Nour Suliman first joined DHL in the 1970s, and now runs a small empire as the region's CEO where DHL Express moves some 10 million shipments every year and runs an impressive average of 160 flights daily. We sit down with Suliman, the company's CEO in the Middle East and North Africa, to get his thoughts on how the explosion of e-commerce is fuelling business, the company's planned investments and why it's a good idea to invest in Egypt now.
by Ahmed Goher
How has DHL helped the Egyptian market grow in the past two years?
We make sure we do everything that we can to help facilitate those results; and so we took on Vision 2030 and partnered with the Ministry of Planning and Administrative Reform to send out a message to the world that the future is here. We put the messages: Invest, Trade, and Visit Egypt on every package that we shipped from Egypt to the world; and over 2,000,000 envelopes and boxes reached different corners of the globe with that message. We have just recently announced that this campaign is extended to another year to help increase its reach and improve its impact.
How has the Internet helped fuel DHL's growth in Egypt?
Although MENA makes up a small fraction of the estimated US$1.5 trillion global e-commerce market, at just over 1%, recent reports stipulate that the GCC e-commerce market is set to quadruple to reach US$20 billion by 2020, prompted by a surging consumer base, high disposable incomes and changing buying habits, among other factors.
There are large numbers of local produced products that are eager to become international, and many of them are quite capable of competing in the global market place with a high end product that will be well received. We are working on new partnerships that will enable us to provide those local SMEs with the opportunity to become global. Do you think it is a good idea to invest in Egypt?
Absolutely, it’s an excellent time to invest in Egypt. We ourselves invested EUR 40M on a state of the art facility at Cairo Cargo City in Cairo International Airport, we also added a weekly network flight to Cairo, and are currently discussing the possibility of increasing that to twice a week. We have seen an increase in customer confidence which has boosted expenditure, and resulted in significant growth in shipments both inbound and outbound; this provides no reason not to feel optimistic about Egypt’s way forward. What are DHL’s planned big investments in Egypt?
Since 2014 we have opened a USD 55M new state of the art facility and Country Office in Cairo International Airport, expanded our air network by adding a weekly flight into Cairo, and more recently we opened a new US$1.04 Million, 1,300 sqm facility in Alexandria that acts as a new office, a service point and warehousing space capable to handle over 2,500 shipments per hour. We have also increased our Service Points across the country to reach 31, are in discussion to increase our weekly flights to twice a week, and have a plan to open a few facility in Port Said soon.
What’s in the pipeline in 2017 when it comes to green solutions?
In 2016 we started working on energy saving initiatives and successfully managed to save 75% of our energy at all our Service Points across Egypt, and we will continue to further develop this initiative in order to help save more energy this year. We are also looking at trying to digitalize many of our transactions therefore saving more on paper waste.
Additionally, we have been working closely with a few NGOs in Egypt to help provide support for underprivileged families and children, these partnerships will definitely continue during 2017.
How is technology playing a part in your operations?
We have introduced new scanners across the Middle East, root planning, and Nano-gram tools, which means we are able to plan and forecast better due to the information that is now available as a result of these tools. Read the full feature package on DHL and other industry leaders looking ahead at 2017, out now in the January issue of Egypt Today.