Under Sisi, firms owned by Egypt’s military have flourished
In the four years since former armed forces chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi became Egypt’s president, companies owned by the military have gone from strength to strength. Local businessmen and foreign investors are concerned.
By Reuters staff Filed May 16, 2018, 11 a.m. GMT
CAIRO – In a four-decade military career, Osama Abdel Meguid served in the first Gulf War and was an assistant military attaché in the United States.
These days he issues orders from an office that overlooks the Nile, as chairman of the Maadi Co. for Engineering Industries, owned by the Ministry of Military Production.
Maadi was founded in 1954 to manufacture grenade launchers, pistols and machine guns. In recent years the firm, which employs 1,400 people, has begun turning out greenhouses, medical devices, power equipment and gyms. It has plans for four new factories.
“There are so many projects we are working on,” said Abdel Meguid, a 61-year-old engineer, listing orders including a 495 million Egyptian pound ($28 million) project for the Ministry of Electricity and an Algerian agricultural waste recycling contract worth $400,000.
Maadi is one of dozens of military-owned companies that have flourished since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former armed forces chief, became president in 2014, a year after leading the military in ousting Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.
The military owns 51 percent of a firm that is developing a new $45 billion capital city 75 km east of Cairo. Another military-owned company is building Egypt’s biggest cement plant. Other business interests range from fish farms to holiday resorts.
In interviews conducted over the course of a year, the chairmen of nine military-owned firms described how their businesses are expanding and discussed their plans for future growth. Figures from the Ministry of Military Production - one of three main bodies that oversee military firms - show that revenues at its firms are rising sharply. The ministry’s figures and the chairmen’s accounts give rare insight into the way the military is growing in economic influence.