Work in progress

Think of Egypt and the chances are that images of colossal monuments to long-dead Pharaohs or lonely feluccas sailing down the Nile will spring to mind. But when it comes to the IT industry the channel has a different vision - one of untapped potential, regional importance and a chance to make a mark on a fertile landscape.

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By  Julian Pletts Published  May 20, 2008

ETE's Nasr has resolved the geographical issue within the channel.

"If you look at the size of Egypt, there is a geographical challenge because some places like Luxor are 1,000 kilometres away. It is very tough to control so we prefer to assign a distributor to promote our brand and help them to do whatever they need to do there," he said.

As suggested here, sub-distribution seems to be the way that the channel deals with the breadth of the country and the density of reseller partners.

Another issue that has seemingly befallen the distribution level of the channel is not only the problem of lengthy payment cycles, but also the cost of obtaining credit insurance.

Despite the challenges that continue to make the market a more troublesome environment to operate than some companies would like, Egypt is undoubtedly one of the most important IT markets in the region.

And as Dubai continues to see inflation hikes and rising overheads, IT focus on this ancient country will only grow.

"What we are seeing now is that the reseller channel is maturing," professed Acer's Sharma.

"Last year price points remained a focus for resellers, but this year it is not a dominant factor. The trading approach is going out and more of the long-term elements are taking its place," he commented.

There are also positive signs that the market may well be maturing. "Egypt is trying to become a software market and a services market," said HP's Urcar.

"They are also trying to become a production market for software, like Bulgaria in Europe, but not necessarily the size of India. From that perspective they are playing a very clever game indeed. The government is trying to make Egypt an attractive place for IT companies - both internationals and locals - to invest."

And if the voice of those espousing the unique offerings of the Egyptian IT market is to be heard then the government and other Egyptian IT visionaries are succeeding in their efforts.

Some commentators in the channel are claiming that the Egyptian IT market is so promising that many multinational companies would be well-advised not just to establish large and intricate local channels, but to begin production of their products in the North African nation.

"There is an excellent opportunity for multinationals looking to outsource or establish manufacturing plants here instead of other traditional areas, " said Metra's Galal.

Promise's Ezzo is confident in the country's strength and in the future prosperity of the IT market too.

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