Monday, 3 January 2022

PM — How the metaverse will change your business.

TL;DR

🔎 WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TONIGHT

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. And just like some of you, the news appears to be bridging the New Year with the banking holiday this Thursday in observance of Coptic Christmas.

There are a few hours left for you to take our annual reader poll — and potentially join us for breakfast. Every year, we ask our readers to weigh in on what you expect for the year ahead in our Enterprise Reader Poll. Take a few minutes to give us your take on the outlook for your business and industry, whether you’re planning fresh investments and new hires, and how your business fared in the year past. We’ll share the results with the entire community next week to help shape your view of the year — and will invite eight of you to break bread with us. Another dozen of you who complete the poll will also get special Enterprise mugs to enjoy your morning beverage of choice.

The poll will close at midnight CLT tonight.

THE BIG STORY TODAY- Seven international companies were awarded exploration and production licenses for eight oil and gas concessions in the Mediterranean, the Western desert, and the Gulf of Suez, with a minimum investment value of c.USD 250 mn, the Oil Ministry said today. The licenses were awarded to Eni, BP, Apex International, Energean, United Energy, INA Naftaplin, and Enap Sipetrol.

^^We’ll have more on this story and others in tomorrow’s EnterpriseAM.

HAPPENING NOW-

OPEC is currently meeting to discuss who should be its next leader as Mohammad Barkindo of Nigeria prepares to wrap up his second and final term by mid-year, according to a letter seen by Reuters. Barkindo has been the cartel’s secretary-general since August 2016. Keep an eye on the OPEC secretariat Twitter page for an announcement once the meeting wraps.

OPEC+ is meeting tomorrow to decide whether to go ahead with plans to add another 400k barrels per day to the market in February.

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

  • Export revenues reached a record USD 31 bn in 2021, growing 24% y-o-y, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said.
  • Suez Canal revenues also hit their highest level on record last year, coming in at USD 6.3 bn, up 12.2% y-o-y, according to Suez Canal Authority boss Osama Rabie.
  • CI Capital’s leasing arm Corplease closed a four-tranche EGP 2.4 bn securitized bond issuance, with Misr Capital as the lead manager, coordinator, and financial advisor.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD-

Turkey’s inflation surged to its highest level in 19 years, registering 36% in December and marking a sharp m-o-m jump from 21.3% in November, as the country’s currency crisis continues to deepen, Bloomberg reports. The TRY has shed 44% of its value against the greenback, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisting on lowering interest rates as part of his unorthodox monetary policy.

US President Joe Biden promised Kiev that the US and its allies will “respond decisively” to Russian military aggression on Ukraine in a phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to a White House statement. Washington and Moscow are scheduled to sit down for security talks about Ukraine on 10, 12 and 13 January.

FOR TOMORROW-

PMI: Purchasing managers’ index figures for December for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar will be released tomorrow. Figures for the UAE will be released on Wednesday. Egypt’s non-oil business activity has remained in contraction territory for each of the past 12 months, as inflation and supply chain bottlenecks continued to weigh on private sector firms. Last month, output fell for the third consecutive month, as output price inflation rose at the second-fastest pace since mid-2018.

Purchasing managers surveyed in November’s report signaled that inflation will continue to suppress output and undermine improvement in activity over the coming year.

This is why next week’s inflation figure is crucial: Inflation figures for December will be released on Monday, 10 January. Annual urban inflation slowed for the second month running in November and dipped to its lowest since July as pressure on food prices continued to ease, but some analysts have flagged a potential acceleration in inflation figures. What’s to blame? Persistent global inflation, a potential scale-back of food subsidies, potential electricity price increases, and a rise in demand following higher employment rates.

🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Key news triggers to keep your eye on:

  • Foreign reserves: December’s foreign reserves figures will be announced before the week is out.
  • Interest rates: The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) will hold its first policy meeting of 2022 later this month. The CBE hasn’t yet published its meeting schedule for the year so we’re still waiting on an exact date.

The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations gets underway in Cameroon next Sunday, 9 January. The championship will run until Sunday, 6 February.

The World Youth Forum kicks off in Sharm El Sheikh next Monday, 10 January and runs until Thursday, 13 January. .

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- There’s another slight chance of rain tomorrow, with the mercury expected to reach 19°C during the day before falling to 9°C at night, according to our favorite weather app.

🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE

Despite all the talk on ESGs this year, oil and gas still outperformed their sustainability-oriented peers, according to the Financial Times. As of 29 December, iShares MSCI global energy producers ETF was up 37%, propelled by US energy giants Exxon and Chevron, who grew 48% and 40%, respectively in 2021. This compares to the Parnassus Core Equity fund — the largest US ESG fund — which lagged behind with 28% growth in 2021 while BlackRock’s iShares ESG fund ended the year up 30%.

Lower performance is to blame for dampening ESG sentiment: ESG darlings Denmark’s Orsted and Vestas both saw their performance fall in 2021 due to higher costs on manufacturers and lower wind speeds across Europe. Slowdowns like these caused a reversal for the ESG boom in 2020 and early 2021 as investors reallocated their financing to more lucrative ventures, such as oil and gas.

The crossover event the global economy definitely didn’t need: Labor shortages hit chipmakers. Chipmakers are vying for skilled labor as they work to staff new facilities being built to address the world’s semiconductor shortage, reports the Wall Street Journal. Although many of the processes used at chip fabrication plants are automated, they still require thousands of college-educated labor to operate them — especially engineers, technicians and researchers.

Can’t AI your way out of this one: The crunch has led producers like Intel to pledge upwards of USD 100 bn investments in chip factories, which would require staffing 70-90k workers in the US alone by 2025. In Taiwan, the average monthly shortfall in workers in the industry hit 27.7k in August last year. The semiconductor shortage, which began early in 2021 and is due to a surge in demand for electronics, has resulted in shortages in everything from cars to phones to gaming consoles.

The race to staff these facilities is growing all the more urgent as chip sales are expected to rise 9% in 2022 to reach a record USD 600 bn, according to a report by Euler Hermes (landing page) picked up by CNBC. Demand for hardware (such as TVs and laptops) may normalize from its peak in the past two years while semiconductor demand may take a hit from supply chain disruption in 2022, both leading to lower prices, the report said.

👌 ENTERPRISE RECOMMENDS

Check out Australian political comedy The PM’s Daughter + Have an immersive Xmas dinner at Maadi’s CSA

📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-

(all times CLT)

What happens when you combine a politician mom and an activist daughter? A new Australian TV show, The PM’s Daughter, explores politics, climate risk, and family dynamics — following high school student and climate activist Cat Parkes Perez after her mother Isabel is thrust into the role of Prime Minister of Australia, writes the Sydney Morning Herald. Cat wants to continue fighting the system, but it gets harder to do when her own mother is the system and every move is scrutinized by the public. Tensions rise even further between the two when Isabel signs an agreement with a huge polluting company that Cat has been protesting against. However, Cat soon realizes that there are bad guys on every side of the spectrum as her climate action organization decides to take a more threatening stance. You can watch The PM’s Daughter on OSN.

Manchester United will host Wolves at 7:30pm in the English Premier League’s only match today.

La Liga: Villarreal faces Levante at 8pm, before Osasuna plays against Athletic Bilbao and Cadiz against Seville, both at 10pm.

The January transfer window opened on Saturday and all eyes are on the transfer market to watch out for major movement of players in global football. So far, three transfers have been completed with Jonathon Ikone signing with Italy’s Fiorentina for EUR 15 mn, Ajax bringing back Brian Brobbey on loan, and Everton signing defender Vitaliy Mykolenko in a EUR 23.5 mn transaction. Meanwhile, there’s also a rumor that Mauro Icradi — who has a market value of EUR 28 mn — could join Juventus on loan.

🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-

(all times CLT)

The Community Services Association is hosting an “immersive” Christmas dinner on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The four-course meal will be served on a table with moving lights that interact with your plate and tell a story while you dine (check out a sneak peek here). Keep in mind that you’ll need to book three days in advance.

Egyptian music producer Aguizi is celebrating his birthday at Cairo Jazz Club in Agouza on Wednesday. The lineup also includes Omar Emara, Novo, and Bubblegum Kollectiv.

💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-

Learn to be a “backable” business founder: After multiple unsuccessful attempts to raise funds from investors, Suneel Gupta began to ask himself whether the problem was his own attitude. In his book, titled Backable, Gupta argues that even with a solid business plan, the key to success is having the ability to persuade others to take a chance on you. To make his point, he draws on the experiences of producers of Oscar-awarded films, Congress members, military leaders, culinary stars, venture capitalists, founders of unicorn-status startups, and executives at iconic companies like Lego, Method, and Pixar. The book aims to teach readers how to be persuasive and sell their ideas with skill. Using his methods, Gupta was able to convince his eight-year-old daughter to clean her room — definitely an admirable feat.

🌊 GO WITH THE FLOW

NBE ups stake in CIB

MARKET ROUNDUP-

The EGX30 fell 0.1% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 908 mn (29.8% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 0.4% YTD.

In the green: MM Group (+11.0%), Rameda (+2.5%) and Abu Qir Fertilizers (+2.2%).

In the red: Credit Agricole Egypt (-3.8%), Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals (-2.7%) and Aspire Capital (-2.4%).

MARKET NEWS-

NBE ups stake in CIB: The National Bank of Egypt (NBE), the largest state-owned bank, has increased its stake in leading private sector bank CIB to 9.13% from 8.27%, according to a bourse disclosure (pdf).

🚀 WHAT’S NEXT

enterprise

Welcome to the (very-near) future: How the metaverse will change business

We may have only started hearing of the “metaverse” a few months ago, but it’s a quickly evolving space that is already promising to change how we work, live and play. The metaverse is a blanket term that is used to refer to the integration of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) into our daily lives, with early adopters claiming that it will change some industries fundamentally — including retail, sales, marketing, training, education and health. This expectation poses the questions: Which industries will the metaverse change and how — and how are businesses positioned to benefit?

There are things that we all know are going to be revamped by the metaverse: Meetings are on track to be transformed with VR, with most platforms allowing users to integrate VR users with non-VR users on the same call. Meta’s Horizon Workplace, which can be used with Facebook Messenger, is already being used by early adopters, and Zoom has announced that it will integrate with Horizon’s Workrooms early next year. We already know that the metaverse is making inroads in fashion, where digital-only clothing is gaining traction and is expected to fuel a push towards a more immersive experience in the fashion world. This immersion is also affecting retail, allowing consumers to try on clothes or experiment with product placement in their home using AR before having them delivered in the physical world.

But then there’s real estate, interior design, and sales and marketing: This includes realtors giving house tours in VR / AR, and for builders and interior designers to design virtually and allow potential customers to see the finished product before it's even built. Sales and marketing executives, on the other hand, can have warm tête-à-têtes with their clients without traveling thousands of miles (did we mention: Business travel is dying). Extended reality is also facilitating on-the-job training in a safe, contained environment for everyone from customer service agents to factory workers.

Extended reality is already gaining traction in education. VR and immersive learning is facilitating new ways of learning and teaching in classrooms, as are AR and MR. This includes replacing good-old fashioned dissection in biology, using VR to have students live through historical events, using AR to view constellations and planets, allowing students to interact with native speakers for language learning, and taking students on field trips to otherwise inaccessible or expensive places. This is particularly relevant with current travel restrictions, which are pushing more people to sightsee from the comfort of their own homes (or classrooms). In Egypt, GEMS has already signaled that VR and AR will be part of their learning programs.

Manufacturing processes are likely to be upended entirely: Companies are increasingly looking to integrate extended reality technologies into prototyping, designing and testing products. Late last year, Boeing announced that its future factories would employ 3D engineering, connecting mechanics via Microsoft HoloLens headsets with robots to create a digital ecosystem in an entirely new production system.

This tech could also make changes in healthcare systems: VR is being used to help veterans and victims of violence suffering from PTSD through VR exposure therapy, a behavioral treatment for PTSD and anxiety, allowing patients to immerse themselves in traumatic situations in a safe environment. In healthcare, VR has huge potential in providing an easy way for doctors to do tests and make mistakes without harming anyone, as well as potentially doing remote surgery.

In our personal lives, there’s fitness: Covid may have normalized working out from your living room, but the metaverse promises to be a real game changer. In AR, your coach could be training you in real-time in your living room or home gym, while in VR, your avatar can join fitness classes from the comfort of your home.

Gaming and fitness applications also make it possible for physical therapists to tailor and deliver telerehabilitation to patients. In addition to ensuring that patients remain motivated and engaged in their treatment between sessions, using VR for rehabilitation can help make physical therapy accessible to populations living far from treatment centers.

VR and AR could become a fixture of law enforcement and the military. VR has already been adopted by the British military, helping to prepare soldiers for combat through vehicle and flight simulations, virtual bootcamp and medic training on the battlefield. Extended reality is also being adopted in law enforcement for training in some areas of the US, while in China, AR glasses are already being combined with AI and facial recognition software to help highway inspectors and airport authorities identify suspects.

How imminent is this? First of all, the technology needs to be made accessible, which will only happen once more tech players get in the game. That means evolving the hardware (the headsets, data gloves and glasses) used for VR and AR, as well as the space itself with software and useful applications, and most importantly, migrating a population of people who want to “hang out” or do businesses virtually. Both Meta and Microsoft have their own headsets / glasses, and Apple is rumored to be releasing its first AR/VR headset later next year. Is it coming soon to a workplace near you? Likely, yes, although it will take years of investment to reap the long-term benefits of the metaverse.

📆 CALENDAR

Early 2022: Results to be announced for the second round of the state’s gold and precious metals auction.

1Q2022: Launch of the Egyptian Commodities Exchange.

1Q2022: Swvl acquisition of Viapool expected to close.

1Q2022: Waste collection startup Bekia plans to expand to the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

January: Tenth of Ramadan dry port tender to be launched.

1-15 January (Saturday-Saturday): Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) Joint Committee.

4 January (Tuesday): OPEC+ ministerial meeting.

6 January (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Coptic Christmas.

7 January (Friday): Coptic Christmas.

9 January – 6 February (Sunday-Sunday): 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon.

10-13 January (Monday-Thursday): World Youth Forum, Sharm El Sheikh.

15 January (Saturday): Target date for the finalization of snackfood giant Edita’s acquisition of the Egyptian Belgian Company, owner of the Ole brand.

Second half of January: Egypt will host the Egyptian-Bahraini Joint Committee.

Second half of January: Regulations for installing EV charging stations will be published.

16 January (Sunday): SODIC shareholders will vote on the company’s new board of directors at an extraordinary general meeting.

17-19 January (Monday-Wednesday): World Future Energy Summit, Abu Dhabi.

20 January (Thursday): Kadmar Shipping’s new line transporting agricultural crops between Alexandria and Russia begins its operations.

23 January (Sunday): Deadline for Macro Pharma to IPO on the EGX.

25 January (Tuesday): 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

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

End of January: The Egyptian-Romanian business forum will take place with the aim of strengthening joint investment relations.

January-February 2022: Construction work on the Abu Qir metro upgrade will begin.

February: Hassan Allam Construction’s new construction firm established with Russia’s Titan-2 to handle construction work on the Dabaa nuclear power plant begins its operations.

February: Ghazl El Mahalla shares will begin trading on the EGX this month.

Mid-February: End of grace period to comply with new minimum wage for firms who sent in exemption requests.

11 February (Friday): Deadline for Anghami SPAC merger.

11-13 February (Friday-Sunday) FIBA Intercontinental Cup, Cairo.

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

15 February (Tuesday): The Industrial Development Authority’s deadline for receiving offers from companies for licenses to manufacture steel products.

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

End of February: Lebanon to receive gas from Egypt via a pipeline crossing Jordan and Syria.

1H2022: Target date for IDH to close its acquisition of 50% of Islamabad Diagnostic Center.

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

1H2022: e-Finance’s digital healthcare service platform, eHealth, will launch its services.

1H2022: The government will respond to private companies’ bids to build desalination plants.

March: Rollout of the government financial management information system (GFMIS), a suite of electronic tools to automate the government’s financial management processes (pdf) that will replace the existing “closed” financial management system.

March: 4Q2021 earnings season.

March: Deadline for the World Health Organization’s intergovernmental negotiating body to meet to discuss binding treaty on future pandemic cooperation.

March: World Cup playoffs.

March: Target date for Saudi tech firm Brmaja to IPO on the EGX.

31 March (Thursday): Deadline for submitting tax returns for individual taxpayers.

31 March (Thursday): Supply Ministry expected to take final decision on bread subsidies by this date.

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

3 April (Sunday): Bidding begins on the Industrial Development Authority’s license to manufacture tobacco products.

4 April (Monday): CDC Group will formally change its name to British International Investment.

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

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

25 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

25 April (Monday): Sinai Liberation Day.

28 April (Thursday): National Holiday in observance of Sham El Nessim.

30 April (Saturday): Deadline for submitting corporate tax returns for companies whose financial year ends 31 December.

Late April – 15 May: 1Q2022 earnings season

May: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

1 May (Sunday): Labor Day.

5 May (Thursday): National Holiday in observance of Labor Day.

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

15-18 June: St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), St. Petersburg.

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

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

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

End of 2Q2022: The Financial Regulatory Authority’s new Ins. Act should be approved.

End of 1H2022: Emirati industrial company M Glory Holding and the Military Production Ministry will begin the mass production of dual fuel pickup trucks that can run on natural gas.

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

July: A law governing ins. for seasonal contractors will come into effect.

8 July (Friday): Arafat Day.

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

30 July (Saturday): Islamic New Year.

Late July – 14 August: 2Q2022 earnings season.

September: Egypt will display its first naval exhibition with the title Naval Power.

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

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

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

Late October – 14 November: 3Q2022 earnings season.

End of 2022: e-Aswaaq’s tourism platform will complete the roll out of its ticketing and online booking portal across 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 above 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. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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