EgyptCall began offering its cell-phone news service Friday, coinciding with the launch of several touted Egyptian Internet portals. The enterprise — a joint venture between financial mogul Naguib Sawiris (50 percent), Omar Tantawi (10 percent) and the Beirut-based LebanonCall (40 percent) — was launched in November 1999, offering "send-a-song" and horoscope services at 1.50 Egyptian liras (EL) a minute.
The new news service, which will be available in both English and Arabic, will feature hourly items of local, international and financial news. After an initial trial period, during which the service will be available from 9 am to 9 pm, the company may, if there is adequate demand, begin offering round-the-clock service.
The news service is only available to customers of MobiNil (of which Sawiris' company, Orascom Telecom, is the largest single shareholder), but will eventually be made accessible to users of rival mobile phone operator, Click, probably after a four months’ period, said Ahmed El Bahery, marketing coordinator for EgyptCall.
The company has plans to expand both its range of services and its market. El Bahery said that more bilingual services would be made available directly, including news by the Reuters agency, cinema schedules and market updates straight from the Cairo bourse.
In the beginning of August, EgyptCall began offering phone services in the UAE, and future plans include an entrance into the markets of Jordan (perhaps in tandem with FastLink), Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, and then, perhaps, Europe.
According to El Bahery, the company is presently in the process of striking a deal with the Egyptian Federation of Industries (EFI) that would allow Egyptian Exporters to dial a number and hear a list of requests from potential foreign importers. "If an Iranian clothing company wants this quality of shirts, and this quantity, the exporters will have a chance to find out about it," El Bahery said.
Ultimately, he said, they want to make the entire EFI database available by telephone. "The economy will benefit because businessmen aren't taking advantage of opportunities that are out there. This service will link the exporters to potential customers," said El Bahery. "It's a sort of e-commerce, but without a computer." — (Albawaba-MEBG)
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )