Interviews – Daily News Egypt Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Sun, 24 Nov 2019 17:38:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 EHA to add 8,000 hotel rooms across Egypt early 2020 with $800m investments Sun, 24 Nov 2019 17:38:33 +0000 30% hike in the winter season’s reservations compared last year’s winter season, according to the EHA’s chairperson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The continuous inspection will cost the hotel which will be reflected in the higher quality the hotel provides as well as higher prices to compensate the expenses.

Moreover, Egyptian hotels will compete in global markets based on their international classification as we complete the new Egyptian hospitality criteria in coordination with the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and includes environmental, health, and hygiene standards.

Concerning the question of returning back to imposing indicative prices, I think that the experience has proven useless. Implementing the new hospitality criteria, in addition to applying the environmental, health, and hygiene standards will improve services and the touristic product, which will subsequently lead to the increase in prices

How do you control or monitor the hotel’s quality with regards to health, hygiene, and food safety?

The hotel inspection and control sector affiliated to the Ministry of Tourism always sends committees to conduct tours in hotels to ensure occupational safety and health. The latest tour was days ago in Sharm El Sheikh, and the report was good.

Moreover, the EHA has already contracted with Praversk Company to review the hygiene and food safety standards for 103 hotels in Hurghada and El Gouna in October 2018.

The EHA also contracted the Praversk Company to review the health standards for 105 floating hotels operating between Luxor and Aswan. Completing this project, the EHA will contract the company again.

Having said that, the committee or the inspection of the hotels is for consultation, and not for setting penalties against hotels.

What exactly is the inspection committee’s role?

The committee writes its report, sending it to the hotel, then the hotel replies, setting a timetable and deadline for itself to address the problems that were mentioned in

the committee’s report.

Then, after the deadline, the committee visits the hotel again. If the hotel has not met the deadline for solving its problems, it might lose a ranking star. However, if the unresolved problem represents an imminent threat to the life and safety of tourists in the hotel, it may get closed.

On the contrary, if the hotel commits and makes all the required points, the committee awards it with a certificate.

After Thomas Cook’s collapse, a lot of people were having concerns about its partnership with a large number of hotels in Egypt. Was it a partner of a large number of Egyptian Hotels?

Thomas Cook exited all Egyptian hotels three years before it went bankrupt.

Do you think that Thomas Cook’s crisis will force hotels that were heavily dependent on them to decrease their prices for competitive advantage (burn their prices)?

No, I don`t think so. Thomas Cook was working on two major markets, the German and British.

The Germans used to visit the Red Sea, while the British used to visit both the Red Sea and Sharm El Sheikh. With lifting the British flight ban to Sharm El Sheikh, British Tourism will return to South Sinai as a lot of companies are competing to acquire Thomas Cook’s share due to the great demand from the tourists themselves to travel to Egypt. Thus, there will be no gap to force the hotels to burn the prices.

Regarding the new customs draft law, is there any update?

The law controls the customs. It is being reviewed in Parliament and we are attending the discussion sessions. We are waiting for the law to come out.

Notably, the EHA submitted a memorandum containing a proposal to amend the customs law to the Egyptian Tourism Federation (ETF), demanding amendments related to the hotel system.

Meanwhile, the ETF sent a memorandum to the budget committee of the Egyptian parliament on the customs draft law.

Could we know more details about the memorandum that the ETF has finalised for the fees imposed on hotels?

The ETF has finalised a memorandum on the fees imposed on hotels, which are considered exaggerated by about 21 bodies. They are also seen as a burden on investors who demanded the need for a law on the lisenses of tourist establishments like industrial facilities to pump more investments.

The ETF sent the memorandum to the Minister of Tourism and the Prime Minister and we are currently waiting for their response. I want to ensure that the government supports the sector and will not hesitate to implement the investor demands.

Are there any agreements to schedule hotels’ debts for electricity, insurance, and water?

Yes, we have reached an agreement for the scheduling of the hotels’ debts for electricity, insurance, and water for four years since 2018. The owners of the establishments pay the instalments in addition to monthly obligations.

Many hotels closed during the tourism crisis in Egypt, will they reopen again this year, especially after the return to normal rates of the tourism?

This is not a phenomenon; these hotels were closed due to the tourism recession. With the return and restoration of tourist traffic back to Egypt, hotels reopened.
As evidence, over 20 hotels are going to reopen again this year, and most of them are in South Sinai.

How many hotels benefited up until now from the Central Bank of Egypt`s (CBE) initiative to finance hotels?

About 20 floating and fixed hotels in Luxor, Aswan, South Sinai, and the Red Sea have benefited from the CBE’s initiative, taking loans to replace and renovate their hotels. The EHA is assisting its members to facilitate the issuance of papers required to apply for loans.

What do you think about the participation of Egypt in the World Travel Market (WTM), especially after the return of British tourism to Egypt?

It really was one of the best exhibitions. For the first time, it appears in line with Egypt’s position in tourism, where the exhibition’s Egyptian pavilion witnessed a lot of global demand. Besides, we have not seen tour operators asking for flight incentives, due to the ministry’s commitment to pay them on time. Our new hospitality criteria was highly praised.

The pavilion witnessed a great demand from the world media to meet Egypt`s Minister of Tourism, covering the high demand on the Egyptian pavilion. Many countries came and asked us about our experience in the ETRP and in the hospitality criteria to benefit from our experience.

What about reservations for this winter season?

There is a 30% hike in the winter season’s reservations, compared to last year’s winter season.

How many hotels in Egypt use online booking, and what’s the proportion of total online bookings in Egypt?

All hotels operate with the online booking system complying with intentional trends. However, it is difficult to determine how many bookings are made online.

Is the online booking cheaper than the contracting reservation?

The price of the room booked online varies according to the occupancy rate in the hotel. The online booking is always more expensive than the contracting booking methods.

Which countries prefer to book in Egypt online?

England tops the list, followed by European countries in general, and then Arab countries. Egyptians also prefer online booking.

Among the countries that began to prefer online booking was Italy due to its charter flights with Egypt.

I want to explain that the online booking of the hotels also relates to flight bookings. When booking hotels online, it opens another window to book the flights for customers.

What are the challenges that still face the tourism investment in Egypt?

The sector needs a new law as the current law has been implemented since 1973.
We need a unified lisensing law that addresses the problems of the sector, is attractive for investment, and is not hindering tourism growth

The new investment law did not refer to the tourism sector although the sector is labour-intensive, in remote areas, and affects the national income. It is considered a strategic industry, which accounts for 15% of the GDP.

Did the EHA communicate with the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation to discuss this issue?

Yes, investors met with the minister three months ago and demanded that the investment incentives should be applied to tourist investors. In response, the minister promised to study this matter.

The whole world is currently talking about sustainable tourism, how many hotels in Egypt have been operating with the solar power?

up until now, seven hotels have contracted to operate with solar energy companies across Egypt’s governorates.

Is the cost of operating with solar energy higher?

The initial cost is high, but the return on investments is guaranteed. I think within four or five years, the capital is restored to the investor.

Can you tell us more about the Green Star Programme?

It is an environmental certification programme for hotels interested in green tourism applications. The programme is designed to suit the nature of the climate in Egypt and its topography.

The criteria used for the programme was recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

The number of hotels that have been certified by the Green Star Programme are 79 hotels in 15 tourist cities, containing approximately 22,000 hotel rooms, equivalent to 10% of the total hotel capacity.

Seven hotels are expected to join before the end of 2019, bringing the total number of participating hotels to 86.

What is EHA’s long term strategy?

We will focus on developing the skills of hospitality employees by organising training sessions covering various areas to improve the level of service in Egypt’s hotel industry, in addition to improving hygiene through the new hospitality criteria.  

The EHA allocated EGP12m to train 12,000 workers annually in addition to 8,000 workers trained through the training programme funded by the EU, bringing in 20,000 trainees annually.

So far, seven hotels have contracted to operate with solar energy companies across Egypt governors.

Tourism investors met with Minister Nasr three months ago and demanded to apply the investment incentives to tourism investors, and she promised to study this matter.

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I aim to preserve the artistic sense of jewellery, whether made of fancy or simple materials: Basant Nashaat Mon, 18 Nov 2019 07:00:58 +0000 The jeweller has to be bold, and not be afraid of criticism, says the designer

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“I aim to maintain the artistic character of each jewellery piece I design, in terms of colours, shapes, and drawings, whether made of fancy or simple materials,” said the artist and jewellery designer Basant Nashaat.

Nashaat was graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Mural Painting Department in 2012. She worked as a lecturer at the Higher Institute of Applied Art, and recently founded her brand “Line & tile crafts”.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Nashaat to learn more about her art journey.

Why did you leave academia?

I quit the Higher Institute of Applied Arts after spending five years teaching graphic arts, during which I benefited and enriched my experience. However, I found that the academic job limits the abilities of the artist and designer, and it also wasted my time, especially since the academic work was not my aspiration. I have a project and I want to develop it. I seek to accomplish successive steps for my brand.

What is your project?

I founded a brand, called “Line & tile crafts”, through which I offer works of art, including mural painting and jewellery, and some of my works are on display for sale in private galleries.

Why did not you work in a jewellery company?

Certainly every place can add experience to us, but I did not like the idea of job itself, and companies deprive the designer from getting into his own experience, and prevent him from his moral right to put his name on his artworks. Besides, companies limit capabilities of designers, and turning them into employees influenced by market ideas.

Do you see the designer being affected by the market is a negative thing?

I did not mean that artists should not identify the needs of the markets, but he should not be driven by “the most selling design”. He should not be controlled by the policy of “sales volume”.

Designers everywhere are motivated to change the tastes of society, and put forward different styles, for example Azza Fahmy has a different experience from the market and she did not get affected by traditional designs, but maintained her style.

Do you follow the works of companies or other designers?

Certainly, but I do like only the works that resemble me, as most of jewellery now felt strange for me, in whether because of their design or inadequacy of wearing them for women.

I am always looking for “a story” to employ it in my work, or even in the jewellery I buy.

What do you mean by “story”?

I mean a narrative of heritage, daily life stories of people, or habits and cultures. I use them in making my artworks whether jewellery or mural paintings, and I express them in different styles and materials

What are the elements and forms you use to express the “story”?

I am interested in two things in my artwork in general; looking for the “story” as I said, and expressing it through “collage”, which is the mixing and integration of materials.

What materials do you use in your artworks?

I use different materials, such as copper, silver, mosaics, cloth, and scrap, to create artistic pieces of jewellery, applying different colours and drawings in each piece of jewellery. I always deal with each piece of jewellery as a painting or mural.

Has your study of fine arts affected your jewellery design?

Of course, I feel that I have a special style of jewellery, like anything that some accept and others reject, but I will always maintain the artistic sense of each jewellery piece I design, in terms of colours, shapes, and drawings, whether made of fancy or simple materials.

I want people to identify my works without signing it. The artistic character is like a signature, and “story and collage” are my tools for singing my works.

Who are the artists that influenced your jewellery design?

I was influenced by the works of Salvador Dali, Suzanne Belperron, Rene Lalique, and Paloma Picasso.

Locally, I love the works of Azza Fahmy and Zeinab Khalifa.

How did you move from mural to jewellery?

Thanks to the time I spent teaching at the Graphic Department at the Higher Institute of Applied Arts, the study of fine arts is different from the applied arts.

Fine arts is concerned with works of art and paintings, whereas applied arts is concerned with the use of art in making consumer products that interest the people, including jewellery.

I tried to imitate mural with its artistic character in designing jewellery, keeping the same style of “story and collage”. I went through many attempts, until I was able to achieve the usable model, according to the measurements and dimensions of jewellery pieces, taking into account safety of users.

I sought to transform the painting into a usable art product in daily life using a simple style.

Why do you use lots of mosaic in your paintings or jewellery pieces?

I love mosaics and its colours, and I adore the formations resulting from using it. I did not find it difficult to use it in jewellery, because of its various sizes and types.

Do you take into consideration the possible uses of each piece?

I pay great attention to measurements to ensure safety of users because I use materials that may harm a woman’s body or wearing when used. It should not have sharp protrusion or pointed edges so as not to scratch the clothes or the skin of users.

I also take into consideration the weight of jewellery, especially when using materials such as mosaic and tile, as heavy pieces may fall while wearing them.

Also wearing heavy weight earrings for long periods exposes the earlobe to being cut, and it widens the piercing of the ear. Also, long and heavy necklaces tire the neck.

Do Egyptian women still prefer to wear fancy jewellery?

A large segment of women are still holding on to jewellery made of precious metals, but the younger generation is looking for new styles, constant change, eye-catching, and cheap items.

What are the exhibitions that you have participated in, both mural and jewellery?

I have participated in several collective exhibitions at the Cairo Opera House and El Sawy Culture Wheel, including a collective exhibition called “Lamasat”, “plus 20” exhibition in Khan Maghrabi 2019, the Egyptian Forum for Heritage Ornaments 2017, the Festival of Ornaments Art in its third session 2016, and “Contemporary Jewellery Designers” at the Gezira Art Center in 2016. I also participated in Shagarat Al Dor Salon at Saad Zaghloul Cultural Center in 2016, and took part in “Tanawo’at” exhibition at the Gezira Art Center in 2015. In 2014, I participated in the “Spirit of Life” exhibition at Prince Taz Palace, and the Forum of Creativity for Women Arts at the 6th of October’s culture palace in 2014.

How did you deal with inflation and low purchasing power during the last period?

Alhough I use simple materials in the design of jewellery and murals, I was affected by the inflation. Most types of good mosaics are imported and their prices have been doubled, not to mention the high cost of silver, copper, and other materials.

What are your future plans?

I’m getting ready to produce a collection of jewellery with ideas inspired by Pharaonic heritage using materials from the environment, and I will integrate mosaics. I will focus on using the colours the Pharaohs used in the design of jewellery.

What was the most important thing you learned during your art journey?

Being aware of old and traditional styles and keeping up with new ones at the same time. Heritage is full of secrets and ideas that can be re-generated with innovation.

The academic period made me always keen to research and read, that was the fruit of that experience.

I try not to fall into the trap of the “comfort zone” because it is the beginning of failure for any person or artist.

Designers also need time to gain experience. They need to keep learning and going through experiences, as well as to be bold in their ideas.

I remember being afraid of criticism at the beginning of my career, but I then remembered that Pablo Picasso was hiding his “cubism” paintings at the beginning for fear of criticism.

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Despite protests, Catalans oppose independence from Spain: Spanish ambassador in Egypt Tue, 12 Nov 2019 17:49:00 +0000 “The majority of Catalonia residents support the central government of Spain,” he asserted.

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Catalonia’s drive for independence is back in the headlines after Spain’s Sunday election, bringing to mind the riots witnessed in the region following the 2017 Catalan independence referendum. It was the country’s biggest political crisis since stability was restored in 1975.

“Numerous media outlets are promoting that the Catalans seek separation from Spain, but this is not true,” the Spanish ambassador to Egypt, Ramón Gil Casares, told Daily News Egypt.

Catalonia is considered the most populous province in Spain, and the Spanish Constitution is fully respected in the region, he added. Like the rest of Spain, Catalonia enjoys autonomy under the supervision of the Spanish state, but the Catalan government violated the law and the Constitution more than two years ago when it called for an independence referendum. However, the region’s residents rejected it as it was illegal and unconstitutional, Casares said.

“The majority of Catalonia residents support the central government of Spain,” he asserted.

Casares added that throughout the history, Catalonia has never been independent and, like other regions, has been a part of Spain for more than five centuries.

“Catalonia is a rich region and has always had the highest gross domestic product (GDP) of 19.2% in the country. It also received the largest infrastructure investment between 1996 and 2015 in Spain,” he said.

On reasons behind the Catalonia problem, Casares said that in 2008, Spain suffered one of its worst economic crises with its GDP dropping to 7.9%. This situation has had significant political repercussions.

The impact of this crisis was greater in Catalonia, where its GDP declined by 10%, partly because of the collapse of Catalan local government policies. With this economic downturn, more autonomy calls appeared, rather than working on reducing public spending, Casares asserted.

“The aggravation of the economic crisis has made it impossible to meet that demand, and for this reason, the head of the territorial government began to promote a superficial narrative that Spain was behind the crisis and that independence was the only solution,” he explained.

“Since then, an independence campaign has begun there based on lies, half-truths, and false claims,” Casares said.

“They presented Catalonia, falsifying history, as a historical victim since the 1714 War. However, this war was not motivated by independence or separation, but by other European kingdoms’ desire to control the Spanish crown at the time,” he added.

Casares stressed that most of the Catalan society opposes independence from Spain, noting that those who call for separation represent less than half of Catalans, adding that they gained about 47% in recent regional elections, and barely 39% in the last election.

Where is Catalonia located?

This region is located in northeastern Spain. It borders France and Andorra to the north, and overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the east. It covers an area of 32,000 km, where more than 7.5 million people are based, representing approximately 16% of the total population of Spain, according to the 2018 census.

Catalonia’s secession calls from Spain has garnered considerable attention from all media after recent protests in October turned into a week-long violence and chaos, resulting in numerous injuries and arrests, in addition to financial losses of more than €2m.

Why Catalonia wants to secede from Spain?

The Catalans had their own flag, a national anthem for their region, and a special language, but the demands of its residents go beyond establishing “the independent state of Catalonia”.

The Catalan separatists believe that they are the original owners of an independent state seized by force by Spain in the 10th century. The leaders of the region stress that they have survived several economic crises because of Catalonia’s industrial capabilities, accounting for one-third of Spanish industrial production, which encourages the Catalan administration to claim independence from the Spanish government.

Why protests renewed in Catalonia?

In October, Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced nine out of a dozen separatist leaders in Catalonia to 13 years in jail for their role in the independence attempt from the country in 2017.

In response, protests broke out in the Catalan capital of Barcelona last month, and spread to other cities in the region, including Girona and Taganana. Violent clashes erupted between Spanish police and protesters.

Pro-independence Catalans formed a protest group advocating for Catalan independence, named Democratic Tsunami. They created a new mobile application to inform those wishing to demonstrate about the places of gathering and sit-ins, especially in the light of the outbreak of protests in different places in Barcelona. This app went viral on social media networks in September as a mobilisation campaign before the trial of the Catalonia independence leaders. It’s believed that the protest group aims to hold political negotiations with Spain’s central government over self-determination of Catalonia.

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Egypt’s energy capabilities exceed its needs: Vice President of World Energy Council Tue, 12 Nov 2019 07:00:54 +0000 Our main objective is to provide energy for everyone at reasonable prices, says Elham Ibrahim

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Daily News Egypt interviewed Elham Mahmoud Ibrahim on the occasion of re-electing her as vice president of the World Energy Council representing Africa, for the second time in a row. She was the first Egyptian to hold this position. She was elected first in 2016, and re-elected during the council’s 24th Executive Assembly Meeting held in September in Abu Dhabi.

Ibrahim received her PhD in electronics and communications from the Cairo University. She used to work in the New and Renewable Energy Authority and then became assistant professor in a Saudi university.

She was the first woman to serve as Deputy Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy in Egypt, and then became the first Egyptian to work as the African Union Commissioner for Energy and Infrastructure in 2008. She was also re-elected in 2012.

Can you brief us on the World Energy Council’s role and objectives?

Established in 1924, the World Energy Council is a non-governmental body authorised by the United Nations. It is based in London, United Kingdom. It brings together everyone who is interested in energy affairs in the world, and includes governments, independent energy producers, universities, and individuals concerned with energy.

The council’s administrative organisational structure consists of president, vice president, and a board representing all member countries.

The council provides an opportunity for members to discuss and study energy problems and develop solutions, strategies, and possible scenarios for the future of energy through regular meetings every three years, such as the one held in Abu Dhabi in September.

What are the activities the council is currently discussing?

The council is currently discussing several activities and studies related to the future of energy, including a plan to develop the sector until 2060, a study on the main issues that concern the world’s energy leaders according to the interests and priorities of each region, and a study on Energy Trilemma, defined as the triple challenge of providing secure, equitable, and affordable, environmentally sustainable energy. Energy Trilemma comes after the radical transformation in the field of energy.

Do we, as citizens, need to be well-informed about energy sustainability?

Given what we have reached at the moment and how import is the energy conservation, we can say that things are going well. Many people are starting to feel responsible, yet we still need more efforts to increase awareness about energy sustainability.

Is clean and renewable energy still a dream hard to reach because of its high cost?

Our country is rich in clean and renewable resources of energy. We have come a long way in this field and achieved remarkable success. We have clear plans, like a 22% contribution of renewable energy in 2022, increasing it to 45% by 2035. We are trying to catch up with countries that are ahead of us in the field.

Should we put an end to using coal for power generation, or are there measures that can reduce its environmental damage?

Coal is still a cheap resource of energy, but if there is an alternative, we should use it. Some countries, like South Africa, are rich in coal mines, so they rely heavily on coal for power generation, but modern technology must be used to reduce its emissions. Egypt has alternatives for coal, including natural gas, especially after the recent major discoveries, and the trend towards using it in thermal plants.

Can we offer the required safety rates in nuclear energy?

The transition to nuclear power as a source of energy production was great, characterised by its low price and high capacity. Applying safety measures in nuclear operating system requires only experienced cadres, given the needed special abilities and skills. I believe there is no reason to fear the use of nuclear energy as long as it is subject to strict and controlled monitoring systems.

Do we have enough nuclear power cadres or we still need foreign experts?

Egypt has two bodies affiliated to the Ministry of Electricity specialised in nuclear energy, namely the Nuclear Materials Authority and the Nuclear Power Plants Authority. Egypt has sufficient cadres in this field, whether in research, operation, and maintenance. Officials responsible for Dabaa power plant are sending Egyptian delegations for training and getting more experience and knowledge.

Are African energy resources still wasted?

Undoubtedly, there has been a clear change in the using natural resources in Africa, although exportation of raw materials is still ongoing, and the African Union is now following the process of adding some value to materials before exporting them to preserve the wealth of the continent and make the most of them.

The AU also calls for the establishment of regional joint projects to make countries help one another. Everyone is working collectively to achieve real development and utilise raw materials and natural resources without wasting, which is a major role that has always been played by the AU. Its effort can be seen clearly in Africa’s infrastructure development programme, through the establishment of regional power plants and road networks.

Is energy production’s responsibility for climate pollution “an illusion” as US President Donald Trump says?

Energy production undoubtedly causes a major part of thermal emissions, such as carbon dioxide and sulphur. However, the transport sector is the largest contributor to pollution, followed by the energy sector, both during production and use.

How useful can electrical interconnection between neighbouring countries be? What are the obstacles facing it?

There are electricity interconnection agreements between Egypt and several countries, including Cyprus, Greece, Lebanon, and Libya. There are also similar memorandums of understanding between Egypt and Jordan as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council. Electrical interconnection plays a major role in securing energy supply to countries in case of deficit or sudden shortage. This system can secure enough energy to connected countries during peak hours, which vary from country to another due to time difference, as well as in the case of excess production.

Agreements or memorandums of understanding in the field of electricity between states would strengthen relations between them.

What about the updated version of the Pan-Arab Renewable Energy Strategy?

Based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Arab countries established their own strategic plan in the field of energy, which is flexible according to the interests and needs of each region, as well as the challenges and variables of each era. The recent meeting of Arab foreign ministers in October in Cairo resulted in an agreement to update the Pan-Arab Renewable Energy Strategy and its role in achieving the objectives of the SDGs.

After the establishment of the Benban solar complex, does Egypt need more similar projects?

Given our capacity and needs for renewable energy, I can say that our current situation is good as our capabilities exceed our needs, especially after completing several energy projects, mainly the Benban solar complex which includes 32 plants with a total production capacity of 1,465MW, becoming the largest solar project in the world. These projects helped Egypt achieve a production surplus, making it an attractive country for investment in this field.

How do you see your re-election for this post in the World Energy Council, and assuming other major positions in Egypt?

I had the privilege of working as Deputy Minister of Electricity in Egypt, after this position was limited to men for decades. This was the result of hard work and great passion for knowledge and learning.

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EBRD ready to support Egypt’s plans for opening up SOEs, MOCs Mon, 11 Nov 2019 07:00:43 +0000 Bank aims at speeding up implementation of joint infrastructure projects in Egypt, says Rigterink

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is ready to technically support Egypt’s plans for selling shares of public sector companies and privatised military owned companies (MOCs) on the Egyptian Exchange (EGX), EBRD’s First Vice President Jurgen Rigterink stated.

Companies owned by the Egyptian military must be allowed to sell shares on the stock exchange alongside other state companies slated for privatisation, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi said on 31 October 2019.

The EBRD is well positioned to play a role in cooperating with the authorities and build on the President’s recent announcement, Rigterink said, adding, “we can help companies ready for the next step. We assess the announcement as positive.”

Daily News Egypt interviewed Rigterink last Wednesday over his recent visit to Egypt from the fourth to the sixth of November to discuss topics with the Egyptian government and the private sector community in Egypt.

After having held several official meetings over your visit, what were the main topics of these discussions?

I had productive meetings with senior government officials and business representatives. I met with Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr, and Minister of Public Enterprises. Hesham Tawfik.

Over my visit, numerous signings were announced including our support to the energy efficiency of Egyptian private small and medium-sized enterprises, by providing a loan of $15m to the Arab African International Bank (AAIB), co-financed by $15m from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the loan will increase investment in the green economy in Egypt.

We also announced a small facility for Tanmeyah Micro Enterprise Services.

Will you announce new programmes with companies like Tanmeya in the future?

Sure, we pay great attention to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) finance. The relatively small facility for Tanmeya in the amount of $5m loan in local currency, and supported by the European Union (EU), will increase access to finance for women led MSMEs, which remain an undeserved community in Egypt.

The loan will be indexed to Cairo Overnight Interbank Average (CONIA), the new Egyptian risk-free rate recently developed by the Egyptian Money Market Contact Group, which brings together representatives of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), commercial banks, and the EBRD.

The EBRD’s loan will help Tanmeya introduce new financial products, modified lending practices and business models that are more inclusive and gender responsive. Tanmeyah will also implement a digital transformation strategy.

The signing ceremony with Tanmeya was a bigger event since it’s not about the amount of finance we’re putting in, but about the difference TMES plans to achieve through our finance.

When we enter a relationship with a partner, we build a long-term relationship. Hopefully next year will witness more projects with TMES and maybe lead to other projects in the micro finance areas with similar institutions.

Some people associate us only with large private and public sector projects, but actually our additional strength is helping entrepreneurs to boost their businesses in the region.

EBRD is keen on implementing regional integration projects, what are some projects you are planning for the near future?

We have many projects in this sector to be implemented in the future in several sectors, particularly in the energy sector. EBRD is playing an active a role in the East Mediterranean Gas Forum with a view to provide financing and harmonise health and safety standards across the region.

We also help Egyptian companies that want to expand into other regional markets. On Tuesday, I met with companies that are looking to open shop in Tunisia.

These sorts of companies come to EBRD not only for financing, but also for smartly navigating regional markets benefitting from EBRD’s local offices in these markets and its knowledge of the local environment.

EBRD will announce several projects in its regional integration in due time.

How does the EBRD support Egypt’s infrastructure?

Developing Egypt’s infrastructure is one of the key topics discussed during our meeting with the Minister Nasr last Wednesday.

Egypt and the EBRD have signed several infrastructure projects over the past years, yet EBRD hopes to speed up the implementation of infrastructure projects.

It takes relatively a long time for the implementation of infrastructure projects in Egypt. We’ll try to help in setting up an oversight unit to make sure the implementation project is on track with its schedule. We plan to also keep this unit for future projects.

The EBRD’s work isn’t always easy since our requirements are always more strict than local ones. We’re always looking to have the private sector in the planning process.

For example, our public private partnership (PPP) cooperation for implementing the sixth of October dry port. It was very important for us to bring in the private sector in collaboration with the government.

Moreover, the EBRD is supporting the development of modern urban infrastructure in Egypt through its participation in a local currency bond issue that will free up funds for investment by a municipal authority that aims to create sustainable cities where residents can enjoy a better life.

The EBRD will invest EGP 1bn in a bond issued by the El Taamir for Securitisation Company, on behalf Egypt’s New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA). The issuance will benefit from a guarantee by the Ministry of Finance and will be listed on the Egyptian EGX.

We are delighted to participate in this landmark transaction arranged by the National Bank of Egypt and EFG Hermes. The EBRD’s participation will support the development of new urban centres, aiming to create job opportunities, a better quality of life, and economic growth in the country.

The EBRD is particularly pleased to see this transaction demonstrating the effective use of the new short and medium-term capital-market debt instrument developed by the Egyptian Financial Regulatory Authority with the support of the EBRD.

This instrument will help deepen the local capital market and attract more international players to a key market segment that has been dormant for almost 10 years.

President Al-Sisi announced recently the country’s intention to open up MOCs and SOEs. How does the EBRD assess these plans?

We noticed Egypt’s higher leadership is very supportive in opening up certain sectors including SOEs and the MOCs for the private sector.

Although I believe that it’s necessary for the state to continue playing a role in certain sectors, privatisation is necessary to attract additional Foreign Direct Investments and will also lead to improving corporate governance and accountability for companies.

The success lies in opening up the economy with the private sector. This is not only for Egypt but also for all countries. The most important thing is to open up the environment for the private sector.

Is the EBRD interested in helping Egypt implement these plans?

The EBRD is well positioned to play a role in cooperation with the authorities and build on the President’s announcement recently. We can help make companies ready for the next step. We consider the announcement a positive plan and we are ready to support the country towards achieving these plans.

It’s not the first time the President mentioned such a statement about opening up the economy. He’s mentioned other similar intentions about a year ago.

What’s the update for the Monorail project that links the New Administrative Capital with the Sixth of October city?

We are still studying this project.

Since 2019 is almost coming to an end, can you tell us more about the EBRD’s expected funds for Egypt in the full year?

We hope investments will be above €1bn again in 2019. The bank had invested $5.5bn in Egypt since the beginning of its operations in 2012, 70% of the investments are for the private sector.

EBRD is keen on investing in Egypt’s tourism sector. Can you please tell me what kind of projects the bank is currently discussing?

Tourism is a large sector in Egypt. We can contribute to the country’s hotel construction, infrastructure, and beyond. We plan for more projects in sustainable tourism in Egypt in addition to developing the skills of tourism employees in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and private sector foundations.

Egypt has so many beautiful places and sustainable tourism will surely benefit the economy of the country. I had a tour at the conservation center in the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM). What Egypt is building there with the Japanese is great.

The Egyptian economy will likely grow by 5.9% in fiscal year 2019/20, compared with a previous expectation of 5.6%, driven by a further strengthening of the tourism sector and of exports, as well as large public construction projects.

Other positive factors are likely to include the re-engagement of domestic and foreign private investors following recent interest rate cuts, and the continued implementation of business environment reforms and prudent macroeconomic policies.

The main risks to the outlook consist in a “wait-and-see” approach from foreign investors, the erosion of competitiveness because of the recent appreciation of the pound and the negative outlook for the economy due to stagnation in the EU, Egypt’s main trading partner. The risks are partially mitigated by the authorities’ commitment to implementing structural reforms, according to the Regional Economic Prospects report’s updates on six November 2019.

The EBRD predicts growth in the SEMED region of 4.4% in 2019 and 4.8% in 2020, compared with 4.3% in 2018, mentioned the report, noting that the new forecasts are a downward revision of 0.2 and 0.3 percentage points, respectively, compared with previous predictions made in May.

Growth next year will be supported by the recovery of traditional drivers of growth; higher exports, the implementation of business environment reforms to attract foreign direct investment, and more political certainty – both domestic and regional. However, growth in the medium term will continue to be lower than pre-2011 levels.

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Baramoda: startup recycles agricultural waste to produce fertilizers Tue, 05 Nov 2019 06:00:17 +0000 Baramoda aims to own 5% market share in Egypt by 2025, says CEO

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Baramoda, the first agri-tech startup in the Middle East and Africa, announced it has recycled 9,188 tonnes of agricultural waste to produce 5,500 tonnes of organic fertilizers, the company’s CEO Mostafa Elnaby announced.

Baramoda is specialised in sustainable agricultural innovations, and produces organic fertilizers for different soil types and crops.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Elnaby to know more about the startup’s business and expansion plan.

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

Our company operates in agricultural waste recycling and producing organic fertilizers. It is an alternative to chemical and traditional fertilizers to be used in desert and agricultural lands.

Baramoda’s first production unit is based in Qena, cultivating an area of 343,747 feddan, targeting 375,000 feddan by 2025.

Baramoda uses advanced biotechnology to produce high-quality organic fertilizers tailored for different lands and crops at competitive prices.

Additionally, we provide innovative solutions to maximise the efficiency of agri-waste management, minimise the cost of production, reduce excessive use of chemical fertilisers, and increase crop production at minimal water consumption.

What is the idea behind constructing this factory?

There are about 38m tonnes of agricultural waste annually, of which only 12% was recycled, in addition to about 12m tonnes of animal waste annually, of which only 3m tonnes were used to produce organic fertilizers.

Hence, it becomes necessary to direct attention to recycling agricultural waste. It is vital to convert these wastes into materials with economic value that contribute to increasing the productivity of agricultural crops, saving energy, and protecting the environment.

Over and above, chemical fertilizers are artificial components that could cause many environmental problems because some fertilizers contain heavy metals such as cadmium and chromium, as well as high concentrations of radionuclides. These fertilizers harm corps and pollute water, and the excessive use of them affects the production quantity and quality.

We are in our company in charge of producing natural organic product (compost) to substitute chemical fertilizers to reduce their risks on the environment.

What services does the company provide?

We provide innovative solutions to maximize the efficiency of agri-waste management, minimise the cost of production agricultural, reduce excessive use of chemical fertilizers, and increase crop production, at minimal usage of water resources. Moreover, we seek to lead the way to green environment by taking care of earth’s finite resources.

Through our products, we also deliver sustainable solutions to the agriculture sector. Our products can improve soil health, enrich crop quality, minimise water usage and overall land management to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. We are seeking a sustainable, safe, and clean environment through reducing pollution, endorsing recycling agricultural wastes in order to handover the environment “pollution-free” for upcoming generations.

What is the company’s production capacity?

Last year, we have recycled 9,188 tonnes of agricultural waste and produced 5,500 tonnes of organic fertilizers. However, our production capacity is 20,000 tonnes.

In the first half of this year, we produced 4,000 tonnes and we target reaching 12,000 tonnes by the year-end. In addition, we cultivated 1,387 feddan, and minimised the usage of chemical fertilizers by 25%.

Where do you distribute the company’s production?

We currently distribute our production in Upper Egypt, but our plan is to expand in other areas of Egypt.

What is the value of the company’s investments?

We have invested approximately $225,000 since July 2018.

How much is the company’s sales?

Our sales reached EGP 1.8m, and we aim to achieve more next year.

What is the company’s expansion plan?

Across our company’s departments, we have teams for research and development, production, and operation working in the manufacturing plant, innovation laboratory, and distribution branch. We believe that Baramoda will lead the agriculture innovation in Egypt and the Middle East. We strive for creativity and ingenuity in the agriculture sectors to change the world. We present staff with endless opportunities to be innovative, empowering our team to explore new ideas and provide permission to fail. We constantly strive to keep moving forward, improving and innovating. It is our nature to innovate.

Therefore, Baramoda aims to own 5% market share, covering 220,000 feddan, by 2025, and sell 500,000 tonnes of fertilizers.

Accordingly, we plan to establish a new production unit in Nubaria, Beheira governorate to serve a total cultivated area of 1.1m feddan.

Baramoda is also collaborating with sugar producers by taking their industrial waste, turning it into fertilizers that can be used in cultivating sugar crops.

Moreover, we plan to expand in producing new products such as liquid fertilizers. We will also announce software technique to provide farm management system.

Did you acquire the land of Nubaria’s factory?

We still are negotiating with the owner to finalise the deal.

Do you plan to get a loan for your proposed Qena’s factory?

Yes, we are currently negotiating with three banks and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA) to finance the project.

How do you work on raising farmers’ awareness of organic agriculture?

We are focusing on raising awareness of the people in the agricultural communities, especially those targeted by our services or products, about the importance of organic agriculture and the economic value of agriculture waste. 

In your opinion, what are the main problems that agriculture faces in Egypt?

Egypt is an agricultural country with a total cultivated area of 10.5m feddan, however, the agricultural sector faces several challenges, first of which is the water shortage.

One of the main reasons for the water shortage in Egypt is the agricultural sector’s high consumption, using more than 81% of Egypt’s water resources.

The second challenge is the chemical fertilizers, mainly because of their high cost, unavailability in markets, and negative effects on the soil quality. Any plant absorbs 20% of chemicals in fertilizers, while the rest is deposited as pollutants inside the plant.

The traditional alternatives of chemical fertilizers, such as animal manure also cause several plant diseases and infect the soil with nematodes and weeds.

Consequently, what is the company’s role in handling this problem?

We are interested in solving the problem because we are an agricultural innovation company and part of the agricultural community in our country. We aware that there is a strong relationship between agriculture and the problem of water shortage because 81% of Egypt’s water resources are used for agricultural activities and this is a huge percentage.

Solutions to the water shortage can be done through producing compost which can reduce the water needed for soil by 30% because it contains a high percentage of organic matter, reaching more than 45%. This helps the soil to be more cohesive and reduces the leaching of irrigate water from the soil.

Healthy soil is an important factor in protecting our waters. Compost increases soil’s ability to retain water and decreases runoff. Runoff pollutes water by carrying soil, fertilizers, and pesticides to nearby streams.

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High-level international experts, regional entrepreneurs engage in 2nd Vested Summit Mon, 04 Nov 2019 06:30:32 +0000 Summit to kick off on 9-11 November with 1,500 participants, says Al-Hariri

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The second edition of the Vested Summit will kick off from 9 to 11 November with the participation of high-level international experts along with several local and regional entrepreneurs who will enrich the summit’s discussions, said founder of Vested Summit, Salma Al-Hariri.

“This year, we expect 1,500 participants. I am sure we will have a quantum leap through the high-level international experts including National Geographic’s Jason Silva, World Economic Forum Global Shaper Basima Abdulrahman, and MIT Robotics and AI professor Nikolaos Mavridis,” Al-Hariri mentioned.

Vested Summit 2019 is hosting companies from all over the world, including US, Brazil, Singapore, Africa, and others, she said, noting, “we’ve chosen 30 companies out of our 750 company-database to have close meetings with international investors to discuss collaboration opportunities.”

Daily News Egypt interviewed Al-Hariri to know more about the second edition of Vested Summit and its role in boosting entrepreneurs in addition to identifying her opinion about the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Egypt and her recommendation to further enhance it.

How did you start Vested Summit? What’s your vision and plan for the Egyptian market?

We started our business in 2017 after a business trip to San Francisco, US, where an accelerator that focuses on the Middle East region offered the opportunity for some regional entrepreneurs to visit Silicon Valley, meet and train with some of the greatest entrepreneurship supporters including Facebook, Google, and other large companies.

Silicon Valley’s ecosystem is vital and supports entrepreneurs. I had the idea to create an event in Egypt hosting both the giant entrepreneurs and the regional small entrepreneurs to provide the same opportunity of expertise exchange here in Egypt through the Vested Summit.

We pay great attention to the startups’ innovative solutions for the economic and social issues through technology and artificial intelligence. I believe that entrepreneurs can change the Middle East’s position on the international map as they create job opportunities and boost the countries’ economic situation.

Can you please elaborate on this year’s Vested Summit?

We launched a video-based platform that allows investors all over the world to visit Vested Summit online and identify the opportunities of collaboration with entrepreneurs. Last year, we hosted about 500 entrepreneurs and chose 20 companies to have meetings with international investors, some of the companies already succeeded in obtaining investments and remarkably developed.

How many participants will engage in Vested Summit this year? What issues will be addressed?

This year, we expect 1,500 participants. I am sure we will have a quantum leap through high level international experts, including National Geographic’s Jason Silva, World Economic Forum Global Shaper Basima Abdulrahman, and MIT Robotics and AI professor Nikolaos Mavridis. 

We are also hosting companies from all over the world, including US, Brazil, Singapore, Africa and others. We’ve chosen 30 companies out of our 750 company-database to have close meetings with the international investors to discuss collaboration opportunities. Nationalities of the startups are diversified including Egypt, Tunisia, Kenya, and others.

This year we focus on artificial intelligence, awareness technology, block chain, digital fabrication, clean tech, and voice tech.

How do you assess Egypt’s entrepreneurship ecosystem?

Egypt’s entrepreneurship ecosystem is developing very fast compared to the last five years. The number of the new entrepreneurs is increasing remarkably. I think that the support given by the international donors to this sector in Egypt is also increasing.

What are your recommendations to further help startups to grow?

I believe that boosting the entrepreneurship sector needs a number of regulative reforms to be implemented. Foundation and liquidation of startup companies should be an easy process to encourage youth to have their own businesses without fears of legal questioning if the company has to announce its


I recommend the government to set a new law for entrepreneurship separated from the Investment Law to adapt to the new and fast development of the entrepreneurship sector. The new law should make it easy to found and liquidate a company, employ people and end their contracts after liquidation without facing any problems.


What does this sector need from the government to help entrepreneurs?

I think that the government should pay greater attention to the young innovators who can be small entrepreneurs one day. It’s not okay for the government to say that they support entrepreneurs and believe in them, while it has not yet improved the eco-system to encourage more young people to have their own projects. The government should invest in the young and creative people.

Several foreign countries recognise our talented Egyptian entrepreneurs and adopt their projects. The Egyptian government has to create a more attractive system that makes the creative youth prefer to stay in their country and develop their ideas here.

I think that the government should provide the innovative youth with moral, physical, and technical support and encourage them to implement their ideas here in Egypt, rather than outside the country.

Fear of failure is the biggest challenge hindering many young people to start their own businesses, how do you think they can overcome their fears? Can you also tell us some success stories of young entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs need to be active and always develop their ideas to succeed. There is a difference between the fear that pushes you to make your best and the morbid fear that makes you stay in your place without take any risk. There is a popular quote I believe in; “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough.” Fear of failure is important to push you to take the steps necessary to achieve your dreams.

Many people have good ideas, but only successful entrepreneur takes real steps to achieve his idea through setting corner stones and creating a team.

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Age is just a number: 70-year-old Egyptian swimmer wins silver in South Korea’s World Masters Sat, 02 Nov 2019 11:00:45 +0000 Al-Attar is considered an inspirational role model for all women, proving that age does not stop one from reaching their dream.

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“Age is just a number”, a phrase that’s often more preached than practised. While some may oppose it, others live by it every single day.

Days ago, a video of the 70-year-old Egyptian swimmer Sohair Al-Attar went viral, after winning the silver Medal at the 18th annual World Masters Championship in South Korea’s Gwangju that kicked off in August.

Al-Attar won the silver medal in the women’s 200m backstroke and was fourth in the 400m freestyle in addition to the 50m and 100m backstroke.

Not only is she a world-class swimmer associated with El-Gezira Sporting Club, but she is also a microbology and immunology professor at Cairo University, and is a practicing doctor at her own private hospital.

She is also a mother- of -two and is considered a source of pride for her family.

Al-Attar is considered an inspirational role model for all women, proving that age does not stop one from reaching their dream. She proves that age is not a barrier, it’s a limitation that people put on themselves.    

In an interview with Al-Attar, she stated that her journey with swimming started when she was a only seven years old. By the age of 11, she started competing in national competitions, and was a member of the national team. Then, she became one of the top swimmers in Egypt at that time, participating in a number of international competitions.

When she married, she put swimming on hold when she married to focus on being a mother, but she was able to continue her passion recreationally. She still swam on her free time and even found the time to participate in a few national competitions.

In 2004, things afterwards started to take a competitive turn for Al-Attar. She figured that with her swimming track record, she could beat some of the records at the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA).

Al-Attar had successfully made a strong comeback, participating in the 2015 FINA World Masters Championship in Russia and the 2017 championship in Budapest.

Al-Attar stated that her husband was the biggest supporter for her decision for returning to swimming.

She has successfully participated in 11 international competitions, but her path to success did not come easily.

“It’s a bit tough. Sometimes I say no, I’m just getting old. Why should I go for this? But I always throw all these thoughts out of my mind quickly, paying no attention to them,” she proudly continued. 

Al-Attar is able to find balance between her and her swimming career, as well as her home duties. She detailed how her day goes, saying she wakes up early every morning to train so by eight o’clock she’s at the hospital. Then after practicing swimming and medicine, she heads to the university, then returns back to the hospital before going home. If she has social obligations, she’ll attend that and then return home in order to get an early night’s sleep.

She asserted that her swimming career doesn’t negatively impact her social life, but helps her manages her time.

Al-Attar has always been independent, and due to her constant trainings, she has a strong faith in her capabilities to handle herself. “Thank God I do not need support or help,” she added.

After her husband passed away, she had to live by herself. When her children try to help out, she feels capable of handling herself mainly because of sports.

Al-Attar does not allow herself to get bogged down by the negative comments she gets. One time, a colleague asked her, “Do you think that with all your medals, you will get into heaven?”

“I used to answer that with a definite no, that my behaviour, thoughts, attitude and everything else, would take me to heaven, not my medals,” she affirmed.

She explained further that a few of her colleagues were wondering how a Muslim woman would put on a swimsuit, but Al-Attar never cared about what they said, believing that the person`s attitude, beliefs, and way of life is what takes them to heaven and not what they wore in their lifetime.

As a source of pride and inspiration for all women across the world, Al-Attar sends a message for all women, especially who are over 50, stressing that age is just a number.

Urging that trainings do not have to be hard, she elaborated that they can start off small, by taking walks maybe for five minutes, and then slowly increase the time duration as they go along. It will get into the women’s brain and soon enough get addicted to the routine.

“Exercising is not only for fitness; exercising is also for your morale. Your morale will do a complete 180,  if you exercise and go back home you will feel so great and you will be able to do everything,” she asserted.

Al-Attar revealed that she is preparing to participate in another swimming championship in Alexandria today and on Friday.

“As long as I’m living, I hope I can participate, and I always say participation is considered an achievement, the goal is not to win, it`s to participate which is quite good,” she revealed her future plans. Daily News Egypt wishes for her more medals and competitions to come.

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FMCG, family businesses likely to witness merger, acquisition transactions: Levari Sat, 02 Nov 2019 10:51:07 +0000 Firm is about to complete three major acquisition transactions by end of 2019, says Levari partner

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Egypt is expected to achieve approximately 5.3% growth for the next five years, which is well above the 4% average expected for the rest of Africa. For three consecutive years, Egypt tops the list of most attractive African countries to invest in, according to South Africa’s Rand Merchant Bank’s 2020 investment report, due to be released next January.

“Egypt has made significant strides in changing its business environment, improving external investment into the market and growing their industries,” Sherif Hefni, partner at Levari, an international law firm based in Cairo.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Hefni to learn more about the topic. Hefni is a member of the Honorable Society of the Inner Temple in the United Kingdom and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in London.

Can you tell us more about Levari business?

Let me begin by saying that we understand that national borders frequently apply to legal systems, but not to the client’s businesses. That’s why since Levari’s establishment in 2012, we developed its expertise in undertaking cross-border transactions and advising across different jurisdictions. Levari is also a member of Interact Law, thus, is a part of a powerful international network of lawyers with offices in 38 countries, which enables us to offer an integrated service across the world.

Our team works for a range of clients on corporate restructuring, merges, acquisitions, fundraising, joint venture, corporate advisory, and commercial contract matters. Our client credentials are solid and we aim to build long-term relationships based on value and consistency of service.

Our team also undertakes negotiations on behalf of our clients and provides contracts in Arabic, English, and French, as well as undertaking corporate and commercial litigation on regular basis in Cairo, Dubai, and London, thus always aware of legal and proceedings updates.

The Levari team has a strong reputation for seeking and protecting our clients’ rights in addition to giving sensible and cost-effective advice. Also, the team has experience in local and international arbitration and the execution of international arbitration awards in local jurisdictions.

At Levari, we classify our work according to the areas of expertise, including banking, finance, commercial, corporate mergers and acquisitions, corporate structuring and offshoring, intellectual property, traditional and renewable energy, dispute resolution, employment, real estate, IT, and telecoms.

So, there are Levari offices in other locations?

Yes, we have presence in Cairo, Dubai, and London.

How would you describe Levari’s clients?

We are pleased to say we work with a wide variety of clients, which has enabled us to be highly flexible and strategic when facilitating our clients’ needs and ambitions for their businesses.

Levari’s clients range from international enterprises to regional and local companies. Our media and intellectual property practices have been noticeably growing through dealing with several international media clients and rights acquisitions.

Our office in Dubai is growing steadily with new corporate clients coming on board which shows confidence in Levari’s strength as a regional firm. We are currently looking forward to engaging in more corporate restructuring deals in Dubai, and our litigation practices have majorly increased over the last 12 months under the leadership of Mohamed Shaban and Hamad Bin Salmeen, our partners in Dubai.

Can you tell us more about transactions Levari carried out lately?

In 2019, Levari has handled major regional transactions. Some of the most notable transactions was the Investec Asset Management’s acquisition of Spinneys Egypt from the Commercial Bank of Dubai whom we represented.

We are also proud to report that Levari has recently completed the transfer of the intellectual property rights of the novel series Paranormal by Ahmed Khaled Tawfiq to Netflix whom we represented.

We further acted as a legal counsel to the software engineering recruiter Andela as it continues to innovate with its successful pan-African expansion into Egypt, and completed the latest Flat6labs cycle and investment in ten new companies.

We are also very proud to have Marwa Fayed’s Toy Run Association in Cairo come on board and look forward to supporting this great organisation and the good that it does for children.

In Dubai, we are very delighted to have Commercial Bank of Dubai come on board as a corporate and litigation client.

What about Levari’s potential transactions in the near future?

Well, Levari is known for being very secretive about its work and its clients, but I can say that for the upcoming period (until the end of 2019), the firm is about to complete three major acquisition transactions, two joint venture deals, and one major foreign direct investment (FDI) project. We look forward to making the announcements in the new year, but until then, we must respect our clients’ confidentiality.

Are there any new sectors your office is planning to operate in?

At Levari, we are extremely excited by the fast pace of growth in the Egyptian corporate market. As such, we consider it our priority to keep pace with implementing appropriate and constructive strategies to deal with new legal structures and corporate developments.

In 2020, we plan to expand our work in media and intellectual property, technology (Fintech), capital markets, and cross border arbitration. This may include opening more regional offices, but we reveal more about this later.

What is the role that Levari plays in merger and acquisition transactions?

We can represent both the target and the buyer. The elements of a merger or an acquisition transaction can be simply broken down into five stages: first is the transaction to undertake due diligence where we examine the various relevant aspects of the target company, the second stage is to propose a corporate structure based on the due diligence report and the requirements of both the buyer and target. The third stage is to draft the relevant legal documents and set up the structures according to the agreed corporate structuring established in phase two and the fourth stage, we complete the signing of the transactional documents, and finally, the fifth stage of the transaction is the execution and closing of the transaction.

Such transactions are carried out by our lawyers and partner financial consultants.

Are there any recent acquisition transactions in the Egyptian market that you think will have a significant effect on the local market?

Having been fully involved in this acquisition, we believe the recent acquisition of Spinneys by Investec will have a notable effect on supermarket retail business. The transaction will contribute to expansion of the supermarket retail business in Egypt, increasing market competition in this sector and inevitably creating more jobs in this industry.

Do you think that the coming period will see more mergers and acquisitions between real estate companies?

In the coming period, there will be possibly an increase in mergers and acquisitions within the real estate market. Interestingly, financial institutions and property developers are reacting towards the creation of new financial products; such as credit mortgages, registration of land, and dispute resolution in this industry. This will likely see changes in the market thus leading to possible mergers.

How do you see the new Investment Law in Egypt?

We can see that the Ministry of Investment under the auspice of Dr. Sahar Nasr has come a long way in improving the investment legislations in Egypt through a comprehensive dialogue with the private sector, implementation of new legislation and regulations.

The current investment legislation provides a good foundation for further development on the technical aspects of the investment laws and procedure which will come with time as the market gives its feedback and technical requirements. This will aid in securing investments and increase FDIs.

Levari’s role will be to ensure that its clients are aware and up to date with the new investment regulations and their benefits.

In your opinion, what are the most prominent sectors in the Egyptian market which could be increasingly eligible for merger or acquisition?

I believe that there are some significant potential acquisition and/or merger transactions in Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and family-owned manufacturing businesses. However, there is great potential in the SME market and great opportunities and growth within this segment.

In your opinion, what are the main legal risks to be found in a merger? Could you tell us Levari’s role in mitigating such risks?

The major legal risks of a merger lie in the fact that when you merge two companies, the full financial and legal liabilities of the two separate companies are now realized in the one newly created company.

The most important aspect before a merger is making sure the legal and financial due diligence is fully and thoroughly undertaken, and that funds are set aside in case of any unforeseen issues.

However, one of the major issues we sometimes see is the difficulties that employees go through in a merger; here the work culture changes, and usually the staff can feel uncomfortable during that period of change.

Nonetheless, our role as lawyers is to make sure that everyone is protected and the transitional period proceeds as smoothly as possible.

Shall we expect more FDIs in the Egyptian market in the upcoming period? What are challenges and opportunities of an increasing number of FDIs in Egyptian Market? Can you tell us some of the most promising sectors for attracting FDIs?

Yes, Egypt’s current stability and economic forecast indicates a likelihood of increase in FDIs. Such FDIs would most likely take place in infrastructure projects, Oil & Gas, technology, and possibly retail.

The challenges that still remain with FDIs are the red tape, currency fluctuations, and full implementation of the new laws. However, those challenges can be easily weighed against the opportunities which Egypt currently has plenty of, whether they will be in the tourism sector – as we can see there’s been a steady growth and the latest removal of the ban on direct flights from the UK to Sharm El-Sheikh or in agriculture, where there is a big drive in producing more consumables or fintech by where the Central Bank of Egypt is supporting the growth of this sector.

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Petroleum Ministry to present Mineral Wealth Law’s executive regulations to cabinet for ratification in November Sat, 02 Nov 2019 08:00:49 +0000 New mineral exploration projects are expected early next year

The post Petroleum Ministry to present Mineral Wealth Law’s executive regulations to cabinet for ratification in November appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources will present the executive regulations of the Mineral Wealth Law to the cabinet for ratification in November, said Tamer Abu Bakr, head of the Petroleum and Mining Industries Chamber in the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) and chairperson of Quill Energy company.

He stressed that the mining sector in Egypt impatiently awaits the issuance of the law’s executive regulation to clear the obstacles clouding the local market.

In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Abu Bakr said the Ministry of Petroleum is holding regular meetings to finalise the proposed executive regulations in cooperation with Enppi, international consultancy group Wood Mackenzie, and several international investors.

What are the main drawbacks of the law’s current executive regulations?

The current executive regulation focuses only on imposing levies, without offering incentives to attract foreign investors.

In addition, the state has also been limiting the mining activity in Egypt to quarries and salt evaporation ponds (salt pans) only in the last 30 years, despite that they only represent 15% of the mineral wealth in the country.

According to global energy consultancy group  specialised in mining Wood Mackenzie, all states that have mining activity collect no more than 16% levy or 20% tax of the production value. Egypt should not be an exception.

Did the Ministry of Petroleum use a consultancy office to prepare the executive regulations of the law?

Certainly, the ministry hired Wood Mackenzie to assess the obstacles and negatives in the mining sector and identify the main requirements to make Egypt an attractive country for mineral exploration. It also participated in preparing the executive regulations of the law under the supervision of Enppi.

How will the new executive regulations affect mining investment in Egypt?

The executive regulations of the new Mineral Wealth Law, which was issued in July, will improve the image of the Egyptian state in terms of the global map of mining.

What are the most important amendments in the executive regulations of the law?

Under the new amendments, mine exploration permits may now be extended beyond the original two-year period for a similar period, provided that reasonable technical justification is submitted and approved by the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority (EMRA).

Then, the ministry shall decide on the project, whether by signing an agreement or withdrawing the project’s land.

The EMRA also prepared a new system for gold exploration in which investors will apply for exploration license in a specific area within a pre-agreed period. The new system separated the periods of exploration and production, so an agreement would be inked with the partner in case he discovered gold in the concession area. The exploration licenses will be issued by the Minister of Petroleum without the need to issue a law or sign an agreement, which facilitates procedures, encourages investors, and preserves Egypt’s mineral resources as in the case of non-commitment of the partner, his license will be revoked.

After the partner announces a commercial discovery, he shall submit a plan for the development of the concession area and an agreement shall be inked the parliament’s approval.

When do you expect mining activity to resume in Egypt?

Once the cabinet approves the executive regulations of the Mineral Wealth Law, mineral research and exploration will resume early next year.

Many foreign mineral exploration companies are awaiting the new executive regulations to decide on investing in Egypt.

Do the amendments include raising the efficiency of the sector’s labour?

Certainly, as focusing on the law and its executive regulations without considering the human factor in the sector would be a waste of effort.

The EMRA has contracted with Enppi to train 480 employees over several phases. In the first phase, the company trained about 180 workers.

How did Egypt deal with its mineral wealth in the past?

Unfortunately, Egypt used to export raw material image without added value. Egypt produces the best type of limestone in the world, however it exports it without any added value.

Moreover, mining is not limited to gold only, there are dozens of minerals to be extracted, such as copper, aluminium, phosphate, ilmenite, bentonite, feldspar, quartz, and others.

Has Egypt signed any mineral exploration agreements with foreign companies in the last period?

Unfortunately, Egypt has not signed any mining agreements in 20 years because of bureaucracy. Also, the government’s cancelation of four gold exploration agreements in the past 10 years has affected the confidence of foreign investors in the local market.

In your opinion, what is the most important mineral that Egypt should focus on its extraction in the coming period?

Copper mining will have a promising future in Egypt as the country now focuses on power production projects, where copper and lithium are very important.

What is the difference between mineral and petroleum exploration?

Most of the companies that take the risk to search for minerals are small and medium-sized entities. When they discover any minerals, they sell the exploitation rights to specialised mining companies that have the financial solvency for mine development.

In petroleum exploration, large companies take the risk of searching for oil, such as Shell, British Gas, or Total, because they afford risks of research and development.

Actually, all workers in the mining industry are adventurous with preliminary information about the presence of gold, copper, or any other raw materials in a particular area.

How can the executive regulation of the Mineral Wealth Law benefit the Egyptian economy?

Facilitating and eliminating all obstacles that investors may face in the mining sector will increase the foreign investment inflows for mineral research, exploration, and development, not to mention the value of minerals extracted and the value added to those materials.

Improving the mining sector in Egypt will also create loads of job opportunities.

What do you think of businessperson Naguib Sawiris’ announcement about his willingness to invest in gold exploration in Egypt?

It is a very good and positive sign for the sector. It will also reassure local and foreign investors because Sawiris is currently one of the largest investors in the world’s gold sector.

How do you see the government’s decision to reduce gas prices for factories last month?

It’s a very good decision, and further price cuts will have a positive effect on the domestic industry and will increase its competitiveness in foreign markets.

What do you think about the government’s continuation to subsidise gas prices for households?

I object to subsidising gas prices for households other than factories, because subsidising gas supply for factories will provide more jobs, increase salaries, and make commodities available in markets at affordable prices.

Do you support local manufacturers’ demands for further gas price cut?

We certainly call for further reduction of gas price for several industries, including steel, ceramics, and aluminium, due to their high consumption of gas, besides Egypt’s need for these local products in the urban development and to enhance their competitiveness in foreign markets, especially in Syria, Iraq, and Libya.

Meanwhile, gas consumption accounts for only 3-9% of other industries’ expenses, so the rise in gas prices will have a limited impact on them.

These demands coincide with expectations of new gas discoveries in Egypt.

In your opinion, what is the fair gas price for factories?

The fair price of gas supply, for high-consumption factories, should be $4.5-5 per million BTU.

What is the current situation of Mashreq Petroleum?

As the former chairperson of Mashreq Petroleum, I conform that the company has been permanently closed.

Mashreq Petroleum has signed a 25-year concession agreement with the East Port Said Port in 2013. The agreement was extendable by up to five years based on a 90% achievement rate of operational targets and will allow Mashreq to build the first independent liquid bulk terminal in Egypt.

The company obtained the project’s land under the usufruct system for a period of 25 years. Then, the state withdrew the land from the company in 2015, so the company’s main shareholders made the liquidation decision last month.

According to the feasibility study of that project, how much would the state have earned?

The state would have earned EGP 60m annually from the project in return for its 5% stake.

What was the total investment cost of the project and its storage capacity?

The investment cost of the project amounted to EGP 2bn, while the storage capacity was about 540,000 tonnes of petroleum products.

How much has Mashreq spent on the project?

Mashreq spent $200m on land preparation, including dredging work on an area of one m cubic meter, in addition to full cladding of the beach and soil treatment.

Have you started any new business?

Yes, I have opened a new company three years ago with a capital of EGP 5m. It’s called Quill Energy, specialised in mining, energy, electricity, and petroleum services.

What is the company’s main activities?

Quill Energy is a leading company in the field of mining, petroleum services, operation, and maintenance of electricity, water, cooling, and firefighting networks in residential, commercial, and industrial projects.

It also assembles and produces smart metres in the local market.

What are the projects the company is currently considering?

We now study launching solar power plants to supply energy for factories in remote areas.

We are looking for a suitable land plot for the project, in cooperation with the factories that need electricity supply. We aim to supply them with electricity at a lower price than the market.

The post Petroleum Ministry to present Mineral Wealth Law’s executive regulations to cabinet for ratification in November appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Diligence and talent helped me to be World No. 1 in squash: Raneem El-Welily Fri, 01 Nov 2019 14:30:17 +0000 I have achieved 23 titles and the World Championships are the most important to me

The post Diligence and talent helped me to be World No. 1 in squash: Raneem El-Welily appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

When she hit the ball for the very first time, she knew that squash is what she is meant for. Fascinated by the game since she was just six years old, Squash Champion Raneem Al-Welily paved her way to become the world’s number one Squash player.

In light of the CIB PSA Women’s World Championship 2019-2020 and CIB Egyptian Squash Open taking place at Pyramids of Giza from October 24 – November 1, Daily News Egypt met with the Wadi Degla champion to learn more about her journey, the squash field, and future expectations.

First, tell us how your story started with squash?

I have been practicing squash since I was six. My brother also played squash a year before me. Racket games always attract children. When I was watching my brother playing, I really wanted to try it, so his coach allowed me. When I hit the ball for the very first time, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

How did your athletic career come about since then?

I participated in many local tournaments in Cairo and Alexandria with Alexandria Sporting Club. The game was not famous at the time. At the age of nine, I traveled to participate in the British Junior Open Squash for the first time, and I managed to win second place. I participated in many tournaments since then. When I was 13, I participated in the U19 WSF World Junior Squash Championships in 2001, a milestone in my career. Then, I participated in more local tournaments. At the international level, I played three overseas tournaments, and the Egyptian Squash Association supported me at the time. When I reached the age of 16, I won the U19 WSF World Junior Squash Championship, and secured the second place in the same tournament when I was 18. This made me feel that I achieved something special.

How was the transition from junior to women competitions?

When I was applying for universities, my family decided to move from Alexandria to Cairo, which affected my career.

The game in Egypt was also going through a difficult stage after the retirement of outstanding players. I was enrolled in a university in Cairo and played for Heliopolis club in 2008. I was not successful in the foreign tournaments I was participating in. It was until early 2009, when I was able to make remarkable progress in my career.

What does it mean to you to reach top rankings and win world championships?

I am now 30 years old and have won more than 23 tournaments, but the World Championships remain the most important to me. I managed to win in 2017, as it is any athlete’s dream. Eventually, I was able to rank first globally in 2015, and I was the first Egyptian to occupy this rank in any sport. I did not realize the importance of that achievement at the time, but now I see that I made a great achievement. There were ups and downs and it was a long journey that I enjoyed a lot.

Raneem El-Welily

What about your future plans?

I don’t have future plans. I always take it one day at a time, and make sure I do my best.

Every great journey has its ups and downs, can you tell us more about the challenges that you faced in your career?

There are always difficult times for any athlete. I used to call them “black moments”. For me, these periods always push me to do better. I always adjust my plan to prepare for better things. I have always seen the Malaysian professional squash player Nicol David as a puzzle, given that she has been able to achieve over the years. She is a true legend.

Do you see yourself as a legend?

I don’t see myself as a legend. I don’t think about it. I keep telling myself that I won the World Championship and that’s what I want.

Do you feel that you have deprived yourself of things compared to others your age?

I feel that I have lived a beautiful life that I have been happy with. I have made sacrifices for sure, but in return, I have achieved great things.

What about your personal life outside squash?

I am married. My husband is Tarek Mom’en, the world No. 3 in squash. We have a wonderful life. We play the same game and have the same schedules. We travel together for tournaments, we endure the stresses of life together, and this makes it easier for us in a lot of things. For me, family and friends are the most important. As long as I did my best, then I am very happy. With regards to raising children, it will happen at the right time. Some can give birth and go back to playing and others can’t. I believe that whatever I do, I should be 100% focused. Having children is a responsibility, not an easy decision.

Do you train with your husband?

No, we don’t train together. There is a big difference between our levels. Of course, men are physically stronger and faster. I can beat players at the age of 17. I can compete with those who are 19 years old, but other than that would be difficult.

Moving between Sporting, Heliopolis, and Wadi Degla clubs, what’s the difference you noticed between them?

At some point, I discovered that the clubs are mainly social, making you deal with the entire management board. I just want to play without going into details and approvals from the board regarding my contracts.

What does Wadi Degla offer you?

Wadi Degla brings me psychological comfort, which makes any athlete productive. The club offers me quality trainings under coach Karim Darwish, and we rely on him completely. I ranked first when I played for Wadi Degla. I aim to continue with the club, as I’m happy there.

Tell us more about your Commercial International Bank (CIB) sponsorship contract?

My contract with the CIB is linked to my contract with Wadi Degla. They offer me moral and media support.

Is squash a profitable game?

Squash is profitable for the top ten players in the world ranking only, as long as you are still playing, not after retirement.

You will compete in the CIB PSA Women’s World Championship in the shadow of the Great Pyramid of Giza, what does that mean to you?

I was dreaming of the return to the Pyramids tournament. It is a new challenge for me. I used to watch former squash legend Ahmed Barada playing and observe the interaction of the spectators in the tournament. It was a great experience. I used to travel from Alexandria to watch him. I did not expect that I would play one day at the same place.

What do you expect of the competition in the tournament?

I expect a heated competition from everyone, and from the first game. Draws will definitely dominate the tournament. For the PSA Men’s World Championship, I hope my husband Tarek Momen wins the championship.

What do you think helped you to be World No. 1?

When I was young, they told me that I was talented in squash, but talent alone is not enough. There must be diligence beside talent. Diligence cannot make something without talent, but talent and diligence together can do everything.

The post Diligence and talent helped me to be World No. 1 in squash: Raneem El-Welily appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Egypt has the potential to lead regional automotive industry: Nissan Egypt MD Fri, 01 Nov 2019 14:00:44 +0000 Government Automotive Vision and Policy for local car manufacturing are essential to compete with European cars, says Whitfield

The post Egypt has the potential to lead regional automotive industry: Nissan Egypt MD appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Chairman & Managing Director of Nissan Motor Egypt, Mike Whitfield, questioned the car sales decline in Egypt. Speaking to Daily News Egypt, Whitfield commented on the situation of the automotive industry; When one considers the population exceeding 100 million habitant and economic GDP growth rate of over 5% with a relatively low car ownership ratio of 62 vehicles per 1000, adding to that the forecasted production of about 65,000 only with relatively low levels of localisation, it clearly highlights the need for a clear vision and policy framework going forward to realise the true potential.

Nissan’s man in Egypt believes that the automotive industry in the country should witness a steady increase in the annual industry volume to reach 400,000 cars during the coming 10 years, at this level it makes a clear case for great localisation; however, this requires strong collaboration from all stakeholders, car manufacturers, components suppliers and the government. We need to look at ways of growing the local market and Ecosystem such as access to affordable finance and leasing programs.

He stressed that Nissan sees Egypt as a very important market, and looks forward to growing its presence in the market.

Local production components

Whitfield said that the real opportunity in the local market is to focus on the growth of localisation and real local value add. To truly promote the local automotive industry, it is necessary to first localise the feeder industries and measure the local value added in line with global norms, Whitfield stressed.

Nissan will continue to optimise its value add and Whitfield feels that one key area of opportunity in the short term would be the export of automotive components.

He explained that the advancement of the feeder industries will increase job opportunities, as each new job opportunity inside Nissan’s plant will create four indirect jobs outside the factory, whether in components factories, transportation, or suppliers of raw materials.

Egypt’s advantages

Egypt enjoys many advantages that can help with the advancement of the automotive industry, mainly the high population density, large natural gas reserves, high economic growth rate, and the strategic location with huge logistic capabilities, but is the country that needs a clear and constructive strategy to benefit from these factors, Whitfield mentioned.

He set the Moroccan and South African experience in the automotive industry as an example. Morocco managed to be one of the largest automotive exporters in the region, Whitfield believes it is not impossible for Egypt to reach that level if all stakeholders work together.

A positive sign is the government’s clear desire to localise the automobile industry and turn Egypt into a regional automotive centre.


Nissan Egypt factory

Regarding the date of releasing the new edition of Nissan Sunny, Whitfield ruled out to launch the car locally simultaneously with the world markets, since it will take some time to adjust the local production line and secure local components of the car, in addition to training workers to assemble the car.

He added that it is more feasible to import cars today from the company’s factories in Europe rather than manufacturing them locally to offer them at a competitive price giving the recent customs agreements.

Nissan’s first goal when assembling any new model locally is to localise as much as possible of the car’s components, so that the company can offer the vehicle at a competitive price for customers, he noted.

Whitfield asserted that Nissan Egypt always wants to launch new products, but it is certainly difficult to introduce locally assembled products without a clear long term automotive policy

On a different note, he declined to comment that Nissan aims to establish a new plant in Ain Sokhna, stressing that the company’s factory in the 6th of October City currently produces approximately 20,000 cars a year and this is not its maximum production capacity, as it can extend its production to 50,000 cars a year. However, if the local market grows, Nissan would certainly look at increasing its capacity.

Moreover, Nissan Egypt is currently evaluating its participation in the national project of replacement and renewal of 16-passenger transport vehicles.

Future plans

Whitfield affirmed that Nissan’s future plans include the introduction of electric cars in Egypt, especially Nissan Leaf, one of the most successful and famous electric car models in the world, but the company will not do so until the required infrastructure is available across most of the country.

In 2020, Nissan is planning to introduce the new edition of Juke, though it remains dependant on the Brexit standings, along with some technical additions to the Qashqai model.

Noteworthy, Whitfield also served as managing director of Nissan South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa until May for nearly 11 years. He first joined the company as a marketing management trainee in 1981. He has held several leading positions, such as managing director of Nissan North Europe.  Currently, Whitfield serves as the chairman of Nissan South Africa & Sub-Saharan Africa, in addition to his role in Nissan Motor Egypt.

The post Egypt has the potential to lead regional automotive industry: Nissan Egypt MD appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Less than 5% of Egyptians suffer undernourishment, while 30% are obese: FAO Fri, 01 Nov 2019 11:00:57 +0000 About 820 million people suffer from hunger worldwide

The post Less than 5% of Egyptians suffer undernourishment, while 30% are obese: FAO appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

A few days ago, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) celebrated the World Food Day, under the theme ”Healthy Diets for a Zero Hunger World”.

According to FAO, more than 672 million adults and 124 million children aged 5-19 are obese, more than 40 million children under five are overweight, while more than 820 million people suffer from hunger. The report attributed these rates to an unhealthy diet, and described it as the leading risk factor for mortality worldwide.

Daily News Egypt discussed with the representative of FAO in Egypt, Nasredin Hag Elamin, these rates, the role of FAO, and its cooperation with Egypt and Arab countries.

What is the exact role of the FAO?

FAO is a specialised subsidiary agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to end hunger. Its goal is to achieve food security for all, ensuring that people regularly receive enough high-quality food to have an active and healthy life. FAO works in more than 130 countries worldwide with more than 194 member states. We believe that everyone can play a role in ending hunger.

What is the form of cooperation between FAO and the Egyptian government?

As a party responsible for food, we cooperate with the Egyptian government through the Ministry of Agriculture as FAO’s partner. However, our cooperation is not limited to agriculture, and extends to ministries of environment, water resources, and others.

We also cooperate with all agencies, including private sector institutions, through the Ministry of Agriculture.

What are the most important sectors in your cooperation with Egypt?

Children and women are our top priorities, and there is a focus on some of the most less-privileged governorates. We offer help at various levels, including production and innovation of new production systems for agriculture, awareness, proper consumption, and the formation of appropriate meals. However, we need more work, especially with children and women. FAO is certainly working with all other sectors, and we are creating programmes to fully coordinate with Egypt in the field of agriculture.

Is the organisation interested in cooperating with the private sector?

Of course, we are ready to deal with all partners, including the private sector, because it has a very big role. It is the sector with the most influence on the quality of food and delivering it to the less-privileged places. It also conducts post-harvest operations, refrigeration, storage, distribution, and classification, and thus plays a role in providing food for a suitable price for the consumer.

Have you been able to cooperate with Egypt in bridging the food gap?

Bridging the food gap is important, but I think it is not the only and primary goal. It is almost impossible in light of production and water shortages.

The conditions and challenges facing Egypt require the need to move to more sustainable food systems, make more investments in agricultural and food systems, and increase spending on research and development of agricultural and food supply chains in order to foster innovation and support increased sustainable production.

Do you think Egypt is undernourished?

Egypt’s results in undernourishment are less than 5%, but Egypt’s biggest challenge is to address the problems of malnutrition for children and women in pregnancy, as well as the increase in obesity rates.

Malnutrition can lead to many serious problems, including dwarfism of children, which reached 20% nationwide. Also, obesity is also increasing worldwide, and it is more than 30% in Egypt.

But in terms of undernourishment, Egypt has had great success, with many people getting nearly enough calories.

What are your latest projects with the Egyptian government?

A few days ago, we concluded an agreement on sustainable management of land, water, and agricultural biodiversity in the New Valley. A project based on the ecosystem approach, especially the objectives of agro-ecosystems, which are complex agricultural and pastoral production systems. The sustainable management of land and water by smallholders must be consistent with the management plan that takes into account the broad capacity of the natural resource base.

What does this project provide?

It provides for communities and smallholders the technical capacity, financial means, knowledge, and institutional support needed to plan and manage sustainable land, water, and agricultural biodiversity resources.

How do you evaluate the cooperation between the FAO and Arab countries?

Arab countries have a special problem, they have a large and widening gap that is still growing. The food production does not meet the needs of the Arab region.

FAO is calling upon these countries to cooperate more, especially in the areas of increased production, because the gap has become a reality. Countries can offer sustainable help in other ways.

Does water shortage in the Arab world threaten to widen the food gap?

In fact, water is decreasing globally, but it is scarcer in the Arab region, and could threaten their food production. The alternatives available are first to rationalize and maximize water usage. Other options include increasing water resources, improving quality, better reuse, and desalination. Regional cooperation in water use is a major alternative to compensating for water shortages.

Is the hunger gap getting wider globally?

Yes, the State of Food Security and Nutrition 2019 report indicates that the number of undernourished people in the world is increasing. More than 820 million people do not have enough to eat, including more than 50 million in the Near East and North Africa, while overweight cases and obesity continue to rise in all regions, especially among school-age children and adults.

What are the main reasons for this contradiction?

Current food systems are unable to ensure food security for all, or to provide healthy diets. Food systems also contribute to environmental degradation, because of the way it currently operate. From agricultural production to manufacturing and retail, intensive food production, together with climate change, are causing biodiversity to lose rapidly. Today, there are only nine plant species representing 66% of total crop production, despite the fact that more than 6,000 varieties of food have grown throughout history. A variety of different crops is crucial for healthy diets and environmental protection.

What is the impact of climate change on undernourishment in Egypt and the region?

Climate change, in particular – means limited availability of surface water – increased rainfall variability, depletion of groundwater, more frequent droughts and floods, and reduced crop yields in some countries of the region, while population growth and urbanization continue to put pressure on water, land and fragile ecosystems. The agriculture sector, which consumes more than 85% of water resources, will suffer to maintain its share of water resources in light of the continued increasing demand for water for domestic use, industry, energy and tourism.

This is why we launched the Water Scarcity Initiative as a vital platform to facilitate the exchange of technical expertise and lessons learned from the region to provide neutral political space to create much-needed areas of cooperation among development partners working on distinct yet interrelated aspects of water, its use, and management.

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My deepest desire is to create art that can tangibly contribute, touch people’s lives positively, and spread joy : Ahluwalia Wed, 30 Oct 2019 14:35:59 +0000 I spent a long time studying Egypt’s influence in the world of goldsmithing, jewellery making, says the award winning designer

The post My deepest desire is to create art that can tangibly contribute, touch people’s lives positively, and spread joy : Ahluwalia appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

“Faced with a choice of Engineering or Design school, I chose the field of design right after high school,” Reena Ahluwalia told Daily News Egypt.

Born in India, and later moved to Canada, Ahluwalia is recognised as one of the top Master of Design and art in Canada. Not only is she just a jewellery designer, but she is also a painter and a professor. She is one of a handful of living jewellery artists whose work is featured on a Belgian postage stamp.

One of her most prominent achievements was the creation of a Diamond Tiara for HRH Kate Middleton, as a tribute to the British Royal Wedding. 

Daily News Egypt interviewed Ahluwalia to know her sources of inspiration, her love for diamonds, and her views on jewellery designs.


Tell us about yourself, what first led you to the direction of making jewellery?

I was lucky to have a childhood where I had the freedom to explore and experiment. I was always busy painting, sketching, sculpting, and loving it all. Faced with a choice of Engineering versus Design school, I chose the field of design right after high school. I graduated from India’s design and art school, the ‘National Institute of Fashion Technology’. Immediately after graduation, I landed my first job as a jewellery designer in one of India’s largest diamond companies.

India has more than one billion people, there were 10,000 applicants for art school and seven sets of exams. Only 12 students were selected. I was too young to know this was such a privilege, as I thought I was so good. In hindsight, I look back and think about how fortunate I was.

How did you turn jewellery design from a hobby to a job?

Immediately after graduation, I landed a job as one of 50 designers at one of India’s largest diamond jewellery manufacturers, Suraj Diamonds. When I was asked what I needed for work, I demanded not to sharpen pencils or a quiet spot, but a camera and funding for a trip around India. Miraculously, my bosses agreed, and I started on what would be a rich journey of inspiration.

Why do you love working with diamonds?

I love diamonds! Diamonds have been my material of choice since I started designing jewellery. They have been my material of choice throughout my life! They have become a medium for me to express stories that I want to share. For me, they are truly poetic, majestic, and symbolic. Diamonds are geological masterpieces, forged by nature, billions of years ago. Within our planet’s history, diamonds are earth’s oldest preserved minerals and have captured the human imagination, unlike any other mineral.

Why did you start painting diamonds, and what are the stories you are telling through this aspect of your work? 

I paint highly nuanced, hyper-realistic diamonds with ultra-magnified facets. In my paintings, diamonds have stories and soul. They are spellbinding. My reason to paint is to celebrate our shining human spirit and beauty through diamonds. I believe each one of us is like a diamond. For me, diamonds are much more than just specimens, they are metaphoric and symbolic. I want to express this essence through my paintings. I paint to express, not to impress.

Which one of your jewellery designs do you admire the most?

One of my current favourite pieces is a spinning diamond ring from my ‘Coronet by Reena Ahluwalia’ collection called ‘Inner Brilliance.’ I have used a patented coronet setting where seven stones come together to create a dazzling solitaire effect. My signature design element is a ‘pointer’ that points to the true centre of our being – our inner brilliance. A constant reminder to stay connected to what’s most valuable to us, including pillars of our values – our family, friendship, love, passion, health, and dreams.

What is your favourite diamond shape? 

I love step cuts.

What is the strangest request for a custom design piece of jewellery you have ever received?

An elaborate body ornament from head to toe for royalty in the Middle East. It was fabulous.

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

The significance of jewellery in our human history is undoubted. There are many challenges today, including change in our consumer values, shaped by factors such as technology, automation, artificial intelligence, climate change, shared economy, etc. We in the jewellery industry need to reflect on how to stay relevant. At the same time, I want to stress that until there is humanity, there will always be a desire to adorn oneself.

What works for the jewellery industry is the diversity of design, the strength of craftsmanship, knowledge of materials, and well-established supply chains. Ultimately, it’s the strength of its people, many of whom have invested generations in this industry. 


We need to refocus on the metaphoric qualities of diamonds. Support people and communities to be co-creators and collaborators. With that learning, can we shape the diamond conversations of tomorrow? I believe today we need outside-in thinking. By curating end-user collective intelligence across different disciplines and mediums, we may generate conversations around jewellery to make people gain a new vision of how we want to tell stories of the future through jewellery.

You have donated an original piece of artwork titled ‘Hope.’ It was sold at an auction at the event for children affected by illness, abuse, or neglect. What does giving mean to you?

My deepest desire is to create art that can tangibly contribute, touch people’s lives positively, and spread joy. I believe the biggest impact one can make is to those around you. So being able to give back means the world to me and for me, is a measure of a truly successful life. Each year, I donate my paintings and prints to generate funds. The sales rose to about $50,000 for the charity Jewellers for Children.

What about your painting of the historic Mouawad Dragon diamond and Mouawad Dynasty Diamond?

It’s an honour to be commissioned by Co-Guardian Fred Mouawad. He allowed my artistic vision to shine, by trusting my storytelling ability and imagination, that is what I am known for. To paint a series of historic diamonds for legendary diamantaire Mouwad is an experience I treasure.


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

I have seen some artefacts from the Tutankhamun tomb, but not the entire collection. I am deeply interested in jewellery symbolism and history and have spent a large amount of time studying Egypt and its influence in the world of goldsmithing and jewellery making. 


Tell us about your design style. What makes your collections unique in the industry?

My signature style is all about precision, geometry, fluidity, and movement. Creating jewellery with deep meaning, symbolism, and technical innovation is a key part in making my collections unique.

You are the go-to designer for some the biggest names, as Rio Tinto diamond, Forevermark, De Beers Canada, Aaron Shum. How did you get to where you are now?

I have the ability to put the soul into stories and stones through my design. I feel it’s also because the industry has seen my growth as a designer, set by many examples of success, my passion to push my creative boundaries and innovate. I am very focused, constantly filling my reservoir of knowledge that benefits the collaborations, and desire to enrich my collaborations by delivering much more than was asked. I am very cautious of who I collaborate and partner with for the same reason, as I want our visions to better the outcome.

Can you tell us more about the story behind The Mudan Diamond Watch which was awarded a Guinness World Record?

The Mudan Watch earned the Guinness World Record for Most Diamonds Set on A Watch. It’s an incredible art-piece featuring 15,858 diamonds, totalling 50.01 carats. The watch is set in 18K gold with my diamond painting on the dial. It is a co-creation between Aaron Shum and I. Peonies flowers served as inspiration, as they symbolise nobility, honour, and wealth. My hyper-realistic diamond painting on the dial represents the shining nobility that we carry within.


What are the upcoming trends in the jewellery design industry?

Jewellery trends pretty much reflect the culture shifts and changes. Daintier diamond necklaces that are single strand are trending. Colours in gemstones, materials (feathers, woods etc), or metals (eg. Titanium). Movement in jewellery is big. I am noticing a re-emergence and a surge in spinning jewellery in worldwide trends after I introduced my line ‘Coronet by Reena.’ 

Style always reflects culture. Our present culture reveals our need for self-expression and individuality, our digital identity, shedding excess in a world full of information overload, making deep emotional connections, making an impact through our actions. As a result, we are seeing light-weight minimal, modern, and geometric shapes with classically-styled undertones. Today, the winning jewellery is the one that has a deep emotional connection to our aspirations, and identity and lets us wear our story and message on ourselves, literally.


Tell us about your partnership and collaboration with Aaron Shum – the motivation behind it, the concept, plans?

Both Aaron Shum and I are known in the jewellery industry for our technical innovations, so it was great to form a partnership to combine our ideas and come up with collections together. We both are at a stage in our careers where we like to work with folks who can push our thinking and creative boundaries. We currently have three collections: Coronet by Reena – a mesmerising spinning diamond and gemstones set jewellery collection with a worldwide patented setting. My signature design element in the collection is a ‘pointer’ that points to the true centre of our being – our inner brilliance.


What’re your views on the current global jewellery sector? Demand-wise, what currently sells in major consuming market, white or coloured diamonds? Is it value appreciation that’s giving an edge to coloured diamonds to win over whites as an investment vehicle? 

 Percentage and demand-wise, white diamond jewellery sell more than coloured diamond jewellery. It’s a matter of availability and rarity. As far as coloured diamonds go, rarity, colour, size, and provenance are important factors, making them investment favourites. But they represent a very tiny percentage in the overall global diamond supply. Let’s also not forget that white diamonds of exceptional size, rarity, and provenance still and will continue to succeed in keeping their value.


‘Canoe’ Canadian Diamond Necklace:  This magnificent  28.96 carat necklace was the International winner of the Canadian Diamonds Master Craftsman Award. Rio Tinto Diamonds Global Design Competition 2011-2012.

Forevermark ‘Eternal’ Diamond Necklace: 85-carat ‘Eternal’ necklace, crafted for Forevermark select jeweler Vummidi Bangaru Jewellers (Est.1900) Reena: “The necklace is inspired by the promise of eternal love.

‘Mudan’ watch has 15,858 diamonds and Reena Ahluwalia’s diamond painting on the dial. A co-creation between Aaron Shum & Reena Ahluwalia.

The ROYAL DIAMOND TIARA I designed for the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton! This tiara was among the few that Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge, considered wearing for her royal wedding to Prince William. Together, Royal Asscher & Reen worked on this extra special tiara.

a spinning diamonds ring from my ‘Coronet by Reena Ahluwalia’ collection – called ‘Inner Brilliance’. I have used a patented Coronet setting where seven stones come together to create a dazzling solitaire effect.

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Egypt’s startup ecosystem has evolved greatly, becoming fastest growing ecosystem in MENA: Fadl Al Tarzi Wed, 23 Oct 2019 11:06:20 +0000 Nexford can help entrepreneurs master the skills they need to build their startup

The post Egypt’s startup ecosystem has evolved greatly, becoming fastest growing ecosystem in MENA: Fadl Al Tarzi appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

“Egypt’s startup scene will continue to witness strong growth as a result of several factors including a large youth population and increasing availability of funding,” Nexford University Founder and CEO, Fadl Al Tarzi told Daily News Egypt.

Nexford University is an online American university offering globally affordable education to learners worldwide. Al Tarzi founded Nexford University in 2018, with a vision to enable greater social and economic mobility through high-quality, affordable education.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Al Tarzi to get a hold on how he views Egypt’s startup scene and how can Nexford support entrepreneurship in Egypt.

What is your vision about the entrepreneurial activity in Egypt?

I think Egypt’s startup scene will continue to witness strong growth as a result of several factors including a large youth population and increasing availability of funding. The ecosystem has evolved a great deal recently resulting in Egypt becoming the fastest growing startup ecosystem in MENA.

What opportunities do you see available in Egypt to support entrepreneurs?

While I’m not actively involved in the Egyptian entrepreneurship scene, from what I can see there is definitely a lot more funding available, more incubators, more accelerators and overall a more mature ecosystem. I remember launching my 1st startup in Egypt almost 20 years ago, there were 0 real venture capitals at that time.

According to Nexford, are there any challenges facing entrepreneurs in Egypt?

As with any nation there will be challenges but I wouldn’t say they’re particularly unique to Egypt. From my perspective I can see two challenges remain: support plus legislation. Support beyond funding remains limited; entrepreneurs still need a lot more mentorship and support from people with real experience in building businesses from the ground up. Then comes the legal environment, while it has evolved, it is still significantly behind in terms of level of flexibility and innovation. This will naturally affect some industries more than others, for instance fintech startups are likely to have a much harder time vs a food delivery app.

What role can Nexford play to support entrepreneurs in Egypt?

We can help with skills plus global perspective. I think one of the main points entrepreneurs often overlook is the fact that their startup does not need to limit its ambition to the local market. At Nexford, we help entrepreneurs master the skills they need to build their startup such as the practical knowledge of finance and cashflow management which so many founders, especially tech founders, usually know very little about. We also give them a global perspective where they can learn about the successes and failures of companies from across the world and apply those learnings to their own startups.

What are the synergies between Nexford, universities and business incubators in Egypt to support entrepreneurs?

We’re about to sign a partnership with one of the incubators in Egypt, stay tuned!

How can Nexford benefit from the coming fourth industrial revolution in the entrepreneurial activity?

As more and more businesses launch online, the whole world will essentially join this virtual grid of both businesses and skills. Nexford provides you with the skills you need to stand out and become more competitive on that global grid.

What role can the huge technological development in the artificial intelligence play to boost entrepreneurship?

AI has become a buzzword that I think many entrepreneurs feel inclined to use in order to impress investors. Ultimately AI will have a role to play with some startups but not all. Still the level of investment in data to use AI truly effectively is, in my opinion, beyond the reach of most small startups. Human intelligence is what I think we should value above artificial intelligence. Don’t get me wrong, AI will change the world as we know it over the coming decade, we invest millions in AI at Nexford, but the point I’m making is it’s not AI that will boost entrepreneurship – its human intelligence.

Speaking of the future, how much is the amount of funding Nexford plans to offer to entrepreneurship in Egypt?

We don’t set limits per country, we find the concept of physical borders a bit irrelevant to the knowledge economy we’re in. That is a big part of what Nexford exists for, we believe one’s physical location should no longer inhibit their ability to access economic opportunity. We want to enable greater social & economic mobility all across the world; through providing you with the right skills.

How much will be the allocation pumped from Nexford to support entrepreneurs in 2020?

We hope to support at least 50 new entrepreneurs but will confirm the figure by Q4. Over the past 2 months we got over 1,300 applications to our entrepreneurship scholarship.

What qualities or conditions does Nexford see obligatory in a successful entrepreneur?

Grit and resilience.

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Egypt to apply participatory budgeting in FY 2020/21: Finance Ministry official Thu, 17 Oct 2019 19:42:42 +0000 The results of the Citizen Budget initiative encouraged introducing the participatory budgeting, says Sarah Eid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When is the Citizen Budget report issued?

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

Why is this report important and useful?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about the controversial education budget?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How much is spent on social protection?

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

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

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

Why did the participatory budget come after the citizen budget?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post Egypt to apply participatory budgeting in FY 2020/21: Finance Ministry official appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

The post KOTRA aims to organise environment investment mission to Egypt in 2020 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

When did KOTRA inaugurate its office in Egypt?

KOTRA Cairo office has been in operation since 1974.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you conduct any studies on the market?

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

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


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

The post Hyundai Rotem to deliver train sets for Cairo Metro in June 2021 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you see the business environment in Egypt?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any military supply deals with Egypt?

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

How many job opportunities do you offer in Egypt?

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any CSR activities in Egypt?

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

What about Hyundai Rotem deals in 2018?

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

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

The post Egypt, KOICA discuss new country programme: Oh Yeon Keum appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

How many projects is KOICA implementing in the local market?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are the key pillars of your programme?

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have more projects in 2019?

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

Can you please tell us more about this project?

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

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

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

What is the total budget of the project?

It’s a pilot project of $2.9m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you perceive the relationship between Korea and Egypt?

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

The post Egypt, KOICA discuss new country programme: Oh Yeon Keum appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Planned FTA to encourage serious investment in Egypt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cultural approach is unique despite the distance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Al-Sisi congratulates Korean president Moon on national day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Korea working hard to achieve peace in the Korean peninsula

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

When did the company start business in Egypt?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did the hike of inflation affect your sales last year?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the size of your investments in Egypt?

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

Can you please elaborate on your new headquarters?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any CSR activities?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In a range of two to three years.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the digital business, it will be also easier.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When will the construction of the West bakr project begin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your plans for expansion in Egypt?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post Egypt remains an important market for Lufthansa Group: GM Sales Egypt appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the company’s market share in Egypt?

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

What about Lufthansa’s efforts in lowering CO2 emissions?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

The post AHK focuses on promoting Egyptian products in Germany appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the value of German investments in Egypt?

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

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

How do you see Egypt’s investments climate?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shall we expect more German tourism flow into Egypt?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How was the situation before the PRRPs?

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

Do PRRPs make any difference today?

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

How are PRRPs less dangerous than smoking?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the motive behind working on the PRRPs?

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

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

The post Hard work behind reaching top world ranking in squash: Ali Farag appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could you tell us how you usually spend your day?

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

Is this your daily routine for the whole week?

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

Can players have a full-time job besides squash?

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

Is squash a profitable game?

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

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

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

Have you received any offers to play abroad?

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

How it feels to play in front of Giza Pyramids?

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

What is your advice for young players?

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

Finally, what are your future plans?

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

The post Hard work behind reaching top world ranking in squash: Ali Farag appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about the fund’s projects in Sinai? 

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

What is the fund’s role in crisis management?

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

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

What is the role of the fund in fighting unemployment? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the fund’s contributions in education?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you see the African Continental Free Trade Agreement?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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