New Telecom Egypt chairman gives workers hope

Ahram Online, Sunday 30 Sep 2012

Appointment of former Vodafone executive is welcomed by restive employees who say 'new blood' could bring positive changes

Egypt telecom
Egypt telecom (photo: Al-Ahram)

Telecom Egypt's appointment of a new chairman from the private sector has been tentatively welcomed by employees, hopeful his tenure will prompt a shake-up of operations at the state-owned firm.

Omar El-Sheikh, a 36-year veteran of Egypt's telecommunications industry, will assume the role of non-executive chairman at Telecom Egypt (TE) on Monday, the company announced this weekend.
A former public relations director at Vodafone Egypt, El-Sheikh replaces Akil Beshir, who resigned last week after 12 years chairing the landline monopoly. 
Beshir had been among the targets of recent labour action by TE staff as they demonstrated against alleged corruption and cronyism.
Hany Mahmoud, Egypt's Minister of Communications and IT, said El-Sheikh "brings extensive experience," making him well-placed to "oversee the continued success" of TE.
El-Sheikh's appointment was also hailed by TE employees who have been pushing for widescale changes in management ever since Egypt's January 2011 uprising.
"We don’t know a lot about [El-Sheikh], but workers welcome new blood with new policies," Mohamed Helmy, head of TE's independent syndicate, told Ahram Online.
Helmy said the fact that El-Sheikh had not previously served on the board of directors was a positive sign.
In mid-August, TE replaced its controversial chief executive Tarek Aboualam with Mohamed El-Nawawy, to roars of disapproval from workers who considered El-Nawawy too closely connected to former management.
El-Sheikh worked three years at Vodafone Egypt -- under minister Hany Mahmoud, then chief executive of the mobile services provider -- and has also held positions at NCR Saudi Arabia, Intertec Egypt and Kodak Egypt.
Telecom Egypt last month reported a 25 per cent fall in its second-quarter net income, pushed lower by a 7.9 per cent fall in revenues and employee demands for higher pay.
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