Interviews – Daily News Egypt Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Wed, 22 Jan 2020 19:59:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 No elections without Jerusalem: Fatah official Sun, 19 Jan 2020 16:52:30 +0000 Trump’s “deal of the century” is just a 21st century Balfour Declaration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are there regional and international forces trying to block reconciliation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

What can motivate you the most to present better designs?

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

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

What are your future plans?

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

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

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

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

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

Do you plan to invest in Egypt?

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

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

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

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

Can you tell us about the Dubai Digital Park?

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

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

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

Have you started the marketing of the project?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was the growth rate of Dubai Silicon Oasis in2018?

It recorded a growth of 16% in 2018.

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

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

What much revenues did the Dubai Silicon Oasis generate recently?

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

What about the Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec)?

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

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

What are the main commercial projects in the Oasis?

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

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

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

What about the educational projects in the Dubai Silicon Oasis?

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

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

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

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

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

What about rationalisation of energy consumption in the Oasis?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tamer Farahat

What is the ICSB and its role?

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

What are the objectives of the ICSB?

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

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

What is the Council’s frameworks?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are these steps?

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

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

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

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

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

What about investing in Africa?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you tell us about the role of the ICA?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are the ICA’s sources of funding?

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

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

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

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

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

How do you see Egypt’s economic reforms?

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

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

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

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

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

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


The post International Co-operative Alliance to decide on Egypt’s membership early 2020 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and he did in December 2019.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was president Ramaphosa accompanied by a business or governmental delegation?

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

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

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

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

Did the visit witness signing of any agreements?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about the investment relations?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us more about the tourism cooperation?

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

What about the cultural activities that the embassy sponsor?

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

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

The post South Africa to build on Egypt’s successful AU presidency in 2020: ambassador appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When did the company begin working in Egypt?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What distinguishes your services from other service providers?

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

How do you see Egypt’s tourism sector?

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

How much remittances coming to Egypt in the current period?

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

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

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

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

Do you plan to increase your share of Egyptian remittances?

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

What are the currencies you transfer?

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

Do you have concerns regarding Egypt’s inflation rates?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post Technical education and vocational training reform are an imperative necessity to produce cadres fully aware of the market’s needs: director  appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

Photography by Asmaa Badr

What is TVET Egypt?

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

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

Executive Director of the TVET Egypt Shorouk Zidan

Why is it necessary to reform the technical education system?

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

What is the plan for the TVET?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does the low view of vocational work still exist?

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

Does the programme serve dropouts from education?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the selection process for the creators?

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

What happened to YouTube Space DXB?

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

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

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

Why did you choose Egypt?

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

What is the Egyptian share of YouTube global views?

We do not release specific country views.

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

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

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

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

Would YouTube replace TV in the coming years?

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

What training you offer for creators to increase their subscribers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are some other roles that distinguish the university?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How will those funds be distributed within the university?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How many research papers are published internationally from the AUC?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are the advantages of manufacturing in Egypt?

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

How many factories does the firm have in Egypt?

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

What is your market share in Egypt?

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

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

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

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

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

Which countries do you export your products to?

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

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

Are there any countries that Unilever wants to enter?

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

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

How many employees does the company in Egypt?

Unilever has 22,000 direct and indirect employees.

How many distribution centres does Unilever have in Egypt?

We have main distributors in every governorate in Egypt.

What are the challenges that the company faces in Egypt?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can you evaluate Egypt`s current economic situation ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How much are the company’s investments and sales?

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

Does the company intend to launch new products next year?

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

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

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

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

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

What is your assessment of the investment climate in Egypt?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are the main sectors covered by the Premium Card?

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

How many premium card customers are there currently?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are there new products in the pipeline?

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

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

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

How does one overcome the credit risk of default?

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

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

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

What are the benefits of securitisation for Premium Card?

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

What are the total credit facilities obtained by the company?

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

What is a premium store?

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

Is there a competition with payment cards from banks?

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

How many outlets is the company contracted with?

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

Are there new technologies the company is considering adding?

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

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

What about the state’s policy of financial inclusion?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

We are really happy with the results so far. We can see that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has totally raised Spotify. It was very wonderful for us to see Arab users all of over the world praising our platform. They showed a very high engagement on the platform, not looking for Arabic music only, but international music as well. We see them growing their playlists when discovering more music on the platform.

The artists are praising Spotify as well. We are working with them very closely and they are actively working with the platform. We see that growth is exceeding our expectation and we are also happy with the response we’re receiving from the media.

Spotify has long worked with European and American users, how were you able to overcome challenges in communicating with Arabic users?

We looked for powerful global expansion plans and we launched Spotify in 13 countries in MENA, which was a very huge undertaking.  We translated Spotify into Arabic and used the Arabic language in marketing campaigns to enhance communication with users.

We launched Arab Hub as part of our global cultures initiative, to connect all types Middle Eastern music and culture with listeners everywhere. This was our way of spreading Arabic culture in terms of music service for the world and reach many users. Even artists were able to see how their songs have spread outside of the MENA region.  They are now able reach their fans and even build new fans outside the region and across the world through Spotify. 

Which musical genre is most played in the Middle East and Egypt?

Pop music is very trendy in the Middle East, whether Arab or international pop. Mahrganat [electro shaabi music] is also growing very fast. Hip Hop and rap are also trending quickly in the region.

How do you view the success of Spotify’s latest campaign which projected a billboard of Arab singer Amr Diab in New York City’s Times Square?

We are impressed by the feedback we are getting from this campaign. It was a wonderful opportunity to work with Egyptian singer Amr Diab. He is an absolute legend. Egypt on Spotify as per our latest “Wrapped” campaign data , but he is also a global icon where most of his streams on Spotify come from the U.S.

The idea was decided to honor him. He is the number one most streamed artist in Egypt on Spotify as per our latest “Wrapped” campaign data , but he is also a global icon where most of his streams on Spotify come from the US. He has huge fans all over the world and we wanted to spread Arab music everywhere.

Today, we have 248 active users on the platform. It’s worth mentioning that Spotify believes that it is important to present local music services to global audiences. The main idea of Spotify is that we are working with all artists and labels. We try to be as unbiased as possible.  We are also open to working with all artists and labels and we can not wait to continue spreading this region’s culture beyond borders.

To what extent do you believe such campaigns contribute to different cultures connecting?

We truly do believe this. We always wanted other cultures to discover Arabic music and we are already witnessing that.  This past weekend, a Swedish rapper released a cover of Amr Diab’s 1996 hit Habibi Ya Nour El Ein (My Love! The light of the eye) as part of Spotify Single’s initiative.

The rapper said the song inspired her, it has a feel good vibe and that she is in love with Arabic beats , which basically shows how music can travel and how Spotify can be play a role here.

How does Spotify help emerging artists and MENA’s underground scene?

We have developed a platform called Spotify Artist, which is used only by artists. It’s a mobile-application and website for artists to access their data. Hundreds of thousands of artists are using it already. Through it, artists can see how their music is doing on the platform, how many followers, listeners, and from which country and city the music is being played.

Our mission is to help  artists make a living out of their careers.

For example, one Arab artist discovered that his songs are played in Germany more than Egypt or any Arab country and also found that he has a big audience in France.

I think this application helps artist to change their mind regarding marketing and promoting their music more in countries outside the Arab region.

We also have guidelines for them to protect their rights, release music on platforms, protect themselves from piracy, and pitch music to our editorial team.

We have organised over 70 sessions for artist, labels, music distributors, music managers, sound engineers, and sound producers to explain to them how they can enhance their business, increase their revenue, and understand how digital streams work.

Can you tell us about Spotify’s partnerships?

Since our launch, we are already on several devices and platforms – including Google Maps, Xbox, PlayStation, Google Assistant, among others. Globally, we are available on over 500 products across 200 hardware brands. These partnerships are available throughout the world and activated in the Middle East.

One year ago, Rotana has signed a deal with Deezer, giving it the right only to have albums of artists who are produced by Rotana, which made content of those artists, blocked in other platforms. How do you deal with this situation and will it encourage Spotify to produce albums one day?

Fair to say that we have extreme comprehensive Arabic music offering and we are very pleased with our performance since launch, it exceeded our expectations. We are a fully licensed service, and have over 50m tracks from both local and international artists. We have many artists that come from Rotana but we don’t currently have the Rotana catalogue in all countries but we are working on it. Important to note, that the population in Arab region is extremely high, roughly sixty percent of the population are under the age of 30 who love new types of music being releaseed every day and we are here to continue driving the growth of local music and artists day in and day out.

Can you tell us more about the newly launched Spotify kid application? And how people are reacting to it so far?

 Spotify Kids has rolled out first in Ireland in Denmark, Sweden, and New Zealand.  Spotify is committed to bringing audio content such as music and stories to more people in more ways–including the next generation of listeners. That’s why we decided to launch a fun standalone app designed with safety in mind specifically for kids and families.

We’re thrilled to beta launch in Ireland and look forward to introducing Spotify Kids in all markets.  As we evolve the app experience, we’ll roll out enhanced parental settings and controls for even more customization in an effort to give parents peace of mind. Spotify Kids is not available in the MENA region but we are working on it, so stay tuned.

How does Spotify control a song’s copyrights from being leaked?

We have a lot of mechanisms of internal technology. First of all, before we launched, we needed to make sure that we have all the licences that we require, not only for recorded music but also publishing music rights.

It is difficult in the MENA region, as there isn’t a collective body to get the rights of a song, but several entities around the world that we must cooperate with if we want to get a licence for the MENA region.

We had some body uploading a song by Amr Diab, claiming that it belongs to him. We have technology that can identify whether if it’s a copy or not and immediately stop it from being published in the platform.

However, piracy is still big since the market doesn’t have as many offers to easily access music, but with Spotify is it different because all songs available by free services. You literally have all music, 50 million songs and more, accessible to you.

There is on-going competition among international music platforms, so how do you work to step ahead of this and attract more users?

We prefer not to comment on other music services, but instead remain laser focused on continuing to offer the best possible service for music fans. We believe that the market is wide open and those who provide a superior user experience will have room to grow. Over the last decade, while there has been promising development on the supply side of the music streaming ecosystem, we believe there is still ample opportunity for growth primarily through conversion of users away from piracy towards free, legal music, and from thereon, evolving consumer mindset towards paid subscriptions. We are in for the long term and are excited to build the industry and create the market as an invested partner in MENA. We are excited to be a part of this thriving market and believe there is always an opportunity for brands to stand out as long as they engage consumers through constant innovation and captivating content, and drive the local industry ecosystem as an invested and responsible player.

From the Middle East, which country has the highest number of subscribers with your platform?

We don’t disclose this, I can say two countries in the Gulf currently host the biggest number of subscribers.  Spotify is the most popular global audio streaming subscription service with 248 million users, including 113 million subscribers across 79 markets. 

Can you tell us about your future expansion plans for 2020?

Going forward, our focus is to progressively build our platform based on innovation inspired by our users. Spotify is the world’s most popular music streaming service and our goal is to continue leading the audio revolution through the best in-app and offline experiences

For in-app experiences, we remain committed in making the user experience even more intuitive through best in audio content and features, attuned to local preferences. Our efforts align in building the user’s experience through progression across audio formats that begin with curation, discovery, and monetization, all found within one seamless experience that is deeply personalized for each user

On the industry front, as invested partners, we are focused on growing the market by creating a healthy industry value chain, driving value for our partners, including labels, creators and brands. There is immense opportunity for growth in transitioning users from mindset of piracy towards streaming music and we are focused towards it. I’d like to point our latest acquisition of SoundBetter. SoundBetter is the world’s leading music talent marketplace, helping musicians and labels worldwide connect and collaborate with top music professionals. Since SoundBetter launched in 2012, the member community has grown to over 180,000, spanning 176 countries and 14,000 cities worldwide. This acquisition will help develop MENA’s creator talent pool by connecting them to the global artist community to engage, learn and thrive in their business

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

ACUD to complete lands sales in NAC’s first phase by July 2020 Tue, 10 Dec 2019 08:15:39 +0000 Shoura council building is being designed to be ready after elections, says ACUD chairperson

The post ACUD to complete lands sales in NAC’s first phase by July 2020 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

New Administrative Capital’s (NAC) has sold 17,500 feddan from the 24,000 feddan offered for sale – excluding the landscape, infrastructure etc which make up 16,000 feddan – Magdy Amin, head of Real Estate Sector at the Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD) said.

He added that the remaining 6,500 feddan will be marketed until July 2020.

The Egyptian government is planning to move all ministries and agencies in June 2020 to the NAC. The Government District’s development process exceeded 70% and they are currently working on the interiors of the ministry buildings.

Additionally, the infrastructure’s completion of the Government district will be complete in April 2020.

ACUD is the owner and developer for the NAC in Egypt and is located 35 km east of Cairo with a total area of 170,000 feddan.

Daily News Egypt sat down with leaders of the ACUD to learn more about the development process at the new capital project.

Ahmed Zaki Abdeen ACUD’s chairperson said that they are preparing designs for the Shura Council to move to the NAC.

Abdeen added that the company is ready to offer lands in mixed use areas in the NAC after the operation of the government district at twice the current meter price.

Furthermore, ACUD’s spokesperson Khaled El Hosseini, said that prices per square metre jumped by approximately 150% since the first offering.

What are the updates in the Green River area in the NAC project?

Abdeen: The Green River area spans over a total of 1,660 feddans, out of which 1000 feddans have been reserved for green areas and 660 feddans for mixed-use activities. The mixed-use areas are currently being developed and marketed through the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA). The NUCA is responsible for developing the area’s infrastructure and offering lands for developers as well as managing the projects within the Green River area.

How much is the price per metre that the ACUD plans to offer the NUCA?

Abdeen: The NUCA has bought the square metre in Green River with EGP 2,100.

What is the update regarding the MU4 and MU7?

Abdeen: The MU4 and MU7 zones are specialised for mixed-use commercial, administrative, and medical projects. We have offered very few plots of lands in these two areas. Additionally, we do not intend to offer lands in this area in the current period; however, we plan to offer lands in the two areas after the Government District’s operation which includes all ministries and government agencies, as well as the presidency and parliament, with doubled price per square metre compared to the current price.

How much is a square metre in these two areas?

Abdeen: The price per square metre reached EGP 15,000 and depends on the height of the project’s buildings, as every extra additional unit over seven floors means a 5% increase in price of the square metre for investors, and can reach approximately EGP 40,000 and EGP 45,000.

How many companies have paid the 2% serious reservation and not the 20% down-payment yet?

Abdeen: There are about five or six companies that haven’t paid the 20%. This means that they are not developing in the mixed-use areas until they the 20% and sign a contract.

When will the ACUD officially offer lands for developers in the mixed-use areas?

Abdeen: The company is ready to offer lands in mixed-use areas in the NAC after the operation of the government district at twice the current metre price.

Are you ready to transfer all governmental agencies to the NAC in June 2020?

Abdeen: Yes, we are. The political leadership is very keen on moving the ministries and agencies in time. However, the parliament will move in 2021 due to the beginning of the new legislative session of parliament in 2021. The building is huge and still in need of a lot of work. Moreover, the ACUD is preparing designs for Shura Council to be in the NAC.

Which operator is going to provide technological services in the project?

Abdeen:Telecom Egypt will manage and provide technological services and support in the NAC through an usufruct contract for 25 years.  Moreover, last week, we signed an agreement with Etisalat Misr to provide technical services for the NAC. Etisalat Misr won the tender for the supply, implementation, and operation of city management systems in the NAC to provide technological services and technical support within the new capital. Accordingly, we will sign another agreement with Orange in the coming period.

When will the joint venture with Electricité de France (EDF) and German Dorsch Group be established?

Abdeen: We are currently finishing the procedures of establishing the joint ventures with the operators and service provider in the NAC projects. In mid-January, three joint ventures will be established with EDF to provide electricity service and Dorsch to provide water and irrigation services as well as, another French service provider company in gas services.

What are some areas that the company is currently working on?

Amin: We are working on developing infrastructure in two areas, MU4 and MU7 inside R2 and R3 in the first phase of the NAC project. MU4 is overlooking the Green River and MU7 is close to CBD. Each MU is divided to approximately 50 plots of land with sizes ranging between one feddan to five or six feddans and allocated for business towers from 15 to 80 floors.

How many developers are working in MU4 and Mu7?

Amin:There are 17 developers, two of which have received lands in these areas.

How much is the price per square metre in MU4 and MU7?

Amin:We offer square metre with prices starting at EGP 20,000 according to the building’s height and place.

What is the size of lands that have been sold out?

Amin:The total area for sale in the first phase of NAC project is 24,000 feddans and the rest are roads and landscaping, out of which 17,500 feddans have been sold out. The other 6,500 feddans will be marketed until July.

Are there international operators or investors requesting land?

Amin: We have several requests to know more about investment opportunities and check lands in the NAC project. Therefore, we have a lot of discussions with other developers. Additionally, we are studying requests by 18 investors to acquire lands for residential and mixed-use projects.

How many developers are working in the NAC?

Amin: We have about 300 developers.

How many ministerial approvals have been issued for developers in the NAC?

Amin: We have issued more than 50 ministerial approvals.

What is the aim beyond contracting with EDF France to provide electricity service?

El Hosseini: We aim to provide services with minimum loss of electricity which is currently estimated at 35%, and  we want to reach 7%.  EDF France will also provide online and smart solution to supply the NAC’s residents with electricity services. This system is to be implemented with high techniques and solid infrastructure.

Do you have any requests from international institutions to acquire lands for headquarters in the Diplomatic Area?

El Hossieni: The African Export–Import Bank (Afreximbank) requested a land area of 110,000 square metres (sqm) divided into two plots, the first in the diplomatic district with an area of 50,000 sqm to establish housing for the bank’s employees at a price of $400 per sqm, and the second with an area of 60,000 sqm in the central business district to establish a headquarters for the bank and an African trade centre. The bank is seeking to establish an administrative tower with a height of 400 meters and includes 100 floors. The average price of a square meter of land in that area was $2500 per meter depending on the place.

What are the ACUD’s activities in promoting the NAC project?

El Hossieni: Last month, we have participated in an international exhibition in Barcelona, Spain at Fira de Barcelona to showcase countries’ experiences in establishing smart cities. Accordingly, we plan to participate in that exhibition next year to largely promote the project.

What is the percentage of increase in prices since the first offering to date?

El Hossieni: The prices hiked by approximately 150% since the first offering until now.

Do you receive requests by developers to expand the instalments of land value?

El Hossieni: We have already received very few requests by developers to not extend or increase instalment periods, but to pay the instalment in more than one payment, provided that they are adhering to a contracted period of time to pay the whole price of the land.

How many ministerial approvals are being issued?

El Hossieni: We are preparing to issue about 16 ministerial approvals for developers in the NAC. Additionally, we have issued 2203 building permits for projects.

Tell us more about the updates in the Government District?

El Hossieni: The development process of the Government District at the NAC exceeded 70% and currently we are working on interiors in ministries and it will move in June 2020. Additionally, the completion of infrastructure in government district will be completed in April 2020. The total cost of infrastructure in the government district is approximately EGP 40bn.

The post ACUD to complete lands sales in NAC’s first phase by July 2020 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Follow your maddest dreams, don’t forget your roots, upgrade your skills and always be connected to the rest of the world: Frédéric Mané Sun, 08 Dec 2019 16:08:19 +0000 “Alone, I am just an artist, with my team I can create more than a drawing!”

The post Follow your maddest dreams, don’t forget your roots, upgrade your skills and always be connected to the rest of the world: Frédéric Mané appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

French jewellery designer, Frédéric Mané is a consultant designer with over 16 years of experience. Mané who collaborates with signature brands and luxury workshops at Vendôme told Daily News Egypt (DNE) that the base of his inspiration is his Mediterranean roots, from the beautiful mountain sides on the coast to the life found on and below the Mediterranean Sea.

DNE interviewed Mané to get to know his inspirations, how his journey began, and how he viewed the Egyptian and Arab jewellery design scene.


Tell us about yourself, including and your steps to become a consultant designer in jewellery?

I was born in Perpignan in the south of France in 1982.

I grew up in front the Mediterranean Sea and I spent my childhood between Perpignan, Collioure, and Cadaquès. Mediterranean cultures are my roots. My grandfather is Catalan and my grandmother is from Tunisia. Beyond my French nationality, I grew up around three cultures, French, Catalan, and Tunisian. My family founded a toy shop in the south of France and I spent my childhood surrounded by a mesmerising atmosphere full of tales, legends, and arts. I was born an artist and I drew characters full of jewels all the time. I liked creating fantastic universes and after I used to convert my paintings into real objects, sculptures en argile.

When I was 18 years old, I understood jewellery and art objects were my destiny, so I decided to move to Paris to study design. I quickly learnt the “Haute école” jewellery painting technics. Just after I was head designer for six years at Mathon Paris, I found a significant family atelier at Place Vendome.

For four years, I was a consultant designer, I had my design studio and I collaborated with luxury groups and maintained a deep relationship with Parisian jewellers and international signature brands. With a strong and broad experience in design, particularly in jewellery and the design of precious objects and accessories, I am a happy man!

What first led you to making jewellery?

Craftmanship and workshops are a fascinating universe. I like sharing my project with a team of experts.

I consider jewellery a body of collective body of work in which each member of the orchestra plays his part and expresses the excellence of his art. The culmination of the work is the fruit of a unique symbiosis, where each one is equally important. The technique and precision of the gesture are at their highest expectation to reveal a panel of emotions. Alone, I am just an artist, with my team I can create more than a drawing!


How did you jump in jewellery design from identity to professionalism?

Thanks to all my mentors and first employers for believing in me, they offered me many opportunities to develop my skills, and good thing I’m a hard worker


Did you receive a scholarship to study jewellery?

I am very grateful for my parents for believing in me, they offered me the opportunity to study in Paris for three years. Just after getting a masters, I decided to apply for an international programme for two years. I had to spend two days in classes and three days in a design agency every week. Fortunately,  the agency was paying for the rest of my studies.


What are the Parisian and international brands you collaborate with?

I collaborate with signature brands and luxury workshops at Vendôme, allowing them to follow the design process – from the technical, conceptual, and creative process to the fabrication – and all its subtleties and technicalities. I exhibit my projects around the world – particularly in the Emirates and in Asia – where I promote brands and our work while meeting clients and collectors for whom we create unique custom-made pieces using a rich palette of colours and styles. 

I am very discreet about my clients, there are some royal families and collectors and I regularly work with LVMH group and Richemont. My last amazing collaboration was different, I co-signed with Rubeus Milano, a brand considered as ” Ultimate luxury. ” I designed an amazing project exhibited to the palace of Louvre.


What are the international exhibitions you participated in?

I’ve participated in plenty of big exhibitions, Baselword Switzerland many times, Hongkong fairs, and Couture Las Vegas. I also did a lot of confidential trunk shows around the world. My favourite was in July to the Louvre and six years ago to the Emirates palace in Abu Dhabi.


Tell us about your design style, what makes your collections unique in the industry?

Maybe my style is a rich creative universe that incorporates all styles and inspirations, my studio is where design is transformed into a concept, starting with hand-drawn sketches. My studio offers its expertise both in the knowledge of rare stones and in innovative materials. I propose the best traditional practices paired with new technology to create collections and exceptional pieces. From the creation of our collections to their fabrication, a spirit of collaboration that specifies each design house. I also make sure that each member of the marketing team and each artistic director are respected.

I can create a minimalist or outstanding piece, ultra-baroque, or very modern. I am a kind of chameleon, but I always have my DNA and roots lighting my inspirations.


What about the story behind the ‘Imperial’ collection and rock crystal necklace?

As a patron of the arts, the collectors and founders of Rubeus Milano Nataliya and Viktor Bondarenko invited me to create a full collection around the biggest and rarest Alexandrites in the world. Alexandrite from Russia is the best colour change stone, it has a natural effect from green on daylight to purple on incandescent light. As a designer, I had a free hand and no budget limit, it’s a unique opportunity.

To imagine the Rubeus Imperial Alexandrite Collection, I have been inspired by a cluster of quartz crystals lying on a deep blue plate of lapis lazuli somewhere in Moscow…

After a few hours of an intense and pure creative moment, I came with my first draft … two magnificent jewels showing like a spray of crystallinity emerging from the Earth all around some exceptional alexandrites… one of the rarest and mysterious gems known to mankind.

I decided to create a collection inspired by Mother Nature, the usual theme in jewellery is “Stones Information”, rough crystals growing, a modern artistic vision to tribute this treasure of nature, from the depths of the earth to the sky.


What does a typical day look like for you as a jewellery designer? 

Each morning I visit my workshop partners around Place Vendome to check my models, afterwards I visit my clients to show my drawings; I try to end my day in my design studio, surrounded by my books and painting, searching for new ideas.

What’s your favourite piece of the jewellery you made and why? 

My favourites pieces of jewellery are the ones designed with soul and a deep connection with others: brand, designer, jewellers, and final customers


How many collections have you issued so far?

With no doubt, I have created more than one thousand models. I am very prolific, but my main goal is the highest quality for each design.

What are your favourite materials to use?

All metals combined with translucent stone are my favourite combination.


What is your favourite diamond shape? 

Kite cut, like a kite flying for children, an invitation to continue your childhood.


What is the strangest request you’ve received for a custom design piece?

A “Dis-engagement ring” a sulphurous special order called Boa constrictor ring.


Have you been to Egypt before? Do you know any jewellery designers in Egypt?

Not yet, it’s one of my dreams. I hope to visit this amazing country very soon. As I told you my grandmother is Tunisian, and like her ancestors, Arabic was her native language. Shen I was a baby she use to sing Egyptians songs to me, her favourite singer was Oum Kalthoum, such a mesmerising voice!


Have you seen the jewellery of Tutankhamun? Or read the book “The Pharaohs Jewellery” by Cyril Eldred?

One of my first jewellery books was the jewellery of Tutankhamun, as a young artist, I was fascinated! When I was six years old my grandmother got it for me as a birthday gift.


Have you tried to design a collection of jewellery from the spirit of ancient Egyptian jewellery?

Of course, my family visited Egypt many times, I have many books and stories, one of my favourite stories is the tale of Selkys called Goddess Scorpion. I painted a big masterpiece in homage to Selkys.


What is your view on the jewellery industry in the Arab world? What needs to be improved?

A positive view of the new generation, because new designers mix their culture with a contemporary style. I appreciate a lot of new brands like Sevan Bicakci from Turkey or Nuun from Saudi, she has a very modern and delicate vision of jewellery, she is very inspired by her native culture. 



As a designer, where do you draw your inspiration from?

The base of my inspiration is my Mediterranean roots, from the beautiful mountain sides on the coast to the life found on and below the Mediterranean Sea.

I like to mix those roots with new influences, it’s very important for me to listen and understand my customers, their dreams and goals. I am kind of a magic chameleon able to convert many influences and sometimes opposite ideas into pieces of art.


What are the upcoming trends in the jewellery design industry?

I am not concerned about trends; I follow only my heart.


Who are your favourite designers? 

I am a big fan of Zaha Hadid and Salvador Dali, also my close friend the painter Emeline Piot, and Jothi Seroj sculpt jeweller.


What challenges do you face in your work?

Building a strong relationship between designer, workshop, and client. When you have an ambitious challenge like the Imperial collection for Rubeus Milano, it’s important to be a diplomatic guide and in the same way, stay an artistic director.

The challenge was amazing, we had to create a collection of 12 masterpieces made by Jothi Seroj, sculptor jeweller in Paris in the rule of art in only six months.

My last challenge was to create a collection for Hoehls wellness high jewellery, mixing rough stone with traditional jewellery.


What are some international awards you’ve received?

 In 2014, I was rewarded by the Chinese government Price of excellence for my project Firehorse.


What are your upcoming projects?

 I am working on an unusual project of watches and objets d’arts where I’m breaking some rules for a new company. 

A fantastic collaborative project. Also a new outstanding collection for Rubeus.


What advice would you have for aspiring jewellery designers?

Follow your maddest dreams, don’t forget your roots, work a lot to upgrade your skills and always be connected to the rest of the world because people are a real source of inspiration.

The post Follow your maddest dreams, don’t forget your roots, upgrade your skills and always be connected to the rest of the world: Frédéric Mané appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

500 Startups company invested in 37 Egyptian startups, making 30% of its MENA portfolio: venture partner Sun, 08 Dec 2019 06:00:33 +0000 We typically invest an average of $100,000 as an initial investment, and can follow on in the top 20-30% of our investments, up to $500,000, says Haider.

The post 500 Startups company invested in 37 Egyptian startups, making 30% of its MENA portfolio: venture partner appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Currently, most of the youth globally, and in Egypt specifically, are pursuing entrepreneurship rather than finding a fixed job. And subsequently, they look for funding or investors for their startups. Accordingly, some companies have made it their mission to help youth around the world succeed in their startups by funding them, and among these companies is “500 Startups.”

Meanwhile, there are many summits all over the world that help connect both stakeholders and startups, providing startup owners with exposure, resources. and advice. Among these events is the Rise Up Summit that is held annually in Egypt and will be held this year from 5 to 7 December, which means that there is only a day left for the beginning of the summit which is considered one of the more major summits in the Middle East for entrepreneurship.

On this occasion, Daily News Egypt interviewed Hasan Haider,  venture partner at 500 Startups- MENA region, to learn more about his company’s participation in the coming Rise Up summit, the amount of his company’s investments in the Egyptian startups, his company’s selection criteria for the startups that it funds, as well as the company’s five year strategy.

First of all, can you tell us more about 500 Startups?

500 Startups is a venture capital firm on a mission to discover and support the world’s most talented entrepreneurs, help them create successful companies at scale, and build thriving global ecosystems. It is one of the most active venture capital firms in the world.

500 Startups in the MENA region:

Silicon-Valley based 500 Startups is one of the most active early-stage venture capital funds in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Since its first investment in the region in 2012, 500 Startups has committed to investments in over 160 startups across the MENA region.

500 Falcons, a MENA-focused fund, that is a part of the global 500 Startups network, was launched in 2017. To-date, the company has invested in over 150 startups and plans to invest in another 50 companies, in addition to follow-on investments into the top performing companies.

Earlier this year, the oversubscribed MENA-focused 500 Falcons fund was closed at $33m.

Up until now, how many Egyptian startup companies has 500 Startups funded? And what’s the amount of investments?

To-date, 500 startups has invested in 37 Egyptian startups in our portfolio, which is around 30% of our total investments in the MENA region. We typically invest an average of $100,000 as an initial investment and can go as high as $500,000, which is the case of our top 20-30%.

At what stage will 500 Startups prefer to fund the start up? And what is the selection criteria for start-ups to receive funding from 500 Startups?

As a firm, we typically invest at the seed stage of a start-up’s development. How that is defined varies, but on average we are looking for startups that have launched a product and have been generating revenues of at least $5,000 a month, for the last three-six months, growing at least 20% month over month. Startups at this stage are generally raising between $300,000 – $500,000 in total to scale their customer acquisition, traction, and metrics.

We’re looking for balanced founding teams, with a bias towards execution, going after a large market with few to no competitors, and a product that users want.

As we are only a day away for the Rise Up summit, what is your opinion about it?

Rise up Summit is one of the best startup events in the MENA region. We actively look forward to it every year. I believe the key advantage that Rise up Summit has is that it genuinely feels authentic. The startups and community come together to make something grassroots, organic, and real. It’s not a series of government speakers in a ballroom in some hotel, but a real festival and celebration of entrepreneurship, founders, and startups.

How many times have you participated in the Ruse Up summit?

Almost every year.

What’s your expectations for your participation in the coming edition?

I’m looking forward to interacting with amazing startups from Egypt and all over the MENA region again, catching up with the other investors that will be there, and hopefully providing some useful insights to as many founders as we can through our speaking engagements.

How many startups have you funded through Rise Up summit and with how much in investments?

We’ve invested in many startups that we’ve met with during Rise Up and hope to continue doing so.

In your opinion, what distinguishes Egypt in terms of entrepreneurship than other countries in the Middle East? And what are the challenges?

In my opinion, Egypt is one of the fastest growing startup ecosystems in the MENA region. We love investing in Egyptian startups – the founders are passionate, driven, motivated to succeed with an amazing technical talent base. Combining that talent, motivation, and the large market size that exists – Egypt really is the main market to be investing in. Egyptian founders do face challenges, like recruiting talent related to growth, and the low spending power of users, but we’ve generally seen them succeed against all odds.

What are the promising sectors in Egypt that you would like to invest in?

There is a massive untapped opportunity in Egypt in fintech – finding ways to provide financial services to the mass unbanked market is an attractive option, and we’ve seen successes in other markets which leapfrogged the banking system to mobile based wallets. In addition, there are a lot of logistical and transport-based opportunities within Egypt, as well as on-demand products and services. We’ve been actively investing in all these sectors, but more broadly we’re interested in backing starts that can scale both within and outside Egypt.

The government is adopting a digital transformation strategy, in your opinion what are the challenges that Egypt faces in terms of mobile technology and e-commerce? What are the opportunities?

Every challenge and obstacle is just an opportunity to solve in the right hands. I believe that the largest challenge, particularly for e-commerce startups, is the availability of online payment options other than cash on delivery. Additionally, connectivity – making sure the majority of the population can afford data and access to the internet is an infrastructural obstacle. Combined with logistics, these three points are the main obstacles for growth in the tech industry. Having said that, I believe Egyptian founders have overcome these issues and have been thriving with their startups, and Egypt has passed the tipping point to enable success stories in the market.

Finally, what is the company’s five year plan in Egypt?

We’re going to continue to actively invest in the Egyptian market as we have been, and I believe the market will just get bigger and better. We’ll also start to see more and more exits there. Egypt is one of our key markets and will likely be for the foreseeable future.

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Energy prices, bank interests are the industry’s biggest obstacles in Egypt: Mohamed Hanafy Sat, 07 Dec 2019 13:46:52 +0000 We can compete abroad only by reducing the cost price, says director of the Metallurgical Industries Chamber at FEI

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Industrialisation is the locomotive of any real development in any country. The metal industries in specific is a strong and steady economy that is not easily affected like the rest of the sectors. In Egypt, the industrial sector suffers from many problems, starting from the high cost of products and imported raw materials, to frequent red tape. 

DNE talked to Mohamed Hanafy, director of the Chamber of Metallurgical Industries at the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), to understand the crises of the most important sectors such as iron, aluminium, gold, and quarries, and to tackle the role of the federation in providing solutions to those crises.

Is there a crisis with the amount of iron in Egypt? 

No, Egypt now has self-sufficiency in iron, there is no imported iron in the domestic market and 100% of iron is from the local industry.

We produce 8.2m tonnes per year, but there is a decline in purchasing power now, and the production is according to market needs.

The factories now produce 7.2m tonnes, and the consumption of iron is divided into iron for the infrastructure and iron buildings of the state, which has a large movement in sales up to 90%. There is also iron for consumption, which is used in buildings in the units created by private companies and people, and it is almost halted currently.


Does this production represent the production capacity of factories? 

The total production capacity of the factories is approaching 13m tonnes per year, but the market does not need this amount.


Is there a crisis with energy in the iron industry? 

The current gas prices for the factories are at $ 5.5 per million thermal units which still represents a rise in the cost of production, challenging the national industries in general as well as electricity prices.

We have asked the Energy Pricing Committee to reconsider gas and electricity prices for factories, and the chamber has asked the Energy Pricing Committee to reduce the price of gas to less than $ 4 per million thermal units.

A study by the committee for re-pricing energy revealed that gas prices for factories in many countries varied between $ 3.2 to $ 3.6 per million thermal units.

In the Gulf states, for example, gas prices to factories reach $1.2 per million thermal units. It is a must to reconsider pricing energy to reach a fair price of natural gas and electricity. 

As we said, the productivity of factories in Egypt outweighs domestic demand. The solution to the continued productivity of these factories is to penetrate foreign markets and open export channels. This will be done only by reducing the production cost and the first step is to reduce energy pricing is to create a competitive advantage for the Egyptian product in foreign markets.


Why have iron prices soared recently after falling and does it affect property prices? 

The reason for the recent rise in iron prices is the rise in the prices of international billet and scrap materials, which exceeded $500 per tonne. It started the trade war between the US and China which negatively affects raw materials prices worldwide, but the iron percentage does not exceed 6% of the unit’s price cost. There is no justification for the high prices of housing units in this exaggerated manner.


Why can’t we compete abroad in exporting iron? 

Three specific factors increase the cost of producing iron and other materials, including fuel, energy, and the cumulative interests of banks. We talked about fuel prices and their rise. The cost to deliver electricity ranges between 90 piasters to 95 piasters for a factory, however, it is charged for 120-130 piasters. Negotiations continue to reduce the electricity delivery price to the factories. 

Financing expenses represent a crisis. The outside world has zero interest rates or half a percent. Here, they range from $15 to $17. This is a huge dilemma. 

Therefore, we suggested that the interests on raw materials of the factories be 5% like small industries.


 What are the reasons for the decline in aluminium prices, and why does it change so much? 

The decline in aluminium prices is due to the decline in the price of the metal globally. The aluminium price is determined every month through the global stock and adds to it the Internal expenses, so it is affected by the global stock prices.


And global metal prices fell between $ 100 and $ 150 per tonne, which affects the prices of domestic product.

The prices of the imported product are less expensive than the local product. Factories tend to reduce the local price and make it similar to the imported price to make people buy the local instead of the imported product.

Regarding quarries, how can they be exploited? 

We have a lot of quarry materials, which are additives in certain manufacturing processes. For example, in terms of sand, we have enough reserves for 500 years, so why can’t we export it? Is it because it is a mineral? That is wrong and nobody does that.



Do licenses and procedures impede quarry utilisation? 

The most prominent obstacles that impede the work of the Mineral Resources Authority and how to benefit economically from the wealth of mines and quarries are the applied problems and specific procedures and the executive regulations of the law. Most of the obstacles are procedural processes regarding how to organise work on quarries or transfer its dependence onto the geological survey that measures mineral wealth in Egypt. These are the same reasons that appeared with the Industrial Development Authority in the implementation of Law 15 of 2017 on facilitating the procedures for granting licenses for industrial establishments and its executive regulations.

What are the main obstacles you see in the new law? 

The method of implementing the law governs the extent of its success. One of the most prominent problems after the adoption of the law amendments, is that there is a large number of bodies that will have the right to collect royalties, as the law specified several bodies to receive them, which may cause the owners of the mines or quarries to close the mines and leave the sector.


Are these royalties high? 

The declared rate of royalties from ranges from 5-20% and this will be a huge dilemma and an exaggeration. When drafting the law, these ratios should be set gradually. The application of royalties should be gradual, but leaving things in their current situation will complicate matters. Each party will require 20% royalties, which means at least 80 or 70% royalties, and here we return to the basic point, the application of the law in reality. Localities require royalties, roads require royalties, and urban communities require royalties. A quarry owner wants one body to deal with, even if the royalties are 70%. Otherwise, quarry owners will leave the sector for good.



Did the investment incentive laws affect the situation? 

Despite the efforts of the state and the ministry, the numbers of direct investment are declining due to the routine and the old vision. Any comparison with the figures would show this. 



What about cement factories and demanding state intervention? 

The cement industry faces many barriers. It is assumed that we have a competitive advantage which is energy. However, high energy prices and dependence on coal raise the cost price hinder competition, and the state will not intervene. The state is no longer allowed to be involved in market prices.


Regarding the FEI, how will you deal with the amendments to the new elections law? 

Amending the law abolished the representation of the people, and divided the board of directors into three sectors, large, medium and small, unlike the representation of each division by a member as before.

Why didn’t you submit those remarks? 

Our opinion was not asked for, rather, we were surprised to see the law approved by the House of Representatives and we were asked to amend the executive regulations of the new law. The second problem is that there is more than one classification of the size of industries according to several bodies.


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US EXIM Bank likely to triple future funds to Egypt reaching $6bn Mon, 02 Dec 2019 16:35:26 +0000 Aviation, agriculture, ICT, infrastructure, agribusiness, women are the main focus of future cooperation, says member board

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The Export–Import Bank of the United States (US EXIM Bank) is expected to triple its pipeline projects in Egypt to reach $6bn in the next years.

Judith Pryor, member of the board of US EXIM Bank, said that the current commitment of the bank for future cooperation is $2bn.

“EXIM Bank has financed projects in Egypt with $5bn over the past 10 years. We are interested in supporting several economic sectors in Egypt including aviation, agriculture, information and communication technology (ICT), as well as infrastructure, agribusiness, and women in businesses,” Pryor added.

DNE interviewed Pryor on the side-lines of her recent visit to Egypt to participate at the US-Egypt Future Prosperity Forum hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham) on 18 November.

What is the reason behind your visit to Egypt?

I paid Egypt a five-day visit where I discussed with Egyptian partners on how to support the Egyptian economy. Working together with the US EXIM Bank, you can get fair value, transparency and quality of the American products. In addition, all our projects are implemented in line with the high environmental standards. The mission of the US EXIM is to support the US exports. Our projects create jobs not only for the American businesses, but also for Egyptians here on the ground.

Given that the population in Egypt is increasing rapidly, creating jobs is crucial for society and the economy. We hope to simulate job growth both here in Egypt and in the US. One of our important targets is to support women and help them create their own businesses.

Tell us more about the meetings you held.

I met with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly to continue our discussions that began on October 2019 during Madbouly’s visit to Washington DC on the side-lines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual meetings where we jointly committed to move forward and work more closely together.

During my visit, I also met with different ministers to reinforce our commitment to help the Egyptian economy perform better, including Egypt’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek Al-Molla, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr, Minister of Finance Mohamed Moeit, and Minister of Trade and Industry Amr Nassar. In addition, I met with several US business community leaders to know more about their plans and how we can assist them to implement their future projects in Egypt.

Can you please elaborate on your future plans in Egypt?

We currently have about $2bn as pipeline projects. I expect that this amount of funds will be doubled or tripled in the coming years. EXIM Bank was non-operational in Egypt for the past five years. Hence, I consider what we’ve done as an achievement seeing that we financed the market with $5bn over the past 10 years from 2009 to 2019 where five of those years we were unable to finance projects over $10m.

We don’t have a country limitation and we don’t have a project limitation to finance.

What are the economic sectors you are interested in?

We are interested in aviation, agriculture, information and communication technology (ICT), infrastructure, and agribusiness. We also plan to provide finance to the state owned enterprises (SOE) and the private sector.

Do you plan to inaugurate an office in Egypt?

As much as we’d love to do that, we actually don’t have any offices outside of Washington DC. We always closely cooperate with our embassies’ commerce departments’ staff. We have commercial service officers and economic officers.  We’re working as a whole government when working with businesses.

Additionally, Prosper Africa initiative which was designed to increase two way trade and investment between the US and African countries including Egypt, has certain elements to enable us to more easily transact business here in Egypt through specific teams that will be based at the US embassy in Cairo.

Our embassy in Egypt is one of our largest embassies that we have and includes one of the largest commercial services team in any country in the world.

Prosper Africa is a US government initiative that unlocks opportunities to do business in Africa, benefiting companies, investors, and workers both in Africa and the US. The Goal of the initiative is to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the US and Africa.

Do you have any recommendation to the Egyptian government to encourage you to invest more in the local market?

I think Egypt and the US have everything that can make US businesses grow and expand.

Can you please shed light on the historical relations between Egypt and EXIM Bank?

The US and Egypt enjoy a long relationship and we look forward to continue on that relationship. Beyond this, 2019 marks the 40 year celebration of the US-Egypt Business Council’s establishment and that’s why I visited Egypt.

The first transaction of the bank here in Egypt was in 1947 with a $6m fertiliser project and since then, we’ve established, in the past 10 years,  $5bn worth of projects here in Egypt. We look forward to growing this relationship.

US EXIM Bank is an independent federal agency that promotes and supports American jobs by providing competitive and necessary export credit to overseas purchasers of US goods and services, according to its website.

A robust EXIM Bank can level the global playing field for US exporters when they compete against foreign companies that receive support from their governments. EXIM Bank also contributes to US economic growth by helping to create and sustain hundreds of thousands of jobs in exporting businesses and their supply chains across the US.

In recent years, 90% of the total number of the agency’s authorisations has directly supported small businesses.

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EIB invests €9.2bn in more than 100 projects in Egypt Fri, 29 Nov 2019 13:11:38 +0000 A total of 27 contracts were signed for a total value €4bn from 2015 to 2019, with average amount per year was hence €800m, says Scannapieco

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In the context of the Africa Investment Forum held earlier this week, Daily news Egypt interviewed the Vice-President of European Investment Bank (EIB), Dario Scannapieco, to speak about the 40-year experience of the bank in Egypt and explore the future of the EIB’s operations in Egypt.


Recently, the EIB celebrated 40 years of operation in Egypt, how would you evaluate your presence in the country?


We have been offering long-term finances available to support more than 100 sustainable projects in both the public and private sectors over the last 40 years.

This longstanding relationship has always been for a good cause: to improve people’s lives and the quality of public services, and to create jobs by supporting small and medium enterprises, and the general business environment in Egypt.

During the four decades, the EIB has contributed to achieve Egypt’s development goals and objectives by assisting the government to meet the country’s investment needs. Those needs may be articulated around three themes: improving the socio-economic infrastructure (including investments in water and sanitation; energy supply, transmission, and distribution; public transport systems); supporting private sector development; and contributing to climate mitigation and adaptation. Two further horizontal objectives are considered in all EIB operations: supporting new job opportunities and promoting regional integration, for example by providing support for Egyptian businesses to expand further in European markets. Through these axes, the government can seek to meet its objective of accelerating investments and promoting a diverse economy, with growth driven by many sectors.

What were the first projects that you financed?

At the end of 1979, the EIB signed three financing agreements with the government of Egypt in the context of Protocol No.1 to the cooperation agreement between the European Economic Community and Egypt.

The first financing agreement aimed to support the first phase of the Suez Canal development to allow tankers drawing 53 feet to transit the waterway. The project involved dredging in order to deepen and widen the canal, the related civil engineering works and the procurement of floating and land equipment, all of which were necessary for the operation of the canal in its new form.

The second agreement aimed to support the construction of the first stage of a 900 MW power station at Shoubrah El Kheima. It involved the manufacture, supply and construction of a thermal power station with two 300 MW units and the manufacture, supply and construction of a 4 km loop of three double-circuit 220 kV transmission lines connecting the full 900MW Shoubrah El Kheima capacity to the Cairo section of the 220 kV main grid.

The third agreement signed with the Industrial Development Bank provided financing for small and medium-sized industrial and tourist projects.


What is the size of your portfolio in Egypt?

Our total investments in Egypt reached €9.2bn, including more than 100 projects. Egypt benefits from the largest lending volumes of the EIB in the Southern Neighbourhood Region (27% of total in recent years). From 2015 to 2019, a total of 27 contracts were signed for a total value €4bn. The average amount per year was hence €800m, while the average amount per contract was EUR 150m. In terms of sectoral split, 11 public sector loans were signed (47%), 11 loans for SMEs (52%), and 5 equity-based operations (1%).

Do you have an estimate of EIB’s investments for 2019?

This year, our total financing is expected to be more than €1bn to support priority public infrastructure projects (for example the Cairo Metro Line 1 Upgrading, the Alexandria West Wastewater Treatment Plant) and small and medium enterprises (for example loans given to National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, and MSMEDA to support SMEs and Midcaps).

We also provide advisory services using grant money of the EU or ERI Fund to make our projects get off the ground and to crowd-in others financing institutions and ultimately to increase their impact. We are about to sign two grant agreements with the Ministry of Transport. The first grant will support an environmental study for the upgrading of the Tanta Mansoura Damietta Railway line managed by the Egyptian National Railway (ENR), which is expected to be financed by EIB in 2020.  The second grant will finance feasibility study for the upgrade of Cairo Metro line 2 managed by NAT, another potential EIB loan for 2020.

In addition, the EIB manages investment grants funded by the EU under the Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF). In 2019, we made a first disbursement under a grant called “Community Development Programme” managed by MSMEDA, which will finance investments in community infrastructure in order to improve living standards for disadvantaged segments of populations living in and around urban centres in several governorates in Egypt. Projects to be funded from the grant are expected to include the new provision or enhancement of community facilities, including schools, health clinics, and community centres. They may also comprise access infrastructure, such as potable water, wastewater, solid waste, and minor roads for businesses or residential units. By the end of 2020, the EIB also expects to sign the investment grant for the Kitchener Drain project, a major wastewater treatment and depollution programme. 

Will you provide finance at the same levels in 2020?

For 2020, the EIB expects to significantly increase its lending volume. We are following a long pipeline of public sector investments projects in the areas of public transport, energy efficiency, water, and wastewater. In addition, the EIB will continue its strong support to the private sector, by lending to SMEs, possibly using innovative instruments like portfolio guarantees. Finally, we hope to be able to increase our direct lending to the private corporate sector. Overall, we expect to lend more than €1bn.

It is important to point out that besides the volume, EIB focuses on the quality of the projects it supports. In order to be financed by the bank. The projects need to follow high standards in terms of environmental and social aspects and procurement to ensure the best unit costs. These standards are key to ensure that the EIB supports quality infrastructure, that is not only financially, but also economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

This approach allows promoters working with the EIB to attract the financing also of other financing institutions and to leverage EIB and EU funds. By its statute, the EIB can typically finance only up to 50% of the project cost and hence cooperates with numerous other financing institutions.    

What are the top-priority sectors to receive your funding?

The EIB mandate includes many different areas of intervention. Infrastructure development in the public transport, urban, energy and environmental sectors (e.g. railways; metros; trams; energy transmission and distribution; and water and wastewater projects) is the traditional one, as the EIB has a strong technical and financial expertise cumulated over the years. Most recently the EIB has contributed to a number of key projects in the country, including the Cairo metro lines and wastewater treatment projects in El Fayoum, Kafr El Sheikh, and Kitchener Drain. Renewable energy and energy efficiency are also key areas for the EIB in Egypt, and the EIB is looking for opportunities to support green energy and energy efficiency projects. Also, the EIB remains committed to support firms’ access to finance (SMEs, Midcaps, or large corporates), via its own support and via possible delivery of technical assistance.

Finally, in the future EIB is interested in supporting the health and education sectors in Egypt. The Bank has a strong expertise in these sectors worldwide (with average annual lending volumes of around €2bn in education and €1.5bn in health) and also some experiences in the Southern Neighbourhood region (mainly in Tunisia and Morocco), which it would like to apply to Egypt.


How does the EIB help promoting Egypt’s private sector?


Private sector development is a key priority to the Bank as it can create more jobs and contribute significantly to economic growth. We have been supporting private sector in Egypt using three financial instruments. The first is extending credit lines through the Bank’s partners in the region to channel the finance to SMEs and Midcaps. This year we will approve a €500m credit line to Banque Misr to support Small and Medium Enterprises in Egypt. This agreement will bring overall EIB support to SMEs in Egypt to €3.1bn.

The second instrument is investing in equity to support SMEs and entrepreneurship. Our portfolio in the MED region is €420m (of which 16% is Egypt specific and 46% is regional with some Egypt exposure).

The third instrument is direct corporate finance for large enterprises and project finance schemes. The bank provided €240m of finance to many enterprises in the Southern Neighbourhood region and is looking at expanding its direct lending to corporate clients also in Egypt.


The Africa Investment Forum was organised in the New Capital. Will you finance the Monorail project that connects the New Capital with Cairo?  

The EIB is appraising this important project for the Cairo region together with other international financiers, but the due diligence process is still ongoing and we will have a better visibility on the possible Bank’s involvement in the coming months.

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Cement crisis: Egypt stocked up with enough reserves for 20 years Mon, 25 Nov 2019 17:26:47 +0000 Cement workers in Egypt complained a lot about the industry situation and are waiting for real solutions, says Medhat Stefanos

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Egypt has huge reserves of cement enough for 20 years. This situation puts the industry in a difficult situation due to the increasing cost of manufacturing and the low demand for cement locally.

To find out the latest developments of the cement crisis which threatens possible shutdown of some factories, Daily News Egypt talked to Medhat Stefanos, head of the cement division in the Chamber of Building Materials in the Federation of Egyptian Industries, and the vice chairperson of the Egyptian-Greek Business Council.

What measures would the state adopt to protect the local cement industry?

The main role of the government is to identify the problem and its reasons. It should take the measures that it deems in the interest of the industry and would protect it. It is necessary to create competitiveness and determine fair prices that guarantee the rights of both the manufacturer and the consumer, which would positively affect the national economy.

Are not the lower prices a reflection of healthy market?

Lower prices do not necessarily reflect the health or fair market situation. In fact, it is the other way around. There are certain elements in the manufacture process, such as the investment cost, to be taken into consideration, alongside the value-added which results from any economic activity. I believe the solution to the cement crisis is in the hands of the government, and we are waiting for it.

Did reducing natural gas prices ease the crisis?

The decision to cut natural gas prices has had no impact on cement companies because they do not currently rely on gas for production, but rather on energy mix containing coal and alternative fuels.

Are there any signs of increasing demand for cement, especially with lower inflation?

There is not any sign of possible increase in demand over the coming period. Lower inflation is only one element in the process, and it would not affect sales. The cement supply is huge and cannot be fully consumed before 20 years from now. I expect the sales of the sector to reach 47m tonnes by the end of 2019, if the consumption rate continues that way.

Why didn’t you propose solutions to solve the crisis of cement and the bankruptcy of some companies as the cement division knows the ins and outs of the industry?

The situation of the industry does not enable us to suggest solutions for the problems the industry is suffering. We have explained the issue to the concerned bodies and we are awaiting a solution. However, we are willing to cooperate with any entity that asks for our help to solve the cement issue.

Which is better: large companies’ acquisition of smaller ones or the temporary suspension of production?

This is up to the owners of small, large, or even medium-sized cement companies, whether owned by Egyptian or foreign investors or state-owned national companies, and no one can make a decision on behalf of another body. In fact, the existence of certain companies will contribute to improving the market situation and increase the profit margins of companies, many of which are experiencing significant losses in the current period.

Did the export subsidy programme approved by the cabinet several months ago have a positive impact on the sector?

Unfortunately, the export subsidy programme did not have any impact on the sector for several reasons, the most important of which is that it is a traditional and long-term solution, and its impact is limited. We need a stimulus programme, not a subsidy. It does not make sense to subsidise products that have been exported for three years. The loss has already happened, and subsidisation will do nothing. We need programmes to stimulate exports instead.

In my opinion, the industry needs an in-depth and detailed insight from the state to achieve the required growth and get the most of the Egyptian industry’s potential.   

As the vice chairperson of the Egyptian-Greek Business Council, what is the size of Greek investments in Egypt?

The value of Greek investments in Egypt is nearly $1bn. We must realise that foreign investment is inseparable from its domestic counterpart, which serves as a model for attracting foreign funds. It is necessary to encourage the local investor first and work to support him and help him attract foreign investors.

Can this figure increase and how?

In order for the Egyptian economy to attract more foreign investors, we must first understand what we really want. When an investor enters the market, he wants to put his money in a suitable opportunity. Therefore, it is necessary to have an analysis of the Egyptian work environment, an investment map that shows the areas that need local and foreign investments, and clear conditions and facilities provided to investors. Accordingly, we should create a dialogue between the two parties.

What are the most important areas of Greek investments in Egypt?

There are many different fields, the most important of which are small and medium-sized industries. A small-sized country like Greece sees the Egyptian market as a huge and diverse market. We must have a local investor who is looking for partnership with his foreign counterpart and exchange their knowledge and experience. Also, investors in Egypt need bank facilities and laws that guarantee their rights because work management is not solely about injecting funds.

What products can we add to the export list from Egypt to Greece?

Certainly, any Egyptian product that lives up to the quality to be acceptable not only in Greece but also in Europe. Greece is a gateway to the markets of Europe and specifically the Balkans and Eastern Europe. This needs intensifying the activity of producers and encouraging the state to export so that Egyptian products can compete with their European counterparts. I believe that we are able to compete and have a long history of competing in Egypt. The Egyptian product has a good reputation abroad.

Regarding cooperation in the field of gas in the Mediterranean between Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus, what impact would that have on the trade exchange between the three countries?

The Egyptian state is now moving towards being an energy hub for the entire region thanks to its cumulative expertise. There are investments in the clean energy sector, good international relations with neighbouring countries, and natural gas cooperation in the Mediterranean. Cooperation in these fields is certainly better than competition, which would leave a positive impact on the trade exchange between the three countries.

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Green municipalities, renewable energy, IPOs, PPPs to lead EBRD’s work in Egypt: Chakrabarti Mon, 25 Nov 2019 15:41:41 +0000 EBRD to have four offices in Egypt by 2020, says bank’s president

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will focus on several pillars over its strategy (2017-2020) in Egypt, mainly green municipalities, energy efficiency, renewable energy, supporting equity, initial public offerings programme (IPOs), and the public private partnerships (PPPs), said President of EBRD Suma Chakrabarti.

“We have very strong experience in the private sector. EBRD will continue to invest more in Egypt’s private sector as that’s what makes us different and it’s our focus,” Chakrabarti mentioned, adding that about 29% of the bank’s projects in Egypt are for the public sector while the other 71% are for the private sector.

Daily News Egypt sat down with Chakrabarti during his recent visit to Egypt to participate in the Africa Investment Forum held at the New Administrative Capital on 22-23 November to know more about the bank’s strategic cooperation with Egypt and Africa, in addition to shedding the light on the banks’ future plans.

Can you please elaborate on your visit to Egypt?

This visit has been very much focused on participating in the 2019 Africa Investment Forum, meeting with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly. We had a very good discussion as we discussed the economic situation in Egypt.

I am very happy with the way the economy in Egypt is progressing as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme has been very good for Egypt. It made investors more confident in the country while tourism revenues hiked.

Egypt witnesses a real recovery of tourism which is good news. We are able to invest more in Egypt now because policy context has been improving very well.

Over my meetings in Egypt, I also touched on EBRD’s future pipeline. As long as Egypt continues its reforms, we will have more investments in the market. I hope the bank can invest in the green economy and green cities because this is very important for Egypt as the country is moving toward sustainable green municipalities.

What about your plans to open new offices in Egypt?

We have two offices in Cairo and Alexandria. We will open a new office in Ismailia by the end of this year, and another one in Assiut next year. We will have four offices in Egypt by 2020.

EBRD’s new offices aim at reaching the small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Alexandria office has been very successful in reaching the SMEs in the Nile Delta region, and I hope the new ones will be similarly successful. We won’t only focus on offering big loans, but also provides advices, credit lines, and help SMEs grow.

Many Egyptians are entering the labour market every year, so SMEs are one of the ways to create jobs for youth.

Will Egypt repeat its last year achievement as first country of EBRDs operations?

The newly signed €340m agreements in the Africa Investment Forum 2019, are taking Egypt very much closer to more than €1bn, which was achieved last year and made it as our first country of operations compared to other countries.

Egypt’s opportunity to continue on the lead is high, yet it still competes with Turkey and Ukraine. We still have five weeks left in the year.

I signed some agreements with Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, one of the agreements aims at supporting the modernisation of Egypt’s oil industry with a $50m loan to upgrade the oil refinery owned by Suez Oil Processing Company (SOPC).

The funds will be invested in improvement of the refinery’s operational efficiency and will enable the SOPC to produce cleaner fuel. The measures will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 289,000 tonnes, contributing to a better air quality in Egypt. This loan follows a $200m loan by the EBRD signed in May 2018.

In recent years, Egypt has struggled to balance the country’s production, consumption and export of both oil and gas. The bank’s support to SOPC will help realign the supply and demand of higher value-added oil products and reduce the need for imports.

The EBRD is one of the first international financial institutions involved in the reform of the Egyptian oil and gas sector and has been supporting the country’s attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

The bank is also supporting Egypt with the implementation of international best practices and standards, helping to increase the competitiveness of the sector and contributing to the country’s energy security.

I also signed an agreement with Nasr to strengthen Egypt’s electricity grid with €182m loan in addition to another agreement with Banque Misr on Saturday.

Will you invest in Africa’s southern countries soon?

During our meeting with the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Saturday, we discussed the situation of the Egyptian economy, the EBRD’s current operations in Egypt with $6bn investments in 102 projects since 2012, and the future of the EBRD in Africa.

The Egyptian president called on the EBRD to invest in Africa’s southern countries. We are studying this proposal and the shareholders will decide on the issue during their meeting in May 2020.

Does the EBRD has any facility credit line for promoting industrialisation in Egypt and Africa?

Actually, we don’t have because we only operate in North Africa. If the EBRD does go to the Sub-Saharan Africa, and then we will have to develop ways to open Egyptian companies and state-owned enterprises that are going to invest in the southern countries of the continent.

How does the EBRD help Egypt to secure its water needs through desalination projects?

The EBRD is paying big attention to the water projects through offering the needed finance, yet we usually implement desalination projects through municipalities not separately.


I knew from some sources that the EBRD’s negotiations to implement New Administrative Capital’s monorail project, is it true?


No, but we’re in talks over the project. I am very proud of this project as it is an inclusive one and will offer safe transportation for women. Every project in the world has ups and downs. May be there were some issues but overall the progress is going well.

What about the main pillars of EBRD’s strategy in Egypt?

Given the size of the Egyptian economy and the development gaps still need to be filled, the EBRD will continue to expand its presence in Egypt and boost its funds in infrastructure projects.

Our strategy for the next five years will focus on municipalities, energy efficiency, renewable energy, supporting equity, IPOs, and PPPs, as the EBRD has very strong experience in the privatisation area.

The EBRD will invest more in Egypt’s private sector as it makes us different and it’s our focus. About 29% of our projects in Egypt are for the public sector while the other 71% are for the private sector.

Why do you see it’s important to increase your activities in equity and IPOs?

Equity is very important in turning a company that is successful locally only to a company that can be a regional champion and even international. For that, a company needs to adopt the best management methods. When the EBRD has an equity in a company, it’s a sign that the bank is much involved in the strategic direction of the company by improving its governance and management practices, thus having bigger impact than just giving loans. We have done this in Turkey and Poland before.

Egyptian companies are still facing some challenges to have IPOs or PPPs, how would the EBRD help them?

We always take equity stake of the company before IPO or privatisation to give a chance to the strategic investors to also take a share of the company, and then we work with the company to improve its performance to get ready for IPO. That’s our approach.

Can you please elaborate on EBRD’s financial support to Egyptian banks?

We provide credit lines for Egyptian banks to support SMEs and other areas like female entrepreneurs and energy efficiency. The EBRD will announce new support for the Egyptian banks in due course.

The post Green municipalities, renewable energy, IPOs, PPPs to lead EBRD’s work in Egypt: Chakrabarti appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

EHA to add 8,000 hotel rooms across Egypt early 2020 with $800m investments Sun, 24 Nov 2019 17:38:33 +0000 30% hike in the winter season’s reservations compared last year’s winter season, according to the EHA’s chairperson

The post EHA to add 8,000 hotel rooms across Egypt early 2020 with $800m investments appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Egypt’s tourism industry is currently witnessing a lot of achievements and challenges. Its most notable achievement is its revenue hike by 28.2% during last the Fiscal Year (FY), recording $12.6bn, compared to only $9.8bn in FY 2017-2018, according to the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) balance of payment.

In addition, the UK lifted its ban on Sharm El Sheikh late October after nearly a four-year suspension of flights to Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh. The sector also updated its hospitality criteria for Egyptian hotels that has not been updated since 2006 and adopted the Egypt Tourism Reform Program (ETRP) that all the world praise. All that lead international institutions to acknowledge the improvements witnessed in Egypt’s security infrastructure.

On the other hand, Egypt’s tourism sector has some concerns about the British tourism movement in Egypt due to the collapse of travel agency Thomas Cook. Besides, investors have concerns over the customs draft law, the fees imposed on the hotels, the hotels debt to the electricity, water, insurance, and the current investment law.

In light of all these challenges and achievements, Daily News Egypt interviewed, Chairperson of the Egyptian Hotel Association (EHA) Maged Fawzy.

Could we figure out Egypt’s current hotel room capacity? Are there any expansion plans in that regard?

Egypt’s current capacity is 205,000 rooms, and we are targeting to add another 8,000 by the beginning of 2020.

I want to mention that Egypt has about 100,000 rooms under construction, but only 8,000 will be completed and added by the beginning of 2020.

What is the investment value of these new rooms and in what areas will it be opened?

The investment value of these rooms is worth $800m and will be opened in Marsa Allam, Cairo, and Hurghada.

In your opinion, what are the destinations that are in need of larger hotel rooms capacity?

I think Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan need more hotels.

It’s known that EL-Alamein and Ain Sokhna depend more on domestic tourism, what is your plan to promote these places for international tourism?

We receive foreign tourists in El-Alamein in the summer season, but the state is cooperating with the private sector to operate hotels throughout the year, not only in the seasons, nut also through improving the infrastructure and implementing new airports.

Are there areas in Egypt that are suffering from lack of tourists?

Yes, I think Taba and Nuweiba due to the decrease in Russian and British travel, in addition to the events in North Sinai. Now, after the British government removed the ban, and as North Sinai is now more stable and safer, I think tourists will return again to Taba and Nuweiba gradually.

Tell us more about the EHA’s policy to limit hotels’ decline in prices for competitive advantage (burn in prices), does it plan to set a minimum price level? Or will it set an indicative price policy?

We adopted a policy to raise the minimum level of hotel prices, which is not a mandatory pricing policy, but it aims to raise the efficiency of the tourism product. This is through updating the hospitality criteria for Egyptian hotels, the application of high rates of hygiene and occupational safety, in addition to continuous inspection of hotels in order to abide or comply with the procedures.

The continuous inspection will cost the hotel which will be reflected in the higher quality the hotel provides as well as higher prices to compensate the expenses.

Moreover, Egyptian hotels will compete in global markets based on their international classification as we complete the new Egyptian hospitality criteria in coordination with the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and includes environmental, health, and hygiene standards.

Concerning the question of returning back to imposing indicative prices, I think that the experience has proven useless. Implementing the new hospitality criteria, in addition to applying the environmental, health, and hygiene standards will improve services and the touristic product, which will subsequently lead to the increase in prices

How do you control or monitor the hotel’s quality with regards to health, hygiene, and food safety?

The hotel inspection and control sector affiliated to the Ministry of Tourism always sends committees to conduct tours in hotels to ensure occupational safety and health. The latest tour was days ago in Sharm El Sheikh, and the report was good.

Moreover, the EHA has already contracted with Praversk Company to review the hygiene and food safety standards for 103 hotels in Hurghada and El Gouna in October 2018.

The EHA also contracted the Praversk Company to review the health standards for 105 floating hotels operating between Luxor and Aswan. Completing this project, the EHA will contract the company again.

Having said that, the committee or the inspection of the hotels is for consultation, and not for setting penalties against hotels.

What exactly is the inspection committee’s role?

The committee writes its report, sending it to the hotel, then the hotel replies, setting a timetable and deadline for itself to address the problems that were mentioned in

the committee’s report.

Then, after the deadline, the committee visits the hotel again. If the hotel has not met the deadline for solving its problems, it might lose a ranking star. However, if the unresolved problem represents an imminent threat to the life and safety of tourists in the hotel, it may get closed.

On the contrary, if the hotel commits and makes all the required points, the committee awards it with a certificate.

After Thomas Cook’s collapse, a lot of people were having concerns about its partnership with a large number of hotels in Egypt. Was it a partner of a large number of Egyptian Hotels?

Thomas Cook exited all Egyptian hotels three years before it went bankrupt.

Do you think that Thomas Cook’s crisis will force hotels that were heavily dependent on them to decrease their prices for competitive advantage (burn their prices)?

No, I don`t think so. Thomas Cook was working on two major markets, the German and British.

The Germans used to visit the Red Sea, while the British used to visit both the Red Sea and Sharm El Sheikh. With lifting the British flight ban to Sharm El Sheikh, British Tourism will return to South Sinai as a lot of companies are competing to acquire Thomas Cook’s share due to the great demand from the tourists themselves to travel to Egypt. Thus, there will be no gap to force the hotels to burn the prices.

Regarding the new customs draft law, is there any update?

The law controls the customs. It is being reviewed in Parliament and we are attending the discussion sessions. We are waiting for the law to come out.

Notably, the EHA submitted a memorandum containing a proposal to amend the customs law to the Egyptian Tourism Federation (ETF), demanding amendments related to the hotel system.

Meanwhile, the ETF sent a memorandum to the budget committee of the Egyptian parliament on the customs draft law.

Could we know more details about the memorandum that the ETF has finalised for the fees imposed on hotels?

The ETF has finalised a memorandum on the fees imposed on hotels, which are considered exaggerated by about 21 bodies. They are also seen as a burden on investors who demanded the need for a law on the lisenses of tourist establishments like industrial facilities to pump more investments.

The ETF sent the memorandum to the Minister of Tourism and the Prime Minister and we are currently waiting for their response. I want to ensure that the government supports the sector and will not hesitate to implement the investor demands.

Are there any agreements to schedule hotels’ debts for electricity, insurance, and water?

Yes, we have reached an agreement for the scheduling of the hotels’ debts for electricity, insurance, and water for four years since 2018. The owners of the establishments pay the instalments in addition to monthly obligations.

Many hotels closed during the tourism crisis in Egypt, will they reopen again this year, especially after the return to normal rates of the tourism?

This is not a phenomenon; these hotels were closed due to the tourism recession. With the return and restoration of tourist traffic back to Egypt, hotels reopened.
As evidence, over 20 hotels are going to reopen again this year, and most of them are in South Sinai.

How many hotels benefited up until now from the Central Bank of Egypt`s (CBE) initiative to finance hotels?

About 20 floating and fixed hotels in Luxor, Aswan, South Sinai, and the Red Sea have benefited from the CBE’s initiative, taking loans to replace and renovate their hotels. The EHA is assisting its members to facilitate the issuance of papers required to apply for loans.

What do you think about the participation of Egypt in the World Travel Market (WTM), especially after the return of British tourism to Egypt?

It really was one of the best exhibitions. For the first time, it appears in line with Egypt’s position in tourism, where the exhibition’s Egyptian pavilion witnessed a lot of global demand. Besides, we have not seen tour operators asking for flight incentives, due to the ministry’s commitment to pay them on time. Our new hospitality criteria was highly praised.

The pavilion witnessed a great demand from the world media to meet Egypt`s Minister of Tourism, covering the high demand on the Egyptian pavilion. Many countries came and asked us about our experience in the ETRP and in the hospitality criteria to benefit from our experience.

What about reservations for this winter season?

There is a 30% hike in the winter season’s reservations, compared to last year’s winter season.

How many hotels in Egypt use online booking, and what’s the proportion of total online bookings in Egypt?

All hotels operate with the online booking system complying with intentional trends. However, it is difficult to determine how many bookings are made online.

Is the online booking cheaper than the contracting reservation?

The price of the room booked online varies according to the occupancy rate in the hotel. The online booking is always more expensive than the contracting booking methods.

Which countries prefer to book in Egypt online?

England tops the list, followed by European countries in general, and then Arab countries. Egyptians also prefer online booking.

Among the countries that began to prefer online booking was Italy due to its charter flights with Egypt.

I want to explain that the online booking of the hotels also relates to flight bookings. When booking hotels online, it opens another window to book the flights for customers.

What are the challenges that still face the tourism investment in Egypt?

The sector needs a new law as the current law has been implemented since 1973.
We need a unified lisensing law that addresses the problems of the sector, is attractive for investment, and is not hindering tourism growth

The new investment law did not refer to the tourism sector although the sector is labour-intensive, in remote areas, and affects the national income. It is considered a strategic industry, which accounts for 15% of the GDP.

Did the EHA communicate with the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation to discuss this issue?

Yes, investors met with the minister three months ago and demanded that the investment incentives should be applied to tourist investors. In response, the minister promised to study this matter.

The whole world is currently talking about sustainable tourism, how many hotels in Egypt have been operating with the solar power?

up until now, seven hotels have contracted to operate with solar energy companies across Egypt’s governorates.

Is the cost of operating with solar energy higher?

The initial cost is high, but the return on investments is guaranteed. I think within four or five years, the capital is restored to the investor.

Can you tell us more about the Green Star Programme?

It is an environmental certification programme for hotels interested in green tourism applications. The programme is designed to suit the nature of the climate in Egypt and its topography.

The criteria used for the programme was recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

The number of hotels that have been certified by the Green Star Programme are 79 hotels in 15 tourist cities, containing approximately 22,000 hotel rooms, equivalent to 10% of the total hotel capacity.

Seven hotels are expected to join before the end of 2019, bringing the total number of participating hotels to 86.

What is EHA’s long term strategy?

We will focus on developing the skills of hospitality employees by organising training sessions covering various areas to improve the level of service in Egypt’s hotel industry, in addition to improving hygiene through the new hospitality criteria.  

The EHA allocated EGP12m to train 12,000 workers annually in addition to 8,000 workers trained through the training programme funded by the EU, bringing in 20,000 trainees annually.

So far, seven hotels have contracted to operate with solar energy companies across Egypt governors.

Tourism investors met with Minister Nasr three months ago and demanded to apply the investment incentives to tourism investors, and she promised to study this matter.

The post EHA to add 8,000 hotel rooms across Egypt early 2020 with $800m investments appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

I aim to preserve the artistic sense of jewellery, whether made of fancy or simple materials: Basant Nashaat Mon, 18 Nov 2019 07:00:58 +0000 The jeweller has to be bold, and not be afraid of criticism, says the designer

The post I aim to preserve the artistic sense of jewellery, whether made of fancy or simple materials: Basant Nashaat appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

“I aim to maintain the artistic character of each jewellery piece I design, in terms of colours, shapes, and drawings, whether made of fancy or simple materials,” said the artist and jewellery designer Basant Nashaat.

Nashaat was graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Mural Painting Department in 2012. She worked as a lecturer at the Higher Institute of Applied Art, and recently founded her brand “Line & tile crafts”.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Nashaat to learn more about her art journey.

Why did you leave academia?

I quit the Higher Institute of Applied Arts after spending five years teaching graphic arts, during which I benefited and enriched my experience. However, I found that the academic job limits the abilities of the artist and designer, and it also wasted my time, especially since the academic work was not my aspiration. I have a project and I want to develop it. I seek to accomplish successive steps for my brand.

What is your project?

I founded a brand, called “Line & tile crafts”, through which I offer works of art, including mural painting and jewellery, and some of my works are on display for sale in private galleries.

Why did not you work in a jewellery company?

Certainly every place can add experience to us, but I did not like the idea of job itself, and companies deprive the designer from getting into his own experience, and prevent him from his moral right to put his name on his artworks. Besides, companies limit capabilities of designers, and turning them into employees influenced by market ideas.

Do you see the designer being affected by the market is a negative thing?

I did not mean that artists should not identify the needs of the markets, but he should not be driven by “the most selling design”. He should not be controlled by the policy of “sales volume”.

Designers everywhere are motivated to change the tastes of society, and put forward different styles, for example Azza Fahmy has a different experience from the market and she did not get affected by traditional designs, but maintained her style.

Do you follow the works of companies or other designers?

Certainly, but I do like only the works that resemble me, as most of jewellery now felt strange for me, in whether because of their design or inadequacy of wearing them for women.

I am always looking for “a story” to employ it in my work, or even in the jewellery I buy.

What do you mean by “story”?

I mean a narrative of heritage, daily life stories of people, or habits and cultures. I use them in making my artworks whether jewellery or mural paintings, and I express them in different styles and materials

What are the elements and forms you use to express the “story”?

I am interested in two things in my artwork in general; looking for the “story” as I said, and expressing it through “collage”, which is the mixing and integration of materials.

What materials do you use in your artworks?

I use different materials, such as copper, silver, mosaics, cloth, and scrap, to create artistic pieces of jewellery, applying different colours and drawings in each piece of jewellery. I always deal with each piece of jewellery as a painting or mural.

Has your study of fine arts affected your jewellery design?

Of course, I feel that I have a special style of jewellery, like anything that some accept and others reject, but I will always maintain the artistic sense of each jewellery piece I design, in terms of colours, shapes, and drawings, whether made of fancy or simple materials.

I want people to identify my works without signing it. The artistic character is like a signature, and “story and collage” are my tools for singing my works.

Who are the artists that influenced your jewellery design?

I was influenced by the works of Salvador Dali, Suzanne Belperron, Rene Lalique, and Paloma Picasso.

Locally, I love the works of Azza Fahmy and Zeinab Khalifa.

How did you move from mural to jewellery?

Thanks to the time I spent teaching at the Graphic Department at the Higher Institute of Applied Arts, the study of fine arts is different from the applied arts.

Fine arts is concerned with works of art and paintings, whereas applied arts is concerned with the use of art in making consumer products that interest the people, including jewellery.

I tried to imitate mural with its artistic character in designing jewellery, keeping the same style of “story and collage”. I went through many attempts, until I was able to achieve the usable model, according to the measurements and dimensions of jewellery pieces, taking into account safety of users.

I sought to transform the painting into a usable art product in daily life using a simple style.

Why do you use lots of mosaic in your paintings or jewellery pieces?

I love mosaics and its colours, and I adore the formations resulting from using it. I did not find it difficult to use it in jewellery, because of its various sizes and types.

Do you take into consideration the possible uses of each piece?

I pay great attention to measurements to ensure safety of users because I use materials that may harm a woman’s body or wearing when used. It should not have sharp protrusion or pointed edges so as not to scratch the clothes or the skin of users.

I also take into consideration the weight of jewellery, especially when using materials such as mosaic and tile, as heavy pieces may fall while wearing them.

Also wearing heavy weight earrings for long periods exposes the earlobe to being cut, and it widens the piercing of the ear. Also, long and heavy necklaces tire the neck.

Do Egyptian women still prefer to wear fancy jewellery?

A large segment of women are still holding on to jewellery made of precious metals, but the younger generation is looking for new styles, constant change, eye-catching, and cheap items.

What are the exhibitions that you have participated in, both mural and jewellery?

I have participated in several collective exhibitions at the Cairo Opera House and El Sawy Culture Wheel, including a collective exhibition called “Lamasat”, “plus 20” exhibition in Khan Maghrabi 2019, the Egyptian Forum for Heritage Ornaments 2017, the Festival of Ornaments Art in its third session 2016, and “Contemporary Jewellery Designers” at the Gezira Art Center in 2016. I also participated in Shagarat Al Dor Salon at Saad Zaghloul Cultural Center in 2016, and took part in “Tanawo’at” exhibition at the Gezira Art Center in 2015. In 2014, I participated in the “Spirit of Life” exhibition at Prince Taz Palace, and the Forum of Creativity for Women Arts at the 6th of October’s culture palace in 2014.

How did you deal with inflation and low purchasing power during the last period?

Alhough I use simple materials in the design of jewellery and murals, I was affected by the inflation. Most types of good mosaics are imported and their prices have been doubled, not to mention the high cost of silver, copper, and other materials.

What are your future plans?

I’m getting ready to produce a collection of jewellery with ideas inspired by Pharaonic heritage using materials from the environment, and I will integrate mosaics. I will focus on using the colours the Pharaohs used in the design of jewellery.

What was the most important thing you learned during your art journey?

Being aware of old and traditional styles and keeping up with new ones at the same time. Heritage is full of secrets and ideas that can be re-generated with innovation.

The academic period made me always keen to research and read, that was the fruit of that experience.

I try not to fall into the trap of the “comfort zone” because it is the beginning of failure for any person or artist.

Designers also need time to gain experience. They need to keep learning and going through experiences, as well as to be bold in their ideas.

I remember being afraid of criticism at the beginning of my career, but I then remembered that Pablo Picasso was hiding his “cubism” paintings at the beginning for fear of criticism.

The post I aim to preserve the artistic sense of jewellery, whether made of fancy or simple materials: Basant Nashaat appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Despite protests, Catalans oppose independence from Spain: Spanish ambassador in Egypt Tue, 12 Nov 2019 17:49:00 +0000 “The majority of Catalonia residents support the central government of Spain,” he asserted.

The post Despite protests, Catalans oppose independence from Spain: Spanish ambassador in Egypt  appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Catalonia’s drive for independence is back in the headlines after Spain’s Sunday election, bringing to mind the riots witnessed in the region following the 2017 Catalan independence referendum. It was the country’s biggest political crisis since stability was restored in 1975.

“Numerous media outlets are promoting that the Catalans seek separation from Spain, but this is not true,” the Spanish ambassador to Egypt, Ramón Gil Casares, told Daily News Egypt.

Catalonia is considered the most populous province in Spain, and the Spanish Constitution is fully respected in the region, he added. Like the rest of Spain, Catalonia enjoys autonomy under the supervision of the Spanish state, but the Catalan government violated the law and the Constitution more than two years ago when it called for an independence referendum. However, the region’s residents rejected it as it was illegal and unconstitutional, Casares said.

“The majority of Catalonia residents support the central government of Spain,” he asserted.

Casares added that throughout the history, Catalonia has never been independent and, like other regions, has been a part of Spain for more than five centuries.

“Catalonia is a rich region and has always had the highest gross domestic product (GDP) of 19.2% in the country. It also received the largest infrastructure investment between 1996 and 2015 in Spain,” he said.

On reasons behind the Catalonia problem, Casares said that in 2008, Spain suffered one of its worst economic crises with its GDP dropping to 7.9%. This situation has had significant political repercussions.

The impact of this crisis was greater in Catalonia, where its GDP declined by 10%, partly because of the collapse of Catalan local government policies. With this economic downturn, more autonomy calls appeared, rather than working on reducing public spending, Casares asserted.

“The aggravation of the economic crisis has made it impossible to meet that demand, and for this reason, the head of the territorial government began to promote a superficial narrative that Spain was behind the crisis and that independence was the only solution,” he explained.

“Since then, an independence campaign has begun there based on lies, half-truths, and false claims,” Casares said.

“They presented Catalonia, falsifying history, as a historical victim since the 1714 War. However, this war was not motivated by independence or separation, but by other European kingdoms’ desire to control the Spanish crown at the time,” he added.

Casares stressed that most of the Catalan society opposes independence from Spain, noting that those who call for separation represent less than half of Catalans, adding that they gained about 47% in recent regional elections, and barely 39% in the last election.

Where is Catalonia located?

This region is located in northeastern Spain. It borders France and Andorra to the north, and overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the east. It covers an area of 32,000 km, where more than 7.5 million people are based, representing approximately 16% of the total population of Spain, according to the 2018 census.

Catalonia’s secession calls from Spain has garnered considerable attention from all media after recent protests in October turned into a week-long violence and chaos, resulting in numerous injuries and arrests, in addition to financial losses of more than €2m.

Why Catalonia wants to secede from Spain?

The Catalans had their own flag, a national anthem for their region, and a special language, but the demands of its residents go beyond establishing “the independent state of Catalonia”.

The Catalan separatists believe that they are the original owners of an independent state seized by force by Spain in the 10th century. The leaders of the region stress that they have survived several economic crises because of Catalonia’s industrial capabilities, accounting for one-third of Spanish industrial production, which encourages the Catalan administration to claim independence from the Spanish government.

Why protests renewed in Catalonia?

In October, Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced nine out of a dozen separatist leaders in Catalonia to 13 years in jail for their role in the independence attempt from the country in 2017.

In response, protests broke out in the Catalan capital of Barcelona last month, and spread to other cities in the region, including Girona and Taganana. Violent clashes erupted between Spanish police and protesters.

Pro-independence Catalans formed a protest group advocating for Catalan independence, named Democratic Tsunami. They created a new mobile application to inform those wishing to demonstrate about the places of gathering and sit-ins, especially in the light of the outbreak of protests in different places in Barcelona. This app went viral on social media networks in September as a mobilisation campaign before the trial of the Catalonia independence leaders. It’s believed that the protest group aims to hold political negotiations with Spain’s central government over self-determination of Catalonia.

The post Despite protests, Catalans oppose independence from Spain: Spanish ambassador in Egypt  appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Egypt’s energy capabilities exceed its needs: Vice President of World Energy Council Tue, 12 Nov 2019 07:00:54 +0000 Our main objective is to provide energy for everyone at reasonable prices, says Elham Ibrahim

The post Egypt’s energy capabilities exceed its needs: Vice President of World Energy Council appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Elham Mahmoud Ibrahim on the occasion of re-electing her as vice president of the World Energy Council representing Africa, for the second time in a row. She was the first Egyptian to hold this position. She was elected first in 2016, and re-elected during the council’s 24th Executive Assembly Meeting held in September in Abu Dhabi.

Ibrahim received her PhD in electronics and communications from the Cairo University. She used to work in the New and Renewable Energy Authority and then became assistant professor in a Saudi university.

She was the first woman to serve as Deputy Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy in Egypt, and then became the first Egyptian to work as the African Union Commissioner for Energy and Infrastructure in 2008. She was also re-elected in 2012.

Can you brief us on the World Energy Council’s role and objectives?

Established in 1924, the World Energy Council is a non-governmental body authorised by the United Nations. It is based in London, United Kingdom. It brings together everyone who is interested in energy affairs in the world, and includes governments, independent energy producers, universities, and individuals concerned with energy.

The council’s administrative organisational structure consists of president, vice president, and a board representing all member countries.

The council provides an opportunity for members to discuss and study energy problems and develop solutions, strategies, and possible scenarios for the future of energy through regular meetings every three years, such as the one held in Abu Dhabi in September.

What are the activities the council is currently discussing?

The council is currently discussing several activities and studies related to the future of energy, including a plan to develop the sector until 2060, a study on the main issues that concern the world’s energy leaders according to the interests and priorities of each region, and a study on Energy Trilemma, defined as the triple challenge of providing secure, equitable, and affordable, environmentally sustainable energy. Energy Trilemma comes after the radical transformation in the field of energy.

Do we, as citizens, need to be well-informed about energy sustainability?

Given what we have reached at the moment and how import is the energy conservation, we can say that things are going well. Many people are starting to feel responsible, yet we still need more efforts to increase awareness about energy sustainability.

Is clean and renewable energy still a dream hard to reach because of its high cost?

Our country is rich in clean and renewable resources of energy. We have come a long way in this field and achieved remarkable success. We have clear plans, like a 22% contribution of renewable energy in 2022, increasing it to 45% by 2035. We are trying to catch up with countries that are ahead of us in the field.

Should we put an end to using coal for power generation, or are there measures that can reduce its environmental damage?

Coal is still a cheap resource of energy, but if there is an alternative, we should use it. Some countries, like South Africa, are rich in coal mines, so they rely heavily on coal for power generation, but modern technology must be used to reduce its emissions. Egypt has alternatives for coal, including natural gas, especially after the recent major discoveries, and the trend towards using it in thermal plants.

Can we offer the required safety rates in nuclear energy?

The transition to nuclear power as a source of energy production was great, characterised by its low price and high capacity. Applying safety measures in nuclear operating system requires only experienced cadres, given the needed special abilities and skills. I believe there is no reason to fear the use of nuclear energy as long as it is subject to strict and controlled monitoring systems.

Do we have enough nuclear power cadres or we still need foreign experts?

Egypt has two bodies affiliated to the Ministry of Electricity specialised in nuclear energy, namely the Nuclear Materials Authority and the Nuclear Power Plants Authority. Egypt has sufficient cadres in this field, whether in research, operation, and maintenance. Officials responsible for Dabaa power plant are sending Egyptian delegations for training and getting more experience and knowledge.

Are African energy resources still wasted?

Undoubtedly, there has been a clear change in the using natural resources in Africa, although exportation of raw materials is still ongoing, and the African Union is now following the process of adding some value to materials before exporting them to preserve the wealth of the continent and make the most of them.

The AU also calls for the establishment of regional joint projects to make countries help one another. Everyone is working collectively to achieve real development and utilise raw materials and natural resources without wasting, which is a major role that has always been played by the AU. Its effort can be seen clearly in Africa’s infrastructure development programme, through the establishment of regional power plants and road networks.

Is energy production’s responsibility for climate pollution “an illusion” as US President Donald Trump says?

Energy production undoubtedly causes a major part of thermal emissions, such as carbon dioxide and sulphur. However, the transport sector is the largest contributor to pollution, followed by the energy sector, both during production and use.

How useful can electrical interconnection between neighbouring countries be? What are the obstacles facing it?

There are electricity interconnection agreements between Egypt and several countries, including Cyprus, Greece, Lebanon, and Libya. There are also similar memorandums of understanding between Egypt and Jordan as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council. Electrical interconnection plays a major role in securing energy supply to countries in case of deficit or sudden shortage. This system can secure enough energy to connected countries during peak hours, which vary from country to another due to time difference, as well as in the case of excess production.

Agreements or memorandums of understanding in the field of electricity between states would strengthen relations between them.

What about the updated version of the Pan-Arab Renewable Energy Strategy?

Based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Arab countries established their own strategic plan in the field of energy, which is flexible according to the interests and needs of each region, as well as the challenges and variables of each era. The recent meeting of Arab foreign ministers in October in Cairo resulted in an agreement to update the Pan-Arab Renewable Energy Strategy and its role in achieving the objectives of the SDGs.

After the establishment of the Benban solar complex, does Egypt need more similar projects?

Given our capacity and needs for renewable energy, I can say that our current situation is good as our capabilities exceed our needs, especially after completing several energy projects, mainly the Benban solar complex which includes 32 plants with a total production capacity of 1,465MW, becoming the largest solar project in the world. These projects helped Egypt achieve a production surplus, making it an attractive country for investment in this field.

How do you see your re-election for this post in the World Energy Council, and assuming other major positions in Egypt?

I had the privilege of working as Deputy Minister of Electricity in Egypt, after this position was limited to men for decades. This was the result of hard work and great passion for knowledge and learning.

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EBRD ready to support Egypt’s plans for opening up SOEs, MOCs Mon, 11 Nov 2019 07:00:43 +0000 Bank aims at speeding up implementation of joint infrastructure projects in Egypt, says Rigterink

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is ready to technically support Egypt’s plans for selling shares of public sector companies and privatised military owned companies (MOCs) on the Egyptian Exchange (EGX), EBRD’s First Vice President Jurgen Rigterink stated.

Companies owned by the Egyptian military must be allowed to sell shares on the stock exchange alongside other state companies slated for privatisation, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi said on 31 October 2019.

The EBRD is well positioned to play a role in cooperating with the authorities and build on the President’s recent announcement, Rigterink said, adding, “we can help companies ready for the next step. We assess the announcement as positive.”

Daily News Egypt interviewed Rigterink last Wednesday over his recent visit to Egypt from the fourth to the sixth of November to discuss topics with the Egyptian government and the private sector community in Egypt.

After having held several official meetings over your visit, what were the main topics of these discussions?

I had productive meetings with senior government officials and business representatives. I met with Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr, and Minister of Public Enterprises. Hesham Tawfik.

Over my visit, numerous signings were announced including our support to the energy efficiency of Egyptian private small and medium-sized enterprises, by providing a loan of $15m to the Arab African International Bank (AAIB), co-financed by $15m from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the loan will increase investment in the green economy in Egypt.

We also announced a small facility for Tanmeyah Micro Enterprise Services.

Will you announce new programmes with companies like Tanmeya in the future?

Sure, we pay great attention to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) finance. The relatively small facility for Tanmeya in the amount of $5m loan in local currency, and supported by the European Union (EU), will increase access to finance for women led MSMEs, which remain an undeserved community in Egypt.

The loan will be indexed to Cairo Overnight Interbank Average (CONIA), the new Egyptian risk-free rate recently developed by the Egyptian Money Market Contact Group, which brings together representatives of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), commercial banks, and the EBRD.

The EBRD’s loan will help Tanmeya introduce new financial products, modified lending practices and business models that are more inclusive and gender responsive. Tanmeyah will also implement a digital transformation strategy.

The signing ceremony with Tanmeya was a bigger event since it’s not about the amount of finance we’re putting in, but about the difference TMES plans to achieve through our finance.

When we enter a relationship with a partner, we build a long-term relationship. Hopefully next year will witness more projects with TMES and maybe lead to other projects in the micro finance areas with similar institutions.

Some people associate us only with large private and public sector projects, but actually our additional strength is helping entrepreneurs to boost their businesses in the region.

EBRD is keen on implementing regional integration projects, what are some projects you are planning for the near future?

We have many projects in this sector to be implemented in the future in several sectors, particularly in the energy sector. EBRD is playing an active a role in the East Mediterranean Gas Forum with a view to provide financing and harmonise health and safety standards across the region.

We also help Egyptian companies that want to expand into other regional markets. On Tuesday, I met with companies that are looking to open shop in Tunisia.

These sorts of companies come to EBRD not only for financing, but also for smartly navigating regional markets benefitting from EBRD’s local offices in these markets and its knowledge of the local environment.

EBRD will announce several projects in its regional integration in due time.

How does the EBRD support Egypt’s infrastructure?

Developing Egypt’s infrastructure is one of the key topics discussed during our meeting with the Minister Nasr last Wednesday.

Egypt and the EBRD have signed several infrastructure projects over the past years, yet EBRD hopes to speed up the implementation of infrastructure projects.

It takes relatively a long time for the implementation of infrastructure projects in Egypt. We’ll try to help in setting up an oversight unit to make sure the implementation project is on track with its schedule. We plan to also keep this unit for future projects.

The EBRD’s work isn’t always easy since our requirements are always more strict than local ones. We’re always looking to have the private sector in the planning process.

For example, our public private partnership (PPP) cooperation for implementing the sixth of October dry port. It was very important for us to bring in the private sector in collaboration with the government.

Moreover, the EBRD is supporting the development of modern urban infrastructure in Egypt through its participation in a local currency bond issue that will free up funds for investment by a municipal authority that aims to create sustainable cities where residents can enjoy a better life.

The EBRD will invest EGP 1bn in a bond issued by the El Taamir for Securitisation Company, on behalf Egypt’s New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA). The issuance will benefit from a guarantee by the Ministry of Finance and will be listed on the Egyptian EGX.

We are delighted to participate in this landmark transaction arranged by the National Bank of Egypt and EFG Hermes. The EBRD’s participation will support the development of new urban centres, aiming to create job opportunities, a better quality of life, and economic growth in the country.

The EBRD is particularly pleased to see this transaction demonstrating the effective use of the new short and medium-term capital-market debt instrument developed by the Egyptian Financial Regulatory Authority with the support of the EBRD.

This instrument will help deepen the local capital market and attract more international players to a key market segment that has been dormant for almost 10 years.

President Al-Sisi announced recently the country’s intention to open up MOCs and SOEs. How does the EBRD assess these plans?

We noticed Egypt’s higher leadership is very supportive in opening up certain sectors including SOEs and the MOCs for the private sector.

Although I believe that it’s necessary for the state to continue playing a role in certain sectors, privatisation is necessary to attract additional Foreign Direct Investments and will also lead to improving corporate governance and accountability for companies.

The success lies in opening up the economy with the private sector. This is not only for Egypt but also for all countries. The most important thing is to open up the environment for the private sector.

Is the EBRD interested in helping Egypt implement these plans?

The EBRD is well positioned to play a role in cooperation with the authorities and build on the President’s announcement recently. We can help make companies ready for the next step. We consider the announcement a positive plan and we are ready to support the country towards achieving these plans.

It’s not the first time the President mentioned such a statement about opening up the economy. He’s mentioned other similar intentions about a year ago.

What’s the update for the Monorail project that links the New Administrative Capital with the Sixth of October city?

We are still studying this project.

Since 2019 is almost coming to an end, can you tell us more about the EBRD’s expected funds for Egypt in the full year?

We hope investments will be above €1bn again in 2019. The bank had invested $5.5bn in Egypt since the beginning of its operations in 2012, 70% of the investments are for the private sector.

EBRD is keen on investing in Egypt’s tourism sector. Can you please tell me what kind of projects the bank is currently discussing?

Tourism is a large sector in Egypt. We can contribute to the country’s hotel construction, infrastructure, and beyond. We plan for more projects in sustainable tourism in Egypt in addition to developing the skills of tourism employees in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and private sector foundations.

Egypt has so many beautiful places and sustainable tourism will surely benefit the economy of the country. I had a tour at the conservation center in the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM). What Egypt is building there with the Japanese is great.

The Egyptian economy will likely grow by 5.9% in fiscal year 2019/20, compared with a previous expectation of 5.6%, driven by a further strengthening of the tourism sector and of exports, as well as large public construction projects.

Other positive factors are likely to include the re-engagement of domestic and foreign private investors following recent interest rate cuts, and the continued implementation of business environment reforms and prudent macroeconomic policies.

The main risks to the outlook consist in a “wait-and-see” approach from foreign investors, the erosion of competitiveness because of the recent appreciation of the pound and the negative outlook for the economy due to stagnation in the EU, Egypt’s main trading partner. The risks are partially mitigated by the authorities’ commitment to implementing structural reforms, according to the Regional Economic Prospects report’s updates on six November 2019.

The EBRD predicts growth in the SEMED region of 4.4% in 2019 and 4.8% in 2020, compared with 4.3% in 2018, mentioned the report, noting that the new forecasts are a downward revision of 0.2 and 0.3 percentage points, respectively, compared with previous predictions made in May.

Growth next year will be supported by the recovery of traditional drivers of growth; higher exports, the implementation of business environment reforms to attract foreign direct investment, and more political certainty – both domestic and regional. However, growth in the medium term will continue to be lower than pre-2011 levels.

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Baramoda: startup recycles agricultural waste to produce fertilizers Tue, 05 Nov 2019 06:00:17 +0000 Baramoda aims to own 5% market share in Egypt by 2025, says CEO

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Baramoda, the first agri-tech startup in the Middle East and Africa, announced it has recycled 9,188 tonnes of agricultural waste to produce 5,500 tonnes of organic fertilizers, the company’s CEO Mostafa Elnaby announced.

Baramoda is specialised in sustainable agricultural innovations, and produces organic fertilizers for different soil types and crops.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Elnaby to know more about the startup’s business and expansion plan.

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

Our company operates in agricultural waste recycling and producing organic fertilizers. It is an alternative to chemical and traditional fertilizers to be used in desert and agricultural lands.

Baramoda’s first production unit is based in Qena, cultivating an area of 343,747 feddan, targeting 375,000 feddan by 2025.

Baramoda uses advanced biotechnology to produce high-quality organic fertilizers tailored for different lands and crops at competitive prices.

Additionally, we provide innovative solutions to maximise the efficiency of agri-waste management, minimise the cost of production, reduce excessive use of chemical fertilisers, and increase crop production at minimal water consumption.

What is the idea behind constructing this factory?

There are about 38m tonnes of agricultural waste annually, of which only 12% was recycled, in addition to about 12m tonnes of animal waste annually, of which only 3m tonnes were used to produce organic fertilizers.

Hence, it becomes necessary to direct attention to recycling agricultural waste. It is vital to convert these wastes into materials with economic value that contribute to increasing the productivity of agricultural crops, saving energy, and protecting the environment.

Over and above, chemical fertilizers are artificial components that could cause many environmental problems because some fertilizers contain heavy metals such as cadmium and chromium, as well as high concentrations of radionuclides. These fertilizers harm corps and pollute water, and the excessive use of them affects the production quantity and quality.

We are in our company in charge of producing natural organic product (compost) to substitute chemical fertilizers to reduce their risks on the environment.

What services does the company provide?

We provide innovative solutions to maximize the efficiency of agri-waste management, minimise the cost of production agricultural, reduce excessive use of chemical fertilizers, and increase crop production, at minimal usage of water resources. Moreover, we seek to lead the way to green environment by taking care of earth’s finite resources.

Through our products, we also deliver sustainable solutions to the agriculture sector. Our products can improve soil health, enrich crop quality, minimise water usage and overall land management to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. We are seeking a sustainable, safe, and clean environment through reducing pollution, endorsing recycling agricultural wastes in order to handover the environment “pollution-free” for upcoming generations.

What is the company’s production capacity?

Last year, we have recycled 9,188 tonnes of agricultural waste and produced 5,500 tonnes of organic fertilizers. However, our production capacity is 20,000 tonnes.

In the first half of this year, we produced 4,000 tonnes and we target reaching 12,000 tonnes by the year-end. In addition, we cultivated 1,387 feddan, and minimised the usage of chemical fertilizers by 25%.

Where do you distribute the company’s production?

We currently distribute our production in Upper Egypt, but our plan is to expand in other areas of Egypt.

What is the value of the company’s investments?

We have invested approximately $225,000 since July 2018.

How much is the company’s sales?

Our sales reached EGP 1.8m, and we aim to achieve more next year.

What is the company’s expansion plan?

Across our company’s departments, we have teams for research and development, production, and operation working in the manufacturing plant, innovation laboratory, and distribution branch. We believe that Baramoda will lead the agriculture innovation in Egypt and the Middle East. We strive for creativity and ingenuity in the agriculture sectors to change the world. We present staff with endless opportunities to be innovative, empowering our team to explore new ideas and provide permission to fail. We constantly strive to keep moving forward, improving and innovating. It is our nature to innovate.

Therefore, Baramoda aims to own 5% market share, covering 220,000 feddan, by 2025, and sell 500,000 tonnes of fertilizers.

Accordingly, we plan to establish a new production unit in Nubaria, Beheira governorate to serve a total cultivated area of 1.1m feddan.

Baramoda is also collaborating with sugar producers by taking their industrial waste, turning it into fertilizers that can be used in cultivating sugar crops.

Moreover, we plan to expand in producing new products such as liquid fertilizers. We will also announce software technique to provide farm management system.

Did you acquire the land of Nubaria’s factory?

We still are negotiating with the owner to finalise the deal.

Do you plan to get a loan for your proposed Qena’s factory?

Yes, we are currently negotiating with three banks and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA) to finance the project.

How do you work on raising farmers’ awareness of organic agriculture?

We are focusing on raising awareness of the people in the agricultural communities, especially those targeted by our services or products, about the importance of organic agriculture and the economic value of agriculture waste. 

In your opinion, what are the main problems that agriculture faces in Egypt?

Egypt is an agricultural country with a total cultivated area of 10.5m feddan, however, the agricultural sector faces several challenges, first of which is the water shortage.

One of the main reasons for the water shortage in Egypt is the agricultural sector’s high consumption, using more than 81% of Egypt’s water resources.

The second challenge is the chemical fertilizers, mainly because of their high cost, unavailability in markets, and negative effects on the soil quality. Any plant absorbs 20% of chemicals in fertilizers, while the rest is deposited as pollutants inside the plant.

The traditional alternatives of chemical fertilizers, such as animal manure also cause several plant diseases and infect the soil with nematodes and weeds.

Consequently, what is the company’s role in handling this problem?

We are interested in solving the problem because we are an agricultural innovation company and part of the agricultural community in our country. We aware that there is a strong relationship between agriculture and the problem of water shortage because 81% of Egypt’s water resources are used for agricultural activities and this is a huge percentage.

Solutions to the water shortage can be done through producing compost which can reduce the water needed for soil by 30% because it contains a high percentage of organic matter, reaching more than 45%. This helps the soil to be more cohesive and reduces the leaching of irrigate water from the soil.

Healthy soil is an important factor in protecting our waters. Compost increases soil’s ability to retain water and decreases runoff. Runoff pollutes water by carrying soil, fertilizers, and pesticides to nearby streams.

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High-level international experts, regional entrepreneurs engage in 2nd Vested Summit Mon, 04 Nov 2019 06:30:32 +0000 Summit to kick off on 9-11 November with 1,500 participants, says Al-Hariri

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The second edition of the Vested Summit will kick off from 9 to 11 November with the participation of high-level international experts along with several local and regional entrepreneurs who will enrich the summit’s discussions, said founder of Vested Summit, Salma Al-Hariri.

“This year, we expect 1,500 participants. I am sure we will have a quantum leap through the high-level international experts including National Geographic’s Jason Silva, World Economic Forum Global Shaper Basima Abdulrahman, and MIT Robotics and AI professor Nikolaos Mavridis,” Al-Hariri mentioned.

Vested Summit 2019 is hosting companies from all over the world, including US, Brazil, Singapore, Africa, and others, she said, noting, “we’ve chosen 30 companies out of our 750 company-database to have close meetings with international investors to discuss collaboration opportunities.”

Daily News Egypt interviewed Al-Hariri to know more about the second edition of Vested Summit and its role in boosting entrepreneurs in addition to identifying her opinion about the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Egypt and her recommendation to further enhance it.

How did you start Vested Summit? What’s your vision and plan for the Egyptian market?

We started our business in 2017 after a business trip to San Francisco, US, where an accelerator that focuses on the Middle East region offered the opportunity for some regional entrepreneurs to visit Silicon Valley, meet and train with some of the greatest entrepreneurship supporters including Facebook, Google, and other large companies.

Silicon Valley’s ecosystem is vital and supports entrepreneurs. I had the idea to create an event in Egypt hosting both the giant entrepreneurs and the regional small entrepreneurs to provide the same opportunity of expertise exchange here in Egypt through the Vested Summit.

We pay great attention to the startups’ innovative solutions for the economic and social issues through technology and artificial intelligence. I believe that entrepreneurs can change the Middle East’s position on the international map as they create job opportunities and boost the countries’ economic situation.

Can you please elaborate on this year’s Vested Summit?

We launched a video-based platform that allows investors all over the world to visit Vested Summit online and identify the opportunities of collaboration with entrepreneurs. Last year, we hosted about 500 entrepreneurs and chose 20 companies to have meetings with international investors, some of the companies already succeeded in obtaining investments and remarkably developed.

How many participants will engage in Vested Summit this year? What issues will be addressed?

This year, we expect 1,500 participants. I am sure we will have a quantum leap through high level international experts, including National Geographic’s Jason Silva, World Economic Forum Global Shaper Basima Abdulrahman, and MIT Robotics and AI professor Nikolaos Mavridis. 

We are also hosting companies from all over the world, including US, Brazil, Singapore, Africa and others. We’ve chosen 30 companies out of our 750 company-database to have close meetings with the international investors to discuss collaboration opportunities. Nationalities of the startups are diversified including Egypt, Tunisia, Kenya, and others.

This year we focus on artificial intelligence, awareness technology, block chain, digital fabrication, clean tech, and voice tech.

How do you assess Egypt’s entrepreneurship ecosystem?

Egypt’s entrepreneurship ecosystem is developing very fast compared to the last five years. The number of the new entrepreneurs is increasing remarkably. I think that the support given by the international donors to this sector in Egypt is also increasing.

What are your recommendations to further help startups to grow?

I believe that boosting the entrepreneurship sector needs a number of regulative reforms to be implemented. Foundation and liquidation of startup companies should be an easy process to encourage youth to have their own businesses without fears of legal questioning if the company has to announce its


I recommend the government to set a new law for entrepreneurship separated from the Investment Law to adapt to the new and fast development of the entrepreneurship sector. The new law should make it easy to found and liquidate a company, employ people and end their contracts after liquidation without facing any problems.


What does this sector need from the government to help entrepreneurs?

I think that the government should pay greater attention to the young innovators who can be small entrepreneurs one day. It’s not okay for the government to say that they support entrepreneurs and believe in them, while it has not yet improved the eco-system to encourage more young people to have their own projects. The government should invest in the young and creative people.

Several foreign countries recognise our talented Egyptian entrepreneurs and adopt their projects. The Egyptian government has to create a more attractive system that makes the creative youth prefer to stay in their country and develop their ideas here.

I think that the government should provide the innovative youth with moral, physical, and technical support and encourage them to implement their ideas here in Egypt, rather than outside the country.

Fear of failure is the biggest challenge hindering many young people to start their own businesses, how do you think they can overcome their fears? Can you also tell us some success stories of young entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs need to be active and always develop their ideas to succeed. There is a difference between the fear that pushes you to make your best and the morbid fear that makes you stay in your place without take any risk. There is a popular quote I believe in; “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough.” Fear of failure is important to push you to take the steps necessary to achieve your dreams.

Many people have good ideas, but only successful entrepreneur takes real steps to achieve his idea through setting corner stones and creating a team.

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