Dubai: The UAE tech and telecom group e& is getting into electric vehicle charging hubs with the soft launch of ‘Charge&Go’ – a decision timed to sync with the growing number of EVs on local roads and the need for quick and easy access by drivers to charging networks.
“We expect annual EV demand growth of 30 per cent from 2022-28,” said Hatem Dowidar, Group CEO, e&. “Charge&Go is more than just a charging station network - it’s a commitment to a greener future and part of our commitments to reach Net Zero in our UAE operations by 2030.
“We’re strategically placing our stations nationwide to offer users a dependable, affordable, and easily accessible charging solution.” e& thus becomes Abu Dhabi’s third mega-corp alongside the ADNOC Distribution-TAQA joint venture to get into EV charging points.
In Dubai, DEWA is leading the way to build similar capacities. For e&, a country-wide presence should make it relatively easier in the rollouts. Charge&Go thus expands e&’s interests across sectors, which incldes being a shareholder in the digital bank Wio, being the owner of the video-on-demand platform Starzplay Arabia and in the super-app Careem.
In addition, its enterprise unit has been adding IT systems integrators into its fold. “We made remarkable progress in our strategic focus areas, supported by strong performance in our core telecom business (and) increased demand for our digital services,” said Dowidar.
“During the period, we also made strategic investments and fostered partnerships that will drive our growth, pushing us to seize new opportunities in the fast-evolving digital landscape. “Mergers, acquisitions, and investments are definitely crucial factors in our pursuit of becoming a global technology group. They are a key driver for future growth, transformation and e& today is well positioned to continue its growth trajectory.”
Adding to overseas exposure
Notably, e& had been the biggest shareholder in the telecom major Vodafone UK. This paved the way for a strategic collaboration between the two.
“e& broadened its horizons with investments in Vodafone to enhance its international portfolio, (thus) providing an opportunity to expand into new markets in Africa, Europe and Asia as well as areas outside telecom,” the Group CEO added.
“This was followed by the binding agreement to acquire a majority stake in PPF Telecom, expanding into Central and Eastern Europe mainly Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia. The $400 million investment in Careem was another strategic move in line with our ambitious strategy.”
UAE telcos have, as evidenced in their recent financials, been making headway on 5G expansion and getting subscribers for these services. The full realisation of the investments are still some time away, but early adoption rates, particularly among business clients, is rated as sizeable.
It’s also been winding up nicely towards AI facing services.“As we embarked on this journey of making a mark in the global technology industry, and moving from a telco to a ‘techco’, it was essential to incorporate technologies in our services and solutions to achieve our vision,” said Dowidar. “In the industry - and internally - AI is a technology that has left a profound impact and transforming industries. “At e&, we partnered with Microsoft to explore the integration of the technology into our services.
This ecosystem results from collaborative ventures with key energy stakeholders, to provide a reliable, user-focused charging journey. e& is aiming to establish one of the largest EV charging ecosystem, collaborating with government and private sectors to achieve this.
At Gitex we showcase a new ‘AI assistant’ built on Azure OpenAI that will help communicate with customers and assist with tasks. “Our UAE operations led by etisalat by e& are already setting industry benchmarks with certifications on Open API that has reflected internally in efficient integration, streamlining the development and operation of complex services.”
Going the distance with 5G
In parallel, e& will continue to draw out the whole of the possibilities from 5G, which, in a nutshell, is about ratcheting up the speed of network-delivered services. “5G has also supported the growth of IoT which is expected to have a major impact on the global economy,” said Dowidar.
According to McKinsey, IoT could generate up to $11.1 trillion in economic value each year by 2025. The Middle East is also expected to see significant growth, expected to grow to $42.8 billion by 2028.
“5G has revolutionised every industry with its faster speeds and lower latency, supporting the growth of IoT, autonomous vehicles and smart cities. With our continuous investments over decades into the networks, today the UAE ranks first globally among 143 countries in 5G mobile speeds and in the NPS (Net Promoter Score), which determines the customer experience on the network,” he added.