Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Is the rate of doubling of new infections slowing?

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

A (potential) ray of sunshine? Okay, so what we’re about to say is heavily caveated — we’re not epidemiologists any more than your average VC bro who figures his understanding of “virality” means he can comment on virology. Moreover: These are just a couple of data points. And math is … hard. Especially in the pre-dawn hours. But:

It appears the rate of doubling of infections in Egypt may be slowing. It took 13 days for total cases to double to 5,042 yesterday — but only 10 days for them to double to 2,505 between 5 April and 15 April.

The rate at which deaths are doubling is just about unchanged: It took 12 days for deaths to double to 183 from 94 and then 13 days for them to double again to 359 yesterday — which follows the pattern globally of deaths being a “trailing indicator.”


Thing we’re pondering this morning #1- Why some countries have been ravaged by the coronavirus and others … simply haven’t. start with How Portugal became Europe’s coronavirus exception in Politico and then move on to ‘Life has to go on’: How Sweden has faced the virus without a lockdown in the New York Times. Cap it off with Low Covid-19 death toll raises hopes Africa may be spared worst in the Financial Times, which essentially boils down to (our summary): “Covid-19 hasn’t yet messed up Africa. We don’t know why. But it could.”

Thing we’re pondering this morning #2- Is the coronavirus going to accelerate the concentration of economic power in the hands of mega-corporations? The essential reading for starters: Investors think giant companies will dominate after crisis in the NYT.

Have we reached peak corona? Or at least peak 2020? Not in the epidemiological sense, but when this is a headline in the New York Times… Commissioner resigns after he threw a cat during Zoom meeting.

Also: There’s never a bad time to read an interview with Stephen King — horror master, social observer and the most under-rated literary genius of our age (after, perhaps, John Grisham).


The markets today: Asian shares are largely in the green this morning, while futures point to a similar trend at the opening bell in Europe and the United States later today. The EGX30 climbed 0.4% yesterday in very heavy trading. The benchmark index is now down 25.4% since the start of the year.

So, when do we eat? Maghrib prayers are at 6:31pm and you’ll have until 3:39am to finish caffeinating. Fajr is coming one minute earlier every day through the end of the Holy Month.

COVID-19 IN EGYPT-

Egypt reported on Tuesday its highest-yet single-day count of deaths and new infections. Egypt has now identified a total of 5,042 confirmed cases of covid-19 after the Health Ministry reported 260 new infections yesterday. The ministry also said that another 22 people had died from the virus, taking the death toll to 359. We now have a total of 1,669 confirmed cases that have since tested negative for the virus after being hospitalized or isolated, of whom 1,304 have fully recovered.

MPs are lobbying the Health Ministry to allow private labs to provide covid-19 testing under government supervision, according to Youm7. Our representatives’ (very sensible) proposal is meant to widen the country’s testing capacity — particularly for asymptomatic cases — since the ministry’s testing is currently limited to symptomatic cases and contact tracing.

The Manpower Ministry is resuming the issuance of work permits for foreign residents, according to state news agency MENA. It will be issuing proof-of-employment documents and offering services for day laborers. The story does not make clear the date on which services resume.

You can renew your car license starting on Sunday, the Interior Ministry said yesterday as the Madbouly government continues to bring some citizen services back online. The move came after Traffic Police offices resumed issuance of new car licenses this week.

General Motors and Nissan Egypt are resuming operations at assembly plants now that new licenses are once again being issued., according to Al Mal.

MPs are suggesting summer vacations should be canceled for judges who they think should stay on the bench to address the backlog of cases that has accumulated since the beginning of the outbreak, according to Al Mal.

FinMin pushes start date of mandatory electronic payments for healthcare services: The Finance Ministry will allow citizens to pay for public healthcare services either electronically or in cash until the partial lockdown restrictions are lifted, according to a ministry statement. Under the Government Accounting Act, a ban on the use of cash or paper cheques for transactions above EGP 500 was set to come into effect on 23 April, but the ministry has decided to push the start date due to current conditions.

148 Egyptians were repatriated from Indonesia and Oman yesterday on an Air Cairo flight that landed at the Marsa Alam International Airport, Al Mal reports, citing Civil Aviation Ministry sources. A ferry has also transported 150 citizens from Saudi Arabia, while three other flights are due tomorrow to repatriate expats and travelers stranded in Oman, the Maldives, France, and Nigeria.


Egypt has access to more funding from multilateral lenders if we need it, says Al Mashat: The European Investment Bank is ready to ramp up its lending to Egypt’s banks and private sector, particularly those in the pharma sector, International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat said, according to a cabinet statement. The minister also noted the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has expanded its short-term liquidity funding package for its Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries (including Egypt). Al Mashat’s statement comes after the government announced it is formally seeking a funding package from the IMF, which the minister said at the time is the most cost-effective option on the table since it’s from a multilateral lender.

Egypt’s VC outfits put new investment on ice: Egypt’s venture capital funds are riding out the corona crisis by shoring up their companies and holding off on new investments, Zawya reports. Algebra Ventures and Himangel are both focused on protecting existing investments and don’t anticipate any new transactions for at least a few months.

But industry leaders are cautiously optimistic about a tech-led rebound: Algebra Ventures founding partner Ziad Mokhtar believes that tech startups will end up benefiting from an influx of talent from hard-hit corporates and recent changes to consumer behavior. With all its downsides, Mokhtar expects the crisis to boost the digital economy and speed up “migration to digital platforms.”

The Alexandria Business Association is asking its members on the impact of covid-19 is having on their businesses and their outlook for 2020. The questions they are asking are intended to identify the challenges Egyptian business may face as a result of covid-19 crisis and their needs to survive until the end of 2020. Want to give the ABA your two cents? You can find the questions here.

Our friends at AmCham are out with three new research notes on how the pandemic is affecting the Egyptian economy and how the government has responded: Egypt’s Policy Responses to Covid-19 | An Overview of Sectors at Risk | Impacts on Egypt’s Transportation Sector.

AmCham is also hosting a series of webinars on covid-19 over the next few weeks, starting with a webinar on Sunday, 3 May on international finance institutions’ support for countries to navigate the pandemic. The webinar will feature: Khalid Hamza (deputy head of the EBRD’s Egypt office), Marina Wes (World Bank country director), Walid Labadi (IFC country manager), Sherry Carlin (USAID mission director) and Denys Denya (AfreximBank executive vice president).

DONATIONS-

Bel Egypt, La Vache Qui Rit’s parent company, is donating EGP 4 mn for day laborers through the Egyptian Food Bank and Resala, according to Hapi Journal. The company has also committed to contributing a portion of La Vache Qui Rit’s revenues for the next two months to support day laborers and is teaming up with Al Shifa Bank to cover respirator maintenance costs at quarantine facilities.

ON THE GLOBAL FRONT-

Dubai is hoping to reopen for tourism in early July, the director of its principal tourism authority told Bloomberg. The move comes amid analyst expectations that the emirate could be particularly hard hit by fallout from the coronavirus.

Saudi Arabia has drawn down on its reserves at the fastest pace in 20 years, “showing the severity of the damage inflicted on public finances by the slump in oil prices,” Bloomberg reports.

Uber could be laying off as much as 20% of its full-time workforce, letting go of up to 5.4k of its 27k employees, The Information reports in an exclusive. “The ride-hailing provider’s core business in recent weeks is down about 80% compared to the same period last year as widespread stay-at-home orders have wiped out demand for its services,” the tech-focused publication writes.

British Airways is about to lay off 30% of its workforce, saying the aviation industry is “several years” away from recovery, the FT writes.

The pandemic has postponed the implementation of the African Continental Freetrade Agreement (AfCFTA) from the original date of 1 July over covid-19 disruptions, AfCTA secretary General Wamkele Mene said during a press conference, according to Reuters. Once active, the agreement could potentially unlock USD 3 tn-worth of growth across the continent and increase intra-African trade by 52.3%, while also drawing more foreign direct investment.


Does economic fallout mean deflation…? The collapse in consumption demand in the US means that the Fed’s ongoing Open Market Committee meeting could see discussion of a disastrous scenario in which prices could actually start falling, according to the Financial Times. Deflation or very low inflation “is the clear call for the next 18 months,” the FT quoted chief US economist at TS Lombard as saying.

… or inflation? A contrasting piece from Axios notes that the real concern is potentially accelerating inflation, which could force the Fed to raise interest rates, and lead to an equally problematic situation of stagflation, in which prices still increase despite a recessionary environment.


More banks and corporates were out with 1Q2020 earnings in this closely watched reporting season:

  • HSBC reported a 48% decline in pre-tax profit (pdf) as it had put aside USD 3 bn in provisions against failing loans due to the pandemic (ReutersCNBC).
  • UBS’ quarterly net profits increased 40% y-o-y as the Swiss outfit’s wealth management and investment banking divisions held firm against last month’s “market turmoil” (FTCNBC).
  • Google parent company Alphabet reported a 13% y-o-y uptick in revenues to USD 41.2 bn, driven by strong performance in January and February that was somewhat dampened by a sudden slump in advertising revenue in March as clients cut spending to mitigate the impact of covid-19, according to its quarterly earnings report (pdf).

Black swan funds up nearly 60% in rare chance to thrive: Funds that seek to profit from crises — so-called black swan funds — have gained 57.2% so far in the year, but the party is a “rare chance,” says the FT. The hedge funds, which hunt for surprise major events that cause “markets to crumple,” are still down by an average 24% from 2008 to today, despite having three crises to profit from since then, notes the salmon-colored paper.


EGYPT BEYOND COVID-

The House of Representatives has a busy schedule ahead next week:

  • State of emergency hearing: Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly will address the House on Sunday to justify his government’s three-month extension of the state of emergency, according to Al Shorouk.
  • State budget: The House Planning and Budget will begin its discussion of the draft FY2020-2021 state budget on Sunday, according to Youm7. You can refresh your memory on the key parts of the budget here, here and here.
  • Unified Tax Law: The House Planning and Budgeting Committee will continue discussing the Unified Tax Law, which would create a single platform for filing income tax, stamp tax and VAT returns, sometime next week, according to Al Mal.

The government has purchased some 578k tonnes of wheat from local farmers since the beginning of the harvest season on 15 April, the Supply Ministry said yesterday. The ministry expects to harvest 3.6 mn tonnes of the crop this season.


AND THE REST OF THE WORLD-

Libyan National Army chief Gen. Khalifa Haftar and his forces moved to take control of the country on Monday, with Haftar saying he was accepting a “popular mandate” to rule, Reuters reports. Haftar and the LNA, supported by Egypt, Russia and the UAE, have for years been in conflict with the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), with Libya split into areas controlled by the GNA in Tripoli and the northwest and areas held by the LNA in Benghazi.

enterprise

*** It’s Hardhat day — your weekly briefing of all things infrastructure in Egypt: Enterprise’s industry vertical focuses each Wednesday on infrastructure, covering everything from energy, water, transportation, urban development and even social infrastructure such as health and education.

In today’s issue: We look at how the covid-19 crisis is impacting infrastructure-related and dependent startups. While the crisis has been a shot in the arm (no pun intended) for businesses turning to digitization, we’re noticing that startups in the infrastructure sphere that are succeeding are the ones that are minimizing reliance on physical infrastructure and personal interactions.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

On another very quiet night on the airwaves, the only tidbit of relevant discussion was … significant.

Egypt is reportedly seeking north of USD 7 bn from the IMF under the one-year rapid financing instrument and stand-by arrangement the government has requested, ‘Ala Mas’ouleety host Ahmed Moussa claimed. Moussa also claimed that the first USD 2.7 bn tranche of the funding will land as early as 10 May, with the second tranche set to follow in June (watch, runtime: 4:19). An unnamed government official had said earlier this week that the package would likely be closer to the USD 3 bn neighborhood, and analysts expect the figure to range between EGP 2.8 bn and USD 4 bn.

We’re still going to take all this with a grain of salt, partially because cretin / host Ahmed Moussa incorrectly told his viewers that the IMF executive board has already approved Egypt’s request for funding. The IMF has only confirmed that Egypt submitted a request for funding, and the board’s calendar for the next seven days does not include a discussion of our request.

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

Still up 2% against the USD for the year, Reuters wonders whether EGP’s “coronavirus immunity” could “wane.” The EGP “has been a rare riser among emerging market currencies beaten down by the coronavirus fallout, but pressure is growing on it to weaken,” Reuters suggests after speaking with analysts and bankers.

Where’s the pressure coming from: The country’s top FX earners, including remittances and tourism, are under pressure amid a global storm, potentially limiting policymakers’ ability to help maintain FX-rate stability as Egypt looks for an IMF facility — and faces outflows of portfolio investment in the global risk-off. Reserves hit a two-year low of USD 40.1 bn in March after the CBE drew down USD 5.4 bn in response to the shockwaves roiling the global economy. The bank used the reserves to “partially cover foreign portfolio investment outflows through the CBE’s FX repatriation mechanism and accommodate for the domestic market’s foreign currency needs to import strategic goods, as well as for the repayment of external debt service obligations,” the CBE said.

“Risks have increased of some near-term adjustment,” Goldman Sachs MENA economist Farouk Soussa tells the newswire. “We have heard concerns that a new IMF programme may require greater EGP flexibility in the medium term as well, but the evidence would suggest that EGP stability and an IMF programme are not mutually incompatible.”

The EGP has so far been one of the few EM currencies to hold its ground in 2020, while the MXN and ZAR are each down c. 20%. The EGP has been steady at around 15.69 against the greenback since last month.

enterprise

The Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority (EMRA) and Oil Ministry have agreed to grant Aton a three-year extension for its exploration of the Abu Marawat gold concession, the company said in a statement (pdf). The extension will give Aton enough breathing room to “migrate” to the new system that will be put in place under the final regulations and amendments to the Mineral Resources Act once they are complete, the statement says. Under the new system, Aton will no longer be required to set up a 50:50 JV with EMRA, which was a requirement under the law prior to its amendment.

Background: Aton had received preliminary approval for the country’s first new gold exploration license in 15 years back in February to explore the Hamama area in the Eastern Desert for a 20-year period along with retaining rights to explore the Abu Marawat concession area in the Arabian-Nubian Shield, north of Sukari mine, where existing player Centamin is operating. The approval was pending the government’s completion of several procedures, including a review of an economic feasibility study.

M&A WATCH- Beltone to complete sale of Auerbach Grayson in three months: Beltone Financial Holding is expecting to wrap up the sale of its 60% stake in New York-based brokerage Auerbach Grayson in the next three months, provided the “current situation” doesn’t disrupt proceedings, the investment bank said in a regulatory filing (pdf). Beltone announced last week that it had agreed to offload its stake to an unnamed group of investors and that the transaction would be finalized after getting approval from US regulators. Due diligence has not yet been completed and the company has not yet reached an agreement on valuation, according to the statement.

Background: Beltone announced its intention to offload its majority stake in Auerbach Grayson earlier this year, citing “large losses” it had incurred since purchasing the stake in 2016. The move is part of a strategy to focus on investment banking and expand its non-banking financial services businesses in Egypt and neighboring markets.

M&A WATCH- Raya’s BariQ piques foreign, local investors’ interest: Several unnamed investors have expressed interest in Raya Holding’s recycled plastic producer BariQ, Raya said in a disclosure yesterday (pdf). Raya has received offers of interest for minority and majority stakes as well as proposals to buy out the company but will not study them until it receives binding offers, Raya CFO Hossam Hussein said. BariQ recently announced it’s planning to spend EGP 300 mn to establish new production lines and double its output capacity to 3.2 bn recyclable bottles per year.

NBE dishes out EGP 27 bn of loans to factories under CBE’s local industry initiative: The National Bank of Egypt (NBE) has provided EGP 27.1 bn in loans to medium-sized factories under the Central Bank of Egypt’s EGP 100 bn initiative to boost domestic manufacturing, NBE head of corporate and syndication Sherif Riad tells Al Mal. The initiative, which was launched in December, allows companies to access subsidized loans at a declining 10% interest rate. The funding pool was originally geared towards medium-sized factories with annual sales revenues between EGP 50k and 1 bn, but was expanded earlier this month to include companies of all sizes.

Crimes involving weapons, intimidation, and disruption of public transportation will be referred to State Security Courts, according to a decree from Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly carried by the local press. The decision comes as the country is effectively under a state of emergency for the next three months.

EARNINGS WATCH- Integrated Diagnostics Holdings (IDH) reported a 2% y-o-y growth in net profit to EGP 505 mn in 2019, up from EGP 497 mn the previous year, according to a company earnings release. The LSE-listed consumer healthcare company’s revenues for the year also rose 16% to EGP 2.23 bn, up from EGP 1.92 bn in 2018. IDH’s 2019 performance comes despite “sluggish consumer spending” in Egypt — its primary market — and political and economic challenges in Sudan, said CEO Hend El Sherbini. IDH companies include Al Borg and Al Mokhtabar in Egypt as well as subsidiaries in Jordan, Sudan, and Nigeria.

ICYMI – Making It is back: We launched the second season of our podcast on building a great business in Egypt last week with our first guest Mohamed El Kalla, CEO of CIRA. Find out how one of the largest private-sector education companies shifted around 30K students to e-learning in roughly three days. (listen, runtime, 47:11).

Tap or click here to listen to the first episode on: Our website | Apple Podcast | Google Podcast. We’re also available on Spotify, but only for non-MENA accounts.

Making It is made possible thanks to the generous support of: Our friends at CIB and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

** SHARE ENTERPRISE WITH A FRIEND **

Enterprise is available without charge — just visit our English or Arabic subscription page, depending on which edition you would like to receive. We give you just about everything you need to know about Egypt, in your inbox Sunday through Thursday before 7am CLT (8am for Arabic), and all we ask for is your name, email address and where you hang your hat during business hours.

Image of the Day

Surprise: Bn’aires aren’t dishing out huge chunks of their wealth for covid-19 support. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is somewhat of an outlier among bn’aires’ covid-19 donations, dishing out nearly 25% of his net worth, according to this Visual Capitalist infographic. As a share of his wealth, Dorsey’s donation is larger than the next nine largest donations from the world’s ultra-wealthy — combined.

Egypt in the News

On another blessedly quiet morning for Egypt in the foreign press, a handful of headlines to skim:

  • Halan founder Mounir Nakhla talks to CNN’s African Startup about how the ride-hailing app is reaching Egypt’s “underserved communities” (watch, runtime: 2:35)
  • CNN Travel is taking note of a recently unearthed shaft at Saqqara’s Sacred Animals Necropolis.
  • MPs are calling for stricter controls on video sharing apps following the arrest of a belly dancer and a TikTok influencer on charges of debauchery, Reuters reported.

Worth Watching

Scratching your head over how US stocks are showing gains while unemployment soars? This FT explainer breaks down why you should exercise some caution in assessing the health of the US economy while the S&P 500 surges. Much of stock market recovery seen in recent months is attributable to localized gains in the tech and healthcare sectors, huge central bank stimulus, and widespread optimism that the economy will rebound quickly after the lockdown restrictions are lifted (watch runtime 2:37).

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Egypt's garments exports dipped 8% y-o-y in 1Q2020 to USD 372 mn, according to a Textiles Export Council report picked up by Mubasher. Despite the decline, the US remained Egypt's top export market, accounting alone for USD 206 mn-worth of imports. Germany and Spain follow in the second and third spots.

hardhat

Infrastructure startups in the covid-19 era — will they go under, survive or thrive? The covid-19 crisis has seen a shift towards digitization the likes of which we haven’t seen before. Egyptians are using e-commerce, fintech, e-learning and edtech like never before. The situation has been less clear cut with infrastructure-related startups, which rely on physical roads, ports, hospitals, and utilities. Covid-19 is dealing a blow to some infrastructure startups, but the ones that are making it appear to be the ones that are mitigating the reliance on that physical infrastructure.

Healthcare, deliveries thriving in covid-19: Across the board, consumer interest in health companies and in delivery services that allow for less physical interaction has ballooned in recent weeks, say representatives from Algebra Ventures, Flat6Labs, Sawari Ventures and Falak Startups. Grocery delivery services such as GoodSmart, for example, have seen a substantial increase in demand, says Algebra Ventures managing partner Karim Hussein.

By cutting out physical interaction, healthtech is booming: With the urgency of the current times, we consider healthcare to be crucial infrastructure outside the traditional definition of the word. Successful online pharma apps like Chefaa, incubated in Flat6Labs, and 3elagi, incubated in Falak Startups, have seen a further spike in demand in the last month. Before covid-19, 3elagi saw some 100 orders a day, which has since doubled or even tripled. It is now in very advanced talks to raise Series A funding, with interest from local and regional investment funds heightened because of the current situation, says Falak Startups managing director Yousef El Samaa. Chefaa was also recently able to close a Series A funding round, says Flat6Labs chief investment officer Dina El Shenoufy.

Vezeeta seized the chance to offer telehealth services, helping to plug a gap: The rapid spread of the virus caused digital healthcare platform Vezeeta, which recently raised USD 40 mn in series D funding, to accelerate the launch of its new telehealth service, originally planned for June 2020, says CEO and co-founder Amir Barsoum. Before covid-19, physical consultations through Vezeeta’s platform would have numbered 300-320k transactions a month. Not including the telehealth initiative, they now stand at 230-249k, says Barsoum. Vezeeta has fared relatively well, even as the global healthcare industry has seen an estimated 30-50% decrease in transactions and industry size during lockdown, he adds.

But unsurprisingly, ride-hailing, sharing, and passenger transport are facing challenges: Consumers are tending to veer away from any kind of shared transport at the moment, says El Shenoufy. Transportation platform Wasel has seen a greatly reduced demand in intercity transportation, its weekly number of trips falling by 50% in the first two weeks of Egypt’s covid-19 curfew, impacting revenue, says founder and CEO Ahmed El Rawy. Mayday, which provides all types of roadside assistance through an app, is among the most successful companies on Falak Startups’ portfolio, and was doing particularly well before covid-19, says El Samaa. It has agreements with companies including Careem and Shell, hit revenue of EGP 1.2 mn in 1Q2020, and has raised some EGP 3 mn in funding. But with covid-19 it has seen plummeting demand, with orders decreasing from around 50 per day to 7 or 8.

Logistics or B2B transportation companies appear to be less badly hit: Digital trucking marketplace Trella, which is post-Series A, has benefitted from having diverse clients and an integrated supply chain in Egypt, including internal trade in raw and manufactured products, and distribution, says Hussein. The company has seen a shift in its client base, from cross border transactions to local ones because of covid-19, but with most of its shippers operating in core essential goods, it has not been materially impacted. Trella has found its clients are much more amenable to digitizing payment mechanisms and documents used to transfer equipment, such as proof of delivery, thanks to covid-19. This has improved business efficiency and reduced costs, says Hussein. The sector clearly benefits from providing essential goods, but again, a core factor in its success is effectively reducing personal contact.

Transportation startups have found that adaptation is essential for survival: Transportation company Halan quickly adapted its model to include service delivery, offering consumers products that are sold on credit to mitigate losses from reduced demand in mobility services, says Algebra’s Hussein. And Wasel has adjusted its financial models to make its services more cost-effective, as well as increasing sanitization, says El-Rawy. Both transportation services are following the same trend as Uber and Careem: rolling out delivery services and taking steps to increase sanitization, to meet essential user needs and alleviate concerns about physical proximity.

Meanwhile renewable energy saw an immediate knock that may last two years: Energy companies are bracing for reduced consumption over the next 1.5 – 2 years, say KarmSolar co-founder and CEO Ahmed Zahran and Cairo Solar managing director Hatem Tawfik. The situation will not affect KarmSolar’s planned projects, but is likely to reduce the energy consumption of those projects in the medium term, says Zahran. Cairo Solar had expected to see its sales revenue double this year, from EGP 25 mn to EGP 50 mn, but because of social distancing restrictions now expects revenue of EGP 12.5 mn, says Tawfik. It plans to weather the storm by employing a cost-reduction scheme, which has seen employees volunteering to take a salary cut, he adds.

But as an industry that partners with all sectors, it could have a strong basis for recovery: The impact on different sectors varies, with tourism hit harder than food and agriculture, says Zahran. Crisis management is core to KarmSolar’s approach, says Zahran, but so is strategic positioning. “We are also investors in other people’s energy infrastructure, and we expect that after the crisis there will be a lot of demand for our products. So we’re trying to prepare ourselves to see how we’ll pick who to work with.”

Environmental startups reliant on waste collection or in-person awareness-raising have had to expand or alter their services. Waste management and upcycling company Mobikya has been forced to slow physical production to 20-30% of capacity, and temporarily pause its agreements with all but two of its seven partner workshops, says founder Ibrahim Abougendy. It is adapting its operations to reduce the need for face-to-face contact, increasing its online media presence by publishing green news and videos, and teaching people how to upcycle themselves. Abougendy sees this as laying the foundation for Mobikiya to become an upcycling marketplace, where people could eventually sell their own products, as well as building a broader environmental movement. The company had initial seed funding of USD 100k at its inception three years ago, and has maintained its growth through sales since that time.

Covid-19 has accelerated an inevitable shift towards digitization: In some ways, covid-19 is like a preview of the future, says El Samaa. “The companies coming to the forefront now, all of which are tech-reliant, would have been huge in ten years’ time, but covid-19 has accelerated the growth of these technologies. And I think this is here to stay. Automatically any investor will find these models interesting.”

But ultimately, for infrastructure-related companies, the crucial success factor is reducing physical interaction: Social distancing will remain a necessity for an indefinite period. And this experience will change human behavior, with future decisions being based on new perceptions of risk weighed against the necessity of face-to-face contact, says Ahmed El Alfi, chairman of Sawari Ventures and the Greek Campus, and co-founder of Flat6Labs. So it is logical to suppose that the trend we can already see — of infrastructure startups that reduce or eliminate in-person contact being the ones that survive or even thrive in this period — being one that will continue well into the future.

Correction (29/04/2020): Mayday’s 1Q2020 revenue is EGP 1.2 mn. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated it as EGP 500k.

Your top infrastructure news of the week:

  • Damietta LNG plant agreement collapses: An agreement to reopen the Damietta LNG plant between the Egyptian government and operator Union Fenosa Gas has collapsed after certain conditions failed to be met.
  • Sixth of October dry port: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the African Development Bank will help finance 70% of the first USD 176 mn phase of the Sixth of October dry port.
  • Sokhna port to open in June: DP World is expecting to open its second EGP 10 bn Sokhna port in June.
  • Electric railway signaling: The National Railways Authority is closing in on a EGP 3 bn loan agreement with Banque Misr and the National Bank of Egypt to finance the authority’s transition to an electric railway signaling system and the purchase of spare parts for its fleet.
  • Alex port upgrade: The Alexandria Port is set to complete its EGP 840 mn cargo truck overpass, EGP 460 mn multi-storey garage, and new mooring and docking facilities within two years.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.69 | Sell 15.79
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.70 | Sell 15.80
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.68 | Sell 15.78

EGX30 (Tuesday): 10,415 (+0.4%)
Turnover: EGP 1.2 bn (80% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -25.4%

THE MARKET ON TUESDAY: The EGX30 ended Tuesday’s session up 0.4%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended down 0.5%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were CIRA up 8.1%, Orascom Development Egypt up 6.5%, and Telecom Egypt up 5.4%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Credit Agricole down 10.2%, El Sewedy Electric down 5.0% and SODIC down 1.0%. The market turnover was EGP 1.2 bn, and domestic investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Short | EGP -102.8 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -11.4 mn
Domestic: Net Long | EGP +114.2 mn

Retail: 70.6% of total trades | 71.8% of buyers | 69.4% of sellers
Institutions: 29.4% of total trades | 28.2% of buyers | 30.6% of sellers

WTI: USD 12.68 (-0.78%)
Brent: USD 20.60 (+3.05%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 1.79 MMBtu, (-1.37%, May 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,720.90 / troy ounce (-0.17%)

TASI: 6,884.82 (+0.84%) (YTD: -17.93%)
ADX: 4,220.58 (+1.21%) (YTD: -16.85%)
DFM: 1,997.67 (+0.58%) (YTD: -27.75%)
KSE Premier Market: 5,209.58 (+1.07%)
QE: 8,600.51 (+0.81%) (YTD: -17.51%)
MSM: 3,538.74 (+0.40%) (YTD: -11.11%)
BB: 1,307.86 (-0.07%) (YTD: -18.78%)

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Calendar

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

1 May (Friday): National holiday in observance of Labour Day.

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

23 May (Saturday): Earliest date on which suspension of international flights to / from Egypt expires.

23 May (Saturday): Earliest date by which restaurants, gyms, nightclubs, museums and archaeological sites will reopen.

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).

31 May (Sunday): A postponed court session for the lawsuit filed by Cairo Development and Auto Industry, a subsidiary of Arabia Investment Holding, against Peugeot Automotive to demand EUR 150 mn compensation.

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

30 June (Sunday): Anniversary of the June 2013 protests, 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.