Philips is working to light up Cairo’s streets with new innovative technology through the use of solar power and LED lighting technology.
Mohamed Abo El-Azayem, Philip’s country manager for north and east Africa, sat down with Daily News Egypt to discuss the company’s ongoing projects in the country and explain how Philips is working through Egypt’s current economic climate.
What is your opinion regarding the investment climate and the initiatives Egypt has taken towards economic reform?
Philips has been operating in the Egyptian market for more than 85 years. We have been and remain committed to the market, by maintaining our operations and pursuing further expansions and projects. We believe that the Egyptian government is taking the necessary measures to improve the investment climate and attract more foreign direct investment, which will ultimately contribute to the GDP. This approach was cited in the World Bank report, which stated that the GDP for fiscal year (FY) 2014/2015 doubled to 4.2%. At Philips, we are always open to exploring investment opportunities in the local market.
What is your opinion regarding the US dollar shortage in the Egyptian market? Does this affect the company’s business in Egypt?
Egypt’s economy has showed great resilience over the past couple of years. Recently, the US dollar shortage had an impact on the business sector at large in Egypt. As a long-term foreign investor in Egypt, we are counting on the Egyptian government and the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to take the necessary actions to deal with this issue as soon as possible.
Will the application of value-added tax (VAT) affect the company’s business or sales?
We understand that the activation of the VAT Law is part of the government’s fiscal reform programme, which aims to reduce the country’s budget deficit and address the issue of tax evasion. At Philips, we abide by the business regulations in the countries in which we operate. Although the new law will have an impact on our business, we still believe that new VAT regulations in Egypt are still considered one of the lowest globally.
What is Philips’ expansion plan in Egyptian market?
Egypt is one of the key markets for Philips in the region. With huge growth potential, we aim to expand our presence in the local market through new partnerships with key stakeholders and the Egyptian government alike.
What are the current projects that the company is developing in Egypt?
We are currently working on various projects with the government as well as the private sector, such as airport expansion, Barclays Bank, Mall of Egypt introducing the first Ski slope in Egypt, South Helwan Power Station, Zewail City, and we are also working on one of the biggest LED street lighting projects in Egypt.
What are the technologies and services that Philips provides that other companies in the Egyptian market do not?
We are already the global leader in lighting, serving a growing market estimated to exceed €60bn. We are better positioned to capitalise on the fundamental changes taking place in the lighting industry where the value is shifting from individual products to systems and services. We provide “connected” and “adaptive” lighting solutions. Adaptive lighting can be programmed to dim or respond to people around it, while connected lighting is an intelligent solution that can best explained through street lighting—where all the LED points in the city have an IP address, so they can be monitored and managed from a central point. The lights can then respond manually, or with a programme that responds to traffic. City managers can also intervene if there is an electricity surge or energy shortage somewhere else.
Philips recently announced that it is in negotiations with some sports stadiums to provide LED lighting solutions. What are the updates regarding these negotiations?
Earlier this year, we were honoured to be chosen by Cairo Stadium to install our Arena Vision LED pitch lighting system. The Cairo Stadium is the first venue in Africa to use Philips Arena Vision LED lighting, which provides the flexibility needed as a multi-purpose venue. The new system will save up to 50% energy with a comparison to the conventional lighting system previously installed.
The company launched an initiative to use solar power and LED lamps in its lighting systems. What are the developments in this technology and its participation in reducing electricity consumption?
Through our LED lighting innovation, we aim to provide new opportunities to policy makers and the government to enhance city beautification while also helping to save energy. Examples of some of the work undertaken include projects like Cairo Opera House, Cairo Stadium, Baron Palace, Galaa Bridge, Emaar Residential Compound (Mivida), Karma Residential Compound, and more. We have successfully completed a project we launched back in 2014, in cooperation with Shell, to enhance the usage of solar lighting systems in homes as part of the Light Centre project adopted by Philips that involves the installation of 100 light centres across rural Africa. The project has been carried out in Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa.
Does Philips have any partnerships with governmental authorities?
In regards to lighting, Philips is collaborating with the Egyptian government on a number of projects, including working on converting the old street lighting technology to the latest LED technology. More than 120,000 HID high wattage lamps have been replaced by HID low wattage high lumen as a first step with a direct impact of 50% savings on power consumption during the electricity crisis in Egypt. We are working on the second phase to generalise LED street lighting technology across Egypt.
What is the relationship between Philips and Neeasae?
We are only operating under the Philips global brand umbrella. Philips has no relation with any other brand in Egypt.
Does the Neeasae production of LED lamps affect your business in Egypt?
The Egyptian market is huge with diverse consumer segments. The more players in the market, the better quality and services the Egyptian consumer receives. Our brand is one of the most important assets of our company. It tells people who we are. Our brand is our promise to the rest of the world: how we make a difference in people’s lives. Ultimately, it’s why people choose us over others. At Philips, our aim is to capitalise on the fundamental changes taking place in the lighting industry, where value is shifting from individual products to systems and services.
What is the size of demand for LED lamps annually?
In Egypt, with the demand for LED lamps dramatically increasing, we continue to communicate to our customers the benefits behind using Philips LED Lamps and the proper way to select a genuine lamp, which is considered an investment for the consumer. We are keen on providing the consumer with the latest technology with highest quality in the market.
What are some examples of how Philips LED lighting is being used across the country?
Our LED lighting systems are specially designed to promote beautification as well as energy efficiency through reducing consumption and increasing power savings. Our LED systems are widely installed in sports venues, such as Cairo Indoor Hall Stadium, and provide city street lighting for some of the private sector projects, such as Emaar’s largest Residential Compound Mivida and Karm Residential compound in Giza.