your opinion, was the intervention a mistake or did the government fail to handle it?

In order to curb inflation and price rises due to the economic decisions implemented by the government, we must be aware that the CBE is not the only entity responsible.

But this must be in the framework of fiscal policies implemented by the government and monetary policy of the CBE with coordination between both.

The CBE’s decision to raise the interest rate came to try to curb inflation, which rose at the end of last fiscal year and the beginning of the current fiscal year and comes within the framework of obtaining the first part of the second tranche of a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Some people imagine that this loan obtained from the IMF will be directed to economic projects and this has not happened. The loan was channelled to repair the imbalance and distortions in state budget, which are all purely financial procedures.

The CBE has no way to fight inflation except through drawing liquidity from the market, so it raised the interest rates with the hope of curbing inflation.

The CBE is seeking to collect some of the liquidity from the market and into banks. It is natural that some of the industrial institutions wishing to invest will be damaged, along with individuals who wish to borrow from banks, or even those who borrowed in the past period.

Did the decision affect foreign direct investment?

Raising the interest rate did not affect foreign investment because foreign investors are coming with their capital of hard cash. However, it harmed domestic investments.

Projects looking to inject new investment or implement expansions to existing projects while avoiding to deposit their money in banks are heavily affected by the rate hike.

Also, in light of this situation, many of them will resort to save their money in banks for high interest rates without risk.

There are always investors who use their money in investments, but there are only a few of them. They would even rather deposit funds at banks and obtain interest. The majority of investors were negatively impacted by the decision.

Do you think the CBE had solutions other than raising the interest rate?

Prior to taking the interest rate decision, the CBE had to inject funds into small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to manage the crises of small investors.

This is what eventually happened, through expanding the framework for lending to SMEs under the EGP 200bn initiative by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

Apart from raising interest rates, are other problems related to increasing the budget deficit. How do you see this issue?

This is another very serious matter as the government is the largest borrower from banks, which means that the targeted deficit level by the end of the current fiscal year will approach EGP 450bn.

Therefore, the decision should have been further considered by the government and the CBE because it caused even more confusion in the budget.

I believe that the real entity in charge of confronting inflation is the government through the development of sound fiscal policies to stir the economy, increase its growth rates and thus reduce inflation and increase exports. But the government failed to do so, forcing the CBE to intervene alone.

Do you think the CBE’s intervention was influenced by the IMF?

Yes, there was great pressure to obtain the first installment of the second tranche. The government was unable to cope with inflation, so the CBE intervened.

Do you think that the government failed to set financial policies to remedy distortions, which forced the intervention of the CBE?

Indeed, the government has failed to follow a strong fiscal policy of economic reform; the economic decisions made were hasty and wrong.

There really was great anticipation for reform. And no one can say we do not need economic reform. The truth is that all the reform concluded was monetary reform. Reform means increasing production and exports, seeking to solve tourism problems and obstacles to domestic and foreign investment to attract foreign currency.

In addition, it also means restructuring the companies recording losses not just through economic reform with the sole aim of obtaining a loan to cover the budget deficit from abroad due to the high interest rate internally.

This is not an economic reform, but a monetary reform to remedy the imbalances of the budget, and in turn, you raised the burden on the citizen on the one hand, and raised the rate of inflation on the other. We are now trying to fight that through raising the interest rate, which led to widening the budget deficit.

The increase in the interest rate has led to the reduction of the inflation index to pre-floatation rates. Did the exchange rate fall to the expected under EGP 13 rate?

If the government is not able to reduce the deficit by the end of the current fiscal year to EGP 100bn, it will have to leave, as it will have been unable to achieve its target deficit of 9%.

I think the government should be formed with 15 ministers and three sovereign ministers. The number of advisers should be cut, reducing costs, controlling the administrative apparatus and thus reducing expenses.

How do we solve the problem then?

I disagree with the way the economic reform programme was carried out. The pace was very fast and it was necessary to implement some decisions before the exchange rate was floated.

If you want to gradually remove subsidies to deliver them to their deserving beneficiaries, it is important that a data network of the beneficiaries is completed. It was also necessary to expand the social safety nets and reduce the subsidy rates before the floatation. The citizens should have been surprised with many decisions to ease the burden on them at the same time. This did not happen.

The exchange rate is now at EGP 17.5. At the same time, we are going in the wrong direction through aiming to lift subsidies in general. If the government took the right decisions, the situation would have been very different, especially with regards to inflation and price hikes.

They said that the floatation aimed to attract remittances of Egyptians abroad as well as attract foreign direct investment and increase exports.

But in fact, you do not have investments. Since the 25 January uprising, investments have been fleeing.

The IMF forecasted an inflation of 18%. Do you expect inflation to settle soon?

The government gives false statements about prices. Prices will not fall unless the dollar falls against the pound.

The price of the dollar is falling as the indicators of non-oil exports and tourism improve, thus improving the purchasing power of consumers.

We have to realise that there are no import restrictions, but there are controls on low quality goods that have been entering Egyptian markets and consuming a much-needed hard currency.

Imports are still open, and I am against the closure of imports as a large proportion of industries are based on imported raw materials.

Why have importers not become manufacturers? What assistance can be provided by the CBE and banks in this regard?

Importers were not met with anyone who gave them assurances. In addition, there is a state of distrust in Egyptian products, but with the increase in prices in the recent period, they have become more accepted compared to the burden of buying imported goods.

It is necessary to communicate with major international companies through their partners in Egypt and help them sign partnerships with local investors. This would establish national production and increase customers’ trust in it.

What are the obstacles preventing importers from becoming producers?

Egyptian citizens during the recent period have become distrustful of their country’s products. For foreign companies to agree on building a production line in Egypt, they must see free trade agreements. These are present, but the conventions are not activated. This is the job of the minister of trade and industry.

There is a very serious fact that we must stop at: commercial representation offices of Egyptian embassies abroad do not operate on a full-capacity basis.

In this context, I spoke about the need to improve the representation abroad, especially in Africa and East and Central Asia.

The alternative is pivoting the status of Egypt to become a transit state for Africa’s international trade and vice versa from the countries of East and South Asia.

How do you see the direction to raise fuel prices again?

Raising fuel prices will have a severe impact on the street, and the government has to take quick moves on other aspects of the problem through developing other means of transport, such as the railway. This will curb costs and reduce prices.

I have great concerns about global oil prices rising. How will low-income citizens cope?

Why did the government implement a smart card system for gasoline, which cost close to EGP 500m?

This question is directed at the government. There are requests for government questioning around the non-activation of the implementation of smart cards for gasoline and diesel. The concerned minister will be questioned about wasting EGP 500m on these cards.

Is there a government strategy to reduce fuel consumption?

I do not think the government has a strategy. We have to reduce consumption. But it is clear the situation is still the same. We have to offer solutions for providing better transportation for citizens.

I object to the monorail project. The area between Salam City and the 10th of Ramadan is a labour-intensive area, not to mention that the project cost is very high.

The file of cash subsidy is debated. How do you see it?

I have been on the in-kind subsidy side. There is corruption, but there must be a probe committee to investigate this.

A data network for subsidy beneficiaries should be put together.

I can make a two-year agreement for example with the private sector so that the state can pay them part of the cost of the subsidised commodity, which would also help overcome the issue of subsidy goods being stolen.

Citizens complain about state inability to impose market controls and the lack of a quick parliament intervention or passing of a consumer protection law draws great criticism to parliament. Why has the law been delayed?

The fact is that the Egyptian market is a random one. The reason behind the delay is the investment law which was ratified during the last parliamentary session and the government that preferred to submit the protection law itself, even though there was a bill already submitted by parliament which was more than 60% complete.

How do you see the government inclination to offer state-owned companies in the stock market in the coming period?

In the draft budget of the current fiscal year, the government said it targets EGP 6bn from offering assets on the Egyptian Exchange. This is a very low figure in the first place.

Moreover, I am not just against the timing and the targeted figure, but I also object to the abandonment of the public sector. The administration of these institutions could be privatised through contracting with foreign companies to manage companies for a profit share.

The public sector is a national treasure and the government suffers from the inability to operate it.

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