Interview: Ahmed El Sewedy
In light of the headwinds created by the Covid-19 pandemic, how can the private sector shift to create long-term gains?
AHMED EL SEWEDY: Almost every industry around the world has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and everyone has to work hard to overcome these uncertain times. The first and most important thing that organisations should do to sustain their companies in light of the pandemic is to ensure business continuity while offsetting disruptions, whether they be predictable or otherwise. Once organisations have deployed solutions that will carry them through this period of uncertainty, they must realign their strategies to maximise profitability and help mitigate any negative impacts on the broader domestic economy.
Given the globally disruptive repercussions of the pandemic, exports and trade worldwide have been significantly affected, and innovative solutions must be found in order for companies to continue operating efficiently. Despite the challenges, however, there continue to be growth opportunities, particularly in core industries. There is evidence that short-term outcomes of operational disruptions to supply chains may lead to longer-lasting structural shifts. Restructuring supply chains and ramping up digitally transformative operational models could lead to an even stronger commitment to achieving sustainability goals, while also building businesses more resilient to future risks.
Which sectors are likely to maintain momentum during the pandemic, how can supply chain integration facilitate this?
EL SEWEDY: The products and services offered by energy companies and infrastructure developers throughout the Middle East and Africa are expected to maintain momentum during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is because these services play a critical role in these developing countries, as the provision of basic services such as electricity is the foundation for growth in the overall economy.
In terms of supply chain integration, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will be key to reshaping Africa’s future by strengthening both infrastructure and trade. Standing as a gateway to Africa, Asia and Europe, Egypt is home to one of the world’s most important navigational arteries. The country has the potential to be an industrial centre. To that end, the AfCFTA and similar agreements showcase the prospects for greater integration across Africa. It also highlights the opportunities that will raise the continent’s competitiveness on an international scale, as reduced tariffs stimulate production and trade, and boost regional value chains.
In what ways have new electricity-production methods changed the provision of power, and how can energy infrastructure be strengthened?
EL SEWEDY: Egypt has long made use of renewable energy sources including the Nile, which provides hydroelectric power and accounts for nearly 10% of total power production. More recently, solar has become an important source of power as its related costs fell exponentially over the past decade, making it competitive with traditional energy sources. Wind is also increasingly seen as a source of potential energy in Egypt and across Africa.
Alternative energies present opportunities for countries such as Egypt to renew and strengthen their energy infrastructure. However, to take advantage of this, operations and processes must evolve to efficiently face the challenges of the world’s fastest-growing markets and the complexity of the critical electricity industry. With demand for clean energy expected to increase, the creation of a sustainable production ecosystem that benefits all by offering complete solutions for wind, solar and hydro energy should be prioritised in every market of the world.
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