Lebon & C IE

A brief history of the Egyptian electricity

The author

If you were born after the 1960s like myself, probably you would see unfamiliar names or things that are deeply rooted in our history but, we know nothing about them. Once I passed by a building probably from the 40s and I saw unusual sign on the metal door of the building’s power room (Electrical substation). In fact it caught my eyes but I never really cared until I noticed that it was there on several buildings, always situated the same way and in the same place. Then I started to ask myself why it was written in French, was that for the same reason we write the streets names in French: Rue xxxxx.

On the (DFIH, data for financial history in France) I discovered that the name: Lebon & Cie is the shortcut of Lebon & Compagnie, Compagnie Centrale d’Éclairage par le gaz. This company was founded in 1847 in Paris, France by the wealthy industrial Charles (Eugène) Lebon who was originally from Dieppe, a city in northern France. The company had a license for 99 years which was supposed to end in 1946. In the 1945 annual book of Lebon company, it appears that they extended the license till the 2040, but the company totally vanished from the financial archives in 1953.

Lebon’s company had several branches in France and, Algeria, Spain and in Egypt. Supplying electricity in Egypt started by Cairo and Alexandria, and later it was extended to Port Said and Tanta. In 1864, Isma’il Pasha the Khedive of Egypt asked Charles Lebon to supply electricity to Egypt. In return Lebon requested the usufruct of lighting Cairo and Alexandria using natural gas. In 1865 the Egyptian authorities granted franchising to Lebon’s Company and the contract had been amended In 1873 to extend franchising for a 75-year period and to be expired in 1948. But the company maintained the business till it was nationalized in 1962 to become a state exclusive property and a government agency. The first independent Ministry of Electric Power has been established by the Republican Decree No. 147 of 1964.

Data for Financial History (DFIH)
Antique Copper plate, eBay
La revue du Caire, October 1939, Cealex archive
Joe Carbone, My Italian Father’s Internment in Egypt 1940 – 1944. Photo 17. A certificate of employment showing Mr Ettore Manzoni (father of Sandro Manzoni) last day at work before internment
Lebon & Cie Building Zamalek, Cairo (of City gas company by same name) designed by Antoine Selim Nahas, researched by Samir Raafat, Egy.com
The author
The author


École d’économie de Paris (PSE) 2018
Data For Financial History database Database, Paris School of Economics. Hautcœur, P.-C., and A. Riva. The Data for Financial History (DFIH) Database. Retrieved in 10 July 2020 from https://dfih.fr/issuers/1350

Egypt state information service. Bureau of Economic Analysis, energy, electricity (2016, May). Retrieved in 09 July 2020 from https://www.sis.gov.eg/Story/101435/Electricity-?lang=en-us