Sunday, 15 January 2023

PM — Unlimited time off backfires



Good afternoon, wonderful people. We have a (so-far) slow start to the week, but we’re expecting the pace to pick up significantly as everyone shakes off the weekend grogginess.


Eni strikes gas in EastMed: Italy’s Eni has made a new gas discovery in its Nargis-1 offshore exploration well in the Eastern Mediterranean, Reuters reports. The well is in the Nargis concession area, in which Eni and Chevron each have a 45% stake, with Chevron acting as the concession’s main operator.


There isn’t one single story driving the conversation in the global business press this afternoon, but a major plane crash in Nepal is making the rounds. A jet operated by Nepal-based Yeti Airlines carrying 72 people crashed in Nepal today, with at least 68 found dead so far. The story is getting front-page play on Bloomberg, Reuters, and CNBC.

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

  • Foreign investors are starting to come back into the market: Hundreds of mns of USD have changed hands in the interbank market since Wednesday morning, when the central bank allowed the EGP to weaken past 32.00 / USD for the first time ever.
  • The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) has added five state- and military-owned companies to its pre-IPO fund as the government gears up to restart its privatization program.
  • All eyes on Capricorn next month: London-listed Capricorn Energy plans to hold a vote on its merger with Israel’s NewMed on Wednesday 1 February, the same day that shareholders will vote on a motion to overthrow the board called by activist investor Palliser Capital.


*** It’s Inside Industry day — your weekly briefing of all things industrial in Egypt. Inside Industry focuses each Sunday on what it takes to turn Egypt into a manufacturing and export powerhouse, ranging from initial investment and planning to product distribution, through to land allocation to industrial processes, supply chain management, labor, automation and technology, inputs and exports, regulation and policy.

In today’s issue: After a difficult 2022 for manufacturers — with headwinds including inflation and raw material shortages — we speak to industry insiders about their outlook for the year ahead.


Tourism Minister Ahmed Issa is making an appearance at AmCham’s monthly luncheon tomorrow, where he will speak on the government’s strategy to develop Egypt’s tourism industry. The event will be held at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza Hotel, Plaza Ballroom, from 1:30pm.

It’s Davos time: The great and the good of global finance, business, politics and media will converge on the Swiss town this week to chew over the biggest challenges facing the planet. With “Cooperation in a Fragmented World” the chosen theme for this year’s event, expect discussions to be dominated by the war in Ukraine, deglobalization, and food and energy security.

Representing Egypt at this year’s event are Planning Minister Hala El Said and International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat, who will take part in a number of panel discussions over the five days.


The Cairo International Book Fair kicks off next Tuesday, 24 January and opens up to the public on Wednesday, 25 January at the Egypt International Exhibition Center. The fair will run through to Monday, 6 February.

CORRECTION- An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the Cairo International Book Fair begins on Tuesday, 17 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 a 40% chance of showers tomorrow in Cairo, with a daytime high of 18°C and nighttime low of 9°C, our favorite weather app tells us.



At face value, unlimited paid time off (UPTO) seems like an attractive enticement for employees, but in practice these policies may be more of a hindrance. Microsoft is the latest in a growing list of companies to input UPTO policies in order to attract new talent, joining the ranks of Adobe, Netflix and Goldman Sachs, reports Bloomberg. And employees seem keen on the move, with UPTO policy mentions up 75% from pre-pandemic levels on company review websites.

The reality? While limitless holiday time may initially thrill those looking for work-life balance, encourage a sense of trust and value, and boost morale, research suggests that UPTO policies ultimately lead to employees taking less holiday for fear of overstepping — a perception heightened in firms with cultures prizing long hours or competitiveness. UPTO reductions of administrative tasks may appeal to firms but backfire on burned out employees who are left to shoulder a heavier workload when policies are abused. Data collected by the BBC reveals that employees prefer work from home flexibility and holiday guidance.

Dramatized history: Retelling reality, with a whole lot of fiction: Dramas depicting real life events have been sitting front and center of the entertainment industry recently with the rise and popularity of the likes of The Crown, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, and Elvis. It’s all in good fun until the creators take creative liberties that are far from the truth, leaving viewers to make their own distinctions, the New York Times writes. Dramatizing events is at the core of the drama genre, but when the story is depicting real people and affecting the public perception of them this dramatization quickly becomes fabrication. Some have moved forward with legal action against studios that depicted them as caricatures of themselves. Even though such shows have a disclaimer telling viewers that some of the events may have been embellished to add drama, it’s not enough to protect the people whose lives have become tools of entertainment from the changing public opinion in response to the events they saw on their screens, making dramas based on real life events a magnet for defamation cases. Our take: It’s best to take a critical approach to everything you watch — and Google really is your best friend.



(all times CLT)

Emsek Nafsak, a show from content creation company Peace Cake, is out with one of its biggest episodes to date: In its latest episode released yesterday, Emsek Nafsak brought together 13 of Egypt’s biggest names in standup comedy, and put them in teams to try and make the opposing team laugh. The premise of Emsek Nafsak is that each “competitor” tries to get the other side to laugh, and those who laugh get docked points. The comedians included Peace Cake’s original content creators, Yahia Elsady, Ahmed Safi, Hazem Ragheb, Marwan Imam, and Ahmed Essam — who appear across Peace Cake’s shows such as Romanseya Manseya, Eli Faker Faker, Emsek Nafsak, and Ghaneely Shokran. The episode also brought in comedians such as Mohamed Moula, Mohamed Helmy, Waleed Moghazy, Mohamed Ashraf, Reem Nabil, Mostafa Abbas, Bernadette, and Pola Samwel.

In the first round of the Handball World Cup: Egypt will face Morocco in its second match tonight at 7pm. The Egyptian national team leads the group, ahead of the US, on goal difference, after Egypt beat Croatia and the US trumped Morocco. The top three teams from each group will qualify directly to the next round.

Today in the Premier League:

Chelsea v Crystal Palace (4pm)

Newcastle v Fulham (4pm)

Tottenham v Arsenal (6:30pm)

More than 150 Enterprise readers are competing for the Fantasy Premier League prizes — are you one of them? If you haven’t joined yet, click here to register or enter this code: 8o4sut.

In Supercopa de España: Real Madrid will compete against Barcelona at 9pm at King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The two teams have reached the final round after eliminating Valencia and Real Betis with penalties.

In LaLiga: Almeria will play against Atletico Madrid tonight at 5:15pm.


Eleden Co & Partners is here to give us slightly healthier winter comfort food options: Available for online orders, Eleden specializes in making vegan, no-gluten free, and zero-sugar desserts that taste as amazing as the original sweets we crave — meaning we can still indulge and satisfy our sweet tooth while being a notch healthier. Eleden offers a wide range of cakes, cupcakes, and truffle bites in a variety of flavors and toppings. Although everything we tried (and everything we have yet to give a test run) seems to be delicious, we were especially impressed with the Christmas Star Pull Apart Bread, which was first offered during the holiday season, as well as the Gingerbread cake.

(all times CLT)

My Favorite Things 7 opens its doors tonight at Mashrabia Gallery of Contemporary Art at 6pm. The annual all-girls exhibition, which first began in 2016, showcases the work of three women artists, and looks to promote emerging artists.

ROOM Art Space & Cafe New Cairo is hosting the Irtigalia by Ramsi Lehner show tonight at 9pm, which is an unscripted comedy theater performance.

Bass virtuoso Samer George and his quartet will be performing tonight at the Cairo Jazz Club in Agouza at 9pm, setting the jazz tones for vocalist Monica Roshdy.


Graphic novel Shubeik Lubeik by Egyptian artist and author Deena Mohamed creates a world with a wishing marketplace: The comic novel addresses issues such as gender bias, mental health, and many other modern-day world struggles. The novel’s plot suggests the idea that wishes can be sold, and the higher the price, the more powerful the wish. The brilliance of Deena’s work was her ability to highlight serious problems through her three-part novel, garnering not only local attention but international as well. The trilogy was first published in Arabic between 2018 and 2021, and was translated into English this month.



QNB Alahli’s bottom line rose 35.7% to EGP 10.4 bn in FY2022, the bank said in its financial statements (pdf). Net interest income rose 36.9% y-o-y to 44 bn in FY2022 from EGP 32.13 bn in FY2021.


The EGX30 rose 0.1% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.75 bn (4.2% above the 90-day average). Local investors were net sellers. The index is up 6.6% YTD.

In the green: Juhayna (+7.3%), Elsewedy Electric (+5.3%) and Alexandria Containers and Cargo Handling (+3.4%).

In the red: Talaat Moustafa Group (-2.3%), EFG Hermes (-1.9%) and AMOC (-1.8%).


Could 2023 be a golden year for local industry? After a particularly challenging year for businesses who were up against FX shortages, rising raw material prices and record high inflation, some local players are optimistic that 2023 will be more forgiving to the industrial sector in Egypt. At the center of this view sits a set of government policies designed to incentivize manufacturing in key sectors and mitigate some of the logistical bottlenecks that have cropped up in previous years. While there’s much more to be done — especially with regards to financing — insiders we spoke to are finding that these policies are a step in the right direction.

Government-led initiatives are driving the positive outlook: The government last year identified nine priority sectors — which include building materials, chemical industries, pharmaceuticals and textiles — that will be getting a hand from its EGP 200 bn import substitution program. These nine industries alone are responsible for some 140 products and accounted for 23% of our import bill in 2019 (some USD 17 bn). Other policy programs like granting more land to manufacturers under a usufruct system and various other incentives are also in the pipeline.

Getting rid of L/Cs was one of the most important steps: The removal of the requirement at the end of last year for businesses to use letters of credit (L/Cs) to finance imports has been a huge source of optimism for insiders we’ve spoken to. The recent FX shortage made it difficult for importers to access L/Cs and left them unable to bring goods and raw materials into the country, resulting in shortages of industrial and consumer goods.

And there are several other measures industrial players are hoping for to make their lives easier still: Allowing businesses to access imports, reopening shuttered factories, and helping to tap new markets for Egyptian exports are all crucial for getting the ball rolling in the upcoming year, sources we spoke to told us. What insiders are hoping for this year are more incentives and more financing options.

Addressing productive capacity: Finding a solution to the problem of declining productive capacity at manufacturing facilities should be one of our top priorities, Chairman of the Federation of Egyptian Industries’ (FEI) engineering industries division Mohamed El Mohandes told us. At the heart of the productive capacity crisis is the shortage of raw materials, and resolving these shortages would help unlock industries’ potential, El Mohandes said.

High borrowing costs are a major problem: One of the most significant hurdles industrial players are still plagued with is the high cost of capital, economist and Arab Alloys CEO Medhat Nafie told us. Amidst a high interest rate environment, new solutions for financing industrial facilities will become necessary over the coming year if we seek to really build out a strong industrial sector and retain local investors, Nafie explained.

And there might be some steps we could take: Allowing one-year extensions on golden licenses, creating a special industrial fund, and offering tax cuts to factories that utilize more local components than imported ones could be measures that help give the sector a boost this year, Nafie told us. Re-drafting legislation and reducing fees is another key area to address tin the new year, Bahaa El Adly, the head of the FEI’s electrical appliances division told us,

The Egyptian Industry Strategy: Manufacturers are eagerly waiting for the chance to give input on the Egyptian Industry Strategy unveiled last September, head of the FEI’s customs and tax committee Mohamed El Bahy tells us. Though no draft of the strategy has been made available, some are anticipating that it will become another positive measure from the government’s arsenal of support mechanisms for industrial production, El Bahy said.

The most important part is making sure that there are no surprises: Factories need to start running at full capacity and industrial support must be carefully studied before being implemented to avoid triggering any market shocks, El Bahy said.

And more incentives for local manufacturing are on their way: The government is soon expected to announce major incentives that could include industrial land offerings and other measures targeting sectors that utilize local components in their manufacturing processes, a source at the Trade Ministry told us.

Your top industrial development stories for the week:

  • Upping fiberglass production: China’s Jushi has started operations at its new USD 320 mn fiberglass production line, raising the capacity of its factory in the TEDA trade zone to 250k tons from 50k tons.
  • An industrial park in New 6 October? Elsewedy Electric is in talks with the government to build a EGP 20 bn new industrial zone in New 6 October City.
  • More relief for importers: Goods worth a combined USD 645 mn — including production inputs — were released from ports last week.



January: Fuel pricing committee meets to decide quarterly fuel prices.

January: Infinity + Africa Finance Corporation to close acquisition of Lekela Power.

January: Global Auto to restart BMW assembly in Egypt.

16 January (Monday): Tourism Minister Ahmed Issa to speak at AmCham monthly luncheon.

16-20 January (Monday-Friday): Davos 2023.

24 January-6 February (Tuesday-Monday): Cairo International Book Fair, Egypt International Exhibition Center.

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

26 January (Thursday): President El Sisi will visit India as “chief guest” at celebrations to mark the 74th anniversary of Indian independence.

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

30 January-1 February (Monday-Wednesday): CI Capital’s Annual MENA Investor Conference 2023, Cairo, Egypt.


1 February (Wednesday): Capricorn Energy will hold a vote on its merger with Israel’s NewMed.

2 February (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

11 February (Saturday): Second semester of 2022-2023 academic year begins for public universities.

13-15 February (Monday-Wednesday): The Egypt Petroleum Show (Egyps), Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo.

23-27 February (Thursday-Monday): Annual Business Women of Egypt’s Women for Success conference.


March: 4Q2022 earnings season.

23 March (Wednesday): First day of Ramadan (TBC). Maghreb will be at 6:08pm CLT.

30 March (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.


1 April (Saturday): Deadline for banks to establish sustainability units.

10-16 April (Monday-Sunday): IMF / World Bank Spring Meetings, Marrakesh, Morocco.

16 April (Sunday): Coptic Easter

17 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

22 April (Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

25 April (Tuesday): Sinai Liberation Day.

27 April (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sinai Liberation Day (TBC).

30 April (Sunday): Deadline for self-employed to register for e-invoicing.

30 April (Sunday): End of Mediterranean, Nile Delta oil + gas exploration tender.

Late April – 15 May: 1Q2023 earnings season.


1 May (Monday): Labor Day.

4 May (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Labor Day (TBC).

4 May (Thursday): IEF-IGU Ministerial Gas Forum, Cairo.

18 May (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

22-26 May (Monday-Friday): Egypt will host the African Development Bank (AfDB) annual meetings in Sharm El Sheikh.


10 June (Saturday): Thanaweya Amma examinations begin.

19-21 June (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Infrastructure and Water Expo debuts at the Egypt International Exhibition Center.

22 June (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

28 June-2 July (Wednesday-Sunday): Eid El Adha (TBC).

30 June (Friday): June 30 Revolution Day.


18 July (Tuesday): Islamic New Year.

20 July (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Islamic New Year (TBC).

23 July (Sunday): Revolution Day.

27 July (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Revolution Day.

Late July-14 August: 2Q2023 earnings season.


3 August (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.


21 September (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

26 September (Tuesday): Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (TBC).

28 September (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (TBC).


6 October (Friday): Armed Forces Day.

Late October-14 November: 3Q2023 earnings season.


2 November (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.


21 December (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.


2023: The inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum.

2023: Egypt will host the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors in 2023.

1Q 2023: Adnoc Distribution’s acquisition of 50% of TotalEnergies Egypt to close.

1Q 2023: Egypt + Qatar to launch joint business forum.

1Q 2023: FRA to introduce new rules for short selling.

1Q 2023: Internal trade database to launch.

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