Wednesday, 19 January 2022

AM — Fresh 12.5% minimum wage hike in FY2022-2023

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and welcome to another very busy news morning as this packed work week races to a close.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is due in town from today through Friday in what will be the first visit to Egypt by a South Korean president in 16 years. Moon will meet with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi during a regional tour. The South Korean leader was in Riyadh yesterday, after swinging through the UAE the day before.

On the agenda: The two presidents are expected to hold talks with the aim of signing a trade agreement between the countries, as well as discuss cooperation on EVs, water desalination, green hydrogen and renewables.

Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Aty is at the Dubai Expo today for the two-day Water-Food-Energy Summit, which kicked off yesterday, according to the ministry.

It’s Day 3 of digital Davos: Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad will make an appearance on the third day of the virtual Davos Agenda today when she takes part in a discussion on investment in low-carbon technologies. Also today Germany’s new chancellor Olaf Scholz will address the forum at the same time as the Saudi energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, joins a panel to discuss the transition to green energy.


Tax breaks for real estate funds coming? The Financial Regulatory Authority and the Finance Ministry are in talks over introducing tax incentives for real estate funds and issuing new rules for establishing mining funds, FRA head Mohamed Omran told Al Arabiya on Monday.

Investor requests for incentives will now be handled and reviewed through a new “special incentives” unit the General Authority for Investments and FreeZones (GAFI) set up, according to a statement yesterday. The unit will determine whether or not they are eligible for incentives and streamline procedures for filing for a request, GAFI said.

THE BIG STORIES ABROAD-

Microsoft just made the largest-ever gaming acquisition: Microsoft has announced that it will buy leading games publisher Activision for USD 68.7 bn, a purchase which could help the tech giant in its push into the mobile-gaming and metaverse markets. The company has agreed to purchase Activision at USD 95 per share, making it both the biggest-ever gaming industry acquisition and a record-breaking all-cash transaction. The transaction will make Microsoft the third-largest gaming company in the world by revenue, after Tencent and Sony. The story is getting a lot of traction in the foreign press this morning, from Bloomberg and Reuters to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

US, Russian foreign ministers to meet as tensions escalate over Ukraine: US Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, as warnings escalate of an impending Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Ukraine crisis could impact Europe’s gas supply: Germany yesterday said it could halt plans for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will transport Russian gas to Europe if Ukraine is invaded, while Greece said it would back a strong EU response to Russian aggression.

Egyptian gas could plug the gap if Europe loses Russia as a supplier, Greece’s foreign minister said — as could Cyprus and Israel. We humbly suggest that Enterprise may have pointed that out before, too.

MEANWHILE, TO OUR WEST- The UN thinks it is still “very reasonable and possible” for Libya to hold elections by June, UN special adviser on Libya Stephanie Williams told the Associated Press. The country was set in December to elect its first president since the 2011 ouster of former President Muammar Gaddafi, but elections were postponed at the request of its election body amid disputes threatening the ballot.

PSA- Get your booster if you want to visit Abu Dhabi: Anyone wanting to enter the emirate must obtain a booster if it’s been more than six months since they were fully jabbed — and residents already in Abu Dhabi will need to do the same to access public spaces. The National has a good explainer and Q&A if you’re heading to Abu Dhabi anytime soon and you can check out the emirate’s Al Hosn app on Twitter. The Associated Press and Bloomberg also have the story.

MARKET WATCH-

Oil prices hit a fresh seven-year high yesterday — and are up another 1.6% this morning as Brent futures rose to 88.90 / bbl. That’s the highest level since October 2014.

You can trace this morning’s rise to an explosion yesterday that knocked out a key pipeline in the transport of oil from Iraq to Europe, Bloomberg reports, pushing prices yet higher after they passed the seven-year record during Tuesday’s trading. The cause of the blast, which occurred in the Turkish stretch of the pipeline running from Iraq to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, is not yet known.

Making matters worse: Russia may only be able to deliver about half of the production increases agreed by OPEC+ over the next six months, Bloomberg adds, on the back of a reduction in drilling. Planned production increases by the cartel to meet the recovery in demand have fallen short of targets as several member countries struggle to up their output, meaning the market could be set to get even tighter this year.

A return to three-figure oil? Brent — which has risen almost 14% since the start of the year — could breach the USD 100 / bbl mark this year unless supply is increased, analysts told the Financial Times.

Coming up today: Time for Erdonomics-lite? The Turkish central bank looks likely to leave interest rates on hold when it meets tomorrow, after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated that interest and FX rates will come down “slowly,” marking a change of tone, according to Bloomberg. This comes as inflation in Turkey is expected to peak at around 40% in the coming months before dropping to about 27% by the end of the year, according to a Reuters poll, having surged to 36% in December. The country’s economy is reeling from a series of unorthodox rate cuts spearheaded by Erdogan that saw the TRY lose almost half its value against the greenback last year, making it 2021’s worst performing currency.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Taking stock of Nafeza: Lynx Strategic Business Advisors is hosting a webinar this Thursday, 20 January, at 1pm CLT that will see Customs Authority chief Elshahat Ghatwary and Misr Technology Services’ Khaled Nassef discuss the progress on implementing the new digital customs system, Nafeza. The keynote speakers will also discuss their recommendations for the way forward and how to expand the application of the system. You can register for the webinar here.

The Cairo International Book Fair opens on 26 January at the Egypt International Exhibition Center. The event runs 13 days until 7 February.

Applications are open until 31 March to join the Femtech Accelerator Program run by Flat6Labs and women’s healthcare firm Organon. The four-month-long virtual accelerator will support women-led digital healthcare start-ups operating in MENA to build products, test market fit and improve business models. You can register at this link.

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

enterprise

*** It’s Hardhat day — your weekly briefing of all things infrastructure in Egypt: Enterprise’s industry vertical focuses each Wednesday on infrastructure, covering everything from energy, water, transportation, and urban development, as well as social infrastructure such as health and education.

In today’s issue: The Decent Life initiative — aka Hayah Karima — is being hailed as the biggest developmental initiative ever undertaken by Egypt. The initiative spans sectors such as infrastructure, health, education, and water, with earmarked investments around USD 45-50 bn. In today’s story we detail how the initiative started, the current phase and its targets, as well as the impact the initiative has had and how it’s measured.

enterprise

Escape to a slice of bay paradise where golden sunsets touch the open sea. Somabay: so magnetic, every day.

POLICY

Public sector minimum wage to rise 12.5% from July

SMART POLICY- El Sisi raises public-sector minimum wage to EGP 2.7k: The monthly minimum wage paid to public sector workers will rise by 12.5% from July on the instruction of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. An Ittihadiya statement yesterday said that the president had told the Finance Ministry to raise the minimum wage from 2.4k to EGP 2.7k per month.

The new wage is set to come into effect at the beginning of the next fiscal year in July and will be included in the FY2022-2023 budget, Magdy El Badawy, a member of the National Council for Wages (NCW), confirmed to Enterprise.

This is the third public sector wage hike since El Sisi took office in 2014 — and the second raise in two years. The minimum wage for public sector employees increased to EGP 2.4k last July from EGP 2k in FY2019-2020.

Annual raises set to continue: Public sector employees will receive the same annual raise as last year, according to the statement. Last year civil servants had their basic salaries hiked by 7% and other public sector workers received a 13% raise. Pension payouts, meanwhile, were raised 13%. Unspecified additional bonuses will be put in place for all public sector employees at a cost of EGP 18 bn, yesterday’s statement read

How will this affect the private sector? Whether or not private sector firms will be compelled to raise wages at the same time will be decided by the NCW in the coming months, Elbadawy told us.

Some private companies are struggling to implement the last wage hike: Thousands of private sector firms haven’t yet brought wages into line with the current EGP 2.4k minimum wage, which came into effect for the private sector at the start of 2022. The NCW has granted thousands of temporary exemptions, allowing companies to continue paying the old EGP 2k minimum wage until mid-February when it will make a final decision on which firms have to comply with the new requirements.

Solving the teacher shortage: In a bid to plug the shortfall in teachers, the government will hire an additional 30k teachers annually for the next five years and up the amount it spends on bonuses for teachers to EGP 3.1 bn, Ittihadiya said. At the beginning of the current academic year the Education Ministry was forced to call on people to volunteer as teaching assistants. Education Minister Tarek Shawki said at the time that there is currently a 250k person shortfall in teachers.

And more money for higher-ed staff and students: The Sisi administration has earmarked EGP 1.5 bn in the budget for bonuses for academics and researchers, in addition to financing a new law on tenured professors’ salaries. Dentistry, physiotherapy and nursing students will also be included in a prior decision to hike medical students’ training salaries.

What’s next for the budget: The Finance Ministry plans to begin public consultations on the budget and the government’s strategic targets this month.

M&A WATCH

Vodacom shareholders approve Vodafone Egypt acquisition

Vodafone Plc took a step closer to offloading its majority stake in Vodafone Egypt to its South African subsidiary yesterday after receiving shareholder backing. A majority of shareholders in Vodacom approved the acquisition of the 55% stake in Vodafone Egypt during a general meeting, the Johannesburg-listed company announced in a disclosure (pdf).

The transaction: Vodafone Plc — which currently owns a 60.5% stake in Vodacom — last year agreed to sell its holdings in its Egypt unit for EUR 2.34 bn in a stock and cash transaction. The South African company will pay 20% in cash and the other 80% by issuing new shares, which will increase Vodafone’s stake in Vodacom to 65.1%.

There are still some boxes to tick: Vodacom still needs the blessing of the Egypt’s National Telecom Regulatory Authority before the shares can be transferred — and the Financial Regulatory Authority here will need to give it an exemption from the legal requirement to make a mandatory tender offer for the Vodafone Egypt shares it is not buying, it said in the disclosure. The company also needs to jump through regulatory hoops in South Africa, including approval from the Financial Surveillance Department of the South African Reserve Bank and listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange of the new shares it is issuing Vodafone Plc

Don’t expect Telecom Egypt to get in the way: The EGX-listed telecoms giant still holds a 45% stake in Vodafone Egypt and contractually has a right of first refusal, which would allow it to make a counter-offer. However, the company doesn’t plan to invoke this right, Investor Relations head Sarah Shabayek told Enterprise in November.

Expect movement this quarter: Vodafone Group expects the transaction to close before 31 March.

IN OTHER M&A-

Reliance Logistics has acquired an undisclosed stake in investment firm Catalyst Partners, as the logistics firm eyes expansion into financing, digital transformation and entrepreneurship, according to a statement (pdf). No details were provided on the value or mechanism of the transaction. Catalyst Partners’ board will undergo changes to reflect the new ownership structure, according to Chairman Maged Shawky.

ADIB to offload National Co. for Glass and Crystal: Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and its subsidiaries will sell their entire combined 88.3% stake in the National Company for Glass and Crystal, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf). The bank is currently in the process of wrapping up regulatory procedures.

ENERGY

Rosatom on track to break ground on Dabaa in July

Construction on the Dabaa nuclear power plant is on track to begin “this summer, tentatively in July,” the director of Russia’s state-owned Rosatom, General Alexey Likhachev, told TASS. The timeline matches what we were told by Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority (ENRRA) spokesperson Karim Al Adham last year, after covid disruptions caused a two-year delay to the Rosatom-constructed project.

Next step: construction permits. Rosatom submitted its documents to the ENRRA in early January, which the company said was ahead of schedule. It expects to break ground on the plant as soon as it receives the construction permits back from the authority.

Background: Construction work on Egypt’s first nuclear power plant was set to begin in the second half of 2020 and complete by the 2028-2029 fiscal year, but covid-related disruptions pushed the expected completion date to 2030.

About the plant: Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom was contracted in 2015 to construct the 4.8 GW plant. The facility will cost somewhere around USD 30 bn, 85% of which is being financed through a USD 25 bn loan from Russia, with Egypt scheduled to begin repaying the sum in October 2029.

Reminder- We could see an announcement on South Korean participation in Dabaa this week: President Moon Jae-in, who is visiting from today until Friday, will reportedly discuss the topic with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

enterprise

IPO WATCH

Kuwaiti, Egyptian, Saudi institutions took part in Ghazl El Mahalla’s private placement

Who got in on Ghazl El Mahalla FC’s institutional offering? Misr Ins. Holding, Ghazl El Mahalla Spinning and Weaving, Kuwaiti and Egyptian investment institutions, two companies from Saudi Arabia, and “some high net-worth individuals” all received allocations in the EGP 37 mn institutional component of Ghazl El Mahalla’s upcoming IPO, Al Mal quotes the CEO of bookrunner Prime Holding, Mohamed Maher, as saying.

Misr Ins. bid for 40% of the institutional component, subscribing to EGP 15 mn worth of the shares on offer in the private placement, back in November. The institutional component wrapped at the end of December.

Ghazl El Mahalla will make its EGX debut next month, according to the Public Enterprises Ministry. The EGP 98 mn public offering to individual retail investors is still pending sign-off from the club’s general assembly, which is set to meet on Saturday.

Refresher: Ghazl El Mahalla is offering a 67.5% stake in its IPO, which is expected to raise EGP 135 mn, while While tiny, the transaction will mark the first time a football club is publicly traded in the Arab world and could pave the way for more IPOs of this sort. Football giant Al Ahly has also expressed interest in offering as much as 49% of the club.

STARTUP WATCH

Bahrain-based crypto exchange Rain raises USD 110 mn series B

Crypto platform Rain raises USD 110 mn series B: Bahrain’s Rain Financial, the parent company of crypto trading platform Rain Management, has raised USD 110 mn in a series B funding round led by Paradigm and Kleiner Perkins, according to a company release. The round saw participation from Coinbase Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), Cadenza Ventures and CMT Digital, among others.

Rain will use the investment for expansion “across other countries and regions,” the statement said, without giving any more details. The investments will also be earmarked for improving Rain’s technology and growing its team. Rain has subsidiaries in Bahrain, Turkey and the UAE, according to the statement, while the company counts Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia among its supported markets.

That means persuading regulators on crypto: The funding will allow the company to “continue conversations with regulators across the MENA region, Turkey, and Pakistan about the benefits and potential of cryptocurrency,” the statement read. Many countries in the region — including Turkey and Pakistan — are considering if and how to regulate the crypto industry.

About Rain: Based in Bahrain, Rain became the first fully licensed digital currency exchange in the region when it received its sandbox license from the Central Bank of Bahrain in 2017. The company, which counts Egypt’s Yehia Badawy among its four co-founders, last year raised USD 6 mn in a series A round led by MEVP with participation from Coinbase, Vision Ventures, CMT Digital Ventures, JIMCO, and DIFC Fintech Fund.

COVID WATCH

US advises against travel to Egypt amid rising covid cases

The US is now advising its citizens to avoid travel to Egypt due to rising covid cases. Egypt was among 22 countries — including Israel, Qatar, Bahrain and Australia — added to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s “level four” watch list yesterday, indicating a “very high” risk of covid, Reuters reports. The CDC now has more than 100 countries at level four.

The Health Ministry reported 1,303 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 1,232 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 402,611 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 26 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 22,205.

China will send another 10 mn doses of Sinovac to Egypt “in the coming period,” the Health Ministry quoted China’s ambassador to Egypt as saying yesterday. The announcement came during a meeting between the ambassador and interim health minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, who signed an agreement that will see the Chinese vaccine maker set up new ooling facilities at Vacsera which will be used to store vaccines.

enterprise

LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The airwaves were full of talk of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s decision yesterday to raise the public sector minimum wage and hire new teachers. The announcement was covered by shows including Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 5:25) and Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 5:21).

Finance Minister Mohamed Maait did the rounds on the talk shows to discuss the new measures, appearing on Hadeeth Al Kahera (watch, runtime: 9:51) and Yahduth Fi Masr (watch, runtime: 5:59). Meanwhile, Education Minister Tarek Shawki phoned in to Yahduth Fi Masr to explain the new teacher recruitment drive, which will see 30k new teachers hired each year for the next five years (watch, runtime: 6:04). National Council for Wages member Magdy El Badawy talked to Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan about how the new wage requirements might be implemented in the private sector (watch, runtime: 5:54). We have the full story in this morning’s news well, above.

Elsewhere: US ambassador to Egypt Jonathan Cohen appeared on Yahduth Fi Masr to discuss Egyptian-US relations and last week’s World Youth Forum with show host Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 13:48).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Steering the conversation on Egypt in the foreign press this morning: Egypt has turned out to be one of the biggest buyers of German arms, according to preliminary figures reported on by the Associated Press which show that EUR 4.3 bn of the EUR 9.35 bn of arms exported by Germany last year ended up in Egypt. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that researchers are trying to track the antiquities looted by the Nazis from Egypt and other countries in the Mediterranean region.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

UN + Switzerland to help make our industrial zones more environmentally-friendly: The Trade and Industry Ministry has signed an agreement with the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to develop environmentally-friendly industrial zones, it announced in a statement yesterday. The project, to be funded by the Swiss government and implemented by UNIDO, will support government efforts to improve the performance of industrial zones, and support sustainable industrial policies, said Trade and Industry Minister Nevine Gamea.

Alameda Healthcare has agreed (pdf) to enter a “value partnership” with Siemens Healthineers, which will see the German firm supply it with new medical tech, deliver clinical advisory services, train staff, and provide digital solutions to improve workflow.

Other things we’re keeping an eye on this morning:

  • EIPICO has approved (pdf) an initial feasibility study to establish a plant to make raw raw materials for the pharma industry in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.
  • Baheya Foundation has signed an agreement with South Korean AI startup Lunit to adopt its mammography AI. Baheya Foundation — which provides comprehensive care for breast cancer patients at no cost — aims to treat some 500k women every year.
  • Two Egyptians were among those injured in this week’s terror attack on Abu Dhabi airport, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. Three people were killed and six injured during an attack on the airport by Yemen’s Houthi group on Monday.

PLANET FINANCE

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US markets overall took a sharp dip on Tuesday as yields rose: The S&P 500 fell 1.8%, the Dow Jones dropped 1.5%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq declined 2.6% to its lowest level in three months. Treasury yields, meanwhile, posted gains, with the 2-year yield breaking above 1% for the first time since the outset of the pandemic as Fed tightening looms, CNBC reports

Tech stocks have fallen from grace and inflows to bank stocks are on the rise, as the surge in bond yields shifts market dynamics, Bloomberg reports. Net allocations to the tech sector nosedived 20% month-over-month to just 1% after spending more than a decade as the darling of investors, Bank of America’s Global Fund Manager Survey showed. Meanwhile, allocations to bank stocks rose to 41%. Anticipated monetary tightening from global central banks is the “#1 risk to markets in 2022,” according to the survey — leading investors to turn away from expensive, growth-dependent tech equities. .

But it’s shaping up to be a rocky earnings season for Bulge Bracket banks: Goldman Sachs’ shares fell as much as 8% during Tuesday’s trading on the back of missed Q4 earnings targets in its 2021 earnings release (pdf), despite posting record net income of nearly USD 22 bn for 2021. Weaker trading toward the end of the year and rising expenses in the sector saw Goldman join Citigroup and JPMorgan in posting disappointing annual results, leading some to question whether banks can repeat 2021’s bumper year. Bank of America and Morgan Stanley report today.

Also worth noting this morning:

  • HSBC expects a rush of bond sales in the Middle East in the first few months of the year as governments and companies race to refinance ahead of Fed tightening. The bank was the Middle East’s top arranger for bond sales for the first time in more than five years in 2021, with a 14% market share. (Bloomberg)
  • France wants the EU to expedite adoption of the 15% global minimum corporate tax agreed between some 140 countries (including Egypt) last October — but some European nations are dragging their feet on the 2023 implementation target. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire sat down with us in June to outline how Egypt stands to benefit from the OECD agreement. (Bloomberg)

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THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 0.2% yesterday on turnover of EGP 633 mn (45.9% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net buyers. The index is down 0.6% YTD.

In the green: Egyptian Resorts Company (+6.1%), CIRA (+5.3%) and GB Auto (+5.0%).

In the red: Fawry (-1.8%), Rameda (-1.2%) and Palm Hills Development (-1.1%).

Asian markets are following US stocks into the red this morning: The Nikkei was leading the way at dispatch time, down 1.9%, while shares in China and South Korea were marginally in the red. Europe is in course to follow suit, with futures pointing to early losses when markets open in a few hours. Dip-buyers look to be surfacing in the US though, with all three benchmark indexes currently poised to see early gains.

hardhat

PROJECT PROFILE- The Decent Life initiative — one of the Sisi administration’s biggest infrastructure projects: Launched in 2019, the Decent Life Initiative (aka Hayah Karima) is a far-reaching, multi-year infrastructure investment plan designed to develop the country’s rural areas. Running through to 2023, the five-year program aims to alleviate poverty in rural communities by revamping infrastructure, improving access to basic services such as education and healthcare, and creating jobs.

Poverty is most pronounced in rural areas: According to the most recent figures — published by state statistics agency Capmas in 2020 — almost half of people living in rural Upper Egypt were below the poverty line in FY 2019-2020, compared to 29.7% nationally. This was a slight improvement from two years earlier, when figures put the Upper Egypt poverty rate at 52% and the national rate at 32.5% — a decline attributed by Capmas chairman Khairat Barakat to food subsidies.

Where it started: The pilot phase kicked off in FY2019-2020 and focused on development in some of the country’s poorest communities. Some EGP 13.5 bn was allocated to work in 375 villages around the country. In almost three-quarters of these, poverty rates exceeded 70%.

And then it got bigger: In December 2020, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi issued an order to expand the initiative to span over 4,500 Egyptian villages and 58 mn people — or 56% of the population, Planning Ministry media advisor Mohamed El Okby told Enterprise. The initiative will be implemented through to FY2022-2023 and is currently headed by former Armed Forces chief of staff Lt. Gen. Mohamed Farid.

The government has earmarked around USD 45-50 bn (c.EGP 700-790 bn) for the full program, Planning Minister Hala El Said said recently (watch, runtime: 2:25). Each target area is studied separately to determine its needs and allocate an appropriate budget, Planning Ministry media advisor Mohamed El Okby told Enterprise. The initiative is one of the biggest of its kind in the world and takes into account all 17 UN sustainable development goals, El Okby added.

Where’s the funding coming from? The main source of financing is the state’s investment budget, Director of the Local Development Ministry’s Decent Life Initiative Central Department Walaa Gad Al Karim told Enterprise. Civil society organizations, local development funds, and donations — through the Tahya Misr Fund, for example — also contribute to funding these projects, he added.

We’re currently in the first phase of the initiative: During this fiscal year EGP 200 bn will be spent on developing almost 1.1k villages around the country, housing 17.5 mn people, according to a Planning Ministry budget plan seen by Enterprise. Around 90% of the first phase projects are complete so far, El Okby said.

Water-related projects account for the bulk of spending: Implementing sewage systems has been allocated 36% (EGP 72.2 bn, according to our calculations) of the overall phase one budget, impacting 17.9 mn people, according to the plan. These projects will connect villages with wastewater infrastructure, including sewage systems, pumping stations, and pipes. Meanwhile, potable water projects, including setting up water sanitation plants and refurbishing water stations have been given more than 6% of the phase’s budget (EGP 12.8 bn).

Housing is another major pillar: The construction of new homes and the refurbishment of existing ones account for the bulk of the c.EGP 18.6 bn allocated to “social protection and development,” according to El Okby. Over the three-year period, the initiative is aiming to build 350k homes.

And around a fifth of the spending will connect these houses to electricity, natural gas, and fiber optics: Over 12% of the phase’s budget (EGP 24.8 bn) was earmarked for electricity projects while natural gas received 6% of the budget, impacting over 1.4 mn people. Meanwhile, 2.5% of the budget (EGP 5 bn) will go towards installing fiber optic networks. Up to 65 mn people in rural regions are expected to see fiber optic-powered broadband by the end of the initiative.

Transport projects were handed more than 9% of the budget, equivalent to around EGP 18.6 bn. Over the course of the three-year period, 14.5k km of roads are expected to be paved, connecting isolated villages to main highways.

Health and education projects together will receive 11% of spending: The healthcare budget aims to widen the provision of medical services to rural communities by establishing new health units and ensuring the supply of medical equipment. Health projects were allocated almost 9% of the budget (EGP 17.8 bn), which will be deployed to almost 1.1k villages benefiting 18.2 mn people. Education was given less than a quarter of this, with the ministry allocating 2% (EGP 4.2 bn) of the budget to upgrading schools. The initiative aims to build 13k classrooms overall, with 20% of the target achieved as of the end of 2021.

Other focus areas: Setting up irrigation networks and enhancing agricultural operations, as Egypt battles with water infrastructure problems that threaten our agricultural lands; developing government offices and police stations; establishing youth centers; and supporting people with disabilities by training teachers to better educate them and organizing training programs to allow their entry into the workforce.

Some of these projects are being implemented under a public-private partnership framework, with private sector firms getting in on the initiative, Gad Al Karim said without revealing the number of firms participating or their names. Everyone from Orascom Construction and Hassan Allam to Borouge and Egypt Kuwait Holding have landed contracts. However, in many cases the initiative allows local contractors the chance to work on these projects in efforts to create jobs within the communities.

Measuring the impact: The direct and indirect impacts of the initiative won’t be known until 2023, according to El Okby, who told us that the government will begin studies until the program has been completed.


Your top infrastructure stories for the week:

  • Orascom Construction saw total new awards rise 22% y-o-y in 2021 to hit USD 3.5 bn, with USD 785 mn in new awards added to its backlog in 4Q2021.
  • Infrastructure funding on the horizon? Egyptian infrastructure companies could be in line to receive some of the USD 1 bn in infrastructure funding courtesy of APICORP and IsDB’s Infra Initiative.
  • Mining “cities” coming soon: Egypt plans to develop industrial mining “cities” for the extraction of gold, copper, and phosphate in the Eastern Desert, Western Desert, and Sinai.
  • Hyundai wants to expand its footprint in the SCZone: Manufacturing giant Hyundai Rotem is reportedly in talks with an undisclosed Egyptian company to establish a “production plant” in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

CALENDAR

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.

1Q2022: Rameda Pharma will begin selling its generic version of Merck’s oral antiviral covid-19 med.

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

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

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.

1H2022: Egypt’s second corporate green bond issuance expected to be announced.

January: Sovereign Sukuk Act executive regulations expected to be finalized.

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

January: Three-month trial period of ACI for air freight to begin.

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

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.

15-19 January (Saturday-Wednesday): World Art Forum, National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, Cairo.

17-21 January (Monday-Friday): World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda, virtual.

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

19 January (Wednesday): EgyptAir will operate an exceptional Casablanca-Cairo flight to bring home Egyptians expats stranded in Morocco following border closures.

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

19-21 January (Wednesday-Friday): South Korean President Moon Jae-in will visit Egypt as part of his diplomatic tour of the region.

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

25 January (Tuesday): The IMF will release its World Economic Outlook.

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

25 January (Tuesday): Techne Summit announces awardees of Corporate Innovation Program.

25-26 January (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

26 January-7 February (Wednesday-Monday): Cairo International Book Fair, Egypt International Exhibition Center.

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

30-31 January (Sunday-Monday): Ins. Federation of Egypt medical ins. forum.

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.

February: Suez canal transit fees set to increase 6%, exempting cruise ships and LNG carriers.

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

Mid-February: A Hungarian delegation will arrive in Egypt for talks over a potential investment in an industrial area in the SCZone.

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

3 February (Thursday): January PMI figures for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE will be released.

4-20 February (Friday-Sunday): 2022 Winter Olympics, Beijing.

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.

15 February (Tuesday): Orange Ventures’ deadline to receive applications from seed-stage fintech startups.

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

19-21 February (Saturday-Monday): Nebu Expo for Gold and Jewelry 2022.

21 February (Monday): Hearing at Cairo Economic Court (pdf) on FRA lawsuits filed against Speed Medical.

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

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: The government hopes to sign a final contract between El Nasr Automotive and a new partner for the local production of electric cars.

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

March: Egypt to host World Tourism Organization Middle East committee meeting.

9-18 March (Wednesday-Friday): The 55th edition of the Cairo International Fair.

15-16 March (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

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

28-29 March (Monday-Tuesday): The Egypt International Mining Show (EIMS 2022) will take place virtually.

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

31 March (Thursday): Vodacom purchase of Vodafone Group’s stake in Vodafone Egypt expected to be completed by this date.

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.

3-4 May (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

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

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

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

14-15 June (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

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

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

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

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: The inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum.

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

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

1 July (Friday): FY 2022-2023 begins.

8 July (Friday): Arafat Day.

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

26-27 July (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

30 July (Saturday): Islamic New Year.

Late July – 14 August: 2Q2022 earnings season.

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

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

20-21 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

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

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.

November: Cairo Water Week 2022.

1-2 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

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

13-14 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

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

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

January 2023: EGX-listed companies and non-bank lenders will submit ESG reports for the first time.

**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.

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