Interviews – Daily News Egypt https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Sun, 28 Jul 2019 22:38:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Hilton’s global net income reaches $769m in 2018 https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/27/hiltons-global-net-income-reaches-769m-in-2018/ Sat, 27 Jul 2019 09:00:51 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703620 Group to increase its capacity in Egypt by adding 1,683 rooms by 2025

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The global net income of the American multinational hospitality company Hilton reached $225m during the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2018, while the full year’s net income recorded $769m, according to Hilton’s Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2018 Results. This is setting Hilton’s 2019 off to its most dynamic year, while celebrating 100 years pioneering the hospitality industry.

Amir Lababedi, the managing director for development in the MENA region at Hilton, told Daily News Egypt in an interview that Hilton aims to expand its capacity in the Middle East, especially in Egypt, explaining that Hilton plans to add 1,683 new rooms by 2025 in Egypt.

“Hilton group is made up of 17 brands, including Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Canopy, Hilton, Curio, DoubleTree, Tapestry Collection, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton, Tru, Homewood Suites, Home2Suites, and Hilton Grand Vacations, in addition to new brands, called Signia and Motto,” said Lababedi.

DNE spoke with Lababedi about Hilton’s expansion plans in Egypt and the Middle East, in addition to his evaluation of the Egyptian tourism sector’s performance and challenges. The interview’s transcript is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Does the group have expansion plans in Egypt? And what is your five-year strategy?

We have been working in Egypt for 60 years. We already have 16 hotels which are currently operating and eight others that are in the pipeline with more than 1,600 rooms to open during the upcoming five years. We are always on the lookout for more hotels and more deals to sign, so these numbers are expected to increase.

Those 16 hotels are divided into 15 Hilton hotels and a Conrad hotel.

Besides, we are expanding into new geographical territories in and close to Cairo, such as the New Administrative Capital (NAC), New Cairo, the 5th Settlement, Sheikh Zayed, and Sixth October City. We are also looking forward to increase our presence in secondary markets and national projects, such as the Suez Canal Area Development Project, Port Said, Damietta, Mansoura, Tanta, Assiut, and leisure destinations, including El Gouna, Al Alamein, and Ain Sokhna, all of which are set to expand our brand presence in the country.

Our priority in the coming years is to both expand into new geographical territories and introduce more of Hilton’s 17 brands into the country. Within these projects and locations, we firmly believe there is a need and great potential for new mid-scale and focused services brands, such as Hilton Garden Inn, and for our softer brands, such as DoubleTree by Hilton and Curio Collection by Hilton, which lend themselves well to both new build and conversion or adaptive re-use projects. All of these brands are being very well received by the hotel investment and development community, and we have many ongoing discussions to introduce all of these brands.

Currently, we already have two DoubleTree hotels under construction, one is located in El Gouna and the other is in Ain Al Sokhna. We also have two Hilton Garden Inn hotels which are also in the construction phase, one in Cairo Business Park close to the NAC and the other in Damietta which is a very important secondary city in Egypt.

Lastly, we are very much looking forward to introducing the first Waldorf Astoria into Africa in Cairo’s Heliopolis area. This project is currently undergoing rebranding activities.

While resorts do remain part of our strategy here and always will do, we need to ensure the quality of the product represents the brand. Therefore, we now have a number of hotels located in both our resorts and city locations that are undergoing renovations, such as Ramses Hilton, Hilton Pyramids Golf, Hilton Hurghada Plaza, Hilton Hurghada Resort, Hilton Alex Green Plaza, and Conrad Cairo. For those hotels that do not meet the criteria, we need to take the decision as to whether those brands will remain in the portfolio.

Tell us more details on the 1,683 new rooms to be inaugurated in Egypt?

The 1,683 rooms are divided into 257 rooms that are going to be opened in Hilton Cairo in Maadi by 2020, in addition to 179 rooms in DoubleTree by Hilton El Gouna Mangroovy Resort that are going to be opened by 2020, as well as 180 new rooms in Hilton Ain Al Sokhna which will be inaugurated by 2021.

Moreover, there are 130 new rooms to be introduced at Hilton Garden Inn Cairo Business Park by 2021, in addition to 120 rooms in Hilton Garden Inn Damietta Beach by 2021.

Also, there are 420, 200, and 197 rooms to enter operation respectively at Hilton Giza Pyramids by 2023, Hilton Port Said by 2023, and DoubleTree by Hilton Ain Al Sokhna in 2025.

What about Hilton’s expansion plans in the Middle East?

We plan to expand our capacity in North Africa in different brands, including Hilton Tangier Al Houara Resort & Spa by adding 297 rooms by the end of 2019 and Hilton Taghazout Bay Beach Resort & Spa by adding 170 new rooms by 2020.

Furthermore, 155 new rooms are to be opened in Hilton Garden Inn Casablanca Sidi Maarouf by 2021, and 150 rooms in Hilton Rabat will be inaugurated by 2022.

We have a dedicated development presence based out of Casablanca, Morocco as an illustration of our commitment to grow in this region.

What are the most common nationalities that visit Hilton’s hotels in Egypt?

Our top three markets are the Arab Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia, the UK, and the local market. We also started to see some Asian visitors.

How did Hilton deal with Egypt’s tourism crisis in the past eight years? And what were the occupancy rates of your chain during this period?

There has been a country-wide decline in occupancy rates due to the challenges that the local market was facing. Yet, we made sure during that time not to lay off any of our existing team members or shut down the doors of any of our hotels. Of late, the region has witnessed some of the strongest growth rates in the world.

What is the size of Hilton’s staff in Egypt?

Currently, there are 6,516 employees in our hotels in Egypt. We also have a dedicated corporate office based out of Cairo which supports those hotels.

Do you think Egypt’s tourism crisis is over? And how do you see the country’s tourism growth now?

We are observing a strong recovery in the market, and it is good to see that the crisis seems to be resolving and we are in a much stronger position now as a sector and as a hotel company in Egypt. Moreover, we are looking forward to adding more growth and further strengthening our footprint with more hotels and exploring new opportunities.

Finally, I also think that Egypt is one of the most important growing markets today and is one of our key growth markets for the region.

In your opinion, how has the floatation affected tourism in Egypt?

I think it has had a positive effect on the tourism industry in Egypt, as it became more affordable. I also think it can support domestic tourism.

What should Egypt do to attract more tourists?

I think it is important to ensure the diversity of the incoming tourists. It is also important to have the right products in the right location in order to attract different segments at different price points.

It is also essential to have strong brands in order to give the international tourism market the comfort and the quality, in terms of services and operations.

Egypt also needs to ensure the efficiency of the transport infrastructure that connects the airports to the new touristic destinations in Egypt.

Moreover, we need to ensure that the employees in the hotels understand and can deliver international- standard services. What is even more important that touristic agencies or hotels owners should guarantee a good culture and understanding of the tourism sector within their companies.

I need to highlight in this context that Hilton was recognised as number one work place by Fortune Magazine.

Over and above, we believe if employees are happy, then this happiness will be reflected on the guests, which will subsequently lead to their differentiation in the competition, and to strong performance in revenues, which will lead to a strong investment environment.

On another matter, I need to mention that what Egypt is doing now in terms of the e-visa is good, as it will make access to Egypt both cheaper and easier.

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Egyptian football league needs rebranding, AFCON19 should be exploited: Media Pro Egypt https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/27/egyptian-football-league-needs-rebranding-afcon19-should-be-exploited-media-pro-egypt/ Sat, 27 Jul 2019 08:00:37 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703575 Government should lead development of Egyptian football

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The TV broadcast of the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 (AFCON) received great acclaim. It was the first time to use the 4K technology and such large number of cameras to broadcast the tournament.

Media Pro was responsible for television production of AFCON19 and implemented VAR technology in the tournament. It is one of the largest suppliers of video assistant referee (VAR) equipment in the world, and responsible for television productions for the Spanish, French, and Italian football divisions, and for the distribution of Spanish leagues worldwide.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Tamer Yousry, CEO of Media Pro International in Egypt, to discuss the company’s achievements and plans and how Egyptian football league can benefit from the AFCON experience.

How do you evaluate Egypt’s organisation of AFCON 2019?

All the aspects of the tournament, including the Fan ID, TV broadcast, and renovation of stadiums, can be exploited by Egypt to correct the situation of local football industry. It is necessary to benefit from what happened in AFCON to develop the Egyptian football league having major popularity in the continent and two major clubs, Al Ahly and Zamalek. I think the Egyptian league needs rebranding so as to be promoted as a new product.

What should Egypt do to achieve this?

The Egyptian government has to lead the development of local football industry, and this does not contradict with international regulations, as it can push those in charge to improve the local league. The Egyptian Football Association’s (EFA) next election will not make any difference. There must be a professional league, and nothing hinders this now. The TV broadcast rights are now granted to a single company, which makes broadcasting easier. An executive body should be formed to manage the league away from the EFA.

We had a similar opportunity after AFCON 2006, but we missed it. We must not allow this to happen again. It is not difficult and the cost is not high. We have already been through the difficult part. Our company is ready to participate in the development process, and we opened our office in Egypt for this purpose. Egypt has many professional young talents who can change the current situation.

What can the company offer to develop the Egyptian league?

The cost of applying the VAR for an entire matchweek is equal to hiring a foreign referee crew to officiate a league match, so it’s not high and increases the market value of the tournament. We are in negotiations with the EFA over this issue.

In AFCON, there were 25 cameras to broadcast each game. Besides the main camera that is placed at the main media tribune, there are lots of cameras littered everywhere on the pitch side, behind either goal area (netcam), in the stands, on the roof top, and a skycam that runs just over the players’ heads for aerial view, along with a specialised camera for the entry and exit of players. The skycam hangs over the space with four reels anchored at high fixed points at corners of the stadium.

The human element is still very important in the TV broadcast. We can bring foreign directors to train Egyptian ones, as we seek to produce the Egyptian league.

Does the company have other activities in the Arab region?

We will apply the VAR technology in Morocco’s new football season. We also aim to apply it in Egypt to benefit from the presence of six Egyptian referees who were already trained on VAR.

Can you tell us more about the company’s history and business?

The company is based in Barcelona, Spain. Time Out was our agent in Egypt, before we decided to open our office in Egypt. We produce 26 leagues across the world. This year, we produced the UEFA Champions League, the AFC Asian Cup Final, the AFCON, and Formula 1. We distribute the TV broadcast rights of the La Liga around the world. The company also established both Barcelona and Real Madrid channels and museums, and provided the assets of BeIN Sports and Abu Dhabi Media.

When did Time Out start its activity?

Time Out has started five years ago with the aim to develop football sponsorship of players and clubs in Egypt and the Middle East, achieving the best ROI for sponsors.

How much is the company’s capital?

The company began with a small capital of EGP 120,000 and then was raised by 5,000%. We started as players’ agent. We provided endorsement deals from Málaga CF to Zamalek’s player Mohamed Ibrahim, and from RCD Espanyol to Mohamed Salah before moving to FC Basel.

What are the most important activities of the company?

We are working on developing Etisalat’s sports app. We facilitated endorsement deals for big stars, such as Carles Puyol, Roberto Carlos, Samuel Eto’o, and Mido. These deals secure excellent returns for the company. Two years ago, the company concluded its first sponsorship deal in the English Premier League for an Egyptian company. It was between Chelsea FC and Mobinil in the 2013/14 season when Mohamed Salah was playing for the club. The deal was worth £150,000. We also provided sponsorship deal by Hyde Park to Arsenal, then Banque du Caire, Vodafone with Liverpool, and La Liga with Orange.

How can you attract Egyptian companies to sponsor European clubs?

Some people believe that the sponsorship deal value should be huge, but this is not true for regional rights. It is easy for any company to get the sponsorship rights of a big international club, like Real Madrid or Barcelona, for less value than local clubs, which offers huge advertisement for the company. The Egyptian market, according to studies, is the most interesting for the European leagues in the world. This is mainly due to the football activity suspension in Egypt in the past and banning fans from attending games.

Do you have contracts with Egyptian athletes?

We have the commercial rights of some Egyptian athletes, such as swimmer Farida Othman, handball player Mohamed Sanad. We had some business with Mohamed Salah and concluded his contract with Mobil recently.

Does the company have business outside Egypt?

At the Arab level, Time Out developed the app “du” in the UAE. We have contracts with major clubs there, as well as in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

For commercial rights of football side, how do you see the situation in Egypt?

The football industry in Egypt needs great development. There have been some improvements in recent years, but it has been characterised by randomness. It is necessary to change the mentality of dealing with advertising. It is necessary to understand the nature of each club’s fans. Clubs must stop relying on sponsors. Each club has a specific nature of fans and so it must sell its ads accordingly and not unify sponsors for all clubs.

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La Liga ready to transfer expertise to develop football in Egypt: Fernando Sanz https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/27/la-liga-ready-to-transfer-expertise-to-develop-football-in-egypt-fernando-sanz/ Sat, 27 Jul 2019 07:30:22 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703611 Satellite broadcast rights for the Spanish league is worth €2.1bn

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La Liga, the top professional division of the Spanish football league, has expressed its willingness to cooperate with the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports to develop the game in Egypt.

La Liga has taken a different approach, placing it at the top of the football pyramid in the world, which has emerged in its quest to open new horizons for further expansion in Africa and the Middle East to enhance its brand and opened the door to cooperation with various countries to develop football.

Daily News Egypt spoke with Fernando Sanz, Director of Institutional Relations and La Liga Ambassadors programme, about what La Liga can offer to contribute to the development of the football industry in Egypt, what the game needs to keep abreast of what is happening in the world, and his recent visit to Egypt.

Sanz started his football career at the Real Madrid Academy, and then moved to Málaga CF. Sanz retired from football in 2006, after Málaga’s relegation, with 240 matches and five goals in the top level to his credit, immediately becoming president of the club after his father bought 97% of its shares. After four years, he resigned on 27 July 2010 as the club was sold earlier in the summer to a Qatari investor.

You recently visited Egypt, we would like to know more about the reasons of this visit, and did you achieve the visit’s goal(s)?

I have been in Egypt to inaugurate the La Liga Space and interactive fan zone of La Liga where we highlighted the African talents that play in La Liga this season and also all of the ones that played historically in the best league in the world.

What are your plans for the Egyptian market?

Egypt is a very interesting market for La Liga as we have millions of fans that watch Spanish football every year.

Since 2015, the league has been working to create commercial opportunities and visibility across the continent and Egypt is no exception. Orange Egypt, for example, has been an official Telecom partner of La Liga for the past four years.

More recently, La Liga opened academies in Cairo in September of 2018, with almost 100 children enrolled, while over 1,000 Egyptian students have been reached through cultural seminars in collaboration with the embassy of Spain.

We recently participated at AFCON 2019 through our La Liga Space. Through this activation, we were able to demonstrate La Liga’s ongoing commitment to African football and the key role that African football already plays in our competition.

La Liga has a sponsor, Orange Egypt since 2015, we have an educational partner, ESLSCA Business School, and we run sports management courses with them, projects with the Spanish embassy. Very interesting projects to come soon.

Reflecting on the strength of this relationship, the ESLSCA Business School’s Cairo campus was chosen as the location for the first international course when La Liga Business School began its global expansion earlier in 2019.

It has been previously reported that you are planning to collaborate with the EFA on the VAR technology, what details can you share about this collaboration?

We have met the EFA and discussed many possibilities of collaboration. We are pleased to work with football institutions as we are doing in several countries to take the football industry to the next level in a global perspective.

What does the Egyptian football lack to be an integrated industry?

Interchange know-how with foreign institutions is a fruitful way to learn from each other towards professionalisation of the football industry.

How can La Liga help/support Egyptian football in general?

La Liga has academies in Egypt since September 2018 with up to 130 kids nowadays, and we have Spanish coaches on the ground. Our aim with the academies is to transfer know-how. Also, over 1,000 Egyptian students have been reached through cultural seminars in collaboration with the embassy of Spain.

We have been in touch with the EFA and the Ministry of Sports, and we are willing to collaborate with such institutions for the development of football in Egypt.

Are you solely focused on Egypt or do you have plans to spread in other countries?

La Liga strives daily to promote Spanish football beyond its borders with the goal of creating a community of fans across the globe, especially in Africa.

We have 11 offices worldwide and 45 delegates/representatives all over the globe. We have two international offices in Africa. The first office was launched in 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the second office was launched a year later in Lagos, Nigeria.

Additionally, La Liga has delegates in Kenya, Morocco, Egypt, Tanzania, Angola, Cameroon, and Senegal whose mission is to help enhance the La Liga brand value on the international stage, increasing the number of global followers and driving greater interest in the competition, as well as creating business opportunities both for La Liga and its clubs in Africa.

Why are you focused on branching out internationally and what are the outcomes of these international endeavours?

Since 2013, when our President Javier Tebas took office, we focused on the centralisation of TV rights, financial control of the teams, and fight against piracy.

Our strategy now has changed to become a global player in sports and entertainment industry, for that we are focusing on being digital, innovative, and international, as well as increasing our brand value.

Since 2013, our audience has doubled reaching almost 3 billion people last season and the TV rights are reaching €21bn.

We are focused on being international because the largest number of La Liga fanbase comes from overseas.

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AFCON19 venues should stay open after renovation: stadiums committee head https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/27/afcon19-venues-should-stay-open-after-renovation-stadiums-committee-head/ Sat, 27 Jul 2019 07:00:51 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703570 Current football infrastructure enables Egypt to host FIFA World Cup, says Abdulla

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The Egyptian stadiums which hosted the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 (AFCON19) were in tip-top condition. They met all the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) requirements, although the task was given to Egypt on such short notice (only five months) after the CAF deemed Cameroon not ready to host.

Ahmad Abdulla, head of the AFCON19 Stadiums committee, called for the need to preserve what has been accomplished in the six stadiums where the AFCON19 matches were played, namely Cairo International, Alexandria, 30 June, Al Salam, New Suez, and Ismailia stadiums.

Abdulla is a dentist and former player of Zamalek during 1990s. He served as football manager of Zamalek under French coach Henri Michel in 2007. Daily News Egypt spoke with Abdulla about the success story of AFCON19 and how Egypt can maintain the stadiums in good condition after the end of the tournament.

How could Egypt succeed in hosting AFCON19 on such short notice?

Thanks to the youth who worked in the development of stadiums and the organisation of the tournament. The state also facilitated all procedures and provided all resources.

How can we benefit from this success in the future?

With the development of stadiums, introducing electronic entry and exit system of spectators, and providing high-quality TV broadcasting, we can say that the football system in Egypt has seen a boom. We should benefit from this situation through keeping stadiums open for local league, providing regular maintenance for sports facilities, and allowing fans to attend matches at stadiums using the huge database collected by Tazkarti app.

The football situation in Egypt seems vague, do you think the Egyptian Football Association’s (EFA) election can be the beginning of reform?

The election does not always introduce the best solution. It is necessary to raise the awareness of the EFA general assembly through seminars, and to develop new regulations that serve the game in Egypt.

We should help clubs to develop themselves to produce a better product. The English Premier League is run by a company that has nothing to do with football, however, it has the best league in the world.

We should benefit from such successful experiences. We should regulate the transfer of coaches and players among the league clubs, along with addressing the monopoly of some agents on all players.

Can you elaborate about the development process of AFCON19 venues?

Cairo International Stadium received the largest share of development among the six stadiums. It was completely changed. New dressing room were built to meet the world-class standards. It was almost the case in Alexandria Stadium, where the pitch was completely renovated and new dressing rooms were built.

The pitches and lightning system of New Suez, Ismailia, and Al Salam stadiums were completely changed. The 30 June Stadium was developed by the stadium’s administration. A private company took over the renovation of Cairo Stadium’s pitch, while another company changed the pitches of Alexandria, Ismailia, Al Salam, and New Suez stadiums. The construction works in in Cairo Stadium were implemented by Arab Contractors. Hassan Allam was responsible for the constructions in other stadiums, except 30 June.

What about the training playgrounds?

The Ministry of Youth and Sports has developed the training playgrounds of Railway Club, El-Nasr Sporting, the Cairo Stadium, Shams SC, Olympic Club, Al Ittihad Alexandria Club, and the Alexandria University Stadium. Other clubs developed their playgrounds, such as Al Mokawloon Al Arab, Wadi Degla, and PetroSport. The Suez Canal Authority developed five playgrounds.

How do you assess Egypt’s hosting of the tournament?

There were 24 teams in this tournament for the first time and there were no complaints. The state provided all required facilities. After the tournament, Algeria’s star Riyad Mahrez praised the high-quality of stadiums and good organisation.

Can Egypt host the FIFA World Cup?

The current football infrastructure enables Egypt to host FIFA World Cup. But we need to provide regular maintenance to these stadiums. The World Cup has eight teams more than AFCON; Port Said or Aswan stadiums can be developed and host them, in addition to Borg El Arab stadium. We can also use El Gouna and the Military College stadiums. There are many solutions. We already have 32 ready training playgrounds.

How did Egypt benefit from the tournament?

We now have a large group of youth who are capable of doing the job professionally. The state proved its ability to host any big sports event. We also now have developed infrastructure that helps Egypt to host any tournament in the future.

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Danish investment funds actively eying new opportunities in Egypt https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/22/danish-investment-funds-actively-eying-new-opportunities-in-egypt/ Mon, 22 Jul 2019 09:00:25 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703228 Companies injected $1bn in new investments in 3 years, says Danish ambassador

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The number of Danish investment funds are actively eying new investment opportunities in the Egyptian market especially in the energy, infrastructure, transport, and food sectors, Denmark’s ambassador to Egypt, Tomas Anker Christensen, said.

“A Danish investment fund owns 10% stake in Benban Solar Park. It has invested in Aller Aqua fish feed company, which is an Egyptian Danish joint venture. This investment fund is looking for new investment projects in Egypt,” the ambassador shared.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Christensen to learn more about the Danish-Egyptian relations in terms of trade, investment, technical cooperation, and tourism, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What are the cooperation updates between both countries in terms of investments?

On the economic side, Egypt has gone through very difficult times over the past years. Yet, we think that the situation is improving now. Egypt has undertaken very strict economic reforms which are highly appreciated by foreign investors.

Egypt precisely followed its economic programme’s benchmarks that was set by the authorities and coordinated with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The accurate implementation of the programme has given the confidence to international investors that Egypt is serious about its reforms.

The GDP growth of Egypt is picking up which is positively reflecting on investments. Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, pays attention to the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDG2030). When the plan is fully implemented, it will help Egypt create more jobs, improve education, health, the situation for women, and many across sector improvements.

In general, Egypt is coming from a very difficult position, and fixing it will take some time.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Christensen to learn more about the Danish-Egyptian relations in terms of trade, investment, technical cooperation, and tourism

What are the reactions of Danish investors toward the reforms in Egypt?

The reaction that I get from the Danish businessperson on Egypt’s business climate improvements is very positive. The Danish businessperson is looking very carefully at the Egyptian market.

There are key elements that impact the international investors’ decisions including stability, regulatory certainty, and long-term stable policy. Egypt is coming where those conditions are met.

The ease of doing business is very important in terms of getting the production inputs and materials, clearance of the customs policy, and licensing.

We are very active with the Egyptian authorities in helping Danish companies manage the difficulties they face in the Egyptian market.

What about the interest of Danish investment funds in Egypt?

Danish investment funds are actively working in Egypt and are considering new opportunities. There is a large investment fund managed by the Danish government (IFU) focusing on investments in the sectors of the sustainable development goals.

Additionally A.P.Moller Capital is looking for new opportunities to invest in Egypt as part of their Africa Infrastructure Fund. This fund is implementing projects focusing on infrastructure in growth markets worth of $1bn over its first phase of investing and will keep investing more in the future.

What are the difficulties that Danish companies face in Egypt?

There are some difficulties that faced Danish companies while operating in the Egyptian market. Egyptian authorities are very supportive and cooperative. There is a government policy to assist investors who face issues.

Every time we discuss any of the issues with the ministers, there is a clear interest in solving it. This policy positively reflects on our relations. There are many business opportunities in Egypt for Danish companies who work in energy, food health care, and transport.

I have a positive experience with several Egyptian ministers to solve investors’ issues. When Danish investors face an issue, there is always an open door for actual solutions from Egyptian ministers.

How many Danish companies are operating in the Egyptian market right now?

We don’t have the precise number of the Danish companies in Egypt. We have the Danish Egyptian Business Club, with more than 20 members of the largest Danish companies in Egypt.

Over past three years of 2015, 2016, and 2017, Danish companies injected about $1bn in new investments in the Egyptian market. 

One of the largest Danish companies in Egypt, is the transport company Maersk. It is the largest investor in the Port Said area with very large containers terminal.  Maersk is the largest employer in Port Said with 3,000 persons and its investment in the port ranges from $850m to $1bn.

In addition to the investments and because of shipping in the Suez Canal, Maersk pays about $1bn in fees to Egypt every year.

I know that you met the Chairperson of the Suez Canal authority, Mohab Mamish, several times. What are the results of these meetings?

Because Mamish is head of both authorities of the Suez Canal Authority and the General Authority For Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone), he is a close partner for us, especially because of Maersk, and also more generally due to Denmark’s leading role in the shipping industry.

Denmark is one of world’s biggest shipping nations. We have the fifth largest ship fleet in the world. We are a small country, but shipping is one of the sectors that is a core part of our economy. Our close cooperation with the Suez Canal is crucial for us.

The Suez Canal authority is an investor in Maersk’s terminal in Port Said and it has a certain stake in it. So, we have ongoing conversation to the way that the port is running, its state of competitiveness, new investments into the port, the regulatory circumstances, and other discussions.

We also have received a very kind invitation to the opening of the new tunnels in Ismailia which I attended. I have been driving through the tunnels a number of times. It is a very impressive new megaproject that ties Africa to Asia. It’s a very big vision to the future of the whole canal area and Mamish is leading that work in a very impressive way.

You are actively meeting with Egyptian ministers; can you please elaborate on these meetings and their results?

Egyptian Ministers are very generous with their time with us. I have been fortunate to meet Finance Minister, Mohamed Moeit, a number of times. I’ve also met the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, the Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Mohamed Shaker, the Minister of Antiquities, Khaled El-Anany, the Minister of Tourism, Rania Al-Mashat, and the Minister of Environment, Yasmine Fouad.

I aslo met with Egypt’s minister of Transport, Kamel Al-Wazir.

We discuss with Egyptian ministers business cooperation, government relations, political policy, and technical projects. For example, I met with the minister of electricity and renewable energy, to discuss a new technical programme in wind power.

In Denmark, we generate about 60% of our energy from wind. Egypt has a very ambitious programme to generate more than 43% of its energy from renewables by 2035.

Denmark has very experienced engineers in terms of integrating wind into the energy systems. We have some of the best engineers in the world. We offered Egypt a capacity building and knowledge transfer programme.

We will have an energy advisor who will come to the embassy starting next October and his job will be to work with the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity and Renewable energy and its affiliated agencies on this planned programme.

With the ministry of finance, we have been working on a number of issues that relate to taxation fees and customs that faced Danish companies while working in Egypt. We had very successful discussions.

We also are coordinating with the ministry of environment on climate change issues. Egypt is getting ready for the summit of the UN Secretary General on climate change that will take place in September. Meanwhile, Denmark is leading the track on the climate change issues, so we have very close cooperation on environmental issues.

What about future meetings with Egyptian ministers?

We have an ongoing dialogue with a number of officials. Nothing is planned right now, but I hope I will meet the Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, soon, and Finance Minister, Mohamed Moeit again.

Since we have a new government in Denmark, we will coordinate a meeting between Denmark’s Foreign Minister, Jeppe Kofod and his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, during the general assembly annual meeting in New York.

Shoukry sent Kofod a congratulatory note on the occasion of Kofod’s assuming office recently. I hope they will meet in New York.

According to Forbes, Denmark is one of the best countries to invest in. How can Egypt benefit from this experience?

There are a number of reasons that make Denmark one of the best environments for business. Our population has a very high level of education. Our government takes care of citizens and gives them social protection. Denmark enjoys a flexible labour market. In Egypt, it’s very difficult for employers to fire employees, while in Denmark, it is very easy because the government protects citizens when they don’t have a job.

In Denmark, it’s easy to open a business and it’s easy to close it. Denmark enjoys a dynamic labour market, very stable economy, very good regulatory framework, and very predictable and long-term policies.

For example, when we change governments, we don’t shift policies. Investors can predict what will happen in the next five years. Our policies are a combination between a social welfare state and a free market economy.

Let’s shift to another key point of the Danish-Egyptian relations which is trade exchange. What are the latest statistics of trade exchange between both countries?

Over the last three years, Danish exports to Egypt reached about $1bn. Egyptian exports to Denmark are less than that, but they are picking up especially agriculture products including the Egyptian potato.  There are many Egyptian potatoes in the Danish market due to its good quality that is getting even better.

The biggest sector for exports is health care products because of the Novo Nordisk, which is one of the biggest Danish companies in health care. It has a very big market share in Egypt.

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iSagha does not compete with gold companies, actually aims to maximise their sales: CEO https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/19/isagha-does-not-compete-with-gold-companies-actually-aims-to-maximise-their-sales-ceo/ Fri, 19 Jul 2019 19:02:43 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703078 Company's capital estimated at EGP 5.5m, of which 10% contributed by Flat6labs

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iSagha is the first application to provide gold prices and jewelry sale service in Egypt and the Arab world.

Said Embaby, CEO of iSagha, said the company aims to offer gold prices in the local market through a safe means in line with the global market standards, in addition to marketing the products of gold companies and shops to the largest number of customers.

In his interview with Daily News Egypt, Said explained that the company is trying to use information technology (IT) to serve its consumers, as most of the people nowadays have access to internet.

When was the company established?

The company was established in December 2016 as an Egyptian joint stock company. Flat6labs has a 10% share of the capital estimated at EGP 5.5m.

How did you come up with your business idea?

Gold trade is my family business. I tried to use technology to develop the gold sector. iSagha was my solution to allow everyone to follow gold prices throughout the country.

In the past, gold shops used the phone to follow the gold prices. If phone lines were broken, we could not complete major gold sales until the official gold prices were confirmed at that time.

The gold prices change throughout the day and no trading can be made without knowing the excat price of gold to avoid any loss.

Do you have the intention to manufacture and market jewellery?

My company does not intend to engage in the manufacturing or trading of local or imported gold, and our work is limited to exhibiting and marketing gold products for the benefit of other gold companies and shops. We are not competitors but partners who seek to increase gold sales.

What is the size of iSagha users?

We have over 20,000 users, including 5,000 jewellers and traders.

Said Embaby, CEO of iSagha

How many gold companies and shops does iSagha deal with?

We have no jewellery companies so far, but we have contracts with 155 gold shops to exhibit and sell their products through the company’s platform.

What are the real benefits of the application?

iSagha allows traders and consumers to know gold prices without manipulation. Gold prices in Egypt are unfair, as some of them do not reflect the decline or rise in the global gold prices.

The price of gold in the local market is determined according to the prices of other commodities and the US dollar value. Egypt is the only country where traders determine gold prices.

Does this require the state to control gold prices?

I do not prefer the state’s intervention to regulate the gold industry and trade because many officials are not familiar with this profession. The market should regulate itself, through innovation and the creation of marketing methods that address current generations rather than traditional ways.

Will selling jewellery via internet become an alternative for shops?

Modern technology should be used to allow companies and shops to market their products to as many potential customers as possible.

Selling jewellery online will not be an alternative, but rather a way to market products. It is also an opportunity for gold shops to expand online instead of opening new branches at different locations to increase their customer base, especially with the high costs of opening new branches.

As the gold products will be exhibited online, this will reduce the robbery risk.

How did both consumers and traders react to the idea?

At first, gold traders were enthusiast for the idea of displaying and selling their products online. However, younger generations praised the idea, and the situation changed after they achieved sales through the platform.

The demand from consumers was not high at first as the society needs more time to get use to buy gold and jewellery online. Many consumers are used to deal with certain jewellers in their neighbourhoods.

How iSagha works?

Gold traders create their accounts on the application to display their products, and customers can browse the featured items and choose whatever they want. We also provide delivering service for customers.

How much is your commission?

We charge shops a 3-10% commission of the value of sold items.

What guarantees do you provide to consumers?

The company provides guarantees to consumers in terms of dealing with reputable dealers, verifying the authenticity of the offered products.

The company protects the rights of both the trader and the consumer. The site offers the selling and buying prices of each item. It also shows the profit margin at the time of selling, as anyone can sell his jewellery with no more than 2-5% profit margin of its value.

How do you deal with invoices and returns?

The invoice guarantees the consumer’s right and there are all sealed by iSagha. You can return any gold item but must be in the same condition.

Does the company interfere in determining the gold craftsmanship fee?

The company is not responsible for that, and we try to create free competition between the shops, which eventually is the best for consumers. However, the company guarantees providing consumers with products that meet the legal standards.

What is the demand rate for wedding jewellery on your app?

The demand for wedding jewellery through the site is low compared to other items such gold bullions, while the demand for gold products is higher than gold bullion.

The growth of the volume of small gold jewellery sales is based on a piece rather than a weight basis, in addition, gold bullion and gold coins sales were growing during the price fluctuation period, as they attract those who want to invest in them.

What is the size of the company’s sales last year? And your target this year?

Our sales reached EGP 2.5m in the past year, with a target of EGP 5m this year. It’s still low because the society is still not familiar with the concept of purchasing gold online. The company intends to launch new services during the coming period to encourage consumers to invest in gold or makes purchases through the internet.

Are there new services to be offered to consumers?

We have been trying for a year to provide e-payment service on our website, and we have launched the service at the beginning of this month. At first, banks refused to allow e-payment for gold and silver products trading, as the Central Bank of Egypt considers gold as cash equivalent.

Does the company intend to enter into new partnerships?

The growth rate of the company is good, but slow, and we are trying to expand the company’s activity and look for foreign or local shareholders.

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After appointing new female judge, will Egypt see more women in courts? https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/18/after-appointing-new-female-judge-will-egypt-see-more-women-in-courts/ Thu, 18 Jul 2019 20:24:21 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703068 However, Qandil is not really the first female judge in Egypt’s criminal courts. She was preceded by judge Sally Al-Saidi, who was part of several judicial panels in criminal and misdemeanour courts in 2009. She ruled on 95 criminal cases that year

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Several media outlets recently reported that Fatima Qandil became the first female judge to join a judicial panel of an Egyptian criminal court.

The court was trying a case about stock market manipulation. The judicial panel was led by Mohamed El-Feki and included Mahmoud Rashdan, Abdullah Salam, and Usama Aboushaisha, alongside Qandil. Several individuals from the Mubarak regime are suspects in this case, including the former president’s sons, Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, in addition to seven others.

However, Qandil is not really the first female judge in Egypt’s criminal courts. She was preceded by judge Sally Al-Saidi, who was part of several judicial panels in criminal and misdemeanour courts in 2009. She ruled on 95 criminal cases that year.

Al-Saidi was one of 68 female judges appointed in Egypt’s ordinary courts. She then became a member of the Cairo Juvenile Court in 2009, and later a member of the Cairo Criminal Court.

In 2013, Al-Saidi was appointed as a member of the technical bureau of the Court of Cassation (Criminal Division).

Notably, the role of the technical bureau is to conduct legal research and studies, but this would not give her the authority to try or rule on cases.

The question is: will the media interest of the presence of a female judge, Qandil, in law courts pave the way for more females to be part of the big scene in the Egyptian judiciary?

Before 2003, both the Administrative Prosecution Authority and the State Lawsuits Authority have appointed women in their offices, but no women were allowed in the Egyptian courts.

In 2003, judge Tehani Al-Gebali was the first woman to join the Supreme Constitutional Court by a presidential decree. This was followed by the appointment of 42 female judges to the ordinary courts from 2007 to 2008.

In June 2015, the Ministry of Justice announced the appointment of a new batch of 26 female judges to the ordinary courts. Unfortunately, the government did not take further steps to increase the number of women in the judiciary since then.

Sally Al-Saidi

Are female judges banned from Egyptian judiciary?

The Egyptian judicial system is divided into three branches: ordinary courts, which are entitled to try civil, economic, and criminal cases, administrative courts, which adjudicates disputes involving government actions (and sometimes inaction) and disciplinary actions involving government employees, and the Supreme Constitutional Court, which rules on constitutional matters.

According to the Egyptian constitution, the law graduates can apply to join the administrative prosecution authority, public prosecution, the State Council, and the military prosecution, Omnia Gadallah, founder of “Her Honor Setting the Bar” support campaign of female law graduates, told Daily News Egypt.

Gadallah has filed a lawsuit against the State Council for refusing to enrol women in the body. 

She explained that both administrative prosecution and Egyptian State Lawsuits Authority are judicial bodies, however, the work nature of their members is different than normal judges, as they do not rule on cases.

Even though, women are allowed to enter both. They currently account for 43% of the administrative prosecution members, and represent about 28% of the Egyptian State Lawsuits Authority.

Meanwhile, the members of the Supreme Constitutional Court are selected from the best judges in the ordinary courts, the State Council, and the military prosecution. However, no women allowed in the military prosecution.

“The female law graduates have two options; either to apply in the public prosecution to enter an ordinary court, which is difficult as the public prosecution continues to reject women, or to apply in the State Council to enter an administrative court, which is also rejecting female applicants. This means that the ban on female judges continues,” Gadallah said.

In 2009, Egypt’s State Council agreed unanimously to appoint male and female law graduates from the academic years 2008 and 2009.

However, in February 2010, a special committee of the State Council’s general assembly convened and voted against appointing female judges, with an overwhelming majority of 334 against 42 votes.

Therefore, when the public prosecution announced the recruitment of a new batch in 2010, only males could apply.

So, when Gadallah filed a lawsuit against the State Council, this brought the issue of female judge ban to light again and this case is still ongoing until now.

Exclusion of female judges violates constitution

Gadallah told DNE that the exclusion of women clearly violates the constitutional principle of equality, citing some articles in the 2014 Constitution, mainly Article 9. It prescribes that the state is committed to achieving equality among all citizens, without discrimination.

Moreover, Article 11 prescribes that the state must ensure equality between women and men in all civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

Article 14 also prescribes that citizens have the right to government employment on the basis of competence, without favouritism.

Fatima Kandil

Is appointing female judges in courts still a taboo?

Gadallah said that Al-Saidi and Qandil are among the 66 female judges that were appointed in the ordinary courts, representing 0.5% of 16,000 judges.

“Those female judges were appointed, not selected normally through career progression,” Gadallah explained.

Despite this fact that their selection was not through the career progression, social media and newspapers congratulated the Egyptian women for being empowered.

Mohamed Samir, spokesperson for the Administrative Prosecution Authority, told DNE that the media interest of appointing females in the criminal court is a result of the public argument whether women can hold judicial positions.

According to the Malik and Shafi‘i schools of Islamic law, being a male is a precondition to be a judge. Meanwhile, Abu Hanifa school says that women may be judges in all matters, except “Hudud” crimes, which include theft, robbery, illicit sex, alcohol consumption, and apostasy, and “Qisas”, which refers to offences that involve bodily injury or loss of life. The Hanbali school said that women may become judges in all matters.

Samir explained that the criminal court tries matters related to Hudud, thus women were always excluded.

“Seeing a female judge in the criminal court means that the picture is changing. It shows that we now follow the Hanbali school that permits women to be judges in all matters,” Samir said.

What is the next step?

Samir continued that appointing women in the criminal court was a good step, however, we aspire to more progress.

He explained that the appointment of Qandil was not through the normal procedures as males. He called for ending this gender discrimination, especially in the general prosecution.

Gadallah agreed with Samir, stating that the evaluation of female judges is conducted unfairly. Male judges should not be compared to female judges, as women’s career progression face more challenges than men’s.

In conclusion, the appointment of of Qandil was a good step, but the admission of women to the judiciary system remains dependent on the government’s intervention and civil society organisations’ pressure.

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EBRD, CBE discuss offering new banking products for Egypt’s private sector https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/17/ebrd-cbe-discuss-offering-new-banking-products-for-egypts-private-sector/ Wed, 17 Jul 2019 09:00:51 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702912 Locally operating banks receive 25% of EBRD funding portfolio in Egypt, says EBRD’s VP for Banking

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The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is discussing with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) offering new banking products to the local market, EBRD’s Vice President for Banking, Alain Pilloux, said.

“We have invested in our 13 partner banks in Egypt which we offer them diversified packages in order to save energy, finance women’s businesses, focus on youth, and others. All of these banking products are important for the country,” he noted.

The EBRD’s banking cooperation with Egypt will continue and expand over new banking products for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and FinTech, Pilloux asserted, adding that bank lending represents about 25% of the EBRD’s portfolio in Egypt.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Pilloux during his recent visit to Egypt, in the presence of Janet Heckman, the EBRD’s managing director for the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region, along with Khalid Hamza, the newly appointed deputy head of the EBRD’s Egypt office, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What was your recent visit to Egypt?

I had very fruitful meetings during my recent four-day visit to Egypt, which took place in early July. I had the opportunity to meet with Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.

I also discussed expanding our cooperation with several ministers, including Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr; Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Mohamed Shaker; and Minister of Public Enterprise Sector, Hisham Tawfik.

I met with the Governor of CBE, Tarek Amer, as well as representatives of several banks operating in Egypt and the private sector.

You also visited Alexandria, what did you do there?

In Alexandria, we celebrated the EBRD’s advisory of about 200 SMEs there and neighbouring governorates. I also had a fruitful meeting with the Governor of Alexandria, Abdel-Aziz Qonsowa.

What about the EBRD’s future plans for Egypt?

Egypt is an important country for the EBRD. It became number one for the bank in 2018 in terms of annual activities. Over the last two years, in 2017 and 2018, we invested in Egypt about $3bn.

Currently, we do more in Egypt and we want to maintain a very high level of activities. We aim to invest over $1bn annually in Egypt, yet it depends on local projects’ needs.

What were the main topics in your meetings in Egypt?

I’ve put a lot of emphasis on the private sector as the main creator of jobs, particularly SMEs. We advised 800 SMEs in the country, of which 200 projects are in Alexandria and the neighbouring region. The EBRD aims to expand its businesses in the Egyptian SME sector.

Since we can’t directly reach all Egyptian companies, we are always keen to maintain good partnerships with banks in order to lend SMEs.

In Egypt, we work with 30 banks, in both public and private sectors.

The most important thing for us is to work with good partners in a strong network to ensure that our funds benefit the Egyptian economy and do not stay in banks.

How do you assess Egypt’s banking system?

Egypt’s banking sector is stable which makes the performance of the banks operating there positive. Many of the countries that we are working in do not enjoy this stability.

We proposed a diversified package to our 13 partner banks in Egypt which include energy efficiency, women’s business, and youth. All of these banking products are important for the country.

Large companies can directly access our finance. Recently, we have signed a new $25m loan agreement to United Metals Company (UMC), a subsidiary of Elsewedy Electric.

‘The funds will boost the company’s working capital and co-finance the implementation of a comprehensive environmental and social action plan which includes the purchase of modern equipment that will set new quality standards in Egypt’s cable and electrical products industry,’ according to a previous statement of the EBRD on 4 July.

What is the outlook for EBRD’s future cooperation with the private sector in Egypt?

The EBRD is expected to expand business with Egypt’s private sector. We are not here to compete with the Egyptian banks, we are here to complement their role.

For example, we can lend companies in foreign currency because it might be a problem for some Egyptian banks. We can lend companies over a long-term payment plan because sometimes Egyptian banks don’t want to do that.

Renewable energy can easily attract the private sector. Egypt is hungry for energy as the country’s GDP is growing by about 5-6% annually. Consumption is growing at the same pace or more, so the country will need a lot of energy too.

Renewable energy prices are very competitive, contrary to the past. Renewables are good for the Egyptian state and people, so we will continue supporting this field. 

We are working on additional deals in the energy sector which will be announced in due time.

The EBRD supports the private sector through developing public private partnerships (PPP), such as the Sixth of October dry port and a container terminal in Damietta.

What is the size of funds provided by EBRD to banks operating in Egypt?

It represents about 25% of our portfolio in Egypt. Since 2012, we have invested about €5bn in more than 90 projects throughout the Egyptian economy. The bank invests in all sectors of the economy to support the private sector and sustainable development.

EBRD’s Vice President for Banking, Alain Pilloux

Does the bank have any future cooperation plans with the banks operating in Egypt?

Our cooperation will continue and expand over all banking products. We would like to work more closely with this sector to offer innovative products.

We discussed with the CBE and other banks the possibility of creating a product that would help people get out of informality.

The informal sector represents 40-60% of Egypt’s GDP. When SMEs were informal, they could not grow because they had no bank accounts or working licenses, so they would stay small.

It’s not easy to convince SMEs of the disadvantages of being informal, so we are discussing with the CBE the possibilities of creating a banking product that encourages informal projects to join the formal market.

We want to innovate all the time and to create new banking products because our role is to help the market to expand.

Does EBRD plan to expand beyond the 13 banks currently dealing with?

It is possible. The EBRD is partnering with about one-third of the banks in Egypt which is a good number.

Janet Heckman: We hope we will add new banks. We have been adding new products in the Egyptian market for years. For example, we have supported the supply chain financing through helping SME companies to become suppliers to larger ones and we also had green products.

How do you see the flotation decision and its consequences?

Flotation was an excellent decision because it was taken in close coordination with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The big advantage of cooperating with the IMF is the guidance that Egypt had step-by-step during its economic reform programme.

Like in any activity, you know what you have to do but when there is a step-by-step guidance with a timetable, it works better.

I am impressed with Egypt’s economic reform programme, and with the resilience of the Egyptian people because flotation caused the inflation to soar to more than 30%.

A lot of people suffered in Egypt following the flotation. Today people can see the reforms’ benefits. Inflation is about 14% now. It will go down to a single digit figure in the future. Everything will normalise because I believe that flotation was the right decision.

What about interest rates in Egypt? What are the appropriate rates for investments?

Investors always complain from high interest rates, even when they’re not. Companies in Egypt borrow at about 16% interest rate, which is high but it is linked to inflation. When inflation goes down, interest rates will decrease too. I would like to emphasise that Egypt is going in the right direction and everything will normalise at the end.

What about the technical cooperation with the CBE?

We have a large number of technical assistance projects with the CBE in order to improve the CBE’s functions in many areas, like the money market, the yield curve, and the capital market.

We are also discussing with the CBE having better access to the local currency. We already have access to local currency in Egypt in various means, yet we want to have better access.

We are also discussing with the CBE offering new products in the areas of financial technology (FinTech) and innovation. I have discussed this matter with the CBE team during my recent visit to Egypt.

How do you see Egypt’s steps to achieve financial inclusion?

The EBRD pays great attention to financial inclusion in its activities in Egypt. Women business and youth programmes are part of the financial inclusion. For us, financial inclusion is a key theme in Egypt.

What do you think of CBE’s plans to float some public banks?

The EBRD is closely following the CBE and the Egyptian authorities’ IPO plans of some banks. We know about the Banque de Caire’s offering and we are closely following it.

However, we hope that the IPO process is faster than it is. Privatisation is important not only in the banking sector but also in other sectors.

How do you see the CBE’s initiatives to support SMEs?

The SME sector is very large and has many needs. Supporting SMEs is very positive. The CBE announced EGP 25bn initiative to the SMEs at subsidised interest rates. There is also another CBE initiative of EGP 5bn for the medium-sized companies. For us, we continue to play our role in collaboration with the banks operating in the local market to support the SME sector.

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ECA works on amending Competition Protection Law: authority head https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/15/eca-works-on-amending-competition-protection-law-authority-head/ Mon, 15 Jul 2019 09:30:12 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702721 “We will not allow monopolistic practices in IT sector, says Nabil

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A comprehensive study is under preparation of the information technology (IT) sector in Egypt, including possible risks and the enforcement policies of the Competition Protection Law in this sector, head of the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA), Amir Nabil, said.

He added in an interview with Daily News Egypt that the ECA has participated in this study besides other competition protection authorities in the world, and it will be published soon.

Nabil noted that the authority will not allow any monopoly in the IT sector, which is currently given great attention because it is important for economic growth during the coming period.

Nabil explained that the IT sector, which leads the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is capable of providing a large number of job opportunities for youth and creating new and varied ideas that add to the economies of countries. He added that this sector must be protected from malfunctioning or harmful acquisitions by major companies.

The ECA is keen on protecting the IT sector from monopoly practices, he pointed out, and ensuring all competition elements for this promising sector.

Why is the ECA so concerned about the IT sector?

We focus on the IT sector being one of the emerging sectors which can achieve significant qualitative leaps for the Egyptian economy, especially as IT is the driving force of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We will not allow monopoly in the digital economy and IT, and the recurrence of cases of economic concentration, so the authority has long advocated the need for pre-control of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to regulate the market, increase competition, and reduce monopoly practices.

IT sector is one of the priorities of the current markets, especially the so-called participatory and digital economics because it is a sector filled with new ideas and innovations which add to the economies of countries. This innovation must be protected alongside the competitive environment that allows it to grow, expand, and succeed because competition will encourage diligence and invent new ideas to withstand competitors. Without a climate of competition, there will be no innovation. The authority has also found that this type of digital economy is capable of employing a very large number of young people and provide solutions for many important sectors in the country.

Through the studies prepared, in cooperation with a number of other competition authorities, the authority found that there is an imminent danger to this sector, which is the data necessary for companies to operate being concentrated in the hands of a few companies. We found that many of the promising ideas that are implemented by entrepreneurs are exposed to acquisitions by big companies, who buy these ideas, and do not allow their circulation or development to avoid the emergence of new competitors in the market, which we call “fatal acquisitions” because they lead to high rates of economic concentration and monopolisation.

Have you prepared a study for the IT sector in Egypt?

Yes, the ECA has completed a study on the IT sector and its risks. The priorities of the authority are enforcing the Competition Law in this important sector and the objectives sought to be achieved. This study is very important because this sector needs to have a database to help us later in our work.

What are the most prominent sectors or markets that the authority has focused on lately?

The competition protection system monitors all markets, whether transfer, production, industry, or services. All sectors are important to the Egyptian economy, and we have specialised departments in the authority that cover all sectors. The authority also receives a large number of complaints and reports for investigation.

How do you see the importance of maintaining a real market competition and the impact of monopoly on the economy?

Competition is the backbone of any market. If competition is absent, it means that we return to arbitrage, and certain companies will control the market. Many economic problems emerged in the Egyptian market due to the lack of real competition. For example, Glovo’s exit from Egypt was due to monopolisation that the authority eventually stood against. Therefore, the role of the ECA was necessary and important.

Is the lack of awareness of competition rules in the Egyptian market hinders the work of the ECA?

We certainly face challenges in terms of changing the culture of the society that have been established for many years. Many of the practices that some have adopted before the issuance of the Competition Law have ended as the market now relies in pricing on supply and demand. After 15 years from issuing the Competition Law, there is no excuse for companies to violate the law, so we are currently working to counter monopoly practices in all markets, and we will not allow any violation of the law.

Does the ECA enact new changes to its law?

We are already working on amending the law. These amendments have been approved by the cabinet and are currently in parliament for discussion and approval. The aim of these amendments is essentially to ensure greater autonomy for the ECA from the government, as we are one of the regulatory bodies to which the Constitution grants full independence to perform its supervisory role. The amendments also give the agency the power to impose administrative fines to counter monopoly practices, rather than waiting for judicial rules.  The amendments also include developing investigative mechanisms and collecting proofs to enable the authority to play its role effectively.

What are the most controversial items in the law that negatively affect competition?

Apart from these amendments, the ECA believes it’s unnecessary to intensify the penalty for violations to Article 6 of the current law. It is related to pricing manipulation in which market competitors agree on raising or reducing prices collectively or restricting production and distribution operations. Such violations involve a sort of bad faith and conspiracy against consumers depriving their right to obtain goods or services at the best prices. The punishment for this crime in some countries may be imprisonment.

What are the latest developments of ECA’s investigation into Uber’s acquisition of Careem?

We have already prepared a market study on the potential effects of the acquisition. The report has been sent to the two companies, and we have received their responses. We are currently studying their responses to reach the final decision in accordance with the principle of transparency. We previously set a 60-day deadline to make our decision but then we extended this period for another 60 days. The final report will be published for greater transparency and as reference in future studies in this important sector.

The ECA has three scenarios for this transaction: first to reject it if we found that it would harm the market. Second to approve it on specific terms to limit the harm. Third to unconditionally approve it and subject this approval to renewal every two years.

But the UAE has approved the deal, does this mean that Egypt will soon approve it too?

Each market has its different circumstances. The UAE transportation sector is quite different from Egypt, in terms of infrastructure, geographical distribution of population, and the consumer culture. All these elements affect the competition. The UAE’s Ministry of Economy’s approval of the deal does not necessarily mean that Egypt will agree or reject it. We are still in the study phase, and there are other markets that are also studying the deal, such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

How did you manage to bring Glovo back to Egypt?

When Glovo decided to exit the market, no one thought that this was the result of a monopoly practice. Glovo’s exit was not its decision, but it came after pressure from Delivery Hero, which owns 16% of its shares, to limit the Egyptian market to another brand owned by Delivery Hero, which violates the Competition Law.

We met with the two companies and have been able to bring Glovo back to Egypt to keep up the competitive environment in the market.

Does the ECA have the power to stop M&A that occurs abroad?

It is important to emphasise that the role of the ECA is not limited to the violations that occur inside Egypt, but its role also extends abroad, as long as this violation will affect the local market. This is not regulated by the Egyptian law only, but all international conventions related to competition protection and monopolistic practices.

According to Article 5 of the Law, the ECA has the right to examine and study any deal or agreement that takes place abroad if it has repercussions on the domestic market, as was the case in the broadcast issue of CAF football matches.

The ECA has cancelled some items of Apple’s distribution contracts with local agents and asked both parties to amend these contracts. What is the situation now?

Apple has committed itself to amend these contracts in Egypt and the Arab region. This commitment allows for the so-called parallel import. Therefore, we have opened the door to a large number of potential exporters to the Egyptian market, and 80 exporters have been authorised to import and sell Apple products in the Egyptian market, up from only three companies.

This means that competition will increase and thus the Egyptian consumer will get better prices because the big profit margin will be reduced. Even if the new parties did not enter the competition, opening the market to any potential competitor will put the main market players under pressure to maintain their market share.

How do you see the media reports saying that frequent issues raised by the ECA with large companies may have a negative impact on investment?

On the contrary, protecting competition is a protection of investment too, and there will be no real investment in Egypt if we allowed monopolistic practices. Our role in the ECA to provide a comfortable and fair environment for domestic and foreign investors. The Competition Protection Law essentially defends potential competition, which simply means that it protects potential investment opportunities from monopoly.

Does the ECA have authority over state-run companies if they violate the Competition Law?

There is no exemption for any company under the Competition Law, even if it was owned by the government.

Any state-run company is subject to the control and authority of the ECA. We cooperate with various government agencies to ensure that competition rules are properly applied.

But we should distinguish between the economic activity and public services offered by state-run companies or agencies.

Has the ECA received any complaints regarding the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s decision to impose temporary import tariff of 15% on iron billets?

The ECA is not concerned with this matter, and we have not received any complaints from the steel manufacturers. The state’s decisions aims to protect Egypt’s domestic iron and steel industry against unfair competition, and this is part of the state’s role to work for the public interest, whether through protecting a particular industry or deepening domestic industrialisation, in accordance with the rules of the World Trade Organization, which have allowed such procedures for the protection of economies and industries.

This does not mean that the ECA has a specific position on these fees, but rather, it is essentially a matter of organisation of work.

The cement market in Egypt suffered from major crises during the recent period, have you received any complaints regarding competition in this sector?

The ECA prepared a study on developments in the cement sector and the closure of some factories of production lines. What is happening in this market specifically are non-competition problems, but other conditions, including a stagnation and low demand, at a time when supply has increased dramatically.

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CCFE: new technical programmes between tourism, health ministries, French institutions https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/14/ccfe-new-technical-programmes-between-tourism-health-ministries-french-institutions/ Sun, 14 Jul 2019 16:50:15 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702678 Chamber follows up on signed agreements during Macron's visit to Egypt last January, says Behnam

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The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Egypt (CCFE), seeks new capacity building programmes for the ministries of tourism, health and population, in collaboration with French institutions, Managing Director of the CCFE, Hassan Behnam, said. He explained that the health and tourism sectors are key areas where technical and vocational training are essential to boost these sectors’ performance.

“We hold several seminars to inform French companies about the updates of the political scene. I delivered four speeches in 2019 about Egypt’s economic and geographical potential in France. I am scheduled to give an additional couple of speeches in the next period to convince French companies to invest in Egypt,” Behnam noted.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Behnam to learn more about the chamber’s current activities and plans in the Egyptian market to further develop business relations with France, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

There were many agreements which were signed during Macron’s visit to Egypt; What are the updates of their implementation?

During President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Egypt in January 2019, both countries signed about 32 agreements, including between government entities and the private sector. The agreements are very diversified such as in the sectors of infrastructure, roads, building materials, tourism, culture, and construction–which is a labour-intensive sector. Renewable energy is key sector for Egypt’s economy where Schneider Electric (SE) is active. SE contributes to a major project, the Benban Solar Park, in Aswan, Upper Egypt. French companies pay attention to the fields of agriculture, health, and education. Health, education, and agriculture are three main areas for French companies. On June 9, 2019, the CCFE organised a major successful conference in the health sector. The CCFE pays great interest to the health cooperation in Egypt and nine French companies announced a health coalition in 2018. ‘A group of French companies announced the establishment of a health coalition–according to a past statement from the ministry of investment and international cooperation (MIIC) on November 20, 2018–noting that companies’ coalition includes Sanofi SA, Danone, AXA, L’Oréal, and others. French companies in Egypt are offering the Egyptian market about 35,000 jobs in the fields of industry, tourism, agriculture, telecommunications, transport, infrastructure, and financial services. French companies increased their investment by $200m during the fiscal year 2017/18.’

How does the CCFE follow up on Macron’s latest visit?

The signed agreements during Macron’s visit are very diversified. We follow up on the business side of the agreements especially in the energy sector with Egypt’s Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Mohamed Shaker. We follow up on the agreements on the agriculture side with the Minister of Agriculture, Ezz El-Din Abu Steit. France is very active in investing in Egypt’s agriculture sector. Agence Francaise de Développement (AFD) implements a programme for Egypt’s small farmers worth EGP 700m. This programme has a very high budget and will be disbursed over several phases. The CCFE’s health committee meets regularly and is very active in approaching healthcare views between Egyptian and French authorities so we have a very close cooperation with Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population. I believe that the technical and vocational training sector is crucial to the Egyptian economy. We are in discussions with the Egyptian government to boost this kind of cooperation between the Egyptian government and French organisations.

Which areas do you discuss to have new technical and vocational trainings in?

Tourism and healthcare. For example, I discussed with the Minister of Tourism, Rania Al-Mashat, the possibility of inking an agreement with a French institution to implement a vocational and technical training for the employees in the tourism sector, as it is a key field of the economy. Programmes can be implemented here in Egypt or in France as we have not decided yet. The Egyptian economy is moving toward development and so, technical and vocational trainings are crucial in all fields, especially in the tourism and health sectors.

How can the chamber play a vital role in convincing French companies to inject new investments in Egypt?

We hold several seminars to inform French companies about the updates of the political scene. I delivered four speeches in 2019 about Egypt’s economic and geographical potential in France. I am scheduled to give additional speeches in the next period to convince French companies to invest in Egypt.

Are there any upcoming business delegations that the chamber will organise shortly?

I don’t think so due to the summer vacations. Yet, there were a couple of visits to France in January and March 2019. On March 18, I attended a conference in Marseille, France, where I gave a detailed explanation on Egypt’s great potential in the presence of Alexandria Governor, Abdel-Aziz Qonsowa, and the French ambassador to Egypt, Stéphane Romatet. During Marseille’s conference, I suggested inking a twinning agreement between Marseille and Alexandria to allow businessmen to further enhance their collaboration.

When do you expect both countries to ink this twinning agreement between Marseille and Alexandria?

It depends on the procedures, yet the suggestion of a twining agreement between Marseille and Alexandria was very welcomed. We are in close discussions to follow up with the French and Egyptian sides on the timing of inking the agreement.

How many members does the chamber include?

The CCFE includes 713 members, 80% of which are Egyptians and the remaining 20% are French companies. The CCFE was established in 1992, so it is 27-years-old.

What about new French investments and expansions of investing companies in Egypt?

Most major French companies are already investing in Egypt. For expansions, Total Egypt is implementing expansion plans as well as SE and Danone. ‘Total Egypt is continuing to develop lubricants through the development of direct sales to industry, the expansion of its geographic coverage, and the signature of contracts with importers and large automobile dealers. Total Egypt is ranked number two in the car dealer segment behind the market leader. Total Egypt is a subsidiary of Total established in 1998,’ according to the company’s website.

How many French companies are investing in the Egyptian market?

There are about 540 French companies that are in Egypt for both trade and investments, 160 of which are investing in the country. Many French companies come to Egypt to ink deals of trade or investments without informing the chamber. And we are very happy to know that because this reaffirms the importance of the Egyptian market and the direct close cooperation between companies of both nationalities. French investments in Egypt are about €5bn and they are expected to rise following the signed agreements in January during Macron’s visit to Egypt. The views of French companies were positively changed following the November 2016 economic reforms. The policies are improving to eliminate the rooted economic issues since the 1950s. The economic reforms were quite essential to the economy. Over decades, many past governments tried to implement the reforms, yet they failed. If Egypt implemented the reforms in 1977, the situation would have been better now. Egypt’s implementation of its economic programme, in close coordination with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), boosted global investors’ trust in the Egyptian economy’s outlook. The programme caused many Egyptians to suffer following the inflation hike that reached more than 30% but now everything is normalising again. The key to implementing the reforms and gaining its benefits is ‘patience.’ I hope that history will record how Egypt passed through a very tough period from 2016 to 2025 before it moved toward an economic leap. ‘On November 11, 2016, the executive board of the IMF approved a three-year extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) for Egypt for about $12bn to support the authorities’ economic reform programme. The EFF-supported programme helped Egypt restore macroeconomic stability and promote inclusive growth. Policies supported by the programme correct external imbalances, restore competitiveness, place the budget deficit and public debt on a declining path, boost growth, and create jobs while protecting vulnerable groups,’ according to the IMF.

What is the amount of trade exchange between Egypt and France?

It’s about €2.5bn annually, €1.7bn of the total trade is France’s exports to Egypt. I know that Egyptian exports to France are increasing recently. This is a good sign of the development of the Egyptian economy.

How do you assess Egypt’s investment climate now?

Current updates of the investment climate in Egypt are positive. The MIIC is working hard to further support international investors. The chamber discusses with the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, and the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) how to attract French companies to manufacture in the local market and export to many African countries in order to benefit from the agreements between Egypt and its African partners. ‘Notably, the 12th Summit of the African Union (AU) kicked off in Niamey, Niger last week, launching the long-awaited-African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). A number of 54 of the 55 AU member countries have now signed onto the deal, with Eritrea being the only holdout. Considered the largest since the creation of the World Trade Organisation in 1994, the AfCFTA seeks to triple the volume of intra-African trade from 17% to 60% by 2022,’ according to media reports. Egypt enjoys very good potential, including its geographical location, more than 100 million consumers, and positive regulatory framework reforms. Furthermore, Egypt needs new investments and our role, as the CCFE, is to help the government of Egypt attract new investments from France in many key fields for the Egyptian economy. The country solved the three major problems that faced investors before November 2016 which were, foreign currency shortage, lack of security, and bureaucracy. Egyptian authorities are implementing several steps to eliminate corruption and bureaucracy. The MIIC is trying to summarise investment procedures according to the New Investment Law and its amendments. ‘On July 7, the Egyptian Parliament approved the New Investment Law’s amendments, in the presence of Minister Nasr. The New Investment Law was issued as per No 72 for 2017. The amendments include incentives to international companies already investing in Egypt when injecting investments in the neediest areas,’ according to media reports. The MIIC, along with GAFI, will continue working on enhancing the investment regulatory framework in line with international standards, Nasr asserted on July 7. She noted that the MIIC coordinates with other governmental agencies in order to eliminate any obstacles that may face investors in Egypt,’ according to the MIIC.

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L’Oréal seeks to rely on local suppliers to further enhance its exports https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/14/loreal-seeks-to-rely-on-local-suppliers-to-further-enhance-its-exports/ Sun, 14 Jul 2019 16:36:44 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702675 Egypt is promising, attractive market for investment, says Country Manager

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L’Oréal, a French personal care company headquartered in Clichy, seeks to rely more on local suppliers during the coming years to further enhance the company’s exports, L’Oréal’s Country Manager for Egypt, Benoit Julia, said.

“We would like to develop product packaging, in order to be in line with the standard specifications and to have product conformation to local and export standards at affordable prices to consumers,” Julia added, noting that 85% of the factory’s production is export-oriented to mainly the GCC, Lebanon, and Morocco.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Julia to learn more about the updates of the company’s activities in terms of investments, exports, as well as future strategy for the company in Egypt, the transcript below was lightly edited for clarity:

How do you assess Egypt’s investment climate? What are your recommendations to further improve it?

Egypt has a promising and attractive market for investment and has many opportunities for growth. For us, Egypt is a strategic country and we have started our investments in 2009, and by 2011 we took the decision to establish the first L’Oréal factory in the region to be the export hub for Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

What is the size of your investments in the Egyptian market? How do you assess your investment experience here?

L’Oréal is present in 150 countries through 44 specialised factories. In 2011, we established our first factory in Egypt with initial investments of €50m to be the export hub for MENA. The factory is located in the 10th of Ramadan City.
During the inauguration ceremony of the plant, L’Oréal’s Executive Vice-President, Africa-Middle East Zone, Geoff Skingsley, said: “With the rising demand across the region for innovative and high quality beauty products, it was crucial for L’Oréal to have a production facility close to its key markets which is able to adapt its product offers to local specifics.” He added that the Cairo plant reflects the company’s confidence in the continuous expansion of the MENA markets and L’Oréal’s strong commitment to Egypt as a strategic production hub.

What about L’Oréal’s CSR projects in Egypt?

For CSR activities, we have several key areas, including a programme entitled Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality. L’Oréal Egypt implements a number of citizenship programmes that entail a commitment toward empowering diversified segments in the society.

Driven from L’Oréal’s profound vision in the vitality of endowing science and research, and with its certainty that Egypt acquires highly qualified calibres in that sector, L’Oréal Egypt in 2018 launched the first edition of L’Oréal UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship, in partnership with the Academy of Science. The programme granted fellowships to three promising youths. However, we have up to date 19 Egyptian scientists who have been recognised and awarded whether on international or regional level since the programme was launch 21 years ago

L’Oréal focuses its attention on the underprivileged in its “Boost Her-Pioneer for the Future” programme. The platform empowers women and aims to provide job opportunities in an attempt to promote gender equality through offering the necessary training and skills development, as well as knowledge sharing.

To further complement the know-how transfer, the company proudly established the first-of-a-kind specialised L’Oréal Professional Institute in Egypt, a technical institute that offers an internationally accredited educational curriculum to support and train talented youths and enable them to master the hairdressing profession.

The institute bestows a commitment for the company to educate and train Egyptian youths on the best standards and techniques in the field, and up to date we have more than 320 graduates from the institute.

How many products do you produce from Egypt?

L’Oréal Egypt offers a wide range of products with each brand category catering for a specific market segment. The Egyptian market includes 100 million consumers; this is in addition to consumers in neighbouring markets, which serve as a driving force for us to provide a variety of L’Oréal Egypt products. We have successfully produced 13 International brands out of 36 brands offered by the L’Oréal Group; some of them are manufactured locally while others are imported.

What is the size of the company’s exports?

As I early mentioned, L’Oréal Egypt factory is the company’s export hub for MENA, and 85% of the factory’s production is export-oriented to mainly the GCC, Lebanon, and Morocco. In order to enhance exports to foreign markets, the company seeks to develop local suppliers so as to rely on them in providing the factory’s needs in the coming years, in particular with regard to product packaging, in order to meet standard specifications and to reach local and export product conformity at affordable prices for the consumer.

How many people work in L’Oréal Egypt?

L’Oréal Group has around 82,000 employees. Meanwhile, L’Oréal Egypt employs approximately 800 employees. We are proud that 99% of the employees are Egyptians and they hold most of the leading positions, and this is in line with our efforts to empower Egyptians in order to become future leaders.

According to L’Oréal Group’s website, the group achieved about €26.9bn in sales in 2018. The group has 36 brands, and 79% of new products in 2018 have an improved environmental or social profile. The group achieved about €3bn of its sales from e-commerce. The group has 21 research centres spread across six regional hubs, three global centres in Europe, while it has 14 evaluation centres.

In a beauty market that continued to grow steadily in 2018, L’Oréal confirmed its position as the worldwide leader in beauty, with a strong presence in its three main geographic zones: Western Europe, North America, and other new markets.

Africa and Middle East region recorded growth, despite the unfavourable geopolitical context and sluggish markets, especially in the Middle East. Egypt and Morocco posted positive growth, and all divisions increased their market share. There were favourable developments in South Africa and Kenya, thanks in particular to the consumer products division and the launch of the Mixa body care range, added the website.

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Sanofi Egypt to increase its investments 50% in 2019 https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/14/sanofi-egypt-to-increase-its-investments-50-in-2019/ Sun, 14 Jul 2019 16:15:43 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702672 Economic reforms helped country restore stability, says Chairperson

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Sanofi Egypt, a French multinational pharmaceutical company, invested a total of EGP 300m over 2016-2018, growing at 30% per year on average, and will continue to increase investment by 50% in 2019, Chairperson and Managing Director of Sanofi for Egypt & Sudan, Christelle Saghbini, said.

“Sanofi is present in Egypt since 1962, and we have constantly expanded and upgraded our manufacturing site since then. Moreover, we inaugurated our new distribution centre last year that delivers now 500,000 boxes per day with the aim to better meet the Egyptian patients’ needs. We also have export activities to countries in the MENA region,” Saghbini added.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Saghbini to learn about the company’s roadmap for allowing access to innovative medicines in Egypt, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How do you see Egypt’s investment climate?

Egypt is a very attractive market and probably one of the most promising in the region. The economic reforms helped the country restore stability, as shown by the positive evolution of the key macroeconomic indicators, which make Egypt a good place to invest.

Given the priority to healthcare by the government, the dynamic evolution of the Egyptian population and the unmet medical needs, the healthcare sector will have a key role to play in the coming years.

What is the size of your investments in the Egyptian market?

Sanofi is amongst the top three pharmaceutical companies in the market and we are in a leading position in therapeutic areas like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, rare diseases, and neurological diseases. We also have a prevention portfolio, based on vaccines. We cover some acute diseases and we have consumer healthcare products. This diversified portfolio is one of the key strengths of Sanofi in Egypt. Sanofi Egypt employs around 1,200 persons. From the volume sold in Egypt, 83% is locally produced and our manufacturing site capacity is almost 120m units per year. We manufacture almost all galenic forms: tablets, syrups, creams, suppositories, ampoules, and vials. We also export to countries in the region.

What is your 5-year strategy?

As Egypt is looking to improve its healthcare system by progressively deploying universal health coverage (UHC), eradicating acute diseases, and decreasing the burden of non-communicable diseases, we believe that Sanofi can be part of the solution. As an innovative healthcare leader, our strategic roadmap is designed to expand access to healthcare in Egypt. Our first priority is to develop access for Egyptian patients that can benefit from our affordable quality treatments. Our second priority is about driving innovation. We will supply up to 10 new products within the next three years and our aim, beyond bringing innovative treatments, is to develop real integrated healthcare solutions for better patient management. This is why we embrace the innovation ecosystem through working with startups. For the second year, Sanofi Egypt participated in the Sanofi regional competition Afric@tech on health challenges and we are proud that this year, Egyptian startups presented at Vivatech four out of the 10 African finalists, and one of the Egyptian startups was among the winners. Third, Sanofi has a strong social responsibility in the country, which we will continue to foster through our different programmes that support the Sustainable Development Goals. As a leader in the pharmaceutical sector in Egypt, we know we can’t solve the healthcare challenges and achieve those priorities by ourselves. Improving healthcare in Egypt needs an ecosystem of partnerships in which innovation will be key, and it is one of our priorities to partner with the healthcare ecosystem. Last but not least, we will continue to invest in our people’s development and create an enjoyable place to work, so that Sanofi Egypt can remain a top employer in Africa.

How do you plan to contribute to reforms of Egypt’s healthcare?

As healthcare partners for more than half century in Egypt, we strive to transform innovations into integrated solutions that empower people to enjoy a healthier and better life. We are determined to work closely with governments and healthcare system stakeholders to build partnerships that advance public health. Egypt is an important country where Sanofi already has a rich heritage and footprint, and we look forward to continue supporting the Egyptian government in reforming its healthcare system and improving the health of the Egyptian population. We are proud to partner with the ministry of health to answer the unmet medical needs in Egypt in our areas of expertise. As an example, during the presidential visit of Emmanuel Macron in January 2019, Sanofi Egypt signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the ministry of health to address key health challenges in the area of oncology and cardiovascular diseases from a holistic disease management perspective for the benefit of Egyptian patients. Our focus is on three projects: the first looks at improving the management of genito-urinary cancer patients, the second focuses on providing continuous medical education to transfer French expertise in dealing with emergency management of acute cardiac conditions, and the third one is assessing the feasibility of local manufacturing partnerships of new aspects of medicine production.

What about Sanofi’s CSR projects in Egypt?

Sanofi adopts the Sustainable Development Goals, and Sanofi Egypt has been granted the CSR award from the Federation of Egyptian Industries. Our CSR strategy is based on long-term programmes to have an impact on access to healthcare in vulnerable areas, to support communities and societies, and to adopt environment-friendly and energy-saving programmes for a healthy planet. As an example, we have been doing awareness campaigns for the last 10 years, particularly for diabetes. This includes awareness for better diagnosis as well as advice for healthier lifestyle and diabetes management. We contribute to reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases in the most vulnerable areas through our “KiDS” programme that is focused on educating parents and teachers on the prevention of Type 2 diabetes as well as the management of children suffering from Type 1 diabetes. So far, we served a total of 6,000 children, 8,000 parents, and around 200 teachers and community health workers in 12 schools in the KiDS programme in 2018 and we are planning for the academic year 2019/20 to expand the project in 23 schools, targeting 20,000 children, 14,000 parents, and 350 teachers and community health workers.

What do you think of Egypt’s health insurance system?

The plan to develop Universal Coverage by 2032 is very ambitious and it will provide appropriate medical care to the overall population. The collaborative approach between ministries, the stepwise approach of the plan are driving its success. I would like to congratulate the country on the kick-off of the programme in Port Said last week and I am personally proud to witness this important milestone for all Egyptians.

What is your opinion concerning government healthcare campaigns like “100 Million Health”?

The 100 Million Health campaign reflects the priority that is given to improve the health of Egyptians. It has rightly screened diseases like hepatitis C, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, as the prevalence of these diseases is high and it helped improve the diagnosis of the patients. I am really impressed by the way it was rolled out, and the speed of enrolment of probably one of the most important screening campaigns in the world. This initiative will have a major positive public health impact in the country.

Can you please give me a briefing about Sanofi globally? What about the R&D activities?

Sanofi is dedicated to supporting people through their health challenges. We are a global biopharmaceutical company focused on human health. We prevent illness with vaccines, provide innovative treatments to fight pain and ease suffering. We stand by the few who suffer from rare diseases and the millions with long-term chronic conditions. With more than 100,000 people in 100 countries, Sanofi is transforming scientific innovation into healthcare solutions around the globe.

We are investing around €6bn yearly in R&D, and we have currently 81 R&D projects under development. We have seen significant advancement on our ambition to sustain innovation in R&D with the development of leading technology platforms and multiple high potential projects in late stage trials. We are confident that this portfolio will be the foundation for Sanofi’s future.

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Steigenberger to open 2 new hotels in Taba, Luxor by year-end https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/12/steigenberger-to-open-new-hotels-in-taba-luxor-by-year-end/ Fri, 12 Jul 2019 09:00:42 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702525 Hotel optimistic about tourism growth in Egypt this year

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Deutsche Hospitality, represented in Egypt by the Steigenberger brand, is to open two new hotels; one in Taba in South Sinai and the other in Luxor, by the end of the year, according to Thomas Willms, CEO of Deutsche Hospitality.

The planned Taba hotel to include 398 rooms, while there will be 281 rooms in the Luxor hotel, Willms told Daily News Egypt in an interview.

He tackled tourism in Egypt and the expansion plans of Deutsche Hospitality in the Middle East.

The interview also touched on the procedures that the government has to take in order to develop the tourism sector and the evaluation of Egypt’s tourism nowadays, disclosing the top nationalities that visit Egypt currently, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Let’s introduce Deutsche Hospitality to the readers: how many brands does the company own?

Our hotel portfolio encompasses 150 hotels in 11 countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Deutsche Hospitality brings together five separate hotel brands under a single umbrella. Steigenberger Hotels and Resorts has nearly 60 hotels housed in historic traditional buildings and lively city residences as well as health and beauty oases set at the very heart of nature. MAXX by Steigenberger is a new and charismatic concept, which places the focus on the essential under the motto “Maximize your stay”.  Jaz in the City reflect a metropolitan lifestyle and draw upon the local music and cultural scene. IntercityHotel brand offers more than 40 upper mid-range urban hotels, all of which are located within easy walking distance of railway stations or airports. Zleep Hotels is a well-known and successful hotel brand in Scandinavia which offers service and design at a great rate for many. In Egypt, we have Steigenberger with 12 hotels and six Nile cruisers.

Thomas Willms, CEO of Deutsche Hospitality

What about Deutsche Hospitality’s expansion plan in the Middle East?

 Deutsche Hospitality runs hotels in Tunisia, Dubai, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. We are looking forward to expand in other Middle Eastern countries.

 

Will you introduce any new brand of Deutsche Hospitality in Egypt?

We would love to introduce all brands in Egypt. We already have a strategy to have all brands in Egypt, and ee will announce the new developments as soon as possible.

 

What about Deutsche Hospitality’s global earning for 2018? (annual report)

As a private company, we enjoy the luxury to build our future development on a sustainable strategy, which includes middle- and long-term growth. Our aim is to double the number of hotels within the next five years, so that we can run 250 in the year 2024. The year 2018 was the most successful in our 90-year-long history. This is more than a solid basis for international growth.

 

How do you see the floatation’s effect on the tourism sector in Egypt?

 

Surely, it had a positive effect on the Egyptian tourism sector. However, I think what the Egyptian authorities really understood during the last years is that when it comes to rates, it is essential to ensure a minimum standard. This is the only way to constantly push quality to the next level. On the long run, the most valuable tourism for every country is focused on quality and sustainability more than on cheap trips.

 

How did Steigenberger deal with Egypt’s tourism crisis in past eight years? Was any of the workers laid off during that period?

Prioritising and investing at staff training and development is basic to ensure reaching world class standards of service. Therefore, we also try to be hosts for our guests as well as for our employees. If one hotel currently doesn’t need the power of all employees, we transfer them to another hotel – as a task force. We take care of our employees.

 

How many employees are there in Deutsche Hospitality in Egypt and in total?

 

We have 10,500 employees in total, while in Egypt there are more than 3,000 employees.

 

Do you think the tourism crisis is still ongoing? And what are your expectations for this year?

We see the positive efforts the government is undertaking to foster economy, especially the tourism sector. The government did some great efforts in the private sector; they improved transparency and strengthened social solidarity pensions. They did a lot to bring Egypt back on the right track by promoting Egypt’s tourism all over the world.

We are proud to run 12 hotels and six Nile ships in this beautiful country. We have five new hotels in the pipeline which we are looking forward to running. So, our decision is clear enough: We believe in the ongoing growth of the Egyptian economy. In facts and figures, the year 2018 witnessed outstanding performance and all the hotels had exceeded the financial budget with healthy ratio. We maintained our leading position when it comes to RevPAR.

 

What about your hotels’ average occupancy rates in Egypt this year?

Our hotels in Egypt recorded their highest occupancy since 2012. Egypt’s hotel occupancy rate reached record levels in the beginning of 2019, reaching its highest level since 2012, according to the STR report. The STR stated that occupancy grew from 21.2% to 60.1% in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019.

 

What about the top nationalities that visited Egypt this year according to destination?

 

The Red Sea: German, Polish, and British nationalities

Sharm El-Sheikh: Ukrainian, Italian, and Saudi nationalities

Cairo: American, GCC, and Indian nationalities

Alexandria: American, and Australian nationalities

Luxor and Aswan: German, British, American, Australian, and French nationalities.

In your opinion, what needs to be developed in Egypt to attract more tourists?

The most important issues that Egypt faces as well as other tourist destinations all over the world within the next years concern for quality, safety, human resources, and sustainability.

Speaking about source markets, especially Egypt, it is deeply connected with the European market. In our hotels in Europe, we experience since some years an increasing number of Chinese and Indian tourists. We see this trend also for Egypt within the next years. Especially as China is a big market of 1.3 billion people in the country, 100 million travelling at the moment. Chinese guests prefer more cultural tourism than the tourism, which is very interesting to Egypt.

 

What about the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Egypt?

 

We strongly believe in our CSR – not only as part time projects, more as a part of our philosophy. As part of our global CSR strategy, we are proud of our Egyptian hotels which really foster for our CSR team for going the extra mile: they are so engaged! All our hotels in Egypt are currently implementing an environmental management system that is based mainly on the “Green Star Hotel” (GSH) demands and criteria. Beneath that we have massive improvements using motion sensors, power saving cards, time switches and many things more CSR is about looking at every part of the value chain to gain the maximum improvement.

Steigenberger hotels are also the main sponsor for the UN programme of protecting migrating soaring birds through Egypt. We are members in the HEPCA organisation, a local organisation that is involved with environment preservation in the Red Sea, the hotels contribute to the support of the protection and conservation of the coral reefs including supporting natural protected areas and areas of high biodiversity value. Most hotels organise and participate annually in local environmental campaigns and actively at the local community.

 

What about your CSR plans in Egypt in 2019?

 

Four hotels will start to partially produce energy from solar energy. Eight other hotels are planning to be GSH certified. And we have a lot more to offer, including a pilot project in Makadi to produce our own drinking water to reduce plastic bottle waste.

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JETRO leads meetings with cabinet to resolve obstacles facing Japanese companies: JETRO Managing Director https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/10/jetro-leads-meetings-with-cabinet-to-resolve-obstacles-facing-japanese-companies-jetro-managing-director/ Wed, 10 Jul 2019 09:00:53 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=702353 Slow residency paperwork, work permit for foreigners are problems, which need solutions

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The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is holding a series of meeting with the cabinet and its affiliated government agencies to find solutions to many of the problems facing Japanese investments in Egypt.

In a press interview conducted by Daily News Egypt with Takashi Tsunemi, head of JETRO in Egypt, he said that Japanese car manufacturers in Egypt complained about the bad competitive environment and the impact of implementing custom exemptions on European cars earlier this year.

JETRO called on the cabinet and the ministry of trade and industry to intervene to provide additional incentives and create a competitive environment in light of the large investments made by the Japanese side in the local assembly and manufacture of cars.

Four international Japanese companies are working in Egypt and hold a big market share, namely Toyota, Isuzu, Suzuki, and Nissan.

Tsunemi pointed out that other meetings were held previously, and they continued and the last of which was on 18 June. He held two previous meetings with the cabinet and the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation in the same month, during which the ministers promised to solve the problems.

Furthermore, Tsunemi said that the Japanese side is very happy with the high-level intervention of the Egyptian state to solve the problems of companies and protect their investment, as President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has already intervened personally along with the cabinet to solve all obstacles.

Moreover, Tsunemi said the cabinet stressed the impact of zero customs applied on European car customs on the domestic market, and Japanese companies received a promise to seriously consider some incentives or measures to rebalance the competition.

In the context, companies complained about the procedures of the customs clearance system, as one of the Japanese companies had its imported components damaged and delayed in clearing.

Tsunemi added that the matter was also presented to the cabinet and a separate meeting was held with the head of the customs department, who promised to intervene, and that the other shipments received to be handled in a better manner.

He pointed out that the ministry of finance and the Egyptian Customs Authority in their last meetings with JETRO promised to take new measures to cut clearance time to 72 hours soon.

JETRO’s Managing Director said that the proposal for the establishment of a Japanese economic zone in Egypt has not yet come into force, and no official instructions have been issued by Japan to activate such an agreement. He said that JETRO will take over negotiation procedures if approved by the Japanese government.

He stressed that JETRO has experience in establishing and inviting Japanese companies to invest in such mega projects and has an experience in establishing a Japanese economic zone in India.

About 50 Japanese companies are working in Egypt in various fields, including household products, electrical and automotive industry, and some factories in the industrial area in the 10th of Ramadan City that exports to Africa, including Unicharm Company for manufacturing baby diapers and paper napkins, YKK Company which is specialized in manufacturing zippers, companies in food industries, constructions companies and infrastructure, other companies working in the field of renewable energy and wind energy, and some companies engaged in the implementation of metro lines in terms of supplying tasks and drilling.

Tsunemi stressed that the Egyptian political leadership is keen to cooperate with the Japanese side in the various projects, and President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi stressed this on more than one occasion, but what hinders the expansion process is the high cost of the Japanese product compared to competitors. President Al-Sisi urged that matter to be addressed and the Japanese government is working to find a solution to provide a product commensurate with the purchasing power of customers in Egypt.

Tsunemi praised Egypt’s economic reform plan, noting that the investment vision is now clearer to Japanese companies seeking to expand or enter the Egyptian market now.

He pointed out that the most prominent problems in Egypt is the weak education system, which the government is now considering, where there is a plan to develop the educational system by the Ministry of Education and the results are expected to become visible in 20 years.

Tsunemi also stressed that it is necessary to focus on providing more incentives to some specific sectors to complement the Investment Law, in order to ensure the reaping of the rewards of economic reform. He cited experiences presented during a cabinet meeting by a representative of the Japanese companies for the incentives offered to partners operating in Turkey and Morocco.

Moreover, he referred to the need to improve the efficiency of government employees and overcome the routine and slow procedures.

He stressed that one of the biggest problems faced by Japanese and foreign investors in Egypt, is residency procedures and work permits, which may require a full year to get.

Additionally, he pointed out that the approvals of the projects and the multiplicity of bodies authorised to approve them is a major problem and must be worked on, and it is not natural to allow a foreign company to invest in a project and represent years to obtain licenses and approvals.

Tsunemi highlighted the growth of trade exchange between Egypt and Japan by 30%, where transactions reached $1.2bn in 2018 up from $0.9m the year before.

Over and above, Tsunemi attributed the growth to the increase of Egyptian exports to Japan, especially oil products and agricultural crops.

He pointed out that preparations are being made, in cooperation with the Egyptian-Japanese Business Council, to benefit from the Tokyo International Conference on African Development 2019 scheduled for August in order to hold working sessions between Egyptian and Japanese companies.

JETRO is a public institution with a special status set up to promote Japanese exports to the world at large and it was established in 1958.

Cairo’s JETRO office is one of the oldest offices of the Commission and its first office in the Middle East and North Africa, where it was established at the end of the 1950s.

Japan’s JETRO is working with the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones to offer investment opportunities in Egypt, as well as encouraging Japanese companies to pump more investments in Egypt.

JETRO offers a variety of other valuable services and support, including the organisation of fairs and exhibitions and trade missions.

Japan External Trade Organization also continues to conduct economic research abroad and gathers a lot of information to disseminate to the business community.

After the growth of Japan’s trade surplus to unexpected levels, it focused on helping foreign companies enter the Japanese market through its branches abroad, numbering 76 branches around the world.

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New technology by Philip Morris to provide less harmful alternatives to smoking https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/07/new-technology-by-philip-morris-to-provide-less-harmful-alternatives-to-smoking/ Sun, 07 Jul 2019 10:30:07 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=701975 Tobacco industry presently undergoing drastic changes. Past few years witnessed great development in use of modern technology to develop better tobacco and nicotine products

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Lausanne- “Designing a smoke-free future” is the goal of Philip Morris International (PMI), said the company’s Manager Market Campaigns & Initiatives, Anna Bodi, during a presentation for a group of journalists, Daily News Egypt included, at the company’s Research and Development (R&D) centre in Switzerland.

PMI aims to offer smoke-free alternatives that have the potential to reduce the risk of developing smoking-related diseases, as compared with continued smoking, Bodi added, explaining that this is why PMI decided to create an R&D centre in 2009. “We work on developing products that are satisfying to current adult smokers, so they can fully switch.”

Smoking cigarettes causes several serious diseases and increases the risk of early death. In fact, based on population trends and the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that there will be more than 1 billion smokers by 2025, about the same number currently exists.

“Given this number, and as the technology now exists and continues to develop, it makes sense to offer consumers, less harmful, yet satisfying, smoke-free alternatives,” said Bodi. 

According to international statistics, a person dies every six seconds due to smoking-related illness, and half of smokers will die from a disease directly linked to their use of combustible tobacco or traditional smoking.

The criticisms tobacco companies face and the huge technological revolution sweeping the world have led these companies to think of alternative products for smokers; products that companies say are “less harmful” than conventional smoking.

According to the Global Forum on Nicotine held two weeks ago in the Polish capital, Warsaw, e-cigarettes can be less harmful by  95% compared to traditional cigarettes. Moreover, according to presentations in the Global Forum, there are numerous markets that have started commercializing smoke-free alternatives, including most of European countries, Japan, South Korea, Canada, New Zealand, and many more.

As per an international report issued by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World in New York, about a billion people around the world smoke and there are more than 7 million people that die each year as a result of smoking. This is all while the sales of nicotine products in 2017 reached $785bn, of which 89.1% were cigarettes.

The report shows that there is a clear growth in the sales of e-cigarettes, where the estimated sales of electronic products reached $11.4bn, up by 21% compared to the previous three years. Meanwhile, Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs) saw sales of $6.3bn, up by 52% against the previous three years, out of which 85% in Japan alone.

The report said that e-cigarettes, in general, have recently seen a clear growth compared to traditional cigarettes, adding that the top players in the tobacco industry turned into the next generation of tobacco and nicotine products, where Philip Morris International’s IQOS for example is currently present in 48 markets around the globe.

In the same context, Japan Tobacco aims to offer PloomTech outside its home country, including the US, Canada, and Switzerland. Moreover, British American Tobacco will also introduce heating-based products in South Korea, Russia, Romania, Canada, and Switzerland.

“We welcome the competition because it means more research. At the same time, we are not afraid of competition. We started the journey since the early 1990s, so we have a good experience in the field,” concluded Bodi.

Different innovations

The R&D centre gave the opportunity to move from very little innovations to different innovations, said Nuno Fazenda, Program Manager Scientific & Public Communication at PMI.

He explained that the process of burning cigarettes is the main harm component and trigger, noting that nicotine itself, while addictive and not risk-free, is not the primary cause of smoking-related disease.

“PMI’s R&D decided to develop products that deliver nicotine, the taste and the flavour, without the combustion factor. We develop a lot of products, and IQOS is currently our most advanced one,” explained Fazenda. 

And that’s why, after only four years, 10 million adult smokers are using it, of which 7.3 million have made a full switch and abandoned cigarette smoking altogether. 

“IQOS uses the principle of heating tobacco instead of burning it, which in itself has been around for over two decades. However, it is only now that we have finally managed to find ways to heat tobacco in such a way that satisfies adult smokers. IQOS uses sophisticated electronics to heat specifically prepared and blended tobacco,” Fazenda added.

The PMI is building a future on smoke-free products (also referred to by the company as Reduced Risk Products or RRPs) that are a much better consumer choice than continuing to smoke cigarettes.

In its 2017 sustainability report, PMI stated the ambition that by 2025, at least 30% of its revenues would come from smoke-free products.

According to international research conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada, IQOS users achieve between 90-95% of what they can achieve if they quit smoking. “The aim is to demonstrate that the toxicity of the aerosol from smoke-free products is lower than that of cigarette smoke.”

In this context, IQOS was authorized for sale by the FDA on 30 April 2019, to be the first Heated Tobacco Product qualified for sale in the US.

The sales of IQOS, according to the presentation of the PMI’s R&D, registers 10.4 million in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019, compared to the 2.9 million in Q1 in 2017. (70% quit smoking completely and switched to IQOS).

Egypt is a key market

Philip Morris is a key player in Egypt’s economy, as Philip Morris Misr (PMM) is the top international player in the Egyptian tobacco industry, with a 24% market share and around one-third of the total tobacco taxes revenues.

The company provides numerous job opportunities, as it employs around 2,500 people, whether directly or indirectly, across its value chain, including manufacturing, supply chain, and distribution among others. This comes in addition to over 100,000 retailers who sell Philip Morris products on a daily basis.

“The industry has significantly evolved, and PMM has been playing a major role in its development. The Egyptian market is witnessing strong competition, thanks to the presence of international tobacco companies within Eastern Company. Eastern Company manufactures a total of 86bn cigarettes annually for all tobacco companies operating in Egypt,” PMI’s Managing Director Egypt & Levant, Vassilis Gkatzelis, told Daily News Egypt.

“Egypt is a key market for us, and has great potential for a smoke-free future. We would like to offer better alternatives to adult smokers in Egypt,” he added.

When will IQOS be introduced in Egypt?

PMM is working with the Egyptian government and its partners to turn this into a reality; however, no launch date has been set yet, Gkatzelis said. Regardless, IQOS would be launched after obtaining all regulatory approvals.

As for pricing, he noted that it is too early to announce the device’s price, while adding that “we are targeting all segments of Egyptian smokers.”

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American International School in Egypt to open new campus in Moqattam: Managing Director https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/07/american-international-school-in-egypt-to-open-new-campus-in-moqattam-managing-director/ Sun, 07 Jul 2019 09:00:08 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=701949 Dorra Group to focus on contracting, facility management in near-term future

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Since its inception in 1943, Dorra Group has become one of the leading contractors and real estate developers not only in Egypt but also the Gulf.

The group also entered the education market by partnering with Esol Education, one of fully accredited educational providers of the American curriculum, and opened the West Cairo campus of the American International School in Egypt (AISE).

Daily News Egypt interviewed the Managing Director of Dorra, Omar Dorra, and the Chairperson Advisor of Esol Education, Tammam Abushakra, to learn about AISE’s and Dorra’s latest plans, the transcript of which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Do you have any expansion plans in the near-term future?

Abushakra: We aim to establish a new campus of AISE at Emaar’s Uptown Cairo compound in Cairo’s Moqattam neighbourhood. In regard to Esol Education, the AISE’s parent company, we have already expanded in Asia, opening the American School in Hong Kong as well as two AIS campuses in Dubai.

Esol’s relationship with Dorra Group was cherished by the AIS; Omar Dorra himself is a graduate of AISE’s West Campus, that’s why he appreciates the value and high-quality of American education offered by AISE for 29 years in Egypt.

Through Dorra’s support and investment, we have been able to offer high-quality education to the West Cairo suburbs, and we aim to continue to deliver the same quality of American education for Egypt in the future.

There are currently 1,515 students enrolled in the AISE West Campus with 140 local and international teachers, and it is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA).

Dorra: As a group, when we decided to enter the education market, we partnered up with one of the best and fully accredited education providers of American curriculum and opened the AISE West Cairo Campus.

For Egypt, I believe, education is essential to unlock the potentials, talents, and innovation of this country. I strongly believe communities’ flourish on having access to the best educators and education establishments, and that is what I longed to provide.

This project is not the most profitable or the largest, but it is the most satisfying development I have made to date; being part of developing communities and providing the platform to shape the minds of tomorrow’s leaders is really the true essence of development in my opinion, and we need more of such developments in our country.

You recently revealed plans to establish a branch of California State University in Egypt, can you elaborate?

Dorra: Our project with California University is still under negotiation, Walid Abushakra has successfully received the necessary approvals from the California State University. Now, what remains is that we receive the necessary approvals from the Egyptian side, through a protocol.

We have not decided on the location yet, as we are currently choosing between the New Administrative Capital or West Cairo.

Does Dorra Group have any new plans in the near-term future?

Dorra: As a group, we are now focusing on service providing, in light of the real estate booming that is taking place in Egypt. Our multi-national experience will allow us to provide special service to real estate developers.

For example, as a contractor service provider, we are currently constructing projects for Emaar, while for facility management, we are currently bidding for different retail malls, such as the North Edge Towers in New Alamein.

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Boeing 737 MAX will be one of safest airplanes ever to fly: MENAT President https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/06/boeing-737-max-will-be-one-of-safest-airplanes-ever-to-fly-menat-president/ Sat, 06 Jul 2019 07:00:03 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=701806 Company likely to establish office in Egypt by 2020, says Dunn

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Boeing strongly works to ensure the safe return of the 737 MAX jet to commercial service and earn the trust and support of all of its customers around the world in every way possible, President of Boeing Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey (MENAT), Bernard Dunn, said, stressing it will be one of the safest airplanes ever to fly.

The new passenger aircraft has crashed twice within a few months. The first 737 MAX crash was in October 2018, in which 189 people were killed. The other crash was in March 2019 after its take-off from Addis Ababa. All 149 passengers of 33 nationalities and eight crew members onboard were killed, according to various media outlets.

EgyptAir began taking delivery of its 787 fleet in March 2019, with all six of them entering its fleet before the end of the year, he said, adding that Boeing will continue to work through numerous details related to the business opportunities identified in Egypt to establish an office in the country by 2020.

“Our strong partnership with EgyptAir dates back to 1966 when the airline ordered three Boeing 707s, the first of which was delivered in 1968. Since then, EgyptAir has ordered 68 Boeing aircraft, including six 787-9 Dreamliner jets from the Dublin-based AerCap, a global leader in aircraft leasing,” Dunn noted.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Dunn, the transcript below was lightly edited for clarity:

What are the updates of 737 MAX return? And the procedures that Boeing took to assure its safety?

Our focus is on safety and ensuring the trust and confidence of customers, regulators, and the flying public. Safety is our top priority, always has been, and always will be. Through the work we are doing now in partnership with our customers and regulators to certify and implement the software update, the 737 MAX will be one of the safest airplanes ever to fly. We continue to make progress on the path to certification, having completed the official engineering test flight of the software on 16 April — the final technical flight test prior to the Pilot certification in the United States, the FAA certification flight. Boeing test pilots have made 146,737 MAX flights totalling roughly 246 hours of air time with the updated software. During the FAA’s review of the 737 MAX software update and recent simulator sessions, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) identified an additional requirement that it has asked the company to address through the software changes that the company has been developing for the past eight months. The FAA review and process for returning the 737 MAX to passenger service are designed to result in a thorough and comprehensive assessment. Boeing agrees with the FAA’s decision and request, and is working on the required software. Addressing this condition will reduce pilot workload by accounting for a potential source of un-commanded stabiliser motion. Boeing will not offer the 737 MAX for certification by the FAA until we have satisfied all requirements for certification of the MAX and its safe return to service.

How do you respond to those who criticize the safety of Boeing airplanes?

We are working on the 737 MAX safe return to commercial service to earn the trust of our customers around the world.

How do you assess the cooperation with EgyptAir? Are there any updates regarding your expected deal?

Our strong partnership with EgyptAir dates back to 1966 when the airline ordered three Boeing 707 jets, the first of which was delivered in 1968. Since then, EgyptAir has ordered 68 Boeing aircraft, including six 787-9 Dreamliner jets from Dublin-based AerCap, a global leader in aircraft leasing. EgyptAir began taking delivery of its 787 fleet in March 2019, with all six of them entering its fleet before the end of the year. Today, EgyptAir continues to be a valued customer, with Boeing airplanes comprising the majority of the airline’s fleet. Currently, EgyptAir’s in-service Boeing fleet is a mix of single-aisle and twin-aisle aircraft: six 777-300ER jets (Extended Range) and 29 Next-Generation 737-800 jets. EgyptAir’s Next-Generation 737 fleet is one of the largest of its type in the region.

President of Boeing Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey (MENAT), Bernard Dunn

Last year Boeing announced its consideration to open an office in Egypt this year; do you think it would be postponed to 2020?

We continue to work through numerous details related to the business opportunities identified in Egypt. We expect a branch to be established in the 2020 timeframe. 

What about your plan to open Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) centres in Egypt?

For 2019, our focus is to finalise the establishment of the Boeing STEM Centre. The centre is part of an ongoing outreach strategy by Boeing to nurture Egypt’s future workforce and support the country’s economic ambition by ensuring students are attracted to STEM fields and have the skills needed to succeed in related careers. The STEM Centre programme will be managed by World Learning.

What about your future cooperation with Egyptian universities?

In 2016, Boeing began supporting Cairo University’s aeronautical engineering programme. In 2018, Boeing expanded its support to include further curriculum enrichment. For example, the university used the funds to support 25 students working on STEM graduation projects, including a flight simulator, a weather balloon, and aircraft-accident software, and to purchase aviation books and education kits serving more than 200 students. Funds have also supported the department’s aerospace engineering project fair as well as outreach events at primary and secondary schools to raise awareness about aerospace engineering.

Will you add new models this year?

We are working on conducting the first flight of the 777X later this year – the airplane will enter service in 2020. The first 777X flight test airplane rolled out of the factory in March this year. 

The 777X is Boeing’s newest family of twin-aisle airplanes. Building on the success of the 777 and 787 Dreamliner families, the 777X will be the largest and most efficient twin-engine jet in the world, unmatched in every aspect of performance. Boeing Commercial Airplanes launched the airplane in November 2013 at the Dubai Air-show. Production of the 777X began in 2017. The first flight is scheduled for 2019, with the first delivery and entry into passenger service targeted for 2020. The 777X has 358 orders and commitments from eight customers around the globe.

What was Boeing’s financial statement report in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019?

The company’s revenues in Q1 reached $11.8bn with deliveries of 149 jets. We have orders of 48 widebody jets. The production rate of 787 increased to 14 jets per month. The first 777X flight test airplane rolled out of the factory.

Does Boeing’s US headquarters plan any new visits to Egypt?

Egypt is a very important market for Boeing, and we will continue to work on growing our presence and relationship with Egypt’s leadership and business leaders.

Are there any updates regarding the ongoing outreach strategy to prepare Egypt’s future workforce?

Boeing has supported Egypt with charitable contributions since 2007 and our efforts continue to grow. Boeing has established and implemented several initiatives in partnership with a variety of organisations in Egypt, with a focus on STEM education, employability skills, workforce development, and job creation. Supporting Egypt’s workforce is a priority for Boeing and we currently have six ongoing programmes with non-profit organisations and one university programme supporting students.

What about the cooperation with World Learning in 2019?

We value our partnership with World Learning and have been working with them since 2016 on a series of programmes to support Egyptian youth and the workforce. In addition, we work with them to set up the Boeing STEM Centre. Boeing has supported four different projects to date, including 2016-Manara Grant. This project improved services provided to visually impaired women at the Light and Hope (L&H) NGO, and raised awareness about the need for inclusion to enable integration in society by equipping beneficiaries with the necessary skills to be independent. Manara built the capacity of L&H board members, staff/caregivers and visually impaired beneficiaries. Training focused on developing a new strategy that embraces inclusion, a new organisation chart, job descriptions, and responsibilities. Also, governance, results-based management, and networking.

The second project is 2017-Curiosity Machine Grant over which Boeing provided access in Egypt to its online based Curiosity Machine Design Challenges for the ministry of education’s public secondary STEM schools in partnership with the USAID-funded Egypt STEM Schools Project (ESSP). There are 11 secondary public schools benefiting from STEM Education, located in Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Daqahleya, Assiut, Kafr El Sheikh, Ismailiyah, Luxor, Red Sea, Menoufiya, and Gharbeya governorates, with 120-150 students in each STEM school. Implementation started during the summer camp held in September 2017.

The third project is 2018-Manara Handicrafts Grant. The project targeted handicrafts like handmade carpets and straw/bamboo home articles produced by visually impaired women at L&H with the aim to diversity products and improve income for the NGO while allowing beneficiaries to learn a more marketable trade en route to independence. The project collaborates with the American University in Cairo (AUC) Graphic Design Department where students improve the design of existing L&H handicrafts and design new ones, better market the new handicrafts to a younger audience to sell better, and conduct a cost analysis to make their production more effective. The project trains visually impaired women on new skills to exercise their right to work. In academic year 2018/19, students are producing new designs for straw lampshades and hand knitted handbags.

The project aims to directly serve 48 visually impaired beneficiaries from at least two handicrafts departments within L&H to develop new handicrafts with assistance from AUC student designs. About 150 other beneficiaries are expected to indirectly benefit from the projects. It is presently under implementation.

The fourth project is 2019-SOTNA-Sign Outreach, Telecommunications and Applications Grant. The project primarily serves the National Association for the Deaf NGO (NAD) to develop short sign language Arabic language classes for deaf and mute children attending first year primary special education schools. Classes are videotaped by children and compiled in a YouTube channel or smartphone app to help deaf and mute students learn Arabic. The project will help unify sign language by using the video content of a computer-based CD, already produced by NAD, to develop a sign language dictionary used all around the Arab world in addition to improve new apps for the visually impaired.

App development and improvement is provided by Nokia Egypt. The project will continue to train visually impaired women at L&H on the proficient use of smartphones and assist in life skills training to new beneficiaries, it will also support psychology therapy sessions by qualified psychologists to help visually impaired women overcome their individual problems with inclusion. The project aims to directly serve at least 50 deaf beneficiaries from NAD and at least 150 non-NAD members indirectly impacted through its various products. Also, at least 100 visually impaired beneficiaries will benefit from the new smartphone and life skills training in addition to psychology sessions. The project is presently under implementation.

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Production costs in Egypt’s market are highly competitive: Coca-Cola https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/05/production-costs-in-egypts-market-are-highly-competitive-coca-cola/ Fri, 05 Jul 2019 10:00:49 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=701799 Company boosted an average investment of $500m in past 3 years, says GM

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Coca-Cola Egypt sees production costs in the local market as highly competitive, despite recent energy price increases, Ahmed Rady, the newly appointed General Manager for Coca-Cola Egypt, said.

“The company will remain a long-term investor in Egypt. We have been in Egypt for 77 years, since 1942. Since then, Coca-Cola has expanded, made investments, opened plants, and launched several products that refreshed Egyptian consumers,” Rady mentioned.

In the past three years, Coca-Cola boosted an average investment of $500m, which focused on distribution, new manufacturing and production lines, and the inauguration of a new bottling facility in Sixth of October City, while focusing on providing job opportunities, Rady noted.

Daily News Egypt seized Rady’s first interview to the media since he was appointed as general manager for Coca-Cola Egypt in May 2019. Rady has been member of the Coca-Cola team since 2000. The transcript of the interview is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What is the company’s outlook for the economic situation for Egypt?

At Coca-Cola, we strongly believe that Egypt is a promising market. Coca-Cola has been serving the world’s most iconic beverages through a strong local value chain – the company hires, distributes, and sources locally through farmers of different sizes, suppliers, and retailers to support the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of Egypt across all governorates as it serves over 300,000 outlets nationwide. Coupled with recent government initiatives, like the New Suez Canal that aims to see the country become one of the largest logistical manufacturing hubs, along with leveraging its strong market access, bilateral agreements, recently upgrading the infrastructure and competitive production, it makes it an even more promising manufacturing and trading hub to the world.

Coca-Cola also sees production costs as highly competitive despite recent energy increases as the flotation of the currency has made the price of the Egyptian product highly competitive across markets, and that is why the company will remain a long-term investor in Egypt. Moreover, its commitment to the country and the stability of its business within the region encourages other foreign and international companies to invest and grow in Egypt.

What is the size of your investments in Egypt? What are your future plans to inject new investments or expand your businesses?

We have been in Egypt for 77 years, since 1942. Since then, Coca-Cola has expanded, made investments, opened plants, and launched several products that refreshed Egyptian consumers.

It currently directly employs around 10,000 Egyptians and indirectly 100,000 Egyptians through different points of Coca-Cola value chains, from suppliers and customers. In the past three years, Coca-Cola boosted an average investment of $500m, which focused on distribution, new manufacturing and production lines, and the inauguration of a new bottling facility in Sixth of October City, while focusing on providing job opportunities.

What about your five-year strategy in Egypt? 

Coca-Cola is continuously examining and analysing the market, in search of opportunities. We are currently observing huge economic potential in light of the recent reforms. Over the next decade, we’re looking to continue to thrive, while carefully understanding the forces that shape our business and help us prepare for the future.

How many employees do you have?

Coca-Cola in Egypt currently employs an average of 10,000 Egyptians.

What about your products?

We have a variety and portfolio of beverages to suit every lifestyle, taste, and need. We strive to understand the need of our local Egyptian consumers and offer them diverse products that differ from sparkling beverages, low calorie and no calorie products, juices, malt, and water products. In Egypt now, we currently offer the Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero, Sprite, Sprite Zero, Fanta, Dasani, newly launched Coca-Cola Cherry, and the Cappi juice.

What about your exports from Egypt in 2018? And plans for 2019? main markets? Plans for new markets?

The operation of our Cairo Concentrate Plant in the Free Zone, Nasr City, manufactures and exports our products to 46 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia alone, bringing an annual revenue of around $443m.

What do you think about Egypt’s investment climate now?

I believe Egypt’s investment climate is promising, given recent local economic and legislative reforms. Actually, Egyptian-American agreements signed under the United States economic assistance programme since 2014 reached nearly $600m, according to Egypt’s ministry of investment and international cooperation. I believe the government is taking on economic and social reform programmes, as well as strategic measures to improve the country’s investment climate.

What about your CSR projects, in terms of funds, goals, plans?

Coca-Cola has always been committed to developing the community where it operates. Working hand-in-hand with different NGOs and the community at large has enabled us to launch successful initiatives and achieve strong results. We want to see Egypt prosper, which is why we’ve been ardently working with the community and civil society to support marginalised communities and societies. In 2011, Coca-Cola in Egypt inaugurated its 100 villages project which aims to develop poor villages by connecting water to needy houses, renovating schools, refurbishing medical centres, providing needed medical equipment, and providing microbusinesses for women. Coca-Cola in Egypt was able to connect a total number of almost half a million people with clean water in rural Egypt and developed 60 villages. And in the last couple of years, we provided microbusinesses for 4,500 women as part of our 5by20 programme, which aims to develop five million women by 2020.

Will you launch a new marketing campaign soon?

Having always been a strong supporter of Egyptian football, we recently launched our campaign supporting Egyptian fans. It calls for unity among all competitive local football clubs to cheer for their country during the time where Egypt plays in international or regional tournament. Moreover, Coca-Cola has been sponsoring the World Cup for years, and as many of our consumers have witnessed and interacted with the World Cup Trophy that we brought to Egypt last year and presented to the President of Egypt. This was followed by a two-day activation in different regions in Egypt where many consumers and football fans had the opportunity to take photos with it.

Interestingly, Rady firstly joined the Coca-Cola Company in 2000, as the Brand Manager for Coca-Cola Near East. Prior to this current role as Coca-Cola GM in Egypt, Rady was the General Manager of Coca-Cola East and Central Africa franchise operating out of Nairobi. He was responsible for leading Company operations in Kenya; Tanzania; Uganda; Ethiopia; Mozambique; Zambia; Zimbabwe; Botswana; Namibia; Djibouti; Somalia, and Eritrea.

During this tenure, he served as the president of the American Chamber of commerce in the last two years.

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Egypt, US to promote greater reciprocal market access for agricultural, industrial goods https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/05/egypt-us-to-promote-greater-reciprocal-market-access-for-agricultural-industrial-goods/ Fri, 05 Jul 2019 09:00:18 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=701794 Cairo to host TIFA’s next meeting in 2020, says Boughner

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Egypt and the United States are seeking ways to promote a greater reciprocal market access for agricultural and industrial goods following the latest talks of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) which took place in Washington, DC in April, the Minister Counsellor for Economic Affairs at the US embassy in Cairo, James Boughner, said.

“Our two governments agreed to keep pushing for additional progress ahead of the next TIFA meeting to be held in Cairo in 2020,” Boughner noted, adding that there is a growing number of American companies considering doing business in Egypt.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Boughner to learn more about the updates of the US-Egypt business relations, including the size of trade exchange, investment, and the cooperation in development projects, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

US mission representatives met President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for a two-hour interview, in October 2018

What is the size of Egypt-US trade exchange in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019? And the expected trade exchange by the year-end?

The two-way trade between Egypt and the US reached $2.2bn in Q1of 2019. In particular, Egyptian exports increased from $465.6m to $692.9m, with a 39% increase in Egyptian non-petroleum exports. The products include textiles, ready-made garments, salt, sulphur, stones, iron and steel, aluminium, wood, vegetables, and fruits.

DNE reported in July 2018 that US-Egypt trade exchange reached $5.6bn in 2017, seeing a 13% increase over 2016. The textile and petroleum sectors have the lion’s share in Egyptian exports to the US.

Given the efforts that the Egyptian government has exerted to improve economic conditions with America and the strong interest from US companies in doing business in Egypt, we are optimistic that the growth will continue and even accelerate, DNE’s 2018 report added.

What are the updates of the expected trade agreement with Egypt? Any upcoming meetings to discuss the matter?

The latest TIFA talks took place in Washington, DC in April. Our two governments discussed a range of trade and investment issues and noted positively the increase in bilateral trade during 2018. We focused on seeking ways to promote greater reciprocal market access for agricultural and industrial goods. Our two governments agreed to keep pushing for additional progress ahead of the next TIFA meeting to be held in Cairo in 2020. 

What about the US companies showing interest to operate in the Egyptian market? What are their target sectors?

US companies are interested in several sectors, including energy, ICT, infrastructure, defence, healthcare, agriculture, and others. They bring proven technology, knowhow, and new ways of doing business at a price that offers the best value.    

How many US companies are operating in Egypt? And what are the latest estimate of their investments?

There are over 1,200 US firms operating in Egypt, ranging from large petroleum companies to small service companies. The stock of US direct investment in Egypt is over $22bn.

By November 2019, Egypt’s IMF-backed economic reform programme will be completed, how do you see the programme and its impact on the Egyptian business climate?

As the largest shareholder in the IMF, the US has strongly supported the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility (EFF) and the related Egyptian reform programme from the outset. We view Egypt’s economic reforms as a positive and necessary step to macroeconomic stability, building up the private sector, and putting the economy on a path to sustainable higher growth. We see Egypt’s attractiveness to foreign investors continuing to improve.

How do US companies look at the Egyptian market currently? What are your recommendations to attract more foreign direct investments (FDIs) to the market?

We are seeing a growing number of US companies considering doing business in Egypt. Their interest reflects a range of positive factors, including the improving economy. Egypt’s large and growing market size, its educated workforce, and, of course, the country’s strategic location, makes the country an ideal site for basing both local and regional operations. The Egyptian government is also working hard to attract FDIs through legal and regulatory reform and a general willingness to make it easier to do business here.

From your point of view, what are the main problems facing US companies and possible ways to solve them?

International investors attach a high value to the Egyptian government’s commitment to macroeconomic and structural reform, and they have responded positively to developments to date. Going forward, maintaining this commitment is important to sustain investors’ interest in Egypt’s capital markets. Foreign investors seek not only opportunities but also an environment that allows for the straightforward entry and exit of investments, a quick start-up, flexibility, and autonomy in running business operations.

What about the visits of US business delegations to Egypt in 2019?

We have no information at this time about a particular business delegation visiting Egypt, but there are, no doubt, many individual representatives of our businesses coming to the country on a regular basis and looking for trade and investment opportunities. Interestingly, the American Chamber of Commerce Egypt (AmCham Egypt) in conjunction with the US Chamber of Commerce (USCC), the US-Egypt Business Council (USEBC), and the Egypt-US Business Council (EUSBC),organised a major US Business Mission during the period from 23 to 25 October, with more than 110 business leaders representing 44 companies participating, according to past media reports in October 2018.

When do you expect the next meeting with Egyptian and Israeli officials regarding the QIZ?

The Egyptian and Israeli government participants in the QIZ agreement normally meet on a quarterly basis. The most recent meeting took place in Israel in April. The next meeting in Cairo is expected in the near future. 

What about the cooperation between the USAID and Egyptian government entities? What are the main areas of cooperation? Any new plans for the next five years?

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has a long history of partnering with the people of Egypt to build a prosperous future. On behalf of the American people, the USAID has invested over $30bn in Egypt over the last four decades, tangibly improving the lives and livelihoods of millions of Egyptians. The USAID works in partnership with the Egyptian people to increase access to economic opportunities, improve linkages between education and the private sector, and supplement social service delivery to make Egypt more prosperous for all. Current economic growth projects focus on agriculture, entrepreneurship, tourism, and water.

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US-Egypt trade exchange approaches $3bn in the first 4 months of 2019: AmCham https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/04/us-egypt-trade-exchange-approaches-3bn-in-the-first-4-months-of-2019-amcham/ Thu, 04 Jul 2019 20:00:20 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=701773 “We have good, evolving economic story to share” says AmCham’s President

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The trade volume between Egypt and the United States approached $3bn during the period January-April 2019, up 27% when compared to the same period in 2018, the new President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham Egypt), Sherif Kamel, said.

Egypt and the US have been enjoying a long strategic partnership for many years and we have a good, evolving and promising economic story to share with the US business community which can lead to more cooperation in different sectors of the economy,” he noted, adding that the bold reform measures taken by the government of Egypt coupled with the improving macroeconomic indicators are encouraging US companies and others to look at the various opportunities in the marketplace.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Sherif Kamel for his first interview with the media since assuming office.

How do you assess Egypt’s relations with the US with a particular focus on the business side?

The Egypt-US relations date back a very long time. The collaboration between the business community in specific in both countries is diverse and is actively present in different sectors creating business, trade and employment opportunities. Moving forward with the steadily improving business and investment climate, I expect US companies already operating in Egypt to increase their investments as well as other US companies becoming interested because of the massive opportunities that Egypt offers given the size and the potential in the market. This is usually manifested during the regular AmCham visits to the US as well as during the business missions organised by the US-Egypt Business Council to Egypt.

What is the amount of trade exchange between Egypt and the US during the first four months of 2019?

The US is among Egypt’s largest trade partners with a value of $6.9bn in 2018, ranking second after China.  This accounted for nearly 3% of the GDP in fiscal year (FY) 2017/18 and 4% of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)-US trade volume in 2018, registering double-digit growth supported by a 52% increase in exports to the US and a 27% increase in imports from the US to Egypt. It is worth noting that Egypt is the US’s 40th largest importer and ranks 64th among exporters to the US. The trade volume between Egypt and the US approached $3bn during the first four months of 2019, up 27% from the corresponding period of 2018. The trade deficit widened by 14% as a consequence of imports surging by $400m (22.5%) from $1.69bn to $2.1bn, while exports rose by only $228m (34%), from $664m to $892m. Non-petroleum exports comprised of 80.2% of total Egyptian exports to the US, increasing by 44% over the same period.  Egypt’s top non-petroleum exports to the US are textiles and clothing, iron and steel, and aluminium products. Egypt’s top imports from the US are soybeans (mainly from Louisiana), civilian aircraft (mainly from Washington), and wheat (mainly from Louisiana and Texas). According to Egypt’s Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation, the stock of US direct investment in Egypt stood at $22bn in 2018. The Apache Corporation is the largest American investor in Egypt, with current investments totalling over $18bn. In 2018, there were a total of 1,576 companies with US capital operating in the Egyptian market, of which 91 companies were new entrants in that year. Around 92% of total US investment in Egypt is concentrated in energy and mining. American firms are active in most non-petroleum economic sectors as well, with their greatest participation in financial services and manufacturing. According to the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), the US ranked the third largest (after the UK and Belgium) in terms of investment inflows with a value of $1.07bn or 16% of total foreign direct investments (FDIs) inflows to Egypt over the first half (H1) of FY 2018/19.

the new President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham Egypt), Sherif Kamel

Can you shed some light on your background and how you see the direction of AmCham Egypt in the next few years?

I started my career working for the Cabinet of Egypt Information and Decision Support Center, then moved to work in consulting for the private sector and international organisations while engaging with several private sector initiatives and projects then I made the switch to academia. In academia, besides teaching, I have been leading executive education then became the dean of the school of business at the American University in Cairo. The way I see it, a dean of a business school in today’s time and age is in fact a CEO of an enterprise; that is the only way to make the school current, competitive, and agile. The ecosystem of a business school is not only about on campus academic programmes but more importantly, it is about serving and extending different activities and offerings to the community. There are four key areas to serve the young and growing community in Egypt which are entrepreneurship and innovation as a mindset–which is extremely important for our economy and to encourage and boost the private sector– responsible business–which is how to give back to the community and to engage with a value-added impact–while the fourth interest is inclusive development which cuts across the whole economy and improves its indicators with a positive impact on the population at large as we move forward. Throughout my career, I was fortunate to have had a diversified experience having worked in academia, the private sector, and the government as well as having served both in Egypt and in other countries in several board of directors of funds, companies, banks, NGOs, and universities. I have been part of AmCham for many years, and have previously served as executive vice president, board member, and chaired several of the chamber’s core committees including Information and Communication Technology, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, International Cooperation and Education many years and now being AmCham president is just a continuation of the engagement that I already have. As for the direction for the next few years, I would be focused on building upon the efforts of my predecessors in the AmCham board of governors including to continue to promote Egypt as a destination for business for US companies and to support Egyptian enterprises in identifying business opportunities in the US market; the annual Doorknock mission, where a delegation of top-level executives representing companies and businesses that operate in Egypt visit Washington, DC to meet with the US business community and others to share different opportunities and prospects about Egypt’s economic and business environment.

How many members does AmCham include?

We have over 900 AmCham corporate members and close to 2,000 individual members.

AmCham recently announced the establishment of an advisory council for AmCham Egypt Inc in the US; Can you please elaborate on its future plans?

AmCham Egypt is always looking to create business, trade, and investment opportunities for Egyptian companies in the US and for US companies in Egypt and to promote Egypt as a destination for business for US companies. Accordingly, the regular coordination with AmCham Egypt Inc, the chamber’s permanent representative in the US, led by Hisham Fahmy as CEO, is focused to further bilateral economic ties; and the planning and organisation of sector-specific business missions for AmCham members to identify business, trade, and investment opportunities with their US counterparts. Furthermore, AmCham Egypt Inc. is expanding its scope of work and operations in Washington, D.C., including stakeholder outreach efforts, taking part in speaking engagements across the US, hosting roundtable meetings and events, and issuing the AmCham Inc. quarterly newsletter.  Earlier in April 2019, DNE reported that Hisham Fahmy announced the establishment of AmCham Egypt Inc. Advisory Board in the US  Its mission is to work towards enhancing the organisation’s mandate and scope of activities. The advisory board includes a number of key US business leaders and executives with extensive and diversified experience and are highly reputed in the circles of decision-making. The advisory board aims to amplify the role played by AmCham Egypt Inc in supporting and maximising the benefit of the strategic relations between the two countries, in addition to increasing the volume of investment and trade exchange between them. Greg Lebedev, senior adviser to the president and CEO at the US Chamber of Commerce, said that this advisory board helps facilitate the chamber’s functions in America, especially with regard to pushing US investments into the market and enhancing cooperation in different fields, according to DNE previous reports. Lebedev also noted that Egypt has a fertile soil for investment which is advantageous for US investors through the injection of new investments in the country.

Will AmCham Egypt host ministers soon?

AmCham regularly organises events with cabinet members and government officials so that they can share with the AmCham members the different developments taking place in various sectors and in the economy at large. On July 2nd, we hosted Minister of Electricity, Mohamed Shaker, who gave an overview of the sector and the title of the talk was “Energy Transition in Egypt”.

What are the updates of AmCham reports?

We release a variety of reports including the business monthly magazine, the industry insight series, Egypt watch bulletin, Egypt economic profile, Egypt economic indicators, and others including sectoral reports, in addition to the documentations that are released on the occasion of some events including the Door-Knock missions and others.

What do you think of Egypt’s economic performance?

The government took several decisions as part of an overall reform programme to improve the economy.  Currently, the economic numbers are improving offering opportunities for foreign investors from around the world to invest in Egypt. The macroeconomic indicators are encouraging companies to look at the market as an opportunity in addition to its traditional advantages as a large market. If we look at the indicators, we find that we have gone through a difficult period of time and we have come a long way to a steady, improving economy. Figures were very difficult at some point of time, but the important thing is the gradual improvement taking place now. For example, inflation recorded a high figure in July 2017 and now it declined, which is promising. Inflation is expected to rise again because of the movement of subsidy, yet the most important thing is that the economy is in the right direction. Moreover, GDP growth records more than 5% with an even more positive outlook for the FY 2019/20 which is another extremely healthy sign.  Unemployment rates are still high, but the overall direction is positive. The structural reforms included some tough decisions, but they were key to move forward and in parallel the government took multiple actions to try to mitigate their impact on the community and I think that the society will start realising the benefits of these reforms in due time.

How do you assess the government’s announcement of its intention to ink a new technical programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)?

I believe that economic reforms are a journey, not a destination. Egypt has been working with the IMF for the past three years to grow its opportunities across all sectors. The continuation of the IMF’s technical support to the Egyptian economy is welcomed. We need to look at the sectors that have the biggest potential and align efforts, strategies, and decisions to try to strengthen the benefits. The ultimate objective is to offer an environment that is encouraging to local investors first, but which will also positively impact the foreign investors’ decisions. If we as Egyptians are increasingly supporting and endorsing our economy, that will give a sign of trust to foreign investors that are aiming to come to Egypt and invest in the market.  We are thankfully seeing increasing numbers of tourists in the market which is very important for the economy because all sectors are related to each other and impact each other. This is a huge opportunity for Egypt and could be a game changer for the economy.

The Egyptian government launched several initiatives to support the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) sector; How can these initiatives positively impact economic growth?

Egypt’s population is about one hundred million. About 60% of the population is under the age of 25.  The population’s connectivity hours per day is massive with an increasing appetite in starting-up their own businesses. The government, together with the private sector, and the civil society, are pushing the SMEs sector through financing in addition to raising awareness, support, mentorship, and more. When the government encourages SMEs to increase their numbers, more job opportunities are created. SMEs and startups usually focus on solving the issues that face the society. Recently I attended an event where 18 startups were pitching their businesses in different fields in sports, healthcare, construction, interior design, and podcasting knowledge in Arabic. This sectoral diversifying is very healthy for the economy. Furthermore, the multiple initiatives that were announced by the different constituents in the ecosystem to create more jobs and making the market more competitive is important. We need more SMEs support in the different governorates not only in Cairo. For the past 10 years, I have been a strong advocate that each and every university in Egypt should have an incubator where students would early on be involved in startups and that would encourage creativity, innovation, and discovery and the private sector in general.  Fresh graduates are always very ambitious to start their own businesses and they always need a platform to try their ideas and get the right support, advice, and mentorship.

What are your recommendations to attract more US companies?

Every country around the world tries to make its investment environment easier, simpler, open, and welcoming to investors and different businesses. There is a worldwide competition out there. We always need to reach out and offer an inviting ecosystem to investment opportunities that come from the US and around the world. I think that the nature of Egypt, including its geographical location, the size of the market, its diversified opportunities just to mention a few is a huge advantage. However, we have to admit that despite all the efforts and actions that were taken to facilitate and improve the business climate in Egypt, there is still some way to go to make the environment not just more attractive but ahead of the pack and leading all our peers as a model destination that works as a magnet to business opportunities. As AmCham, we try to always play a role as a platform to share the concerns of US companies operating in Egypt with the government and to try to help in any way possible to help solve those issues. The government always tries its best to address those issues and shows continuous support. Given the competition that I mentioned earlier, there will always be issues that will appear as in any other market, the key is to handle them effectively and timely. Investors are always looking for a healthy environment to expand their business and I truly believe Egypt is a unique opportunity to create such an environment.

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It is an honour for any political party to back the state: Nation’s Future head https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/03/it-is-an-honour-for-any-political-party-to-back-the-state-nations-future-head/ Wed, 03 Jul 2019 08:00:56 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=701620 Egypt is witnessing unprecedented economic development, says Rashad

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In response to long-awaited demands to empower young people, Ashraf Rashad, 35, appeared on the political scene and within a short period, he became the head of the Nation’s Future Party that currently leads the political life on the ground.

Rashad leads the largest bloc in the Egyptian parliament and heads the parliamentary youth and sports committee. Daily News Egypt interviewed the young politician to learn about his party’s activities and his vision of sports in Egypt.

The transcript below was lightly edited for clarity

How did you see the opening ceremony of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)?

I’m really speechless to describe how successful the AFCON opening ceremony was and how proud I am of the organising committee under the instructions of the political leadership. President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s attendance of the ceremony sent an assuring message to the world that Egypt has restored its security and is at a leading position in the continent.

What are the expected gains of this tournament?

The first gain is the emphasis on Egypt’s ability to organise such an important continental tournament, political and security stability, and the development achieved in Egypt in terms of sporting activities. This will reassure foreign investors to work in Egypt as the country has promising investment opportunities.

AFCON would also revive tourism, with thousands of people from 24 countries visiting Egypt. This necessitates the need for tourist promotion during the matches and events of the tournament.

The return of fans to stadiums is one of the most important gains of the tournament as it will be a step towards the return of fans to local league matches starting from the next season.

How did you follow up the AFCON preparations?

The youth and sports parliamentary committee followed the preparations for the tournament by holding intensive meetings with all concerned parties, including the Egyptian Football Association, the minister of sports, and other parties.

We have been in constant contact with the government to follow up the progress of development and innovation in stadiums and other facilities. We also conducted several inspection tours in cooperation with the African affairs and tourism affairs committees in the parliament to all hosting stadiums in Cairo, Suez, Ismailia, and Alexandria.

I can say that Egypt managed to accomplish a huge development and innovation works with a record time. It’s a real miracle to prepare such high-quality sports infrastructure in a way that impressed all the visitors. The development of stadiums was a giant national project that was no less important than other projects being carried out throughout the country.

The state now has a new challenge, which is to preserve what has been achieved and continue development. This is especially because sports can encourage tourism and enhance national income.

Will the sports committee assess AFCON?

The committee is already monitoring all the events of the championship to prepare its report that would be presented to the ministry of youth and sports to avoid any downsides in future events. So far, everything is going so well.

Can Egypt bid to host the FIFA World Cup soon?

What has been achieved so far in AFCON can be a step towards improving Egypt’s image in world football and present it as a possible destination of major tournaments. I believe we can host any major sports event, and Egypt will likely bid to host the World Cup soon.

What is the committee’s vision for youth centres?

The committee in cooperation with the Youth and Sports Minister, Ashraf Sobhi, conducted many reforms regarding the youth centres nationwide. We opened many new centres and renovated others. We managed to provide many youth centres with their necessary needs of sports equipment. Now, we have a huge plan to develop all youth centres across the country by 2020.

Can Tazkarti be used in booking tickets for the Egyptian Premier League?

The Tazkarti app is a professional online reservation system that contributes to ensuring safety and security in stadiums. It is also an important mechanism that enables the security agencies to identify rioters. I think it may be used in future tournaments and the local league.

The most important feature of Tazkarti is that it has largely eliminated the informal market and helped in organizing the entry and exit of spectators in the stadiums thanks to the Fan ID system.

The budget of the National Academy for Youth Training and Rehabilitation is EGP 324m, do you think it’s enough to do its job?

The academy is a platform for development and education. It is equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to prepare distinguished cadres capable of leading the development process and ensuring full integration of the region into the global economy. Therefore, it is a giant national project aimed at building human resources, so we will give it all the necessary support morally and financially.

As for the budget, it is the best we can get and it matches the vision of the academy which announced its approval of the allocated fund.

Does the party plan to merge with other parties or entities?

The situation is open to all possibilities and we do not mind merging with any party provided that its ideas match ours. The Nation’s Future is a party for everyone who knows and appreciates the value of his homeland. Meanwhile, the idea of merging with any entity or political alliance is not an option now since our party is very stable.

Have you started planning for the upcoming parliamentary election?

Any political entity must be prepared to for running elections at any time. Hence, the Nation’s Party, with all its powerful and distinguished assets, is ready for any elections. As for the possibility of forming an electoral alliance or not, and whether running for individual or list member seats, it is still too early to tell.

However, our party is drafting a law to present it to the parliament soon through our parliamentary bloc, headed by MP Atef Nasser, to adopt a list system only in coming elections.

How do you see the reports saying your party backs the state?

It’s an honour to any party to back the state. However, our party has criticised the government in different occasions and our representatives in the parliament have summoned several ministers over controversial issues.

Our role is to support the Egyptian state and our goal is to preserve the nation’s interest.

How do you assess the economic performance of the government so far?

It is no secret that the state has faced many challenges, yet there has been a state of stability and unprecedented economic improvement over the recent years due to the economic reform programme. Without this programme, Egypt would not have got through all these difficult stages.

What are the most positive aspects of the new budget that you agreed to?

We have approved the new budget because we have witnessed many pros in it, including lower expenditure compared to the estimated GDP, and higher revenues to expenditure ratio compared to previous budgets, as it was estimated at 57.3%, compared to 57.2%, 53.6%, 50% in the fiscal years (FY) 2019, 2018, and 2017, respectively.

There is also a decrease in the fiscal deficit in FY 2020 estimated at 25.6% compared to previous years, in addition to a decrease in the fiscal deficit to revenues ratio to about 35.6% compared to previous years, leading to a lower total deficit 7.2%.

Do you have any comments on the new budget?

We have demanded the government to provide a clear mechanism in dealing with outstanding debt which reached EGP 380bn on 30 June 2019, in addition to imposing more governance on the aspects of expenditure and others, in addition to steps and means to strengthen the role of supreme funds to ease the burden on the public treasury.

We have also demanded the government to put forward solutions for the losses sustained by state-run companies and the public enterprises sector so that we can make the most of them.

Have you faced any criticism of your support campaign of the constitutional amendments?

No, we have not faced any criticism because it was our duty towards the state and society to launch this campaign across the country to raise awareness of the importance of these constitutional amendments.

Does the party support the recent calls for boycotting Turkish products?

I believe that the Arab Quartet’s [Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain] limiting of political relations with Erdogan’s regime is enough and it has achieved many of its goals.

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IBM to increase investment in MEA on back of Egypt’s ambitious digital transformation: Peluso https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/07/02/ibm-to-increase-investment-in-mea-on-back-of-egypts-ambitious-digital-transformation-peluso/ Tue, 02 Jul 2019 09:00:41 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=701487 Daily News Egypt sat with Peluso to learn more about the two new centres and the new deal with the ministry of education

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The Egyptian government has been very ambitious about its digital transformation, which makes IBM very excited about continuing to invest aggressively in the region, according to Senior Vice President of IBM, Michelle Peluso. Daily News Egypt interviewed Peluso during her three-day visit to Cairo for the first time.

She said that the most beautiful thing about Egypt is that the government has put the technology at the core to improve the economy and public services for citizens since last year. The government’s plan is all based on digital transformation and subsequently all resources are being applied to execute and implement this digital transformation agenda.

Peluso is visiting Egypt to announce the inauguration of two new IBM centres in Egypt, in addition to inking an agreement to establish the country’s first P-TECH School to address the digital skills shortage. Daily News Egypt sat with Peluso to learn more about the two new centres and the new deal with the ministry of education. The interview also touched upon the financial inclusion and Egypt’s digital transformation agenda, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Let’s talk about the purpose of this visit?

The visit has three main reasons, first to inaugurate two new centres for IBM in Egypt, bringing the total number of our centres in Egypt to eight. One of them is an innovation and industry centre which can really bring clients in and show them the new experience of IBM especially as they seek to integrate cloud technology, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and what they’re doing. But we’re also opening up a marketing services centre. And we have found just the given talent in Cairo, the idea is to bring really talented people into Cairo and have them execute digital marketing campaigns, not just in Egypt, but across the Middle East and Africa. So, Cairo will be a major hub for us for marketing in the broader region, which is exciting.

Secondly, we agreed with the ministry of education to launch the country’s first P-TECH School to address digital skills shortage, as this project will equip Egyptian students with vital skills in the era of digital technology. Thirdly, we announced the winner of the Hackaton, which is part of our Code and Response efforts. Notably, the Code and Response is an initiative that IBM is leading to make technology work to face natural disasters, and IBM Egypt having a hackathon here to look for solutions to solve water-related natural disasters. I want to mention that we have been doing this code and response programme now for over a year, we’ve had over 100,000 developers contributing great ideas to solving challenges experienced in the climate and the environment. So, it’s a $25m-four-year commitment for us to bring some of the best ideas from developers to fruition. Therefore, we’re happy to be here in Cairo amongst so much talent.

Why did IBM select Egypt to open its new centres? And why now?

IBM has selected Egypt as the location for its two strategic centres because of the country’s unique advantage as an innovation hub in the region with access to highly skilled talents. The centres will foster innovation by providing an enhanced customer experience, connecting clients with high level technical expertise. We think Egypt is a great place to serve on the marketing side, along with the rest of the region.

It’s been my goal as chief marketing officer of IBM to find places where we can work out of the centres, and where we can really employ large groups of people, talented people, as it gives them so much more opportunity to grow and enjoy career development.

So, we’ve done that in places like Bangalore, Bucharest, and now in Cairo. It’s exciting because you can bring together people, lots of different skill sets, in which then they have a lot of places to grow and evolve.

As we’re doing work for so many countries, there’s so many people and so many different disciplines that we can put together when we have a hub like this. So, it’s a strategy we’ve been thinking about and executing the past two years.

Concerning your question about why now, basically the Egyptian government has launched the digital transformation agenda and that’s why we thought that this is the right time to support this agenda by  bringing to clients how technology can help them through this transformation, what does it really mean from a user’s experience, how can we use cloud? How can we leverage AI? How can we leverage blockchain to really help them transform their businesses, help them transform the services to citizens as well, and so on, and take it to the next level?

It’s a really exciting time for clients, because it’s not just about technology anymore. It’s about how do you apply it at scale? So, we see a lot of our clients moving from lots of experimentation and things like AI, to figuring out what does it take to really change a company or change the workplace.

In brief, these centres help us create a place to co-create with our clients how to go from maybe great experimentation to really changing the way companies work and how the world works.

You mentioned that these centres will make Egypt a hub for exporting digital solutions in the region, how this can be achieved?

IBM believes in a marketing perspective named agile marketing. This methodology has been applied for software development for many years, and in marketing the same principles could be applied, so instead of having big teams of creative data scientists and content marketers, we put small teams of 10 different technical experts to work together and we ask them to develop creative campaigns for the region they are serving. For instance, they might take a campaign on the ways AI is changing call centres and they will compile the assets to tell that story and the references to use across the region. They will work together from the idea, all the way till the training and marketing of the service. We have done these group models in many regions, including Bucharest and Bangalore, and we do believe that we will succeed based on the talented Egyptians that we will depend on.

How do you see Egypt currently in terms of the global digital transformation?

The Egyptian government has been very ambitious about digital transformation, which makes us very excited about continuing to invest aggressively in the region. Out of the 160 countries in which we operate, we chose only four places, including Egypt, to build our innovation and marketing services centres, so we believe that Egypt, compared to lots of other places, is a place of great talent, great transformation, and great opportunity. The beautiful thing in Egypt is that I realised that the government during the past year put technology at the core to improve the economy and services for citizens. The government’s plan is all based on digital transformation and subsequently all resources are being put forward to execute and implement this digital transformation agenda.

In your opinion, what are the challenges that still Egypt faces in its digital transformation journey?

In my opinion, the Egyptian government is on a good start and touching on different industries. I want to mention that digital transformation starts from the business then goes to building the overall services and experience for citizens. Talking about the challenges, I think the first challenge was to pick out where to start, however, I think the government overcame this obstacle by starting with areas like healthcare, and then the second challenge was where to start the pilot model, but I think we made the right choice through the selection of Port Said, which is a small city with suitable number of citizens. So, these are the set of challenges that they are going through, which will move them to financial inclusion. So, the financial industry is going to be also the next step, already working on it. So, going through the different stages is, I think the challenge that they are going through. However, I think they overcame these challenges in a very good manner. 

How is IBM collaborating with the Egyptian market to assist in its digital transformation?

We are collaborating on different levels, we were involved in many national projects from a business perspective, for very long time, but especially during the digital transformation plan. We made these projects in collaboration with and through entities like ITIDA, ITI, and the ministry of information technology and telecommunications, and we are bringing all these technologies to the younger generations and to developed communities. Moreover, capacity building and skill training technologies are other areas in which we support digital transformation.

How would you learn, educate, and create a culture of trust to share data through the cloud?

IBM has strict rules about the data’s privacy, as we believe that every job will change due to Al. We have made substantial commitment programmes where we bring young people into technology in amazing ways.

One of the things that IBM is most passionate about, and did always ask for, is new technologies with a sense of trust and responsibility.

Financial inclusion has taken over the monetary world turning it into a cashless society. IBM has recently offered technological solutions for local businesses, what are Egypt’s opportunities in turning into or adapting a cashless society?

Building a cashless society and financial inclusion has so many areas to already access and to work on.

In Egypt, the potential is huge with a large population, however much of the population are not yet banked according to the statistics, so the opportunity is huge for the government and also for the nation

What are the procedures that the government must take in order to make people more aware about the importance of turning Egypt into a cashless society?

Communication is very important, we have all seen that, there were a lot of communication legislations, and adaptation. So, adapting the legislation and making sure that you explain to the people what needs to be done, is really important. However, I think it’s risky. Egypt should make sure that it has the right infrastructure from a technology perspective and bringing it into the whole ecosystem. The ecosystem here is so wide, including government agencies, financial institutions, and citizens. So, building this whole thing from a technology perspective, is something that is very important.

Could you elaborate about the deal signed with the ministry of education to launch the first P-TECH School?

We have announced in collaboration with the ministry of education the launch of the first P-TECH education model (Pathways in Technology Early College High-School) in Egypt. It aims to create technical and professional educational opportunities for Egyptian students to provide them with the skills and experience for tech-related ‘new collar’ jobs, which involve technologies such as cybersecurity, cloud computing and digital design, data analytics, and AI.

The first P-TECH School in Egypt will be operational at Al Shorouq Advanced Technical School, which falls under one of the ministry of education’s schools in Al Shorouq, beginning in September this year.

What are IBM’s future plans in Egypt?

Our future plans for the country are to keep on supporting Egypt’s digital transformation journey working side-by-side with the Egyptian government in most of the projects of national importance to help the economy and support the government’s national agenda. We are sustaining our major contributions to Egypt’s economy through skills development, job creation, and helping organisations explore the full potential of innovative technologies.

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Lufthansa Group to operate an Airbus 330 aircraft to Egypt this summer https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/06/27/lufthansa-group-to-operate-an-airbus-330-aircraft-to-egypt-this-summer/ Thu, 27 Jun 2019 18:45:40 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=701341 Company now operates flights to Red Sea from Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, says General Manager Sales Egypt

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The Lufthansa Group is pleased to announce they will be increasing their flight offering in Egypt during the upcoming winter schedule. Lufthansa will be increasing weekly connections from Cairo to Frankfurt from seven to ten flights per week and the Cairo –Munich connection from four to five flights per week. Austrian Airlines will additionally be increasing its connections from Cairo to Vienna from four to six per week starting in the winter, said General Manager Sales Egypt at Lufthansa Group, Sadiq Mohamed.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Mohamed to learn about the Group’s business and new products in Egypt, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Do you plan to increase the company’s flights in the Egyptian market?

It has been a very good year for the Lufthansa Group because we were able to increase both our capacity and flight connections from Egypt into our home markets. In the upcoming summer months, from 1 July to 30 September 2019, Lufthansa will be operating the Airbus A330 on the Cairo- Frankfurt route offering passengers even more seats on this route. 

Additionally, the Lufthansa Group will increase its winter 2019/20 frequencies. Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines will be increasing weekly connections from Cairo to Frankfurt, Munich and Vienna starting in the 2019/20 winter schedule.

What are the company’s new products in Egypt?

Last year, we introduced several new fights to the Red Sea, Hurghada, and Marsa Alam, and we will continue these flights.

What is the size of cooperation between Lufthansa and the Egyptian government?

Last year we celebrated the 60-year anniversary of Lufthansa in Egypt and are proud to be present and committed to this market. Today, over six decades’ years later, all 5 Lufthansa Group carriers – OS, LH, LX, EW, SN are operating in Egypt which give our Egyptian customers access to our worldwide network of destinations in 102 countries.   

Our employees and customers have also been expanding in the region and we continue to build relationships and grow.  We work closely with our partners in Egypt and we definitely seek to increase our bilateral cooperation.

What makes your services different and distinguished from other companies?

Lufthansa Group airlines has one of the largest networks in the world, serving 318 destinations in 102 countries, with 13,267 weekly connections. With the increase in connections from Egypt, passengers have even more choices to for the most convenient connections into our hubs and around the world. The Lufthansa Group continues to offer premium service and this has been recently awarded by the numerous Skytrax awards we received just last week based on the votes of 20 million passengers from over 160 countries worldwide.  The Lufthansa Group continues to focus on innovation. Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian have launched the biggest product offensive of all time and are investing a further 2.5 billion euros in new seats in all classes, a significantly larger lounge offering and the expansion of digital services. The aim is to provide customers with an even more personalized service.

For customers who are flying to our 5-Star airport in Munich this summer can additionally enjoy shopping at Munich Airport with a 10% discount, at any of the participating euro trade shops until 31 July.

How does the expected increase in oil prices affect your business?

In principle, our prices are determined primarily by supply and demand, and at the end of the day the final price is central to the customer. In the airline industry, the customer has the choice. If the (final) price/performance ratio is not right, they will not be competitive in the long term.

Do you plan to operate flights to new markets?

We recently introduced Austin Texas, USA as a brand new destination served via Frankfurt. From Munich, we have recently introduced new connections to Bangkok, Newcastle and Tallinn.

Do you plan to invest more in air services and aircraft supplies? If yes, please elaborate.

As the leading European Aviation Group, the Lufthansa Group airlines continue modernizing their fleet, which is one of the biggest projects at the moment. In 2017, we received a new aircraft nearly every week of the year – and in 2018, we received a new aircraft every second week. We will continue to invest in economic, fuel-efficient and quiet aircraft. Recently we ordered forty ultra-modern long-haul aircraft including 20 Boeing 787-9 and 20 Airbus A350-900 aircraft with an investment volume of 12 billion US dollars. 

Next year we will also be receiving the newly ordered Boeing 777-x with a brand new Business Class seat that allows every passenger to have direct access to the aisle. All of these aircraft have lower CO2 emissions, are quieter and have lower operating costs. 

Do you think that Egypt needs more FDIs in the aviation sector?

Egypt is an attractive market and we have been quite successful here. We have a history of over 60 years in Egypt, which is one of the top destinations in the region and we hope to continue for a long time.

Do you plan to increase your investments in Egypt?

The Lufthansa Group is continuously evaluating and optimizing its entire route network and we are proud to have increased our capacity from Egypt this summer and our flight connections in the upcoming winter schedule.

How many countries does the company operate in?

Lufthansa Group airlines serve 318 destinations in 102 countries, offering 13,267 weekly frequencies during the 2019 summer schedule. The current fleet is comprised of 763 aircraft (as of December 2018) and the Group will continue to take delivery of new aircraft until 2025. In 2018, the Lufthansa Group employed around 135,000 personnel, welcomed 142 million passengers aboard its flights and generated sales of around EUR 35.8 billion. 

 

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Visa General Manager for North Africa: Ahmed Gaber https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/06/26/visa-general-manager-for-north-africa-ahmed-gaber/ Wed, 26 Jun 2019 17:07:54 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=701235 Visa supports FinTechs, fosters new ideas during Seamless NA 2019

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Daily News Egypt interviewed Gaber to find out the future of Visa, FinTech in market, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

 

How do you find your participation in Seamless NA 2019 and what is the strategy behind sponsoring the FinTech competition? 

Seamless NA 2019 is an opportunity for us to showcase our cooperation with the government in Egypt to support FinTechs and create the enabling environment needed for their growth. We are working on the enablement and empowerment of new ideas to face the challenges affecting the spread of digital payments culture, as well as realise the opportunities that come with each challenge.

Our sponsorship of the FinTech pitch off and our FinTech support programmes signify Visa’s commitment to being the most responsive and supportive network for both emerging players and long-term partners alike. Our recently announced FinTech fast-track programme highlights how we work on making it simpler and quicker for early stage start-ups to connect with our network than ever before. Through providing rapid onboarding and reduced fees, we will help early stage start-ups gain access to the capabilities that lie within Visa’s global network to power their own ideas. Visa’s strength lies in our network. Its reach, security, and capability powers commerce on a global scale by connecting 3bn Visa accounts, 46 million merchants, and 16,000 financial institutions.

We also launched the Visa Everywhere Initiative: Women’s Global Edition, which is a new global competition that tasks women entrepreneurs to solve FinTech and Social Impact challenges for the opportunity to win up to $200,000 and a chance to collaborate with Visa. Since 2015, more than 4,000 start-ups have participated in 23 Visa innovation programmes and have collectively raised over $2.5bn in funding. The programme has selected more than 215 finalists and 70 overall winners and touched over 75 countries across North America, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East/Africa.

One of the most interesting shifts that the market has undergone in the last 5-10 years is how much more open it is in networking and sharing ideas. Meet-ups, networking events, hackathons, Visa’s Everywhere Initiative, a global innovation programme that we’ve run in various markets in CEMEA, that tasks start-ups to solve commerce challenges of tomorrow, further enhance their own product propositions and provide visionary solutions for Visa’s vast network of partners, are good examples of how we are engaging this new community.

 

Is Egypt creating the right environment for a digital payments culture? And what is Visa’s role in shaping the future of tomorrow’s payments?

The Egyptian government is exerting great efforts to spread the digital payments culture. We have seen mandates to empower government employees with digital payment options, we have seen the Electronic Payments Law and we have seen moves to expand acceptance to government services. Visa’s role is to support that by making our products more accessible and relevant for more people and businesses. It’s critical that any business, especially financial institutions, maintain their customers’ trust. At Visa, we work very hard every hour of every day to earn and maintain that trust by protecting people’s financial information and maintaining a safe and secure payment network for customers all over the world.

 

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

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

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

Another critical element is to ensure we’re helping micro and small businesses accept digital payments. These businesses are the life-blood of the economy – transacting over $6.5tn per year and interacting with more than 4.5 billion customers every day. We must ensure they are integrated into the digital economy.  We certainly see a global shift toward digital payments. Digital payments exceeded cash payments for the first time in 2016. In places like the United Kingdom, cash now accounts for around 40% of all payments, down from around 62% in 2006, according to reports. In India, the government’s demonetisation programme has really accelerated digital payments.

 

How can Visa help in supporting the transit sector and do you have studies around that?

Today, there are more than 7.6 billion people living on this planet, with the population expected to rise to 8.6 billion by 2030, then to 9.8 billion by 2050.  Where do these people currently live? More than half of them are in cities – and this trend is set to accelerate, reaching projections of 68% by 2050.  (2018 UN Population Prospects)

Visa just launched a global transit study examining daily urban transportation, in collaboration with Stanford University. UN projections state that by 2050, almost three quarters (68%) of the world’s population will live in a city – and that the number of “megacities” with populations greater than 10 million people will rise from 43 today to 51 within that same period.  Therefore, the role of transportation that adequately serves the current urban migration is becoming increasingly important. Visa commissioned a survey of more than 19,000 individuals from 19 countries around the world to better understand the pain points of commuters of all ages by gauging their current daily travel, frustrations, and the innovations they would like to see in the future to counter act these challenges.  The findings were shared with a view of existing and near horizon innovations provided by experts at Stanford University, to better understand the technology gaps in addressing these pain points.

 

Visa believes that technology – particularly connected devices – has the potential to transform the world’s bustling cities of today into efficient megacities of the future. But this will require collaboration. To improve the experience of living and traveling in megacities and unlock economic growth tomorrow, partnerships must be forged between urban planners, think tanks, public authorities, automotive and technology firms, and payments providers such as Visa, to make scalable improvements to transport infrastructure in urban environments today.

 

Companies such as Visa have an important role to play in the future of transportation, both in helping streamline the commerce underpinning transportation, as well as acting as the ‘connective tissue’ that helps cities see the broader patterns of consumer activities. By examining the bigger picture and understanding the issues that concern citizens today, we can take action to enhance the experience of travelling and paying for travel. Together we can create smarter, better-designed cities which support the increasing demands and changing needs of citizens in the future.

The study shows a small portion of the youth (Gen Z) in Egypt use personal mode of transport for commuting and that they have some concerns with the convenience of public transport. With the growth of the start-up scene we hope to see initiatives in Egypt that will increase the efficiency of transport. The Egyptian government alongside the private sector is working on improving infrastructure by creating new roads and renovating metro lines. Infrastructure combined with new technological mechanisms that ensure quick and safe transactions means that people will spend less time, money, and energy on commuting in their everyday lives. The youth are able and keen to develop Egypt into a functional tech-savvy nation and they are the biggest demographic in the country. Progress is essential to the growth and success of the Egyptian economy. At Visa, we believe that the future success of our cities is intertwined with – and reliant on – the future of transportation and mobility.

 

How can mobile payments play a role in expanding the acceptance footprint in markets like Egypt and how does digital payments affect the security of business and consumers?

The penetration of mobile phones in emerging markets is growing at such a fast rate that the likelihood of consumers owning a smartphone is very high, even if they do not have a bank account. Today, individuals are always connected to their smartphones and, consuming an increasing amount of digital content and services, there is a growing tendency to use smartphones for making payments as well. In developing economies, mobile money systems are bringing digital payments to millions of people previously excluded from the financial mainstream.

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

Mobile payments can prove effective in bill payments, small amount transactions, and can significantly decrease the investments merchants put into traditional POS.

In Egypt, mobile payments can play a big role in expanding the digital acceptance footprint as it would empower significant portions of the population and enable them to transact digitally. Our work with Egypt Post on the infrastructure enablement and readying its staff, through workshops and seminars, along with issuance plans is targeting underserved segments in rural areas. This comes after launching mobile payment with key clients in the market.

 

 

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

More than 180 million micro and small merchants operate across the developing world. While individually these businesses are small, their influence within the global economy is significant: They transact over $6.5tn per year and interact with more than 4.5 billion customers every day. Because these merchants typically have thin margins, low-income customers, and small transaction values, and operate in cash-based ecosystems, little has been done to integrate them into the cashless economy.

 

The digital payments revolution presents tremendous opportunity for merchants to build stronger, more profitable relationships with their customers. By adopting digital acceptance models and solutions, merchants can benefit from increased sales, higher conversion, and authorisation approval rates. They can also benefit from lower costs from reduced fraud, streamlined integration, and access to innovations at lower incremental cost. Visa is working hard to get retailers access to tools and technologies that enable secure and convenient payment experiences, regardless of the form factor.

In the UK for example, working with Pizza Express, Visa has delivered the ability to pay at the table. The waiter-less experience starts from the moment a customer is seated in the restaurant. When an order is taken, customers are given a table number and when ready to leave, they simply open the app, pop in their table number, view the bill, pay and leave – and all without involving the waiting staff.

 

We are entering the era of instant commerce – which will soon become cognitive commerce. Systems, from climate sensors to social media networks, are always on. They not only talk and network with one another but also create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. That means 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years alone and, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, can be analysed better than ever before. Advances in AI, machine learning, and cloud technologies are beginning to enable experiences that can anticipate and automatically fulfil consumers’ wants. This could have a profound impact on how commerce for everyday spend is completed.

 

 

Visa is a sponsor of the Total African Cup of Nations; how do you see the sponsorship especially that it will be one of your main activities in 2019?

We, at Visa, are very excited about being part of it as the exclusive payment partner. We are working with our partners and all stakeholders to make it a memorable experience for football fans and provide unmatched experiences to clients, cardholders, and partners.

The sponsorship partnership will make Visa the exclusive payment services provider at all venues during the African Cup of Nations tournaments in 2019 and 2021 and will be the preferred payment option for tickets bought both in-person and online. In addition, Visa is the official partner of the player escort programme, giving over 1,100 children the opportunity to lead their football heroes out at the matches.

The Africa Cup of Nations tournament is the third biggest football tournament in the world and there is no other pan African sponsorship property that drives the audience and reach that it does in this continent. This 4-year partnership will give Visa the opportunity to showcase the latest in payment innovation and make a demonstrable impact on the fan experience and local merchant environment in the coming years to continue our work given the global and local love of this sport.

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South Korea seeks more opportunities in Egypt’s major transportation projects https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/06/17/south-korea-seeks-more-opportunities-in-egypts-major-transportation-projects/ Mon, 17 Jun 2019 19:42:24 +0000 https://www.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=700584 Egypt emerges as important destination, partner in Africa, says ambassador

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South Korea is seeking more opportunities in Egypt’s major transportation projects to contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of the Egyptian people, South Korean ambassador to Egypt, Yeocheol Yoon, said.

“We have actively engaged with Egypt to develop the urban transportation infrastructure, including the Cairo Metro and railways,” the ambassador affirmed, adding that Korea has shared its expertise with Egyptian counterparts on the application of the automated fare collection system for the public transportation system in Cairo and Alexandria.

The visit by the Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs of South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Yun Kang Hyeon, that lasts from 18 to 21 June, will help improve the understanding of the Korean government and businesses on the potential of Egypt’s economy and its strategic importance, the ambassador added.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Yoon on the occasion of the deputy minister Yun’s visit to shed light on the diversified aspects of cooperation with South Korea with special focus on the business areas, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

 

Initially, what do you think of the recent economic reforms in Egypt?

The economic reforms adopted by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi are showing signs of success. There is a noticeable improvement in the country’s economic indicators, supported by higher GDP growth rates, increased investments and exports, and a pickup in tourism. The deficits are under control and unemployment rates are coming down. The inflation of May surged, but the core inflation rate went down, and I think the government can manage it.

The reform is not an easy path, but rather full of challenges, however Egypt is moving on the right track for development. International organisations and financial institutions are in tune to recognise Egypt as one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

The Korean government and businesses are following these developments with great interest and admiration, which I believe was not possible without a strong leadership as well as the great support of the Egyptian people.

 

How do you assess Egypt’s investment climate, and what are your recommendations to attract more foreign direct investments (FDIs)?

The investment climate in Egypt has significantly improved over the past few years, which is reflected in upgrading Egypt’s credit rating and more investment inflows.

The Egyptian government has been exerting its utmost effort to overhaul the business practice and address investors’ difficulties. Yet, there are areas that can be further improved for more FDIs to come into Egypt, most notably facilitating issuance of work permits and visas for foreign business people, streamlining customs procedures and clearance processes, enabling access to information, and updates on legal and regulatory changes.

In this context, Korean companies, namely Samsung SDS and LG CNS, have expressed willingness to take part in the projects which aim to improve the efficiency of tax systems and customs process.

 

What is the significance of Beni Suef governorate to the Koreans?

If Egypt is a gateway to Africa, as often described, we see Beni Suef as a cradle of skilled technicians in the country. Located in the Upper Egypt, Beni Suef used to be one of the most underdeveloped governorates in the country. However, now it is becoming an emerging manufacturing hub of Egypt through strategic cooperation with Korea.

In line with the Egyptian government’s plan to stimulate industrial growth in the Upper Egypt, two major Korean companies, Samsung Electronics and Ulhwa Textiles, built factories in Beni Suef in 2013 and 2017, respectively.

Samsung Electronics exports electronic products “Made in Egypt” to 36 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Mali, Ivory Coast, and Russia. Ulhwa also exports its production to the Middle East. The operation of these factories contributes to providing thousands of job opportunities in the region.

To facilitate the operation of the two major companies and the industrial development of the region, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) is establishing the Korean-Egyptian Technological College in Beni Suef. Once established, the college will contribute to creating the base of more qualified labour forces equipped with the right skills and expertise.

We hope our Beni Suef project will be a successful model of bilateral cooperation which can be replicated and spread across the country.

 

Can you elaborate on the Korean-Egyptian Technological College?

During President Al-Sisi’s visit to South Korea in 2016, the two countries agreed to establish the Korean-Egyptian Technological College in Beni Suef. Since then, the Korean government, through the KOICA, has provided $5.83m for the establishment of the college.

As the college is scheduled to open in September this year, the KOICA is looking ahead in preparation for the opening. The KOICA will be responsible for developing curriculums for two faculties (Mechatronics and ICT), delivering equipment for college operations, and providing training for teachers. Student recruitment, also, will be started soon, following the discussions between the KOICA and the ministry of higher education and scientific research.

As a mismatch between education and skills needed in the labour market has been one of the critical challenges in Egypt, the college aims to support higher vocational education and strengthen linkages between education and industrial needs. In that regard, Samsung Electronics in Beni Suef is an excellent partner to achieve this goal. The KOICA and Samsung Electronics in Beni Suef have recently shared common understanding on the project and will continue the discussion on the possible opportunities for creating connection between vocational training systems and employment of the graduates from the college.

 

What is the size of Korean investments in the Egyptian market?

Korean investments in Egypt show an upward trend, reaching around $570m in 2018, mostly in the areas of electronics, textiles, and petrochemical industries. We have around 40 Korean companies operating in Egypt, and this number is expected to increase in view of Egypt’s great potential and its improved investment climate.

Korea as well is adopting a new investment approach by reaching out to new markets, beyond the US, Japan, China, and the East Asia region. In that sense, Egypt emerges as an important destination and partner in the African region and we are encouraging Korean companies to come and expand their businesses here.

We have several success stories. Last year, for instance, two Korean companies produced and exported ‘Made in Egypt’ products of around $700m.

This fact has been highlighted in South Korea, encouraging other Korean companies to come to Egypt. That’s why I always ask for the support of our friends in the Egyptian government for the Korean companies here, as their smooth businesses in Egypt, in turn, strongly influence investment decisions of other Korean companies.

 

What was the size of Egypt-Korea trade exchange in 2018?

The trade exchange between South Korea and Egypt reached $2.2bn last year. Exports from Egypt to Korea surged almost 250%, while Korean exports to Egypt increased merely by 39.4%. There was a big increase of gas exports to Korea. The Zohr exploration and production comes into effect in our trade as well.

There is one item to which we need to pay attention. More than $30m worth of bagasse were exported last year to Korea.

Bagasse is the residue that remains after sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract their juice. South Korea makes animal food from it. It is a win-win trade.

Korea’s exports to Egypt have a wide variety of goods and materials from cars, electronics, and chemicals. A big portion of our exports are used by Korean factories to add value to them in Egypt and export to the region. Korean electronics companies such as Samsung and LG exported more than $700m in 2018. This takes more than 90% of Egypt’s exports in electronics and home appliances.

 

What about the Egypt-Korea trade exchange in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019?

Our trade exchange with Egypt in Q1 of this year has been sluggish. It is mainly due to the global trade slowdown. Notably, there is a decrease of our exports to Egypt in cars. It is viewed that the Egypt-EU free trade agreement (FTA) affected our exports of cars. This is a clear case of negative impact of trade diversion from the FTA because the Egyptian people cannot buy Korean cars of good quality and competitive price. The tariffs difference between Korean cars and those of the EU’s – 135% vs 0% – is a significant block which needs to be addressed as soon as possible to give a level playing field to Korean companies.

 

Can you please elaborate on Korea’s cooperation with Egypt in the field of transportation?

Korea has been actively engaged with Egypt to develop urban transportation infrastructure, including the Cairo Metro and railways, as we believe development of the transportation sector is highly linked with the safety and convenience of the citizens of Egypt.

Starting from Korea’s supply of 20 air-conditioned trains to the Metro Line 1 in 2012, which was worth around $350m, Korea took on the project for the modernisation of the railway signalling system on Nag Hamady and Luxor corridor in Egypt in 2016. In 2018, the Korean government decided to financially support the supply of an additional 32 trains for Metro Line 3 as well.

We have also extended our cooperation to capacity building and knowledge sharing in the field. From 2016 to 2018, the KOICA has offered training programmes to 90 Egyptian officials on railway and metro management. And from 2017 to 2018, Korea has shared its expertise with Egyptian counterparts on the application of automated fare collection systems for the public transportation system in Cairo and Alexandria.

 

What is the Korean company that implements the oil refinement project in Egypt?

GS Engineering and Construction, a Korean company specialised in construction with high engineering, has been undertaking the Egyptian Refinery Company (ERC) project, one of the largest construction projects in Egypt.

Through the ERC project, for the first time, Egypt will have locally produced diesel meeting international standards. It will produce approximately 4.2m tonnes of transportation fuel per year including 2.3m tonnes of diesel and 0.6m tonnes of jet fuel.

Accordingly, Egypt’s dependency upon imported petroleum products will be reduced dramatically. The Egyptian government will also benefit from this over EGP 1bn each year by reduced transportation and insurance costs, eliminated product shipment losses, and generated revenues through storage and processing fees.

Moreover, the project has provided over 11,000 jobs during the construction phase. Even after construction, more than 700 permanent positions will be created over its 25 years of operations.

From the environmental perspective, this project will reduce the amount of sulphur dioxide (SO2) released into the air by 186,000 tonnes/year, lowering the overall amount in Egypt by 29%.

 

What about the business missions between Korea and Egypt in 2019?

The February business mission from Egypt to Korea was very successful. With two ministers, one from finance, Mohamed Moeit, and Sahar Nasr from investment and international cooperation, in addition to Mohab Mamish, chairperson of the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SC Zone), they successfully attracted the attention of Korean business people to the Egyptian market.

From our side, the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry is preparing a business mission. But they would like to create a business council first which can work as a counterpart of the Egypt-Korea Business Council currently chaired by Khaled Nosseir, chairperson of Alkan Holding.

In this regard, the visit by Yun Kang Hyeon, will improve the understanding of the Korean government and businesses on the potential of Egypt’s economy and its strategic importance as well.

 

What are the latest Korean tourist arrival figures?

More than 20,000 Korean tourists visited Egypt in 2018, compared to only 15,600 in 2017, which is a big leap. Among many tourist attractions, Koreans, so far, love to visit Cairo, mainly for the Pyramids, the Sphinx, and Luxor/Aswan, the home of intact ancient Egyptian temples. Recently, Red Sea diving spots are gaining more attention in Korea, prompting many young Koreans to visit Egypt.

In response to the recent tourist boom, I have noticed that Korean Air is planning to operate 13 more charter flights to Egypt from September to February in 2019/20.

The Egyptian government’s continuous efforts to enhance stability and eliminate terrorism will encourage more Koreans to visit the country and, hopefully, the resumption of regular direct flights between the two countries by the near future.

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Masary targets doubling POS to reach 150,000 POS end 2020, has 30% market share: Chairperson, CEO https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/06/17/masary-targets-doubling-pos-to-reach-150000-pos-end-2020-has-30-market-share-chairperson-ceo/ Mon, 17 Jun 2019 11:28:42 +0000 https://www.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=700557 FinTech forefront of financial inclusion in Egypt, we aim to process 2m transaction daily end 2019, says Nagy

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In Egypt, cash is king, when it comes to different financial transaction. Out of the 100 million population, the World Bank estimates that just 10-15% have a bank account, which is considered to be one of the lowest global penetration rates. Over the past few years, financial inclusion has been brought to the forefront in Egypt as a means for financial sector growth. Along with the increasing need for innovation and the shift toward digitisation, plenty of FinTech startups have emerged in the country.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Egypt has tremendous potential to expand in FinTech due to its large economy and mature banking industry. One of the most notable Egyptian FinTech startups is Masary, a provider of e-payments through more than 70,000 locations.

According to the Chairperson and CEO of Masary, Mohamed Nagy, the company has completed the first transaction in 2009, and Masary currently processes 1.5m transactions daily.

As per the Arab Youth Survey 2019, just 35% of youth in north Africa prefer to pay via credit card online. But with the high mobile penetration rates, more and more start-ups are relying on mobile phone payments to make the user’s experience easier and financial services more accessible.

Daily News Egypt interviewed the Chairperson and CEO of Masary, Mohamed Nagy, to find out how would Seamless bring the financial inclusion target a step closer, and the company’s latest updates, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

 

 

As a company, what do you plan to achieve from your participation in Seamless North Africa 2019?

 

The Seamless conference is considered to be the premier forum and conference when it comes to bringing together the brightest minds from across payments, FinTech and banking. Almost a year ago in 2018 the first edition of Seamless North Africa came to the first time in Egypt, under the under the patronage of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).

 

2018’s edition had a spectacular engagement, and participation of all industry leaders. As a company, we strive to support, and play an active role in the development of the e-payment sector in Egypt, that’s why we decided to participate in the conference, to have a discussion with industry experts from across the globe, as well as banking experts.

 

We have been operating for almost 10 years in the Egyptian market. Masary managed to become the country’s second largest player in e-payments.

 

How do you evaluate the e-payments sector in Egypt, and how can we achieve high penetration rates?

 

The e-payments sector is unique in every country, although it started in developing nations, where economic development is dependent on financial transactions, technological advancement in the last few decades allowed the facilitation of such transactions.

 

In Egypt’s case, although we are a developing country, but our case is different, as we have a strong banking sector.  Unlike other countries our e-payments development was not chaotic, it was regulated in a very well-mannered fashion as the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has learned from other countries’ experiences, to avoid any set-backs.

 

You can say that this allowed Egypt to start where the others ended.

 

I believe that the turning point for the industry in Egypt was the 2017’s Sharm El-Sheikh Accord on Financial Inclusion, under the auspices of the President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and the CBE, which tackled the need to raise awareness and advocate for financial inclusion policies and regulatory approaches, and implementing financial inclusion policy solutions that have positive outcomes.

 

Since that day the authorities’ political will to support digitalisation and e-payment increased and 2018 witnessed a remarkable development in the fields of electronic payment and the transition to a cashless society. The Egyptian market is highly competitive according to professional standards, encouraging many companies operating in the market to improve their services and focus. Masary has an ambitious vision aimed at the expansion of the Egyptian market, aiming to boost financial inclusion.

 

Where does Masary currently stand, and what are the company’s future expansion plans?

 

In 2019 more than 20 million people benefited monthly, and currently we have more than 70,000 outlets across the country, including 5,000 points of sale (POS) supporting prepaid electricity cards.

Also we aim to that all our POS to be compatible with the ‘Meeza’ card, and we are currently studying  partnering with more than one bank to activate this feature as a means of payment.
Our company’s share reached 30% of the Egyptian payment market. Also we aim to increase the number of services provided by the company. Presently, more than 1.5m transaction go through Masary on a daily basis, and we aim to bring that number up to 2m by the end of 2019.
Regarding the POS, we target to more than double our POS to reach 150,000 POS by the end of 2020.

We currently provide 120 services through Total services 120, up from a Total services 90 across Egypt in 2018, as we put customer satisfaction and service and achieving financial inclusion as our priority.

 

As a company we provide an efficient solution to everyone, companies, merchants, and consumers. Everyone is benefiting from the system and it is cheaper for them to use that service.

 

Collaboration with e-finance for the government related payments, boosted the company’s growth rates and contributed to a growing customer base.

 

How does the company target the micro finance and micro insurance segment?

 

We collaborated with various micro-financing institutions who provide credit for micro-enterprises, to allow their beneficiaries to pay their loan instalments through our company’s outlets, to ease the process,  enhance payment channels, and that’s what would play a role in enhancing inclusion.

 

The company believes in the role that financial achievement can play in driving economic development, as well as the role that Masary can play as a purely Egyptian company in supporting the country’s direction in this field.
Ease of use, feasibility, low services charge, and accessibility, are the most important factors of the success of the system of financial inclusion.

 

Any plans to collaborate with telecom companies, and banks for mobile wallet services?

 

The company seeks to expand the base of cooperation with the Egyptian banks in several areas, for example adding credit and withdrawals from the personal cash portfolios and transferring funds via mobile phone, which received all the support from the CBE and other services aimed at supporting the government’s direction. Also, spreading awareness and financial integration among citizens by providing services in a simple, safe and cost-effective manner.

New services provided by the company are in support of the expansion of government services to citizens in cooperation with e-finance, while continuing to work with private sector companies to support them in the service of our customers and to simplify and accelerate the collection process.
Masary also cooperates with banking and non-bank financial institutions to provide services to the largest base of citizens dealing with these institutions.

Masary Electronic Payment Solutions is holding semi-final talks with the three entities: Vodafone, Orange, and Etisalat mobile operators to provide cash in & out services through their nationwide outlets.

 

Does the company target the B2B segment?

 

It is not our main focus, but we are definitely working on it, but our main goal is to make a difference in e-payment in the society, which is more concerned with b2c.

Allowing users to pay for utilities, buy merchandise, pay for tuition etc with ease, would help economic growth.

 

B2b market has great demand, we are definitely working on it but it’s not our main goal.

 

We plan to include further utilities and government services, and of course electronic payments, such as the ‘Meeza’ card, through our collaboration with e-finance.

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Fawry considers entering field of IPO payment in EGX offerings through company’s outlets next year https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/06/17/fawry-considers-entering-field-of-ipo-payment-in-egx-offerings-through-companys-outlets-next-year/ Mon, 17 Jun 2019 11:24:58 +0000 https://www.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=700559 We have achieved great success in funding traders who previously contracted with Fawry, we plan to expand this: Okasha

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Managing Director of Fawry Payment Services, Mohammed Okasha, has reviewed the company’s expansions in the coming period. He also presented his vision of the future of the non-monetary services sector and the digital transformation, in addition to opportunities this transformation offers the company. Daily News Egypt interviewed Okasha to find out more, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How do you see the future of ePay services as the country moves toward digital transformation and obliges companies in non-banking financial sectors to use non-cash payment methods in their financial transactions?
The future is still great for the growth of electronic payment services, especially with the implementation of the state strategy for digital transformation and obliging companies operating in non-bank financial activities to use non-cash payment methods, which would add a wide range of different financial sectors to transform toward non-cash transactions through companies providing these services, such as Fawry. It is expected to attract a segment of mortgage finance, financial leasing companies, factoring companies, microfinance companies, and any non-banking financial body.

What are the new sectors that the company intends to enter into during the coming period?
The company intends to enter the field of Egyptian Exchange (EGX) during the coming year by providing the possibility of paying initial public offerings (IPOs) through Fawry outlets. However the current market conditions, the low volumes of trading and the reluctance of companies to register at the EGX makes Fawry wait for trading and offerings to recover next year to launch the service.
The company is also investing heavily in the technological infrastructure that enables it to maintain in its competitive position, and it is also betting on many services such as mobile payment services, which are expected to develop well in the coming period.

What new services are prepared by Fawry for immediate release?
The new services that the company intends to offer in early August is to make the status of orders of goods available through Fawry, making the registration of orders electronically through the company “Fawry FMCG” for sale, easy. Three months ago, the company started being active. The company has also contracted with P&G and Unilver to carry out experiments on the new service.
Fawry FMCG allows e-payment for merchants to purchase consumer goods, as well as lending traders who deal with Fawry. These loans should be used for electronic payments to pay for consumer products purchased by merchants such as Chipsy, Coca Cola, Juhayna, and other companies. This came after we recently obtained the microfinance license from the FRA, to be used for the purpose of paying the value of traders’ purchases electronically rather than lending. The balance of financing remains in the trader’s account for use in e-payment operations.
We have achieved great success in a very small time in terms of financing small traders and the company is seeing a high demand on these facilities, which the company intends to expand and provide to all traders who contracted with the company.
We are always looking for everything that offers an added value and new opportunities in related fields, which requires investing in companies that provide excellent solutions for the complementary services of Fawry. The company has made several successful investments such as investing in companies like “Waffarha” , “Tazkara” and “Bosta”, in parallel with government services that the company succeeded in attracting and increasing over the coming period.

What is the target volume for traders who contract with Fawry by the end of 2019?
Fawry targets 125,000 traders (with active transactions) by the end of this year compared to 104,000 contractors currently with the company. There would also be regional expansions in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, which would increase the volume of Fawry’s contracts, which would specifically be clear next year with the implementation of a strategy to oblige companies in the financial non-banking sector to use non-cash methods in their transactions.

What are the most prominent concerns that may hinder the growth of the e-services sector?
I see that the most important challenges that must be addressed to reach the digital transformation and deepen the electronic payment market is dealing with the reluctance of many important government agencies to deal with electronic payment services. These bodies include the Tax Authority and the Land Registry Authority, in addition to many other bodies. There is a strong need for changing the work culture of these entities in addition to raising awareness on the importance of these services in the development of the governmental work system.

What is the volume of Fawry’s business and its most prominent clients?
The volume of the company’s transactions increased by three time during the past period especially as Fawry dealt with many ministries and government sectors, as well as the private sector, which was faster and easier in terms its response to electronic payment services, unlike the government, which hesitated to enter the field, but with the establishment of the National Payments Council, the entry of the government sector into e-payment services happened at a much faster pace.
Currently, Fawry deals with almost all ministries, such as the ministry of culture, in the booking of opera tickets, the ministry of interior in the process of paying fines, and the ministry of housing in paying instalments of housing units, in addition to the ministry of justice and the ministry of electricity.
Fawry is also the only company in Egypt that is connected with all the banks through electronic payment and is the only company to provide the mobile wallet service of banks, as well as making payments using cards in Fawry machines that are available in the market.

What are the latest developments in the company’s IPO plan?
Currently, there are comparisons between investment banks that will be managing the offering. These banks are being addressed and the perfect timing for the offering is being discussed based on the market circumstances, as the main purpose of the registration process is availability and allowing shareholding of the company for a wider segment of clients. The offering will be available for individuals. Regarding offering with the purpose of funding, it is very easy for the company to provide funding through funds and strategic investors.

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New Swedish firms likely to begin operations in Egypt during 2019 https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/06/16/new-swedish-firms-likely-to-begin-operations-in-egypt-during-2019/ Sun, 16 Jun 2019 14:43:22 +0000 https://www.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=700529 ‘We have seen rapid improvement of Egypt’s business climate,’ says Swedish ambassador

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Most of the major Swedish companies are present in Egypt and hopefully 2019 will witness more companies being launched into the Egyptian market in different sectors, such as retail, insurance, and water technology, the Swedish ambassador to Egypt, Jan Thesleff, said.

“Many of the companies here are now using Egypt as a hub and increasing its footprint locally. In February 2019, Ericsson announced establishing a digital services hub in Egypt for the region. Late 2018, IKEA announced its first expansion since established in New Cairo in 2013,” the ambassador added.

Volvo Buses increased its cooperation with its local partner GB Auto in its assembly of buses locally while in June 2019, ABB is inaugurating their new regional headquarters in New Cairo, the ambassador highlighted.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Thesleff, on the occasion of the Swedish National Day that the embassy is celebrating on 17 June, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

 

What are the updates of the Business Sweden’s plans to establish an office in Egypt?

 

The role of Business Sweden is to facilitate trade and help Swedish enterprises grow. Egypt is an important partner to Sweden. It is our second largest trading partner in both Africa and the Middle East, and we therefore see a Business Sweden office in the country as important. It is our hope and goal that a Business Sweden office in Cairo will be re-established, until then the office in Dubai is doing a great job in continuing and increasing their focus in covering the Egyptian market, including recurrent visits.

 

What is the size of Swedish investments in Egypt, and how many companies are operating in Egypt?

 

Egypt is rapidly picking up pace thanks to the ongoing reform process and Swedish companies are increasingly eyeing Egypt, and we can see that investment is picking up, both from already established companies and new entries.

We hope to have several companies launch into Egypt during 2019 in different sectors, including retail, insurance, and water technology. Many of the companies here are now using Egypt as a hub and increasing its footprint locally.

In February 2019, Ericsson announced establishing a digital services hub in Egypt for the region. Late 2018, IKEA announced its first expansion since established in New Cairo in 2013. Volvo Buses increased its cooperation with its local partner GB Auto in its assembly of buses locally. In June 2019, ABB is inaugurating their new regional headquarters in New Cairo.

More than 40 Swedish companies are currently active in Egypt. Our prudent estimates are that more than 10,000 jobs in Egypt are directly created by Swedish companies. These are to a very high degree highly-skilled jobs. However, thousands of jobs are created indirectly via suppliers, consultants, or franchisees.

Most of the major Swedish companies are present in Egypt. One of the latest big entries being IKEA a few years back, now announcing further expansion and investment. We have seen their entry to Egypt as a success, and hope that they will be able to continue expanding in Egypt since each store employs almost 1,000 individuals.

Both Electrolux and ABB have manufacturing facilities in Egypt with exports to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

 

Ericsson are also investing heavily. We were happy to hear their announcement of the placement of their regional digital service hub in Egypt proving many dozens of new highly-skilled tech jobs in a cutting-edge sector of crucial benefit to Egypt, as well as providing Egyptian service exports to the region.

 

What do you think of Egypt’s investment climate and economic performance?

 

We have seen the rapid improvement of the business climate in Egypt during the latest years. The ministry of investment and international cooperation is making great efforts in opening the door for more investments in the country. This is very encouraging and inspires Swedish companies to come to the Egyptian market.

The reform programme has to a large extent been a success in order to provide the basic variables that are conducive for investments. This can be seen in the World Bank (WB) Doing Business Ranking where Egypt gained eight points 2018 (rank #120). Also, if we look at the current macro-economic figures the economic reform programme has so far been a success, with a current growth rate of around 5.5%, and higher projections going forward.

Egypt, with its diversified economy, large domestic market, a tradition of education, geographical location – and now with a reform agenda focused on private sector growth – provides interesting opportunities for Swedish and international enterprises. Egypt is strategically located both on the African continent and in the middle of the MENA region. It is an excellent base for business and manufacturing in both regions.

We have supported the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, and we have taken note of the praise that Egypt has received from the IMF, and the WB for the implementation of the reforms – work that needs to continue in order to allow for continued private sector growth. We believe that the main driver of growth for the Egyptian economy needs to be the private sector.

The impressive work that the Egyptian government has done on infrastructure is creating a backbone for investment and industrial development. For example, we have noted the achievements by Egypt in developing its energy sector in recent years. The ambition of Egypt on becoming an energy hub is fast being realised on many fronts. Moreover, road and transport infrastructure has also developed rapidly, which will also aid investors when looking for places that have the right factors for investment. In both these sectors, we see Sweden as a crucial partner for Egypt through our reliable experience and innovation.

Of course, there are always hurdles that remain to be faced, but the trend is positive. A global business environment relies heavily on a free flow of goods to function well, and Egypt is a crucial part of that global value chain, not the least because of the vital Suez Canal.

 

What about the latest trade statistics between Egypt and Sweden for the first quarter (Q1) of 2019?

 

During Q1 of 2019, Sweden’s exported goods to Egypt increased by 33%, compared to the corresponding period in the previous year. Trade must go both ways and we encourage Egyptian exports to our market.

From the statistics, we can see that the composition of both exports and imports are quite diverse.  Sweden mainly exports raw materials and high-tech manufactured products, while it mainly imports finished goods, such as textiles, machinery, and petrochemical products but also agricultural products such as vegetables and fruits.

Last year, trade between the two countries exceeded $600m. The Egyptian economy remains strong. Egypt is our second market in the MENA, as well as in Africa.

 

What are the main commodities traded between Egypt and Sweden?

The main commodities Sweden exports to Egypt are of two extremes, raw material and high-tech manufactured products. In the first category, we find timber in the form of sawn soft wood and iron ore, which together represent over 40% of our exports. Egypt is Sweden’s second biggest market worldwide in regard to wood export.

This sector is a perfect example of the symbiosis between Swedish quality raw materials and Egyptian industrial production. The raw materials are being used in the Egyptian market in construction, furniture, and steel industry.

These quality materials are being finished for use by domestic consumers, or exported as refined goods, which generates export income for Egypt.

In the second category, we find high-tech equipment supporting Egypt’s economic development such as telecommunication equipment, which is providing infrastructure for the mobile operators locally; vehicles that support the logistics and transport sectors, as well as water purification technology to provide clean water for the local population.

 

 

 

Are there any business missions between Egypt and Sweden in 2019?

We were very happy to receive the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at the EU-LAS Summit earlier this year. It was an important sign of the bilateral strong relations.

Representatives from our trade and investment council, Business Sweden, are regularly in Egypt to promote Swedish companies locally and to explore increasing Swedish investments in Egypt. The embassy is working very close with Business Sweden, and we have jointly seen several successful delegations and visits lately.

 

What about touristic cooperation with Egypt, and how many Swedish tourists did visit Egypt in 2018?

 

Tourism is a key industry for Egypt, and it has the best possibilities to be a major destination. However, we should not overlook the softer aspects of tourism, as the contact between peoples and cultures is inherently beneficial for the mutual understanding of each other.

Egypt has had a remarkable increase of tourist arrivals. Basically, we are seeing three-digit growth of the number of tourists, and we continue to see that there is also a strong increase with regards to Swedish tourists that are finding their way to Egypt.

The Nordic travel market is integrated with airports serving several Nordic countries. Some 200,000 Nordic tourists are estimated to visit Egypt this year.

Egypt is the second biggest tourist destination, after Thailand, outside of the EU for Swedish travellers. This trend is likely to be further reinforced in the coming season. Egypt’s Minister of Tourism, Rania Al-Mashat, has tirelessly worked to promote Egypt as a prime destination.

Several new hotels have opened which cater to Swedish and Scandinavian tourists on the Red Sea coast.

This winter season, Egypt was a top destination for Swedish tourists, due to the comparative proximity and its mild climate and price levels. Egypt has something to offer anyone from its historical sites and sunny weather. It is this fantastic combination that makes Egypt unique for visitors.

 

What about cultural cooperation and the future cultural events that the embassy will organise?

 

The cultural cooperation between Sweden and Egypt is of course very important, as can be seen through the extensive focus from the embassy on the culture field. I would like to highlight the Swedish and Egyptian Dads Photo exhibition that was held both in Cairo and Alexandria, where we showcased the importance of active fathers. In April, we hosted the first in a series of events we titled “Science Talks”.

At that occasion, we highlighted the importance of biodiversity and inaugurated “the Vivi Täckholm Sustainable Garden” which commemorates the late Swedish botanist Vivi Täckholm who spent most of her life in Egypt and published the important work “Flora of Egypt”.

Seeing the cinematographic heritage and Egyptian excellence still in that field, we have also focused on showcasing Swedish films in Egypt. Yearly we participate in the film festival “Panorama of the European Film”. Last year, we also took part in El Gouna Film Festival, which we also plan to do this year.

 

Can you please elaborate about the Swedish experience in achieving welfare and prosperity? What are the latest indicators of the Swedish economy?

 

Sweden takes great pride in having one of the most extensive welfare systems in the world. Free education including higher education, low-cost healthcare and a widespread social safety net for the most vulnerable are some of the services that Sweden offers its citizens.

Simultaneously, Sweden is one of the most innovative countries in the world, being second only after Silicon Valley for start-ups and investing at the global top when it comes to research and development (R&D).

The WB considers Sweden’s overall regulatory business environment to be among the most business-friendly in the world and the country is ranked 12 among 190 countries in the ease of doing business. Sweden is a living proof that a generous welfare system does not exclude or compete with an innovative business climate.

In Sweden, the key has been the introduction of an efficient tax system, a fair labour market, free and good education, and gender equality combined with favourable conditions for the Swedish business and industry.

As for the Swedish economy in general, it is performing well. Last year we saw a growth rate at 2.4% and during 2019, the economy is expected to continue to grow. The Swedish unemployment levels are among the lowest in Europe. Sweden has furthermore seen several large investments in the last years including from tech companies such as Facebook.

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“We intend to double size of our fleet in Egypt during upcoming 2 years”: UTEET Managing Director https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/06/15/we-intend-to-double-size-of-our-fleet-in-egypt-during-upcoming-2-years-uteet-managing-director/ Sat, 15 Jun 2019 14:23:04 +0000 https://www.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=700440 Since inception of Breakbulk Europe, UTEET has been participating with its own large booth

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During 2018 and 2019 there has been a general decline in the size of government infrastructure projects in Egypt compared with the period between 2014 and 2017 where there were huge projects, such as the Suez Canal expansion and the Siemens mega power plants. Daily News Egypt interviewed the Managing Director of Universal Transport Egypt (UTEET), Hisham El Dahshan to explore their upcoming plans and reveal how they handled those challenges, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How did you face this decline that affected the results of many companies operating in the project services industry?

As one of the leading heavy haulage operators in Egypt, we have seen a decline in the volume of cargoes, yet we have been able to secure many smaller projects which we have executed with great success.  Hence we have not really been negatively affected by market conditions.

What is your investment plan for 2019 and 2020?

We intend to double the size of our fleet in Egypt during the upcoming two years as we aim to position ourselves among the top three heavy haulage operators in Egypt in terms of capacity.  The outlook for 2020 looks very promising and we are confident that it will be record year for us in terms of turnover.

We would like to know the major accomplishments and results of Universal Transport Egypt in 2018.

We have executed power generation, renewable energy, oil and gas, and infrastructure projects with great success.  We have managed to double our customer base and tackle new industries.

How do you perceive the Egyptian market during the next five years?  Is the Egyptian market still attractive and does it offer opportunities?

We believe that the outlook for the Egyptian market for the next five years is positive and there are surely several opportunities for investment. We have built our aggressive expansion plan in Egypt based on the encouraging feedback we have had from our customers.

Does the development of the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) present an opportunity for you?

The new SCZone is a very exciting prospective project.  We aim to be involved in it via our customers who are already active there.

Are you interested in participating in this year’s Break Bulk Europe Exhibition 2019 in Bremen? Do you aim to establish new partnerships? Do you intend to purchase new equipment?

Since the inception of Breakbulk Europe, the Universal Transport Group has been participating with its own large booth. We will be present again this year, where we look forward to meeting all our partners and international customers.

 

Do you see any legal obstacles/red tape curtailing your planned investments?

We don’t see anything major in that respect and we are going ahead with our planned investments.

Does the lack of uniform pricing for toll stations by Wataneya present a problem?

This is a complicated subject matter which has made our life quite difficult during the last couple of years but we are optimistic that things will become more transparent in the future.

Have you prepared for the upcoming liberalisation of fuel prices in mid-June 2019? Do you expect an increase in costs and road freight prices?

We have thoroughly studied and prepared for it.  We are not expecting a major impact as fuel prices don’t affect heavy haulage the same way they affect normal road transport.  Nevertheless, transport prices will increase but only to a limit.

Do you have any existing business or expansion plans outside Egypt? Are you currently bidding for any projects outside Egypt?

Universal Transport Group’s head office is located in Paderborn, Germany, and we have offices covering all of Europe.  Hence we have projects in over 20 different countries which we are currently handling successfully.

The post “We intend to double size of our fleet in Egypt during upcoming 2 years”: UTEET Managing Director appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Egypt-Ukraine trade exchange likely to remarkably hike by end of 2019 https://dnsvvvvvdnsx17539dnscf.wsjme.com/2019/06/13/egypt-ukraine-trade-exchange-likely-to-remarkably-hike-by-end-of-2019/ Thu, 13 Jun 2019 15:04:52 +0000 https://www.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=700383 Both countries’ economic reforms to positively reflect on development of joint cooperation, says Ukrainian ambassador

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Egypt’s trade exchange with Ukraine is expected to remarkably hike by end of 2019, Yevhen Mykytenko, the Ukrainian ambassador said, adding, “the trade in goods was $1.65bn in 2018. I was astonished to know that Ukrainian exports to Egypt increased by 26.8% reaching $652m in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019.”

 

The Q1 statistics put Egypt in the third position of world’s importers of goods from Ukraine, the ambassador noted.

 

Ukraine considers Egypt as a key country in maintaining peace and stability in Africa and Middle East region, the ambassador further asserted, noting, “as a country that suffers itself from terrorists’ criminal acts and bears heavy losses, Ukraine is in solidarity with the Egyptian government in its determined action against violent extremism and terrorism, aimed at complete eradication of this evil that threatens today’s world order.”

 

Daily News Egypt interviewed Ukrainian ambassador to Egypt, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

 

 

What do you think of Egypt’s investment climate right now?

Initially, I am a new comer as I was appointed as a new ambassador to Egypt less than 2 months ago. Now, I study Egypt from the beginning as I am a former ambassador of Ukraine to Egypt from 2006 to 2010 then I left Egypt and worked in my country and abroad before I came back here at end of April 2019.

I knew Egypt very well, yet there are many changes and updates that I am eager to know more about.

The economic reforms in both countries will reflect positively on development of the joint cooperation between Egypt and Ukraine and improving the investment environment, which encourages Ukrainian companies to increase their investments in Egypt, stressing the deep relationship between Egypt and Ukraine.

The company NJSC “Naftogaz of Ukraine” implements the largest investment project in Egypt. Since the beginning of its operations, investments amounted to several hundred million US dollars.

 

 

What is the size of Ukrainian investments in Egypt? How many Ukrainian companies are operating in Egypt? Which sectors are attractive for the Ukrainian companies?

There are many Ukrainian companies investing in the Egyptian market including the small and big ones but not all of them want to announce their plans. The amount of Ukrainian investments in Egypt aren’t exactly calculated.

Egypt is a very special country for investments for the past three or four years. Egypt is a country that is open for business.

Both governmental and private sector Ukrainian companies are interested in investing in Egypt. I am sure that the amount of Ukrainian governmental investments in Egypt are more than $100m and it should be boosted to more than double.

I have already met with representatives of Ukrainian companies that are based in Egypt to know more about their plans, expansions, and how business is doing.

 

What about your meetings with Egyptian officials?

I met with some of Egyptian friends in the ministries including undersecretaries, ministers’ assistants including Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as this is my first duty.

I had a very warm meeting with Egypt’s minister of Tourism, Rania Al-Mashat and we discussed different plans. Ukraine is ranked number two of the tourist’s numbers that visited Egypt in 2018 following Germany that seized the first rank.

I also discussed with Al-Mashat boosting the numbers of Egyptian tourists who visit Ukraine annually.

 

What about your future meetings with Egyptian officials?

I plan to have many meetings with Egyptian officials over the coming couple of months before the summer holidays in August, yet I can’t reveal the names of ministers as the meetings are still under preparations.

 

 

What do you think of Egypt’s economic performance?

Egypt has implemented a number of critical economic reforms that have helped the country restore economic stability and allowed the private sector to invest and grow.

The reforms have also contributed to creating jobs and reducing unemployment, and the financial and monetary reforms have reduced both the budget deficit and inflation.

These reforms have also created challenges for Egyptians at the lower end of the income scale, which is one of the reasons the World Bank has focused on social security projects that support the most vulnerable.

Egypt is making progress with economic reforms and is “open for business.” The government repositioned Egypt as a global investment destination so country moved forwards with comprehensive improvements in the business environment.

As a result, Egypt has seen an increase in new companies coming to its shores.

 

Are there new Ukrainian companies consider entering the Egyptian market? Or expansions for already investing companies?

Egypt is a good investment destination and is likely to remain so in the near future. Significant investments in ports, airports, highways, and railways are planned which will lead to more efficient movement of goods.

Many Ukrainian companies are already doing business in Egypt, including NJSC “Naftogaz of Ukraine”, amongst many others.

In my opinion, Egyptian market strength is in its young workforce, strategic geographical location (the Suez Canal is the hub for world maritime traffic), and is one of the largest economies in Africa, with free trade agreements and arrangements etc.

 

What about the latest trade statistics between Egypt and Ukraine for Q1 of 2019? Compared to same period of 2018? Distribution of exports and imports? What are the main commodities of trade exchange?

 

According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, in 2018 the total trade turnover with Egypt reached $1.85bn.

In 2018, the trade in goods was $1.65bn and decreased by 19.6% compared to the previous year.

Exports made $1.55bn and decreased by 15%, while imports, $96,8m, and increased by 25,6%. Positive for Ukraine trade balance in goods was $1460.3m.

The main exports from Ukraine to Egypt were: cereals (42,8 %) and ferrous metals (39,3 %).

In Q1 of 2019 Ukraine’s export to Egypt increased by 26,8% and reached $652m. This puts Egypt in the third position of world’s importers of goods and services from Ukraine. I was astonished to know that the Ukrainian exports to Egypt reached this figure. I think that trade exchange will continue to grow by the end of the year.

There are some Egyptian vegetables that are very well-known by their quality in Ukraine such as the Egyptian potato. Ukraine is very famous with its potato but many Ukrainians love the taste of the Egyptian potato. Additionally, I would like to mention that Egyptian handcrafts are very popular in Ukraine.

 

Are there any business missions which will visit Egypt from Ukraine in 2019, or Egyptian missions to Ukraine?

We are working to enable our countries’ businesses to have more contact. In this regard, the organisation of business missions is a priority for the embassy. However, there are about five to seven Ukrainian business missions which will visit Egypt monthly, some of them ask for the embassy’s help while others don’t.

 

What about touristic cooperation with Egypt? And future plans to boost this kind of cooperation?

Every year hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians travel to Egyptian Red Sea resorts for rest and recreation and are admiring architectural and historical masterpieces in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simbel etc. thus demonstrating their unfeigned admiration and interest towards rich and unique history, culture, and traditions of Egyptian people.

Ukraine came in second place, after Germany, in the list of top 10 exporters of tourism to Egypt in 2018. The number of tourists amounted to 1.174 million tourists.

 

How do you assess the political cooperation between both countries?

We hail the climate of religious freedom and tolerance in Egypt, as well as the promotion of inter-faith dialogue, the upholding by the Egyptian state of the principles of citizenship, pluralism, and acceptance of the other, as well as renewing the religious and cultural discourse.

I am confident that Ukraine and Egypt have a huge potential for intensification of our political dialogue at all levels, including the highest one.

Moreover, we are convinced that all states that support terrorists must be held accountable and it does not matter whether terrorists operate in north Sinai, eastern parts of Ukraine or in Libya.

As a country that suffers itself from terrorists’ criminal acts and bears heavy losses, Ukraine is in solidarity with Egyptian government in its determined action against violent extremism and terrorism, aimed at complete eradication of this evil that threatens today’s world order.

 

What about cultural cooperation and future cultural events that the embassy will organise?

Ukraine and Egypt have a long history of successful bilateral relations which have to been nourished and further developed.

We hail and cherish close ties binding Ukraine and Egypt in various domains, including the political, economic, and cultural areas.

Hundreds of Egyptian school graduates go to Ukraine every year to obtain higher-education diplomas in various fields including of the medicine, engineering, agricultural sciences, and other spheres which are of great importance for Egyptian economy and society.

To make Egyptians more familiar with the rich and multi-faceted Ukrainian culture, we are planning to hold two major large-scale cultural events in autumn this year. The first one will be “A Week of Ukrainian Culture in Hurghada”. This city is very popular among Ukrainians who spend their vacation there.

On October 24, 26, and 28 the “INSO-Lviv” Orchestra (International Symphony Orchestra) and the National Academic Choral Capella “Dumka” will take part in staging in Luxor Giuseppe Verdi’s “Aida” opera which had its première in Cairo’s Khedivial Opera House on the 24th of December in 1871. Oksana Lyniv, also from Ukraine–who is the first female chief conductor of the Graz Opera and the Graz Philharmonic Orchestra (Austria)–will conduct the opera.

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