General Electric (GE) Power seeks to cooperate with the Egyptian government in the implementation of the country’s 2030 Development Vision, according to Ganesh Bell, chief digital officer of Power Digital Solutions at GE Power. Bell said in an interview with Daily News Egypt that he met with a number of officials from the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company and with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, discussing the technological solutions offered by the company to increase the productivity and efficiency of the Egyptian electricity sector and reduce expenses. He added that his meeting tackled the new digital solutions offered by GE Power, namely Predix. It is an industrial cloud-based platform that helps in the management of electricity generation operations, and the analysis of data collected from electricity generation assets, such as turbines.
Why did you visit Egypt? Is there a plan to meet with some government officials?
The reason for my visit to Egypt is to meet officials from the Ministry of Electricity in order to talk about the digital solutions for the electricity sector, which help to raise efficiency and reduce cost, as well as to explain the role that digital solutions can play to implement the vision of Egypt 2030.
We have been communicating with the Ministry of Electricity for several years regarding the means of cooperation between the two sides in digital solutions, in addition to reviewing the priorities of the ministry to find out how to provide suitable solutions for them to implement their development plan for the sector, which we will emphasise during the meetings we are set to attend during the visit.
Who did you meet? And did you sign any deals?
We have met with officials from the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company and officials from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. We have not signed any agreements related to digital solutions yet, but the main objective of these meetings is to clarify what GE’s digital solutions can add to the Egyptian energy sector.
How can the digital solutions offered by the company help improve electricity services in Egypt?
Digital solutions generally have a positive impact on sectors such as retail, leisure, travel, and others, and they play a key role in various industrial sectors.
In the beginning, we have to clarify our most prominent digital solutions. We created a platform called Predix, which is a cloud-based one that can be linked to sensors placed on all the assets involved in the production of electricity, such as turbines and nuclear reactors.
Sensors can collect and analyse data. Through the analysis of the data, the customer can understand the performance of the equipment involved in electricity production, which allows controlling the system, thus increasing productivity and saving expenses.
Statistics show that every 2% of saved fuel can provide financial savings of up to $3bn over 12 years.
Are any of these technological solutions mentioned in Egypt?
Currently, none of these solutions are implemented in Egypt, but we believe that these solutions will provide added value to the Egyptian electricity sector. Therefore, we seek to implement them in Egypt in the coming period, especially as it corresponds to the “Sustainable Development Strategy: Egypt’s Vision 2030”, which aims to rely on technology information in advancing the national economy. The energy sector is one of the most important sectors that require technology to raise its efficiency and reduce costs.
In the long run, all these solutions are important and have strong economic effects, but are they expensive?
There is no significant cost to use these technological solutions. Customers who will use these solutions will receive positive results—not only in the long run, but also in the short term. For example, using these technological solutions will enable the state to avoid electricity failures and blackouts. These sensors predict the failures and send the report directly to officials to fix the problems, which saves money and effort, next to help avoiding blackouts.
The cost of obtaining this service is not only paid once, but is paid in a subscription format, making it almost inexpensive. These solutions also guarantee immediate positive results in productivity and economic savings.
Are some of these solutions applied to markets neighbouring the Egyptian one?
We have already implemented these solutions in the markets of Pakistan and Qatar, in addition to the Saudi market, which is similar to the Egyptian market in terms of production capacity of the electricity sector. The Saudi market produces 40 gigawatts of electricity per day, while the Egyptian market produces 35 gigawatts. Saudi Arabia has linked all production lines to the Predix system, which improves productivity and reduces costs.
In my opinion, it was better to use these technological solutions during the period of modernisation of the electricity system, which took place during the past two years. What do you think?
This is true, but Egypt has many opportunities to achieve growth, and there is still an opportunity. There was once an industrial revolution. Now, in Egypt, we are embarking on a technological revolution. This is why I think Egypt has a great opportunity to achieve a boom in the electricity sector depending on information technology, especially with hardware integrating with software.
What are the most prominent features of your plans for the Egyptian market during the coming period?
We see good opportunities for growth in the Egyptian market in a number of sectors such as manufacturing, electricity, energy, healthcare, and transport. In this regard, Egypt has many young talents that can be employed to serve the sector, especially that there are many young Egyptians distinguished in the software sector. We aim to make Egypt our hub in the Middle East for young experts trained on software.
In this regard, one of the competing companies announced the establishment of an engineering plant in the new technological park. Do you have similar plans?
We must first set a road map to highlight the experts we need locally prior to developing their skills. We now have a large number of employees in Egypt, but we seek to expand in investing in locally trained human resources.
Can you use technology parks that the Ministry of Communication is currently implementing?
Indeed, we can use technology parks, especially since a large part of our work depends on software developers. GE currently has more than 22,000 software developers globally, and we aim to use many Egyptian application-developers.
How much is allocated for R&D? Can Egypt become your regional centre?
In 2016, we spent about $5.5bn on research and development. As for making Egypt our regional centre, this relies on the commitment of the state to develop the sectors based on information technology. This will be followed by an increase in employees and increased investment opportunities in the sector. This could help in making our decision about setting Egypt as a regional R&D regional centre.
One study suggests that digital solutions can create 3 million jobs a year globally and help boost revenues by $1.3tn.
There are many challenges in Egypt. How do you face these challenges? How can these challenges turn into investment opportunities?
Egypt has a plan to have 20% of its energy production generated by renewable energy by 2030. This is a challenge on its own, and it cannot be achieved using the current infrastructure. This is what Predix can help with.
There are many economic changes witnessed in the Egyptian market during the last period. How do you see the impact on your company in Egypt?
We believe in Egypt’s “Sustainable Development Strategy: Egypt’s Vision 2030”. We aim to be Egypt’s partner in realising this vision. We help our customers in the country, not only by providing technology solutions for energy, but by providing an integrated solution and providing the necessary financing for some of the solutions provided to our customers in Egypt.