|Al-Ahram Weekly Online
2 - 8 August 2001
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
This one workswww.energyeuroafrica.com
As you swim through the slippery seas of Egypt's IT world, you occasionally bump against rock. Something that is more than just spray. Something solid.
EnergyEuroAfrica.com provides online information to industries that Egypt already does outstandingly well: oil and gas. Petur Georgesson, CEO of EnergyEuroAfrica.com told Al-Ahram Weekly why this matters: "Oil companies have 100 per cent connectivity. They're intelligent. They're rich," he explained. While other Internet entrepreneurs must painstakingly build their market and spend money chasing revenues that may or may not materialise, years from now, Georgesson is in a thriving market and serves companies worth billions and billions of dollars.
EnergyEuroAfrica provides daily energy news from Egypt, North Africa, Europe and Central Asia, weekly round-ups of the news and a host of other services to industry. The Web site aggressively targets a glittering seam of Internet users, tightly tailoring its services to their needs. Unlike other e-businesses based in Egypt, which have to encourage Egyptians to go online, and spend their money in Internet cafes instead of on other things, EnergyEuroAfrica targets foreign and North African business people, who are already online, on-the-ball and hunting information.
EnergyEuroAfrica looks smart, as you would expect. It opens with a sexy animation of high resolution rendered chess pieces fading into an infinite background. In the site, the user is taken to see breaking energy news on the ticker tape and can click on top stories. Once finished with "hot" news, users can then check the weekly energy news summary. Eventually this will include streamed video of interviews with energy luminaries and politicians. "Where else can you find, say, an interview with the Algerian president on privatisation?" asks Georgesson. "Certainly not on CNN." If all this enthralls our executive with business ideas, he or she can view the list of contacts left by other users and set up a deal, or research an idea in the database of country reports and archived resources. For the executive with itchy feet, there's an oil jobs section. The last area is a huge online market for energy equipment, based on a US prototype (still building). It lets buyers and sellers of equipment meet and compare prices. No other company offers this service to North Africa, the Mediterranean and Central Asia.
Indeed, EnergyEuroAfrica is a first in many ways. It is the first news site to pay attention to North African and Mediterranean energy, which other news sources neglect for the US or the Persian Gulf. Its revenue streams are original. Energy companies pay a subscription to view the information; advertising is just icing. And as his customers are rich, and he is offering them something specialised that they won't find elsewhere, Georgesson can charge a subscription fee appropriate to a bespoke service; it would cost an oil firm far more to commission the research itself. EnergyEuroAfrica also wins by being harnessed to other businesses in Georgesson's stable. His holding company, Rising Star, publishes a monthly oil magazine and writes energy reports. The same research team contributes information online and off-line, so costs shrink. A correspondent in Sudan, researching a report for the monthly magazine, will stumble on scoops and can send them to the daily Web site. There they are dished up to subscribers while still scalding hot. The researchers for the daily, while checking the regional press for news, can pass on relevant information to the report writers or a feature writer for the monthly. It's called synergy. Finally, EnergyEuroAfrica's nascent e- commerce wing will establish a market for goods that are worth hundreds of thousand or millions of dollars apiece. Unlike other e- commerce ideas tried in Egypt, commission on these exchanges will be worth something.
There is a lesson here for other IT hopefuls. Like them, Georgesson started with no more than an idea, labouring to stitch together a small magazine from a basement flat in Mohandessin two years ago. But instead of aiming to rule the world, he steered his efforts towards a market niche, aiming to serve a wealthy industry. It seems to have worked. So far this year, the company has grown by 700 per cent. And is courted by investors and partners the world over, as well as in Egypt. Serving the wealthy pays, it seems. A thought about EnergyEuroAfrica's e-commerce plan makes the point. How to get customers to pay for goods has confounded many other e-commerce adventures in Egypt. Not Georgesson's. All of his customers have credit cards.
Cyber school guidewww.schoolsinegypt.com
Schoolsinegypt.com is the first Egyptian Web site dedicated to the country's schools. It aspires to be a "place" where "parents, teachers and students meet." Although the information provided currently refers only to Cairo and Giza schools, the site says it will expand to cover all of Egypt.
The site neatly divides into five "corners."
Schools Corner: Here any school can register. Free web pages are offered to any school located in Egypt. Schools may also "advertise about vacant jobs" here. The corner already includes a few school sites.
Parents Corner: This part of the Web site targets parents with advice. It also has a link to the Egyptian Universities Network, in addition to school sites. An interesting section here is "advice." Site users are invited to answer questions such as "How involved are you in your child's education?" and "What [do] kids really learn in pre-school?" But although this can be a good help to parents in general, the questions seem to refer to non-Egyptian school systems. So rather than providing "advice" from local experts, this section seems basically borrowed from a so-called "parents' magazine" of non-Egyptian origin.
Teachers Corner: this one doesn't offer much for teachers actually. Maybe they are too busy correcting exam papers? What you will find instead is a number of links to the "21st Century Teachers Network" and "Education World Where Educators Go To Learn."
The biggest treat here is that teachers can submit their résumés to the job seeking section.
Students Corner: This corner is devoted to fun, information and prizes. "Composition Competition" aims to improve students' writing skills with prizes as unlikely (from a children's perspective) as a car stereo cassette player, while the "monthly quiz" offers a watch.
The most creative part in this corner is the Talent Valley, where students are encouraged to register their names and send any kind of work such as drawings, poetry, inventions etc. It doesn't seem that anyone has yet registered; probably because it is summer and school-exhausted students are busy at clubs and by the sea.
Vendors Corner: offers free registration for the Schools in Egypt database for "all Egyptian companies acting as main suppliers or service providers for schools and education in general," and a vendor search.
The best service offered by this site is the latest information on the terms and rules of Maktab El- Tansiq (the office that coordinates students' university entry).
There are also some advertisements for schools in Egypt. A reasonable search-engine searches for schools by name -- if they are registered, of course.
The site also offers feedback and "contact us" links, which means users interested in schools can exchange knowledge and information which might not be available on the Web site. In a complicated and painful educational system such as ours, any advice is indeed valuable.
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