Interviews – Daily News Egypt Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Sat, 19 Oct 2019 07:30:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Egypt to apply participatory budgeting in FY 2020/21: Finance Ministry official Thu, 17 Oct 2019 19:42:42 +0000 The results of the Citizen Budget initiative encouraged introducing the participatory budgeting, says Sarah Eid

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Believing in the youth’s impact on work performance, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) dedicates a unit for fiscal transparency and citizen engagement as part of its 2030 vision. One of the youth models in the ministry is Sarah Eid, the unit’s head.

The ministry takes successive initiatives to increase citizen participation in preparing and evaluating the state budget to meet the people’s aspirations, including the citizen budget which started four years ago, and was followed recently by the participatory budget initiative.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Sarah Eid who elaborated on participatory budgeting and the importance of such initiatives undertaken over the past period.

The term “citizen budget” is new; what is its goal?

The Citizen Budget is an effective tool that we have already started five years ago for boosting communication between the government and citizens to engage them in preparing the budget and restoring the people’s trust.

It aims to disclose the provisions of the state budget approved in the new fiscal year and the most important trends of the country’s fiscal policy, as well as the phases of preparing the budget, tax and non-tax policies, and social programmes, in a way that the average citizen can understand.

The Transparency and Community Participation Unit issues the citizen’s budget after coordination with all sectors concerned in the ministry and some external governmental bodies.

When is the Citizen Budget report issued?

In September of every year, after both the House of Representatives and the president approve the general budget for the new fiscal year.

Why is this report important and useful?

It is a simplified explanation to clarify the vision and objectives of economic reform and the role of the Ministry of Finance in financial restructuring. It is one of the basic documents used by the ministry to communicate directly with citizens and involve them in the vision of the government in order to build bridges of communication, which increases the credibility and transparency in the presentation of the latest trends of the state’s fiscal policy.

Does the Citizen Budget report have high credibility for international institutions?

It is one of the most important reports on the international financial transparency assessment of Egypt, which is issued under the sponsorship of several international institutions, topped by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Who would benefit from the budget report other than the citizens?

This report makes use of the major research centres and credit rating agencies on a large scale based on the transparency index as a strong sub-indicator that reflects the degree of safe investment in the country, in order to disclose fiscal and tax policies in a transparent manner through a stable tax system, helping investors develop their future plans. Transparency is linked to low corruption rates and has a direct relationship with improved economic and social development indicators, as well as improved economic competitiveness.

What are the most important financial allocations in FY 2019/20?

There are many distinct figures in this year’s budget. For instance, there is EGP 140bn to finance investments by the state treasury to channel additional resources, develop the infrastructure to increase the competitiveness of the economy, and improve the roads, electricity, water, and sanitation networks. Moreover, there is EGP 57bn allocated for the energy sector, including clean and renewable energy projects. There is EGP 6bn for the programme of export support and development, in addition to EGP 5.5bn allocations for industrial utilities, and EGP 5.3bn for programmes to supply natural gas to homes.

What about the controversial education budget?

The citizen budget of the year included important figures in the education sector and more in detail, different from previous years. We have allocated EGP 2.4bn for the kindergarten stage to increase kindergarten classes, especially in the deprived areas in the governorates of Upper Egypt. There is also EGP 8.62bn for the primary and preparatory stages and EGP 5.26bn for general and technical secondary stage. This budget includes the students’ skills development programmes in terms of scientific research methods, and training; qualification programmes for teachers; and the application of modern technological teaching methods, such as the school tablets, in addition to the establishment of new schools within the Egyptian-Japanese system.

What kind of programmes do you provide to the people with special needs in education?

We allocated EGP 1bn for education programmes for the people with special needs, including improving the educational skills of teachers, and other programmes to integrate the people with minor disabilities in pre-university education.

With the introduction of the universal health insurance; how much was allocated to health care within the budget?

The introduction of the new Comprehensive Health Insurance Law aims to extend universal insurance coverage to all citizens over six stages. It started with the governorate of Port Said, then the programme will be applied to other governorates of the first phase including Suez, Ismailia, North Sinai, and South Sinai.

About EGP 6.3bn allocation was directed to support health insurance and medicines, including EGP 5.1bn to support medicines and infant formula, EGP 3.1bn to cover the health insurance subscriptions of the financially unable people, and EGP 351m to support health insurance for school students.

Moreover, there’s an allocation of EGP 9.1bn for the purchase of medicines and medical supplies, and EGP 6.6bn for the publicly funded treatment programme.

How much is spent on social protection?

The Egyptian administrative system witnessed this year the largest number of promotions in its history. The ministry approved 7% periodic bonus for civil workers and 10% for others, with a minimum of EGP 75. Pensions were increased by 15% and a minimum of EGP 150, with raising the minimum pension to EGP 900.

To ensure a decent life for the Egyptian citizen, the 2019/20 state budget includes an increase in the allocations of subsidies to include EGP 89bn to support the supply of commodities, in addition to EGP 5.18bn for cash support. This falls under the social security pension and the Takaful and Karama [a social protection programme], which included 100,000 new families this year. In addition, EGP 9.3bn was injected to support the social housing programme.

This is in addition to EGP 5.3bn to support passenger transport, of which EGP 5.1bn was allocated for the Cairo and Alexandria passengers transport authorities, and EGP 6.1bn for student subscriptions on railways and subways.

Why did the participatory budget come after the citizen budget?

The success of the citizen’s budget in providing information to the citizen and raising the standard of transparency, locally and internationally, encouraged us to engage citizens in the preparation of the budget, which is linked to the criterion of social satisfaction. When citizens know where the money was spent, they feel like the budget meets their needs. We started the initiative in Alexandria, and we found it very successful. We also sat with people with the special needs to know their requirements for the budget to take them into account.

The implementation of the strategy of the Transparency and Community Participation Unit in the ministry will start with the principle of participatory state budget starting from the next fiscal year 2020/21, adopting an effective mechanism to involve the Egyptian citizen in preparing his country’s budget.

Regarding the budget, do the size of debt represent a big problem?

The state does not want to burden future generations with more debts. Debts get accumulated for years and are divided into instalments. The ministry is working to allocate the initial surplus inside the budget for debt instalments, and for the first time in 15 years, the revenues cover the expenses. 

What are the main features of the 2020/21 budget?

The slogan of the next budget is “Budget for human and economic development”. The government is working to make every Egyptian citizen feel the fruits of the economic reform. Spending on health, education, and investment will increase, in addition to expanding the base of community participation in budget planning and setting priorities.

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KOTRA aims to organise environment investment mission to Egypt in 2020 Sat, 12 Oct 2019 11:43:04 +0000 “Egypt is a country with a great potential,” says Shin Wooyong

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Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) aims to organise a mission of Korean companies to explore investment opportunities in the environment industry in Egypt, said Shin Wooyong, director general at KOTRA Cairo office.

“I think that investing in Egypt’s environment sector is promising and will encourage the Korean companies to explore opportunities in the field,” Shin mentioned.

KOTRA was established in 1962 to contribute to the development of the national economy by performing works such as trade promotion, investment between domestic and foreign companies, and support for industrial technology cooperation.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Shin to be updated on economic cooperation between both countries in terms of trade and investments.

When did KOTRA inaugurate its office in Egypt?

KOTRA Cairo office has been in operation since 1974.

Do you have any recommendations to further improve the business climate in Egypt? What challenges do Korean businesses face here?

I think that Egypt is a country with a great potential and to benefit from this potential, the country must open its economy more than it does now.

I think the Egyptian government should ease import-related regulations and operate them transparently. When changing regulation, the authorities have to give sufficient time to notify the businesspersons in advance, so that foreign companies can adapt for new measures.

There is a need to advance administrative procedures. In particular, some Koreans claim that Egyptian import customs clearance process is too slow.

Generally, business-related administrative procedures need to be more transparent as foreign companies want to receive feedback properly.

Did 2019 witness any new Korean investments? Which sectors are more attractive?

By the end of June 2019, Korea invested $4.3m in Egypt, most of which in fabric and textile. Additionally, in 2018, Korea invested $4m mainly in fabric and plastic foaming, while $93m were invested in 2017, mostly in the electronics sector

What about Korea’s future investments in the local market?

Many Korean companies aim to invest in Egypt, especially in the environment industry. Korean businesses want to gain the upper hand in the sector.

What is the volume of trade exchange between Egypt and South Korea in 2018 and 2019? What are the main exports and imports?

In 2018, Korean exports to Egypt hiked by 39.4% reaching $1.8bn, while Korean imports from Egypt increased by 248.8% last year reaching $313m.

However, we have seen a drastic decrease in both imports and exports from Egypt. In the first eight months of 2019, Korean exports to Egypt decreased by 8.3%, reaching $1.133bn, while Korean imports from Egypt slashed by 54% recording $102m between January to August 2019.

How have Koran-Egyptian relations been negatively affected after the activation of the zero tariffs of the European association agreement? Do you have future meetings with Egyptian government in this regard?

It has negatively affected our exports, like passenger cars and auto parts. We believe that the situation will continue like this for the time being.

Actually, I don’t have any meetings scheduled with Egyptian representatives regarding this matter in the near future. However, I think that there will be an opportunity to discuss it with them in the future.

The ambassador Yeocheol Yoon told us that Korean and Egyptian authorities are discussing inking a free trade agreement; what is the proposal of this agreement, what is the expected timing of signing it?

I am not in a position to comment on the FTA negotiations. The Korean embassy will proceed with this matter with the Egyptian government. Inking such agreements usually take between 2-3 years.

We knew that a Korean business delegation has visited Egypt on 8 October, how do you assess this visit?

The delegation was organised by the Egyptian Businessmen’s Association (EBA) in conjunction with the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). KOTRA was in charge of arranging one-on-one meetings with the companies. There were about four Korean companies from the delegation that attended the meetings.

A memorandum of understanding between the EBA and the KCCI was signed on Tuesday to boost the joint cooperation.

What about the other business missions from Korea to Egypt in 2019?

Seven delegations organised by KOTRA visited Egypt this year, and there will be several delegations next year. KOTRA’s delegations usually have joint meetings with Egyptian counterparts.

Earlier in April, the first of a kind Korean beauty exhibition was organised in Cairo in cooperation with the Korean Cultural Center. We plan to hold the second version of this exhibition next year.

We aim to organise an investment mission for Korean companies that eye investing in the environment industry sector. I think that investing in Egypt’s environment sector is promising and I will encourage Korean companies to explore the opportunities in this field.

Do you conduct any studies on the market?

Yes, we do. KOTRA mainly does market research on specific items such as auto parts, fabric, switchboard, and other sectors.

Main functions and roles of KOTRA globally are about expanding medium and small-sized enterprises’ business in overseas markets, attracting foreign investment, improving national brands, supporting international development cooperation, supporting munitions trade, and performing projects accepted by the government.


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Hyundai Rotem to deliver train sets for Cairo Metro in June 2021 Sat, 12 Oct 2019 11:27:21 +0000 “We're always open to future investment in Egypt,” says Ham

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Hyundai Rotem has signed a contract to supply train sets for Cairo Metro line 2 in August 2019, and the company will start delivery in June 2021, revealed Ham Dae-Hoon, the company’s senior manager for Egypt branch.

“Currently, we are in the designing phase which is conducted by the R&D centre in Korea,” he added. In August 2019, the National Authority for Tunnels signed two contracts with Hyundai Rotem and Socofer to provide six new metro trains and two locomotives for metro line 2.

Hyundai Rotem partnered with SEMAF, a member of Arab Organization for Industrialization, which provides local manufacturing services through its factory in Helwan.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Ham to get a closer look into the company’s current deals in the local market and its future strategy.

Can you please shed light on your historical cooperation with Egypt?

Hyundai Rotem contracted with the National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) in December 2012 to supply 20 train sets for the Cairo Metro line 1.

Thanks to our local partners and devoted employees who have worked with us on the way, we believe that we have successfully provided high-quality rail transportation to the public. We got positive feedbacks from passengers, which makes us think that we have been doing a good job so far. Customer satisfaction is our top priority.

How do you see the business environment in Egypt?

Egypt has a very unique business environment, different from what we have experienced in other countries. It is true that we have faced some difficulties adapting to this new environment with its different cultural background, but as time goes on, we are seeing positive factors in Egypt.

Egypt enjoys skilful and enthusiastic engineers, well-trained technicians, and cooperative partners willing to help us in our business.

In August 2019, the NAT signed two contracts with Hyundai Rotem and Socofer to provide six metro trains and two locomotives for Cairo Metro line 2, have you delivered them?

We have signed the contract on 6 August, and will start delivering the train sets in June 2021. Currently we are in the designing phase which is conducted by the R&D centre in South Korea.

Will the company’s management board in Korea visit Egypt soon?

As we are working on huge public transportation projects in Egypt, our high-level managements are committed to our projects in Egypt. Our management visits Egypt several times every year.

Do you think of establishing a factory in Egypt in the future?

For our current ongoing contracts, we are partnered with SEMAF, a member of the Arab Organization for Industrialization, who provides local manufacturing services through their factory in Helwan. For future opportunities in Egypt, we are always open to investments in Egypt.

How many deals have you have inked with Egypt so far?

We currently have three contracts with the NAT. The first was signed in December 2012 to supply 20 train sets and its maintenance, the second was in June 2017 to supply 32 train sets and its maintenance, and finally the supply of six trainsets and its maintenance, which was agreed in August 2019.

Do you plan to enter new projects in Egypt in the field of transportation?

Hyundai Rotem has experience supplying various types of railway vehicles, including electric multiple units (EMUs), high speed trains, light rail vehicles (LRVs), diesel multiple units (DMUs), locomotives, passenger coaches, and freight wagons.

We also have affiliated companies in Hyundai Motors group who could provide services in different areas such as constructions, rail infrastructures, and signalling system.

Do you have any military supply deals with Egypt?

After competing against the Leclerc and Leopard 2, Hyundai Rotem has signed its first export contract, including technological transfer and design assistance to Turkey in June 2007. We have not yet cooperated with Egypt in the field of defence; however, we look forward to cooperating with Egypt in various areas, including defence.

How many job opportunities do you offer in Egypt?

We currently have 40 employees and approximately 40 others coming from our partner in Metro line 1 maintenance project.

Do you have any scheduled meetings with Egypt’s Minister of Transportation or high-level Egyptian officials?

We have met with several Egyptian officials in August during the signing ceremony of our last contract. We are looking forward to meeting with them on a regular basis to facilitate our work, so that the citizens can enjoy a better experience in public transportation.

What about your five-year strategy in the Egyptian market?

In the rail industry, participation of private companies in governmental projects is becoming highly important. We plan to focus on the needs of our customers and provide high-quality services to enhance passenger experience using our products and enrich their daily life through providing sustainable mobility. We are also seeking opportunities in Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) projects involving business development and financing.

Do you have any CSR activities in Egypt?

Hyundai Rotem continuously conducts social contribution activities. We are not only striving to conduct eco-friendly economic activities and preserve the environment, but also actively carry out our social responsibilities as a corporate citizen.

What about Hyundai Rotem deals in 2018?

Hyundai Rotem is operating overseas entities in more than 20 countries worldwide, and has received KRW 2,983bn ($2.5m) worth orders in 2018 from some countries, such as Taiwan, Bangladesh, and Kazakhstan.

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Egypt, KOICA discuss new country programme: Oh Yeon Keum Sat, 12 Oct 2019 11:08:22 +0000 “A $2.9m intellectual property rights project with EGPO to be launched soon,” says Country Director

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The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) is discussing its new country programme with the Egyptian government, announced the KOICA’s Country Director, Oh Yeon Keum.

According to Oh, technical and vocational education and training, women empowerment, and government efficiency are the programme’s three pillars.

KOICA is an international development cooperation agency, aiming to achieve global social values through mutual exchanges between Korea and developing countries.

“We are starting a new phase of our cooperation with the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation as our main counterpart in the Egyptian government,” added Oh.

KOICA is also developing coordination with the international development institutions, especially the United Nations (UN) agencies to explore the opportunities for joint collaboration over future projects, mentioned Oh.

Daily News Egypt met with Oh to learn more about KOICA’s future activities in the Egyptian market and to discuss the updates of its current projects.

How many projects is KOICA implementing in the local market?

Initially, KOICA inaugurated its office in Egypt in1998, yet the agency’s activities began earlier in 199l as a governmental agency for grants and technical cooperation for bilateral development agenda, working under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea.

In 1991, KOICA began operation through dispatching volunteers and experts, and then developed additional types of activities, including technical advisory and projects that supported the vocational education and training and infrastructure development.

With more than 20-year experience in Egypt, we have implemented 21 projects with estimated cost of $61.6m until 2018. Many of our engagements were to support technical and vocational education, training, and infrastructure development such as electricity distribution.

Also, around 1,500 Egyptian government officials have joined KOICA’s various types of fellowship programmes for enhancing their capacities in various fields, and 750 Korean volunteers served in many parts of Egypt to work with local communities, not only in Cairo and Alexandria, but also in Luxor, Aswan, and Delta areas.

Our operation is based on the partnership with the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation.

Do you have direct engagement with the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Egypt?

KOICA, as a specialised organisation for development agenda, has a willingness to cooperate with NGOs in Egypt. We have 44 local offices across the world, where KOICA is working closely with NGOs for development needs. Unfortunately, we have not yet established a partnership in Egypt, but we hope to establish a working partnership in the future. 

Can you please elaborate on KOICA’s current country programme?

Though our country programme, we’ve been traditionally focusing on technical and vocational training and education. Considering the agenda and challenges of the Egyptian society, the previous cooperation in this field was appropriate so we want to continue.

Given the Egyptian government’s plans for the industry development and youth employment, KOICA thinks that supporting the agenda of technical and vocational education is crucial and coincides with the Egyptian government’s priorities.

We believe that better education will create better opportunities for the youth, and will accelerate achieving the industrial development. KOICA hopes that our support can narrow the gap between the education and the market needs. The programme will create a new phase of cooperation with Egypt. We have recently updated the programme.

What are the key pillars of your programme?

There are three main pillars that drive our country programme in Egypt, which are vocational training, women empowerment, and government efficiency.

We will continue our long-standing efforts in the field of the technical and vocational education and training. The ongoing project in Beni Suef Technological University shows this continuation of our role.

Secondly, we fully recognise that the role of women is increasing significantly in terms of their contribution to the national development, but there are some challenges that hinders their performance.

There are records that show some gaps between males and females in their contribution to the economy and employment. KOICA wants those gaps to be narrowed, so that women can participate more actively in the social and economic development process.

Lastly, we focus on enhancing the government efficiency and empowering the government officials. KOICA’s scholarship and fellowship programmes to Korea for the government officials is one of the means for this. We also support e-government by implementing a new project with the Egyptian Patent Office (EGPO).   

Do you have more projects in 2019?

We are now preparing to start a new project with the EGPO under the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, to be launched soon this year.

Can you please tell us more about this project?

This project will provide technical assistance as well as some devices and equipment to enhance the EGPO’s system of patent administration.

Generally, managing the intellection property right is very important for the industrial development. Our aim is to establish an electronic system to manage the patent information by the Egyptian Patent Office. Through this, Egyptian inventors and the public can have better access to patent information so their innovation efforts and rights are better supported and protected.

At the same time, officials handling patent information will improve their services for the public to boost innovation and contribute to Egypt’s economic development. We hope this can be a good sample for implementing the e-government in Egypt as well.

What is the total budget of the project?

It’s a pilot project of $2.9m.

Do you prepare for high-level visits from KOICA’a headquarters to Egypt soon?

We’re open to the idea. Since we are a governmental agency, we will announce in due time when defined. We will make continuous effort to enhance our partnership.

Earlier in September, KOICA in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and two Egyptian NGOs, organised the KOICA Day for Taekwondo and Korean Culture, do you aim to repeat this experience?

It was a very successful first of a kind event, we hope to hold it on a regular basis, and repeat it again with better format in 2020.

The event hosted a number of children from vulnerable groups from Sudan, Yemen, and Ethiopia as well as Egyptian communities. This was the first joint event that we have tried in cooperation with the IOM. KOICA donated school supplies and books for the children at the end of the event.

We will organise similar activities through which we can be closer to the Egyptian community. The situation of the Egyptian society and economy is getting more stable. Egypt is more stable than I actually thought before I come here, yet there’re still some challenges such as inequality, which is I am sure the Egyptian government will tackle continuously. KOICA wishes to contribute to such government’s efforts and to the needs of the local communities.

How do you perceive the relationship between Korea and Egypt?

Korea and Egypt are getting closer, and we are enjoying best relationship ever these days, but there are many things yet to learn about each other for further collaboration. We need to increase our mutual understanding in various aspects, and KOICA would like to play an important part of it.

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Egypt, S. Korea to take their cooperation to a higher level in 2020: Ambassador Sat, 12 Oct 2019 11:00:49 +0000 “Latest delegation deeply impressed by President Al-Sisi’s strong leadership,” says Yoon

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South Korea and Egypt will take their relationship to a higher level in 2020, marking the 25th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Korean ambassador to Egypt, Yeocheol Yoon, told Daily News Egypt, on the occasion of Korea’s national day on Thursday.

Egypt has just received a Korean business delegation with the full spectrum of major Korean companies, the ambassador said.

When President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi made his historic visit to Korea in March 2016, both sides adopted the Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership which serves as the platform for bilateral cooperation in many areas.

The Korean business leaders clearly showed their keenness to work with their Egyptian partners, and to help them turn the immense potential of Egypt into reality by sharing a common strategy for their cooperation in key areas, the ambassador stressed.

The Korean delegation was deeply impressed by President Al-Sisi’s strong leadership and vision to make Egypt a hub of trade and industry in the Middle East and Africa, encouraging the visitors to work on the Egyptian file, the ambassador said.

“Taking this opportunity, I would like to express sincere appreciation to the Minister of Finance, Mohamed Moeit, for everything he has done to create a better environment for foreign investors, including Korean companies, in Egypt,” the ambassador mentioned.

Korea is the seventh largest trader and 11th largest economy in the world, with a one tenth of Egypt’s area and half of its population, the ambassador said. “We think that our trade with Egypt which now stands at $2.2bn, though a 50% increase from our lowest point in 2017, is not very impressive. I think we can do more,” he added.

According to the ambassador, Korea’s overall trade records $1.14trn, with $605.4bn of exports and $535bn of imports. He explained that Egypt enjoys huge potential with its strategic location, well-educated young population, plentiful resources, and its leading role in the Arab and African world with its vast network in the region and beyond.

Planned FTA to encourage serious investment in Egypt

“We would like to explore the possibility of concluding a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Egypt, so that we can not only provide high-quality products with competitive prices, but also make serious investment in Egypt to introduce production facility and technology of key industries,” the ambassador stated.

The ambassador expressed his hope to truly realize the maximum utilization of both countries’ complementarity for the mutual benefit of their people, as was already reflected on the founding principle of the first kingdom in Korea, “Spread the benefit to all humanity.”

Korea already has the big names of its industry in Egypt, including Samsung and LG. Their plants in Beni Suef and 10th of Ramadan cities, together exported $700m worth products made in Egypt, which accounted for 90% of Egypt’s electronics exports.

The Egyptian Refining Company’s (ERC) plant in Mostorod district with $4.4bn investment, has the Korean main contractor, GS Construction and Engineering, the ambassador said. He added that it will start full production in a couple of months. It will provide a variety of petrochemical products and its diesel fuel production will meet a half of the total needs in Egypt. 

“Last year, Korea exported $200m of diesel fuel to Egypt, while with this ERC plant running, we will be happy to see our export decrease dramatically as Egypt’s own domestic production increases,” the ambassador mentioned.

Moving to other cooperation opportunities, the ambassador stressed on the vitality of water resources for the Egyptian people, noting that South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries with its expertise in desalination will boost its investments in this area, as it is also famous for other infrastructure experiences, including nuclear power.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) also have a large impact on creating job opportunities and developing local communities, the ambassador stressed, referring to the Korean SMEs with their top-notch technology and knowhow, from textile to waste treatment, like Seongan, Ulhwa, and JST that work closely in Egypt.

In addition, the ambassador referred to the $583m assistance project of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to Beni Suef Technological University, aiming to provide more useful education for the Egyptian youth, like ICT and Mechatronics, to create more job opportunities and skilful labour.

“I have visited Beni Suef Technological University two weeks ago with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Khaled Abdel Ghaffar,” the ambassador revealed. The project was agreed upon during President Al-Sisi’s last visit to Korea.

The choice of Beni Suef was also aligned with the Egyptian government’s high priority for the development of Upper Egypt, the ambassador said. “I was so happy when Prime Minister Madbouly expressed his appreciation for the project.”

Cultural approach is unique despite the distance

The Koreans and Egyptians are not only sharing common economic interests, but also understand each other very well, despite the geographical distance and different backgrounds, the ambassador stated.

Egyptian youth love K-Pop, K-Drama, and K-Food while Egypt is the leader in the Arab world for music, cinema, literature and other cultural areas, the ambassador mentioned. “Koreans love Egypt’s glorious ancient civilization represented by Sphinx and Pyramids as well as natural beauty of the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, and primal deserts,” he added.

“Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities, Khaled El-Anany, has been promoting the charm of the Egyptian civilization so effectively, all the diplomatic corps, including me and my wife, are your fans. I hope more Koreans will come to Egypt to enjoy the country,” said the ambassador.

The ambassador also illustrated that the public diplomacy team at the Korean embassy came up with the idea of creating a YouTube Series, called “Assalam Alaykum, Cairo” (Hello Cairo), which presents viewpoints of Egyptian young people through their unscripted, free discussion on the subjects of their interest in Korean.

“I was pleasantly surprised by their command of the Korean language to express all their emotions and reactions. This will also impress their Korean friends deeply and bring their hearts much closer to Egypt,” the ambassador asserted.

The team is providing English and Arabic subtitles for other viewers, the ambassador mentioned. “This effort shows our genuine respect for the culture and lifestyle of our fellow Egyptians, our partners into a prosperous and peaceful future,” he noted.

Al-Sisi congratulates Korean president Moon on national day

“Last week, I received a congratulatory message from President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to his Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in, on the occasion of Korea’s national day, through one of his chamberlains, Hossam Zartar, wishing peace and prosperity for all the Korean people,” the ambassador noted.

The ambassador assured that he appreciates the president’s message which represents the friendship and warm feelings from the Egyptian people to their Korean friends.

The South Korea’s national day is about the first Kingdom on the Korean peninsula in 2333 BC, the ambassador said. “We are now marking the 4,352nd anniversary since my first ancestors proclaimed their ideals of ‘spreading benefits to all humanity’ which I believe is still at the root of the Korean people’s outlook to the world,” he added.

Apart from the history of both countries’ old kingdoms, the year 1919 was a watershed for both countries, he said. The Korean people expressed their determination for independence with their March 1st Movement and the establishment of their provisional government in Shanghai, China. While

the Egyptians also fought for their freedom in the same year, one hundred years ago, and soon achieved their independence in 1922, he stated.

“In the meantime, the untiring efforts of the Korean provisional government brought about the promise that Korea would be free and independent after the Second World War in the declaration adopted by China, the United Kingdom, and the United States on 27 November 1943, here in Cairo,” the ambassador mentioned.

Both countries’ official diplomatic relations started from as late as 1995, more than 50 years after the Cairo Declaration, the ambassador added, asserting that the rapid development of the bilateral relations for the last 24 years was possible probably due to the ties of common history from one hundred years ago.

South Korea working hard to achieve peace in the Korean peninsula

The Korean government is currently working very hard to achieve a lasting peace in the Korean peninsula and denuclearisation of North Korea, the ambassador said. “We have had three inter-Korean summits and helped two US-DPRK summits. Progress has been made but some obstacles still remain,” he clarified.

Korea will keep moving on and take steady steps toward the goal of establishing peace and co-prosperity of the two Koreas, which will lay the foundation for both countries’ eventual reunification, the ambassador asserted.

“We take our cues from the courage and conviction of the Egyptians as guarantor of peace and stability in this region. We will succeed, with the help and support of the friends from Egypt and the world,” the ambassador concluded.


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LG Electronics Egypt targets 20-30% revenue increase in 2020: CEO Sat, 12 Oct 2019 11:00:40 +0000 “Our revenues likely to reach $400m year-end,” says Kwak

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LG Electronics Egypt targets to increase its revenues, including exports, in the local market by 20- 30% in 2020, while they are expected to reach $400m by the end of 2019, according to the company’s CEO Don Kwak.

The company is working to implement an expansion strategy in the Egyptian market by focusing on increasing production capacity and adding new production lines, Kwak mentioned.

“This is the best time to invest in Egypt, where there are great investment opportunities and offers a wide range of investment options,” he asserted, adding that LG Electronics Egypt will provide discounts to facilitate the purchase process for various social segments, especially on the White Friday, which will be the biggest sale in the history of the company.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Kwak to discuss the company’s expansion plans in the Egyptian market and its export strategy.

When did the company start business in Egypt?

The company has been strongly present in the Egyptian market since 1990, where the company established its first factory in Egypt to produce televisions. We established the second factory in 2014 in the 10th of Ramadan city, with a total investment of $170m to produce TVs and washing machines for the local market and export to African and Middle Eastern markets.

How do you assess your business experience in Egypt over the years?

We always believed in the potential of the Egyptian market. Egypt is strategically positioned in the heart of the Middle East which makes it a perfect hub to export our products across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Hence, LG Electronics Egypt inaugurated its new headquarters here, which includes the first brand shop in the Middle East with a dedicated LG ThinQ cutting-edge technology.

LG is working to implement an expansion strategy in the Egyptian market by focusing on increasing production capacity and adding new production lines. This is the best time to invest in Egypt, where there are great investment opportunities.

How do you assess the business climate in Egypt? Do you have any recommendations?

The economic reforms adopted by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi are showing signs of success and Egypt is moving on the right track for development and is being recognised as one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Also, I want to emphasise that recent years have seen an array of government initiatives aimed at encouraging businesses to invest in their own growth. There is also a noticeable improvement in the country’s economic indicators, supported by higher GDP growth rates, increased investments and exports, and a pickup in tourism.

Did the hike of inflation affect your sales last year?

The high inflation continues to put pressure on the ordinary household budgets, which already affects sales in general, but we offer more discounts and provide a variety of products at affordable prices.

How do you assess the purchasing power of Egyptians in light of the economic reforms?

The Egyptian government has implemented a good and ambitious economic reform programme in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund. The Egyptian economy achieved a growth of 5.6% in the fiscal year (FY) 2018/19, the best in 10 years.

We always provide more offers and discounts to all our customers, so that we can facilitate the purchase process for various social segments. We will likely offer more discounts in the White Friday, which will be the biggest sale in the history of the company through which we cooperate with many different parties to reach as many Egyptians as possible. We also strive to provide a wide range of products at reasonable prices.

Do you think of releasing new products in the Egyptian market soon?

We’ve inaugurated the first brand shop in the Middle East with a dedicated LG ThinQ cutting-edge technology to showcase several LG smart products empowered with advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

We have launched our latest technology innovations in Egypt, especially OLED TVs, LG TWINWash washing machines, and AC Inverter, as well as the world’s first Arabic Supported AI TV by LG.

Not only that, we have created a new creative space that allows all visitors to experience the latest artificial intelligence technologies launched by LG, which represents a great opportunity for LG customers to see the technological developments in the world.

All these things confirm that the Egyptian market is important for us, and we will continue to launch our modern products in the local market. Actually, we will release a range of new products soon.

What much is the company’s total sales in Egypt in 2018, and expectations for 2019?

The company’s sales growth rate is 15% annually. I would also like to point out that the percentage of sales goes up whenever we are keen to provide a variety of products to suit different spectrums in Egypt, which we are keen to do always.

What about your exports in 2019? What are the company’s main markets? Do you aim at opening new ones?

The company’s exports reached about $100m last year, which represents 75% of the company’s production. We are targeting higher exports, so we expect to achieve $150m exports after releasing a new range of products.

The company aims to increase its export base by opening new markets in Africa, benefiting from Egypt’s presidency of the African Union this year.

What is the size of your investments in Egypt?

LG’s current investments in Egypt amount to approximately $280m.

Can you please elaborate on your new headquarters?

We’ve inaugurated a new headquarters which include the first brand shop in the Middle East with a dedicated LG ThinQ cutting-edge technology as I’ve just told you.

The new headquarters includes the company’s administrative offices and LG’s first training academy in the country. This unique headquarters is considered the first in the Middle East and Africa, with a new store offering the largest collection of revolutionary products empowered by LG’s technologies.

How many employees do you have in Egypt’s branch now?

The company employs 1,000 people in Egypt at 35 stores throughout the country.

What about the company’s efforts in terms of building capacities of its employees?

Our newly opened headquarters includes a training academy on the latest adaptation technologies, through which we will train all our employees and ensure they are qualified with the highest skills and capabilities.

Do you have any scheduled meetings with ministers or high-level officials in Egypt?

We always look forward to meeting with all Egyptian officials for the real progress we see in dealing with foreign companies. I believe the Egyptian government is ready to provide all support to companies operating in the Egyptian market to overcome any challenges that they may face here.

Do you have any CSR activities?

Of course, LG is a consumer first organisation, and we have an obligation to give back to society, so we have launched a unique corporate social responsibility initiative by partnering with Al Abakera (The Geniuses) game show, granting the winners a trip of a lifetime to Korea, for a chance to experience what the country has to offer and witness LG’s revolutionary technology.

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Carrefour to invest EGP 700m, EGP 500m by end of 2019, 2020 respectively Fri, 11 Oct 2019 07:40:22 +0000 Carrefour inaugurated Hypermarket in Almaza this month with investments of EGP 210m

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Carrefour Egypt to invest EGP 700m by end of 2019, Jean Luc Graziato, Carrefour Egypt Country Manager at Majid Al Futtaim Retail told Daily News Egypt in an interview.

The interview touched all the expansion plans of Carrefour, in addition to the opportunities of the retail sector in Egypt, as well as the challenges.

Graziato also talked about the new 100 stores that are supposed to open in coordination with the Armed Forces, revealing the number of the already inaugurated ones, in addition to the ones that are in the pipeline.

 With regards to investments, what is Carrefour’s expansion plan by the end of 2019 and 2020?

The majority of investments will be directed to opening new stores. We aim to pump capacity of EGP 700m by the end of 2019, and a capacity of EGP 500m to be shared between logistics for the existing stores and opening new ones. 

How many stores does Carrefour currently have in Egypt and what is the expansion plan of the new hyper and supermarkets by the end of 2019? 

We currently have 47 stores, 14 hypermarkets, and 33 supermarkets. We are hoping to reach between 56 to 60 stores for both supermarkets and hypermarkets by end of 2019 across Egypt, mainly in Cairo, Damanhour, Qena, and Marsa Matrouh. Meanwhile, we are aiming to acquire more than 70 stores as a total for both supermarkets and hypermarkets by the end of 2020. We are hoping to launch two hypermarkets by the end of 2019 and inaugurate three hypermarkets next year. These new investments will create roughly 1,000 new job opportunities at the end of 2020.

Days ago, you inaugurated the Carrefour Hypermarket in Almaza, could you reveal its investments cost?

Carrefour Hypermarket in Almaza is inaugurated with investments of EGP 210m.

Do you have any plans to expand in the new administrative capital?

It is part of the plan to expand after 2020 in the administrative capital, but we still haven’t settled on details about investments, number of stores, and so forth. 

What about the new 100 stores that are supposed to open in coordination with the Armed Forces? How many are already open? How many are to open next year?

Until now, we opened only one store in Ismailia last May, and we currently have 10 other projects in the pipeline. We are supposed to open three necessity ones next year in Marsa Matrouh and Qena.

When are the rest of the 10 projects supposed to be launch?

In a range of two to three years.

Are there plans for buying or acquiring any retail chain in the near future?

The current development of Carrefour is mainly focused on new stores. How we develop afterwards is a question of opportunity, but at present, we have no particular intention to acquire any retail chain. 

The Internal Tarde Development Authority announced the opening of a number of union co-ops in association with the private sector. Has a deal been made with Carrefour?


After the increase in gas prices, has there been an increase in Carrefour’s products’ prices? If yes, what is the percentage of the increase?

As a result of the slight inflation, all the products of hypermarket prices increased by less than 2% due to a less than 2% increase in particular food products.

There are talks of establishing a new logistics area, had the location, size of the investment, and timeline been decided yet?

The logistics area is something we are looking into. We currently have a logistics partner to deliver some of the goods. However, we leave the option to build our own logistics centre

The idea is to develop logistical solutions for supermarkets, but we leave the options open to either build our own logistics centre or to keep contracting with a sub-party, of course in a bigger area or premises to manage supermarkets digital business and promotion.

We are conducting a study and negotiating on the future, either to work on our platform or to continue with a third party.

If you will have your own logistical area, how is this going to benefit the customers and the operation itself?

First of all, it will secure enough stock, especially for supermarkets, given that the stores getting smaller so it’s easier to deliver from the logistics centre rather than sending dozens of trucks every day.

For the digital business, it will be also easier.

In terms of the digital solutions, could you provide us with more details about what exactly Carrefour provide? And are you working with any third parties, or any special communication or IT companies to provide such solutions?

No, we do not work with any third parties, the digital solutions is a big part of our expansion plan currently. Our customers can get products delivered to their places through ordering online, either through Carrefour website or application. Our online services cover several areas of Cairo, including Maadi, New Cairo, and the 6th of October, and soon will be covering Nasr City and Alexandria. In terms of large products, such as electronics, we cover more places such as the Delta.

Meanwhile, the delivery time takes a minimum of four hours.

What are your expectations for the sales by the end of the year and the expected growth?

I expect double-digit growth in terms of sales, which means above 10%. We expect the same type of growth for 2020, keeping in mind that these expectations are regardless of the expansion.

What is your estimation of Carrefour’s customers now? And what is the expected increase when other branches open?

We serve roughly 100,000 customers per day, which means 36 million per year. We expect to achieve a 10% increase, reaching 40 million per year by the end of 2019, after the new branches are opened.

What is the number of items produced by Carrefour retail and what makes them special?

We have more than 1,000 products labelled carrefour. In my opinion, what makes them special is their high quality.

Are any of the Egypt Carrefour products exported to other countries? And what is the value of those exports?

Yes, today we export around ten containers per month, to Jordan, Armenia, Kenya, Lebanon, and Kuwait. We are trying to expand, so what we are trying to achieve is to export 20 to 30 containers per month next year.

In terms of the value of exports, it’s difficult to define the value of exports because there is a mix of products, as we are not only exporting food. Also, some products are exported directly, while others are exported through suppliers.

Could you reveal carrefour’s five-year strategy in Egypt?

The idea of Carrefour is to serve the Egyptian community, offering the people the best price, so we fight inflation and keep the price as low as possible.

On top of that, we are offering fantastic promotions on food and non-food products as well.

Afterwards, the idea of carrefour is to improve the quality of the services we offer, so we will go for a more and more digital solution.

As I mentioned that digital solutions are a big part of our expansion, we target to reduce the time of delivery of online orders by 2020.

In brief, we aim to simplify the lives of customers when it comes to payment and delivery as well.

I want to highlight that the purpose of Carrefour is to come closer to the customers whether digitally or through the actual location at the same price, as the deliveries are free and the products price is the same online and offline.

Could you show out Carrefour share in the retail market and how do you view the retail market in general in terms along with the challenges that may face the sector?

Our market share is around 20% in terms of the grocery market, while in modern trade our market share is 22%.

We want to grow throughout the expansion plan the market share so, our goal also is to increase the 20% to become 24%.

Regarding the opportunities, of course, such a big market of hundred million inhabitants there is potential for growth of the modern trade but what we see in the past three to five years that the modern trade remains quite questionable. So what I foresee for Egypt is more development of the digital. taking shape as well quickly at the same time that the modern trade is growing meaning that the shape of the digital will be along with the development of Modern trade compared to some other countries, I think Egypt will be faster because it happens at the same time.

In brief, the other countries came from traditional trade to modern then to digital while Egypt takes great progress from tradition to digital.

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Lekela to begin construction of West Bakr wind project in Q4 2019 Wed, 09 Oct 2019 00:10:46 +0000 The company is still preparing the joint wind measurement campaign, along with other shortlisted bidders for the 250 MW West Nile wind tender

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As Egypt strives to meet its target of generating 20% of its electricity from renewable sources, renewable power generation company Lekela’s  West Bakr wind farm project will produce 250MW of clean and reliable power at a highly competitive price, said General Manager of Lekela Egypt Faisal Eissa.

Eissa added that the project will increase wind energy capacity by 14%, contributing to the government’s renewable generation target of 20% by 2020.

The project is expected to produce over 1000GWh per year, powering more than 350,000 homes, he added.

According to Eissa, Egypt is a very attractive location for Lekela where they are continuously working to evaluate future expansions and many other opportunities.

Daily News Egypt talked to Eissa to learn more about the company’s future plans and its expansion in the Egyptian market.

What are the current projects that Lekela is operating in Egypt?

Located 30 Km North-West of Ras Gharib, the 250 MW West Bakr wind farm is Lekela’s first project in Egypt, and definitely won’t be the last.  We have chosen to focus purely on renewables – wind and solar – as we can deliver competitively priced and clean energy to the grid, far quicker than traditional fossil fuel approaches. Lekela’s focus in Egypt so far is on wind projects. However, we are participating in other government tenders in both wind and solar photovoltaics (pv).

What is the value of the fund allocated for the West Bakr project?

We have an agreement with three international financing bodies, which constituted a challenge to the project. The allocated funds are as follows: International Finance Corporation (IFC) with $82m, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) with up to $89m, and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) with $87m.

For OPIC, this is considerably their first financing renewable energy project in Egypt, while IFC and EBRD do have previous experience in Egypt. Therefore, this project constitutes an important addition to their joint financing project portfolio in Egypt, specifically in wind energy. 

IFC & OPIC provided a $252m fund for West Bakr wind plant. What is the total amount of the West Bakr project’s investments?

As I mentioned before, we have an agreement with IFC; the commercial arm of the International bank, OPIC, and EBRD with total funds of around $ 250m.

However, the total cost of the project in the region is $330m. The equity to debt ratio is approximately 25:75.

When will the construction of the West bakr project begin?

The West Bakr Wind project has reached financial close in August 2019.

Construction will begin in Q4 2019 with the project expected to be operational in the end of 2021.

What is the targeted volume of energy production of the project annually?

The West Bakr Wind project will increase Egypt’s wind energy capacity by 14%, forming a key part of the government’s renewable generation target of 20% by 2022. In total, the project is expected to produce over 1000GWh per year, equivalent to powering more than 350,000 homes in Egypt with clean energy.

What are the updates regarding the company’s second project in the west Nile to produce 250 MW of wind power?

Currently, the 250 MW west Nile wind tender is at a very early stage.

Up untill now, we are still preparing the wind joint measurement campaign, along with other shortlisted bidders. Now, we are planning to bid for this project, especially that it will be in the BOO scheme -build, own, operate project- like the West Bakr wind plant. Lekela is taking a lead role with other bidders on the joint measurement and studies campaigns.

What are your plans for expansion in Egypt?

Egypt is a very attractive location for Lekela, and we are continuously working to evaluate future expansion and further opportunities here. Most importantly, the project should contribute to Egypt’s target and renewable energy plans, and at the same time, fit our investment and profitability criterion. In terms of availability of funds and capacity to invest, Lekela is ready for further expansions in Egypt. 

As a long-term operator, we are here to stay for decades. We have a growing team in Egypt that will be responsible for taking the 250 MW wind farm project to the Gulf of Suez, and any future projects through late stage development, construction, and operation. Our power purchase agreement (PPA) contracts last 20 years for wind projects, which means a real partnership with the Egyptian government as well as the local community, and stakeholders.

In your opinion, what do you think is a competitive price of delivering electricity service to homes?

Lekela is not an electrical distributor company or network operator, which means we do not sell electricity to the end consumer. Rather, Lekela is focused on utility scale projects in its target African countries, selling electricity to government energy off takers. For each project that it owns and operates, we sign long-term PPAs with governments.

Our electric energy is competitively priced and clean in all countries in Africa where we operate, while we also spend considerable time and resources to drive the long-term prosperity of the local communities we operate in. It is why we worked thoroughly on the shut down on demand programme, meaning that when birds are detected, the turbines are stopped. We have also signed a protocol with the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency and its Migratory Soaring Birds Project to contribute towards the funding and implementation of the Migratory Birds Monitoring training programme.

Do you plan to have further cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy?

For our first project in Egypt, we have enjoyed working closely with our partners including the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company, the New and Renewable Energy Authority, and Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), representatives of the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy. We see great opportunity to invest in wind energy in Egypt, and we look forward to working with them for years to come.

In your point of view, what is the expected percentage of increase in electricity generation in Egypt by the end of 2022?

Egypt has a strategy to diversify energy sources in the country and to reach 20% of its power from renewable energy. We can clearly say that with the rate of accomplishments that we witness and the projects that have come to fruition rapidly so far, we believe that the government will succeed in reaching 20% by 2022. We are very proud to play a part in supporting the diversification of Egypt’s generation capacity with our 250 MW West Bakr Project.

Please tell us more about the company’s projects outside of Egypt.

In just four years, Lekela has put 1018MW into construction and operations, and 282MW in late stage development. We have three wind farms already generating power in South Africa, with two more in construction there. Construction is well underway for Senegal’s first ever wind farm, and we are gearing up to start construction after reaching financial close on our project in Egypt. Our project in Ghana is in late stage development as well. 

Together, our existing pipeline of projects will contribute 1,300 MW to capacity.

How do the public–private entities collaborate in the energy sector?

Basically, it comes under the framework as follows, clear regulations, future expansion plans, laws to encourage investment and facilitate money transfer in and out, and a set of balanced agreements that govern the whole process.

Political will and clear governance set success precedents and successful partnerships. 

Shall we expect more foreign direct investments (FDIs) in Egypt’s energy sector?

Egypt has world-class wind and solar resources, the government is determined to open the market and set new regulations for attracting more investment into renewables in Egypt. For instance, the Benban mega solar plant has been a great accomplishment and attracted FDIs. In addition, 0.5 GW of wind investments, including Lekela’s project were as a result of the BOO scheme, which proved great success as well. Surely, this paves the way for a bright future and for more FDI attractions within the sector in Egypt.

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Egypt remains an important market for Lufthansa Group: GM Sales Egypt Thu, 03 Oct 2019 19:31:51 +0000 By 2027, the company will receive 221 new aircrafts

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Lufthansa Group recently appointed a new Senior Director Sales North Africa, Near East, and Turkey, Silke Wobken who has been overseeing these regions with Lufthansa’s General Manager Sales Egypt Sadiq Mohamed, on her team since July. Daily News Egypt interviewed both to learn about the company’s updates and discuss upcoming news future the market.

We knew in a previous interview that Lufthansa intended to operate the Airbus A330 on the Cairo-Frankfurt route from 1 July to 30 September, offering passengers more seats on this route. What are the updates and outcomes of the new aircraft?

Mohamed: Between 1 July and 30 September, Lufthansa operated an Airbus A330 aircraft on the route Frankfurt-Cairo, which was fully booked and met our expectations. Our passengers were 

surprised and enjoyed the Lufthansa long haul business and economy classes’ products on board.

We received a lot of positive customer feedback requesting Lufthansa to offer a similar product next summer.  

What about the popularity of the company’s flights to the Red Sea region?

Mohamed: Our flights to and from the Red Sea, that we started last year, have been stable, and we continue to operate flights to both Hurghada and Marsa Alam cities.

How does the recent increase in oil prices affect your business? Did you increase ticket prices?

Mohamed: In principle, our prices are determined primarily based on supply and demand, and at the end of the day the final price depends on the customer. In the airline industry, the customer has the choice. If the price-quality relationship is not satisfying, we will not be competitive on the long run.

Can you tell us about the company’s modernisation process of its fleet?

Wobken: As a leading European aviation group, Lufthansa continues modernising its fleet, which is one of the biggest projects at the moment. In 2017, we received a new aircraft nearly every week of the year, while in 2018, we received a new aircraft every two weeks. Right now, the Lufthansa Group has over 763 aircrafts in our modern fleet, and we continue investing billions of dollars into ordering even more state-of-the-art long and short haul aircraft, so we can remain modern and environmentally friendly. Specifically by 2027, we will receive 221 brand new aircrafts. Among the ordered aircraft are 40 ultra-modern long-haul aircrafts, including 20 Boeing 787-9 and 20 Airbus A350-900 aircraft with a total investment of $12bn. We have also ordered the new Boeing 777-x which will include our new Business Class seat that allows every passenger to have direct access to the aisle. For our short-haul routes, Lufthansa will also be receiving 27 more A320neo & A321neo in 2023. All of these aircrafts produce less CO2 emissions, are quieter, and have lower operating costs. 

What is the company’s market share in Egypt?

Mohamed: Lufthansa has been operating in Egypt for over 60 years and welcome fair and free competition.

What about Lufthansa’s efforts in lowering CO2 emissions?

Wobken: The Lufthansa Group stands for responsible mobility and does everything it can do to limit the environmental impact of flying, and taking responsibility for the environment are among its core pillars. The airline has not only increased its fuel efficiency by 41% since 1990, but they set a new efficiency record. In 2018, the Lufthansa Group passenger airlines only used 3.65 litres of kerosene to fly a passenger 100 km, the lowest figure in the history of the company. By continuing to renew our fleet, the airline was able to reduce 1.5m tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. Furthermore, the emissions will continue to reduce as the fleet becomes more modern and environment friendly.

Since September 2007, Lufthansa and Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) have been offering their passengers the opportunity to offset the unavoidable CO2 emissions caused by their flights with a donation to myclimate [a non-profit climate protection organisation based in Switzerland], thus making a personal contribution to climate protection. The emissions calculator is operated by the myclimate foundation and can directly assign the corresponding average CO2 emissions to the respective flight. If desired, the CO2 calculator can also take into account the different seat classes by weighting the emissions according to the space required by a seat. The partnership with myclimate ensures that the donated amount always flows directly into climate protection projects that meet the highest standards and make a positive contribution to sustainable development in addition to CO2 reduction.

Since the beginning of this year, all air travel by Lufthansa Group employees has been CO2-neutral and the resulting CO2 emissions are offset by myclimate.

Recently, the Lufthansa Innovation Hub launched the “Compensaid” sustainability platform which allows anyone flying on any airline to offset their CO2 emissions. The customer has a choice of offsetting the flight through investment in a myclimate project or to invest in sustainable aviation fuels that are to be used on a Lufthansa flight within six months of donation.  

The Lufthansa Group will convert its ground ops services in its home markets Germany, Austria, and Switzerland to a CO2-neutral operation by 2030. This includes converting the vehicles to an electric or other emission-free drive and purchasing 100% green electricity at the earliest possible moment. Also, for all buildings of the Lufthansa Group, only green electricity will be used wherever possible.


As global aviation is a growth industry, reducing specific fuel consumption is not enough to stop the increase in CO2 emissions from aviation. Therefore, in October 2016, the international offsetting system Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) was adopted at the UN level by the aviation organization International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which will take effect from 2021, supported by the Lufthansa Group. The way CORSIA works: If more CO2 is emitted on international flights in the future than in 2020, these additional burdens must be offset by financing climate protection projects. The Lufthansa Group strongly supports the climate protection strategy already agreed worldwide in 2009 by airlines, aircraft manufacturers, air navigation services, and airports. According to this strategy, fuel efficiency is to be increased by 1.5% per year, growth in air traffic is to be CO2-neutral from 2020, and net CO2 emissions from aviation are to be reduced by 50% by 2050 compared to 2005.

On 20 September, there were some political incidents in Egypt, do you have any concerns regarding this issue; especially as your company has previously suspended flights to Egypt?

Mohamed: Today, all five Lufthansa Group carriers – Australian Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss Airlines, Eurowings, Brussels Airline – are operating in Egypt which give our Egyptian customers access to our worldwide network of destinations in 102 countries. Egypt remains an important market for the Lufthansa Group and we will continue operating in the region. Of course, the safety of our passengers and employees are the number one priority at all times. As a reliable and safe airline, we continue to operate as usual, working closely with the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority to ensure a smooth operation. 


Among the ordered aircrafts are 40 ultra-modern long-haul aircrafts including 20 Boeing 787-9 and 20 Airbus A350-900 aircrafts with a total investment of $12bn

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AHK focuses on promoting Egyptian products in Germany Wed, 02 Oct 2019 21:36:25 +0000 Egypt's FEI delegation will visit Germany in mid-October, says Noether

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The German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce (AHK) is working on promoting Egyptian products in Germany, and fostering economic relations between the two countries, said the AHK’s CEO Jan Noether.

Noether told Daily News Egypt that the relationship between Egypt and Germany is long lasting and very intensive, explaining that the chamber is doing great efforts in developing technical vocational training for youth.

“Our role is to ensure the provision of skilled employees for German companies as well as expanding the promotion of foreign trade, investments abroad, and promoting Germany as a business location,” he added.

DNE interviewed Noether about the future of trade between Egypt and Germany.

Shall we expect more business delegations’ visits among both countries?

The delegation of the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), headed by Mohamed El Sewedy, will visit Germany in mid-October. They will meet their counterparts, other CEOs, as well as German representatives such as ministry of economics. Aiming to promote Egypt, the delegation targets establishing common initiatives, projects, and investments, as well as, discussing opportunities of joint startups.

Additionally, we have trade missions from Bavaria, Germany to Egypt by the end of October. We will also host 20 company representatives to meet Egyptian companies that have common interests.

How do you see Egypt-German relationship in the current period?

The relationship between Egypt and Germany is long lasting and very intensive. Egypt is a pivotal player in the region and there is a strategic cooperation and interest from the German side to cooperate with Egypt in the current period and future.

Two weeks ago, Eric Schweitzer, president of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), met with Egyptian officials to promote business relationship between the two countries. Moreover, the Egyptian Prime Minister visited Germany in June, accompanied with six ministers, where they met with more than 600 guests, proving that Egypt is in central focus.

Furthermore, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi discussed political and economic issues during his visit to Germany in February.

In early November 2018, Al-Sisi was in Germany to participate in the G20 Compact with Africa and met Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In February, Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, visited Egypt with a business delegation and discussed with President Al-Sisi and Egyptian ministers the paths to economic development and cooperation with Egypt.

What is the role of the chamber in promoting the Egyptian market?

We work on promoting Egyptian products in Germany through three main pillars to foster economic relations between the two countries. Since I am the official representative of the German industry in Egypt, I gather information and data from a lot of sources to be presented to the German business community. I also consult German chambers and politicians to present the true scene. 

The second pillar is that we have a service-oriented unit through which agreements are signed with German trade organisations, businesses, and even with the German government to promote certain areas in Egypt to cater for these projects.

Furthermore, we have trade missions from Germany to Egypt to bring them respective associations locally and connect them with entities with common interests, besides ministries and other officials.

The third pillar is membership organisation, as we have 3,000 members, making the biggest membership chamber in Egypt and we are still growing.

Likewise, we hold 60 or 70 workshops for our members to build their capacities and skills, in addition to increasing Egypt export councils’ cooperation with Germany. Accordingly, I signed a memorandum of understanding (MoUs) with 11 different export councils. They include Chemicals and Fertilizers Export Council, Engineering Export Council of Egypt, Export Council for Building, Refractory and Metallurgy Industries, Food Export Council Egypt, Furniture Export Council, Egyptian Export Council for Handicrafts, Home Textile Export Council, Readymade Garments Export Council of Egypt, Textile Export Council, the Export Council of Medical Industries, and DE International Egypt.   

What is the value of German investments in Egypt?

German investments in Egypt are worth $7.1bn, according to Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr. She pointed out that the German companies in Egypt reached 1,215 companies operating in several fields in the market, including information technology, agricultural services, manufacturing, petroleum and petrochemicals, engineering, car industries, chemicals, telecommunications, gas, and iron and steel.

The AHK assures the role of Germany as a major investment partner of Cairo in several projects. Over and above, the chamber aims to attract further German investments in Egypt particularly in sectors of tourism in light of infrastructure development and promising projects carried out by Egypt.

How do you see Egypt’s investments climate?

Egypt did its best to attract investments, but now every country is doing that so what is the advantage that Egypt can provide for investors? The country has achieved a lot through a one-stop-shop mechanism, but granting operation licenses takes time which needs to be improved to speed up the investment process. Besides, the country needs to develop research development group, invest in vocational training preparing for the international competition, and get new products for international markets.

What are the Chamber’s efforts in promoting youth skills and training programmes?

The chamber has established a department for vocational training and education in February 2019 to serve the needs of the Egyptian market. The department is meant to be the first point of contact in the hosing country Egypt.

The chamber deals with the demand from business and polices to provide the appropriate services.

Moreover, the AHK is active in many training projects ranging from the European Energy Manager programme to the improvement of technical skills in the production company. We are currently looking into ways to better assist the endeavours of various German and Egyptian companies when it comes to vocational training efforts. Such programmes are known by Germans under the name of ‘dual education,’ meaning the application of theoretical know-how gathered in vocational training schools to company shop floors, during a three-year training programme. Such dual system vocational training goes back to over 130 years in Germany.

Its fundamentals were built by company education activities who still act as a dominant force. When it comes to the development of curricula, the building of practical skills of their apprentices.

Our role is to ensure the provision of skilled employees for German companies, as well as, expanding the promotion of foreign trade, investments abroad, promoting Germany as a business location. Further, developing the Industrie- und Handelskammer (IHK), AHK, and DIHK organisations as they are the most important stakeholders and cooperation partners for business and state institutions in term of quality in the field of vocational education and training export.

Shall we expect more German tourism flow into Egypt?

Egypt is among the top 10 touristic destinations preferred by Germans in 2018. German tourists arriving to Egypt in June 2017 achieved standard rates which reached 148%, compared to 2016. While their number reached 90,000 in 2017, who spent 781,000 touristic nights with an increase of 200%.

The Egyptian tourism sector continues its upward trend. From January to September 2018, the number of tourists increased by 40% compared to same period the year before. German tourists represent the largest group, followed by the British and Ukrainian tourists. Almost 928,000 Germans landed in Egypt from January to July 2018, their number is likely to easy surpass the 1 million mark in the year as a whole.

Furthermore, the German Embassy in Egypt announced that German tourism in Egypt reached its paramount during 2018, where the number of tourists was 1,707,382 visitors.


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Studies show PRRPs can help people abandon smoking:  BAT Group Head of PRRP Science Mon, 23 Sep 2019 13:42:29 +0000 Theory behind harm reduction is that it recognises some people will continue to do something that is potentially bad for them or dangerous, despite knowing risks

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British American Tobacco (BAT) issued a statement on 20 September highlighting the need for effective regulation of vapour products, offering adult consumers a range of potentially reduced-risk products (PRRPs).

BAT’s Group Head of Potentially Reduced Risk Product Science, Chris Proctor, told Daily News Egypt that PRRPs do not burn anything and some do not even contain tobacco. Instead, they release the nicotine in other ways, making them a less harmful alternative, as it is widely recognised that most of the dangers associated with smoking are the toxic chemicals produced when the tobacco is burned.

For Egypt, the specification for E liquid was published in the Official Gazette in March 2019. The specifications published by the Egyptian Organisations for Standards & Quality (EOS) under the ministry of trade and industry, is in line with the global standards for E liquid. This means that the import and production of ‘electronic liquid’ is allowed, provided that it meets Egyptian standards and specifications issued in this regard.

Accordingly, the continuation of the 2015 ban is not feasible, given the existence of a standard that regulates import, production, and the presence of the e-cigarette liquid and product accessories in the Egyptian market–conditional to them meeting the standards and stipulated specifications.

Multinational companies operating in Egypt are hopeful to introduce e-cigarettes, but are awaiting the decision of the ministry of health to lift the ban on importing them, and to establish a legislative framework for selling them in Egypt, counteracting the practice of trading in smuggled goods in the Egyptian black market.

“We are fully supportive of the efforts of various government agencies around the world who are working to understand the exact cause of the recent tragic consumer cases. To the best of our knowledge, no product developed or manufactured by BAT has been involved in these cases,” said Director of Scientific Research at BAT, David O’Reilly.

BAT is a multinational cigarette and tobacco manufacturing company headquartered in London, the United Kingdom, and is considered the world’s most international tobacco group and the second-largest cigarette producer in the world as of 2012.

DNE interviewed Proctor to learn more about their smoke-free products, and BAT’s future plans in this regard, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How was the situation before the PRRPs?

Using nicotine replacement therapy was the only option for adult smokers who were thinking of giving up cigarettes. Even with the arrival of nicotine chewing gum and patches, the choices were minimal and often resulted in varying success.

Do PRRPs make any difference today?

Yes, today the picture is very different. A new generation of products, PRRPs, such as vapor, tobacco heating, and oral tobacco, and nicotine products have emerged to pave the way for potentially less harmful alternatives to smoking, while fuelling greater consumer choice.

How are PRRPs less dangerous than smoking?

Globally, the appetite for these new types of tobacco and nicotine products is really heating up and importantly, they are backed by a growing body of scientific evidence that shows their harm reduction potential compared to traditional cigarettes.

Does technology have a hand to help smokers to give it up?

Advances in technology continue to be a major driving force in this space and indeed across all areas of modern life. We’re now living in a digitally-driven, tech-loving world, which has fired up a new willingness amongst adult smokers to embrace new experiences that may help them move away from smoking.

Why do you think that harm reduction is a good solution?

While the only way to fully eliminate all the health risks associated with tobacco and nicotine products is not to use them at all, there will always be those who choose to smoke if there are no viable alternatives available to them. The theory behind harm reduction is that it recognises some people will continue to do something that is potentially bad for them or dangerous, despite knowing the risks. Instead of being black and white about it, harm reduction takes the view that if they’re going to do it anyway, then how can we help minimise the risk? It’s an approach already used successfully within a number of contexts.

Do researches and studies prove that PRRPs help people quit smoking?

Yes, studies show that PRRPs can help people move away from smoking. A recent study led by Queen Mary University of London Professor Peter Hajek found that vapor products are almost twice as effective for those quitting smoking as nicotine-replacement therapy. A lot more research needs to be done in this area, and at BAT we continue to invest heavily in our own scientific studies.

Does the public value the role of PRRPs in harm reduction? 

Many public health bodies across the world already value the role that PRRPs could play in harm reduction, compared to traditional smoking. For example, Public Health England has said that based on available estimates, vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes. Canada has recently legalised vapor products, recognising the role they can play in tobacco harm reduction and the use of ‘snus’ (smokeless oral tobacco) in Sweden is credited as helping to reduce smoking-related diseases.

What is the motive behind working on the PRRPs?

We believe that to do nothing and not to offer these products would be a mistake and to ignore the huge potential they present for reducing the risks of smoking. From these foundations, we plan to continue working hard on accelerating our long-held ambition of transforming tobacco and providing a range of PRRPs that deliver a better tomorrow for our consumers.

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Hard work behind reaching top world ranking in squash: Ali Farag Sun, 22 Sep 2019 13:01:00 +0000 Playing professional squash in Egypt is much better than in Europe, says PSA men’s No. 1

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The Commercial International Bank (CIB) and IEvents have announced in a press conference the details of two of the most important squash tournaments in the world under the sponsorship of O West. They are namely the PSA Women’s World Championship and the PSA Men’s Platinum Championship. The tournaments are scheduled to be held from 24 October 24 to 1 November at the foot of the Giza Pyramids, under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Youth and Sports as well as the Egyptian Tourism Authority.

The championships will see 112 of the world’s best squash players from 20 countries, including 64 in the women’s championship and 48 in the men’s championship.

For the first time in the game’s history, the PSA Women’s World Championship’s prizes amount to a total of $430,000, which is higher than the Men’s World Championship, while the Men’s Platinum awards amount to $185,000.

“The CIB is not just a bank but an integral part of the society. We support squash out of our confidence in the Egyptian champions and we hope to see it becomes an Olympic game,” said Hisham Ezz Al-Arab, chairperson and managing director of the CIB.

“Increasing the value of the Women’s World Championship’s prizes to be higher than the Men’s World Championship demonstrates our support to women and gender equality, and this is one of the most important signs of any civilised society,” he added.

Moreover, Hussein Abaza, CEO and board member of the CIB, said, “Egypt is going through its golden age of squash, where Egyptian champions are occupying top world ranks, for both men and women, and even youth.”

“The CIB has chosen squash as part of the bank’s corporate social responsibility programme, and we hope to see Egypt’s dominance of the game continues for 20 years. Therefore, the bank has set a future plan to create a new generation of young champions, starting by signing cooperation deal with the Darwish Squash Academy. We also launched small tournaments, so that the young players can improve their international rankings,” Abaza added.

“We are honoured to support and sponsor Egypt’s champions whom we consider as ambassadors of Egypt. They have proven that they are not only great at squash but also professional, dedicated, and humble people,” he continued.

Additionally, Chairperson of IEvents, Amr Mansi, expressed his delight of the return of the PSA Women’s World Championship to Egypt, saying “it was a dream we sought to achieve. Squash became popular in Egypt through this championship which introduced a whole new generation of world champions and encouraged others to work harder to become champions themselves.”

“We would like to thank the CIB for its continuous support to squash in Egypt, which has played a significant role in supporting a large number of players. It continues to do that through hosting one of the most highly anticipated squash events in the world,” Mansy added.

The draw of the first round of the PSA Women’s World Championship was attended by football stars Hazem Emam and Mido, actor Ahmed Hatem, and former squash player Karim Darwish. Also, Ali Farag, the current world champion and world number one in squash, has attended the draw event. Daily News Egypt sat down with Farag to learn more about his journey with squash.

How did you become the top squash player in the world?

If anyone wants to succeed and achieve his dreams, he should work hard and put a plan for himself. He also needs to get support from his family, and find those who sponsor him, such as the CIB and Wadi Degla in my case. These were the things that helped me be who I am today.

Could you tell us how you usually spend your day?

I get up at 8:30 am and have breakfast. At 10:00 am, I arrive at the club and start fitness training until 12:00 pm. Then, I practice squash until 2:00 pm. Afterwards, I go home and have lunch then take a nap. At 7:00 pm, I go again to the club to play squash with my colleagues until 8:30 pm. Then, I do healing training, and go home at 9:30 pm. I have my dinner and sleep by 12:00 pm.

Is this your daily routine for the whole week?

This is my daily routine from Saturday to Thursday. Every Thursday, I finish my morning training and take rest in the evening. Fridays are for my family. I practice squash for five hours daily besides my fitness and healing trainings, as they important as important as squash training. Without these exercises, I could get injured and would not be able to withstand the physical pressure on my body.

Can players have a full-time job besides squash?

This would not be suitable for any professional player, and will prevent the player from reaching top rankings. If you want to achieve your dreams in sports, you should be completely free, especially as players could travel for 100-150 days a year for tournaments, so how can they work?

Is squash a profitable game?

In certain cases, yes, especially if the player is sponsored by entities like the CIB and Wadi Degla club. The CIB provides players with professional trainers and bottom-up sponsorship. It starts with young players since entering academy, sponsors international trips, and organises tournaments with good prizes. And when the player is fully professional, it offers full financial support, giving players a higher income.

What does the fact that your wife is also a squash player affect you?

The presence of Nour in my life adds a lot to me. My sports life is difficult and it is not easy for anyone to understand it. It has a different routine, sometimes you return home and you are very exhausted and not at your best mood, these things cannot be understood by anyone unless they experience it. She also motivates me all the time. She is an inspiration to my career. She works hard, knows how to overcome difficult situations, and even consults me being in the same field. I consider her my own adviser as she knows me very well. We are both so lucky.

Have you received any offers to play abroad?

I played for many clubs in Europe, such as York in England and Paderborn in Germany, but playing in Egypt is better financially. Platers are paid per match abroad, but in Egypt you get an annual contract. Moreover, living in Egypt is cheaper. In Europe, you will bear expenses of housing and other things of daily life, as well as taxes. Moreover, the highest level of squash in the world is in Egypt now, not to mention that my family is the most important thing in my life and leaving my family seems impossible.

How it feels to play in front of Giza Pyramids?

It’s an indescribable feeling. “Pyramids Squash Championship” was the reason for my love of the game. Watching Ahmed Barada and Karim Dawrish playing squash made me wish I could be like them. I hope we can offer high performance and win the title, in both men and women championships.

What is your advice for young players?

I hope they can be better than me. I definitely want everyone to have his own character and playing style. The priority for them should be completing their study, then playing sports. They should surround themselves with those who can bring positivity to their lives, such as family and good coaches, as they can push them forward in difficult situations.

Finally, what are your future plans?

I will play the US Open Championship within two weeks, then there is the Pyramids Championship, then the World Championship. I have many tournaments to play until June 2020. I strive to maintain the top world ranking. I hope my generation can inspire young players the same way Ahmed Barada and Karim Darwish inspired us, and I hope that Egyptians continue their lead of the world squash.

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UNB – Egypt eyes 3% market share by end-2023: El-Sewerky Sun, 22 Sep 2019 10:51:09 +0000 Bank working to advance production, achieve sustainable development in Egypt by focusing on vital sectors such as industry, renewable energy

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The Union National Bank – Egypt (UNB) aims to increase its market share to 3% by the end of 2023, compared to the current 1.1%, according to Ihab El-Sewerky, CEO and managing director of the bank.

In an interview with Daily News Egypt, El-Sewerky said the bank is working to boost production and achieve sustainable development in Egypt by focusing on vital sectors, such as industry and renewable energy.

He added that the bank’s mortgage finance portfolio, within the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) initiative, reached EGP 154m at the end of June 2019.

He stressed that the bank plans to aggressively expand technological services over the next five years.

Could you tell us about the bank’s business results during the past year?

The bank’s financial position increased by 13% at the end of 2018 to reach EGP 32bn, compared to EGP 28bn in 2017, a growth of EGP 4bn. The bank also achieved a 35% increase in its loan balances and a 12% increase in deposit balances. In the first half (H1) of 2019, the UNB – Egypt achieved an increase in profits to EGP 191.4m, compared to EGP 136.2m in H1 of 2018.

What are the bank’s growth targets in the current year?

The UNB – Egypt will witness a major breakthrough in the coming period, where we aim to acquire a minimum of 3% market share during the next four years, up from the current 1.1%. We also aim to achieve a 60% growth in net profit by the end of this year, based on the adopted plan to increase loans by 23%, deposits by 12%, and assets by 12% during H2 of the year. We seek to offer new products and services to suit different segments of customers, in addition to expanding in the application of digital solutions.

What are the main features of the bank’s expansion plan during the coming period?

Technology is the future, so the bank plans to significantly expand in this sector over the next five years, to keep pace with the digital development that we are witnessing. We have been keen on launching some e-banking services, with an ambitious plan to establish e-branches and activate online banking, along with traditional banking solutions and increasing ATMs, in order to reach different society segments and meet customers’ different needs, thereby increasing the bank’s market share.

What are the sectors that the bank focuses on financing in the Egyptian market?

We are working to promote production and achieve sustainable development in Egypt, by focusing on vital sectors, such as industry and renewable energy, which strongly boosts the Egyptian economy. The bank is pursuing a policy of participating in financing companies that implement all national projects undertaken by the state, as well as an interest in financing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as this sector represents the base that generates jobs, reduces unemployment, improves income, increases domestic output, and stimulates Egyptian exports. The bank also pays great attention to the SMEs sector, which currently accounts for about 13% of the bank’s total loans and facilitations portfolio. The bank’s mortgage finance portfolio, within the CBE’s initiative, reached EGP 154m at the end of June 2019.

What are the main e-banking products offered by the bank?

The bank currently offers internet and mobile banking for individuals and companies, which allows many banking operations, such as transfers, payment of credit card dues, deposit, and requesting cheque books, in addition to the service of querying accounts of all kinds and transactions that have been done. The bank also provides 24-hour hotline service for non-internet users. Two electronic branches have also been opened, offering electronic services as well as ATM instant services any time of the day. In the near future, the bank will expand in offering cash deposit service through its ATM network, in addition to the issuance of e-wallets for customers and non-bank customers, which allows them to spend and transfer money as well as pay bills, in addition to other services. The UNB – Egypt will contract with an electronic payment company to facilitate repayment of loan instalments and credit card dues electronically. Electronic payment services will also be integrated with various electronic channels in the bank, such as payment of bills, online banking, and ATMs.

How the bank supports the CBE’s efforts to achieve financial inclusion?

The bank carried out different activities to contribute to this goal, including the signing of a cooperation protocol with the Dar al-Ma’arif publishing house to launch a book series, called Young Economist, to increase the economic awareness of young people and introduce them to the importance of saving through banks, as well as electronic payments. The cooperation also included the issuance of a book in sign language to introduce blind or visually impaired people to banking terminology. These publications were distributed to school students of various stages, with the aim of preparing the young generation to know how to save, invest, and deal with the banking system. In addition, each year, the bank conducts a number of activities and events during the Arab Financial Inclusion Week, with the aim of expanding its scope of work and increase the number of beneficiaries of its banking services, by revitalising its presence across Egypt. This helps in providing all advisory services based on the customers’ financial needs. Furthermore, the bank also sponsored the activities of the Global Financial Week, organised by the Egyptian Banking Institute (EBI), to stimulate the financial education process for young people. It comes out of the bank’s belief in the importance of youth in the development process of society. Through sponsorship, a number of university students were hosted at the bank’s main headquarters in Mohandiseen, and educational lectures were arranged for them. The sponsorship also included the initiative “Alashan Bokra” (For Tomorrow), which aims to raise financial awareness for school and university students and to stress the importance of saving. Additionally, there is a simulative “Egyptian Banking System Model” (EBSM) initiative, which is the first model at the level of Egyptian universities to simulate the work of banks in Egypt.Through sponsoring the International Financial Week, the bank also aimed to spread financial awareness among children from the age of eight, through the issuance of a series of comic books, entitled “Alashan Bokra Nehawesh” (Saving for Tomorrow), which will be distributed to school students to develop their saving culture.

How do you evaluate the performance of the Egyptian economy after the completion of the reform programme?

The Egyptian economy has achieved great success, as the GDP of Egypt rose to 5.5%, and foreign exchange reserves also rose to unprecedented levels. In addition, the Egyptian pound is regaining value against the US dollar, and the CBE was able to pay foreign dues on time. With all these indicators, I’m very optimistic about the future of the Egyptian economy. Egypt has achieved a pioneering experience. It is a country that combats terrorism while at the same time achieving economic development, which is a very difficult equation. I expect the growth of the Egyptian economy to continue in the coming period, and I expect to see further declines in the inflation rate, with improved levels of deficit in the state budget and foreign current account, and the growth of the GDP.The banking sector has a large deposit size in addition to banking expertise that enjoys the confidence of international financial institutions, which makes banks ready to finance various development projects, especially those with competitive advantages and rewarding revenues.

What role does the bank play in supporting UAE companies operating in the Egyptian market?

The Egyptian market has about 1,144 UAE companies operating in various sectors. The UAE investments in Egypt are focused on several sectors, including real estate, tourism, retail, industry, petroleum, and health care. The UAE is the eighth largest country in the world and is the second largest Arab country in terms of the volume of investments in Egypt. In light of these figures, the bank’s strategy during the coming period focuses on exploring ways of supporting and cooperating with these UAE entities, especially those working in strategic sectors and major national projects. The bank’s plan includes providing all banking and financial advisory services as well as logistical support to these entities in their dealings with government agencies, in order to facilitate the implementation of their projects in Egypt. This is in addition to our keenness on actively participating in several economic events and conferences held under the government supervision of the two countries, regarding strengthening economic ties, and offering investment opportunities in Egypt, and marketing them to UAE entities.

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Tahya Misr aims to find radical solutions to problems of underprivileged segments: Deputy Director of Projects Sun, 15 Sep 2019 09:00:48 +0000 Manshiet El Nuba at Toud district declared as Virus-C free

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Armed with a group of enthusiastic young people and under the supervision of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the Tahya Misr (Long Live Egypt) Fund was launched with specific objectives, mainly to assist in improving the living conditions of citizens.

The fund has no government routine, which in many cases complicates the procedures of any task. The fund relies on a group of young people who work together according to the latest modern management methods. Daily News Egypt interviewed the Deputy Director of the Tahya Misr Fund’s Projects, Shady Salem, to learn about the fund’s philosophy and its future projects.

What is the role of the fund? And how is it different from the civil society organisations?

The fund always seeks to find radical solutions to many of the problems faced by the community, especially the underprivileged segments, in cooperation with various state agencies. The fund is multidirectional, including social support, healthcare, urban development, and economic empowerment. We are also involved in the state’s efforts to support scientific research and youth training. We are cooperating with several state agencies and civil society organisations to find solutions to different problems. President Al-Sisi pays attention to finding real and permanent solutions to the country’s problems rather than temporary ones.

What is the nature of the fund? And is it supervised by the president? 

President Al-Sisi has issued a decree to create the fund. It has a special nature and works under the supervision of Al-Sisi. We cooperate with all state agencies to meet the needs of the underprivileged. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly heads the fund’s board of trustees.

How do you assess the state’s efforts in combating hepatitis C so far?

What has been done in combating hepatitis C so far is a great achievement on all levels. Previously,  about 7% of Egypt’s population were hepatitis C patients, with more 150,000 patients annually. The state now is treating a million people. The fund also ended treatment waiting lists which included more than 120,000 patients, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health. We have succeeded in providing medical imaging devices to public hospitals and provide treatment for free. Additionally, we have participated in the ‘100 Million Health’ campaign and provided required drugs to the Egyptian National Committee for Control of Viral Hepatitis.

How far the fund was involved in the 100 Million Health campaign?

The fund has provided EGP 500m to the campaign so far, through the contributions of the citizens. We were also able to establish an external clinic for medical examination and treatment of hepatitis C patients at the Benha University Hospital.

We have also established the largest regional centre for the treatment of hepatitis C in Luxor to serve Upper Egypt. This centre has become the largest therapeutic and research centre in our battle against hepatitis C, as it provides free detection and treatment service for those who cannot afford treatment in Upper Egypt. The centre has been equipped with the latest medical equipment. The centre was able to treat 12,000 patients so far and conducted medical examinations for more than 150,000 citizens in Upper Egypt. We were able to announce Manshiet El Nuba village as hepatitis-free.   

What about the fund’s new initiative to combat blindness? 

Our goal is to combat vision impairment through early diagnosis and treatment, to ensure that patients have access to an integrated medical service. The fund allocated EGP 1bn for the initiative upon the directives of the president. We created a plan for optical coherence tomography (OCT) scan of two million citizens nationwide over three years. Moreover, more than 200,000 cataract surgeries were carried out at 20 hospitals, in cooperation with the Armed Forces and police hospitals.

And to protect our children, the fund conducted OCT scan for 10.5 million students in public primary schools. It is expected to reveal about a million cases that need medical glasses which the fund will provide for free. Also, necessary surgeries will be conducted for free for the students who need medical intervention, in coordination with health insurance bodies.

Egypt suffers from infant incubator shortage, how did the fund help?

Recent studies indicate that there are approximately 100,000 premature children born annually, with about 2% mortality rate due to the incubator shortage, especially in Upper Egypt. This is why the fund launched a EGP 200m initiative to provide incubators in the underprivileged areas. The fund purchased 564 incubators so far, and they will be distributed in hospitals and centres that suffer incubator shortage.

Is there a plan to increase the number of dialysis units? 

The fund is currently studying the areas where there is a shortage of dialysis equipment, in order to distribute new dialysis units. During the past period, the fund provided dialysis units to hospitals in Baltim, Fouh, and Hamoul towns. The fund also provided dialysis units to the family health centre in Sharqeya governorate and the Tahya Misr Dialysis Centre in Aswan, serving 57,000 patients, with an annual fund of EGP 36.5m.

How did the fund contribute to the development of informal housing areas? 

The Egyptian state is concerned with the elimination of informal housing areas and providing safe and appropriate housing alternatives to the residents of such life-threatening and unplanned areas. The alternative housing will be in the form of new communities with integrated facilities and services. The fund contributed over EGP 2bn in this aspect to solve the problem.

The Tahya Misr city in Asmaraat, whose establishment cost reached EGP 1bn fully provided by the fund, was the first comprehensive plan implemented to improve the living conditions of the people in such life-threatening areas. It was built on an area of 203 feddan, including 429 buildings which comprises of 18,276 housing units and 281 commercial units for 80,000 citizens.

We also participated in the construction of the city of Bashair al-Khair with a funding of EGP 709m so far, to alleviate the suffering of the inhabitants of informal housing areas in Alexandria. This was accomplished through the demolition of these informal housing areas and constructing an integrated residential city. It was built on an area of 222 feddan, including 29,280 buildings to serve 146,000 citizens.

The fund also took the lead in developing the first informal housing area inside Cairo, which is Assal in Shubra, one of the largest unplanned areas in the capital. Internal roads and lighting columns were developed. Additionally, 123 buildings were demolished and reconstructed. A total of 775 housing units were established, in addition to 48 commercial units, with funding of EGP 91m.

The fund is currently participating in the provision of equipment and furnishings for residential units in the cities of Asmaraat 3 and Mahrousa, as EGP 150m was allocated.

What is the fund’s contribution to “Decent Life” initiative? 

Regarding the project of developing poor villages through the “Decent Life” initiative, the fund allocated EGP 200m for building 7,264 houses in 232 villages in 15 governorates, serving 75,000 citizens.

The fund also participated in 14 projects in Aswan in the fields of housing, health care, infrastructure, civil protection, industrial development, and sports, with a funding of EGP 320m to serve 400,000 citizens.

We are currently implementing new development projects in 103 villages in 12 governorates. They include developing 2,885 houses, in addition to a number of schools and healthcare units, in cooperation with Misr El Kheir and the Orman Association.

What about the fund’s projects in Sinai? 

Sinai will remain at the heart of the fund’s concerns. We launched the Sinai Development Initiative, mainly in Rafah and Sheikh Zuwaid, to improve roads, schools, electricity networks, sewage systems, and water wells. In addition, we developed El Arish General Hospital.

What is the fund’s role in crisis management?

A total of EGP 1bn was allocated to deal with the flood crisis in the governorates of Beheira and Alexandria in 2016. This sum was directed for establishing new drainages, as well as designing and implementing a fishing port in Al Max neighbourhood.

The fund also supported the people of Ras Ghareb who were affected by the floods that hit 13 different areas, sweeping off more than 80% of the area of the city, in addition to compensating farmers for their losses.

What is the role of the fund in fighting unemployment? 

A total of 1,000 jobs were created for youth, through a funding of EGP 80m, in addition to providing 1,000 taxis in 10 targeted governorates.

The project has succeeded in providing job opportunities for young people by distributing five-tonne and 1.5-tonne refrigerated trucks, with a six-year payment system.

A total of 500 trucks with a capacity of five and 7.5 tonnes were provided to 2,250 young people, with a funding of EGP 257m.

What are the updates of the “Ehna Ma’ak” (We are with you) initiative for street children?

In cooperation with the Ministry of Solidarity, the fund has prepared this programme to help street children, with the aim of reducing the phenomenon by 80%. The beneficiaries, so far, reached 16,000 children with a total funding of EGP 114m.

A number of children shelters in various governorates were also developed. The fund established a first centre of its kind for guidance of young girls, including a section for children with special needs. It was inaugurated in August 2018, with a capacity of 250 children and a funding of EGP 7m.

Also, the fund developed the Dar Al-Tarbiyya school for boys in Minya governorate, with a capacity of 200 children and a funding of EGP 6m.

The social defence complex in Alexandria was also developed by the fund, raising its capacity to 150 children with a funding of EGP 5.5m, in addition to Dar El Horeya in Cairo, with a capacity of 200 children and a funding of EGP 7m.

What is the fund’s contributions in education?

The fund was keen on supporting the initiative of the late scientist Ahmed Zewail to establish a major scientific research facility, which was later called the University of Zewail for Science and Technology. Zewail donated EGP 410m to complete and equip the university.

As for the “Teachers First” presidential initiative, the fund was keen on supporting it through providing the necessary funding, in order to qualify teachers to use the latest teaching methods. A total of 10,000 teachers were trained through the initiative, with a funding of EGP 80m.

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Cash subsidy key to assist Egyptians who can’t get out of poverty: Nobel Prize Winner Fri, 13 Sep 2019 10:40:58 +0000 Government needs to implement policies for social justice, says Dembitzer

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Transferring Egypt’s subsidy into cash will aidthe poorest segments of society to buy food and medicines and essential needs, Benny Dembitzer, managing director at the Grassroots Africa, member of the team who won Nobel peace prize in 1985, said, adding that a cash subsidy is key to assist the people who can’t get out of poverty.

“I think that the Egyptian government needs to implement the policies that grantee social justice, not socialism,” Dembitzer mentioned, noting that African countries in general need an economy whichencourages people to produce food for domestic needs not for export.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Dembitzer during the event that was organised by the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies (ECES) last Wednesday, the transcript forwhich is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How does the lack of statistics in Africa lead to wrong policies taken by governments?

The problem of statistics in Africa is very large one. The presidency of Tanzania threatened the statistics organisations that if they any data which differs from the officially announced data, heads of organisations will be sent to jail. The world Bank (WB) is going to accept the official figures of the government of Tanzania. The WB can’t do anything else. Another example of this issue, is in Rwanda. The country’s official data shows that the country is growing at a range of 8% and 9%. However, poverty in rural area is increasing. I had the opportunity to talk with persons in Rwanda and reached the conclusion that none of them agree that things are getting better. Governments always like to show that things are going well despite the real situation. Capital is the most important thing for governments. Imagine that in the Central African Republic, there is no government for almost five years because of the fighting between different groups. I am specialised about the sub-Saharan countries in Africa and I can tell you that agriculture is key for these countries to help their economies grow.

How do you see the African Continental Free Trade Agreement?

The agreement will affect an extremely minute percentage of people who are exporting to other countries. There are many other categories in Africa that need to be supported by economic policies.

There is huge attention from the Japanese and Chinese governments for cooperation with Africa; which model of cooperation do you prefer?

We can’t compare between the Chinese and Japanese cooperation with Africa. Japan is following a traditional approach of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) where transparency is a must. Japan requires from African countries which borrow from it to have solid economic plans that allow them to repay the loans in foreign currency. On the other hand, China believes that the economic plans of African countries isn’t a matter of consideration as it asks the countries that can’t repay the loans to give it property of land instead of the money. For example, China is building a very large port in Tanzania that serves the east Africa region and I think that if the government doesn’t repay the funds, China will get the ownership of the land. This model of cooperation happened with Latin America countries where China is the second main partner for most Latin American and Pacific coast countries. Moving Chinese people to the African continent will only benefit Chinese communities. Many of them are poor but they are industrious.

Many African countries announced that they adapted economic reforms; How do you assess them?

Africa is a large continent where there are four different economic systems. I think that the most suitable system for African countries is the one that focuses on governance. We need an economy that encourages people to produce food for domestic needs not for export. For example, I heard about reforms of the subsidy in Egypt that has been given to the poorest in order to help them to buy food and medicine. Supporting the neediest categories including women is very important. A cash subsidy is key to assist the people who can’t get out of poverty. The Brazilian government implemented a very good system for subsidies through giving vouchers for poor people to help them buy food, medicines, and essential needs.    

You are praising the reforms; but the poverty percentage in Egypt is increasing; where is the problem?

Poverty is increasing in Egypt because the first priority of the government is not the poorest. The government has immense debts to several international financial institutions, so Egyptian authorities implement the policies that will allow them to repay the funds. I think that the Egyptian government needs to implement the policies that guarantee social justice, not socialism.

‘About 32.5% of Egyptians are living below the poverty line in 2017/18, compared to 27.8% in 2015, according to the expenditure and income research prepared by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), Khairat Barakat, chairperson of the CAPMAS, announced on 29 July 2019.

The CAPMAS expenditure and income research showed that poverty has increased in all regions of Egypt, except in rural areas in Upper Egypt, also revealing that extreme poverty has also returned, recording 6.2% among the Egyptians.’

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GB Auto aims to sell 5,000 Arrizo cars, introduce new models in 2020 Tue, 10 Sep 2019 17:45:16 +0000 Consumer is key in digital transformation process; most important preparations are raising awareness and e-signature: Valavanis

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GB Auto Group is a leading regional automotive player and non-bank financial services provider in Egypt. The group’s operations are split into core automotive (GB Auto & auto related) and high-margin financing businesses (GB Capital).

In an interview with the Daily News Egypt, Andre Valavanis, Investor Relations AVP, outlined his vision for the future of the company’s activities, both in the automotive and non-banking financial services sectors.

GB Auto has a financial arm that serves its core business while competing with other non-bank financial service providers. At the forefront of this strategy is GB Capital, which today oversees the operations of the group’s five non-bank financial service providers.

How does GB Auto plan to utilise financial technology to develop its future non-bank financial service in these companies?

GB Capital is a leading non-bank financial services provider in Egypt and targets further growth through expanding its existing businesses and adding new services. It is expected to activate the mortgage activity during the last quarter of this year, as well as  launch a new “electronic wallet” soon.

Regarding the opportunities for GB Auto to benefit from financial technology; the state is moving toward digital transformation to enhance growth opportunities of non-banking activities. I believe that financial technology and digital transformation will indirectly support the future of the non-banking financial sector, where the major and direct impact in the process of digital transformation will be linked to consumer acceptance and the use of financial technology. Therefore, the beginning should be to educate consumers about financial technology as well as provide the appropriate infrastructure and legislation to expand financial technology, especially the process of an electronic signature and its strength before the Egyptian courts to ensure the protection of the rights of both companies and users. The success of the use of financial technology must be linked to a secure electronic signature process as well as the need to raise consumer awareness about the shift towards industry.

The revenues of non-bank financial activities represented in GB Capital contributed about 17% of GB Auto’s revenues during the second quarter (Q2) of this year. The financing portfolio stood at EGP 8.6bn at the end of June, almost unchanged, given the implementation of the securitisation transaction of GB Financial Leasing worth EGP 767m in June. If the value of this deal is excluded, the financing portfolio would have risen by 37.7% on yearly basis to EGP 9.4bn by the end of June.

What is the expansion strategy of the company during 2020 in the field of cars and its services?

The company aims to sell 5,000 Chery Arrizo vehicles during 2020. The locally assembled Arrizo 5 is witnessing good demand. The company also aims to introduce new models next year expand and invest in the automotive sector in Egypt and meet the needs of Egyptian customers, who are looking for practical cars with top features at a competitive price and good after-sales services.

GB Auto remains the passenger car market share leader in Q2 of 2019 even after discontinuing the best-selling car, Verna. GB Auto is expected to increase its market share after the introduction of the Arrizo 5 CKD model moving forward.

What is the company’s current market share in the automotive market?

GB Auto has a market share of 20.5% in July YTD is constantly striving to enhance this share through good competitive products.

What are the main challenges facing the company and automotive industry?

GB Auto suffers from turbulence and price instability in the Egyptian automotive ,sector started by last year end, , when demand for passenger cars fell. The market is currently suffering lower than expected demand, in addition to the unfair competition due to the customs exemptions on European, Turkish, and Moroccan cars at the expense of the locally assembled models and cars imported from other countries.

Asian cars carry custom duties of 40% well as the components used in assembling therefore the company is forced to put those cars at high prices compared to imported European cars which are exempted from customs. This is likely to push demand in the benefit of European cars and has shifted the demand away from the locally assembled models.

Therefore, it is the government’s responsibility to restructure the car market and provide equal opportunities for all the companies in the market to support its stability and make best use of state resources of foreign exchange (FX) along with customs duties. The state should also protect the domestic assembling activities.

What about the company’s regional sales, and the challenges it faces?

GB Auto continues to show an impressive performance on the regional front. Regional operations generated revenues of EGP 1.784bn in Q2 of 2019, more than doubling from the EGP 699m recorded a year previously, as demand continues to grow as the country security and political situation continues to improve. Revenues more than doubled year-on-year (y-o-y) in the first half (H1) of 2019 to reach EGP 3.4bn.

Is the company considering manufacturing electric cars in the future?

GB Auto always strives to keep pace with the developments of the automotive market and provide new competitive products, however electric cars are not in the company’s plan now. Egyptian market is not ready to deal with such type of cars, since they need services that are not accessible in  in Egypt such as charging stations. Egyptian residential areas still lack enough parking spaces, the infrastructure is not yet prepared to demand these cars.  This would take a long time to process. We also have to consider other matters, such as the appropriate disposition of the batteries after they expire in seven years without damaging the environment.

Up to now, traditional cars are prevalent globally despite the technological development in many European countries and the spread of awareness and culture among consumers of these cars, but the rate of growth in demand for them is limited. At the moment, the market can adopt Hybrid cars, given its custom duties fall to 0% similar to the EU cars, which will save a lot of fuel consumption to the country.

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EU, GIZ support CBE to establish comprehensive database for financial inclusion Mon, 09 Sep 2019 13:30:14 +0000 ‘We offer European expertise to MCIT for further elaboration of e-commerce Law,’ says Surkoš

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The European Union (EU) delegation to Egypt is cooperating with the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to support the efforts of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to establish a comprehensive nationally-owned financial inclusion database. This is to measure the levels, trends, and challenges facing financial inclusion, by conducting a full-fledged demand and supply side mapping exercise, covering both households and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), Head of the EU delegation to Egypt, ambassador Ivan Surkoš, said.

“We are in close discussions with our long-term partner the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for the preparation of a new programme to open up further economic opportunities for underserved social groups such as young people, women, and populations in remote areas,” Surkoš added.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Surkoš to discuss the EU’s current programmes to support Egypt’s young entrepreneurs and female-owned startups, in addition to learning more about the EU’s future plans to support this sector.

Initially, how do you assess Egypt’s entrepreneurship eco-system?

I would like to start by praising recent efforts by the Egyptian government to build and streamline business related regulations by placing key institutions as the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA) and the Egyptian Regulatory Reform and Development Activity (ERRADA) under the Prime Minister’s Cabinet.

Yet Egypt is ranked 120th out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s (WB) Ease of Doing Business Index of 2019. This is a low ranking, compared to countries such as Morocco (60) or Turkey (43). The regulatory framework still needs improvement, and access to finance remains a major constraint for private sector development. Other factors such as ‘unpredictability’ (vague regulations, civil servants unaware of recent simplifications), may be affecting the low-level investment rates of the private sector.

For any entrepreneur, in Egypt or in other part of the world, there are four key factors that can help a business fully thrive: better regulations and information, better skills, better access to finance, and better access to innovation.

I am happy to say that we are active in Egypt in each of these areas. We have EU-funded programmes aiming at reinforcing national institutional capacities and service delivery quality in the areas of entrepreneurship and technical and vocational education and training (TVET). We also have a number of programmes where EU grants are blended with loans provided by European financial institutions to offer small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to affordable direct loans and/or guarantee schemes with local partner banks thereby reducing investment risks.

What about the EU delegation cooperation with Egypt’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology?

We recently offered the ministry expertise supporting further elaboration of the e-commerce Law and it is our common ambition to intensify our policy dialogue and cooperation in the near future.

On promoting innovation, we have grants schemes for SMEs and dedicated research and innovation programmes such as H2020 that are open to Egyptian participation. But we also know that we should do more on technology and digitisation which can dramatically reduce costs and allow entrepreneurs to develop profitable low-value, big-volume business models. 

Can you please elaborate on the EU’s current support for Egyptian start-ups? How many programmes? Their impact? The amount of funds?

As technology advances, we are now witnessing the rapid emergence of innovative entrepreneurships: the ‘start-ups’. That’s why we have integrated in the latest programmes the support to venture capitals and business accelerators to allow early-stage innovative companies to access the expertise of local and/or international advisors. This is in addition to promoting knowledge-sharing between early-stage technology companies and international best practices.

This type of cooperation is still quite new in Egypt, and it is too early to provide you with figures. It is important to note that Egyptian start-ups were very active in an open debate hosted by the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy, Johannes Hahn, last May to discuss the challenges and opportunities for investment and entrepreneurship in the EU southern neighbourhood.

It came at the right time to feed the voice and ideas of young entrepreneurs into a new EU policy cycle. The discussions concluded in a set of 12 recommendations for policy makers both at the EU and in the region on how to continue supporting entrepreneurs and facilitating investment.

We are also tackling this issue through the EU-Egypt programme TVET EGYPT (worth €50m). One of the components of this programme is about improving the employability of Egyptian youth and workers and strengthening the capacity of the TVET system to develop appropriate skills to meet labour market demand, particularly selected key economic sectors, notably tourism. A grants scheme worth €6m is funding eligible NGOs to improve the skills of the existing workforce, enhance entrepreneurship and self-employment among Egyptian youth, and build the capacity of job seekers through training on vocational and basic life skills to meet the labour market needs. This helps reduce the poverty within society, and is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Will the EU delegation announce new programmes for supporting Egyptian start-ups? Expected funds?

Over the years, we have seen how essential entrepreneurship is in creating employment, value, and innovation while delivering products and services that people need around the world. As Europeans, we believe that SMEs are the backbone of successful economies.

We will launch in the fall of 2019 the preparations for the programming of the EU support to Egypt for the next cycle, covering the years 2021-2027. Achieving a sustainable growth of SMEs in Egypt will continue to be a key part of our economic agenda. Let me add here that we are in close discussions with our long-term partner, the EBRD, for the preparation of a new programme to open up further economic opportunities for underserved social groups such as young people, women, and populations in remote areas.

How do you assess Egypt’s efforts toward financial inclusion?

Without any doubt, financial inclusion is a global challenge. I am pleased that Egypt, notably the CBE (and its Financial Inclusion Department established in 2016), is one of the entities which started laying the groundwork for creating an environment conducive to financial inclusion.

This is necessary to create the conditions for Egyptians, particularly those who are underserved by the financial system, and especially women and youth, to be able to safely save and build up resilience against financial shocks. It is also important for Micro, Small and Medium enterprises (MSMEs) to be able to access formal finance services and products, invest, grow, and generate more employment opportunities. 

It is very much recognisable how a rapid development and extension of digital platforms can reach financially excluded and underserved populations quickly, securely, transparently and in a cost-efficient way. That’s why important steps and regulatory measures have been taken by the CBE to enhance financial inclusion through digital services and financial technology.

I believe that these efforts have led to substantial improvements in the past years as demonstrated by the WB Global Index Database, which revealed that the proportion of adults with a bank account in Egypt grew from 10% in 2011 to 33% in 2017. This is still low compared to European countries or similar regional countries and further efforts are needed to expand easy access to financial services for the entire population.

Through a project under implementation with the GIZ the EU is supporting the efforts of the CBE to establish a comprehensive nationally-owned database to measure the levels, trends, and challenges of financial inclusion, by conducting a full-fledged demand and supply side mapping exercise, which will cover both households and MSMEs.

How does the EU support women to start small businesses?

I am very proud that together with the ambassador of Sweden to Egypt, Jan Thesleff, we have been appointed by the EU member states in Egypt as the EU Senior Gender Champion at country level. The EU is committed to put gender equality and women’s empowerment at the heart of EU-funded programmes. In the framework of the joint commitment between the EU and EU member states in Egypt, one of the main pillars of the EU Gender Action Plan is to support women’s economic empowerment.

This support includes women’s access to finance and improved business, technical and vocational skills, as well as the needed skills to start and run a small business. This is why some EU-funded programmes have exclusively targeted women’s economic empowerment, and some others included women as important and the main beneficiary segment.

Let me give you some examples. Under the EU-funded project ‘Advice for Small Businesses (ABS) in Egypt’, which is being implemented by our partner, the EBRD, 20% of the supported SMEs were either women-led or women-owned businesses.

Moreover, under the ‘Securing the Rights and livelihood of Egyptian Women’, the EU supported the model of ‘Village Savings and Loans Associations’ through which 20,000 women were extended support, including through access to finance, business development services, and skills development. Technical skills and grants to run women-led businesses are also supported under the EU-Egypt TVET II flagship programme which supports a large number of women, particularly young women.

I believe that all efforts need to be intensified to allow more women to set up their own businesses. The impact will not only be sensed on the lives of these women, but the added value would be felt through increased women’s participation in the economy and the expected outcomes at the GDP level.

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Fawry to launch Insurance Brokerage Service for micro products early 2020 Mon, 09 Sep 2019 12:20:02 +0000 Company invests EGP 250-300m per year to develop and expand its services

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Fawry, an electronic payment network, is one of the most prominent companies expected to play a important role in the implementation of the state strategy for digital transformation. The company integrates efficient and easy e-finance solutions with existing information systems of companies and government institutions, providing real-time registration and completion of transactions, and follow-up of all operations carried out through the institution of company’s electronic portal.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Mohamed Okasha, managing director of Fawry, to learn about the future of companies that rely on financial technology in light of the state’s plan for digital transformation of the country.

How do you see the role of financial technology in supporting digital transformation? And what are the chances of achieving digital transformation in Egypt?

Digital transformation can only be achieved through financial technology. The strategy of the state and the Central Bank of Egypt for financial inclusion shows many opportunities in the Egyptian market in this area, supported by the demographic distribution of the population and the number of Internet users. These add up to about 45 million users, and 85 million users of mobile phones, of which 50% using smart phones, and 35 million users of social networks. The spread of mobile phones and the internet helps provide comprehensive digital payment services.

Despite the rise in the number of payment cards issued by banks to over 25m cards, the predominant use of about 90% of them is cash withdrawal from ATMs, which confirms the huge opportunities in the market of electronic payment.

The poor local access to a POS [point of sale] and ATMs when compared to international rates emphasises the need for more providers of payment services and banking services in order to increase access to financial services for the targeted segments and achieve financial inclusion.

How would Fawry benefit from digital transformation and financial technology in developing the non-banking financial sector?

The state is taking many steps towards digital transformation and electronic payment, which will positively affect the development of the services provided by the company. Fawry can benefit from this by strengthening its technological infrastructure, which includes the electronic payment platform and mobile applications in addition to the main and alternative hosting centres, through expanding its services via alternative channels, including 100,000 outlets, 30 banks, and e-wallets customers of mobile operators. This is in line with the government’s recent strategy to shift from an economy based on cash payments to a modern system, where cash payments represent a small part of transactions.

Electronic payment systems in government departments has evolved considerably during the past period and will witness a more gradual and significant progression in the future. It is an excellent step to spread financial inclusion and digital transformation, which would help eliminate corruption and facilitate procedures for citizens.

Fawry carries out more than 2.5m transactions per day including payments, collections, settlements, contracts, and new subscriptions.

What are the features of Fawry’s expansion plan?

Our future plan includes the development of new services so that we can provide added value for customers, including individuals, traders, companies, and financial institutions. The company plans to launch a new service early 2020, namely the micro insurance brokerage service. Both the marketing of this product and the payment of its instalments will be done electronically. Fawry has vast and varied POS channels that enable it to contribute significantly to the sector. This activity will be carried out in cooperation with insurance companies that offer this product.

The future plan of the company also includes expanding electronic payments and complementary services. We aim to add new channels and services, and market the current services to attract new clients in utilities, education, clubs, syndicates, transportation, and other sectors.

Fawry further aims to expand into microfinance by increasing the size of the funds for retail traders, so that they can increase the size of their dealings using the e-collection service Fawry provides to these companies.

How much investment will Fawry inject in the coming period?

Fawry has a strategy to invest EGP 250-300m per year from the company’s own resources, which reflects the high financial solvency of the company. The new liquidity will be directed to developing and expanding our services, which currently include up to 565 services.

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Egypt becoming more business friendly, progressing toward digital economy: Blanchet Mon, 09 Sep 2019 11:00:14 +0000 Banks play an important role in supporting, promoting FDI, financial inclusion

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Egypt has been through almost four years of tough – but necessary – economic reforms. The ambitious plan adopted by the government aims to boost the country’s economic growth, achieve fiscal consolidation, and improve the business climate.

According to HSBC Group General Manager, Deputy Chairperson and CEO HSBC Bank Egypt, Jacques-Emmanuel Blanchet, the short-term struggle associated with the reforms has undoubtedly been challenging for many people. However, Blanchet believes that the underlying strength the reforms intend to deliver to the economy should provide a firm foundation for future growth and business dynamism.

Blanchet views Egypt’s large consumer market, with its diversified demographics, as a significant strength that many investors assess and take into consideration.

Egypt has also achieved real progress toward digitising the economy, he told Daily News Egypt. Furthermore, he said that HSBC plans to invest $15bn-$17bn on technology worldwide up to 2020, and the fruits of those global investments would be felt directly by their customers in Egypt.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Blanchet to find out his views on the Egyptian economy, banks’ roles in boosting growth, and HSBC Egypt’s plans in the coming period.

Presently, what is your vision for the Egyptian economy?

As Egypt has successfully completed the 3 year arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with International Monetary Fund (IMF), the country’s economy continues to gather strength and we remain optimistic about the outlook for Egypt. The positive steady growth of real GDP reaching 5.5% as per the IMF’s latest review on Egypt’s economy is very positive and among the highest in the region, underpinned by a recovery in tourism, higher net exports, and investment. Rising natural gas production, supported by foreign investment with revenues from gas production, combined with fiscal reforms should help to bring the budget deficit down to 7% in 2019/20. This will provide a strong platform for future economic expansion with currency appreciation, inflation tempering expected to reach a single digit figure by end of 2019 in line with the expectations of both the IMF and the market, with unemployment easing to around 8%.
Meanwhile the latest data from Central Bank of Egypt showed that investor confidence has also been buoyed by the rise in foreign reserves, which totalled nearly $45bn in August 2019.

What are the current strengths of the Egyptian economy?

On the ground, Egypt is becoming more business-friendly with new investment and licensing laws boosting domestic and foreign business activity. There is also real progress being made toward digitising the economy. The short-term struggle associated with the reforms has undoubtedly been challenging for many people, but the underlying strength they are intended to deliver to the economy should provide a firm foundation for future growth and business dynamism. Egypt’s economy is well diversified amongst multiple important sectors such as oil and gas, tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, transport, and real estate. Having a diversified economy is a vital enabler of a sustainable, strong economy. Another area of notable and well-known strength supporting the Egyptian economy is Egypt’s ideal location. Egypt has been a global gateway for thousands of years. It is the connection point for business corridors which run between Asia and Europe, through the Middle East and Africa, to the rest of the world. Not least is the role Egypt is playing as a major partner in China’s ambitious plans to revive the old maritime Silk Road. Egypt’s large consumer market, with its diverse demographics, is a significant strength that many investors assess and take into consideration while making strategic investment decisions into the country.

What are the main challenges facing the Egyptian economy right now, especially after implementing a large part of the economic reform program? And how could those challenges be overcome?

Continued focus on the economic reform programme and driving new industrial investment is fundamental to Egypt’s future to support the development of the private sector and create jobs.
Adhering to the investment roadmap of the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation will improve transparency and the dialogue between investors and key stakeholders within the government. Events that HSBC has recently held to promote investment opportunities in Egypt have shown that our clients are keenly interested in Egypt. Bringing interest rates to lower levels and to continue developing a more business-friendly environment will support attracting potential investors.

What is required to push the Egyptian economy forward and enable growth?
Financial inclusion and digitisation are considered fundamental to the growth of the Egyptian economy. As with any developing market, some areas need more attention. These include improving cybersecurity, legal frameworks, and scalability. Therein lies the value of collaboration and knowledge sharing, something that HSBC–as the world’s leading international bank with experience of digital deployments globally–is able to facilitate. More than half (56.6%) of survey respondents to our digital research agreed that international trade has become more difficult over the last three years. This means that making cross-border trade easier by using digital tools is even more critical to sustaining Egypt’s global competitiveness. HSBC plans to invest $15bn-$17bn on technology worldwide up to 2020, and the fruits of those global investments will be felt directly by our customers in Egypt. Our investments in digitisation already give our customers access to next generation virtual accounts, enhanced liquidity management, and more streamlined mobile collections and payments. The efforts of the government and the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to boost the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) sector is also very commendable, being regarded as the backbone of the country’s economy, and is a strong push for financial inclusion. SMEs are ambitious, growth-oriented companies, entrepreneurial and ready to expand – facts supported by the research in the latest HSBC Navigator report for Egypt. Our report highlights that 75% of businesses feel confident about success as Egypt’s market dynamics improve. The strength of HSBC’s commitment to serving the SME segment in Egypt is proven by the financing solutions we extend, as well as the wide range of international business corridors to which we can connect our customers.
What role could banks play in assisting the Egyptian economy?
Banks play an important role in supporting and promoting foreign direct investment (FDI), financial inclusion, and offering a wide range of banking and credit services – particularly among SMEs which constitute an important segment of the economy. HSBC has always been keen to support the Egyptian economy through our strong global network with its presence in 66 markets worldwide. This gives us an unrivalled ability to connect Egypt with the fastest-growing international markets, in addition to bringing our digital capabilities and international expertise to best serve the Egyptian market. HSBC has led key projects with corporates and the public sector which have aligned with the objectives of the government and the regulator. These have included arranging and financing large deals that met urgent strategic business needs in the energy sector, and also in supporting investments made by large and middle size companies in various sectors. We also recently introduced a complete suite of solutions for managing foreign exchange flows, trade settlement in China’s Renminbi. The comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Egypt has witnessed an unprecedented push in 2018. We believe the Belt and Road will create a wealth of opportunities for our clients in Egypt and we look forward to providing them with outstanding services across financing, advisory, risk management, and transaction banking as they engage in Belt and Road-related business. The bank has seen several successes as a result of this strategy, allowing it to build on its stance as the “go-to” bank in the market, and to create partnerships to support the development of Egypt.

Egypt is one of HSBC’s most dynamic markets worldwide and is a business built on more than three decades of customer support on the ground in a country which has an increasingly positive economic outlook, underpinned by reform-minded policymaking which supports a dynamic and entrepreneurial private sector.

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E-TRP aims to improve Egypt’s tourism sector through modern technology: Al-Mashat Sun, 08 Sep 2019 21:11:31 +0000 DNE interviewed Al-Mashat, to find out the sector’s latest updates and future plans.

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Egypt’s tourism sector has been witnessing great developments over the past couple of years. Egypt’s Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat told Daily News Egypt that tourism is firmly placed as one of Egypt’s fastest growing sectors and contributes by over 15% to the country’s economy and is one of the most important services exports.

DNE interviewed Al-Mashat, to find out the sector’s latest updates and future plans.

Could we talk about Ministry’s Egypt— Tourism Reform program?

On Nov 2018 , after ten months in office, with my team, I launched the Egypt—Tourism Reform Program (E—TRP) from the Egyptian Parliament.

This structural reform program is designed to change the narrative on Egyptian tourism. The vision is to achieve a sustainable tourism sector through implementing structural reforms that strengthen the sector’s competitiveness and are consistent with international standards.

The structural reform pillars are: Institutional, Legislative, Branding & Promotion, Infrastructure & Tourism Development, and International Tourism Trends. All this is directed to put Egypt on a  sustainable path, consistent with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The  E-TRP is a framework. For each pillar, there are well defined goals and required procedures to achieve them.

Our overarching objective is that at least one individual from each household in Egypt works directly or indirectly in the tourism sector.

So far we have been walking with a steady pace in the successful implementation of many aspects of the pillars of the Egypt— Tourism Reform Program. The first monitoring report will be published  next October.

As this year, the theme of the Euromoney is the fintech, so in your opinion how the technology benefit the tourism?

I think technological innovation and digital solutions are crucial to enhance competitiveness in the tourism sector.

E-TRP aims at improving the tourism sector in Egypt through making use of modern technology and adopting sustainable tourism strategies. This is covered in the last pillar “International Tourism Trends”. There is a section about digitalization

Last March, we organized a major regional tech forum for technological innovation in tourism, which was the first of its kind to be held in the Middle East. During this tech forum we conducted the first national competition for startups in the field of tourism, which was organized by the Ministry of Tourism in cooperation with UNWTO and powered by Rise-Up.

In your opinion, what is the role of tourism in supporting and developing the national economy?

Tourism is one of the world’s largest economic sectors supporting 1 in every 10 jobs globally and generating 10% of Global GDP.

Tourism is firmly placed as one of Egypt’s fastest growing sectors and contributes by over 15% to the country’s economy and is one of the most important services exports.

Our overarching objective is to have at least one individual from each Egyptian household working, either directly or indirectly, in the tourism sector.

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Egypt has to learn from other countries’ experience in solving cement crisis and it’s not export based: Suez Cement Sun, 08 Sep 2019 10:00:25 +0000 Cost of production increased by about 11% after the fuel price hikes, says managing director

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Suez Cement Company imported around EGP 600m worth coal during the first half (H1) of the current year, according to José Maria Magrina, managing director at Suez Cement.

Jose Maria said Egypt’s cement industry is going through its worst crisis ever as there is a decrease in demand by 5% y-o-y since 2016 and a huge increase in supply. The ratio of demand to supply is 50%.

Daily News Egypt sat down with Jose Maria to learn more about the crisis of cement industry in Egypt. The interview’s transcript is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How do you see the cement industry in Egypt in the current period?

It is going through its worst crisis ever. We have closed Tourah Cement plant temporarily and the National Cement Company was liquidated. There are 5 or 6 other players at risk of bankruptcy. Additionally, there is a decrease in demand by 5% y-o-y since 2016 and a huge increase in supply. The ratio of demand to supply is 50%.

Does the current cement industry situation encourage companies to integrate or merge to overcome the crisis?

I do not think so because integration will solve nothing. Integration can only decrease the company’s administrative expenses but production remains the same. I believe that international players are not willing at all now to invest or to acquire another company as they have to compete with the government which has different rules of the game. Local players think the same, why would; they expand in the current market circumstances?

I do not think that we will be seeing any foreign direct investment (FDI) in the sector. Any new or old investor will understand that it with this overcapacity it makes no sense to invest and will stay away.

What is the value of the company’s total assets?

The company’s total assets are valued $500m-600m.

In your opinion, what is the solution to this crisis?

We held many meetings with the government to explain how other countries dealt with such problems. For example, China rationalized production and controlled the market to keep demand and supply in balance. Other countries did the same or increased the consumption, however, increasing consumption is very difficult because the consumption is already high in Egypt, recording more than 500 kilos of cement per person.

Do you think this industry needs more subsidies? And how do you see the government’s new proposal to provide cement export subsidy program?

Providing subsidies is good, but I do not think it’s the solution. Competition is so high that producers will discount immediately the subsidies and prices will drop even further. With this competition subsidies will not then help the producers or our customers. It will only benefit the real estate companies that will buy cement even cheaper while maintaining their housing unit prices expensive. In short, any subsidy will  be cashed by the real estate companies.

Also, export subsidies is not the solution because the difference in cost between us and our regional competitors is too big. Furthermore, the amount of excess of capacity is so big that we would never be able to find export markets for such quantity. As an example , to support cement export we would need a subsidy of around USD 12/ton. This will eat all subsidies available for all industries.

Cement industry only exports opportunistically. Cement is a heavy item, with relatively low cost per unit but a high transportation cost. No country in the world bases its cement industry in exports.

What is the total value of the company’s import of coal? And do you plan to decrease your imports due to the current market circumstances?

Our imports of coal reached around EGP 600m during the first half (H1) of the current year. We import only what we need. Our market share is 14% and we will decrease coal imports by 5% in H2 of 2019.

José Maria Magrina, Managing Director at Suez Cement

What are the main countries you import from?

We import coal mainly from the US and Russia.

You have a contract with the Egyptian Refining Co (ERC) to supply your company with petroleum coke (pet coke), how much did your company save in energy cost after signing the contract?

We have saved 50% of logistics cost because we now get what we need only, so we do not need many stores like we used to do.

Has your company been affected by energy price hike?

Our business has been affected by about 11% due to high cost of electricity. For us, energy (fuel and electricity) accounts for 60% of the total production costs.

Do you have new products you plan to launch in the coming period?

We always release new products through using advanced technology, for example, we are supplying cement to some projects in New El-Alamein and New Capital where advanced constructions methods are applied.

Do you plan to expand your exports?

Our export production cost is high, including transportation and logistics. However, we export to Libya and Ghana very small quantities but our production cost is high, so it is difficult to compete with other international companies.

What is your company’s total capacity of production?

Our total capacity of production is 12m tons and we sell only around 7m tons.

How do the current circumstances in the cement sector affect your business?

We have decreased our employees from 3,800 to only 1,500.

What are the updates regarding the Tourah land auction?

There was an auction and the winner did not pay the first installment of the value of the land so the auction was cancelled.

Then, we talked with the government to change the land activity from industrial to administrative but the government refused our request. It’s incomprehensible that they refused it since that area is a perfect place for housing and support facilities like schools, supermarkets and other commercial activity. It could generate a lot of new jobs and improve the area.

Anyhow, we are currently preparing the master plan for the land to resubmit to the government to develop school, mall, administrative buildings, and residential units.

How will the interest rate cut decrease your expenses?

I think that 17% interest rate is too high to invest. It’s supposed to be about 11-12% to encourage people to invest and expand. We have about EGP 1bn loans and the interests on our loans are estimated at approximately EGP 10m.   

What is the fair price for cement?

Cement is the only commodity that has now the same price (excluding taxes) as in 2015. All input costs have more than doubled and similar products like have doubled. The current price of cement is unsustainable, price should at least cover our costs!

How do launching new cities increase your sales?

Launching new mega projects increased our sales by 30% as these new projects need good infrastructure, more roads, and more houses. We supply mainly the New Capital project.

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Cooing brokers real estate sales of EGP 700m in 1H2019 Fri, 06 Sep 2019 10:00:08 +0000 Company targets EGP 1.5bn sales year-end

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Cooing, real estate broker platform, has achieved sales of EGP 700m for real estate developers during the first half (H1) of this year.

Aly Rafea, marketing director at Cooing, said the company aims to achieve sales of EGP 1.5bn by the end of this year.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Rafea to learn more about the company’s activities and future plans, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How is the sales movement in the real estate market?

The sales movement is improving due to the facilities provided by real estate companies to attract the largest category of potential customers. The sales value of the company increased during the first six months of this year to EGP 700m, compared to EGP 600m in 2018.

The prices of real estate units are expecting to see an increase ranging between 7-10% of the value of the residential units due to the liberalisation of fuel prices.

What is the idea of Cooing?

Cooing is an electronic platform specialised in real estate marketing inside and outside Egypt. It was established in 2016 by a group of experts in the field of real estate. It seeks to provide information and data to citizens to help them make the right decision when buying and selling real estate through a specialised team that is competent and skilled in real estate marketing. It also issues periodic reports on the real estate market and the trends of supply and demand for consumers.

Is the real estate market shifting attention to e-marketing?

Yes, the real estate market is moving toward e-marketing, because it has become a necessity in reaching potential consumer groups besides increasing interest in using the internet, and because it is characterised by easy access to the target customer. Determining the type of consumer is one of the requirements of the current phase.

Real estate e-marketing platforms now take up a large part of the local and international market. What distinguishes these platforms from social media and official websites of companies is that they provide various databases for consumer needs. They also detect supply and demand trends. Some of them work as research platforms and issue reports that provide consumers and investors with real estate market updates.

Additionally, these platforms have activated the role of real estate marketing companies, because they provide consumers with full information about the offered real estate projects, and real estate companies can reach their target customers.

What kind of real estate units does the platform seek to market?

The Cooing platform targets marketing real estate projects inside compounds, both inside and outside Egypt, and provides extensive information about them, as it contains three types of e-marketing, including blogs on the website that provide all the project data, marketing through Google ads, and marketing through social media ads such as Facebook.

Is there a difference between you and any other real estate platform?

Cooing differs from other platforms in terms of its control over the information displayed about each project through its contract with real estate development companies. Other marketing platforms allow paid advertising for a project by more than one real estate marketing company, which results in more than one company marketing the same project, which confuses consumers.

The Cooing platform includes an experienced marketing team, collecting project data and information, and communicating with consumers who wish to purchase to make the right decision.

This team is committed to a code of ethics that includes transparency and clarity with customers. We do not aim to persuade customers by passing false information or using illegal means.

Moreover, the company relies on e-marketing without using phone marketing and presenting projects to customers. We do not want to be classified as one of those annoying companies.

Do companies market projects for individuals or real estate developers only?

The company works with individuals in case of resale of units within compounds only.

The high cost is the problem of reselling residential units, because citizens buy the housing unit at a great value in a project with a lowered price or facilitated instalments, but what distinguishes the resale is the immediate delivery, and Egyptians working abroad prefer that very much.

How does the company achieve its gains through e-marketing?

Cooing receives a commission from real estate development companies in marketing its projects. The commissions range between 3-5%, and this rate varies from one company to another. The best company would be real estate development companies working at the New Administrative Capital given their desire to achieve more sales.

The current quarter is active in terms of the sales at coastal cities, which drives companies in non-coastal cities to raise their commissions to maintain the proportion of sales.

The increase in supply is in the interest of consumers because it drives companies to offer more facilities by reducing the down payment or instalments over long periods.

What is Cooing’s target for the next phase?

Cooing is seeking to establish a link for the services between the development, marketing, and consumer companies, through the real estate sector in Egypt, taking Uber as an example in the sector of transportation. It would provide citizens with all services in complete transparency and connect them to real estate marketing companies.

The company is trying to develop an integrated system for the real estate sector, through preparing and improving the company’s website and contracting with a group of developers and real estate marketing companies to start concrete steps in introducing a model to keep pace with the latest information technology.

Consumers must change some concepts and we want to reach development companies easily and learn all the information needed on real estate projects on the market with transparency.

What about Cooing’s report on the real estate market for H1 of 2019?

According to the report, the platform saw 80,000 visitors, with 42% of them being women and 58% men. They were mostly aged 25-34-years-old.

68.6% of them were from Egypt, 8.1% from the United States, 4.4% from the UAE and 3.9% from Saudi Arabia. The sales of the company for Egyptians inside the country reached 71.3%, 5.8% sales for Americans, and 7.7% for UAE citizens.

The report pointed out that residential flats are the most demanded units in Egypt by 69%, while the demand for town houses recorded 11%, and villas and chalets 10%.

Meanwhile villa prices recorded the highest price worth in Egypt and reached EGP 8.1m, townhouses EGP 4.7m, residential units EGP 3.6m, and chalets EGP 2.6m.

According to the report, the demand for real estate is concentrated in the Sixth of of October City by 30%, followed by the North Coast by 20%, New Cairo by 18%, Mostakbal City by 13%, and the Administrative Capital by 4.2%.

Meanwhile average prices for real estate units reached the maximum in El Gouna by EGP 6.9m, New Cairo by EGP 5.2m, the Administrative Capital by EGP 4.2m.

The report also pointed out that New Cairo projects are the most searched for across the country with a percentage of 28%. This is followed by the Sixth of October City which comes in with 23.4%, while the North Coast comes in third with 21.5%.

The report showed that the Sixth of October City is the region with the highest sales by 28.2%, followed by the North Coast by 22.4%, and New Cairo by 20.7%.

The post Cooing brokers real estate sales of EGP 700m in 1H2019 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

NGOs Law after amendment encourages expansion of civil society: Orman Association Wed, 04 Sep 2019 10:30:59 +0000 Decent Life Initiative to eradicate poverty in 277 villages by 2020

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President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has recently ratified the NGO Law after its amendment. This comes at a time when the role of NGOs in social initiatives such as Hayah Karema (Decent Life) is increasing, in many fields, most prominently health.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Mahmoud Fuoad, executive director of Orman Charity Association, about the new amendments to the NGOs Law, state-sponsored social initiatives, and how far Orman is engaged in such initiatives, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

President Al-Sisi has recently ratified the NGOs Law after amendment, how do you see it?

The new amendments to the NGOs Law 149 of 2019 will encourage the expansion in establishment of civil associations and organisations, as well as foreign NGOs in Egypt.

Why this is the case?

Because the law strengthens the role of NGOs in favour of the public while emphasising the leading and concrete role of civil society as a key partner of the state in achieving the goals of sustainable development.

It aims to activate volunteerism; promote democracy, good governance, and information technology; regulate the work within all civil society organisations and the administrative bodies supervising them.

What are the main advantages of the law?

It abolishes imprisonment penalties as the penal code covers this area. It also regulates the mechanism of receiving foreign funds as it caused some problems previously.

How did you react to the National Cancer Institute’s terrorist attack?

Immediately after the incident, a delegation from the association rushed to the institute and met with Dr Hatem Abu al-Qasem, the head of the Institute, to discuss how to send donations estimated at EGP 10m, attached with an official letter from the association.

But when we learned that the Institute needs EGP 12m worth magnetic resonance imaging device, we decided to buy it; the association would bear EGP 10m of its cost, and a donor to bear EGP 2m. It will be delivered to the Institute within days.

What is the next stage at Shefaa Al-Orman Hospital in Luxor?

This hospital receives 300-400 patients per day. The hospital officially started working in May 2016 with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In January 2018, the hospital started conducting operations and opened the internal department with a capacity of 165 beds, including both intensive and regular care beds, in addition to four operation rooms. Currently, the hospital is operating at full capacity, and all patients receive treatment as long as they are inside the hospital. Work is underway on the third phase of construction, which requires more donations in the coming period to serve people in Upper Egypt.

Why did you choose Luxor?

Luxor is located in the heart of southern Upper Egypt and is reachable for all citizens from the surrounding governorates, serving about 17 million people completely free of charge. Additionally, in Luxor there is an international airport which facilitates transporting senior consultants and professors in oncology to serve and support the hospital’s patients and train the medical team inside it. After the opening of the hospital, the vast majority of ministers visited it, including former prime minister Ibrahim Mahlab, who was a great supporter of the hospital since the beginning of its work.

Have you participated in the president’s initiative to hand over the management of government hospitals to associations?

After presenting the capabilities and success of the hospital in its mission in Upper Egypt and the Orman Association has been managing it, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi decided that civil society organisations and the Orman Association supervise government hospitals. A protocol then was signed with the prime minister and the minister of health for the Paediatric Specialised Hospital in Sohag and its management will be handed over within two years. Another protocol was signed for Al-Odaysat Hospital in El-Toud City in Luxor. The Association will be receiving it within a few months to manage it with the same efficiency.

Will this decision result in any changes in treatment prices?

No, the treatment in these hospitals will be completely for free, and the paediatric hospital in Sohag will be Abu El Reish of Upper Egypt.

Is there discrimination among Egyptians and non-Egyptians in terms of the costs of treatment in these hospitals?

Any patient who enters the hospital never gets asked about his nationality, religion, or anything else. Every patient receives free treatment immediately. We have cases from Cairo, the Delta, Algeria, Sudan, and other Arab countries as well as foreigners from non-Arab countries. The hospital receives any patient from anywhere around the world.

Do you have other contributions in the health sector?

In addition to the treatment of cancer patients in Luxor hospital, the Orman Association also conducts cardiovascular and ophthalmic procedures completely free of charge. The health sector in Orman is not only limited to the Upper Egypt Cancer Hospital, but we have carried out more than 50,000 heart operations over 10 years. The number of ophthalmic operations has reached more than 150,000 in the past few years.

How do you choose cases that are eligible for health support?

There is a way for the association to conduct research and inquire about cases with certain criteria to support them, thanks to a team of specialised researchers and a wide database in all associations across the country in order to ensure that the service reaches its beneficiaries. We also rely on associations in villages and remote areas because they are knowledgeable of individuals and have ready databases for them.

What are your sources of support and funding?

The Orman Association is based on donations only and does not receive any government support and is subject to control and the supervision of the Accountability State Authority, and all the projects of the Association are concentrated in Upper Egypt because it is the neediest, starting from Fayoum, to Beni Suef, and Aswan.

Does the majority of donations come from ordinary citizens or businessmen and institutions? 

Our real heroes are regular simple citizens who donate amounts that range from EGP 10 to 100. Their donations are the main pillars of the association, but you must recognise that in the recent period, the social role has grown among businessmen and government and private institutions. Banks and institutions actually allocate an item of respectable amounts just for social support, a role that has been largely a sham in the past.

What about your participation in the Hayah Karema initiative?

This initiative comes in three phases and targets 277 of the poorest villages, after being launched by the president. It brings together the efforts of the state and civil society. 

The state bears the cost of 80% of this initiative, while NGOs bear 20% of the cost, in addition to the implementation of the initiative in reality. The number of NGOs involved in this initiative is 20, including Orman, Resala, and Misr Elkheir. The first phase of it includes 87 villages that were chosen because they are the most needy and poor, as poverty rates in them exceed 70%.

The second phase includes poor villages with poverty rates ranging between 50-70%, followed by the third phase, where the poverty rate is less than 50%, and by the end of 2020 the initiative will be over and will have achieved the goal of taking 277 villages out of poverty.

What is the role of the initiative in villages?

The initiative’s role in villages includes rehabilitation of these villages. The initiative targets renovating homes and making clean water and electricity accessible for them, in addition to the same process for homes, health centres, and vet centres, along with improving roads and giving special attention to utilities and services.

How many houses have you developed?

The Orman Association has participated in the rehabilitation of 15,000 houses, in 800 villages. The Association is working to make the Hayah Karema initiative active in 10 villages in all areas, which means it is ready to provide all kinds of interventions from drinking water to sanitation and rehabilitation of houses and the installation of roofs.

NGOs are always blamed for spending on advertising, what do you say about that?

The law specifies the expenses of any charity so that all expenses do not exceed the salaries of employees and rent premises. Advertising represents only 20% of the volume of donations, and we did not and will not exceed this figure. Orman only pays a third of the cost of advertising because there are donations that come from businessmen and the other are borne by the channel on which we launch our ads. We believe ads are important so that we can receive donations.

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Egypt, Greece to expand trade exchange of non-petroleum products: Embassy Tue, 03 Sep 2019 14:37:42 +0000 Greek construction companies meet Egyptian counterparts for joint cooperation, says Gassios

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The Greek embassy to Egypt fully coordinates with the Egyptian Trade Representation Office in Athens, that is affiliated to Egypt’s Trade and Industry Ministry, to enlarge the trade exchange of non-petroleum products, Pantelis Gassios, counsellor for economic and commercial affairs at the Greek embassy to Egypt, said.

“We discussed this matter with the Egyptian authorities and we agreed on the importance of encouraging non-petroleum trade as oil seizes the largest share of our bilateral trade exchange,” Gassios noted, stressing that trade exchange reached €1.8bn last year.

Greece imports crude oil from Egypt and reexports it as oil products, Gassios added. He explained that Egypt’s fuel imports from Greece last year represented 83% of total Greek exports to Egypt, while Greek crude oil imports from Egypt amounted to 70% of Egypt’s overall exports to Greece.


Daily News Egypt interviewed Gassios on the occasion of the Greek companies’ participation at the 2019 Big 5 Construct Egypt exhibition, to learn more about the delegation’s schedule and aspects of the economic and trade cooperation between Egypt and Greece, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What is the agenda of the Greek delegation in the second Big 5 Construct Egypt?

The companies have their own schedules. Eight Greek companies will take part in the second Big 5 Construct Egypt 2019 that is held between 2-4 September at Egypt International Exhibition Center.

Some of participants are big construction companies and real estate developers while others are traders of building materials.

We are very excited for the participation of Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly in the exhibition besides other ministers, including the Housing Minister Assem El Gazzar.

Do you plan to hold individual meetings with any Egyptian minister during the exhibition?

We are focusing on collective meetings. The Greek companies will have the opportunity to meet with major Egyptian construction companies. Hopefully the companies will announce deals after the meetings.

How do Greek companies assess Egypt’s investment climate?

The investment climate is improving due to the government’s economic reform programme that is consistently being implemented. The investment situation is going in the right direction.

The positive outlook for the country’s economy is confirmed by reports from the international agencies, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), rating agencies, and investment banks. I believe that the economic situation in Egypt will further improve.

The business environment needs additional legislative enhancements to encourage investors to rush to invest in the local market.

Pantelis Gassios, counsellor for economic and commercial affairs at the Greek embassy to Egypt1

How many Greek companies are operating in the Egyptian market?

There are about 40 Greek companies operating in Egypt, excluding the companies that are owned by the Egyptian Greek people. There are a few companies that are owned by people who hold the dual nationality.

One of the leading Greek companies is operating in the cement sector. A number of Greek companies are considering expanding in the building materials sector.

I totally agree with the outcomes of the latest report by Morgan Stanley that mentioned that foreign investors need to see locals invest first.

Are there any Greek companies that consider operating in Egypt?

Yes, there are companies that are examining investment opportunities in various sectors, particularly industrial sectors, yet none of them is ready to come tomorrow. It takes time for companies to take such major investment decisions.

Egypt is very near and friendly, so companies are encouraged to come to invest here, especially those who have plans to export their products to the African markets.

There are several Greek companies that target entering the Egyptian market and utilising it as a hub for opening new African markets.

What are the obstacles that Greek companies face in Egypt?

Despite the serious steps that were taken by the government to enhance the business environment in Egypt, there are some issues that a number of Greek companies still face while operating in the Egyptian market.

The General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) and the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation (MIIC) are helping us a lot.

In my opinion, bureaucracy and conflicting laws are the main issues in the Egyptian market. A Greek company has been suffering from an investment issue for 20 years and it has not been resolved yet.

Solving the problems of already investing Greek companies in Egypt would help us to convince other companies to invest here.

Bureaucratic procedures are still an issue despite the fact that they are decreasing. The main solution might be activating the ‘one stop shop’ which is GAFI, with a leading role to coordinate with other entities to solve investors’ problems.

How many Greek companies are facing problems in Egypt?

We have around four or five cases. Hopefully we can reach solutions for them in coordination with the Egyptian side. Easier problems which are in the trade sector are solved fast. Of course, investment problems are more difficult as companies are based and working in the country.

Will the next period witness business missions from Greece to Egypt?

We are looking for new business missions from Greece to Egypt in the next period. In March 2019, we had a business delegation to Egypt which included about 11 companies from the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece.

That visit was organised in cooperation with the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI). On its first day, we organised many B2B meetings with Egyptian businesspersons. On the second day, the delegation visited the Suez Canal Economic Zone. It was an impressive visit.

Any new delegations this year?

There are many proposals for business missions in the construction and building materials sector. A number of Greek companies are eager to know more information about the mega projects that are being implemented in Egypt now.

We also have a proposal from our side to prepare for an energy and renewables mission. I believe that this sector enjoys very big potentials in Egypt, while we are very strong in this field.

I think that Greek companies are doing a great job in operating in the energy sector abroad in eastern Europe as well as in Africa.

Pharmaceuticals will be another idea of new business mission to Egypt, yet the construction and building materials is the most advanced sector that we are looking more into at this point.

When will the construction and building materials business mission come to Egypt?

It might be in the beginning of 2020. We aren’t sure about the timing yet. I would like to emphasise that the cooperation with Egypt is very strong. Small business missions from Greece are always here.

What is the amount of Greek investments in the Egyptian market?

According to our figures, the Greek capital that is invested in Egypt is about €1.3bn. I think that there are other Greek investments that are coming through other countries and aren’t calculated.  It’s difficult to measure investments.

What about the latest statistics of trade exchange between both countries over the first half (H1) of 2019?

This September, we will finalise trade statistics of the first six months of the year. Over 2018, trade exchange reached €1.8bn. Greek exports to Egypt increased by 54% to reach €1.16bn compared to 2017. Egyptian exports to Greece increased by 15% reaching €636m. I believe that 2018 was a good year for trade and hopefully 2019 will follow suite.

What are your plans for the trade exchange?

The important thing that we are trying to change is to enlarge the share of the non-petroleum products in trade exchange. We discussed this matter with Egyptian authorities including the Ministry of Trade and Industry and we agreed on the importance of encouraging the non-petroleum trade.

The oil seizes the largest share of our bilateral trade exchange. We import crude oil from Egypt and export oil products to it.

On the Greek trade exchange’s statistics, we measure exports with and without oil products because oil prices are always fluctuating. Egypt’s fuel imports from Greece last year represented 83% of total Greek exports to Egypt, while Greek crude oil imports from Egypt amounted to 70% of Egypt’s overall exports to Greece. We want to expand in trading the rest of products.

Greece exports many other products to Egypt including cotton, fruits, apples, tobacco, machinery, and building materials, while we import fertilizers, potato, and plastics from Egypt.

The Greek embassy to Egypt fully coordinates with the Egyptian Trade Representation Office in Athens, that is affiliated to Egypt’s Trade and Industry Ministry, to enlarge the trade exchange in non-petroleum products.

Last year, we exported building materials with more than €100m to Egypt, compared to €60m in 2017. We hope we can do more by the end of this year.

What is your estimate of Egypt-Greece trade exchange this year?

Last year was exceptional because of the high prices of fuel products. I think we can maintain the same value this year of €1.8bn, but we would be very happy to see the value of non-petroleum products increasing even if we achieve the same volume of last year.

Egypt is actively working on plans to boost natural gas production in cooperation with the Mediterranean countries, especially Greece and Cyprus, how will these plans reflect on the economic cooperation with Greece?

We have been engaging in the trilateral cooperation including Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus. Egypt targets the electrical interconnection with Cyprus and Greece which is a very big ambition from the Egyptian side to be connected to Europe.

In energy and gas, we believe in the important of the joint cooperation. Greece is becoming a hub for natural gas and we have a pipeline of projects in this sector. We have also upgraded the stations and we are expanding our investments in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments. We are starting to explore for national gas in the south of Greece.

Egypt is a case where you have a big production of gas and you want to build on that and become a transit hub for gas trade. Egypt is a very important point in the energy market of the Mediterranean that we cannot neglect.

If we manage to build a trilateral cooperation and broaden the cooperation to build better networks, all our economies will benefit.

For the situation of the Greek economy, I believe it’s improving. The economic indicators are recovering. We have achieved a not very high but positive GDP in the past three years.

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EBI studies opening special training unit in cooperation with African countries Sun, 01 Sep 2019 16:36:26 +0000 “We aspire to be an educational ‘beacon’ for all employees in the African banking sector,” says Nosseir

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The Egyptian Banking Institute (EBI) considers establishing a special unit for training in cooperation with African countries, Abdel Aziz Nosseir, executive director of the EBI, told Daily News Egypt.

The bank has completed the first part of his study to launch the new unit, the results of which were very promising, leaving another part, following which, the approval of the bank’s board of directors will be granted to establish the unit.

Nosseir was speaking during a roundtable held at the institute’s headquarters last week to reveal the role played by the institute in the service of African countries, following the approach of the state and the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).

The meeting was also attended by Hisham Refaat, general manager of banks and finance department at the EBI; and Zeinab Abdel Razek, director general of international programmes and international cooperation at the EBI.

What is the nature of cooperation between the EBI and African countries in the field of training?

Nosseir: Cooperation with African countries in this field has two forms: the first is that the institute receives delegations from those countries that want to train their bank employees in Egypt, and the second is that the institute holds training sessions in these countries.

Until two years ago, the institute served only eight countries, and now we have 38 countries.

We are not only talking about training, but transferring expertise as well. For example, there are requests from the Central Bank of Malawi and the Central Bank of Tunisia to help them establish a similar banking institute in their countries.

This is done by hosting delegations from the two countries on a visit that extends for several days to get acquainted with the Egyptian experience in this regard, in addition to visiting the banks that the institute deals with, to see how we deal with them, how to stand on their training needs, and how to prepare the required training.

There are countries with small-scale banking institutes that would like to benefit from the experience of the EBI to develop their institutions. For example, we have requests to sign MoUs with the Central Bank of Libya and the Somali Central Bank in this regard.

Why does the EBI play this role, whether training or transferring expertise?

Nosseir: This role stems from the soft powers of Egypt that also holds the rotational presidency of the African Union. In addition, the CBE governor’s presidency of the Association of African Central Banks (AACB), [which ended in August].

Indeed, Egypt is a leading country, and we at the EBI have to support the state, at least in terms of human development in the African banking sector.

In your view, is the transfer of our banking expertise to these countries does not pose a threat to our Egyptian banks in terms of competition?

Nosseir: Competition here does not scare us, but I see the opposite.

I see it as partnership more than competition. If EBI can transfer its experience to African countries, we are talking about expanding in those markets and taking the lead.

In fact, Egypt always had a role in educating others, a role that has been entrusted to us for many years, and I think we do not have the luxury of abandoning this job.

On the other hand, when African countries realise our banking expertise and what we can offer in terms of training programmes, the EBI will be on the top of their choices, and this is a big gain.

What is the difference between banks in Egypt and other African countries?

Nosseir: I think all of us are in the growth phase, and I believe we should learn from each other.

But we at the EBI certainly have an added value that we can offer to banks in these countries.

There is a lot that the EBI can offer to African banking institutes, especially in some countries that do not have banking institutes. We were asked to transfer our expertise in this field to these countries, whether with regard to the internal structure of such institutes, how to put together a curriculum, and how to define the training needs for banks.

What kind of training services does the EBI offer to African countries?

Nosseir: We have different training services offered to African banks.

In some cases, banks contact the EBI and determine the type of training course they need for their staff, and whether they will receive the training in Egypt or at their countries.

There are also initiatives undertaken by the EBI, including the one launched about one and a half years ago under the name “African Integration”, which was carried out in coordination with the CBE and the Egyptian Agency for Partnership for Development of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which liaises and coordinates with African countries to identify candidates for the course.

The agency bears the cost of some training programmes in cooperation with the CBE, while some programmes are paid by the CBE in full.

Three training sessions were held within the initiative: the first in January 2019 and was attended by 35 trainees from 23 countries, including 24 trainees from 15 central banks and the rest from the Ministry of Finance, and other government agencies in some countries. It was titled “The Role of Central Banks Under a Fluctuating Market – the Egyptian Experience”.

The second session was held on 23 June 2019, and was attended by 21 trainees from 15 countries, the majority from commercial banks, and held under the title “Contemporary Issues in Corporate and SME Finance, Risk, and Governance.”

The third session was held from 18 to 29 August 2019, under the title of “The Era of Banking Risk Management”, and attended by 29 trainees from 19 countries, including 17 employees of central banks.

Through the experience of the EBI in dealing with African countries, how do you assess the banks in those countries?

Refaat: They are not at the same level. Some African countries have very advanced banking, while others lack experience. Some countries have only the basic information on banks. The last two benefit from the training we offer.

Here, I would like to stress that banking in Egypt is a very developed sector that can be seen as a model for African countries.

As the EBI follows up on all what is new in the world, Egypt is always one of the first countries to apply the international standards and is committed to them, and this is also observed from our external visits.

How are training programmes delivered to these countries?

Refaat: The EBI has provided two models in training so far: the first is within the lecture halls only, and the second is divided into internal lectures and field visits to banks and major financial institutions in Egypt.

The field visits include visiting two or three major banks operating in Egypt, to learn how they work, and the visit is often linked to the subject of the training programme. If the course is on risk management, for example, they are introduced to how to manage risk within the banks visited.

The EBI also arranges visits to the Egyptian Exchange and the Printing House of the CBE.

As a result of these visits, the CBE received inquiries from some African countries on how to print banknotes locally instead of printing at foreign countries.

What is the training strategy of the EBI?

Abdel Razek: Almost two years ago, we were dealing with only eight African countries randomly. Then, we started working systematically, in the sense that the institute became a training arm of the CBE and must follows the policy of the state.

Consequently, the first direction of the institute was to develop an initiative for cooperation to transfer the Egyptian experience to the Nile Basin countries, then to the Horn of African, and the Community of Sahel–Saharan States.

In this regard, cooperation with the Egyptian Agency for Partnership for Development was agreed upon with this approach, in line with the policies of the state and the CBE.

Most of these countries have already been covered, reaching 2,700 trainees from 38 countries, providing 13,000 hours of training.

We have already seen the strong impact of our training programmes, through requests received from African countries, both for the training of their staff and for the transfer of expertise to establish similar institutes.

We seek to cooperate with more African countries, increase the number of trainees and training hours, and diversify the topics covered by the courses.

In this context, the EBI organises its fourth training programme in January 2020, before the end of Egypt’s presidency of the African Union in March 2020. The programme will be on the development of exports, so as to teach African banks how to develop exports in their countries.

Will the EBI go beyond the 38 African countries it currently deals with?

Nosseir: The EBI is preparing a study to establish a special training unit in cooperation with African countries.

This study examines the needs of African countries in banking training. If we find a need for these services, the EBI will obtain the approval of its board of directors to establish the unit.

This study has an office part that has already been finished, and the second was commissioned to an independent research body to do it, after which the decision will be made.

Are there other areas of cooperation with African countries in the field of training?

Refaat: We also cooperate with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to train users from African countries of “Mansa” – a pan-African customer due diligence platform – which was established by the Bank to collect all the information on banks and companies operating in Africa.

Eighty-three trainees have already been trained, through five courses. We have six other training programmes to be offered from October to December 2019.

Regarding the Egyptian banking sector, does the EBI only offer internal training?

Abdel Razek: The EBI organises field visits to some countries to get acquainted with their experiences in different fields. For example, we made a visit to Kenya to get acquainted with its experience in the field of small and medium enterprises, as it is one of the very developed countries in this area.

There are also some Egyptian banks that have requested field visits to some foreign countries such as South Africa to get acquainted with their experiences in some fields, and the EBI arranged that visit.

What about the role of the EBI in training Egyptian banks on financial technology?

Nosseir: We ask for support from countries in some fields, as other countries do with us. This is the role of the Department of Foreign Relations and International Cooperation, which attracts experts.

The EBI launched the “Information Security” initiative, in cooperation with the information technology sector and payment systems at the CBE, where a training programme has been developed for a period of a year, to prepare 100 information security experts from the information sector workers in the Egyptian banks.

This course began several months ago and is offered in cooperation with international institutions with expertise in this field at the highest level in the world.

With regard to modern technology applications, such as blockchain, the EBI has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Information Technology Institute several months ago, under the auspices of the CBE and the Ministry of Communications to come up with clear educational paths that serve the banking sector’s workers in this field.

We now have over 36 trainees in specialised programmes.

There is a continuous cooperation between the EBI and the payment systems and information technology in the CBE, which resulted in the establishment of the Seamless Conference.

We also organise external field visits, such as Silicon Valley in America and India. We are now planning more visits to Malaysia and Singapore.

The demand for financial technology training programmes has increased dramatically in recent times.

What about the student training programme?

Nosseir: This programme was initiated by the CBE about 10 years ago, through a grant under the title of “Training for Employment Grant”, under the social responsibility of the CBE and the EBI. The total number of graduates reached about 17,000.

The programme is free, especially for students of public universities in the third and fourth grades, and provides about 138 training hours, through which the students learn the basics of banking.

Success rates in the programme range between 40-70%, and a list of successful candidates is provided to banks for recruitment as per the needs of each bank.

The training is available for other students from private universities or those who did not receive the grant at full pay. In addition, the institute offers this programme to students of some foreign universities, upon request, such as the American University in Cairo.

What are the new services the EBI provides to banks?

Nosseir: The EBI covers all fields of human resources and infrastructure development in the banking sector.

The institute has started two years ago to provide training courses far from what it used to offer before, for example, sign language programmes for employees in the customer service departments “tellers” so that they can deal with people with special needs, and also provide programmes for those working in security sectors, transportation, and headquarters management.

We hope that the EBI will be an educational “beacon” for all employees in the African banking sector.

This is a dream that we started and claim that we are on the right track, and our numbers show that.

All this would not have happened without the unprecedented support received by the EBI from the governor of the CBE.

The post EBI studies opening special training unit in cooperation with African countries appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Atef Moatamed: a geographer with a sense of adventurer Fri, 30 Aug 2019 12:00:29 +0000 Some provincial universities in Russia are less efficient, primarily aim to make profit

The post Atef Moatamed: a geographer with a sense of adventurer appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Atef Moatamed is a professor of physical geography at Cairo University and founder/director of the House of Geography for geographic studies. Despite being specialised in geomorphology, his research into political geography has seen him received a national award for his book about his sightings in Russia. He was Egypt’s cultural advisor in Russia from 2014 to 2016. Moatamed also translated several important writings, and supervised 20 masters and PhD theses.  

Daily News Egypt met with Moatamed to learn more about his journey with geography and his experience in Russia. The interview is below, lightly edited for clarity:


Was it always your intention to study physical geography? If not, what made you do? 

After graduation, geographers have to choose between physical geography and humanistic geography.

Preliminary research was conducted on the relationship of human interventions to pollution in the northern lakes. At the introductory stage, I found that humanistic geography is not easy as some would imagine.

The monopoly of some professors of geographic disciplines made the picture that if you are not studying the urban geography you are not humanistic geographer, and if you are not studying geomorphology you are not doing physical geography.

One of my difficulties was obtaining data. The statements are either top secret or the specialist refuses to disclose them.

I found physical geography easier for me and I did my masters in physical geography about an area, called the Arab’s Bay, west Alexandria. This area was not well studied before.

After getting my masters degree, I received a scholarship from post-Soviet Russia in geography. At that time, I received many warnings about the situation in Russia because it was a turbulent period (5 years after the breakdown of the Soviet Union). Prof Sobhi Abdel Hakim advised me to travel, saying: You will find geomorphology everywhere, but Russia will be only found in Russia.

I chose the topic for my PhD thesis on the geomorphology of Halayib and Shalateen. I started my research at Cairo University and continued at Saint Petersburg State University, after the approval of my supervisor at the Faculty of Geography there. Halayib was a very nice place with friendly people and rich geography.

After my travel, it became clear to me that all the warnings I heard before my trip was correct, as most of the teachers emigrated and the labs were in poor condition. I took three years to complete my doctorate.


You started off studying physical geography at university, what made you interested in geopolitics?


The exposure! To be exposed to something like an important event. I was in Russia in a very critical period following the breakdown of the Soviet Union, in addition to the second Chechen war from 1997 to 2001. By then, the aftermath of the war in Chechnya had moved to the heart of Russian cities. From time to time, there were bombings, arrests, or clashes. Also, I was an eyewitness to the newly formed state in Russia. Because of my stay in Russia, I woke up to a sense of geopolitics. 

On the other hand, I paid a very high price as I was exposed to xenophobia because of my colour. At that time, all coloured people were not welcome. There is no contradiction between the two majors [geomorphology and geopolitics]. Nevertheless, physical geography is the base for all geopolitical ideas, and the political geographers need to understand the physical geography very well. 

You travel a lot, how important are “trips” for a geographer?


Anyone with a passion for a place can do some of what the geographer is doing, even if he has not been geographically educated. Stages based on data collection, classification, and analysis, if they are limited to reading and researching books and statistics, it could contribute to creating a researcher with insights and perspectives, but not necessarily 100% accurate because his work lacks photographs, maps, and findings of fieldwork. Like many studies of Gamal Hamdan whose work was mainly based on theoretical writing without actually knowing the reality of terrain in the ground.

Trips can benefit you and your work. Imagine a teacher who tells his students about the places he actually visited. However, there is a difference between visits and trips. A visit needs someone who acts as tourist and just does the watching, while the trip is based on adventure as you spent time and money. In geography, the one could not be recognised as a real geographer, if he has not travelled.       


Is geography a science?

Geographers used to ask this question: what is geography? It is a puzzling question for all people. We can say that the branches adopted by geographies, such as physical geography, geomorphology, hydrology, and geography of soil, are science. Anything subject to the scientific method, such as data collection, analysis, testing, findings, theories, and results, is science.

It happens that sometimes the means of expressing the results that geographers use gives the wrong impression that geography is not science, meaning that whenever a geographer is drowned in the description and speaking in a language that tends to literature, it is normal for people to receive geographic knowledge as a kind of trip literature.


We must also distinguish between geography by people who are not scientists, and geography by geographers. I believe that the future of geography and its importance is in making geographic knowledge a companion and a tool for all human beings. One of the manifestations of the importance of geography is that the European colonialism (in the era of geographical discoveries) succeeded in its colonial tasks by depending on gunpowder and maps. 

Geography is closer to the cultural composition of the common man, while it is science in the scientific community. However, the excessive use of the word geography on each direction of research, such as the geography of elections or medical geography, negatively affects geography. There should be an umbrella for these research trends, the umbrella of geography.


Does Egypt need all those geography graduates? And how can we improve geographic education?

Strangely enough, Egypt needs a hundred times as many graduates from geography departments. For example, Egypt needs a large number of graduates of geography departments to work in teaching geography in schools, and in geographic information systems, maps, and surveys. 

It seems that there is congestion in the numbers of graduates because the labour market is not able to absorb the numbers, but the truth is there is no labour market. The situation should be as follows: open a labour market and then demand graduates, but the reality is the opposite; many graduates and no labour market. But Egypt needs a hundred times of the current number of geographers.

As for the development of geographical education, there is a very big problem that many professors are unsuitable to teach and the best for them may be to devote themselves to research.

Attention must be paid to the teaching of geography in the early stages of education. There is a problem in education curriculum besides the limited trips for students and poor tools of geographical education. We can say that 80% of the problems in geography education in Egypt are at schools, and the rest emerges in the university.

Another very important problem is that one form of geographic education is to expand the teaching of geographic work tools, such as GIS and surveying. Geography departments are graduating specialists in drawing and space tools that any non-geographic graduate can learn through an intensive course. Some students believe that by joining the geography department, they can work as a space engineer, which is not true. 

We hope that the state establishes a geographic institute, which includes an elite group of scientists and researchers dedicated to scientific research, totalling 100 scientists conducting field studies, preparing the national atlas and national maps, conducting national researches and studies, holding the national geographic conference, and exploring Egypt, as Egypt is not explored yet by geographers.


You are the founder of the House of Geography, can you tell us about the forum and the idea behind it?  

The name of the forum was inspired by the name of the Italian Geographical Society called “House of Geography”. It aimed to provide geographers with data, as well as to provide a cultural component of geography to non-specialists. The forum is a non-profit and self-financing entity. It is good that some professors gave us their books and papers for publication on our website. The forum offers presentations for books and provides research and studies in geography and geographical heritage. 

You served as Egypt’s cultural advisor to Russia, can you tell us about this experience?

I worked as cultural advisor of the embassy of Egypt in Russia from 2014 to 2016. It was possible to extend my work there, but I preferred to return to academic and research work. I was an eyewitness to the development of cultural relations between Egypt and Russia. I tried to make contacts between several universities in both sides, such as the agreement between Tanta University and Astrakhan University, Cairo University and Moscow University, and other agreements among Egyptian and Russian universities.

The aim of these agreements is to facilitate the exchange of students and researchers between universities in both countries. During my career, I tried to change stereotypes about Egypt among Russian students and worked on several exhibitions to introduce Egypt’s history and culture to children.


Recently, thousands of Egyptian students are heading to Russian universities, what do you think attracts them to study in Russia?

Russia, like other European countries and America, has opened its universities to foreign students as a primary source of funding for these universities. There are many differenced between universities of Russia, America, and Europe in terms of expenses, but not admission. 

During my time as a cultural advisor, I have prepared a list of the best universities in Russia, such as Moscow University, St. Petersburg State University, Kazan University, and Tomsk University. The problem is that some provincial universities in Russia are less efficient, aim primarily to make profit, and spread Russian language and culture among foreigners.

The post Atef Moatamed: a geographer with a sense of adventurer appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Software lies at heart of digital transformation, software-driven, open 5G infrastructure to enable quicker ROI: Juniper Networks CEO Fri, 30 Aug 2019 08:00:07 +0000 Egyptian Government clearly really ‘gets’ the social and economic value that a digital transformation can deliver, says Rahim

The post Software lies at heart of digital transformation, software-driven, open 5G infrastructure to enable quicker ROI: Juniper Networks CEO appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

The key to a successful 5G business model is the approach SPs take to their network transformation, Rami Rahim is Chief Executive Officer of Juniper Networks and a member of the company’s Board of Directors told Daily News Egypt.

Juniper Networks, Inc. is a networking service provider, the company develops internet infrastructure solutions for internet service providers and other telecommunications service providers. The Company offers network infrastructure solutions that include IP routing, Ethernet switching, security, and application acceleration.

Rahim recently visited Egypt to meet with some key customers, and signed an MoU for youth and human capital development with ITIDA in presence of Egypt’s Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Amr Talaat.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Rahim, to find out his views on the future of networking industry, 5G prospects, his company’s plans, and what can digital transformation offer.

Juniper Networks Q2 preliminary financial results showed an increase of 10% sequentially in revenues, what are the main drivers for growth, and what is your growth forecasts for Q3? 

Overall, secure networking continues to be a key area for investment as organizations around the world undertake digital transformation projects. So while our end markets are dynamic, they remain healthy, and we continue to see good opportunities across our key segments.

Looking forward to our Q319 results due in October, we’ve provided guidance that we expect revenues to continue to grow sequentially.


What is Juniper Networks’ competitive edge when it comes to 5G?

  5G offers a lot of new revenue potential for SPs, in terms of the rich mobile services and IoT capabilities it can deliver for users. At Juniper, we believe that the key to a successful 5G business model is the approach SPs take to their network transformation. Relying on legacy, hardware-intensive, proprietary networks to deliver 5G is one potential strategy, but may well prove to be very costly and inflexible – the precise opposite of what market dynamics demand.

To break out of this conundrum and reach viable 5G ROI (return on investment), we advocate that SPs must transform their end-to-end network strategies to support the following, software-driven capabilities: Predictive Automation, Distributed/Edge Cloud, Converged IP Transport, and Pervasive Security

So, being able to deliver these transformative capabilities to our customers is Juniper’s differentiation. I would also call out our focus on simplicity, in terms of delivering such sophisticated, innovative concepts in a very consumable, manageable way for SPs.

How do you view Egypt’s digital transformation plans and ICT sector?

  As you know, I recently visited Egypt to meet with some key customers, and I was, frankly, hugely impressed with what I learned about the country’s approach to digital transformation. In particular, what struck me as most remarkable is both the high ambition and the speed of the projects in hand. The Egyptian Government clearly really ‘gets’ the social and economic value that a digital transformation can deliver. I’m very pleased that Juniper is involved, and I’m very excited by the future for Egypt!

What can governments do to increase the affordability of 5G, and increase its implementation rates?

For me, this plays back into my earlier point about the business models SPs choose in pursuit of their 5G offerings. Building a flexible, software-driven and open infrastructure will enable a much healthier, quicker ROI, which should then lead to more cost-effective pricing models for users. I also think that the services possible thanks to 5G will be richer and more compelling – but that will lead to a very competitive, user-led market. The smart SPs will be those that are innovative with their services, which will only be possible with the right platform in the first place!

In your opinion, when would 5G be commercially available in Egypt in particular, and MENA?

  In our experience, SPs and telcos across the region are currently applying for spectrum licenses, and in parallel are also creating their infrastructure strategies. In many cases, they are also beginning to undertake trials of 5G infrastructure on a small scale. This is a similar pattern to SPs in other parts of the world.

Recently national security concerns have been on the rise, with doubts over the implementations of 5G, do you believe those security concerns towards 5G exaggerated?

As network infrastructure becomes more strategic, it is inevitable – and sensible – that this gives rise to more rigorous security considerations. Specific to 5G, as I already mentioned, one of the key capabilities Juniper delivers for customers is pervasive security, regardless of the scale of a 5G deployment.

An intelligent, software-driven network should utilize every component – routers and switches, not just security devices – to enforce security policies. The ability to do this in a multi-vendor environment is also key, so a truly open approach is fundamental. Automation is another important factor because it helps to scale security enforcement and eradicates human error.

Moving on to data centre networking, what differentiates between Juniper Networks and its competitors?

What really sets us apart in the data centre space is our vision and ability to help enterprises simplify their multicloud operations. This means, for example, being able to bring together distributed sites with a single management capability and a consistent operating system. This offers our customers huge technical and administrative dividends – the reasons why we’ve again been named a “Leader” by Gartner, Inc. in the 2019 Data Center Networking Magic Quadrant.

What is Juniper’s strategy when it comes to software?

Software lies at the heart of digital transformation and the multicloud era. It provides the means for networking infrastructure to be flexible, scalable and agile in support of innovative services and applications. It enables those services to be highly personalized, tailored to an individual user’s specific requirements or preferences, yet still be offered at scale. Several products across our routing, switching and security portfolio are available in both hardware and software form, enabling our customers to deploy bespoke yet flexible solutions that are eminently easy to manage.

It’s fair to say that Juniper has always been a software company, though! From our first router, the M40 brought to market in 1998, the software has been the differentiator. In those early days, the M40 was the first router from any vendor to use customized, programmable silicon, which enabled different functions to be separated and managed independently of one another. This unique approach drove game-changing performance and scale in the early days of the internet, an era of ‘scale-out’ which Juniper led thanks to our innovation with silicon. Looking into the current era – ‘scale-out’ – which is all about connectivity, collaboration and communication using multiclouds, we intend to continue our leadership, with the power of software. Our customers are building highly-scalable infrastructure using software-defined, cloud-based solutions, which enables a high degree of automation, and helps to harness the power of AI.

I like to talk about the fact that over time ‘the network’ as a concept has become increasingly complex. Today, the ability to automate functions within these networks – using software – actually simplifies them. So, in the right hands, this technology holds the key to its own future.

JunOS, our single operating system, remains at the heart of the Juniper portfolio today, from the largest to the smallest products. That makes life very easy for our customers, being able to train staff on one software product, being able to migrate from product to product without having to change the underlying software. That is another fantastic example of our desire to simplify the engineering around our customers’ networks, too.

What do you think are the top [trends] that would influence the networking scene in the near term?

Cloud and multicloud must be at the top of the list – they continue to be the single most influential factor shaping our industry, driving digital and business transformation. Automation and Ai are also hugely important because they enable the underlying, sophisticated networks to operate intelligently, reliably and at scale, in the cloud.

Taking all these things into account, I’d also add that Juniper’s focus on engineering simplicity into the networks we build for our customers is pretty significant too – just ask our customers!

The post Software lies at heart of digital transformation, software-driven, open 5G infrastructure to enable quicker ROI: Juniper Networks CEO appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

JICA to renew its TCTP with Egypt, Africa over TICAD7 Wed, 28 Aug 2019 10:20:09 +0000 Shoukry, Kitaoka likely to sign MoC in presence of President Al-Sisi, says JICA Chief Representative

The post JICA to renew its TCTP with Egypt, Africa over TICAD7 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will renew its Third Country Training Programme (TCTP) with Egypt and Africa over the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) that is being held from 28 to 30 August, Chief Representative of JICA Yoshifumi Omura said.

“As the current chairperson of the African Union (AU), President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi aims at paying special attention to building capacities of the African youth. Renewing our TCTP will enhance the Japan, Egypt, and Africa cooperation toward training the African youth,” Omura mentioned.

JICA’s President Shinichi Kitaoka is expected to sign the TCTP’s memorandum of cooperation (MoC) with Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sameh Shoukry, in the presence of President Al-Sisi over the TICAD7, Omura noted.

JICA has started to apply the TCTP since 1985, which is one of South-South Cooperation’s (SSC) schemes, where developing countries accept trainees from other developing countries with JICA’s assistance for the purpose of technology transfer or dissemination, the agency’s Senior Representative Akihiro Iwasaki commented.

JICA’s Egypt office has been working for 50 African countries, where 270 training courses were provided for 3,861 trainees, in the sectors of health, agriculture, water management, infrastructure, and business management, Iwasaki added.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Omura to shed light on JICA’s cooperation with Africa in conjunction with holding TICAD7, and to learn more about JICA updates of the joint cooperation with Egypt, transcript of the interview is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How can TICAD7 contribute to Africa’s development?

TICAD7 is a summit-level international conference focusing on development in Africa. The conference was created in 1993 by the Japanese government to promote policy dialogue between leaders of African countries and development partners on pressing issues facing Africa, such as economic development, poverty, and conflict.

From 1993 to 2013, TICAD was held every five years. Since 2016, it is now held every three years, and convened alternately in Japan and Africa. TICAD has evolved into a significant global framework to facilitate the implementation of measures for promoting African development under the principles of African “ownership” and international “partnership”. I think that TICAD is an important component in Japan’s commitment to foster peace and stability in Africa. It is co-organised by the Japanese government, the United Nations (UN), the World Bank (WB), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the African Union Commission (AUC).

The conference’s stakeholders comprise all African countries and many development partners, including international and regional organisations, partner countries, the private sector, and civil society organisations.

TICAD7 has three pillars to focus on, namely accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement. The second pillar is deepening sustainable and resilient society, while the third pillar is strengthening peace and stability.

JICA seeks to help develop human resources with practical skills for African industries. This will also contribute to meet the needs of Japanese companies. This includes training programmes for mathematics and science teachers, support for vocational training and higher education, and kaizen Initiatives in manufacturing industry. Kaizen is a Japanese word means continuous improvement.

How does JICA support African young people?

JICA offers opportunities for young Africans to study masters in Japan and to receive internships at Japanese enterprises for contributing to the development of industries in Africa through the African Business Education initiative for youth (ABE initiative). Those young Africans will be the key drivers to enhance business cooperation between Japanese companies and Africa.

How many programmes has JICA’s office in Egypt implemented in Africa?

Egypt is a major power in the Middle East and Africa. Being the chair of the African Union (AU) this year and participating in the TICAD7 Summit as co-chair with Japan, Egypt plays an important role in development, peace, and stability in Africa.

By leveraging the outcomes of JICA’s past cooperation with Egypt, and by providing support to other regional countries in cooperation with the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD) affiliated to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, JICA aims to efficiently and effectively improve the capacity of each African country and strengthen regional cooperation.

Over 30 years of history, Egypt conducts training programmes for Africa. Technologies transferred through technical cooperation with JICA and facilities constructed through grant aid from Japan are still being utilised in current trainings. In 2018, JICA implemented 12 TCTPs for Africa in the fields of agriculture, health/medical care, and others, where 188 youth from 30 countries in Sub-Sahara African participated.

What is the size of finance that JICA provides in Africa?

JICA’s assistance for Africa has been increasing. It’s divided into three categories: loan aid, grant aid, and technical cooperation. In 2017, JICA’s assistance for Africa reached about JPY 2.736bn ($25.86m), compared to about JPY 1.778bn ($16.8m) in 2013, showing an annual increase.

Can you please elaborate on Japan’s efforts to build capacities of the Africans?

After TICAD (2013 – 2017), JICA implemented technical cooperation projects in human development centres in 11 locations, including Egypt, and the number of trainees reached 59,009 people, as well as 1,100 participants were invited to Japan, under ABE initiative. JICA seeks to expand the market-oriented smallholder horticulture empowerment & promotion (SHEP), which has substantially boosted the livelihood of smallholders in Kenya. JICA expanded the SHEP approach into 23 countries, including Egypt, providing training for 4,330 technical staff and 60,381 farmers all over Africa.

JICA promotes universal health coverage through financial and technical cooperation and training health service workers. During the period from 2013 to 2017, JICA provided JPY 68.377bn ($646.36m) for health sector, while training 120,520 health service workers.

JICA provides comprehensive support for African partner countries ranging from curriculum development, teacher learning assessment, educational development, and construction of schools. For example, Egypt-Japan education partnership.

What about your current portfolio in Africa and future projects?

After the end of TICAD7, chairpersons are going to announce the future directions of projects in Africa.

TICAD6 was the first to be held in the African continent, in Nairobi, Kenya. It was also the first TICAD since it was decided to be held once in three years. It was attended by 11,000 people including businesspersons from about 200 Japanese companies. The discussions were based on promoting structural economic transformation through economic diversification and industrialisation, promoting resilient health systems for quality of life, and promoting social stability for shared prosperity.

Interestingly, TICAD1 was held in 1993. The co-organizers vowed to reverse the decline in development assistance for Africa that had followed the end of the Cold War. Participants adopted the Tokyo Declaration on African Development, committing to the pursuit of political and economic reforms in Africa, increased private sector development, regional cooperation and integration, and the harnessing of Asian experience for the benefit of African development.

How do you assess Egypt’s government efforts to integrate with Africa?

JICA highly values the initiatives taken by the Egyptian government to become the gateway to African business and achieve the economic integration.

What areas will be the main priorities of JICA’s cooperation with Africa in the next five years?

TICAD7’s theme will be “Advancing Africa’s Development through People, Technology and Innovation” and we are considering these topics to become the priorities of JICA’s cooperation.

How many offices JICA has in Africa? Are there any plans to expand in the continent?

JICA has 30 offices in Africa, including Egypt office. So far, this matter is still under consideration.

Establishing strong infrastructure is one of the most important needs for Africa to develop, how can JICA assist on that?

JICA supports the construction of quality infrastructure that is essential for economic growth in Africa. One of the central pillars of JICA’s activities toward that end is corridor development, which aims at region-wide comprehensive industrial and infrastructure development planning. For transportation, JICA has been active in facilitating cross-border transactions by promoting the system of One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs).

Other areas in which JICA has been very active include urban development and energy.

Regional development and integration are an important perspective from which JICA approaches African development and to that end, JICA has introduced what it calls corridor development. On those development corridors, JICA assists its partner countries not only in infrastructure development, but also in regional industrial and social development, so that the private sector investment can be increased and the regional market can expand.

The idea is to achieve balanced growth of both coastal and inland regions of Africa.

As a result of rapid population growth in major cities on the African continent, problems such as heavy traffic, insufficient health services, and environmental pollution are arising. To help its partner countries fight these problems.

JICA formulates medium and long-term urban master plans, and financial and technical assistance in areas, such as building efficient transport systems, constructing electric power grids, and establishing water-supply, and waste treatment systems.

For many years, JICA has contributed to the stable supply of electricity in African countries. For example, JICA has formulated electric power master plans, rehabilitated aged electric power equipment, and extended power grids to provincial areas. For the development of national brassica advocates, the “3L Policy”: low cost, low carbon, and low risk. In recent years, JICA has contributed in building up the continent’s geothermal energy, which is expected to become an important renewable energy source in Kenya and other Great Rift Valley countries.

Will JICA collaborate with the Egyptian government in new projects in the next period? What are the sectors of future cooperation?

In light of the political importance of Egypt, its economic growth potential as well as business potential for Japanese companies, it is of great significance for JICA to assist in the development of Egypt, JICA selects three pillars of priority areas, each of which copes with the targeted three main areas, namely inclusive and sustainable growth, poverty reduction, and enhancement of standard of living, in addition to human resource development and public sector reform. Under the first main area, we focus on electricity, transportation, private sector, tourism, and cultural heritage. In the second main area, we pay attention to irrigation and rural development as well as basic social services. Under the third area, we focus on education, public sector empowerment, and south cooperation.

How do you assess the cooperation with Egypt in the field of education, with particular focus on the Japanese schools? Will 2019 witness the opening of new Japanese schools in Egypt?

JICA has been in cooperation with the Egyptian government in various levels of education, including early childhood development, basic education, technical education, and higher education. For basic education, we have been working with the Ministry of Education for introducing mainly “Tokkatsu” activities, which encourage students to think and act by themselves and thereby foster their character building. In 2018, 35 Egyptian-Japanese Schools (EJSs) opened as model schools that implement Tokkatsu activities intensively. We hear many positive feedbacks from the teachers and parents of students in the EJSs. In 2019, the Egyptian Ministry of Education is planning to open five more EJSs, bringing the total to 40 schools nationwide.

What about Japan’s interest in Egypt’s new projects, like Monorail, New Administrative Capital, and others?

JICA is always open to consider cooperating in new projects, which will contribute to the development in Egypt and Africa.

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Egypt, Japan likely to ink seven MoUs during TICAD7: JETRO Wed, 28 Aug 2019 09:40:52 +0000 We will sign MoU with CCC to boost our joint business cooperation, says Tsunemi

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Egypt and Japan are expected to ink about Seven Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in three main sectors, which are in information and communications technology (ICT), infrastructure and finance, on the sidelines of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7), which will be held on August 28-30, Director General of Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Takashi Tsunemi, said.

“We will sign MoU with the Cairo Chamber of Commerce (CCC) to establish stronger relations with the Egyptian companies. Japanese companies plan to form strong networks with Egyptian companies,” Tsunemi mentioned.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Tsunemi to learn more about JETRO’s events and activities on sidelines of TICAD7, updates of the Japanese organization in the Egyptian market and its plans to boost the cooperation with Africa, transcript of which is below, lightly edited for clarity,

What are the main activities that JETRO will organise on sidelines of TICAD7?

We will organise a side event entitled ‘Japan Africa Business Forum’ on 29 August. We are expecting President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to deliver the opening remarks of the forum as the chairperson of the African Union (AU).

The forum will be attended by numerous African business community leaders. We receive many inquiries from Japanese companies on how to start a business in Africa. We note that the recent period witnessed the strengthening of Japanese businesses in Africa.

What is the focal sector of the newly established Japanese companies in Africa?

I think that ICT is a key sector for Japanese companies in Africa. Numbers of people are using the mobile phones are remarkably increasing, so the activities related to this sector including the mobile phone manufacturing and applications of online services became very attractive for the Japanese firms.

Japanese companies are expected to announce new businesses in the African region. Some Japanese companies aim to collaborate with Egyptian partners to inject capital in Africa. I think that there is a new passion of Japanese businesses toward Africa.

Over the TICAD7, we will discuss with the Japanese companies and their Egyptian counterparts how to boost the cooperation with the African partners as the main goal of Japan Africa Business Forum.

Are there any other events that will be organised on the sidelines of TICAD7?

Yes, we will host a business expo, where 160 Japanese companies will exhibit their products in various sectors including food industries, infrastructure, environmental products, human resources development, medical fields and others. The expo would allow Japanese companies to showcase their advanced technology in various sectors.

The Egyptian President will be accompanied by a delegate of about 50 Egyptian businesspersons; how did they organise their schedule in coordination with JETRO?

We are now arranging business-to-business meetings (B2B) for the 50 Egyptian business people with Japanese counterparts. I think it will be a good chance for them to know each other closely that is key for doing new businesses.

Can you name some of the Japanese companies that will hold B2B meeting with their Egyptian counterparts?

There are many considerable trading companies like Mitsubishi Corporation, Toyota Tsusho Corporation, Yamaha Motor Company Limited, in addition to many of the Japanese manufacturers. Nissan Motor Co, Ltd, will be in the exhibition too.

Will there be any meetings that the Egyptian ministers will attend in TICAD7?

We are expecting some meetings with the Egyptian ministers that are participating in TICAD7, yet there is nothing confirmed to be announced now. There was intensive preparation from the Egyptian government and the Japanese side for the TICAD7.

[Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, met with Tsunemi as well as the Japanese ambassador Masaki Noke; Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Yoshifumi Omura; and representatives of about 25 Japanese companies, to discuss preparations for TICAD7 at end of July 2019, according to past report of DNE.

Nasr met with the Japanese ambassador twice in May and July. During the recent meeting, both parties discussed the Japanese companies’ expansions in the Egyptian market in light of the Egyptian government’s improvements to the business climate, added the report.]

In regards to the Egyptian market, can you reveal if any Japanese companies are planning to inject new investments in Egypt?

About 50 Japanese companies already have businesses in Egypt. Sysmex Corporation is the only Japanese company that entered the Egyptian market recently. Sysmex Corporation established its first Egyptian affiliate last year and their business is to sell inspection services in terms of the medical sector.

How many Japanese companies plan to enter the Egyptian market in the near term?

Three or four Japanese companies aim to establish a new business in Egypt, yet I can’t reveal the companies’ names for confidentiality.

[Japanese companies are investing about $880m in Egypt, according to the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation data, adding that Japanese FDIs increased by 74.3% at end of the fiscal year (FY) 2017/18 to reach $162.1m, compared to $93m in FY 2016/17.]

How will TICAD 7 contribute to African development?

I think that there is a mutual interest from the Japanese companies and their Egyptian counterparts to invest and trade with Africa. TICAD7 will include very important sessions to pave the way for new partnerships between Japan and Egypt in Africa.

Will the Egyptian companies announce new partnerships agreements with the Japanese counterparts over the TICAD7?

Many MoUs will be signed between Japan and Egypt on the sidelines of TICAD7. From 6 to 7 MoUs are expected to be signed in the sectors of ICT, infrastructure and finance. We will sign a MoU with the Cairo Chamber of Commerce (CCC) as we would like to have stronger relations due to its large numbers of members. Japanese companies aim to make great networks with Egyptian companies.

JETRO Cairo was first established in 1955 to promote trade between Japan and the Middle East & North African countries. JETRO Cairo is in charge of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Libya and Sudan.

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Al Ahly Sabbour negotiates with Minya governorate to acquire 3 land plots Mon, 26 Aug 2019 14:33:49 +0000 Company plans to start delivery of GAIA during 2Q 2023, says Sabbour

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Al Ahly Sabbour Developments intends to inject investments worth EGP 3bn this year across its projects in the east and west of Cairo, as well as the North Coast, according to CEO, Ahmed Sabbour.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Sabbour to learn more about the company’s strategy and its expansion plans in the Egyptian real estate market, the transcript below was lightly edited for clarity:

What are the updates regarding the company’s projects in Mostakbal City?

Al Ahly Sabbour is developing around 3.5m square metres (SQM) in Mostakbal City that comprises 4 projects; Green Square, L’Avenir, Aria and the City of Odyssia. As for Green Square, it will be developed over 80 acres of land in partnership with the Saudi Dar Al Maali with EGP 1bn in construction investments. The project, which is currently 75% complete, includes 1,027 units to be delivered in 2020. By the time of delivery, we will announce the name of the project management company that will handle the services and infrastructure alongside Mostakbal City, to provide owners with the utmost facility management services.

We have also completed construction of 60% of L’Avenir, which we will start delivering by the beginning of 2021. The project comprises of 2,300 units on 420K SQM of land. The project’s total investments account for EGP 2.8bn and it is expected to achieve sales worth EGP 3.2bn.

Furthermore, we partnered with the Kuwaiti Manazel in our third project in Mostakbal City, ARIA, which will be developed over 453K SQM land, with a total investment of EGP 2.25bn, to offer 2,200 units. Aria is foreseen to achieve sales estimated by EGP 3.8bn and we have already sold 50% of the project’s total units.

Last but not least, the City of Odyssia, which is in partnership with Mostakbal Urban Developments, with expected investments of EGP 25bn.

This comprehensive project introduces the concept of the city inside the Mostakbal City, as it will be divided into seven compounds over 528 acres, including Alaire and The Ridge. The City of Odyssia includes a vast central business district, stretching over 50 acres, with EGP 3.5bn of investments. We have also contracted one of the best multinational services providers to support the execution of our master plan and operation.

Moreover, we partnered with Hill International to provide their first-rate integrated facility management services, while one of global design and the world best architecture firms Gensler will handle the masterplan and urban planning. This project offers 15,000 direct and indirect job opportunities for Egyptians across a myriad of specialities.

What is the company’s total investments allocated for projects in the current year?

Al Ahly Sabbour intends to inject constructions worth EGP 3bn this year across its projects in the east and west of Cairo, as well as the North Coast. We are also expecting sales of EGP 6bn for the current year only.

What is the company’s expansion strategy in the coming period?

We are looking into some opportunities now and focusing on Upper Egypt, especially after studying the market there and realising that there is a great demand that needs to be supplied by developers. We are still in negotiations with the Minya governorate to obtain 3 land plots. Additionally, Al Ahly Sabbour also aims to expand to Delta, especially Mansoura and Tanta, and hence we are looking for the adequate land plot to proceed.

What’s the company’s delivery plans?

As I mentioned earlier, we are working now on the current projects in Mostakbal City, which will be delivered within a short period. The closest project for delivery is Green Square in Mostakbal City, which is set for 2020. L’Avenir, on the other hand, will be delivered by the first quarter of 2021(1Q 2021), while City of Odyssia’s first phase will start delivering by the end of 2023.

As for our projects in the North Coast, we are expecting to begin the delivery of GAIA during the 2Q 2023, while the fourth phase of Amwaj is planned to be delivered 3Q 2020 and 4Q 2020. Lastly, we have successfully inaugurated the first phase of Rivette which is designed as a commercial-use project to serve the owners of Amwaj, as well as the visitors and residents of the North Coast.

When does the company begin construction in the Sheikh Zayed project?

We have a project in 6th of October city, which we recently managed to obtain its licenses from the Ministry of Housing. The project’s total investments are worth EGP 5.5bn and it is designed to be an integrated urban project on an area of ​​144 acres, in partnership with the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA). The land size can accommodate up to 2,000 units, but we plan to establish about 1,000 units only.

Can you tell us latest updates regarding GAIA in North Coast?

GAIA is an upscale resort, with an investment of EGP 9bn, enveloped by the vibrant community of the North Coast, located at km 194 of the Alexandria-Matrouh road. GAIA is a destination for ultimate luxury within a beach resort covering a vast area of 279 acres boasting a 550-meter beach-front view, 50,000 meters of swimmable water lagoons, with a total of 2,740 fully finished units with different areas, ranging from 120 m2 to 284 m2. The resort offers a variety of home styles that includes stand-alone villas, attached twin houses, duplexes, chalets, and cabanas. The project is master-planned by esteemed designers Chapman Taylor and RAY Design. The building permits for GAIA are obtained and construction started last month as we plan to commence the delivery of the first phase during the 2Q 2023.

What is the current operational situation in Amwaj?

At the moment we are working on the fourth phase of Amwaj, as we kicked off construction. Additionally, we have launched a new phase this summer, which includes 120 luxurious apartments with sea views. We completed the second phase of the commercial project, Rivette, this summer as well, it will provide retail, entertainment, and a variety of food and beverages options. This serves our plan to further develop Amwaj’s recreational activities; whether for the project’s residents or all the visitors to the north coast in general.

Coastal areas in Egypt are transforming into first homes and there is a great demand by Egyptians on these areas, especially the North Coast, Alamein, and Ain Sokhna. How do you see this market in the coming period?

Investing in buying a second or third home on the Egyptian Mediterranean coast is a rather pricey one. However, in recent years the North Coast has grown, as it has become a prominent -if not a must-go – summer destination; if not all year long, for the millennials. Instead of old school family-oriented summer vacations on the coast, the area has been completely changed within the last couple of years.

Accordingly, demand has skyrocketed with the pricing of units exponentially increasing in the last five years than it ever did in the last twenty years, more so than the normal housing market for any real estate in other locations within Egypt. In response, not only did real estate developers take notice, but also did the government. Developers and the government have started capitalising on this huge collective demand for acquiring second homes and commercial units in the North Coast. In addition to an abundance of new and developing projects lining the coast from Alexandria to Sidi Abdelrahman, the government’s newly announced plan of establishing the New Alamein City has also been critical for real estate in the area. New Alamein City will include an airport and a much-needed new road network to facilitate ease of transportation. The city is also meant to be a year-round destination for residential and commercial purposes. This will effectively turn the North Coast from a seasonal destination to a stable city with full facilities all year, in turn exponentially increasing the value of all real estate in its proximity all across the coast.

Do you expect real estate price hikes after increasing fuel prices?

There is an expected and normal increase estimated by 15% to 20% in real estate prices by the end of this current year. However, it won’t affect the demand since it has been foreseen with lifting subsidies off fuel prices that logically affects construction material prices. The flexibility shown by real estate developers in payment plans and diversity of real state products will contribute to overcoming this increase and hence supporting the demand and sales.

The surge in real estate prices are also driven by different market performance, not only the influences of fuel prices.

In your opinion, what are the real estate demand hotspots in Egypt?

East Cairo remains the main frontier of demand in Egypt’s real estate market, due to the development of the New Administrative Capital and Mostakbal City, which dominate the real estate scene right now.

As for West Cairo, the Egyptian government is currently implementing more projects in 6th October City that are specifically related to the road systems including nine pedestrian bridges, 15 full-scale bridges and two tunnels for EGP 3.9 bn. Additionally, EGP 1.6bn is allocated to the maintenance of internal roads in the suburban district. This will all contribute to a strong comeback for demand in West Cairo.

The North Coast undoubtedly still is an attraction for real estate investments. The area now exhibits a wide range of infrastructure and services that are part of Egypt’s comprehensive plan to develop the entire North Coast and transform it from a seasonal stop, into an all-year destination for first home buyers.

How does the government’s introduction of real estate projects affect Egypt’s economy?

The Egyptian real estate sector has historically proven resilient to economic and political challenges over the past decade and has been strongly supporting the economy. The sector employs 5% of the country’s labour force and has been growing tremendously since 2005. During years such as 2013, when the economy was slowing down, the sector thrived making up to 9% of the GDP.

In 2018, the sector represented 16.2% of the country’s GDP, which the Egyptian Centre for Economic Studies states as too high. Real estate companies listed on the Egyptian Stock Exchange witnessed double-digit growth in revenue, which has built their market capitalisations. The sector is currently growing at more than 20%, and real estate properties represent a third to half of the wealth for families in the middle and high-income segment, even more in lower-income classes. The real-estate sector’s activities rose by 952% between 2010 and 2017.

In February of 2016, with the launch of the Sustainable Development Strategy – Egypt’s Vision 2030, the Egyptian government set out national goals to develop the nation over the next 15 years. A top priority being a comprehensive urban development plan that expands and creates new megacities throughout Egypt to support a rapidly growing population. The government and its related entities are increasingly undertaking large-scale co-development with private developers. This will result in an increased supply of units on the market moving forward.

For decades, Egypt has planned and worked on building the necessary infrastructure for private and public entities to market real estate and commercial complexes that will bring life to these new cities. They are located all over Egypt with the biggest pushing to solve the overpopulation in Cairo and Alexandria.

How do you see developers’ participation in global exhibitions? And do you think that this strategy works in promoting Egypt’s property?

The export of real estate products and properties is one of the important streams of the success of any real estate market.

Despite the state’s ongoing efforts to support this issue, Egypt still has a long path ahead to compete with international countries that have come a long way to obtain solid grounds and presence in international forums and exhibitions. This requires frequent and enhanced participation in international real estate exhibitions and meticulous study of foreign clients and their needs to provide incentives that would encourage them to buy property in Egypt, whether for housing or investment purposes alike.

Al Ahly Sabbour plans to open offices in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and some European countries, in line with the state’s direction to export real estate and contribute to attracting foreign currency to Egypt. The real estate in Egypt has become cheaper for Arabs and Egyptians working abroad after the devaluation of the pound. The Egyptian Export Council for Real Estate relentlessly cooperates with the developers as well as the state to boost real estate exports. Al Ahly Sabbour is actively involved in exporting real estate by participating in foreign exhibitions to export 15% of our projects abroad.

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