Egypt, 1920s, Medina station inauguration
King Fuad I of Egypt is presiding at the inauguration of the new Medina telephone station. Next to him an Ericsson telephone.

Ericsson installed its first telephone exchange in Egypt in 1897, in Alexandria. As in the case of South Africa, previous successes in the UK were a contributory factor, since the Britain controlled the country at that time. In the second decade of the 20th century, several exchanges were installed in Egypt, making it the company's largest market in Africa on a par with South Africa. Ericsson also sold a large number of telephones in Egypt so many in fact that "Ericsson" became the generic term for telephone.

During the 1920s, Ericsson concentrated on its operators and selling equipment to countries in which it had concessions. It did not have a concession in Egypt, however. Economic crises and world war dominated the 1930s and 1940s, but when Egypt became a republic in the 1950s it once again became a prime Ericsson market in Africa.

In 1959, Ericsson received a major order from the Egyptian PTT and, as a result, opened a branch office. The company won a contract of similar scope in Tunisia at about the same time, thus firmly establishing its breakthrough in North Africa.

The Egyptian order included crossbar switching exchanges in Cairo and five other cities. At about the same time, the Egyptian Telephone Company started to manufacture Ericsson public exchanges, private switchboards and telephone apparatus under license. Ericsson also supplied rail signaling equipment.

Ericsson's presence in Egypt was an important factor in winning subsequent major contracts in Saudi Arabia. Before placing their first order with Ericsson in the mid-1960s, the Saudi authorities studied the facilities in Egypt, and approved of what they saw.

There was a continuous flow of new orders during the 1960s. When the Egyptian economy deteriorated in the 1970s, Ericsson's exports suffered since the company refused to grant the substantial credits requested.

In the early 1980s, a large order for radio-link equipment was placed with SRA and, during the decade, the telecom network was renewed by installing a substantial number of AXE exchanges.

Although Egypt took delivery of AXE exchanges in the 1980s and 1990s, Ericsson is no longer one of the leading suppliers of telecom equipment. The competition is very intensive today, and Ericsson is one of several well-matched players in the Egyptian market.

Author: Mats Wickman

Egypt, 1960s, disaster alarm system

© Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Centre for Business History

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