Liquidity crisis drives Arab Contractors to expand in Africa

Government’s arrears worth LE3.6 billion, and NBE initiative to settle it is a good move

Eng. Mohsen Salah, CEO of Arab Contractors, said his company’s operations total LE8 billion and the target is double them to LE16 billion by the end of the fiscal year.

He told Amwal Al Ghad in an interview that Arab Contractors was carrying out a number of key facilities such as water stations for the Water and Sewage Agency in addition to 25 silos financed by the UAE and the Armed Forces. It also mulls to compete for 10 other silos.

Salah said his company was also working on Assuit barrages and a power station in Suez worth LE600 million. The company targets to complete the third line of the Underground Metro in cooperation with the French partner this year.

Salah stressed that the construction sector is the country’s economic driving force. Therefore, it should be boosted by defraying arrears lest more companies exit the market.

He said the government owes his company a total of LE3.6 billion in arrears, putting the mega contracting firm in hard financial situation. He added that the country’s economic turmoil has added insult to injury.

“We are waiting for the government to take a positive move to pay part of the arrears to enable the company expand locally and abroad,” he said, noting that the financial squeeze and local slump has driven the company to concentrate on foreign markets, on top of which is Africa.

Salah said the African market has a number of advantages that makes it a second home country for Arab Contractors, citing strong relations founded by the company’s former chief Ibrahim Mehleb, Egypt’s present Housing Minister, and the company’s 20 branches throughout the continent.

He made it clear that freezing Egypt’s membership in the African Union following the June 30 Revolution has not affected the company’s operations in Africa. According to him, the company has been awarded to build bridges and roads worth $360 million in Guinea and projects worth $800 millionn in Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria.

Salah said Iraq and Saudi Arabia are the biggest Arab countries where Arab Contractors has volume of operations. “The company is working on the Army’s Canal in Baghdad and a hospital worth $60 million,” he noted.

According to him, the company is carrying out two bridges in Riyadh worth 320 million riyals, in addition to two tunnels worth $360 million in cooperation with a Korean firm.

Salah said the company has no operations in Qatar despite launching an office there, but he dismissed any impact of political sensitivity in the wake of tension between the two countries.

Salah called on the government to speed up major national projects, in which all will take part, citing the Suez Canal development corridor, which will push up investment in Egypt.