Thursday, 5 March 2020

Are world leaders finally taking action to stave off a corona collapse?


What We’re Tracking Today

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in town next Saturday, 14 March, for a two-day visit, India’s Economic Times reports. It remains unclear who Modi will meet with during his visit, but is expected to discuss global security concerns with an eye to work on military cooperation and joint arms production.

Meanwhile South Korean President Moon Jae-in has cancelled his planned visit to Egypt, the UAE, and Turkey this month over covid-19 concerns, Reuters reports.

Events coming up this month:

International companies are expressing their interest in Egypt’s upcoming mining tender: Centamin, US-based Sprott and Canada’s Kinross Gold all expressed interest in Egypt’s upcoming mining tender in meetings with Oil Minister Tarek El Molla during this week’s PDAC mining conference in Toronto. The ministry will launch an international gold exploration tender covering 56 km2 of the Eastern Desert on 15 March.


Global stock markets stabilize on stimulus hopes, Biden surge: Equity markets rebounded yesterday after almost two weeks in decline as investors grew more optimistic that global financial chiefs would launch a wave of stimulus aimed at containing the effects of the covid-19 outbreak.

US equities recovered from Tuesday’s Fed-induced sell-off: The US’ three major indices surged yesterday after lawmakers proposed USD 7.8 bn in fiscal stimulus to protect the economy against covid-19. The Dow Jones gained 4.53%, the S&P 500 rose 4.22% and the Nasdaq finished 3.85% in the green. The healthcare sector led the rally, fuelled by Bernie Sanders’ weak performance in the Super Tuesday primaries. Gains in Europe were more modest, with the FTSE 100 (+1.45%) being the biggest performer, and Asian stocks were more or less unchanged, with the Nikkei finishing up 0.8% and the Hang Seng down slightly at -0.24%.

EU, UK central banks expected to act within days: The European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of England (BOE) look set to follow the Federal Reserve in launching a new round of monetary stimulus. With rates already at -0.5%, the ECB has little room for manoeuvre when it comes to lowering interest rates, but some analysts are expecting a small 10 bps cut and a special facility to provide support to SMEs. In the UK, some market watchers believe the BOE will announce an emergency 25 bps cut this week.

IMF, World Bank announce USD 62 bn in emergency funding: The IMF and World Bank have announced up to USD 62 bn in emergency funding to help fight covid-19. The IMF will “immediately” release USD 50 bn in aid to developing countries, and the World Bank is providing up to USD 12 bn to bolster health services and disease prevention.

Speaking of the IMF and World Bank: The IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings will be held virtually next month due to concerns over the spread of the covid-19 virus, according to a joint statement. The meetings are scheduled to take place from 17-19 April.

Terrible data out of China, warnings over global economy not enough to dent stimulus optimism: Activity in China’s services sector crashed to its lowest levels on record in February as new orders fell to their lowest levels since the 2008 financial crisis. The Caixin/Markit PMI halved to just 26.5, from 51.8 in January as covid-19 caused consumption to plummet. A microcosm of the collapse in domestic consumption was seen in figures released by the country’s auto association, which showed car sales crashing by 80% in February alone.

Global growth to fall this year -IMF: The global economy will grow at a slower pace than 2019, IMF head Kristalina Georgieva said yesterday. The fund had projected growth to rise to 3.3% in 2020 from 2.9% last year. This would mean the fund is cutting its 2020 growth outlook by more than 0.4 percentage points.

Capital Economics cuts MENA GDP outlook: Capital Economics has lowered its MENA growth projections by 0.5% to 2% due to the outbreak. Although the region’s stronger economies should be handle temporary pressure on oil prices, the disruptions to trade and supply chains could stall economic growth, with the UAE economy being particularly vulnerable. “The UAE’s economy is likely to be hit hardest and we expect the economy to do no more than stagnate this year, said Jason Tuvey, senior EM economist. “The UAE (and Dubai in particular) is the most vulnerable to a slump in global trade. There are likely to be knock-on effects on Dubai’s real estate sector, which is already in a deep slump.”


CORONAWATCH- Covid-19 now has a higher mortality rate than Spanish flu: The current global mortality rate for covid-19 has reached 3.4%, the World Health Organization said yesterday. In comparison, the WHO estimates (pdf) that Spanish flu — which infected around a third of the global population between 1918-20 and killed mns — had a mortality rate of 2-3%.

Travel restrictions and other cancellations of large gatherings are ramping up:

  • Saudi Arabia has suspended the Umrah pilgrimage for citizens and residents as a way to prevent them from getting infected with covid-19 in the large crowds and spreading the virus within the country, according to Bloomberg.
  • Japan is considering delaying the 2020 Olympics to later in the year due to the growing risk of infection, Bloomberg reports.
  • Italy is to close all schools and universities until 15 March and all Serie A football matches will be played behind closed doors, the Guardian reports. The death toll in the country now stands at 107.
  • Qatari nationals will be barred from entering Egypt as of 6 March over covid-19 infection concerns, Reuters reports. The decision comes after Qatar announced its own visa restrictions on travelers coming from Egypt earlier this week.
  • The European Central Bank has committed to restricting non-essential travel through 20 April, according to Bloomberg (link above).

All of these restrictions could set back the global tourism industry USD 47 bn per month, which would make it the worst crisis for the tourism industry since the early 2000s, according to Bloomberg. The International Air Transport Association estimates lost flight sales alone accounted for some USD 30 bn. Major airliners, including Lufthansa and British Airways, issued profit warnings and while budget airliners EasyJet and Ryanair have cancelled hundreds of flights. Italy’s Alitalia has temporarily laid off some 4k workers.

Egypt’s tourism industry is no exception, even with only two confirmed cases: Tourists are increasingly cancelling March and April bookings, especially in the Red Sea and Upper Egypt, the local press reports, citing industry figures. The sources suggest that the industry will look to domestic tourism to pick up the slack.

And Egyptian companies will no longer be travelling to Berlin for the ITB travel exhibition after its organizers pulled the conference. The Egypt Hotels Association has pledged to either refund the amount companies paid to participate in ITD or transfer them to a similar exhibition, the local press reported yesterday.


PSA- Our friends at TAM Gallery and Furniture design firm Eklego are holding a flash sale this Friday and Saturday at TAM, where over 2k works of art and 500 pieces of furniture will be on offer. The gallery will open its doors from 12pm until 10pm on Friday, and from 11am until 9pm on Saturday. You can check out the full catalogue here.


The race for the US Democratic nomination has flipped on its head: Joe Biden, who just a week ago was having his political obituary written following disastrous showings in the first few contests, is now the frontrunner for the nomination. A swift consolidation of establishment support around his campaign — including endorsements from former candidates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar — saw him sweep not just through the south, but through Minnesota, Maine and Massachusetts, states that were thought to be easy wins for Sanders.

The race is far from over though: Although Biden will come out of the contest with the media narrative behind him, when all is said and done in the delegate-rich state of California (which went to Bernie but still hasn’t finished counting votes and awarding delegates) the two candidates are likely to be relatively even in the overall delegate count.

It was the end of the line for Mike Bloomberg, who ended his campaign effectively having set fire to USD 500 mn+ of his own money, winning just 53 delegates and getting destroyed on national TV in the process. The former New York City mayor has thrown his weight (and his bns) behind the Biden campaign, further consolidating the centrists behind the former vice president.

What is Sanders’ play now? Do whatever you can to secure an endorsement from Elizabeth Warren. The Washington Post has more.

Israel could be heading for an unprecedented fourth election: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to win a parliamentary majority in Monday’s national elections, raising the prospect of yet more deadlock and a possible fourth election, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Tit for Qatari tat? Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal spoke by phone with cabinet spokesman Nader Saad who said that at a cabinet meeting today it was decided that in light of Qatar’s decision to ban Egyptians from entering the country over covid-19 fears, Egypt would reciprocate and bar Qataris from Egypt. Saad said that the ban extends to those holding a valid Egyptian residency, and will go into effect tomorrow (watch, runtime: 2:20). Min Masr’s Amr Khalil had the same report (watch, runtime: 8:30).

Arab foreign ministers back Egypt, Sudan over GERD: Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal covered the Arab League’s foreign ministers’ joint statement expressing solidarity with Egypt and Sudan, and affirming their “historical rights” to their fair share of Nile water, in response to the latest Ethiopia-Egypt dispute over the Grand Renaissance Ethiopian Dam (watch, runtime: 2:21). Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary carried the same report (watch, runtime: 1:27).

Ashmawy executed: Assal also covered the announcement of the execution of Hisham Al Ashmawy, the former special forces officer who carried out several attacks that killed dozens of officers and was twice sentenced to death in absentia in military and civilian courts (watch, runtime: 7:40). El Hosary (watch, runtime: 0:18), and Khalil (watch, runtime: 1:17) also covered the news.

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

M&A WATCH- Apparently nobody wants NBG’s Egypt unit anymore: The National Bank of Greece (NBG) has not received any new offers for the acquisition of its Egypt unit after negotiations with Lebanon’s Bank Audi fell through, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt Gamal Negm told Masrawy on the sidelines of the Nile Pioneers Initiative on Wednesday. Negm did not indicate what the future holds for NBG’s Egypt unit now that the acquisition process has come to a halt.

Background: Bank Audi had agreed to acquire NBG's unit in Egypt in May last year and was in the process of obtaining CBE approval and closing the transaction despite a dispute between NBG and its employees dragging the negotiations. Earlier this year, Bank Audi itself decided to exit the Egyptian market and received an offer from First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) last month to sell its Egypt arm, which is currently engaged in a due diligence process that will coin a decision by 2Q2020.


IPO WATCH- Abu Dhabi Development Holding Company, Sovereign Fund of Egypt could participate in BdC IPO: Abu Dhabi Development Holding Company and the Sovereign Fund of Egypt are considering participating in Banque du Caire’s (BdC) USD 500 mn IPO on the EGX, the local press reports, citing informed sources. Neither the SFE or ADDH have commented on the report. The bulk of the shares will be allocated to strategic investors, institutions and funds to increase the chances that the offering is fully subscribed, they said. BdC Chairman Tarek Fayed said in an interview with Reuters earlier this week that the bank would allocate between USD 50-70 mn of the offering to a few anchor investors.

Questions over the IPO’s timing: Fayed also said that although the bank is targeting a listing in mid-April, much will depend on how market conditions play out in the face of the intensifying covid-19 outbreak. “Our plan is to go with the IPO by mid-April, but it depends on the market conditions…The appetite is still strong. But nobody knows what could happen in the next 10 to 15 days,” he said.

M&A WATCH- STC begins Vodafone Egypt due diligence: Saudi Telecom (STC) has begun doing due diligence on Vodafone Egypt ahead of a possible USD 2.4 bn acquisition of Vodafone Group’s 55% stake in the company, unnamed sources told Youm7. The Saudi firm signed a MoU with Vodafone Group at the end of January to purchase its stake in Vodafone Egypt in a sale that would value the company at USD 4.4 bn.

It remains unclear whether STC will be forced into purchasing the entire company: Sources in the Financial Regulatory Authority said following the announcement that STC would be legally compelled to launch a mandatory tender offer (MTO) for the remaining 45% stake held by state-owned Telecom Egypt (TE). STC is reportedly trying to find ways around this, but it remains unclear how it plans to circumvent the FRA or whether it will be successful doing so.

TE may yet thwart the acquisition: In a signal that it is seriously considering using its right of first refusal, TE directed its financial advisors EFG Hermes and Citibank to look into how it could finance the purchase of Vodafone Group’s stake in the company ahead of STC. Under its original agreement with Vodafone Group, TE is entitled to make a counter offer prior to STC’s bid being accepted.

And it might not: TE hasn’t actually raised any direct objections to STC purchasing its stake, and analysts have pointed out that it would be in its own interest to exit the company, given its high levels of debt.

Orascom, Obour Land, Raya, MM Group and EKH jump on the stock buybacks wagon: Orascom Development Egypt (ODE), Raya Holding, Obour Land, MM Group, and Egypt Kuwait Holding (EKH) are all lining up to buy back treasury shares in the next few weeks, as several companies are looking to capitalize on new relaxed rules for the purchases. ODE said in an EGX disclosure yesterday (pdf) it plans to buy 11.3 mn in treasury stock, equal to 1% of the company’s total shares, in the coming two months. The other companies have also reportedly expressed interest and are studying the move, Al Mal reports, citing unnamed sources.

Companies have been flocking to treasury stock buybacks, with GB Auto, Palm Hills, and Arabia Investments announcing in the past few days that they are planning buybacks over the next few weeks in a bid to hedge against the current market volatility caused by the covid-19 outbreak. The purchases have also been facilitated by a new temporary rule from the Financial Regulatory Authority allowing listed companies to notify the EGX and purchase the stocks on the same day. The temporary allowance breaks from the previously mandated three-day notice period and is designed to boost trading and hedge against turbulence in equity markets, according to the market regulator.

IPO WATCH- Qalaa hires Grant Thornton for TAQA Arabia fair value study: Qalaa Holdings has hired audit and advisory firm Grant Thornton to conduct a fair value assessment ahead of the IPO of its subsidiary TAQA Arabia, scheduled to take place in 2Q2020, the local press reports, citing informed sources. Qalaa could offer a 25% stake in the company valued at around EGP 1-1.2 bn, but a final determination will be made following Grant Thornton’s assessment.

Advisors: Qalaa has tapped EFG Hermes and HSBC to manage the IPO.

Background: Qalaa Holdings is planning to list several of its subsidiaries this year, with the TAQA Arabia IPO scheduled to take place in 2Q and the Arab Refining Company (ARC) in 4Q. Qalaa Chairman Ahmed Heikal had previously said that Qalaa plans to take all eight of its existing subsidiaries to market intermittently until 2023, but the timeline has been drawn out. Qalaa is planning to retain controlling stakes in all eight companies, and will not sell down its stakes in either ARC or TAQA when they IPO, a company official told Enterprise last year.

CBE writes off EGP 17.4 bn in debt for financially distressed firms: More than 200 companies have had a portion of their debts written off by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), Deputy Governor Gamal Negm said, according to Masrawy. Speaking after the Nile Pioneers Initiative yesterday, Negm said the central bank had agreed to wipe EGP 17.4 bn in debt held by 226 companies, which owe a combined EGP 63.6 bn in bank loans.

Not all of this was settled under the CBE’s debt relief initiative: Under the initiative, the CBE made agreements with 155 companies to settle debts worth EGP 19.4 bn, forgiving EGP 10.9 bn of this. The remaining 71 companies secured agreements outside it, seeing EGP 6.5 bn wiped from their EGP 44.2 bn debt load.

FRA finishes collecting lists of defaulters: The Financial Regulatory Authority has finished collecting from financial leasing and factoring companies information on firms seeking debt relief under the CBE program, unnamed sources told Al Mal. The data — which only includes companies with debts less than EGP 10 mn — has been sent to the central bank, the sources said.

Background: The CBE had launched an initiative in December last year to help some 5.2k factories settle their debts through exempting them from accrued interest payments and halt legal action against struggling factories. It then relaxed the terms of the initiative to include more factories and the Financial Regulatory Authority had also set up a committee to assess how non-banking financial services companies can be brought into the initiative.

Export Subsidy Fund begins paying out EGP 1 bn in arrears: The state-run Export Subsidy Fund on Tuesday began dispensing EGP 1-1.2 bn in overdue export subsidies, 10% of which will be doled out in cash payments, unnamed sources told the local press. The sources said 37 exporters requested that they receive EGP 600 mn in the form of capital investment, EGP 250 mn of which has already been paid out.

Background: Exporters are owed bns of overdue subsidies under the old subsidies framework, which has been moving forward since last September with the launch of a new EGP 6 bn framework, which includes some EGP 2.4 bn to be doled out as cash payments, EGP 1.8 bn as tax breaks and cuts, and EGP 1.8 bn (30%) will be spent by fund. Companies that are owed arrears less than EGP 5 mn — around 60-70% of the companies — can receive the entire amount in cash. Some EGP 790 mn in overdue subsidies has been paid to 75 companies so far and agreements have been signed with 67 other large companies that will see EGP 6 bn paid out over the coming five years as long as they commit to new investments.

DEBT WATCH- ECHEM planning EGP 1 bn sukuk issuance: The Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding Company (ECHEM) is considering issuing EGP 1 bn-worth of sukuk to help finance its subsidiaries’ ongoing projects, Al Shorouk reported, citing company sources. The issuance would make ECHEM the first state-owned company to issue sukuk. According to the sources, ECHEM is currently seeking approval from the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) for the issuance and is also in talks with unnamed banks to lead the issuance.

Background: Four Egyptian companies are already gearing up to issue a combined EGP 5 bn in sukuk on the EGX, head of the FRA’s in insurance department Sayed Abdelfadil said in January. Consumer and structured-finance player Sarwa Capital was granted Egypt’s first sukuk license earlier this year, and EFG Hermes has requested a license from the FRA to set up a sukuk arm specialized in issuing the sharia-compliant bonds. Banque Misr and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank are also expected to receive their sukuk licenses within the next two months.

Most banks are ready for the Banking Act’s new capital requirements: Around 70% of banks operating in Egypt currently meet the increased capital requirements contained in the draft Banking Act, CBE Deputy Governor Gamal Negm said yesterday. Speaking on the sidelines of the Nile Pioneers Initiative, Negm told reporters that the remaining 30% will have a deadline to raise the extra capital, without providing specifics. This is likely to result in a spate of new mergers and acquisitions for smaller local banks that are unable to raise paid-up capital or boost their earnings. The draft law will raise capital requirements for all banks apart from SME lenders and digital banks. The requirements for local banks will rise tenfold to EGP 5 bn and threefold for foreign banks to USD 150 mn.

The House Economic Committee is almost done reviewing the draft legislation, and will soon hand it over to the general assembly for a vote, Al Shorouk reported Negm as saying. The bill, which has been in the works since 2017, would grant the CBE increased oversight over the banking sector, introduce measures governing e-payment, fintech businesses, and cryptocurrencies, and strengthen data protection and consumer privacy. You can find out more about the details of the legislation here and here.

Passenger car sales rose 10% y-o-y in January for the first time after 10 consecutive months of declines, according to figures from the Automotive Information Council (AMIC) picked up by Hapi Journal. Sales rose during the first month of 2020 to 8,747 vehicles. Bus sales soared 180.6% y-o-y to 2,598 units, while truck sales dipped 2.5% y-o-y during the month to 2,528 units. Across all segments, January’s top-selling brands were Chevrolet with a 20% market share, Toyota (15%), Hyundai (10%), and Nissan (9%). In passenger cars, Hyundai (16%), Toyota (15%), and Fiat (12%) rounded up the top three. Automotive sales have been declining every month since February 2019, with total sales falling 5.7% y-o-y last year.

Corrected on 11 March 2020

A previous version of this article didn’t clearly distinguish between passenger car sales and total car sales when listing the leading brands.

The company that will manage the Egyptian Commodity Exchange is now officially a thing: The company tasked with managing the forthcoming Egyptian Commodity Exchange has been established by the Internal Trade Development Authority (ITDA), the authority’s head Ibrahim Ashmawy told Al Mal. The company has starting capital of EGP 100 mn, which was provided by EFG Hermes, Banque Misr, the National Bank of Egypt, and the Agricultural Bank of Egypt. The company has begun contracting for the exchange’s trading system, and discussions are ongoing about what commodities will be traded when the exchange launches later this year.

The Egyptian Commodity Exchange was approved by the cabinet economic group early this year. A senior source at the Supply Ministry had previously said that would begin trading six commodities — wheat, rice, corn, potatoes, onions, and oranges — in September. The exchange will be managed by a company that is to be 50% owned by the General Authority For Supply Commodities, the Internal Trade Development Authority, the Egyptian Holding Company for Silos and Storage, and the Egyptian Exchange. MCDR, the state Insurance Holding Company, chambers of commerce, government banks, private and investment banks will share a 49% stake. The holder of the remaining 1% stake has not yet been named.

CABINET WATCH- Cabinet approves dual taxation agreement with Cyprus: The Madbouly Cabinet approved yesterday a 2019 agreement to renew Egypt’s double taxation treaty with Cyprus, according to a cabinet statement. The agreement, which was first signed in December 1993, includes income and real estate tax in Egypt and covers income tax for individuals and companies and capital gains tax in Cyprus.

Other decisions from an otherwise uneventful day around the cabinet table:

  • Extending the deadline granted to development and tourism investment companies to complete their tourism projects, for a period of one year until 31 March 2021;
  • Granting Yas Holding Group a concession to manage Al-Azhar University Specialized Hospital to develop the hospital and improve the quality of the healthcare service it provides;
  • Approving a decision to consider King Salman and Galala universities projects as national projects to expedite their establishment;
  • Approving a bundle of decisions and recommendations from the investment dispute resolution committee.

MOVES- Civil Aviation Minister Mohamed Manar tapped Ashraf Noweir to lead the Civil Aviation Authority, replacing Sameh El Hefny, according to an official statement. Noweir was previously the general manager of planning and development at the EgyptAir Aviation Academy.


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Egypt in the News

It’s a slow morning with no single story grabbing the attention of the foreign press.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Cairo Chamber of Commerce chamber talks investment with Italian export credit agency: The Cairo Chamber of Commerce met with representatives from Italian export credit agency SACE SIMEST to discuss joint ventures, the local press reports. A number of Egyptian companies working in the clothing, tanning and marble sectors have expressed interest in working with SACE, which is offering 10-year payment facilities at a reduced 2.5% rate of interest, chamber Vice President Sameh Zaki said.


Egypt to build 47 power stations over next five years

Egypt is planning to build 47 power control centers across the country over seven stages until 2025, Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker said, according to Al Masry Al Youm. Fifteen centers will be completed this year, Shaker said.

Shell explores resuming production at Rosetta concession

Oil and gas giant Shell Egypt is considering drilling an exploration well at the Rosetta concession in Rashid, after production there was halted over a year ago, Vice Chairman Moataz Darwish told the local press.

Real Estate + Housing

MNHD obtains land plot adjacent to Taj City in a land swap agreement

Madinet Nasr Housing and Development (MNHD) reached an agreement with the Armed Forces Land Projects Agency to swap 93.5k sqm it owns in Nasr City for another plot 53k sqm plot adjacent to the company’s Taj City project, according to a regulatory filing (pdf). The company is considering adding a new phase to the project after the swap.

Automotive + Transportation

Egypt mulls single ticket for metro and buses

The National Authority for Tunnels is preparing a study to issue single tickets to be used for the metro, public buses, and electric trains, according to Al Masry Al Youm.

Other Business News of Note

El Makasa Sport looks to debut on the Egyptian exchange in 2H2020

El Makasa Sport is raising capital with the aim of launching on the EGX and trading in the second half of the year, Mohamed Abdel Salam, chairman of the company’s owner, Clearing House Misr for Central Clearing, Depository and Registry, told the local press. The company is comparing offers from legal advisors and others looking to manage the offering, he said without disclosing details.

Union National Bank in the process of delisting from Egypt’s bourse

Union National Bank has begun working towards its voluntary delisting from the EGX, after its board of directors approved the decision in July last year, reports the local press.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Egypt executes convicted terrorist Hisham El Ashmawy

Egypt executed yesterday high-profile military officer-turned-terrorist Hisham Ashmawy, according to an Armed Forces statement. Ashmawy received two death sentences, one in November and another earlier this week.

My Morning Routine

Laura Sanchez Puerta, program leader for human development at the World Bank: 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 just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Laura Sanchez Puerta, Program Leader for Human Development at the World Bank.

My name is Laura Sanchez Puerta and I’m the program leader for human development at the World Bank. I work with the health, education, and social protection teams in Egypt, Yemen, and Djibouti to advance the human development agenda. I was born and raised in Argentina. I moved to the US in 2000 to pursue my doctorate degree in labor economics at Cornell University and soon after landed my dream job at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. where I worked and lived until moving to Cairo in 2018. I am a widow, and a mother to two children — Julian, 10, and Clara, 8 — who always keep me on my toes.

I’m generally a morning person and I like to start my day at 6:30 am with a little competition with my daughter to see who can get ready the fastest. We have a sit-down breakfast with my son as our DJ, playing songs off Spotify. Then, I walk them to school and head to work. On my 45-minute morning commute, I read Enterprise and respond to emails that came in overnight from DC.

I find my work rewarding because I get to engage with the people, very passionate ministers, development partners, and country teams. Every day is different. I have meetings with our counterparts and with development partners, catch up with teams in the three countries, and touch base with the headquarters-based colleagues regularly. What really fuels my energy is when I get to mentor junior staff — in person or on the phone.

After work I exercise to counter the time commuting in the car — I just ran the 10k around the pyramids and I also play tennis and basketball with my kids. Since I was 15, I’ve been routinely journaling before going to bed which led me to write an autobiography about the journey our family experienced with my husband’s cancer.

I love the art scene in Cairo. I became a member of “Friends of the Opera” and recently attended a great musical performance by the trio “Des Equilibres.” But the most fun has been the “Peter Pan” musical at Cairo American College in which my daughter performed. I enjoy TED talks and generally listen to those related to socio-emotional skills. Angela Duckworth’s talks and her book on the power of grit are fantastic.

The World Bank Group (WBG) works to end extreme poverty and meet the development challenges of the 21st century through a combination of financing, knowledge, and long-term commitment. In Egypt, we support Egypt’s three human development sectors: health, education, and social protection. Our health project aims to improve the quality of primary and secondary healthcare, family planning services, and support the prevention and control of Hepatitis C.

In record time — 9 months — 52 mn citizens have been screened for Hepatitis C and noncommunicable diseases. WBG’s support of Egypt’s education reform is to improve the quality of learning and teaching, where the government is aiming to become more tech-driven. We also support Takaful and Karama, the cash transfer program that covers 9 mn of Egypt’s poorest and encourages families to keep children in school and providing them with needed health care.

Quality jobs are the cornerstone of economic and social development and offer the most direct path out of poverty. With anticipated demographic changes, Egypt needs to create around 6 mn additional jobs between 2019 and 2030 just to keep employment rates constant. Increasing the number of quality jobs requires a multidimensional approach involving a stable and predictable environment, adequate labor market regulations, appropriate skills in the labor force, and well-designed risk management programs.

Economic growth is unsustainable without inclusiveness, and women are Egypt’s untapped resource. Egypt ranked 140 out of 153 in the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Gender Gap Index for economic participation, and women’s labor force participation is currently around 23%.

The best piece of advice I’ve received was from my parents and it’s something I hope to pass on to my kids: “The two things you are in total control of in your life are attitude and effort.”

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.59 | Sell 15.69
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.59 | Sell 15.69
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.60 | Sell 15.70

EGX30 (Wednesday): 12,182 (-1.9%)
Turnover: EGP 483 mn (18% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -12.7%

THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAY: The EGX30 ended Wednesday’s session down 1.9%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended down 3.0%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Emaar Misr up 3.8%, Orascom Development Egypt up 3.5%, and Heliopolis Housing up 0.7%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Credit Agricole down 3.8%, Madinet Nasr Housing down 3.3% and CIB down 3.0%. The market turnover was EGP 483 mn, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net long | EGP +21.9 mn
Regional: Net short | EGP -21.8 mn
Domestic: Net short | EGP -0.2 mn

Retail: 49.5% of total trades | 53.2% of buyers | 45.9% of sellers
Institutions: 50.5% of total trades | 46.8% of buyers | 54.1% of sellers

WTI: USD 46.78 (-0.85%)
Brent: USD 51.57 (-0.56%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 1.83 MMBtu, (+1.50%, April 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,643.00 / troy ounce (-0.09%)

TASI: 7,524 (-0.42%) (YTD: -10.31%)
ADX: 4,669 (-2.84%) (YTD: -8.0%)
DFM: 2,479 (-2.24%) (YTD: -10.32%)
KSE Premier Market: 6,452 (-0.98%)
QE: 9,246 (-0.13%) (YTD: -11.31%)
MSM: 4,101 (+0.13%) (YTD: +3.02%)
BB: 1,629 (-0.52%) (YTD: +1.20%)

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March: South Korean business delegation to visit Egypt.

March: The Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) will visit Egypt to assess the progress of actions taken to combat money laundering and terrorist sponsoring activities.

March: The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry is sending 10 French companies to Egypt to promote French tourists to visit

4-5 March (Wednesday-Thursday): Women Economic Forum, Cairo.

5-8 March (Wednesday-Saturday): 25 Egyptian companies will participate in a forum on investment in startups in Saudi’s King Abdullah Economic City.

6-8 March (Friday-Sunday): Arab Banking Forum, for heads of risk management in Arab banks, organized by the Union of Arab Banks,with the Central Bank of Egypt and the Federation of Egyptian Banks.

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

21-22 March (Saturday-Sunday): An international conference to market investment prospects in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, Al Galala City, Egypt

24 March (Tuesday): The Annual Export Summit, Cairo, Egypt

25-26 March (Wednesday-Thursday): Mega Projects Conference, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

26 March (Thursday): Court session for Amer Group, Porto Group lawsuit against Antaradous.

9 April (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

12 April (Sunday): Easter Sunday.

12 April (Sunday): Court session for Amer Group, Porto Group compensation claim against Antaradous

17-19 April (Friday-Sunday): IMF, World Bank hold Spring Meetings.

19 April (Sunday): Court session for Arabia Investments Holdings’ lawsuit against Peugeot.

19 April (Sunday): Coptic Easter Sunday, national holiday.

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

23 April (Thursday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

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

28-29 April (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

5-7 May (Tuesday-Thursday): AFSIC – Investing in Africa, London, United Kingdom.

14 May (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

23 May (Saturday): An administrative court will look into an appeal by steel rolling mills to overturn a government’s decision to place import tariffs on steel rebar and iron billets. The hearing was postponed from 22 February 2020.

23-26 May (Saturday-Tuesday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

4-6 June (Thursday-Saturday): 2020 Africa-France Summit, Bordeaux, France.

9-10 June (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

17-20 June (Wednesday-Saturday): 2019 Automech Formula car expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo.

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

25 June (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

28-29 July (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

30 July-3 August (Thursday-Monday): Eid El Adha (TBC), national holiday.

13 August (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

20 August (Wednesday-Thursday): Islamic New Year (TBC), national holiday.

15-16 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

24 September (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

24 September- 2 October (Thursday-Friday): El Gouna Film Festival, El Gouna, Egypt.

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

29 October (Thursday): Prophet Mohamed’s birthday (TBC), national holiday.

November: Egypt will host simultaneously the International Capital Market Association’s emerging market, and Africa and Middle East meetings.

4-5 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

12 November (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

15-16 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

24 December (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

25 December (Friday): Western Christmas.

1 January 2021 (Friday): New Year’s Day, national holiday.

7 January 2021 (Thursday): Coptic Christmas, national holiday.

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