People of the industry: Ahmed Afifi, EMCO Group
“My favourite thing about my job is that every day there is something new, it is not a routine job. I also enjoy travelling to the ports, and abroad, meeting new people,” says Ahmed Afifi, managing director at the EMCO Group, a port agency headquartered in Alexandria, Egypt.
“I studied something apart from the maritime industry, because generally, in Egyptian culture, you have to graduate from an engineering school or medical school to be able to make something of yourself,” explains Afifi. “The maritime business became very interesting to me. It also affects Egypt every day. We are situated between two seas, and logistics-wise, that is a very good thing,” he continues.
Ahmed Afifi joined the family business after completing his studies, and military service: “I studied electro-mechanical engineering at the University of Alexandria and graduated in 2016. I spent a year in the navy in 2017 and joined EMCO at the start of 2018, as a managing partner in the operations department. I joined to help with the family business.”
“Our CEO Randa Abdallah, my aunt, has been a great influence on me and I am following in her footsteps. Everything I do, I ask her first. During these 5 years, I’ve learned everything through experience, visiting each port we operated in, travelling abroad, and learning on the job,” states Afifi.
Afifi did however decide to supplement his knowledge with academic courses: “ I was also keen on having an academic perspective, so I followed several master classes online by the Arab Academy of Transportation. Right now, I am studying for a Shipping and International transport Diploma from the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime transport.”
“My day-to-day involves handling the operation of vessels. This includes preparing for the vessel’s arrival by sending pre-arrival documentation and information about the port, we notify receivers and consignees of the vessel arrival times, and we handle berthing applications with the port authority. Once the vessel is berthed, a boarding officer attends to the vessel, and we finish all the formalities from immigration to customs, and quarantine. Then we start loading or discharge operations, either with stevedores or the vessel crew themselves. We as agents supervise this operation and keep time,” says Afifi.
“At the end of the vessel’s stay, we arrange the ‘Statement of facts.’ This is a timesheet of the time in port for the ship owner. After the cargo operations are completed, we start arranging the formalities for the sailing out of the port. Then, the vessel sails out of the port.”
“Trust is a key element in our business. We are a family business, and when you’ve been working with vessel owners for long periods, they know that they can count on you no matter what happens. Any agent can arrange port formalities, but when an issue or a problem arises, which is not uncommon, they have the trust that we can solve the problem. That is what sets us apart, I think. We’ve been working with companies like BBC Chartering and Briese Chartering for over 25 years.”