Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Everyone over the age of 18 can now register for a covid jab, underlying health condition or not

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TONIGHT

Good afternoon, wonderful people, and welcome to our final issue of EnterprisePM for the week. It’s one of those Goldilocks days: Not a heavy news day, but what news there is … is meaty.

THE BIG STORY OF THE DAY here at home: Registration for the covid-19 vaccine is now open to everyone over the age of 18, whether you’re Egyptian, a foreign resident or a refugee. Signing up is ridiculously easy in English or in Arabic on the Health Ministry’s registration portal. We have more in this afternoon’s Speed Round, below.

CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from this morning’s edition of EnterpriseAM:

  • The talking heads on TV are worrying about a third wave of covid-19 as presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag El Din says we’re all cancelling covid.
  • How much will car owners pay to transition to natgas? We have the rundown on the seven models — from Hyundai, Nissan, Chevrolet, Lada and BYD — that are part of the state-subsidized vehicle replacement program.
  • Coca Cola, Porto Group, and BTech are all talking up their investment plans for the year.

*** EnterprisePM is taking tomorrow off. Longtime readers know that we take occasional “Enterprise holidays” when we need to retool, focus on something new or otherwise catch our breath. EnterprisePM is doing that tomorrow, but EnterpriseAM still be in your inbox at our customary hour.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD as we slide toward the end of the workday? Obviously, we’re all waiting to hear from the Fed as its its FOMC meeting comes to an end later today (see below). In the meantime, both the Wall Street Journal and Reuters are leading with Uber caving to labor activists in the UK, where it’s giving drivers an employment status that entitles them to a minimum wage, vacation pay and pensions. Both outlets agree the precedent could mean major changes to the gig economy.

Is ESG more your thing? You’ll definitely want to read The fall from favour of Danone’s purpose-driven chief, which leads the (digital) front page of the Financial Times this afternoon. looks at how Emmanuel Faber lost his job at the top of the company that makes everything from yoghurt to Evian water. His ouster this week was “a loss for those who prized the 57-year-old as a powerful advocate of the view that businesses must become more sustainable and forge a purpose alongside making profits.”

In a similar vein: TAQA (the Abu Dhabi utility, not Qalaa’s Egypt-based outfit) may be looking to get out of the oil and gas businesses, burnishing its ESG credentials a little bit while simultaneously doubling down on power generation, according to one of Bloomberg’s top stories out of the region today.


Pundits think the Fed is going to signal an improved economic outlook for the United States when its Federal Open Markets Committee wraps up its two-day meeting later today. A significant improvement to the Fed’s December prediction could test the central bank’s commitment to ultra-loose policy in the coming years, says the Financial Times. No one is hanging their hats on considerable policy changes, but a more upbeat outlook will get investors talking about when to expect a rate hike. Pundits in December figured the Fed would start hiking rates by 2024.

Will tightening come sooner? Some, including Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius, are saying it could happen as early as 2023 as US policymakers signal a rosier outlook. The FT has five specific things to be on the lookout for from the meeting and signals on what to expect.

Why should you care, sitting here in Egypt? Because it’s the “most important meeting in a very long time” for emerging markets, a top market watcher tells the salmon-colored paper. Among other things: Any sign the Fed is even considering hiking rates sooner will pressure EM central bankers to start raising their policy rates, suggests the salmon-colored paper.

The Central Bank of Egypt meets tomorrow. All 12 analysts we spoke with for our regular poll are saying they think the Monetary Policy Committee will leave rates on hold, accounting for a possible uptick in inflation due to a commodities boom and potential EM outflows as investors are lured away by rising US treasury yields.

🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
(All times CLT)

CSA Maadi is hosting a two-day sustainability event tomorrow (9am-3pm) and Friday (12:30-5pm). The outdoor garden event will feature experts in the fields of sustainable architecture, fashion, interior design, waste management and ecotourism. They’ll be showcasing some of Egypt’s most eco-friendly and socially responsible brands and projects including architectural design firm El Agizy, street cleaning app Dawar, our favorite plant-based food vendor Sincerely V, and more. Catch the full program of events here.

The CIB PSA Black Ball Open 2021 women’s squash wraps up tomorrow while the men’s event starts on Friday and runs until 25 March. Players from all over the world, 48 men and 48 women, will compete for a USD 350k purse split across both divisions in what will be the opening PSA World Tour event of 2021. You can check out the results for women so far, and you can stream the event live on SquashTV or the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour (excluding Europe and Japan). You can also snag tickets online to attend in person at the Black Ball Sporting Club in New Cairo.

There are three days to go for Photopia’s Cairo Photo Week 2021, which wraps on Saturday. The photo festival features over 100 activities including workshops, panels, photo challenges, exhibitions, portfolio reviews and photo walks throughout the week, all led by more than 80 local and international photographers. You can check out the event program on Photopia’s website, there’s plenty to look at on the group’s Instagram feed @cairophotoweek, and both physical and virtual tickets are available here.

The Spring Flowers Exhibit (Ma3rad El Zohoor) is currently taking place at Orman Botanical Garden in Giza. More than 200 exhibitors have set up shop to sell flowers, plants, agricultural products, and gardening equipment. The exhibit runs through 13 April.

AUC Press’s Mad March book sale will be ongoing for the rest of the month. The sale is open to the general public every day from 10am–6pm CLT at AUC Tahrir Bookstore & Garden.

🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-

Egypt may be taking a bite out of US-based fintech lender Lendable’s USD 180 mn loan target this year as it seeks to expand lending to new markets in Africa, South East Asia and Latin America, Bloomberg reports. Lendable, which focuses on financing for fintech startups in emerging markets, has since its founding in 2015 disbursed USD 125 mn to companies like payments providers TerraPay, MFS Africa and Egypt-based Trella. The company is reportedly spending “a lot of time” in Egypt where it sees “a ton of innovation” in business digitization, Lendable CEO Daniel Goldfarb told Bloomberg. Fintech startups in the region have been gaining interest over the past year after the pandemic pushed digitization into overdrive. MENA-based Fintech startups reportedly raised a collective USD 18.4 mn in February alone, keeping pace with the fintech frenzy taking place over the past year.

The global chip shortage has reached Samsung, with the company sounding the alarm over a “serious imbalance” in the semiconductor industry that is now spilling over into the broader technology sector, writes The Financial Times. Samsung’s warnings come as governments and companies expressed concerns that shortfalls in the semiconductor market might slow the economic recovery from the pandemic. We delved into detail about what the global shortage means for the global economy and how it came out in our story The global chip shortage explained.

The Amazon’s leaky carbon problem: The Amazon rainforest, long understood to be one of the world’s largest carbon sequesters, has started emitting as much greenhouse gasses as it takes in, according to a new study published in Frontiers. The new research has shown that soil degradation (caused by a warming planet) and forest fires set by ranchers and industrialists have contributed to the release of dangerous, less popularized, greenhouse gasses like nitrous oxide and black carbon from the forest. The release of these gasses into the atmosphere has a compounding effect where it both contributes to and is accelerated by a warming planet.

The International Air Transportation Association could see its members commit to a net zero carbon pledge by 2050, considerably ramping up the industry group’s 2005 pledge to decarbonize by cutting net emissions in half by 2050, IATA chief executive Alexandre de Juniac told the Financial Times. The industry’s current pledge to reduce emissions has mostly relied on airlines purchasing carbon offsets but challenges in measuring progress and bringing on board companies from emerging markets with less cash to spare, casts doubt on the likelihood of meeting even more ambitious goals.

US resorts are trying to lure travellers with complimentary rooms and flights if they test positive for covid while on vacation, reports Bloomberg. High-end resorts are trying to recapture business from travelers who are more afraid of getting stuck than of getting sick.

Ancient Egyptian artifacts that were part of the “Secrets of Sunken Egypt” exhibition have safely landed back home after embarking on a tour for more than six years around the world, the Tourism and Antiquities Ministry said in a statement. The touring exhibition featured 293 artifacts that had been discovered underwater in Alexandria’s Mediterranean Sea. The worldwide tour began in 2015 in Europe, starting with Paris, and then off to the US in 2018 where the tour ended almost three years later.

📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-

(All times in CLT)

We DGAF about the British monarchy (particularly on St. Patrick’s Day), but for the rest of you: Oprah’s interview with Harry and Meghan will air locally today and Saturday. OSN has bought the rights to broadcast the sitdown in MENA, reports BroadcastPro. The two-hour special will air on OSN Woman tonight at 7pm and Saturday at 7pm. There’s more on the link if you care.

The Champions League will see two matches at 10pm as Bayern go up against Lazio and Chelsea play Atletico Madrid. Sevilla take on Elche at 8pm in La Liga while Torino will hit the field against Sassuolo at 4pm in Serie A.

🍰 EAT THIS TONIGHT-

Who doesn’t like cake? The name alone, Cake Cafe, is enough to inspire joy in our hearts with the image it conjures up — and the real life cafe doesn’t disappoint. With an assortment of flavorful and colorful cake creations, Cake Cafe promises to satisfy your sweet tooth while also giving you a place to relax and recharge with their stunning interiors. They also offer more savory options including sandwiches, wraps, soups, and salads. You can find Cake Cafe at Zamalek, New Cairo’s Swan Lake, Sheikh Zayed’s Capital Promenade and Palm Hills, and Hacienda in North Coast.

🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-

(All times in CLT)

Hankering for some rap? Abyusif is performing tonight at 9pm at Cairo Jazz Club in Sheikh Zayed. Kubbara is playing the opening and closing set for the rapper, who was part of the diss track battle that took place last month.

Cairo Opera House is presenting a selection of Disney songs at a concert that will see performances by the Cairo Opera Company, the String Orchestra, the Cairo Opera Ballet Company, and Cairo Opera Choir. The concert will take place on Thursday and Friday at 8pm and you can get tickets using this link.

TAM Gallery is showing the exhibition Solos in Parallel starting Saturday, featuring M. Jamal Bassiouni’s collection Deshret and TAM Gallery founder Lina Mowafy’s collection Mistress of Life. We sat down with Mowafy on our podcast Making It (listen, runtime: 29:19) where she told us all about the origin story of the gallery and its future prospects.

💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-

Spotify’s first chief economist, Will Page, is due to release his book Tarzan Economics early next month, presenting what he deems the “eight principles for pivoting through disruption”. Pivoting through disruption has to do with being able to see the revolutionary changes around the corner, recognizing your strengths, and having the confidence to let go of the old vine of doing business and grab onto the new, Page explains. The principles are meant to help readers fail-safe a business in any industry that is undergoing any disruption whether it’s the digital revolution or a sly competitor.


🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Expect daytime highs of 24°C and lows of 12°C tomorrow and we could be in for foggy mornings in the coming days while coastal areas will be experiencing heavy winds, the national weather service warns.

ALSO: Brace yourselves for a (modest) heat wave starting Saturday. Expect highs of 35°C Saturday through Tuesday before the mercury returns to a more seasonally appropriate 24°C on Wednesday, our favorite weather app says.

SPEED ROUND: COVID WATCH

Covid vaccine registration is now open to everyone

Anyone living in Egypt who is 18 or older can register now to be vaccinated against covid-19. More than a dozen of us here at Enterprise and at our parent company, Inktank, have signed up since this morning.

It takes only a few minutes to register on the Health Ministry’s registration portal. Some tips:

  • Choose Register for Vaccination from the homepage.
  • Choose Other Categories unless you’re an MD or healthcare worker and if you don’t have a chronic condition,.
  • If at any stage you input that you have one or more health conditions (which you can still do if you choose Other Categories), you may need to have documents on hand to substantiate it and be ready to upload them.
  • Have a copy of your national ID or passport information page ready to upload. It can’t be more than 5 MB and must be a .jpg or .png file.
  • Have your mobile at hand — you’ll get a six-digit verification code as you complete the first screen and will need to input it.

The final screen will give you your request number, and you should also receive a copy of the number on by SMS. Make sure you keep it — you’ll need it when you’re notified that it’s your turn next.

Around 20k citizens are registering on the ministry’s website daily, according to a cabinet statement, and the total number of those registered for the vaccine looks set to hit 500k by the end of the month.

Egypt is presently vaccinating 1-2k people per day. We expect that rate to accelerate as the Health Ministry with the arrival of an additional 350k doses of Sinopharm’s jab, which are due to arrive tomorrow, according to state-owned Ahram Gate.

But the short-term game changer will be the arrival of the first 5 mn doses of an 8.6 mn shot order of AstraZeneca by March 30, which we’ve placed through the GAVI / Covax initiative, Health Minister Hala Zayed at the cabinet meeting.

Europe’s collective freakout about the safety profile of AstraZeneca’s vaccine may be coming to an end. France, Italy and Ireland all say they are ready to quickly restart their vaccination programs. The news comes one day after the EU’s medicines regulator said there is so far “no indication” that the jab causes blood clots.

So what are they waiting for? The regulator will formally announce tomorrow the results of its investigation into 37 cases of blood clots (five of them fatal) in more than 5 mn people who have received doses of the vaccine.

SPEED ROUND: PRIVATIZATION WATCH

Wataniya sale pushed back to 2H2021

The sale of 80-90% of military-owned Wataniya Petroleum has been pushed back to 2H2021, sources close to the transaction told the local press. The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE), which is managing the sale, had previously been expected to wrap it up in the first half of the year, according to previous statements by the fund’s CEO Ayman Soliman. The report gave no reason for the delay; the SFE was not available for comment by dispatch time.

But that doesn’t mean progress isn’t being made: Potential buyer Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) has begun appointing advisors ahead of submitting an offer, sources said, though no further details were given on the size of the stake the company is targeting. Soliman had suggested last month that up to 90% of the company could be up for sale through a private placement, with the SFE retaining a 10-20% stake.

This comes as other GCC players look to buy in, with reports earlier this month suggesting that state-owned Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) and Saudi Aldrees Petroleum and Transport Services Co. were also interested. Local players and franchisers are also looking to buy in, with reports that Wataniya is also being courted by Qalaa Holdings’ Taqa Arabia.

Background: Wataniya is one of two companies that have been chosen to kickstart process led by the SFE to sell stakes to the private sector in firms owned by the military’s National Service Products Organization (NSPO). The SFE had suggested last year that the National Company for Producing and Bottling Water (SafI) and Wataniya could both be for sale.

GO WITH THE FLOW

Earnings Watch: EFG Hermes

The EGX30 fell 1.1% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 997 mn (32.6% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net sellers. The index is up 2.1% YTD.

In the green: Orascom Investment (+2.7%), Palm Hills Development (+1.9%) and Sidi Kerir (+1.6%).

In the red: CI Capital (-9.6%), Cleopatra (-3.0%) and Fawry (-3.0%).

EARNING WATCH- EFG Hermes reported a net profit after tax and minority interest of EGP 1.3 bn in FY2020, down 5% y-o-y from just under EGP 1.4 bn in 2019, the investment bank said in its earnings release (pdf). The slight dip reflected a deferred tax expense, as opposed to a tax gain in the comparative period.

Revenues for the year were up 12% y-o-y to EGP 5.45 bn from EGP 4.85 bn in 2019, with the topline surpassing a EGP 5 bn milestone as the group posted a strong performance from the buy-side, non-banking financial services (NBFIs), and capital markets. Revenue figures show “resilient top-line growth … amid [a] very challenging operating environment with the outbreak of the coronavirus and its subsequent impact on economies,” EFG said. It’s the third year running that the firm has grown its top line.

Looking ahead: “We’re optimistic about the group’s outlook, having already witnessed the positive impacts of recovering capital markets on our operations in the new year, which help us deliver on our commitment to maximizing value for all our stakeholders, be that in terms of returns, employee engagement, or community development,” Group CEO Karim Awad said (pdf).

YOUR HEALTH

A healthy sugar substitute might finally exist

A “healthy” sugar substitute might finally exist: Good news for people on a no-sugar diet as UK-based startup Supplant, formerly known as Cambridge Glycoscience, may be about to bring a “healthy” sugar substitute to the masses, TechCrunch reports. Armed with USD 24 mn in venture capital financing — including the USD 15 mn raised in series A funding last February — the startup is now beginning to commercialize its invention: a low-cost substance made of waste plant fibers that mimics both the taste and texture of real sugar.

Why the hunger for sugar substitutes? Climate change poses risks to the availability of sugar — a big consumer of water — due to the likelihood of increasing deforestation in some of the world's most threatened ecosystems such as Brazil, as well as warnings of growing water scarcity. And existing sugar substitutes have brought their own health issues: the use of corn syrup as a replacement to sugar has been linked to rising diabetes and obesity rates.

What gives it the edge? The new product, which received preliminary approvals from the European Medicines Agency, doesn’t only act as a sweetener but as a probiotic with health benefits such as increasing fiber in regular consumers. Unlike other food ingredient companies such as Israel’s DouxMatok or US’s MycoTechnology and Sensient which use “additives from fungus or tree roots or bark” to boost the sweetness of sugars, Supplant uses entirely different sources of sweetness, according to co-founder Tom Simmons. “Our pitch is we make sugars from fiber so you don’t need to use cane sugar,” he said.

What’s next? The company will use the funding to launch its product and test it in some restaurants and food products before rolling it out to the mass market.

The catch: Do you really want to shove yet another artificial food product down your gullet?

THE MACRO PICTURE

Passive investors aren’t checking for EMs right now

Emerging market bonds are suffering a crisis of visibility, leaving potential passive investors in the dark and intensifying outflow risk by concentrating investment in a small portion of available equities, according to the Financial Times. Despite the fact that asset managers have been unanimous in their praise and bullish outlook on EM equities, only 13% of EM sovereign and corporate bonds are included in major indices, meaning that the majority of EM equities remain off the radar for passive investors and exchange traded funds, a report by EM-focused research house Ashmore found.

Local currency corporate EM bonds are a particular blind spot, with only 2% of the estimated USD 12.5 tn in issuances in 2019 included in the ICE BofA Diversified Local EM Non-Sovereign Index. Local currency government bonds fared slightly better, with 11% inclusion on JPMorgan’s GBI EM Global Diversified index. Egypt could potentially be joining JPMorgan’s index soon along with Ukraine, India, Nigeria, and Serbia.

This funneling of investments is creating a double edged risk: A lack of diversification could leave EM investors with portfolios susceptible to sudden shifts, while a concentration of investments into a narrow segment of the market leaves those markets vulnerable to potential outflows knocking out their economy. (Remember the emerging markets zombie apocalypse of 2018? Or the rush of outflows from emerging markets at the outset of the pandemic last year?)

The (sort of) good news: Overall inclusion is up to 13% in 2020 from 9% in 2018, though that jump is mostly attributable to China’s inclusion in the major fixed income EM indices. And while the main indices are not entirely inclusive of their representation, they do cover more than 200 individual markets, resulting in a geographically spread out representation.

CALENDAR

March: Potential visit to Cairo by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

11-20 March (Thursday-Saturday): Photopia’s Cairo Photo Week 2021 will take place with this year’s theme being Depth OFF Field.

18 March (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

23 March (Tuesday): The second edition of the Egypt Retail Summit takes place at the Nile Ritz Carlton hotel.

23 March (Tuesday): The British-Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) virtual conference on sustainable manufacturing in Africa.

25-27 March (Thursday-Saturday): The Real Gate real estate exhibition, Egyptian International Exhibition Center, Cairo.

29-30 March (Monday-Tuesday): Arab Federation of Exchanges Annual Conference 2021.

31 March (Wednesday): Deadline to visit the moroor and get an RFID sticker affixed to your car’s windshield — or run afoul of the Traffic Police.

31 March (Wednesday): Income tax deadline for individuals. Real estate tax deadline.

1-3 April (Thursday-Saturday): HVAC-R Egypt Expo.

7 April (Wednesday): British-Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) webinar on digital banking and fintech.

8-10 April (Thursday-Saturday): The TriFactory’s Endurance Festival at Somabay.

13 April (Monday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

25 April (Sunday): Sinai Liberation Day.

29 April (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sinai Liberation Day (TBC),

29 April (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

1 May (Saturday): Labor Day (national holiday).

2 May (Sunday): Easter Sunday.

3 May (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

13-15 May (Thursday-Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

25-28 May (Tuesday-Friday): The World Economic Forum annual meeting, Singapore.

1 June (Tuesday): The IMF will conduct a second review of targets set under the USD 5.2 bn standby loan approved in June 2020 (proposed date).

7 June-9 June (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

17 June (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

24 June (Thursday): End of the 2020-2021 academic year (public schools).

26-29 June (Saturday-Tuesday): The Big 5 Construct Egypt, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 June (Wednesday): 30 June Revolution Day.

1 July: (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 30 June Revolution.

30 June- 15 July: National Book Fair.

1 July (Thursday): Large taxpayers that have not yet signed on on to the e-invoicing platform will suffer a host of penalties, including removal from large taxpayer classification, losing access to government services and business, and losing subsidies.

19 July (Monday): Arafat Day (national holiday).

20-23 July (Tuesday-Friday): Eid Al Adha (national holiday)

23 July (Friday): Revolution Day (national holiday).

5 August (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

9 August (Monday): Islamic New Year.

12 August (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Islamic New Year.

16 September (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

30 September-2 October (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Projects 2021 expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

7 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day.

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday.

21 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday.

28 October (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

13-17 December: United Nations Convention against Corruption, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

16 December (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

27 June – 3 July 2022 (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish below between the actual holiday and its observance.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2021 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of Commercial International Bank (tax ID: 204-891-949), the largest private-sector bank in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; and Act Financial (tax ID: 493-924-612), the leading activist investor in Egypt; and Abu Auf (tax ID: 584-628-846), the leading health foodmaker in Egypt and the region.