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Marketplace Tech
The New Egypt

Naguib Sawiris on the importance of democracy for business in Egypt

Steve Chiotakis Jan 31, 2011
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Now, inside Egypt. Naguib Sawiris is chairman of the Egyptian telecom company Orascom. He’s with us on the phone this morning. Thank you so much. Sir for being with us.

NAGUIB SAWARIS: My pleasure.

CHIOTAKIS: What the business climate been like in Egypt?

SAWIRIS:: Well it was doing great, our economy was doing actually great in comparison to the Europe and all the emerging markets. We were growing by 5, 6 percent even during the crisis, you know. Right now, with this development of course, will put a shade on the situation here on attracting new investments. But in my personal opinion, it is temporary. I am very optimistic, you know. Because we believe that democracy will happen here, and democracy is the best guarantee for investments, long term.

CHIOTAKIS: You have Orascom, which is a big telecommunications firm. Where you asked to shut your service down?

SAWIRIS: Our license gives the government all rights to suspend any service they wish when national crisis or whenever they feel. So we have just to adhere to whatever the government decides. We have no jurisdiction, because our license gives them that right.

CHIOTAKIS: What did you think of the decision to do that?

SAWIRIS: At the beginning, yes maybe, because they wanted to avoid turmoil, but I think right now we should restore the service otherwise they’re paralyzing all the business correspondents. We are unable now to continue business at usual. In today’s world you cannot to any business without your emails.

CHIOTAKIS: What about business going forward in Egypt, I mean does it all depend on how these protests sort of carry through?

SAWIRIS: No, I think as I tell you, I’m speaking for many serious businessmen in Egypt here, we believe that a real democracy regime here will enhance investments will be the best security for people like us to grow, and invest more you know. So there is a temporary set back now, there are certainly changes suffering now. My feeling is this is going to yield into something very positive.

CHIOTAKIS: You’re not fearful for your safety or for any of your family?

SAWIRIS: Well you’re talking to the wrong guy. You know, fear is not in my vocabulary. I fear no one except God.

CHIOTAKIS: Naguib Sawiris, chairman of the telecom and construction giant Orascom. Thank you for being with us.

SAWIRIS:: You’re welcome.

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