Interviews – Daily News Egypt Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Mon, 15 Apr 2019 08:00:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Egypt has discipline, adheres to economic reforms with no need for another IMF loan: Ghali Mon, 15 Apr 2019 08:00:03 +0000 ‘I am trying to solve the problems and cases raised against me and I hope to return to Egypt,’ says Egypt’s ex-Finance Minister

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Washington, DC- Youssef Boutros Ghali, former Egyptian finance minister, said Egypt is not in need of another loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but the country’s government, though it is not weak, needs competencies and experienced people which is much more important than financial resources.

Ghali elaborated: “The IMF’s procedures are difficult but necessary, and the Egyptians absorbed the shock, but we have to concentrate on other important issues now.”

Daily News Egypt interviewed Ghali to discuss his perspective regarding the assessment of Egypt’s economic reform programme, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How do you view the IMF programme and to what extent did it succeed?

The IMF programme in Egypt has produced positive results, but at the expense of the poor. It is necessary to deal with the fund from an Egyptian point of view, and the recipe cannot be taken as it is, to ensure that the poor do not suffer. However, the IMF is not tasked with verifying the adherence of the poor, but it is tasked with re-establishing the financial balance of countries that are in trouble. Most governments that are in trouble resort to borrowing from the IMF. The fund recommends some measures for these countries, and they have the right to approve or reject them.

Do you think that Egypt needs a new IMF loan or extend the current one?

Egypt has the ability to discipline itself and adhere to the economic reforms without the need for another loan from the fund. President Al-Sisi has the firmness and ability to do what he wants, and he does not fear reform, but he needs help from the government and his ministers. Egypt is not in need of another loan from the IMF because Egypt’s government is not weak, but it needs competencies and experienced people, which is much more important than the presence of financial resources. The fund’s procedures are difficult but necessary, and we absorbed the shock but we have to concentrate on other important issues now. The IMF expected in its World Economic Outlook (WEO) in April 2019 that the Egyptian economy will grow by 5.5% this year, and by 5.9% in 2020.

How do you see the performance of the administrative body in Egypt?

The administrative body in Egypt are still suffering from some bureaucracy that may affect the smooth inflow of foreign direct investments (FDIs). On the application of the one stop shop recently in Egypt, I think that the country needs some time to implement it, but it is not presently effective, which may have a significant impact on FDIs. The idea is not to create a single window for all competent authorities, but rather to facilitate the procedures for investors through a single authority or agency, and not a single window. And, since many agencies do not want the withdrawal of any authority from them, this is the main cause of the problem of multiple procedures and bureaucracy.

Do you think that there will be an imminent devaluation of the pound?

I do not think there is a future depreciation in the exchange rate, so there is no need to move prices, as I believe it will be stable. I see that our problem in Egypt is not how we lower prices, but how we provide incomes to face the high prices and inflation.

How would the receding global economy affect Egypt’s growth?

The problem facing economists today is that all indicators in all countries which lead world growth are negative, therefore there is nothing to prevent the global economy from deteriorating. Hence, there is fear that global growth rates will continue to decline, which will have a significant impact on the Egyptian economy because it is a member of the global economy and the country’s FDIs will be lower.The IMF’s WEO, which was released early last week, projects a slowdown in growth in 2019 for 70% of the global economy. Global growth softened to 3.6% in 2018, and is projected to decline further to 3.3% in 2019. The downward revision in growth of 0.2 percentage points for 2019 from the January projection is also broad based. It reflects negative revisions for several major economies, including the euro area, Latin America, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

What is the solution?

The solution is to activate economic recovery policies at the level of countries and complement each other in different countries. China, for example, has a declining growth rate, thus it has not depended on export development to revive its economy because its export development will reflect on another country, therefore the external sector will pressure the domestic economy, but it has to encourage its domestic consumption. Germany, too, has a surplus in its public budget, and it has to turn it into deficit to encourage consumption which would stimulate other European and developing countries. The current discussion is to follow policies to restore growth rates so as to become homogenous among different countries, which requires coordination between these countries’ decision-makers. These policies’ success depends on the knowledge of the problems and the procedures required to resolve them. Second, is knowing other decision-makers and the convergence of state policies.

What are the promising economic sectors in Egypt?

Tourism sector is one of the Egyptian sectors that has started to recover recently but it is taking some time to reach 2010 levels. I expect the Egyptian real estate market will witness a significant deceleration in the coming period, but the demand will continue because it is a safe haven for investment in light of the deterioration of individual investments in some other sectors. With regard to the new oil discoveries, I think that the energy sector is the most promising in terms of attracting FDIs and applying the mechanism of one stop shop.

How do you see the performance of the Egyptian economic ministerial group?

Some Egyptian ministers are consulting me on a few economic issues. Nevertheless, the ministers in Egypt must work together. The economic group under Mubarak’s era was homogeneous and cohesive. I had an insight into the period of my ministry through moving to take precautions before facing several economic problems in the presence of the political will, rejecting any change, or movement in prices at the time.

How do you deal with the cases filed against you?

I’m working on these problems and I hope to return to the country. By the way, I did not exploit the printers of the ministry of finance in the service of my election propaganda in 2010.

Prosecutors’ investigations said that Ghali took advantage as a finance minister to exploit the printing centre of the ministry of finance to print large quantities of electoral advertising materials for his candidacy for parliament in 2010.

In February, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced him to 15 years in prison in absentia and required him to return EGP 35.8m to the government. Ghali has not returned home since he fled to Britain in 2011 after mass protests toppled Mubarak’s regime and his cabinet. He was consequently fired from his position over charges of corruption and abuse of power.
The former finance minister requested a reconciliation deal with the government, after which the Illicit Gains Authority (IGA) formed a committee, and estimated his wealth at EGP 300m with unexplained inflation. Ghali rejected the value as incomprehensible for not including salaries of his previous jobs as economic advisor for the cabinet during the period from 1986 to 1998, as well as an advisor for the United Nations office in Cairo for 10 years, where he was paid in dollar. 

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USAID, FEI to announce ‘3R’ project for development of CSR activities Mon, 15 Apr 2019 07:00:08 +0000 Strategy to develop human resources management in 120 companies, says Torky

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The Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) along with the Unites States Agency for International Development (USAID) will announce on Monday a new corporate social responsibility (CSR) project called ‘3R’, Senior Advisor at the FEI, El Sayed Torky, said.

“Recruitment, retraining, and retention, is abbreviated to ‘3R’. We have already signed the project’s memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the past few days, and we will announce it today during the fifth conference on CSR and boosting regional partnership for development,” declared Torky.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Torky to learn more about the FEI’s CSR activities, in cooperation with several financial institutions, on the occasion of holding its CSR annual conference on Monday, the transcript of which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Would you please elaborate on the importance of the 3R project with the USAID?

The ‘3R’ project aims to limit the employment turnover through the development of human resources management in 120 FEI member companies. We will hold several workshops with the companies which we will choose during the fifth conference on CSR and boosting regional partnership for development.

The FEI believes in the importance of CSR, in cooperation with international partners, and the Egyptian government’s plans in terms of the 2030 Vision. We would like our CSR projects and initiatives to be implemented in parallel with the country’s ones. Five Egyptian ministries are supporting our conference as we believe that we should not work separately.

Does the FEI cooperate with the USAID in any other projects?

Yes, we have also signed a Workforce Improvement and Skills Enhancement (WISE) partnership. Our partnerships guarantee the projects’ sustainability, and the USAID is entirely funding the ‘3R,’ which will be implemented immediately after the conference.

Which ministries collaborated with the conference?

The conference is held under the patronage of ministries of investment and international cooperation, social solidarity, trade and industry, education and technical education and planning, monitoring and administrative reform.

Did you cooperate with international organisations?

We have started our international cooperation with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and then we expanded with many other esteemed foundations.

Would you please elaborate on this year’s version of the conference?

What is special about this version is the focus on regional partnerships, including the African participation, which is in line with Egypt’s presidency of the African Union (AU). We feel proud of the conference’s convention since 2014. About 250 persons participated in the 2014 version which was a good number as a start, and then in 2015’s edition the number was almost doubled to about 500 participants, and last year there were 1,700 attendees. Over the past years, the conference was able to achieve great success toward raising awareness about the importance of the CSR concept, including eliminating illiteracy, offering training, and job opportunities, among other issues. Participation in the conference is free of charge for companies and interested youth as we receive the needed support from our international partners which mainly are the ILO, the International Organization for Migration, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF).

We aim to increase the businesspersons’ awareness of CSR as effective activities toward development. CSR does not only provide financial assistance to people, but also help employees to be well trained.

We invited all the African ambassadors as well as the International Organisation of Employers in Geneva, Switzerland, to participate in our conference. The regional and international participation will be obvious during the conference sessions. The inaugural session will be quite diversified.  We believe that cooperation between non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the government, and companies is required to enhance knowledge about the importance of CSR. Companies can implement several CSR activities including fighting corruption, stopping environmental pollution during company operations, and training employees. We are happy to discuss our CSR experience with African countries to exchange experiences.

What about your future programmes?

We began with PepsiCo and Alex Bank to build the competency of the youth in order to qualify them for the labour market through their appointment as distributors in villages across Egypt. Our partners will provide the youth with the needed technical training, facilities, and grants in order to be able to manage their businesses.

We agreed with several training organisations to guarantee the youths’ positive response regarding the training sessions. We pay great attention toward Upper Egypt. We signed a MoU with the UNFP to support 5,000 young men on an annual basis through offering them the necessary training to qualify them for the labour market. Additionally, we also started a project with Helwan University on labour market skills and digital manufacturing, in partnership with a FEI member. Furthermore, we will train 400 students and trainers on digital manufacturing, which will revolutionise businesses.

How do you assess the government’s efforts in supporting CSR activities?

The ministry of investment and international cooperation is taking positive steps toward supporting CSR projects. The FEI is quite convinced about the importance of CSR, therefore it established a CSR unit, with the support of the ILO, and then it became self-operational.

Our unit is diversifying its partnerships. We have several partners such as Alex Bank, the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, the ILO, the UNFP, and others, which reflects the confidence in our projects and initiatives.

Would you please elaborate about your cooperation with the UNFP and Helwan University?

We have a new project with the UNFP to train youth, in cooperation with the youth ministry, as we will train about 1,000 young men this year. Helwan University has very good facilities, but its nearby area lacks various necessities, so we will be coordinating the matter so that we have a positive impact on the disadvantaged areas through CSR projects.

Additionally, we have a project with International Organisation of Migration to limit the numbers of migrants from rural areas into major cities through offering them decent training by partnering with companies.

Do you think that further development of the business climate will help support CSR projects?

Yes, we need the general business climate to support companies and all the stakeholders to increase their CSR activities, as companies are not the only pillar of CSR projects. The government needs to support companies in order for them to perform their roles.

What are your other projects in Upper Egypt?

We will also work in four villages in Sohag, in cooperation with a number of associations, to implement several diversified projects including sanitation, children’s welfare, and eliminating illiteracy.

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Elsewedy Industrial Development’s total land bank reaches around 25m sqm in 2019 Thu, 11 Apr 2019 09:00:35 +0000 Firm to receive an area of 5.4 m sqm in 10th of Ramadan, Sadat City in April

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Elsewedy Industrial Development’s land bank in Egypt increased by 15.4 m sqm in 2019, reaching around 25 m sqm as a total,  which is the largest land portfolio owned by an industrial development company in Egypt, the CEO of Elsewedy Industrial Development, Mohamed Al Kammah, told Daily News Egypt in an interview.

He added that more than 70% of the firm`s lands are sold.

DNE sat down with Al Kammah for an interview to discuss the company’s plans regarding land acquisition. The transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How many factories have you established in your industrial zones?

Currently, Elsewedy Industrial Development’s industrial zones have more than 150 contracted factories.

The company has several industrial zones; could you please tell us more about their spaces and the number of factories in each one?

The firm’s-owned industrial development portfolio includes: 10th of Ramadan (PI Parks) which is on an area of 4 m sqm. The second one is Al Oula Park in Sixth of October on an area-of 1 m sqm. The third one is located in the Sadat City on an area of 1.4 m sqm. Then there is Al Alamein on an area of 2.6 m sqm. As for the Suez Canal Industrial Zone, it is established on an area of 10 m sqm (acquired on a usufruct basis).

Concerning the number of factories, I could say that the number of the contracted manufacturers to set up factories in our industrial zones, either with their factories already established or still under construction, amounted to 41 in the Sixth of October industrial zone (Al Oula).

While the contracted manufacturers in 10th of Ramadan recorded 98 manufacturers in PI Parks East, while in the PI Parks West we have 33 manufacturers.

Did the utilities enter all your industrial zones?

No, only 7 m  sqm of our industrial zones’ land have witnessed the entrance of the utilities, while the majority of the rest of the lands are not utilised as we still did not receive them.

Are there any promises from the IDA about the date to receive the rest of the lands?

There are promises to receive in April an area of 5.4 m sqm of which, we will receive 4 m sqm in the 10th of Ramadan, in addition to 1.4 m sqm in Sadat City.

Has the firm withdrawn land from non-serious investors?

Most of our investors are serious and committed to the timeframes and the periods allowed by the Industrial Development Authority (IDA). Yet, the case was different with only two investors thus we have took back the lands from them and re-offered the lands again due to the huge demand and requests.

Could we estimate the space of the withdrawn lands?

We have withdrawn over 20,000 sqm in the 10th of Ramadan, in addition to 18,000 sqm in the Sixth of October.

Who are the most prominent investors in your industrial zones?

The company has attracted a number of international companies such as L’Oreal Paris for cosmetics, Jotun, KAPCI Coatings, Mintra, Iskraemeco, Nissan, Padico International and many others to set up factories at the company’s industrial zones.

Through the firm’s industrial zones, how many direct and indirect jobs did it provide?

Elsewedy Industrial Development provides about 125,000 direct jobs and 250,000 indirect jobs to the local market through its current industrial areas.

Moreover, I want to mention that the firm is expected to provide around 100,000 additional jobs through the industrial zones that are under construction.

What are your new projects?

The company started to expand horizontally by contributing to the establishment of industrial projects in different regions within Egypt. In the city of 10 of Ramadan, we have an integrated industrial city on an area of 4 m sqm. In addition to that, we plan to establish an industrial zone on an area of 1.4 m sqm in Sadat City. Also in Ain Sokhna (Suez Canal Zone), we plan to establish an integrated industrial city on an area of about 10 square kilometres.

What are the firm’s targeted areas?

The industrial development sector targets the developmental axis in Ain Sokhna as well as the Suez Canal and Ismailia.

In the next phase, it aims to study and target the development axis in Upper Egypt between the new cities, in order to provide them with an integrated industrial and residential backbone.

Furthermore, the company aims to develop the logistical infrastructure in all governorates of Egypt, through studying and establishing the logistics and commercial centres at all Egyptian governorates.

In general the firm took its lands as a usufruct (right to benefit) or through licences?

All the company’s lands are free owned except the new project of Ain Sokhna, which is on area of 10 m sqm.

Concerning the new project in Ain Sokhna, what are your targeted industries in this area?

In general, Ain Sokhna targets the heavy and medium industries. Therefore, through this area, we aim to attract more foreign investments.

Did the decision of the pound flotation increase the prices of the utilities entrance?

Yes, the pound flotation doubled the prices in general, but the company bore part of this increase, and raised the prices of its lands by only about 25% after the pound flotation.

What about the prices increase this year?

This year, I think the price increase rate is normal due to the inflation. We increased the prices of the lands this year by about 10% to 15%, compared to 2018.

I want to highlight that this increase rate is normal given the monetary policy that has modified the situation and limited the dealing in parallel markets. The Egyptian pound also expresses the actual purchasing power and a natural result of the current inflation rates. The state is now adjusting the current situation, through providing expansion projects and ensuring a moderate investment climate, which in turn will improve the economic climate in Egypt.

Finally, how do you see the state of the Egyptian market?

The Egyptian market is a promising market and a catalyst for domestic and foreign investment, especially in light of controlling the exchange rate’s volatility and the direction of the rise of the Egyptian pound against the dollar, and in light of the successful policies followed by the monetary policies of the Central Bank of Egypt.

The rise in Egypt’s credit rating is a guarantee of investment inside Egypt and a safe haven for foreign investors to invest in Egypt.

Also, the availability of energy sources, especially electricity and renewable energy, promotes this, as well as the lower energy consumption tariffs than those of neighbouring countries.

Moreover, I want to highlight that the new Investment Law is aligned with the decision of the pound flotation, with both aiding in attracting foreign investments.

On the other hand, I think that the government could attract more foreign investors if the concerned bodies would announce a clear plan for the offering of the lands, in addition to implementing some modifications regarding some points in the new Investment Law, as investors need some clarifications or have suggestions on some points. Moreover, there should be more coordination between the private and the public sectors.

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IFC invests close to $200m in Egypt, eyes opportunities in infrastructure, manufacturing sectors Mon, 01 Apr 2019 14:03:33 +0000 The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank Group member, invested close to $200m in the Egyptian market over the last eight months, the IFC Country Manager for Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, Walid Labadi, told Daily News Egypt (DNE). The IFC chose Egypt earlier as a model for its investments in Middle East and Africa. …

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The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank Group member, invested close to $200m in the Egyptian market over the last eight months, the IFC Country Manager for Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, Walid Labadi, told Daily News Egypt (DNE).

The IFC chose Egypt earlier as a model for its investments in Middle East and Africa. It announced in the beginning of the current fiscal year (FY) 2018/19 that it aims to invest up to $1bn over the FY. DNE interviewed Labadi on the updates of the IFC’s plans in the Egyptian market. 

The interview also focused on the IFC’s efforts in supporting the private sector by facilitating access to finance, improving crucial infrastructure services, and promoting gender diversity in the workforce.

You announced earlier that the IFC would invest $1bn in FY 2019, how far have you achieved from this target?

Egypt is a priority country for the IFC in the region. Over the last several years, we have scaled up our programme in Egypt. I believe we will have another strong year in Egypt, especially in the manufacturing sector. To-date we have already committed close to $200m. We launched several important initiatives on supporting entrepreneurship. Moreover, we are committed to supporting critical infrastructure, especially in the renewables sectors.

What are the targeted sectors in FY 2019?

Egypt is a core country for the IFC. We think Egypt has a promising market with good economic growth rates. Notably, the government has embarked on a brave road on the reform programme, which should help the private sector to have a bigger role in the Egyptian economy. Therefore, we see opportunities in real estate, manufacturing, medical care, pharmaceutical, banking, and infrastructure sectors.

One of the IFC’s target investments in Egypt is the renewable energy sector; can you elaborate about the corporation’s investments in this area?

Our biggest investment in renewable energy is the Benban Solar Park, the largest in the world. We invested in 13 projects there. Some of these power plants are completed, while others are still under-construction.

The project’s labour force is mainly provided from the local community in Aswan.

We are also working with the ministry of electricity on developing solar energy tenders, so they will basically give the opportunity for the private sector to get involved in the solar energy field.

In FY 2018, the IFC invested $1.5bn in Egypt’s private sector in order to help create jobs, improve local infrastructure, and boost economic growth. That figure, which includes funds mobilised from other investors, represents a record for the IFC in Egypt. The investments have been geared towards helping private sector companies grow, expand, and create jobs. This included a landmark investment of $653m in Benban Solar Park, which once completed, will be the largest solar park in the world.

the IFC Country Manager for Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, Walid Labadi

Did you recently receive any requests from banks operating in Egypt to finance SMEs?

The IFC sees great potential in the SMEs market in Egypt. Supporting small businesses is one of our strategic priorities in Egypt, as we believe that small businesses can drive economic growth and job creation in the country.

We invested in several banks including the Commercial International Bank (CIB), Arab African International Bank, Bank of Alexandria, and the National Bank of Kuwait – Egypt, to help them extend loans and credit facilities for small businesses.

Also, we signed an agreement with Banque Misr in order to support women-led businesses within the bank’s SMEs portfolio, as part of the IFC’s wider plan to boost financial inclusion for women entrepreneurs in Egypt. We aim to help more banks to tap into this sector.

Do you consider entering in any private equity platforms for SMEs?

We have investments in Flat6 labs, in partnership with the British government to support fintech start-ups. We also have investment in Algebra Venture that looks primarily on Series B and C investment.

Do you plan to increase financing in local currency in Egypt?

Last year, the IFC has provided its first investment in local currency and we are looking for more opportunities. I think we have to find investments where the IFC can play a particular role without resorting to local banks, for example in areas like education and medical care. The revenues in those areas are typically in local currency, and their risk profile is one that more local banks are less comfortable in getting involved in, so we are looking at opportunities in such sectors. So, we are interested in finding more opportunities like that and we will continue to pursue them.

What about the IFC’s other projects?

This year, we are looking for a strong year especially in the manufacturing sector. Last year, we had an active period in the infrastructure sector with the Benban project, and we are looking forward for more opportunities.

Do you think Egypt’s reform programme is moving in the right track?

I think the reform programme is absolutely moving in the right track. A lot of really good things have been made and still there are a lot of things to do.

For example, it is very difficult to register a mortgaged land because of the land registration’s difficulties in Egypt. I think it is an area where they need to improve, so that land owners can get financing and grow their business.

Egypt has made progress in doing business sector, but they still need to do more particularly in training. The logistics and training in commerce will take some time to move forward. This country has a pivotal place in the global economy which would allow it to be an international trade hub, and we would like to see it achieve its full potential. We all need to do more, not just the government.

What are your expectations for Egypt’s growth in the current FY?

I expect economic growth to reach 5%, or a little bit more than 5%. I think it is a good rate.

We are very optimistic about growth in Egypt, and we continue to see that the private sector should contribute more in the growth.

In your opinion, what are the sectors that will drive this growth?

There are three areas that could really help facilitate growth in Egypt, one is the logistics for goods and services, and we think more investments are needed there and we would like to be part of that.

The second is the ICT sector, as I think the state’s agenda goes to efficiency of payments and creating opportunities for people to pay for goods and services electronically. They also focus on developing smart systems which would allow the economy to function effectively.

The third area is agribusiness because the agenda is also concerned with developing the supply chain.

I think the last fundamental aspect of Egypt’s growth is to become an energy hub. We think there is a lot of potential for Egypt in gas exports.

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Food expert presents philosophy behind Korean cuisine to Egyptians Mon, 01 Apr 2019 09:48:24 +0000 Love is most important ingredient of delicious food, says Lee

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Seung Eun Lee, a South Korean food expert concluded her first visit to Egypt on Friday, during which she met with many Egyptian students who were eager to learn more about Korean cuisine. Daily News Egypt interviewed Lee on Thursday as she sat with several media representatives at the Korean Cultural Centre, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

“Love is the most of important ingredient of delicious food,” she said, adding that Korean cooking taught her how to focus on useful things and how to create a balanced life.

Tell us about your activities during your visit to Egypt?

I am here upon an invitation from the chef of the Korean ambassador to Egypt, Yoon Yeocheol. It was the second invitation as previously I apologised due to other commitments.

I got involved in many food lessons throughout my trip and I did some Egyptian sightseeing at the Giza Pyramids and the Khan El-Khalili. It took me a while to agree to visit Egypt this time because it is the first time for me to travel for many hours, but at the end it was worth coming.

What is your impression of Egypt?

People here are friendly, and the Egyptian food is delicious. I tasted bechamel pasta, liver sandwiches, and they were very tasty, yet I really liked Koshary.

Which type of the Egyptian meal do you aim to learn?

I would like to learn more about the home-cooked meals.

Have you faced any difficulty in finding required ingredients for your recipes in Egypt?

Actually, I checked all the recipes’ ingredients on the first day of my arrival. I didn’t find any difficulty to get the ingredients from markets and Korean restaurants. I was determined to mix between some Egyptian ingredients and Korean ones.

How long would it take to learn Korean cuisine?

I learnt that you should cook the recipe about 50 times to make sure that you can present it appropriately. I have been studying cooking for 10 years, yet I am still learning. It’s an ongoing process.

What do you learn from cooking?

I learnt how to focus on useful things, a balanced life, and that love is the most important ingredient we put in the recipe to make the food delicious.

When I cook for people suffering high blood pressure, I put ingredients to make them feel better. I don’t usually use sugar in my recipes to keep them healthy. We can use honey instead to keep the sweet taste.

What are the specialties of traditional Korean cuisine?

Fermented foods are very popular in the traditional Korean cuisine. Most old homes have pickled foods. Traditional foods were healthier than modern food as they include vegetables, beans, and rice. Depending more on meat isn’t healthy. I learnt palatial food as well as traditional meals.

Is there a big difference between palatial and traditional food?

Palatial food is usually made in huge quantities to be served over large tables. I knew that some people have died owing to the large quantities of food they ate.

Korea aims to globalise its cuisine, how do you see this direction?

We would like more people to know about Korean cuisine. I aim to spread the knowledge of Korean foods even in Korea. Now mothers are working and can’t cook traditional foods which take about three or four hours to be finished, so I would like to transfer my knowledge to all who are interested to learn.

I conduct regional tours of Korean homes to learn from the recipes of old mothers and I will launch a Youtube channel with Japanese and English subtitles which will present Korean food recipes. I am also considering writing a book for the same purpose in the future.

What is the most popular Korean drink?

Barley is a very popular beverage in Korea.

Noteworthy, the Korean Culture Centre, affiliated to the ministries of culture, sports and tourism (MCST) was established in November 2013 in view of Egyptian people’s interpretation of Korean culture, art, and history, in order to improve Korea’s image in the eyes of the Egyptian people, according to the centre’s website.

The centre’s visitors can discover many Korean customs and traditions as well as the history of Korea, and the centre also seeks to provide all the scientific and educational material, as well as holding cultural events, which would help promote the dissemination of Korean culture.

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Rooya Group targets EGP 3bn in sales during current year Wed, 27 Mar 2019 16:29:20 +0000 Company plans to inject EGP 2.5bn in investments in local market, says chairperson

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Rooya Group for real estate investment has achieved EGP 2bn in contractual sales by the end of 2018, and plans to reach EGP 3bn in sales in 2019, according to Chairperson of the company, Hisham Shokry.

Shokry told Daily News Egypt that the company has an ambitious plan to begin the implementation of its commercial and administrative project, Stone Park, which includes a commercial part with investments exceeding EGP 4bn on an area of 200,000 sqm. The other administrative part is Stone Towers with a total investment of EGP 7bn. Daily News Egypt interviewed Shokry, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What is the value of Rooya’s sales in 2018, and the targeted sales in 2019?

Rooya has achieved EGP 2bn in sales over the past year. The company plans to reach EGP 3bn this year, driven by the launch of new phases of its projects, and the continuation of the market movement.

What is the value of investments the company plans to direct in the current year?

The company plans to inject EGP 2.5bn in investments into our projects this year.

What is the company’s expansion plan?

The company has an ambitious plan. We will begin the implementation of the commercial and administrative project, Stone Park, which includes a commercial part with investments exceeding EGP 4bn on an area of 200,000 sqm. The other administrative part, called Stone Towers, has a total investment of EGP 7bn. The project’s drilling work has been started, and the project will be marketed during the current year.

What is the size of the company’s land bank?

The total volume of the company’s land bank is 9m sqm, of which 6m sqm are under development and the rest of the land bank is planned to be developed during the coming period.

Did you sign contract with the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) to co-develop a project in New Cairo?

The contract between our company and the NUCA has not yet been signed. It includes an area of 184 feddan in New Cairo. The company plans to implement an integrated urban project under the partnership system.

As the president of the Real Estate Export Council, how do you see Egypt’s participation in the MIPIM exhibition in France?

The exhibition is held annually and serves as a forum for all international investment funds to be present and to know of the investment opportunities available in each of the participating countries. Egypt’s participation in the MIPIM exhibition was distinctive. Moreover, it is the first time that the Egyptian Ministry of Housing participates in an official pavilion comprising of a number of real estate developers.

Therefore, all developers participated in the Egyptian pavilion focused on marketing Egypt’s property market and also the whole development and investment opportunities, not specific projects. They presented projects of their companies as models for real estate projects implemented in the Egyptian real estate market.

There are many countries that have a stable pavilion for over 10 years in the activities of the MIPIM exhibition, through which they managed to attract international investment funds.

In the MIPIM, there were some private sector projects as well as national projects implemented by the state, the most prominent of which are the Central Business District at the New Administrative Capital (NAC), which includes the towers area, the Capital Park, and the New Garden City projects. As well, the Latin Quarter in the New Alamein City and real estate projects by companies participated in the exhibition were presented.

What are the main topics which have been discussed during recent meetings of the Real Estate Export Council?

All obstacles facing international investment funds in the Egyptian market were presented to the prime minister during his recent meeting with the Real Estate Export Council’s members. The main obstacle is the absence of tax exemptions for real estate investment funds – as is the case in other countries – which is an investment catalyst for the presence of such funds. The Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) sets the rules for the work of such funds in Egypt, unlike other countries in the world, so each fund sets its work policy with a commitment toward transparency and controlled by the FRA.

Additionally, there are specialised investment funds in financing infrastructure projects with annual funds of about $2.5tn, and Egypt does not receive a share from this fund. These funds are attractive to investors around the world due to their guaranteed revenues. They are managed by professionals who contribute to achieving a comprehensive developmental renaissance for any country in which they are present, and it does not cost the government any financial burdens, which should be considered during the coming period.

How do you see Egypt’s performance in developing infrastructure?

The continuation of the state to act as the sole responsible side for the implementation of infrastructure does not achieve any development. However, there are many systems that enable the implementation of infrastructure projects without adding any financial burdens on the state, such as BOT, PPP, and BOOT. These systems do not only enable the implementation of infrastructure, but attract direct investments which continue in the Egyptian market for at least 10 years, as the investor cannot transfer funds until after 10 years as a minimum investment in infrastructure projects.

Moreover, the state continued to consider land as a commodity to achieve the highest return on investment, which caused a lack of real development based on the good use of land. Therefore, the government must focus on changing that view, and classify land based on an opportunity to develop and integrate an urban community because each plot of land represents an industrial and agricultural opportunity, as well as an opportunity for a better citizen, a stronger country, and a more developed economy.

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Arabia to launch branch of international sports club in Sun Capital next month Wed, 27 Mar 2019 16:25:51 +0000 Company targets achieving EGP 6bn in sales of Sun Capital, Galleria projects this year, says chairperson

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Arabia Holding aims to achieve contractual sales worth EGP 6.25bn of its two projects, Sun Capital in West Cairo and Galleria in New Cairo this year, including EGP 5bn in total sales expected from the Sun Capital and the rest from the Galleria project, according to Tarek Shoukry, the chairperson of the company.

Shoukry said that about 1,200 units were marketed in Sun Capital last year with contractual sales of EGP 3.8bn. The company plans to offer the same number of units this year.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Shoukry to identify the company’s strategy during the current year, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What is the value of targeted sales of the company’s projects?

The company plans to achieve contractual sales worth EGP 6.250bn of the Sun Capital and Galleria projects this year, including EGP 5bn in total sales expected from the Sun Capital and the rest from the Galleria project.

What is the value of sales in the Sun Capital project?

The Sun Capital is a new city located at the siteof the great Pyramids stretched over 575 feddan in the heart of the world’s greatest civilisations. The Sun Capital is the world’s latest addition of a complete metropolitan city named the New Touristic Capital of Egypt, where life, business, and entertainment are combined.

Additionally, the company has marketed about 1,200 units in the Sun Capital last year, with contractual sales of EGP 3.8bn. The company plans to launch the same number of units this year. We also aim to complete the marketing of the entire project over six years.

What is the value of investments to be directed in the Sun Capital and the Galleria projects this year?

The company plans to invest EGP 1.5bn in the Sun Capital and the Galleria projects this year. The value of the investments whichhave been injected into the Sun Capital project since its inception six months ago is worth EGP 500m.

What is the operational situation of the Sun Capital project?

The company has obtained the first building license about six months ago. Currently, we have obtained 200 licenses for the Sun Capital. Moreover, the company has also applied for 95 new licenses expected to be received by the end of this month. In addition, 120 buildings and 120 villas are currently under construction, and by the end of this year, we plan to complete their construction work. Additionally, the company is seeking to implement an integrated city to be a complete model for customers.

The company pays great attention to the development of the project implementation and increasing the construction rates in all sold residential buildings.

What are recent contracts and MoUs signed to develop the Sun Capital project?

The company is in a process of contracting with a large international sports club to become part of the project which would be a great addition to the Egyptian market and the Sun Capital project and we will announce the details in April.

Moreover, we have announced an international competition for the design of the Fairmont Hotel, which is scheduled to be in the project. We have been surprised by the great interest of the most important international design offices as we received 14 offers by global consultant offices in design.

The company has assigned a jury committee which includes professors from the Faculty of Engineering to evaluate the relative standard of the technical level of the offices, prices and the previous work of each office, which is done with the participation of Fairmont International, as we contracted with the latter to provide technical support throughoutall the phases–from the start of the selection of the office responsible for the design of the project.

The next step involves announcing the winner within a month to design the hotel, which takes approximately 6 months. Three designs will be launched including interior design, facade design, and landscaping, in order to begin the hotel development by early next year.

What are the updates regarding the Galleria project?

The implementation rate in second phase of the Galleria project is high, which is ahead of the schedule by about 15 months, where the implementation rate of the phase reached 95%, and the implementation rate in the fourth and sixth phases reaches 58%. Moreover, it is expected that the second phase will be fully implemented by the end of this year.

What is the value of investments which will be injected in the Galleria project in 2019?

The company plans to direct investments ranging between EGP 250m and EGP 300m in the project during the current year, targeting EGP1.25bn in value of contractual sales of the remaining part of the project during 2019.

What is the update regarding the Bungalows North Coast project?

The licenses of the hotel part in the project are being finalised, which includes a 300-room hotel run by the Mövenpick brand.

What is the size of the company’s land bank?

The company’s land bank reaches 4.5m sqm, and we are not currently planning to increase it because we are focusing on achieving significant implementation rates of the Sun Capital project. However, investing in Upper Egypt will be put on the company’s expansion plan later.

Does the company plan to list its shares in Egyptian Exchange (EGX)?

The company is planning to list a portion of its shares on the EGX at a rate of not more than 25%, but the timing of the offering is the main determinant based on two factors. First is the implementation of large rates of the Sun Capital project as one of the elements of the company’s assessment, and the second is evaluating the preparation of the market for our company’s initial public offering (IPO). I think we will prepare the company’s IPO file during the current year and wait for the appropriate time.

What is the company’s plan to export property?

Exporting property is one of the most important issues that the state is currently focusing on and is exertingall required efforts to succeed in reaching foreign clients and investment funds. Therefore, the expansion of this is based on three axes: the law of residency in return for property purchase, in addition to solving some of obstacles facing exports, such as solving the problem of property registration, and third granting tax incentives to foreign investment funds.

Furthermore, our company plans to participate in external exhibitions in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE to market the Sun Capital project.

How do you see the real estate market in the current year? Additionally, what areyour expectations toward the price hikes in the sector?

This year, the market is witnessing the largest test in terms of rates and execution volume as well as compliance within deadlines for delivery. Strong companies with a clear plan, experience and strong financial solvency are able to meet their commitments toward customers and speed up execution rates, as non-serious companies cannot implement many phases of their projects. The current year is filtering out serious and non-serious developerswithin thetoughmarketcompetition.

The real estate sector directly contributes 18% to the GDP and 24% directly and indirectly, which reveals the importance of this sector.

Regarding prices spikes, I expect a price increases ranging between 10 to 15% in the real estate market during the current year, considering the increase in fuel prices, which will be in the middle of this year, where the contribution of fuel in implementation cost reached about 3% and 5%.

How do you see the urban development in west Cairo and the completion between east and west Cairo?

The size of the development and implementation rates in the west Cairo area achieves some balance with the size of development in east Cairo. Greater Cairo is divided into two regions. Moreover, since the inauguration of the Sun Capital project, it contributed toward enriching the west Cairo area, where unit prices increased by about 20%.

As a head of Real Estate Development Chamber at the Federation of Egyptian Industries, the chamber has participated in pushing the draft law of the real estate developers federation. When will the law be issued?

A formula for the draft law has been reached which is optimal. The formula includes initiating a federation for developers to manage the affairs of the private real estate sector and through which the classification of developers will be conducted.

Several meetings have been held with several parties to discuss issues related to the launch of the law and enforcing it. The executive regulations of the law will discuss the details of the federation, which are expected to be issued quickly, upon the directives of the President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

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Castle Development launches 2nd phase of Castle Landmark with EGP 1bn expected sales Wed, 27 Mar 2019 16:07:11 +0000 Castle Development plans to launch the second phase of Castle Landmark, the company’s flagship project situated at the New Administrative Capital (NAC) this month, with a total investment of EGP 550m, according to Ahmed Mansour, CEO of Castle Development. This month has also seen the company launches its new 7,600 sqm commercial project, East Side, …

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Castle Development plans to launch the second phase of Castle Landmark, the company’s flagship project situated at the New Administrative Capital (NAC) this month, with a total investment of EGP 550m, according to Ahmed Mansour, CEO of Castle Development.

This month has also seen the company launches its new 7,600 sqm commercial project, East Side, located at the New Administrative Capital’s MU23 zone, with EGP 800m in investment.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Mansour to learn more about the company’s expansion plan, and the updates regarding its current projects, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

When will the company launch the second phase of Castle Landmark in the NAC?

We are launching the second phase of Castle Landmark this month with an investment of EGP 550m. Expected for delivery by 2022, this phase will cover 70,000 sqm, and is expected to offer 378 units with sizes ranging between 120 sqm and 285 sqm, and prices starting from EGP 14,300 per sqm.

When will the company complete the marketing phase?

Marketing for phase I of Castle Landmark is now complete, and we are planning to start construction of phase II throughout the second quarter of this year. Let me add that the second phase will see a slight increase in prices, EGP 14,500 per sqm instead of EGP 13,500; this is only a result of the increasing operation costs we continue to face as developers.

When will the company begin the project construction works?

Construction will take place during the second quarter of 2019.

Tell us more about the company’s second project in the NAC.

A mixed-use development, East Side offers medical, retail, and administrative spaces covering 7,600 sqm. With a built-up area of 20,000 sqm, the development sees EGP 800m in investment and will be delivered by 2021. It is situated within the H1 Block at the MU23 zone, East Side is easily accessible through a wide network of roads; it overlooks El Amal Axis which connects Ben Zayed North Road and Suez Road. The project is developed between clusters of residential compounds residing in the area’s R2 and R3 zones, which are projected to host 300,000 residents, and within less than one kilometer from the Capital’s Central Business District and the towers zone developed by CSCEC.

What is the volume of the company’s investments throughout 2019?

The company plans to invest EGP1bn this year across its projects.

And what is the value of targeted sales for 2019?

We target EGP 2.2bn in sales by the end of this year.

What is the company’s expansion plan?

We are planning to launch another commercial project on an area of 5,500 sqm, also at the New Administrative Capital, with an initial investment of EGP 800m. Moreover, we are in negotiations to acquire two plots of land, the first of which is located in Ain Sokhna on an area of 10 feddan, while the second is a residential project outside of Cairo.

 How do you see partnerships as a system?

Partnerships mainly combine the expertise of the developers involved in order to ensure better, faster, and more influential implementation of projects. Therefore, we are always ready to collaborate with other prominent developers and repeat the success we had with El Makassa, our partners in the development of Castle Landmark.

Do you plan to list your company in the Egyptian Exchange (EGX)?

The company’s initial public offering (IPO) is not currently included in our short-term plan, but we will study the decision closely and be ready within the next three years.

Do you think that the government competes with developers in New Mansoura and New Alamein?

As a developer, I do not regard the government’s decision to enter the market as a competition; this is a sizeable market with high demand and can accommodate all the products being offered. However, I see that the government is playing an instrumental, indirect role in adjusting prices for the target customer.

In your opinion, do you think that the market is currently facing a recession?

The local real estate market is quite sturdy with real demand from all segments, on account of the growing population. What we’re currently witnessing is not a recession but an adjustment, a temporary situation where the market is adapting to recent changes in order to meet customers’ purchasing power and eliminate confusion. 

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Marakez invests EGP 6bn in District 5 project Wed, 27 Mar 2019 12:00:17 +0000 Operating Mall of Tanta in August with EGP 1bn investments

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Marakez, one of Fawaz AlHokair Group companies, plans to operate a commercial centre ‘Mall of Tanta’ which will be located in Tanta in Gharbeya in August, with a total investments of about EGP 1bn, according to Ahmed Badrawi, the CEO of Marakez.

Badrawi said that the company plans to expand its business in several governorates especially in Delta and Upper Egypt.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Badrawi to learn of the company’s expansion plans and the updates regarding its current commercial projects, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

When will the company operate the Mall of Tanta?

We plan to operate our commercial centre ‘Mall of Tanta’ in August with a total investment of about EGP 1bn in Tanta, Gharbeya. The project has been developed within only 18 months.

The mall spans over a built-up area of 45,000 sqm, and a rental area of 37,000 sqm. The company is approaching completing the mall’s marketing, which includes many brands.

Why is the company interested in launching businesses in governorates?

Launching businesses in governorates came after several market studies conducted by our company, which confirmed the existence of purchasing power in the Delta region, especially Tanta city, and the size of demand is strong, which experience has already confirmed.

Additionally, the company plans to expand in the governorates namely in the Delta and Upper Egypt during the coming period and to attract distinct investment opportunities into those cities, which have a strong demand and purchasing power without the necessary services to meet this demand. The volume of development that is currently being implemented in Egypt in various governorates includes great investment opportunities in diverse areas in the Egyptian real estate market.

What are the current projects that the company is implementing in Cairo?

The company is implementing the District 5 project in Katameya, a residential-administrative-commercial centre located on an area of 100 feddan, with investments exceeding EGP 6bn. The mall has a rental area of 80,000 sqm, and a residential part which includes 3,000 housing units.

We plan to deliver the residential part of the project within two years. Additionally, we are negotiating to attract multiple brands in the project’s commercial part, with the estimated completion of the entire project within six years.

What is the construction situation of Aeon Towers?

The foundation works were carried out in the company’s residential Aeon Towers project in the Sixth of October City. The project comprises of three residential towers with 400 apartments of various sizes, in addition to Aeon Courtyard buildings, which is scheduled to be delivered in the current year, six months ahead of schedule.

Aeon Towers are the first of its kind in Sixth of October City and the new cities at 72 metres high. The launch of these projects comes within the framework of the company’s strategy, which is specialised in commercial centres, to build a commercial mall, along with each residential project to maximise the benefit for residents and unit purchasers.

What are the updates regarding the Mall of Arabia project?

Mall of Arabia was launched in 2010 in over an area of 150,000 sqm of gross leasable area (GLA), with over 500 shops and 16 anchors. I believe in the distinction of the second phase of the project, and the high level of implementation and services, as well as trademarks and brands which exist in it, in order to meet the continued requirements and customer needs, and to achieve integration within the Mall of Arabia.

How do you see the competition in the real estate market?

The customer has a strong awareness of his needs and financial capabilities, which helps him to choose from the various projects offered in the market, so the client is the final judge to choose between all real estate products on offer.

Furthermore, I see that the government is implementing a diverse package of new urban communities throughout the republic with the primary objective of doubling the urban area, absorbing new technological developments, and integrating employment opportunities and housing into one city. This means a great deal of investment opportunities for local and foreign developers.

How do you see the state’s strategy in exporting property?

The government pays great interest to exporting Egyptian real estate, which began with the enactment of a law to grant residence in return for the purchase of a property. In addition, the government participates and cooperates with developers in a number of important real estate and investment exhibitions, the most recent of which was the MIPIM exhibition in France, an important international investment gathering.

I expect that these crucial steps are being taken currently by the ministry of housing and will lead to achieving a distinguished sales volume abroad during the coming period.

Moreover, the presence of the government with real estate companies represents a confidence factor and a guarantee for the companies, which contributed to the success of the experiment. The purpose of participation is marketing the laws and facilities offered by Egypt for foreigners who want to buy property in Egypt and not just individual sales by companies.

In your opinion, how can deceleration be avoided if it occurs in Egypt’s real estate sales?

Diversity is a strong opportunity for developers to reach a larger base of customers, both locally and internationally. This diversity may be in the units’ sizes, prices, payment systems, and project areas, which are determined according to the market studies that are carried out to implement a project commensurate with the customer’s needs and purchasing powers.

The stability of customers’ purchasing powers drives companies to be more innovative in the implementation of units as well as in offering different payment plans. For example, our company provides different payment methods commensurate with our customers.

The hard competition between developers enriches the real estate market and benefits developers themselves as each developer has to come up with innovative new products inside their projects, either in implementation or in marketing, which ultimately serves the client’s interests.

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Palm Hills targets 25% investment increase in 2019 Wed, 27 Mar 2019 11:15:43 +0000 Company plans to begin implementation of Badya in 2Q19

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Palm Hills Developments has directed EGP 2bn in investment to the company’s projects during 2018, and it targets increasing its investments by 25% in the current year, according to Mohamed Sultan, CEO of the company.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Sultan to identify the company’s strategy during the current year, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What is the value of achieved sales in 2018 and the targeted sales in 2019?

The company has achieved EGP 12.5bn in sales last year and plans to record EGP 14bn in sales in 2019, driven by the launch of new phases of existing projects, in the forefront the Badya project, which is being implemented in partnership with New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA).

What is the value of the company’s investments in 2018?

The company has directed EGP 2bn in investment in the company’s projects during 2018 and targets increasing its investments by 25% in the current year. The new investments represent construction contracts.

Can you tell us more about the Badya project in West Cairo?

The Badya project is a residential city located in West Cairo, 6th of October City, on an area of 3,000 feddan. It is based on creativity and providing a unique life for its customers. The company also seeks to launch a sustainable city that takes into consideration the technological developments that the citizen currently needs. This is in line with the state’s Vision 2030.

When will the company begin the Badya project implementation?

Obtaining construction permits are currently underway. It is scheduled to implement the project in the second quarter (Q2) of this year.

When will the company deliver the first phase of Badya?

The company plans to deliver the first phase of the project by 2022.

What is the volume of achieved sales of the Badya project?

The company has achieved EGP 5bn in sales of the project, which includes about 3,000 residential units. The company also meets on a monthly basis with its pricing committee to discuss prices of offered units in the project in order to determine prices according to the continuous market changes.

What is the value of the Badya’s investments?

Badya is being developed over 12 years with a total investment of EGP 320bn and targeted revenues of EGP 470-480bn. The project also provides 250,000 jobs and 30% of the project’s electricity is provided by solar energy.

Badya is co-developed by Palm Hills and NUCA, in return for an in-kind share of 420,000 sqm units, of which 50,000 sqm are commercial, and a cash equivalent of about 26% of revenues for 12 years.

How many fully finished units the company owns?

The company has a stock of fully finished units for delivery to its customers with a total of about 500 units. It is a new and unique approach to the company, as we market fully finished units for immediate delivery.

What is the size of the company’s land bank?

The company’s land bank reached 40.6m sqm, which covers its investment needs and is enough for our expansion plans during the coming period, which does not mean that we may not study any investment opportunity proving its uniqueness and seriousness, within the framework of the continuation of the company’s role in investment and development. Moreover, the company is constantly studying investment opportunities in various parts of the country.

Besides, the company has a portfolio of large and diverse projects, including Palm Hills New Cairo on an area of 500 feddan, the Crown project in the eastern expansions of the 6th of October City on an area of 190 feddan, and the Capital Gardens project next to the New Administrative Capital.

What is the value of the company’s units’ securitization?

The company has completed the securitization of units worth EGP 760m, which reduces the financial burden and provides liquidity for the company of the units delivered.

Your company was one of the first companies to co-develop projects with the government. How do you see partnership projects with the government?

Partnership between the government and developers is important because it benefits the two parties. It maximises the value of land investment, and ensures renewable financial revenues for the state without obtaining the value of the land only once. In addition to that, there is the advantage provided to developers through directing the value of land purchase toward project implementation– meaning project development at a faster rate.

What is the company’s strategy in exporting property?

The company is fully convinced of the importance of exporting all types of real estate, whether residential, administrative, or commercial, which is required in the current stage due to several factors, most notably the competitive advantage of the Egyptian property in terms of quality, excellence, and low prices compared to other markets in the region. The customer abroad can buy a unique unit worth less than in his country, in addition to the size of the comprehensive urban development currently being undertaken by the state and the launch of many new urban communities throughout the country increased investments and multiple projects.

Furthermore, the current political, security, and economic stability in Egypt, as well as the economic reform plan, help to make Egypt a magnet for foreign clients and investors, as well as inaugurating an urban renaissance that will make Egypt one of the top competing markets in the world.

Palm Hills Development has recently participated in the WAFIX real estate exhibition in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and the MIPIM in France, where the company sought to present its projects as distinctive models of urban development in Egypt.

What is your expectation of Egypt’s real estate market?

Egypt’s real estate market is strong due to its dependence on real demand by all community segments. As well, it is the market that proved its ability to meet challenges and fluctuations. What’s more, the property is still a safe haven for investment and a basic requirement for citizens as we have more than 800,000 marriages annually. In addition, we have the existence of a fixed annual gap between supply and demand for different residential segments.

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First Group to launch new project in Ain Sokhna with EGP 6bn expected sales in Q4 2019 Wed, 27 Mar 2019 10:45:21 +0000 Company presents 4th phase of KENZ compound with EGP 650m targeted sales, says chairperson

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First Group for Real Estate Investment will launch its new tourism residential project in Ain Sokhna with EGP 6bn in targeted sales during the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2019, according to the company’s Chairperson Bashir Mostafa.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Mostafa to find out the company’s plan for the coming year, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What are the updates regarding the KENZ compound?

We began delivering the third phase of the project in the 6th of October City. Moreover, we started marketing the fourth and final phase of the project during this month. The fourth phase includes 18 residential buildings with total targeted sales of EGP 650m, and is scheduled to be delivered early 2021.

The project is built on 30 feddan area and includes the Kaya Plaza Mall and a social club, as well as 1,350 units with spaces ranging between 90-250 sqm.

What is the value of targeted sales of the Kaya Plaza Mall in the Kenz compound?

The company has begun marketing the Kaya Plaza project with targeted sales of EGP 800m, which is the commercial part of the Kenz compound project.

Likewise, it is planned to be delivered by 2021, and includes administrative units and medical clinics, in addition to commercial units which will only be rented and self-managed. The mall is located on an area of 12,000 sqm with 2 basement floors which are used as a parking lot for the project.

The company is developing a new commercial, medical administrative project in the 6th of October City. Can you tell us more details about the project?

The Kazan Plaza Mall is being developing in the 6th of October City in front of Mall of Arabia, and the company has directed EGP 300m into the project’s investment.

The project includes commercial and administrative units, and it comprises of clinic units as well. It contains four buildings encompassing commercial shops, administrative offices, and medical units, with spaces ranging between 50-600 sqm.

First Group will sell the administrative and medical units, and rent the commercial units. Furthermore, we aim to achieve sales of EGP 450m from the first two floors, and the company will own the project’s ground floor.

The project will be maintained and managed by a company affiliated to First Group, in order to guarantee the quality of the mall’s services. Two administrative and medical buildings were integrated into the project and were marketed, with the remaining two to be integrated by the coming year.

What’s more, we have marketed 50% of the administrative and medical part of the project, as the company plans to market the remaining part of the mall at higher prices because of the distinction of the remaining part. We project to deliver the mall within the middle of next year, as the implementation process is being developed according to the schedule.

What is the value of investments the company will direct toward the company’s projects in 2019?

It is planned to inject investments of EGP 800m from self-financing representing 25%, while bank facilities account for about 30% and the booking proceeds with about 45%. We have transactions with the banks of BLOM Bank, Ahli United Bank, Al Baraka Bank Egypt, and Arab African International Bank, and the company does not plan to list its shares in the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) during the current period.

What is the value of targeted sales in 2019?

The company aims to achieve contractual sales of EGP 950m by the end of this year.

What is the company’s expansion plan?

First Group plans to launch a new project at Galala Plateau in Ain Sokhna in Q4 of this year with sales of EGP 6bn. The project is tourist-residential, and we agreed with a global consulting office to develop the project’s master plan, in which the first phase to be launched in Q4 of the current year. The first phase represents 20% of the project with targeted sales of EGP 1bn, and it is planned to be marketed within one year of its launch. Additionally, we will begin the project’s construction in the beginning of 2020, and it will be developed within five years.

Furthermore, we plan to launch another project in the North Coast on an area of 95 feddan in Fouka Bay, and about 25% of the project is allocated for service apartments. It will be delivered semi-finished as residential units. The project is owned by the company.

The launch of the two projects comes within the framework of the company’s plan to diversify its portfolio of customers and its investment portfolio between residential, tourist, commercial, and administrative buildings. In addition, we are confident of the outstanding performance of Egypt’s real estate market during the current period and we are certain of continued real demand.

The company considers the implementation of an administrative project in the New Administrative Capital (NAC) in the coming period. The company will apply for land with an area of ​​about 12,000 sqm soon, after completing the project’s market studies within the framework of the company’s plan to diversify its land bank in diverse areas.

How do you see investment opportunities in the NAC?

I think that investing and developing projects in the NAC is a good opportunity for developers. Additionally, the NAC project receives national and government attention to implement a model city which is the main gate toward reducing population congestion in the Cairo governorate and achieving the state’s goal of doubling urban areas. Therefore, accelerating development rates and establishing the infrastructure will encourage and attract local and foreign investors to become part of the project.

How do you see partnership projects in promoting the real estate market?

Partnership is important in the implementation of multiple projects in a record time because the developer can direct the value of the land in the implementation process, which provides liquidity for the developer and enables the state to accelerate development rates. In addition, it ensures renewed financial returns from land rather than direct selling. Moreover, the positive change in the process of selling land to real estate developers, in terms of the big size of offered lands and multiplicity of offerings systems, ease launching new businesses in novel urban communities.

Do you plan to launch new businesses in Upper Egypt?

Investing in Upper Egypt requires a good market study of the region, the target customer, and the nature of desired units there, and the experiences of some investors in Upper Egypt were promising.

How do you see the real estate developers’ federation draft law?

The market is in urgent need for a classification of real estate developers according to the previous business record, financial solvency, and land bank, as well as the company’s commitment to the dates of implementation and delivery, in addition to their previous budgets and other factors which places each developer in their proper categories.

The state shall grant developers land according to their category so that they can develop the space commensurate with their financial and technical capabilities.

Several meetings were held between the ministry of housing and real estate developers in order to discuss the draft law to launch a federation for real estate developers, where participants sought to balance the rights of the state, developers, and customers, and know the needs of each federation’s party. The discussions revolved around several issues, namely the classification of developers in the federation would deposit down-payments and instalments, and developers would take the money from this account according to his implementation plan, which ensures the preservation of customer funds.

If the discussions are completed, the next step is that the draft law will be submitted to the parliament for discussion. This discussion will be attended by real estate developers in order to maintain consistency between the rights of the state and developers. The executive regulation shall include the details of the law.

The post First Group to launch new project in Ain Sokhna with EGP 6bn expected sales in Q4 2019 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Tatweer Misr Targets EGP 6bn in Sales Across its Projects in 2019 Wed, 27 Mar 2019 10:15:08 +0000 Company achieved EGP 2.5bn in sales at Bloomfields, says Dr. Shalaby, CEO and Managing Director

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A 5-year, three-pronged strategy adopted by Tatweer Misr focusing on the development of its current projects, expanding its investment in the local market, and seeking to invest outside of Egypt as well as attracting foreign investments to Egypt, according to Dr. Ahmed Shalaby, CEO and Managing Director of Tatweer Misr.

Shalaby said that the company aims to achieve EGP 6bn in sales  in its projects in the current year, compared to EGP 6.7bn last year.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Shalaby to learn about the company’s strategy for the current year, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What is the company’s strategy in the coming period?

A strategy has to be a long term one, and we set ours to be implemented on the period of Five Years. It mainly entails Focusing on the Development of our current three projects and securing the delivery of the first phases of both Fouka  Bay & IL Monte Galala , Expanding in the local market through studying the investment opportunities in West Cairo and the North Coast, as well as diversifying our product portfolio , and establishing a solid international presence through real estate export and attracting foreign investors to invest in  our projects. In order to achieve success, the aforementioned objectives require a close study of the market as well as careful observation of changes, projections, and challenges. At the moment, we are studying different investment opportunities. The fact is that we are always keen on choosing to  invest in areas that has a strong value proposition ,for us the choice is not necessarily the best location but more importantly what value can we add to this area or demographic.  So, while we intend to grow our portfolio, we spend a lot of time on both research and planning processes to be clear about our next steps.

What is the size of the company’s targeted sales in 2019 compared to 2018?

The company aims to achieve 6bn EGP in sales throughout 2019, which is less than the 6.7bn EGP that was achieved last year. If we take a closer look at the picture, we will be able to understand that this is only a natural and logical target since most of the units in our project “Fouka Bay” were nearly sold out during the course of last year. Of course, if you managed to close a deal for a new project this year, the target will change accordingly.

What is the value of investments the company plans to inject in 2019?

We plan to invest 3bn EGP this year; 2bn EGP will be invested in IL Monte Galala in El Sokhna, and the rest will be directed towards Fouka Bay project in the North Coast.

What is the percentage of sales to foreigners?

Egyptians living abroad, and foreigners constitute 22% of total sales, with the latter representing 5%. As developers who work towards the export ofthe units in  our projects , this is actually quite encouraging for us; Tatweer Misr has, as a part of its objective to increase its international reach and sales, partnered with Liverpool LFC and participated in exhibitions in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and England. Our strategy has always been built with the intention of exporting our projects, this is strongly reflected in our master-plans and while we have historically relied on the Egyptian market, which we will maintain, we also want to expand our reach into new markets  thereby increasing international brand recognition and in turn boosting international sales.

What products does Tatweer Misr intend to showcase during the Cityscape exhibition?

Throughout this year’s edition of Cityscape, we are planning to showcase serviced apartments, chalets, and villas in IL Monte Galala and apartments, duplexes and villas in Bloomfields. Moreover, we will reveal Fouka Bay’s remaining serviced apartments complex, situated west of the project.

What’s the company’s delivery plan?

Fouka Bay delivery has already started and we are planning to start operation  this summerWith 167 units, we expect phase one owners and guests to enjoy their summer vacation at their fully finished, water-front homes. Our focus for the time being is to prepare for their unmatched experience during their stay. Moreover, delivery of IL Monte Galala’s first phase, comprised of 400 units, is expected by the first quarter of 2020. At that time there will be a number of amenities in place and others in the development phase. As time progresses, we will be integrating new ideas and concepts into our master-plan to remain in tune with times and needs of our guests and customers.

Did you acquire ministerial approval for BLOOMFIELDS?

Yes, ministerial approvals for Bloomfields have been obtained and licenses are soon to be acquired.

Speaking of BLOOMFIELDS, and in line with our strategy for the project to be the first college town in Egypt,  Tatweer Misr, has recently signed an MOU with the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), and the Ocean County College (OCC) to establish Egypt’s first American International Branch Campus (IBC) at BLOOMFIELDS college campus in Mostakbal City. This comes as part of a lineup of agreements with internationally acclaimed universities and schools, spreading across the 90-acre educational district within the project.

What is the volume of investments in the educational part at BLOOMFIELDS?

The educational district, which will cover 90 acres of land, will see 5bn EGP in investment. BLOOMFIELDS foresees the establishment of Egypt’s first entrepreneurial university as well as the first GEN-operated ‘Hub for Innovation & Entrepreneurship,in the MENA region “GEN@Bloomfields”, providing first-class education focusing on innovation, entrepreneurship and SME development. The project should be ready to receive the first student by September 2022.

What are the updates regarding the residential part of the project?

BLOOMFIELDS offers a total of around 10,000 units, 1213 of which have been sold with a total value of 2.5bn EGP. These units include luxurious villas, lofts, apartments, duplexes, twin-houses and townhouses aesthetically designed to embrace cascading green terraces, floating pools, and interactive roofs, as well as breakthrough flying residences. Homes at BLOOMFIELDS offer a variety of sizes ranging between 80 m2 – 350 m2.

What is the company’s expansion plan?

With a land bank of 5,000,000 m2, Tatweer Misr is currently focusing on its 3 projects (IL Monte Galala, Fouka Bay & BLOOMFIELDS) and is looking for the right opportunity to present its unique value proposition to other areas. Expansion of Sheikh Zayed in West Cairo and the North Coast, are among our priorities for investment in the short term, while New Alamein, New Mansoura and Upper Egypt are part of its long-term investment plan.

Do you plan to list the company in Egyptian Exchange (EGX)?

Real estate developers cannot proceed with an IPO before three years of their first delivery. Listing the company is in our long-term plan, so once the full requirements are fulfilled, we will study the market and decide on the best time to apply.

How do you see Egypt’s real estate market? Additionally, what is your expectation toward real estate price hikes?

Population growth is one of the main drivers behind the strength of the sector, which contributes with 7 % to the total GDP; we are around 100 Million, increasing annually by 2.5 million every year. And as per Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), we have around 950 thousand marriages every year, which increases the demand on the housing sector. Accordingly, we can affirm that the demand in the market is real whether for housing or for investment. Real Estate represents 60% of the Egyptian household savings and Egyptians are and will always find real estate investment as the safe haven option.

Although the market is currently witnessing a slowdown in sales, it is only a normal reaction to the massive changes it experienced over the past few years. I believe this slowdown could be viewed as an opportunity to test developers’ innovative capacity in all aspects of the industry; one that could result in stabilization and adjustment of prices in order to meet customers’ purchasing power. I expect price increases of between 10 and 15% during 2019, this increase will be  only the outcome of the increasing of operation costs and building materials when energy subsidy is removed.

What do you think is the best solution to avoid this market slowdown and stabilize purchasing power?

The problem most developers face is that the Egyptian market currently poses restrictions on mortgage finance because banks only commit to already established projects, and therefore, availing finance for residential projects rests on developers in the market, who invest in the project from the start then sell their units on installments, which consumes resources, time, and effort that can be directed towards planning more projects. The market is in need for a more constructive mortgage finance system which can prove effective throughout the planning phase and help accelerate the construction process.

Moreover, I see that we need to develop a database to determine supply and demand trends across Egypt; it will work as an indicator that could play a vital role in the decision-making process, and allow developers to choose the locations that fit their marketing plans and are in need for their value proposition.

As leading developers in the Egyptian real estate market, how do you see the draft law of the real estate developers’ federation?

I believe that initiating a federation for real estate developers is a significant step towards having a more efficient and systematic real estate market. The federation is expected to ensure fluent and accurate communication among industry players, in cooperation with concerned ministries. I’m pleased that the public and private sectors have reached a joint agreement with the aim of moving the industry forward.

How was your participation in the MIPIM exhibition in France?

Egypt’s participation in the MIPIM exhibition has seen the government and eight other developers share the same pavilion. With the promotion of Egyptian real estate as a promising, safe investment at the heart of our collective mission to attract visitors, I believe that all developers were able to deliver a clear view of the market’s state and volume.

Egypt’s participation in such a manner does not only reflect the weight of our market, but also support our double objectives of real estate export and attracting foreign direct investment to the country and the sector. I do believe that these days present a prime opportunity for developers to look to exporting real estate. Given the overall business environment, it makes good business sense that Egyptian real estate companies focus on exporting real estate to potential buyers outside their borders. Potential overseas buyers have vastly different motivations for buying overseas properties or more specifically in our case properties in Egypt, prime among them being a greater focus on capital appreciation in addition to value of purchase.  Within todays financial climate, the cost of prime property in Egypt is seen as a potential opportunity within a limited time frame and hence an incredible opportunity for those companies that wish to market their products abroad.

The post Tatweer Misr Targets EGP 6bn in Sales Across its Projects in 2019 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Al Ahly Sabbour eyes investments in New Alamein, NAC Wed, 27 Mar 2019 09:15:28 +0000 Company aims to record EGP 10bn in total sales of GAIA project, says CEO

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Al Ahly Sabbour Developments will aim to achieve sales of EGP 6bn through the company’s projects during the current year, compared to EGP 5.5bn in 2018, according to its CEO, Ahmed Sabbour.

Sabbour added that the company plans to pump EGP 3bn worth of investments in the construction works of its projects in 2019.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Sabbour to learn more about the company’s strategy and its expansions in the Egyptian real estate market, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What is the value of achieved sales in 2018? Additionally, what is the value of the targeted sales in the current year?

Al Ahly Sabbour Developments aims at achieving EGP 6bn with the company’s current projects for this year, compared to EGP 5.5bn in 2018.

What is the size of investments that will be directed toward projects’ construction works?

The company plans to pump EGP 3bn worth of investments in construction works of its projects in 2019, compared to EGP 1.5bn in 2018.

What are the updates regarding ‘Amwaj’ in the North Coast?

The company has completed 60% of the project’s fourth phase which spans over 60 acres and consists of 800 units, with EGP 450m in investments. The company has marketed 85% of this phase, and plans to deliver 225 units in the summer of 2019. Moreover, we plan to deliver 240 service apartments during the current year.

What are the targeted sales of the fourth phase of the project?

We aim at registering EGP 700m in sales.

When will the company operate the Rivette Mall in Amwaj?

Rivette Mall will be fully operational by next summer. The mall’s first phase was already completed and operating since last summer, which represents 60% of the project and includes 40 shops. The opening of the second phase will be by next summer.

What is the volume of the mall’s investments?

The total investment of the project is EGP 120m on a land area of 62,000 sqm. The mall is characterised by its location and distinctive design implemented by the English Mixity design office.

Are there any expansions in the project?

Yes, there are. We have added an area of 15 acres in a 25% partnership for the land’s owner. Moreover, we plan to direct EGP 250m for the expansion’s construction work with targeted sales of EGP 600m. Obtaining the project’s licenses is underway.

Over and above, the company has contracted to develop a100-acres project through a partnership system in the North Coast. Likewise, obtaining building permits is underway.

Tell us more about the updates on GAIA in the North Coast.

We plan to begin GAIA’s construction works before next summer, with total construction costs of EGP 5bn. Additionally, the company has completed the project’s designs and is waiting for building licences.

The project spans over 285 acres to accommodate 2,500 families. It includes various residential units such as separate villas, duplexes, and chalets.

What is the value of the achieved sales of GAIA?

We have achieved sales worth EGP1.3bn last year. Furthermore, we target EGP 10bn in total sales of the project. The company plans to market it within five years and direct EGP 100m in the construction of the first phase during 2019.

What is the projects’ source of funding?

Financing of the company’s projects depends on self-financing, marketing revenues, and bank loans, which are no more than 15% of the funding.

What is the company’s expansion plan?

The company plans to expand in New Alamein city through a partnership system. The implementation of projects through a partnership system became a direction and a requirement for the company recently–with some exceptions–based on our experience and reputation. Moreover, partnerships can enable us to focus on more than one project at the same time and ensure renewed and high returns for both parties.

The company owns the biggest project in El Mostakbal City. Please tell us about the project’s updates.

Al Ahly has launched the City of Odyssia with over 600 acres in El Mostakbal City, East of Cairo, and is being developed over 10 years in partnership with El Mostakbal for Urban Development company, with construction costs worth EGP 25bn. The company partnered with Hill International, Sabbour Consulting, Gensler Architects, and Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). Hill International will be managing the design and construction of the project, while Gensler was tasked with providing innovative master planning and urban design services for the new city. JLL has been charged with providing consultancy services for the development and lease of the Central Business District.

The project comprises of seven residential compounds. The first is Alaire which will accommodate 1,700 families, with total sales of EGP 4.25bn, of which EGP 2.3bn has been achieved. The project’s construction costs reached EGP 2.5bn, and the company has begun the implementation phase.

The RIDGE is the second project within the City of Odyssia, with a total investment of EGP 2.5bn. It is the second residential compound following Alaire. The project is being built on an area of 220 acres (1m sqm), including 1,400 units ranging from villas, townhouses, and twin houses, with an approximate built-up area of 400,000 sqm, including two clubhouses for its residents. The project is being marketed on three phases, and the first phase’s sales have reached EGP 1bn.

When will the company deliver the first compound within the City of Odyssia?

The first delivery will be in 2023.

Will the company launch the third residential compound inside the City of Odyssia?

We will launch and announce the third project inside the City of Odyssia during the Cityscape-Egypt exhibition.

What are your other projects in El Mostakbal City?

The company owns the Green Square project in El Mostakbal City consisting of over 80 acres with a low built-up area. The project includes 1,027 units with targeted sales of EGP 1.8bn. We will deliver the whole project by the end of 2020.

Furthermore, we own L’Avenir in El Mostakbal City, a 100 acres project consisting 2,300 units with construction costs of EGP 1.8bn, and we have marketed 90% of the project with expected total sales of EGP 3.2bn. It is planned to be delivered in 2021.

What is more, we have marketed over 50% of Aria, spanned on 108 acres in El Mostakbal City, and it includes 2,200 units, with implementation costs of EGP 2.25bn and targeted sales of EGP 3.8bn.

Do you plan to launch real estate projects in the New Administrative Capital (NAC)?

The company did not penetrate the NAC as a developer yet, however, the Sabbour Consulting office is designing and supervising the implementation of five land plots obtained by big developers, as well as one of the six universities being implemented in the NAC. However, the company is waiting for the next offering in the Capital for a partnership interest on an area of not less than 200 acres.

What is the size of the company’s land bank?

Al Ahly’s land bank reaches 5m sqm and we are seeking to raise it to 6m sqm until mid-2020 through launching new projects in New Alamein, the NAC, the North Coast, Sixth of October, and Upper Egypt.

In your opinion, how did the liberalisation of the Egyptian pound exchange rate affect the construction cost?

The floatation of the pound has increased construction costs by 42%.

What is your expectation regarding price hikes in the real estate market in 2019?

I expect an increase of 20% in unit prices for the current year.

The post Al Ahly Sabbour eyes investments in New Alamein, NAC appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

US-Saudi-UAE consortium negotiates with ACUD to develop 500 feddan entertainment area in NAC Wed, 27 Mar 2019 08:17:51 +0000 Company launches lands in partnership system with 100-feddan size, says spokesperson

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The Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD) is negotiating with a number of Egyptian, Arab and foreign developers to obtain plots of land in the New Administrative Capital (NAC), whether through buying land or partnership, according to the ACUD’s spokesperson Khaled El Hosseini.

El Hosseini told Daily News Egypt that the ACUD has recently received more than 10 new offers from different foreign developers to launch new projects in the New Administrative Capital (NAC), and we interviewed him to find out more, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How many new applications have been submitted by developers to obtain lands in the NAC?

The ACUD is negotiating with a number of Egyptian, Arab, and foreign developers to obtain plot of lands in the NAC, whether through buying land or under a partnership system. We have recently received more than 10 new offers from different foreign developers to launch projects in the new capital.

In mid-March, the company has received an application from a consortium of American, Saudi and Emirati companies applying to obtain a 500-feddan plot of land to develop a commercial mall and an entertainment area in the NAC.

Did the ACUD take a decision regarding their request?

The company is still examining the position of the consortium and its financial solvency in order to decide. Besides, many negotiations are still ongoing during the study phase.

Will you plan to launch projects in a partnership system?

The company is seriously studying entering in partnerships with companies and developers on an area of not less than 100 feddan, as it would be beneficial to both parties. For one thing, the ACUD ensures the receipt of renewable profits over the duration of the project and the developer will acquire the land without paying for it.

What would be the ACUD’s share in the event of co-developing projects?

In case of having a partnership between the ACUD and any other company, the share of our company will not be less than 40% or 50% depending on the nature and status of each project.

How many developers did pay 20% of their land’s value so far?

Approximately 70 developers paid 20% of the value of obtained land in the new capital.

How many ministerial approvals have been issued for projects inside the NAC?

Up to date, 30 ministerial approvals were issued. The remaining approvals will be issued soon.

How much are the size of sold out lands?

More than 17,000 feddan have been sold, representing over 70% of the size of the project’s first phase. In addition, there is the sale of lands to establish 64 private and international schools for all education stages.

Moreover, the company has sold more than 70% of the MU32 mixed-use area, and also opened sales in the other mixed-use area MU21, and their selling rates are going well.

After the withdrawal of Chinese CFLD Company from developing 15,000 feddan in the NAC, did this affect the implementation rate?

The decision to withdraw from the contract with China’s CFLD to develop 15,000 feddan in the new capital was not only due to disagreement over the partnership shares, but the ACUD board wanted to reject the contract with the Chinese company as there are other large Egyptian companies who have the same expertise and efficiency to implement and develop the lands that the Chinese company wanted to develop.

Additionally, if the Chinese company got the land, it would weaken the competition of Egyptian companies because it would offer units in the project at lower prices than Egyptian real estate developers because this company has enormous potentials to develop large areas, which would harm the business of Egyptian companies operating in the new capital in general. Moreover, the Chinese company would have transferred its revenues outside Egypt and it would not represent any addition to the Egyptian economy.

Overall, the withdrawal has no effect on the development of the NAC’s first phase because the land that the company planned to develop was part of the second phase of the project.

What are the updates regarding the negotiations with the Korean company to develop the land instead of CFLD?

The negotiations have stopped.

Do you have any direct contracts with Chinese CSCEC?

The ACUD has already sold 1,050 feddan of the central business district to the ministry of housing, utilities, and urban development, of which 200 feddan on the bank of the Green River have been allocated by the ministry for the establishment of a skyscrapers area.

Regarding the building of the tallest iconic tower in Africa, implemented by the Chinese company CSCEC, it reached a height of about 385 metres. The ACUD had sold the land to the ministry of housing in the central business district at EGP 10,000 per sqm.

What are your expectations concerning future prices of unsold land plots?

The pricing committee is currently meeting to determine the price of the lands that have not yet been sold. However, I believe that the land prices in the NAC will significantly increase, especially after the transfer of ministries, embassies, and government agencies.

Market experts predict more withdrawals will occur by junior developers in the coming period. Do you think so?

Our company is looking into the solvency of companies before contracting and the ACUD insists on implementing the terms of the full withdrawal to deter any developer that is not serious. Likewise, there is no mistake in implementing projects, according to our periodical reports on the executive situation of each developer in the new capital.

Up till now, no fines have been imposed on developers as they are abiding by standards and implementation schedules. The company is very strict regarding developers’ failure to meet their commitments through withdrawing the land in case of complete failure or delay in completing the project according to the implementation timeframe.

Do you see that Egypt’s real estate market witnesses a deceleration in sales?

This period of each year is witnessing a relative calm in sales and then it increases again. The ACUD also provides facilities for developers to help them develop and complete their projects. For example, the company offers three months as a grace period for companies in case of a delay in carrying out construction works, in addition to allowing some companies an additional year for instalment payments.

What is the situation of infrastructure development?

The ACUD has managed to develop 90% of water infrastructure in the first phase of the NAC. What’s more, the company plans to fully complete the infrastructure of the first phase before 2020. The ACUD has made great progress with regard to infrastructure works and utilities in the NAC’s first phase. The infrastructure cost reached about EGP 140bn up to date, of which EGP 30bn was for developing smart infrastructure. There are two water plants to supply the residents of the new city’s first phase, the first already exists with a capacity of 125,000 cubic metres of water per day, in addition to a water pumping station that is being established with the same capacity. Additionally, the development of sanitation services, which is divided into three phases, is in progress as per schedule. Moreover, a power plant is being implemented by Siemens with a capacity of 4,800MW, while another three lower-voltage plants are under development.

The company is currently operating in seven districts out of a total of eight, and by the end of 2020, the rest of the lands of the NAC’s first phase will be sold.

Over and above, the rates of delivery of sewage and electricity projects in the new capital are going well, as the average rate of infrastructure completion exceeds 50%.

Who are the international operators the ACUD has contracted with to develop the project’s infrastructure?

The ACUD has signed a contract with the EDF Group, the French company for the construction of electricity for homes in the capital, and a smart money collection system. In addition, last month, the company has contracted with the US company Honeywell to develop security systems in the NAC. According to the contract, Honeywell will install public surveillance cameras, posts, control systems, and other devices, with expectations to be operational early 2020.

Furthermore, we are studying cooperation with MasterCard to make the NAC the first cashless city in the country, as part of the country’s plans to support financial inclusion.

Do you plan to obtain bank loans?

We do not have to because the ACUD does not have any financial challenges in funding the NAC’s infrastructure. In addition, the company’s budget for financing the infrastructure of new capital project is proceeding as planned.

Also, the company implements infrastructure works out of proceeds from selling lands to developers and the new capital does not need the funds of the state budget because the instructions of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi were clear regarding not burdening the state budget with the new project.

The post US-Saudi-UAE consortium negotiates with ACUD to develop 500 feddan entertainment area in NAC appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Unilever Mashreq invests over EGP 500m in Egypt since end-2016 Sat, 23 Mar 2019 15:54:55 +0000 Company exports to more than 30 countries across world, says marketing director

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Unilever Mashreq has invested over EGP 500m in Egypt since 2016, said the company’s Marketing Director and executive board member, Sherine Abdel Moneim, during an interview with Daily News Egypt.

She explained that the investments were used to increase production capacity and inaugurate a new factory and production lines. 

Abdel Moneim highlighted that Unilever’s focus is to double its export rates in order to get foreign currency into the country, in addition to opening new markets for Egyptian products, as well as improving the Egyptian product.

She tackled in the interview the company’s export rates, and how the Egyptian pound flotation affected consumption patterns, among other topics, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How many factories does the firm have in Egypt?

We have five factories in Egypt, one of them is for hair care products. The second is for the products of Oral hygiene, while the third one is for soaps, shower gels, and body washes, in addition to a plant for the home care products (washing powder products), as well as a plant for food products, and the last factory is for Lipton tea.

Are there any expansion plans for Unilever Mashreq in Egypt?

At the moment, there are no definite plans to open new factories, but we are very interested to increase our production capacity.

What is the company’s total export rate?

It depends on the type of the product. For example, the personal and home care plants export about 50% of their production, while for the washing powders, we export 100% of our production. The tea and food exports are less than that of the personal and home products. I believe we are like a hub for manufacturing these products in the Middle East.

To how many countries does the firm export? What about the firm’s market share in Egypt?

We export to over 30 countries across the world, including Europe, the GCC, Africa, and Canada, which means that Egyptian products could compete in the markets which require high international standards.

Concerning the domestic market, almost 90% of our products are number one in the Egyptian market.

Do you think that the consumption pattern has changed after the pound flotation?

Yes, it has differed very much. The consumer needed to adapt to the new economic situation and to the price hikes in water, electricity, and more. However, consumers were shocked at first, and subsequently this increase in prices significantly influenced their consumption, thus they used to put priorities.

According to our study, we found that the transportation in addition to utilities, as well as food and drinks, took the largest portions of the Egyptian family’s budget.

Consequently, citizens began to think of a solution to face this increase, so some consumers began to buy the rest of their needs from cheaper outlets, and others searcher for cheaper alternative products, but after six months from the flotation, we started to see an improvement and people began to adapt to the new situation. We also started to witness a growth in the market similar to what it was before the flotation, especially in the second half of 2018.

How can you evaluate the Egyptian economic situation after the flotation?

No doubt that the Egyptian economy witnessed a very difficult period, but thanks to the government’s economic reform programme and the new legislations which aimed to attract investors into Egypt, we can say that these efforts led to positive indicators, such as a drop in the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate was 8.9% in February, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

Also, among the positive indicators is controlling the inflation and the increase in foreign exchange reserves, in addition to increasing the value of the Egyptian pound.

Notably, Egypt’s urban inflation reached 14.4% in February.

Meanwhile, we also met a lot of business leaders and investors in the business communities who always expressed their desire to invest in Egypt, saying that Egypt is a promising market.

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Nissan willing to support Egypt’s automotive policy, make Egypt an export base in region: Senior VP, Chairperson for AMI region Thu, 21 Mar 2019 08:00:18 +0000 NMEG to increase production to 28,000 in 2019, aims to reach more than 20% market share

The post Nissan willing to support Egypt’s automotive policy, make Egypt an export base in region: Senior VP, Chairperson for AMI region appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Nissan is targeting to double its presence in the Africa, Middle East and India region (AMI), in their mid-term plan. In order to do so, the company will work on three different axes, Peyman Kargar, Nissan’s senior vice president and chairperson for the AMI region, told Daily News Egypt in an interview, during his visit to the country.

Kargar explained that the first axis would be in the countries where they already have a strong presence, where they aim to increase their growth in such countries, including the Gulf, South Africa, and Egypt.

Kargar stated, “The second axis is the transformation of Nissan’s business in the countries where we have a limited presence such as India. In these countries, Nissan invested heavily, and we will continue to do so, yet we are not getting enough benefits.”

“The third axis is the countries where Nissan has no presence such as Pakistan, where we announced Nissan’s entry there with our Datsun brand two months ago. Algeria is also an example where we plan to produce and sell Nissan cars there,” Kargar elaborated. 

Nissan Motor Co Ltd, usually shortened to Nissan, is a Japanese based multinational automobile manufacturer. The company sells its cars under the Nissan, Infiniti, and Datsun brands. In fiscal year 2017, the company sold 5.77m cars, achieving a global market share of 6.2%, and generating a revenue of 11.9tn yen ($106.877bn).

According to Kargar, Egypt is a strategic country for Nissan in the region, as they are the only original equipment manufacturer (OEM) directly present in the country, and the company’s investments exceeded the $200m mark, additionally they managed to develop all the value chain of the automotive industry here, with Egyptian talents across all departments including research and development (R&D), sales, marketing, etc.

“We started from a 3.8% market share, and now Nissan Motors Egypt (NMEG) has around a 15% market share, which reflects a strong growth, but our targets are still more than this. Also, we have localised the production of parts and equipment of various cars, Nissan Sunny for example has more than 51% Egyptian parts,” he explained.

Kargar explained, “We have a strong momentum today. Our objective is to become a market leader, and the number one brand, consequently, we now have to develop more Egyptian talents, increase our product capacity, and improve our supplier base, that was the main focus of our discussion with the Egyptian government.”

Daily News Egypt interviewed Kargar, to find out the details of the company’s meeting with the Egyptian government, and their plans for Egypt, and the rest of the AMI region. The transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Did the Egyptian government offer any incentives for Nissan?

During our meetings with Egypt’s Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, and the Minister of Trade and Industry, Amr Nassar, the discussion was mainly on our plans in Egypt, and our commitment to the country.

In addition, we also discussed Nissan’s willingness to support the government’s automotive policy, how to accelerate the development of our supply base, and the ways of transforming Egypt to an export base in the region.

We are pleased to have the full support of the Egyptian government to Nissan’s plan, and its readiness to provide incentives in order to protect the local production. The objective is not to give incentives just to Nissan, but to put in place an ecosystem that would boost local production, and make it more competitive.

In order to reach our goal and become Egypt’s top automotive player, and to increase our manufacturing facilities, we need an extremely high level of quality and competitiveness, which means how far you can go in terms of spending money in the country and the quantity of production.

Without any incentives, your car would be more expensive than any custom duty-free imported cars from abroad.

How does Nissan plan to expand in the local market?

Today, we stand at around a 15% market share, as one of the top three in Egypt. In order to become the number one, we need to have above a 20% market share, which is what we are targeting.

Additionally, we have to increase our industrial capacity in the country. Within the next few months, we are going to implement our plans to increase production in 2019 to produce 28,000 cars a year, up from 22,000 now in 2018.

Consequently, we are going to need more human capital. Accordingly, we will recruit more than 350 employees in our organisation, in addition to the ones who will be hired by our suppliers.

At the moment, I cannot disclose the exact amount of investment we are planning to inject.

In your opinion, what does Egypt need to become a regional automotive hub?

First of all, you need committed OEMs, you will not have suppliers without OEMs, and you would not be able to compete with other countries.

Second, you need to develop a very strong supplier base, which is a prerequisite to becoming an export hub. Currently, Egypt has good suppliers, but not enough of them, and Nissan is ready to develop the country’s supplier base.

This comes because when you have efficient suppliers, you can utilise them not only here in Egypt, but also to produce parts for other sites you have across different countries.

To achieve that, as a country, you need to have a strong policy which protects local production. What some businesses are currently doing, which is only importing cars, is easy.

Afterwards, OEMs need to make their manufacturing facilities competitive and characterised by high quality. On this front, Nissan is well positioned to do so, because we are leaders in terms of quality, innovation, and competitiveness.

Does Nissan plan to introduce any electric vehicles to the Egyptian market?

Nissan is a global electric vehicle (EV) leader. In parallel to our pure EVs, we are currently developing an exclusive technology which is called e-POWER system. The system is a hybrid solution that gives the customer the full feeling of an EV solution. Even if the required infrastructure in not available in the country, the customer will still be able to use it, as it combines a 100% electric motor drive with a gasoline engine which charges the battery.

In Egypt’s case, we will bring the best of Nissan, including what we call ‘Nissan Intelligent Mobility’ which focuses on electrification and connectivity. The plan is to consider both solutions, yet we still did not decide which model to bring, and we are currently working on that.

However, the deployment in the country will depend on the government’s policy to boost EVs, as they require a suitable infrastructure. In the hybrid solutions case, the technology is a little bit more expensive, thus it also needs a policy.

What about the Gulf countries, can you elaborate on the company’s expansion plans?

At Nissan, we have two different organisations for the region, one for Saudi Arabia, and the other one for the rest of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

In the GCC, we have excellent performance in some countries, such as the UAE, where we have a 20% market share, and very good presence in Qatar and Kuwait. Currently, we are number two in the GCC countries, and we hope to become number one.

In Saudi Arabia, the market is very tough, as it has dropped by almost 50% in terms of sales’ volume, in comparison with 2014. We have decided to stay in the country through ‘Nissan Saudi Arabia’, which is a joint venture formed with the auto maker’s partner Khaled Juffali Company, and we have an ambitious plan to double our 7% market share.

Do you plan to introduce economy models in the country?

At the moment, we are developing and deploying the three brands that we own, Infiniti, Nissan, and Datsun in the region. We are currently studying the ways we can expand the Datsun brand, which comes with a very new competitive platform in India now, currently producing various line-up of models.

Today, we are selling Datsun mainly in India and South Africa. Yet, there are no reasons, with the upcoming line-up, that we will not consider other countries within the AMI region.

The decision has not been taken yet, but Egypt and North Africa are one of the areas which we are considering in the near term.

The post Nissan willing to support Egypt’s automotive policy, make Egypt an export base in region: Senior VP, Chairperson for AMI region appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Beginning of post-Turki Al Sheikh phase Tue, 12 Mar 2019 10:00:42 +0000 Pyramids will win championships next season, marketing aspects of Egyptian league are weak, says El-Assyouti

The post Beginning of post-Turki Al Sheikh phase appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Businessperson Mahmoud El-Assyouti began a new experience, having sold the Assyouti Club to Turki Al Sheikh, the chairperson of the Saudi Entertainment Authority and Adviser to the Royal Court, for $5m. Later, the name was changed to Pyramids and became one the new forces in the Egyptian football scene, thanks to the financial support. Daily News Egypt interviewed Assyouti to find out all about it, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What do you plan to do after selling the club?

We have already started implementing national projects in sports industries with other partners with foreign expertise and will soon announce the details of these projects. The first project will kick off in three months. Within three years, Egypt will become the world’s largest sports product exporter. The project aims to achieve self-sufficiency in Egypt in five years to stop imports, save hard cash, and create jobs.

How much is the investment value for this project?

Investments are over EGP 50m in the coming three years. We utilised the help of foreign experts to manage the project to compete with international products. These industries will be announced in a press conference in two months.

What did you think about establishing Al Assyouti Club?

The idea of establishing the Assyouti Club was for investment and therefore there was rationing of expenses as much as possible, using professional thought and scientific methods during work, which were the main part of the project management, while money was supplementary. This is why revenues were always higher than expenses spanning the last 10 years of the club.

Why did you sell it?

The surplus in the budget did not satisfy my investment ambitions because of the lack of resources in the Egyptian league. There are only two resources: selling the players, where the club was successful, and sponsorship rights in the A League only. I sold the club for many reasons, such as the vague bylaws and laws that prevent long-term investment plans, making the investment a risk. I also felt the seriousness of the purchase offer from Turki Al Shaikh, with the rental of the club pitches for junior teams, and my desire that the club can achieve tournaments and change the map of the Egyptian football scene, which was limited to competitions between Al Ahly and Zamalek before Pyramids emerged.

Businessperson Mahmoud El-Assyouti

How do you see the Pyramids experience now?

It has been great. It stirred the stagnant water. I will be happy when Pyramids reaps titles, as this is what I hoped for but failed to achieve. I expect that next year Pyramids will be a competitor to all the tournaments. It will win many titles. Compared to the new investments in Europe, it has seen less troubles. I hope all teams accept the competition.

Is selling the club for $5m satisfactory?

It is very suitable and satisfactory for me. I was keen not to exploit the situation as this price under the bad conditions and mismanagement of the sport is considered the most appropriate price. Moreover, it has more benefits for Egypt, such as renting the pitches worth $500,000 per year.

How do you see sports investment in Egypt?

Sports investment in Egypt is still in its first stages and needs fertile ground to grow. Fans of the top two teams in Egypt must accept the competition and not fight investments. This competition is good for all teams and will improve the marketing value of the Egyptian league. Egypt did not benefit from having Mohamed Salah among the world’s top players, as the world looked at Egypt but did nothing for sports administrations.

What do you think about the marketing aspects of the Egyptian league championship?

The marketing aspects of the Egyptian league are very weak and there are no marketing or organisational plans. Things are managed randomly, and hands are trembling in making decisions that protect the clubs, and do not benefit Egypt, which made me reject the idea of establishing a new club.

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Debate on Egypt’s new personal status draft law Sun, 10 Mar 2019 09:00:03 +0000 National Council for Women only cares about divorced custody holders 

The post Debate on Egypt’s new personal status draft law appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

MP Mohamed Fouad, member of the parliament’s local administration committee, along with others, drafted a new personal status draft law after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s call to consider amending family laws to ensure stability of Egyptian families and reduce divorce rates.

The proposed law included some articles that raised wide objection and debate among those interested in women’s issues as well as family and personal status.

The highlights of those articles included the reduction of child custody age from 15 years in the current law to 9 years, the other party can host the child for a period of one or two days with a pledge to return them to the custody holder, allowing appeals in khula – a form of divorce initiated by the wife in Islamic Sharia Law – cases, and adding movables like furniture and household appliances to the wife’s dowry.

Other controversial articles proposed limiting responsibility of educational expenses to the father in divorce cases, imposing penalties on the husband who fails to document divorce to competent authorities, and the establishment of a specialised family police.

In order to reflect both views of the new draft law, Daily News Egypt interviewed MP Mohamed Fouad and Nermeen Abu Salem, founder of the Egyptian Single Mothers Group, that won an award from Facebook as one of the most influential pages in its community.


MP Mohamed Fouad, member of the parliament’s local administration committee

There are no alternatives to proposed law, Al-Azhar’s opinion is advisory: Fouad

Why was the discussion over the draft law delayed?

I do not know. A few days ago, I sent a letter to the head of the legislative and constitutional affairs parliamentary committee to speed up the discussion process of the draft law.

According to the conclusion of the committee on 13 January 2019, concerning the discussion of the new draft law, the committee will resume discussion on it during its first meeting in February and send letters to concerned bodies whose recommendations were delayed until the session in order to seek their opinions for the last time. They were informed that if no recommendations were made during this period, the committee will proceed with the law discussion.

The agreed time within the committee has passed. The committee should have resumed the discussion sessions of the draft law, but this has not happened so far.

This is why I call for a meeting to resume the discussion of the draft personal status law in the committee, in view of the president’s interest concerning the situation of the Egyptian family and the current Personal Status Law, especially his remarks in the 6th Youth Forum at Cairo University.

What are the concerned parties?

Al-Azhar, the National Council for Women (NCW), the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, and the Supreme Council of the Judiciary.

But Al-Azhar announced it is preparing another draft law?

Al-Azhar’s role is to provide its opinion about draft laws, not to make laws. In over 1,000 years of its history, Al-Azhar has never drafted laws. The Constitution specifies that the government, the presidency, and the parliament are entitled to propose bills. I have no objection to holding discussion on the current draft law and amending it, but they must first read it before making decisions, especially since their role is advisory.

What about the NCW and other specialised councils?

National councils, such as the NCW and the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, have not responded to our letters concerning the draft law. They said they are drafting another law, which is incorrect. They know that the proposed law serves the interests of children and families. But the NCW has turned into an entity that does not care about women in general, and has changed into a council for divorced women only.

There are electronic platforms trying to distort the submitted bill without reading or hearing the discussions held over the law.

The national councils were supposed to respond to the draft articles in a written letter, but they pushed electronic platforms to reject the bill without a real reason for this, and spread rumours that the bill will facilitate the abduction of children by any of the family members, which is completely contrary to the truth, because the current penal code does not criminalise the kidnapping of children by parents, while the new draft law imposes deterrent penalties on those who refrain from returning minors to the custody holders.

We met with a large number of people with family issues. We formed a special committee to listen to them and conduct more than 25 community talks in several governorates, in the presence of family issues victims, lawyers, judges, scientists from the Islamic Research Centre, and some public figures.

What is the primary purpose of introducing this new law?

It aims to achieve justice and balance between the parties of the Egyptian family, protect the rights of children and achieve their interests, and provide an appropriate environment for the parents to establish a better Egyptian family. This was stressed by the president in several occasions, especially during the Youth Forum held in the Cairo University.

Have you read similar laws of other countries prior to the preparation of this law?

We have read many similar laws and we have not found any country with a law like ours that deprives children of one of their parents on the grounds of not holding custody. The current law turns children into monkeys, where a parent will meet them at a park for three hours. All Arab countries apply the principle of joint custody. I have been in Morocco recently and I read their Personal Status Law and I hope that can be adopted in Egypt.

Why do you insist on replacing the current system with a joint custody?

The current law has been in place for 100 years and has not been developed, despite all the societal changes. The current system limit contact between the child and his non-custodial parent as if they are punishing them for the divorce. We proposed that the non-custodial parent hosts his child for one or two days to maintain the psychological integrity and balanced relationship between the child and his parents.

But there are fears that extending the hosting period would lead to child abduction?

The law addressed this fear by stipulating that the child must be returned after the period specified by the new legislation, whether it is a day or two days. This will prevent abductions. According to the current law, non-custodial parents do not have to return their children to the custodial parent.

What is the proposed penalty for not returning the child after temporary hosting?

The proposed legislation imposes a six-month prison sentence, based on a court ruling, and in order to ensure that the custodian does not abduct the child, a travel ban is issued in case of failure to commit to the hosting rules on time.

What about reducing the age of custody?

The current law sets the age of custody at 15, while the proposal law will reduce it to nine years old.

What prompted you to present this proposal?

Because most of the concerning studies and real cases we saw in a daily basis showed that the child needs his father before the age of 15. The argument of the father’s work was defeated because women now work like men.

Why does the draft law propose changing the father’s position in custody?

Because the father’s turn in the order of custodians is 16th in the current law, while they come second in all countries after the mother. This is not realistic and would not produce healthy children or youth.

What about the proposal to establish a specialised family police?

This department will follow the Ministry of Interior and will be tasked with implementing the rulings of family courts and conducting inquiries about the father’s income and other matters concerning personal status issues. The proposed police sector will be trained to deal with such cases because they are different from other criminal offenses.

The draft law also obligates registering a divorce. Does the article face any opposition?

There has been a call for setting a period of time to document the verbal divorce to reduce divorce rates. The president has alerted us of the terrible divorce rates and those children living without parents. I do not understand the objection, especially from clerics, as we only recognise documented marriages. Why would we accept that in marriages and reject it in divorces?


Nermeen Abu Salem

Allowing appeals in Khula cases defeats women: Abu Salem

Why do you object the personal status draft law?

We do not object the amendment of the current Personal Status Law, but we have some reservations on the proposed amendments such as khula, custody conditions, educational guardianship, and others.

What are your concerns regarding the Khula?

The draft law propose allowing appeals in khula cases, which is an abuse of women’s rights and a violation of their dignity and legitimate right to continue or end the relation. If women choose to drop all their legitimate rights, this indicates they have suffered from serious harm in marriage.

The proposed law leads to unnecessary prolongation of litigation, causing further harm and abuse of women’s rights.

In Khula, the wife waives all of her rights, such as her dowry, while the husband loses nothing.

But some believe that allowing appeals in khula gives a chance for fixing the relation?

In order to give spouses an opportunity to reconsider prior separation, during the course of the khula proceedings, the reconciliation was already presented to both parties by the court at least twice during the case.

Consequently, there is no legal or humanitarian justification for this step, but it does expose women to more oppression and injustice, and deprives her from her human right.

The new draft law proposes reducing the custody age, why do you reject it?

The Sharia law admitted that the custody age is the age at which the child can give up the mother’s care psychological needs. We do not see this is possible at the age of 7 or 9 years old. Al-Azhar agrees with us. And what law deprived the mother of her children, when she is unmarried, in favour of the father and step mother at that age?

According to the World Health Organisation, the child is generally legally defined as a person under the age of 18 and he does not complete his mental and physical maturity.

The Egyptian Child Law stipulates that at the age of 18, a child remains with his mother until adulthood. I do not only ask to keep the custody age at 15, but to increase it to 18 years old.

There is a lot of confusion about the educational guardianship, what is its problem?

In March 2018, the Supreme Constitutional Court acknowledged the right of the custodian in the educational guardianship. There is no doubt that this ruling was correct. It makes sense to keep the educational guardianship in the hands of the custodian since they best know the child and his abilities, in addition to supervising them all the time.

Do you agree with the part of the wife’s dowry?

We will agree only in one case, if it was agreed in advance, and frankly that the list of movables includes furniture, household appliances, and others as part of the wife’s dowry, but otherwise there is no legal text. The Sharia obligates the husband to prepare the marital home from A to Z. If the woman partakes in that, she is only contributing to facilitate the marriage, but this does not give the man the right to claim what the woman has contributed in case of divorce or Khula.

Why do you object the non-custodial parent’s hosting of child without the consent of the custodian?

We do object the father’s right to participate in raising his children. The current law and the constitution gave the full custody to mothers. This means that it is not permissible in any way to divide the week between the mother and the father leading to the child’s instability. The Court of Cassation came to uphold the ruling on 9 March 2010.

As for the religious side, there is no disagreement on it. Islamic law did not mention hosting in the Quran or Sunna. Some, however, indicate that the child belongs to the mother.

The fatwa of the Islamic Research Complex No. 445 for 2012 stated that hosting the child should be in accordance to the custodian’s consent.

The Islamic Research Academy also confirmed in April 2017 that the hosting must be approved by the custodian and the child after reaching 10 years old.

The term ‘host’ was not mentioned in Quran, Sunnah, or any of the Islamic doctrines. It is an imported term from the European society, which is characterised by strict disciplines, rules, and acts as an immediate deterrent with penalties toward the interests of the young. The hosting system in Egyptian society without the controls of the European community will create countless problems and courts will accumulate more issues we need.

But the law proposal says that this is necessary for the child’s psychological health?

This is not true. Hosting by a judicial decision and without the consent of the custodian and the child negatively affects the psychological health of children, as it forces children to move from a place to another every week against their will. We all know the extent to which a child is attached to their home and toys. They have their own world, which may not be found in the other parent’s house. Even if the stepmother loves the child, she will never become their mother. Also, what if hosting takes place in a different governorate from the one where the child originally lives?

But there are guarantees in the proposal to return the child to his custodian?

Those calling for the application of hosting said that there is no problem of hosting as long as there are guarantees for the return of the children. We believe that the guarantee of imprisonment is not genuine. What about mothers who received rulings to return their children and were unable to force the father to do so? If we stop children from travelling abroad, what about traveling within Egypt? There are so many cases in courts with unfulfilled rulings.

The previous rulings must be implemented before offering future guarantees. What would a mother do if she sues the father and the court gives him a prison sentence but she could not reach her child?

The post Debate on Egypt’s new personal status draft law appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Egypt is place where we would like to invest for our future: Canon EMEA President, CEO Thu, 07 Mar 2019 15:00:55 +0000 Canon Inc, the Japanese multinational, is considered to be one of the industry leaders in the manufacture of imaging and optical products, including cameras, photocopiers, printers, and recently, medical equipment.  Daily News Egypt interviewed Yuichi Ishizuka, the president and CEO of Canon Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), during his visit to Egypt, to find …

The post Egypt is place where we would like to invest for our future: Canon EMEA President, CEO appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Canon Inc, the Japanese multinational, is considered to be one of the industry leaders in the manufacture of imaging and optical products, including cameras, photocopiers, printers, and recently, medical equipment. 

Daily News Egypt interviewed Yuichi Ishizuka, the president and CEO of Canon Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), during his visit to Egypt, to find out more about the company’s latest plans in Egypt and the region. The transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What is the main objective of your trip to Egypt?

I became the president of Canon EMEA last April after working at the New York headquarter, so I have been in this position for 10 months only. Last year was very busy as we were trying to know the status quo for the business situation, and in order to decide the direction of our business this year, and how as a company we will be doing business for the future.

I define it to three main regions, western countries, Eastern Europe, as well as the developing business group, which are Africa, the Middle East, and Russia. Our area of operation covers more than 130 countries, and we want to be positioned in the best way to meet the demands of our customers, and tailor our way of doing business based on different regions.

Africa is one of the areas where we are going to invest for the future, not only for our future as the company, but for the growing future of the region, that is why I wanted to start visiting African countries. As you know, I receive various reports about these countries, so I know the numbers, yet I would like to see the situation of those countries with my own eyes in order to understand the real situation. Throughout my long years of experience in business, I learned that I have to see first before making decisions, which is my responsibility.

How do you view Africa’s growth potential?

I just arrived to Cairo today, but on my way here from the airport, I can feel the energy in the place. My first impression, is yes there is potential for our business, and Cairo is a place where we would like to invest for our future, not only for Canon, but also for the mutual benefit.

I believe that if we want to be successful in our business, we cannot only care about the benefits for our side, we also need to benefit the people who live in the country as well.

What was the main objective of creating the Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA) division?

We established this regional headquarter in 2016, because we first had to establish a base in the region where we are going to operate, and not to run it from London. Since that time, the region witnessed great growth, compared to the other areas of operations.

What we are focusing on now is how we can move on from here, in terms of investments, not only in facilities, but in people, and our employees, who are very important to our business. We have to train the employees based on our culture, and the ways of doing business in order to meet the customers’ demand in these countries.

Yuichi Ishizuka, the president and CEO of Canon Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA)

What drove your decision to enter into new areas such as health care?

As you know three years ago, we acquired Toshiba Medical Systems, which is a huge company in the medical equipment business, and we changed it into Canon Medical Systems Corporation.

Right now in Canon EMEA, we are considering the business situation and the expansion. Right now, the headquarter wants to directly communicate with customers, which means hospitals.

Health care is a very wide field, yet we are focusing only a couple of areas, which are CT, MRI, X-Ray, ultrasound and healthcare informatics.

To expand the business, we have to consider what is the best way to do so, either through a directory or through Canon EMEA, which is the discussion we are having now, because we need to modify our products to fit the demands of every region.

As a company, how did you adapt to the rise of mobile photography?

Just 20 years ago, Canon started its digital camera business, at that time I was assigned to the USA market to start this business from scratch, we had a huge business in the old analog cameras, it was a tough mission to switch to the digital.

The peak time was 2012 from the industry’s point of view, while in 2008, smartphones started to emerge, disrupting the digital cameras market. However, from my point of view, smartphones are not our enemies, they rather are a life-line for our society right now worldwide.

I believe that right now, each one has a smartphone, even little children, allowing people to take pictures, and shoot videos. Unlike the analog days, where people only had one camera and it was very expensive, and harder to access.

My point is that despite the fact that most people find the smartphone camera as good enough, yet if only a small fraction of these users, such as 10%, wanted to upgrade it for more professional cameras, this will create a new market.

I think of smartphones as the entrance for the photography world.

What is the volume of Canon’s investment and market share in the Egyptian market?

In proportion to the size of countries, Egypt is a huge country with 100 million people, and mainly young people, with over 50% of the population under 30 years old.

There is a huge growth potential here, unlike other mature European countries, or even Japan.

Currently Canon is the only brand which offers a wide product portfolio, of both input and output devices, which strongly position us in emerging business, for consumer segment which includes cameras, video cameras, and domestic printers, to professional segments.

We are enjoying a very strong position across our portfolio, being number one in terms of the camera business.

How does Egypt perform in comparison with the rest of the MENA region?

Considering the market potential, and the economic growth Egypt is going through, the country has a much higher pace compared to many other markets, because the potential is quite high, following the years of economic challenges.

Does Canon plan to launch any new products soon?

Something we have been always proud of in Canon is the fact that all of our products are designed based on the feedback that we get from our customers, so this year, we will launch new products, based on the newly launched, EOS R system, which is a revolutionary system, when it comes to the interchangeable lens camera, we also have a new pocket-sized printer called Zoemini.

Five years ago, I had a discussion with the head of the research and development for the lenses, where he suggested that we change the lens mount, which is a very big risk, because we already have 120 million people already having our EF lenses. In return, I asked him about the reason for this step, as we are already number one. He responded that this is the reason why we need to do so, we are number one, but this is a 30-year old system, we have to think about the next 30 years.

As an industry leader, we need to think about the future, 4k is now, 8k is coming, and 16k will be next, so we have to be prepared, and think about the sensor technology which will be able to handle this. In 2020, 5G will start, and 6G will follow, we will see a completely different world.

Cameras consist of three main parts, sensors, processor, and lenses, so to handle 16k, you need to have a processor, and a lens which can support that. Optical technologies are limited, only a handful of companies have it.

Do you have any expansion plans in the GCC region?

The GCC region is critical for us, we have been there for 20 years, with our regional office in Dubai, throughout our business in the UAE, we also appreciate the importance of the other GCC countries, we have also recently established our direct operations in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Dubai is a very strategic location for us, because from there, our operation focuses on both the Middle East and Africa. As for Saudi Arabia, it is a huge country, with its 2030 vision, we believe that there is a great potential there, we have now teams on the ground in three main cities in Saudi Arabia.

Before we expand further, we want to first to consolidate and learn from the experience.

Can you elaborate on the ways you work with the local community?

In Africa, we launched our sustainability programme called Miraisha, aiming to promote the country’s print and imaging sector, as well as support the creation of skilled jobs in the digital media industries, leading to the development of a vibrant and a growing audio-visual industry.

Miraisha Sustainability Programme aims at building the capacity and skills of people in African countries. The programme has already implemented several imaging workshops and seminars to support inspiring photographers and filmmakers by strengthening their knowledge of new innovations, and to build their professional capacity in order to find suitable jobs in the industry.

The Miraisha Sustainability Programme falls under Canon’s corporate philosophy of ‘Kyosei,’ meaning ‘living and working together for the common good,’ which allows the company to continue its strong growth in the region with new business initiatives while also promoting impactful CSR activities.

Moreover, Canon will continue expanding its reach for all the product ranges in the market, support its local partners in gaining a larger market share in both the business and consumer segments, and become the imaging market leader in Kenya and Africa.

The post Egypt is place where we would like to invest for our future: Canon EMEA President, CEO appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Funding is reason behind Egypt’s few Olympics medals, budget for Tokyo’s preparation exceeds EGP 300m, we only received EGP 23.3m: Al Arian Thu, 07 Mar 2019 09:30:39 +0000 Despite the great human potential of Egypt, it only succeeded in winning 31 medals throughout its history in the Olympics. Daily News Egypt interviewed Sherif El-Arian, the secretary general of the Egyptian Olympic Committee and the chairperson of the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation in order to discuss the reason behind this and the preparations for …

The post Funding is reason behind Egypt’s few Olympics medals, budget for Tokyo’s preparation exceeds EGP 300m, we only received EGP 23.3m: Al Arian appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Despite the great human potential of Egypt, it only succeeded in winning 31 medals throughout its history in the Olympics. Daily News Egypt interviewed Sherif El-Arian, the secretary general of the Egyptian Olympic Committee and the chairperson of the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation in order to discuss the reason behind this and the preparations for Tokyo 2020, as well as Egypt’s organisation of the World Cup of the Modern Pentathlon, the transcript for which is below, lighted edited for clarity:

Why do you think Egypt’s Olympic medals are low?

The main reason for Egypt’s lack of medals in the Olympic games is the lack of funding. Egypt has huge human resources of players and trainers, and infrastructure with high-level stadiums. If the funds are available for Egyptian sports, such as developed countries, we can easily win more medals.

How much does a player need to win an Olympic medal?

Globally, for the player to get a medal in the Olympics, the country needs to spend about $4m on them. At the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, we spent a total of EGP 121m on 121 players who qualified. There were 10 players able to compete, so winning medals is difficult. 

Is there a hope for sponsorships away from the state?

Recently, private companies through social responsibility have begun to enter the field of sport. This happened through Talaat Moustafa and Wadi Degla, after the trend was in the past towards charity only.

Can you tell us more about preparing for Tokyo 2020?

The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled for July 2020. The federations only received EGP 23.3m for 29 federations in January. This is such a short time to prepare and it will be difficult to hold them accountable for the results. We have to focus only on qualifying. It is not normal to begin preparing for reaping medals in this short time.

How much is the budget to prepare for Tokyo?

The budget requested by the Olympic Committee for the preparation of Tokyo, exceeded EGP 300m. We agreed with the minister recently to schedule that. But the time is not enough even if the funding is unlocked. The amount received by the federations are already spent. We suffer from excessive bureaucracy, and it is not logical that each federation gets the same amount every three months and must be settled before obtaining new tranches. Tournaments do not wait. The financial support must be secured in order to avoid impacting the federations’ plans to prepare champions. We held several meetings with Ashraf Sobhy, the minister of youth and sports, whom we call for the rapid provision of funding, because the delay affects everyone.

What is Egypt targeting in 2020?

The Olympic Committee announced the players competing for medals two years before the Olympics. This has been the way it works since 2013. Before Rio de Janeiro 2016, the goal was to qualify 120 players in 20 games. We qualified 121 players in 22 games. Egypt aimed for five to eight medals and put a list of 16 players able to compete. But we only realised three medals, as Ehab Abdel Rahman was banned from playing, as well as Karam Gaber in wrestling due to doping. There are four players who ranked fourth to sixth and three players who were injured. The number of medal competitors dropped to 11.

For the Tokyo Olympics 2020, a year and a half ago, we announced the objectives of the Olympic Committee: 20 players competing in 10 games: judo, taekwondo, weightlifting, modern pentathlon, wrestling, swimming, athletics, archery, equestrian, and karate. The goal is to reap five to six medals.

Is the preparation for Rio de Janeiro better than Tokyo?

Preparing for Rio de Janeiro 2016 was 100 times better than the preparation for Tokyo 2020. Financial support was disbursed quickly and efficiently. There were EGP 1.5m spent without waiting in 2014 and 2015. There was a problem in 2016 due to the floatation of the currency, which still continues today.

Have you received support for the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires?

At the Youth Olympics held last summer in Buenos Aires, the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation spent EGP 2.5m on the preparation of the players. It did not get a single pound from the ministry, yet realised two gold medals. This sum was spent on eight players, of which Ahmed El-Gendy and Salma Ayman who qualified for the Olympics.

How do you see the sports atmosphere in Egypt?

The atmosphere has become unhealthy in the Egyptian sport because of constant problems. I decided not to pay attention to such things. Everyone has to keep away from personal interests and to look for the benefit of sport. It is just voluntary work and does not need all these polemics.

Is there hope to back down from preventing Zamalek from hosting its matches?

Zamalek is a big entity, and of course the club is influenced by what happens with its president, whatever happens. The decision was not arbitrary, and all the rules and international laws were enforced. We set up a hearing committee of judges at the highest level. The president of Zamalek refused to attend. The decision came to protect the players and the referees from problems. A recent game saw this happen before the Basketball Federation enforces the committee’s decision and bans the team from hosting games.

What is the reason behind Egypt’s recent and frequent hosting of world championships?

Egypt has a unique infrastructure in all the Olympic games, which qualifies it to host the biggest tournaments in the world. We only lacked a bicycle track, which is currently being set up in Cairo Stadium. The state is currently hosting the World Championships during this period for two main reasons. The first is political, through which we aim to convey a message to the world that Egypt enjoys stability and security in the current period, and to stand for attempts by some foreign media to defame Egypt’s image in the world and to emphasise that what it conveys is not related to reality. The second reason relates to sports: to save the state budget from bearing travel costs and give the players the chance to reap experience by participating more without being limited to a specific number of players. According to the tournaments’ bylaws, the hosting country gets the opportunity to involve more players. Moreover, the federations can achieve profits by marketing them with sponsors and can spend on their players, as the state cannot provide all the financial demands of federations.

How much is the budget for the Pentathlon World Cup?

The estimated budget of the Modern Pentathlon World Cup in March is estimated at EGP 4m. This is not high, as the federation can cover its costs and make EGP 1m of profits by marketing the championship with sponsors. It is a tournament of eight organised by the Modern Pentathlon World Federation every year. Since 2014, we organised two tournaments, which was a big achievement. In 2020, we will organise a similar tournament. We are always keen on trying to host games to keep Egypt in the league.

How many sponsors are there for the 2019 Pentathlon World Cup?

We have recently signed a new sponsorship contract to bring up the total number of sponsors to 12, including the ministry of youth and sports and the Tourism Activation Authority, as well as Al Ahly Real Estate Development, which will host the games on its pitches in the Platinum Club in the Fifth Settlement.

Do you have sponsors of the federation?

The National Bank of Egypt sponsors a number of successful federations and players, including the Modern Pentathlon with EGP 250,000 to 2m. The EGP 1m sponsorship agreement ends this month. We are negotiating to increase the sponsorship to EGP 2m after the success of the game now and winning two gold medals in the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires. The state supported the World Cup with EGP 250,000, following the success of the federation, which was an annual contract. We hope in the future there will be long-term sponsorship agreements not for just one year.

There is also the Absolut for Fencing Gear company, which provides clothing and equipment with a financial value of EGP 3.5m for three years ending in 2020.

Are there sponsorship contracts for players?

There are offers for a number of players provided by companies for their care, which are now being studied, as this is subject to the bylaws organised by the federation to avoid conflict between the sponsors of the federation and the players. It is not acceptable for a player to market a company competing with the company that sponsors the federation. The players are aware of all matters and do not move without talking to the federation, given that the game has become attractive to sponsors, as the players have been reaping World Cup titles and are nominated for Olympic medals in Tokyo 2020.

How much is the sport ministry’s budget for the Modern Pentathlon Federation?

The budget of the federation of the ministry amounts to EGP 1.2m on two tranches every year. This barely covers the employees’ salaries of the federation. We have 15 employees paid EGP 100,000 per month. There are 47 trainers, including a foreigner, who are paid EGP 250,000 per month.

Are the players’ families involved in covering the financial cost of games?

The families of the players bear part of the expenses of the preparation and processing of the players. We have a cooperation between all parties, whether the families of players, or schools, and the clubs.

Did you have the thought to establish an investment company?

With the existence of the investment clause in the new Sports Law, the Modern Pentathlon Federation was the first to decide the establishment of an investment company, but the law provides for trade by benefiting with a profit margin, which is not attractive. The federation though there will be production through manufacturing, but the current law does not allow this. The federation is looking into amending this. As the sport is intertwined with five more games, so there is a chance for cooperation.

How do you see the new Sports Law?

The new sports law is the best thing that happened in the past period. The Egyptian sport was about to become halted. The International Olympic Committee granted Egypt a period starting from 2008. The response was to ask for a delay for compelling circumstances, until it came to the Olympic Committee to confirm that Egypt is the only country in the world that has taken benefits of all the extensions provided to it in order to adjust its conditions in accordance with the Olympic regulations.

The new law has more consensus of about 90%. Some items will be modified in accordance with international laws. The item on investment set by the ministry of investment.

How do you see the future of the pentathlon in Egypt?

We are working hard to achieve more achievements, and we are not stopping at winning all tournaments. Maintaining this is not easy. The world looks at Egypt and learns from us. For instance, 30 countries participate in the World Cup, including 10 countries which came early to Cairo and asked to camp with us to learn how we reached these achievements. Some look at the federation as ideal, but we do not see this. There are mistakes and we exert efforts to fix them. For instance, there was a mistake by an employee last year that resulted into the players missing their visas to participate in the World Cup. The federation had to send younger youth. Even though the players reaped the World Cup, it was a mistake.

What do you recommend to other federation officials?

It is rumoured that Egypt is only good in combat games, which is not true. Work and scientific plans can bring Egypt’s domination over the world. The modern pentathlon achievements are the results of a nine-year plan.

The post Funding is reason behind Egypt’s few Olympics medals, budget for Tokyo’s preparation exceeds EGP 300m, we only received EGP 23.3m: Al Arian appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Time to benefit from country’s competencies to establish real gold mining industry in Egypt: Al-Nagi Tue, 05 Mar 2019 09:30:21 +0000 President Al-Sisi’s second term experiencing more facilities, incentives for investors

The post Time to benefit from country’s competencies to establish real gold mining industry in Egypt: Al-Nagi appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Since the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources has announced the winners in the last gold ore exploring tender conducted in April 2017, the four winning companies have not yet received their five concessions.

Without revealing the reasons behind that, official resources previously told Daily News Egypt that the Ministry of Petroleum is drafting new requirements for gold ore exploration in Egypt. Meanwhile, the four companies suspended their investments in Egypt until the government clarifies the situation of the tender.

Nabil Al-Nagi, owner of Veritas Investments Limited (VIL), one of the winning companies, spoke to Daily News Egypt about his company’s situation in the tender and evaluated the economic reform plan adopted in Egypt. VIL is investing mainly in two activities, one is a gold and silver mine in Peru, and the second is a gold trading company.

The interview’s transcript is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How do you evaluate Egypt’s position regarding the economic reform plan?

All actions that the government has taken so far aim to boost the country’s GDP growth and foreign exchange reserves which will have a positive impact on employment rates and stability of the banking system.

In the long term, these economic reforms will gradually improve the tourism and export sectors, especially natural gas exports, and improve the performance of the private sector investments.

In addition, these reforms improve the confidence in Egypt’s banking sector and stock market which has recorded unprecedented indicators since the implementation of the economic reform plan. Egypt’s stock market will be the dark horse among the global emerging markets in the coming two years especially after offering governmental companies.

What has been achieved so far since applying economic reform procedures?

The second term of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is witnessing the continuation of both political and economic reforms, attracting more investments, and many problems and obstacles that investors, especially foreign ones, have been facing declined.

The floatation of Egyptian pound helped to reduce the trade deficit thanks to the improvement of exports’ performance and their increasing competitiveness, thus, the demand on foreign exchange declined and the competitiveness of the domestic industry was promoted.

How did the Investment Law enhance investment environment in Egypt?

Indeed, the Investment Law protects investors, as it sets for the first time a number of incentives for investors, along with the current ones.

It also provides new techniques to deal with investment conflicts, and procedural reforms that can eradicate bureaucracy gradually, easing the procedures to embark on new investments and ensuring equal opportunities.

In this regard, this law sets out a solid basis for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), easing the financing procedures through the financial inclusion system. In addition, it offers multiple choices for investors and facilitates procedures of registration, approval, and licensing. This law is a step that reduces the time spent by the investor to launch his projects.

Likewise, the single-window system which was applied in the General Authority for Investments and Free Zones (GAFI) and the accreditation offices that opened all over Egypt were serious steps towards attracting more investments and enhancing the investment environment in general. 

At the same time, the law put methods to protect investors against any kind of arbitrary practices or abuse of power. Along with that, the ministerial committee formed to deal with investment disputes is being held twice a month instead of one time every two months, which sends a reassuring message to investors.

Undoubtedly, the Investment Law clearly guarantees equal treatment for all investors, foreign and local alike, protecting the capital through banning sequestration, seizing assets, or nationalising without a court order.

What is the current situation of your investments in Egypt after winning in the gold mining tender announced in May 2017?

In mid-July 2017, Veritas Egypt signed the first agreement to obtain exploration license, then this license was issued after a few amendments at the end of October 2017. Another version of the license was issued in mid-December 2017. But, until now, all the winning companies, including my company, have not been handed over their sites.

So, how do you see the delay in the concessions handover?

Well, I have no answer for this question as the government has not provided any explanation for this delay until now.

However, the owners knew from media that the government outsourced the Baker Mckenzie Company in 2018 to put an entire new system to benefit Egypt the most of its mineral wealth, including gold mining. The new plan will include new methods of exploring gold ore and attracting more investments in this industry. I think this is the reason why the owners have not received their concessions yet.

How do you evaluate the tender system in Egypt?

Actually, the terms of gold ore exploring that had been set in the last tender were drafted in a similar frame of oil and natural gas exploring tenders, which are not relevant to the gold mining as a high-risk industry and a long-term investment. There are key differences between the two kinds of exploration.

What is your vision of in this regard?

The new tender terms should exclude the concept of production sharing that allows the Egyptian government to obtain a share of the concession’s production and replace it by collecting royalty fees. This will be beneficial for both parties, investors and government. It’s the common technique followed in other countries’ gold mining industry.

This concept, if the government adopted it, would attract significant investments in this important industry.

What are the competencies that Egypt should obtain to have a strong gold mining industry?

Egypt is a huge country with vast and rich mineral resources. Egypt’s gold ore reserves are promising. Undoubtedly, this significant mineral wealth, especially gold ore, need to be extracted, which means that Egypt must make use of this opportunity to establish a real industry and attract many companies to explore and extract its mineral wealth, especially large companies with long experience.

All the tender winners will develop their assets and strengthen their investments to make their concessions as productive as Al Sokari gold mine.

The post Time to benefit from country’s competencies to establish real gold mining industry in Egypt: Al-Nagi appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Affordability main reason operators in Egypt need to find business case for 5G: Ericsson MEA president Wed, 27 Feb 2019 20:13:07 +0000 Ericsson has been in Egypt since 1896, from first generation of phones to 5G, says Rafiah Ibrahim

The post Affordability main reason operators in Egypt need to find business case for 5G: Ericsson MEA president appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

On the side lines of the Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Ericsson Middle East and Africa (MEA) President Rafiah Ibrahim revealed that 5G is estimated to reach 30m subscriptions in the MEA by 2024.

“With connectivity at the heart of the industry transformation, cellular technologies have a significant role to play – not just in the evolution of communication but in the transformation of businesses and societies. Cellular technologies have a significant role to play – not just in the evolution of communication but in the transformation of businesses and societies” She told Daily News Egypt.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Rafiah Ibrahim to find out the company’s latest plans in the region, and the prospects of the 5G adoption in Egypt. The transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How important is the Middle East and Africa region, and Egypt in particular for Ericsson?

Ericsson has been in Egypt since 1896, we started from the first generation of phones, from fixed to mobile, 2G, 3G, 4G, and now we are discussing 5G.

And now we are working with all of the telecom operators, in various areas, some in mobile, and some in transmission, our portfolio is different with every operator.

What I also see with Egypt is that the country got very good local components. That is why we have committed to set up and have local resources, as they can help with our operations not only in Egypt but also in other African countries. They have the knowledge of language, especially Arabic, while some of them know French which can be used in West Africa.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Rafiah Ibrahim to find out the company’s latest plans in the region, and the prospects of the 5G adoption in Egypt

What are the challenges facing 4G and 5G in Egypt, especially in terms of affordability?

Affordability is the main reason why each operator in the country has to find a business case for 5G before they even invest, as the first step they have to do is to buy spectrum, purchasing spectrum is the most valuable asset for an operator.

In some of the countries, we see 5G used for fixed wireless connection in places where there are no fibre connections, I do not know yet if that is suitable for Egypt.

What about infrastructure spending and information security challenges in the region, and in Egypt?

We are still discussing the frequency and spectrum with customers in Egypt, this is a discussion that the regulatory authorities would want to make sure that they allocate the correct bandwidth for 5G, as sometimes there are other users on that bandwidth.

When it comes to Egypt, the operators we collaborate with want Ericsson to do some trials for the use cases there, which point out to the fact that they are eager to adopt the technology.

They are not ready yet, but we need to make sure that regulators, along with telecom operators, come to a situation where they are ready for the auction.

In regards to the security, Ericsson works on making the data and networks more secure, in the countries where we started to roll out 5G.

Do you think that the MENA technological development lags behind other countries?

I think when MENA countries start development, they can leapfrog, the problem is that we keep comparing ourselves with others that have adopted the new technologies, North Africa in particular, even though they adopted the new technologies later but they can leapfrog easily, because they are industrialising very quickly.

Spying allegations toward the 5G network, with EU talking about banning one of your competitors, how would that effect Ericsson?

As a company, we focus on what we can do to benefit our current customers, we do not plan based on the geopolitical events, as that can change. If the opportunity comes, and operators want to work with us, we would be happy to do that. But I do not think we should be opportunistic and start hunting these cases.

How does 5G affect the way we live?

It will touch every aspect of our lives, if the government starts using it such as in water, electricity, digital identities, the means of travelling through autonomous vehicles, if the country is ready with that sort of infrastructure.

The post Affordability main reason operators in Egypt need to find business case for 5G: Ericsson MEA president appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Without 4G, it was not possible to conduct current mobile broadband: Etisalat Misr Tue, 26 Feb 2019 19:38:23 +0000 Some 5G networks needed to support massive growth in data consumption, industrial use cases, says Nelson

The post Without 4G, it was not possible to conduct current mobile broadband: Etisalat Misr appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

On the sidelines of the second day of Mobil World Congress 2019 (MWC), Daily News Egypt interviewed the Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Etisalat Misr, Khaled Hegazy, and the Head of Global Etisalat Customer Unit at Ericsson, Ekow Nelson. The transcript of the interview is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How would your companies promote 5G in Egypt, especially that the 4G wasn’t a huge success?

Nelson: Egypt didn’t issue any licenses for 5G yet, but our new Ericsson radio system that we launched a long time ago, is 5G ready, which means that the hardware we have for 4G only requires software upgrade to work on 5G.

Hegazy: First, allow me to disagree with you, 4G is a huge success in Egypt. The problem is with customers’ perception as they thought that the difference between 3G and 4G would be the same as it was with 2G and 3G. Unlike its predecessor, the transition from 3G to 4G wasn’t as revolutionary, but it improved the efficiency, capability, and data demand.

Without the 4G, it wouldn’t have been possible to carry the current mobile broadband, as 4G increased data consumption, even though there was no 4G specific mobile apps, in the last two years, reliance on mobile data increased tremendously.

Etisalat Misr has always been future oriented, for example our sim cards were 4G ready since we launched in the country in 2007, so when the technology was here, we were the only operator that didn’t need a sim change.

Across the networks, more than 30% increase was witnessed in the last two years, which improved Egyptian consumers user experience.

However, 5G is a different story. The use case is different. It is more of a machine to machine communication, Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, and automated factories.

Last year, Ericsson was showcasing here in MWC a completely 5G wireless factory.

With 5G the industrial use cases would drive the demand, not the other wise, and not the handset customers.

In your opinion, when will 5G be launched in Egypt?

Hegazy: When the need is there, because a lot of IoT use cases can be used now on 3G and 4G. The real need will come when Egypt has the factories that requires such connectivity, or when we have autonomous vehicles. 5G will be commercially available as of 2020 globally.

Nelson: In fact, we started some deployment this year in the United States and allow me to add a little bit to what Hegazy said about traffic growth. In Ericsson Mobility Report 2018 that we have just launched, we predicted that by 2024, people will be consuming five folds the amount of data that they currently consume.

Therefore, you need the networks to be able to cope with that increase, so in addition to the industrial use cases of 5G, you will need some 5G networks to support the massive growth in data consumption.

What are the main challenges facing 5G deployment globally and Egypt, especially in terms of infrastructure?

Nelson: The big issue is the business case because mobile operators need to make a massive investment. They need to make sure that they secure a return on such investment, take Saudi Arabia for example, the government decided they want 5G as part of 2030 strategy, they didn’t need a business case in that situation, but in Egypt there isn’t such a mandate from the government.

Hegazy: I think you have touched on an important point here in terms of infrastructure, we do need as a country, heavier investment in infrastructure, and what we heard lately that Telecom Egypt is now focusing on that, and that would help not only 5G but for all the existing traffic.

Egypt is a huge country with 100 million population, with the new cities being built, and the increase in data usage, serious investment in infrastructure is necessary.

Does Etisalat have any plans to invest in infrastructure?

Hegazy: We are seeing positive signs from the Egyptian economy. In the beginning of 2018, Etisalat Misr increased its capital by over EGP 4bn. We will continue to invest, however, the investment I was talking about isn’t the same that we are allowed to do, only Telecom Egypt can do.

This year we are investing between EGP 2.5-3.5bn mainly in modernisation and capacity development of our network and 4G rollout, so far we have invested over EGP 35bn in the market.

Nelson: The migration to 5G isn’t going to be a sudden change. First you would have the coexistence of both networks, we are building products that allow you to maintain your 4G network, then slowly implement 5G.

You are not going to have 5G everywhere, it will be deployed in selective pockets where it makes sense.

What is the key solution that Ericsson will provide to improve cooperation between the two companies?

Nelson: We assist with modernising and operation of the network, particularly in Cairo, making sure they achieve very high performance. We are achieving a performance of about 99.2% of the Etisalat network which is the best they have ever seen.

Hegazy: We have been cooperating with Ericsson since our network launch. It’s a partnership. The recent two agreements we signed with them, included one for the expansion for the current 4G capabilities, and the other was renewal for the managed services for another five years.

Since all Ericsson’s equipment is 5G ready, we are expanding our 4G network while we are also enabling the network to be 5G ready in the same time.

How would the rising costs affect your business and future plans?

Hegazy: Too many events took place in short time, subsidy cut, the devaluation, inflation, interest rate increase, yet this much needed economic reforms were a must. You cannot build a future economy while you are spending on subsidies more than you do on education.

Despite the decrease in purchasing power, but the reforms are paying off. Personally, I am optimistic, I cannot disclose our exact financial results, but I can tell you that 2018 would have much improvement in profit growth year-over-year, the other operators are also doing well, which means that the telecommunication sector grows with the growth of the economy, much like the financial sector.

One of the challenges is the government decision to introduce EGP 50 state development fee on new lines purchases. We think that this is one of the things that should be reconsidered, as it had slowed down the sales of all operators and affected the fourth operator the most.

How do you see the Egyptian market after launching a fourth mobile operator?

Hegazy: We have very good relations with the fourth operator, which we host on our network, as it relies mainly on Etisalat for data, and exclusively on us for voice, we believe that competition is beneficial for the customer.

As a company, what do you prioritise to increase revenues?

Hegazy: we are focusing on data, since we started, we have been always focused on the progressive youth, for which the data usage is very important, and we will continue to offer tailored solutions for our customers.

We have the completely digital tariff where the customer can tailor his plan completely on the application, which we are the only operator that are offering that.

The post Without 4G, it was not possible to conduct current mobile broadband: Etisalat Misr appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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MSMEDA expects $200m, €107m funds to be reinjected into micro, small projects Tue, 26 Feb 2019 16:33:10 +0000 ‘We are anticipating president’s approval on several deals of $200m with World Bank, €50m with AFD, €30m with KfW, €27m with EU,’ says Gamea

The post MSMEDA expects $200m, €107m funds to be reinjected into micro, small projects appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

The Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (MSMEDA) is anticipating $200m and €107m worth deals to enter into force within the next few days, to be reinjected into micro and small projects, with the support of the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation, according to Nevine Gamea, the executive director of the agency.

Those funding deals include a $200m deal signed with the World Bank previously. This deal is pending the president’s approval to enter into force, Gamea told the Daily News Egypt.

There is also a €50m deal with the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), which was signed during the French President Emmanuel Macron’s latest visit to Egypt, she added, noting that it will be fully allocated to fund women-owned projects. Additionally, a deal of €30 was signed with the German development bank KfW to fund small projects.

MSMEDA will also cooperate with the European Union (EU) to fund youth projects in 11 governorates in order to eliminate illegal migration phenomenon, besides another deal with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to execute local development initiatives as part of Egypt’s efforts to achieve the sustainable development by 2030.

The agency decided to direct the first batch of international funds to small projects in Assiut governorate, being one of the neediest governorates in Egypt from which comes the highest share of illegal migrants.

MSMEDA will collaborate with local municipalities to determine the needs of every area and suggest new projects to be funded by the agency.

In the same context, the agency injected EGP 5.3bn to fund 247,000 micro and small enterprises that secured 395,000 jobs in 2018, Gamea said, adding that it also allocated EGP 2.27bn to fund 16,900 small enterprises, which provided 49,100 jobs, while EGP 3bn worth funds were directed to finance 229,700 micro enterprises that secured 346,100 jobs.

The agency also offered EGP 1.3bn for 12,900 small enterprises through intermediaries, while it directly funded 4,041 projects with EGP 970m. 

“Upper Egypt accounted for 50% of micro and small enterprises funding in 2018, while the Nile Delta area received 33%, with 12% for the urban areas and 5% for border cities,” Gamea told Daily News Egypt. She pointed out that 58% of funding was directed to the trade sector, while the service sector and livestock industries received 16% each, 8% for industrial sector, and 2% for the self-employment sector.

Women-owned micro and small enterprises accounted for 49% of the agency’s funds in 2018. Women also represent 40% of the participants of fairs held by MSMEDA, according to Gamea. She added that 23% of the agency’s services provided by its single-window system nationwide benefited women. As for the women’s shares in marketing services and different training programmes provided by the agency, they reached 32% and 65% respectively.

She pointed out that the agency deals with about 450 civil organisations across the country, in addition to 18 banks, in order to ensure that it reaches out its target segments, most prominently youth, women, and the neediest citizens. 

Gamea revealed that an agreement with QNB Al Ahli will be signed within a few days. The agreement is worth EGP 100m provided by the agency to the bank to re-inject them into small projects. The agency has also approved to provide a financial leasing company a loan worth EGP 15m. 

She also revealed that the agency plans to establish several companies specialised in the sectors of micro funding, financial leasing, and insurance.

Gamea expects the agency to achieve a growth of over 15% in 2019, supported by entering some initiatives, such as converting cars to run on natural gas and industrial complexes, in cooperation with the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), in addition to funding workshops at the Damietta furniture city.

Earlier, the agency signed two contracts worth EGP 20m with Car Gas and Gastec with the aim of converting 4,000 cars to run on natural gas.

According to Gamea, these contracts come within the framework of the initiative “Towards Natural Gas” which was launched by the agency and the Ministry of Petroleum, contributing to the national project to convert cars to run on dual fuel and implementing the state’s strategy to rationalise the energy consumption.

Over the past few years, Gastec and Car Gas have been funding the fuel conversion project in cooperation with MSMEDA through providing facilitated loans for car owners with the least interest and longest repayment period. Cars are converted at stations of both companies using the latest technologies in the field.

The initiative aims to convert 10,000 cars to run on natural gas and open 50 motor oil outlets with a total funding of EGP 100m, which would provide many jobs across the country.

Gamea added that MSMEDA has funded converting 30,500 cars to run on natural gas, including 25,500 taxis and 5,000 private cars, with EGP 152m.

Egypt’s prime minister issued in November 2018 a decision to transfer the affiliation of MSMEDA to the cabinet rather than the Ministry of Trade and Industry, as well as restructuring the agency’s board of directors.

According to Gamea, the first meeting of the agency’s new board of directors was held on 7 February 2019, as several agreements signed by the agency were passed. Additionally, a new work strategy for the agency was discussed.

Gamea pointed out that a committee was formed to study the work strategy of the agency, in a way that suits the state’s 2030 Vision. This committee would include the Minister of Planning, Hala El Saeed, and two experienced experts. Gamea pointed out that the committee’s meeting will be held within a few days.

In a related context, Gamea revealed that the cabinet will soon announce approving the micro and SME law and will refer it to the parliament for discussion and approval.

She explained that the agency has completed preparing this law nearly a year ago. It was discussed by the legislative committee of the Ministry of Justice and then forwarded to the cabinet.

She pointed out that the law issuance took a long time due to the change of the agency’s affiliation, which required amending some articles in the draft law.

According to Gamea, the draft law includes a wide range of incentives that would facilitate the required measures for individuals who want to establish projects and encourage existing project owners in the informal sector to enter the formal sector.

This includes some tax incentives, in addition to other incentives related to technical training and facilitating institutional measures, in addition to incentives that ensure that those who want to establish projects have high success chances for their projects.

The new draft law would also allow the agency to fund medium enterprises, as the old law No. 141 for 2004 did not include medium enterprises and limit the work of agency to funding micro and small enterprises.


MSMEDA injected EGP 5.3bn to fund 247,000 micro-small enterprises in 2018, of which 49% owned by women

We target achieving a 15% growth in 2019, through initiatives, such as converting cars to run on natural gas, funding industrial zones, and Damietta for Furniture

We intend to establish investment arms in the sectors of microfinance, finance leasing, and insurance

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World’s increasing electricity demand creates room for solar, traditional energy: CCC Senior Manager Mon, 25 Feb 2019 21:26:43 +0000 One billion people suffer from shortage of electricity globally

The post World’s increasing electricity demand creates room for solar, traditional energy: CCC Senior Manager appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

The Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) is one of largest construction firms in the Arab world and is ranked as one of the top 20 contractors globally. The CCC currently has ongoing projects in Egypt, including the Tahrir Petrochemicals Complex at Ain Sokhna industrial zone which will cost $10.9bn

Senior Manager at CCC, Aref Boualwan, was one of the speakers at the Solar Show 2019, which was held in Cairo this month, Daily News Egypt interviewed Boualwan, asking about the company’s recent interest in the renewable energy sector and how he see its future, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What drove the company to invest in renewable energy? 

Our commitment toward renewable energy is not only motivated by profitability, which is important, but it wasn’t the main reason behind why we got into the sector at the start. If we go a step back and realise that the world has currently so many factors which drive renewable energy, the first being the shortage of electricity which almost one billion people suffer from globally, and the second being that the MENA has a 6% increase in the electricity capacity requirement per year. Therefore, $260bn in investments is needed in order to meet this rising and suppressed
electricity demand in the coming five years.

When it comes to renewable energy,  we have to remember that 42% of the CO2 emission comes from heat and energy generation, this is half of the reason why we entered into renewable energy. In order to tackle this, it would be more than just about profits, it is related to
our existence on the planet. At the CCC, we are committed to the UN sustainable development goals, which include the sustainability of renewable energy, in order to reduce CO2 emissions.

What are the challenges in MENA region which impede renewable energy’s growth?

The main challenge is legislation, as we should have a framework that does not only attract more renewable energy projects, but also supports them, therefore propelling the whole industry, and we need it today more than ever. It is very essential for the Arab world, especially Egypt, to take advantage of the opportunity of its location, because it is very rich in the solar energy.

Moreover, there are many projects which are being discussed about exporting renewable energy from Egypt to Europe.

The new vision of Egypt on renewable energy is very promising, we see a lot of movement from the government’s side, and we believe that if the momentum keeps going the way we see it, we will have very bright future in the energy sector in Egypt.

How do you see the future of the energy sector?

Renewable energy will not completely replace the traditional sources of energy, yet I strongly believe the world’s increasing demand in electricity creates a room for everybody, I see more traditional sources going more into industrial usage. Meanwhile end consumers will use renewable energy.

For instance, we now hear about microgrids, where you store energy produced by solar panels, which can then be used in many ways.

What is your next step?

Our company got a shell environment award, as we build solar cabins that operate 24/7. The solar cabins have power storage which can be used at night, when of course there is no sun.

Our present investment is to scale it up globally. We have 170,000 labourers and staff power, and most of them sleep in our camps. So we want to have these solar cabins there, since it is also suitable for people who live in remote areas, where electricity cannot be reached by cables.

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Visa’s fast-track programme empowers start-ups in region with access to visa net capabilities: Otto Williams Sun, 24 Feb 2019 07:00:54 +0000 Visa’s fintech fast-track programme empowers start-ups in the region with access to visa net capabilities, the Head of strategic partnerships, fintech, and ventures for Visa Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (CEMEA), Otto Williams, stated.  In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Williams talked about the company’s new fast-track programme, how the …

The post Visa’s fast-track programme empowers start-ups in region with access to visa net capabilities: Otto Williams appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Visa’s fintech fast-track programme empowers start-ups in the region with access to visa net capabilities, the Head of strategic partnerships, fintech, and ventures for Visa Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (CEMEA), Otto Williams, stated. 

In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Williams talked about the company’s new fast-track programme, how the company actively assists start-ups, and the future of mobile payments in Egypt. The transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Can you please tell us more about the fast-track programme which Visa launched?

Visa’s fintech fast-track programme provides innovative fintechs with a faster and an easier integration process with VisaNet, Visa’s global network, in addition to a suite of tailored digital solutions and growth capabilities. We just announced its expansion in the CEMEA region as part of its efforts in developing the next generation of digital payment solutions. The programme has already rolled out in Europe, Latin America, and Asia Pacific.

The fintech fast-track programme includes a consistent commercial deal framework in order to assist quicker decisions on deals with this community and to provide rapid onboarding to help start-ups in the region gain access to the capabilities that lie within Visa’s global network to empower their own ideas.

The programme has been tailored to Visa’s fintech partners’ needs, adapting to their realities and providing them processes which are faster, and which provide flexibility on financial requirements. We also aim to reduce the number of onboarding conditions, link fintechs to platforms that are already certified by Visa, and help connect fintechs with sponsoring banks.

How is Visa actively reaching out to fintech start-ups?

One of the most interesting shifts that the market has undergone in the last 5-10 years is how much more open it is in networking and sharing ideas. Visa has run a number of events including meet-ups, networking events, and hackathons to reach out to the community. In addition, Visa has run our Everywhere Initiative, a global innovation programme in various markets in the CEMEA. Visa’s Everywhere Initiative tasks start-ups to solve the commercial challenges of tomorrow, further enhance their own product propositions, and provide visionary solutions for Visa’s vast network of partners. Egypt has been well represented in Visa’s Everywhere Initiative with four Egyptian companies reaching the semi-finals phase in our MENA edition of the Everywhere Initiative, and one, which is ‘Swvl’, won the transit challenge. 

We have also been collaborating with the DIFC Fintech Hive in the UAE, on their start up-focused programmes that aim to accelerate 40 start-ups working in a range of fields impacting financial services innovation, such as artificial and machine intelligence, distributed ledger technologies, as well as digital and open banking. We are also partnering with the ‘Startupbootcamp’ accelerator and have just extended our partnership to include Egypt. Visa is currently sponsoring eleven start-ups and providing them with the knowledge, and tools to help them develop fantastic applications that solve problems for Egyptian citizens, enhance the quality of their lives, and create a memorable payment experience.

There are opportunities for people at all levels in the fintech community to talk to each other, share their challenges, and learn from each other. Visa is active at these events across the CEMEA region. We have experts dedicated to collaborating with fintechs across our CEMEA markets.

Why would a fintech/start-up want to work with a traditional player such as Visa?

After creating the world’s first digital payment network, VisaNet, which continues to be the foundation for innovations we have been over the past 60 years at the forefront of payment innovation because our mission has always been to connect the world to the most innovative and secure payments network which enables people and businesses to thrive. The fintech community also does the same by solving local needs in very innovative ways.

We believe a collaboration with Visa would work well for fintechs, as we both have similar goals and can bring several benefits to fintechs which are namely, scale as by plugging into our network, fintechs can access our global commerce ecosystem. They can use the Visa network to expand their footprint and capabilities in ways that they couldn’t before. The second benefit is brand, as Visa is the 7th most recognised consumer brand in the world. By partnering with us, fintechs can benefit from our global brand value. The third benefit is capability as Visa has been connecting the world through the most secure, resilient, and innovative network, enabling consumers, businesses and economies to thrive. We can help fintechs accelerate their time-to-market through our assets and capabilities.

As the world becomes increasingly mobile and digital, Visa also is establishing new partnerships with governments, clients, mobile network operators, software developers, hardware manufacturers, and others to expand the reach of digital payments globally. As we look to the future, Visa remains grounded in the principles of partnership, innovation, trust, and openness.

Visa’s strength lies in our network. Its reach, security, and capabilities empower commerce on a global scale by connecting 3.3bn Visa accounts, 53.9 million merchants, and 15,600 financial institutions.

We are working on making it simpler and quicker for early stage start-ups to connect with our network than ever before. Through providing rapid onboarding and reduced fees, we will help early stage start-ups gain access to the capabilities that lie within Visa’s global network to power their own ideas.

This is just one part of our wider programme of activity with the fintech community. We are committed toward being the most responsive and supportive network for both emerging players and long-term partners alike.

How do you define “start-ups” for this programme? Who is eligible?

There are a number of eligibility criteria for the programme. The start-up cannot be an existing member of Visa or have issued payment cards. The criteria include: credible business plan, attractive product for Visa, appropriate regulatory licence if required, no material adverse findings from background checks on directors or shareholders, in addition to a working capital and/or acceptable funding plan covering at least 12 months of operations

What about the global level – what is Visa doing with fintechs globally?

Fintech investments in the region are growing rapidly, last year they totalled around $600m, according to CB Insights. Visa is working on several fronts to continue supporting this entrepreneurial ecosystem. Visa has made a series of fintech investments globally including Klarna, solarisBank, Marqeta, YellowPepper and PayStack in Nigeria.

As for our partnerships, many payment platforms and fintechs are already collaborating with Visa to create new consumer and merchant experiences, including YellowPepper, NovoPayment, novae, Increase, Contis, EVRY, Jaja, Revolut and Wirecard.

Moreover, Visa works with fintech accelerators in the region such as 500 start-ups, Startupbootcamp in Mexico, and Kyvo and GSVLabs in Brazil in order to strengthen and add value to the fintech communities across the region.

How can mobile payments play a role in expanding the acceptance footprint in markets such as Egypt?

The penetration of mobile phones in emerging markets is growing at such a fast rate that the likelihood of consumers owning a smartphone is very high, even if they do not have a bank account. Today, individuals are always connected to their smartphones and, consuming an increasing amount of digital content and services. There is a growing tendency to use smartphones for making payments as well. In developing economies, mobile money systems are bringing digital payments to millions of people previously excluded from the financial mainstream. 

On the other side, we have the retailer or the merchant. Traditional point of sale devices are often considered costly for smaller merchants and also require a fixed line internet and power, which is not accessible to everyone. Again, mobile is a game changer. With a mobile phone and a USSD number, or a QR code – that little black and white box you now see on many products that can be read by your smartphone camera, suddenly a merchant can accept a payment via a mobile phone – allowing funds to go straight to their bank accounts safely, conveniently, and instantly.

Mobile payments can prove its effectiveness in bill payments, small amount transactions, and can significantly decrease the investments which merchants put into traditional point of sale.

In markets like Egypt, mobile payments can play a big role in expanding the digital acceptance footprint as it would empower significant portions of the population and enable them to transact digitally. Our work with the Egypt Post on the infrastructure enablement and empowering its staff, through workshops and seminars, along with issuance plans is targeting underserved segments in rural areas. This comes after launching mobile payment with our key clients. 

By digitising payments, we create economic efficiencies and transparency, which in turn bolsters confidence. We help the retail sector grow and unlock new channels like eCommerce. We enable more effective, and safer, travel and tourism by enabling people to use their cards, and carry less cash.

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Mineral Wealth Law, terms of gold exploring do not attract investors: AL Raghy Fri, 22 Feb 2019 11:30:01 +0000 4.4bn were transferred to bank account of Al Sokari gold mines to boost Egyptian economy

The post Mineral Wealth Law, terms of gold exploring do not attract investors: AL Raghy appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

At the end of the day, Al Sokari gold mine is the one and only productive gold mine in Egypt due to several challenges that postponed any attempt to benefit from Egypt’s wealth of gold burried in the eastern desert.

Daily News Egypt discussing these challenges with Youssef EL-Raghy, the general manager of Pharaoh Gold Mines which owns Centamin Company that has the rights to explore and extract gold in Al Sokari concession.

In this exclusive interview EL-Raghy expressed his optimism about gold mining industry in Egypt, but, it requires amending the system of exploring gold ore and its terms. He asserted that the companies which won the right to explore gold in the last gold tender have no background about the mining industry anymore bar one.

The transcript of the interview is below, lightly edited for clarity:

How do you foresee the delay for the first bidding to be resumed?

Actually it is not the first tender to be conducted here in Egypt,; as there were two tenders for exploring gold ore in the eastern desert which were conducted in 2007 and 2009. But, unfortunately, all companies that owned in them-there were eight companies-did not achieve any progress till now. And Al Sokari is still the only productive gold mine in Egypt.

Youssef EL-Raghy

So what are the reasons behind failing to control such an important economic sector?

Simply because the four companies that owned the exploration in the five concessions have no background in gold mining anymore. Moreover, the resumes of these companies show that none of them are actually working in any mining industry except one of them called Resolute. Ghassan Spain is actually a company that works in the real-estate sector, while Vertas opened a branch in Cairo-before the announcement of the tender’s winners-as a mining services company. In addition to Ghas Al Sharq which is specialised in gas exploration not gold mining.

Is that why these companies have not received their concessions yet?

Resolute itself, which owned two concessions,  has announced through its official website on the internet that although it owns the right to explore in two concessions, it will suspend its work until the government take serious actions towards amending the terms of mining exploration in Egypt.

Could you clarify that in more detail?

Well, the new system of gold mining that had been applied since 2017 was wrong and does not comply with international standards and was not in line with similar systems in other countries which have a solid experience in gold mining. All countries which work in this sector apply the system that allows the investor to benefit from all gold ore he explores while paying only three kinds of fees which are taxes, royalty, and rent. On the other hand, Egypt has approved in the new system taxes, royalty, and to get 50% of the concession production in favour of the state. These terms really hurt the gold mining industry in Egypt, as investment in this industry is high-risk and a long term one, so, in case the investor realises a loss, he will bear it alone. Let me clarify that a ton of rocks contains a gram of gold to be extracted which reflects how this industry is very difficult. Actually this system is crowding investments out not attracting them.

So, there is a complicated situation now?

The terms of the exploration and the nature of these companies alike. In addition to that the terms of bidding had been formulated in a frame of terms for petroleum exploration, but, there are bid differences between the two sectors. Each of them has a different nature and a different shape of investment.

And what about the legislative frame that controls mining in Egypt as the big umbrella that gold mining is subject to?

Indeed, the current Mining Law needs to be amended. Although it had been released in 2017 after amending the old one, but, the exploration terms need to be expressed to invest more investors to enter our market, making use of all incentives that the government is providing to all investors. Furthermore, this sector is very promising, as Egypt has about 125 locations that contain huge amounts of gold ore and ready to be explored and extracted.

Then, from your perspective, which is the most appropriate system to control gold mining in Egypt?

If the government approved the ‘taxes and rent’ system which allows the investor to benefit from the entire production of his concession versus paying the required taxes and the rent of the concession, it will pave the way to welcome not less than 200 new companies and investments. Neither profit sharing nor production sharing boosts the gold mining industry in Egypt. These systems are suitable for the petroleum sector, and do not suit the gold mining sector.

And until then Egypt will not experience a real gold mining industry, do you agree with that?

Al Sokari will remain the one and only productive gold mine and Centamin will be the one and only investor in this industry in Egypt if the current law still adopts such terms. Actually the current law is very bad, and completely hurts the mining industry. It needs to be entirely amended if the state really wants to establish a genuine mining industry, especially in the gold mining sector.

For Al Sokari mine, how does Centamin introduce a successful model to establish a gold mining industry?

Our project succeeded to set a standard for industrial safely and environmentally friendly for the first time in this industry in Egypt. In addition, the government has earned from Al Sokari production till now over than $360m, including ante up $122m as royalty fees and $238m in advance on the account of profits. Furthermore, the national treasury collects about EGP 9m per month as taxes and insurance fees, recorded EGP 600m by the end of December 2018. That illustrates how Al Sokari is an important income resource for the state and how this industry is significantly profitable.

How does Egypt’s economy make use of such a project?

All of AL Sokari’s gold sales estimation which is worth $ 4.4bn were transferred to the bank account of Al Sokari gold mines to boost the Egyptian economy. In addition, we signed an agreement with the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) by the end of 2016 to provide the project’s need of local currency with about a monthly EGP 50m, and in return, Al Sokari has to recover this amount with its equivalent in dollars through gold slugs. This action is to increase the gold reserves in CBE in this critical phase and also to enhance the national economy, and based on that we transfer about 1,000 tons of gold were shipped till last January.

What are the estimated reserves of gold ore in Al Sokari?

About 13m ounces, estimated to be produced within 30 years since the beginning of exploring the project.

And what is your company’s performance in this regard?

Well, operating expenses for the producing of gold recorded over $2.6bn, while investment costs exceeded $1.3bn. Actually 58% from this cost was injected into the Egyptian market. Also the gold imports from Al Sokari shape 2% of Egypt’s exports.

What is the estimated workforce in the mine?

About 4,500 labourers is the estimated workforce in Al Sokari, and we deal with 100 suppliers and more than 50 contracting companies.


Only 2% is Al Sokari share in Egypt’s exports

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Feeder industries need government support: El Kady Wed, 20 Feb 2019 07:30:45 +0000 How would car exports improve if government cannot realise industry's importance?

The post Feeder industries need government support: El Kady appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

The government must be the primary supporter of industry in Egypt, specifically the automotive sector in order to upgrade the promising industry. Economy can grow stronger only through supporting industry, Deputy Head of the Chamber of Engineering Industries (CEI) affiliated to the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), Abdel Moneim El Kady, said in an interview with Daily News Egypt, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

Has the Let It Rust campaign and the current market recession impacted feeder industries?

Of course, there is no doubt that the boycotting campaign has affected the automotive market. The recession also negatively impacted car assembly plants which rely on feeder industries.

The feeder factories are no longer fully operational due to the low demand for their products. This has reduced the working days to four instead of five days. I think this recession will continue to affect the feeder industries until April.

How do you see the campaign?

The campaign negatively affected the automotive sector in general, as well as the consumers because the campaign will intensify the overpricing phenomenon in May. We, as manufacturers, asked the government to intervene to resolve the crisis.

What is the importance of the automotive industry strategy? Why it has not been issued yet?

This strategy is over as the government rejected it. The strategy aimed to support the automotive and feeder industries. It was an integrated system to control the car market commercially and industrially, and it would revive the car market in Egypt and restore its level to what it was before 2008 as it would attract the middle-class consumers to the market through offering cars at EGP 100,000 or less. The market needs this segment again.

Why did the government reject the strategy?

This question should be answered by the government. We know two reasons behind the strategy’s rejection, the traders’ influence as they were opposing the strategy, and split among manufacturers. We had to wait for the strategy to be released, and then we could amend it.

Why did traders oppose it?

They thought it will only benefit car manufacturers, even though it would have benefited everyone. The state will lose EGP 7bn this year after removing custom tariffs on European cars. The strategy would have imposed other fees on manufacturers, and this could compensate the tariffs’ removal.

What are the manufacturers’ demands from the government?

Unfortunately, the government completely rejected the strategy. We wanted a clear vision in manufacturing. The misfortune of the car industry in Egypt was that there was no clear vision in the government.

There are some positives. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has, thankfully, worked on bringing back the Mercedes-Benz plant to work in Egypt, but the state must also support feeder industries. Mercedes-Benz should rely on local feeder industries.

The government must be decisive with manufacturers. Some people establish factories and produce only 1,000 cars per year, which is not good for the industry or feeding industries. The government must set a certain production limit, say 10,000 cars per year, with the possibility to increase to 20,000-30,000 cars.

How would Egypt benefit from the return of Mercedes-Benz?

This step would have a positive impact on the industry only if they relied on Egyptian feeder industries.

What is the role of the Feeding Industries Division in supporting the industry?

Both the Feeding Industries Division and the Transport Services Division play a big role in the Chamber of Engineering Industries to support the industry. They both launched several initiatives to convince the government to resolve the car crisis, but all failed. We have not received any positive reaction on these initiatives. The Feeding Industries Division also held several meetings in the last period to discuss the situation of the automotive industry in the recent period.

Feeding industries are accused of focusing only on luxuries and importing basic products, Why?

Feeding industries are the core of the automotive industry. Feeding industries in Egypt are successful, but their production is limited. In contrast, investors will not risk investing in feeder industries with this small amount of car production. We export many original spare parts to many countries, specifically Europe, Germany, US, and South Africa.

There are reports that governmental bodies, such as the Arab Organisation for Industrialisation, the Military Production Ministry, and the Egyptian National Railways, are relying on imported feeder industries. Is this true?

Yes, there are several Egyptian bodies and companies that rely on imported feeder products and ignore local ones. We communicated with the Military Production Ministry’s factories and the Arab Organisation for Industrialisation to supply them with our products. They asked for samples for examination. I hope they use the Egyptian feeding products.

What is the export value of Egyptian feeder industries?

The Chamber of Engineering Industries consists of 10 different divisions. Collectively, they export products worth $2.17bn per year. The feeding industries alone account for $460m. The Transport Services Division also exports products worth $92m, even though the price of cars is higher than the products of feeding industries.

We hope the value of feeding industry exports go beyond $3bn in 2019. Our exports make up a large proportion in the engineering industry exports, accounting for about 2.7% of its exports.

Egypt’s non-oil exports reach $20bn. Even though this is small for Egypt, the chamber accounts for 10% of the figure.

It is the responsibility of the government to increase the size of exports. How can exports improve if the government cannot realise the importance of industry?!

What are the most important international brands that are assembled in Egypt?

General Motors assembles Isuzu. It’s one of the most important brands assembled in Egypt. It relies on supplying 70% of its components in Egypt.

Is it possible to manufacture a 100% Egyptian car?

I do not think there can be a 100% Egyptian car, however we have a hope in electric cars. An Egyptian investor, Hassan El-Desouky, opened a production line for electric cars’ batteries. This is an important step, as the cost of battery accounts for 60% of the electric car’s price. We can also manufacture 10% of its spare parts, hence, we are approaching manufacturing a 100% Egyptian car.

The Feeding Industries Division will hold a meeting soon with El-Desouky to study how to develop the electric battery manufacturing project to manufacture the entire car.

Why do feeding industry plants rely on foreign testing ?

The automotive industry is a very advanced industry, and all feeder companies in Egypt abide to the global standard specifications, but parent companies are keen to test these products themselves in their own factories abroad.

Do we have enough trained labour in feeder industries?

In fact, we have lack trained labour. Our labour turned to work as tuk-tuk drivers (three-wheeled vehicles) or in delivery service, as they earn twice as much as they get in feeder factories.

How many car and feeder factories are there in Egypt?

There are 100 car factories in Egypt, of which eighty feeder factories and 20 assembly plants. There are of course other indirect and non-specialised factories that supply products to direct factories, such as plastics, rubber, glass, and others.

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Mastercard incorporates sound as new dimension to customer experience: Beatrice Cornacchia Sun, 17 Feb 2019 20:14:51 +0000 ‘We worked with musicians to produce distinct melody adaptable across genres, cultures,’ says senior VP for marketing, communications in Middle East, Africa

The post Mastercard incorporates sound as new dimension to customer experience: Beatrice Cornacchia appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Mastercard has recently announced the release of its sonic brand identity, a comprehensive sound architecture. Daily News Egypt interviewed Beatrice Cornacchia, the senior vice president of marketing and communications in the Middle East and Africa at Mastercard, to find out the company’s aim from the new sonic brand.

What is the new feature that Mastercard is announcing?

We are debuting our sonic brand identity, which is a comprehensive sound architecture that will reinforce our brand each time a consumer interacts with Mastercard. This new dimension to our brand identity is a critical component to how people recognise Mastercard today, and in the future.

What does your sonic brand consist of? How did you develop it?

As a global company which operates in over 200 countries, it is important for us to take a very deep and holistic approach to ensure local relevance while maintaining a consistent global brand voice.

We worked with musicians to produce a distinct melody that is adaptable across genres and cultures, and takes into account different platforms and environments. The result is that we now have a memorable melody that accentuates our attributes. In addition, we worked with artists and agencies around the world using varying instruments and tempos to help deliver the melody in several unique styles such as operatic, cinematic, and playful, and will also include a number of regional interpretations.

This Mastercard melody is the foundation of our sound architecture, and it will be extended to many of our components, from sound logos and ringtones, to on-hold music and point-of-sale acceptance sounds.

Does the melody stand for something? What are you hoping to deliver?

In creating the Mastercard melody, we included five principles that reflect the attributes of the Mastercard brand, which are: being relatable and inclusive, passionate, surprising, delightful, and captivating. At the end of the day, we want you leaving humming the Mastercard melody.

Why are you making this change now?

The world around us is transforming at an incredible pace, affecting how consumers engage with everything around them, and that includes brands.

The latest example is the presence of audio in our lives – hundreds of millions of people are already using smart speakers, and voice shopping alone is set to hit $40bn by 2022.

Sound is a powerful new dimension to our brand identity, and a critical component to how people recognise Mastercard.

What makes sound so important?

Music has always been an important part of marketing. Today, with more consumer touch points than ever before, consumer expectations of brands continue to evolve as the lines between the physical and the digital blur, and the existence of ad blocks and voice-technologies (rise of podcasts, smart speakers, and voice shopping) continues to change the day-to-day way we live, shop, and pay. The traditional ways of advertising and marketing need to evolve, making companies transform the way they show up and interact with consumers.

What kind of testing or feedback have you gotten so far?

The feedback so far has been very positive.  We are in this for the long haul, and will be taking along the way learning experiences to fulfil our ultimate vision of creating a highly personalised and contextually relevant Mastercard audio experience for consumers, wherever and however they interact with Mastercard.

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GIZ funds IPSP to make it easier for Egyptian citizens to receive public services Sun, 17 Feb 2019 08:00:35 +0000 IPSP has trained over 300 municipal civil servants so far

The post GIZ funds IPSP to make it easier for Egyptian citizens to receive public services appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Public administration in Egypt is inefficient and characterised by poor service delivery. The public service sector currently employs around seven million Egyptians, but in many areas access to public services is very limited. Even basic services for citizens are frequently organised in a complex way and assigned to different administrative levels and authorities. For citizens, it is often unclear who is responsible for what, and what documents are required for which service, nor how long they will have to wait.

Egypt is currently stepping up the decentralisation and modernisation of its public administration. The first efforts in this direction were undertaken before the upheaval of the Arab Spring in 2011, and the consequent dissolution of several governments. Since then, the pressure to reform services has become even greater. Indeed, better public services were one of the key demands of the revolution. The Egyptian government is therefore keen to immediately make visible improvements in services for citizens. Overall, however, in both rural and urban areas, there is a lack of the appropriate structures and competent staff to achieve this goal.

The Head of the Improvement of Public Services Project (IPSP) at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Gabriele Becker, said that the GIZ  implements the project, in close collaboration with government of Egypt, to support its ambitious programme to decentralise and modernise its public administration.

Daily News Egypt interviewed  Becker in depth about the project and its services to increase the satisfaction of citizens with the government services they receive , the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:

What is the reason behind launching the IPSP?

The main idea behind launching the IPSP is to make it easier for Egyptian citizens to receive public services. The GIZ implements the project, in close collaboration with government of Egypt, to support its ambitious programme to decentralise and modernise its public administration. The goal is to increase the satisfaction of citizens with the government services they receive. To achieve this, we, in the IPSP, in close cooperation with the ministries of local development (MoLD) and planning, monitoring and administrative reform (MoPMAR), put ourselves in the shoes of the citizens. We try to understand their challenges in receiving public services and then tailor solutions accordingly.

What is the value of fund allocated by the GIZ for the IPSP?

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) allocated €9.5m to the project from 2015 to 2021. Our cooperation is based on a technical cooperation agreement between both governments.

How many beneficiaries does the project target?

The Public Service Map (PSM), which offers comprehensive information on most demanded public services, is accessible online on the governmental Bawaba to all citizens of Egypt. It will soon be available as a mobile app.

The IPSP also works in three governorates on the ground: Cairo, Menoufiya, and Beni Suef. Inhabitants in these governorates can now benefit from fully-equipped and functional citizen service centres, mobile access channels, enhanced and user-friendly services to persons with disability, and shortened processing time of municipal services, to mention a few.

What are the success indicators achieved so far?

The PSM is a product we are very proud of because it makes information about public services transparent to citizens. It took us more than two years to compile all the information about the 500 most demanded public services (such as social support, education, health, or family affairs services). Each governmental institution can access its own services on the PSM and constantly update the content or reflect any changes in procedures.

Further, the PSM collects feedback from citizens. It provides reports that allow decision-makers in the government to improve the services based on the needs of citizens. They can see, for example, which services are most demanded, which services have the longest processing time, or which service centres are the most crowded. Based on this information, they can prioritise services to be offered online, and speed up the time it takes for services by optimising procedures.

The IPSP also managed to improve and simplify the workflow of several municipal services in the Cairo governorate, such as shop licenses and street advertisements. These simplified processes have made it easier for citizens: it now takes less time, fewer visits, and is less complicated. The governor of Cairo endorsed the new workflow. We hope that they will be adopted in all districts of the governorate soon.

In addition, The IPSP has equipped all target districts (Shubra, Maadi, Cairo Diwan, West Shibin and Ashmoun in Menoufiya) with the needed IT devices and furniture. This includes new internal networks in the municipalities to ensure that all municipal units are fully automated and inter-connected and that the one-stop-shop concept that is propagated by the government of Egypt is attained.

When it comes to the employees, who play the most important role in a functioning service centre, the IPSP has trained over 300 municipal civil servants so far. This includes operational staff, managers, and district heads. We trained them to professionally handle citizens’ requests, better manage complaints, leadership skills, efficient problem solving, and change management. We ensured that they are able to manage innovative solutions, such as the various mobile access channels, so they can better reach out to people with disabilities or those living in remote areas.

Do you plan to expand funds for the project? If yes, what is the amount allocated?

This project was requested by the Egyptian government since the modernisation of public services is part of Egypt’s Vision 2030. The funding by the German government is secured until 2021. We will be discussing with our partners in the ministries of local development and planning, monitoring and administrative reform how to make project outcomes sustainable.

Is the GIZ the only project funder?

The funding of the IPSP comes from the BMZ. The GIZ is implementing the project together with the MoLD and the MoPMAR, which are both dedicating the time of their employees and their expertise to the success of the project.

How many citizens use the services provided by the PSM on the Bawaba?

Until now, only a few thousand people are aware of the PSM and use it. The feedback we have received so far is positive and encouraging. We are continuously updating the content with our partners and plan to launch the PSM officially soon. Through an awareness campaign, we will make sure that citizens learn about the PSM so they can benefit from it.

Do you implement similar projects in other countries or only in Egypt?

Of course. Issues related to the quality of public service delivery are not only relevant to Egypt. Also in Germany we are now reforming and digitalising public services. Similar programmes by the German Development Cooperation can be found all over the world and the Middle East, for example in Morocco or Tunisia.

What challenges is Egypt facing with regards to blockchain?

The IPSP is not working with blockchain technologies at the moment. Blockchain is the new technological revolution of our time, but the technology is still relatively new to Egypt. Its applications could open many new opportunities in literally all sectors ranging from finance, commerce, industries to healthcare, value chains, entertainment and, of course, also public service delivery.

What are opportunities and challenges facing Egypt’s digital transformation?

Egypt’s ICT 2030 strategy is a sign that there is a strong commitment toward digital transformation in Egypt. So far, Egypt’s public administration is still largely paper-based and it will require much effort to adapt to the changes that come with digital transformation. Illiteracy and unfamiliarity with digital tools, especially in rural areas, is another challenge. The transformation is worth it, however, since there is a lot of potential. The know-how exists and Egypt’s national ICT industry is developing at a very fast pace. Egypt has a very young population that is familiar with the digital world. Since most people use mobile phones, Egypt can afford to introduce digital solutions for mobile users, including solutions to apply for public services.

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