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Marketing investment in Egypt
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 03 - 05 - 2018

“I want to invest in agriculture, real estate and the financial sector. I am no longer interested in the media business or telecoms,” Egyptian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, chair of Orascom Telecom, said this week.
According to Sawiris, the liberalisation of the exchange rate in November 2016 together with the new investment law issued last year had had a positive effect on investment in Egypt.
Addressing a conference in Cairo entitled “Egypt on the World Investment Map” organised to launch Hapi, a new economics newspaper, Sawiris said the new investment law had reduced barriers for companies wanting to invest in Egypt, even if there were still many investment opportunities not being marketed properly.
The agriculture industries and logistics sectors were promising, but more funds needed to be directed towards developing specific projects, he said.
Despite the improvement in the investment climate, challenges remained, according to Sawiris. These included the fact that investors still had to deal with multiple authorities, with the government's “single-window” system not always operating as it should.
The new investment law stipulated a single-window system at the General Authority for Investment (GAFI) whereby investors could deal with paperwork in one stop. Under the new law, the GAFI's investor service centres house representatives from the relevant authorities empowered to approve investor documentation.
In order to present opportunities in Egypt more efficiently, the Ministry of Trade and Industry last year launched the country's first comprehensive industrial investment map, which includes the different opportunities available in the industrial sector based on the competitive advantages of each governorate.
One of the important sectors on the investment map is communications and information technology. “Egypt is the first on the African continent in the number of start-ups in this area,” said Yasser Al-Kadi, the minister of communications and information technology, at the conference.
Technology business parks had been established to create jobs in the governorates, encouraging young people to stay on in their cities rather than move to Cairo. Around 1,000 people are now working in Assiut in Upper Egypt on the production of Egypt's first smartphone, Al-Kadi said.
The government's work in developing infrastructure and upgrading roads had also had a positive effect on investment, participants at the conference said. Sherif Barakat, deputy chief of Samsung Egypt, spoke of how his company had made use of the new roads to set up shop in Beni Sweif, one of Egypt's poorest governorates.
“Kom Abu Radi where the factory is located has become one of the most important industrial areas in Egypt,” he said, adding that the factory now exports its products to 36 countries.
Egypt is qualified to be a hub between the east and the west, he said, if sufficient efforts are made to manufacture for exporting.
Many companies are beginning to do just that. According to Minister of Investment Sahar Nasr, 70 per cent of the products from expanding companies in Egypt are exported abroad.
“What I am concerned about now is to increase investment in food, IT, medicine, and textiles and clothing because such industries give added value to the economy,” Nasr said.
She stressed that there was also a greater focus on developing young people's capacities. The government was investing in education, technical training and developing the skills of young people to suit market needs, the minister said.
“The ministry offers different funding and technical support facilities for various initiatives,” Nasr said.

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