Raya Holding for Financial Investments plans to expand its call centre activity in the Saudi Arabian and UAE markets over the upcoming period. The company has recently increased its investments in a data centre company by doubling the area of its data centres.
According to Medhat Khalil, the company’s managing director and chairperson, in an interview with Daily News Egypt, Raya Holding aims to recruit 1,000 persons by the end of this year.
What are your plans for the upcoming period?
We have a target to be an effective and a strong player in the Egyptian economy. Currently, we have over 13,000 workers, and we aim to take this number up to 20,000.
You had plans to manufacture air conditioning systems in Egypt for a specific brand. Where does this plan stand at the moment?
We are still studying this aspect and we have not made a final decision about it. However, there are negotiations with the brand we target manufacturing for.
What about the situation of the call centre activity as one of Raya Holding’s most important investments?
We are the largest call centre company in the Middle East. We have about 11,000 persons working in this field, and over eight call centres in Egypt, in Cairo and Hurghada. We also have call centres in Dubai and Poland.
Over the upcoming period, we will work to further expand in the call centre activity, and we plan to hire about 1,000 more people throughout 2018. We also plan to expand this specific activity in Saudi Arabia.
What about the data centre activity?
We were one of the first companies to inject investments into the activity of data centres. Currently, we have a large data centre located on an area of 300 sqm. Over the past few days, we doubled the size of the data centre to take it to 600 sqm.
Is there a plan to offer new Raya companies on the EGX?
Raya Holding’s policy relies on listing companies on the Egyptian Exchange (EGX). The larger these companies become, in a way, that is convenient.
Currently, we have large companies whose shares could be launched on the EGX. They are Raya Trade and Raya Information Technology.
What is the value of the company’s investments this year?
I am not able to reveal figures for this year. However, in 2017, our investments reached EGP 500m.
We have not seen any expansions made by you in the telecommunications sector. What is the reason for this?
We are one of the most important information technology companies in Egypt, and the first Egyptian company in the sector. Mainly, we are a technology company. We do not mean to withdraw from the sector just because we have not injected investments into it over the past period.
Unfortunately, there are no promising opportunities currently existent in the sector, hence, we try to push our investments in the sector of information technology. The government sector is seeing a recession and its investments are almost non-existent.
Has the diversity in the sectors you are active in helped you survive the slowdown in the telecommunications and information technology sector?
Certainly. During the period that followed the January 2011 revolution, there was a state of recession in the sector of telecommunications and information technology. It resulted in many companies shutting down, but thanks to the diversity of our investments and having a large segment of our clients live outside Egypt, we were able to survive these circumstances.
Will you continue to adopt this strategy in the future?
Our strategy relies on seeking investment opportunities that are in line with our strategy and the state’s strategy, which mainly aims to generate jobs and increase exports.
Are there expansion plans for the upcoming period?
We are moving steadily in the UAE market, and we have more than 400 people working at the company’s call centre in Dubai.
As for the Saudi Arabian market, it is strategic and important for us. We are also achieving good growth rates in the services of information technology and call centres. Moreover, we have major investments in Nigeria and over 400 employees in the Nigerian cities Lagos and Abuja.
Currently, we have an investment partnership in the largest coffee bean factory in Uganda, so we expect strong growth from the market of Uganda over the upcoming period.
Do you have plans to establish an investment fund for startups?
We have many startups offered before us, but we will not be establishing an investment fund for the sector, although we might start investing into them directly as Raya Holding. Currently, we are studying several companies to look into the mechanisms of acquiring one of them or investing in them.
What is your opinion on the reform measures of the investment climate?
The investment climate was improved well and flexible laws were passed to attract investments. However, there is still a need for activating the roles of ministries on a wider scale. Some ministries were dedicated only to advertising and publicity.
What is the dollar price in your budget?
The dollar will remain stable this year. The interest rate, however, will decline by 2-3%.
Which of Raya’s affiliates had the largest share of Raya Holding’s profits?
Over the past two years, the call centre and information technology companies were the most growing in the group. They have both earned around EGP 220m of the company’s total profits, with EGP 160m made by the call centre company and EGP 60m by the information technology company.
Raya Holding is always looking for new investment opportunities. Are there any sectors you plan to inject investments into?
Raya Holding has turned into a financial investment company, so we are looking for any promising investment opportunities in the sector. Recently, we entered into a partnership with the Italian company Piaggio to manufacture and assemble light transportation vehicles in Egypt, with investments worth over EGP 100m.
Our strategy for investment opportunities relies mainly on focusing on ones that depend on large workforces, such as call centres and manufacturing, as well as investment opportunities that could be exported from Egypt.
Are there specific sectors you will be injecting new investments in?
We are focusing on the food industries sector, and recently, we injected investments into a factory to freeze fruits and vegetables in the city of Sadat with investments over EGP 200m. We also export its products.