Sunday, 16 November 2014

El-Sisi holds meet on electricity policy • new microfinance law issued • MoP looks to raise USD 2 bn • El-Sewedy criticizes unified renewable tariffs • diabetes rates in spotlight • tourism looking up • gas exports plunge 81% in Sept


2014 has so far witnessed the warmest April, May, June, August, September and, now, October on record since data has been kept beginning in the 1800s. (Read more on Slate)

More women than men are attending university in Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Algeria, Oman, Jordan, Lebanon and KSA. Three-times as many Emirati women as men getting university educations. Women’s enrollment in Egyptian universities has almost caught up with that of men, and enrollment rates for women in Saudi are higher than those in China, Mexico or Brazil. Facts from “‘Womenomics’ is starting to transform the Muslim world” via the FT.

There are six Sundays left in 2014, not including today. How’s your 2015 planning going?


Lamees El Hadidy covered a variety of topics last night, including the law that was supposed to have taken effect on Saturday banning the movement of commercial trucks within the city limits between 6 am and 11 pm.

“There were plenty of trucks on the road on my way to work today, so perhaps there is a misunderstanding,” said El Hadidy.

The head of the Cairo Traffic Authority called in to the show to explain that the new law applies to the 26th of July Corridor, but not the Ring Road. He explained that limiting the movement of heavy trucks on the ring road to just 6 or 7 hours per day would be highly disruptive to trade. Instead, new cameras and radar stations are being installed to make certain that trucks abide by the law and are restricted to driving in the far right lane.

El Hadidy also brought up the ongoing debate between the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Interior over the importation of tuk-tukcomponents.

“Neither ministry wants to take responsibility for the decision to reverse the ban. What does this tell us,” asked El Hadidy. “At the very least, we have to license and regulate these vehicles — and end or minimize their presence outside rural areas,” she added.

El Hadidy also interviewed former Egyptian Army general Sameh Seif El Yazal,who commented on the Ansar Beit El-Maqdis video that was released on Friday (purporting to show the 24 October attacks), their new affiliation with Daesh, as well as the general situation in Sinai.

“Parts of this video were filmed outside Egypt and we believe that the video came from Qatar. If the aim is to frighten us, then they have failed miserably. On the contrary, they have strengthened the resolve of our security forces to fight these terrorists,” said Seif El Yazal.

“Sinai before October 24th is a completely different place than Sinai after October 24th. Within the next few weeks there will be no more tunnels,” he added.

Amr Adeeb won our prize for the Talk Show Host with the Most Stamina last night for speaking nearly two hours straight about the launch of his annual “One Million Blankets” campaign. He is calling for all television channels, newspapers, radio stations and NGO to support the blanket drive, which last year collected EGP 50 million.

“The money that we collect is used to manufacture blankets that we distribute to the poor nationwide. This not only helps the poor, it also gives business to our small factories,” Adeeb said. Hot air in the service of the needy.


The Economist is critical of Egypt’s counterterrorism tactics in Arish and speculates that attacks on the tourism industry could be next: The general’s law in Sinai (Read)

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has released a 30-minute video of their 24 October attack on the Karm Al-Qawadis military checkpoint that left 31 soldiers dead. The news comes as Daesh and the Nusra Front have reportedly struck an agreement to stop fighting and come together to kill others in Syria, according to an AP report. Meanwhile, Israeli news site Arutz Sheva vaguely runs a headline about the Sinai pipeline allegedly being bombed, Ahram Online clarifies by stating that the new ABM pipeline video shows footage of terrorists bombing the pipeline to Jordan in what was most likely the last time it was attacked on 15 October. (Read in the NYT, the vaguely-worded piece from Arutz Sheva, and the clarification from Ahram Online)

Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou’s pilgrimage to the World Travel Market continues to pay dividends, with ex-Al-Jazeera English reporter Sherine Tadros offering a largely positive take on the tourism industry in this piece for Sky News. Meanwhile, the UK’s Travel Weekly reports that 15 tour operators and other industry figures will meet tomorrow with President Abdelfattah El-Sisi.

Bloomberg’s Ahmed Namatalla trots out Farouk Soussa of Citibank and Anthony Simond of Aberdeen Asset Management to deliver the evergreen ancient proverb that GCC aid to Egypt will not last forever. Neither analyst exactly breaks a sweat with anything approaching a vague attempt to offer a sense of when that would actually be. Most informative point: “The yield on Egypt’s 5.75 percent Eurobonds due in 2020 has tumbled 246 basis points this year to a record 4.32 percent amid increased political stability and signs of economic growth picking up. That compares with a 40 basis-point decline for the average Middle East sovereign yield to 5.8 percent, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. indexes.” (Read)

The Voice of America is the latest to join the chorus denouncing “media restrictions and other free speech issues” in Egypt. (Read)


The EGX lost 0.91% on Thursday afternoon to close at 9,260 points on EGP 606 mn in turnover, about 15% below the trailing 90-day average. The DFM closed up 1.72% and the ADX 0.29%, while Qatar was essentially flat, up 0.05%. Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul was flat (off 0.01%), while Kuwait was 0.86%,.

French and German stocks outperformed European bourses on Friday after data showed Germany narrowly avoided recession in the third quarter and France grew more than expected, according to Reuters. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 18.05 points, or 0.1 %, to 17,634.74, the S&P 500 gained 0.49 points, or 0.02%, to 2,039.82 and the Nasdaq Composite added 8.40 points, or 0.18%, to 4,688.54.

For the week: the EGX was down 1.6%, by our math. Internationally, the Dow and S&P 500 rose 0.4% and the Nasdaq climbed 1.2%, according to data by Reuters.

New investment in power generation, subsidy reform and renewable and nuclear power were among the subjects a special sit-down between President Abdelfattah El-Sisi, PM Ibrahim Mehleb and the ministers of petroleum and electricity, according to a statement released late last night by Ittihadiya. The statement did not dive deeply into the details, but sends an important signal to industry and consumers alike with presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef noting that the 2015 summer high season is fast approaching.

The UAE has formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood and local affiliates as terrorist groups, Emirati state news agency WAM reported on Saturday, citing a cabinet decree. The UAE also designated Nusra Front and Daesh as terrorist organizations, along with Shi’ite militant groups such as the Houthi movement in Yemen. Saturday’s move echoes a similar move by Saudi Arabia in March. (Read)

Speaking terror groups: Daesh announced on Thursday that they will mint their own dinar. FP recaps the reasons why that won’t work, without addressing the context that the move may be seen as part of Daesh’s strategy of psychological warfare following their issuance of passports. (Read)

The State Information Service reports that the first stage of dry digging of the Suez Canal project will be finalized by the end of December, with 180 million cubic meters of sand having been moved. (Read)

Commercial trucks not welcome within Cairo city limits from 6am to 11pm daily, effective 15 November. A new decision to ban commercial trucks from moving within city limits from 6am to 11pm daily is effective as of Saturday 15 November, according to the Minister of Interior. This ban, which covers trailer and semitrailer trucks,  is effective only within city limits and does not apply on highways, desert or agriculture roads. Excluded from the ban are small trucks as well as vehicles that transport strategic goods including fuel, flour, sugar and grains, among others. (Read in Arabic on Al-Ahram)

Egyptian consumer confidence was up this past summer, according to a report for MasterCard, says the Daily News.

“A long-awaited day of judgment on World Cup hosts Russia and Qatar turned into another day of FIFA disarray,” begins the piece by the AP about the two countries being absolved of any wrongdoing in their winning bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively. “Michael Garcia, the former U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, said he will appeal Eckert’s decision to close the case, saying it was based on ‘materially incomplete and erroneous’ interpretation of his own findings — 430 pages of investigative work sealed by FIFA from public scrutiny.” (Read)

Speaking of football: Equatorial Guinea is the new host country for the 2015 African Nations Cup, replacing Morocco. CAF said the dates for the tournament will remain from 17 January to 8 February after Morocco was dumped as host for demanding a postponement over Ebola fears. (Read)

Low oil prices, collapsing share prices and exploration setbacks are forcing business and government alike to reconsider priorities in Africa’s oil industry, writes FT Africa Editor Javier Blas. A companion piece looks at how Tullow Oil is slashing exploration activity in Africa and focusing instead on exploitation of its existing finds in Uganda and Kenya.

Not hospitalized: Abdelaziz Bouteflika was only in Grenoble for a “medical checkup,” Reuters reports, saying the Algerian president was “on a plane home” as of yesterday morning.

Better access to Chinese shares? Monday, 17 November, will witness the launch of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect (SHKSC) which according to NPR “will give foreign investors direct access to Shanghai’s so-called A shares, including many blue chip, state-owned companies … Over time, that will help China internationalize its currency and eventually help establish it as a reserve currency.” (Read on NPR)

Looking to get in on Chinese and Indian shares? The Economist Intelligence Unit and Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management have ventured into co-branded content. Their conclusion: There are no easy conclusions, particularly with Chinese foreign ownership restrictions. (Shocking, we know. Read here in PDF)

Calls for a shift in EU policy toward the Med and its other neighbors are unlikely to result in deep changes, concludes a WSJ Brussels Beat look at the European Neighborhood Policy ten years later.

NPR brings to the world’s attention an age-old question faced by anyone with facial hair living in the Middle East: Who’s That Lebanese Man With A Beard: Hipster Or Jihadi? (Read)


A YouTube video we linked to on Thursday morning purporting to show Syrian children dodging sniper fire, and which was quickly marked as private, has turned out to be a fake: “A group of Norwegian filmmakers has come forward to say they faked the video and deliberately presented it as reality to ‘spur debate’.” A commissioner from the film institute was quoted as saying the filmmakers had “honest motivations.” Richard Hall of the Global Post rightly called out the filmmakers on their stupidity, labeling the video irresponsible and dangerous. Aboud Dandachi, a displaced former resident of Homs, is quoted as saying: “Sometimes in Syria, the only documentation of an atrocity is a mobile phone camera. Thanks for making it harder, asshole.” (Read comments from the filmmakers in The Independent and the response by the Global Post)


El Sewedy opposes unified renewable energy tariffs, claiming it won’t attract investments
Al Mal | 13 Nov 2014
Ahmed El Sewedy, the Chief Executive Officer of El Sewedy Electric Group, has publicly voiced his reservations about the Ministry Electricity & Renewable Energy’s (MoE) unified renewable energy tariffs for investors and private sector companies, claiming that the low rate of return — 15%, taxable at 40% — will fail to attract investors to the renewable energy sector. The MoE had announced in September that it would buy electricity generated from solar and wind sources at a rate of EGP 1.025/kwh and EGP 0.84/kwh, respectively. With the exception of some captive power plants serving the needs of industry, Egypt’s power sector is state-controlled and electricity prices are highly subsidized. The proposed tariffs are a notch higher than the highest bracket of the subsidized prices (EGP 0.74/kwh) but are considered a first step in opening up the market to private investor. It is still unclear how the balance between affordable electricity and profitable investments would be reached. (Read in Arabic)

Note from Enterprise: In more mature markets, power producers typically pay a rental fee to the government for use of the national grid and compete on the basis of service quality and pricing. In the Netherlands, for example, consumers can even choose which power company to which they want to subscribe, with more environmentally conscious consumers opting for renewable energy even if it comes at a premium. In a 2011 consensus, more than half of Dutch households had partly used green electricity.    

New power plant in Assiut to cost EGP 2 bn
Al Mal | 14 Nov 2014
In an effort by the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy to face expected power shortages in the summer of 2015, Assiut Governor Ibrahim Hamad announced the construction of the first power plant operated by natural gas in Upper Egypt. Under the supervision of Dr. Mohamed Shaker, Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, the projected location of the power plant will be approximately 3 kilometers north of the Assuit Petroleum Refinery Company. Hadad emphasized that the power plant will serve neighboring provinces in Upper Egypt to decrease power cuts. In addition, the power plant will seek to attract investment opportunities in industrial areas of Assiut. (Read in Arabic)


Egypt looks to raise USD 2 bn to slash debt to foreign oil companies
FT and Reuters | 13 Nov 2014
Egypt plans to repay all of its USD 4.9 billion debt to foreign oil and gas companies within six months, the oil ministry said on Thursday, a move it hopes will prompt them to boost exploration and ease the worst energy crunch in decades. The ministry said in a statement that Egypt planned to borrow USD 2 billion to help it finance the repayments, seeking to repay 60% of the arrears by year-end. The government plans to secure the facility with oil cargoes for five years going forward, adds the FT’s Heba Saleh. Said Minister of Petroleum Sherif Saleh in a statement: “This transaction will ensure that we will have repaid a substantial amount of arrears by the first quarter of 2015 to motivate our partners to intensify exploration and production activities.” Reuters quotes both BG and Dana Gas as being slightly skeptical of the ministry’s promises, essentially saying, “We’ve heard this before.” Egypt owes foreign oil companies USD 4.9 bn after repaying USD 1.5 bn earlier this fall. (Read in Reuters or Read in the FT)

Egypt’s gas exports fall 81.4% in September
Ahram Online | 13 Nov 2014
Egypt’s exports of natural gas in September declined 81.4 percent compared to the same period last year, the state-run Information and Decision Support Centre (IDSC) reported on Thursday. The value of exports totalled USD 18.1 million, compared to USD 97.1 million in September 2013. Meanwhile, natural gas production fell 12.2% lower than its September 2013 level, totalling 3.01 million tonnes of natural gas, compared to 3.4 million in the same month of the previous year. Electric power generation accounted for some 68.7% of natural gas consumption, up from 59.6% a year before, reflecting Egypt’s efforts to meet rising domestic demands for electricity. (Read)

Naftogaz extracts first 19 mcm of gas in Egypt in Sept-Oct
Interfax-Ukraine | 13 Nov 2014
Naftogaz Ukrainy has brought daily production to 300,000 cubic meters a day from its development of fields in Alam Еl Shawish East in the Western Desert in Egypt, according to a company statement. “In September and October 2014 a total of 19 million cubic meters of natural gas has been extracted,” the holding company said on Thursday. Naftogaz Ukrainy said that this year the holding will also produce around 260,000 tons of oil in Egypt, which is around 11-12% of all annual oil extraction in Ukraine. (Read)


Centamin EBITDA up 16% qoq, down 12% yoy
Centamin Earnings Release | 12 Nov 2014
Centamin plc mineral exploration, development and mining company and operator of the Sukari Gold Mine posted 3Q14 EBITDA of USD 37.8 million, up 16% on the previous quarter. The key contributing factors according to Centamin was a 13% or a USD 13.5 million increase in revenue attributed to a 15% increase in gold sales offset by a 2% reduction in realised gold prices. This was offset by a 12% or a USD 8.6 million increase in operating cash costs, attributed by Centamin to an increase in quarterly production. The final factor affecting earnings as described by the release was a USD 0.1 million decrease in inventory movement.
(Download the pdf in English)


MENA has highest rate of diabetes globally; most of those patients in Egypt
Nature Middle East | 14 Nov 2014
Rapid urbanization. increased life expectancy and reduced infant mortality in the MENA region have translated into lifestyle changes that include reduced physical activity, increased obesity, increased smoking and the spread of low-nutrition fast food. These in turn led to soaring rates of diabetes across most countries in the region, especially the Gulf states. With nearly 35 million people diagnosed with the disease, the Middle East and North Africa has the highest prevalence level in the world, with 1 in every 10 Arab living with the disease. Healthcare expenditure has failed to keep up with the rapid increase in diabetes. In 2013, all the countries in the region spent a combined USD 13.5 billion on diabetes healthcare, just 2.5% of global spending on the disease. Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world and with the highest number of cases in the region, spent a mere USD 176 per person with diabetes. (Read the Nature Middle East paper or have a look at how the FT’s Simeon Kerr ran with the report)

Air France-KLM revamps chilled storage facility at Cairo International to capture more business from pharmaceutical industry
Air Cargo News | 13 Nov 2014
Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo has invested in revamping the cool chain facilities at Cairo International Airport. The pharmaceutical industry in Egypt has been growing steadily for the past five years, with an estimated value forecast at USD 8bn by 2015. The airline has made the investment to cope with both pharma sector growth and local natural conditions that see average temperatures above 30°C for more than six months a year. The facility has a 124 cu m room available to accommodate pharmaceutical products between 15°C and 25°C. On top of this, the capacity of the 2°C to 8°C cold room has been doubled to 420 cu m, to cope with large scale pharmaceutical shipments. (Read)


Bellevue African Opportunities fund cuts exposure to Egyptian real estate sector
Citywire Global | 14 Nov 2014
Bellevue F (Lux) BB African Opportunities fund has opted to reduce exposure to the Egyptian real estate sector as it was deemed to have reached its peak in terms of a rebound, according to an update from the fund at the end of October. This is while volatility has increased in the sector, the team said. Egypt remains the largest single-country bet in the USD 122 million fund, representing 36% of geographic exposure. This is a reduction from the 39% position at the end of September 2014. The Bellevue F (Lux) BB Opportunities fund returned 37.2% over the three years to the end of October 2014. This compares to a fall of 15.4% by its Citywire benchmark, the S&P Africa 40 TR, over the same period. The fund’s asset allocation is 45.9% toward financials, with 6 of its top ten holdings being Egyptian equities, including CIB, Credit Agricole Egypt, El Sewedy, Juhayna, TMG and Global Telecom. (Read)

TMG holding sees 17% rise in 9M14 profits
TMGH Earnings Release | 13 Nov 2014
Egypt’s Talaat Moustafa Group (TMGH on the EGX) reported its nine-month consolidated financials showing a net profit of EGP 487.9 million on revenues of EGP 3.3 billion, a 17% rise over the EGP 417.8 million achieved during the same period last year. Meanwhile, the real estate developer reported a net profit of EGP 137.5 million in the third quarter of 2014 rising 40% over the EGP 98.1 million in the same period last year. TMGH is one of Egypt’s largest real estate developers with flagship projects including El Rehab and Madinaty on the Cairo-Suez Desert Road. (Read in Arabic)

MNHD sees earnings surge 158% in 9M14
Reuters | 13 Nov 2014
Medinet Nasr Housing and Development (MNHD on the EGX) reported a 2.5x rise in 9M net profit to EGP 46.8 mn on the back of 162% rise in revenues thanks primarily to sales of a development near Cairo International Airport, Reuters reports. (Read)


Number of tourists to Egypt rises by 193% yoy in September; industry expert notes it takes five years to recover every 10% discount from pre-crisis prices
Ahram Online and Travel Pulse | 14 Nov 2014
The number of tourists to Egypt rose by 193% last September compared to the same month in 2013, according to the latest official figures. Egypt welcomed nearly 884,000 tourists in September, compared to 301,000 in the same period last year. The surge was also noted by tour operators based in Europe and the United States, as reported by Travel Pulse. On 14 November, Uniworld announced it will return to Egypt in October 2015, operating its river cruise ship Tosca on the Nile. “The inquiries are starting again, very slowly however,” said Ashish Sanghrajka, president of Big Five Tours and Expeditions. “We have a long way to go before we top 10 million tourists, as was the number in 2010. The only thing now is that Egypt must unfortunately pay the price for discounting. After discounting, it takes five years to recover every 10%.” (Read in Ahram Online andTravel Pulse)


Orascom Telecom launches MENA cable services
Shorouk News | 13 Nov 2014
Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding notified the Egyptian Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) on Thursday that it launched service on its MENA sub-sea cable. The first phase of the cable is now fully operational, spanning a distance of 8,800 km and landing in Italy, KSA, Oman, and India. The cable passes through Egypt, with the potential for expansion through additional landing points in East Africa and East of the Mediterranean Sea. (Read in Arabic)


Egypt issues first microfinance law
Reuters | 14 Nov 2014
Egypt issued the country’s first law regulating microfinance services, the Egyptian Supervisory Authority said late on Thursday. The law regulates microfinance funding by non-bank sources including companies and non-governmental organisations and puts them under the authority of the financial regulator EFSA. Banks will continue to be regulated by the central bank. The government consulted the World Bank and other institutions when drawing up the law, the EFSA said. Executives from U.S. companies visiting Egypt last week said the country needed to promote the growth of small companies to develop its economy, Reuters concluded. (Read)

Naeem Holding swings to net profit on 9M basis
EGX Statement | 12 Nov 2014
Naeem Holding (NAHO) posted 9 months YTD 2014 consolidated net profit including minority interest of USD 0.39 mn, a swing to profitability from a USD 16.85 million net loss in the same period a year ago. (Read in English)


ORWE posts 9.5% increase in 9M net profit yoy
Earnings Release | 13 Nov 2014
Oriental Weavers (ORWE on the EGX) posted attributable net income of EGP 309 mn in 9M14, a 12% increase from the same period last year. Sales surged 8% to EGP 4.4 bn (and 18% to EGP 1.5 bn in 3Q14) on a combination of aggressive local expansion to deliver volumes while simultaneously pursuing margin growth in international sales. (Read in English)

Eastern Tobacco 3Q14 profit up 179.1%
EGX Statement | 12 Nov 2014
Egypt’s Eastern Tobacco (EAST) recorded a 179.1% jump in quarterly net profit to EGP 270.34 million, according to a filing sent to the EGX. The cigarette monopoly posted net profit of EGP 96.85 million yoy. (Read in English)

Minister of Supply and Internal Trade: Implementing new laws to mitigate dairy industry chaos
Al Mal | 13 Nov 2014
Dr. Khaled Hefny, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade, is urging the development and implementation of new legislation and product standard specifications for the sector. At the promotion of the Middle East’s Dairy Conference and Exhibition, organized by the German-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Hefny highlighted that the gaps between production and consumption in the dairy industry must be bridged to prevent future “chaos” in the production, consumption and distribution of dairy products, Al-Mal reports. Hefny added that the importance of taking measures to reduce consumption and distribution costs will maintain production and consumer efficiency. The Minister of Supply and Internal Trade noted the EU’s important role in the success of the dairy industry through support within the framework of the Lactimed program. (Read in Arabic)

OCI NV board approves transfer of EGP 2.5 billion to Tahya Misr Fund
Youm7 | 13 Nov 2014
The Board of Directors of OCI N.V. has approved founder Nassef Sawiris’ gesture to donate EGP 2.5 bn paid to the Egyptian Tax Authority in April 2013 instead to the Tahya Misr Fund. The amount paid is part of a EGP 7.1 billion tax dispute settlement with the ETA, under which the previous Islamist regime accused OCI of tax evasion. On 4 November 2014, the independent Appeals Committee ruled in favor of OCI, thereby nullifying the settlement. (Read in Arabic)


Cairo court adjourns case on dissolution of Islamist Nour Party
Ahram Online | 15 Nov
A Cairo court adjourned on Saturday to 17 January a case calling for the dissolution of the Nour Party, the largest of the Islamist parties left in Egypt. The premise of the lawsuit is that the Salafist party is in violation of the constitution approved in January that bans parties formed on a religious basis. Ashraf Thabet, a leading figure of Nour Party, previously told Ahram Online: “We are confident that the verdict will acknowledge the right of the party to continue its political activities, because contrary to the allegation made by the lawyers who started the lawsuit, Nour is not a religious-based party; Al-Nour is a party that allows and welcomes membership of all Egyptians with no discrimination …” (Read)

Fact-finding group set to blame Islamists for Egypt’s post- 30 June violence
Ahram Online | 15 Nov 2014
A fact-finding committee formed to investigate events in Egypt since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi is set to blame Islamists for the wave of violence that swept the country, especially attacks on Coptic Christians, says committee members. The committee will hold its final meeting on Sunday, when it will have a final review of events since 30 June 2013, before a press conference is announced to publish its findings, said the committee’s chairman.. (Read)


Who hasn’t had a Clay Davis outburst every now and then? Sheeeeet. (Warning: Watch only if your sense of humor extends to profanity so crude it is artful) (Watch on YouTube)

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