On the 26th and the 27th of September, the Egyptian Holding Company for Petrochemicals (ECHEM) and Petroleum Economist organized the Egypt Petrochemicals Conference in the JW Marriott hotel in Cairo. The conference revolved around the theme of Petrochemicals in the New Egypt, aiming to discuss the prospects, opportunities, and challenges facing the growing petrochemicals sector in Egypt. Several high-profile figures and executives attended the conference in order to partake in the discussion regarding the development of Egypt’s petrochemicals industry, most prominent among them Prime Minister Dr. Hisham Qandil and Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Eng. Osama Kamal.

The focus of the conference was on assessing the petrochemical industry in Egypt as a promising investment opportunity, as well as emphasizing the momentous role it can potentially play in boosting the Egyptian economy and providing it with a source of strength.

In his keynote address, Dr. Qandil described his government’s vision as transforming Egypt into a “knowledge-based economy” which does not simply sell raw materials but rather adds value to them. He claimed that the conference and its direction could contribute to this vision, as the petrochemicals industry is centered around the concept of added value.
The Prime Minister was also keen to address investors, ensuring them that the security situation is being worked on and is already showing signs of improvement, and that the government would dedicate its efforts to minimizing the amount of bureaucracy and red-tape found in the investor’s path.

The Minister of Petroleum also stressed on the essentiality of added value in his own speech, stating that Egypt must maximize its capability to add value to its mineral resources. He also labeled the petrochemicals industry “the gateway to catching the train of development,” claiming that its growth is an integral part of the development of the entire petroleum sector in Egypt.

The conference included other notable attendees such as the current Acting Chairman of ECHEM, Eng. Samy Abdelhady, and the Regional Director for North Africa at the Africa Development Bank, Jacob Kolster.

The conference was used as an opportunity to shed some light on a number of prominent projects and endeavors that will be undertaken in the coming period. Noteworthy among them was the Gas to polymer project, which will entail substantial investments and is to be concluded in 5 years time, and the Integrated Petroleum Refinery Project, a highly complex and costly venture as well. Both of these “mega projects” are part of the government’s larger ‘industrial clusters’ scheme.

The conference left the impression of an industry that still has a lot of space for growth and development, but also one that was definitely moving in the right direction and offering glimpses of enormous potential. If the Egyptian petrochemicals industry manages to maintain its pace, and the new government continues to devote the necessary attention to it, there are indications that it could become a major asset for the national economy.

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