Monday, 9 March 2020

Egypt reports first covid-19 death.
Plus: It’s shaping up to be a crazy day in global markets

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

It’s shaping up to be an ugly day. Covid-19 infections continue their slow-burn spread in Egypt and global markets are reeling after Saudi and Russia locked horns in an oil war that has sent crude prices down 30%. Throw in 16 mn Italians now living under travel restrictions and fears of covid-19’s impact on the global economy and it’s little wonder that Asian markets opened deeply in the red this morning — and that US and European futures point to a sharp sell-off when those markets open later today. How sharp? Well, US futures are down the maximum 5%. Bloomberg’s David Ingles summed it up rather nicely in a tweet.

Here’s where things stand just before dispatch time this morning:

The total number of covid-19 cases in Egypt has risen to 55: The Health Ministry announced in a statement late on Sunday that another seven people have tested positive for covid-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Egypt to 55. The latest cases include four foreigners and three Egyptians, one returning from Umrah and two who had been in contact with an Egyptian who picked up the virus after returning from Serbia. That last person, a 44-year-old male, is in “critical condition” at the Matrouh quarantine facility, according to remarks by Health Minister Hala Zayed to El Hekaya’s Amr Adib.

This means we added 10 new cases yesterday after 45 people tested positive for the virus on a cruise ship in Luxor.

The ministry also announced the first death resulting from the virus: A 60 year-old German tourist was pronounced dead in Hurghada after having arrived in Egypt on Friday, 6 March. The patient had refused to be evacuated to Egypt’s quarantine facility on the north coast.

The Education Ministry has denied rumors of a covid-19 outbreak among school children and dismissed plans for any school closures.

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What’s it like to be in quarantine in Matrouh? Journalist Matt Swider, the managing editor of TechRadar, took to Twitter to document how his Egypt vacation turned sour after he tested positive while on a Nile cruise in Aswan.

Family members of three US citizens who tested negative for the virus but remain in quarantine on the Luxor cruise ship have expressed concerns about their health, as the decision to place whole ships in quarantine continues to draw criticism.

Covid-19’s appearance in Egypt is getting a lot of attention in the foreign press this morning: Reuters | AFP | Bloomberg | Washington Post.

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Market madness resumed yesterday: The EGX ended yesterday’s session more than 4% in the red following news of the spread. CIB — which accounts for around a third of the EGX30 — fell 4.6%. Earlier in the session, the EGX suspended trading for 25 companies in a bid to contain the selloff.

It says a lot about the times we’re living in that this was probably the least notable thing that happened in markets yesterday:

In “one of the most dramatic bouts of selling ever,” oil prices collapse as traders react to Riyadh’s oil price war: Brent crude futures fell 31% to USD 31.02/bbl and US crude dropped 27% to USD 30/bbl in a matter of seconds this morning as the Asian traders reacted to Saudi Arabia’s decision to slash prices and ramp up supply, Bloomberg reports. Riyadh plans to raise its output above 10 mn bbl/d and cut prices by as much as 20% in April in reaction to Russia’s refusal last week to agree to deeper production cuts in reaction to the covid-19 outbreak.

We could be facing USD 20 oil this year -Goldman: Goldman Sachs has warned that oil prices could fall as far as USD 20/bbl this year, a market crash that would outstrip that of 2014, according to a note picked up by Bloomberg. “The prognosis for the oil market is even more dire than in November 2014, when such a price war last started, as it comes to a head with the significant collapse in oil demand due to the coronavirus,” the Goldman analysts wrote.

MENA equities fell through the floor yesterday in reaction to the Saudi moves: Kuwait’s main index plunged 10%, according to Bloomberg. Dubai’s DFM General Index saw its sharpest drop in a single session since the global financial crisis of 2008 to finish 7.9% in the red, while Saudi’s Tadawul lost 8.3%.

It was a sea of red in the Asian markets at the time of dispatch this morning: The Australian stock exchange was leading the sell-off, down 5.4%, with the Nikkei close behind, down 5.3%.


In an unprecedented move, Italy has restricted the movement of more than a quarter of its population: Around 16 mn people in Italy’s northern Lombardy province have been effectively quarantined as the government takes extreme measures to contain the spread of the virus, the Financial Times reports. The number of cases in the country rose dramatically over the weekend to 7.3k confirmed cases and 366 fatalities, causing Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to declare that the country is facing a “national emergency.”

Globally, the virus is continuing its spread: Argentina’s health ministry issued a statement confirming the death of a patient who had been diagnosed with covid-19 on Saturday. This is the first death related to the virus in Latin America, according to Reuters. Paraguay, Colombia, Chile and Peru have also announced their first confirmed cases of the virus, and several cases have been confirmed in Brazil.

Bahrain’s Formula One race will take place without spectators, Bloomberg reports. The F1 race is scheduled for 22 March.

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IN NON-CORONA NEWS: Manufacturers may be getting a discount on energy prices this week when the government committee tasked with reviewing energy prices announces the results of review, MP and House energy committee member told Al Shorouk. The committee, which meets on a biannual basis, held a meeting yesterday. Energy rates were hinted to be going down this month, as per Planning and Economic Development Minister Hala El Said. The committee lowered the price of natural gas for the cement, metallurgy, and ceramics industries when it first met in October.

It’s inflation day tomorrow: February figures will be out later today. January saw inflation accelerate for the third consecutive month, rising slightly to 7.2% from 7.1% in December.

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Nawal El Saadawi made Time magazine’s 100 Women of the Year list: Egyptian psychiatrist, feminist and novelist Nawal El Saadawi (bio) made it to The Time’s list of “100 Women of the Year” yesterday as part of the magazine’s celebration of International Women’s Day. The Times writes that she proved “a fearless commentator on women’s rights in Egypt.”

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*** It’s Blackboard day: We have our weekly look at the business of education in Egypt, from pre-K through the highest reaches of higher ed. Blackboard appears every Monday in Enterprise in the place of our traditional industry news roundups.

In today’s issue: Government universities are planning to establish nonprofit subsidiaries that offer competitive curriculums, prices, and standards of education that match those in the private sector and other nonprofit schools. A closer look, however, shows that these new government universities will not be subject to the same regulations as other nonprofits, even though these new regs ostensibly aim to improve their level of education.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Covid-19 and GERD continue to dominate the airwaves: Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal reported on the first death from the covid-19 virus in Egypt. She noted that he was a 60-year-old German citizen who had flu-like symptoms when he arrived in Luxor and went to the Hurghada General Hospital on Friday 6 March. His condition worsened and he suffered a loss of consciousness before dying yesterday (watch, runtime: 1:58). Al Kahera Alaan’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 1:48), Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary (watch, runtime: 2:07), and Min Masr’s Reham Ibrahim (watch, runtime: 1:26) all covered the news.

Covid-19 cases in Egypt rises to 55: El Hekaya's Amr Adib spoke by phone with Health Ministry media spokesman Khaled Megahed who said that Egypt’s total number of cases testing positive for covid-19 had climbed to 55. Megahed said the increase was of people who had come into contact with people previously reported to have contracted the virus in Egypt (watch, runtime: 1:26), (watch, runtime: 2:22). El Hadidi also had the story (watch, runtime: 5:58).

Facilitating covid-19 testing for travellers: Assal reviewed steps the Madbouly government has taken to make it easier for would-be travelers to get PCR tests at approved government labs. They include setting up a website — www.clab.mohp.gov.eg — to book tests for those with valid travel tickets (watch, runtime: 4:54). El Hadidi also covered the story (watch, runtime: 2:24).

Dispute over GERD persists: Adib and El Hosary both criticized Sudan’s statement on the ongoing Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam crisis, saying that after nine years of negotiations they had unfairly sided with Ethiopia (watch, runtime: 2:29), and here (watch, runtime: 1:22). Assal spoke by phone with Cairo University Professor of Political Science Moataz Bllah Abd El Fattah who said that Ethiopia is “waging a war of words” with Egypt. He said that Ethiopia is dragging the region into conflict with its “intransigence,'' and could find itself “besieged regionally and globally” and unable to secure any foreign investments (watch, runtime: 6:34).

Former irrigation minister criticizes Sudan: El Hadidi phoned former Irrigation Minister Mohamed Nasr Allam who accused Sudan of siding with Ethiopia in the dispute, and said that the Egyptian government should look to its Arab neighbours and the UN Security Council to find a way to solve the crisis (watch, runtime: 14:50).

Speed Round

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CORONA WATCH- Outbreak weighs on Egypt’s recovering tourism sector, new bookings down by 70-80%: Business leaders yesterday painted an ominous picture for Egypt’s tourism sector as it struggles under the weight of the covid-19 outbreak. The country’s tourism industry in the past few years has seen a strong recovery from its post-2011 slump, but now faces serious challenges attracting visitors as more cases of the virus are reported in the country. Egyptian Travel Agents Association head Hossam El Shaer said that new bookings have fallen by as much as 80% compared to last year, while Karim ElMinabaway, president of Emeco Travel Egypt, reported that his company has bookings at about 10% of what it had been expecting, according to Reuters.

The messaging coming out of the Tourism Ministry: Business as usual. The tourism, health and civil aviation ministers yesterday visited tourism sites in Luxor to paint a picture of normalcy. “We are here to respond to rumors saying that there are no tourists and people are afraid of coming. Thank God, people are here,” Tourism Minister Khaled El Anany said in a TV interview, which Reuters noted showed images of tourists entering one of the temples in Luxor. All tours of landmarks are continuing to operate normally and the movement of tourists is not being restricted, he said.

But tour guides at the Giza Pyramids tell a different story: Guides and sellers working at the Giza Pyramids, one of Egypt’s most popular attractions, told Reuters that the number of visitors had fallen over the past month.

An increasing number of countries are placing restrictions on people travelling to and from Egypt. Saudi Arabia and Oman yesterday joined Kuwait and Qatar in introducing restrictions on flights from Egypt in a bid to slow the spread of the virus. A Saudi Interior Ministry official told local media that the government will temporarily prevent citizens and residents from travelling to Egypt and the Omani aviation body announced that while EgyptAir and Oman Air will continue flying, chartered flights to and from Egypt will end. Kuwait stopped flights to Egypt over the weekend, and EgyptAir announced it would stop flying to the Gulf state for the time being.

The Tourism Ministry plans to go ahead with a major promotional campaign and will sign a contract next week with an international company to target 10-12 key markets including the UK, Germany, the US, and Italy, Tourism Promotion Authority Chairman Ahmed Youssef said, according to Al Mal.

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“The chilling effect on tourism will likely hit growth, as well as put pressure on the balance of payments,” EFG Hermes said in a research note out last week on the impact of covid-19 on frontier emerging markets.

EFG also thinks the Central Bank of Egypt will leave interest rates on hold over the next 1-2 meetings. The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee next meets on 2 April to review rates.

Lower crude prices are a plus for Egypt as we have “only marginally” became net energy exporters, EFG notes. But any relief for the government’s oil bill could prove immaterial in case of “a sizable [covid-19] shock.”

And investors still have ‘places to hide’: Investors in search of sanctuary could turn to telecommunications, utilities, and healthcare stocks — all of which are expected to be more robust in the face of the crisis. Egyptian banks also look good “even if the situation worsens.” Unlike, GCC banks, net interest margins at Egyptian banks are forecast to be less affected by the US Fed’s recent 50 bps emergency interest rate cut.

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Covid-19 supply disruptions lead lamp manufacturer Futek to mothball investment plans for now: Supply disruptions have prompted Futek Egyptian Micro Electronics to put on hold plans to set up a EGP 500 mn hand lamps factory in Sadat City after it was unable to import Chinese machines, Futek Chairman Mohamed Helal said, according to Al Shorouk.

Longer-term national megaprojects less affected as Chinese companies still on board – gov’t source: The Transport Ministry is in talks with five consortiums, two of whom are China-led, to get them to bid on the USD 5 bn phase one of a planned high-speed rail linking Borg El Arab to the new administrative capital, Al Shorouk reports, quoting an unnamed source. Among the most notable are a consortium headed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and others comprising Orascom Construction, Hassan Allam, and Arab Contractors. The project — which the source says would replace the now-scrapped USD 7-8 bn Alamein-new capital-Ain Sokhna high-speed electric rail — would cover a 262 km stretch between industrial hub Borg El Arab and the new capital as a first phase. Technical and financial bids from the competing consortiums are expected to be received within the next three months, said the source.

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PRIVATIZATION WATCH- Banque du Caire is on track to debut in April (for now): The state-owned Banque du Caire (BdC) is moving ahead with its plans to IPO 20-30% of its shares on the Egyptian Exchange in April, Al Masry Al Youm quotes CEO Tarek Fayed as saying in a press conference on Saturday. “It is premature to determine the impact of global and regional developments on the offering,” Fayed said. He noted, however, that BdC’s management is ready to change up the plan and “make necessary decisions” if global headwinds should force them to rethink the timeline.

Background: BdC aims to raise some USD 500 mn from its debut on the EGX by April. The timing could be critical given the impact of the covid-19 on global, regional, and domestic markets but sources had said a final decision would be reached by next week. The bank's two-legged roadshow was described as a success by the bank's officials and at least three major ‘anchor investors’ have been reported to be interested, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Sovereign Fund of Egypt, and Abu Dhabi Development Holding though Fayed said that a single investor will not be permitted to own more than 5% of the bank.

In related news: SFE head says investors interested in military-owned firms: Local and international investors have expressed interest in companies currently owned by the Egyptian military, Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) CEO Ayman Soliman told Hapi Journal on the sidelines of a conference hosted yesterday by the Egyptian Junior Business Association. Soliman told the FT earlier this month that the fund was looking into offering up to 10 army companies for co-investment. This came a month after the SFE signed an agreement with the military’s National Service Products Organization (NSPO) to market some of its subsidiaries to private investors. “They [the NSPO] said we are happy to exit those assets up to 100%,” Soliman told the FT.

Also coming from Soliman on the sidelines of the conference:

  • The SFE will sign a partnership agreement with an unnamed local private investor “within weeks,” Soliman told Hapi Journal without naming the investor, noting only that this will be the first partnership the fund enters into as part of its mandate to further public-private cooperation;
  • The fund will start running a surplus within five years and will then look to invest in assets abroad;
  • Soliman gave assurances that the fund will not crowd out private investment, saying that the SFE’s key aim is to give private sector players more investment prospects; and
  • The fund aims to acquire and manage EGP 80 bn-worth of assets, he said without providing a time period.

CIRA, ODE sign agreement to establish two int’l schools in O West: Cairo for Investment and Real Estate Development (CIRA) and Orascom Development Egypt (ODE) have signed a cooperation agreement to establish branches of two international schools in the O West development complex in Sixth of October, ODE said in a statement (pdf). The schools are worth a combined EGP 450 mn and are due to open in the 2021-22 academic year. The two schools are branches of Germany’s Saxony International School (SIS) and Canada’s British Columbia Canadian International School (BCCIS). SIS will offer the German curriculum and tuition for both the International Baccalaureate and the Abitur, while BCCIS will offer the educational curriculum used in British Columbia, according to the statement.

CIRA subsidiary Eduhive for educational services will supervise the two schools, the statement says. Eduhive is specialized in managing education systems and has already established many international schools in the region. Both SIS and BCCIS already have an extensive global presence, with SIS owning 18 schools and 18 nurseries in Germany, which have some 4.5k students in total, and BCCIS owning 47 schools worldwide, in Egypt, France, Japan, Bahrain, China, Colombia and Thailand.

Agreement in line with CIRA’s strategy of expanding int’l partnerships: “The establishment of SIS West and BCCIS West schools at O West is in line with the company’s strategy to expand international educational partnerships, which add to the diversity of the company's educational services,” CIRA said in the statement. The cooperation is a strategic step for the company to achieve its growth and to continue providing the Egyptian students with high-quality education services reaching different segments of the Egyptian society, said CIRA CEO Mohamed El Kalla.

More companies declare bids for Shell’s onshore assets in Egypt: US oil and gas producers Apache and Apex International Energy, have reportedly submitted bids to acquire Shell’s onshore assets in Egypt, Al Mal reported citing unnamed sources. The companies join other potential buyers, including Cheiron and Pharos Energy.

Background: Shell announced last year its intention to exit its onshore upstream assets in the Western Desert to focus on expanding its Egyptian offshore gas exploration efforts and appointed Citigroup to manage the USD 1 bn sale. The company was also considering resuming exploration at the Rosetta concession in Rashid, which had stopped over a year ago.

Correction: 09/03/2020

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Energean Oil & Gas had bid for Shell’s portfolio, and mistakenly said that PICO and Cheiron are separate companies.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Al Ahly Capital, UAE’s MBF Group to set up healthcare company in Egypt: Al Ahly Capital Holding, the investment arm of the National Bank of Egypt (NBE), is looking to set up a company with the Emirati MBF Group to invest in Egypt’s healthcare sector, Emirati news agency WAM reports. MBF founder Sheikh Mohamed bin Faisal Al Qasimi and several senior NBE representatives said following a meeting yesterday that the company will purchase an undisclosed Egyptian hospital as an initial investment, and announced ambitions to become one of the biggest healthcare services companies in the country with a presence in all of Egypt’s governorates.

Al Ahly and MBF have not yet agreed on how they will split the ownership of the company, Al Ahly Capital’s head of investment, Karim Abou Al Naja, told the local press following the meeting, and neither company has provided details on how much they will invest in the venture. A formal agreement is expected to be signed by the two companies in Dubai before the end of April.

STARTUP WATCH- Khazna secures seed funding led by Algebra Ventures: Egyptian fintech startup Khazna has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from a group of investors led by Algebra Ventures, the company said in a statement (pdf). Accion Venture Lab, which had recently secured USD 33 mn in funds for its fintech focused investment platform, also participated in the funding round making its first investment in Egypt.

Khazna is looking to provide online financial services to underbanked Egyptians through their cash advance app, Khazna HR. The Cairo-based startup was founded in 2019 by Omar Saleh, Ahmed Wagueeh, Fatimah El Shenawy and Omar Salah who aim to grow their cash advance service to cover 20 mn Egyptians with limited credit access. The company is currently consulting with banking and corporate partners to help launch other mobile banking products that would provide saving, insurance and payment services in the future.

LEGISLATION WATCH- President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has ratified the temporary tax dispute resolution bill, Youm reports, carrying a copy of the amended law published in the Official Gazette on 3 March. The legislation extends the expired Tax Dispute Resolution Act for six months, allowing the newly-established dispute settlement committees to handle tax disputes until 30 June this year. It permits businesses whose assets were frozen for not paying taxes to make a 10% down payment to unfreeze them and allow them to file for a settlement.

El Sisi ratified amendments to the Terrorist Entities Act, Youm7 reports separately. The House had approved the changes late last year, under which the general prosecution is required to announce new additions or removals of groups or individuals from the terror watchlist in the Official Gazette.

House gives preliminary approval to Anti-Money Laundering Act amendments: The House of Representatives yesterday approved in principle amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act that would expand the list of assets that can be used in money laundering to include selling and smuggling of oil, natural resources, securities and cryptocurrency, among others, according to Al Shorouk. The amendments, which were proposed last month and approved by a parliamentary committee earlier in March, also gives jurisdiction to the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Unit to expedite assets freezes and would put in place tougher sanctions.

The House Energy Committee also approved in principle a bill scrapping the Hydro Power Plant Executive Authority, which was proposed by the Madbouly Cabinet last month, Al Shorouk noted. The hydroelectric assets would be transferred to a new Renewable Energy Development Agency that would be run by the Electricity Ministry.

MOVES- Hossam El Gamal has been appointed NTRA head. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly appointed Hossam El Gamal to head the National Telecom Regulatory Authority for two years, the Communications Ministry said in a statement (pdf). El Gamal, who was formerly the assistant to the minister, has previously held senior positions at MTN Global and worked as a senior advisor for Huawei.

MOVES- Essam El Saghir has resigned from his position as Egypt Post head. Communications Minister Amr Talaat has appointed Abdu Sayed Aly Hassan Elwan as the head of Egypt Post after Essam El Saghir suddenly announced his resignation, the ministry said in a statement (pdf). Elwan is currently Egypt Post’s vice president. PM Moustafa Madbouly last July renewed El Saghir’s position as Egypt Post chairman for a year.

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Egypt in the News

Egypt’s accelerating covid-19 outbreak is leading the conversation in the foreign press this morning: We have coverage in this morning’s What We’re Tracking Today, above.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Egypt goes on diplomatic offensive to build Arab support for its GERD position: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry travelled to Jordan and Iraq yesterday for high-level talks as part of a regional tour aimed at reinforcing regional support amid escalating tensions with Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Iraqi President Barham Salih and Jordanian King Abdullah both expressed support for Egypt’s efforts to protect its water rights during the meetings, the Foreign Ministry said in a series of statements. Shoukry is due to visit Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain in the coming days.

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Gov’t universities are entering the nonprofit game in 2020. The government is looking at amending the Private and Nonprofit Universities Act (pdf) to allow state universities to set up nonprofit universities and colleges, Sedik Abdel Salam, who heads the ministry’s council for private universities, told Enterprise. Those new universities will be positioned to directly compete with their fully private and nonprofit counterparts and charge competitive prices. The plan, Abdel Salam says, aims to help public universities keep up with their private counterparts (obvious examples including AUC and GUC) and offer students another high quality choice, as well as accommodate a fast growing population of school graduates. Six state universities have already expressed interest in starting nonprofit arms.

Government nonprofit universities already exist, they’re just not arms of existing state-run universities. Examples include Nile University, Zewail University of Science and Technology, the Egyptian E-learning University, and the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology. There are also Rasheed University and City University of Cairo, which are both part of a plan to set up more state nonprofit schools in new cities. Currently, nonprofits can only be established by presidential decrees and do not become affiliated with an existing public university sponsor, but if passed the upcoming amendments would change this.

What will these amendments change?

#1 Independent administration: Nonprofits established as subsidiaries of already established government universities will operate independently from their parent state schools, Abdel Salam tells us. They will have an independent board of trustees and a governance structure that is in line with other nonprofit universities, he added.

#2 No support needed from state coffers: The new facilities will be largely self-financed through tuition revenues, with startup capital coming from the parent university, and will not draw additional finances from the state, Benha University President Gamal Said told us. his institution plans plans to set up Benha Nonprofit University. Once they’re up and running, the universities will themselves be “a source of support to the state coffers,” he said.

#3 Tuition competitive with other nonprofits: Benha Nonprofit will charge more than its public counterparts, but less than private universities, to gain a competitive edge. In exchange, the curriculum offered to students will be different from that taught in the sponsoring government universities, and be designed to “keep up” with those offered in private universities.

#4 Nonprofit curriculum with public school professors? The new universities will be more active in preparing graduates for the labor market, Said told us. Benha Nonprofit, which would be built on land allocated to the university by the state, plans to do this by teaching highly sought after subjects such as engineering, ICT, business management, and (at a later stage) medicine and other majors. Existing faculty members will be brought on board to teach in the new institutions, said Said. This would help the universities cut costs and help the state university system retain their professors, who often opt for private employers later in their careers. However, it remains unclear how these new universities plan to offer a curriculum that is different from state schools and teach new subjects, while relying on government university professors. Particularly in light of…

#5 No foreign academic partnership requirements: The new universities will be exempt from regulations currently in the works that will force any new private university set up in Egypt to form academic partnerships with foreign universities, according to Said. In our extensive feature on these new regs, we noted that their purpose was to raise the quality of education in the private and nonprofit sector and push them to seek international expertise when teaching new subjects. This rule is temporary for now, he added, hinting at the possibility that it may be revoked.

#6 Nonprofit university applicants to use UCAS-style enrollment system: Applicants to the new universities will apply through the UCAS-style enrollment system the government is planning for private and nonprofit universities, rather than going through the enrollment process followed by government universities, according to Said. The system, which is expected to be rolled out in the 2020-2021 academic year, will be a central online platform managed by the SCU, and handle applications for private and nonprofit universities. You can read our in-depth coverage of the new UCAS-style system here.

#7 Entry requirements for the nonprofit institutions will be different from both those of the sponsors and the private sector, Said told us, without commenting on how loose / strict they would be.

Currently, six state-funded universities have already filed paperwork to the Supreme Council of Universities (SCU), said Abdel Salam. They are waiting for the amendments to pass the House of Representatives, and for subsequent decrees that would see them established. Each of Cairo, Alexandria, Zagazig, Assiut, Suez Canal, and Minya universities are expected to inaugurate new nonprofit subsidiaries within the next two academic years.

Is this the state crowding out the nonprofit higher education sector? Some private universities actually welcome the move: The entry of government-sponsored nonprofit universities, or even new private ones, will help address a sizable demand-supply gap, Badr University President Moustafa Kamal told us. The number of applicants Badr University received this year exceeded 8k when the university’s entire student capacity is 2.5k, Kamal said. This is true of Badr and of all other private universities, he added.

By 2030, Egypt needs to have at least 100 open private universities, up from only 57 today, says Kamal. This would “enrich” higher education, and give existing universities a reason to improve their offerings to maintain their competitive edges.

Ebada Sarhan, head of privately-owned Future University is also of the same mind, saying that Egypt needs at least 50 new institutions in the coming years and that the expected regulations to encourage existing private universities and oblige new ones to form partnerships with foreign universities will help them maintain their leading positions.

Why not simply improve state schools? The funding gap is the most given reply. This new model provides a sustainable way for state schools to expand and improve their quality, without sapping additional resources from state coffers.

But are the regs for state nonprofits self-defeating? When pressed as to why state nonprofits are exempt from forming academic partnerships and non-state universities aren’t, Said tells us that government universities already have long-standing ties with foreign institutions that their subsidiaries can benefit from. Also unclear is how the state plans to improve on existing state education if they rely on state faculty members for the new wave of nonprofits.

Top education stories for the day include:

  • Women make up 54% of Egyptian university students, Mahmoud Saqr, president of the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, announced at the “First Conference of the Women’s Committee in Science.”
  • The Higher Education Ministry has created an app for foreign students to apply to Egyptian universities as part of the "Study in Egypt" program designed to attract foreign students to the country.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.58 | Sell 15.71
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.59 | Sell 15.69
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.58 | Sell 15.68

EGX30 (Sunday): 11,849 (-4.0%)
Turnover: EGP 363 mn (38% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -15.1%

THE MARKET ON SUNDAY: The EGX30 ended Sunday’s session down 4%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended down 4.6%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Orascom Development Egypt down 9.3%, Egyptian Resorts down 8.8% and EFG Hermes down 8.1%. The market turnover was EGP 363 mn, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net long | EGP +12.8 mn
Regional: Net short | EGP -7.8 mn
Domestic: Net short | EGP -4.7 mn

Retail: 71.0% of total trades | 70.3% of buyers | 71.7% of sellers
Institutions: 29.0% of total trades | 29.7% of buyers | 28.3% of sellers

WTI: USD 41.28 (-10.07%)

Brent: USD 45.27 (-9.44%)

Natural Gas: (Nymex, futures prices) USD 1.71 MMBtu, (-3.16%, April 2020 contract)

Gold: USD 1,672.40 / troy ounce (+0.26%)

TASI: 6,846 (-8.32%) (YTD: -18.39%)
ADX: 4,393 (-5.37%) (YTD: -13.43%)
DFM: 2,266 (-7.87%) (YTD: -18.01%)
KSE Premier Market: 5,750 (-10.02%)
QE: 9,037 (-2.92%) (YTD: -13.32%)
MSM: 3,994 (-2.75%) (YTD: +0.34%)
BB: 1,562 (-3.41%) (YTD: -2.95%)

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Calendar

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

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, Nile Ritz Carlton, 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.

2 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.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2020 Enterprise Ventures LLC.