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An industry shattered by imports.

Summary: CAIRO - Egyptian factories produce a wide range of goods include furniture, ceramics, glass, pharmaceuticals and others.

The glass industry is one of the country's oldest industries and many manufacturers are now wondering how to upgrade it.

"There are many kinds of glass, including flat glass, optical glass, fibreglass, glass tubing, laser glass, commercial glass, invisible glass, glass containers and more," says Am Hassan, who has been working in a glass factory for the past 15 years.

He explains that flat glass is used in mirrors, windows, TV tubes and some kinds of furniture, while optical glass is used in eyeglasses, microscopes, medicines, chemicals and cosmetics, besides glass jars and bottles.

"Glass is made when silica, soda and lime are melted together at extremely high temperatures, with other substances being added during the process. Coloured glass is made by adding chemicals into the mix, with particular chemicals creating specific colours," adds Am Hassan.

"Some glass factories in Egypt want to boost their productivity and to improve their efficiency by employing well-trained workers and professional staff, so that Egypt can depend less heavily on imported glass." "The glass industry in Egypt is unable to meet increasing local demand, and today most of Egypt's glass is imported. But imported glass is very expensive and there are many problems with its transportation and shipment, so we should produce more here," says professor of economics at Cairo University Mohamed Naggui.

He adds that glass is used in architectural applications, electrical transmission, optical and other instruments, and domestic tools.

"Glass has many characteristics. It is a hard, solid material that can be cut into sharp pieces. It is a biologically inactive material, transparent to visible light," he explains.

"Glass is a very important element in our daily lives, so the public and private sector should boost the Egyptian glass industry." "Egypt is facing a financial crisis that is having an impact on this industry; other countries need to help us upgrade it," says professor of materials science Magdi Omran of the Faculty of Engineering, Helwan University.

He adds that manufacturers face another problem: Foreign countries import the fine Egyptian sand used in the glass industry very cheaply and then dump their products in the Egyptian markets, thereby harming our national industry.

About 80 per cent of the machinery and other equipment used in local glass factories is imported from abroad and needs regular maintenance by specialists rarely found in Egypt.

"New methods for cutting, welding, sealing, and tempering, and better glass at lower prices have led to new uses for glass, such as in pipelines, cookware, building blocks and insulation," prof. Omran explains.

"We need institutions to teach the younger generation about the importance of glass in our daily lives and its various uses and characteristics. More factories should be established here in Egypt to meet the growing demand."

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Publication:The Egyptian Gazette (Cairo, Egypt)
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Jan 5, 2012
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