Monday, 30 March 2020

CBE announces new daily limits on bank withdrawals and deposits

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

We’re going to start this morning with a global headline that sends a big signal to the global economy — and to policymakers around the world: Someone in the White House managed to convince The Donald to listen to the scientists and extend social-distancing measures until the end of April. The US president had previously said he wanted the US open an “raring to go” by mid-month.

Worth a listen this morning: Central Bank Governor Tarek Amer’s appearance on TV to talk about the impact of covid-19 on the economy. We have highlights and the link in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Market update: The EGX30 closed down 1.5% yesterday in a session marked by anemic volumes, with turnover some 30% below the trailing 90-day average. Asian markets are squarely in the red in the first trading day of the week, with major indices in South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Japan and India all down at least 1% in early trading as we headed toward dispatch this morning. Futures suggest a lower open for US and European markets.

PSA- Heavy, dusty winds will roil most of the country today and sandstorms could strike the northwest coast, the Egyptian Meteorological Authority said. Areas most likely to be affected include Cairo, the Nile Delta, the Mediterranean coast and the northern regions of Upper Egypt. Look for highs of 29°C today, with the evening cooling to around 24°C. The warm weather is set to continue through the weekend and spike above 30°C in the capital on Saturday and Sunday.

And one quick reminder: Thursday is interest rate day, with the Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee set to meet.


COVID-19 IN EGYPT-

The Health Ministry has reported 33 new cases of covid-19 yesterday evening, all Egyptians, taking the total to 609. Another four fatalities — all Cairenes aged 58-84 — brought the death toll to 40. A total of 132 people have fully recovered so far and been discharged from hospital and 182 people have tested negative after treatment in hospital.

Mosques will remain shut down indefinitely, Religious Endowments Minister Mohamed Gomaa said. The ministry ordered mosques to close their doors for two weeks as of 21 March in a bid to curb the covid-19 outbreak. The Coptic Church had also suspended masses and other activities in churches at the same time; it has yet to say whether it, too, will extend the shutdown.

Market data provider EGID has launched a new online platform ‘E-Maglis’ that enables shareholders to take part in meetings and vote remotely, according to a statement (pdf). The system will allow companies to continue operating as usual through the pandemic while at the same time supporting the government’s “digital transformation” strategy, EGX boss Mohamed Farid told Enterprise. EGID is an EGX-owned company.

The Financial Regulatory Authority has instructed microlenders to consider delays on a case-by-case basis of up to 50% of the value of monthly installments for struggling clients.


The Federation of Egyptian Industries has handed the government a long shopping list of measures it wants to see enacted to help businesses through the pandemic, the local press reports. It calls a six-month postponement of the deadline to file and pay taxes for FY2019, exempting companies from paying income tax and social insurance for three months, raising the domestic market allocation for those who have export restrictions to 50% from 20%, and expediting the payment of overdue export subsidies. The FEI also wants the government to cover two weeks of wages for any factory that closes down to promote social distancing.

We think some measure of tax relief is a good idea, but we’re not certain we would start filling the FEI’s shopping list in full or in part right now. Egypt’s economy isn’t feeling the same pinch as, say, Italy, Spain or New York — and we need something in reserve in case (a) we do or (b) the status quo lingers for months rather than weeks.


State-paid healthcare workers will receive a 75% allowance on top of their wages, an Ittihadiya statement said. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi allocated EGP 2.25 bn for the initiative and set up an emergency fund for as support for medical professionals, including doctors working in university hospitals, during the covid-19 outbreak. Doctors will receive an additional EGP 700, physiotherapists EGP 500 and nurses EGP 400, using a payment system related to their basic wages.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said he is working with the Civil Aviation Ministry to repatriate Egyptians stuck abroad. Speaking in an interview on Al Mehwar TV, Shoukry said the Madbouly government is focused on Egyptian tourists stranded abroad and students studying overseas.

An EgyptAir flight brought back 340 Egyptians from Kuwait yesterday, the local press reports. Arrangements are also being made to bring back Egyptians in Tunisia, according to a cabinet statement. Other evacuations are in the works to bring home citizens from the UK, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Lebanon, and Jordan this week.

An Egyptian star in a rare “good news” covid story: Egyptian-American doctor Nermeen Botros has been named “Hero of the Day” by the New York Post for working punishing 80-hour weeks since the start of the crisis and for her courage during these unnerving times.


Investors lap up nine-month t-bills, balk at yield on three-month notes: A government bond auction held yesterday was a tale of two halves, as investors oversubscribed to the EGP 10.5 bn nine-month offering but largely rejected the offered yield on three-month bills. The central bank sold more than EGP 15.6 bn of nine-month bills at a yield of 13.611%, but only sold EGP 24 mn of its EGP 4 bn three-month issuance as investors demanded a 13.585% yield — more than 100 bps higher than the rate accepted by the CBE.

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ON THE GLOBAL FRONT-

Corporate America anxious about first quarter earnings as uncertainty grows: US corporate earnings forecasts are now much less hopeful as companies revise their 2020 financial targets in light of the gradual shuttering of the US economy, says Reuters. Analysts project a 2.9% y-o-y fall as we approach the earnings season for the first quarter, which begins in mid-April. A stark 7.1% drop may follow in quarter two, and 0.5% for full-year 2020, with only a slight recovery priced in for the third and fourth quarters, according to IBES data from Refinitiv, which is said to be one of the more optimistic forecasts.

This gloomy view comes as the recorded number of cases in the US have now surpassed those of Italy and China, and as measures to contain the virus have temporarily shut down businesses and led to a wave of layoffs. We’re keeping an eye out for US industry surveys and employment data due this week, which CNBC says “will likely paint a bleak picture of how much the first weeks of the coronavirus shutdown have already hit the economy.”

And as revenue streams are threatened, bond issuance by investment grade corporates has soared to USD 244 bn this month, making it the second largest monthly record after the USD 252 bn sold in September, says the Financial Times. US companies led the pack, selling USD 150 bn worth of new corporate paper to “outlast any drag on revenues.”

In other international covid-19 news:

  • Saudi Arabia quarantines Jeddah: Saudi Arabia has banned people from entering and exiting Jeddah governorate, tightening lockdown measures as the death toll in the kingdom yesterday doubled to eight. (Reuters)
  • Spain strengthens measures, extends lockdown: Spain has ordered all non-essential workers to remain in their houses for two weeks, the latest government measure to contain the outbreak which has now infected almost 79k people. (Reuters)
  • Drive-thru testing in the UAE: Abu Dhabi has opened a drive-thru testing facility that will test people for covid-19 in just five minutes. (Twitter)

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There is an overwhelming global surfeit of oil and logistical services are “struggling to cope,” as transport, businesses and factories have ground to a virtual standstill amid continued covid-19 lockdowns, Bloomberg reports. Demand is at an unprecedented low, with the 100 mn barrels of oil usually consumed per day slashed by a quarter in recent weeks, traders and analysts estimate.

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise, then, that oil fell below USD 20/bbl in early trading today: WTI fell as much as 7.6% to lows not seen since November 2002 this morning. The US crude benchmark traded as low as USD 19.92 in early trading while Brent — which is on course for its worst quarter ever — fell 5.1% to USD 23.66/bbl.

enterprise

A three-month caffeine fast? Why on earth would you do that? Author Michael Pollan, who went on such a fast for research purposes to explore the effect of caffeine on the human body, offers the Wall Street Journal some compelling reasons: namely, it vastly improves the quality of your sleep. The man speaks sense, and the idea of sleeping like a teenager again is appealing, but we won’t lie: There is zero chance of us putting this into practice anytime soon.

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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: We look at what schools and universities learned from the past few weeks of online education, and whether online learning tools can be adopted en masse and become the norm in a post-covid world.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Naguib Sawiris dropped in to Al Kahera Alaan to offer his two cents on the state of the economy as the talking heads continued to chronicle the story of covid-19.

Al Kahera Alaan’s Lamees El Hadidi spoke to Egyptian bn’naire Naguib Sawiris last night, who voiced his thoughts on the current state of the Egyptian economy and the financial markets.

The inveterate goldbug channeled his Inner Donald on social distancing and the economy and threw in some stock tips for good measure:

  • Sawiris urged the government to allow employees to return to work within a week and warned in colourful terms that the economy would suffer sharply if social distancing measures aren’t scrapped soon. Shutting down entire sectors for an extended period would result in lay-offs and increasing rates of depression.
  • Go long on gold? Sawiris said that he has invested half of his capital in the precious metal and reiterated his confidence that the price of gold will rise due to the covid-19 crisis, despite it having recently eased.
  • The EGX hasn’t bottomed out: Sawiris cautioned investors against buying into the EGX. “We have not reached the bottom and we will see companies whose shares will be at least 10% in the coming days,” he warned.

You can watch the full interview here: (watch, runtime: 10:49).

Pay boost for healthcare workers: El Hadidi spoke with Health Minister Hala Zayed who discussed the latest covid-19 updates and President Abdel Fatah El Sisi’s initiative to provide additional pay allowances to healthcare workers and exceptional bonuses to quarantine and chest hospital workers (watch, runtime: 9:52). El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 2:59), Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal (watch, runtime: 2:36), Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary (watch, runtime: 0:59), and Min Masr’s Amr Khalil (watch, runtime: 2:32) also covered the news.

CBE limits withdrawals: Hany Genena, the head of research Prime Holding investments, told El Hadidi that the central bank had chosen to place new limits on withdrawals after EGP 30 bn was withdrawn from Egyptian banks in the past three weeks. He said that the decision should not distress depositors, who should only have cause for concern if they see banks prohibit or limit transactions between entities (watch, runtime: 14:49). El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 12:04), Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary (watch, runtime: 1:13) had the same story, while. Min Masr's Amr Khalil spoke with the head of Banque Misr, Mohamed El Etribi (watch, runtime: 7:04). We have more on the central bank’s announcement in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Day labourers workers being tallied: El Hadidi also spoke with the Manpower Minister Mohamed Saafan who said that the ministry is currently vetting its lists of day labourers who applied for emergency relief, and that EGP 500 would be disbursed to 120k workers soon (watch, runtime: 4:38). Khalil had the same report (watch, runtime: 1:11).

Speed Round

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CBE temporarily sets daily limit on bank, ATM cash withdrawals and deposits: The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) decided yesterday to impose a temporary cap on daily cash withdrawals and deposits from banks and ATMs, according to an official statement (pdf). The CBE said the measure is designed to force citizens to move away from cash and so reduce footfall at banks. The move comes as pensioners nationwide prepare to line up at bank branches to collect their monthly stipend starting 1 April. Reuters also has the story.

The measures include:

  • Companies can withdraw EGP 50k per day, but face no cap on deposits, according to a CBE circular (pdf) issued later in the day yesterday. Companies can also make whatever cash withdrawals they need to “satisfy obligations to employees.”
  • In-branch cash withdrawals and deposits are now limited to EGP 10k per day for individuals;
  • ATM withdrawals and deposits are now capped at EGP 5k per day for individuals and companies alike;
  • Transactions related to letters of credit and of guarantee are exempt as are transactions by individuals “whose line of work includes depositing large sums of money regularly” are also reportedly exempt.
  • Deposits to satisfy credit card payments are also exempt.

There are no new limits on electronic transfers between accounts, whether they’re held by individuals or companies. The central bank earlier ordered banks to slash to zero all fees for e-payments and transfers. Military-affiliated companies are entirely exempt from the new cash deposit and withdrawal caps.

Checks will also be subject to the cap. Take in an EGP 40k cheque, for example, and you can get EGP 10k in cash on the spot and the balance of EGP 30k in either (a) your bank account or (b) in three daily EGP 10k chunks.

The Egyptian Businessmen’s Association wants exemptions from the decision, arguing in a letter to the CBE that limiting withdrawals will have a negative impact on businesses with high volumes of daily cash transactions.

The key word here is “temporary,” we’re told by a source familiar with the central bank’s thinking. The source added that the measures are specifically designed to help stem the transmission of the virus that causes covid-19.

Separately, the CBE will cover the cost of interbank ATM cash withdrawal fees for six mn pensioners for six months, according to Egypt Today.

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Amer talks covid-19 and the Egyptian economy: Central Bank of Egypt Governor Tarek Amer yesterday phoned into Sada El Balad for a wide-ranging conversation with talk show host Ahmed Moussa on the current state of the Egyptian economy and how the central bank is responding to the covid-19 pandemic. You can watch the full interview here (watch, runtime: 1:37:51).

Here are the key takeaways:

Foreign investors have pulled around EGP 7 bn from the EGX since covid-19 pandemic hit global markets, Amer said. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi last week announced that the CBE would allocate EGP 20 bn to support share prices on the EGX, a measure that has helped to stabilize trading on the exchange, Amer said. It remains unclear how exactly the central bank is entering the market.

The central bank isn’t pencilling in a recession just yet: “There are expectations that foreign economies will contract in the second and third quarters, while in Egypt there will be lower growth, but we will achieve growth,” Amer said, suggesting Egypt will escape the deep recession now forecast in many countries around the world.

Greenback to fall against the EGP: Amer expects the USD to reverse some of its recent gains against the EGP in the coming weeks. The greenback has been on a tear this month as investors have dumped risk assets in search of safety, but retreated last week after the Federal Reserve pledged to pump as much money as was needed into the economy.

Another rate cut on the way? Unlike many other countries that are operating at or close to zero interest rates, the CBE has more room to cut rates if additional stimulus is needed to support business activity, Amer said. The central bank made an emergency 300 bps rate cut earlier this month taking the overnight deposit rate to 9.25%, the lending rate to 10.25% and the main operation and discount rates to 9.75%. The majority of countries in comparison have cut rates below 5%. The central bank will next meet to review interest rates this coming Thursday, 2 April 2020.

Debt relief package delivered: Amer said that debt relief will be offered to struggling companies, from the public sector to private businesses and SMEs, by suspending loan instalments for six months worth EGP 1.8 bn investment, noting that interest will still accumulate and be due once the period ends. Collections on another EGP 40 mn in personal loans will also be postponed for the same period. He said some 20 mn citizens will benefit from the initiative.

Microenterprises shouldn’t expect their debts to be postponed. Amer said that it was difficult to reschedule debt payments for microenterprises because many access finance through NGOs, which use companies to collect repayments. Granting a six-month holiday to microbusinesses, as the CBE did last week with corporate and individual borrowers, will likely cause complications for everyone involved, he said. Instead, micro firms may be able to negotiate more relaxed payment schedules with their NGO or Banque du Caire — the primary bank lender for micro businesses — on a case-by-case basis, he said.

Egypt’s foreign reserves can cover as much as 10 months’ of imports, compared to the global average of just three months, Amer said. Reserves currently stand at USD 45.5 bn as of the end of February.

Petrol prices will likely fall: He said that we will probably see petrol prices drop, given that they are tied to declining oil prices in the global market and the recent strength of the EGP against the USD. The next announcement is expected at the beginning of April.

The EGX30 slipped back into the red yesterday, closing down 1.5% to resume a spell of volatility that has gripped the market over the past few weeks. The benchmark index had inched up 0.5% by the closing bell last Thursday and 1.0% on Wednesday. Index heavyweight CIB drove yesterday’s dip, ending the trading day down 2.4%. Orascom Development Egypt was down 3.6% and CIRA dipped 3.5%. The session’s best performers were Pioneers Holding up 1.7%, Orascom Investment Holding up 1.5%, and SODIC up 1.5%.

Egypt’s bourse was in lockstep with other regional markets which also performed poorly yesterday. Boursa Kuwait ended the trading day 4.7% in the red after S&P downgraded its credit to AA-, spurred by the country’s reliance on exports amid low oil prices globally, according to Bloomberg. Bahrain closed down 1.9%, Oman closed down 1.66%, and Qatar saw losses of 0.57%. Saudi’s Tadawul bucked the trend, inching up 0.8%.

Has the market bottomed out? Renaissance Capital analysts seem to think so, writing in a research note yesterday that “the market [in Egypt] might have found a floor until either we see further strict measures imposed by the government or an exponential growth in new covid-19 cases discovered.” The investment bank notes that the EGX30 index has shed around 25% in USD terms since the beginning of the month, which is around the same level as the MSCI EM index (-22%). RenCap expects healthcare, banks, and other “defensive stocks” to outperform on the EGX in the short term.

Meanwhile, stock buybacks continue: The Egyptian International Pharmaceuticals Industries Company’s (EIPICO) board approved yesterday the purchase of 1.6 mn in treasury stock, worth 1.61% of the company’s shares, according to an EGX filing (pdf). Madinet Nasr for Housing and Development (MNHD) also announced the purchase of some 507k treasury shares, bringing the company’s total stock buybacks to 2.4 mn shares since the beginning of the month, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf).

Emerging markets have done better than European countries to contain covid-19, but will struggle to finance lockdowns -RenCap: Emerging markets have, by and large, outperformed most European countries when it comes to containing the spread of covid-19, Renaissance Capital said on a webinar last week.

EM governments — including Egypt, Turkey, Russia, and South Africa — enacted effective policies including lockdowns faster than their European counterparts, as can be seen in the number of cases per 100k people once the policies went into effect (5 per 100k in Italy and the UK vs. less than 0.01 per 100k in Hubei). Europe is expected to see more deaths per capita by the end of the outbreak, but EMs are likely to keep their death rates from the virus at around the same level as Hubei, says Global Chief Economist Charles Robertson.

The flattening of the curve in Italy on the back of strict measures enacted by the government is “encouraging” and indicates that social distancing and lockdowns do work in curbing the spread of covid-19. Based on the “fairly straightforward” progression of the virus’ spread, the US is expected to see its new cases peak next month.

Bond yields in EMs, which have been rising after already being high, beg the question of how these countries will be able to afford the lockdowns they’re imposing. RenCap flags Pakistan, Turkey, South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt, along with much of Latin America as being in the “not looking so hot corner” when it comes to yields. “Those countries that will likely struggle could and should seek cheaper funding from the IMF and World Bank or look for a G7 or G20 package if there’s one available,” says Daniel Salter, head of equity strategy. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait had told us earlier this week that the government could look at a fresh IMF facility — which Egypt had previously ruled out — to finance state spending in light of the “extenuating circumstances” created by the covid-19 outbreak.

The magnitude of outflows from EM equity funds has been relatively small, but this is the “fastest bear market” we’ve seen so far, according to Salter. The numbers might seem painful in terms of volume but the reality is that this only actually accounts for around 1.1% of EM assets under management.

Is the worst yet to come? This relatively low percentage suggests one of two things, Salter says: Either EMs have already taken so many consecutive blows over the past few years that resulted in heavy outflows so that there just isn’t much fat left to trim — or we still have the worst of the sell-off ahead of us.

The good news: EM currencies (minus China’s yuan) are at the cheapest they’ve been since 1998, meaning it’s a great chance to invest right now. Aside from Turkey, which was already facing currency pressure pre-covid-19, Latin American currencies have taken the biggest beating so far, with each of Columbia, Brazil, and Peru seeing their currencies drop 25%. Mexico’s peso has lost more than 30% of its value, and Russia’s RBL is down 10% mostly because of the oil price war. Frontier markets, on the other hand, have not seen currencies get cheaper as many are pegged. There have so far been very few redemptions in frontier markets because they have been “an unloved asset class” for the past couple of years, Robertson says.

EARNINGS WATCH- B Investment’s consolidated net profits after tax dropped 10.6% y-o-y in 2019 to EGP 173.7 mn, from EGP 194.4 mn in 2018, according to a bourse filing (pdf). The company’s revenues decreased by 6.03% y-o-y to EGP 230.6 mn in 2019 from EGP 245.4 mn.

MOVES- Mohamed Ibrahim (Linkedin) has been tapped as Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals’ (Sidpec) new chairman and managing director, according to the local press. Ibrahim, who succeeds Mosaad Attia, has been with the company for over 20 years.

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Egypt in the News

Leading the conversation on Egypt in the international press is the expulsion of the Guardian’s Ruth Michaelson last week over reporting earlier in the covid-19 crisis on a then-unpublished study suggesting that Egypt could have more cases than the official tally at the time suggested. The Guardian, the Associated Press, AFP, and Deutsche Welle have the story.

Also making the pages of the foreign press: An Associated Press feature on a transgender and LGBTQ+ activist in Egypt; a wide-ranging look at how Egypt is coping with covid-19 in Haaretz; takes on the US-Egypt security relationship post-Mubarak and on the crackdown on on mahraganat; and Quartz has its two cents on the roots of the dispute over GERD.

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Online learning is set to have a transformative long-term impact on educational approaches in both anticipated and unforeseen ways. Rapid action taken by several private schools in Egypt to deploy measures for online learning during the recent school closures is causing a shift towards new educational approaches, sources tell Enterprise. Not only has the situation forced schools to speed up some of their existing plans, such as incorporating blended learning into the normal teaching curriculum, it has also offered valuable new insights into key communication methods and the ways that students learn.

But online education comes with its set of issues that impede it from becoming the norm in the long run. These include younger students being prone to distraction and a lack of broad guidelines for monitoring activities online, in addition to issues with internet infrastructure. It is unlikely that online learning will ever subsume or replace the classroom. Instead, it is likely that we’ll see the pair develop hand-in-hand with an expanded use of online learning tools with the classroom.

Combining online educational materials with traditional classroom methods are here to stay: Today’s school-age children have been responding positively to their learning being taken online, say representatives from some of the schools we’ve spoken with. Students love anything to do with technology and they’re very quick to use it, says Stuart Bryan, education VP at GEMS Egypt. Learning can be tailored to allow students to really engage with the material they’re presented with, and whenever a more typical classroom situation resumes, the transition to a blended learning model will happen very naturally. GEMS Egypt had already been planning to move towards an immersive learning environment using virtual reality learning before the covid-19 school closures. Bryan predicts that the whole sector will follow this trend, and that teachers will continue to use online tools to post material that students can read or view at home, with students doing their research outside of class by watching a video assignment, looking up a PowerPoint presentation or using a VR tool, and then coming in to discuss what they’ve learned in the classroom. This will enrich classroom discussions, he says.

This transforms the role of the teacher from content provider to coach. Making use of online learning material has taken some of the burden of content delivery off teachers, says AIS Director Kapono Ciotti. The teacher’s role has become much more about checking a student’s understanding of a concept and facilitating an interactive conversation that helps students learn from one other than delivering content that students absorb passively, says Bryan.

And students can take learning into their own hands. Enforced online learning is showing everyone that students can play a much more proactive role in content discovery, and assume more responsibility for their own growth as learners. Generally, educators are really good at helping students develop specific academic skills, and so being able to focus on this is a better use of their time than exclusively delivering content, says Ciotti.

Thanks to online learning, data is being deployed in the education process: CIRA has its own data tracking mechanism which provides a wealth of information about how many students log on to its online learning system, which students, teachers and schools are active (and which are not), and the levels of interaction taking place, says CEO Mohamed El Kalla. The percentage of students viewing active content usually remains constant at around 20% at any given time, whereas the percentage of students viewing or using interactive content ranges from 20-70% at any given time, he says. Many more students come back regularly to the interactive content offered, and we can infer that students are telling their peers about it and encouraging them to join, El Kalla adds.

Teachers have had to become more tech savvy to adapt to this new learning environment ― in some cases at very short notice. Since the decision was taken to close schools, GEMS Egypt has trained some 500 teachers on how to use its virtual learning environment, says CEO Ahmed Wahby. This process required staff to learn quickly on the job, moving educational materials online, learning how to confidently use the GEMS online classroom and create pre-recorded videos, and how to run live lessons using Microsoft Teams. It was challenging, says Bryan, because initially many teachers felt reticent about appearing in videos and weren’t confident in using unfamiliar software. But they have adapted quickly to the new status quo, and been spurred on by evidence that the material they are producing has a clear impact on how students absorb new ideas, says GEMS Egypt communication manager Amr Sherif.

And they’re realizing that it’s helping make them better teachers. Teachers currently spend more time than ever talking, planning lesson content, and providing students with references and links, says El Alsson Executive Director Karim Rogers. But being forced to use technology to collaborate has sparked ideas about other ways to be efficient and collaborative, says Ciotti, citing feedback he received directly from an AIS teacher. Tools like Google Docs and Hangouts are being used in a much more dynamic way now that they are the only means of communication for staff members who can’t meet face-to-face ― and this is something that teachers actively want to maintain, he adds.

Will online learning completely replace classroom learning one day? No, says El Kalla. “If this experiment has taught us one thing, it’s that parents in the modern world can’t afford to keep their children at home, and especially when it comes to younger children, there’s a growing appreciation for what teachers do for students in the classroom,” he says.

The attention spans of younger students might make it tough to implement online learning in the long term. Online learning is not an ideal medium for younger children in particular, everyone we spoke to said. The question of how young children can learn effectively without being in front of a screen all day or without parents assuming a disproportionate amount of responsibility remains a challenge common to all schools. It’s also important to remember that the limits of a person’s attention span are real and online space is full of distractions no matter what age you are, says Ciotti. “When we were growing up, our parents didn’t give us our textbooks and tell us to do our homework on the swings or on the Nintendo 64. But we regularly ask our children to do their homework on the computer, which is infinitely more distracting.”

Then there’s the issue of internet infrastructure: Pressure on the internet is immense and this has occasionally led to some challenges since the online programs began. Students have faced difficulties logging into online systems and live lessons have been disturbed, says Rogers. Egypt does sometimes face internet and power outages, and with pressure on the system data is being used up quickly, says Ciotti. And while all recognize that this is a global issue, some, including Ahmed El Khatib, head of El Khatib Private Schools, say that Egypt’s internet infrastructure is finding it tough to sustain online education during peak hours. Schools and universities have had to adapt, including Future University which has had to install its own fiber optic line, university president Ebada Sarhan tells Enterprise. That said, Ciotti, El Kalla, Wahby and others say that the issue of internet infrastructure is not insurmountable.

It’s crucial to put clear safeguarding measures in place, and these take time to roll out. Such measures include mandating appropriate dress for teachers and students and carefully vetting any online content, says Bryan. Educators also have to be mindful that online bullying and interruptions can be disruptive forces for students, says El Kalla. You have to develop more methods of control and be ready to intervene if you see concerning activity like negative comments written in response to questions posed online.

As schools shift their focus towards the medium-long term, questions of how to adapt online learning become more pressing. AIS is already working to adapt some aspects of its short-term plan which include reducing the amount of time teachers spend working online simultaneously with older students, which is currently unsustainable, and giving the students more long-term projects, says Ciotti. “We started with a short-term plan, which we put into action when the school closures were announced. Now we’re looking at what we’ve learned from this experience that we can continue doing, and what we need to change. We’re in a fluid situation, so reviewing and adapting our methods may be a more long-term process than we had initially anticipated,” he said.

Your top education stories of the week:

  • Schools and universities will remain closed for an additional 15 days after the initial two-week closure period announced earlier this month elapses. They will now be closed until 13 April.
  • End-of-year public school exams will be based on lessons delivered until 15 March, rather than the full year’s curriculum.
  • The International Baccalaureate (IB) officially announced that this year’s IB exams will be canceled. Graduating students will receive their diploma or certificates based on submitted coursework, which includes internal assessments and independent presentations.
  • Private sector education outfit CIRA has moved all classrooms at its schools and Badr University online, with all of its non-essential staff working from home to curb the spread of covid-19.
  • The government may convert some schools into hospitals if the number of covid-19 cases rise above 1k.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.68 | Sell 15.81
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.70 | Sell 15.80
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.68 | Sell 15.78

EGX30 (Sunday): 9,760 (-1.5%)
Turnover: EGP 391 mn (35% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -30.1%

THE MARKET ON SUNDAY: The EGX30 ended Sunday’s session down 1.5%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended down 2.4%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Pioneers Holding up 1.7%, Orascom Investment Holding up 1.5%, and SODIC up 1.5%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were Orascom Development Egypt down 3.6%, CIRA down 3.5% and CIB down 2.4%. The market turnover was EGP 391 mn, and local investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net short | EGP -99.8 mn
Regional: Net short | EGP -5.6 mn
Domestic: Net long | EGP +105.4 mn

Retail: 59.0% of total trades | 61.7% of buyers | 56.3% of sellers
Institutions: 41.0% of total trades | 38.3% of buyers | 43.7% of sellers

WTI: USD 21.51 (-4.82%)

Brent: USD 24.93 (-5.35%)

Natural Gas: (Nymex, futures prices) USD 1.67 MMBtu, (-1.07%, May 2020 contract)

Gold: USD 1,654.10 / troy ounce (-0.37%)

TASI: 6,376 (+0.79%) (YTD: -23.99%)
ADX: 3,878 (+2.87%) (YTD: -23.58%)
DFM: 1,832 (+1.28%) (YTD: -33.73%)
KSE Premier Market: 5,101 (-3.40%)
QE: 8,431 (-0.57%) (YTD: -19.13%)
MSM: 3,479 (-1.66%) (YTD: -12.59%)
BB: 1,362 (-1.90%) (YTD: -15.39%)

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Calendar

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

2-4 April (Thursday- Saturday): Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research (GFHS2020) under the theme “Future in Action,” new administrative capital, Egypt.

12 April (Sunday): House of Representatives covid-19 recess ends.

12 April (Sunday): Easter Sunday.

12 April (Sunday): Court session for a lawsuit against Amer Group and Porto Group by Syria-based Antaradous for Touristic Development.

13 April (Monday): Schools and universities expected to resume classes after covid-19 closure.

15 April (Wednesday): International flight suspension in Egypt expected to be lifted.

16 April (Thursday): New deadline for individuals to file their tax returns to the Egyptian Tax Authority.

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

18 April (Saturday): One half of renowned duo 2CELLOS, Stjepan Hauser, known simply as Hauser, will be performing his only show in Egypt and it will take place in Somabay, Hurghada on April 18th. Tickets on sale at Ticketsmarche soon.

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.

30 April (Thursday): Court session for a lawsuit against Amer Group and Porto Group by Syria-based Antaradous for Touristic Development.

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).

June: Circular Economy Summit, Egypt, venue TBA.

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. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of HSBC Egypt (tax ID: 204-901-715), the leading corporate and retail lender in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; Moharram & Partners (tax ID: 616-112-459), the leading public policy and government affairs partner; Palm Hills Developments (tax ID: 432-737-014), a leading developer of commercial and residential properties; Mashreq (tax ID: 204-898-862), the MENA region’s leading homegrown personal and digital bank; Etisalat Misr (tax ID: 235-071-579), the leading telecoms provider in Egypt; and Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt.