In this exclusive interview, we speak to Eng. Ahmed Mekky, chairman and CEO and the man behind “Benya Group,” the key enabler of digital transformation in Egypt and the MEA region to elaborate on the group’s digital transformation strategy and the potential of opportunities and growth in the coming years.
Benya Group has established a sound reputation as a key enabler of digital transformation. Can you elaborate more on your digital transformation strategy? What are the most impactful success stories in Egypt? And how do you plan on replicating them in other MEA countries?
Benya Group, through its subsidiaries which operate in several ICT verticals, provides the highest level of products and services to its customers. Since the Group’s establishment, Benya Group has been working in collaboration with global and local partners to ensure that efficient best practice methods are used in each project. As a result, we have been able to implement numerous successful large-scale projects and continue to strive for excellence.
Amongst our notable projects and in partnership with Telecom Egypt, Benya Systems, one of Benya Group’s subsidiaries, worked on developing and equipping more than 2530 secondary schools in all Egypt’s governorates, with the basic technological infrastructure of optical fibers and network systems to interconnect schools internally, thereby allowing students to continue their studies using tablets and various educational channels and media. Other noteworthy projects executed by our Benya Group subsidiaries include, but are not limited to:
Benya Cables, a Benya Group subsidiary, and Banque Misr signed a finance agreement for EGP 481 million. To address the rising demand for fiber-optic cable goods, the funds will be directed towards constructing Egypt’s and Africa’s largest fiber-optic cable plant. In addition, high-quality cables will be provided in partnership with Corning, one of the world’s major optical cable suppliers. This deal was signed in collaboration with the Arab Organization for Industrialization, Africa’s and the Arab world’s largest industrial organization.
In collaboration with the ministry of communications and information technology and Dell Technologies, Benya Systems implemented the construction and operation of the first and largest national information center for artificial intelligence, through designing and executing the operational research process. The subsidiary aims to enable artificial intelligence capabilities in a variety of industries through research and development, training and awareness, and consulting in alignment with the latest technologies and industry standards.
In cooperation with the ministry of communications and information technology, Benya Systems, has partnered with Siemens, Cisco, Dell Technologies, amongst other international companies, to establish and implement ICT infrastructure in “Smart Building” at “Knowledge City”- the first smart city in Egypt. Moreover, the company has signed a number of digital transformation agreements with various parties, including the Smart Applications System Agreement for the first phase of the Knowledge City. The agreements aim to establish applications that help follow up on the daily work of various building systems’ operations, such as water and electricity management, environmental monitoring, waste management, transportation, and lighting control, among others while contributing to cost and consumption reduction.
Additionally, Benya Systems developed the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) process across more than 50 companies for the ministry of public business sector, as well as implemented the technological infrastructure for various projects in the new administrative capital (NAC) and the government district in cooperation with leading global IT companies. We have also signed a contract to build the largest cloud data centers in the Middle East and Africa. Benya Systems was also in charge of the implementation of Egypt’s indoor fiber optics network for the Urban Communities Authority and the New Olympic City, as well as the allocation of Telecom Egypt’s FTTX network, which covered 30 zones and 900 buildings.
Benya Engineering, has achieved great accomplishments by building, managing and operating one of the first shared towers in the New Administrative Capital (NAC), with a height of 45 meters and in accordance to international standards, the tower was fully operational within a month and a half.
Moreover, Benya Engineering supplied and installed 231,000 smart meters for water, electricity, and gas services in the new administrative capital (NAC) in collaboration with Telecom Egypt for approximately 75,000 units. Benya Engineering represents an unprecedented new model of shared towers with a distinguishable modern aesthetic and is capable of carrying devices, equipment and technologies that can accommodate up to five mobile operators simultaneously. This project successfully passed during the trial phase, which was held in collaboration with the Administrative Capital Company, the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, and the Armed Forces Signaling Department. With the assistance of the Egyptian state, Benya Group, through Benya Engineering, successfully demonstrated the capabilities of an Egyptian Company to build a shared tower that meets the latest international standards.
Benya Group recently signed three MoUs, firstly with “Smart and Secured Issues Complex” to enhance cooperation in digital transformation, financial inclusion, and digital payments secondly with PwC Middle East to provide consulting services in various fields across Egypt and the Middle East and thirdly with “Bond Communications FZ LLC” to develop smart buildings and cities. We also signed a cooperation protocol with the National Bank of Egypt and FastCap Technology Company to start executing “Al Aseel,” an IT-enabled automotive project to improve smart transportation.
As a leading technology service provider and the largest digital solutions and ICT infrastructure supplier, Benya Group has assisted industries in implementing and adapting digital technologies and has partnered with various ministries on national initiatives, including, but not limited to, the following important milestones:
We are motivated by a long-term goal to digitally unify the Middle East and North Africa region. Following Benya Group’s solid foundation in the Egyptian market, we have now turned our attention to Africa, the land of opportunity. Based on our record of accomplishments as one of the top ICT infrastructure organizations, our strong expansion plan is to replicate our success throughout Egypt and the MEA region.
Our new DRC branch will operate on three fronts: funding and developing an integrated fiber-optic network to connect the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s cities, establishing data centres and constructing shared towers.
With a goal of meeting the expanding demand from local and regional markets, Benya Cables, a subsidiary of Benya Group and the region’s largest fiber optic solutions manufacturer and supplier, was established to provide a comprehensive range of fiber optic solutions and meet the growing demand from local and regional markets. The factory will use state-of-the-art production lines to serve the needs of Egypt and the MEA region and was formed in collaboration with the region’s leading industrial organization, the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI), and Corning Inc., the world’s leading innovator and manufacturer of optical fiber, cables, and connectivity solutions.
How important is it for an ICT player to have a robust CSR strategy?
Giving back to communities we serve is not only one of our primary goals but also our duty. The core of our business model is to technologically enhance, digitally connect, and improve the lives of citizens, businesses, governments, and nations as whole, thus, corporate social responsibility is central to everything we do. Adding value and giving it back to the environment, people, and society is of an utmost importance to us.
We strongly believe that connectivity is a basic human right and therefore our CSR strategy compliments our belief. We constantly strive to support long-term solutions that will ensure environmental sustainability, digital transformation, energy transition, urbanization, among other topics are attainable for future generations.
We are conscious of our responsibilities and the numerous roles we play as an employer, supplier, customer, and business partner. This is linked to our corporate social responsibility agenda and is implicitly and expressly incorporated into our code of conduct.
Sustainability is a trending topic nowadays in the industry. What is your stance on this topic and how does Benya Group promote sustainability?
We recognize the importance of preserving our planet’s natural resources and hence support the country’s sustainability objectives. Sustainable development refers to providing today’s requirements without jeopardizing tomorrows. We are committed to using the greatest resources available and incorporating recycled materials into our products and initiatives and aim to actively reduce our carbon footprint by incorporating sustainable production measures for our production lines and logistics processes.
Our industry also allows us to reduce the environmental effects by continuously optimizing cloud and data center resource use as well as through finding innovative alternatives and enhancing hardware efficiency. Prioritizing such initiatives leads to long term benefits for our environment and helps initiate a shift to longer-term investments in renewable energy.