The British Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) held its fourth webinar tackling the acceleration of digital transformation and innovation in Egypt.
The successful webinar, held as part of a series of ongoing discussions, hosted a number of experts and industry leaders. These include: Vice-President Middle East and Africa (MEA) at Cisco Reem Asaad; Ahmed Badawi, Country Head of Global Liquidity and Cash Management at HSBC Egypt; Walid Hassouna, CEO at EFG Hermes Egypt; Ahmed Mekky, Chairperson and CEO of Benya Capital; Professor Hossam Osman, Head of Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre (TIEC); and Ashraf Sabry, Founder and CEO of Fawry.
The session was moderated by Hoda Mansour, Managing Director at German multinational software corporation SAP, in the presence of BEBA Head Khaled Nosseir.
Benya Chairperson and CEO Ahmed Mekky praised Egypt’s efforts in digital transformation, and the steps the country has taken to achieve it as a necessity now more than ever. He said that the current crisis caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has imposed a general need for a solid unified digital infrastructure, supported by the government.
He emphasised the importance of the private sector’s role in supporting local efforts, which would take place through their using innovative digital approaches and means.
Mekky also highlighted the importance of developing and transforming smart infrastructure into a unified one, to maximise the benefit. He said that Benya has already contributed to empowering the educational sector through digital transformation.
He added that digital transformation approaches and tools have been applied across 2,500 schools nationwide and regionally, using telecommunications solution and services. As a result, Egypt is now on the right track to achieve digital transformation as a main driver of its economic growth and diversification. It also helps create civilised communities that support knowledge, innovation and attract more investments.
Asaad said that Egypt is leading the region’s digital transformation processes, which can be clearly seen in different sectors, such as in healthcare. This indicates that the market now has the potential and opportunity, as well as the ability, to exceed the expected growth rate by 1.7% through digital solutions.
Sabry said that start-ups can make use of many promising opportunities that will contribute to boosting market growth and development. The Egyptian market is also currently welcoming more players and companies, which highlights the need for investment. This is particularly relevant considering that Egypt boasts Internet penetration of atl east 40 million users nationwide, which is driving social media and digital channels usage.
Osman noted that Egypt is creating a very healthy start-ups scene, leading Africa’s investment charts in 2019. The country has maintained a good position in 2020, ranking second in the Middle East with $130m worth of investments.
He added that e Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center has exerted great efforts over the past 10 years in successfully developing a complete portfolio of services that empower start-ups.
These efforts have also gone towards supporting Egyptian university students through training and qualifications that prepare them for the labour market, and support their innovative ideas.
HSBC Bank Egypt is supporting the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) initiative to support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), according to Badawi. He said that the bank is applying digital transformation to shift from cash to digital-payment transactions.
He also said that Egyptians have the ability to quickly adapt to this change in the market, especially given that electronic transactions at banks in the local market have increased by 40% over the past seven months.
Hassouna noted the importance of identifying and studying the different changes in consumer behaviour, by adopting artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to develop the data infrastructure and identify suitable products for all consumer groups.
He added that the traditional consumer classification of groups or clusters is not consistent with AI capabilities. He said that start-ups that depend on technology development could improve their competitiveness despite the market challenges.