The size of the service in the Egyptian market recorded $922 million in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.8 percent from 2021 to 2028, according to the Market Analysis Report published recently by Grand view research.
Ahram Online interviews Careem’s General Manager Haitham Essam to discuss the potential of the Egyptian market to boost this kind of business, especially that the company targets increasing its investments threefold in 2022.
Ahram Online: How do you perceive the investment environment and doing business in Egypt?
Haitham Essam: Egypt is a key market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with more than 100 million in population and wide base of young people. The Egyptian government continues to make progress on economic reforms, and Egypt's investment climate has been improving throughout the past few years.
From our end, we have recently seen an increase in foreign investment in the Egyptian market, which indicates the confidence of these investors in Egypt and its economy. The Egyptian economy was one of the very few economies globally that grew during the pandemic.
Additionally, several international institutions have increased their forecast of Egypt’s economic growth during 2021-2022, so there are lots of encouraging signs.
AO: To what extent did the ride-hailing service in Egypt benefit from the COVID-19 pandemic?
HE: The ride-hailing industry has been affected negatively as a result of lockdown and the change in customer behaviour with the new emerging trends such as remote work.
At Careem, we took this challenge to turn it into an opportunity. In fact, Careem Egypt was one of the fastest markets to recover in the MENA region, with a 67 percent recovery rate. To be able to achieve that, Careem focused on what matters to our people.
This included placing a big focus on health and safety to protect both the captains and customers.
Also, COVID-19 accelerated the launch of the Super App across the region. The Super App was launched in 2020 as a multi-vertical technology platform that offers multiple services under one application, alongside our core business of ride hailing, including delivery and e-payments. About 48 million users have registered for the Super App around the region.
Moreover, we expanded our core business in Egypt to offer services across three areas: Mobility of People, Mobility of Things, and Mobility of Money. This helped put Careem’s sizable large fleet to use during the pandemic recession when introducing new delivery services, which accelerated our recovery and granted our captains opportunities for new income services.
AO: What is the total amount of Careem business and investments in the Egyptian market?
HE: Egypt is one of the four key priority markets for Careem and we have been investing in Egypt and providing job opportunities for Egyptians since we started operations in 2014.
Our investments in Egypt during 2021 has reached around $3.6 million till the end of the third quarter (3Q) of the year and our objective is to increase our investments three-fold in 2022 to reach around $11 million, which confirms our commitment to growing our business in Egypt.
AO: What are Careem’s plans for the domestic market?
HE: Our goal at Careem Egypt is to continue to grow our business in the Egyptian market and to play an active role in the community by providing an opportunity for many Egyptians to earn money on our platform, and by facilitating our customers’ daily lives, and achieving economic and social development.
We are planning to expand our Go Awfar service, which constitutes more than 70 percent of our operations in 2021, and we will increase the size of our Go Awfar fleet to cater for the growing needs of our customers. We also still see expansion in our more premium service GO and we are also expanding our niche fleet. Our Careem Express service will see another growth in 2022 after its expansion in the Delta governorates in the past couple of years. In addition, we will continue to enhance our service quality to ensure our customers enjoy a reliable and safe experience with Careem and will work closely with our captains and support them in achieving better earnings with us.
AO: Do you have any comment on who called for suspending ride-hailing business in Egypt?
HE: We have been seeing more players entering the Egyptian market in 2021, which means there is demand for ride hailing in Egypt.