Telecom Review Africa conducted an exclusive interview with Eng. Ahmed Mekky, Chairman and CEO of Benya Group, to discuss Benya’s milestones and its efforts to support the innovative emerging projects in the Middle East and Africa.
What is the importance of your appointment as chairman of the Fiber Connect Council on a personal level, and how does it affect your work in Benya Group?
I am honored to be appointed the Chairman of the Fiber Connect Council and remain confident that with my fellow council members, we will be successful in achieving the Council’s ambitious mandate to exponentially increase the deployment of high-speed fiber networks, to connect consumers, businesses, governments and organizations with the products and services needed to enhance quality of life, make a sustainable impact on the environment, boost business competition and develop apps to ultimately transform the way people live and businesses operate.
As a member of the board since last year, I have been engaged in the development of the Council’s Board plans and as such, I am confident that the vision of the board is principally aligned with that of Benya Group. I remain fully committed to the responsibilities of both, and am certain that my joint involvement in Benya and Fiber Connect Council will be complimentary, effectively aiding in the achievement of their respective objectives.
Collectively as a group, Benya has accomplished unprecedented milestones in the field of optical fiber deployment in Egypt, thereby solidifying our capabilities, equipping us with robust industry experience and ultimately supporting us in perfecting our business model. I believe there will be several aspects of collaboration between Benya Group and the Council and look forward to witnessing the continued success of both.
What was the rationale behind your launch of "Benya Ventures" and "Benya Cloud", and what services do they provide?
Entrepreneurship and startups are expected to be the driving force of the global economy in the imminent future, with the global startup scene estimated at $300 Trillion USD, a figure at par with the GDP of a G7 nation. To keep up with this steadily growing startup movement, Benya established Benya Ventures as the Group’s investment arm, and with a mandate to finance promising ICT related companies in Africa. In alignment with this mandate, and driven by the belief that young qualified calibers must be equipped with the resources, whether financial or through mentorship, Benya Ventures signed an agreement with Openner to launch a $50 million venture capital fund to pump investments and support entrepreneurs and startups in Egypt, the Middle East, and Africa. Benya Ventures is also an active sponsor of events like Egypt IoT and the AI Challenge 2021, in which 444 projects from various ICT fields participated.
The rationale behind the establishment of Benya Cloud is simple, we believe that all companies, irrespective of their size or industry, should have equal access to a breadth of cloud based services that large multinationals have always had access to. With that belief, we launched a multifunctional cloud-based digital center that delivers safe and smart technologies tailored to meet the companies’ needs, as well as to serve and enhance their digital transformation strategy.
What is the role of Benya in digital transformation in Egypt, and how are business sectors and government agencies reacting to this transformation?
Since inception, Benya Group continues to provide the highest level of quality products and services to its customers in the Egyptian Market. Through our several subsidiaries, each catering to a unique ICT vertical, we have been able to collaborate with global and local partners to ensure successful implementation of large-scale projects which have had a pivotal impact on digital transformation in Egypt.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Benya Systems has partnered with Siemens, Cisco, Dell Technologies and other notable international companies to establish and implement an integrated system for building and managing ICT infrastructure of the Knowledge City in the New Administrative Capital (NAC).
The group has also signed several digital transformation agreements with various parties, including the Smart Applications System Agreement for the first phase of the Knowledge City. The agreement aims to establish applications that facilitate and condense the daily work of various building systems’ operations, such as water and electricity management, environmental monitoring, waste management, transportation, and lighting control, among others whilst effectively reducing cost and consumption.
In addition, Benya Group supplied and installed 231,000 water, electricity and gas smart meters for nearly 75,000 units in the New Administrative Capital (NAC) in collaboration with Telecom Egypt. The group also implemented the technological infrastructure for various projects in the New Administrative Capital and the government district in cooperation with leading global IT companies and signed a contract to build the largest cloud data centers in the Middle East and Africa.
With the assistance of the Egyptian State, Benya Engineering, achieved unprecedented milestones by building, managing and operating one of the first shared towers in (NAC) with a height of 45 meters, according to international standards and in a record time of 1.5 months. Benya Engineering has developed a new model of shared towers that are capable of carrying devices, equipment, and technologies that can accommodate up to five mobile operators, an option which was previously unavailable. This project successfully completed the trial phase in collaboration with the Administrative Capital Company, the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and the Armed Forces Signaling Department.
How does Benya contribute to the expansion of digital transformation in the African region?
Benya Group has succeeded in gaining regional recognition, being positioned as the leading digital ICT infrastructure provider and trusted partner for governments, business and individuals. Just as we’ve contributed to digital transformation in Egypt, we have and will continue to capitalize on our global and regional expertise and replicate these successes throughout the entirety of Africa. Using best-practice methods in digital transformation projects, as well as through the integration of Benya Group’s products and services, we have been able to play an active role in accelerating digital transformation in Africa.
Benya Telecom DRC was our first established business outside of Egypt, and was formed as the new service operator that will develop the country's basic infrastructure of telecommunications and information technology. After which we signed a cooperation agreement with Société Congolaise des Postes et Télécommunications (SCPT). Through this agreement, we aim to digitize 360 Congolese post offices by establishing a strong and stable communication network connecting post offices using broadband fiber-optic cables.
In line with Egypt’s inter-Africa objectives supporting collaboration amongst Egypt and other African nations, Benya Group, through its subsidiary Benya Cables, signed a financing contract worth EGP 481 million with the Arab Organization for Industrialization and Banque Misr to establish the largest fiber-optic cable factory in Egypt and Africa. The project has the capacity to produce 60,000 kilometers of cable and approximately 4 million optical fibers a year to meet the demand for optical fiber cable products in the Middle East and Africa.
What services will Benya provide through its newly established “Benya Marines”?
Benya Group has signed an MoU with the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport to establish its new subsidiary Benya Marines, which will specialize in supplying and maintaining submarine cables using specialized ships and warehouses for storing submarine cables on the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts. Benya Marines scope of activity will entail providing all technological services for the oil, gas and energy sectors, training services, providing simulator technology and granting approvals of the Maritime Safety Authority (EMSA) across the Middle East and Africa. In February 2022, Benya Marines signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Galala University, Egypt's first smart institution, to exchange experiences and maximize the advantages of the firm and the university's resources. Through this agreement, Benya Marines will teach its capabilities and experience to university students through providing summer training programs, to which university students may be eligible for scholarship opportunities. Meanwhile, Galala University provides Benya Marines with the findings of the scientific periodic study with the goal of applying them in diverse operations.