Monday, 8 November 2021

PM — Fresh funding pledges for developing countries as the second week of COP26 kicks off.



Could we be getting more climate funding? It seems so, ladies and gentlemen, with developed nations pledging at COP26 more climate funding for developing countries and emerging markets. In local news, the Transport Ministry’s TransMEA conference and agreements signed there led coverage so far.


#1- CGT doesn’t have as many enemies in parliament as previously thought: The House Planning and Budgeting Committee has yet to receive any formal proposals to amend the law governing the capital gains tax, meaning the tithe is still on track to come into effect on 1 January, 2022, unnamed committee sources tell Al Borsa. For the House of Representatives to even discuss a proposed legislative amendment, the draft amendment must have the backing of at least one tenth of the House (ie. 66 representatives). Only 20 MPs had previously signaled their intention to draft a legislative amendment to postpone implementing the tax.

FinMin meeting with MPs on the tax hasn’t happened yet: Parliament had been scheduled to discuss the ramifications of introducing the 10% tithe on gains from EGX transactions with the Finance Ministry, GAFI, the EGX, and the Financial Regulatory Authority last month, but the meeting was postponed as Finance Minister Mohamed Maait was out of town, FinMin spokesperson Ragab Mahrous told Enterprise. The planned discussion comes as the reintroduction of the tax has been met with resistance from parliament, alongside fund managers and figures in the securities industry.

The Senate is still looking into the tax and is set to discuss the matter again within a week, according to the newspaper. The upper house of parliament had met with the Finance Ministry last month to hear its point of view on the matter, Mahrous confirmed to us.

#2- The National Authority for Tunnels signed a EUR 876 mn contract with Alstom for upgrades to Cairo Metro Line 1, the company announced in a statement today. Alstom will provide 55 new subway trains to Cairo’s oldest underground line, as well as supply spare parts and maintenance under the 8-year contract, which is financed by the French government. The contract is among 13 signed by the Transport Ministry on the second day of the TransMEA transport conference. We break down the other agreements and what they mean for our transportation infrastructure in this week’s Hardhat.

HAPPENING NOW- Shoukry in DC for high-level talks: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is in Washington, DC today for the two-day US-Egypt Strategic Dialogue, with talks scheduled with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and the US State Department said in separate statements. The meetings, which will also be attended by senior officials from USAID and the Department of Defense, will cover “international, regional, human rights and bilateral cooperation on economic, judicial, security, educational and cultural issues,” the State Department said.

Here’s what we expect from the meeting: GERD, US military assistance, Israel-Palestine and the coup in Sudan will likely all be at the top of the priority list. Add to that the situation in Libya ahead of the talks in Paris this week — and US-approved plans to ship Egyptian gas to Lebanon — and there’s plenty to keep the two sides busy. More here.

In other diplomacy news, high-ranking members of the Egyptian Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) met for talks yesterday in Sharm El Sheikh, the IDF said on Twitter. The two sides agreed to amend an agreement covering the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza to allow for an increased Egyptian military presence in the area, according to Israeli media reports.

** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:

  • EGX-listed Ibnsina Pharma’s investment arm AIM is investing EGP 440 mn to establish a logistics service provider, Ramp Logistics.
  • Lighthouse Education reaches EGP 560 mn first close: State-backed education investment platform Lighthouse Education has reached a first close of EGP 560 mn, beating its initial fundraising target, thanks to Saudi’s Al Rajhi Investment Company committing EGP 75 mn.
  • Developers could hike real estate prices by 10-15% due to the rising cost of raw materials, including cement and iron, which saw an 80% price hike since the beginning of the year.


European gas spikes once again as Putin’s supply promises fall through: European and UK benchmark gas futures rose by as much as 9.7% this morning, as it became clear that promises of increased supply from Russia would not materialize. Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously directed state-owned Gazprom to direct gas to European storage sites from today. But the gas firm said it had no extra capacity, while the fuel was flowing in the opposite direction, from Germany to Poland, early this morning, Bloomberg reports.

The news dashed hopes of an imminent easing of Europe’s gas crisis, which has seen prices more than triple this year amid global fuel shortages. That said, Goldman Sachs is still holding out for an increase in Russian supply to Europe sometime later this week, according to Bloomberg.

Egypt to the rescue? Oil Minister Tarek El Molla held talks with EU officials about the prospect of exporting Egyptian natural gas to Europe as part of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum on the sidelines of COP26. Importing Egyptian gas could help Europe diversify its supply lines, strengthening its resilience to shortages and Russian political maneuvers.


Inflation: Inflation figures for October will be released this Wednesday, 10 November.

The two-day Africa Fintech summit kicks off next Tuesday, 16 November. The summit looks at innovation in the fintech ecosystem, venture capital and other forms of investing, and will also discuss the rise of healthtech.

Calling all Egyptian entrepreneurs aged 23-35: You have a little over two weeks to apply for the acceleration exchange program Meet Silicon Valley for a chance to travel to California for a 10-day program to meet with tech executives and investors. The program is being implemented by Injaz Egypt and TechWadi with the support of the US Embassy in Egypt, and the deadline for applications is 23 November.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- It’s going to be another unseasonably warm day, with a daytime high of 31°C and a nighttime low of 19°C, our favorite weather app tells us.


The second week of COP26 is kicking off with fresh funding pledges — but no tangible progress on containing warming: Global leaders are still working on ironing out an agreement that will help keep annual global warming at the 1.5°C threshold, with executives at the COP26 summit saying they are “optimistic” that the summit will give business an important role in achieving that target, Reuters reports. The major point of focus at the summit today is providing funding for both developing and developed nations to address climate change. Developing countries are angling for compensation for the effect of climate change from developed countries’ historic emissions, while developed countries are in need of massive investments to slash emissions and wean themselves off fossil fuels.

Getting the ball rolling: The UK government, which announced it is rolling out a GBP 290 mn funding package to “support global efforts to tackle the impacts of climate change.” The bulk of the package is earmarked for helping Asia-Pacific countries to invest in planning towards climate action and improve conservation efforts. The funding will also go towards the Adaptation Fund, “which backs developing countries to lead action,” as well as humanitarian assistance for climate-related disasters.

EMs are getting another EUR 500 mn climate-focused fund: Allianz Global Investors and the European Investment Bank are looking to raise EUR 500 mn for a new fund that will invest in climate mitigation in emerging markets, named the Emerging Market Climate Action Fund (EMCAF), Reuters reports. The fund, which was announced at the COP26 summit, is set to have backing from Germany and Luxembourg’s governments, alongside the Nordic Investment Fund, and Swedish ins. provider Folksam.

What’s the mandate? EMCAF is specifically looking at financing solar and wind energy projects, as well as “adapting infrastructure to make it more resilient” in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, according to the newswire. It remains unclear whether Egypt could be among the target markets for the fund, but private equity giant Blackrock had pointed to Egypt as one of the “attractive” markets it will target through its own climate-focused EM infrastructure fund, which it announced last week.

How would Adam Smith feel about the green transition? A group of economists are publishing a 60-page book of essays reassessing the theories put forward in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations in light of climate change, Bloomberg reports. The authors argue that, in light of the challenges posed by a warming planet, Smith would likely be in favor of economic curbs to support the low-carbon transition — rather than market principles traditionally associated with the father of economics. The release of the book highlights the shift in responsibility for finding a solution from climate scientists to economists and regulators, who must take a holistic view of growth and development in light of the environmental threats the planet is facing. The book is to be presented in a three part lecture series starting today at the University of Glasgow, of which Smith was a student.

For immediate hire, no degree required: The labor shortage in the US is giving formerly overlooked applicants a long overdue break, as companies drop prerequisites, background checks and even educational degree requirements, in order to get more manpower on board, the Wall Street Journal reports. Skill-based hiring is now taking precedence over credentials, with beauty product retailer The Body Shop scrapping degree requirements, background checks and drug tests, and healthcare company CVS Health Inc. dropping high-school diploma requirements for entry-level roles. Since the covid-19 pandemic began, the US labor force has diminished by the mns, but these changes could open up around 1.4 mn jobs to people without college degrees in the next five years if the current trend continues, analysts say.

Meanwhile in Rich Kid Land: Millennial m’naires are going DIY on wealth management. Wealthy young investors are eschewing financial advisors in favor of managing their own mns, the Wall Street Journal reports. Around 70% of younger households with a net worth of over USD 500k had a strongly or mostly self-directed investment style in 2019, compared with 57% in 2010, as the rise of simple, low-cost digital investment platforms, such as Robinhood, threatens to make traditional portfolio managers obsolete. The shift has big institutional investors scrambling to get down with the kids as they seek to renew their customer base with young blood. Young m’naires are also happier to make riskier bets for bigger potential returns, with many young investors happy to pour their wealth into crypto and other riskier assets traditionally unfavored by portfolio managers.



(all times CLT)

Google Earth’s (villain-ish) origin story: German Netflix miniseries The Bn USD Code fictionalizes the story of two Berlin startup founders who attempt to prove that Google stole their algorithm to create Google Earth. The series traces their beginnings in Berlin as a team of former hackers and art mavericks trying to navigate the startup world with their new bn-USD idea to take people anywhere around the world through a computer program called Terravision. When they later brought their idea to Silicon Valley, it was allegedly leaked to Google and eventually repackaged and released as “Google Earth” in 2005. While taking us through the rise and fall of a startup in the ‘90s, the story also portrays the impact of the events on the two startup founders’ friendship over the years. The two drift apart only to patch things up in 2014 to sue Google in a lawsuit that, disappointingly, leaves them with no financial reward or recognition.

There are no matches today… or tomorrow… or the day after. Welcome to the last international break of the year.


(all times CLT)

Climate-change content: Director and choreographer Zita Thury’s Reset blends contemporary dance, prose and film to tell the story of a coming climate apocalypse. Held at the Hungarian Liszt Institute Cairo at 8pm, the 50-minute interactive show will call on audience members to participate by voting through a smartphone app to decide the fate of its characters.

Clemenza invites you to Break a Leg to his funk and disco sounds at The Tap Maadi, tonight from 9pm. Over at The Tap West in Sheikh Zayed, Egyptian comedians take to the stage for Komedy Koshk, also from 9pm.

Special screening of Omar Samra + Omar Nour’s Atlantic rowing attempt: Beyond the Raging Sea, the 2019 documentary about two Egyptian athletes who attempted to row across the Atlantic to raise awareness of the plight of refugees, has finally been released in Egyptian cinemas and is getting a special screening at Zamalek Cinema tomorrow. One half of the team is triathlete Omar Nour, while the other is newly-wed Omar Samra, the first Egyptian to climb Mount Everest. (It’s your other option if you’re not keen on tonight’s special screening of the Lady Di biopic we recommended yesterday.)


Whatever your thoughts on Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, few can argue with the stated aim of his new book Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters. Pinker wants to bring rational thinking back to the center of public consciousness amid a “pandemic of poppycock.” His book is half-primer on the tools of rational thought developed over centuries, half-diatribe on the failure to think straight in the modern era.

The celebrity scientist’s latest love-letter to Enlightenment values comes after a decade spent defending a central tenet of liberal democracy: That under the system, things are getting better. That thesis — explored in 2011’s The Better Angels of Our Nature and 2016’s Enlightenment Now — earned Pinker fans including Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, and Mark Zuckerberg, but also pitted him at the center of the culture wars. Gates was spotted with an advance copy of Pinker’s new tome back in the spring.

For the verbal rational thinkers among you, Pinker has adapted the book into a 12-part radio series, Think With Pinker, for the BBC. And for more on the Harvard celebrity scientist’s controversial place in the history of thought, the Guardian has a good long read.


EARNINGS WATCH- Logistics company Egytrans has reported a bottomline of EGP 10.8 mn in 9M2021, down 10% y-o-y, according to its earnings statement (pdf). Revenues inched up 34% y-o-y to EGP 200.6 mn during the first nine months of the year.

Alexandria Mineral Oils Company (AMOC) reversed a net loss position in the first quarter of FY2021-2022, it said in a regulatory filing (pdf). Net income after tax came in at EGP 195 mn, up from a net loss of EGP 53 mn in the first quarter of FY2020-2021. The improvement was owed to an increase in mazut exports.

The EGX30 fell 0.5% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 674.3 mn (55.3% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is up 6.0% YTD.

In the green: Rameda (+4.7%), Egyptian Resorts Company (+3.8%) and Ibnsina Pharma (+3.4%).

In the red: AMOC (-6.4%), GB Auto (-2.2%) and EFG Hermes (-1.8%).


Can Wikipedia ever really be a “neutral” source? Wikipedia’s avowed principles of expression and neutrality are once again coming under fire, amid the latest escalation of a high-profile “war of words” between self-appointed Wikipedia editors — this time with a focus on China and Hong Kong.

Kick-starting it all? Recent verbal clashes between pro-democracy and pro-Beijing editors, centering around tensions between Hong Kong and mainland China — and the quashed protests of 2019 and 2020 in particular, the BBC reports. In September, Wikipedia’s governing body banned seven pro-Beijing editors from making changes on the platform, after they were accused of intimidating pro-democracy editors. But pro-Beijing voices surveyed by the BBC say such steps risk skewing the narrative around China and Hong Kong in favor of western viewpoints, and promoting online bias.

The platform’s defenders maintain it strives to offer balance: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales emphasized that the platform could be a source of quality information on China — provided the government allows access, the BBC notes. The role of the online encyclopaedia is to present multiple viewpoints, along with “an explanation of these viewpoints in a fair way,” he added.

This isn’t the first time Wikipedia has been a battleground for competing perspectives, including on Nazi history: Soviet-born Ksenia Coffman — who has been an active Wikipedia editor since 2015 — was compelled to revise articles she saw as glorifying the military exploits of Nazi officers in the Second World War, a recent Wired article reports. Coffman has amassed an impressive 97k edits, created 3.2k pages, and ranks number 734 out of 121,000 “elite” Wikipedia editors. And while Coffman believes she’s performing an essential service, fellow editors with differing views on how to characterize military prowess have accused her of vandalizing the articles she edits. Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 birthed a Wikipedia struggle for narrative control, with the revision history for “Crimea” being edited over 500 times in March 2014 alone, before finally being locked, ABC News reported at the time.

… And erm, (The) Eagles: An ongoing conflict pits purists — who insist that the ‘70s rock group “Eagles” (yes, they of Hotel California fame) should never be referred to colloquially as “The Eagles” — against others who, you know, care about grammar and stuff. This squabble makes it onto a 2011 list of Wikipedia’s most ridiculous edit battles, along with how to spell the “Caesar” in Caesar salad, and whether we can say polar bear cubs are cute.

The issue is, anyone can edit a Wikipedia article: Wikipedia’s basic model — based on a method of crowdsourcing knowledge — hasn’t really changed in the 20 years it’s been around. Early criticism of the platform accused it of “diminishing the importance of expertise and ceding truth itself to popular opinion,” a recent Slate article notes.

But Wikipedia also has measures in place to try to avoid bias: Some Wikipedia pages about historical events deemed particularly emotive or controversial (at least, to English speakers), like entries for 9/11 or the war in Afghanistan, have been semi-protected. This means they can only be edited by users with a registered account, which is at least four days old and has made at least ten Wikipedia edits.

A large, dedicated editorial community is one of them: The global team of volunteers reviewing Wikipedia posts and edits stood at around 80k in 2014, according to ABC. Anyone attempting to add false information to the Wikipedia page for the covid-19 vaccine would likely see it quickly removed by one of 400 dedicated page watchers, who have volunteered to monitor changes.

Along with verifiable sources: One of Wikipedia’s biggest strengths — which its community of editors helps to reinforce — is that it focuses on verifiability, rather than striving for so-called truth, which is likely to vary depending on perspective.

But the question of access to information is also deeply linked to language: On Wikipedia alone, there are huge disparities in the volume of online content available in different language editions, according to the Guardian. Out of 288 official language editions, English is by far the largest in terms of users — followed by German, then French, it adds. Some 74% of the concepts written about on Wikipedia had articles in only one language, while 95% of concepts were written about in fewer than six languages. At the time, English contained only 51% of the articles written in German, the Guardian reported.

And there’s a striking difference between how widely used certain languages are, compared to the percentage of the population that speaks them, as we can see in this nifty infographic from Visual Capitalist. 60.4% of the world’s top 10 mn websites are in English, while only 16.2% of the world population speaks the language. Chinese is used on only 1.4% of the top 10 mn websites, though 14.3% of the world population speaks it, and though China has the highest number of internet users. Only 1.1% of the top 10 mn websites use Arabic, though it’s the sixth-most spoken language in the world, with 3.5% of the global population speaking it.


November: The French-Egyptian Business Forum is set to take place in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

November: Egypt will host another round of talks to reach a potential Egyptian-Eurasian trade agreement, which can significantly contribute to increasing the volume of Egyptian exports to the Russia-led bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

31 October – 12 November (Sunday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

7-10 November (Sunday-Wednesday): Cairo ICT 2021, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo.

7-10 November (Sunday-Wednesday): TransMea 2021, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo.

8 November (Monday): Egypt CSR Forum, International Citystars, Cairo.

8-9 (Monday-Tuesday): US-Egypt Strategic Dialogue kicks off in Washington, DC.

11 November (Thursday): Deadline for Anghami SPAC merger.

15 November (Monday): Unvaccinated public sector workers won’t be allowed into their workplaces.

15-21 November (Monday-Sunday): Intra-African Trade Fair 2021, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

16-17 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Africa fintech summit, Cairo.

18-19 November (Thursday-Friday): British royal family members Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visit Cairo.

25 November (Thursday): Rameda Pharma’s annual general meeting (pdf), at which it will decide on the sale of a 5% stake in the company from an individual shareholder to an unnamed foreign institutional investor.

25-27 November (Thursday-Saturday): RiseUp Summit, Cairo, Egypt.

26 November-5 December (Friday-Sunday): The 43rd Cairo International Film Festival.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Centre.

30 November (Tuesday): Launch of open call by GIZ and KfW for green project proposals in Egypt as part of their Investing for Employment facility (pdf).

1 December (Wednesday): Unvaccinated members of the public will be banned from government buildings from this date; unvaccinated students will be prevented from accessing university campuses.

1 December (Wednesday): Government departments will begin moving to offices in the new capital.

7-8 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): North Africa Trade Finance Summit.

8-10 December (Wednesday-Thursday): Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research (GFHS), Cairo, Egypt.

12-14 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Food Africa Cairo trade exhibition, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

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

14-19 December (Tuesday-Sunday): The Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater.

14-15 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

15 December (Wednesday): Deadline for joint stock companies and investment companies in Cairo to join e-invoicing platform.

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

1Q2022: Launch of the Egyptian Commodities Exchange.

7 January 2022 (Friday): Coptic Christmas.

27 January 2022 (Tuesday): National holiday in observance of 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

19 February 2022 (Saturday): Public universities begin the second term of the 2021-2022 academic year.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

2 April 2022 (Saturday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

22-24 April 2022 (Friday-Sunday): World Bank-IMF spring meeting, Washington D.C.

24 April 2022 (Sunday): Coptic Easter Sunday (holiday for Coptic Christians).

25 April 2022 (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

25 April 2022 (Monday): Sinai Liberation Day.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

2 May 2022 (Monday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

16 June 2022 (Thursday): End of 2021-2022 academic year for public schools.

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

30 June 2022 (Thursday): June 30 Revolution Day, national holiday.

2H2022: IEF-IGU Ministerial Gas Forum, Egypt. Date + location TBA.

8 July (Friday): Arafat Day.

9-13 July (Saturday-Wednesday): Eid Al Adha, national holiday.

30 July (Saturday): Islamic New Year.

6 October (Thursday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

8 October (Saturday): Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.

18-20 October 2022 (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

**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.

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