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Thursday, 1 December 2022

HSBC Egypt’s Todd Wilcox on why we should invest in EV manufacturing

We recently had breakfast with 20 top CEOs to talk about why exports and FDI are key to our economy going forward. After reading our five-step recipe for turning Egypt into a global export hub and FDI magnet, participating CEOs agreed to answer two questions on the record for our latest CEO Poll.

We have already heard from:

TODAY- Todd Wilcox (LinkedIn) is CEO and deputy chair at HSBC Egypt, the leading multinational bank in Egypt. The bank serves clients ranging from big multinational corporations and major Egyptian corporates through to SMEs and women-led businesses. We spoke with Todd earlier this year in our Coffee With… series. Excerpts from our discussion about FDI and exports:

ENTERPRISE- Which industry would you put on a focused short list for exports and FDI — and why?

TW- We need to grow manufacturing, and it's got to be value-added manufacturing. For example, what I like about the automotive industry here is that you've got an existing assembly industry to build on. The industry itself is also changing dramatically, and Egypt could be well-positioned to take advantage of some of the shifts we’re seeing. People are moving away from combustion engines, and it's not just cars. It's buses, construction equipment, the transport vehicles used at ports — everything is starting to shift in that direction.

The country dominating that space is China, so if you start partnering with some of those EV specialists there, you could start to bring some of that capacity here. Egypt is in a great location, and you can also produce and manufacture using green energy here, so your whole supply chain becomes more sustainable.

Everybody’s having to look for new production lines and pick the component of that technology or EV that they want to focus on. But that takes time to build, and you have to go out and find the projects and the investors. You have to go and find the FDI. But we've already got a small automotive industry here, so we just need to accelerate that, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel at this stage.

ENTERPRISE- What do you think is the biggest takeaway from our five-point strategy for boosting exports and FDI? What would you add to it?

TW- I too would focus on mid-market industries, like they did in Vietnam. The reason I use Vietnam as an example is because they really focused on automotive and electronics, and not just assembly. They’ve got Foxconn and Samsung, and this was not just about low-cost labor, but the knowledge and technical skills. You need both of those to work, because you’re manufacturing, but you're also adding value.

ENTERPRISE- If you had to give one policy recommendation to move this forward, what would it be?

TW- It would be any policy that would improve the ease of doing business. One thing you could do to start reducing bureaucracy is utilizing digital signature technology, because it cuts it off at the core. It’s what most people complain about, so it’s the most fundamental building block. That would then start to encourage and attract what I call the knowledge-based industries.

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