September 13, 2022

N Gage Consulting: Mastering the P’s approach in public strategy advice

Arab Finance: N GAGE Consulting is Egypt’s first firm offering a wide range of tailored services and solutions in the field of public strategy advice and government affairs consulting.

Through its distinctive 4 P’s approach, the company benefits from its government relations expertise to help clients to resolve government-related challenges and enhance their business performance.

In a one-on-one interview, Arab Finance spoke to Karim Refaat, Chairman and CEO of N Gage Consulting, to discuss the company’s business in the region, with a main focus on Egypt, as well as its strategic partnerships and future plans.

What services does N Gage Consulting offer? What’s your market edge and what differentiates what you do?

N Gage Consulting offers a variety of tailored services that suit each client’s needs and accordingly range from offering public strategy advice, assisting with government affairs, supporting regulatory affairs and regulatory due diligence, aiding in factory registration and export subsidy reclamation, engaging in proactive, reactive planning all the way to mobilizing its connections to lobby for its clients’ business issues.

Having more than 150 clients across 20 different sectors with a very solid client retention rate, N Gage Consulting has been able to deploy and expand the diversity of its services within the space of public policy and government affairs, especially with its vast geographical presence with 4 offices in Cairo, Casablanca, Dubai, and Riyadh and with its strategic partnerships in Algiers and Muscat.

The company also houses its own research department that offers studies and policy papers to its clients to help them keep up with the ever-changing and challenging business environment, providing them with insights that aid in solving problems within their organizations. Utilizing its extensive team of trade experts and economic consultants, the department works on studies and papers that cater to various clients from MNCs to government bodies and covers a multitude of issues, including, but not limited to, economic overviews, regulatory analysis, benchmarking studies, business-enabling environment policy analysis, policy watch and assessment, investment outlooks, trade analysis, and industrial and sectoral outlooks.

Moreover, N Gage Consulting has its own platform “N Gage Debates” that specializes in conducting closed roundtable discussions with the presence of governmental stakeholders pertinent to various strategic issues of interest to the business community. N Gage Debates ultimately aims to create a constructive environment for members of the business community to be directly enlightened with the issues at hand from the relevant stakeholders present, and to be given the opportunity to add value and insights to the ongoing discussions.

Besides offering public strategy advice and assistance on government and regulatory affairs, N Gage Consulting has invested in and added TRAIN, N Gage Consulting’s sister company, to its offering in 2015. With more than 20,000 trainees in the field of public policy, government affairs, and trade agreements, TRAIN utilizes its training modules to upscale the capabilities of companies and government officials in the areas of government relations management via methodological tactics, free trade agreements optimization, and imports and exports management.

To complement our offering, we also launched N Gage Investments to assist upcoming investors with feasibility studies and market size documents, as well as to accompany them in mega infrastructure bids and tenders. This all comes as a fragment of our endeavor to complement our service offering either through direct investments or through strategic partnerships, the latest of which being with DCarbon which aims to fill the space of sustainability and ESG reporting.

Can you elaborate on how the company helps others develop an action plan according to the 4 P’s approach?

N Gage Consulting utilizes its 4 P’s framework as follows:

Protecting the Client’s License to Operate: Ability to effectively manage and predict crises that may potentially hinder your business operations.

Pro?t Management: Driving government relations to upscale the clients’ business bottom line through effective tracking and managing regulations, policies, etc. that directly affect the company’s pro?tability.

Predicting and Managing Regulations: Maintaining visibility on the impact of regulations and decrees on the client’s business and prioritizing the company’s ongoing issues by studying its probability and impact ratio.

Positioning: Positioning the business with key government/relevant stakeholders to optimize its relations, in order to ensure the government’s awareness of the client’s business objectives.

Who is your target audience and are there specific sectors that you cater to?

N Gage Consulting leverages its government relations expertise to support its clients from the private sector in addressing and overcoming their respective government-related challenges and optimizing their business performance.

Having served over 150 clients across 20 different industries in the MENA region to manage regulatory and policy issues, N Gage’s services are not sector specific as such services are highly tailored to fit each client’s needs, so you find us working with FMCGs and various other sectors including ICT, real estate, oil and gas, agribusiness, automotive, defense, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and cement, in addition to business councils, associations and chambers of commerce.

How is N Gage supporting sustainable investments and financing locally and globally?

As a matter of principle, N Gage Consulting’s offering and support remain focused on the management of the policy, regulatory, and requirements frameworks in the area of sustainability and ESG reporting.

We strongly believe that this phase is no longer a luxury and has become a requirement, thus we assist our clients by providing them with visibility and proper understanding of the policy framework of sustainability and ESG reporting and the necessary requirements that relate to trading, exporting, listing in stock exchanges, financing, expanding on M&As, etc., especially given that such requirements have been increasingly driven by sustainability and ESG reporting.

Accordingly, we come in and give proper guidance to our clients to comply with the local, regional, and international regulations in that space. To ensure doing this with excellence, N Gage has complemented its offering through a very strong strategic partnership with DCarbon, in order to fill in such space for its clients.

In relation to financing, we are not a financing arm and we are also not a private equity nor a financing instrument as such space is already well serviced by a multitude of different financing instruments on the local, regional, and international levels. As a public policy and government affairs agency, we dedicate our efforts to research and benchmarking studies. Hence, our space is to understand the requirements of those financing instruments and to guide our clients across different sectors on how to have access to these instruments and how to comply with their requirements.

Can you tell us more about the recent partnership with DCarbon and how it will help companies and organizations realize their sustainability goals?

The partnership between N Gage Consulting and DCarbon is a distinctive one that uniquely brings together forward-looking public and climate policy expertise backed by over 20 policy and sustainability specialists with eight specialized centers of excellence.

Such a partnership allows organizations to benefit from an unmatched proposition to reinforce their climate action and sustainability narrative by implementing transformative policies toward net-zero carbon targets, through the coupling of both entities’ unparalleled experience and knowledge of sustainability and climate change together with public policy affairs.

Can you elaborate on how this will pave the road to the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 27)? And will N Gage have another role in COP27?

This partnership, coupled with N Gage Consulting’s other partnerships and roles in light of COP27, are viewed as key strategic efforts aimed at being an extended arm of the Egyptian government contributing to supporting the tireless efforts of the government in preparation for COP27 activities. T

his partnership aims at supporting the Egyptian government in enhancing the participation of the private sector during COP27 and simultaneously achieving the economic interest of Egypt by emphasizing the country’s leading role in the sustainability field, in order to ultimately contribute to delivering a successful conference that catalyzes the climate recommendations and befits Egypt's position regionally and internationally. Thus, N Gage is fostering the private sector’s activity and participation during Egypt’s Presidency of COP27 through its long-standing partnership with the government.

As for N Gage’s other roles in COP27, N Gage Consulting has been named the Knowledge and Advocacy Partner to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its capacity as President-Designate of COP27. As the Knowledge and Advocacy Partner for COP27, N Gage Consulting is supporting the extensive efforts of the ministry in its private-sector outreach, assisting in raising awareness on the green transition as well as disseminating key logistical information through targeted knowledge productions, in addition to advocating for effective private sector involvement within the framework of the climate-conference.

N Gage Consulting was also honored to be selected as part of the National Judging Panel of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development’s National Initiative for Green and Smart Projects in Egypt's governorates, which aims to simultaneously develop a governorate-level investment map for green and smart projects and link such projects to internal and external sources of funding and investment. Under the leadership of the COP27 High-Level Climate Change Champion Mahmoud Mohieldin, the National Judging Panel, where both N Gage and DCarbon will be jointly working, will be contributing toward the selection of the winning green and smart projects that best coincide with Egypt’s 2030 Vision as well as the Initiative’s guidelines.

Furthermore, other governmental entities are currently in dialogue with us requesting our assistance as knowledge partners in the elaboration of their contributions during COP27 Thematic Days. At the same time, we are already servicing some of our clients from infrastructure, FMCGs, and construction to green hydrogen in the articulation of their contributions to COP27. We are absolutely proud of our offering, and we believe that more good news will be released very soon.

In your opinion, what sectors do you think could play a big role in Egypt’s vision toward sustainability?

Being the fuel of the future, renewable energy, more precisely green hydrogen, is Egypt’s next great investment opportunity as it is one of the main sectors that would contribute significantly to Egypt’s path to sustainability. In addition, the sustainable infrastructure sector poses a pivotal role in contributing to the country’s efforts to advance its green transformation, where the country has been working on establishing around 38 new smart cities. The ICT sector is also another sector that can play an important role in driving sustainability by enabling lower energy and resource use.

As action towards climate change mitigation should top public and private policy agendas, what would you say is the role of policymaking in the climate agenda today?

Appropriate design of policies, institutions, and governance systems at all scales can contribute to adaptation and mitigation while facilitating the pursuit of climate-adaptive development pathways. Hence, policymaking, especially on climate action issues, needs to take into account the positive and negative repercussions on all the affected parties and from there, negotiations arise and policy agreements are reached.

Proper policymaking ensures that the formulation of the aforementioned climate policies not only seeks consultation from only top-level policymakers, bureaucrats, private sector actors, NGO personnel, and academics but also engages in dialogue with all levels and sectors involved and most affected communities by climate change. The generated mutually supportive climate policies, thus, have the potential to save resources, amplify social resilience, support ecological restoration, and foster engagement and collaboration between multiple stakeholders.

Furthermore, what is the role of the public as well as the private sectors in combating climate change?

To combat climate change, both the public sector and the private sector need to jointly mobilize their forces to tackle the global rising risk. Such partnerships, such as the public-private partnerships, have managed to enable and expedite climate mitigation and adaptation efforts, where the private sector gets to utilize its services to aid the public sector in offering sustainable services and utilities to the community and in meeting the country’s climate action targets. Hence, it becomes wise to say that there is no cross-cutting point where the private sector role starts and the public sector ends, and vice versa.

It is vital to note that because no individual government has the sufficient amount of money to solve the climate crisis or complete the energy transition, it becomes critical to involve the private sector, which not only has the ability to find solutions to climate change, but can also fund the trillions needed for a global transition to clean energy.

What is your opinion on the Egyptian government in fighting climate change? And where do you see Egypt in the future in terms of climate change?

The Egyptian Government is well aware of how fundamental it is to adopt green and sustainable infrastructure development in its approach, which is exemplified by its hosting of COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh in November 2022.

On that front, the government has been making great strides in confronting climate change by shifting towards a green and sustainable economy and preserving environmental and natural resources, where the country vastly progressed in increasing the share of renewable energy in the energy mix to 20% in 2022, with the aim of reaching 42% in 2035.

Such progress was observed through the implementation of major projects such as the Benban Solar Park in Aswan, the e-mobility projects such as monorail and speed trains, and the country’s initiative to convert gasoline-powered vehicles to run on natural gas.

The government has also worked tirelessly in devising strategies that address climate issues, including the released 'National Climate Change Strategy' and the 'National Hydrogen Strategy', which aim to encourage the use of blue and green hydrogen as a zero-emissions energy source

In addition to being the first MENA country to issue green bonds, the Egyptian government continues to engage in mitigating the risks of climate change by undertaking a multitude of initiatives including announcing a set of green incentives to stimulate private investment in green sectors and launching the ‘Environmental Sustainability Standards Manual’ aimed at raising awareness on the sectors and interventions that directly contribute to a positive impact on the environment, in addition to directing public and private sectors to put their investments in such sectors.

With 40% of the national budget funding green national projects, the country plans to have government-funded green projects reach 50% by 2025 and 100% by 2030, in line with Egypt Vision 2030.

Can you tell us what the company’s future plans are?

Once more, all our future plans have public policy, government relations, and trade and business regulations at the heart of our offering or at any potential expansion that we may consider. We have a number of pillars that guide our company’s future plans.

Primarily, we will continue to diversify and enrich our offering in the space of public policy and government affairs through adding a variety of additional technical services that we are considering to complement our research, trading, and investment attraction services. Furthermore, we are contemplating the space of IPR regulations, trade remedies, listing compliance, disclosure regulations, and FRA-centric regulations, as well as to enrich and drive the sectoral excellence across regulations governing healthcare, insurance and reinsurance, mining, investment banking, technology, metaverse, etc.

Secondly, we are aiming to expand, crystallize and upscale our regional footprint. Today, we are resourcing our team with Egypt remaining the headquarters or the center of excellence, and we are starting to resource our teams in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Algeria, and Tunisia. For our expansion plans in the next phase, we are planning to start looking into strategic geographies in East, West, and Central Africa as well as to have a strategic presence in Brussels, Washington, and Geneva, in order to be able to capture where global trade and financing and business policies are shaped.

Thirdly, we are looking for the further integration of strategic partnerships, with the latest, but definitely not the last, being with DCarbon. We are looking to expand our partnerships in the areas of strategic communications and PR, in order to complement our offering by enhancing our ecosystem of partners in the field of communications and PR. We are also contemplating the possibility of delving into the field of sectoral or industry-level market research. To complement our consulting offering after launching our training offering (TRAIN), investment attraction offering (N Gage Investments), and sustainability offering (our partnership with DCarbon), thus, we are looking into strategic communications and PR and we are looking forward to reinforcing our research department with other ideas being also put forward. In addition, we are looking into how to bring digital and AI space into our offering.

As the company prepares to celebrate its 10-year anniversary, we are carefully contemplating strategic dialogues with regional and global conglomerates that have expressed their interest in rapprochement with N Gage, which we think could be the way forward to allow the company to deploy its full-fledged potential.

In the past 10 years, we have been investing very heavily, and we are planning to reconcile all such investments with the necessity to enhance the profitability of the company to restore and drive the shareholders’ value and the company’s equity.


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