Swedish Ambassador to Egypt Jan Thesleff told Daily News Egypt that his intention and hope is to double Swedish trade with Egypt in the next five years.
He explained that the trade exchange between Sweden and Egypt is €820m per year, noting that the Swedish investments are much harder to measure because they are done over a number of years, but the best figure he can estimate is that there are about 15,000 Egyptians working at Swedish companies.
Thesleff pointed out that there are big Swedish companies in Egypt, like ABB and Ikea, explaining that these companies are not only investing in companies, but are also spurring manufacturing and creating jobs for Egyptians.
Meanwhile, he added that the fields that they are investing in include the power sector through companies like ABB.
“We are investing also in telecommunications and ICT through companies like Ericsson, and also in the retail sector like through Ikea,” he continued.
Furthermore, Thesleff pointed out that there are also new startup companies that are initiated with one Swedish owner and one Egyptian owner.
He gave some examples, like an audiobook company called “Kitab Sawti” which launched an audiobook in Arabic that can be listened to while sitting in a car; a gaming company called FunRock that makes mobile games in Arabic; and a company called Elprices that conducts price comparisons for Egyptian consumers, so they can know where they can buy products at the best possible price through a website.
Concerning Egypt’s economic reform programme, the ambassador said that Egypt is following it “very closely” and that he thinks it is so far going very well.
“We have seen the reforms that have been carried out under the IMF programme are proving successful and we see that many of the necessary reforms are on their way,” he said.
Thesleff added that the programme is difficult for many people, but it is necessary, pointing out that many people think that it is something that has to be done.
In that regard, he explained that people’s general mood has changed, noting that people now have a very positive mood as they understand that things will get better and they are prepared to work toward a better economic situation.
He summed up that the economic reform programme is starting to reap its fruits, explaining that Egypt is a very big country with 100 million people, and thus, it takes time for everyone to feel the benefits.
Finally, he said that his embassy’s plans for 2019 is that Sweden will continue its activities, hoping to see more ministerial visits and more exchange, especially in the educational field.
In that regard, he added that he hopes to see more academic cooperation and to have more Egyptians travelling to and studying in Sweden.
“If we look for the theme of 2019, it will be innovation, youth, and hopefully also to have more Swedish companies, creating more jobs for the Egyptians,” he said.