Sunday, 1 February 2015
We would like to express our condolences this morning to the families of the military and police personnel who were murdered in the North Sinai terrorist attacks on Friday.
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING THIS WEEK
The HSBC / Markit PMI is due out at 5:30am UK time on Tuesday, 3 February.
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING THIS MONTH
LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS
It was a somber night on Egyptian television as talk show hosts covered the aftermath of the deadly attacks in Sinai that left 32 soldiers and police officers dead and more than 50 injured on Thursday. Even the commercial breaks included messages of mourning from the networks as well as footage of the arrival of the dead at Almaza airport.
Excerpts from President Abdelfattah El Sisi’s speech on Saturday flashed on and off all night as talk show hosts and commentators analyzed his words and their implications for the country’s new strategy to combat terrorism.
“We will not leave Sinai,” said Lamees El Hadidy quoting the President. “He said he is willing to die — and so are we. We will not accept Daesh or Hamas. It’s not only the army and the security forces that are combating terrorism. All Egyptians have to stand strong against terror,” said El Hadidy. “Why don’t we shut down Ikhwan online. It’s possible, we can ask Google and YouTube to shut down these websites? If the UAE can do it so can we. Its our right to do so because our country is under attack.”
El Hadidy grew progressively more annoyed as she went down the list of things that are — in her opinion — perpetuating extremist ideology and giving the terrorist groups legs to stand on. Ranking high on the list are the Americans, followed closely by the Qataris.
“The U.S. State Department continues to meet with leading members of these terrorist organizations,” Lamees growled, running footage of a press conference with the State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki in which Psaki is being hammered about the above-mentioned meeting, which she calls a routine meeting with “a diverse group of former Egyptian parliamentarians organized by Georgetown University.” (A partial transcript of the exchange with Psaki is provided below in our Diplomacy section)
El Hadidy hosted Sameh Seif El Yazal, Chairman of the Al-Gomhouria Center for Political and Security Studies and formerly a senior intelligence official, who provided details on Thursday’s attacks and the security situation in Sinai.
“There is no doubt that the country is currently facing tremendous challenges. As the President said, we are under threat from other countries. The most recent attacks were a bit different in nature. They involved more planning and more precision. They have upped their game. These new techniques mean that there is involvement from an outside entity,” said Seif El Yazal. “But I assure you, the Egyptian Army is intact. No one has infiltrated our armed forces.”
Seif El Yazal announced that he will be meeting with a U.S. government delegation that is due to arrive in Egypt tomorrow for briefings on the situation in Sinai. He also announced that the two people responsible for the CityStars bomb incident, which forced the evacuation of Egypt’s largest shopping center so the devices could be rendered inert, have been captured.
Before ending her show for the night, El Hadidy reminded her viewers that there are 43 days left before the Sharm economic conference. She hosted Minister of International Cooperation Naglaa El Ahwani, who answered questions about the latest preparations for the conference and assured viewers that “we are ready.”
Amr Adeeb chose to tackle the psychological impact of the Sinai attacks.
“I’m not going to scream or express my outrage at what has happened. We have to stand strong. Egypt doesn’t deserve this. Egypt is bigger than this. It’s a battle and we have to focus. They are trying to make us lose our focus, but we won’t,” said an uncharacteristically calm Adeeb.
“Despite everyone’s best efforts to disrupt the economic conference, it will go on. The important thing is that we do our job properly so that we are prepared. I don’t want anyone to be afraid. Fear is the only weapon they have. We have an army, a police force and above all a population that will stand strong against terrorism,” saidAdeeb.
He hosted political analyst Samir Ghattas who shared an interesting analysis of the terrorist organizations operating in Sinai.
“One of the suspects in the most recent attacks in Sinai, Hany Abu Sheeta, is the same person who was involved in the 2011 attack on the police station and the Bank of Alexandria in Arish. The raised black flags over both locations. If Egyptian security forces weren’t doing their job, these black flags would be flying all over Cairo, not just in Sinai. Shall I remind you of Kandahar Friday, when we were seeing Al Qaeda flags in Cairo?” said Ghattas.
UNCONFIRMED: According to a series of tweets by well-connected former parliamentarian Moustafa Bakry, detained Al Jazeera English journalist Peter Greste will be deported to Australia todayfollowing a presidential decree. (Read the tweets in Arabic here and here)
Registration for parliamentary candidates opens on 8 February, according to an announcement by the Higher Elections Committee, which also stated that campaigning will be permitted starting 26 February, according to Al Mal.
Saudi’s Alhokair will list its Egyptian malls unit on the EGX, Bloomberg reports. Alhokair, the operator of Cairo’s Mall of Arabia, is planning to raise as much as USD 340-400 mn from the transaction. “We are performing very well in Egypt and we think it will be the right time to IPO that business in the next 18 to 24 months,” said Muhanad Awad, chief executive officer of FAS Capital, the financing and investment arm of Alhokair. Bloomberg reports the group has appointed CI Capital to advise on the, IPO which will see Alhokair sell a 25-30% stake in Egyptian Centres. Proceeds from the IPO will be used to fund the expansion of Mall of Arabia as well as the development on new shopping centers.
EFG Hermes to cancel c. 37 mn treasury shares. After earlier announcing it had retained Goldman Sachs to lead an accelerated book building process to divest about 6.4% of the company’s shares held as treasury shares, EFG Hermes confirmed on Thursday that it had called the transaction off and would cancel the shares instead. Although the offering was “well-received by the market,” EFG noted that “the demand generated was at prices that didn’t meet the Company’s expectations, given the upside that it sees in the value of EFG Hermes shares.” The firm noted that the decision to sell the shares had been forced by EFSA regulations that mandated the sale or cancellation of the shares by 4 February 2015. (See the company’s disclosure in English or in Arabic, pdf downloads)
Lactalis intends to increase its offer to buy Arab Dairy to EGP 63 per share, 2% higher than Pioneers Holdings’ bid, according to Al Mal. This isn’t over yet.
Two British retailers opened their first branches in Egypt last week: BHS (British Home Stores)opened with a ribbon-cutting at CityStars on 20 January, attended by United Kingdom for Trade & Investment Director Jason Ivory, Head of BHS International Mathew Kay and Imad Bukhari, CEO of Matajerkom for Trade. The opening of UK toy store Hamleys at Cairo Festival City Mall on 22 January was attended by British Ambassador to Egypt John Casson.
UK-based renewable energy company Global Solar Solutions has been invited to a trade mission to Egypt at an unspecified date, according to British media. The delegation will include MP Tobias Ellwood, who headed the UK Trade Delegation which visited last month. (Read)
16 May has been set for the verdict in the Morsi espionage trial. If convicted, Morsi could face the death penalty. The verdict date for his trial regarding the inciting of killing of protesters in the 2012 Ittihadiya clashes is set for 21 April. (Read)
CIB Chairman and Managing Director Hisham Ezz Al-Arab received the EMEA Finance African Banking Award Best CEO in Egypt and Africa region, 2014, according to a release by the bank. (Read)
Cypriot firms have been invited to bid for large projects for Egypt’s upcoming investment summit, according to article appearing the Cypriot media. In addition to attending the summit, it is noted that a Cypriot construction company is already taking part in road construction in Egypt (Nemesis, with more on this story below in our Other Business News of Note section). Proposals between the two countries include re-establishing joint tour cruise packages as well as the possibility of establishing a branch of the Arab Academy for Science and Technology and Maritime Transport in Cyprus. (Read in Cyprus Mail andANSAmed)
PM Mehleb inaugurates EGP 675 mn, 20,000 sqm Tahrir garage: Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb and Cairo Governor Galal Mostafa Saeed attended the ribbon-cutting of the Tahrir Garage along with several ministers on Saturday. The garage is built on an area of 20,000 sqm in size and includes four underground levels to accommodate approximately 1,700 cars and a private garage that can hold 24 tourist buses. (Read in Daily News Egypt and or watch the inauguration on Al Borsa, Arabic, running time: 2 minutes)
BG Group signed a global alliance with American engineering and construction firm KBR, according to a release by BG. The alliance has a duration of six years with an option to extend to 10 years, and will see KBR bring its engineers and technical support to BG’s operations throughout the world. (Read)
Mitt Romney will not seek the Republican party’s nomination for a 2016 presidential bid, leaving the field open to Chris Christie, Rand Paul and Jeb Bush, with the latter the likely contender given his ability to raise campaign financing, pundits suggest. (Read)
One of five released Taliban officials who have been living in the jihadist’s paradise Qatar since a prisoner exchange with the United States last year for the return Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is suspected of trying to get in touch with the group, as reported by NPR. (Read)
Japanese journalist Kenji Goto has been beheaded by Daesh, with a video of the execution making the rounds online. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was quoted as saying “I feel indignation over this immoral and heinous act of terrorism,” following an emergency meeting with his Cabinet. (Read)
TERROR ATTACK IN NORTH SINAI
President Abdelfattah El Sisi cut short his historic visit to Ethiopia to return to Egypt to respond to four separate attacks in North Sinai late Thursday / early Friday. The death toll reached 32, with casualties being mostly military personnel though some civilians were also killed in following clashes. The President met with SCAF on Friday and Saturday, before making a televised address to the nation. (Watch, Arabic, running time: 12:36).
Key takeaways from the President’s speech: In the above televised address, the President noted that leaders “of a terrorist organization” requested a meeting with him on 21 June , which lasted for approximately 40 minutes, in which they threatened that jihadis from all corners of the Earth would come to Egypt — from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, Libya, everywhere — to kill them, with ‘them’ seeming to be a reference to the Egyptian military.
“I knew this would happen. And I think all of you [the Egyptian people] knew this would happen — that we would face a large wave of terrorism. … This is the most powerful secret organization in the world, but we are going to victorious”, the President declared. “I ask you to be strong. They are doing this to break our will, but we will not let them. We will be victorious.” He stressed that he needed the people to be patient and to persevere, saying that ultimately, Egypt would be victorious.
El-Sisi, who said he is ready to die for Egypt and account before God for his actions, also announced on the weekend a new military counter-terrorism command for North Sinai. Ahram Online has the details here and here.
President El Sisi also reaffirmed his commitment to the upcoming Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm, saying that terrorism will not deter the country from economic recovery.
Sinai-based Daesh affiliate Sinai Province (Welayit Sina), formerly Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility for the attack.
A video published online Thursday by Brotherhood-affiliated channel Rabea TV threatens foreigners to leave Egypt by 11 February, adding that foreign firms and embassies have until 28 February to close, and that foreign governments have one month to sever ties with Egypt. (Watch, Arabic, running time: 2:19)
As we noted last week, several Ikhwani outlets have been inciting violence. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a D.C.-based nonprofit founded by a former Israeli intelligence officer, has compiled a video of various calls for violent incitement in Egypt over the past week by Brotherhood-affiliated satellite television channels based in Turkey. The calls include incitement for the assassination of President El Sisi, among others. (Watch, Arabic with English subtitles, running time: 2:06).
With regards to the various videos documenting incitement to murder by the Brotherhood in recent days, Mokhtar Awad sums it better than anyone else has on the matter thus far: “Finally, at this stage being ‘skeptical’ of MB incitement of or ties to low-level violence is frankly a badge of ignorance & embarrassing.”
Following Friday’s attack, at least six conscripts were killed in three separate assaults on security checkpoints in North Sinai on Saturday according to security services and as reported by Aswat Masriya.
On Saturday, an Egyptian court designated Hamas’ military wing the Qassam Brigades as a terrorist organization after another court on Monday dropped a case seeking the same designation of Hamas, saying the matter was out of the court’s jurisdiction. Hamas lost no time in telling Reuters that it not longer accepts Egypt as a mediator with Israel, with the Jerusalem Post reporting: “Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the ruling serves only the interests of Israel. ‘This is a dangerous political ruling,’ he said.”
24TH AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT
As President Abdelfattah El Sisi cut short his visit to the AU Summit to manage the aftermath of the attack in Sinai, the African Union issued a statement condemning the attack and expressing its support and condolences to Egypt, according to a release issued on the day of the attack.
Before his departure, the President met with the King of Spain and the Presidents of Tunisia, Uganda, Djibouti, South Sudan and the Prime Minister of Sweden, all of whom expressed their condolences and solidarity with Egypt in its fight against terrorism, according to an emailed statement from Ittihadiya.
The President met with a number of African leaders, including the presidents of Sudan, Zambia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe. However, the most critical meeting of all was with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who received El Sisi at his residence in Addis Ababa, according to a statement by the Presidency. According to the statement: “The President stressed that Egypt does not oppose the Ethiopian people’s right for development through the implementation of projects on the Nile River. However, he added that such projects should take into consideration Egypt’s water rights … The President reiterated the importance of taking concrete steps to transform their political understandings into legal agreements that preserve the rights of the two countries, secure their interests and advance cooperation between them.”
The statement goes on to note that the Ethiopian PM concurred that an understanding should be reached through the creation of a working group from the two countries, and invited President Sisi to an official visit in Ethiopia to address their parliament. The President accepted the invitation and likewise reciprocated with an invitation to the investment summit in Sharm.
The Government of Ethiopia issued a positive statement regarding the meetings between Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom. “He [Minister Shoukry] said on all issues of common interest, [that] he ‘tries to look it from Ethiopians’ eyes and that I have every indication that Dr Tedros views the issues from the eyes of Egyptian Government and People.’” (Read)
Egypt assumes chairmanship of AU climate change committee: Egypt has taken over the chairmanship of the AU Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change. Foreign Minister Shoukry presided over the transfer from the outgoing chair, Tanzanian President and Coordinator of the Committee Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete. (Read in Arab Today or The Cairo Post)
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe assumed the chairmanship of the African Union in Ethiopia. “It’s shocking and unfortunate … The Zimbabwean economy is failing and elections in his country remain a farce, so expecting him to offer leadership at a regional level is expecting too much,” political analyst Munjodzi Mutandiri told CNBC Africa.
As our strained relationship with Qatar continues to unfold, it is worth recalling that the current conflict in each country’s respective outlooks was set in motion by the former emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, whose photograph here on its own is a must-see and makes for an excellent desktop or mobile background image. The goings-on of the Qatari royal court are notoriously opaque, but a dedicated group of actors have taken a bit of creative license with the facts to produce a recreation of an alleged meeting between Al Thani and Morsi. We do not vouch for the veracity of the recreation. (Watch, running time: 0:45, viewer discretion is advised)
As we noted in our issue on Wednesday, and as decried above by Lamees ElHadidy, while Muslim Brotherhood satellite television channels based in Turkey were explicitly inciting for their followers in Egypt to murder military and police officers — and while Ikhwani rioters were setting public transportation on fire —representatives of the Ikhwan had the red carpet rolled out for them in Washington D.C.,meeting at the U.S. State Department and holding a press conference at the National Press Club.
The perpetual train-wreck that is Jen Psaki, spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, attempted to explain an absurdist and nonsensical foreign policy to a skeptical American press corps, who should be commended for their critical questions and superior command of the subject matter relative to Psaki. Relevant excerpts from the briefing may be found below:
QUESTION: On Egypt, there is a huge criticism for the U.S. for receiving a Muslim Brotherhood delegation this week, and they consider the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization and blaming them for supporting the terrorist attack that targeted the Egyptian army, especially yesterday, in Sinai. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you combined quite a few things there, so let’s just actually state what the facts are.
QUESTION: I’m not – what they are saying.
MS. PSAKI: The State Department officials met with a group of visiting Egyptian former parliamentarians whose visit to the United States was organized and funded by Georgetown University. These meetings are fairly routine. The group included some former members of the Freedom and Justice Party, among others …
QUESTION: I mean, this – these particular individuals seem to be getting a disproportionate amount of attention from – it appears, if it was in fact a delegation of 50 people or something like that.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have the numbers. We can certainly check and see if we have the details on that.
QUESTION: And exactly where and who was it, again, that they met with? Where – the State Department’s involvement in this was hosting —
MS. PSAKI: The deputy assistant secretary for democracy, human rights, and labor, and some other State Department —
QUESTION: And it was in this building? In other words, it was a State-Department-hosted meeting with the entire delegation, not just these individuals —
MS. PSAKI: Correct, yes.
QUESTION: The Muslim Brotherhood declared jihad in its – regardless of this video from this TV channel, but there is official statement. They are calling on their members to be prepared for jihad and to be inspired by the old military wing that was established in the 40s to kill Jews.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you’re referring to the video —
QUESTION: No, not the video.
MS. PSAKI: — of which there have been statements taken from. I haven’t seen an additional, separate statement.
QUESTION: No. There is actually a statement on the Muslim Brotherhood official website.
MS. PSAKI: Okay. Well, we’ll take a look at that.
MS. PSAKI: I had not seen that before we came out.
The entire transcribed segment on Egypt in the State Department briefing from 30 January quoted above may be found here.
Political analyst Eric Trager, who attended some of the conferences in question, disputed the State Department’s version of the events and their claims that the individuals in question were FJP rather than MB and that the event was hosted and funded by Georgetown University.
With regards to the statement in question calling for jihad, the Muslim Brotherhood continued their tired routine of posting a condemnation of Sinai terrorism in English for foreign consumption while issuing a call for a “long, uncompromising jihad” in Arabic. The Arabic statement calling for jihad was issued two days after the Ikhwan met with the U.S. State Department. Excerpts of the statement have been translated into English here. The relevant quotes are as follows:
“… we recall the meanings of jihad and prepare ourselves, our wives, our sons, our daughters, and whoever marched on our path to a long, uncompromising jihad, and during this stage we ask for martyrdom … Imam al-Bana prepared the jihad brigades that he sent to Palestine to kill the Zionist usurpers and the second [Supreme] Guide Hassan al-Hudaybi reconstructed the ‘secret apparatus’ to bleed the British occupiers,” according to the statement. (Read a partial translation here)
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry responded to the Brotherhood meetings with the U.S. State Department, as well as Psaki’s halting and bewildered attempt at an explanation, in a press release issued at the sidelines of the AU Summit: “We do not understand the US statements that justify the meeting of top State Department officials in the US administration with a delegation of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group … These statements are not understood to me. We do not understand that such communication exists with elements involved in horrible terrorist operations that terrify Egyptians.” (Please find a cached version of the link hereas the website seemed to be down as of early this morning)
Prime Minister Mehleb is visiting Kuwait today for three days where he will meet with the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Crown Prince, and the Prime Minister, according to the Kuwait News Agency. PM Mehleb will head a delegation that includes CBE Governor Hisham Ramez and the ministers of petroleum, housing, and investment.
EGYPT IN THE NEWS
‘Egyptian prosperity, not protests, could define Sisi rule,’ says Reuters last Friday. Change the ‘could’ to ‘will’ and the article is accurate, more or less. (Read)
Zawya picks up an Al Ahram Weekly piece outlining the commentary given by Egypt’s private sector at Davos, with the discussion being led by Chairman and Founder of Qalaa Holdings Ahmed Heikal and Co-Founder and Managing Director Hisham El-Khazindar, in a forum titled ‘Shaping Egypt’s Economic Transformation.’ (Read in Zawya)
There is no way to describe the idea that Morocco believes that it is locked in an existential “media war” with Egypt other than the word ‘cute.’ It is cute on their part that they believe that a couple of comments here and there from some rogue Egyptian journalists who may or may not have implied that Morocco is a country steeped in the black arts of the occult warrants the label “media war.” No. A “media war” is when a country with unlimited natural gas resources and nothing better to do decides to create a 24/7 news channel dedicated solely to negative coverage of your country. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a media war.
As we’d noted before, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry travelled to Morocco earlier last month, where their foreign minister assured the world that the two countries were united in friendship. One would think that would be enough, and that the whole ugly misunderstanding was behind us. No one seems to have told Morocco World News. Their latest paranoid raving is titled ‘Algeria, France, Egypt Scheming Against Morocco, Who is next?‘ One wonders why the question is posed at all when they can simply consult a bag of enchanted chicken bones to divine an answer.
Excerpts: “Sisi’s wishful thinking is to form a North African axis between Algeria and Egypt; a move in line with Algeria’s ultimate goal to isolate Morocco. At the same time, it would help Egypt acquire gas at a preferential price for years to come and serve as thanks to the Algerians for their role in helping Egypt return to the African Union, after its suspension due the overthrow of the democratically-elected President Mohammad Morsi and the death and imprisonment of hundreds of Egyptians … One thing Algeria has overlooked, if not underestimated, is the Moroccan monarch’s response to the schemes against his country.” Yes. The Moroccan king. A man who has never met a pedophile to whom he hasn’t granted a royal pardon.VICE has a good write-up on this as well. “Media war” they say.
Human Rights Watch has issued a press release titled ‘Egypt: Human Rights in Sharp Decline,’ highlighting their section on Egypt in their recently published World Report: 2015. (Read the release on Egypt) The report is being picked up by BBC and Reuters, among others. To draw attention to the report, HRW Director Kenneth Roth has penned a piece in FP titled ‘The Abdication of Moral Responsibility,’ which criticizes Egypt’s human rights track record, as well as those of other regional states. (Read)
Michele Dunne has written an op-ed for Al Jazeera titled ‘Egypt’s Sisi and the insurgency.’ (Read, if you plan on committing suicide by heart attack)
Christopher Coats of Forbes never gets around to answering the question he poses in the title of his latest piece:’ Is Eni’s Egyptian Bet Paying Off?’ Rather, it is a brief review of developments between Eni and Egypt that we and others have reported on regularly. (Read)
WHAT YOU CLICKED LAST WEEK
The five most-clicked stories in Enterprise last week included:
ENERGY, RENEWABLE ENERGY & SUBSIDY REFORM
Egypt may cut fuel subsidies by an extra EGP 20 bn
Reuters | 29 Jan 2015
The Minister of Investment said Egypt is considering reducing fuel subsidies by EGP 20 bn, pending an assessment of the potential social implications of the decision, according to Reuters. Using the smart card system, the minister said the government may “cut fuel subsidies to EGP 80 bn in the fiscal year starting June 30, instead of the EGP 100 bn now planned for.” This echoes a similar sentiment by the Minister of Finance from his FT interview before the weekend. (Read)
EETC to build four transformer stations in Aswan
Al Borsa | 28 Jan 2015
The Egyptian Electrical Transmission Company (EETC) is building four transmission stations with a capacity of 2,000 MVA at a cost of EGP 620 mn in Aswan. The new transmission stations will transmit power produced from solar power plants that are planned in Upper Egypt. The president of the EETC, Ahmed Hanafy, said a tender will be issued for the transformer stations next week. (Read in Arabic)
94% of electricity in Egypt to come from conventional fuels
Al Mal | 30 Jan 2015
A source at the Ministry of Electricity said that 94% of electricity consumption will come conventional fuels with the remaining 6% generated from renewable source. Power stations’ consumption of conventional fuels is expected to reach 130 million mcf of oil equivalent – the highest rate in the ministry’s history as electricity demand is expected to grow to 30 GW. The source also said that Algerian LNG will be used from April. (Read in Arabic)
Investors to discuss with El-Sisi incentives for smaller investments in solar energy at meeting tomorrow
Al-Mal | 31 Jan 2015
Small and medium-sized solar producers generating less than 500 kilowatts at their projects have held meetings with the Minister of Electricity to prepare recommendations that are to be presented to President Abdelfattah El-Sisi at a meeting on Monday to discuss how to promote more investment in the field. (Read in Arabic)
OIL & GAS
Bapetco’s production reaches 130,000 bpd of oil equivalent
Al Ahram | 28 Jan 2015
The president of Badr El Din Petroleum Company (Bapetco), Royal Dutch Shell’s JV in Egypt, Emad Hamdy, told Al Ahram that the company’s production rates now have reached 130,000 bpd of oil and oil equivalents. Bapetco’s success rate with its exploratory wells has also reached 95%, according to Hamdy. The company’s investment plan during the current fiscal year includes drilling 18 development wells, four exploratory wells and 13 water-injection wells, at a total cost of USD 516 mn. (Read in Arabic)
EGPC considers allowing cement producers to import fuel oil directly
Al Masry Al Youm | 30 Jan 2015
EGPC is currently considering allowing cement producers to import mazut (fuel oil) directly to be used as an alternative to natural gas, according to a source. Mazut is not subsidized by the government, and having it sold at international prices allowed heavy users to satisfy their demand for the fuel. The source said EGPC will meet this week to finalize the issue, noting that the imports will be handled by EGPC, which will import the mazut and be compensated in foreign currency. (Read in Arabic)
BASIC MATERIALS & COMMODITIES
GASC wheat shipments held in Russian ports
Al Shorouk | 30 Jan 2015
Sources told Al Shorouk that some wheat shipments heading to Egypt’s GASC are being held in Russian ports pending the expected export duty that comes into effect in 1 February. If the new duty is applied on these shipments, the producers in Russia will be required to bear the cost and the contractors are aiming to finalize all paperwork before the set date. GASC will not be liable for any extra costs, according to the same source. (Read in Arabic)
New methods will lead to 10% increase in wheat production —Minister
Al Mal | 31 Jan 2015
Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation Adel El-Beltagy says new methods utilized in wheat production in projects “Egypt 1” and “Egypt 2” are expected to result in increased productivity compared to last year. El-Beltagy added that in the past seven months, the Ministry of Agriculture has succeeded in experimenting with new research methods, the development of the million acres project, adopting new survey methods, and adjusting fertilizer prices in the market. (Read in Arabic)
Health ministry did not ban the selling of all Cataflam —Novartis Egypt
Al Mal | 29 Jan 2015
Novartis Egypt denied that the Ministry of Health has banned the sale of the drug manufacturer’s painkiller Cataflam. The ban only applies to one batch only (“Y1292”) and Novartis has not been provided with an official reason behind the decision. The Ministry of Health is currently withdrawing that specific batch of Cataflam from pharmacies across Egypt. (Read in Arabic)
14,000 units to be built in New Cairo and 6 October as part of Arabtec’s housing project
Al Shorouk | 29 Jan 2015
The Minister of Housing announced that 14,000 units will be included in the fifth phase of the government’s affordable housing project by Arabtec. The fifth phase will be advertised in two months and includes 1,000 units in New Cairo and 13,000 in 6 October city. This will follow the fourth phase, which is scheduled to be advertised from 01 February to 03 March. The Minister also announced intentions to expansions to the Dar Misr social housing project. (Read in Arabic)
BANKING & FINANCE
Ministry of Finance to create logistical centers to reduce customs clearance waiting times
Amwal Al Ghad | 31 Jan 2015
The Minister of Finance announced the beginning of a project set to create 19 logistical centers to reduce customs clearance waiting times and bring them down to global rates. The project begins with 8 centers in Cairo airport and ports in Alexandria, Port Said, and El Ain El Sokhna. These centers are expected to apply international best practices and automated processes to increase efficiency, according to the Minister. (Read in Arabic)
OTHER BUSINESS NEWS OF NOTE
Japanese firm to submit Metro designs to Ministry of Transportation this week
Youm7 | 31 Jan 2015
A Japanese company has announced the completion of designs for the fourth line of Egypt’s Metro that connects Fostat and 6th of October and will submit it to the Ministry of Transportation this week. The project is part of a USD 1.2 bn Japanese loan to Egypt to develop a new Metro line. Dr. Tarek El-Semni, a member of the Japanese company, said that the designs contribute to more stability and reduces the likelihood of land depressions – a recurring problem with Egypt’s metro lines in the past. (Read in Arabic)
Canada to grant Egypt USD 50 mn in development aid, USD 10 mn for security in 2015
Amwal Al Ghad | 29 Jan 2015
The Canadian Ambassador to Cairo announced that Canada will be granting Egypt a total of USD 60 mn in 2015. USD 10 mn will be used to enhance cooperation in security between the two countries and USD 50 mn will be in developmental aid. According to its Ambassador,
Canada’s development priorities rest in aid to the poorest of the poor, which is why it will focus on projects in Upper Egypt. As part of the aid, Canada will channel USD 15 mn for the empowerment of women, USD 10 mn for basic education programmes, and USD 10.6 mn for vocational training. (Read in Arabic)
Nemesis Contracting to repair Ring Road
Al Shorouk | 29 Jan 2015
The General Authority for Roads, Bridges, and Land Transport signed a contract with Cyprus’ Nemesis Contracting to repair Cairo’s Ring Road. This is the first agreement to include repairs done using micro-surfacing technology, according to Al Shorouk. (Read in Arabic)
EGYPT POLITICS + ECONOMICS
Mehleb creates a ministerial committee to prepare for the Sharm investment summit
Amwal Al Ghad | 29 Jan 2015
PM Mehleb issued a decree creating a ministerial committee to be in charge of overseeing the preparations for the Sharm investment summit in March. The committee will be headed by the Minister of International Cooperation, Naglaa Al Ahwany, and will include representatives from the ministries of defense, tourism, interior, CIT, trade, foreign affairs, finance, and investment amongst others. This committee is specifically tasked with preparing for the summit and overseeing security arrangements for the arriving delegations. (Read in Arabic)
Minister of Investment: 30 projects worth up to USD 20 bn to be introduced in March; Ahwany notes that 14 of 25 major disputes with investors have been settled
Al Shorouk, Al-Mal | 31 Jan 2015
The Sisi administration continued to drive home the point that the Sharm conference is happening, full-stop, in the wake of the weekend terror attacks in North Sinai. Ashraf Salman, Minister of Investment, reiterated that Egypt intends to introduce 30 new projects worth between USD 15 bn and USD 20 bn in the Egyptian Economic Development Conference next March. Salman alluded that 20 advisory bodies and investment banks will promote the new projects in March after examining them intently. The Egyptian Economic Development Conference aims to attract investors in an effort to secure investment opportunities for long-term projects such as the new Suez Canal, Al-Shorouk reports. Naglaa El-Ahwani, Minister of International Cooperation, stated that a committee formed by Cabinet to settle investment dispute has resolved 14 out of 25 disputes, including high-profile issues with Al-Futtaim regarding Cairo Festival City and a second with Algerian state-owned petroleum company Sonatrach.
Egyptian exports to Russia hurt by the Ruble’s decline
Al Borsa | 29 Jan 2015
Egyptian exporters to Russia are complaining that the falling value of the Ruble is making trade between Egypt and Russia harder. Egyptian exporters are not receiving their payments on time as Dollars remain short in Russia, which is driving exporters to look for alternatives to market their products domestically or to the GCC with exports to Russia falling by about 40%. There are negotiations currently taking place to use the Ruble for bilateral trade and financial transactions between the two countries. (Read in Arabic)
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