Sunday, 30 April 2017

Pope Francis’ two-day visit dominates global coverage of Egypt


What We’re Tracking Today

Pope Francis has left Egypt, which means an end to the traffic-less, no double-parking idyll we have enjoyed in Zamalek, Maadi and Heliopolis — ”It’s just like before 2011. Fee nezam,” we heard on more than one occasion this weekend. We have more on the pontiff’s visit at the tail of this morning’s Speed Round and Egypt in the News.

IMF delegation in town: The International Monetary Fund delegation that will assess progress of the government’s economic reforms is in town from today through 11 May. The delegation is set to meet with officials from the CBE and the Finance Ministry, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy said, according to Al Borsa (Ahram Online also has the story). We need a clean bill of health on the review before the next tranche of the USD 12 bn extended fund facility is released.

Fuel subsidy cuts coming this fiscal year? With talk of fuel subsidy cuts expected to be high on the agenda during the delegation’s visit, there is a growing expectation that the Ismail government will have to hike fuel prices before the current fiscal year ends in June. A government official tells Al Shorouk that Cabinet is dreading a fuel subsidy bill that could balloon to EGP 140 bn next fiscal year and is leaning towards hiking prices by June. The source expects that prices will rise no later than the first week of July, that being the first week of the state’s new fiscal year.

El Garhy sees USD 1.5-2 bn eurobond in the coming weeks: The finance minister confirmed the potential issuance in a call-in to CBC’s Lamees El Hadidy last night. We have more in Last Night’s Talk Shows, below.

Is Ahmed Darwish being replaced as head of the SCZone? Rumors have surfaced in Al Masry Al Youm (which is citing “sources”) that Prime Minister Sherif Ismail is expected to name Suez Canal Authority head Mohab Mamish as the head of the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) today, replacing Ahmed Darwish. We take none of these rumors seriously, but will be keeping an eye on the press today nonetheless.

Yesterday was the 100th day of Donald Trump’s presidency, triggering the expected avalanche of coverage in the US press. For those of you so inclined, tap here to run your own Google News search. Surprising no one, where you fell on Trump’s first 100 days is likely predicted by how you felt about his election in the first place. Bloomberg accordingly wonders if Canada’s Justin Trudeau isn’t The Anti-Trump, talking to him about “trade, milk, [an oregano-like substance one smokes or ingests in, say, brownies], housing bubbles, and Donald Trump.”

Speaking of America: The American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt’s annual Door Knocklobbying mission to the United States is this week, running tomorrow through Friday. We’ll have highlights from the road. The delegation’s goal is to raise awareness of the economic reform program in Egypt and of broad improvements in the nation’s investment climate, but this isn’t an investment roadshow, Egypt-US Business Council chief Omar Mohanna warned members of the press. Mohanna and AmCham president Anis Aclimandos are positioning the annual pilgrimage as an opportunity to build on President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s successful visit to the United States. Enterprise will have notes from the road throughout the visit.

We’re off tomorrow: Monday, 1 May is a national holiday in observance of Labor Day. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is set to attend celebrations organized by the Egypt Trade Union Federation, during which the president will honor a number of workers, Al Ahram reports.

Oh, and if you’re in America: Happy Loyalty Day one day in advance. Wallahee not The Onion. Except that, as the NY Post points out, the holiday apparently dates back to Eisenhower.

What We’re Tracking This Week

Straight out of the department of Inshallah: The House of Representatives’ Economics Committee may decide to grow a conscience this week and actually begin discussing the FY2017-18 budget. We’re also going to be looking for evidence that our elected Investment Act is expected to be passed by the House of Representatives before the end of May.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Finance Minister Amr El Garhy and Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr’s interviews were the main highlights in the airwaves which largely focused on the Pope’s visit.

The IMF delegation arrived yesterday and will be here for two weeks to review progress on the economic reforms before disbursing the second tranche of the USD 12 bn facility, El Garhy told Hona Al Asema’s Lamees Al Hadidi last night (watch, runtime: 13:42). From his statements it appears that inflation will take center stage during the talks which will begin today between the delegation and the Central Bank. El Garhy acknowledged that the IMF is pushing for interest rates to rise to help curb the inflation, whose pace, he added, was declining month-on-month. The CBE is studying the recommendation as it determines whether the inflation is spike is a one off shock to the economic reform measures, El Garhy added.

Commenting on the decline in the trade deficit (more on that in the Speed Round), El Garhy attributed this to a significant decline in imports of non-essential goods. “Imports of productions inputs have not decreased,” said El Garhy. This is evidenced by the Emirates NBD’s PMI Index which (while continuing to decline) does indicate a growth in industrial activity, he added.

El Gahry also confirmed that the government is planning to “reopen eurobonds” worth USD 1.5-2 bn in the coming period. Talks are ongoing with investment banks (strongly implied to be the same ones who managed the previous issuance) on the right timing of the issuance.

Lamees’ lesser half, Kol Youm’s Amr Adib, interviewed Investment Minister Nasr who reassured him that the drawn-out Investment Act will be ratified in the House before Ramadan — less than one month from now (watch, runtime: 6:18).

Her interview largely focused on Egyptian Cement breaking ground on its EGP 6 bn factory in Sohag, which had a lavish ceremony on Saturday (as one would expect from Abou Hashima). Nasr told Adib that the government will provide this plant with the needed infrastructure, such as roads to ports for exporting. “We hope this cement plant will begin production in a year,” she said.

Adib also showcased a report on progress in the development of the Alexandria tram which being funded through the French Development Agency (watch, runtime: 4:32).

Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal that the ministry will use highlights from Pope Francis’ visit in Egypt’s tourism promotional campaigns, particularly when marketing the religious tourism sites such as the Holy Family trail (watch, runtime: 6:45).

Speed Round

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Manufacturers in Egypt are sourcing more of their inputs from local suppliers as prices increase, Reuters’ Asma Alsharif writes. “Localising raw materials is extremely important at this time. We cannot depend on a [USD]-based cost structure with an Egyptian pound revenue streamline,” PepsiCo’s North East Africa General Manager Ahmed El Sheikh told a recent conference. PepsiCo is harvesting its first crop of potatoes produced from local seeds to make the local brand of chips Chipsy. Alsharif says the company still had to import about 40% of seeds it required for 2017, but plans to cut this percentage to 30% in 2018. Mars Inc is also using more local suppliers and has been increasing its base of local packaging suppliers in Egypt over the past three years. 70% of its packaging comes domestically now and it hopes to increase this to 100% by 2018. Multinationals are also looking to export more from Egypt. PepsiCo is looking at exporting its Egyptian-grown potato seeds and Unilever plans to double its asset base with the aim of turning Egypt into a regional export hub. Mars Inc is investing EGP 750 mn over the next 18 months and aims to increase exports to 80% of its output from 50-60% currently. Alsharif also gives a shout-out to Juhayna, quoting CEO Seif Thabet as saying the company is working to cut reliance on imported production inputs.

Egypt’s non-oil exports are up 15% year-on-year in 1Q17 to USD 5.5 bn, up from USD 4.8 bn in 1Q16, Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil said as he released trade figures for the quarter. This coincided with a 29% y-o-y reduction in imports to USD 12.1 bn, down from USD 17.0 bn in 1Q16, he added, according to Al Borsa. The nation’s trade deficit narrowed 46.2% from the first quarter last year. Construction materials were the nation’s fastest-growing export, up 60% from 1Q2016, followed by exports of chemicals (up 32%). Other growth sectors included agricultural exports (up 4.1%) and food products (up 1.3%). Egypt’s biggest exports markets include COMESA, the Agadir countries, and the GCC. Spain grew its imports from Egypt a sharp 61.2% year-on-year, followed by Turkey with a 54% rise.

Swiss court rules that Egypt must pay Israel Electric USD 2 bn: A Swiss court has rejected an appeal by EGAS and the EGPC to overturn a French court’s decision last year ordering them to pay USD 2 bn in compensation to Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) for halting gas supplied to it back in 2012, the company said on Friday, according to reports in Reuters and Bloomberg. Egypt had ended the 20-year agreement with IEC due to repeated attacks on pipelines supplying the gas in Sinai. An international arbitrator said Egypt should pay nearly USD 1.76 bn in compensation because of the halt in the gas supply. While there was no official response from the Oil Ministry, government sources tell Al Borsa that Egypt plans to enter into talks with Israel to reach a resolution before any decision is taken on the matter. The court decision may add fuel (no pun intended) to the dispute and could complicate any plans for Egypt to import gas from Israel as Prime Minister Sherif Ismail — a key supporter of turning Egypt into a regional energy hub — had made dropping the claim a condition for allowing the import of natural gas from our eastern neighbor. The decision is also interesting in light of unconfirmed rumors that Alaa Arafa’s Dolphinus again in talks with Israeli energy companies to import gas from the Israel’s Tamar field.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi signed into law controversial amendments to theJudicial Authorities Act that grant him the power to appoint the heads of four major judicial bodies: The State Council (Maglis El Dowla), the Court of Cassation (the nation’s highest appeals court), the State Lawsuits Authority, and the Administrative Prosecution Authority. The law was published in the Official Gazette on Friday. El Sisi signed the amended law despite calls from the Judges Club of Egypt for him to veto the legislation, which many in the judicial branch of government denounced as unconstitutional, claiming that it curbs the independence of the judiciary. The issue came to a head last week after the House of Representatives passed the law without significant debate or discussion of numerous objections raised by Maglis El Dowla.

A court system divided? The State Lawsuits Authority and the Administrative Prosecution Authority are apparently playing ball, with the latter already announcing that it has submitted its three candidates (based on seniority) to the president, saying it was following the new law, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The State Lawsuits Authority will present its three candidates today, Youm7 reports, citing statements from its deputy head Rafik Sherif. Judges Club spokesperson Hazem Rasmy said the club will move forward with its planned general assembly meeting to vote on what to do next, implying that they may be joined by members of Maglis El Dawla.

When is the Investment Act actually going to be ready? Short answer: Nobody knows.Certainly not the good people at the House of Representatives’ Economic Committee, which has been dithering for months on the key bill. Committee members have been giving mixed messages on when they will be done with the law: Amr El Gohary told Al Borsa that the committee will be done with it today, saying he expects the House to take it up in a plenary session by Wednesday or Thursday, if it doesn’t get sidetracked with discussions on the FY2017-18 budget. Another member, Ahmed Farghal, wants to give it another few days, while Medhat El Sherif is giving a more realistic answer, telling Al Mal that it would be difficult to know when that is (he gets points for honesty). One thing is certain, they are all blaming the government for the delay, saying that they have been waiting for the Investment Ministry to amend the law based on their recommendations. This coming from MPs who until a week ago had not settled on whether the form they want the bill to take: They appear to have dropped their notion of reducing the law further from 99 articles after wasting time on and then abandoning a proposal to divide the bill into two.

MPs are promising headway today, with Finance Minister Amr El Garhy set to discuss the bill’s tax incentives with MPs. El Garhy will reportedly be joined by Mohamed Khodeir, the head of the General Authority for Free Zones and Investment. MPs have also promised that they will resolve some of the more contentious aspects of the bill, including articles on settlements with business owners accused of graft.

Investment Minister Sahar Nasr spoke for all of us when she urged the committee to get its [redacted] together and move forward with the law.

Oh, and after nagging the Ismail cabinet to death to give a 10% social welfare raise to bureaucrats not covered by the Civil Service Act, MPs failed to reach quorum for a vote to pass the law on Thursday, Al Ahram reports. This comes despite the cabinet stating that the raise is ready and can be disbursed retroactively at the end of May. Let’s see them pin this one on someone else.

One key piece of economic legislation that MPs were fit to pass on Thursday was the Industrial Permits Act, which aims to reduce the time it takes to license a new factory. The act, whose key points are reviewed in Al Borsa, mandates that the Industrial Development Authority respond to a request for a license within 30 days of the request being filed. Industries will be offered licensing on two tracks: The first is for any heavy industry that carries significant environmental, health, safety, or security risks. These manufacturers have to apply for a license and receive prior approval from the IDA and pay fees of up to EGP 20,000. The second path targets smaller, lower-risk manufacturers, who can simply inform the IDA of their intention to open a factory. These will receive temporary licenses for up to 90 days, after which they must meet the IDA’s standards to receive a full permit. A 180-day extension on that grace period will be granted if these standards are not met. Licensing fees will be much cheaper at EGP 5,000. SMEs will be granted a 50% discount on these fees. Penalties have also been tightened, where violators could see up to a year in jail and fines of up to EGP 10 mn depending on the licensing path. The legislation is now with Maglis El Dawla for a final review and will have to be signed by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and published in the Official Gazette before becoming law.

Business is suffering amid spat between Egypt and Sudan: Tension between Egypt and Sudan, deepened by a recent media spat, has led to mounting trade restrictions that are now throwing businesses into disarray, commodity traders told Reuters. Hany Hussein, executive director of Egypt’s Agricultural Export Council, says Sudan’s blanket ban on all agricultural goods last month has still not yet been accompanied by “any explanation as to what is actually wrong with the Egyptian goods.” Reuters adds that traders are saying “the media war of words has suddenly made the situation worse, with guidelines on what products can be sold over the border increasingly unclear and no resolution in sight… Even larger companies have been caught in the crossfire, like the Saudi Arabian Savola Group, which will have to re-route much of its Egypt-based sugar production that is normally sold to Sudan, according to a company source.”

Renaissance Capital is opening an office in Cairo this year, RenCap’s MENA CEO Ahmed Badr said. Pending the receipt of regulatory approvals, the emerging markets specialist expects to open the office in the next few months, Badr said, according to Reuters. Renaissance Capital is currently the second-largest foreign broker in Egypt.

M&A WATCH- Pioneers Holding is serving as financial advisor for global commodities company Louis Dreyfus’ local affiliate, Al Mona Misr, in its bid to acquire Misr Capital Investment’s 42.96% stake in National Company for Maize Products, Al Mal reports. Also bidding are a Swiss unit of Archer Daniels Midland (which is being advised by EFG Hermes and Shahid Law Firm) and Cairo Three A Group (which is reportedly being advised by CI Capital), according to Al Mal.

MOVES- Food industry veteran Tarek Tawfik has won the presidency of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, Al Shorouk reports. Tawfik, who is also deputy chairman of the Federation of Egyptian Industries, succeeds outgoing AmCham president Anis Aclimandos on 21 May, the newspaper reports.

EARNINGS WATCH- Orascom Construction reported what it called a “sustainable return to profitability” as it announced USD 48.7 mn in consolidated net profit attributable to shareholders in 2016, compared to a loss of USD 347.8 mn in the previous year, as revenues rose to USD 4.03 bn in 2016, up from USD 3.9 bn in 2015. Robust MENA growth offset challenges in the United States — largely since resolved — said CEO Osama Bishai: “We indicated at the beginning of the year that our focus in 2016 would be on operations. We capitalized on the size and quality of our backlog to focus on improving our cost structure and bottom line while selectively pursuing new projects. This approach was in place year-round and we have now returned to profitability on a Group level, emphasizing the strength of our long-term businesses.” Read the firm’s earnings release here (pdf) and its FY2016 results presentation here (pdf).

Orange Egypt reported a EGP 300.6 mn consolidated loss in 1Q17, compared with a EGP 12.3 mn consolidated loss in 1Q16, according to a regulatory filing.

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) signed an agreement to provide aUSD 300 mn financing facility to the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) to support SMEs on Thursday, the bank said in a statement. The loan will be used as part of the SME initiative launched in 2016 to provide bns in funding for SMEs, said Afreximbank president Benedict Oramah. Being a hard currency facility, the facility would make it possible for beneficiaries to access essential investment goods from the international market to improve their competitiveness, he said.

Pope Francis’ two-day visit to Cairo wrapped yesterday. The Pontiff’s itinerary was jam-packed with meetings and public appearances — all of which he reached in “a simple Fiat car,” Reuters reports. Francis received a warm welcome from Al Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El Tayeb at the peace conference hosted by the Islamic institution with various Muslim and Christian leaders on Friday. The pontiff delivered a speech urging the rejection of violence and calling on Al Azhar to ensure its teachings denounce terrorism carried out in the name of God (watch in Arabic, runtime 25:17).

“And at every stop on his first day, he issued variations on the same hard-hitting theme,” the Associated Press reports. Francis’ statements carried subtle nudges to the Egyptian government to ensure the equal treatment of Christians through “unconditional respect for inalienable human rights such as equality among all citizens, religious freedom and freedom of expression, without any distinction.”

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi received Pope Francis at the Ittihadiya Palace following the Azhar peace conference, during which the two discussed extremism in Egypt and the country’s Christian community, according to an emailed presidency statement. In a speech following their meeting, El Sisi stressed Egypt’s effort to combat terrorism extremist ideology and called for a comprehensive global strategy to eradicate terrorism by cutting off sources of funding, implementing security measures, and addressing the root causes of the phenomenon. You can watch the president’s remarks in full here (runtime 16:47).

The pontiff met his Coptic Orthodox counterpart Pope Tawadros II and the two attended a non-denominational prayer service at St. Peter’s Church, which was the site of the December bombing that killed 30. The two popes also reached an agreement that will see each of the two churches recognize baptisms performed by the other, according to a statement from the Coptic Orthodox Church Spokesperson, ending a practice of converts from one branch of Christianity to the other being forced to be re-baptized.

On Saturday, Pope Francis led Mass at the Air Defense Stadium on Saturday for Egypt’sCatholic community, with 15,000 people in attendance, according to Reuters. The mass was surrounded by heavy security, complete with military helicopters flying in the air and police forces stationed on the ground, the Associated Press says. Similar precautions accompanied the pope’s visit to Maadi, where he stopped in on the St. Leo the Great Coptic Catholic Patriarchal Seminary.

The Palestinian government in the West Bank has informed Israel that it will stop paying for the electricity Israel sells to the Gaza Strip, according to the Associated Press. “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to exert financial pressure on political rival Hamas to cede control of Gaza, a territory it seized in 2007 from him in bloody street battles… Hamas official Ismail Radwan condemned the move by Abbas.” Two days later, Abbas met with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in Cairo to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Al Shorouk reports.


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Egypt Holiday Photo of the Day

Today’s Egypt Holiday Photo of the Day is of the Sakkara Pyramid. The Djoser Step Pyramid at Saqqara is the first pyramid built in Egypt and the first large-scale cut-stone structure in the world. The image was shot for CIB’s 2016 Annual Report (microsite and print edition) by Zeina Abaza at Inktank Communications, which has produced the bank’s annual report for the past eight years.

Image of the Day

Three popes gather for ecumenical prayer service: Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II (center), Catholic Pope Francis (second from left), and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I (second from right) attended a nondenominational prayer service at St. Peter’s Church in Cairo on Friday. This is the first picture we’ve seen of all three church leaders gathered in one place in our lifetimes. The church was the site of the December suicide bombing that killed 30.

Egypt in the News

As expected, Pope Francis I’s visit, meetings with senior religious and political figures, and his speeches effectively hijacked all coverage of Egypt over the weekend. Three running themes pervade coverage of the visit: his message of peace; his denunciation of radicalism; and his calls for Christian unity. The New York Times’ Jason Horowitz and Declan Walsh have paid attention to the Pope’s message to Western leaders on the dangers of populism. In a separate piece, Horowitz takes special pleasure in the pope urging President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to do more on the human rights front. Walsh has an interesting human interest piece on a small Cairo church looking to get legalized to highlight issues with church licensing. Francis X. Rocca and Dahlia Kholaif end their reporting on the visit for the Wall Street Journal on a hopeful note of how Christians feel unified as a result of the visit. The Washington Post offers nothing by way of original writing.

The international press is also jumping on the amendments to the judicial code President Abdel Fattah El Sisi ratified on Thursday. Reuters notes that the judiciary sees these amendments as part of a “crackdown” that began in 2014 to reduce its independence and increase governmental control. The Associated Press notes that the amendments grant El Sisi power to appoint the heads of judicial bodies including the Court of Cassation, “which was seen as a last refuge for political prisoners.” Despite the judges’ bellowing, proponents of the amendments say they are necessary to give the government the necessary tools to combat terrorism, according to Jurist. Prior to the ratification of the amendments, Amnesty International said the law could undermine the independence of Egypt’s judiciary.

Other coverage in the international media worth noting in brief included:

  • The Associated Press’ Mohamed Wagdy profiled Ayman William, an Egyptian painter of church murals, who says he is unfazed by recent attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt.
  • Director of the critically-acclaimed film Clash, Mohamed Diab, says Cairo is deceptively calm now in an interview with The Spectator. He says his future projects could be in jeopardy “It’s definitely going to be harder to make a film because there was an attempt to stop Clash from being released.”
  • Egypt plays a walk-on role in a PBS column headlined “How Trump rebooted America’s relationship with its Arab allies.”
  • Egypt has urged the US to engage with the Mideast peace process, notes Singapore’s Straits Times, which also picked up an AFP piece quoting El Sisi as noting that on Tiran and Sanafir, “I fulfilled my part, and it is now in the Parliament and with the judiciary. We won’t interfere.” The president made the remark at last week’s youth conference.

On Deadline

Presidential appointment of judges proves controversial: The amendments to the judicial code are getting plenty of flak from Egypt’s columnists, including Fahmy Howeidy, who takes to the pages of Al Shorouk to say the amendments are an insult to the judiciary that contravene the constitution. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi “hastily” signing the amendments into law is a clear infringement on the judicial branch’s independence and is reminiscent of pre-2011 practices where the executive branch issued tailored laws to control the judiciary, MP Amr El Shobaky says in a column penned for Al Masry Al Youm. Salwa Ammar notes in the same newspaper that the speed at which the amendments were ratified stands in stark contrast with the government’s approach to more pressing issues, such as improving living standards.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

German parliament approves security cooperation agreement with Egypt: Germany’s Reichstag approved on Thursday a security cooperation agreement signed with Egypt last year which would see both countries exchange experts and information to help fight terrorism and other crimes like drug trafficking and money laundering, and carry out operational measures upon request, the Associated Press reports. Though the agreement is predicated upon "upholding human rights," Human Rights Watch Germany director Wenzel Michalski criticized the agreement for not going far enough to guarantee human rights.

The Trade Ministry is in talks with the Green Climate Fund for a USD 48 mn loan to finance renewable energy projects, Al Borsa reports. A delegation from the fund will be visiting Egypt next month to explore the planned projects and determine their economic feasibility, according to an unnamed government source.

Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr met with members of the Khalijis in Love with Egypt Coalition (a pro-investment in Egypt GCC-based lobby group) yesterday to discuss increasing Gulf investment in Egypt, according to an emailed statement.

The Nile Basin Initiative will hold a presidential summit on 25 May in Uganda to discuss the Cooperative Framework Agreement, which outlines member states’ obligations in their use of the Nile Basin’s resources, Al Shorouk reports. It is unclear whether President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will attend the summit.


Five conglomerates bidding on USD 8 bn Hamrawein clean coal plant today

Five conglomerates are expected to bid on the USD 8 bn Hamrawein clean coal power plant tender, which the Electricity Ministry will issue today following multiple delays, Al Mal reports. Expected bids will be from Shanghai Electric and Dongfang Electric Corporation, in addition to consortiums formed between Harbin and General Electric; Mitsubishi and Hitachi; and Apec and Orascom Construction, a ministry official tells the newspaper. The source also says there is no intention to further push the window for receiving offers for the plant, which will take seven years to complete.

23 solar companies present initial funding approval letters for FiT projects

23 solar power companies, including Scatec Solar, Orascom Construction, Al Fanar, and Acwa Power have presented initial approval letters from international finance institutions to fund their projects in the second phase of the feed-in tariff program, Al Borsa reports. Separately, the Egyptian Electric Utility and Consumer Protection Agency’s (Egyptera) board of directors is set to discuss granting renewable energy companies five-year energy production licenses during its Tuesday meeting, Al Borsa says. Egyptera’s board will also discuss granting Infinity Solar a 25-year license for its 50 MW plant in Benban, Aswan, according to the newspaper.

Total to begin drilling at North Mahalla concession beginning of May

Total is set to start drilling the first exploration well in the North Mahalla onshore concession in the beginning of May, Al Shorouk reports, citing an unnamed EGAS official. According to the official, seismic scans of the concession indicate reserves of 3-5 tn cubic feet of natural gas. This comes as the Oil Ministry is targeting bringing 2.5 bcf/d of gas online in the coming months, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla says, Ahram Gate reports. The excess will go to fulfilling export contracts signed pre-2011 and to petrochemical manufacturing. No new export contracts will be signed, El Molla said.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Gov’t imposes export tariff on fish for four months

The Trade Ministry imposed an EGP 12,000 per tonne tariff on the exports of fresh and frozen fish for four months, according to Reuters. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi had ordered “halting” fish exports last week over domestic price concerns. "This decision comes within the framework of the ministry’s keenness to provide fish for the needs of the local market especially in light of the increase in fish exports over the past period…which led to price increases," Trade Minister Tarek Kabil said.

Raya to build EGP 200-300 mn pasta manufacturing plant by year-end in SCZone

Raya Holding for Financial Investment will establish a EGP 200-300 mn pasta plant by year’s end in partnership with Poland’s Makarony Polskie in which Raya owns a 20% stake, CEO Medhat Khalil tells Al Mal. The factory will be located at the Suez Canal Economic Zone. Raya also plans to acquire a food industries company whose products will be exported, said Khalil, without naming the target of the acquisition.

160k tonnes of wheat collected during first two weeks of harvest season

The Supply Ministry has collected 160k tonnes of local wheat from farmers since harvest season began on April 15, an unnamed ministry source said, Al Shorouk reports. This comes as Beheira governor Nadia Abdo issued a decision yesterday imposing fines on trading the governorate’s supply of wheat in other governorates, Al Borsa reports.

Health + Education

ACDIMA in talks to acquire United Pharma IV Solutions

The Arab Company for Drugs Industries & Medical Appliances (ACDIMA) is in talks to acquire United Pharma IV Solutions, Health Minister Ahmed Rady said, Al Borsa reports. According to chairman Abdallah Mahfouz, United Pharma has postponed deciding on three acquisition offers it previously received in anticipation of possibly reopening its IV factory. As we noted last week, the company said it is ready to reopen its factory, and is waiting for Health Ministry approval.


Egypt feels disappointed by continued UK flight ban to Sharm

Egypt feels let down by the UK for keeping the flight suspension to Sharm El Sheikh, BBC’s Frank Gardner writes. “We have implemented all the recommendations made for improvements at Sharm and received regular and positive reports back from the UK. This means that Sharm el-Sheikh is comparable to the safest airports in the world, and yet it seems to have had no effect on the UK flight ban” an unnamed Egyptian official told BBC. The UK’s Department for Transport commented on the continued ban saying both sides are working closely on security procedures and that flights will resume as soon as possible.

Automotive + Transportation

Alexandria Container Company to sue Canal Harbor & Great Projects for overdue port project

The Alexandria Container & Cargo Handling Company is planning on taking legal action against the Canal Harbor and Great Projects Company, which the Suez Canal Authority owns, for allegedly failing to complete a project at Dekheila port, Al Mal reports. The EGP 88 mn project, which the two companies agreed upon three years ago, was scheduled for completion in October 2016.

House ICT Committee meets with Uber, Careem reps

The House ICT Committee met with representatives from Uber and Careem to discuss the quality of their services and ensure their drivers follow legal requirements, Youm7 reports. The committee later issued a statement calling on ride-sharing apps, including Uber and Careem, to pay taxes and insurance as per the country’s legal requirements.

Banking + Finance

LG Egypt receives EGP 1.9 bn facility from Banque Misr

LG Egypt received a two-year EGP 1.9 bn facility from Banque Misr to finance supplier facilities, Al Borsa reports. Banque Misr and LG signed the agreement last week, and the bank will disburse the facility over one or two weeks, according to unnamed banking sources.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Ayman Nour sentenced to five years in prison

A Cairo court has reportedly sentenced former presidential candidate and opposition figure Ayman Nour to five years in prison in absentia for "spreading false news that threatens the security of the country," RT Arabic reports. Nour appeared to confirm the story in a Facebook post, which he calls the charges laughable. the story is mostly being reported in international news, with top tier local sources seemingly avoiding the story.

On Your Way Out

Italy deported a 27-year-old Egyptian national for “national security reasons,” Al Mal reports, citing an Italian Interior Ministry statement.

The markets yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 18.0297 | Sell 18.1326
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 18.05 | Sell 18.15
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.95 | Sell 18.05

EGX30 (Thursday): 12,526 (-1.2%)
Turnover: EGP 819.7 mn (25% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +1.5%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session down 1.2%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent dragged the index down as it fell 1.8%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were: Juhayna up 4.6%, Domty up 4.2%, and SODIC up 1.0%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were: Oriental Weavers down 5.7%, Amer Group down 3.5%, and Madinet Nasr Housing down 2.1%. The market turnover was EGP 819.7 mn, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +112.4 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -14.4 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -98.0 mn

Retail: 61.4% of total trades | 59.2% of buyers | 63.5% of sellers
Institutions: 38.6% of total trades | 40.8% of buyers | 36.5% of sellers

Foreign: 21.3% of total | 28.1% of buyers | 14.4% of sellers
Regional: 6.6% of total | 5.7% of buyers | 7.5% of sellers
Domestic: 72.1% of total | 66.2% of buyers | 78.1% of sellers

WTI: USD 49.33 (+0.74%)
Brent: USD 52.05 (+0.44%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.28 MMBtu, (+1.14%, Jun 2017 contract)
Gold: USD 1,268.30 / troy ounce (+0.19%)

TASI: 6,945.7 (+0.4%) (YTD: -3.7%)
ADX: 4,512.9 (-0.6%) (YTD: -0.7%)
DFM: 3,416.7 (-0.6%) (YTD: -3.2%)
KSE Weighted Index: 405.9 (0.0%) (YTD: +6.8%)
QE: 10,089.9 (-1.1%) (YTD: -3.3%)
MSM: 5,525.4 (+0.3%) (YTD: -4.4%)
BB: 1,332.2 (-0.1%) (YTD: +9.2%)

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30 April – 11 May (Sunday-Thursday): 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.

04-07 May (Thursday-Sunday): Caféx, CICC, Cairo.

05-07 May (Friday-Sunday): Egypt Property Show, DWTC, Dubai.

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

9-11 May (Tuesday-Thursday): 2nd Egypt Oil & Gas Summit, Cairo.

10-12 May (Wednesday-Friday) The 15th Middle East & North Africa International Franchise Exhibition, AUC Downtown Greek Campus, Cairo.

10-12 May (Wednesday-Friday): RenCap’s 8th Annual Pan-Africa 1:1 Investor Conference, Lagos.

15-17 May (Monday-Wednesday): Morgan Stanley’s 3rd Annual GEMS Conference (EEMEA), London.

14-16 May (Sunday-Tuesday) CI Capital’s fifth annual Egypt Investor Conference, Gouna.

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

18 May (Thursday): Central bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee Meeting.

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.

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