By Reem Abdellatif
CAIRO: Ericsson’s Middle East president said Sunday the company plans to continue focusing on the needs of Egypt’s “network society,” as the country continues working through a bumpy transition.
“There are fantastic business opportunities in Egypt,” Andres Lindbald, Ericsson’s Middle East president, told Daily News Egypt in an interview during his visit to Cairo.
By bringing together internet and mobility, Ericsson has high hopes for the future of the country’s promising telecom sector.
“Egyptians need to communicate now more than ever,” said Lindbald. “When you have a hot topic, people need to talk and with the kind of change Egypt is seeing, people want to discuss and talk all the time.”
Expecting that the country will take at least 10 years to reshape itself after the January 25 uprising, Lindbald pointed out that Ericsson will continue to have a “huge” presence in the coming decades.
“I’m optimistic, but objective,” he said. “Things are going to get difficult, but Egypt has basic needs that many other countries would die for… after getting these basic needs in order again, the country will see more foreign direct investments and business opportunities.”
While experts expect mobile penetration in Egypt to reach saturation this year, Ericsson plan to utilize the most important technologies to provide people with the kind of customized usage they need, including Arabic phone applications, data plans and services.
Lindbald pointed out that in Egypt alone, consumers spend about 20 to 25 percent of their income on communication. The company plans to capitalize on these habits by catering to users’ needs.
“In Egypt, people buy bread, food, then they use the money they have left to top-up their phone cards. We also found that some people typically even have three or four SIM cards,” said Lindbald.
He added that the trend these days all over the world, including Egypt is that more users are moving towards data usage and fewer consumers are relying on voice or SMS to communicate.
This is where Ericsson believes there are endless possibilities to turn everything into data and connecting mobile devices.
“Currently, in our network society, we have 5 billion users globally, almost 6 billion, by 2020 we expect 50 billion products to be connected as well,” he said.
Lindbald said the future is for products such as cars or home appliances to be connected through artificial intelligence.
For example, on a regular basis, a car can detect when it needs maintenance via the internet or home appliances can communicate with each other by command of the consumer.
Focusing on the importance of fast and easy data, just last November, the company conducted a study which showed the prospects of Egypt’s broadband sector. The report showed that doubling broadband speed can actually increase Egypt’s GDP by $656.7 million, or by 0.3 percent.
The company also pointed out that positive effects could come from automated and simplified processes, increased productivity, and even better access to basic services such as education and health.
The company expected that 2012 would be a year of growth, with a “mass-market” adoption of smartphones by female users and widespread use of mobile payments.
With a presence in Egypt since 1859, Ericsson also operates in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, as well as being a global player in the sector.