In our coverage of the "Egypt Gas Puzzle" series, we kept looking for answers to few questions. What are the root causes of the Energy crisis? Why failure in Mega Projects in Egypt is becoming a phenomenon? What are the drivers of the decision making-process inside the government? How and why a tiny fraction of the population controls the vast majority of the wealth in Egypt? Why people do not learn from their mistakes? Would this pattern end after two revolutions and tremendous financial losses?
The information collected in our research about Egypt’s Natural Gas business explained how the country was pushed in the direction of an "Export Trap". The process of solving Egypt Gas puzzle revealed what it takes to become an Energy Tycoon and helped us better understand the mysterious relationship between business and government. "In the developing world, corruption is public enemy number one," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, speaking at an event hosted by the World Bank’s anti-corruption investigative arm. In the following section, we will describe common patterns of corrupt business behaviors and how irresponsible businesses can adopt them to build an energy centric business empire.
Top 10 Ways to Become Energy Tycoon in Egypt
1. Work Behind the Scenes
Transparency is your number one enemy. Minimize your exposure and do not get directly involved. Recruit people inside the government. Keep your inner circle small and make sure outsiders are not able to connect the dots.
2. Identify Government Officials who Think Only Short-Term
This task should be the least of your concerns. Government Officials usually think only in terms of their office term [i.e. short-term and inconsistent]. In the absence of a long term strategy rest assure you can always present a convincing short-term argument.
3. Hire the Best Minds Whose Motives are in line with your Objectives
You need to hire a group of sophisticated professionals educated in top Western Universities to develop and execute your plans. It is equally important to exclude outstanding individuals having good intentions and those who truly believe in Nationalism.
4. Hire Former Government Executives
Hiring former government officials in executive roles will provide you with the know how needed to finalize critical deals. You will also have immediate access to large networks inside the government. Leveraging these networks can provide many benefits to your business.
5. Use a Partial Truth to Tell a Complete Lie
Remove the word “Transparency” from your dictionary. Use a collection of truths related to attracting and retaining Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to tell a much larger lie. Always remember how folks driven by a variety of motives used a bit of truth to tell a big lie about the Natural Gas surplus available for export in Egypt.
6. Protect your back in the Shadow of a Solid Regime or the Vacuum of a Political Transition
Timing is extremely important. You need to secure your long-term investment and rely on a government that last forever to defend you and protect your interests. If possible, get the government on board as a stakeholder for maximum protection. You can achieve similar results during the vacuum of a political transition. Don’t worry: you will get the same level of protection - as long as the government is backing you - because you will not be confronted with a true opposition. Move quickly before facing a true elected parliament that may not like what you are doing.
7. Appoint Aggressive Lobbyists
Lobbying provides the much needed political and legal support to what you are trying to achieve. You need a well organized group to fight NGOs and kill any opposition from the civil society that may emerge in the process and make unnecessary noise. Don’t forget to engage your international partners to mobilize foreign political pressure as needed.
8. Capitalize on Short-term Pressures
You may be in a position to create a chaos or short-term pressure in the market to support your business strategy. If so, coordinate the timing and engage the media. It is equally important to control the full supply chain, so design your business portfolio to make sure you hold an iron grip on the government.
9. Engage Media and Weapons of Mass Deception
Localize your approach and remember that you are not operating in the West. Lack of education can work in your favor. You have the money and power to present a less complicated version and a partial truth to capture the support of the poor. They will not realize that they are the ultimate victim. Neutralizing or preferably getting the backing of the poor is definitely a plus.
10. Buy a One Way Ticket: The "Financial Trap"
Once you have all cards in hand, nothing can stop you to do what you want in the short-term. After many years, people may start questioning the negative implications of your deals. To have full control of the situation and guarantee the long-term backing of the government, you need to introduce a "Financial Trap". The Financial Trap is simply a situation that cannot be reversed in case the government changes its mind in the future. A common example is building an expensive infrastructure. Once you create the Financial trap, the situation will be “fait accompli” and irreversible. In Egypt, the $16bn idle natural gas export infrastructure
is a good example of what you can do. You hired the Best Minds, so be creative!
A Time for Business Revolution in Egypt?
Would Egypt one day find a wise leader capable of reversing the above and promote complete transparency, inclusive business models, and engagement of the civil society in every step of the way?
It is extremely important to empower people to be an integrated part of the decision making process. Otherwise, Egypt will face the revolution of the hungry. It’s equally important to take a close look at the motivations of those who claim to have “new” solutions to attract or retain investments. One should carefully sift the facts from the fabrications, because people will always use small truths to tell big lies.
Articles in the Egypt Gas Puzzle series: