BATIMAT affirms Egypt’s commitment to participate actively in Africa’s renaissance and to strengthen partnerships and promote cross-border private sector engagement. Invest-Gate goes one-on-one with Arabian German for Exhibition and Publishing CEO Ahmed Megahed, BATIMAT’s organizer, on the exhibition’s move to Egypt.

BATIMAT has helped with the building industries across Europe and West Africa for years, why did you choose Egypt as BATIMAT’s next project and specifically during this critical time of many economic challenges?

With 8% of global seaborne trade between the East and the West passing through the Suez Canal – a number that is expected to grow with the new Suez Canal Regional Development Project – it is easy to comprehend Egypt’s ever-growing business potential. In fact, the recent Egypt Economic Development Conference saw USD billions pledged by world governments and private sector as a testimony to Egypt’s resilience and destination as a place to do business.

Egypt’s strong links with the rest of the world and access to large pool of capital make it an attractive gateway for businesses wanting to access large African markets and private sector looking for growth partners.

How can BATIMAT’s model in Europe and West Africa be applied in Egypt?

At its upcoming Egypt Projects Summit, BATIMAT focuses on the Egyptian construction market and gives the sector’s suppliers the opportunities for meeting all the Middle East and African decision-makers, and benefiting from the very dynamic region, where the expectancy level of technological solutions and innovations is very high.

The real estate sector in Egypt is considered to be utmost perspective and projected to grow by 70%, to USD12 billion by 2020 from USD 7.2 billion in 2012. Already, 27 new urban cities have been built around Egypt, with plans to increase this number to 59 by the end of 2017. The government allocated EGP 1.5 billion to subsidize the housing projects for low-income citizens, as well as a further EGP 55 billion for “restructure projects”, which will increase the demand on construction material and equipment.

According to BATIMAT brochure, this industrial exhibition gives an unparalleled opportunity for businesses to invest in Egypt and the Middle Eastern region in what way?

BATIMAT is the number one leading show in the building industry in Europe and West Africa. All the decision makers meet the contractors to choose their partners and find products/services for the buildings of today and tomorrow. EGYPT PROJECTS SUMMIT opens the way to international and national speakers with vast professional experience come to share their knowledge with over 600 engineers, constructors, designers, architects, tradesmen, retailers, investors, emphasizing quality and excellence. In 2017, BATIMAT and EGYPT PROJECT SUMMIT will combine to offer the most complete range of products and solutions suited to the construction market in Egypt and the Middle East.

What are the challenges you see today in the Egyptian property development sector?

The rush to real estate has led to a rapid price escalation for certain flagship projects in the capital. The 6th October Development and Investment Company’s East Town project in New Cairo, for example, has seen prices double to EGP 11000 (USD1499) from EGP 5500 (USD750) per square meter in the last two years, according to Business to Business for Investment and Real Estate Marketing (B2B), a local specialized brokerage and consultancy firm.

And how do you see the government overcoming such a challenge?

Egypt has all the potential to overcome challenges, mainly tourism, industry, agriculture, energy and mineral resources due to its distinguished geographical location. However, the inconsistency and slowness in making some decisions over the past years cost the country. Yet, the business community has praised the recent legislation and the important decisions made in the last few weeks. The Egyptian market has been moving steadily forward.

Do you consider Egypt, today, a market to invest in?

Egypt and its markets are at an interesting junction in 2017. An arguably bigger concern for foreign investors was the state of Egypt’s currency. When Egypt finally floated its currency and devalued it, it resulted in a depreciation of almost 50% that week. On the flipside, this boosted Egypt’s stock market and has made it one of the best performing in the world since that devaluation in local currency terms, up over 45% since November. Foreign investors have jumped into the fray and are the main buyers of local stocks now that the risk of a one-off devaluation is greatly lessened. Egypt may finally be in a position to make sense as a destination for foreign investors.

Also, BATIMAT highlights green building, how do you see it applied in Egypt?

The ‘going green’ bandwagon has been slowly making the rounds with new ideas of impactful ways to save our planet emerging every day. According to the United Nations, Egypt is facing a series of environmental challenges that need to be addressed.  With the steady population growth, there’s less water per capita each year and, on top of that, lack of quality sanitation systems. As the most populous Arab state, with a continuously growing population and a finite resources pool, Egypt is particularly vulnerable to the effects of global warming and climate change. A green building is an economically sound investment, with potential long-term savings compared to conventionally designed buildings. Living or working in an environmentally friendly property will allow an owner to meet fair trade health, safety, and housing standards, and fulfill the requirements of international certification, such as Global GAP Certification and LEED.

BATIMAT will be held from March 9-11 in Cairo. For more information visit www.batimat-egypt.com