Amid the Covid-19 crisis, digital transformation has become a must for all countries across the world in order to recover better from the repercussions of the pandemic and to rebuild their economies.
In a interview with Ahram Online, Mohamed Nasr, CEO and co-founder of Afro Group, an IT solution provider and the main partner to Huawei in Egypt and Africa, illustrated how digital transformation is expected to benefit the business and investment climate in Egypt as well as the potentials of the market to fast-track this process.
He also pointed to the company’s investments in Egypt and its plans to quadruple its stake in the Egyptian market to reach EGP 1 billion over the coming five years.
Ahram Online: How do you see the Egyptian market as an ICT market and the potentials it has in this regard?
Mohamed Nasr: The Egyptian market is the biggest market in the continent regarding information and communication technology (ICT) with a great population that is a potential for the industry. The Egyptian government is making significant efforts in the area of advancing the investment climate, as well as in digital transformation.
Such efforts are paving the way for service providers in the ICT sector, like Huawei and Afro Group, to practice their business in a healthy environment and create a suitable market to work in. Also, the latest amendments that have been made to investment laws in Egypt are positive and are expected to attract significant investment in the ICT sector in Egypt.
AO: Based on that assessment, what are your plans in the Egyptian market concerning investment and business?
MN: Prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, we targeted quadrupling our business and investment in Egypt, reaching EGP 1 billion over the coming four years. Yet, in light of the outbreak of the virus globally and its associated impacts on the global economy, which is expected to bounce back as of the first quarter of 2021, we plan to reach the same business and investment volume, but over five years instead of four.
In this regard, remote working and work from home in Egypt, as a response to the pandemic, to contain its spread, has resulted in heavy demand on the ICT industry and the solutions it provides. Thus, we expect an optimistic future for our business in the Egyptian market.
Moreover, Afro Cairo is currently in talks with the Egyptian government to invest and cooperate in its efforts concerning automation and applying it in governmental bodies as part of the state’s efforts to achieve the digital transition, especially in the New Administrative Capital, and we are about to establish a new branch in Egypt that is expected to be dedicated to this business.
AO: When did you start working in the Egyptian market?
MN: We started to work in Egypt in 2010, after launching our business in number of African countries in 2007, and we have become a partner to Huawei since then. We have 2,500 employees, 1,000 of which are based in Afro Cairo.
AO: What about your current investments in Egypt, and in Africa in general?
MN: Afro Cairo’s revenues represent about 50 percent of the group’s total revenues, while the remainder 50 percent of revenues are generated from our 10 offices based in a number of African countries. Afro Cairo’s total business in 2019 recorded EGP 250 million, EGP 150 million of which is our business volume with Huawei in Egypt, representing 65 percent of our total business in the Egyptian market.
Our investments and business in Africa are around $32 million distributed over 10 offices located in countries in eastern and western Africa.
AO: Based on your experience in the ICT sector, how is digital transformation expected to enhance the business and investment atmosphere in Egypt?
MN: Digital transformation adoption will help in decision making processes and will back the sustainable development policies that the state is working on, as well as enhancing the business environment in general. It will also eliminate any kind of obstacles that could hamper doing business in the Egyptian market and will accelerate the procedures and licenses that are required to establish new businesses or pursue current ones.
AO: What about you partnership with Huawei?
MN: Currently, we are the main partner to Huawei in Egypt and Africa and our business with the company grew by 50 percent annually over the past four years.