Amir Abdelazim on Detecon’s growth and impact in Egypt

17 March 2024 7 min. read
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Following several CxO roles in the telecom sector, Amir Abdelazim joined Detecon mid-2022 to help the firm expand its presence in Egypt. We sat down with the country leader to find out how Detecon has progressed since his arrival, and what sets the consultancy apart from its traditional rivals.

Having spent time in the telecom industry leading transformations in Tunisia, Iraq, Ghana and Rwanda in his previous life as an executive, as well as in EMEA and LATAM mostly in the capacity of CTO, Amir Abdelazim is perfectly positioned to advise not only on the best practices of the global industry, but also to adapt that advice to local conditions.

Björn Menden, Managing Partner at Detecon, had a vision that he wanted to grow Detecon in the Middle East with people who can say they’ve done it before,” he recalls.

Amir Abdelazim on Detecon’s growth and impact in Egypt

“Nothing against traditional consulting. He just wanted people to be able to sit at a table with clients, looking to make a change, and say ‘yes, I’ve done this myself, here’s what worked best for me.’”

That is something that relates to the firm more broadly than just Abdelazim’s hire. Detecon is one of the largest German-origin consulting firms in the world, with more than 1,300 employees, and revenues growing over €215 million per annum. Despite this, the firm is determined to localise its offering as it expands across the world – and particularly into the African and Middle Eastern consulting spaces.

Like many other members of the firm’s Middle East team, Abdelazim had previously worked with consultants from a client’s-eye-view. In doing so, he had often seen how a lot of advice from international firms seemed to come from “non-tangible places”. It might have worked in another context, but the one-size-fits-all strategy support he received was divorced from “the material reality of our situation”.

One striking example: “We would receive advice to make sure we had stable electricity, while we were operating in Iraq. At the time we could not ensure that. Nobody could. So, from these kinds of experiences, I agree with Detecon’s philosophy. That motivated my move into consulting. I wanted to work with industry-expert teams that help clients with insights other consultancies can’t offer.”

A global player with a local approach

In its work with clients in the telecom sector, Detecon can leverage the sheer know-how and network of its parent, Deutsche Telekom.

Detecon was founded in 1977, initially as Deutsche Telepost Consulting, to provide consulting services to the telecommunications industry. The firm moved to independence via a merger with counterpart Diebold in 2002, but still retains connections to its parent group.

“Much like our individual consultants, our firm and brand have a reputation for having lived the changes we help clients implement,” Abdelazim elaborates. “The leverage of Detecon is that we can say ‘we have done it before, within Deutsche Telekom’.”

But the time that Detecon only served Deutsche Telekom is long past. “We work on telecom and digitization projects for clients across many other industries, including automotive, healthcare, public sector, and mobility, among others.”

For the Middle East team, that track record opens up opportunities. “We often win work in the region thanks to our relationship with Deutsche Telekom.”

Expanding on how this works in practice, Abdelazim points to how Detecon’s “local team in Germany” and its broader international teams intersect on key projects. When approaching an issue with a client in Egypt, for example, Detecon can revert back to Deutsche Telekom, to ask if it faced the problem before, and see what solution it implemented.

This information can then be translated to local conditions relevant to the Egyptian market by Abdelazim and his team – while the “reputation for German quality in Africa and the Middle East” also helps add a certain weight to the services provided.

Telecom Egypt

On the tandem’s impact, Abdelazim points at a high-profile engagement at Telecom Egypt. Just like most operators around, the company is eyeing to establish the best customer experience for its clients. The company engaged Detecon for guidance and instead of receiving just a report, key representatives of Telecom Egypt including a government committee were flown over to Germany for a visit to Deutsche Telekom’s facilities including operating centers, call centers and its own industry 4.0 Digital Engineering Center.

“Seeing is believing sometimes. And learning from real-life cases is always easier, and more effective,” Abdelazim says.

And when Telecom Egypt faced a number of strategic questions in its exploration of Industry 4.0 innovation, Detecon put forward the experiences and recommendations from top executives at Deutsche Telekom – key figures in the global industry.

“Our goal is to become the leading go-to player for telecom and technological transformations.”

National infrastructure

It is this kind of expertise that led the Egyptian government to name Detecon one of its key consulting partners, as officials looks to undertake a series of major infrastructure overhauls across the country.

The North African nation – like many other states across the Middle East – has launched Vision 2030 plans to modernise its economy. Under the ‘Decent Life Initiative’, these plans include improving the quality of life in the poorest rural communities, enabling them to obtain all basic services and providing job opportunities to support the independence of citizens.

The Decent Life Initiative changes relate to all aspects of life, from building schools and hospitals, to rolling out vast new networks of internet cables. This last goal has seen Detecon play a sustained role in helping Telecom Egypt work toward major fiberization goals, helping connect more Egyptian households with powerful internet than ever before – and enabling them to better access public services and economic opportunities in the process.

“The government in Egypt is aiming to reach maximum number of households with fibre internet. Telecom Egypt has chosen a very interesting angle on the transformation, which I really enjoy about the program. They wanted to do this transformation via the customer journey. All the start of my career was around this.”

Many groups want to undertake such changes, and as quickly as possible in the digital age. But the implementation can be painful for customers. Detecon was commissioned to advise on how to make it as customer-friendly as possible, and also to help teach customers how to engage with the changes, making them as seamless as possible.

Detecon has also been a longstanding partner in the introduction of 5G to Egypt. More recently, the firm saw its remit widen to also include non-terrestrial connectivity, 6G and beyond services.

“Alongside our work in customer journey improvement and the development of 5G and non-terrestrial connectivity, 6G and beyond, Detecon also has a strong track record in Egypt in areas including cybersecurity, internet of things within organisations and value chains, and the implementation of emerging industry 4.0 technologies.”

The ambitions

In the domestic market, Detecon is looking to grow on two distinct fronts. “We’re consistently working to keep abreast of the latest developments in technology, from new generations of mobile internet to the potential of AI innovations.”

“To fast-track our knowledge leadership and help clients innovate, we aim to create a centre of excellence here in Egypt specifically for clients in the MENA region,” says Abdelazim. “It will be around topics such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.”

Secondly, the firm’s Egyptian team is looking to expand its team, and areas of expertise.

In the long-run, Detecon has a big vision for the market. According to Abdelazim, the aim is that the firm becomes “the leading go-to player” for telecom and technological transformations.

“Given the fact that come back is relatively new in the Egyptian market, and we are already working on several top-level engagements with most of the major ICT players, we look back at a good start. It is something I am very proud of, and it says a lot about the power of our brand in the region, the trust in our capabilities, and the drive for change in the region! It is also feels good to be adding value to the ICT market of my home country,” concludes Abdelazim.