Tuesday, 3 February 2015
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY
Detained Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy was reportedly expected to be released “within hours”according to Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, following Fahmy agreeing to give up his Egyptian citizenship, which was an idea that was floated by his family who manage his Twitter account, as we’d noted yesterday. (Baird, incidentally, is apparently stepping down as minister as early as today, per Canadian media reports.)
THE WEEK AHEAD
10 February (Tuesday): Cityscape Egypt Business Breakfast, Four Seasons Hotel at Nile Plaza. Read the press release here.
LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS
Amr Adeeb has officially given up on Qatar and Al Jazeera, announcing last night that there is no hope for them — and using rather foul language to describe the Jazeera journalists.
“Judging by the recent Ikhwani activity ,it is clear that some fresh cash has hit the market. I predict that we will be witnessing some action at the Universities. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s going on so let’s be prepared before classes are back in session.”
In what appeared to be an unscheduled segment, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb called Adeeb to check in / chat from Kuwait. Mehleb, who was accompanied by Central Bank Governor Hisham Ramez, Minister of Investment Ashraf Salman and Minister of Housing Mustafa Madbouli, was clearly pleased with the results of the visit. After speaking to Adeeb for 15 minutes, he passed the phone around to his travel companions so that each could deliver their own good news.
“There will be strong participation from Kuwait at the economic conference and significant support for the Egyptian economy in the coming period, including new investments from Al M.H. Alshaya Group, who plan to build a new mall, and Al Kharafi, Group who plan to manufacture Mitsubishi automobiles in Egypt,” saidMehleb.
“Great! This is a USD 3 bn dollar visit,” declared Adeeb. “This type of high-level follow-up on the president’s visit is crucial in the coming period.”
According to Madbouli, Egypt will be given a USD 150 mn facility on preferential terms from the Kuwaiti government to expand the sewage system to rural areas.
Adeeb might be running out of opposition figures to host for his weekly “Opposition Monday” segment. Last night’s guest was Dr. Saad El Din Ibrahim. Adeeb admits that he might be stretching the definition of opposition a bit. Ibrahim answered the question: Why did the Americans meet with Ikhwan? “The Americans would meet with the rocks on the ground if they thought it would advance their interests.”
Lamees El Hadidy covered the Ministry of Transportation’s rather unusual decision to offer commuters who report suspicious behavior on trains and buses free access to all forms of public transportation for a period of one year. A phone call to Minister of Transportation Hany Dahi confirmed that the incentive plan is indeed a reality. The Minister also announced that new equipment to detect explosive devices is currently being put in place at train and metro stations nationwide.
“This is fine, but it shouldn’t be necessary to offer an incentive for people to report bombs. It is the duty of any citizen to report anything suspicious,” said El Hadidy.
Youssef El Housseiny called on viewers to light candles this coming Thursday at 7:00 pm in memory of the martyrs who died in Sinai last week. “Wherever you are on Thursday, please light a candle. Our aim is to have 90 million candles burning in memory of the martyrs and as a show of solidarity against terrorism. We are very pleased that the Free Egyptians party is also backing this initiative,” said El Housseiny.
He agreed with El Hadidy that the Ministry of Transportation’s “free ride if you report a terrorist” initiative is a bit strange. “There are only 5-6 people in this government who know what they are doing;” — he didn’t name them — “the rest are very nice people, but they are better off staying home and drinking tea.”
Cairo International Airport security personnel reportedly discovered two bombs at an arrival hall on Monday night. The hall was locked down and passengers are re-routed to their departure gates as the devices were disarmed, according to a brief piece in Al-Borsa. Al-Arabiya news’ twitter feed puts the incident in Hall 3, Terminal One.
The IMF will be participating in the Egypt Economic Development Conference, IMF mission chief for Egypt Christopher Jarvis allegedly confirmed to state news agency MENA, according to Al Borsa.
New electoral bloc announced: Al-Wafd, El Adl, Al-Ghad and Tagamoah parties having joined Amr Moussa’s Conference Party to form an electoral alliance. According to Ahram Online, “the new alliance has chosen members to run as independents in the upcoming parliamentary elections.” The article notes that while former Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri’s much-discussed bloc is expected to make a strong showing, its composition is still unclear at this time. (Read)
‘Hamas supporters in Gaza protest Egyptian court ban’: Hamas organized a march of hundreds in Gaza yesterday to protest a decision on Saturday by an Egyptian court to designate their military wing as a terrorist organization. (Read)
Mohamed Saad Eliwa has reportedly been chosen as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s new Supreme Guide, according to Arabic news outlet Masrawy, although this has yet to be confirmed. (Read in Arabic)
Egypt sets new Morsi espionage trial for 15 February: The start of Morsi’s fourth trial, where he along with several others are accused of espionage by passing state secrets to Qatari news outlet Al Jazeera, will begin on 15 February according to an Egyptian judicial source yesterday. (Read)
Alwaleed’s Alarab halts broadcast after first day of operation: Broadcast of Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s new media outlet Alarab Television ceased after only one day in operation. While Bloomberg, which has been previously reported as having an affiliation with the network, carried the channel’s claim that this was due to a technical error, the article also makes note that it is suspected to have been suspended for hosting a member of the Bahraini opposition, a move with obvious controversy as the studio is based in Bahrain. Bahrain strongly denies the accusation, which is making the rounds on social media. (Read)
EFG Hermes Research issues note on impact of increased public spending on Saudi retail sector: As noted in our previous issue, in addition to political changes, King Salman of Saudi Arabia has announced a public spending initiative that includes a 2-month bonus for public sector employees in addition to a number of other social welfare programs. EFG Hermes Research has issued a note assessing the largely positive impact the new wave of spending will have on the Saudi retail sector, as well as the impact from a recently enacted private sector minimum wage for nationals.
Jordan’s envoy to Israel Ambassador, Walid Obeidat, is returning to his post after having been recalled to Jordan for three months over unrest at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, over which Jordan has historical custodianship. “Amman noted that Israel has been allowing more Muslim worshippers to pray at Al-Aqsa after having set limits.” (Read)
[Note: While no statements regarding the rehabilitation of diplomatic relations makes any mention of restarting talks over Jordan possibly importing natural gas from Israel, and while there is still internal political opposition in Jordan to such a deal, the current thaw certainly could go a long way toward restarting talks on gas.]
The Egyptian press has taken note of the fact that the American oil industry is facing the largest union-led strike since 1980. About nine refineries are on strike, representing c. 10% of the US’s refining capacity. Royal Dutch Shell says it hopes to resume talks as soon as possible. United Steelworkers Union began the strike Sunday, and its VP of Administration had this to say: “The problem is that oil companies are too greedy to make a positive change in the workplace and they continue to value production and profit over health and safety, workers and the community.” (Read in BBC, Read in Al-Shorouk)
Ankara turns wary eye on Greece’s new defense minister: Metin Gurcan, former Turkish military adviser in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2002-2008, briefly outlines in Al-Monitor the questions surrounding the new Greek defense minister Panos Kammenos, who hails from the Syriza party. As with many analytical pieces, Gurcan raises questions rather than answering them, but the questions he does ask regarding the uncertainty of the new Greek government’s intentions offer an insight on Ankara’s new anxieties. “Greece’s role in controlling access to the eastern Mediterranean can be amplified if it can develop warm relations with Egypt, which means many will be watching what relations the new Greek government will develop with the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo. If Greece and Egypt can agree on closer ties with Russia, one could easily forecast difficult days for NATO, the United States and Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean. Then there is Israel. Will Israel handle its relations with Greece by reacting to the anti-Semitic narrative of Kammenos or as dictated by its strategic interests in the region? Whether Israel opts for close or cool relations with the Greek government is a critical dynamic for the balance of security in the eastern Mediterranean.” (Read)
Daily protest numbers on Egyptian streets from January 2011 were linked to variation in stock prices of firms connected to the regime in power, according to the conclusion of a study by MIT economist Daron Acemoglu, University of Chicago’s Tarek Hassan, and London Business School’s Ahmed Tahoun. Firms connected to the incumbent regime tend to lose 0.8% of their value relative to non-connected firms on days with such protests. Interestingly, this pattern held regardless of the target of the protests. In addition, discontent voiced on social media “has no effect on corruption and favouritism unless it results in mobilisation in the street.” The latter is shocking, we know.
As we noted in our 26 January issue, which bemoaned that Egyptians’ curiosity to watch bombs being defused invariably wins out over any sense of self-preservation, we reiterate once again: terrorists should really give it up. Egyptians simply do not have a normal response to terrorism. When they find out that there’s a bomb, we crowd around to watch. If there’s gunfire, we run toward the sound to see what’s going on. This is of course not to make light of what’s happening in Sinai, which is clearly something not homegrown to even the most casual of observers. Compare the pots and pans cobbled together and left in Cairo — which are, for now, of a sort easily defused — with the bewildering level of sophistication, coordination, heavy weaponry, and financial resources of the attacks in Sinai, which just coincidentally happen near the country’s border. What is happening in Sinai should be called out for what it is, for what President El Sisi alluded to in his speech following the attack last weekend: It is what former NSA counterintelligence officer and Naval War College professor John R. Schindler terms “special war,” such as what is happening in Ukraine.
Why the long and potentially upsetting introduction? Simply to enjoy the following all the more: the following is the standard Egyptian response to the discovery of a bomb. If you haven’t seen this, then yes we will go out on a limb and say this is a must-watch. (Watch, running time: 2:13) H/t Ahmed Eissa.
Red Bull filmed wingsuit pilot Cedric Dumont jumping out of a plane over the Pyramids. (Watch, running time: 1:12)
The UNSC condemned the recent beheading by Daesh of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, as did the Egyptian MOFA in a statement. FT cites opinion polls in Japan showing public support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s handling of the situation, while NPR demurs, saying that critics argue that Abe’s perceived interventionism, saying that Abe made Japan and its citizens targets for terrorists following the Japanese prime minister’s speech made during his visit in Cairo when he announced USD 200 mn in support for countries fighting the terrorist state. (Audio, running time: 4:26)
After suffering an embarrassing defeat last October in losing his country’s bid for a two-year term for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council — which came after his foreign minister had unwisely boasted of their confidence in securing the seat — Erdogan is now burning bridges with China and Russia, lashing out at them and the international system at large. Erdogan is arguing for an expansion of the number of permanent seats at the Security Council to have Muslim and African representation, in what could only be an implicit suggestion that it is Turkey that could ever represent the Muslim world, given that he has relentlessly alienated most of that constituency. One is tempted to almost feel bad for him now. Almost.
It took one day for Moroccan media to go from vilifying Egypt to once again “affirming the positive momentum” between the two countries, as reported again by Morocco World News. The same outlet that just yesterday implicated Egypt in a global conspiracy against the kingdom. If this lasts that would be welcome news. Frankly it’s difficult to write jokes on wizardry; there’s only so much one can do with that. (Read)
MOFA spokesman Badr Abdel Atty called-in to the program “Hadret El Mowatan” following the host’s tirade against Qatar and how it is reverting to its old ways. Abdel Atty said that the ball is in Qatar’s court now; if they want a better relationship with Egypt, they should be the ones to make a move. (Watch and Read in Arabic, video embedded, running time: 4:12)
EGYPT IN THE NEWS
International headlines on Egypt were dominated by news of the final verdict, approved in an advisory capacity by the Mufti, of a mass death-sentence of 183 pro-Morsi defendants in the Kerdasa massacre trial, overshadowing the news of Al Jazeera English journalist Peter Greste’s release and the anticipated release of former AJE Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy. Again, for the sake of clarity, these verdicts are now final. The news was picked up by The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, CNN, The Guardian, The LA Times, the BBC, among many, many others.
Journalist Peter Greste gave his first interview following his release from 400 days in detainment in Tora prison, saying: “It was a very difficult moment walking out of that prison, saying goodbye to the guys, not knowing how much longer they all have to put up with this,” (Read)
Amnesty International issued a press release urging that in the “celebratory fanfare surrounding his [Greste’s] deportation the world does not forget the continuing ordeal of Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy who remain behind bars at Tora prison in Cairo.” (Read ‘Egypt: Deportation of Al Jazeera journalist must not overshadow continuing plight of Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy‘)
Qatari vanity publishing outlet The Peninsula was quick to gloat: “Greste release rids Egypt’s Sisi of PR fiasco.” Now that everything is finally out in the open regarding the deterioration of relations between Egypt and Qatar following the passing of King Abdullah, the newspaper writes: “Even without a detente with Qatar, Sisi appeared set on releasing Greste and Fahmy amid pressure from Canada and Australia, where the two journalists had become a cause celebre.” [emphasis ours] (Read, but be careful of eye strain as they believe a font size of 6 or 7 works.)
The British Foreign Office has published a release praising the release of Peter Greste, but expressing continued concern for the detainment of Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, as well as the convictions in absentia of British nationals and Al Jazeera journalists Dominic Kane and Sue Turton. “We continue to believe that stability and prosperity in Egypt is dependent on open and inclusive politics and on full respect for the rights contained in the Egyptian constitution. I call on the Egyptian government to take further action to ensure the release of other journalists from prison, to release political detainees and to relax restrictions on civil society.” (Read)
The Pound’s Inevitable Devaluation Arrives: The Atlantic Council’s blog features a post by Fred Jasins, senior economic researcher at the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, on the current managed devaluation of the Egyptian pound and its overall expected impact. A good primer for those who are unclear as to why Egypt is addressing foreign currency risk for potential investors. (Read)
ENERGY, RENEWABLE ENERGY & SUBSIDY REFORM
Enerpal-GAIA consortium to invest in renewables; Egyptian banks’ strategy on renewables unclear?
Al Borsa | 02 Feb 2015
The Spanish consortium of Enerpal GAIA will create an Egyptian company to generate power from renewable sources. The consortium qualified to build solar and wind energy projects at the Ministry of Electricity’s tender and will build a 100 MW unit at an investment cost of EUR 140 mn. Enerpal GAIA are now in negotiations with banks, including Sabadell and Santander; the story notes in this context that the financing strategy of Egyptian banks is unclear when it comes to renewable energy. The Enerpal GAIA alliance plans to invest EUR 500 mn in the next two years. (Read in Arabic)
Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development to finance connection of Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s electricity grids, energy projects
Amwal Al Ghad, Veto Gate | 01 Feb 2015
News reports emerged of Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb’s meeting with the head of Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development during his trip to Kuwait. The fund agreed to extend to Egypt KWD 160 mn for energy projects. KWD 45 mn will go toward connecting the electricity grids of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, KWD 55 mn to finance Al Walidiya power stations in Assiyut, and KWD 60 mn for the West Cairo power station. (Read in Arabic and here)
Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development mulls USD 300 mn investment in Egypt
Al Borsa | 02 Feb 2015
After a meeting with PM Mehleb in Kuwait, the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development said it is considering investing in two projects in Egypt. The two projects are in the energy sector and could see an investment of USD 300 mn. The Fund also said it will be participate in the Sharm investment summit. (Read in Arabic)
NREA to create three new companies to oversee power stations
Al Mal | 02 Feb 2015
Three new companies will be created to operate and maintain the renewable energy power stations, according to the head of the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA). One company will be responsible for wind farms, another for photovoltaic power stations, and the third for solar concentrators. The NREA is currently seeking GAFI’s approval to set up the companies, which will allow the Authority to partner with private sector companies directly. The NREA’s first project is set to be Masdar’s 200 MW wind farm. (Read in Arabic)
EGP 20 mn for new and renewable energy for six Marsa Alam hotels
Daily News Egypt | 02 Feb 2015
The Ministry of Finance has allocated EGP 20 mn to the Ministry of Tourism for new and renewable energy facilities for six Marsa Alam hotels in 1Q15, according comments attributed to Emad Hasan, energy adviser to the Minister of Tourism, as reported by Daily News Egypt. The MoF allocated EGP 1.25 bn in 2014 to provide loans for new and renewable energy. (Read)
Foreign and domestic investors hold back on steel due to energy concerns
Al Shorouk | 02 Feb 2015
According to an unnamed source quoted in Shorouk, a European and an Egyptian company were among several other investors who suspended their investments in the Egyptian steel industry. The source added that this falls back to the current energy crisis and the general lack of clarity concerning the repricing of natural gas agreements, a primary input for production. Mohamed El Sewedy, the chairman of the Egyptian Federation of Industries, was also quoted saying that while steel producers wouldn’t oppose a reasonable increase in prices, foreign or domestic investors will continue to shy away given the uncertainty surrounding Egypt’s energy policy. (Read in Arabic)
OIL & GAS
BP, BG to slash spending on exploration, cut jobs
The Telegraph | 01 Feb 2015
BP and BG are set to announce USD 21 bn in cuts to capital expenditure plans along with job cuts, according to The Telegraph. The newspaper also reports that both companies are expected to reveal a drastic fall in profitability in 4Q14 results. BG’s profits are expected to decline to USD 5.4 bn from USD 7.4 bn, according to the paper, driving a reduction in spending by USD 1 bn as the “Egypt focused gas group BG is also expected to cut spending and jobs as it grapples with lower commodity prices.” (Read)
Israeli gas a cheap option, importing Iraqi oil impossible –FEI petroleum chamber
Al Masry Al Youm | 02 Feb 2015
Tamer Abu Bakr, head of the Petroleum Chamber at the Federation of Egyptian Industries, said that importing Israeli gas is the cheapest remedy to Egypt’s energy problems. Aside from benefiting from the cheaper cost of importing via pipeline, any deal could result in the dropping of international arbitration against Egypt for breach of contract in supplying gas to Israel. On a separate note, Abu Bakr downplayed the likelihood of importing Iraqi oil, saying this would require field development activities in Iraq’s northwest region — something unlikely to happen for the time being. (Read in Arabic and here)
Merlon International to invest USD 81 mn at its Fayoum concession
Al Mal | 02 Feb 2015
Merlon International announced it will inject USD 81 mn in investments at its concession in Fayoum to finance E&P operations in 2015. Merlon’s domestic affiliate Petrosilah aims to increase oil production from 7,000 barrels per day to 8,200 barrels per day by mid-next year. Petrosilah will spend USD 10 mn conducting seismic in its concession area in Fayoum and aims to dig nine new wells this year. (Read in Arabic and here)
EGAS finalizes agreements with three companies to import natural gas
Al Mal | 02 Feb 2015
EGAS Chairman Khaled Abdel Badie announced that the conclusion of agreements with three companies awarded concessions to import natural gas, with the signing of the final terms to take place shortly. He stated that EGAS will sign with the fourth company this week, with the first shipment expected to arrive this coming March, as we have previously reported. (Read in Arabic)
ICIEC adds USD 80 mn in political risk insurance to Apache in Egypt
Global Trade Review | 02 Feb 2015
Adding detail to the story we picked up yesterday from Reuters on the same subject: The Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) has provided USD 80 mn of reinsurance support against political risk for oil and gas exploration in Egypt for five years, adding to Apache’s risk insurance policy from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Opic has provided USD 300 mn of political risk insurance to Apache in Egypt over the past decade, adding to reinsurance agreements from US private and multilateral insurers to bring the coverage to over USD 1 bn of political risk coverage. (Read)
BASIC MATERIALS & COMMODITIES
Government decides on framework governing the cotton industry
Shorouk News | 02 Feb 2015
Agriculture Minister Adel El Beltagy announced on Monday that the government had reached a consensus on a permanent framework governing the cotton industry. The framework adopts the plan announced by Beltagy last week, which would see the implementation of a third-party contracts system designed to purchase harvested crops from farmers at above market price, thereby shielding them from global price fluctuations. The article falls short by not discussing the plan’s expected role in mitigating the effects of subsidy cuts in the cotton industry. The news comes after several meetings between the ministers of agriculture and industry, the head of Central Agricultural Cooperative Union (CACU) and reps of the General Authority for Land Reclamation. (Read in Arabic)
Ministry of Housing using Dar Misr Project to directly challenge private sector, says Amaken Chairman
Veto Gate | 02 Feb 2015
Jasser Bahgat, Chairman of Amaken Real Estate and Construction, implied that the ministry of housing is using uncompetitive market tactics with regard to its Dar Misr project for medium-income housing units. In a statement to Veto Gate, Bahgat said the government undercut the private sector by up to 30%, cushioned by its ownership of the land. The market cannot adapt to such low prices, as costs of materials and equipment continues to rise, he added. (Read in Arabic)
Egypt witnesses 18% growth in real estate financing during 2014
Asharq Al Awsat | 01 Feb 2015
Real estate financing in Egypt grew 18% in 2014 to EGP 576 mn. According to the head of the EFSA Sherif Sami, the bulk of this financing (48.5%) went to properties in the 86 sqm category. Financing leasing in Egypt also saw robust growth in 2014, growing 14.4%. (Read in Arabic)
CIT ministry to regulate Wi-Fi access in public spaces
Al Mal | 02 Feb 2015
Rules regulating Wi-Fi in public spaces will be available soon, according to the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Atef Helmy. Noor ADSL had signed an agreement with the governorate of Alexandria to extend Wi-Fi to public squares in the city. Helmy said the ministry will cooperate with the governorates to regulate the provision of the service. (Read in Arabic and check out a related story in yesterday’s Al-Mal if you’re particularly interested)
Tourism Ministry unlikely to participate in tourism investment fund
Amwal Al Ghad | 02 Feb 2015
Minister of Tourism Hisham Zazou said it was unlikely that the ministry would directly participate in the Egyptian Tourism Federation’s tourism investment fund, as the bylaws of the ministry bar it from participating in any new investment entities. The fund was set up last year to support the tourism sector and was targeted at a size of USD 1 bn. (Read in Arabic)
Investment projects involving Egypt’s natural protectorates to be presented at the Sharm summit
Al Shorouk | 02 Feb 2015
An investment project involving Egypt’s natural protectorates is being prepared by the protectorates’ committee for financial sustainability for the Egypt Economic Development Conference. The first phase of the investment project will include opportunities in Ras Mohamed, Wadi El Rayan, and Wadi Degla as development targets. The Minister of Environmental Affairs Khaled Fahmy stressed the importance of the project and expects it to be ready for implementation before the end of the year. (Read in Arabic)
Ministry of Tourism to present investment opportunities worth EGP 5.3 bn at the investment summit
Al Mal | 02 Feb 2015
Five investment opportunities will be presented at the Sharm investment summit in March, according to tourism minister Hisham Zazou. The five potential projects have an expected investment value of EGP 5.3 bn and involve an EGP 1.1 bn development in Gamsha north of Hurghada as well as an EGP 1.9 bn development of the Magawish resort in Safaga, among other projects. (Read in Arabic)
OTHER BUSINESS NEWS OF NOTE
JICA to discuss USD 340 mn funding for the fourth metro line
Amwal Al Ghad | 02 Feb 2015
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will meet with the National Authority for Tunnels in two weeks time to discuss funding the fourth line of the Cairo metro. JICA is expected to extend USD 340 mn in financing for the project that is set to begin in 2016. The funding will come in the form of a 40-year loan with an interest rate of 0.2%. (Read in Arabic)
EGYPT POLITICS + ECONOMICS
Three messages the government aims to convey at the Sharm investment summit
Al Mal | 01 Feb 2015
Minister of International Cooperation Naglaa El-Ahwany spoke with Al Mal about the messages Egypt aims to send at the Sharm investment summit following her appointment as the head of the ministerial committee overseeing the preparations. The first message is about the government’s general economic vision, the second is about the potential investment opportunities, and the third is about offering potential investors actual projects that are ready. The article also mentions that BG Group’s COO Sami Iskander will attend the conference. (Read in Arabic)
German ambassador wants more information on Sharm economic summit; German-Arab Chamber is enthusiastic
Al Borsa, Al Mal | 02 Feb 2015
Germany’s Ambassador to Egypt Hansjörg Haber said that while his government is interested in participating in the Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm this March, German companies still await more details before making a decision, as quoted in an interview with Al Borsa. The ambassador said that German firms will certainly invest in any projects that suit their plans and provide adequate returns. Haber also expressed his wish to see more structural reforms in the government and to see a greater rule of law. He added that Egypt and Germany had signed a EUR 100 mn aid agreement that will be directed toward renewable energy and water treatment projects, among other initiatives. Meanwhile, Rainer Herret, CEO of the German-Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry, revealed that several German companies involved in petrochemicals and renewable energy have upped their investments in Egypt of late and will be sharing these details during the Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm next month. Herret also noted that 23 German firms will attend the summit, and a list with their names will be sent to the Chamber sometime next week. (Read in Al Borsa or Read in Al Mal)
Ministry of Finance diverts EGP 5.10 bn to several ministries to respond to emergencies
MoF Press Release | 02 Feb 2015
Adding detail to yesterday’s news: the Ministry of Finance extended a total of EGP 5.10 bn to the ministries of electricity, health, justice, supplies, petroleum, and housing to respond to emergencies and improve services. EGP 1.51 bn is directed to the Ministry of Electricity to complete that ministry’s plans to circumvent anticipated power shortages this summer and another EGP 1.86 bn to purchase oil products. The Ministry of Supplies will get EGP 1.14 bn to import 240 kT of wheat and to subsidize food items. EGP 45.9 mn were used to help the Palestinian Authority pay debt it owed to the Canal Company for Electricity Distribution. (Read in Arabic)
Minister of Investment: Egypt needs EGP 415 bn to achieve 3.8% growth
Al Shorouk | 02 Feb 2015
Egypt needs EGP 415 bn in domestic and foreign investments to achieve 3.8% growth according to Minister of Investment Ashraf Salman as reported by Shorouk, adding that as it stands now, only EGP 58 bn is available through the state’s budget. Speaking at a meeting with the Egyptian-Kuwaiti Chamber of Commerce, Salman said that the Egyptian economy has earned votes of confidence from several financial institutions, most notably from the IMF. (Read in Arabic)
Cyprus nixes tender bid to import gas from Israel
The Jerusalem Post | 02 Feb 2015
Cyprus ended a tender bid to import gas from Israel’s Leviathan field, after the Cypriot Natural Gas Public Company chose not extend its purchase proposal. This follows the announcement of an antitrust inquiry regarding the Leviathan partners Delek Energy and Noble Energy in December, with the Cypriot government concluding it would be impossible to receive gas from Leviathan within the necessary time frame. As we noted yesterday, representatives of Noble Energy arrived in Egypt on Sunday to discuss potential gas exports and meet with representatives from Dolphinus Holding Ltd. and BG Group. Exports to Egypt could take place via the existing pipeline as an industry source explained “you don’t need to put in any infrastructure, just reverse the flow.” (Read)
ON YOUR WAY OUT
POMED (Project on Middle East Democracy) has published a brief report on Erdogan’s tightening vice around Turkey titled ‘Stunted Democracy- Erdoğan, the AKP, and Turkey’s Slide into Authoritarianism.’ “The once-popular idea that contemporary Turkey could serve as a model for Middle Eastern democracy is no more. Its authoritarian slide is now painfully evident and regularly condemned in Congress and in the press.” [emphasis ours] (Read)
‘Egypt’s Rooftop Solar Loan Initiative: Hot or Not?’ Or alternately, This Article Is Everything That is Wrong With The Internet, Coverage on Egypt, Why People Need To Stop Speaking For Everyone And Need To Stop Capitalizing Every Word In Their Titles. This is one of the more bizarre stories that we’ve been forced to read, attempt to understand, and then attempt to explain to others. The short version: An article has appeared on the usually credible renewable energy site Clean Technica and which has been re-published on a number of other sites. The author (bio) claims that the recent pilot program by NBE and Banque Misr to offer loans for rooftop solar panels will fail because “the majority of [Egypt’s] citizens has never paid interest on a loan before this.” Just so we’re all on the same page, we can now look at another passage from her article on solar panel financing for consumers: “‘Interest’ is just another form of rashwah in just about any intelligent Egyptian’s opinion. In Egypt, loans + interest = #FAIL.” That’s an actual quote. Here’s the first comment following the article: “Thank you for this insight into Egypt. Us Westerners definitely have a hard time imagining what it is like, that was a sobering reminder.” (Read if you need the aggravation)
Egyptian Daesh member Abou Obaida, an individual in charge of the group’s zakat collections, managed to flee with LS 1 bn, or approximately USD 5 mn. According to the terrorist organization, this is not the first time one of their generals has fled with their money, in reference to a judge who hails from Saudi Arabia who also made off with some of Daesh’s funds. (Read in Arabic)
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