Sunday, 10 September 2017

The US Senate wants to withhold aid — and has a laundry list of conditions


What We’re Tracking Today

Keda bardo, ya Amreeka? Alabama 3’s song “Woke Up This Morning” (the opening theme of the Sopranos) came to mind Friday morning when we heard the US Senate’s Foreign Aid Appropriations Committee approved withholding 25% of the USD 1 bn in military and economic aid to Egypt in FY2018. A positive note has to be that the committee has left it to the Secretary of State to decide whether to waive the requirement. We have more on this in the Speed Round.

We await the central bank’s announcement of August inflation figures thisweek. Annual urban headline inflation rate increased to 33% in July, while core inflation also shot up to 35.26% on an annualized basis, on the back of subsidy cuts. Some analysts, including Pharos Holding’s Radwa El Sweify, believe inflation could rise to 36% in August and September “because it takes about three months for the full pass-through of the subsidy cuts into the economy.” The figure will play heavily in the CBE decision on interest rates when its Monetary Policy Committee meets on 28 September.

Speaking of inflation: ADSL services cost a bit more now that the 14% value-added tax was imposed on the sector this past Friday. The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has reportedly given IPSs the green light to pass the full increase onto their subscribers, which last we heard had just been an ongoing debate. TE Data’s smallest package will set you back EGP 57, up from EGP 50, while their most expensive will set you back EGP 570, up from EGP 500. Al Borsa lists TE Data’s new prices here. Vodafone Egypt have reportedly notified their subscribers of the increase, according to Al Mal, but we have not been able to confirm the fact (even though one of us here is a VFE ADSL subscriber). IPSs have been petitioning the NTRA for a while to raise their tariffs in order to factor in the VAT as well as rising expenses.

While something tells us that Egypt-style inflation is not universally in the cards, a 20-year downward trend in inflation across EMs may be reversing, writes Steve Johnson for the Financial Times. August has seen a number of EMs reporting higher inflation, including China, Mexico, and Turkey, following a record low of 2.5% in July. “Headline inflation will bottom out in emerging markets. We are looking for things to gradually lift back up but stay on the low side,” said Joseph Lupton, senior global economist at JPMorgan.

If you have a credit history in the US, you probably want to “freeze” your credit report. An unspecified number of folks in Canada and the US were also affected after hackers stole personal data on some 143 mn people, including, “names, social security numbers, birth dates, home addresses and some drivers’ license information” The tool that Equifax released to allow you to see if you’re affected is, apparently, basically non-functional, turning up positive results regardless of the information you put in. So what to do? That “freeze” on your credit report, which is going to cost you a few bucks, but the process is less onerous than it sounds. Try instructions from the New York Times, Toronto Globe and Mail or CNN Money, as you prefer.

Oh, and the best part? Three senior Equifax officials — including its CFO — sold shares worth almost USD 1.8 in the days before it came clean about having been hacked, Bloomberg reports.

Want to move abroad? Look at Bahrain, which joins Costa Rica, Mexico, Taiwan and Portugal as the top five places to live and work in, according to expats. Qatar, Kuwait and KSA make the bottom ten, according to the InterNations Expat Insider 2017 survey. Egyptian expats participated in the survey, but foreigners living in Egypt gave it a pass: The survey notes that “Egypt, Morocco, Mozambique and Tanzania are no longer part of the 2017 league table due to a lack of respondents.” The highlights of the report are worth a read, and the full thing is available for download here (pdf).

What We’re Tracking This Week

Pharos Holding is hosting its “Egypt Banking Day” event on Wednesday, 13 September to highlight developments in the banking sector domestically. The event aims to provide insight on the banking sector through one-on-one meetings, as well as to foster closer relationships and open communications between the banks and investors. Egypt Banking Day will focus on allowing more than 40 fund managers to meet and discuss the growth of and issues surrounding the local market with local bank management teams.

UK to announce new infrastructure investments during trade envoy visit this month: UK trade envoy Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is expected to announce new British investments in infrastructure in Egypt during his visit at the end of the month, Ambassador John Casson said without providing additional detail, according to Al Mal. As usual, Casson added next to nothing on airport and aviation security, noting only that talks are ongoing and “positive.”

It’s iPhone day on Tuesday, 12 September, with a live stream of Apple’s annual fall event due to start at 10am Pacific, 7pm CLT from the Steve Jobs Theatre on Apple’s new campus. You can catch it here.

Central bank governors and other officials from 94 countries have started arriving in Sharm El Sheikh to attend the Alliance for Financial Inclusion’s (AFI) Global Policy Forum, which runs from 13-15 September. Al Masry Al Youm has coverage, and Enterprise will be joining the media horde in Sharm this week, too.

Also this week: The Council of State is expected to begin reviewing the executive regulations to the Investment Act, and Telecom Egypt is, once again, said to be set to launch its mobile telephone network this week.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

After a monthlong break, the full lineup of well-rested talking heads are back in their regular slots. We can’t believe we’re saying this, but we actually missed Amr Adib’s antics, and Lamees El Hadidy adds a soupçon of intelligence to discussion of business and the economy on the airwaves. Last night, Qatar and a decision by a US Senate committee to hold back aid to Egypt dominated the chatter. .

Hona Al Asema’s Lamees Al Hadidi was clearly refreshed, starting her episode with a rundown of the positive economic indicators and achievements of late. She paid particular attention to the Egypt’s reserves reaching a record high of USD 36.1 bn. She noted that Egypt’s external debt recorded 41% of GDP by the end of March, which she said was way over the safety line. She also gave props to a marginal drop in unemployment to 11.9%, which she claims was the first decrease since 2011 (watch, runtime: 29:14).

She then spoke on Qatar, the topic de jour of her lesser half. Kuwaiti writer Fouad El Hashem phoned in to say that Qatar is unwilling to make compromises with the “Arab Quartet.” When analyzing the US’ role as mediator, he astutely suggests that there is a jockeying of interests on the issue in DC, centered around differences between the US Congress and the White House. We ask that you ignore his asinine and frequently repeated conspiracy theories that Qatar and Israel are allies (watch, runtime: 13:25).

The Qatar hatefest continued with Kol Youm’s Amr Adib, who added nothing to the conversation beyond his standard refrain that “the Qatari government is a bunch of liars” (watch, runtime: 2:53)

Adib also called on the Ismail government to take a sterner approach with the US when it comes to aid, asking, “Why do we accept being treated that way?” Adib implied that the US aid was not substantial, stopping just short of calling USD 1.5 bn a pittance. “If I am a decision-maker, I’ll tell them thank you, we are a big country,” Adib said. Leave diplomacy on the economic front to your wife, Amr (watch, runtime: 4:20).

Over on Masaa DMC, Eman El Hosary focused on the discovery of an 18th Dynasty tomb of god Amun-Re’s goldsmith in Luxor. She chatter with Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Anany, who took pains to emphasize that no foreign team was part of the dig (watch, runtime: 7:54). The focus then shifted to the ministry’s “crippling budget deficit,” which had reached EGP 25 bn due to low tourist arrivals, (watch, runtime: 4:52).

90 Minutes’ Moataz El Demerdash looked at the positive implications the discovery will have on tourism. The increased rates of archeological discoveries have contributed to a 20% y-o-y rise in tourism in 1Q2017, said Luxor-based tourism expert Mahmoud Edris (watch, runtime: 14:09). That, ladies and gentlemen, is (very charitably) known as a “W.A.G.”

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

The US Senate’s Foreign Aid Appropriations Committee approved withholding militaryand economic aid to Egypt in FY2018, according to a copy of the bill published on the committee’s website (pdf). (The meat starts on page 185.) The bill stipulates withholding 25% of the USD 1 bn in military assistance given to Egypt and would see the aid withheld “until the Secretary of State certifies and reports … that [Egypt] is taking effective steps to advance democracy and human rights in Egypt … [and] implement reforms that protect freedoms of expression.”

The committee spells out in quite some detail what it wants, including the release of political prisoners, holding security officers accountable for alleged rights violations, investigating extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances (including that of Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni), and granting US officials access to monitor where the aid is directed.

Funds for border security, counterterrorism and non-proliferation programs would not be impacted by the freeze, if it were to come into effect.

The bill also requires the US Secretary of State to withhold economic aid — for which it appropriates USD 75 mn — until the conviction handed down by the Cairo Criminal Court in the 2012 “Foreign Funding Case” for NGOs are quashed or set aside. The focus on civil society is not surprising considering the criticism three Republican Senators — including Senator Lindsey Graham, who presented the appropriations bill to the Senate — leveled at the NGOs law ratified earlier this year.

Get out of jail free card: As is in previous years, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has the right to waive the certification requirement if he demonstrates and justifies that “to do so is important to the national security interest of the United States.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid issued a statement on Thursday stressing that Congress has yet to reach a final decision on the appropriations, and that the bill is still being negotiated internally between the Senate and the House of Representatives. According to Abu Zeid, the House of Representatives passed its version of the FY2018 appropriations bill without reducing aid to Egypt. The story is receiving reasonably wide coverage in the international press.

Egypt blocks HRW website: Egypt added the website for Human Rights Watch to its growing list of blocked websites on Friday, one day after the organization issued a report about “systematic torture in the country’s jails,” Reuters reports. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry responded to the report, which claims torture is widespread and could be classified as a “crime against humanity,” accusing HRW of being biased and failing to understand the situation in Egypt. The number of blocked websites in Egypt has reached 424, the wire service notes, citing data from the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression. The website was still inaccessible at dispatch time.

INVESTMENT WATCH- The fruits of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s China trip continue with the announcement of multiple new investments by Chinese corporations. These largely came on the back of Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil staying put for talks after El Sisi left China for Vietnam last week after signing a number of multi-bn USD agreements.

First off, the auto industry: Chinese automaker FAW Group will be building a minibus and pickup truck assembly factory in 10 Ramadan City with its Egyptian partner, Geyushi Motors, Kabil announced on Saturday. The plant, which will serve the local market and export to neighboring countries, is expected to begin production by March 2018, Kabil said after a meeting with FAW’s vice chairman in Beijing yesterday. The minister also met with SAIC Motor’s vice chairman to discuss the company’s efforts to find a local partner to begin manufacturing cars in Egypt. The minister said that Egypt is looking to attract new investments of around USD 5 bn to the auto industry to help it achieve its vision of increasing car exports to USD 3 bn a year and produce 500k cars a year by 2022, according to African Independent.

Next up, Chinese spinning and weaving companies TIDA and Shoon Dong Roy are planning to invest USD 800 mn in a new ready-made garment factory in Egypt, sources tell Youm7. The factory is part of the company’s plan to expand its presence in Africa, the sources add, explaining that negotiations are currently ongoing with the Egyptian side. Al Borsa said that a delegation of Chinese textile manufacturers is also planning to visit Egypt soon to explore potential investment what might be done here.

China’s fibreglass maker Goshi Giken signed an agreement with the Suez Canal Economic Zone that will see it spend USD 60 mn to expand its operations in Ain Sokhna, Al Masry Al Youm said on Thursday.

Kabil also met with officials from SKG China, which is currently conducting studies for a potential home appliances plant it wants to build in Egypt, AMAY reports.

The China Development Bank is planning to facilitate funding for Chinese industrial projects in Egypt under the Belt and Road initiative, Kabil also said. The minister said that China and Egypt have agreed on 12 main projects that will receive funding priority, including ones in electricity, transport, housing, industry, and communications. This came after Egypt inked five MoUs with China on Thursday that will see both countries cooperate on agricultural exports, IT, automaking, and fibreglass.

A little bit of context: China is now the largest foreign investor in African greenfields as measured by capex volume (at USD 36.1 bn this year), followed by the UAE at USD 11 bn. The United States remains the largest by number of projects backed.

Vietnamese investors coming, too? Over in Hanoi, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi discussed cooperation with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (pdf), who noted that Vietnam is interested in importing chemicals, meds, and cotton from Egypt and is looking to cooperate on agriculture, transport, education, and tourism. Vietnam’s foreign minister told a business forum attended by El Sisi that investors from his country are primarily interested in the petroleum, agriculture, and textile industries, according to a statement from Ittihadiya (pdf). Investment Minister Sahar Nasr also spoke at the forum. El Sisi also sat down for a talk with his Vietnamese counterpart Tran Dai Quang and signed six MoUs (pdf) that covered cooperation in trade, fishing and fish farming, media, tourism, culture and sports.

Is the Mercosur FTA bad news for the domestic auto industry? Egypt’s trade liberalization agreement with Mercosur countries — which lifts customs on car parts by up to 60% — coupled with the lack of a government strategy to develop the auto sector will “destroy” Egypt’s chance at developing an car manufacturing industry, Deputy President of the Federation of Egyptian Industry’s transport division Samir Allam tells Al Borsa. The agreement will put locally produced parts in direct competition with those imported from manufacturing giants such as Brazil, which will offer lower prices for better quality, and discourage auto manufacturers from investing in Egypt, Allam says.

The agreement also allegedly creates a loophole that would allow auto importers in Egypt customs-free imports of European or American cars from Mercosur countries, unnamed sources tell the newspaper. On the flipside, Egyptian Automobile Manufacturers Association CEO Hussein Soliman says Mercosur actually opens doors. He says Egypt’s FTA with the European Union didn’t push down the prices of European cars enough to make them significantly more attractive than their locally assembled counterparts.

Pharos Holding is looking to close transactions worth EGP 7.5 bn over the next 18 months as it moves into non-banking sectors, CEO Elwy Taymour told Reuters in an interview (here for Arabic). He says the transactions range from M&As to IPOs and capital increases for companies “operating in the food, retail, healthcare and chemical industries.” Pharos is targeting increasing its financial portfolio of around EGP 4 bn by up to EGP 2 bn in 2018, with Taymour saying “we got two licences in financial leasing and microfinance from the Financial Supervisory Authority in February and we have already established two companies, but we haven’t started the operation yet.” He also says Pharos has begun operating in Dubai after obtaining a license in May and is also looking into setting up shop in the UK. Domestically, Taymour says Pharos is working on expanding its brokerage services to retail clients, as it retains its corporate business, with an aim to expand electronic trading starting from next year. Taymour believes that the stamp tax applied on EGX transactions has affected the market negatively and drove trading volumes down. He tells Reuters the stamp tax policy needs to be revisited because the market is not doing well.

Russian airlines need a month to resume flights to Egypt once the ban is lifted, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov tells Sputnik. Sources also tell the news website Egypt is expected to hold a new round of talks with Russia over “the next few days” to set dates for the return of air travel to Cairo. Meanwhile, experts will “hold consultations” on the resumption of flights with Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh — a clear sign that the brass ring his being held back. An Egyptian parliament representative from the Tourism Committee suggested that the government temporarily lift entry visa requirements for Russian tourists as a way of encouraging them to travel to Egypt.

This comes as Rosatom says it expects to sign a contract to build the Dabaa nuclear power plant this year, company head Alexey Likhachev tells Sputnik, confirming that everything is going according to plan. The Ismail cabinet had said the contracts have been finalized and approved, and are being reviewed by the Council of State.

The hotel market in Red Sea cities is still reeling from the effect of travel bans from European countries, and “demand has not shown any signs of recovery,” says Colliers International’s latest MENA Hotel Forecasts report (pdf) for August-October 2017. “Although travel advisories from most traditional source markets have eased, [Hurghada] continues to suffer from a negative security perception impacting tourist arrivals,” according to the report. The report forecasts c. 40% occupancy in Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada over the coming year — and a roughly 40% decline in average revenue per room.

Nonetheless, Egyptian destinations are taking steps to return as hotspots for UK tourists seeking winter sun, Tom Parry writes for TTG. Despite the Sharm ban, Thomas Cook is “intent on continuing a healthy programme to Egypt for the UK market, and from November is heading further south down the Red Sea coast to the resort of Marsa Alam. It is also adding capacity to Hurghada.” Philip Breckner, director of operator Discover Egypt, says Thomas Cook’s move is “very encouraging” and “sends a strong message that Egypt is open … The country has suffered from a misconception that it’s ‘off limits’ but that’s not at all true. Cairo, Luxor and the Nile Valley are all very much open for business.”

De ja vu — Are GASC’s other, non-ergot related policies alienating foreign driving away exporters including the Ukraine? The General Authority for Supply Commodities’ (GASC) decision earlier this year to raise its requirement for the protein content in wheat imports to 12.5% from 11.5% may cause Ukraine to “tumble out of the Egyptian market,” Ukraine’s Agriculture Minister Maksim Martyniuk tells Reuters. Martyniuk says there is speculation that the decision is meant to favor Russian wheat, and that Ukraine’s hands are tied “because we have no such volumes and specifications that we could supply to Egypt.” A GASC source tells Al Mal that the decision is not meant to target a specific country, and was “entirely technical.”

This comes as the Agriculture Quarantine Authority rejected a 59,000 tonne shipment of French wheat after testing indicated the shipment contained poppy seeds, Al Masry Al Youm reports. A sample from the shipment has been sent to the Agriculture Ministry for confirmation. This is the second time in less than one month that the authority has turned away wheat for containing poppy seeds, after a 63k tonne shipment from Romania was rejected last month.

All the while the government looks set to expand domestic production, with plans to increase the area for wheat cultivation by 500k feddans next year through incentives, Agriculture Ministry spokesperson Hamed Abdel Dayem tells Reuters.

Doha agrees to go to negotiation table after Trump’s mediation efforts, but Saudi says it is suspending all dialogue after botched call: Kuwait’s Emir Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah reportedly received a letter from Doha “agreeing to sit down and discuss the list of 13 demands” made by the Saudi-led quartet, Reuters says. This comes as the newswire also reports that Saudi Arabia suspended all dialogue with Qatar after a reported phone call between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani the day before. Reuters notes that the call — “the first publicly reported contact between the two leaders since the start of the crisis” in June — was coordinated by US President Donald Trump, who spoke to both leaders separately on Friday. Trump later told the press the US would be willing to mediate and that resolution would “come quickly.”


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Image of the Day

Wings of Mexico in Cairo: The Mexican Embassy in Egypt ran a competition last month looking for the most liked photo on their Facebook page taken with The Wings of Mexico, a sculpture by renowned Mexican artist Jorge Marin that has become a symbol that represents Mexico worldwide. Marin’s bronze-wing sculpture, which went on display in public places all over the world and is now in Cairo, plays on the idea that it does not only stand as a symbol of flight itself, but of union, strength, illumination and balance. “The allegorical flight of the human-sized bronze wings, as they roam through the world will seem as a window that opens into the binds that tie countries and people, together, reassured by the settlement of the wings on public spaces.” Above is the winning picture from the competition, which, along with two runners up, will be part of an awards ceremony organized by the Embassy and the Cairo Opera House’s Palace of Arts on 11 September. The Wings of Mexico sculpture will be on display at the Cairo Opera House until 30 October.

Egypt in the News

Topping coverage of Egypt this morning is the discovery of a 3,500-year-old tomb in Luxor belonging to a royal goldsmith and his wife. The tomb contained statues of the goldsmith, Amenemhat, his wife, and son, along with several artifacts from the 18th Dynasty, the period during which the family is believed to have lived, according to the National Geographic. The Associated Press has sent the story global.

As the US Senate moved to cut aid to Egypt on the pretext of human rights, anumber of publications are exploring whether the relationship has fundamentally changed. In their latest piece, Carnegie Middle East Center’s Diwan brought together contributors, some of whom say that seemingly warming ties under the Trump administration will not erase pre-existing tensions. Among those participating: Jon Alterman (Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC), gadfly and erstwhile politician Amr Hamzawy, and the Washington Institute’s David Schenker.

The Financial Times is throwing some shade at Egypt’s real estate market: While analysts continue to suggest that Egypt’s property market is holding strong, buoyed on an influx of second-home expat buyers following the EGP float, the Financial Times’ Heba Saleh says that there is more going on to dampen the market. On the one hand, the traditional notion that real estate is a safe investment is being challenged by rising interest rates. “High-interest deposit accounts that offer annual returns of 20% are competing with property as a haven for wealth and savings,” says Ali Rabie, chairman of Abraj Misr. On the other hand, rising inflation has been negatively impacting all but the high end developers. Developers are now being forced to delay some of their plans to take account of higher construction costs. These players are also now offering clients finance schemes with zero down payment instead of 15%, while extending instalment payments to seven years instead of five, adds Rabie.

In a separate piece, Burhan Wazir sees new urban developments such as the New Administrative Capital as telling of some of the wider problems with the sector. Namely, that while demand for medium-income housing is high, these new cities ultimately fail to address the needs of the majority of the population who cannot afford housing in the new capital. “The only people who can afford these new homes are those 3.5 mn Egyptians working in the Gulf,” says urban planner David Sims.

Banks should seize chase after business by shifting focus toward microfinance and SME funding, Arab African International Bank (AAIB) CEO Hassan Abdalla tells Banker Africa, noting that he also sees potential in financing clean energy and energy efficiency projects.

Oh, and the New York Times’ wedding page tries to tug at the heartstrings with its feature on erstwhile Islamist Mohamed Soltan, who has tied the knot in the US.

On Deadline

The United States’ decision to withhold military and economic aid to Egypt should give us an incentive to regain our regional influence, particularly as discussions on the aid allude to Egypt’s former position of strength that had previously justified the aid packages, Abdel Nasser Salama writes for Al Masry Al Youm. Egypt’s human rights situation is only one facet of the situation, but the bigger picture indicates that the American government is having a hard time justifying spending taxpayers’ money to support a country that no longer gives it the same benefits as before, Salama says.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo yesterday for talks with Egyptian officials to discuss alleviating the blockade of Gaza and brokering a truce with its rival, Fatah, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, Reuters reports. The two sides will also discuss the reopening of the Rafah border crossing, as well as security and power supplies, according to an Egyptian source. While this is the first time for Haniyeh to visit Egypt as Hamas’ leader, the group has been in talks with Cairo for several months to mend fences.

Pope Tawadros was reluctant to voice his thoughts about what Australia should do about 20 Coptic families facing deportation during his trip down under last week. Pope Tawadros said: “the decision [is] up to the Australian authorities” and “we appreciate generally any support for any Egyptian people,” SBS reports.


Petrobel awards GE subsidiary “major subsea contract” on Zohr

Eni-EGPC JV Petrobel awarded General Electric oilfield services subsidiary Baker Hughes “a major subsea contract” for work on the second phase of the giant Zohr gas field, the company said in a statement. The agreement will see Baker “provide project management, engineering procurement, fabrication, construction, testing and transportation of a subsea production system…and will support the installation, commissioning and start-up operations.” The company will locally manufacture the steel structures it needs at a plant in Alexandria.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Kellogg’s focusing on four key areas for growth, includes emerging markets

Kellogg’s has approximately 80% more volume in emerging markets in 2017 than it did five years earlier as it focuses more on emerging markets, Chairman and CEO John Bryant says, according to Food Business News. “Big investments here include buying the largest cookie cracker company in Egypt, buying a leading cereal business in Egypt, buying a leading regional cookie cracker player in Brazil and making a significant investment in Nigeria,” he said. Bryant added that “the emerging markets is the defining event in our lifetimes, and the food industry is a macro megatrend that will continue to provide growth for large food companies like Kellogg’s.” The focus on emerging markets is one of four pillars of strategic growth targeted by Kellogg’s.

Egyptian Nile Company for Food Industries eyeing Gulf export market

The Egyptian Nile Company for Food Industries, which owns Enjoy juice and milk brand once popular in Egypt, is looking to begin exporting to the Gulf, the Daily News Egypt reports Chairman Mahmoud Hendy as saying. The company currently exports to the EU, the US, Iraq, and Lebanon, Hendy says.

Health + Education

Illiteracy rate drops to 20.1% in 2016 -CAPMAS

Egypt’s illiteracy rate decreased to 20.1% in 2016, down from 23.7% a year earlier, according to CAPMAS numbers, Ahram Online reports. In total, around 14.3 mn people are unable to read or write, 9.1 mn of them being women, according to the report. The good news is that the younger population is becoming more literate, with illiteracy rate amongst those in the 15-25 years old age bracket falling significantly below the national average at 6.5%. Geographically, Beni Suef has the highest illiteracy rate nationwide at 30.2% followed by Sohag at 30%, whereas North Sinai has the lowest rate at 8.6%.

South Sinai plans to promote medical tourism with Prime Pharma

South Sinai governorate signed an agreement with Prime Pharma — founders of the Tour N’ Cure Hepatitis C medical tourism program — that would see the letter help develop a plan to promote medical tourism in the governorate, according to Al Mal.

Telecoms + ICT

Orange accuses TE of offering low interconnection charges compared to the market -sources

Telecom Egypt has reportedly contacted Orange Egypt to discuss a new pricing scheme for the two companies’ interconnection rates, which Orange claims TE is offering at below-market rates, sources tell Ahram Gate. The rate, which refers to the fee TE pays Orange when one of its subscribers calls an Orange number, is reportedly lower than what TE offered rival mobile network operators, sources say.

Banking + Finance

Abu Qir Fertilizers studying offers for EUR 133 mn loan offers

Abu Qir Fertilizers is studying offers for a ten-year EUR 133 mn loan from two rival banking consortia, sources tell Al Mal. The first consortium consists of the National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, AAIB, QNB, and CIB. The second offer is from EG Bank, Bank of Alexandria, Ahli United Bank, Bank Audi, and SAIB. Abu Qir is seeking the funding to increase its production capacity by 198k tonnes per year.

Other Business News of Note

Potential freezone in Sohag

Investment Minister Sahar Nasr met with met Ayman Abdel Moneim, Governor of Sohag, and Mahmoud El Sherif, Deputy of the House of Representatives to discuss the potential of setting up a freezone in Sohag, according to a statement from the ministry.

Media Production City to launch international tender to manage Magic Land

The Egyptian Media Production City is considering launching an international tender to manage entertainment park Magic Land, according to an EGX filing. Media Production City told the bourse it is currently engaged in a EGP 16 mn project to redevelop and refurbish the entertainment park, after which it is going to issue the management tender.

On Your Way Out

Google’s Launchpad Accelerator now accepting Egyptian applicants: Google has is accepting applications from Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Uganda for its emerging market-focused accelerator Launchpad, according to TechCabal. The accelerator focuses on growth-stage startups, allowing them to collaborate with “Google engineers, Silicon Valley experts, and top mentors from around the world.” Applications for the program close on 2 October.

Karate master Sabri Attiya has been teaching disabled kids the combat sport for nearly a decade even though he is blind, reports Reuters. Attiya has won several local competitions and represented Egypt at the world championships, a feat he hopes to repeat in more international tournaments. The martial artist challenges his disability with a simple yet admirable “As someone who challenges his disability … I would like to say that I am not disabled.” No argument here.

ON THIS DAY- CERN’s Large Hadron Collider first went live on this day in 2008. The LHC is described as “the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider, most complex experimental facility ever built, and the largest single machine in the world.” In France, convicted murderer Hamida Djandoubi became the last person to ever be executed by the guillotine in 1977. Also on this day, the first DUI arrest was made in London in 1897, after a 25-year-old taxi driver named George Smith drove his vehicle into a building. He was fined 25 shillings. … Here at Enterprise, we were off for Eid break this time last year.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.61 | Sell 17.71
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 17.6 | Sell 17.7
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.63 | Sell 17.73

EGX30 (Thursday): 13,433 (+0.9%)
Turnover: EGP 1.1 bn (24% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +8.8%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session up 0.9%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent close up 0.5%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were: Egyptian Resorts up 6.3%; Porto Group up 4.7%; and Egyptian Iron and Steel up 4.5%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks included: Oriental Weavers down 2.2%; Cairo Oils and Soap down 1.0%; and Global Telecom down 0.4%. The market turnover was EGP 1.1 bn, and local investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +78.7 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +0.7 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -79.4 mn

Retail: 66.7% of total trades | 62.1% of buyers | 71.2% of sellers
Institutions: 33.3% of total trades | 37.9% of buyers | 28.8% of sellers

Foreign: 19.7% of total | 23.3% of buyers | 16% of sellers
Regional: 11% of total | 11% of buyers | 10.9% of sellers
Domestic: 69.3% of total | 65.7% of buyers | 73.1% of sellers
WTI: USD 47.48 (-3.28%)
Brent: USD 53.78 (-1.3%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.89 MMBtu, (-3.05%, October 2017 contract)
Gold: USD 1,351.2 / troy ounce (+0.07%)TASI: 7,360.61 (+0.75%) (YTD: +2.08%)
ADX: 4,453.71 (-0.08%) (YTD: -2.04%)
DFM: 3,644.31 (+0.06%) (YTD: +3.21%)
KSE Weighted Index: 434.69 (+0.33%) (YTD: +14.37%)
QE: 8,675.46 (-0.1%) (YTD: -16.88%)
MSM: 5,047.08 (-0.35%) (YTD: -12.72%)
BB: 1,315.55 (+0.33%) (YTD: +7.79%)

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11 September (Monday): Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono is scheduled to visit Cairo to participate in the Arab-Japanese dialogue session at the Arab League, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

13 September (Wednesday): Pharos Holding’s Egypt Banking Day event.

13 September (Wednesday): EIB MED Conference: Boosting investments in the Mediterranean Region, Cairo.

13-15 September (Wednesday-Friday): 2017 Alliance for Financial Inclusion Global Policy Forum, International Congress Center, Sharm El Sheikh.

15-18 September (Friday-Monday): Sharm Travel Market, venue TBD, Sharm El Sheikh.

18-19 September (Monday-Tuesday): Euromoney Egypt conference, venue TBD, Cairo.

19 September (Tuesday): Deadline for applications for funding under the Newton Institutional Links programme.

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

21 September (Thursday): Islamic New Year, national holiday.

22-24 September (Friday-Sunday): CairoComix Festival, AUC Tahrir Campus, Cairo.

25-27 September (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Downstream Summit and Exhibition, Kempinski Royal Maxim Palace, Cairo.

23-25 September (Saturday-Monday): Invest In Africa Conference and Exhibitors Summit, Gala Theater Complex, Cairo.

28 September (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee to review policy rates.

September — The House of Representatives is due to begin discussion of the proposed bankruptcy bill.

03 October (Tuesday): Egypt’s Emirates NBD PMI reading released.

03-05 October (Tuesday-Thursday): J.P. Morgan’s Credit and Equities Emerging Markets Conference, London, UK.

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

11-12 October (Wednesday-Thursday): 2030 Mega Projects Conference, Nefertiti Hall, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo.

11-13 October (Wednesday-Friday): Middle East and Africa Rail Show, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo.

15-16 October (Sunday-Monday): The Marketing Kingdom Cairo 3 conference, Dusit Thani Lakeview Hotel, Cairo.

17 October (Tuesday): The Narrative PR Summit, Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Cairo.

18-19 October (Wednesday-Thursday): Middle East Info Security Summit, Sofitel El Gezirah, Cairo.

18-20 October (Wednesday-Friday): AfriLabs annual gathering with the theme “Future of Cities: Innovation, Spaces and Collaboration,” The French University, Cairo. Register here.

23-27 October (Monday-Friday): 29th Business and Professional Women International Congress themed “Making a Difference through Leadership and Action,” Mena House Hotel, Cairo. Register here.

06-07 November (Monday-Tuesday): Crisis Communications Conference, Four Seasons Nile Plaza Hotel, Cairo.

16 November (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee to review policy rates.

19-21 November (Sunday-Tuesday): 11th Annual INJAZ Young Entrepreneurs Competition, Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Cairo.

26-29 November (Sunday-Wednesday): 21st Cairo ICT, Cairo International Convention Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

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

03-05 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Solar-Tec, Cairo International Exhibition & Convention Centre.

03-05 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Electrix, Cairo International Exhibition & Convention Centre.

07-09 December (Thursday-Saturday): The Africa 2017 forum: “Business for Africa, Egypt and the World” Conference, Sharm El Sheikh.

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

28 December (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee to review policy rates.

17-21 February 2018 (Wednesday-Saturday): Women For Success – Women SME’s "World of Possibilities" Conference, Cairo/Luxor.

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