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Eng. Ahmed El Sewedy

CEO, Elsewedy Electric

Headquartered in Cairo, Elsewedy is an integrated energy solutions company with a presence in over 40 countries, more than 15,000 employees, and 25 production facilities. What began as a local trader in electrical equipment has grown into a significant contributor to the economic growth of Egypt, and one that now also provides educational opportunities for young Egyptians. The company chief discusses Elsewedy Electric’s successful ventures with international partners such as Siemens, and the opportunities for investment in a country that offers excellent conditions for competing with China on a global scale

Elsewedy has grown remarkably over its 81-year existence. What is your vision for this company?

Since our beginnings, we have diversified our products and services into five main business segments: industry, from wires and cables to transformers; contracting, power generation, transmission and distribution; infrastructure and civil work; technology, including smart cities and AI, telecoms and energy management; and industrial development and investment in power production and utilities. We now export over 70 percent of our production to the Gulf region and to Europe, and we are able to compete worldwide with the Chinese and Indians because our costs are lower than either of those competitors. I believe that with our structure, we still have the ability to grow.

I believe in the Germans, but Germans also have to believe in Egypt

You have partnered successfully with international companies, most notably with Siemens from Germany. Can you tell us more about that relationship?

We have a strong relation with Siemens, with whom we built the Attaqa simple cycle power plant in a record six months in 2015. After that we cooperated again on new plants like Beni Suef, which is the biggest combined cycle power plant in the world with efficiency around 60%, and one of our greatest partnerships. Siemens provided us with training and support, in what amounts to a perfect demonstration of successful German-Egyptian cooperation. Now we are working together again in Africa and in the Gulf region, where we are doing a project in Dubai.

Given all of this activity, do you see Egypt becoming an industrial hub in the next two years or so?

I believe very strongly in Egypt and the Egyptians. I believe in Egypt as a good place for industry. We are a country of 100 million, consumption levels are high, and production costs are really low. At our Elsewedy Technical Academy – STA technical schools, we train people to European levels, and taxes are customs are reasonable.  We are competitive and we can be a hub for the contracting business and the technology sector. So in every way, Egypt is a great choice.

We are able to compete worldwide with the Chinese and Indians because our costs are lower than either of those competitors

What about your initiative to train Egypt’s youth through the Elsewedy Technical Academy?

We have a great academy, STA, and our technical curriculum director is German. The project began in 2011 and we now have two schools with a capacity of 1,200 students, all on scholarships supported by Elsewedy Electric Foundation. Our target is to reach 10,000 students, and if we can manage that, I believe that we will be able to transform the industry in Egypt. STA is a three-year technical secondary school that offers customized dual technical and vocational education for the major economic industries based on German standards for both males and females. Programs offer customized technical education and training for the major industries according to the latest international standards. We are now working on getting students licensed to work in Germany, which requires passing the German language exam.

What is the outlook for other local players to work with the German market?

I believe in the Germans, but Germans also have to believe in Egypt. If Germany can shift some of its businesses to Egypt and compete with China either in price, in cost, or in quicker shipping times, it could become a very successful relationship. Elsewedy is also building sustainable industrial parks meeting international standards though Elsewedy Industrial Development in Egypt and Africa, and this could attract investors. As a company, we are able to support the Germans: we can build factories and provide the labor so they can focus their investment on the technology and the science, while we deal with all the infrastructure. We can be the connection between Africa and Europe.

We believe very firmly in cooperation between Egypt and Germany, and also between Elsewedy and German companies

What are your priorities for the next two years?
We want to attract investors to Egypt and to continue supporting Egyptian exports. We also want to focus on new technologies as part of our desire to keep fueling growth and hence we added “Elsewedy Technology” where we offer smart meters “Iskraemeco” to households in Europe, Africa, GCC, Asia and Latin America.

What is your final message to readers about the company?

We have a strong vision for Elsewedy and we believe very firmly in cooperation between Egypt and Germany, and also between Elsewedy and German companies. Our cooperation with Siemens is a very good example of that, and I believe that this cooperation can lead to very good business worldwide.

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