“The Printing Sector Faces Great Challenges”
Exclusive interview with Ahmed Jaber, president of the Egypt’s Chamber of Printing and Packaging Industries
Ahmed Jaber is a well- known personality in Egypt’s printing and packaging scenes. He holds multiple positions within the sector including president of the Chamber of Printing and Packaging Industries, member of Export council for Printing, Packaging, Paper, Books and Artistic Works, member of the Board of the Faculty of Applied Arts, Helwan University and a variety of the other positions and responsibilities. ME Printer caught up with him in Cairo to find out more about the recent development in Egypt’s graphic arts industry as well as the role chamber in advancement of printing industry in the country.
What is the size of investments in the printing and packaging sector in Egypt?
The volume of investments in the sector exceeds 100 billion pounds
How has the global increase in the price of paper affected the volume of work in printing and packaging houses?
It encouraged people to migrate to electronic media for promote products. But it is a temporary crisis, and I think people will rely on packaging and printing for foreseeable future. Packaging is one of the most important means of product promotion, it is considered the silent seller.
Will the Egyptian industry of printing and packaging industries be able to enter new markets during the coming period?
There is no doubt about that.
What are the challenges facing the sector at the moment?
The printing sector faces great challenges, printing markets are shrinking. For example, newspapers have lost readership and people are using Internet to get their daily dose of news. People now a days communicate through social media including WhatsApp. It is a huge challenge for printed media not only locally but globally.
In Egypt many print houses were dependent on printing text books for revenue and to make ends meet. but following the decisions of the Ministry of Education to use the tablet instead of the textbook, many print house have lost a major source of income. On top of it the and the Corona pandemic encouraged people to use electronic media instead of paper-based media. Now printers are facing a dire situation and looks to state for support. The industry is in desperate need on new investment and brunt of the investment should come from. Otherwise, the industry will face with massive foreclosures and unemployment will rise significantly.
Packaging is also facing its own set of challenges. Converters and package printers must keep pace with the new technologies and the new demands by consumers. They expect quality packaging. If the sector does not keep pace with development, it will lose its competitive edge. The mission of packaging is to promote and to sell while safeguarding the product. we have participated in many international competitions where students and designers were involved. Meanwhile our aim is to design a package that is suitable for the Egyptian market and the taste and aspiration of the consumer. In order to achieve this goal, we have launched a competition called Pack Design. Event is organized by the Industries Modernization Center and the Chamber of Printing and Packaging Industries. The competition promotes new ideas and designs for packaging the products of leading brands Egyptian market. For example, the use of paper to preserve food instead of plastic. With all its calamities pandemic has few positive outcomes, one of which is people’s new found interest on sustainability and environmental practices. Our target is to promote the use of environmentally friendly products and ditch materials that are harmful for the environment including packaging films. In order to keep pace with international standards we have to modify and change our production lines.
What is the Chamber’s plan for the modernization and development of the printing and packaging sectors, especially during post covid recovery phase?
The Chamber, in cooperation with more than one donor, will carry out a set of development projects that provide assistance and technical support based on companies’ needs in order for us to help them properly to grow and qualify for export. We will assist companies to secure bank financing with low interest rate not exceeding 5%.
The Chamber and its members participate in exhibitions held throughout Egypt as well as other countries. Members eligible for subsidized cost of participation in international exhibition.
What role will the Export Council is playing play in solving the sector’s problems?
The Export Council plays an important role in solving the sector’s problems by facilitating the export fund and support the initiatives proposed by the Ministry of Finance in cooperation with the Ministry of Trade and Industry ease the regulations regarding the export activities.
The council also conducts marketing surveys and works with commercial representation to promote the council’s member companies.