Emil Michael, Uber’s chief business officer, said that Egypt is one of the most important markets for Uber in the Middle East and Africa.
In an interview with Daily News Egypt, he stated that the company intends to inject more investments into the Egyptian market in the coming period.
He pointed out that 50,000 drivers are working with Uber, 40% of whom did not have a job prior to joining Uber, noting that the company has helped effectively in the development of the Egyptian economy through the provision of jobs.
How do you see the growth opportunities in the Egyptian market, especially after the floatation of the pound?
The Egyptian market is the most important for Uber in the Middle East and Africa, especially after the huge investments we put into the Egyptian market. We are now working with about 50,000 drivers in Egypt. Roughly 40% of them were unemployed before they joined Uber. This highlights the role of Uber in helping Egyptians find jobs.
After the flotation of the pound, the value of the national currency depreciated, which gives our investments more value and helps them achieve more results.
In the coming period, we aim to create tens of thousands of more jobs.
What is the position of the investment plan of Uber in the Egyptian market?
We have made investments in the Egyptian market of about EGP 250m last year. We intend to inject more this year. We also opened a regional customer service centre in Egypt to serve customers of Uber in the Middle East. There are now 250 employees working there, with plans to soon increase the number even more.
How do you see the challenges in the Egyptian market?
The Egyptian market is important for Uber because it is the largest market in the region. I personally care about the Egyptian market because I am of Egyptian origin. We believe that Uber can benefit the Egyptian market through creating jobs and providing good quality services at affordable prices for transporting passengers, easing traffic problems, especially in Cairo, and reducing pollution.
The most important challenge is the absence of legislation regulating the activity. We expect the passage of a legislation soon to govern the market and encourage investments in this field, which would help us provide better service.
Some believe that Uber and similar companies cause more traffic congestion than easing them. What do you think?
This is not true. Our clients want to move from one point to another through Uber or other similar companies and even any other means of transportation. The competition is now not between Uber and other transportation services, but rather between Uber and passenger cars. The goal is to convince people to keep their cars parked and use transportation services. This provides good service and reduces traffic. Instead of moving around in private cars, an Uber driver can transport 10 people in one shift, which means 10 fewer cars on the streets.
For example, in some European countries, customers waste 25% of their time looking for parking for their private cars. This is no longer the case when using Uber.
A short time ago, the Cabinet referred a law to regulate Uber’s and similar companies’ business to parliament. What do you think about this move?
I think that moving to legalise the activity is a positive move that can enable the sector to move forward. There is still a chance to talk about several points in the law, but this is not the time for that now, since the law is only an initial draft at this point. We believe, however, that it will have positive results on the participatory economy in general, not only transportation services providers via smart phones.
It is too early to speak about the law now. It will include many details and we will continue talks with officials in the parliament’s Communication Committee or the Ministerial Committee formed to regulate the sector, to agree on legislation that can govern the market and serve all.
Have you started making profits from Egypt?
Egypt is the first and largest market for us in the Middle East and Africa. Cairo is one of the largest cities in the world for our business. We are now in the phase of investing and target expanding our services in more cities in Egypt. Only then we will begin making profits.
It is noteworthy that Emil Michael isited Cairo this week with Uber. During his visit, Michael had a number of meetings with key stakeholders, meeting with Sahar Nasr, the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, and Hisham Arafat, Minister of Transportation, as the ridesharing technology company works towards pushing governments’ and organisations’ transition to an on-demand economy.
RiseUp, an entrepreneur platform, hosted Emil Michael in a fireside chat, discussing his career and advice for young people in Egypt. During the talk, Michael shared his thoughts about entrepreneurship in Egypt, saying that, at Uber, they are passionately committed to their idea, their product, and their industry. “When I came here to Egypt, I saw the same passion among a lot of startups. I had a feeling that Egypt is the new Silicon Valley; it is a fertile ground for startups,” he added.
Moreover, he noted that the Egyptian entrepreneurship ecosystem is the perfect test market for many types of new products and services at the forefront of technology. And the unique combination of history, resources, and people in Egypt makes us keen to keep investing in the Egyptian market.
He also met with Egypt’s top 20 startups for dinner and discussed raising capital, building and scaling a company, and his perspective on growing a successful business in Egypt.
During his visit, Uber hosted 50 of their top performing driver partners and their families along with two Al Ahly stars, Abdallah El Said and Ahmed Fathy, at a special drivers’ assessment event. “It was great to meet the impressive men and women behind Uber’s success in Egypt. 40% of driver partners were previously unemployed, and we are committed to investing further into Egypt to create more economic opportunities across the country.”