EGYPT - 350 delegates attend INTERCEM Cairo


Updated Tue, 07 May 2013 00:00:00 GMT

350 senior cement industry executives travelled from over 40 countries to Egypt's capital city, Cairo, as INTERCEM hosted the 11th Middle East and North African region conference in the land of the Pharaohs.
The conference was one of the few major international meetings to be held in the country since the January 25th revolution in 2011, where at the height of what has become known as the Arab Spring, the Egyptian people took to the streets demanding a change of Government. Despite this political upheaval and the much-publicised civil unrest that has accompanied it, the country's cement industry has remained resilient through the past two years of transition, though many challenges have presented themselves.
The conference was opened by Gouda Abdel-Khalek, one of the country's leading economists and a former Minister for Solidarity and Social Justice in the post-revolution Government; he spoke of the strength of the country in the recent difficult times, as well as the resilience of the national and regional cement industries during the period. Presenting a bullish, positive outlook for the future of the country, Dr Khalek assured delegates that "the current state of political instability and social unrest is transitional, and will eventually be over", before drawing the attention of delegates to several 'mega-projects', underway or in the planning stages, that should ensure continued cement demand.
After Dr. Khalek's paper, the economic health of the nation and of the national cement industry came under further scrutiny, as a panel of some of the country's leading experts gathered on stage to share their insight and to answer questions from the attendees. Renowned Egyptian economists Dr Ali Soliman from the British University in Cairo and Dr Youmn Elhamaky from Ain Shams University further considered the wider economy, while distinguished cement industry experts including Cement Association chairman Medhat Stefanos, specialist Adel Draz, consultant Hatem Khalil and managing director of BMIC (Building Materials Industrial Company), Samir Sabry, looked more specifically at the domestic cement market.
One issue that was particularly prevalent during these discussions was the impact of the high price and low availability of fuel in the country, and the significant effects that this is having on cement production. This was explored further in the day's second session, in which Bruno Carre, managing director of Suez Cement analysed and assessed challenges and difficulties presented by the current fuel crisis, before FLSmidth Global Technology Centre general manager Kevin Happ and Egyptian Company for Solid Waste Recycling (ECARU) chief executive Hisham Sherif presented some possible solutions in Coal and BioFuels / SRF.
The afternoon's papers shifted the focus away from Egypt and on to her regional neighbours as the North African markets of Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, and then the Arab peninsula states of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, each took turns to be centre stage, as leading experts on each nation's markets shared with delegates the benefits of their insight and experience.
On the second day, Iran, Lebanon and Turkey were examined before focus moved further south to sub-Saharan Africa. 
After a paper examining the future prospects Dry Bulk Shipping, the conference concluded with an examination of the latest technological advancements in the INTERCEM Tech-Forum, where some of the thirty exhibiting companies from the conference presented the benefits and advantages of their products to delegates.