Good afternoon, wonderful people, and welcome to yet another busy news day. While the big story of the afternoon is word that the private sector will be handed a significant role operating and upgrading the nation’s rail networks, it’s difficult not to be more excited about what’s happening on Planet Startup.
HAPPENING NOW- We have two high-profile sales. The big news is that Egyptian event management startup Eventtus has been acquired by enterprise community event engine Bevy, according to an emailed statement (pdf). Nine-year-old Eventtus has attracted some of the biggest regional and global tech investors, including Algebra Ventures and 500 Startups. The value of the transaction was not disclosed. We’re aiming to have lots more on the story in EnterpriseAM tomorrow.
News that Eventtus has sold comes as A15 said it has divested its controlling stake in subsidiary Connect Ads to a US outfit. We have more on that story in this afternoon’s Speed Round, below.
ALSO- Prices of some local smokes are increasing as of today: Tobacco monopoly Eastern Company has announced it will raise prices of its own-brand cigarettes starting today, under new ceilings on taxable price brackets introduced two years ago. Proceeds will contribute to funding for Egypt’s Universal Healthcare Insurance program, the company said. You can see the full list of amended prices here (pdf). Maybe it’s a good time to consider quitting?
AND- The Oil Ministry’s gas-station-finder app is now available on the iOS App Store, according to a statement. The app, titled MOP Stations, is pretty simple to use. Just choose your desired fuel type (95, diesel, etc) and it shows you all the stations that offer it nearby, alongside some information about the gas station. You can also download the app from the Google Play Store.
Government agencies and state-owned companies selling goods or services have until 1 October to sign on to the Tax Authority’s new e-invoicing system, the Finance Ministry said in a statement. The decision, approved by the cabinet, particularly applies to public sector companies that have more than half of its capital committed to the consumer industry. Failure to sign up for the e-invoicing platform, which comes as part of a program launched last November, will result in a host of penalties, including removal from large taxpayer classification, losing access to government services and business, and losing subsidies.
REJOICE- The CBE has spoken, and we’re all getting a six-day Eid holiday. Banks will be closed from Monday, 19 July, until Thursday, July 22. It’s back to business as usual on Sunday, 25 July, the Central Bank of Egypt announced today. Expect an announcement any moment now that the EGX is also closed — the exchange is shuttered anytime the banking system is closed.
Saturday is also a national holiday in observance of the 23 July Revolution.
** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:
- Bank ABC launches Blom MTO: The bank is looking to acquire up to 100% of Blom Bank Egypt and is valuing the business at EGP 6.7 bn.
- Dabaa delayed by two years, thanks to covid: Work on the 4.8 GW facility will likely now finish in 2030 rather than in FY2028-2029.
- More details on the EGP 100 bn mortgage finance initiative: Affordable homes will be built to support the new initiative which is likely to benefit 220k families, and cost the state coffers some EGP 120 bn over 30 years.
THE BIG STORY ABROAD- No single story has yet captured the imagination of the global business press today. The Financial Times is leading with news that global investors’ exposure to Chinese assets has surged to USD 800 bn. Reuters, meanwhile, notes that crowds in South Africa have continued to loot shops and clash with police, “defying government calls to end a week of violence that has killed more than 70 people and wrecked hundreds of businesses.” Meanwhile, Bloomberg thinks the UAE is within striking distance of an agreement with OPEC+ to get a higher oil production quota, ending a standoff with the cartel.
THE BIG STORY IN THE PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF MAADI- We’re all bracing to be Heliopo-lized (or is it Zamalek-ized?) as the state seems to be on the verge of blasting a freeway through the historic neighborhood above the rail line that runs parallel to Road 250. Property owners: This is not going to be kind to valuations.
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
Tomorrow is the last day to visit the Cairo International Book Fair at the Egypt International Exhibition Center. The event will run through 15 July and the fair’s committee has now allowed the exhibition ground to operate at 70% capacity.
The Clean Energy Business Council’s webinar Women Entrepreneurs in Canada and the Middle East is taking place on 28 July at 3pm, showcasing female entrepreneurs working in climate tech in the two regions, and highlighting the challenges they face.
🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
China is on course to launch its massive national emissions trading program this week. The initiative is expected to create the world’s largest carbon market and help drive down the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by allowing polluters to trade the fixed amount of carbon they are each permitted to emit annually, the WSJ reports. Under the first phase of the program, some 2.25k energy companies will be able to buy and sell emission allowances through auctions or by negotiations. The aim is to “incentivize economically sustainable carbon reductions over the long term,” economics consulting firm Trivium China said. China is looking to bring in other carbon intensive industries (including petrochemicals, cement, steel, aluminum and domestic aviation) at a later point.
The EU could soon also be getting serious about climate change with new rules that place stronger restrictions on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and impose higher taxes on non-EU companies selling their products within the trade bloc, the Associated Press reports. The legislative effort dubbed “Fit for 55” aims to bring the EU closer to meeting its new target of cutting GHG emissions by 55% this decade by placing caps on car pollution, building emissions, and imposing steeper duties on foreign companies producing goods in countries with less stringent climate regulations. The proposed legislation will require endorsement by the 27 member countries before it is passed into law.
Japanese child-sized robot Pepper can’t hold down a job. From chanting Buddhist scriptures at funerals to stints at funeral homes and baseball games, Pepper has been fired time and time again, implying the world may not be ready for robots after all, according to the Wall Street Journal. After Pepper’s disastrous entry into the workforce, the robotics unit of SoftBank said it would halt production of Pepper and restructure its global robotics department. But Pepper hasn’t been laid to rest just yet — it’s still on the job at some hospitals, schools, hotels, and cafes. Units change hand online for a few hundred USD.
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
Office comedy meets video game culture: Mythic Quest follows the team behind the world’s biggest multiplayer video game as they struggle to keep their game at the top. At the workplace, they’re busy creating worlds, heroes, and scenarios, but the real drama happens in the office. The sitcom is one of the few shows that bring the pandemic into the picture, with later episodes in season one seeing the team get together on video chat and grapple with loneliness. Mythic Quest is funny, light, and filled with commentary on gaming culture in each episode.
🏀 No football today, but you could tune into the NBA where the Suns are playing the Bucks at tonight (well, tomorrow morning) at 3am CLT. It’s game four of the NBA finals, which the Suns lead 2-1.
Royal drama The Crown and Star Wars spinoff The Mandalorian each raked in 24 Emmy nominations, with the Crown expected to hand Netflix its first-ever top series trophy. The nominations point to the rising clout of streaming services, with most of the top-nominated scripted shows being hosted on platforms that emerged in the past two years, writes the Associated Press.
A more inclusive nominee list: 44% of the 96 actors nominated for roles in drama, comedy and miniseries this year were people of color.
Who we’re rooting for: While we’re big fans of the Crown and all things Star Wars, we have our fingers crossed for feminist dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale, which has kept us hooked since its first season dropped in 2017, and is nominated in 21 categories this year.
We’re also hoping Michaela Cole’s brilliant BBC produced drama I May Destroy You finally gets the recognition it deserves after its Golden Globes snub, with nine Emmy nominations including a nod in the Outstanding Limited Series category. The Queen’s Gambit also captured our hearts this year with its portrayal of the struggles of a troubled chess prodigy, and we hope it snags at least one of the 18 trophies it’s been nominated for.
The Emmys are airing on 19 September and you can check out the complete list of nominees here.
🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-
Rappers Karim Enzo and Afroto will be sharing the stage with trap producer and DJ El Waili at Cairo Jazz Club 610 in Sheikh Zayed tonight at 9pm.
Jordanian indie band Autostrad are playing at Zamalek Theater on Friday at 8pm.
A padel tennis tournament is taking place in Sahel over Eid, organized by JPadel at La Vista Bay and Swan Lake North Coast. The deadline to register for the C level tournament is today, and the deadline for the A&B level tournaments is on 18 July. The competition boasts a total purse of EGP 180k.
💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-
Embassy Wife by Katie Crouch tells the story of a group of expats in Africa, in a humorous and comprehensive take on the experience. The main character, Amanda goes to Namibia with her husband, Mark, a Fulbright scholar studying the German genocide of the Nama people in the early 1900s. It’s so far away from his usual interests that Amanda begins to suspect a ruse, and ends up justified when she discovers the real reason he was intent to go back to Namibia, where he served briefly in the Peace Corps 20 years earlier. As Mark’s story unfolds, the wife of an American diplomat in Namibia takes Amanda under her wing and the duo wrestle with identity, politics, and being far away from home. The Washington Post and The New York Times are big fans.
☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Expect daytime highs of 41°C in Cairo tomorrow, falling to 25°C at night, our favorite weather app tells us. Meanwhile, Sahel will see the mercury reach 32°C during the day and fall to 23°C at night.