Thursday, 23 March 2017

A news day so slow, everyone’s babbling about Cairo Metro tickets


What We’re Tracking Today

It’s a slow news day in Egypt and around the world. Journalists are preoccupied with yesterday’s terror attack outside the UK parliament in London, which killed five and injured at least 40 (coverage in Speed Round, below), and suggestions that US intelligence may have “incidentally” picked up communications of the Trump transition team.

Ban on electronic devices in airplane cabins spreads: UK Department of Transport announced that the ban will be enforced on Saturday, according to the AP. Both Easyjet and British Airways will enforce by that day, the BBC reports. “[Easyjet] said passengers would face extra security checks and advised them to arrive early at their airport.” The ban affects three Easyjet flights per day. Meanwhile, Emirates is going to let passengers use their devices until just about the moment before they board and then “the airline will then take the items for storage in the cargo hold until arrival,” Bloomberg reports. The business news service also has a list of what it says are hacks to survive a flight without electronics that boils down to paper books, paper notebooks and learn to like the in-flight entertainment system. (We’d add, if you’re not traveling with the kids, that you consider a sleep aid. Or ethanolic beverages. Just don’t mix the two.)

Why Homeland Security says the ban is in effect, per an emailed fact sheet: “Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.”

Why the policy wonks say the ban is in effect: It’s all about business, not terror, suggests a piece for the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog. Specifically, part of the war between US airlines and GCC-based carriers that we’ve discussed in the past. See, by way of example: The Middle East’s 3 best airlines have infuriated their US competitors (from back in 2015) and American airlines want Trump to take on their Gulf rivals. (H/t Youssef El-S.)

** Take our quarterly reader survey and we’ll take at least two of you to lunch… What are the biggest challenges facing businesses in Egypt? Were the last three months good for doing business? Where do you and your business see the exchange rate stabilizing? Help us help you find out by taking our quarterly reader poll for 1Q2017. The survey would only take a couple of minutes to complete and, as always, you don’t need to answer every question — but we’ll be ridiculously grateful if you do. And taking the couple of minutes to fill it out will benefit everyone in the community by serving as a snap poll of sentiment.

…at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza. We’ll draw the names of two readers who filled in all survey questions and send them to lunch with the editors of Enterprise at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza (that’s the one in Garden City). Each reader will be entitled to bring a friend or colleague. If you’re interested, make sure you leave your full name, email address and best telephone number at the end of the survey. The poll closes next Tuesday, and we’ll announce the results and the names of our lunch guests on Sunday, 2 April.

We’re off tomorrow: Our Weekend Edition is on holiday tomorrow as we work on another special issue for you — and recover from a really hectic week.

On The Horizon

AmCham is hosting an investment conference on Tuesday, 28 March with a keynote address from Investment Minister Sahar Nasr and panels on investing in consumer sectors, private equity and real estate. The very bright Ahmed Kouchouk, deputy minister of finance, is also due to speak. The event runs 9am-4pm at the Cairo Marriott. Non-members can register here.

We’re looking forward to the Egyptian Private Equity Association’s seminar on “first-time SME equity fund managers in Egypt.” Panelists include EPEA President Abdalla ElEbiary, Karsten Sinner from EBRD, Monty Palmer from USAID’s SEED program, and local SME funds Ezdehar, Tanmiya Capital Ventures and LimeVest. The event runs 9:30am-1:30pm on Wednesday, 28 March at the Cairo Marriott. RSVP to

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

We’re pleased to report that Amr Adib is back on the screen and was as boisterous as ever. He took the time to thank his fans for their well wishes during his convalescence (watch, runtime: 17:42).

Adib powered through an hour-long interview with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al Hariri,who spoke about improving political conditions in Lebanon and praised Egypt’s economic reforms (watch, runtime 7:51).

Adib also covered the terrorist attack on the UK’s Houses of Parliament building in central London (more in Speed Round), speaking with Egyptian MP Anissa Hassouna who used the moment to urge the UK to officially ban the Ikhwan (watch, runtime: 2:08).

Cairo’s rapprochement with Riyadh will apparently be marked at a summit, according to Arab League boss Ahmed Aboul Gheit (watch, runtime 2:20). He told Hona Al Asema host Lamees Al Hadidi that the gathering would take place on the sidelines of the Arab League Summit taking place in Jordan today (watch, runtime 2:08). Algeria, the UAE, and Oman will not be participating.

A potential hike in Cairo Metro ticket prices was all over the airwaves last night.Cabinet Spokesperson Ashraf Sultan phoned in to Al Hayah Al Youm to tell host Tamer Amin that government is still weighing its options and has yet to make a decision on raising the metro fare (watch, runtime 5:28). Over on MBC, Yahduth fi Masr host Sherif Amer spoke to MP Mohamed Badawi El Dessouky, who has proposed ticket prices be hiked to EGP 3 (the government’s proposal is EGP 2). MP Saeed Teama said the House Transport Committee will hold more meetings to study all the viable solutions to ending the Metro Company’s financial troubles.

DMC’s Osama Kamal hosted Tourism Development Authority chief Hisham ElDemeiry, whose spoke in part about the need to cut down the red tape that been stifling the sector’s growth and development for years (watch, runtime 4:11).

A growing scandal over food poisoning from school meals was at center stage on Mehwar’s 90 Minutes. Aswan was home to 204 out of some 400 cases in the outbreak, Aswan Governor Magdy Hegazy said (watch, runtime: 15:09).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

The Ismail Cabinet has apparently given preliminary approval to doubling the cost of a Cairo Metro ticket, with fares likely to riseto EGP 2 from EGP 1, Al Masry Al Youm reports, citing an unnamed government official. Cabinet tasked Transportation Minister Hisham Arafat with the daunting task of selling the idea to House of Representatives’ Transportation Committee yesterday, which went down as expected. The grandstanding branch of government declared its refusal to accept the price increases, with some committee members whining that Cabinet planned to move ahead and implement the measure without MPs’ consent, Al Mal reports. Others urged Arafat to allow them time to form a panel to study the effects of a hike on citizens, according to Al Borsa.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail had to wade into the fray, saying that the government was studying a number of ways of helping Cairo Metro’s grow its revenues. In statements to the press on yesterday, Ismail made the case for why the Metro’s finances needed to be overhauled.

Don’t hold your breath: A quick skim through our files shows debates about raising Cairo Metro ticket prices in October 2016, August 2016, June 2016, March 2016, February 2016, November 2015, July 2015…

The Board of state-owned Alexandria Mineral Oils Company (AMOC) has reportedly decided to tap BNY Mellon to run its GDR program and expects to ink an agreement with the bank next week, Al Shorouk reports, citing an unnamed source at AMOC. The company is reportedly speaking with Baker McKenzie about serving as legal counsel on the issuance, which could come at the beginning of next year. AMOC’s board approved last month converting 10% of the company’s shares into GDRs as part of a secondary offering of 10-20% of its shares it announced in January. AMOC’s chairman Amr Moustafa believes his company will be the first energy company in Egypt to list more shares as part of the state IPO program.

In other news from the capital markets, the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority issued a non-objection to MM Group’s listing on the EGX, Al Mal reports. Final pricing on the transactions will be set after the international offer closes on Tuesday, 4 April, three days before the Egyptian public offering closes on Thursday, 6 April. MM Group is planning to list 30% of its shares on the EGX for a maximum price of EGP 6.06 per share. 85% of the offering, representing some 100.98 mn shares, will be earmarked for an institutional offering, while the remaining 17.82 mn shares will be offered to retail investors in Egypt. Beltone Financial is leading the transaction, Zaki Hashem & Partners are local counsel, and BDO is acting as the independent legal advisor.

You’re not paying close attention, FT: Egypt is the worst performer among big tourist destinations, Steve Johnson writes in The FT’s EM Squared, “although Russian airlines have resumed flights to Sharm el-Sheikh.” No, Russian airlines have not (yet) resumed flights to Egypt. The piece carries no meaningful insights, focusing instead on uninformed, hackneyed quotes from the CEO of the WTTC, including the likes of: “The young people who would normally be working in the tourism industry are either getting on boats and looking to come to Europe or are potentially recruits [for the terrorists].” Someone dropped the ball on this.

Elsewhere in the salmon-colored paper: Only the fact of this being an achingly slow news morning makes it worth your while reading the Financial Times’ “special report “Investing in the Arab World,” which largely trots out tired metaphors and hackneyed storylines. The full package includes:

We’re typically huge fans of the FT around here, making yesterday’s disappointment all the more stark.

Over-borrowing from the CBE is the real culprit behind the massive spike ininflation: Egypt’s inflation is symptomatic of a larger problem, that the CBE has been playing loose with the money supply, writes Patrick Werr for The National. He says that since 2011, cash-strapped governments have been forced to resort to extraordinary means to finance budget deficits, as it was constrained by internal politics to raise taxes and cut subsidies. Cue the CBE, which presided over an “exceptionally swift growth in the money supply.” Broad money supply, M2, grew by 22% year-on-year in November (excluding the effect of the EGP float that month). The growth rate in the years immediately before 2011 was hovering at about 10%. Werr blames this increase for the massive spike in inflation, which reached 30% in February, when the EGP float came in November. “The IMF projects that the government will increase its borrowings outstanding from the CBE to EGP 668 bn this fiscal year, up from only EGP 176 bn in FY2011-12,” he said. While both the CBE governor and Finance Minister promised the IMF to limit borrowing from the CBE to a minimum, Werr warns that the pressures resulting from the reform agenda could see the government not follow through on that pledge.

Traders raising wheat prices for Egypt after state wheat buyer nixes seven cargoes since January: The General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) issued preliminary rejections on seven cargoes of the grain since introducing new import rules in January, prompting many traders to raise prices at state tenders, five traders told Reuters. They complain that under the new system the number of rejected cargoes had risen, driving up the cost of doing business. Six of the seven cargoes rejected on arrival were forced to undergo costly fumigation and sieving, which tacked on an additional cost of USD 2.5 per tonne. Not all are complaining, with some suggesting that Egyptian wheat imports will rise next season, after the government streamlined its customs regulation, according to Agrimoney. “Traders are ‘optimistic’ that a new grain inspection system will bring some clarity” to shipping wheat to Egypt, the US Department of Agriculture’s Cairo bureau said. The new rules are apparently a welcome change from the confused ergot policy, with traders feeling that dealing with an experienced organization such as GOEIC will be more straightforward, the bureau said.

Egypt has temporarily suspended permits for new imports of meat from Brazil, according to Bloomberg. Saudi Arabia, the world’s second-largest buyer of Brazil’s chicken, ordered new inspections of meat from Brazil after allegations that “exporters bribed local inspectors to approve tainted meat for sale.” China has temporarily suspended shipments from the South American country, while the European Union, Chile, and Japan have restricted purchases. At home, “Egypt is tightening inspection rules at ports and is holding off on issuing new import permits until results of Brazil’s investigation,” according to the Agriculture Ministry’s spokesperson. Egypt is Brazil’s second-largest market for beef after China and ahead of Russia, Bloomberg data shows.

The meat producers’ division at the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) objected to the ban, arguing that the move risks driving up meat prices, especially with Ramadan approaching, according to AMAY. An Agriculture Ministry official tells Al Shorouk, however, that the Egyptian market is “flooded” with rotten Brazilian meat, as around 25% of Egypt’s meat imports come from Brazil. He urged authorities to act quickly and preemptively to avoid any fallout.

Are private free zones making a comeback? The return of private free zones in the Investment Act is still on the table as far as the House Economic Committee is concerned, committee chairman Amr Ghallab said yesterday, according to Al Mal. The committee, which is still reviewing the draft investment act, will study the issue despite the Finance Ministry’s continued objection to the zones. The law in its current form bans establishing new private free zones, but grandfathers in existing ones. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Investment Act in a plenary session before mid-April, Ghallab added. The committee has finished reviewing 100 of the law’s 114 articles. In typical House form, he expects the remaining four articles to be finished by the end of March. No rush, man.

Talks for third USD 1 bn World Bank loan tranche underway: Negotiations for the disbursement of a third USD 1 bn tranche of the World Bank (WB) loan to support the economic reform program are currently underway, according to an e-mailed statement from the Investment Ministry. Minister Sahar Nasr met with a WBG delegation currently in town to review progress on economic reforms. The WB disbursed the second tranche of the USD 3 bn loan on Monday.

More than 400 students in schools in Cairo, Suez, and Aswan have fallen ill due to food poisoning from government-issued school meals over the course of two days this week, the Associated Press reports. The school meals causing the waves of food poisoning are produced by military-owned company, Al Nasr for Services and Maintenance, and include what one mother describes as “a suspicious-looking piece of cheese with a label that we’ve never seen before.” Tuesday and Wednesday’s cases are the latest in a string of incidents of schoolchildren suffering from food poisoning as a result of the school meals, including last week’s hospitalization of 2,200 students in Sohag. Education Minister Tarek Shawki issued a decision yesterday to indefinitely halt the issuing of school meals across the country, effective starting today, and to form a committee to launch a full investigation, Al Masry Al Youm reports. Already on the table: Plenty of new red tape on meal inspection and procedures for storing and distributing the meals.

Consumer Protection Agency wants actor prosecuted for appearing in ads: The Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) is asking the Prosecutor General to open a case against actor Mahmoud El Guindy, claiming he acted in “misleading” advertisements and promoting painkillers for an unlicensed pharmaceutical company, Al Shorouk reports. CPA head Atef Yacoub said celebrities need to refrain from promoting unlicensed products and “taking advantage of their fame and people’s trust in them” to mislead the public. He also warned consumers to be cautious when purchasing these products.

Amazon acquiring Souq after all? Amazon’s interest in making an investment in regional online retailer is reportedly back on, The National reports. The two companies will finalize the transaction next week, with negotiations on valuation, future plans for the company, and its trade name still underway, a source from Souq tells Al Mal. Initial reports that Amazon’s interest in was reignited emerged two weeks ago. “It is understood that a full acquisition of by Amazon has now been agreed,” Andrew Scott writes in The National.

At least five people were killed and 40 others were injured in an attack on the UK’s Parliament in central London on Wednesday, according to the BBC’s live coverage. The attacker wounded dozens of citizens as he smashed his way over Westminster Bridge in a vehicle. The dead include a police officer and the attacker himself, who was shot dead by security forces after he stabbed the unarmed officer, the reports add. British police believe the incident was an “Islamist-related” act of terrorism, CNN says. The attack comes only a day after the UK imposed a ban on laptops and tablets on board inbound flights from Middle East countries including Egypt.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry condemned the terrorist act and extended condolences to the UK government in a statement.

Clarification- Travelport Global will increase its capital investments by USD 20 mn in “strategic expenditure” in 2017, Egypt Country Manager Mervat Alfy said. Travelport says it “is connected with many travel industry players in Egypt and with a large portion of Egypt’s travel agent community on the Travel Commerce Platform” and “aims to enter into contracts with the major companies in Egypt,” Alfy says. The company began focusing on Egypt in 2015, Alfy says, and Travelport “is looking forward to partner with companies and industry players that operate in the travel and tourism sector in Egypt, so that these companies can connect to Travelport’s Travel commerce platform, which provides distribution, technology, payment, mobile and other solutions for the global travel and tourism industry.” Alfy added that Travelport intends to launch an exhibition on the progress of technology in the travel and tourism sector, during the coming month of May. Local press outlets earlier this week misreported the news regarding the planned investment and the company’s financial performance. H/t Siobhan M.


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The Macro Picture

Global art sales at lowest point since financial crisis: Sales of art and antiquities globally dropped 11% to USD 56.6 bn in 2016, according to a report by UBS Group AG and Art Basel carried by Bloomberg. The contraction was the second in as many years and brought the market down its lowest levels since the financial crisis “as economic and political volatility weighed on auction sales.” Art Economics founder Clare McAndrew is cautious about 2017, seeing “sellers holding back as economic and geopolitical uncertainty continues in many countries.” However, buyers “may view art and antiques as ‘a relative safe haven amidst volatility elsewhere,’ increasing prices for the works that appear on the market. The losers of 2016 included auction sales, which declined by 26% y-o-y to USD 22.1 bn, and the market share lost by industry leaders Sotheby’s and Christie’s, as well as the 18% decline in the sales of postwar and contemporary works. The US still leads the global market with 40% of all transactions, and sales by dealers and galleries and in art fairs outperformed in 2016.

Image of the Day

6,000 year old rock art near Aswan begs the question: Was there a link between the Neolithic period and Ancient Egyptian culture? Egyptologists at the University of Bonn discovered rock art from 4,000 BC near Aswan, according to “The paintings were engraved into the rock in the form of small dots and depict hunting scenes like those found in shamanic depictions. They may represent a link between the Neolithic period and Ancient Egyptian culture… Some of these engravings on the rock wall are clearly Egyptian in terms of iconography and stylistics, while others are clearly pre-Egyptian as regards the presentation method and motif.” Head of Egyptology at Bonn University Professor Ludwig Morenz says the paintings show an archer “hunting for the large flightless bird, while the man with raised arms can be identified as a hunt dancer.”

Egypt in the News

Don’t read too much into Aramco resuming deliveries of oil products: The resumption of Aramco’s shipment of petroleum products to Egypt is both a signal of a thaw in relations between Cairo and Riyadh — and insufficient to really know where things stand between the two sides, Cyril Widdershoven writes for OilPrice. Although it is a positive step politically speaking — and is a positive sign for investors indicating that Egypt is more stable and has the backing of Arab states — there is little being said about the “ongoing Arab diplomatic offensive going on behind closed doors in Cairo,” which has brought Jordan into the fold as a mediator between Saudi and Egypt. Widdershoven hashes out the many elements of the situation, including the balances of power and the many ongoing wars in the region, to come to the conclusion that, at the end of the day, Saudi and Egypt will likely overcome their differences and pursue common economic and strategic interests.

Egypt’s contribution to the peace, security, and development of Africa is “oftenoverlooked,” according to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS). “By the end of 2015, Egypt had contributed more than 30,000 personnel to 37 UN missions, of which 60.71% had been deployed to Africa,” writes Annette Leijenaar, ISS’s peacekeeping guru. Egypt contributes about 15% of the African Union’s budget, and has investments worth a combined total of USD 8 bn in Africa, she writes.

Apparently just catching wind of Ibrahim Eissa’s talk show being taken off the air, The Commentator’s Dexter Van Zile draws a parallel between Eissa’s novel-turned-movie, Mawlana (The Televangelist) and the journalist’s real-life ordeal. Eissa “has run afoul of the powers that be” in Egypt, much like Mawlana’s protagonist, with both men attempting to preach against religious extremism and persecution, as well as corruption. Van Zile also notes The Suspendered One being questioned over charges of insulting the House of Representatives. “What Essa’s opponents need to learn is that by trying to stifle him, they’ve helped actually draw attention to his book, which deserves a global audience.”

Bassem Youssef — now on the talk show and interview circuit in the United States to promote his book “Revolution for Dummies” — continues to get accolades small and large in media of all description. The only decent part? Media keep linking to a the trailer for a documentary about El Bernameg (watch the trailer), which reminds us that once upon a time, the man spoke for half of our nation — and that he’s really and truly not funny without a room full of talented writers at his back.

Other stories on Egypt worth a mention this morning:

  • Reuters is covering a camel race in the desert outside Ismailia, which attracted European enthusiasts for the first time.
  • The plight of Sinai’s Coptic Christians is once again being picked by the Christian Post which accuses the government of being apathetic towards their situation.

On Deadline

Don’t let discord with Sudan become personal: The political disagreements between the Egyptian and Sudanese governments should not trickle down to the grassroots level to became a spat between populations, Emad El Din Hassan says in a column penned for Al Shorouk. The writer condemns the media (and social media) war that ensued recently as a result of the dispute between the two countries over the Halayeb and Shalatin Triangle and urges both governments to take swift diplomatic action “to contain the situation” before it grows out of control.

Worth Watching

Prospects for fintech startups in MENA are apparently looking good, with their numbers growing 50% between 2013 and 2015 to 105 companies from a 46, according to a report form Payfort and Wamda released this week. That number is expected to grow to 250 startups by 2020. Egypt is home to 16% of all fintech companies in the MENA region, but comes a far second to the UAE with 29% of all companies. The sector has managed to raise USD 100 mn in investments over the past decade, and expects to attract USD 50 mn in 2017 alone. Fintech investments globally have reached were estimated at USD 16.1 bn in 2016, down from USD 22.3 bn in 2015, though that downside doesn’t appear to be reflected in the region. It is projected that e-commerce will grow to a USD 29 bn industry by 2020 in MENA. You can catch the full report here, or the video summary of the report (watch, runtime: 2:03).

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will likely meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping sometime this year as the two are “good friends,” China’s ambassador to Egypt said yesterday, Al Mal reports.

Egypt, Lebanon to step up flights, economic cooperation: Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr is set to sign 15 economic cooperation agreements today with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al Hariri in the industry, healthcare, trade, tourism, and SME development, Al Borsa reports. The agreements, which come as part of the Egyptian-Lebanese business council’s meetings in Cairo, will see Lebanon import Hepatitis-C meds, cement, and marble from Egypt, while the latter will import larger quantities of Lebanese apples, the newspaper adds. Both countries will set-up a joint pharma federation as part of various initiatives to enhance cooperation between both countries, including an agreement to increase the number of flights between Cairo and Beirut to 23 trips per week. During the council’s meeting on Wednesday, Nasr announced that Egypt will join other Arab countries to establish a union of Arab investment authorities in May.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi also met with El Hariri yesterday, during which the two primarily discussed trade, terrorism and Lebanon’s efforts to absorb Syrian refugees, according to a presidency statement.

Ireland’s Foreign Minister has said he was “disappointed and frustrated” at yesterday’s adjournment of the trial of Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa for the twentieth time. Halawa is in detention in Egypt and has been on hunger strike. A Cairo judge had ruled that a medical examiner look into Halawa’s health amid concerns that it is deteriorating rapidly, Irish Times reports. As we noted yesterday, these concerns had prompted the Irish government to task a committee of medical experts to follow up on the case.


Commercial operations at Beni Suef, Burullus power plants to begin next week

Siemens will begin commercial operations at the Burullus and Beni Suef power plants next week, with both plants producing 2 GW, Al Borsa reports. Three turbines at the Beni Suef plant, which have been operating on a trial run, will be fully operational at a production capacity of 400 MW per turbine, according to head of the Upper Egypt Electricity Production company, Ibrahim El Shahat. Commercial operations at the New Capital plant are also set to begin at the end of the month, Orascom Construction’s quality control manager had said earlier this month.

Military Production Ministry evaluating six offers for solar panel factory

The Military Production Ministry is evaluating six offers for its planned solar panel factory, including an offer from Siemens and an unnamed Chinese company, head of the ministry’s technical offices Magdy Bedeir tells Al Borsa. The factory will produce enough solar panels to generate 1 GW per annum, according to Bedeir.

General Electric completes upgrade at Kureimat power plant in Upper Egypt

General Electric completed an upgrade in one of the two 9FA gas turbines at Kureimat power plant in Upper Egypt, the company said in a press release. The upgrade will generate an extra USD 3.5 mn in annual revenues for the Upper Egypt Electricity Production Company, which owns the plant, in addition to improving the plant’s efficiency and cutting fuel consumption.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Ocean Express begins developing new grain storage facility at Dekheila Port

Maritime company Ocean Express has begun developing a new grain storage facility at the Dekheila Port that can carry up to 130k tonnes at a time, Al Borsa reports. The facility, which is being developed in partnership with Alpha Industries and Construction, is due to begin operations in six months’ time, a company official tells the newspaper. The Dekheila Port is where authorities had confiscated some 18k tonnes of Russian wheat deemed unfit for human consumption due to the large number of insects found inside in the storage site.

Supply Ministry’s wheat harvest committee ratifies wheat harvest regulations

The Supply Ministry’s wheat committee ratified yesterday the regulations for this year’s wheat harvest season, including barring the private sector from purchasing or trading in local wheat, Al Borsa reports. The ministry is targeting collecting 4-4.5 mn tonnes of wheat this season.

“Good” quality Egypt strawberry harvest drives UAE prices down

Strawberries have “flooded” the UAE markets, where local and Egyptian varieties are selling at marked down prices, according to Gulf News. “Compared to previous years, this year the strawberry season in Egypt has been good in terms of quality and there has been an oversupply to the UAE,” Subhash K, marketing head at Choithrams, said.

Agriculture accounts for 81.5% of Egypt’s water consumption -CAPMAS

Agriculture accounted for the lion’s share of Egypt’s water consumption in FY2015-16, reaching 81.5%, according to figures released yesterday by CAPMAS. Drinking water came in second at 13.6%.


Naeem to establish fructose production plant

Naeem Holding for Investments will establish a fructose production plant in Cairo with USD 100 mn of investment, chairman Hussein Shobokshi tells Al Mal. Designs are ready and contractors have been selected for the plant, whose establishment was initially announced four years ago. The company secured financing for the project, and is now preparing to buy equipment. Production is expected to start in two years. Naeem has a 30% stake in the plant.

SEMAF enters the bid to supply local components for 300 new train cars

The Arab Organization for Industrialization’s SEMAF factory submitted an offer to the Railways Authority to locally manufacture some of the components needed to produce 300 new train cars for around EGP 3.5 bn, SEMAF Chairman Abdel Rahman Hussein tells Al Borsa. Korea’s Hyundai and France’s Alstom have also submitted offers for the project, Hussein says.

Oriental Weavers to buy USD 10 mn worth of equipment

Oriental Weavers is planning to buy 11 new looms and other equipment worth USD 10 mn in 2017, according to a bourse statement. The company targets net sales of EGP 10-11 bn in 2017 with annual growth exceeding 50%.

Automotive + Transportation

Taxify slashing prices 40%

Estonian ride-hailing app Taxify, which launched its services in Cairo this month, plans to expand its services in Egypt’s Delta and coastal cities, as well as a new service for summer travel, Taxify’s Egypt manager Mostafa Sabry tells Daily News Egypt. The company is looking to attract its clientele by offering discounts of as much as 40% on all trips during the app’s launch phase in Egypt.

Legislation + Policy

Housing Minister to hold weekly meetings with House committee to finalize new Building Code

Housing Minister Mostafa Madbouly will be holding weekly meetings with the House of Representatives’ Housing Committee to finalize discussions on a new Building Code they intend to issue, according to Al Mal. In addition to extending the validity of construction licenses to three years from one, the bill will also introduce stricter punishments and penalties for code violations (such as late deliveries), in a bid to discourage more construction in slum areas, MP Khaled Abdel Aziz said.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Ahmed Ezz offers the state EGP 500 mn in exchange for reconciliation

Steel magnate Ahmed Ezz has reportedly offered the state EGP 500 mn to reconcile and settle all his legal disputes, talk show host Amr Abdel Hamid said on Wednesday during an episode of his show Ra’ay Aam, where he claimed to have acquired documents of the proposition (watch, runtime 11:32).

Finance Ministry to amend FY2016-17 budget to account for float

The Finance Ministry plans to amend the FY2016-17 budget to account for additional expenditures incurred as a result of the EGP float last November, Deputy Finance Minister Mohamed Maait tells Al Borsa. State census bureau CAPMAS issued the new amended figures for the first quarter, putting Egypt’s GDP EGP 841.6 bn at the current exchange rate.


Egyptian cyclist Ebtissam Zayed sweeps up three medals, honors late teammate Eslam Nasser

Egyptian cyclist and Olympian Ebtissam Zayed swept up three medals — two gold and one silver — on Tuesday at the 2017 African Continental Track Championships, IntoCycling reports. Zayed dedicated her medals to her teammate, Eslam Nasser, who died on Monday after suffering a heart attack during the championship.

On Your Way Out

Assuaging our guilt: Landmarks including the Pyramids, Cairo Tower, and the Citadel of Qaitbay will turn off their lights on Saturday, 25 March, for 60 minutes at 20:30 CLT to mark Earth Hour, the State Information Service says. We commend cabinet’s decision, but if we’re really trying to be progressive, we suggest banning trash burning and microbuses for 60 minutes.

The markets yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 18.0844 | Sell 18.1900
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 18.10 | Sell 18.20
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 18.00 | Sell 18.10

EGX30 (Wednesday): 12,879 (-0.2%)
Turnover: EGP 815 mn (87% above the 90-day average)
EX 30 year-to-date: +4.3%

THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAY: The EGX30 ended Wednesday’s session down 0.2%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent inched up by 0.1%. The EGX30’s top performing constituents were: Domty up 3.4%, Juhayna up 3.2%, and ACC up 2.0%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks included Credit Agricole, Egyptian Iron & Steel, and Pioneers Holding all down 1.5%. The market turnover was EGP 815 million, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +88.8 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -22.6 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -66.2 mn

Retail: 69.4% of total trades | 68.2% of buyers | 70.6% of sellers
Institutions: 30.6% of total trades | 31.8% of buyers | 29.4% of sellers

Foreign: 13.4% of total | 18.8% of buyers | 8.0% of sellers
Regional: 7.1% of total | 5.7% of buyers | 8.4% of sellers
Domestic: 79.5% of total | 75.5% of buyers | 83.6% of sellers

WTI: USD 48.23 (+0.40%)
Brent: USD 50.64 (-0.63%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.02 MMBtu, (+0.33%, April 2017 contract)
Gold: USD 1,246.70 / troy ounce (-0.24%)TASI: 6,832.3 (-1.2%) (YTD: -5.2%)
ADX: 4,481.9 (-0.7%) (YTD: -1.4%)
DFM: 3,474.7 (-0.6%) (YTD: -1.6%)
KSE Weighted Index: 423.0 (-0.6%) (YTD: +11.3%)
QE: 10,396.0 (-0.9%) (YTD: -0.4%)
MSM: 5,617.7 (-0.2%) (YTD: -2.9%)
BB: 1,367.0 (+0.1%) (YTD: +12.0%)

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29 March (Wednesday): First Time SME Equity Fund Managers in Egypt Opportunities and Challenges seminar, Marriott Zamalek Hotel, Cairo.

29-30 March (Wednesday-Thursday): Cityscape Egypt Conference, Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo.

29-31 March (Wednesday-Friday): Balanced Development of Siwa Oasis International Tourism Conference, Siwa Oasis.

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

31 March – 03 April (Friday-Monday): Cityscape Egypt Exhibition, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo. Register here.

03-06 April (Monday-Thursday): Agri & Foodex Africa, Khartoum International Fair Ground, Khartoum, Sudan.

04 April (Tuesday): Emirates NBD Egypt PMI reading for March announced. The report will be available here.

08-10 April (Saturday-Monday): Pharmaconex, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo.

16 April (Sunday): Coptic Easter Sunday.

17 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim, national holiday.

20 April (Thursday): Closing date for the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority bid round number 1 for 2017 for gold and associated minerals.

24-25 April (Monday-Tuesday): Renaissance Capital’s Egypt Investor Conference, Cape Town, South Africa.

25 April (Tuesday): Sinai Liberation Day, national holiday.

25-26 April (Tuesday-Wednesday): MENA New Energy conference, Hyatt Regency, Dubai.

28 April – 08 May (Friday-Monday): IMF delegation visit to Egypt to assess economic reforms.

30 April – 03 May (Sunday-Wednesday): Cement & Concrete 2017, Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Center, Saudi Arabia.

01 May (Monday): Labor Day, national holiday.

08-09 May (Monday-Tuesday): Third Egypt CSR Forum, Intercontinental Citystars Hotel, Cairo.

16 May (Tuesday): Official expiry date for the decision to suspend capital gains taxes on stock market transactions.

22-23 May (Monday-Tuesday): North Africa Mobile Network Optimisation Conference, Cairo.

27 May (Saturday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

26-28 June (Monday-Wednesday): Eid Al-Fitr (TBC).

30 June (Friday): 30 June, national holiday.

23 July (Sunday): Revolution Day, national holiday.

02-05 September (Saturday-Tuesday): Eid Al-Adha, national holiday (TBC).

17-19 September (Sunday-Tuesday): Pipeline-Pipe-Sewer-Technology Conference & Exhibition, Intercontinental Citystars Hotel, Cairo.

20-23 September (Wednesday-Saturday): 2017 Automech Formula car expo, Cairo International Convention Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

22 September (Friday): Islamic New Year, national holiday (TBC).

06 October (Friday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

01 December (Friday): Prophet’s Birthday, national holiday.

08-10 December (Friday-Sunday): RiseUp Summit, Downtown Cairo.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of HSBC Egypt (tax ID: 204-901-715), the leading corporate and retail lender in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; Moharram & Partners (tax ID: 616-112-459), the leading public policy and government affairs partner; Palm Hills Developments (tax ID: 432-737-014), a leading developer of commercial and residential properties; Mashreq (tax ID: 204-898-862), the MENA region’s leading homegrown personal and digital bank; Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt; Hassan Allam Properties (tax ID:  553-096-567), one of Egypt’s most prominent and leading builders; and Saleh, Barsoum & Abdel Aziz (tax ID: 220-002-827), the leading audit, tax and accounting firm in Egypt.