Egyptian tycoon Sawiris wants Italians to invest again

'Country needs help and commitment to prosper'

23 December, 12:35

    Egyptian mobile telecommunications tycoon Naguib Sawiris Egyptian mobile telecommunications tycoon Naguib Sawiris

    (by Remigio Benni)

    (ANSAmed) - CAIRO - The Egyptian mobile telecommunications tycoon Naguib Sawiris urged Italians to start investing in Egypt again in an exclusive interview with ANSA.

    The interview with the former Wind shareholder took place in his office on the 26th floor of one of the Nile Towers, a group of skyscrapers owned by his family's company, Orascom, overlooking the Nile. ''I love Italy and Italians,'' he said,''this is why I am urging Italian investors to come to Egypt, in whose future Italy should have a leading role.'' From the vantage point of his office, ''you can see all of Cairo and - look down there - you can see the Giza Pyramids, even though there is fog today,'' the 59-year-old Coptic businessman said proudly. Sawiris is also the owner of a television network and the founder of the liberal Free Egyptians Party, but he does not harbor any political ambitions, since ''I am more than willing to give a hand and take part in the work of a 'group of experts', but I love my private life too much'', he said. ''Italy is the country that is closest to Egypt,'' he continued, ''not only from a geographical standpoint but also that of the mentality and spirit of the country. The Vatican is there, too.'' For these reasons, Sawiris believes Italian businessmen should help Egypt out, as the country ''will prosper very quickly'' if it gets the help of those he refers to as ''achievers''. The tycoon - who responded politely to telephone requests for attention from his daughter during the interview - believes that his country will be able to get its economy back on its feet soon, with the help of a government of 'achiever' Egyptians throughout the world, who he lists off by writing down a number of names on a sheet of paper, including Nobel Prize for Chemistry winner Ahmed Zewail and the managing director of the Pimco investment multinational, Mohamed El Erian.

    To a question about human rights violations as reported by governments and humanitarian bodies in relation to the hundreds killed by police and soldiers on August 14 in the clearing of two Cairo squares occupied by Muslim Brotherhood supporters after the ousting of the elected president, Mohamed Morsi, Sawiris said without hesitation that ''it could not have been avoided. The government had been giving warnings for weeks and the city could not just continue to be blocked. The world does not know that 120 policemen were killed in those squares. The protestors were armed and many of them oppressed residents, going into their homes and abusing them if they did not help them. It was certainly not a bright moment, but there was no other solution.'' ''Our biggest problem today is undoubtedly the economy,'' he said, especially due to the disastrous balance sheet of the year Mohamed Morsi's regime spent in power, which received financial support from Qatar. Sawiris, considered the second richest billionaire in Egypt (Forbes estimates he has assets of 2.7 billion dollars and ranks him 11th of the 50 wealthiest Africans), has pledged to invest one billion dollars in the first quarter of 2014, ''but more may soon follow''. He has also pledged his undivided support for the commander of the Army, General El Sissi, in the next presidential elections. ''I don't like soldiers, but at the moment the country needs someone to hold on tightly to the reins of the country.'' While the interview kicked off with references to Lina Wertmuller's films with Giancarlo Giannini (''I have always liked him''), it ended with another reference to Italy: the Italia Online web network, which was acquired by Sawiris through his Weather company and formed with the Virgilio and Libero portals alongside the latest acquisition from RCS, three months ago, of Dada.

    ''You can see that Italy is in my heart,'' he added in taking his leave.(ANSAmed).

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