Ericsson Egypt is working on partial developing of the telecommunication infrastructure of the New Administrative Capital, in cooperation with Telecom Egypt.
Sameh Shoukry, regional director at Ericsson for Egypt, Middle East, and Africa, said the Egyptian telecommunication sector is booming now thanks to the government’s orientation towards digital transformation and improving the investment climate.
Shoukry stressed in an interview with Daily News Egypt that the local market has promising growth opportunities, denying market saturation in the mobile sector.
Egypt prioritises digital transformation, how does Ericsson see its impact on the market?
The information and communication technology (ICT) market in Egypt is promising and has many growth opportunities. The growth rates in the ICT sector are fast and greater than those of the whole economy. Egypt’s growth rate is 5.6%, while the ICT sector’s growth is three times this rate. The ICT market is the engine of growth in Egypt, and it is the base that the country’s digital transformation plan is built on. All of these things contributed to creating new investment opportunities and providing new jobs. For example, Ericsson has opened a centre in Egypt for technical support serving the company’s clients in the Middle East and Africa, comprising 100 Egyptian engineers. It’s one of the most important investments by Ericsson in the Egyptian market last year.
We also cooperate with the four major telecom companies in Egypt; Vodafone, Orange, WE, and Etisalat, to develop their telecommunications networks and provide them with modern technologies to improve their services. All of these things are a result of the growing economic growth in the past three years, the better investment climate, and the economic reforms that have contributed to stimulating investment in the market.
How did the economic reforms affect the telecommunication market?
The economic development in Egypt during the last period is noticeable, and therefore the telecommunication sector is growing rapidly, especially since it does not add any burden to the state budget, because most of its investors are from the private sector. This is also noticeable in the electronic payment sector, which has achieved a strong boom in the past months, and even mobile operators allowed e-payment via mobile phones.
The New Capital is one of Egypt’s most important national projects, does Ericsson plan to cooperate with the government there?
We do not enter such projects on our own, but through an alliance with other telecom companies. For example, we partner with Telecom Egypt to partially develop the telecommunication infrastructure of the New Capital.
Ministry of Communications is developing telecommunications services in general, how does Ericsson see this development?
The development of telecommunications services, in general, depends on two basic points, the first of which is to provide suitable frequencies for mobile operators, and the second is the development of infrastructure and networks. In fact, on the first point, mobile operators need more frequencies to be able to improve the quality of their services. As for the second element, there is a problem with procedures for obtaining approval to build networks, which takes a long time and in some case companies do not get any response from the concerned authorities.
Do you think mobile services in Egypt need improvement?
Yes, but it depends on the elements I mentioned previously.
Do mobile operators really need new frequencies?
Of course, especially in light of the current number of subscribers, and we hope that more frequencies will be available to mobile companies this year.
Over the past year, have mobile operators increased their spending on network development?
There has been a growth in spending by mobile operators in 2019 compared to 2018, due to the increase in the areas of investment in light of the emergence of new investment opportunities in the market.
Do you think Egypt suffer mobile market saturation?
Of course not, especially since Egypt launched 4G services three years ago, creating a great opportunity for more growth. Plus, every year Egypt witnesses an increase in its population, meaning that the ICT market will always have a growing demand for mobile services. There are also significant growth opportunities in mobile internet services.
Which sector does Ericsson intend to focus on this year?
The telecommunication sector is at the top of our focus this year, as well as the technology services for smart cities. One of our competitors is now suffering some problems that prevent it from working in some markets.
Did this contribute to the growth of your business?
Competition, in general, is healthy. We are a company that takes the lead in developing 5G services, and we are not afraid to compete with anyone. We always rely on distinguished technology in providing our services. We were the leading company in providing 5G services in America, Switzerland, China, and South Korea.
What is the difference between 4G and 5G services? Does Egypt need 5G?
The speed of information transfer in 5G services is almost ten times over 4G. If the speed of mobile internet reaches 50Mbps, using 5G will make it 500Mbps. The second difference is the rate of delay in the transmission of information. In 4G technologies, transmission exceeds 40 milliseconds, while with 5G, it’s no more than 10 milliseconds. This would bring us even closer to the fourth industrial revolution, where machines in factories are supported by 5G technology and people are driving smart cars.
Therefore, 5G technologies provide new applications and provide great speeds for data transmission, but as for the extent of Egypt’s need for 5G, the country is in absolute need of it in order to build a proper foundation for modern technology, especially in light of the government’s plan to digitally transform the country bring about a digital state.
What does Egypt represent to a company like yours that operate in the Middle East and Africa?
Egypt is among the top five markets for the company in the Middle East and Africa, and we have in Egypt about 550 employees working for Ericsson.
Has the telecom market got affected by the Coronavirus outbreak?
Until now, there is no impact. We review our supplies on a weekly basis and have no problem with them. On the other hand, we adhere to the directives of the World Health Organization and the Egyptian Ministry of Health regarding taking preventive measures against the Coronavirus. The parent company also prevented its employees from travelling around the world.