The German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce-AHK expects a number of business delegations from Germany during the upcoming year, according to CEO Jan Noether.
Noether told Daily News Egypt that German companies monitor strong activities in the conventional energy sector and that there is still room to grow for cooperation in the fields of renewables energy, grids, and the digitalisation of the energy sector. DNE interviewed Noether about these issues, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
We know that German companies are interested in the Egyptian automotive industry. What is the future of cooperation in this sector?
Without any doubts, the automotive sector belongs to the core activities of German companies in Egypt. Given the demographic development of Egypt and its fast growing middle-class, the potential for further growth of this industry in general remains interesting. The German Chamber supports initiatives such as the automotive strategy of the government of Egypt, and offers to cater the experiences of the German automotive industry to its local partners.
However, looking into the global challenges ahead, the automotive cooperation is certainly not limited to producing and selling cars or other vehicles. In our days, we need to find solutions to environmental topics, to the road infrastructure, to the growing congestion of metros such as Cairo, and to ensure the safety of both the driver and the pedestrian on the street. German companies offer vast experiences covering topics such as e-mobility, smart city initiatives, or car-sharing principles.
What are Egyptian sectors that German companies are interested in?
German companies active in Egypt, whether those which are affiliates, agencies, project offices, or through trading activities, are more than pleased with the open-minded and professional approach of their local business partners. Over decades, such reliable partnerships spread throughout many industrial sectors, such as automotive, infrastructure, energy, packaging, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, textiles and engineering sectors, to just mention a few. Germany imports from Egypt oil and gas, textiles and garments, agricultural products and electronics. Export activities from Germany focus on the automotive sector, the machinery industry, electronics, and chemicals.
Shall we expect more investments in the energy sector, whether traditional or renewable energy?
The short answer is yes. Whereas we monitor strong activities in the conventional energy sector, there is still room to grow for cooperation activities in the fields of renewables energies, grids, or to cover the important task of digitalisation of the energy sector. German companies do not only offer state-of the-art technologies, but also experiences, and solutions.
What is the role of the Chamber in promoting the new investment climate in Egypt?
In close cooperation with many stakeholders, the German Chamber fosters economic relationship between Egypt and Germany, provides economic and industrial information, builds networks whether industrial or functional, and offers a variety of services to link individual business interests of Egyptian companies with those in Germany. Our main partner in Germany is the network of the Chambers of Industry and Commerce to act as a voice of more than 4,2 Mio. companies. In close cooperation with such network and, or with additional associations, we organise a number of activities in Germany, ranging from big Egypt forums, to round tables, delegation visits, or individual business matchmakings. Imagine a German company addressing the needs for an agent in Egypt in a very specific field of activities during such a meeting, or simply to the Chamber of Commerce in his hometown. Three weeks later the German Chamber in Cairo would welcome such a company representative, and offer at least three handpicked solutions. It cannot get easier than that.
Shall we expect a visit by German companies to Egypt to study investment opportunities in the Suez Canal Area Development Project, New Administrative Capital, and other mega projects?
Yes and no. We expect a number of business delegations from Germany during the upcoming year, with a strong focus on certain industrial clusters. It is our active interest to create transparency to individual members of every delegation visiting Egypt, which includes the Suez Canal Area Development project or the New Administrative Capital. However, we act as a tool for such representatives, so that they would meet their requirements. Companies from Germany are known to prepare every project in a very detailed fashion. In consequence, an investment decision is generally linked to the answers of many questions, the location being one of those. An important one.
How many German companies are operating in Egypt? And what is the size of their investments?
The Germans are very active in Egypt. However, there is still room for growth. The German industry is generally not known to be a frontrunner when it comes to investments abroad. Business relationships start with trading activities, followed by agency contracts. The incorporation of a subsidiary is linked not only to a business decision to offer a return on investment in a foreseeable future, but to suggest a stable and prospective future in Egypt, in addition to its neighbouring countries. German companies invest to stay—always.
Whereas we are still working on the numbers, the above-mentioned agencies form a substantial part of the German cooperation in Egypt. A reliable figure would be the number of the members of the German Chamber, close to 3,000. Moreover, German companies retain around 150,000 employees in Egypt. These jobs are mostly created in the fields of logistics, tourism, and manufacturing.
What are the Chamber’s efforts in promoting youth skills and training programmes?
I am grateful for this question since education drives the future of the Egyptian economy, and, by the way, the German economy as well. The German Chamber is active in many training projects ranging from the European Energy Manager programme to the improvement of technical skills on the production company floor. We are currently looking into ways to better assist the endeavours of various German and Egyptian companie,s when it comes to vocational training efforts. Such programmes are known by Germans under the name of ‘dual education,’ meaning the application of theoretical know-how gathered in vocational training schools to company shop floors, during a three-year training programme. Such dual system vocational training goes back in Germany to over 130 years.
Its fundaments were built by company education activities who still act as a dominant force, when it comes to the development of curricula, the building of practical skills of their apprentices, or when financial aspects need solutions.
How do you see the current economic reforms that were taken by the Egyptian government?
The German industry applauds the efforts of the Egyptian government geared towards price stability, and the sustainable growth of its economy. The government initiated a number of important infrastructure, energy, and educational projects, which will pave the way to economic stability, and most importantly, offer jobs to the young generation.