Thursday, 4 April 2019

What Foggy Bottom thinks of us

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

First, may we observe that it is Thursday?

The International LafargeHolcim Forum for Sustainable Construction begins today at the AUC New Cairo campus. The three-day event will explore how innovative construction techniques and new uses of building materials can make our buildings more efficient and sustainable. World-famous architect Lord Norman Foster will deliver a keynote address.

Also coming up next week:

  • President El Sisi flies to Washington, DC, on Tuesday, 9 April, where he will meet with US President Donald Trump.
  • The Markit / Emirates NBD purchasing managers’ index for March is due out at 6:15am CLT on Sunday. The indicator, which measures non-oil business activity in Egypt, hit its lowest level in 17 months in the February survey.
  • Renaissance Capital’s annual Egypt Investors Conference in Cape Town on 9-10 April. EGX Chairman Mohamed Farid will deliver the keynote address on expanding the role of capital markets in Egypt’s economy. Tap or click here to view the preliminary agenda for the event (pdf).
  • Egypt’s monthly inflation figures, from both the central bank and CAPMAS, are expected on 10 April. Annual headline inflation accelerated to 14.4% in February, up from 12.7% the previous month.
  • The IMF and World Bank are holding their spring meetings on 12-14 April in Washington, DC.

Also coming up: First quarter earnings season, and you want to pay attention to US and European numbers as much as you do results from our corner of the world. EFG Hermes is predicting a 0.7% year-on-year decline in first quarter earnings across the MENA region, with the strongest earnings growth coming from Kuwait (+13.1%), Egypt (+6.4%) and the UAE (+5.9%). We’re looking at contractions in Saudi and Qatar. Financials will lead growth, the firm writes, while materials will lead the decline (down a third) and telecoms will be flat.

The FT, meanwhile, is keeping a close eye on US results, noting that the ongoing rally in markets suggests investors are “looking well beyond forecasts of negative earnings growth for the first quarter for US and Europan companies.” The salmon-colored paper writes that the S&P 500 is expected to turn in a 3.9% drop in earnings this quarter and then no growth in 2Q. The full-year forecast is for about 3.7% growth, down from 7.4% at the beginning of the year. The warning: Mega-asset-manager BlackRock argues that the “‘combination of weaker earnings revisions, higher prices and low volatility’ is unlikely to remain the status quo.”


Around the region:

So much for Libyan reconciliation? Libya’s Western-sponsored Tripoli government declared a military alert yesterday as Egypt-backed Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s eastern forces advanced south of the capital, Reuters reports. The clashes between the rival forces throw plans for nationwide elections and a potential reconciliation agreement into doubt. UN chief Antonio Guterres is donning his kevlar and heading to the capital in an attempt to keep the peace, the Associated Press reports.

The morning after: Protestors are unlikely to be satisfied with Algerian President Bouteflika’s resignation, the NYT says.

Saudi Arabia has nearly finished completion of its first nuclear reactor, according to satellite images published by Bloomberg a week after a Reuters investigation revealed that US Energy Secretary Rick Perry secretly authorized companies to supply nuclear tech to Riyadh.


SIGN OF THE TIMES #1: Accenture has bought iconic ad agency Droga5, part of the ongoing trend of consulting companies getting into the marketing and advertising game. See more in the New York Times, Fast Company and Adage.

SIGN OF THE TIMES #2: Patagonia will no longer make branded vests for financial services companies, threatening a crisis of identity in the hedge fund and fintech worlds. BuzzFeed has more.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

No particular theme dominated the airwaves yesterday. The highlights included a mention of The Donald’s nominee for the World Bank presidency, David Malpass, promising to stand by Egypt, as reported by Al Hayah Al Youm’s Khaled Abu Bakr (watch, runtime: 1:27). We have more on Malpass’ meeting with Investment Minister Sahar Nasr in Diplomacy + Foreign Trade, below.

Also on Al Hayah Al Youm: News of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s meeting with Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker to speed up the implementation of electricity projects got some airtime on Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 1:02).

More from Al Hayah Al Youm: Lobna Assal phoned Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad for a comment on a national strategy to promote electric cars (watch, runtime: 5:28). A government committee is reviewing expressions of interest (cabinet statement here) from international partners that may want to produce the vehicles locally. There is also a plan to transform all outdated public buses to run on natural gas and electricity in five years. And, with no shortage of electric power in the country, there is a parallel plan to develop charging stations.

Finally, news of the Supply Ministry new set of criteria for welfare subsidy eligibility caught the attention of Yahduth Fi Misr’s Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 1:52). We have chapter and verse in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

EXCLUSIVE- Relax non-tariff barriers if you want a trade agreement, US tells Egypt: There will be no free trade agreement with the US until Egypt relaxes non-tariff trade barriers, a US State Department official told reporters accompanying Amcham’s Doorknock lobbying tour of Washington, DC. yesterday. Egypt has made efforts in recent years to liberalize trade, but non-tariff barriers continue to impose high costs on Egypt’s export partners and present problems for domestic importers. Improving the transparency of customs rules, working on intellectual property rights and ensuring high-quality exports (especially agricultural products) are all areas Egypt needs to work on if it wants to secure a trade agreement with the US, according to the official. Talks for a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) have been going on for years with little sign of progress, the official said, adding that the next round of discussion is set to take place on Tuesday, 9 April, in DC.

Praise for economic reforms, but more action is needed: While the State Department acknowledges Egypt’s economic reform program is an important step, the official emphasized that the Madbouly government needs to do more to bring the workforce and manufacturing standards to levels that make it possible for them to engage with US businesses. The official also noted that Egypt has to work on reducing red tape, strengthening the rule of law and arbitration mechanisms, and implementing bankruptcy regulations.

The US believes that Egypt showed “leadership” by bringing together regional energy powers, including Israel, for the East Med Gas Forum, which would have been politically challenging in the past.

How are Egypt-US relations looking now? “Egypt remains a vital and strategic partner of the US,” the official said. “There will always be differences, but we always work through things. The relationship is strong and cooperation never stops.”

Any human rights criticisms? The US is concerned with the defense of human rights and the success of Egypt, he said. It is interested in there being an open and transparent debate of proposed constitutional amendments and wants to see that dissenting voices aren’t punished.

Regional security, terrorism and the anniversary of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty will all be on the agenda when President El Sisi meets Trump in Washington on 9 April.

EXCLUSIVE- Egypt is the “most attractive reform story” among EEMEA countries- Renaissance Capital: Improving macroeconomic indicators and stabilizing public finances mean that Egypt is now the “most attractive reform story” among EEMEA countries, Charlie Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital, tells Enterprise. Rising economic growth, a shrinking budget deficit, interest rate cuts and increasing foreign direct investment: all of this is good news for investors, who are seeing Egypt as an increasingly attractive destination. “There is no other country in the EEMEA space where we see such commitment to successful reforms, and such obvious prospects for economic transformation,” he says.

Expect more credit rating upgrades: RenCap expects other ratings agencies to follow in Fitch’s footsteps and upgrade Egypt’s sovereign credit rating. High GDP growth, a primary budget surplus and falling interest rates will continue to improve the country’s credit profile.

Is Egypt on the verge of industrializing? RenCap’s analysis of electricity consumption and adult literacy rates suggests that Egypt has had the capacity to industrialize since 2010 and subsequently grow by 4-6% on a per capita basis. The political and economic instability that characterized the post-revolutionary years have held the country back from ramping up its industrial capacity. But, Robertson says, the news that Nissan intends to start producing cars in Egypt is a sign that we could finally be about to take industrialization to the next level.

Egypt’s lack of transparency is making the lives of investors and analysts harder, Robertson says. Accessing economic data in Egypt is harder in comparison to other emerging markets, and making it more readily available will increase confidence among investors, potentially helping to reduce our borrowing costs.

Political stability and strong demographics have put the Egyptian economy on a “sound footing,” David McMillan (LinkedIn), global chief investment officer for hedge funds and partner at Mercer, told Bloomberg TV (watch, runtime: 01:55). “I think there are a couple of elements that are very interactive. Number one you have political stability and you’ve got an economy that’s on sound footing. The real carryout or wild card driver to this perhaps is that you’ve got exceedingly strong demographics, and that gives you a real nice tailwind.” McMillan also sees the carry trade as being “not as prevalent as it once was,” but says growth in Egypt is going to “seek to compress those yields.”

The government has raised the limit of Egypt’s eurobond program to USD 30 bn from USD 20 bn, according to the prospectus (pdf) published yesterday on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange ahead of the Finance Ministry’s upcoming issuance. The prospectus listed high inflation, EGP-to-USD depreciation, a below-investment grade credit rating, and internal instability as the key risk factors to repayment, but didn’t state an explicit reason for the increase. The ministry is planning to sell up to EUR 1.5 bn-worth of eurobonds in mid-April, and reportedly began receiving bids yesterday to test the market’s appetite for the issuance, government sources said, according to a local press report. Egypt’s recent eurobond issuance in February, which saw the ministry sell USD 4 bn in USD-denominated eurobonds, was 5x oversubscribed, attracting USD 21.5 bn in bids from 250 investors.

Egypt’s net foreign reserves were essentially unchanged at the end of March at USD 44.112 bn, up fractionally from USD 44.060 bn the previous month, the CBE announced yesterday.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Sarwa closes EGP 1.8 bn of securitization bonds: Our friends at structured and consumer finance house Sarwa Capital closed the issuance of EGP 1.8 bn worth of securitization bonds in a press release (pdf). The latest issue is backed by the portfolios of Contact Auto Credit and its affiliates and consists of three tranches of 13-month, three-year and five-year bonds, all of which carry an investment-grade credit rating. CIB, Banque Misr, AAIB, and Ahli United Bank underwrote the issuance. Our friends at Arab Legal Consultants were legal counsel on the transaction.

The Supply Ministry has announced a new set of criteria for the third phase of its purge of welfare rolls. The more stringent criteria for what qualifies as an undeserving moocher includes one-child families that pay more than EGP 30k on school fees or above EGP 20k per child on average, according to a ministry statement. Owning 10 feddans or more of land or a company with capital of EGP 10 mn or more will also be grounds for having subsidy access privileges revoked. Individuals who own one car made in 2015 or later, or more than one car made in 2011 or later, should also expect to be cut from the subsidy rolls. The new rules are meant to trim a deeper layer of subsidy moochers than the first and second phases. The third phase should kick off this month, but the ministry has yet to announce a specific date.

CABINET WATCH- Cabinet approves pension, public sector wage increases: The Madbouly Cabinet has approved draft bills to carry forward President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s recent decisions to increase pensions and wages for state employees, according to a cabinet statement. The bills are now with the House of Representatives to be made into law.

One draft will set the minimum monthly pensions under the social insurance scheme at EGP 900 and see payouts rise by at least EGP 150 or 15% starting 1 July. Another will raise public sector wages by 7% for those in state organizations covered by the Civil Service Act, and by 10% for employees not governed by the act. The minimum raise increment for each category will be EGP 75 in the coming fiscal year.

Is the new minimum wage covered by the bills? It’s unclear if El Sisi’s parallel decision to raise the minimum wage to EGP 2k for state employees is a feature of either bill. The decisions, which the president announced last weekend, will cost the state coffers an added EGP 59 bn a year: EGP 30.5 bn in wage increases and a separate EGP 28.5 bn in pension adjustments.

Cabinet also greenlit a proposal to promote eligible government employees at the end of the current fiscal year on 30 June. Promotions will come with raises of no less than 5%. The decision will not need to go through the House, and will only require ratification from the head of the Central Agency for Organization and Administration, Cabinet Spokesman Nader Saad told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal on the airwaves yesterday (watch, runtime: 5:28).

EXCLUSIVE- FinMin, MNOs reach preliminary agreement to scrap EGP 50 fee on new mobile phone lines: The Finance Ministry has reached a preliminary agreement with Egypt’s four mobile network operators (MNOs) to do away with a levy on new mobile phone line purchases that was imposed at the start of the fiscal year last July, a government official tells Enterprise. The one-time per-line EGP 50 duty on new lines — which was introduced as part of a package of new administrative services meant to help diversify the state’s sources of income — has been blamed for the decline in Egypt’s mobile penetration rate in the past several months. The ministry will likely replace the levy with a separate, yet-to-be-determined tax on phone bills.

Background: The Finance Ministry had said last year that it could raise the stamp tax on mobile phone bills by 2-4x or introduce an entirely different fee to replace the EGP 50 levy, a senior government official had told us at the time.

IFC signs MoU with Egypt’s state-owned oil companies to support sector, extend financing: The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) has signed an MoU with four state-owned petroleum companies to support Egypt’s drive to enhance the sector’s infrastructure and become a regional energy hub, it said in a statement (pdf). Signed with the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation, the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company, the Egyptian South Valley Holding Company, and the Egyptian Holding Company for Petrochemicals, the agreement pledges financing for energy efficiency, gas flaring reduction, refinery and petrochemical sectors.

IFC’s Labadi backs our regional hub plans: “Egypt has the competitive advantages necessary to become a regional energy hub, and we believe the private sector can play a critical role in unlocking this potential,” said Walid Labadi, IFC Country Manager for Egypt. “IFC looks forward to working with the ministry to identify private sector investment opportunities to help strengthen vital energy infrastructure, create jobs, and foster economic growth.” The IFC aims to invest USD 5 bn in Egypt over the next five years, at an average rate of USD 1 bn per annum, IFC MENA Regional Director Mouayed Makhlouf told the local press earlier this year.

Israel Electricity Company admits to voluntarily forgiving USD 1.3 bn of Egyptian gas debt as part of a 2018 arbitration settlement, the company announced in a filing with the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, according to Haaretz. The company intentionally kept the 85% write-off a secret until yesterday for diplomatic reasons, Israel’s Government Companies Authority said. The IEC agreed to accept USD 500 mn over eight and a half years instead of USD 1.76 bn paid over 15 years.

Background: Egyptian gas companies were ordered to pay the IEC a USD 1.76 bn arbitration settlement after they reneged on a natural gas supply contract amid the tumult of 2011. The Egyptian government had made reducing the award a condition for accepting any gas agreement with Israel. This led to a settlement in November as Egypt and Israel concluded an agreement that will make Egypt a key customer for Israeli natural gas.

LEGISLATION WATCH- Tech giants are lobbying against prison terms in the draft Data Protection Act: Global tech giants have asked the House of Representatives to replace prison terms with fines under the draft Data Protection Act, saying failure to make the change could discourate investment in Egypt, Al Mal reported. Representatives from Google, Facebook, Twitter, MasterCard, Microsoft, Vodafone, Etisalat, and Orange, among others, made the request during a meeting this week with the House CIT Committee and CIT Minister Amr Talaat. The committee preliminarily approved last month the draft Data Protection Act after the Madbouly Cabinet completed its final review of the proposed legislation.

Background: The bill would, if passed, make it mandatory for businesses to obtain user approval to share personal data or face prison terms and fines. The draft also draws a line between what it defines broadly as “personal data” and what it considers sensitive information. Data considered sensitive includes information revealing people’s mental, physical, or genetic conditions, as well as their biometric data and religious or political affiliations.

The Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) has put out a consumer protection guidebook (pdf) for capital markets, insurance and other non-banking financial services, according to an FRA statement. Any organization offering a service regulated by the FRA will be required to post a copy of the document online and to present a print copy to any client prior to engagement.

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Egypt in the News

Topping coverage of Egypt in the foreign press is the release of Australian-Egyptian Hazem Hamouda after more than 400 days in Tora Prison. Hamouda was escorted to Cairo Airport by the Australian ambassador in Egypt. The Guardian, SBS News, and the Australian Associated Press all have the story.

The state is pushing television producers to ensure Ramadan soaps toe the government’s line, Declan Walsh writes for the New York Times. An unnamed senior director told NYT that scriptwriters were recently given instructions to “glorify the military, to attack the Muslim Brotherhood and to promote conservative family values that encourage young Egyptians to obey their elders and presumably avoid the kind of questioning that led to the 2011 Arab Spring,” the Times reports.

On The Front Pages

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s talks with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres topped the front pages of all the three government dailies this morning (Al Ahram | Al Gomhuria | Al Akhbar). The two talked regional politics and terrorism, with the spotlight on Syria, Libya, and Yemen.

Worth Watching

And for your daily dose of creepiness so compelling you can’t look away, we bring you the trailer for Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker,” which will be released in (some parts of the world) in October 2019 (watch, runtime 2:23). Gotham has never looked so eerie.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Trump’s nominee for World Bank’s next boss pledges support for Egypt: David Malpass, the US’ nominee to head the World Bank, said the group will increase its support for Egypt’s infrastructure, transportation and SME sectors after he officially takes office, according to an Investment Ministry statement. Malpass also reaffirmed the group’s commitment to backing Egypt’s reform program in a meeting with Investment Minister Sahar Nasr and Housing Minister Assem El Gazzar in Washington yesterday.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has allocated USD 23 mn to fund employment projects in Egypt, according to reports by the domestic press. IOM Egypt Chief of Mission Laurent De Boeck said that the figure might increase through projects executed in tandem with the private sector. The estimated number of migrants in Egypt in 6 mn.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with his Eritrean counterpart Othman Saleh and his political advisor Yemane Gebreab Ab yesterday, according to a cabinet statement. The parties discussed potential for collaboration on projects in energy, fishing and infrastructure, as well as exploring a memorandum of understanding to eliminate visas for visitors of both countries.

Energy

Elsewedy Electric signs EGP 1.7 bn power transmission agreement with EETC

Elsewedy Electric has signed an EGP 1.7 bn agreement with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) to set up an electricity transmission line from the Benban solar power park, EETC head Sabah Mashaly told reporters. No further details were provided.

Health + Education

UK healthcare delegation in town to advise on Egypt’s health system

A delegation of six British healthcare companies is in town for three days for meetings with government officials on developing Egypt’s healthcare system, according to a British Embassy statement. The delegation, which is made up of the top contributors to the UK’s National Health Service, covers specialties including medical training, insurance, “digital health,” and medical solutions.

California State University will support STEM education in Egypt

Californian Fresno State University will help design and implement a teacher education program focusing on science, technology, engineering and math, with emphasis on student-centered research and active learning techniques reports Fresno State News. The program will be funded by a USD 24.2 mn grant from the US Agency for International Development.

Tourism

Tourism Minister meets with Bulgarian counterpart

Tourism Minister Rania Al Mashat met with her Bulgarian counterpart to discuss increasing cooperation in the tourism sector, according to a cabinet statement. Al Mashat also met with her Slovenian, Greek, Puerto Rican and Saint Lucian counterparts on the sidelines of the World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit currently underway in Spain, reports Al Shorouk.

Automotive + Transportation

Raya to cut tuk-tuk production, acquire van agency

Raya Holding is looking for an Indian or Chinese van manufacturer in search of a seven-seater passenger van after the Industrial Development Authority’s decision to stop handing out licenses to tuk-tuk manufacturers and assemblers. Raya CEO Medhat Khalil said he expects the agreement to materialize by the end of the year. The news comes as the company told the EGX (pdf) it was cutting its forecast for tuk-tuk production to 20k from 200k.

Banking + Finance

EFG Hermes’ valU short-listed for Seamless award

EFG Hermes’ fintech solutions arm valU has been short-listed for the Seamless Awards most innovative fintech company for the year. Terrapin’s Seamless Awards is one of the leading annual tech and innovation awards for the finance, retail and ecommerce industries. The 2019 iteration, held in the Armani Hotel in Dubai on Wednesday, 10 April, will look at and recognize the companies and individuals who have demonstrated an unparalleled ability to succeed, continually set standards of excellence and who will be the future stars of the industry.

Fitch raises credit rating for CIB, NBC

Fitch Ratings has upgraded long-term issuer default ratings for CIB and the National Bank of Egypt to ‘B+’ from ‘B’ with a ‘stable’ outlook, the agency said in a press release. The agency has also upgraded its rating for NBE’s UK branch. This came in response to Egypt’s recent long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating upgrade to ‘B+’ last month, as 40% of NBE and CIB’s balance sheets are made of government treasuries.

My Morning Routine

My Morning Routine looks each week at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions because we simply can’t help ourselves. Extracts from our conversation this week with Karim Khalifa, co-founder and soon-to-be-former-CEO of Digital Republic:

I’m Karim Khalifa, father of Aly (10) and Layla (5) — and co-founder and (soon to be ex) CEO of Digital Republic linked by Isobar — a leading non-traditional digital advertising agency. As CEO of Digital Republic, I’m part of the team that works on helping major brands enhance their presence and drive their engagement with consumers online.

I’m normally up at 8 am, where I spend my waking hour quickly knocking back a glass of warm, fresh lemon water followed by not so quickly sipping an English breakfast tea while reading Enterprise. This is followed by a 20-minute meditation session using my favourite meditation app Headspace (yes, there’s an app for that). I then proceed with my morning workout at the club — using my favorite running app NRC, after which I head to work having pre-ordered breakfast to the office using my favourite food ordering app. My home, work and sports activities are all within the same neighborhood, so I easily move from one to the other on my Vespa to avoid Zamalek traffic.

In general, my day will consist of people management, key client and stakeholder engagements, financials and strategic planning and capability building discussions. I’m also quite active in the startup ecosystem, both as an advisory board member in a variety of tech startups, as well as an active mentor for a number of VCs and organizations including Endeavor and Flat6labs, among others. When it comes to the day to day operations at Digital Republic, a day in the life of an advertising industry exec is relatively adhoc — dealing with a lot of curve balls that come at you throughout the day. Although I do try to allocate planned slots for myself, I also embrace the unpredictable nature of the day-to-day business. I like to equate it to driving in Cairo: If you try to drive in Cairo like you would in Switzerland, you’ll probably crash. If you let go a little and go with the flow, somehow, miraculously, things do tend to effectively move forward.

Apart from meticulously combing through Jamie Oliver’s new book Jamie Cooks Italy, I recently enjoyed Radical Candor by Kim Scott. But I’m more of an audiobook fan and lately I’ve enjoyed listening to Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time as well as rekindling a childhood favourite Gulliver’s Travels — I highly recommend it, even for the over 40s.

I also spend a lot of my time listening to podcasts and have immensely enjoyed the true crime podcast Serial and BBC’s Our Man in the Middle East by Jeremy Bowen. In terms of watching, other than a general addiction to true crime series (Making a Murderer), I recently immersed myself again in Blue Planet II and Frozen Planet. Apart from the incredible footage, they really drive home how perilous our situation is regarding the environment, in particular with respect to plastics in our oceans and the melting of ice at the poles.

Digital Republic started a decade ago initially as a tech start-up developing a mobile platform that rewards users for receiving mobile ads on their phone. Suffice it to say that after a lot of investment, and heartache, it failed. But the silver lining was that it put us in the spotlight with several major advertisers who appreciated our innovation, so we pivoted and started developing the foundations of our digital advertising solutions for them. Our first to market advantage led us to quickly signing on some of the largest brands in the market, major brands that I’m proud to say started their digital journey with us in Egypt. Two revolutions, a global financial crisis, two acquisitions and several awards later, I can safely say it’s been quite a ride.

What do people not understand about our business? The digital ad industry in Egypt is currently going through a phase where a brand “going digital” entails producing a TVC and putting it on Facebook or YouTube. This is a misunderstanding of what being a digitally enabled brand entails. In today’s digital economy, it is no longer just about advertising, it’s about creating experiences. In other words, it’s about transforming the way the consumer interacts and engages with a brand or product through experience-led solutions on digital platforms.

One force that will create the most change in our industry is data and data privacy. We’re all familiar with the data privacy breaches and misinformation campaigns that have plagued the major online platforms and arguably have had significant influence on our lives. Data is a double edged-sword. How this plays out in terms of control and regulation will have a significant impact on the internet in general, the digital advertising industry and consequently on how brands engage consumers online. Artificial intelligence also plays a key role in this and will continue to significantly shape the industry going forward.

What’s next for me after Digital Republic? Even though I’ve been finding myself tempted to jump into opportunities that have come my way recently, I’m being consciously mindful to not fall into anything too soon after having been so closely tied to something for the past 10 years. I want to avoid taking any rash decisions, so I plan to take some time off to allow for new inspiration and give time for my next move to ‘percolate’ nicely in my mind.

Having said that, I will continue to engage in the start-up ecosystem, supporting venture capital and private equity firms with some of their investments and will continue participating on the boards of the various start-ups that I’m involved with, as well as the mentorship networks I work with.

Finally, as a big planetary science and cosmology enthusiast, I’ll continue working on an initiative that is particularly close to my heart: the “Make Space Yours” program (with Omar Samra). A one of its kind initiative that aims to encourage the next generation of Egyptian youth to get involved with and be inspired by space. You’d be surprised how much curiosity children have for the cosmos.

In my time off I love to keep fit, spend time with my family, travel, and I enjoy playing tennis, scuba diving, and sailing.

The best piece of business advice I’ve ever been given was on decision making that I got from my first boss at Maersk in Denmark many moons ago: Your instinct is the best decision maker. When stuck, do what’s ‘right’ in your gut, even if the reward isn’t immediately evident. You will be rewarded in good time.

I use a task management app called Minimalist to stay organized. It’s simple and great. I try to be deliberate and do one thing at a time with intention, rather than multitasking — although I am guilty of multitasking more often than I’d like to. Attention management is key in today’s digital jungle.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.27 | Sell 17.37
EGP / USD at CIB:
Buy 17.28 | Sell 17.38
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.26 | Sell 17.36

EGX30 (Wednesday): 15,198 (+0.2%)
Turnover: EGP 854 mn (7% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +16.6%

THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAY: The EGX30 ended Wednesday’s session up 0.2%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended up 0.9%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Heliopolis Housing up 4.7%, Cairo Investment & Real Estate Development up 3.9%, and Oriental Weavers up 3.0%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Ezz Steel down 6.4%, GB Auto down 2.6% and Eastern Co. down 2.4%. The market turnover was EGP 854 mn, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +61.0 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -0.10 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -61.0 mn

Retail: 57.1% of total trades | 56.2% of buyers | 58.0% of sellers
Institutions: 42.9% of total trades | 43.8% of buyers | 42.0% of sellers

WTI: USD 62.34 (-0.19%)
Brent: USD 69.26 (-0.07%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.68 MMBtu, (+0.11%, May 2019 contract)
Gold: USD 1,295.80 / troy ounce (+0.04%)

TASI: 8,985.48 (+0.57%) (YTD: +14.81%)
ADX: 5,048.98 (-0.09%) (YTD: +2.72%)
DFM: 2,760.48 (+1.12%) (YTD: +9.12%)
KSE Premier Market: 10,161.57 (+1.21%)
QE: 10,161.57 (-0.39%) (YTD: -1.33%)
MSM: 3,939.54 (-0.54%) (YTD: -8.89%)
BB: 1,418.56 (+1.07%) (YTD: +6.08%)

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Calendar

April: The African Tripartite Trade Area (TFTA) agreement is set to take effect in April after a majority from the participating governments ratified it, COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe said.

April: A World Bank delegation will be in town to review current investment legislation, economic policies and administrative reforms as part of the preparations for next year’s Ease of Doing Business Report. Egypt jumped eight spots to rank 120th out of 190 countries in the 2019 Doing Business report.

April: Russian companies will receive the first 1 square-km plot in the 5.2 square-km Russian Industrial Zone within the Suez Canal Economic Zone

April: The EUR 250k first phase of Egypt’s national waste management program will kick off.

1-3 April (Monday-Wednesday): Infra Africa & Middle East Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

2-5 April (Tuesday-Friday): APPO Cape VII petroleum and energy conference, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

4 April (Thursday): Egypt’s Emirates NBD PMI for March released.

4-6 April (Thursday-Saturday): LafargeHolcim Forum for sustainable Construction, American University in Cairo.

7-8 April (Sunday-Monday): Sanad Conference for Alternative Care, Cairo Marriott Hotel – Zamalek.

10 April (Wednesday): Egyptian Retail Summit (ERS 2019), Nile Ritz Carlton, Garden City, Cairo, Egypt.

9-11 April (Tuesday-Thursday): International Conference on Aerospace Sciences & Aviation Technology, Military Technical College, Cairo.

9-12 April (Tuesday-Friday): International Conference on Network Technology, The British University in Egypt, Cairo.

9-12 April (Tuesday-Friday): International Conference on Software and Information Engineering, The British University in Egypt, Cairo.

10 April (Wednesday): The Seamless Awards 2019, The Armani Hotel, Dubai.

12-14 April (Friday-Sunday): IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington, DC.

16-17 April (Tuesday-Wednesday): North Africa Iron and Steel Conference, Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Cairo.

17-18 April (Wednesday-Thursday): OPEC+ meeting, Vienna, Austria.

21 April (Sunday): A court will look into a lawsuit by a subsidiary of Arabian Investments, Development and Financial Investment Holding Co. (AIND) against Peugeot Citroen. The lawsuit, seeking EUR 150 mn in damages, was postponed from 17 March.

21 April (Sunday): RT Imaging Summit & Expo-EMEA, InterContinental City Stars, Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt.

21-22 April (Sunday-Monday): Egypt CSR Summit, InterContinental City Stars, Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt.

20-22 April (Friday-Sunday): Spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

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

28 April (Sunday): Easter Sunday, national holiday.

29 April (Monday): Easter Monday, national holiday.

30 April-1 March (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

May: 50 Egyptian companies are set to visit Libya to discuss trade, investment and reconstruction.

May: An IMF delegation will be in town to conduct its final review of the reform program.ahead of the disbursement of the fifth and final tranche of Egypt’s USD 12 bn IMF loan.

1 May (Wednesday): Labor Day, national holiday.

6 May (Monday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

23 May (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s monetary policy committee will meet to review interest rates.

1H2019 (date TBD): Investment Minister Sahar Nasr will head a delegation of businessmen into Mexico City to explore cooperation avenues with the Latin American country.

June: International Forum for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

4-5 June (Tuesday-Wednesday): Global Entrepreneurship Summit, The Hague, the Netherlands

5-6 June (Wednesday-Thursday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

11-12 June (Tuesday-Wednesday): Offshore Congress MENA, InterContinental Semiramis, Cairo.

16-17 June (Sunday-Monday): Mega Projects Conference, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

16-18 June (Sunday-Tuesday): Middle East & Africa Rail Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

17-18 June (Monday-Tuesday): Seamless North Africa, Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo.

17-19 June (Monday-Wednesday): Cairo Technology Week, Hilton Heliopolis, Cairo.

18-19 June (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

19-20 June (Wednesday-Thursday): Pharos Holding Annual Investor Conference, El Gouna, Egypt.

23 June (Sunday): Cairo Arbitration Court hearing for Amer Group vs. Antaradous for Touristic Development

28-29 June (Friday-Saturday): G20 Global Economic Summit, Osaka, Japan.

30 June (Sunday): June 2013 protests anniversary, national holiday.

11 July (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s monetary policy committee will meet to review interest rates.

19-21 July (Friday-Sunday): LED Middle East Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

23 July (Tuesday): 23 July revolution anniversary, national holiday.

30-31 July (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

7-11 August (Wednesday-Sunday) Eid El Adha (TBC).

22 August (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s monetary policy committee will meet to review interest rates.

29 August (Thursday): Islamic New Year (TBC), national holiday.

2-4 September (Monday-Wednesday): The Big 5 Construct Egypt, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

8-11 September (Sunday-Wednesday): Sahara Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

9-12 September (Monday-Thursday): The 9th Annual EFG Hermes London Conference, Arsenal Emirates Stadium, London.

17-18 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

26 September (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s monetary policy committee will meet to review interest rates.

6 October (Sunday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

10-13 October (Tuesday-Sunday): Big Industrial Week Arabia 2019, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

23-24 October (Wednesday-Thursday): Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference, Hilton Heliopolis, Cairo.

23 October-1 November (Wednesday-Friday): CIB PSA Women’s World Championship, Great Pyramid of Giza, Cairo.

29-30 October (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

3-5 November (Sunday-Tuesday): Electrix 2019, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

9 November (Saturday): Prophet Mohammed’s birthday, national holiday.

10-14 November (Sunday-Thursday): GeoMEast International Congress and Exhibition, Marriott, Cairo.

14-17 November (Thursday-Sunday): Machtech Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

14-17 November (Thursday-Sunday): Transpotech Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

14-17 November (Thursday-Sunday): Airtech Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

December: Egypt will host for the first time the Pack Process trade expo for the Middle East and African region.

3-6 December (Tuesday-Friday): Cairo WoodShow, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

9-11 December (Monday-Wednesday): Pacprocess Middle East Africa, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

9-11 December (Monday-Wednesday): Food Africa 2019 Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

10-11 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

26 December (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s monetary policy committee will meet to review interest rates.

9-12 January 2020 (Tuesday-Sunday): PLASTEX, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

25 January 2020 (Saturday): 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day, national holiday.

11-13 February 2020 (Tuesday-Thursday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International

Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

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