Seventy years and counting

Ahmed Kotb , Tuesday 20 Sep 2022

A lot has been happening on the business front between Germany and Egypt, often thanks to the German Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

CEO of the DIHK Martin Wansleben
Martin Wansleben, CEO of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), speaking at the 70th GACIC s anniversary in Cairo


Business ties between Egypt and Germany go back many decades and have been growing steadily over recent years, with the total investment of German companies in Egypt estimated to be around $7.5 billion, according to Martin Wansleben, CEO of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK).

Annual German investments pumped into the Egyptian economy in recent years range from between $0.5 and $1 billion, with the main areas being energy, railways, industry, and tourism.

“German businesses appreciate the professional, knowledgeable, and trust-based planning and execution of projects with Egypt,” Wansleben told Al-Ahram Weekly during a visit to Egypt last Thursday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the German Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GACIC).

He noted that the GACIC with its 2,500 members is one of the biggest bilateral chambers of commerce in Egypt and the Middle East and works on advancing business and economic ties between Egyptian and German businesses.

Speaking at the 70th anniversary celebration, Frank Hartmann, the German ambassador to Egypt, said that many Egyptian-German success stories started with the GACIC, which acts as a key pillar of joint economic cooperation and building bridges for German companies in Egypt.

The GACIC was established in Cairo in 1951 as the first German Chamber of Commerce in the Arab world.

It is a forum for building relationships and providing advice to German companies seeking to establish economic relations with Egypt and the Arab world and is also part of a global network of German chambers of commerce and industry spread around the world.

Egypt’s massive infrastructure development is an area that has seen a major German presence in recent years. German companies are partners in $33 billion worth of projects in the energy and railway sectors. Moreover, the Egyptian government has signed a major contract, represented by the National Authority for Tunnels (NAT), with German railway company Deutsche Bahn (DB) on the management and operation of the country’s first high-speed electric train network.

Siemens Mobility has partnered up with Orascom Construction and the Arab Contractors in a contract worth $8.6 billion to build the network.

The project is considered to be the biggest in the history of Siemens, one of the key players in German industry. “This project aims to create the sixth-largest high-speed rail system in the world, underlining Germany’s support for the project and its importance for German-Egyptian bilateral relations and global climate protection,” Hartmann stated.

This project will also align many German and Egyptian sub-contractors. “The German companies are mid-sized businesses that will be looking beyond the project and valuing the general opportunities Egypt has to offer,” he said.

The German side is also fundamentally focused on training initiatives, according to Wansleben. Every investment in a project in Egypt is similarly linked to know-how transfer, he said.

Wansleben also praised the Egypt Vision 2030 Strategy, adopted to help reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “One priority is to secure and develop sustainable energy production and consumption,” he said, adding that the Egyptian government was targeting the share of renewable energy exceeding 20 per cent of the electricity mix by the end of this year and 42 per cent by 2035.

Wansleben highlighted the keenness of German companies to invest in the green hydrogen projects that Egypt has been adopting in its quest to diversify its energy mix and expand on renewable energy projects.

Siemens Energy signed a memorandum of understanding with the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC) last year to jointly develop hydrogen-based industry in Egypt with export capability. As part of the initial steps, Siemens Energy and EEHC will pursue the development of a pilot project comprising 100 to 200 MW of capacity.

“Generally, German mid-sized companies deliver state-of-the-art technologies into energy projects,” Wansleben said. They may not be as visible as contractor work, he added, but a lot of German technology is invested in existing and future energy projects.

   *A version of this article appears in print in the 22 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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