Interviews – Daily News Egypt Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Wed, 19 Feb 2020 15:47:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Google Maps celebrates 15th anniversary with introducing new features Tue, 18 Feb 2020 16:35:32 +0000 ‘Google has mapped as many buildings last year as we did in previous 10,’ says Jen Fitzpatrick

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Celebrating its 15th anniversary, Google Maps came out with a new look along with a slightly redesigned app and some new features.

In a video conference, Senior Vice President of Google Maps Jen Fitzpatrick and Vice President of Google Dane Glasgow spoke to reporters from over 20 countries worldwide about Google Maps’ new updates and features, and went over the company’s efforts to develop the application over the years.

Fitzpatrick and Glasgow announced the new updates and new icon of the app. Google Maps has been designed with a refreshed look including an icon that is based on a key part of the tool since the very beginning— the pin — and represents the shift it has made from getting people to their destination to also helping them discover new places and experiences.

They also spoke about new features for the updated Google Maps app for Android and iOS. These features include five easy-to-access tabs: Explore, Commute, Saved, Contribute, and Updates.

Senior Vice President of Google Maps Jen Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick is one of the company’s first female engineers and a member of its first intern programme. She oversees Google Geo products, including Local Search, Google My Business, Street View, and Google Earth.

She co-founded Google’s user experience team and continues to focus on delivering meaningful and useful experiences to Google users worldwide. During her 20+ years at Google, Jen has led software development for a wide variety of products and teams including Google Search, AdWords, Google News, and Google Shopping.

Moreover, Glasgow’s role with Google Map includes overseeing product management, user experience, and analytics for the company’s geography products and technology. Google Geo assists over a billion users around the world to explore, navigate, and get things done.

“When I reflect on the journey of Google Maps over the past 15 years, I always remember that the experience nowadays is totally different than how it began. Navigation has changed throughout the years in a relatively short period of time, as I still can remember when we used big maps to reach our destinations,” Fitzpatrick said.

“It is not the transition from printed maps to digital maps only, it’s almost things we take for granted today, as Google Maps help in knowing the estimated time to reach their destination and explore conditions of traffic. Google Maps is an application that you can use anywhere in your pocket always,” she added.

She presented a slide showing the development of Google Maps, presenting all its versions.

Fitzpatrick continued: “Google Maps looks very different than its previous versions. How do I get from here to there? Over time, our mission has expanded from helping you navigate to also helping you discover the best places to go and things to do once you’re there. I remember seeing early versions of Google Maps and being amazed at how easily you could scroll, zoom, and search the world.”

“In earlier days, Google Maps has figured how to cover the entire world and that’s something we have made progress for a number of years. I also spent some time working on user experience, thinking of how to design our product to make it most useful, like how to design or where to put Print button on the page so that people could easily take their directions on the go,” she said.

Google mapped more than 200m places, of which 6.5bn bookmarked by users, across 220 countries to date, and added over 20m photos, reviews, ratings, and other pieces of content from users every day.

It also mapped more than 220 countries, surfaced information for about 200m places and businesses, and helped billions of people get from point A to point B with confidence. On an average day, users are navigating billions of kilometres.

“The world is always changing and we should always keep pace with these changes so to be updated, comprehensive, and accurate. New roads, neighbourhoods, and buildings were always added,” Fitzpatrick said.

Vice President of Google Dane Glasgow

She noted that her team worked with data operations team to manually trace common building outlines and develop machine learning models to recognise building edges and shapes.

“Google has mapped as many buildings in the last year as we did in the previous 10,” and is using the technology to better identify handwritten building numbers in areas where formal street signs are uncommon. In Nigeria’s Lagos, machine learning has helped Google Maps add 20,000 street names, 50,000 addresses, and 100,000 new businesses, she said.

Landscape of transportation has been also quickly changing rapidly. People use multiple types of transportation; walking, scooter, biking, motorcycle, or other types depending on the region where they live in.

The information that users are seeking from Google have been also changing. “Previously, people have been asking for restaurants by names, but in today world, people are expecting us to tell more and ask more complex questions. For example, users do not just ask about nearby pizza shop, but inquire about the best pizza shop, menu, when the restaurant will open, popular times of place, or which is the top plate in the restaurant,” she explained.

“Doing this well at scale requires a deep understanding of businesses and places which is where our active community of users comes in. Every day, people contribute more than 20m pieces of content to Google, like photos, reviews, and ratings. These contributions continually make our map richer and more helpful for everyone. They also power features like popular dishes at restaurants, up-to-date road closures, and wheelchair accessible routes. We’re also making it easy for you to get things done at these places within Google Maps—so you can go from finding a yoga studio to booking a class,” Fitzpatrick said.

For his part, Glasgow explained the roles of each of the new five updates of the app. He said that “Explore” helps users find a place nearby to grab lunch, enjoy live music, or play arcade games. This feature also provides information on places including ratings and reviews.

“Commute” helps the user make sure he’s on the most efficient route, whether traveling by car or public transit. Users can set up daily commute to get real-time traffic updates, travel times, and suggestions for alternative routes.

With “Saved”, people have saved more than 6.5bn places on Google Maps—from the new bakery across town to the famous restaurant on a vacation. Users can save new spots in one convenient place, for upcoming trips, and share recommendations based on places they’ve been.

“Contribute” allows hundreds of millions of people each year to contribute information that helps keep Google Maps up to date. With the new Contribute tab, users can easily share local knowledge, such as details about roads and addresses, missing places, business reviews, and photos.

“Updates” provides users with a feed of trending, must-see spots from local experts and publisher. In addition to discovering, saving, and sharing recommendations with their network.

“Our new transit features in the Google Maps help you stay informed when you’re taking public transportation,” Glasgow said. He explained that new insights were developed to help users plan travels with public transportation, which he said was expected to roll out globally in March. These insights include defining the condition of temperature and accessibility for special needs or for additional support. “Security Onboard” tells you if there is a security guard present, security cameras, and the number of carriages available on the subway.

Last year, Google Maps introduced a new feature enabling users to see how busy a certain train or bus could be based on user reviews, Glasglow noted.

These insights also include Women’s Section, as in regions where transit systems have designated women’s sections or carriages, and whether other passengers abide by it.

He said that last year, the app introduced “Live View” to help people quickly decide which way to go when you start a walking route with Google Maps. By combining Street View’s real-world imagery, machine learning, and smartphone sensors, Live View in Google Maps shows users surroundings with the directions overlaid in augmented reality.

“Over the coming months, we’ll be expanding Live View and testing new capabilities, starting with better assistance whenever you’re searching for a place. You’ll be able to quickly see how far away and in which direction a place is,” he added.

Daily News Egypt put questions to both Google officials about Google Maps’ features for motorcycle, personal information protection, and other new updates of the application.

How can Google Maps ensure protection of personal information?

In the latest app update, we’ve made it easier to access important account information like privacy settings, location sharing, and incognito mode, so that you can easily choose the settings that are right for you – just tap your account icon in the upper right-hand corner. We’ve introduced several changes over the last year to help you control your privacy. We introduced incognito mode for Maps, which means your Maps activity isn’t saved to your Google account. We provided auto-delete controls which allows Google to automatically delete your data so you keep only 3 to 18 months’ worth of data. We also allowed bulk delete in Timeline which helps you quickly find and delete multiple places from your Timeline and Location History all at once.

What is the difference between Nearby and Explore features?

In the Explore tab, you’ll find information, ratings, reviews, and more for about 200m places around the world, including local restaurants, nearby attractions, and city landmarks.

Will Google Maps feature ads in the updated app or in the future?

We don’t have any updates to share on this front at this time but broadly speaking, when it comes to ads in Maps, we know that Maps users are actively looking for commercial information and ads in Maps help connect users to the businesses they’re already looking for and care about. Ads in Maps are designed to integrate seamlessly into the natural Maps experience and we closely monitor how users respond to provide the best experience possible. For example, local campaigns are specifically designed to help local businesses drive visits to physical locations by showcasing those locations on Google Maps. We’re deeply focused on building an experience that is useful and not disruptive.

Can you tell us more details about how people can use Google Maps offline?

No data? No problem. You can still find your way even if you have spotty reception, an expensive data plan, or you are traveling abroad. You can download a map of an area so you can see directions and use turn by turn navigation even when you can’t get online.

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EBRD prepares a €200m tourism framework in Egypt Sun, 16 Feb 2020 16:56:49 +0000 100% of our new tourism commitment is with the private sector, says Banks’ VP

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) prepares for a new 200m framework for Egypt’s tourism sector in the next period, the EBRD’s Vice President of Banking, Alain Pilloux, said.

“The idea behind this framework is to design a product that has green aspects, which is very important for the hotel sector. We also want to invest in projects that have an inclusion aspect supporting employment and training of young people and women,” Pilloux added.

Pilloux visited Egypt from 9 to 13 February 2020 where he met with senior governmental officials, launched the Bank’s activities in Ismailia, and attended the Bank’s celebration ceremony of EBRD Women Corporate Directors Certification Programme last Thursday.

Daily News Egypt sat down with Pilloux to learn more about the outcomes of his discussions with the Egyptian government as well as the Bank’s future plans in the local market in terms of new investments and offices, transcript of the interview is below, lightly edited for clarity;

I know you met with senior governmental officials during your visit; What were the outcomes of these meetings?

One of main purposes of my visit to Egypt was to open the EBRD’s new office in Ismailia. Now we have three offices in Egypt, the first and main one is in Cairo, we have another office in Alexandria, while the most recent one in Ismailia.

We expect to open a new office in Assuit next year to better cover Upper Egypt while the Ismailia office will serve Port Said, Damietta, Suez, and Sharkia governorates.

These new offices will focus on offering advice to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through the EBRD’s Advisory for Small Business Programme (ASB).

In the opening ceremony of the Ismailia office, I was very happy to see many businesspersons attending the ceremony while half of them were women, which was really very inspiring to me.

I also met with the Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, over my visit to Egypt where I reconfirmed EBRD’s commitment to support the Egyptian economy.

We invested about €1.2bn in the Egyptian market last year, 74% of that was for the private sector, which is very important due to the private sector’s key role in creating jobs for all the young people who are entering the job market every year.

It’s not easy to absorb these new entries in Egypt’s job market, so supporting private sector is a central objective for us.

We reconfirmed our commitment to do more for SMEs through the Egyptian banks. We have relationships with 13 banks in Egypt. We lend these banks and then they lend the SMEs. We lend them for various purposes including financing women and young people in business.

We have agreed to support these categories with the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) at the end of last year. We also support SMEs in the green economy. We aren’t able to reach huge numbers of Egyptian companies by our own, so we reach them through the banks in Egypt, yet sometimes we do the finance directly when its large enough.

We have a large presence in Egypt’s energy sector as EBRD is the largest investor in Benban Solar Park project. Benban is fully operational and connected to the grid. We will be looking in further developing renewable energy projects in Egypt helping the country diversify its energy mix and becoming greener.

There is a sector that has really done well in the last few years, which is the tourism sector after having recovered high levels of revenue last year, with $12.5bn. We are preparing a 200m tourism framework in Egypt.

Will this framework be with the private sector or the government?

98% of the tourism sector in Egypt is private, so our new framework will be 100% in this activity.

As part of your future plans in the tourism sector; will you support the service areas around the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM)?

If we find an opportunity to support the services provider around GEM, we will do it. We are looking at every single opportunity.

Madbouly is very keen on our contribution to the private sector, especially in the construction of infrastructure through the Public Private Partnerships. PPP is growing in Egypt. We prepared the PPP for the 6th of October Dry Port Project.

Madbouly requested that we participate in the construction of desalination plants in the coastal areas with the presence of the private sector, which is a very important objective.

The desalination plants will supply part of the country’s water needs in the future, either in the Mediterranean or the Red Sea. We will boost our presence in this sector soon.

EBRD wants to potentially prepare a number of desalination plants on a PPP basis in the same manner EBRD prepared the 6th of October Dry Port Project, which was recently awarded to a large private sector consortium.

What about the outlook of your cooperation with state owned enterprises (SOEs)?

We will boost our cooperation with SOEs. Since we began our investments in the local market, we were involved with 13 SOEs, some of them were about the upgrade of refineries, wastewater, and railways projects.

We work hand in hand with the Egyptian government which wants to be more selective, so we will see their priorities. We are interested in the wastewater sector as it’s a sector where only 30% of the country’s needs are covered.

There are some regions in the country where lots need to be done including in the Suez region, Upper Egypt specially in Aswan and Beni Suef, as well as some parts of Greater Cairo.

We will continue to support the state initiatives where the country’s needs are very large.

Are you interested in buying a share in Banque de Caire?

We are still looking forward to our first investment in the government’s state companies’ offering programme. We study every single business opportunity in the market.

Do you have specific plans for desalination projects in Egypt?

We are still looking at the market and we need to prepare studies and then attract the private sector. For the moment, we don’t have more to say because we’re still at the project’s initial stage.

What do you expect the EBRD’s total volume of investments by the end of this year?

We want to maintain our large investments of last year which were €1.2bn. I hope that our investments will be above €1bn this year.

Egypt is a founding member of the EBRD. Since the start of its operations there in 2012, the Bank has invested over 6bn in 115 projects in the country. In 2019, in terms of new commitments, Egypt was the largest economy in EBRD regions.

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House of Representatives wronged, history would do it justice: Deputy Speaker of Soliman Wahdan Sun, 16 Feb 2020 09:00:39 +0000 Parliament to continue until 9 January 2021

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Daily News Egypt sits down to talk with Deputy Speaker of the House of representatives Soliman Wahden to discuss what current legislation and operations that the House has been working, and plans to start.

When does the constitutional term of the current House of Representatives end?

The council continues until 9 January 2021, according to its constitutional duration, and the Supreme Electoral Commission will start its procedures in November, with three actual work months remaining, which is the legal period.

What are the most important files that the House is keen on addressing before the end of the term?

There are many files that include the Criminal Procedure Law that we are working to complete before the end of the current session, as well as the completion of a draft labour law that regulates the relationship between employers and workers, and many laws that concern large sectors in the state. This includes housing laws that define the owner’s relationship with tenants and other crucial files.

Regarding the leasing law, when will it come to light? What are the expected reactions?

There is no argument that the issue is tricky, and the House has dealt with it in great responsibility.

As for the law, it is currently subject to re-examination by the House, and a timetable is made for all the existing segments. We understand the crisis well, and we take into account the social dimension and work to restore the right to owners. This will happen over the next five years in a gradual manner. We hope to complete this law this session.

How is the House working to combat terrorism?

Terrorism begins with intellectual terrorism, which is one of the most dangerous types, and must be addressed by figures and those who address the people. I followed the debate that took place between Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayyib and President of Cairo University Dr. Muhammad Al-Khesht. The supporters of each side managed to transform the debate between two scholars talking about scientific and juristic matters into a battle where there is a winner and a loser. This proves that we do not have the culture of accepting diverse opinions and schools.

How do you see the calls of the President to renew the religious discourse?

Renewing the religious discourse is a tricky issue. I salute the courage of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi talking about it. This is the responsibility of imams of mosques, cultural palaces, youth centres, and universities, and it is Al Azhar’s top responsibility with the aim of spreading moderation.

It is important to compare ourselves as a developing country to Europe and America, because even though we have these religious principles, we do not turn them into a reality.

What are the efforts of the House to combat cyber terrorism?

The House passed the anti-rumour law that penalises anyone who deliberately publishes or spreads a rumour. Citizens must first investigate what they post and share on social media.

Credible and aware media sure play an important role in combating and countering rumours, as they can become the main source of correct information against the rumours found everywhere.

Is armed confrontation in Sinai the only solution to eliminating terrorism?

First, we mourn our martyrs, the soldiers of the armed forces and police in North Sinai. We present our salutations to our brave armed forces and police. If it were not for the role of the brave Egyptian army and police during the past and current difficult periods, we would not have reached the phase we are in now.

Second, armed confrontation alone is not the final solution in eliminating terrorism, but rather part of it. Terrorism and its elements must be confronted with enlightened minds, and developing Sinai, in addition to meeting with tribes in Sinai and having discussions with them.

How does the world evaluate Egypt’s experience in countering terrorism?

The Egyptian state was able to reveal terrorism’s ugly face and have it discussed in the international arena. With the directives of President Al Sisi, we were able to adopt a general idea of ​​combating terrorism and extremism and present it to international forums. Also, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was able to launch this idea into international conferences.

How do you evaluate the period of Egypt taking over the chairmanship of the African Union?

Unfortunately, Egypt has abstained from having relations with African countries for many years and the situation has been very cold, leaving room for other parties to swoop in, resulting in the issues we are seeing these days. I did not expect our quick return and the trust our African brothers have put in us, which further reinforced Egypt’s place, and this is only a start.

Are the results of the tripartite negotiations on the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) sufficient, or is the risk still present?

The GERD file is an inherited file since the era of late President Gamal Abdel Nasser. There is no question that the Egyptian political leadership managed, through its diplomatic relations and attention to international law, to reach the least damage in this file. I would like to thank Egyptian negotiators and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as experts, in dealing with the crisis of the GERD.

How do you see the Libyan crisis and Turkish interference in internal affairs?

Libya is a sister country and we consider it a zone that represents Egypt’s national security. Egypt supports Libya and the Libyan people and their army, and has not and will not interfere in the internal affairs of any country. All we can do is offer proper support in all its forms.

As for Turkish intervention, Turkey lives under the rule of President Erdogan, and we are seeing international failures, including unjustified interference in Libyan affairs. What Turkey is trying to do in Libya is the ambitions of Ottoman Empire Colonialism, and we are betting on the Libyan people and their awareness.

How did you feel when a decision was made for you to become the honourary head of Al Wafd Party?

The new position is an honour and great pride, and I did not expect such a decision to be issued unanimously by the supreme body of Al Wafd Party. It brings a lot of responsibilities in the future. I intend to represent the party in a sophisticated and balanced way and work to attract the leaders of this party. I also support Counselor Bahaa Abo Shoqa who called for the return of the delegation’s people and reuniting them.

Through my position in the party, I aspire to make it operate as a political entity with an ideology and vision. I believe that all parties must operate by setting clear ideologies, education, and awareness. I hope that parties would be active again and play their roles efficiently. Unfortunately, there is a societal tradition and belief that a party that is completely supported by the state must exist, and this is a wrong and unacceptable idea. Some people or parties seek to prove that the party is very close to the state, but there cannot be a majority party over the upcoming years as was the case in the past.

What do you expect the next House to look like?

I believe that the next House must be a coalition representing all political powers present in Egyptian streets, with all its sects and groups, including independents and parties. This is what we believe in and discuss within the party.

I prefer the closed list system, because it establishes the role of a representative among the people, and makes services the responsibility of municipalities. This system helps us choose representatives who are able to adopt strategies, plans, laws, and legislations that help the government do its job.

Are there fears from the return of capitalism’s control over political work?

Yes, but I am confident of Egyptians’ intelligence. If they felt capitalism taking over politics, they would stand to face it.

Why is it observed that the number of interrogations has significantly decreased?

At one point, it was believed that if you use these interrogations, they will affect the performance and trust of the government. The relationship between the government and the House is volatile, unlike what many people think. The parliament is wronged because it came after two revolutions, and a strong political movement. Everyone had many dreams and aspirations that did not turn into reality and that was due to the lack of capabilities of government and its war on terror, housing issues, infrastructure, health, and education.

Why did the House, in many cases, refuse to lift immunity?

We have investigated all requests for lifting immunity, and have not rejected a request without an investigation, based on the directives of the law.

What about the economic situation and the dollar depreciation?

The dollar’s ​​decline indicates the strength of the Egyptian pound, and this is an important indicator of the success of the economic reform plan. I expect the dollar’s ​​decline to continue to drop to EGP 14 pounds.

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Mortgage financing programmes encouraged citizens, investors to pump funds: EBA member Ahmed El Zayat Sat, 15 Feb 2020 09:30:50 +0000 We are worried about implementation mechanism of CBE's mortgage financing initiative

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Daily News Egypt sat down with Ahmed El Zayat, CEO and managing director of SCADA and supervisor of construction, architecture, urban planning, landscaping and civil engineering at the Egyptian Businessmen’s Association (EBA) to discuss the real estate and construction situation in Egypt and in Africa at large. Egypt has experienced many mega construction projects all throughout the country, from adding expansions to the capital to constructing entire cities.

DNE discusses the role the middle class plays in buying real estate, how the state is helping out in maintaining construction projects, and how to encourage Egyptians to invest in and out of the country, specifically within other African nations.

The past few years have seen a growth in demand on the sector of construction, should we expect the growth to continue? And what would its rate be?

The growth was real, and real estate development companies rushed to maximise their investments in the sector. The construction sector is considered the main locomotive of the Egyptian economy given the popular culture to invest in real estate for its economic security and continuously increasing value.

However, after flotation and the exaggerated increase in prices, we are seeing a slowdown in the sector’s growth. But with the mortgage finance programmes proposed by the state, citizens, and investors alike will be encouraged to inject more funds into the sector, hence, revive it. The demand rates on buildings reached 30%, and we expect it to reach 35% over the upcoming period. There are two reasons for that. The first is that the bank reduced the interest rate, with expectations for it to drop to 10-12%. The second is the state’s trend towards real estate export.

What is the impact of the CBE’s initiative allocating EGP 50bn to support mortgage finance for medium housing on the real estate market?

The CBE initiative comes to support and reinforce business sectors in Egypt, including the construction sector.  It is certainly a good step to revive the real estate market. It depends on the implementation mechanism, meaning it depends on who the beneficiaries are, because the problem is not about laws and regulations, but rather about implementation.

The prices of the real estate market increased by 100-150% over the past few years, and the increase does not match the 30% increase in incomes of the middle class, which makes it unable to pay installments with a 5% interest rate on 20 years and make use of the EGP 50bn. Moreover, it bears the costs of everyday living, like school fees and energy, which represents 25% of their budget.

This is why we are still concerned about the implementation mechanism which needs a strong initiative from the political leadership as well as clear and precise conditions for those who meet the medium-housing requirements.

What is the impact of construction material prices, including iron and cement, on the real estate market?

The prices of these materials in Egypt are related to the prices internationally. Economic wars also have an impact. The Egyptian government has taken swift measures to protect iron pallets and preserve local industry. Egypt is an attractive market for construction materials, and we have several factories producing enough porcelain and cement to meet the needs of the local market.

The construction market in Egypt is currently seeing stability. Prices have also recently declined by 10-15% the end of 2019 due to the procedures taken by the government to reduce gas prices from $7 to $5.5 per each million thermal units. However, the decline in construction material prices has not greatly affected the real estate sector because of the increase in the value of lands and high cost of Egyptian labourers.

How has the establishment of 14 new cities affected the real estate sector and its investments?

Through the economic reform programme, the state managed to establish the infrastructure of more than 14 new cities, and most of them are located in Upper Egypt, such as New Aswan, New Souhag, and New Alamain cities, in addition to the New Administrative Capital (NAC). Work is underway on New Rashid and Ras El Hekma cities.

The state’s interference caused fears among private sector owners from the government sector’s acquisition of a large segment of construction and building, however, the state managed to send positive messages to private sector owners, and made it clear that its role is to manage and regulate market mechanisms and establish an infrastructure that attracts investors.

What is the size of the opportunities available in the real estate investment sector in light of the population increase?

Some studies show that the Egyptian market needs 300,000 residential units annually due to the dense population that is expected to reach 120 million during the next three or four years, so owning real estate is the hope Egyptian citizens live by, and regardless of how bad the situation gets, Egyptians do not stop buying and building real estate. Not to mention, prices see a kind of stability instead of a decline. For example, the period between 2011 and 2015 saw political unrest, however, that never affected the sector of construction and lands, instead, it caused an increase in prices.

Is there a need to change the fact that there is a connection between contracting companies’ evaluation and the commitment to disbursing their dues?

The Egyptian parliament is currently discussing a draft law regulating the profession of a real estate developer. The real estate market used to achieve profits up to 200-300%, which never happened in any country in the world. This, naturally, encouraged several entities and individual to enter the field of real estate development. The issue of “a lack of commitment” to engineering blueprints, units quality, and delivery times emerged. As a result, the new law is likely to regulate the local real estate market and improve the relationship between sellers and consumers, as well as oblige companies to stick to their promises to avoid being on the blacklist. The new real estate developers law is expected to contribute to regulating and controlling the market, especially during the upcoming phase which will likely witness real estate exportation.

How do you see the changes that have recently taken place in economic ministries, such as joining the Ministry of Investment to the Cabinet?

The majority of the changes were necessary due to the slowdown in direct foreign investments, given the international recession and the economic crisis likely to happen in 2020. Moreover, we have internal issues such as customs, bank transfers, and African markets due to lack of representative offices. The aim of the ministerial change is to introduce new mechanisms to the economic group to benefit from the infrastructure created by the state for billions of pounds. There are also big investment deals that require quick action, and the fact that the Ministry of Investment is part of the Cabinet will speed this up.

With the openness of Africa, and Egypt’s leadership of the African Union, what are the steps required to launch in African markets over the upcoming months?

The main locomotive is representative offices because we have a major deficiency in information about African markets and their needs. There is also the obstacle of bank transfers, however, the second half of 2019 saw major movements by several banks who established branches in some African countries. This helped encourage Egyptian investors to do business in Africa and open diverse markets. We will also need support from the state to encourage Egyptians to invest in Africa because we still have fears of political events causing instability in African markets.

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Dolman to launch its second commercial project in NAC in 2020 Mon, 10 Feb 2020 15:21:37 +0000 Company expects to sell 70% of its second mall by year-end, says chairperson

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Dolmen Developments intends to offer its second commercial project located in Al Maqsad by City Edge Developments, in the New Administrative Capital (NAC) this year, with expected sales exceeding EGP 250m, the company’s Chairperson Abdelazim Khalil said.

Dolmen is now developing three administrative and commercial projects in the NAC with over EGP 1bn investments.

Daily News Egypt sat down with Khalil to learn more about the company’s projects and expansion plan.

What are the updates of The Pier mall in the NAC?

The company conducted a study named “commodity diversity” before designing the mall and identified the needs of the region and its customers to provide mandatory diversity between products by defining the activities for each store.

We have obtained licences to establish the mall, and currently we are conduction the earthwork. I expect that we will complete 60% of the concrete structure by the end of the year.

How much is The Pier mall’s investment?

The Pier comprises 150 units: 25 administrative units and clinics, and the rest are commercial, over 3,000 sqm, with investments of about EGP 400m.

how many units did you sell in the project?

We managed to sell 70% of the project’s units.

What is the construction cost of The Pier mall?

We plan to direct approximately EGP 20m in construction works and roughly EGP 5m in our second mall in Al Maqsad.

What are the main brands in The Pier?

Passionelle, Awlad Ragab, Abdel Maboud, Yamani Coffee, and other investors.

When will the company launch its second project in the NAC?

The second mall is located in the heart of Al Maqsad in the New Capital to be the first commercial project inside the 211-feddan Al Maqsad. We plan to launch the mall in the current year with payment plans spanning eight years.

The mall will be important because, by May, about 500 clients will receive their units in Al Maqsad, and thus the mall will be the only service centre for the compound’s residents.

The planned mall will span over 2,300 sqm and comprises of 120 stores, with spaces ranging between 20 to 120 sqm.

How much are the mall’s investments and expected sales?

The mall’s investment is approximately EGP 140m, with expected sales of over EGP 250m. We expect to sell 70% of the project by the end of the year.

When will the company begin the project’s construction work?

We plan to begin construction works in the fourth quarter (4Q) of 2020.

When will the company deliver the second mall?

We intend to deliver our three projects in the NAC by the end of 2022, according to our contract with the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA).

We cooperated with the NUCA to develop one of the squares in R3 District in the NAC which will be over 5,000 sqm, gifted from the company to the NUCA.

Do you plan to assign a facility management company to provide maintenance services for your developments?

No, we will establish an subsidiary to manage and provide maintenance services for our projects.

When will the company launch its third project in the NAC?

The project will be offered for sale in 4Q2020, and will be built on 3,500 sqm.

Commercial and administrative projects often require a high population density to achieve profits, do you have any concerns that the population of the New Capital can be less than required?

The state’s support for the NAC and the governmental district there (via the movement of all ministries and embassies) will undoubtedly increase housing demand. There will high-quality services in the city to facilitate life for residents.

What is the value of the company’s investments in Egypt?

Our investments exceeded EGP 1bn in three projects in the NAC. The company’s projects are self-financed. We have good financial solvency, and don’t plan to borrow from banks.

The company considers obtaining land in one of the new cities from the NUCA to develop a residential project, what are the updates of the negotiations?

We seek to become a leading real estate development company in Egypt and the Middle East, through achieving the highest standards in the real estate market. Our aim is to be a premium choice for those who believe that smart, thoughtful real estate development changes communities to be better.

Dolman plans to diversify its work to include housing projects. Therefore, we plan to develop a mixed-use project in one of the new cities.

Accordingly, we are currently studying the project’s investment opportunities, in terms of return on investment, the period of investment, and client needs.

In your opinion, where do you think the real estate sector is experiencing a gap between supply and demand?

Local market demand is approximately 600,000 to 650,000 units, but the supply is about only 20-30%. Commercial and administrative projects are promising and complementary to the residential market.

What is your vision of Egypt’s real estate market in 2020?

Egypt’s property market is very strong as the demand is ten times the supply. The issue is the low purchasing power; however, the government provided the solution through launching the mortgage finance initiative for middle-income housing in 2019.

Moreover, the year 2019 was the year of offerings; meanwhile, 2020 is the year of challenge due to implementation. Besides, the market will grow in the second half of the current year due to the operation of the governmental district in the NAC.

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Government’s infrastructure projects to help transition to industrialisation: Carbon Holdings official Mon, 10 Feb 2020 09:30:18 +0000 Year 2019 is a good year economically, sees several positive indicators, says Karim Helal

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Egypt needs actual and radical solutions to attract local and foreign investments. Such solutions are no secret, it only requires transparency, clarity of vision, and the rule of law, said Karim Helal, managing director of corporate finance and investor relations at Carbon Holdings.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Helal to talk about the overall performance of the Egyptian economy. Having some concerns, he described the current stage in the country as a prelude to important stages of economic growth, chiefly in the industrial sector which needs to be well equipped with modern technology in order for Egypt to become a productive country. Reaching the stage of industrialisation would be the starting point for the Egyptian economy and a significant shift in its course.

Hilal stressed that at the present time we need actual and radical solutions to attract local and foreign investments, noting that these solutions are not hidden, as we only need transparency, clarity of vision and the rule of law.

Helal, who is also a chairperson of the Asia-Egypt Business Association, believes that Africa is the lifeblood of the Egyptian industry, trade, and the local economy in general. Therefore, he praised the government’s current interest and orientation towards the Middle East and Africa.

What are the updates of Carbon Holdings’s initial public offering (IPO)?

The company’s IPO was postponed, but I do not want to get into details and reasons for the delay. Carbon Holdings currently focuses on negotiations with international institutions to get financing as the required financing is large. Carbon Holdings aims to inject $11bn investments in its projects.

How do you see the government’s performance since the application of the economic reform programme?

The year 2019 was very important for the Egyptian economy, as it saw harvesting the reform’s positive outcomes, although some negatives and challenges still exist. Overall, it was a good year, as the economic indicators improved though the lower classes of the community did not feel it.

What are the main positive indicators that Egypt saw in 2019?

The most important indicator was the general budget, on top of which are growth rates, deficit decline, and the local currency coherence. In addition, there were many projects to strengthen, renew, and expand the country’s infrastructure, including electricity, roads, ports, airports, and railways, which attracted the attention of foreign investors and stimulated their appetite. The infrastructure is considered the foundation of sustainability that the government aspires to and cannot be achieved without, firstly, a good infrastructure.

Do you think the government’s and the army’s domination on such projects can be a concern?

The interference of the government and the army in those projects caused a kind of inconvenience among the private sector, especially with the competitive advantages of the government. However, the positive aspect of the matter is that the government and the army have implemented those projects much faster than what the private sector could have done.

Do you think infrastructure projects are the most important in the current period, or should the government have different priorities?

What the government is currently doing is the most important and was a good decision because the infrastructure is the prelude to the next stage, which is manufacturing. Developing the country’s manufacturing capabilities cannot be achieved without a strong infrastructure. Moreover, Egyptian industry also suffers a shortage of production materials and intermediate products which prevents creating integrated products. Small factories, in particular, face difficulty in importing such materials due to bureaucracy such as letters of credits, customs, etc. This complicated process contributed to raising the price of the final product, so it was easier for investors to import finished products than manufacturing them locally. This was the idea behind the Tahrir Petrochemicals Corporation which produces raw material and intermediate products that can be used in various industries.

In your opinion, what are the most important files on which the government should focus?

In 2020, the government should focus on solving the crisis of high external and public debt, where consideration must be given to reducing debt. That said, the reduction rates are not important, but rather the ability to repay. Moreover, borrowing should be meant to increase productivity and growth, create job opportunities, and encourage investment. So, borrowing should have development goals for the country.

How do you asses the investment situation in Egypt?

The investment climate will benefit from the improvement in the overall indicators of the Egyptian economy, as well as the decision to cancel the ministry of investment which would prevent confusion between public institutions that previously affected investment. This decision must be accompanied by strengthening the role of the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones in promoting and stimulating investment. Foreign investments in Eurobonds are not considered an investment as Egypt needs foreign direct investment (FDI). However, investment in debt instruments is a good opportunity for foreign investors with up to 12% interest in US dollars.

In your opinion, why does Egypt lack FDIs?

The low FDIs are the result of the absence of the rule of law, which must be clear and not up for interpretation. There is also a need for clarity and transparency, and to provide facilities and incentives to attract investors, especially since the majority of investment risks always cast on foreign investors.

I affirm that foreign and domestic investments alike need only transparency, clarity of vision, and the rule of law. The actual application of these elements on the ground is the main indictor for the attractiveness of the investment climate.

Do you see the legal framework in Egypt unclear?

I think it allows misinterpretation as it can be understood in more than one way, while its aim is clarity to create the required investment climate, and reassuring the investor that the application of rules and laws will not change whoever rules. As for the second part of what the investor wants, it is the clarity of vision, in addition to an easy and simple exit mechanism, whether selling directly to an investor, so having a large stock exchange that has liquidity and high trading volume. Both are very necessary to attract foreign investors, as it is an important exit method for FDI. We have to be well aware that we are not the only market looking to attract investment, as competition is strong amongst emerging countries. I believe that Egypt does not provide the best options, which is evident by our ranking in the Global Competitiveness Index.

What is your assessment of the Egyptian Exchange (EGX), and do you see it as a suitable exit mechanism for investors?

The EGX needs several radical changes that must occur in the medium term to expand the base of dealers and increase the volume of large securities in the market along with liquidity that allows high funds to enter the market. A successful stock market must depend on the transactions of individuals, not funds and institutions, as recent investments are long-term and are not characterised by movement and daily trading, unlike the transactions of individuals. Therefore, until we reach an active stock exchange with high trading volumes, it is necessary to first expand the base of individuals’ transactions, and when trading volumes rise, the stock exchange will become a good exit mechanism.

How can the EGX expand its individual transactions?

The EGX needs government support to introduce stock trading to the public as a saving means and method to increase capital for companies, so that they can expand their investments and increase their employment opportunities. The financial culture is the first step that must be considered in order to bring about radical changes in the EGX. Achieving these changes would increase the value of trades tens of times.

What are the most attractive sectors for investment?

The tourism sector carries the largest investment opportunities and competitive advantages in the current period. Tourism was one of the sectors that we neglected badly. Recovering the sector also starts from education, through teaching the principles of hospitality, in addition to the health sector.

What do you think of real estate investment opportunities?

I expect a real estate bubble with the large increase in the supply. The investment opportunities in the sector are limited, whether in the medium or low-income housing, as the government sells land at a high cost for developers, who cannot afford to build middle-income housing, so they focus on upper medium and luxury housing.

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German delegation for water, wastewater management to visit Egypt this month: ambassador Nunn Sat, 08 Feb 2020 13:24:31 +0000 Government's war against corruption must continue, says ambassador

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Egyptian exports to Germany amounted to about $1.5bn annually, while the value of German exports to Egypt is approximately $3bn.

German ambassador in Cairo Cyrill Nunn spoke to media for the first time since he took over the position in August 2019. He told Daily News Egypt that Egyptian exports to Germany are mostly textiles, raw materials, and agricultural products, however, petrochemical and industrial exports have recently increased.

Egyptian exports to Germany amounted to about $1.5bn annually, while the value of German exports to Egypt is approximately $3bn.

Nunn added that commercial relations between German and Egyptian banks and insurance companies are close now. Egypt has a respected credit rating by international agencies, as well as a good macroeconomic performance.

The ambassador disclosed that the banking sector in Egypt was not always completely transparent to external parties and the new law regulating the sector would help improve the situation.

What is the size of German investments in Egypt and which sectors?

We have about 1,180 companies operating in Egypt in different sectors, in which the German side has a majority or a minority stake of the capital. The total German capital in those companies is approximately $2.3bn.

Foreign investment in Egypt has traditionally been strong, mainly in the energy sector. Since last year, Germany increased investments in oil and gas exploration. Wintershall Dea, gas and oil operator, is competing for additional exploration areas and will invest accordingly. There are also major German investments in mining, electricity generation, and tourism.

It is also important in this context to have a look at the Egyptian workforce in those companies in which the German side holds the majority of the capital, which amounts to 25,000 employees. Moreover, there are about 175,000 employees in the companies in which German investors hold a minority stake.

From your point of view, what are the sectors that can attract foreign direct investments (FDIs)?

Egyptian industry is growing at an annual rate of 5-6%, and this percentage may rise further in the coming years. We see opportunities in all sectors, especially in the fields in which the Egyptian government creates legal frameworks that facilitates investment, as in the case of power generation. The openness in the mining sector is also a good indicator, and it is welcomed. There are many companies in logistics and transportation sectors that closely monitor the Egyptian market.

Is Egypt on Germany’s investment map? Have you received any market inquiries recently? If so, in which sectors?

Of Course, several German companies have inquired about the market conditions in Egypt last year. There is intensive German participation in trade fairs and exhibitions in Egypt.

Over and above, our Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is actively working to encourage visits by delegations of German companies. For example, a German delegation interested in water and wastewater management will visit Egypt early February.

How do you see Egypt’s business environment?

Egypt’s legal environment has improved significantly over the past years which impacted positively on the business environment. The macro conditions of the economy allow the conversion of currencies in both directions. Egypt is also a destination close to Europe, with direct flights between Egypt and Germany taking only 3-4 hours. It is also very important that Egypt has young people eager to be trained and educated, whether in industry or service sectors. Besides, thanks to many German schools, we have now many Egyptian youth who can speak Arabic and German fluently, so that they can apply to jobs that require this skill.

What are the reforms that investors expect from Egypt to boost FDIs?

Basically, structural reforms must be implemented as agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Bureaucracy and red tape must be further reduced, and Egypt should simplify its administrative processes. The government’s war against corruption must continue. It is also important to keep in mind that in order to liberalise full creative power of the private sector and maximise job opportunities, Egypt should continue progressing in the field of civil liberties.

How much is the value of Egypt-Germany trade exchange?

German exports to Egypt reached approximately $3bn annually, most of which are industrial products. Egyptian exports to Germany recorded roughly $1.5bn annually, most of which are textiles, raw materials, and agricultural products, but also increasingly there are petrochemical and industrial products. This is a good sign that Egypt’s industry has become more competitive in the global market, especially in the field of electrical and electronic equipment, plastics, and finished industry.

We must also mention that the balance of payments between the two countries is better than what these numbers may indicate because many German tourists visit Egypt every year, and one of those tourists may also see Egypt as a destination for future business.

How many German companies operate in Egypt?

German companies are not obligated by law to register at the embassy. In fact, we know that the aforementioned 1,180 companies include about 250 companies that have an active membership in the German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Have any Egyptian banks obtained financing from German banks recently?

There are close commercial relations between several German and Egyptian banks and insurance companies. Egypt has a respected credit rating by international agencies, and a good macroeconomic performance. However, the banking sector in Egypt is not always completely transparent to outside parties, but the new law regulating the sector will help improve the situation.

Do you expect new German investments to be announced this year?

I’m sure we’ll see more business this year. We also hope for some new investments.

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Al- Mansour group sales to grow by about 20% YoY in 2020: COO Tue, 04 Feb 2020 15:21:26 +0000 Group to launch three to four new products in 2020, including the MG5 that launched at December end

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Al-Mansour Automotive group is expecting the Egyptian automotive market to grow by about 15% in 2020 versus 2019, according to Ankush Arora, chief operating officer (COO) at Mansour Automotive.

“As the economy continues to improve, and that the Egyptian pound continues to be stable, I expect the group sales in Egypt to grow by 15 to 20% in comparison to 2019, ” he said in an interview with Daily News Egypt.


He added that Egypt is the group’s main market and contributes to about 90% of total automotive group sales.


During the interview, Arora talked about the group’s expansion plans and the sales of each brand in the group portfolio in 2019. The interview also touched the topics that currently grabs the attention of Egypt’s automotive sector.

What about the sales of each brand in 2019, and what is the targeted sales in 2020?


We had quite a good year. Our sales for the Chevrolet brand, both passenger and commercial, grew by 6% versus the previous year. Our sales of Opel grew by 42% versus 2018, selling more than 8,300 vehicles.


Our sales of Peugeot grew again by more than 160%, selling close to 8,100 units. Sales of MG also increased substantially versus 2018, at 4,500 vehicles.


What’s the company’s expansion plan in 2020?


We intend to expand our network substantially, opening more outlets, both for sales and service for our customers for all the brands, we have a five-year plan, which we formulated in 2017. And as part of our five-year plan, we committed to investing close to EGP800m in expansion of our facilities to provide better service to the customers.


So, as part of our plan, we opened up a new facility in new Cairo for Chevrolet and Opel, a new facility in Abou Rawash & Nasr City for Peugeot. We opened up a new facility in Dokki and sixth of October for MG. We are also building a completely new and big workshop for trucks and for passenger cars in Amaria in Alexandria. In addition, we are also investing in building a brand-new body and paint workshop in Abu Rawash, which will be the biggest of its kind in Egypt. We continue to expand and continue to invest in new facilities so that we can provide better services to our customers.


Is Al-Mansour group intending to acquire new brands?


As of now, no, there is no plan. We are very happy with what we have. And we will be focused on the four brands that we handle today, which is Chevrolet, Opel, MG, and Peugeot.


What are your plans in terms of introducing a new mark for every brand?


We have a few exciting plans for 2020. You will see some new launches; a new SUV from Chevrolet, you will also see a new SUV from Peugeot, and a small car from Opel. And we of course just recently launched the new MG 5 from MG. This year, including the MG five that we just launched at the end of December, you will see about three new products for our Egyptian customers.


Does the company intend to introduce new systems for after-sales services such as “Advance Plus”?


Yes, we have been constantly innovating to provide new benefits and initiatives to our customers, especially on the service side in the last four to five years. We have offered extended warranty to our customers, we have a loyalty programme for our customers where every time they spend some money in our service centre, they can earn points and use them for the next service or purchase other products from the company.


Recently, we introduced advance plus, which is a prepaid maintenance package. Customers can buy a one year, two years, or three years maintenance package. And because they are buying it upfront, they get a big discount versus the normal price that they will pay over three years.


And the cost of maintaining any of the products that we sell over a three-year period is very, very competitive, versus any of our competitors and we believe the advance plus is a big benefit to our consumers.


After applying for the full customs exemption on a segment of European and Turkish cars, the prices of a large category of cars have been close to or about to reach the MG prices, do you expect consumers to be more attracted to European cars?


MG is a brand with very rich heritage, which was established in 1924. It is a British brand, which has all the cues of excellent engineering, design, and performance.


Though, the European cars today are certainly benefiting from lower duties, however MG products, because of their very high manufacturing capability and cost efficiency, are very attractive and even with the price reduction of European products, MG products are still very competitive and offer customers an outstanding value proposition.


We believe that MG has its own set of customers who are looking for value for money, who are looking for a very good drive performance, and more importantly, features and content in the vehicle, which are much higher than the category of vehicle they’re looking for.


We heard news that MG cars will be assembled in the General Motors factory, besides MG intends to assemble the MG ZS model, and that its production lines come from the SAIC factory in China. Is any of this true?


No, it’s partially correct.  In June 2019, we signed an MoU, to establish a manufacturing joint venture with SAIC in Egypt between the Mansour Group and SAIC and that was to start the local assembly of MG products in Egypt. Our intent is definitely to do local assembly of MG products in Egypt. Meanwhile, the plan is still not finalised whether it will be the General Motors factory, or will be in some other factory and locally assembled. So, we are still conducting our study and hopefully, in the next two-three months, we will finalise a plan and then be in a position to give you a confirmed answer.


Could you brief us on the competitive advantage of locally assembled MG cars in comparison to imported ones?


Actually, from the product or car standpoint, you will not find any difference between an imported vehicle or a local vehicle, because both have the same quality of standards; the same quality of the material will be maintained. The benefit of locally assembled versus imported cars is in the duties seeing that importing vehicles outside of Europe is 40% while duties for assembling a car locally is about 7.5% to 8%. And of course, you have to add cost of manufacturing etc, so there will be some competitive advantage.


Al-Mansour signed a joint agreement with Chinese SAIC company to become the only distributor for the company in African markets.  Do you have plans to export locally assembled car?


Yes, it is part of our study to export locally assembled MG cars. Since we already have ties with SAIC for other sub-Saharan countries, we will be distributing MG brands in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, etc in the next two to three months.


In your opinion, what is the competitive advantage that drives other markets to import from Egypt rather than importing from the parent company?


First, obviously, if you meet the local content criteria, then you’re paying less duties because of the free trade agreements that Egypt has with some of the African & Agadir countries.


Second is that you’re going to pay a lower logistics cost exporting from Egypt into Africa versus importing it directly from the source plant if it happens to be in Asia or America.


Regarding the electric version of MGZS, when will its assembly take place?


MG ZS local assembly is not in the plan; however, we will be launching the same as an import vehicle in the time frame of August to September.


Could you brief us on more details about the MGZS electric version? And if it will be assembled in Egypt?


MGZS is an all-electric vehicle. It is one of the most advanced electric vehicles that has ever been produced outside of China. It has a range of close to 380 kilometres. And today, the MGZS electric has been launched in Europe, India, and of course China, with great success.


 Last year alone, the ZS electric sold more than 10,000 vehicles in the United Kingdom, and close to 12,000 vehicles in Europe, and it was nominated for many awards, as well as being one of the most cost-effective and efficient electric vehicles.


Regarding the second question, it will be an imported vehicle, and will not be assembled locally.


Why did your company reduce Opel and Chevrolet prices last period?


Starting in January 2019, there was the benefit of lower duties that we passed on to the customers. As the duty went down, we were the first company that reduced prices and provided benefits to customers. Second, as the Egyptian pound appreciated versus the dollar in the middle of last year, we passed on the benefit of the lower exchange rate, also in our pricing to the customers.

As we have seen the Egyptian pound again appreciate at the beginning of this year, we have again reduced the prices to give the benefit to our customers.


I want to mention that it is always our philosophy, to be fair to the customers and give them that due benefit so that they can enjoy driving in Opel vehicles, or any other brand that we have within our group.


Why did Al-Mansur decide not to disclose information about the German mark Opel to AMIC reports?


Actually, there is a lot of confusion in AMIC. Many European brands are not reporting, but they were getting all our sales data which is not fair. So, we have discussed with AMIC that all brands that are registered with AMIC should report. So AMIC has committed that yes, from this year, everybody will report. So, you will start to see Opel sales being reported to AMIC from January onwards.


How can you evaluate the performance of the minivan Chevrolet N300 in the Egyptian market? Is the car imported or it is locally assembled?


The N300, or as we call it The Joker, is doing extremely well. Last year, our sales grew by close to about 30% versus 2018. And we continue to increase our production for the N300.


And we hope 2020 will be a very good year for the N300 because we’re also looking at new low-cost variants for MiniVan 300, that the customers will get to see in the coming month and at the same time, we’re also working on a CNG variant.


Regarding the second question, the N300 is locally assembled in 6th of October plant.


Could you reveal the local component percentage? In addition to the annual production capacity?


Local component represents over 50% for the N300, while the annual capacity production is close to about 5000 plus units for the N300 and we hope we can increase that in 2020.


Could you tell us the N300’s market share in Egypt and its competitors?


The  Chevrolet N300 competes with the likes of the Suzuki minivan and other Chinese products. And it holds the number two position in the market after Suzuki with about 33% market share.

Is the company thinking of entering into a project to replace tuk-tuks with minivans?




How can you evaluate Egypt’s vehicles market?

Egypt is a very promising automotive market because when you look at the country’s population, you’re talking about more than a hundred million people and the penetration of new vehicles per 1,000 is very low. So, Egypt holds a lot of promise in terms of automotive demand.


Besides, Egypt is also a very rich country in terms of human capital, in terms of business, and more importantly, in terms of its location as a gateway to Africa.


What’s your opinion on local cars assembly in Egypt?

Egypt location is very strategic and it’s a gateway to Africa. So, from a local production standpoint, Egypt holds a lot of promise.

However, in order to compete with other countries in Africa, we are trying to become automotive manufacturing hub. Egypt needs to evaluate and implement a long-term vision to grow the automotive manufacturing sector. This can happen by providing the right support and incentives to create domestic demand for locally assembled vehicles and also support the development of a full ecosystem of parts vendors and logistic companies in order to become a sizeable automotive manufacturing hub.

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51st CIBF presents 12 initiatives, training programmes: Executive Director Fri, 31 Jan 2020 17:35:55 +0000 Participation of the "Azbakeya Wall" came after they agreed to conditions

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The 2020 Cairo International Book Fair is the oldest and largest in the Arab world, and takes place in the last week of every January, and this year it’s bigger and better than ever. The fair will welcome thousands of people from around the country and around the world looking to check out old and new titles. Daily News Egypt sat down with Shawkat Al-Masry, Executive Director of the CIBF, to get more information of this year’s festivities.

What are new book fair activities this year?

The Book Authority has prepared a diversified and distinguished programme for the fair’s pioneers. In the 51st session of the CIBF, it focused on artistic activity, in cooperation with Egyptian Opera and Folklore.

About 12 movie stars will be participating in the fair, most prominently, Yousra, Khaled El Nabawy, Ahmed Ezz, and Samiha Ayoub, in addition to leading writers, including Bashir Al Deek, and Abdel Rahim Kamal.

A hall will be dedicated to playing new films on a daily basis, including the Blue Elephant and many other award-winning ones.

Who are other superstars in this year’s fair?

The granddaughter of Nelson Mandela, Saudi thinker and novelist Turki Al-Hamad, and Rasha Kelej, and CEO of Merck International Charity Foundation, who was chosen among the list of the most influential figures in Africa in 2019, and archaeologist Zahi Hawwas, and others. Many seminars will be held by scholars like Dr. Magdy Ashour.

What are the most important initiatives adopted by this year’s book fair?

The 51st session of the CIBF will present 12 initiatives, in addition to “Fair Ambassadors”, including the Future Initiative by Dr. Ahmed Al-Sharif, Secretary of the Leaders Foundation, which aims to prepare and train young people for leadership and business management through six free training programmes. About 4,000 young men and women applied to it, and only 600 will be selected in cooperation with the Faculty of Higher African Studies at Cairo University for a period of six days in the second week of the fair.

Why were committees restructured at this year’s fair?

The fair committees were restructured in terms of philosophy and number, because the last golden jubilee session was exceptional in terms of the budget and the size of hosting from outside Egypt, as well as the number of its committees, which amounted to seven. During the current session, things returned to normal, so the number of committee members decreased to a third and we have one cultural committee divided into three main axes: intellectual, artistic, and children. The number of cultural and artistic activities is more than 850 activities so far.

Aren’t there many events to follow up?

Yes, the number of events is big, and in the upcoming fair we will try to reduce the number.

What about the publishing plan that comes with the fair every year?

Chairman of the Book Authority Haitham Al-Hag Ali, adopted a plan for publishing mechanisms according to a specific schedule, so that the Book Authority launches new works throughout the year and not only at the time of the fair, which removes publishing pressure and makes readers aware of new works. Some of the most prominent works include “Ro’ya” series, in addition to six books about geographic scientist Gamal Hemdan, in cooperation with Dar El Helal and Dar El Ma’aref, in addition to a book that brings together 34 geographic scientists, including seven from Arab countries. There are also geographic comics for children.

Why has the price of tickets increased? and does it affect the number of visitors?

This is a natural increase. There are also preparations for family tickets through “Fawry” services, and there are free passes given to students of universities, schools, institutions, and we print about a quarter of a million free permanent invitations. Also, in cooperation with the Public Transport Authority, nine lines will be provided for buses of the Transport Authority to transport the visitors of the fair. Communication is also taking place with a private transport companies to transport the public from anywhere within Cairo for EGP 5 through using the fair’s code.

What about the size of participation of Azbakeya Wall in the fair?

Some 45 libraries of the Azbakeya Wall are participating in the fair’s booths, and this is a reasonable size, according to the booklet of conditions announced by the Book Authority. One of its top priorities is displaying used books in order to preserve the copyrights, in cooperation with the Egyptian and Arab Publishers Union.

What were the most important of those conditions?

Not displaying books published since 2018, in order to preserve the rights of authors.

How much are children interested in the fair?

In addition to books available in all fair booths, there are a number of activities in building Plaza 2, most prominently “Child Activity” which will have a central place in Hall 4 with the children pavilion. Two side areas were allocated in Hall 1 so that children and their families do not accumulate in one hall. The pavilion includes a corner for artistic workshops, aiming to build the skills of children through various artistic workshops, including drawing and colouring on porcelain, recycling environmental waste, drawing African masks, murals and pharaonic letters, and creating various puppets.

The pavilion also witnesses interactive workshops for children on the rationalisation of consumption and merger workshops in conjunction with the National Council for People with Special Needs, in addition to interactive Senegalese workshops, “Make Your Own Game” workshop, various children’s theatre workshops like the “How to write a scenario” workshop, in association with the National Centre for Child Culture, alongside an animations workshop.

Why did you choose Senegal as the guest of honour?

The State of Senegal programme as the guest of honour  includes the session of “Sheikh Anta Diop, the icon of Africa”, in which Dr. Babakar Nadak Mabay speaks. There is also the “Leopold Cedar Senjour and black poetry” session, in which Rafael Nadiaye speaks, as well as a session for Senegalese literature in French, in addition to several other sessions on Senegalese literature and children’s novels and stories.

The death of young writer Mohamed Khalifa has raised many questions on the ambulances in the fair. What do you say about that?

An ambulance unit is already present in the fair, and the young writer Mohamed Khalifa was transferred immediately to a hospital, but he passed away shortly as a result of cardiac arrest.

As I said, the fair has two ambulance units, a rapid alert unit, breast diseases detection, and other major equipment that helps facilitate matters for visitors of the fair.

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Faster Implementation of reforms is key to unleashing private sector investments, boosting sustainable growth and jobs: IFC’s Walid Labadi Tue, 28 Jan 2020 14:31:12 +0000 State should encourage public-private partnerships in desalination, wastewater removal, renewable energy, says IFC Country Manager in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen

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Following the adoption of the economic reform programme in 2016, the business environment in Egypt has been improving, albeit at a modest rate. According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Country Manager in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen Walid Labadi, said what is left to do is structural reforms to increase private sector participation, in addition to making sure the deficit, and debt levels, are narrowing.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Labadi to find out the IFC’s views on the Egyptian economy, how the country could boost Foreign Direct Investment (FDIs), and the most promising sectors for investments.

How much has IFC invested in FY 2019? And in which sectors?

Egypt is a priority country for IFC, and we have been a long-time supporter of the country’s private sector. Since 2005, IFC has committed a total of $4bn  (including mobilisation) to support private sector development, helping companies grow, create jobs, and boosting the country’s overall economic growth. Last fiscal year, 2019, which ended in June, IFC invested $309m (including mobilisation) to support the country’s manufacturing, agriculture, infrastructure, and renewable energy sectors.

We also have a robust advisory programme that helps businesses improve their processes and become more competitive and transparent. Our advisory portfolio has 15 projects that are worth $17.6m. In fiscal year 2019, we launched six advisory projects worth a total of $6.5m, to expand access to finance, especially for smaller businesses, support financial inclusion, promote gender diversity, and support entrepreneurship.

We often combine our investments and advisory work to provide a comprehensive support package that maximises our developmental impact. We also advise the government on how to create an attractive business environment, and work with them to help remove legal and technical obstacles that hamper private sector growth.

How much do you plan to invest in 2020?

There is no set limit to our investments in the country. For example, in FY 2018 IFC invested about $1.5bn in Egypt (including mobilisation), a record amount for us in the country. We look for impactful investment opportunities and we also offer other organisation opportunities to invest with us.

In the first half of FY 2020, we invested $234m. This includes an investment of $84m in a private wind farm on the Gulf of Suez, a debt package of $125m to a leading healthcare service provider to improve healthcare services in Egypt and Morocco, and a loan of $25m to the Middle East Glass to boost their production capacity.

How many equity investments do you have?

With 26 investments, our equity portfolio currently stands at $680m and covers critical sectors, like banking and financial services, manufacturing, insurance, construction, and technology.

Is IFC planning to invest in the upcoming government IPOs?

IFC invests in several industries, including the financial sector. IPOs are encouraging steps and could help unleash the promise of the private sector. IFC is open to considering opportunities associated with the IPOs of state-owned firms.

How do you see the business environment in Egypt?

The business environment in Egypt is improving, but at a modest rate. Egypt continues to advance in the World Bank Group’s annual Doing Business report. It placed 114th in the world in the latest rankings, up from 120th the previous year. However, there is much more to be done to improve the business environment and attract investments to the country.

Egypt’s rise reflects both procedural and structural reforms undertaken by the government, such as the introduction of new laws for investments, industrial licencing, and insolvency, which were significant steps toward supporting private sector development. In addition, one-stop shops were established reducing the time to start a business, borrower and lender rights were strengthened, and VAT cash refunds were extended to manufactures when engaged in new capital investments.

There is more room to lower the cost of doing business, which is still high. Also, an uneven playing field tends to drive investors away from Egypt and prevent companies from reaping the opportunities created by the recent currency devaluation.

What are the main 5 reforms that are needed for Egypt to improve its business environment?

Reducing the time it takes to register a property would benefit Egypt, where it now ranks 130/190 on the Registering a Property Indicator in the Doing Business Report 2020. Also, improving the efficiency of industrial land allocation through a market-based mechanism is important. Speeding up the ratification of the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) law, currently in parliament is key as well. The new law aims to strengthen the institutional, financial, and operational independence of the ECA, while enhancing its accountability and transparency.

Egypt’s geographical location is a great advantage for many sectors. The country is strategically located between east and west, which could make it an important logistics hub. But red tape and high customs fees discourage cross-border commerce. Egypt currently ranks 171 out of 190 countries on the trading across borders indicator. Cutting back on bureaucracy would be relatively simple and lead to major gains.

Diversifying the energy mix is critically important. That’s one area the country has made significant progress in especially in the case of the Benban solar array, near Aswan. Financed partially by IFC is one of the largest solar complexes in the world and a testament to Egypt’s potential when it comes to renewable energy. Opening-up the sector for private investments helped attract $2bn to build the Benban park.

Also, IFC recently invested $84m to support the development of a 252-megawatt wind farm in the Red Sea governorate. These projects will bolster the production of clean energy, lower generation costs, and diversify the country’s energy mix.

Would you recommend Egypt as an investment market? Why?

Yes. Egypt has taken significant strides in turning its macroeconomic situation around, which underscores the political will to implement reforms, boding well for successful policy implementation across the board.

Egypt’s much improved macro fundamentals will continue to have a positive impact on investor confidence and the country’s risk ratings. If the government continues to reform the business environment it will keep this country on the investors’ radar.

Which sectors offer attractive value to investors?

We believe there are several sectors that offer value to IFC and other investors, conditional on some sectoral reforms and a general improvement in the business climate.

With Egypt’s large population, we see tremendous opportunities for investors in the food, healthcare, logistics, chemicals, information technology, and renewable energy sectors.

Moving forward with our strategy in Egypt, we will continue to invest in renewable energy, especially solar and wind, two areas where we have been extremely active in recent years. We’ll forge ahead with our work to support small businesses, which are the backbone of Egypt’s economy, and we’ll look at new investments in areas like manufacturing, agribusiness, banking, and digital technology.

Which sectors should the government reform or focus on reforming?

The government should focus on sectors that have a significant developmental impact and where private investments can step in to alleviate pressures on government finances and ensure efficiency of the products and services. Those sectors include healthcare, where the proposed National Health Insurance plan should include a role for private providers and mechanisms to ensure quality care.

The state should also encourage public-private partnerships in desalination, wastewater removal and renewable energy, deals that would help the government focus precious funds on other priority areas.

It would be good to see the state strengthen the laws around microfinance, which is a potential driver of growth. Finally, in telecoms, it would behoove officials to implement a sector road map and remove barriers to private investments in towers and other infrastructure.

How do you see the performance of Egypt’s economy after completing EFF and IMF?

With the conclusion of the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility, Egypt has already completed the most difficult macro reforms needed to stabilise and eventually jump-start the economy. What is left to do is mostly structural reforms that are aimed to increase private sector participation, in addition to making sure the deficit and debt levels are narrowing. We do not believe there will be a reversal of macro-economic policies and the Central Bank of Egypt seems committed to maintain a flexible exchange rate and setting inflation as the core objective of monetary policy.

Real GDP growth is projected to continue its upward trend to reach 5.8% and 6.0% in FY 2020 and FY2021, respectively, supported by private consumption, investments, tourism, and gas exports. The fiscal deficit is expected to continue declining gradually over the medium term to reach 7.0% of GDP by FY2021 on the back of continued subsidy reforms and consolidation of the public sector wage bill. The current account deficit is projected to remain stable over the medium term at 2.6% of GDP in FY2020 and FY2021. These are all signs that Egypt is starting to turn the economic corner.

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No elections without Jerusalem: Fatah official Sun, 19 Jan 2020 16:52:30 +0000 Trump’s “deal of the century” is just a 21st century Balfour Declaration

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Daily News Egypt sat down with Mohamed Gharib, Secretary General of the Fatah Movement in Cairo, to discuss the ongoing liberation movement in the West Bank and Gaze Strip. In our interview, we discuss the ongoing strife with Jerusalem, Palestinian’s right of return and the revival of the march of return, and the political breakdown of parties and regions in the Arab World.

Where does the Palestinian reconciliation stand and who is disrupting its completion?

Palestinian reconciliation has a high priority, not only in the Fatah Movement, but also for most Palestinian factions, and this is what we emphasise to our brothers in Egypt who sponsor the reconciliation file, especially under the harsh conditions in which the Palestinian national project is exposed to. It is based on the principle of independence and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Egypt tries as much as possible and makes great efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people, and to support the Palestinian people in all fields. Fatah, for its part, has given Egypt’s approval since 2018 to implement the reconciliation agreement signed in October 2017, which was also sponsored by Egypt. It has basically signed the reconciliation agreement in April 2011, which essentially envisioned the empowerment of the national reconciliation government, currently formed with the approval of all Palestinian factions, including Hamas. This is so it plays its full role in the Gaza Strip.

We are concerned with ending this division now, because it represents a big push for achieving the Palestinian national project and Palestinian unity, which is considered a source of strength for the Palestinian people. They were exposed to harsh conditions after the unjust decisions of Trump against the Palestinian case. It is against many international resolutions and projects that have recognised the right of refugees and East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.

But Hamas has also agreed to the reconciliation, so why hasn’t it been pushed foreward?

Hamas has already declared its support for the October agreement and the full empowerment of the government of reconciliation. But nothing has been done. There was the attempt to assassinate the prime minister of the consensual government, along with the intelligence chief and several other incidents in Gaza. Hamas is responsible for those actions because they control the Strip.

Are there regional and international forces trying to block reconciliation?

Of course. And we have seen the money that has flowed into Gaza with the lack of reconciliation.

Has the relationship between the Palestinian Authority and the US witness any tension after the recent decisions?

Quite simply, let me say that the issue is not so much a tension as much as it is a matter of rights, legitimacy, and international resolutions. America assumes that it’s supposed to be the primary sponsor of the peace process. This is what happened with the former US government and administration, which was trying to play the role of sponsor and trying as much as possible to show itself as a fair and honest sponsor.

Has Trump’s administration ruled out the possibility of resolving the Palestinian issue?

What happened after Donald Trump took over, i.e. declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, destroyed America’s role as a sponsor of the peace process. We have all heard President Abu Mazen’s speech at the United Nations, which made clear the seriousness of what the Trump administration has done.

Do you think the so-called “deal of the century” is underway?

Even though no written paper or formal presentation of the so-called deal of the century has been presented to us, what is being deliberated in several forums and departments, especially in the American administration, reflects these ideas which we will never accept. This was obviously declared by President Abbas, that he does not accept the deal.

The Palestinian people only approved 21% of the historical territories of Palestine, where their country would be established, which is less than what was approved by the United Nations in 1947. But Israel and the US are trying to prevent the birth of even this small country. This step is no smaller than the Balfour promise which gave something to someone who did not deserve it.

How do you see Egypt’s stance on those deals being discussed?

The Egyptian stance is noble and was clearly declared by President Al-Sisi, as Egypt acknowledges the international legitimacy of the state and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Speaking of Balfour promise, why hasn’t Britain apologised for it?

This question poses itself a lot, especially as Britain has previously apologised for two occurrences in the nineteenth century, the first is famine in Ireland, and the second the slavery crisis.

The march of return was launched last year and are expected to start again. Do you consider this a new uprising?

Of course not, there are big differences, the most important of which is that the march of return was launched to call on the Palestinian people’s right of return. The Palestinian movement was a resounding Palestinian cry against the entire occupation.

The march of return started spontaneously, but were leapt and directed to certain political parties and not exclusively Palestinian.

Will President Abbas delay holding presidential and legislative elections, especially after the rest of the factions agreed on holding them?

President Abu Mazen’s stance is clear. Holding elections is essential and necessary, and it is critical for establishing legitimacy. The elections should happen in the right way that guarantees the full representation of our people everywhere in the Palestinian territories, especially Jerusalem.

This is the dilemma. The president refuses to hold elections in Palestine without Jerusalem, because this represents our recognition of loss and abandonment, and also because the Palestinians in Jerusalem are not second-class citizens to be denied participation in the election of their representatives. So, the presidential decree holding elections depends on Israeli guarantees to be held in Jerusalem, and this is what Israel is trying to delay.

Has the tension across the Arab world lessened the focus on the Palestinian cause?

Indeed, this happened to some extent and it is normal. Arab citizens have their priorities, but this is not our concern, because it is temporary and it is not the first time that it happens. We also believe that the Palestinian issue is deep and very much on the mind of every Arab citizen, and Egyptian citizens are a good example.

In the past few days, the Fatah movement celebrated the anniversary of its launch. What is the message of the movement on that anniversary?

The Fatah movement, which started in January 1965, faces many internal and international challenges, fights with its independent national decision, and with a deep belief in its land and homeland Palestine. It rejects the projects, like the so-called “deal of the century”, confirming that the fate of these projects is to become history.

Any struggle that does not put Jerusalem in consideration is suspicious. Jerusalem is the core of our struggle, existence, history, and future.

We pray for the martyrs of the Palestinian revolution and the martyrs of all Palestine, like Yasser Arafat. We assure that his successor, president Mahmoud Abbas, follows his steps. We also pledge to our heroic prisoners that the movement continues, and sacrifices will continue to be made to reach the goals we desire.

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The Kanjo Sisters: Chic, charismatic and bold in design and character Mon, 13 Jan 2020 10:21:18 +0000 Kanjo designs are known for being eco-friendly, as both Dayana and Nourhan made raising the people’s awareness of the environment protection as one of their life goals.

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Long before they received their college degree, the Kanjo siblings, Nourhan and Dayana, have had much bigger dreams than their peers’. They dreamed of leaving a mark in the Egyptian architecture sector, and it’s going without a saying that Kanjo Design House is taking this path.

After their graduation from the Nottingham Trent University in the UK, the now mid-twenties sisters rolled up their sleeves and jumped into action. At the Kanjo Design House, they steadily carve their unique signature through elegant, one-of-a-kind designs that not only meet the clients’ needs, but also shine distinguishingly. The Kanjo sisters managed to design some of Egypt’s most prominent brand showrooms, residential compounds, and commercial centres.

Kanjo designs are known for being eco-friendly, as both Dayana and Nourhan made raising the people’s awareness of the environment protection as one of their life goals.

Daily News Egypt interviewed the two sisters to know further about their achievements and the struggles they faced in their architecture journey.

How did you start your company, and why did you want to have your own business?

Nourhan: For us, it was never a question. We always knew that we want to start our own designing firm. We both went to the same architecture school in the UK, and when I returned back to Cairo, I found that the market had so many opportunities, and that there is a gap that we can fill with what we love to do.

What were the opportunities that you found and felt they cannot be missed?

Nourhan: We studied abroad, where we were taught the design in a very different way than what is here in terms of procedures, concept, ideas, and inspiration. Returning to Cairo, we found a tremendous gap in these areas, while the market was actually booming.

Of course, there are some creative people around, but I mean the way we style and see things is different. That is why we thought we have an opportunity here in Egypt, and it was fed with the people’s constant requests to design their places.

Your designs focus on renewable energy and recycling, would you please elaborate on the reasons behind this approach?

Nourhan: It was never an idea that came to our minds. It was always the way we were raised. We have never thrown a bottle of plastic at home, and living abroad even enhanced that, as the lifestyle there drives you to do the same.

Moving back to Egypt, we are really trying to push the limits in this side through working on the eco-friendly projects and designs.

One of the things we are trying to do is introducing solar-powered lights in chandeliers and reusing grey water. It really helps both the client and the environment, so it is a win-win situation. Our clients are also willing to do it, as long as it is affordable.

Dayana: We are trying to raise the people’s awareness of that issue. We made this year’s Christmas tree of empty plastic bottles. We used around 460 bottles collected from our circles.

You are two young ladies who studied abroad and started a business in a mostly male-dominant field, what were the main obstacles you faced since the establishment of Kanjo Design House?

Dayana: Any startup faces many challenges whatever the field. However, in our case, it takes a lot of effort to show what type of production you can come up with. The market we are working in is very intricate; it has a lot of creative minds.

What we like to offer is ‘vision’, which we see as an obstacle on its own, as it has to be distinguished than other visions in the market. But when you take that vision into application is another obstacle.


Have you ever been harassed being young females who spend most of their day at construction sites?

Dayana: There is not a place or a country in the world where a woman in such circumstances would not face this situation. The way of facing this is all about your attitude, and how you present yourself.

We were raised to stand up for ourselves and control the situation. We do not give a space for that behaviour to take place.

How would you describe your business vision, and what is the one constant element that all your designs must have?

Nourhan: Our vision is focused on human satisfaction. At the end of the day, whatever the type of the design is, it is dedicated to the people. So, it has to fit the owners and fulfil their needs.

Catering for owners is also the constant element in all of our designs.

What can motivate you the most to present better designs?

Dayana: I am passionate the most about travelling and seeing new places and cultures. Dealing with new people and places are among the things that can touch a person for good, especially the places that are designed to make you feel emotions.

Nourhan: It is kind of the same, but adding on to that is being stuck to the designing idea until it is totally complete. When we want to design something, it sticks to the back of my head during every single activity of my daily life. It becomes a part of me, until I come up with all the design details.

What are your future plans?

Nourhan: At the time being, we are just pushing limits. We currently seek global expansion and keep the social impact we have been leaving so far.

Dayana: I’m siding up with Nourhan. We also aim to enhance the architecture sector here. Eventually, we all live here and architecture is the tool by which the one gets to read history.

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DSOA explores investment opportunities in Egypt’s smart cities, mainly NAC Tue, 07 Jan 2020 08:00:43 +0000 Dubai Digital Park was established with $408m investments

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Dubai Silicon Oasis is a free zone and an integrated technology park. It offers state-of-the-art infrastructure and in-house business services. The Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) now explores investment opportunities in Egypt’s new smart cities, especially the New Administrative Capital (NAC). The DSOA also seeks to increase Egyptian-Emirati cooperation in the field of technology through exchanging experiences.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Sherif Kamel, executive vice president – commercial at DSOA, to learn more about the authority’s plans and strategy.

Do you plan to invest in Egypt?

The DSOA studies investment opportunities in the NAC and other smart cities launched by the Egyptian government, as we seek to establish strategic partnerships with the government in the coming period. 

It comes in light of the Egyptian government’s recent interest of using cutting-edge technology in infrastructure. Therefore, the domestic market has become attractive for foreign investments in all technological sectors.

Do you plan to cooperate with the Egyptian government in the field of entrepreneurship?

The next period will see a development in Egyptian-UAE cooperation to support entrepreneurs through exchange of experiences. The DSOA is keen on sharing its expertise in the field of entrepreneurs and emerging companies with Egypt.

Can you tell us about the Dubai Digital Park?

The Dubai Digital Park is a smart city developed by the DSOA to host those interested in technology. So far, the investments of the project reached $408m.

The project’s construction was completed in 2019. It offers 71,000 square meters (sqm) of administrative space, 25,000 sqm of shops, 46,000 sqm of residential apartments and the Radisson Reed Hotel with 112 hotel rooms, and 59 fully furnished apartments.

The project includes service areas such as restaurants, cafes, health and fitness centres, jogging and cycling trails, prayer rooms, a shopping centre, and underground car garages with a capacity of more than 2,500 cars.

Have you started the marketing of the project?

Yes, the DSOA has marketed the project and many companies and enterprises showed great interest to invest there.

What are the new services that the DSOA will offer in 2020?

Al Faqih University Hospital will be operated in the Dubai Digital Park in the second quarter of 2020 and will be run by Saudi Arabia’s Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital, one of the most prominent health care facilities in the Saudi kingdom. The new hospital will be built on an area of 150,000 sqm with AED 1bn investments.

The 300-bed hospital will offer world-class medical services. It will also provide 4,000 new jobs.

What are the DSOA’s plan to attract investors, international companies, and business leaders to invest in the technology sector?

We aim to encourage global companies, start-ups, and entrepreneurs in the technology sector to establish their businesses in the integrated technological free zone through pilot projects. We offer 60 smart services with investments of over $27m through a unified and secure platform that combines the operational requirements of the facilities with the needs of both occupants and users. We will be offering also residential and commercial projects of all types.

Dubai Silicon Oasis plans to attract companies that seek to establish their business in the region to benefit from the options of the administrative HQs that include eight buildings of various spaces, in addition to eight commercial buildings ranging between 50-10,000 sqm to be launched in the leasing system. Dubai Digital Park is considered an integrated community that includes residential buildings of up to 235 flats equipped with modern technologies.

How do you see the future of technology sector in the region?

I expect a prosperous future for the region in the technology sector with the flexibility, variety, and continuous innovation as well as sustainable plans and growth which the Dubai Silicon Oasis provides.

Did you contact any technology companies to establish their HQs in the Dubai Silicon Oasis?

The DSOA communicates with international technology companies that seek to establish their business and regional headquarters in the region from Dubai, in addition to providing an opportunity to introduce them to the promising opportunities provided by the region in the field of digital economy in a manner that ensures attracting more foreign direct investment in this vital sector.

How do you see the growth of investment between Egypt and the UAE?

The UAE is one of the largest investors in the Egyptian market with investments exceeding $7bn. The UAE ranks first in the Arab world and the third in the world in terms of pumping investments into the Egyptian economy, amid expectations that it will rise to $14bn by 2024.

Trade relations between the two countries have witnessed a remarkable development during the past years, with the non-oil trade exchange increasing 14.6% in 2018 to $5.5bn.

What is the role of the Dubai Silicon Oasis in promoting industrialisation and development of data technology?

The strategic role of the Dubai Silicon Oasis is attracting emerging companies and projects that provide technology-based services and goods either through manufacturing or assembling, alongside training, research and development, data storage centres, small and medium-sized enterprises, and large companies interested in the technology sector in the Middle East.

The Dubai Digital Park is the first integrated smart city in Dubai that sets a new global standard for smart technology solutions and keeps pace with the Emirati strategy for the fourth industrial revolution with the aim of enhancing the position of the UAE as a global centre for the industrial revolution. It contributes to achieving an economy based on knowledge, innovation, and future applications.

What are the online platforms launched recently by the Dubai Silicon Oasis?

We have launched the Hadi instant messaging platform, which relies on artificial intelligence to respond to customer inquiries regarding the services provided by the authority. The platform will be available to customers on its website and a number of smart applications.

The platform is supported by the feature of machine learning and artificial intelligence to simulate the user experience and the platform provides 146 different services for customers such as ID card renewal and messaging services and electronic wallet recharging. The platform handles transactions and limits dependence on any external links or systems when providing services. Hadi works to benefit from knowledge services to analyze customer inquiries, complaints, and support requests, in addition to setting its priorities based on the content.

The service will be continuously developed to reflect accurate and updated information on various services provided by the Dubai Silicon Oasis for companies and community.

In the second stage, the platform will support 180 additional services to be able to answer various customer questions via the DSOA website and its account on the social networks.

The DSOA is constantly looking for new ways to integrate the latest technologies, enhance user experience, and rely on advanced machine learning models to provide customers with all services.

Are we going to see new smart services in the Dubai Silicon Oasis?

The DSOA is working on investing in more smart services that will enhance the role of the technology and innovation sector in the sustainable development of Dubai and the UAE and attract more foreign investments.

What are the nationalities of the companies based in the Dubai Silicon Oasis?

About 36% of them are from the Middle East and Africa, 25% from Europe, 30% from Asia, and 7% from the Americas. About 81% of the companies operating in the Dubai Silicon Oasis specialise in technology, and 19% in the commercial services and other sectors.

Do you think that the transformations taking place in the world economy require new ideas?

The transformations taking place in the global economy emphasise the need to embrace innovation in the business and production cycle. Dubai Silicon Oasis contributes to an advanced role in the transition towards an innovation-based economy and represents an integrated environment and a vital business centre for attracting direct investments to Dubai and the UAE. More than 2,500 companies are based in the Dubai Silicon Oasis until 2018.

What was the growth rate of Dubai Silicon Oasis in2018?

It recorded a growth of 16% in 2018.

The Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority and the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) signed a strategic partnership, where both parties commit to promoting the concept of smart mobility in Dubai and allocating tracks for the movement of smart self-driving vehicles in the Dubai Silicon Oasis area.

During the 2017 Dubai Silicon Oasis, a first-of-its-kind initiative was launched to promote the shift to a wider use of low-emission vehicles for all owners of electric cars to charge their vehicles using charging stations located in the Dubai Silicon Oasis for free.

What much revenues did the Dubai Silicon Oasis generate recently?

We achieved revenues of AED 576.9m in 2018, with a net profit of AED 292.4m, compared to AED 205.7m in 2017, an increase of 42.1%. Our revenues were AED 590.5m in 2017, an increase of 11.2% compared to 2016.

What about the Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec)?

The Dtec is the largest tech entrepreneur centre in the region. Featuring 10,000 sqm space, spanning two creatively designed locations. It provides technology start-ups with the ultimate work environment from which to start and scale.

It is wholly owned by the DSOA, and aims to enhance the role of the Oasis as a main supporter of entrepreneurship in the country.

What are the main commercial projects in the Oasis?

The International Lulu Group is implementing “Silicon Mall” on an area of ​​2.3m square feet within the mall projects in the city.

Within the strategic investments that contribute to enhancing the oasis’s position as a preferred destination for international industrial companies, especially those working in the field of manufacturing and technological assembly, Dubai Silicon Oasis has completed construction of the sixth stage of the light industrial units.

The Oasis has attracted many companies within the project that is in line with the strategy of the Oasis, which aims to establish an integrated technology system and provide an integrated business environment and advanced technological infrastructure that provides ready solutions for current and potential customers looking to establish their headquarters or expand their business in the region. The volume of investments in the light industrial units since the establishment of the Oasis is approximately AED 324m.

What about the educational projects in the Dubai Silicon Oasis?

In the technology education sector, construction works for the first phase of the Rochester University-Dubai Technology Campus project will be completed during the second quarter of 2020.

The investment cost of the project amounts to AED 500m, and it is decided to deliver the first stage at a cost of AED 200m, and will be built on an area of ​​30,000 sqm. The second phase of the project will be completed by 2023 at a cost of AED 300m to add an area of ​​116,000 sqm to the campus. It is expected that the campus will accommodate 4,000 students, and the project will include a number of other colleges.

The DSOA has recently adopted water solutions and effective irrigation initiatives, can you elaborate on these initiatives?

The DSOA has adopted a policy of water refining and effective irrigation initiatives and has processed 2.5bn gallons of wastewater. We have a smart irrigation system that currently irrigates more than 3,000 palm trees within an area of ​​70,000 sqm.

We aim to expand the coverage of smart irrigation to 200,000 sqm in 2020, which represents about 20% of the public green areas in the free zone.

What about rationalisation of energy consumption in the Oasis?

On the level of energy efficiency, the DSOA has made a quantum leap through several environmental and smart initiatives that have been implemented, such as the initiative to reduce energy consumption by 34%, while the Dubai Integrated Energy 2030 strategy set goals to reduce energy consumption by 30%.

It is currently seeking to implement a number of key initiatives being implemented within the framework of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to enhance energy efficiency and reduce operational costs at the same time.

The DSOA and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation between the two sides to facilitate and accelerate smart services provided to investors, entrepreneurs and emerging entrepreneurs, especially citizens of the state, to establish and develop their investment projects in the oasis, especially in the sectors of technology, artificial intelligence, and smart city applications.

On the level of electronic transactions, the number of services available electronically increased to 351 services within four main areas that include corporate affairs, institutions, engineering, operations, and marketing. The number of requests for electronic services for the year 2018 reached 33,000 requests, and 64,000 electronic transactions were completed and the electronic wallet recorded the completion of 22,000 transactions through them.

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ICSB aims to create 600m job opportunities over next 10 years Wed, 01 Jan 2020 14:11:03 +0000 About 80% of entrepreneurs fail, that is why business incubators are very important

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The International Council of Small Businesses (ICSB), founded in 1955, is the oldest and largest non-profit organisation devoted to small businesses internationally. It is a US-based platform that provides knowledge on small business management and entrepreneurial development.

In June, Ahmed Osman was chosen as the first Egyptian to hold the position of president and CEO of the ICSB. A step that reflects Egypt’s excellence in business climate development and small businesses. Daily News Egypt interviewed Osman about the role of small enterprises in economy, and Egypt’s micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) draft law.

By Tamer Farahat

What is the ICSB and its role?

The ICSB is composed of 6,000 members, including specialised policy makers, academics, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and researchers in the field. It has presence in more than 55 countries around the world. Over the past period, it has played a major role in the adoption of several SMEs policies in some countries, including South Korea, Brazil, and the US.

What are the objectives of the ICSB?

It aims to provide technical support to all countries in the field of SMEs, secure financing channels to entrepreneurs, enhance the role of SMEs across the world, offer advisory opinion on the laws related to the sector in different countries.

The ICSB, which works as a partner of the United Nations, aims at creating 600m job opportunities in this sector worldwide over the next 10 years.

What is the Council’s frameworks?

The ICSB works on three main themes. First, technical support to different countries in developing policies and laws that will regulate the SMEs sector and entrepreneurship. Second, education and capacity-building for entrepreneurs, and finally, the establishment of many different initiatives, whether financial or marketing.

Has the Egyptian government supported you in the ICSB presidential election? 

Of course, winning the election was not the result of my efforts only, as the Egyptian state has supported me for the position. The positive economic actions that Egypt has been working on since President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi took office were also supportive in the election, as Egypt has been recently focusing on the SMEs sector.

How do you see the role of SMEs in Egypt’s economic reform programme?

Egypt has now become the world’s focal point of attention, especially after its successful economic reform programme. The talk about SMEs is already a reality in Egypt, not just talk. The only way to create new jobs for young people is through micro and small-enterprises.

About 90% of the world’s economies are based on SMEs, whether in formal or informal economies, so we are pleased to launch an electronic platform next January to fund entrepreneurs in the form of participatory finance.

How do you see Egypt’s micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) draft law?

The MSMEs draft law aims to integrate the informal sector within the formal one, which is a really important step. However, it should be more flexible, with fewer articles, as there are 109 articles in nine sections. It should also be free from complications related to taxes and insurance.

Any owner of a small enterprise wants to work and make profit, so we should simply tell them what they own and what they owe to the state.

How can informal businesses be more integrated into the formal market?

Informal businesses constitute a large proportion of the Egyptian economy. Integrating this sector in the formal market can be very important to the economy through several steps.

What are these steps?

First of all, the state should expand health insurance and pensions to cover small entrepreneurs, simplify and end intransigence in business establishment procedures, and unify tax and insurance policies.

What is the role of entrepreneurship in encouraging young people to do business?

Leading a business is one of the most desirable areas for young people, as they want independence. Some say that entrepreneurship will be the only profession for young people, and this is completely wrong because 80% of entrepreneurs fail in their projects, and this is why business incubators were created. There are 650 business incubators in Africa led by governments and the private sector, of which 110 ended their businesses last year as a result of being financed by temporary grants or bankruptcy.

Does this entrepreneurship development depend only on governments or also on the private sector? 

If the private sector is harmed, there is no future for Egypt’s economy. The problems of SMEs are the same all over the world. In addition, the government with its various sectors implements the same mechanism to support these projects but without communication between them, which slows the processes of supporting SMEs. In 2016, we presented an idea to the Egyptian government to create a special state entity to support the sector. Unfortunately, things have not gone as intended, and this does not diminish the massive state support for SMEs. The Egyptian state has been interested in the SMEs sector for the past four years. It has a leading experience in microfinance. The ICSB supports Egypt to establish the first university in entrepreneurship and small businesses to be launched by September 2021.

What about investing in Africa?

Africa is the continent of opportunity, but these opportunities need more efforts and work to be exploited.

The continent is witnessing a lot of efforts recently in the field of infrastructure, but we need to empower entrepreneurs to ensure a better life for the African citizen. Studies say that in 2040, 50% of the world’s youth will be from Africa, so big companies must invest in the continent to prevent young people from abandoning their continent. This may cause major problems in the future.

Is the existing funding for SMEs in Africa and Egypt sufficient? 

Of course not, the SMEs funding in Africa was $800m in 2018, which is very small, and is almost the same of a single country like Spain.

In Egypt, large enterprises are cooperating with the Egyptian government to finance small projects. The World Bank has allocated $200m to finance SMEs in Egypt.

The Ministry of Social Solidarity launched an initiative entitled “Forsa” (Opportunity) to support SMEs and provide employment opportunities for young people.

The post ICSB aims to create 600m job opportunities over next 10 years appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

International Co-operative Alliance to decide on Egypt’s membership early 2020 Wed, 01 Jan 2020 13:56:58 +0000 ICA has signed a protocol with ILO to commit UN member countries to provide decent jobs for marginalised people, says Ariel Guarco

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The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) is currently studying Egypt’s membership request, and the ICA board will make its decision on the issue early January 2020, as the Alliance is interested in adding Egypt, the ICA President Ariel Guarco said.

Daily News Egypt sat down with Guarco to learn more about the alliance and its role in developing co-operative housing.

Can you tell us about the role of the ICA?

The ICA is the mother of all co-operatives in the world and represents 1.2 billion cooperative employees in the world. There are 110 member countries in the ICA.

In 2020, the ICA will celebrate its 125th anniversary. The ICA is a United Nations advisory entity, which is the greatest position that a non-governmental entity can afford.

The ICA was established in 1895 in England. It is represented in every continent; divided into four areas: Africa, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Americas. The ICA’s president is elected every four years.

How does the ICA support housing for homeless across the world?

The ICA has no direct role in this regard as it needs cooperation between different parties. However, the alliance can find a mechanism to coordinate between international organisations to encourage countries to provide housing for the homeless people.

Moreover, about seven months ago, the ICA has signed a protocol with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to commit UN member countries to provide decent jobs for marginalised people who live in inadequate housing areas to improve their living standards.

Accordingly, we have signed a protocol with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to encourage farmers to cooperate together to produce and cooperate in forming a federation to strengthen their positions and their products.

Also, there is an agreement signed with the UN to stop conflicts and clashes in the world through adjusting economic, social, and environmental conditions to empower low-income and poor people to avoid social differences and poverty.

We believe that every citizen has the right to housing without loans and instalments that hinder the right to housing. Therefore, the ICA has the right to demand every member country in the alliance to facilitate providing housing for its citizens.

How do you see Egypt’s experience in co-operative housing?

Egypt is a top country in this field. Co-operatives should be integrated and provide all basic services and infrastructure at affordable prices.

In your opinion, what is the most successful country in terms of co-operatives?

I think that Sweden is the most successful in providing co-operative housing. However, co-operative housing in Sweden is separate from the government.

What are the ICA’s sources of funding?

The membership fees are our source of funding. Nevertheless, the ICA is a non-profit organisation and does not implement projects on its own, but member co-operatives implement projects. Additionally, we do not provide funds for courtiers for implementing co-operative housing projects.

How do you see co-operatives situation in the world?

Th whole world has become more experienced in dealing with co-operatives and is currently achieving great success in these projects, much better than in the past. The ICA member states have been achieving their own sustainable development plans before the UN established its 17 sustainable goals, in which only 30% of it has been achieved.

Egypt is not a member in the ICA, but has the Egyptian government requested to join the alliance?

Indeed, Egypt applied to be a member at the ICA and the alliance is currently studying its membership request. We will make the decision soon, may be early January 2020.

How do you see Egypt’s economic reforms?

Recently, Egypt has achieved a great improvement in the economy, especially infrastructure. The country has recently developed co-operative housing as it pays great interest to such kind of housing. For example, in the last few years, the government has built 1.4m co-operative housing units.

In our last visit to Egypt, we visited the New Administrative Capital and we were surprised with the great achievements of the project, especially that 20% of the housing units there are co-operative housing.

Do you think that Egyptian co-operatives will face challenges in financing their projects in the New Capital?

The UN named the year 2012 as the International Year of Co-operatives, under the slogan of co-operatives are the best solution for building housing units. If we increased the awareness about the importance of co-operatives in Egypt and other countries, there wouldn’t be any fear of securing finances for their projects.

What is the main challenge facing co-operative housing around the world?

The main challenge is providing an integrated co-operative housing unit is creating units in proximity to business districts, meaning that housing units should be closer to places of work. We believe that co-ops should promote sustainable urban development through providing commercial and administrative units as well as farms within co-operative housing projects.


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South Africa to build on Egypt’s successful AU presidency in 2020: ambassador Mon, 30 Dec 2019 15:40:53 +0000 Al-Sisi discussed GERD issue with his counterpart Ramaphosa during their recent meeting, says Mavimbela

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South Africa will take over the presidency of the African Union (AU) in 2020 and will build on the success that Egypt achieved during its tenure in 2019, said South Africa’s ambassador to Egypt Vusi Mavimbela.

“We’re learning a lot from Egypt. One of the things that we learned is to make South Africa the centre of AU activities as Egypt did in 2019. We will continue on the same track,” the ambassador added.

Peace, stability, the silence of the guns in the continent, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are the priorities of South Africa next year, in addition to building of communications between Cairo, Cape Town, and Alexandria, the ambassador mentioned.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Mavimbela on the occasion of his country’s chairpersonship of the AU in 2020 and President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent visit to Egypt in December, to shed light on the future of bilateral relations in 2020 including trade, investments, tourism, and culture.

What issues were discussed between both presidents over their recent meeting?

It was important for president Ramaphosa to come to Egypt in a state visit. He came here for a special summit on Libya earlier in 2019 for a one day visit. President Al-Sisi invited his South African counterpart to come again for a state visit while Al-Sisi was Chairperson of the AU,

and he did in December 2019.

Because South Africa will take over the chairpersonship of the AU from Egypt in 2020, both presidents wanted to share notes on how Egypt’s tenure has gone to get an idea on what programmes have been implemented by Egypt to support the integration of the African continent.


Both leaders also discussed the issues of peace and stability in the African continent. Libya is very unstable, while there are some demonstrations in Algeria, and Sudan, their situation is improving.

Both presidents also discussed the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) construction and how to solve the issues between Egypt and Ethiopia in this regard.

Apart from that, both presidents had a fruitful discussion on their bilateral relations including future mechanisms of boosting trade and investment.

Ramaphosa and Al-Sisi discussed several issues including the future cooperation in the field of railways as South Africa has the largest train network in Africa.

Transnet SOC Ltd is a large South African rail, port, and pipeline company that is helping a number of countries in Southern Africa to refurbish trains and rail roads.

The Egyptian authorities requested the assistance of South Africa to develop its railway systems due to its high-level experience in the field of refurbishment of railways.

Both presidents discussed cooperation in the field of military equipment manufacturing as South Africa has a good experience in this field.

They also agreed to convene a joint committee in the first quarter of 2020 with the aim of boosting bilateral relations in the sectors of politics, economy, security, academia, culture, and tourism, according to a presidential statement on 10 December 2019 by the President’s Spokesperson Bassam Rady.

Al-Sisi expressed his appreciation for the historic and brotherly relations between Egypt and South Africa, that date back to anti-colonial endeavours and struggle for independence, the statement added.

Was president Ramaphosa accompanied by a business or governmental delegation?

The president was accompanied by four South African ministers, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel, Minister of State Security Ayanda Dlodlo, and Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.

No business delegations accompanied the president. It was only governmental officials with the president.

What about the meetings that the South African ministers had in Egypt?

Ministers of State Security, Trade, and Industry met with their counterparts. The Minister of Trade and Industry visited Egypt earlier in November for the Africa Investment Forum and met with his counterpart at the New Administrative Capital.

Did the visit witness signing of any agreements?

No agreements were signed. The aim of the visit was to exchange views and discussions not to sign agreements. South Africa’s president invited president Al-Sisi to come to a state visit in 2020 and Al-Sisi promised to find a time to visit South Africa next year to follow up on the development of the bilateral relations.

What are the priorities of South Africa during its AU presidency in 2020?

We are learning a lot from Egypt. One of the things that we learned is to make South Africa the centre of the AU activities as Egypt did in 2019. Egypt made itself in the centre of all activities of the AU in order to push all the plans to be executed. We will continue on the same track.

For South Africa’s priorities, I don’t want to speak for my president, yet as an ambassador, we will continue on the success that Egypt achieved in its tenure of AU presidency.

I think that peace, stability, the silence of the guns in the continent, and the AfCFTA are the priorities in addition to building of communications between Cairo, Cape Town, and Alexandria.

How do you think of Egypt’s economic reforms and their impact on the investments relations with South Africa?

Egypt’s economic reforms toward opening up the economy are very important. The country’s cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to implement its economic reform programme was necessary and very important to encourage the foreign companies to come and invest in the Egyptian market.

The economic reforms also helped Egypt to regulate some of the areas of the economy which is key to boost the trade and investment relations with the African countries. Egypt’s opening up of its economy will help in pushing the AfCFTA  to success.

What do you recommend the authorities in order to attract more investments especially from South Africa?

Egypt is doing great in the reforms of its economy and I can’t give further recommendations.

Can you please elaborate on the business relations between both countries?

The business relations are focused more on trade not investments. Egyptian companies import several goods from South Africa including fruits, beef, and mining equipment. As South Africa is an old mining country, we have very developed technologies in this field and some of other countries want to import our equipment.

On the other hand, we import a lot of Egyptian furniture as Egypt produces very good quality furniture. We also import a lot of petrochemicals because Egypt has good quality of such products.

What about the investment relations?

There is a South African company which directed oil investments in Egypt’s Sinai. We also have Egyptian companies that are investing in South Africa and others that will start business there shortly.

An Egyptian company is assembling buses in Cape Town while another Egyptian company started its business to produce packaging equipment in South Africa. I encourage more and more Egyptian companies to invest in South Africa, and also I encourage South Africans to invest here in Egypt.

Did 2019 witness any business delegations from South Africa to Egypt?

A delegation of South African businesspersons visited Egypt in December. It was a medium sized 15 –company-delegation that discussed with their Egyptian companies the opportunities o future cooperation. We will continue to organise such visits in 2020.

What is the amount of trade exchange between Egypt and South Africa?

Trade between Egypt and South Africa is at $300m annually which is very low. The integration between the African countries is very week. South Africa, Egypt, and Nigeria are the biggest economies in Africa, yet the trade exchange between those countries are still modest, because they are not well connected and transport ways aren’t sufficient.

We only have EgyptAir’s direct flights. It is not even a daily flight. Egypt and South Africa are big economies and they need to be more connected.

Egypt’s most trade exchange is historically with Europe the Middle East.  This has to be changed through a political decision. South Africa’s historically trade with their neighbours too because they are nearer, but once you go up to the North of Africa,  the distance became an issue.

It is important to build infrastructure to facilitate transportation and encourage trade exchange between all the African countries despite the distance.

Do you expect the same amount of trade exchange by the end of 2019?

Yes, because nothing has changed yet. The amount of trade exchange will remain low. We need something major to happen that’s why the discussions between the two leaders and the ministers were very important.

Tell us more about the tourism cooperation?

The number of tourists are low because we don’t have enough flights between both countries. Tourists from South Africa usually come to Egypt in a regional trip including Israel or Mecca. They only watch the pyramids for one day. I see them coming by buses from the airport to the pyramids.

What about the cultural activities that the embassy sponsor?

We don’t have major cultural activities. We have people to people exchange. We will work on building stronger cultural cooperation in the future.

So the main priorities of the embassy in 2020 will be focusing of boosting the cooperation in the sectors of trade, investment, tourism, and culture.

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Euronet Worldwide contracts with banks to provide services in Egypt’s tourism sector Sat, 28 Dec 2019 14:30:17 +0000 Company plans to increase its remittance transactions to Egypt, says its vice president for Middle East, Africa and Pakistan region.

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Euronet Worldwide recently contracted with one of Egypt’s private banks to deploy an ATM network for the tourism sector.

According to Mohamed Mousa, vice president at Euronet Worldwide and managing director for the Middle East, Africa, and Pakistan, the company is an industry leader in global electronic transactions and payments and facilitates payments between financial institutions, retailers, service providers and consumers.

Euronet Worldwide provides its products and services to around 45 financial institutions across the Middle East, Africa, and Pakistan region, offering services and products to around seven banks in the Egyptian markets.

“Through our three segments – EFT, epay and Money Transfer – we offer ATM and POS services, prepaid mobile top-up and gift card solutions, as well as cash-based and online global money remittance and payment services.”

Mousa is one of few Egyptian young professionals who is holding a major position in international companies, and is also distinguished in providing a different service to the Financial Sector in Egypt which is one of the most important sectors in the local market.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Mousa to know more about the company’s business worldwide and in Egypt, as well as its plans to expand in the local Egyptian market.

Can you tell us more about the company’s services?

The services include comprehensive ATM, POS, and card outsourcing services, card issuing and merchant acquiring services, software solutions, cash-based and online-initiated consumer-to-consumer and business-to-business money transfer services, and electronic distribution of prepaid mobile phone time and other prepaid products. Euronet’s global payment network is extensive – including 47,209 ATMs, approximately 279,000 EFT POS terminals and a growing portfolio of outsourced debit and credit card services which are under management in 53 countries; card software solutions; a prepaid processing network of approximately 687,000 POS terminals at approximately 334,000 retailer locations in 45 countries; and a global money transfer network of approximately 389,000 locations serving 149 countries.

When did the company begin working in Egypt?

We began our business in Egypt in 2001 with our Cashnet service, an interbank ATM network managed by Euronet, that provided approximately 100 ATMs.  The company then expanded in the Middle East through establishing offices in Bahrain and Dubai, to serve the GCC area. Following the Middle East, we started the business in Pakistan which is one of the biggest countries in our operations in the region.

What are the company’s recent businesses with banks in Egypt?

We have recently contracted with one of the private banks in Egypt for the deployment of an ATM network where there is a boom in tourism.

We are currently implementing this project, and we will target to go live in 2020. The service will also be available for all in-country bank customers. 

On top of this ATM initiative, Euronet is expanding its Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) services in the Egyptian market. This will benefit local banks in Egypt by creating a new stream of revenues for acquiring foreign transactions. Euronet is currently implementing the solution with one of the banks, targeting to go live in 2020.    

In addition, Euronet intends to support the payment strategy of the country through payment automations in several sectors like the education sector to promote the cashless society strategy of the country.

What distinguishes your services from other service providers?

Euronet is a one-stop shop for financial institutions, retailers, and consumers through a portfolio of unique services that include EFT services, prepaid services, money transfer services. Also, we have developed industry-leading payment and transaction processing technology that enables us to quickly develop state-of-the-art products for the emerging requirements in the financial sector. These products not only run our business but are also available to banks and processors through our REN Ecosystem and Digital Integrated Payment Cloud. 

How do you see Egypt’s tourism sector?

Thanks to the government’s efforts, especially by Rania Al Mashat, Egypt’s (former) minister of tourism, Egypt’s tourism sector is booing in revenue.  Egypt scored its highest tourism revenue ever in 2019, and I expect that in the year 2020 it will exceed the highest number of tourists since 2010

How much remittances coming to Egypt in the current period?

The remittance that entered Egypt in the last financial year (2018-2019) is slightly above USD 25 bn, and this is one of major contributors of the country’s GDP.

What are the main countries from which Egyptian expatriates send their money?

GCC countries are the main ones with Saudi, UAE, and Kuwait making the majority of these payments into Egypt, followed by some of the countries in the Middle East such as Jordan. There are some European countries as well.

Euronet supports all forms of money transfer across all channels including Cash at specified locations, cards-to-cards transfer, cards-to-account transfer. We also support different platforms for the initiations of these transactions through both cash and digital forms. 

Do you plan to increase your share of Egyptian remittances?

Yes, we are currently working on increasing our network in the main send markets to Egypt across the GCC and ME region, as well as increasing our pay-out network in the Egyptian market itself through more pay-out locations to gain more market share. 

What are the currencies you transfer?

Euronet has locations in different countries worldwide, so we accept wide variety of different currencies for money transfer. Usually Egyptian prefers the pay-out in US Dollars, Euros, or Egyptian pounds. Euronet supports all of these.

Do you have concerns regarding Egypt’s inflation rates?

Thanks to the efforts done by both the Central Bank of Egypt and the government, inflation rates are under control. We are witnessing a decrease in the year-to-year inflation rate, which I believe will continue with the recent reform actions taken. 

What is the value of the company’s turnover worldwide?

For the year 2018, Euronet reported a full year revenue of USD 2.5 bn. 

What is your expectation for the Egyptian economy in the coming period?

I believe the Egyptian economy has been performing extremely well and that all the published indicators and positive news reflects that it is moving in the right direction.   I believe the country’s leadership has established a very solid base of the economy, especially with the digitisation process that the government and the whole country is undertaking. This process will help tackle the parallel economy and merge it in the formal country economy to make a major contributor to the whole country’s growth.

Do you expect more foreign direct investments (FDIs) coming into Egyptian market?

Yes, I do. Egypt has solved several problems that faced foreign investors in the previous period such as revenue transferring outside the country and currency fluctuation. I believe that the local market will witness more FDIs in electronic payment services as it is one of the most promising markets. There is still a need for more services.  It is a big market of consumers and that is why Euronet is positively investing in the Egyptian market. 

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Technical education and vocational training reform are an imperative necessity to produce cadres fully aware of the market’s needs: director Sat, 28 Dec 2019 11:02:41 +0000 The cost of training a single worker is 50,000

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The Technical and Vocational Education and Training Reform Programme (TVET) is a project funded by the Egyptian government and the European Union to improve the system of technical education and vocational training in Egypt, in order to meet social and economic needs, especially youth employment. The programme also seeks to improve the image of technical education and vocational training in society.

It is meant to increase the governance of the technical education and vocational training system in Egypt, developing quality and related topics, and transitioning to the labour market and employment.

Daily News Egypt interviewed, Executive Director of the TVET Egypt Shorouk Zidan, to learn about the programme’s developments, achievements, and the obstacles facing it.

Photography by Asmaa Badr

What is TVET Egypt?

It is a programme to support and develop technical education and vocational training with a special nature. It aims to come up with a unified system for technical education and vocational training in Egypt and unify the efforts of all relevant ministries to maximise their efforts so that they can bear fruit at the social and economic level to keep pace with the sustainable development plan Egypt Vision 2030, in which all state agencies work to achieve their strategic goals, on top of which is the TVET Egypt programme.

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announced during his visit to Germany that 2020 will be the year of industry, starting from the general orientation of the state with interest in industry and training and raising the efficiency of labour to meet the needs of the local market. A programme for developing education, technical, and vocational training was established in partnership with the European Union to fix the system and was entrusted with more than 25 government agencies in addition to the private sector.

Executive Director of the TVET Egypt Shorouk Zidan

Why is it necessary to reform the technical education system?

Technical education and vocational training reform have become an imperative necessity to produce cadres that are fully aware of the market’s needs. During the past few years, there was no awareness of the market requirements, so this system was randomly managed, hence the private sector assumed the task of reforming technical education because it is the most knowledgeable of the skills it needs. In addition, the programme lays down the concept of lifelong learning that begins from the first day for students in school through various stages of education to keep up with all developments of the profession and the market.

What is the plan for the TVET?

The programme plan contains three elements for development, the first is the legalisation of involving the private sector more institutionally, and therefore it is necessary to create sectoral skills led by the private sector in partnership with government agencies. Accordingly, the sector would be able to determine its priorities and needs of specialties that bring about economic development and link international standards with students’ capabilities that make them fit for the job market.

As for the second component, it is the legislative part that connects all authorities entrusted with technical education with the private sector to eliminate working in isolated islands that impede the development of this sector, because each ministry continues to work according to its own strategy. It is true that all agencies work according to the vision of sustainable development 2030, but everyone is flying its own orbit, so we desperately need a unified strategy for technical education and vocational training for all stakeholders in the sector and in partnership with the private business sector.

With regard to the third component of the programme, it is decentralisation, one of the most important elements of the programme to create an opportunity for schools to rely on their own resources in terms of the general budget for each of them, follow-up, and evaluation. We need to create more flexibility in making decisions according to the needs of the local markets, while also taking into account the specialisation of each governorate, so there are coastal, industrial, and agricultural governorates.

What are the funding and participation ratios between the government and the private sector in the programme?

The programme has a special nature where it depends on the Egyptian government for 60% of its finances and 40% from the European Union. It aims to come up with a unified system for technical education and vocational training in Egypt and unify the efforts of all relevant ministries to maximise their efforts so that they can bear fruit at the social and economic level to match the sustainable development plan, Egypt’s Vision 2030, in which all state agencies work to achieve their strategic goals, on top of which is the TVET Egypt programme, which contributes to achieving the strategic goals of the country.

Are there specific paths for students to take after obtaining their diploma to learn skills for the job market?

Indeed, there are technological universities that have become the new legal framework for students of technical diplomas to complete their education at a higher level, which gives them an opportunity for professional development. This will also help each student receive the qualifications necessary to enter the job market with the skills they will need allowing them to work in their preferred field.

Technical education was, in the past, a backdoor to join other colleges.

Does the low view of vocational work still exist?

Unfortunately, there is still a great deal of bad reputation about technical education and vocational training in Egypt that needs to change, and the media should adopt this issue. The media should also confirm that there are countries whose economy is based on this type of education and that we do not need to have thousands of university graduates suffering from unemployment or a population of unskilled labour. The media must also market successful models that have been able to overcome the difficulties and have achieved their dream and have become pioneering models in their field.

Does the programme serve dropouts from education?

There are so-called community schools that aim to train young men and women, housewives, and those unemployed who have dropped out from school and have not completed their secondary education in different skills, both according to the geographical scope of their governorate and according to the capabilities available to them. The community schools aim to protect this segment of society at risk of becoming a victim of child labour and enable them to work on scientific bases and through real training.

Is the large number of ministries responsible for technical and vocational training a distraction?

More than 25 ministries are working to develop technical education and vocational training, and this of course, despite its benefit, sometimes leads to inconsistencies and wasted efforts, and each ministry believes that it applies the correct methodology. Protocols are signed to establish training centres without a clear plan to use these centres, while the cost of training is EGP 50,000 per person. We see the importance of establishing a body or organisation that is fully responsible for technical education and vocational training in Egypt.

Are there features of a change in state interest in this file?

During the activities of the Youth Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh, I sensed the state’s interest in the issue of technical education and training and I see that this is a turning point in this vital file, which is considered one of the most important pillars of economic and social development and enhances opportunities to achieve sustainable development in Egypt. The most important challenge during the coming period is to create an environment that combines the skills of entrepreneurship and the skills of each profession to alleviate the crisis of unemployment and encourage young people to turn towards the free labour market and establish new projects.

Does the programme focus on supporting groups of women and persons with different abilities in training programmes?

Of course, we seek to train women to participate in the industrial sector’s costs, especially those that they have left out. We believe that they have special skills that will lead the industry and development. We have trained a large number of differently abled members, especially in some sectors such as clothing and technology. I must express my happiness with the great cooperation of the private sector in these points.

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MENA has one of highest YouTube watch times globally: regional partnerships head Sun, 22 Dec 2019 08:00:35 +0000 “We have seen a meteoric rise of female creators in the Arab world,” says Diana Baddar

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The American video-sharing platform YouTube offers a wide variety of user-generated and corporate videos as millions of registered users are permitted to upload unlimited content.

Most of the videos on YouTube are uploaded by individuals, but media corporations, including CBS, BBC, Vevo, and Hulu, offer some of their material via YouTube as part of a partnership programme with the platform.

“YouTube creators are the heartbeat of YouTube and supporting them is one of our priorities,” Diana Baddar, head of YouTube Partnerships in the Middle East and North Africa, said.

Baddar noted that the growth of Egyptian content on YouTube has been spearheaded by a diverse and growing community of creators from different parts of Egypt. Therefore, YouTube has launched its first Pop-Up Space in Egypt where creators experience new formats and ideas, and are inspired to continue creating engaging and powerful content on their channels.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Baddar to talk about the Pop-Up Space in Egypt, and how it helps local content creators to provide engaging content and attract specific audience.

How can YouTube’s Pop-Up Space help local content creators?

Pop-Up Space is our way of bringing YouTube’s support to the creator. At the event, we make sure that creators are getting what they need from knowledge to production equipment. We host workshops about topics like content strategy and production essentials. We also built a small state-of-the-art equipment so creators can experiment with new formats and storylines. To sum it up, the Pop-Up Space is supposed to be a one-stop shop for creators who are serious about their channels.

What is the selection process for the creators?

Typically, creators with at least 10,000 subscribers and no strikes on their channel are eligible to attend. This is an invitation-only event as well, so the creators who are part of the YouTube Partnerships Programme would have received an invite from their YouTube partner manager.

What happened to YouTube Space DXB?

To best address the needs of our growing creator base, we are doubling down on our Spaces Pop-up strategy. This enables us to scale to reach our creators where they are. This also means that we will be closing our partnered Spaces to make way for more Pop-ups in these geographically expansive regions.

The truth is that having a single space in a massive and rapidly growing region simply does not scale with the countless needs of our creators. That is why we are going to hit the road and offer a different model, using community-based programming and Pop-up Spaces in key markets to benefit more creators in more places.

Diana Baddar, head of YouTube Partnerships in the Middle East and North Africa

Why did you choose Egypt?

Egypt has always played a major role in Arab content creation, even long before the internet. We chose Egypt because we know that there is a dynamic and growing YouTube creator community here and we wanted to bring YouTube closer to them.

What is the Egyptian share of YouTube global views?

We do not release specific country views.

YouTube Pop-Up Space focused on gaming in Seoul and St. Petersburg, music in Stockholm and Nashville, what did you focus on in Egypt?

Since this was our first Pop-Up Space in Egypt, we did not want to narrow it down to one theme. But I can tell you that there was this general feeling of people wanting to learn and connect which made me very proud of being here.

How do you see the growth prospects of the Egyptian and Arab content in YouTube?

I see incredible potential, and especially here in Egypt and even more so within the female creator community. There is a decades-old tradition of creating content in Egypt, and YouTube is a blank canvas for creators to experiment with new types of content and new narratives. So, while I am very happy with the growth of Arab content, as a region we have one of the highest watch times globally, I am especially excited about the growing creator community in Egypt. Moreover, we have seen a meteoric rise of female creators in the Arab world, and we even dedicated a part of the event to women-led channels by hosting a female-only workshop designed to help these creators grow their channels.

Would YouTube replace TV in the coming years?

I think YouTube and TV complement each other. My team and I work closely with the region’s broadcasters to help them get their content on YouTube. We have seen different broadcaster experiment with various types of content, some choose to upload entire episodes, other are creating content especially for YouTube.

What training you offer for creators to increase their subscribers?

We work closely with top creators in the Arab world to help them create engaging content that would attract and retain their audience. We even compiled all the learnings we have from working with top creators from all over the world and put them on the YouTube Creator Academy, which has more than 200 courses that help you learn everything about YouTube; from how to make money on YouTube, to how to build your channel strategy.

In your opinion, with YouTube becoming one of news sources, how do you counter the spread of fake news, and does Pop-Up Space help creators to avoid publishing fake news?

We have invested in new product features to prominently surface credible sources. These features are currently launched in 30+ countries. We are also working to provide more context to users about the news they watch on YouTube. We started showing notices below videos uploaded by news broadcasters that receive some level of government or public funding. We are showing additional information cues, including developing news panels and a text box or information panel linking to third-party sources around widely accepted events, like the moon landing. We are looking to expand these to more topics.

Do you also give any training for content creators to face cyber bullying?

YouTube has policies against harassment and bullying as indicated in our Community Guidelines. We have ongoing conversations with creators on how to deal with those who violate these community guidelines. We review flagged content quickly, whether it is a comment or a video, and remove inappropriate videos according to our policies. We have an easy-to-use Help & Safety Tool that lets users and creators contact us about threatening comments and abuse. In addition, we provide information on harassment and bullying in our Policy and Safety Center.

Does YouTube provide any insights for the creators in order to know the specific number of views with details (the age, gender) like the Facebook insights?

Yes, each creator’s account has a page called YouTube Studio that contains a variety of data sets ranging from the gender to the locale of those watching their videos.

The post MENA has one of highest YouTube watch times globally: regional partnerships head appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Date palm’s journey to join UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Sat, 21 Dec 2019 09:34:57 +0000 The large number of Arab countries participating in the bid was an obstacle, yet the step shows the importance of date palm to the Arab’s heritage, says Al Kaabi

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) listed last week date palm on its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, to be the first-ever listed heritage combining 14 countries from the Middle East. The flourishing palm was admitted as a unique element of the Arab region, that brought together the cultural ties of the neighbour countries.

The listing came at the 14th gathering of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which took place in Colombia from 9 to 14 December. The date palm was accredited to be one of the elements that help in deepening the relations between Arab countries and its populations.

The file was admitted to the committee by Saeed Hamad Al Kaabi, director of the Intangible Heritage at the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), in cooperation with Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Al-Kaabi to explore the details behind the bid, the challenges they faced throughout the process, and the cooperation between the participating countries.

What made you interested in bidding to list date palm in UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage?

Our bid for adding date palm to the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on behalf of 14 Arab countries was based on the existence of the date palm in most Arab countries, which constitutes a pan Arab cultural component, and its importance for Arab economy as a source of food and raw materials for many traditional handicrafts that met the daily needs of Arab families.

Moreover, it was based on the social and cultural connotations of the date palm in the Arab society where it is the inspiration for many customs, traditions, and oral history.

How long have you been preparing the bid, and what are the listing elements?

A call was made to prepare a joint Arab date palm bid by the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO). Thus, two meetings were held between the member countries, the first in Sudan’s Khartoum and the second in Luxor in Egypt from 16 to 18 December 2018, ending with the mandate of the United Arab Emirates to be the coordinating country for the bid.

As for the included elements, they were mainly the required criteria in the nomination process, including the names given to the date palm in different Arab countries, its spread in the Arab world, a brief description of its history, the bearers and practitioners of the economic activities related to the date palm, methods of preserving the date palm, ans its cultural and social connotations.

What were the challenges that you faced while preparing the bid?

The large number of Arab countries participating in the bid, which were 14, was the biggest obstacle which delayed the submission of the required documents. However, the well-management of the team and the long experience of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism in preparing such bids for UNESCO overcame all challenges.

What was the contribution of the other 13 countries participating in the bid?

The participating Arab countries submitted their respective bids in addition to other required documents. Afterwards, a committee was formed to coordinate the bids and prepare it as one.

Then, the Arab file drafting committee represented all countries involved, and produced the file according to required standards.

These steps were followed by presenting the bid in its final form to the participating countries to obtain their approval, and finally the bid was submitted to the UAE’s Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, which in turn sent it in to the Arab League and then to UNESCO.


How would the date palm’s joining of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list increase its popularity?

Joining the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list sheds light on the date palm and its cultural and heritage importance in the Arab world through research, studies, books, and publications. It appreciates the efforts being made to develop different breeds of date palm, methods of preserving it, and develop products made from them.

As the Arab countries participating in the bid shared their experiences in the field of date palm cultivation, developing new breeds, and ways to benefit from its products, the bid also highlighted common cultural and heritage elements in the Arab world that must be preserved and nominated to UNESCO in the future.

How do you plan to use this step in promoting tourism in Arab countries?

We aim to highlight the aesthetic aspects of date palm plantations and their impact on the environment, and hold festivals, exhibitions and competitions related to the date palm. This is mainly through organising tourist visits to the industrial areas associated with the processing of date palm products.

As for the industries relying on it, we aim to devise new methods to fully benefit from the date palm in modern industries. Moreover, we are currently preparing promotional documentaries about the date palm.

The post Date palm’s journey to join UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

AUC’s Ricciardone ,“Our first role is to serve the Egyptian people and society” Sat, 14 Dec 2019 08:32:10 +0000 We aim to collect $100m (EGP 1.6bn) and $85m of them were collected this year.

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The American University in Cairo (AUC) celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Since 1919, it has been one of the focal institutions for education in Egypt.

It graduates 5,500 students from 460 colleges annually with a teaching staff of 2,000 people, with an academic research of EGP 140m per year

On the role of the university and its contribution to Egyptian society, we sat with the AUC’s President Francis Ricciardone for an interview.

What do you think is the AUC’s most important role in society?

Our first role is to serve the Egyptian people and society and offer these services to Egypt. This needs higher education to produce and transfer knowledge. The University produces this knowledge through scientific research and many contributions in other fields such as the arts culture, and so forth. We work on passing down this knowledge through educating youth so they may use this knowledge and have it grow in the world, and that’s what any major university around the world does.

What are some other roles that distinguish the university?

The AUC is distinguished in many other fields and this distinction stems from its name. With the presence of about 4,000 American universities in the USA itself and its cooperation with many other universities at the global level, there is only one American University in Cairo and it is completely American in its philosophy, curricula, and method of teaching. Cairo here represents our nature and our philosophy, which is the great laboratory in which the AUC lives, learns from, and influences. AUC has operated as a bridge for over 100 years between the East and the West, Egypt and the world. It has been trying to transfer technology and global thinking to Egypt, creating an ambitious generation of Egyptians. We offer them global education and help them complete their studies abroad.

Is the decision to prevent Niqabi (cloth that covers the face) women from entering the campus still in force?

This decision doesn’t intend to fight the niqab or anything, but it has to do with the policy of entering the campus adopted by the American University. Every student or person entering the American University campus must show their faces. The university does not discriminate based on religion, gender, or nationality. Moreover, faces must be exposed before entering the campus and taking an exam, whether it is a student or a visitor, because security must simply know who is inside the university campus.

What kind of impact do you think AUC has achieved since 1919 until now?

Despite our small size, we have a great and wonderful impact, and we continue to improve ourselves. We changed people’s lives by providing them with innovation skills to solve their problems, and highlighting the problems that the whole world faces. This is our main mission.

But since you pointed to the factor of time, we have moved in the past years to the new headquarters of the university in an area that was like a desert, and now and in the past 10 years New Cairo has grown with huge institutions, and this shows our future vision. We are in a dynamic place, and we graduate annually 5,500 students in 460 colleges, with a teaching staff of 2,000, this is a huge number that made a wonderful change in society.

But since we’re talking about our journey, in the last few years we have moved to the new headquarters of the university in an area that was like the desert, and in the past 10 years New Cairo has grown with bigger institutions, and this represents our vision of the future. We are in a dynamic place, and we graduate 5,500 students in 460 colleges annually, with a teaching staff of 2,000.

In light of your 100th anniversary celebration, did you achieve the expected volume of donations?

We focus well on the future and provide the optimal educational method for this year’s requirements. The university confirms that Egypt welcomes everyone and is a great place to obtain a university education or conduct an array of scientific research. We work all year until February, which is when we’ll celebrate the founding of the university, and we’re using this as an opportunity to attract financial contributions in order to increase the university’s budget. The university is aiming to raise an additional $100m and so far, we have raised $85m. We’re hoping to raise the rest by the end of the celebration.

How will those funds be distributed within the university?

By increasing the budget of the AUC’s individuals and institutions supporting AUC students. We focus on improving and raising the efficiency of our academic and research system at the AUC, as well as increasing the number of scholarships for students who are not able to pay. We also allocate some funds for certain types of scientific research that aims at solving existing problems in the Egyptian society, such as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, who gave the AUC $2m for any research that works on solving any problem facing the world. Students should participate in these sorts of research, such as energy problems or combatting diseases, to make a better world.

There is also Businessperson Naguib Sawiris, whose donation developed and modernized the campus downtown through the Tahrir Cultural Center with the belief that Egypt is a source of artistic intelligence, especially downtown, in terms of music, painting, and culture. The AUC is also working to always maintain its services downtown, in New Cairo, and the New Administrative Capital. We are working to be part of Egypt’s greatness in art, and we are trying to revive the greatness of the arts and culture scene in Egypt.

AUC wants to be a part of this renaissance to help Egypt bloom again, and I would like to stress that even with all these challenges facing Egypt, it still has the energy to find its way to rise again in culture and art. This is clearly evident in Egypt, and it is also evident in the AUC’s educational policy. AUC has its magazine, which gets published in 13 languages, talking about the language of beauty in Egypt over the different eras to send a clear message to the world that Egypt is the incubator of art and culture.

Does the educational level of the Egyptian student qualify him to compete in the global educational market?

The educational level of the Egyptian student is the same as the American student. All an Egyptian student needs is an opportunity, and we offer that opportunity in study, research, and discussions. The Egyptian mentality may flourish in an American or European setting. AUC offers this opportunity right here in Egypt. 

How do we evaluate the system of higher education and research in Egypt?

Egypt has a long history in education and scientific research. The best example of this is Al-Azhar, which presented formal education and scientific research. Al-Azhar was a great focal point in the history of education and scientific research in Egypt. It sent its missions to many countries in the world and there are many Egyptian writers and scholars in various fields everywhere. However, there are a number of challenges facing the education system in Egypt, the biggest problem being the dense population. The population has reached 100 million citizens in a rapidly changing world. Artificial intelligence acquires various jobs, not only in Egypt, but globally, and the biggest challenge is to provide a suitable education, and like Imam Ali bin Abi Talib said, “Do not raise your children for what your fathers raised them to be because their time is not your time.”

How many research papers are published internationally from the AUC?

The amount of papers published in international periodicals last year was 340, and the scientific research budget is estimated at about EGP 140m per year. Most of it comes from external sources, which means from outside the university, whether these sources are Egyptian, regional, or international.

The post AUC’s Ricciardone ,“Our first role is to serve the Egyptian people and society” appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Unilever Mashreq to invest over ‎€60m in Egypt within three years Thu, 12 Dec 2019 16:45:05 +0000 The government’s economic reforms were the right thing to do for the country, but it is certainly affecting our competitive position in Egypt, CSCO

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Unilever Mashreq is to invest more than ‎€60m in Egypt within the coming three years.

The company`s Chief Supply Chain Officer Marc Engel told Daily News Egypt on the side-lines of his first visit to Egypt that the global sales reached almost €55bn in 2018, mentioning that year to date, the company`s global sales witnessed a 3% growth.

The interview discussed the opportunities, and challenges of Unilever in Egypt, the company`s expansion plans, its perceptions of the Egyptian market, and many other topics.

In one month, two top executives from Unilever visited Egypt. Last month the CEO visited Egypt and now the chief supply chain officer (CSCO) is in Egypt. How does the company globally look at Egypt?

Egypt is an important market for us. It has always been one of our fastest growing markets. It had a period of turmoil, but what we’re seeing very clearly now that Egypt is back. We look at Egypt very enthusiastically and positively.

From the supply chain point of view, Egypt is actually connected to more than one billion consumers through free trade agreements.

By looking at all the free trade agreements that Egypt has with a number of countries around the world, we will find billions of consumers. The opportunity for Egypt to become much more important as an export and manufacturing hub for us as a company is great. Egypt also has an enormous and talented hub.

Overall, the connection, consumers, workforce skills, and technical skills, make Egypt a favourable location for us.

What are the criteria you look at when choosing a country to build a factory or becomimg a trigonal manufacturing hub?

The first thing that we always look at is where the nearest market you can sell to is. We look at the trade and duty landscapes around the world. In addition, we consider the cost of utilities, the labour skill, as well as how the government facilitate doing business, and how easy is it to import or export.

We also study the customs operations because when you have a factory, you usually import raw materials and then you want to export finished goods.

The logistics connection is also something we examine, including the closeness of a country to a port, whether the port is connected to the rest of the world easily, how often ships come, and if it is a competitive route.

There’s essentially a list of things, but it always has to start from the consumers’ location, and how the factory’s position is connected to them.

What are the advantages of manufacturing in Egypt?

The fact that Egypt has so many free trade agreements is a very big advantage because it connects us to many markets around the world without trade duties. For us, the advantages of Egypt are good talents, its connectedness to other markets, and it`s strong local industry environment.

How many factories does the firm have in Egypt?

We have five factories in Egypt for personal care products, home care products, soaps, food products, and Lipton tea.

What is your market share in Egypt?

We are market leaders in 80% of our products in Egypt, acquiring an average 80% of the market in all the products’ categories.

How much does the company’s export rate account for the total annual sales? What is your target export rate?

It is difficult to specify that number, but we export by around $140m in annual base and we target to double this number in five years.

It is important to mention that half of what we produce is sold in Egypt and the other half of production is sold in other countries. So, Egypt is already an important export hub for us.

Having said that, Unilever Mashreq exported more than 50% of its production in 2018, and is expecting to witness a slight increase by end 2019.

Which countries do you export your products to?

Unilever exports through Egypt to 50 or 51 countries, including all North African, Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya. We also export small orders to Russia and Europe as well. Unilever also exports halal (religiously accepted) products to Canada.

Our company exports also to East Africa and other African countries including Kenya,and Ethiopia.

Are there any countries that Unilever wants to enter?

Unilever operates in 190 countries around the world. I think there’s only three countries where we don`t operate.

It’s not that we are not in those markets, but it’s more around the sourcing opportunity, and what role a country can play in being a competitive source for other markets.

How many employees does the company in Egypt?

Unilever has 22,000 direct and indirect employees.

How many distribution centres does Unilever have in Egypt?

We have main distributors in every governorate in Egypt.

What are the challenges that the company faces in Egypt?

Egypt has grown a lot. It has been a very good journey for us, but we are concerned about the cost of utilities since it’s gone up a lot with government removing subsidies.

I think that was the right thing to do for the country, but it is certainly adding more challenges to maintain our competitive position in Egypt.

In my opinion, there is a great of opportunity for Egypt to use more green energy. There’s a lot of sunshine here in the country, but there’re hardly any solar panels. Egypt has the chance to become greener in energy, and the cost could come down without subsidies.

We are a bit concerned about the customs operation; it caused some disruption to the business. It an important area to the country to look at and to work to reform the whole clearance operations to enhance the country in trade across borders in doing business. I am very happy to know during my visit that the government is putting customs clearance on top of its reform agenda.

Egypt has a great potential to come an export hub to many companies and to achieve this one of the key things that we would really like to see improved is the day to day customs operation because for running and export manufacturing, it is an absolute must to have a competitive operation.

We also face another challenge as we always want to engage more women in our factories, with appropriate conditions of transportation and so on. On the other hand, the labour law does not allow women to work except in the morning shifts, which does not help factories hire more women, even if the women themselves are ready to work evening shifts.

How can you evaluate Egypt`s current economic situation ?

In my opinion, the government has done a great job in their reform policy. Egypt`s economy is growing with higher growth rates and consumer habits are changing rapidly.

Egypt is following the trends that impact business globally, including the progressive development for digital media. I think the country is open for business and investments and is moving in the right direction very quickly.

We always think that countries have a more sustainable economy when more of the GDP is driven by consumption. One of the things we would like to see in Egypt is more GDP growth by consumption, because a lot of it is now by investment and infrastructure, but we think that will change.

Unilever has a lot of trust in the direction that the government has been taking; it’s pushing Egypt forward.

After the pound flotation, the consumption patterns of Egyptians were affected. How do you deal with these changes?

Consumers were shocked at first, and subsequently this increase in prices significantly influenced their consumption, thus they used to put priorities. But then they returned back to their normal consuming patterns and choose quality products

We faced this change in the patterns, but we responded by diversifying the packaging of all our products to serve all customers in all categories.

Climate change is a global issue now. Unilever is one of the companies committed to reducing its carbon footprint. Can you elaborate more on the actions taken by Unilever?

The company has been committed to being carbon neutral in its operations by 2030.

We have just announced about a month ago that all the electricity we use around the world is from renewable sources, except in two states of Australia that we are still working on.

Unilever does that in 190 countries around the world where the electricity is already 100% renewable.

With regards to Egypt, I think it is also a renewable energy source. We can get about a third of our energy demand met via solar energy.

Currently we have only three locations left where we are dependent on coal, however the company is pushing very hard to be carbon neutral.

We’re also currently working on the heat requirements of our operations, to use less gas and more electricity, or let’s say finding bio gas, or biomass to generate the steam and hot water needed for production.

Besides, we’re looking at deforestation free commodities, as we use a lot of palm oil around the world, we’re working very hard to combat that deforestation.

You have made a commitment two months ago that you will reduce the use of virgin plastic by 50% by 2025, tell us more about this commitment?

The last thing that Unilever does to face climate change is reducing the usage of plastic. We are using about 700,000 tonnes of plastic, which is considered a big amount.

Some of the plastics are 100% recycled from what we call PCR, and we are working hard in Egypt to use more recycled plastic.

Moreover, Unilever is working with a local company to help us put more recycled plastics in our products portfolio and this is a big opportunity for Egypt since the plastic economy is changing very fast, and so is consumer behaviour.

The post Unilever Mashreq to invest over ‎€60m in Egypt within three years appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Signify’s global investments €7.5bn, sales in Egypt reach €26m: Devan Pillay Wed, 11 Dec 2019 06:00:30 +0000 Egypt and East Africa account for 40% of Signify’s trade in the continent

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Signify, formerly known as Philips, specialised in manufacturing lighting products announced its intention to implement €150m worth expansions and project development globally next year.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Devan Pillay, president and CEO of Signify Africa, and Inna King, head of Human Resources for the Growth Markets (Africa, Middle East, India, South East Asia, Pacific, Korea, and Japan) at Signify.

The company leaders talked about Signify’s strategy for next year, and its new solutions and products.

How much are the company’s investments and sales?

Pillay: The company always seeks to pump new investments for development. Our investments amounted to €7.5bn and the company developed a strategy to keep pace with the technological revolution through implementing expansions, launching new products, providing its services to business and consumer sectors, and employing the Internet of Things (IoT) to go beyond lighting of houses and turn them into intelligent buildings. The company’s total sales reached about €7bn.

Does the company intend to launch new products next year?

Pillay: We always offer the latest products, systems, and means that help countries switch into intelligence and become more suitable for life, in addition to implementing €150m worth expansions and launch new products at the latest technologies globally next year

The company launched Interact IoT Platform, a secure, scalable IoT platform that collects insights from your connected LED lighting, embedded sensors, and IoT devices over an IoT-ready connected lighting system.

It is a reflection of the company’s strategy to provide data-backed services, and enhance the value of lighting products and systems, making cities smarter, more efficient, and easier to manage at the lowest cost. The platform focuses on different facilities in smart cities, whether administrative, residential, or sportive, and street lighting.

Signify also launched Trulifi. It’s a range of LiFi systems, providing two-way wireless communication that’s reliable, secure, and fast. Our Trulifi systems modulate light waves to transmit data. A USB access key plugged into a laptop or tablet receives data and sends data back to a transceiver. By leveraging lighting infrastructure, Trulifi customers get the best of both worlds: great quality Philips light and a reliable, secure, high-speed wireless connection.

Trulifi is a fixed and integrated system with internet speed of up to 250 Mbps, an ideal solution for connecting devices, say, in industrial facilities, and suitable for use in areas sensitive to radiofrequency (such as hospitals, clinics, power plants, etc.) or areas with poor or no wireless connectivity.

What is your assessment of the investment climate in Egypt?

Pillay: The Egyptian market is very promising and has many opportunities that can encourage investment. Legislative and political stability and security greatly stimulate long-term investments and the participation of the private sector with government agencies in the implementation of national projects, such as the New Administrative Capital (NAC).

Egypt and East Africa account for 40% of Signify’s trade in the continent. The company has increased the volume of its business and investments in the Egyptian market by about 25% during the fiscal year 2019/20 to implement targeted projects in the coming years.

How much are the company’s sales in Egypt, and what are your most prominent projects in the country?

Pillay: The company’s sales in Egypt amounted to €26m and are intended to increase during the next year, according to the strategy that Signify has prepared regarding its sales in Africa and the Egyptian market.

Signify Egypt recently provided its lighting solutions to several projects in the NAC, and participated in projects in the New Alamein city, including providing the new headquarters of the cabinet in the city as well as five major football stadiums nationwide with the latest lighting technologies.

Do you intend to launch new projects in Egypt next year?

Pillay: Of course, we are in talks to implement new projects which will be announced after reaching agreements. We also inked cooperation agreements with two Egyptian companies on several projects, including El Sewedy Electric.

king: Signify has 28,000 employees in 70 countries, and the company has a diversified structure that includes R&D, operation, sales, and marketing departments. About 30-40% of the workforce in Signify are university graduates, as the company provides training programmes to university students.

We focus on social responsibility programmes that benefit the communities where the company operates. For example, in Indonesia, Signify helps individuals develop themselves, and provides them with technical training, and helps them understand how lighting technologies work.

Also, several projects related to lighting using solar energy were implemented in Africa, since many societies in Africa are not connected to electricity networks. It is not only about providing solar-powered lights, but also educating citizens about how they work and how to make them sustainable.

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We aim to bring the Premium International’s turnover to EGP 3.8bn in 5 years: chairperson Tue, 10 Dec 2019 08:45:09 +0000 The company aims to launch two new products in 2020 and provide premium services to individuals

The post We aim to bring the Premium International’s turnover to EGP 3.8bn in 5 years: chairperson appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Premium International for Credit Services aims to reach a turnover reaching EGP 3.8bn by the end of 2024, supported by the provision of liquidity from the securitisation process, planning to launch a retail product in 2020, and contracting A50 to provide mobile payment services.

The company is also seeking to join the umbrella of consumer finance law as a prelude to the initial public offering (IPO) within three years, in addition to launching a company with Sarwa Capital company to introduce a new product in the field of consumer finance. Daily News Egypt sat down with Paul Antaki, owner of Premium International for Credit Services, in order to get the latest of the company’s plans.

What is the volume of business in the next five years?

The company aims to bring its current business volume to EGP 1bn, targetting to reach EGP 1.3bn in 2020, EGP 1.8bn in 2021, and EGP 2.5bn in 2022.  We aim to bring up its business volume in five years to EGP 3.8bn by the end of 2024. The sales volume is calculated on the basis of the total purchases of cardholders and not returns. The number of sales and purchases amounted to EGP 1m transactions per month.

What are the main sectors covered by the Premium Card?

Premium cardholders are able to cover all simple daily needs directly and without restrictive procedures, including foodstuffs, clothing, shoes, all fashion products, and electrical appliances, as well as health care services, tourism, and travel. Customers can pay on instalments over 10 months without interest. Premium Card is a commercial credit card for commercial goods and services, not funds.

How many premium card customers are there currently?

The number of customers currently reached about 130,000 cardholders. The number of customers increases from 2,000 to 2,500 at a monthly rate. The figure is seen to increase by 4,000 cardholders per month starting next year with the support of securitisation.

How many companies contract Premium to obtain cards for their employees? What are the conditions of the contracted companies?

The number of companies contracted with Premium is more than 800 companies. The company aims to expand its contracts with the private sector. The volume of government contracts ranges from three to four  government agencies whose employees use a Premium Card with negotiations with the ministries of investment and housing currently underway.

Premium contracts with companies with specific conditions, a joint-stock company, the capital of which shall be no less than EGP 2m, and that the company’s employees must be registered with the General Authority for Social Insurance, and the number of employees at least 100 employees.

What is the company’s percentage of profitability from the contracts of traders?

The profit margin of the company is estimated at 2% to 3% obtained from the contracted trader. The company is currently contracting with 5000 outlets through which premium services are provided for instalments with the same advantages as the outlet. The volume of sales and purchases amounted to 1m annual transactions.

Can you give us some details about the company’s securitisation bond programme?

The duration of the short-term bond issuance programme of the premium credit services company is up to two years until 2021. The company could offer an additional bond programme parallel to the programme in case of need for liquidity.

EFG-Hermes has announced the launch of a short-term securitisation in a multi-issuance programme for Premium Credit Services. The total value of the issuance programme is EGP 2bn divided into six, nine and 12-month tranches. The Arab African Bank covered the offering of premium bonds by 50%, and the investment bank Hermes covered 25% of the offering, while 25% was covered by Azimut company.

The company’s decision to move towards the issuance of securitisation bonds aims to provide large liquidity that enables it to expand the issuance of new products.

Are there new products in the pipeline?

One of the new products that the company plans to add during 2020 is the premium cards for individuals through specific communities, and after credit and field inquiry. We are also planning to launch a new product in the near future.

The cost of the first securitisation represents about 12.80% annually on the first tranche of the issuance programme, and 6.9% cost on a 10-month basis. Financing by issuing bonds is cheaper than bank borrowing, and over the years the cost of securitisation has become constant and the volume of securitisation has been increasing. The guarantee for the securitisation programme is the biggest obstacle faced by the company in the process of securitisation since it does not have the receipt securities in the conventional sense. The cardholder form of premium customers and receipt is the guarantee of the securitisation programme. Securitisation proceeds are purchases of 38,000 cardholders.

The customer at the beginning of the contract signed a receipt of the credit limit set by his company. Premium contracts with companies and bodies and not individuals.

How does one overcome the credit risk of default?

The credit risk of non-payment is very limited, as the customer signs a receipt equivalent to the limit allowed to borrow which corresponds to the credit card. The biggest motivation behind the company’s tendency to securitisation instead of credit facilities from banks is due to the Central Bank of Egypt’s instructions that the size of facilities for non-bank financing companies does not exceed 1 to 10 of the capital, while the company’s capital is currently EGP 50m.

Can you tell us more about your partnership with Sarwa Capital?

A partnership agreement was signed with Sarwa Capital Holding for Financial Investments to establish a new product offering in the field of consumer finance. Under the agreement, the partnership will draw on the expertise and capabilities of the two companies to develop a unique product in the consumer finance sector, which will contribute to reach a larger segment of customers and promote growth opportunities in the market. The partnership is 50/50 between the two companies.

What are the benefits of securitisation for Premium Card?

The process of securitisation gives the company flexibility in cash flows and greater liquidity without pressure on leverage, and continue to retain profits for faster growth. The company, since its inception 17 years ago, did not distribute any profits to partners to achieve a rapid growth rate. Securitisation gives more room to control profits. The volume of credit facilities of the company amounted to about EGP 250m, the latest of which is a loan from the Arab African International Bank. The year 2002 witnessed the start of the company through the contract with 50 dealers, 2,000 customers, and six companies.  The year 2009 witnessed the beginning of the profitability of the company since its establishment. The first credit facility obtained by the company during this year was from the Arab African International Bank.

What are the total credit facilities obtained by the company?

The company’s first loan in 2009 was worth EGP 5m in return for a capital increase of EGP 5m to reach EGP 17m at the time. In 2018, the company obtained a credit facility from the same bank worth EGP 200m.

What is a premium store?

Premium Card has launched an online store under the name of a premium store to sell the products of non-contracted outlets to Premium customers with the same instalment policy. This is being developed to satisfy Premium customers.

Is there a competition with payment cards from banks?

In terms of competition with electronic payment cards, the advantage that Premium offers to its customers is continuity in instalments without interest for 10 months, and not for a certain period as the rest of bank cards.

How many outlets is the company contracted with?

Premium Card has sought to include a huge network of service providers and products to serve different segments of consumer groups. It currently consists of 500 brands and retail chains dealing with various products and services, representing more than 5000 outlets across Egypt. The emergence of the idea of an alternative solution and the establishment of Premium Card came in 2002, 17 years ago, which allows the average consumer to buy and consume through a huge network of merchants offering various products and services through a card that allows them to install purchases in 10 months without interest.

Are there new technologies the company is considering adding?

Premium is always moving to the new technology after the launch of the Premium app, which allows the user to complete purchases using the application on mobile phone. The company plans to contract with A50 to launch a mobile payment system, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

In the coming years, Premium could consider expanding outside Egypt in countries such as Nigeria and Ethiopia through a partner in those countries, which will be provided by the operating system for a certain percentage agreed upon.

What about the state’s policy of financial inclusion?

The government’s tendency for financial inclusion in Egypt supports the idea of individuals turning to the use of credit cards to pay various services and reduce liquidity, which would expand the base of premium card customers.

Premium Card applies to consumer finance law, where the company is waiting for the availability of licenses to obtain them immediately. The company has turned to Financial Regulatory Authority to be included under the umbrella of consumer finance law. After obtaining the necessary licences, the company will launch the IPO procedures in the capital market. The IPO is one of the options offered for financing. All Premium Cardholders are expected to be premium investors at the IPO.

What are the main challenges facing the company in the market?

The main obstacles faced by the company in the establishment phase is to convince merchants to sign a premium with a discount in the presence of Visa and Master Card. Premium cardholders accounted for three times the cash sales of merchants. In terms of operational hurdles, the biggest challenge faced by the company is the introduction of a special operating system. The operating system of Premium is the credit card system of banks that has been launched and developed more than once to meet the needs of Premium. The company started to work with the ports manually using a manual system based on the merchant’s contact with the company, and then the company was able to contract with the National Bank of Egypt to accept premium cards on its machines through a contract that allows the issuance of premium cards to cardholders of the bank.

Premium was established in the Egyptian market in 2002 for the brothers Paul and Rami Antaki, through the issuance of a system of instalment cards for corporate employees, up to 10 months without interest through more than 450 brands in the market.

The post We aim to bring the Premium International’s turnover to EGP 3.8bn in 5 years: chairperson appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Spotify succeeds to concert Arab culture globally, with more plans for the region: managing director Tue, 10 Dec 2019 08:43:18 +0000 Last week, a Swedish rapper, Imenella did a cover for Amr Diab’s 1996 hit Habibi Ya Nour El Ein as part of Spotify Singles initiative, says Boller

The post Spotify succeeds to concert Arab culture globally, with more plans for the region: managing director appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Spotify in November has completed its first year here in the Middle East and North Africa. In that year, the platform has attracted millions of active users within the Arab world, broadening the music market with free Arabic and international music, which has limited piracy and has introduced the entire world to Arab music and artists.

Last year, Spotify launched a full Arabic language user experience, offering 13 new markets in the Middle East and North Africa. The music streaming platform has now brought its global footprint to 79 markets in total including India.

Spotify’s also launched its Arab Hub, a new music platform as part of its Global Cultures initiative. The initiative is a series of platforms hosting curated playlists to help introduce people of other cultures to another’s latest hits and classics.  Arab Hub follows the recently launched Latin hub and Afro Hub. With the Arabic Hub, people from all over the world now may easily find Arabic music and artists.

Spotify received a highly positive response from the Middle East. Over 3bn playlists are now available on the platform. Last month, Spotify celebrated Amr Diab’s legacy and global impact with a billboard in Times Square. This year, the pop icon is officially Spotify’s “Wrapped” 2019  list most streamed artist in Egypt. 

Through its unique feature of personalising playlists, such as Discover Weekly and Daily Mix, Spotify has become a very important and strategic partner for the region’s artists and music industry.


Celebrating one year of success, Daily News Egypt interviewed Spotify’s Managing Director in the Middle East and Africa Claudius Boller, who spoke about the achievement of the platform during its first year, and expansion plans in Middle East.

After completing one year in the region, how do you see Spotify’s expansion in the Middle East, particularly in Egypt?

We are really happy with the results so far. We can see that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has totally raised Spotify. It was very wonderful for us to see Arab users all of over the world praising our platform. They showed a very high engagement on the platform, not looking for Arabic music only, but international music as well. We see them growing their playlists when discovering more music on the platform.

The artists are praising Spotify as well. We are working with them very closely and they are actively working with the platform. We see that growth is exceeding our expectation and we are also happy with the response we’re receiving from the media.

Spotify has long worked with European and American users, how were you able to overcome challenges in communicating with Arabic users?

We looked for powerful global expansion plans and we launched Spotify in 13 countries in MENA, which was a very huge undertaking.  We translated Spotify into Arabic and used the Arabic language in marketing campaigns to enhance communication with users.

We launched Arab Hub as part of our global cultures initiative, to connect all types Middle Eastern music and culture with listeners everywhere. This was our way of spreading Arabic culture in terms of music service for the world and reach many users. Even artists were able to see how their songs have spread outside of the MENA region.  They are now able reach their fans and even build new fans outside the region and across the world through Spotify. 

Which musical genre is most played in the Middle East and Egypt?

Pop music is very trendy in the Middle East, whether Arab or international pop. Mahrganat [electro shaabi music] is also growing very fast. Hip Hop and rap are also trending quickly in the region.

How do you view the success of Spotify’s latest campaign which projected a billboard of Arab singer Amr Diab in New York City’s Times Square?

We are impressed by the feedback we are getting from this campaign. It was a wonderful opportunity to work with Egyptian singer Amr Diab. He is an absolute legend. Egypt on Spotify as per our latest “Wrapped” campaign data , but he is also a global icon where most of his streams on Spotify come from the U.S.

The idea was decided to honor him. He is the number one most streamed artist in Egypt on Spotify as per our latest “Wrapped” campaign data , but he is also a global icon where most of his streams on Spotify come from the US. He has huge fans all over the world and we wanted to spread Arab music everywhere.

Today, we have 248 active users on the platform. It’s worth mentioning that Spotify believes that it is important to present local music services to global audiences. The main idea of Spotify is that we are working with all artists and labels. We try to be as unbiased as possible.  We are also open to working with all artists and labels and we can not wait to continue spreading this region’s culture beyond borders.

To what extent do you believe such campaigns contribute to different cultures connecting?

We truly do believe this. We always wanted other cultures to discover Arabic music and we are already witnessing that.  This past weekend, a Swedish rapper released a cover of Amr Diab’s 1996 hit Habibi Ya Nour El Ein (My Love! The light of the eye) as part of Spotify Single’s initiative.

The rapper said the song inspired her, it has a feel good vibe and that she is in love with Arabic beats , which basically shows how music can travel and how Spotify can be play a role here.

How does Spotify help emerging artists and MENA’s underground scene?

We have developed a platform called Spotify Artist, which is used only by artists. It’s a mobile-application and website for artists to access their data. Hundreds of thousands of artists are using it already. Through it, artists can see how their music is doing on the platform, how many followers, listeners, and from which country and city the music is being played.

Our mission is to help  artists make a living out of their careers.

For example, one Arab artist discovered that his songs are played in Germany more than Egypt or any Arab country and also found that he has a big audience in France.

I think this application helps artist to change their mind regarding marketing and promoting their music more in countries outside the Arab region.

We also have guidelines for them to protect their rights, release music on platforms, protect themselves from piracy, and pitch music to our editorial team.

We have organised over 70 sessions for artist, labels, music distributors, music managers, sound engineers, and sound producers to explain to them how they can enhance their business, increase their revenue, and understand how digital streams work.

Can you tell us about Spotify’s partnerships?

Since our launch, we are already on several devices and platforms – including Google Maps, Xbox, PlayStation, Google Assistant, among others. Globally, we are available on over 500 products across 200 hardware brands. These partnerships are available throughout the world and activated in the Middle East.

One year ago, Rotana has signed a deal with Deezer, giving it the right only to have albums of artists who are produced by Rotana, which made content of those artists, blocked in other platforms. How do you deal with this situation and will it encourage Spotify to produce albums one day?

Fair to say that we have extreme comprehensive Arabic music offering and we are very pleased with our performance since launch, it exceeded our expectations. We are a fully licensed service, and have over 50m tracks from both local and international artists. We have many artists that come from Rotana but we don’t currently have the Rotana catalogue in all countries but we are working on it. Important to note, that the population in Arab region is extremely high, roughly sixty percent of the population are under the age of 30 who love new types of music being releaseed every day and we are here to continue driving the growth of local music and artists day in and day out.

Can you tell us more about the newly launched Spotify kid application? And how people are reacting to it so far?

 Spotify Kids has rolled out first in Ireland in Denmark, Sweden, and New Zealand.  Spotify is committed to bringing audio content such as music and stories to more people in more ways–including the next generation of listeners. That’s why we decided to launch a fun standalone app designed with safety in mind specifically for kids and families.

We’re thrilled to beta launch in Ireland and look forward to introducing Spotify Kids in all markets.  As we evolve the app experience, we’ll roll out enhanced parental settings and controls for even more customization in an effort to give parents peace of mind. Spotify Kids is not available in the MENA region but we are working on it, so stay tuned.

How does Spotify control a song’s copyrights from being leaked?

We have a lot of mechanisms of internal technology. First of all, before we launched, we needed to make sure that we have all the licences that we require, not only for recorded music but also publishing music rights.

It is difficult in the MENA region, as there isn’t a collective body to get the rights of a song, but several entities around the world that we must cooperate with if we want to get a licence for the MENA region.

We had some body uploading a song by Amr Diab, claiming that it belongs to him. We have technology that can identify whether if it’s a copy or not and immediately stop it from being published in the platform.

However, piracy is still big since the market doesn’t have as many offers to easily access music, but with Spotify is it different because all songs available by free services. You literally have all music, 50 million songs and more, accessible to you.

There is on-going competition among international music platforms, so how do you work to step ahead of this and attract more users?

We prefer not to comment on other music services, but instead remain laser focused on continuing to offer the best possible service for music fans. We believe that the market is wide open and those who provide a superior user experience will have room to grow. Over the last decade, while there has been promising development on the supply side of the music streaming ecosystem, we believe there is still ample opportunity for growth primarily through conversion of users away from piracy towards free, legal music, and from thereon, evolving consumer mindset towards paid subscriptions. We are in for the long term and are excited to build the industry and create the market as an invested partner in MENA. We are excited to be a part of this thriving market and believe there is always an opportunity for brands to stand out as long as they engage consumers through constant innovation and captivating content, and drive the local industry ecosystem as an invested and responsible player.

From the Middle East, which country has the highest number of subscribers with your platform?

We don’t disclose this, I can say two countries in the Gulf currently host the biggest number of subscribers.  Spotify is the most popular global audio streaming subscription service with 248 million users, including 113 million subscribers across 79 markets. 

Can you tell us about your future expansion plans for 2020?

Going forward, our focus is to progressively build our platform based on innovation inspired by our users. Spotify is the world’s most popular music streaming service and our goal is to continue leading the audio revolution through the best in-app and offline experiences

For in-app experiences, we remain committed in making the user experience even more intuitive through best in audio content and features, attuned to local preferences. Our efforts align in building the user’s experience through progression across audio formats that begin with curation, discovery, and monetization, all found within one seamless experience that is deeply personalized for each user

On the industry front, as invested partners, we are focused on growing the market by creating a healthy industry value chain, driving value for our partners, including labels, creators and brands. There is immense opportunity for growth in transitioning users from mindset of piracy towards streaming music and we are focused towards it. I’d like to point our latest acquisition of SoundBetter. SoundBetter is the world’s leading music talent marketplace, helping musicians and labels worldwide connect and collaborate with top music professionals. Since SoundBetter launched in 2012, the member community has grown to over 180,000, spanning 176 countries and 14,000 cities worldwide. This acquisition will help develop MENA’s creator talent pool by connecting them to the global artist community to engage, learn and thrive in their business

The post Spotify succeeds to concert Arab culture globally, with more plans for the region: managing director appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

ACUD to complete lands sales in NAC’s first phase by July 2020 Tue, 10 Dec 2019 08:15:39 +0000 Shoura council building is being designed to be ready after elections, says ACUD chairperson

The post ACUD to complete lands sales in NAC’s first phase by July 2020 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

New Administrative Capital’s (NAC) has sold 17,500 feddan from the 24,000 feddan offered for sale – excluding the landscape, infrastructure etc which make up 16,000 feddan – Magdy Amin, head of Real Estate Sector at the Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD) said.

He added that the remaining 6,500 feddan will be marketed until July 2020.

The Egyptian government is planning to move all ministries and agencies in June 2020 to the NAC. The Government District’s development process exceeded 70% and they are currently working on the interiors of the ministry buildings.

Additionally, the infrastructure’s completion of the Government district will be complete in April 2020.

ACUD is the owner and developer for the NAC in Egypt and is located 35 km east of Cairo with a total area of 170,000 feddan.

Daily News Egypt sat down with leaders of the ACUD to learn more about the development process at the new capital project.

Ahmed Zaki Abdeen ACUD’s chairperson said that they are preparing designs for the Shura Council to move to the NAC.

Abdeen added that the company is ready to offer lands in mixed use areas in the NAC after the operation of the government district at twice the current meter price.

Furthermore, ACUD’s spokesperson Khaled El Hosseini, said that prices per square metre jumped by approximately 150% since the first offering.

What are the updates in the Green River area in the NAC project?

Abdeen: The Green River area spans over a total of 1,660 feddans, out of which 1000 feddans have been reserved for green areas and 660 feddans for mixed-use activities. The mixed-use areas are currently being developed and marketed through the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA). The NUCA is responsible for developing the area’s infrastructure and offering lands for developers as well as managing the projects within the Green River area.

How much is the price per metre that the ACUD plans to offer the NUCA?

Abdeen: The NUCA has bought the square metre in Green River with EGP 2,100.

What is the update regarding the MU4 and MU7?

Abdeen: The MU4 and MU7 zones are specialised for mixed-use commercial, administrative, and medical projects. We have offered very few plots of lands in these two areas. Additionally, we do not intend to offer lands in this area in the current period; however, we plan to offer lands in the two areas after the Government District’s operation which includes all ministries and government agencies, as well as the presidency and parliament, with doubled price per square metre compared to the current price.

How much is a square metre in these two areas?

Abdeen: The price per square metre reached EGP 15,000 and depends on the height of the project’s buildings, as every extra additional unit over seven floors means a 5% increase in price of the square metre for investors, and can reach approximately EGP 40,000 and EGP 45,000.

How many companies have paid the 2% serious reservation and not the 20% down-payment yet?

Abdeen: There are about five or six companies that haven’t paid the 20%. This means that they are not developing in the mixed-use areas until they the 20% and sign a contract.

When will the ACUD officially offer lands for developers in the mixed-use areas?

Abdeen: The company is ready to offer lands in mixed-use areas in the NAC after the operation of the government district at twice the current metre price.

Are you ready to transfer all governmental agencies to the NAC in June 2020?

Abdeen: Yes, we are. The political leadership is very keen on moving the ministries and agencies in time. However, the parliament will move in 2021 due to the beginning of the new legislative session of parliament in 2021. The building is huge and still in need of a lot of work. Moreover, the ACUD is preparing designs for Shura Council to be in the NAC.

Which operator is going to provide technological services in the project?

Abdeen:Telecom Egypt will manage and provide technological services and support in the NAC through an usufruct contract for 25 years.  Moreover, last week, we signed an agreement with Etisalat Misr to provide technical services for the NAC. Etisalat Misr won the tender for the supply, implementation, and operation of city management systems in the NAC to provide technological services and technical support within the new capital. Accordingly, we will sign another agreement with Orange in the coming period.

When will the joint venture with Electricité de France (EDF) and German Dorsch Group be established?

Abdeen: We are currently finishing the procedures of establishing the joint ventures with the operators and service provider in the NAC projects. In mid-January, three joint ventures will be established with EDF to provide electricity service and Dorsch to provide water and irrigation services as well as, another French service provider company in gas services.

What are some areas that the company is currently working on?

Amin: We are working on developing infrastructure in two areas, MU4 and MU7 inside R2 and R3 in the first phase of the NAC project. MU4 is overlooking the Green River and MU7 is close to CBD. Each MU is divided to approximately 50 plots of land with sizes ranging between one feddan to five or six feddans and allocated for business towers from 15 to 80 floors.

How many developers are working in MU4 and Mu7?

Amin:There are 17 developers, two of which have received lands in these areas.

How much is the price per square metre in MU4 and MU7?

Amin:We offer square metre with prices starting at EGP 20,000 according to the building’s height and place.

What is the size of lands that have been sold out?

Amin:The total area for sale in the first phase of NAC project is 24,000 feddans and the rest are roads and landscaping, out of which 17,500 feddans have been sold out. The other 6,500 feddans will be marketed until July.

Are there international operators or investors requesting land?

Amin: We have several requests to know more about investment opportunities and check lands in the NAC project. Therefore, we have a lot of discussions with other developers. Additionally, we are studying requests by 18 investors to acquire lands for residential and mixed-use projects.

How many developers are working in the NAC?

Amin: We have about 300 developers.

How many ministerial approvals have been issued for developers in the NAC?

Amin: We have issued more than 50 ministerial approvals.

What is the aim beyond contracting with EDF France to provide electricity service?

El Hosseini: We aim to provide services with minimum loss of electricity which is currently estimated at 35%, and  we want to reach 7%.  EDF France will also provide online and smart solution to supply the NAC’s residents with electricity services. This system is to be implemented with high techniques and solid infrastructure.

Do you have any requests from international institutions to acquire lands for headquarters in the Diplomatic Area?

El Hossieni: The African Export–Import Bank (Afreximbank) requested a land area of 110,000 square metres (sqm) divided into two plots, the first in the diplomatic district with an area of 50,000 sqm to establish housing for the bank’s employees at a price of $400 per sqm, and the second with an area of 60,000 sqm in the central business district to establish a headquarters for the bank and an African trade centre. The bank is seeking to establish an administrative tower with a height of 400 meters and includes 100 floors. The average price of a square meter of land in that area was $2500 per meter depending on the place.

What are the ACUD’s activities in promoting the NAC project?

El Hossieni: Last month, we have participated in an international exhibition in Barcelona, Spain at Fira de Barcelona to showcase countries’ experiences in establishing smart cities. Accordingly, we plan to participate in that exhibition next year to largely promote the project.

What is the percentage of increase in prices since the first offering to date?

El Hossieni: The prices hiked by approximately 150% since the first offering until now.

Do you receive requests by developers to expand the instalments of land value?

El Hossieni: We have already received very few requests by developers to not extend or increase instalment periods, but to pay the instalment in more than one payment, provided that they are adhering to a contracted period of time to pay the whole price of the land.

How many ministerial approvals are being issued?

El Hossieni: We are preparing to issue about 16 ministerial approvals for developers in the NAC. Additionally, we have issued 2203 building permits for projects.

Tell us more about the updates in the Government District?

El Hossieni: The development process of the Government District at the NAC exceeded 70% and currently we are working on interiors in ministries and it will move in June 2020. Additionally, the completion of infrastructure in government district will be completed in April 2020. The total cost of infrastructure in the government district is approximately EGP 40bn.

The post ACUD to complete lands sales in NAC’s first phase by July 2020 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Follow your maddest dreams, don’t forget your roots, upgrade your skills and always be connected to the rest of the world: Frédéric Mané Sun, 08 Dec 2019 16:08:19 +0000 “Alone, I am just an artist, with my team I can create more than a drawing!”

The post Follow your maddest dreams, don’t forget your roots, upgrade your skills and always be connected to the rest of the world: Frédéric Mané appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

French jewellery designer, Frédéric Mané is a consultant designer with over 16 years of experience. Mané who collaborates with signature brands and luxury workshops at Vendôme told Daily News Egypt (DNE) that the base of his inspiration is his Mediterranean roots, from the beautiful mountain sides on the coast to the life found on and below the Mediterranean Sea.

DNE interviewed Mané to get to know his inspirations, how his journey began, and how he viewed the Egyptian and Arab jewellery design scene.


Tell us about yourself, including and your steps to become a consultant designer in jewellery?

I was born in Perpignan in the south of France in 1982.

I grew up in front the Mediterranean Sea and I spent my childhood between Perpignan, Collioure, and Cadaquès. Mediterranean cultures are my roots. My grandfather is Catalan and my grandmother is from Tunisia. Beyond my French nationality, I grew up around three cultures, French, Catalan, and Tunisian. My family founded a toy shop in the south of France and I spent my childhood surrounded by a mesmerising atmosphere full of tales, legends, and arts. I was born an artist and I drew characters full of jewels all the time. I liked creating fantastic universes and after I used to convert my paintings into real objects, sculptures en argile.

When I was 18 years old, I understood jewellery and art objects were my destiny, so I decided to move to Paris to study design. I quickly learnt the “Haute école” jewellery painting technics. Just after I was head designer for six years at Mathon Paris, I found a significant family atelier at Place Vendome.

For four years, I was a consultant designer, I had my design studio and I collaborated with luxury groups and maintained a deep relationship with Parisian jewellers and international signature brands. With a strong and broad experience in design, particularly in jewellery and the design of precious objects and accessories, I am a happy man!

What first led you to making jewellery?

Craftmanship and workshops are a fascinating universe. I like sharing my project with a team of experts.

I consider jewellery a body of collective body of work in which each member of the orchestra plays his part and expresses the excellence of his art. The culmination of the work is the fruit of a unique symbiosis, where each one is equally important. The technique and precision of the gesture are at their highest expectation to reveal a panel of emotions. Alone, I am just an artist, with my team I can create more than a drawing!


How did you jump in jewellery design from identity to professionalism?

Thanks to all my mentors and first employers for believing in me, they offered me many opportunities to develop my skills, and good thing I’m a hard worker


Did you receive a scholarship to study jewellery?

I am very grateful for my parents for believing in me, they offered me the opportunity to study in Paris for three years. Just after getting a masters, I decided to apply for an international programme for two years. I had to spend two days in classes and three days in a design agency every week. Fortunately,  the agency was paying for the rest of my studies.


What are the Parisian and international brands you collaborate with?

I collaborate with signature brands and luxury workshops at Vendôme, allowing them to follow the design process – from the technical, conceptual, and creative process to the fabrication – and all its subtleties and technicalities. I exhibit my projects around the world – particularly in the Emirates and in Asia – where I promote brands and our work while meeting clients and collectors for whom we create unique custom-made pieces using a rich palette of colours and styles. 

I am very discreet about my clients, there are some royal families and collectors and I regularly work with LVMH group and Richemont. My last amazing collaboration was different, I co-signed with Rubeus Milano, a brand considered as ” Ultimate luxury. ” I designed an amazing project exhibited to the palace of Louvre.


What are the international exhibitions you participated in?

I’ve participated in plenty of big exhibitions, Baselword Switzerland many times, Hongkong fairs, and Couture Las Vegas. I also did a lot of confidential trunk shows around the world. My favourite was in July to the Louvre and six years ago to the Emirates palace in Abu Dhabi.


Tell us about your design style, what makes your collections unique in the industry?

Maybe my style is a rich creative universe that incorporates all styles and inspirations, my studio is where design is transformed into a concept, starting with hand-drawn sketches. My studio offers its expertise both in the knowledge of rare stones and in innovative materials. I propose the best traditional practices paired with new technology to create collections and exceptional pieces. From the creation of our collections to their fabrication, a spirit of collaboration that specifies each design house. I also make sure that each member of the marketing team and each artistic director are respected.

I can create a minimalist or outstanding piece, ultra-baroque, or very modern. I am a kind of chameleon, but I always have my DNA and roots lighting my inspirations.


What about the story behind the ‘Imperial’ collection and rock crystal necklace?

As a patron of the arts, the collectors and founders of Rubeus Milano Nataliya and Viktor Bondarenko invited me to create a full collection around the biggest and rarest Alexandrites in the world. Alexandrite from Russia is the best colour change stone, it has a natural effect from green on daylight to purple on incandescent light. As a designer, I had a free hand and no budget limit, it’s a unique opportunity.

To imagine the Rubeus Imperial Alexandrite Collection, I have been inspired by a cluster of quartz crystals lying on a deep blue plate of lapis lazuli somewhere in Moscow…

After a few hours of an intense and pure creative moment, I came with my first draft … two magnificent jewels showing like a spray of crystallinity emerging from the Earth all around some exceptional alexandrites… one of the rarest and mysterious gems known to mankind.

I decided to create a collection inspired by Mother Nature, the usual theme in jewellery is “Stones Information”, rough crystals growing, a modern artistic vision to tribute this treasure of nature, from the depths of the earth to the sky.


What does a typical day look like for you as a jewellery designer? 

Each morning I visit my workshop partners around Place Vendome to check my models, afterwards I visit my clients to show my drawings; I try to end my day in my design studio, surrounded by my books and painting, searching for new ideas.

What’s your favourite piece of the jewellery you made and why? 

My favourites pieces of jewellery are the ones designed with soul and a deep connection with others: brand, designer, jewellers, and final customers


How many collections have you issued so far?

With no doubt, I have created more than one thousand models. I am very prolific, but my main goal is the highest quality for each design.

What are your favourite materials to use?

All metals combined with translucent stone are my favourite combination.


What is your favourite diamond shape? 

Kite cut, like a kite flying for children, an invitation to continue your childhood.


What is the strangest request you’ve received for a custom design piece?

A “Dis-engagement ring” a sulphurous special order called Boa constrictor ring.


Have you been to Egypt before? Do you know any jewellery designers in Egypt?

Not yet, it’s one of my dreams. I hope to visit this amazing country very soon. As I told you my grandmother is Tunisian, and like her ancestors, Arabic was her native language. Shen I was a baby she use to sing Egyptians songs to me, her favourite singer was Oum Kalthoum, such a mesmerising voice!


Have you seen the jewellery of Tutankhamun? Or read the book “The Pharaohs Jewellery” by Cyril Eldred?

One of my first jewellery books was the jewellery of Tutankhamun, as a young artist, I was fascinated! When I was six years old my grandmother got it for me as a birthday gift.


Have you tried to design a collection of jewellery from the spirit of ancient Egyptian jewellery?

Of course, my family visited Egypt many times, I have many books and stories, one of my favourite stories is the tale of Selkys called Goddess Scorpion. I painted a big masterpiece in homage to Selkys.


What is your view on the jewellery industry in the Arab world? What needs to be improved?

A positive view of the new generation, because new designers mix their culture with a contemporary style. I appreciate a lot of new brands like Sevan Bicakci from Turkey or Nuun from Saudi, she has a very modern and delicate vision of jewellery, she is very inspired by her native culture. 



As a designer, where do you draw your inspiration from?

The base of my inspiration is my Mediterranean roots, from the beautiful mountain sides on the coast to the life found on and below the Mediterranean Sea.

I like to mix those roots with new influences, it’s very important for me to listen and understand my customers, their dreams and goals. I am kind of a magic chameleon able to convert many influences and sometimes opposite ideas into pieces of art.


What are the upcoming trends in the jewellery design industry?

I am not concerned about trends; I follow only my heart.


Who are your favourite designers? 

I am a big fan of Zaha Hadid and Salvador Dali, also my close friend the painter Emeline Piot, and Jothi Seroj sculpt jeweller.


What challenges do you face in your work?

Building a strong relationship between designer, workshop, and client. When you have an ambitious challenge like the Imperial collection for Rubeus Milano, it’s important to be a diplomatic guide and in the same way, stay an artistic director.

The challenge was amazing, we had to create a collection of 12 masterpieces made by Jothi Seroj, sculptor jeweller in Paris in the rule of art in only six months.

My last challenge was to create a collection for Hoehls wellness high jewellery, mixing rough stone with traditional jewellery.


What are some international awards you’ve received?

 In 2014, I was rewarded by the Chinese government Price of excellence for my project Firehorse.


What are your upcoming projects?

 I am working on an unusual project of watches and objets d’arts where I’m breaking some rules for a new company. 

A fantastic collaborative project. Also a new outstanding collection for Rubeus.


What advice would you have for aspiring jewellery designers?

Follow your maddest dreams, don’t forget your roots, work a lot to upgrade your skills and always be connected to the rest of the world because people are a real source of inspiration.

The post Follow your maddest dreams, don’t forget your roots, upgrade your skills and always be connected to the rest of the world: Frédéric Mané appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

500 Startups company invested in 37 Egyptian startups, making 30% of its MENA portfolio: venture partner Sun, 08 Dec 2019 06:00:33 +0000 We typically invest an average of $100,000 as an initial investment, and can follow on in the top 20-30% of our investments, up to $500,000, says Haider.

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Currently, most of the youth globally, and in Egypt specifically, are pursuing entrepreneurship rather than finding a fixed job. And subsequently, they look for funding or investors for their startups. Accordingly, some companies have made it their mission to help youth around the world succeed in their startups by funding them, and among these companies is “500 Startups.”

Meanwhile, there are many summits all over the world that help connect both stakeholders and startups, providing startup owners with exposure, resources. and advice. Among these events is the Rise Up Summit that is held annually in Egypt and will be held this year from 5 to 7 December, which means that there is only a day left for the beginning of the summit which is considered one of the more major summits in the Middle East for entrepreneurship.

On this occasion, Daily News Egypt interviewed Hasan Haider,  venture partner at 500 Startups- MENA region, to learn more about his company’s participation in the coming Rise Up summit, the amount of his company’s investments in the Egyptian startups, his company’s selection criteria for the startups that it funds, as well as the company’s five year strategy.

First of all, can you tell us more about 500 Startups?

500 Startups is a venture capital firm on a mission to discover and support the world’s most talented entrepreneurs, help them create successful companies at scale, and build thriving global ecosystems. It is one of the most active venture capital firms in the world.

500 Startups in the MENA region:

Silicon-Valley based 500 Startups is one of the most active early-stage venture capital funds in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Since its first investment in the region in 2012, 500 Startups has committed to investments in over 160 startups across the MENA region.

500 Falcons, a MENA-focused fund, that is a part of the global 500 Startups network, was launched in 2017. To-date, the company has invested in over 150 startups and plans to invest in another 50 companies, in addition to follow-on investments into the top performing companies.

Earlier this year, the oversubscribed MENA-focused 500 Falcons fund was closed at $33m.

Up until now, how many Egyptian startup companies has 500 Startups funded? And what’s the amount of investments?

To-date, 500 startups has invested in 37 Egyptian startups in our portfolio, which is around 30% of our total investments in the MENA region. We typically invest an average of $100,000 as an initial investment and can go as high as $500,000, which is the case of our top 20-30%.

At what stage will 500 Startups prefer to fund the start up? And what is the selection criteria for start-ups to receive funding from 500 Startups?

As a firm, we typically invest at the seed stage of a start-up’s development. How that is defined varies, but on average we are looking for startups that have launched a product and have been generating revenues of at least $5,000 a month, for the last three-six months, growing at least 20% month over month. Startups at this stage are generally raising between $300,000 – $500,000 in total to scale their customer acquisition, traction, and metrics.

We’re looking for balanced founding teams, with a bias towards execution, going after a large market with few to no competitors, and a product that users want.

As we are only a day away for the Rise Up summit, what is your opinion about it?

Rise up Summit is one of the best startup events in the MENA region. We actively look forward to it every year. I believe the key advantage that Rise up Summit has is that it genuinely feels authentic. The startups and community come together to make something grassroots, organic, and real. It’s not a series of government speakers in a ballroom in some hotel, but a real festival and celebration of entrepreneurship, founders, and startups.

How many times have you participated in the Ruse Up summit?

Almost every year.

What’s your expectations for your participation in the coming edition?

I’m looking forward to interacting with amazing startups from Egypt and all over the MENA region again, catching up with the other investors that will be there, and hopefully providing some useful insights to as many founders as we can through our speaking engagements.

How many startups have you funded through Rise Up summit and with how much in investments?

We’ve invested in many startups that we’ve met with during Rise Up and hope to continue doing so.

In your opinion, what distinguishes Egypt in terms of entrepreneurship than other countries in the Middle East? And what are the challenges?

In my opinion, Egypt is one of the fastest growing startup ecosystems in the MENA region. We love investing in Egyptian startups – the founders are passionate, driven, motivated to succeed with an amazing technical talent base. Combining that talent, motivation, and the large market size that exists – Egypt really is the main market to be investing in. Egyptian founders do face challenges, like recruiting talent related to growth, and the low spending power of users, but we’ve generally seen them succeed against all odds.

What are the promising sectors in Egypt that you would like to invest in?

There is a massive untapped opportunity in Egypt in fintech – finding ways to provide financial services to the mass unbanked market is an attractive option, and we’ve seen successes in other markets which leapfrogged the banking system to mobile based wallets. In addition, there are a lot of logistical and transport-based opportunities within Egypt, as well as on-demand products and services. We’ve been actively investing in all these sectors, but more broadly we’re interested in backing starts that can scale both within and outside Egypt.

The government is adopting a digital transformation strategy, in your opinion what are the challenges that Egypt faces in terms of mobile technology and e-commerce? What are the opportunities?

Every challenge and obstacle is just an opportunity to solve in the right hands. I believe that the largest challenge, particularly for e-commerce startups, is the availability of online payment options other than cash on delivery. Additionally, connectivity – making sure the majority of the population can afford data and access to the internet is an infrastructural obstacle. Combined with logistics, these three points are the main obstacles for growth in the tech industry. Having said that, I believe Egyptian founders have overcome these issues and have been thriving with their startups, and Egypt has passed the tipping point to enable success stories in the market.

Finally, what is the company’s five year plan in Egypt?

We’re going to continue to actively invest in the Egyptian market as we have been, and I believe the market will just get bigger and better. We’ll also start to see more and more exits there. Egypt is one of our key markets and will likely be for the foreseeable future.

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Energy prices, bank interests are the industry’s biggest obstacles in Egypt: Mohamed Hanafy Sat, 07 Dec 2019 13:46:52 +0000 We can compete abroad only by reducing the cost price, says director of the Metallurgical Industries Chamber at FEI

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Industrialisation is the locomotive of any real development in any country. The metal industries in specific is a strong and steady economy that is not easily affected like the rest of the sectors. In Egypt, the industrial sector suffers from many problems, starting from the high cost of products and imported raw materials, to frequent red tape. 

DNE talked to Mohamed Hanafy, director of the Chamber of Metallurgical Industries at the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), to understand the crises of the most important sectors such as iron, aluminium, gold, and quarries, and to tackle the role of the federation in providing solutions to those crises.

Is there a crisis with the amount of iron in Egypt? 

No, Egypt now has self-sufficiency in iron, there is no imported iron in the domestic market and 100% of iron is from the local industry.

We produce 8.2m tonnes per year, but there is a decline in purchasing power now, and the production is according to market needs.

The factories now produce 7.2m tonnes, and the consumption of iron is divided into iron for the infrastructure and iron buildings of the state, which has a large movement in sales up to 90%. There is also iron for consumption, which is used in buildings in the units created by private companies and people, and it is almost halted currently.


Does this production represent the production capacity of factories? 

The total production capacity of the factories is approaching 13m tonnes per year, but the market does not need this amount.


Is there a crisis with energy in the iron industry? 

The current gas prices for the factories are at $ 5.5 per million thermal units which still represents a rise in the cost of production, challenging the national industries in general as well as electricity prices.

We have asked the Energy Pricing Committee to reconsider gas and electricity prices for factories, and the chamber has asked the Energy Pricing Committee to reduce the price of gas to less than $ 4 per million thermal units.

A study by the committee for re-pricing energy revealed that gas prices for factories in many countries varied between $ 3.2 to $ 3.6 per million thermal units.

In the Gulf states, for example, gas prices to factories reach $1.2 per million thermal units. It is a must to reconsider pricing energy to reach a fair price of natural gas and electricity. 

As we said, the productivity of factories in Egypt outweighs domestic demand. The solution to the continued productivity of these factories is to penetrate foreign markets and open export channels. This will be done only by reducing the production cost and the first step is to reduce energy pricing is to create a competitive advantage for the Egyptian product in foreign markets.


Why have iron prices soared recently after falling and does it affect property prices? 

The reason for the recent rise in iron prices is the rise in the prices of international billet and scrap materials, which exceeded $500 per tonne. It started the trade war between the US and China which negatively affects raw materials prices worldwide, but the iron percentage does not exceed 6% of the unit’s price cost. There is no justification for the high prices of housing units in this exaggerated manner.


Why can’t we compete abroad in exporting iron? 

Three specific factors increase the cost of producing iron and other materials, including fuel, energy, and the cumulative interests of banks. We talked about fuel prices and their rise. The cost to deliver electricity ranges between 90 piasters to 95 piasters for a factory, however, it is charged for 120-130 piasters. Negotiations continue to reduce the electricity delivery price to the factories. 

Financing expenses represent a crisis. The outside world has zero interest rates or half a percent. Here, they range from $15 to $17. This is a huge dilemma. 

Therefore, we suggested that the interests on raw materials of the factories be 5% like small industries.


 What are the reasons for the decline in aluminium prices, and why does it change so much? 

The decline in aluminium prices is due to the decline in the price of the metal globally. The aluminium price is determined every month through the global stock and adds to it the Internal expenses, so it is affected by the global stock prices.


And global metal prices fell between $ 100 and $ 150 per tonne, which affects the prices of domestic product.

The prices of the imported product are less expensive than the local product. Factories tend to reduce the local price and make it similar to the imported price to make people buy the local instead of the imported product.

Regarding quarries, how can they be exploited? 

We have a lot of quarry materials, which are additives in certain manufacturing processes. For example, in terms of sand, we have enough reserves for 500 years, so why can’t we export it? Is it because it is a mineral? That is wrong and nobody does that.



Do licenses and procedures impede quarry utilisation? 

The most prominent obstacles that impede the work of the Mineral Resources Authority and how to benefit economically from the wealth of mines and quarries are the applied problems and specific procedures and the executive regulations of the law. Most of the obstacles are procedural processes regarding how to organise work on quarries or transfer its dependence onto the geological survey that measures mineral wealth in Egypt. These are the same reasons that appeared with the Industrial Development Authority in the implementation of Law 15 of 2017 on facilitating the procedures for granting licenses for industrial establishments and its executive regulations.

What are the main obstacles you see in the new law? 

The method of implementing the law governs the extent of its success. One of the most prominent problems after the adoption of the law amendments, is that there is a large number of bodies that will have the right to collect royalties, as the law specified several bodies to receive them, which may cause the owners of the mines or quarries to close the mines and leave the sector.


Are these royalties high? 

The declared rate of royalties from ranges from 5-20% and this will be a huge dilemma and an exaggeration. When drafting the law, these ratios should be set gradually. The application of royalties should be gradual, but leaving things in their current situation will complicate matters. Each party will require 20% royalties, which means at least 80 or 70% royalties, and here we return to the basic point, the application of the law in reality. Localities require royalties, roads require royalties, and urban communities require royalties. A quarry owner wants one body to deal with, even if the royalties are 70%. Otherwise, quarry owners will leave the sector for good.



Did the investment incentive laws affect the situation? 

Despite the efforts of the state and the ministry, the numbers of direct investment are declining due to the routine and the old vision. Any comparison with the figures would show this. 



What about cement factories and demanding state intervention? 

The cement industry faces many barriers. It is assumed that we have a competitive advantage which is energy. However, high energy prices and dependence on coal raise the cost price hinder competition, and the state will not intervene. The state is no longer allowed to be involved in market prices.


Regarding the FEI, how will you deal with the amendments to the new elections law? 

Amending the law abolished the representation of the people, and divided the board of directors into three sectors, large, medium and small, unlike the representation of each division by a member as before.

Why didn’t you submit those remarks? 

Our opinion was not asked for, rather, we were surprised to see the law approved by the House of Representatives and we were asked to amend the executive regulations of the new law. The second problem is that there is more than one classification of the size of industries according to several bodies.


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US EXIM Bank likely to triple future funds to Egypt reaching $6bn Mon, 02 Dec 2019 16:35:26 +0000 Aviation, agriculture, ICT, infrastructure, agribusiness, women are the main focus of future cooperation, says member board

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The Export–Import Bank of the United States (US EXIM Bank) is expected to triple its pipeline projects in Egypt to reach $6bn in the next years.

Judith Pryor, member of the board of US EXIM Bank, said that the current commitment of the bank for future cooperation is $2bn.

“EXIM Bank has financed projects in Egypt with $5bn over the past 10 years. We are interested in supporting several economic sectors in Egypt including aviation, agriculture, information and communication technology (ICT), as well as infrastructure, agribusiness, and women in businesses,” Pryor added.

DNE interviewed Pryor on the side-lines of her recent visit to Egypt to participate at the US-Egypt Future Prosperity Forum hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham) on 18 November.

What is the reason behind your visit to Egypt?

I paid Egypt a five-day visit where I discussed with Egyptian partners on how to support the Egyptian economy. Working together with the US EXIM Bank, you can get fair value, transparency and quality of the American products. In addition, all our projects are implemented in line with the high environmental standards. The mission of the US EXIM is to support the US exports. Our projects create jobs not only for the American businesses, but also for Egyptians here on the ground.

Given that the population in Egypt is increasing rapidly, creating jobs is crucial for society and the economy. We hope to simulate job growth both here in Egypt and in the US. One of our important targets is to support women and help them create their own businesses.

Tell us more about the meetings you held.

I met with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly to continue our discussions that began on October 2019 during Madbouly’s visit to Washington DC on the side-lines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual meetings where we jointly committed to move forward and work more closely together.

During my visit, I also met with different ministers to reinforce our commitment to help the Egyptian economy perform better, including Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek Al-Molla, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr, Minister of Finance Mohamed Moeit, and Minister of Trade and Industry Amr Nassar. In addition, I met with several US business community leaders to know more about their plans and how we can assist them to implement their future projects in Egypt.

Can you please elaborate on your future plans in Egypt?

We currently have about $2bn as pipeline projects. I expect that this amount of funds will be doubled or tripled in the coming years. EXIM Bank was non-operational in Egypt for the past five years. Hence, I consider what we’ve done as an achievement seeing that we financed the market with $5bn over the past 10 years from 2009 to 2019 where five of those years we were unable to finance projects over $10m.

We don’t have a country limitation and we don’t have a project limitation to finance.

What are the economic sectors you are interested in?

We are interested in aviation, agriculture, information and communication technology (ICT), infrastructure, and agribusiness. We also plan to provide finance to the state owned enterprises (SOE) and the private sector.

Do you plan to inaugurate an office in Egypt?

As much as we’d love to do that, we actually don’t have any offices outside of Washington DC. We always closely cooperate with our embassies’ commerce departments’ staff. We have commercial service officers and economic officers.  We’re working as a whole government when working with businesses.

Additionally, Prosper Africa initiative which was designed to increase two way trade and investment between the US and African countries including Egypt, has certain elements to enable us to more easily transact business here in Egypt through specific teams that will be based at the US embassy in Cairo.

Our embassy in Egypt is one of our largest embassies that we have and includes one of the largest commercial services team in any country in the world.

Prosper Africa is a US government initiative that unlocks opportunities to do business in Africa, benefiting companies, investors, and workers both in Africa and the US. The Goal of the initiative is to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the US and Africa.

Do you have any recommendation to the Egyptian government to encourage you to invest more in the local market?

I think Egypt and the US have everything that can make US businesses grow and expand.

Can you please shed light on the historical relations between Egypt and EXIM Bank?

The US and Egypt enjoy a long relationship and we look forward to continue on that relationship. Beyond this, 2019 marks the 40 year celebration of the US-Egypt Business Council’s establishment and that’s why I visited Egypt.

The first transaction of the bank here in Egypt was in 1947 with a $6m fertiliser project and since then, we’ve established, in the past 10 years,  $5bn worth of projects here in Egypt. We look forward to growing this relationship.

US EXIM Bank is an independent federal agency that promotes and supports American jobs by providing competitive and necessary export credit to overseas purchasers of US goods and services, according to its website.

A robust EXIM Bank can level the global playing field for US exporters when they compete against foreign companies that receive support from their governments. EXIM Bank also contributes to US economic growth by helping to create and sustain hundreds of thousands of jobs in exporting businesses and their supply chains across the US.

In recent years, 90% of the total number of the agency’s authorisations has directly supported small businesses.

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