Orange Egypt is working on building a giant data centre in the New Administrative Capital with $135m of investments. The company has completed building 750 new mobile towers to improve 2G, 3G, and 4G services.
Daily News Egypt learned this in its interview with Hesham Mahran, Orange Egypt Chief Enterprise Line of Business Officer, and Ayman Amiri, Chief Technology Officer for Orange Egypt.
Mahran said that Orange’s strategy is in line with the three pillars of Egypt’s Vision 2030, which are the economic, social, and environmental dimensions to improve the standard of living and provide a decent life for citizens by providing innovative solutions in several sectors. These sectors include education, health, and renewable energy, infrastructure, financial inclusion, smart transportation, women and youth empowerment, scientific research, and innovation.
Mahran told DNE that Orange is keen on expanding in Egypt as a promising market, as the company increased its capital in Egypt by €750m in 2018. The company has long experience in the field of money transfer and payments with an annual value estimated at €60bn in Africa only and is the only telecom operator in the world to own a bank, which enhances its strategies in the field of digital transformation and financial inclusion
On the other hand, he confirmed that his company is working on building a data centre in the New Administrative Capital, which is expected to be one of the largest in the region, with investments exceeding $135m. He explained that the centre aims to enhance data and host all smart city platforms of the New Administrative Capital in a secure and integrated manner.
Mahran pointed out that Orange is also responsible for the design, implementation, operation, and management of what “We call the capital brain or its services management centre for 5 years”, in cooperation with an alliance of more than 20 local and international companies. According to the work plans, the company aims to start the trial operation of the centre early next year.
He stressed that the company has a great commitment to participate in mega national projects, especially the new capital, as it is one of the 20 largest smart cities in the world, and includes a high-level infrastructure and a system of digital services based on the latest global technologies, whether for individuals or institutions.
He added that the establishment of a data centre is a pivotal project in the technological infrastructure of the New Administrative Capital because it is responsible for preserving vital information. This indicates the need to establish it with the utmost professionalism to maintain the security and privacy of information and data for the residents of the Administrative Capital and the private sector. He noted that Orange was keen on using the latest security technologies and data protection in cooperation with internationally specialized companies in this regard, and the company has a specialised sector in cyber security solutions.
Mahran believes that the real estate market in Egypt is witnessing a comprehensive development recently, accompanied by rapid technological development in smart city services, which have become key elements in the planning stages of these cities and communities, including the application of smart electric meter systems, which provide more accurate information to the service provider and recipient about the nature of consumption.
He pointed out that there are many opportunities to invest in smart cities, such as solutions to improve efficiency and rationalize energy and provide smart and integrated solutions to cities such as electronic gates, surveillance cameras, smart water, and electricity meters, as well as lighting units that rationalize energy and reduce operating costs. In addition, there is the process of recycling waste that carries lots of economic and social benefits.
He continued by saying: “Orange International employs more than 15,000 engineers in the field of smart cities, as well as 5,000 engineers and researchers in the technology and innovation sector, and nearly 2,000 specialists in the field of information security. The company is keen on a strong presence in the field of smart cities and is fully prepared to invest in this field.”
Regarding the company’s business sector policy, he indicated that Orange provides detailed solutions to all organizations of all sizes and needs of telecommunications infrastructure services. It also supports them with advanced applications and solutions. It is also working to be the main partner for the digital transformation of institutions in the public and private sectors by providing cloud computing applications and hosting services on Orange’s servers.
He pointed out that the company pays remarkable attention to several sectors, especially the real estate sector, which is witnessing remarkable growth in line with the directions of the state and the plans of major real estate development companies, as it is a haven for investors. He pointed out that Orange acquires a market share of 85% of Triple Play services, which are offered in various residential communities. It includes high-speed internet, high-definition digital TV channels, and landlines using fibre-optic cables through its internal networks.
He added: “The company works with the largest real estate developers in the Egyptian market, including, but not limited to, El Gouna, Emaar Misr, SODIC, New Giza, Mountain View, Tatweer Misr, Palm Hills, and is negotiating a group of new real estate developers”.
The company also places the sectors of education, health, smart transportation, renewable energy, financial inclusion, and digital transformation at the top of the business sector’s priorities by providing innovative solutions and products that contribute to the development of the system within the state’s directions to implement Egypt’s Vision 2030, which aims to achieve a decent life for citizens and enhance the state’s competitive advantages.
He pointed out that Orange is betting on the strength and efficiency of its network, on which all services of the company depend, this includes maintaining the lead in data transmission speed and working to cover all areas in all governorates, and strengthening them with networks and data transmission services as the fastest operator in Egypt, according to local and international reports – as he described it.
He revealed that the company is opening the first phase of its data centre in the Al-Awayd area in Alexandria, which is dedicated to serving companies with full insurance for hosting data, linking with countries around the world, and offering competitive prices to attract investors.
He added that the company continuously invests in human cadres through one of its investment arms, Orange Labs, which helps develop customized solutions for customers, the latest of which was the development of solutions for water meters, in addition to investing in the network. Orange was the first company to cover the Western Desert to serve the petroleum sector while providing 4G services there.
He believes that the infrastructure in Egypt has witnessed a great improvement recently, but there is still a long way to go to deploy fibre-optic cables everywhere as an alternative to copper. This is expected to enhance the process of digital transformation, which is currently on the right path, starting with the establishment of smart cities, and the provision of electronic platforms as powerful as the “Digital Egypt Gateway,” along with innovative services that contribute to fundamental changes in the ways people interact, produce and consume.
On the other hand, he announced the company’s investment in developing customized solutions for small and medium enterprises, as well as contributing to the basic services of communications and marketing for their companies to help them grow and achieve good business results in Egypt. Orange launched e-MALL, the first integrated e-platform in the sector of SMEs in Egypt.
He expects that the growth opportunities in the telecommunications market next year will involve digital transformation services, mobile money transfer, cloud computing technology, smart city services, the Internet of things, and smart roads, in addition to geographical expansion nationwide. He expected the boom in the use of technology and digital services to continue even after the end of the coronavirus pandemic, with many companies continuing to implement the work-from-home policy, which has achieved success and increased productivity for some companies.
He said that the company aims, through its participation this year in the Cairo International Technology Exhibition and Conference, to highlight in its pavilion the package of services and solutions provided to develop several sectors and enhance digital transformation such as cybersecurity, management of control centres, data centres, smart services for the transportation system, uses of renewable energy and education services, in addition to the most important initiatives and projects to support young people. This happened through the establishment of the Orange Digital Center in Egypt, which provides free digital training and consultations for Egyptian youth to improve and raise their digital skills, enhance their employability and qualify them for the labour market, in cooperation with the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ).
He continued: The Orange Digital Center brings together a software support department, a digital manufacturing lab, and a business accelerator for startups, to provide a comprehensive suite of all services that support the digital needs of youth and technology entrepreneurship.
For his part, Amiry stated that the 4G technology contributed to facing the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, as the demand for data service witnessed a significant increase since the beginning of the pandemic, and prompted citizens to rely on digital services. He noted that the company provided technical services to help customers work from home easily with the launch of multiple initiatives in the health and education sectors, in addition to providing digital services to all customers through “My Orange” and “U Control” applications.
He also pointed out that the company has completed more than 80% of the construction work of 750 new mobile stations to provide services of 2G, 3G, and 4G telecommunications until the end of the third quarter of this year, bringing the total number of its towers to more than 8,000 stations. “We continue to expand by building hundreds of stations annually in various parts of the Republic in general, Upper Egypt and the Delta, and keeping pace with urban sprawl in new cities in particular,” he said.
He added that mobile towers are constantly modernized in line with the aesthetic character of some places, in addition to other shapes of towers in the form of lighting poles and advertising and flag poles in the administrative capital.
He believes that service reinforcement devices that do not conform to specifications have a significant negative impact because they interfere with broadcast signals for all networks and affect the quality of communication and data transmission service not only in users’ homes, but also in the surrounding area, which makes everyone around them in complete isolation, and also affects their Wi-Fi network (if any), as it is not subject to any control or quality measures, and makes them subject to legal action by the concerned authorities, in addition to the health damage that may occur.