Monday, 15 June 2020

It’s official: You can fly starting 1 July

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

We’re not sure where we’d go — or who would have us — but commercial flights are set to resume on 1 July and this makes us very happy. Regularly scheduled flights will be allowed anywhere in the country airlines operate, but charter flights will be confined to three prime tourism destinations in a move designed to balance risk nationwide. We have the full rundown in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

A balanced approach to risk is smart given the experience of countries that rushed reopening: India and the United States are now struggling with infection spikes (prompting New York and Houston to mull reimposing lockdowns) and China (which had a very strict lockdown in many areas) is seeing a large cluster of infections in the capital city. Europe is easing border controls today but isn’t allowing folks to travel freely just yet, and Japan denied it is easing its entry ban.

Your daily dose of optimism: Morgan Stanley is doubling down on the notion of a sharp, V-shaped recovery, citing “recent upside surprises in growth data and policy action” that have led it to conclude the global economy “is in a new expansion cycle and output will return to pre-coronavirus crisis levels by the fourth quarter.”

With a chaser of pessimism: Asian markets are in the red in early trading this morning and futures at dispatch time suggest European and US shares will follow suit. What’s going on? The Financial Times expects we could be looking at a volatile week ahead as markets get their heads around the fact that the global economy is hurting, while the Wall Street Journal quotes famed money manager Jeremy Grantham as saying that “the current market seems lost in one-sided optimism.”

Don’t worry, though. The folks who speculate on the outcome of sports contests have entered the market to save us all. Nope. We’re not kidding. A good chunk of the rally in recent months may be attributable to folks who usually put money on the outcome of NBA and NFL games deciding they’d like to try their hands at day trading given professional sports has been shut down, the New York Times suggests. PT Barnum probably never said the words, but… (Also: Sorry for not using the verb for what those folks do with their money, but the algorithms that decide whether we make it into your inbox don’t like that…)


*** IT’S YOUR LAST CHANCE to tell us how much you love (or hate) e-learning. The Madbouly government signaled this week that e-learning could be on the menu again this fall — by itself or as part of a hybrid approach. Tell us how e-learning is working out in your household in a poll for our weekly Blackboard focus on education. As is our custom, we’ll draw the names of three respondents who will receive an Enterprise mug and a bag of our favorite coffee from our friends at 30 North. Tap or click here to take the survey. It’s quick and painless, we promise and the poll closes tonight.


COVID-19 IN EGYPT-

The Health Ministry confirmed a new daily record of 91 new deaths from covid-19 yesterday, bringing the country’s total death toll to 1,575. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 44,598 confirmed cases of covid-19, after the ministry reported 1,618 new infections yesterday. We now have a total of 13,332 confirmed cases that have since tested negative for the virus after being hospitalized or isolated, of whom 11,931 have fully recovered.

Two more doctors have passed away: Cardiologist Nabil Nessim and ophthalmology specialist Amira Mounir were the latest to die from complications of covid-19. The total number of physicians that have died of the illness has now reached 60, the local press reports.

Youth Minister Ashraf Sobhi will announce plans to reopen sporting clubs and youth centers at a press conference today, according to Al Shorouk. The Madbouly Cabinet’s most recent extension of lockdown measures will see these establishments closed at least until the end of the month, but they’re allowed to accept membership applications and payments as of today.

EvaPharma lands license to manufacture, distribute remdesivir: EvaPharma has signed an agreement with Gilead Sciences granting it a license to manufacture and market remdesivir, an antiviral medication which has been said to shorten recovery times, a source from the company said. The US pharma giant has given distribution rights to pharma companies in 127 countries, including Egypt. Egypt ordered a shipment of the medication last month after both the US and Japan approved its use for covid-19. Gilead and EvaPharma announced a partnership a little over a year ago to use Egypt as a manufacturing and distribution hub for Africa.

enterprise

EGYPT BEYOND COVID-

House pushes budget discussion: Lawmakers will discuss the House Planning and Budgeting Committee’s report on the draft budget FY2020-2021 at a later plenary session, House Speaker Abdel Aal said on Sunday, according to the local press. Next Sunday's general assembly will vote on a bill governing parliament, and discussions on the draft law and another to constitute the Senate as an upper house of parliament — approved by the House Legislative Committee last week — will be completed within three days.

AND THE REST OF THE WORLD-

Saudi mortgage finance player plans MENA’s first pandemic IPO: Saudi’s Amlak International for Real Estate Finance is planning what would be the first initial public offering in the Middle East since the covid-19 pandemic knocked the region’s financial markets, says Bloomberg. The sharia-compliant home financier is set to begin the book-building process next Monday, which will be the first in the kingdom since healthcare provider Sulaiman Al Habib listed in February.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

The reopening of Egypt’s airports to regularly scheduled international commercial flights next month stole the spotlight on last night’s talk shows. Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El Enany and Civil Aviation Minister Mohamed Manar both blanketed the airwaves to fill in the nation’s talking heads on the details of the planned reopening, which we have in full in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Egypt’s covid-19 case and death tally remain “within expectations,” presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag Eldin told Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary (watch, runtime: 5:24). Tag Eldin also discussed the planned manufacturing and distribution of remdesivir here in Egypt (which we note in What We’re Tracking Today, above) with El Hosary and Al Kahera Alaan’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 9:19).

Speed Round

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It’s official: All airports are reopening to regularly scheduled international commercial flights as of 1 July, Civil Aviation Minister Mohamed Manar and Tourism Minister Khaled El Enany said at a joint press conference yesterday (watch, runtime: 38:28). Reuters also had the story.

There are limits, though: Charter flights will be allowed to land in only three governorates — the Red Sea, South Sinai, and Matrouh.

You’re going to hear the words “tourist flights” a lot today, and the term caused some confusion when Manar and El Enany used it yesterday. Commercial flights means all normal flights — such as when you book your own seat with EgyptAir to Cairo or Emirates to Dubai, for example. By “tourist flights,” officials mean any flight (including charter flights) that bring organized tour or travel groups into the country, Manar explained to ‘Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa (watch, runtime: 8:47).

So, you want to come to Cairo to meet with companies you’ve invested in? Ahlan. Book your ticket and you’re good to go.

Want to come with 100 of your best friends for a seaside vacation? That’s a charter, and you’re only welcome (for now) on the Red Sea, South Sinai, and Matrouh. No package tours to Cairo, Alex or anywhere else are permitted in the initial reopening of airspace.

A bunch of incentives are in place for packed tour operators to the three approved destinations, including tourist visas at no charge until the end of October and discounts on airport fees and services, Cabinet decided last week.

National flag carrier EgyptAir confirmed it will begin operating regular flights to “several destinations” as of next month, with the exact schedule of flights on offer due to be announced within a few days.

There’s no timeline yet for when operators can begin selling holiday packages for other destinations in the country, El Enany said.

Tourists arriving on charter flights to any of the three governorates will not be allowed to travel outside of these governorates once they land, El Enany told Moussa (watch, runtime: 8:31). They won’t be allowed to board domestic flights, the minister said, and we’re presuming there will be measures in place to ensure they don’t hop on buses or rent cars to move between governorates. The minister also had a similar conversation with Al Kahera Alaan’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 21:20).

Tourist sites will gradually begin to reopen at the beginning of the month, starting with the Hurghada Museum, followed by the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo and the Karnak Temple in Luxor, El Enany said at the presser.

Get ready to embrace no-frills flying: All airports across the country will be regularly sanitized, and airlines will not be permitted to serve hot meals on flights. Only dry foods and boxed beverages will be served. Airlines will also be barred from circulating magazines, newspapers, and other printed materials on flights. All passengers and crew members will also be required to wear face masks for the duration of all flights, Enany said at the presser.

Arriving travelers will be required to submit PCR test results if they are arriving from countries with high infection rates as assessed by the World Health Organization, officials said. The test results must be submitted 48 hours before departure. Before getting their boarding passes, travelers will be required to sign a declaration certifying that they are not infected and that they are personally responsible for informing Egyptian officials if they begin to show any signs of illness during their travel. Travelers arriving from countries where the outbreak is contained will only have their temperatures checked on arrival at the airport, which has been outfitted with thermal screening gates, according to Manar.

What happens if a tourist contracts the virus while visiting Egypt? If a tourist begins to show mild symptoms of covid-19 during their holiday in Egypt, they will be quarantined in the same hotel and will receive medical treatment on site, El Enany told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib. All hotels have agreed to designate a specific wing or floor to these cases to ensure their isolation, the minister said (watch, runtime: 4:09).

Domestically, hotels across the country will be capped at having 50% of their workforce on site at any given time. Hotel and resort employees will be allowed to take leave only every 60 days to limit their movement between governorates, El Enany said. All employees will also be required to have their temperature checked on-site on a daily basis.

The decision to reopen our airspace doesn’t necessarily mean tourists will begin returning in droves right away, Enany told Adib (watch, runtime: 2:05). The speed at which activity picks up depends on consumer appetite (and financial ability) for travel, as well as the policies tour operators and airlines put in place, such as whether airlines will require a minimum number of seats to be filled per flight. The government has been working to gradually prepare for this reopening since last month, when it began licensing hotels to reopen to domestic tourists at reduced occupancy levels, he noted.

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Egypt, UK Brexit trade negotiations in final stages -Gamea: Negotiations between Egypt and the UK over the terms of a post-Brexit trade agreement are being finalized and the two sides will put pen to paper “in the coming period,” Trade Minister Nevine Gamea said at a roundtable hosted yesterday by the British Egyptian Business Association. Egypt wants to increase its agricultural exports to Britain under the pact, she said, without providing further details.

A trade agreement two years in the making: Trade talks have been ongoing since 2018, two years after the UK voted to leave the European Union — and with it, the bloc’s trade pact with Egypt, which removed trade barriers on agricultural and manufacturing goods. At the time, the UK was said to be looking to negotiate terms similar to those in the EU pact, while Egypt was pushing for ways to increase exports.

Also from Gamea: New export subsidies framework under review, gov’t postpones implementation: The government has postponed implementing a new scheme to support exporters following complaints about the executive regulations governing the subsidies disbursal mechanism, Gamea said. Lobbyists are looking to push for a return to an old framework that provided subsidies in cash, rather than the mixed model of cash payments and tax discount under the new scheme, we noted yesterday. Gamea didn’t specify when a revised program is planned to be implemented but export councils are reportedly pushing for changes to be made in time for the coming fiscal year, which starts on 1 July.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Coca-Cola Egypt is planning to invest EGP 1 bn this year to expand production capacity and increase sales outlets, a cabinet statement said yesterday. The plan is part of a wider strategy to invest EGP 5 bn over the coming five years, CEO Ahmed Elafifi said in a meeting and GAFI chairman Mohamed Abdel Wahab. Coca-Cola said in November that it planned to spend USD 500 mn on its Egypt operations over the coming three years after investing USD 500 mn between 2016 and 2019.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Sovereign fund mulls investment in state-owned pharma firm: The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) is considering investing in state-owned pharma company Chemical Industries Development (CID) through its newly-established healthcare fund, Al Mal reports, citing sources familiar with the matter. CID is one of a number of companies under consideration by the fund, according to the sources, who didn’t disclose when final decisions would be made.

Background: The SFE signed an MoU last month with New-York based Concord International Investments to set up a joint venture to manage a USD 300 mn healthcare fund focused on Egypt and the Middle East. The sub-fund aims to support the expansion of both public and private healthcare infrastructure projects, as well as set up export-driven healthcare ventures. The SFE said last month that it would be putting healthcare and pharma storage at the forefront of its sub-fund plans amid the covid-19 pandemic.

LEGISLATION WATCH- Rejoice, we’re about to have even more MPs: The House of Representatives’ general assembly signed off yesterday on amendments to the legislation regulating parliamentary elections that would increase the total number of parliamentary seats up for grabs to 568, from 540, according to Al Shorouk. The draft law would, if passed, allow the president to appoint 5% of MPs and would see the election of the remaining MPs split evenly between individual candidates and a list system. The bill has been shipped off to the Council of State (Maglis El Dawla) for legal review before coming back to parliament for a final vote.

Parliamentary elections are due to be held at the end of the year, before the sitting parliament completes its sixth and final legislative session.

STARTUP WATCH- CIB’s VC arm CVentures has made an undisclosed investment in US-based mobile security startup MagicCube, according to a statement (pdf). CVentures joins a group of investors led by Bold Capital, Epic Ventures, Sony, NTT Data, Azure Capital, Visa and Luqman Weise Capital. “We are delighted to see VC firms of large acquiring banks like CIB supporting the new paradigm of mobile and IoT security,” MagicCibe co-founders Nancy Zayed and Sam Shawki said. MagicCube offers a software-based “trusted execution environment” for mobile and internet of things devices, allowing businesses to process secure payments and protect personal data. The company says it wants to “disrupt the legacy payment terminals market, a USD 48 bn a year industry that merchants and banks are forced to participate in.”

Making payments easier is the goal, says CVentures director Shady Tadros: ““Hardware-based security has prevented banks and progressive retailers from trading archaic POS systems for modern, user-friendly consumer devices able to scan cards, digital wallets, and QR codes.”

STARTUP WATCH- Egyptian homebuying online platform Sakneen has raised USD 150k in pre-seed funding from US accelerator Y Combinator, co-founders Hussein El Kheshen and Ramy Khorshed told Enterprise in an exclusive interview. The company became one of the very few Egyptian startups to receive funding from the high-profile accelerator earlier this year, joining its Winter 2020 batch and receiving mentorship in California from January-March.

This is the first time the company has received outside funding: Until Y Combinator entered the fray the company had been entirely bootstrapped, said Khorshed, CEO of the company. “To receive this funding was super encouraging in terms of getting our first bit of institutional validation,” he added.

The funds have been directed towards building Sakneen’s web-based platform, which is expected to launch shortly. Sakneen aims to help real estate developers and agents connect directly with prospective homebuyers, and is now focused on bringing real estate developers ahead of the launch. One core goal is to make it easier for developers to showcase their available properties, which can be quickly uploaded to the company’s platform. “We’re essentially building a control panel for real estate developers, who can bring all their inventory online in the space of a few minutes,” said CTO El Kheshen.

More funding on the horizon: Khorshed is optimistic about securing more investments within the next year. “It will definitely be within the next year. Probably by the end of the calendar year, maybe even in the next two to three months,” he said.

STARTUP WATCH- Zedny launches with USD 1.2 mn pre-seed investment: Arabic-language learning and development platform Zedny.com launches today with a pre-seed investment of USD 1.2 secured from unnamed angel investors, the company said in a press release (pdf). The platform features over online courses, animated video summaries of business books, and 5k+ hours of learning using AI, machine learning, and gamification techniques to customize user experience.

STARTUP WATCH- Egypt-based Chefaa raises seven figure series A funding: AI driven pharmacy locator and on-demand medical delivery platform Chefaa has raised seven figures in pre-series A funding from 500 Startups, Vision Ventures, and Womena, according to Menabytes. The investment will be used to grow the company’s recently launched private and white-label products, its operations team, and help launch its B2B service to SMEs. Chefaa, which was founded in 2017 by Doaa Aref and Rasha Rady, secured a six figure investment in its seed round from Flat6Labs and 500 Startups.

LEGISLATION WATCH- SCZone working on new incentives for investors, amendments to special economic zones law: Officials from the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) are working with the government to introduce new incentives for investors through changes to the executive regulations of a law governing special economic zones, SCZone head Yehia Zaki said during a meeting with the House Economic Committee. A mixture of non-tax incentives and custom breaks could be on the cards, Zaki said, without providing specifics.

There’s a chance the legislation could get House approval this month: Draft legislation could be presented to the House in the coming two weeks, Al Masry Al Youm reported Zaki as saying. The SCZone first approached the cabinet with the plan in April.

Egyptian Media Production City to buy up to 10% in treasury stocks: The Egyptian Media Production City's board of directors has agreed to buyback 10% of the company’s shares over the next three months, according to a regulatory disclosure (pdf). A handful of companies have launched an unprecedented wave of buybacks over the past three months in response to the market turbulence that came in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic. The Financial Regulatory Authority eased rules in March allowing companies to complete same-day buybacks in a bid to support share prices.

EARNINGS WATCH- Arabian Cement profits triple in 1Q2020 to EGP 16 mn: Spending cuts helped Arabian Cement to deliver a threefold increase in net profit during 1Q2020 despite falling sales revenue. The company yesterday reported (pdf) EGP 15.91 mn in profit during the first three months of the year, up from EGP 5.98 mn a year ago, even as revenue fell 15% to EGP 702 mn. The company’s bottom line growth came as a result of substantial cuts to administration expenses and financing costs.

Ezz Steel plunges deeper into the red in 2019: Ezz Steel reported a EGP 7.9 bn loss in 2019, down from a EGP 1 bn loss in 2018, according to a regulatory disclosure (pdf). The company's sales fell slightly to EGP 45.7bn in 2019 from EGP 49.2 bn in 2018.

Amer Group reported net losses of EGP 8.45 mn in 1Q2020, from net profits of EGP 72.40 mn in 1Q2019, according to an EGX statement (pdf).

MOVES- Emad El Din Fawzy has been tapped as Maridive & Oil Services’ managing director, while Vice President Shahira Zeid will become chairman of the company’s board of directors, according to Al Masry Al Youm.

Foster the skills needed for our automated future, SAP Egypt Managing Director Hoda Mansour told us on this week's episode of Making It. With digital infrastructure and automation becoming the backbone of many businesses during the pandemic, Mansour highlights how hiring from outside the tech industry has been critical to SAP’s success in providing industry-specific software.

Tap or click here to listen to the episode on: Apple Podcast | Google Podcast | Our website | Omny. We’re also available on Spotify, but only for non-MENA accounts. Subscribe to Making It on your podcatcher of choice here.

A quick programming note: Making It is taking a publishing break this week and will return next week with the final episode of season two.

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Egypt in the News

The war of words over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is dominating the conversation on Egypt this morning, with both the Associated Press and AFP running with the story.

The Madbouly government must use its newly-acquired IMF funding to spend more on healthcare and provide food subsidies for those facing unemployment, beyond maintaining a macroeconomic standing that will enable it to keep borrowing, AUC’s Amr Adly argues in a Bloomberg op-ed.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Ethiopia calls Egypt’s comments on GERD talks “regrettable,” reaffirms committing to “good faith” discussions: The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said yesterday it remains committed to engaging in “good faith” negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), and denounced Egypt’s accusations earlier this week that Addis Ababa showed a “lack in political will to reach a fair agreement.” Ethiopia denied it is seeking sole discretion in Nile water allocation and said it will continue to abide by the Declaration of Principles signed by all three parties in March 2015 to guide continued talks. The statement blames tensions in the talks on “Egypt’s obstinacy to maintain a colonial based water allocation agreement.”

Talks are expected to continue trudging along today, despite the rising tensions (and threats of war): Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have all confirmed that Grand Ethipian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations will proceed as scheduled with the next meeting slated for today, according to an Irrigation Ministry spokesperson statement. Ethiopia’s deputy army chief raised the spectre of war on Saturday, saying “Egyptians know too well how we conduct war whenever it comes.” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said last October that his country could “mobilize mns” to fight if Egypt took military action against the dam.

Egypt will resume poultry exports for the first time in 14 years after being added to a World Organization for Animal Health list of countries with avian flu-free facilities, according to an Agriculture Ministry statement. Poultry exports were suspended in 2006 during the avian flu outbreak.

blackboard

Faced with rising costs, some private schools are pushing for higher fees next year, to the chagrin of parents and MPs: The prospect of implementing blended learning next academic year and the accompanying costs have pushed some private national schools to demand overdue fees and request that parents begin paying early installments for the 2020-21 academic year. Now some of them are suggesting that the government consider raising the tuition hike cap. Parents, who have been lobbying the government and the House of Representatives to defer installments on this year’s fees, have reacted by redoubling their efforts to block aggressive moves to collect fees. Lawmakers have responded in kind, suggesting a push for greater ministerial control over school finances.

But not all private schools agree: Top tier private and international schools (who charge more on tuition) do not agree with locking down next year’s tuition early and raising tuition prices beyond 7%. They appear to be taking the opposite approach of continuing to provide payment facilities to parents and continue to invest in providing higher quality education. Not surprisingly, they’re getting a very different reaction from parents.

Since we last covered the story, the dispute over school fee relief for the academic year now ending has extended to the 2020-21 year — and has escalated. Parents at private schools had requested a deferment of at least 15% of total 2019-2020 tuition fees and a refund of some services that their children did not receive during the lockdown, including bus fees and activities. However, the uncertainty surrounding the new academic year has pushed some national private schools to seek early and higher payments for the 2020-21 academic year, the deputy chairman of the Private Schools Owners Association Badawy Allam told Enterprise. Parents’ groups on social media have alleged that some schools that are demanding early payment are raising the price of total fees (though not tuition, which is regulated by the ministry). Others are offering discounts of 10-20% of total fees if they make down payments in May and June, El Mandouh El Husseiny, who heads up the Private Schools Owners Association, tells us.

Some schools are now requesting that the ministry explore allowing them to raise tuition beyond the 7% it allowed last year to keep up with the costs of blended learning. “We are looking to hold a meeting with the Education Ministry to implore them to factor in the added costs of blended learning when deciding on tuition fees,” El Husseiny tells us. He made sure to note that the request will not be made on behalf of top tier international schools, which he previously said make up around 260 of the 8k private schools operating in Egypt.

How much is blended learning going to cost private schools next year? Schools across all tuition tiers are expected to see an 8-10% increase in costs associated with implementing blended learning, El Husseiny tells us. Officials at international schools tell us that those costs could be in excess of 10%. International schools have to bear the cost of paying foreign teachers in USD, so they have to incur FX losses from any depreciation of the EGP that results from covid, one school owner tells us. That alone could see an international school’s costs rise 10-12%, as salaries can make up around 70% of a school’s expenses.

There’s the costs of sanitizing the schools: Schools must be ready to disinfect students every morning and buildings every night, Allam said. He noted that his schools bought disinfection gates that cost him EGP 25k/unit. To avoid long lines at gates, he had to buy several of them. Other schools opted for more expensive gates that could cost up to EGP 200k. On top of this, the cost of disinfecting buildings on a daily basis cost Allam EGP 10k per day.

…and the costs of maintaining safe distances on-site: Schools with higher density, however, may be forced to take more radical solutions, including building new classes to maintain safe distancing, Allam said. Otherwise schools may have to let students go, which they legally cannot do. That means they will need to look for land and pay for further construction.

E-learning comes with its costs as well: Teachers will be paid for longer hours as they work at schools and at homes, and the schools will have to invest in faster internet packages with higher data caps, Allam explained. Savings made from not having run school facilities get eaten up by running online and in-class lessons in tandem, CIRA CEO Mohamed El Kalla told us. While a school can save 2-3% from not operating a facility, “running an online platform and school at the same time will result in at least a 4% increase in costs,” he added.

Nonetheless, parents have taken to social media and are pushing policymakers to address fee hikes and early payment requests. They’re also continuing to lobby for a deferment of this year’s fees. Egyptian Mothers Federation founder Abir Ahmed told Enterprise that they are trying to bring in the ministry to intervene to cap the tuition fee increase and put a clear timetable for installments in consideration of the parents’ financial situation that has been severely hit by the pandemic.

Now MPs are calling for greater supervision of private school finances to guard against a potential hike in tuition. Rep. Tarek Metwally requested a talk with Education Minister Tarek Shawky over the dispute, he tells us. Metwally proposed a regulatory framework that would give the government access to private schools’ bank accounts to ensure that they abide by the annual increase rate.

In a world where no one wins, a collaborative approach by top-tier private and international schools is going a long way towards diffusing a tense situation. “We’re working to give parents an improved payment structure or installment plan compared to what we have going right now,” GEMS Egypt CEO Ahmed Wahby tells Enterprise. GEMS is leveraging its connections to financial institutions, especially with EFG Hermes, to help its customers make payments. “We’ve also been working with Payfort, Klickit, and CIB to help parents get longer term financing at better rates,” he tells us. Meanwhile, CIRA is allowing parents who haven’t yet paid the second or third instalments to do so over the next 5-6 months, El Kalla tells us. It is worth noting that a number of mid-tier schools have been making similar offers to parents working in hard hit sectors, such as tourism, according to Allam.

They’re showing a willingness to take a short-term hit for a long-term gain, with some opposing raising tuition caps next year. “At this point in time, I wouldn’t suggest giving schools the flexibility to determine tuition increases themselves because of the economic situation,” said El Kalla. “I would keep the same cap moving forward as it is in line with inflation,” he added. Wahby agrees. “If we take into consideration the context of the times, this is not the right time to try to raise tuition fees beyond the cap, for sure. I recommend keeping it as is. let us be as fair as possible to parents.”

Schools want to be included in discussions — and for the ministry to allow schools some degree in flexibility when implementing blended learning. “I would urge the ministry to hold a proper stakeholder consultation with different tiers of schools before they make a decision on the tuition cap increase next year,” said El Kalla. “There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to schools, so the ministry has to recognise the variety in how schools operate,” he added. Some schools may not need blended learning as their class densities are too low. Furthermore, as the situation evolves, schools may need to adapt to any changes in policy that could come from covid-19. So a degree of flexibility has to be given, he argues.

…And clarity on a decision ASAP: “More important than the fee structure, I will need a clear direction on what schools are doing in fall from the ministry as soon as possible,” Wahby says. El Kalla would like to get clarity by early August at the latest.

The bottom line: Parents appreciate straight talk, El Kalla says: “By communicating to parents that we cannot set tuition without clarity, parents have shown understanding. They tend to see this straight forward communication as a comforting thing,” El Kalla said.

Your top education stories of the week:

  • Egypt jumps four places in SCImago university research rankings: Egypt now ranks 32 out of 231 in Spain-based SCImago Journal Rank’s (SJR) 2019 list of countries with the highest number of published and cited scientific papers.
  • Universities allowed to teach electronically: Cabinet has approved amendments to the executive regulations of the Universities Act allowing higher education institutions to use e-learning platforms and distance learning to teach entire curricula.
  • Schools designated as Thanaweya Amma exam centers are being given face masks ahead of the examination period, which begins on 21 June.
  • Private school parents are continuing to call for lower tuition hikes next academic year as it’s still unclear how the year will play out due to the pandemic.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 16.13 | Sell 16.23
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 16.13 | Sell 16.23
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 16.11 | Sell 16.21

EGX30 (Sunday): 10,731 (-0.9%)
Turnover: EGP 780 mn (3% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -23.1%

THE MARKET ON SUNDAY: The EGX30 ended Sunday’s session down 0.9%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended down 0.2%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Orascom Development up 3.5%, Kima up 1.6%, and Orascom Construction up 1.4%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Credit Agricole down 3.3%, Pioneers Holding down 3.3% and Eastern Co down 3.2%. Market turnover was barely EGP 780 mn, and domestic investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Short | EGP -28.9 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -9.4 mn
Domestic: Net Long | EGP +38.3 mn

Retail: 76.8% of total trades | 77.7% of buyers | 75.9% of sellers
Institutions: 23.2% of total trades | 22.3% of buyers | 24.1% of sellers

WTI: USD 35.35 (-2.51%)
Brent: USD 38.03 (-1.81%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 1.74 MMBtu (+0.75%, July 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,741.80 / troy ounce (+0.26%)

TASI: 7,292.54 (-0.24%) (YTD: -13.07%)
ADX: 4,276.40 (-0.43%) (YTD: -15.75%)
DFM: 2,091.86 (-0.54%) (YTD: -24.34%)
KSE Premier Market: 5,347.35 (-3.16%)
QE: 9,184.86 (-0.53%) (YTD: -11.90%)
MSM: 3,520.05 (+0.18%) (YTD: -11.58%)
BB: 1,274.24 (-0.48%) (YTD: -20.86%)

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Calendar

17 June (Wednesday): The Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism and Arab Tourism Organization meet to discuss recommendations on covid-19 relief packages.

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

30 June (Tuesday): Anniversary of the June 2013 protests, national holiday.

1 July (Wednesday): Official reopening of Egypt’s airspace to inbound and outbound international flights.

12 July (Sunday): North Cairo Court will hold a court session for the international arbitration case filed by Syrian Antrados against Porto Group for USD 176 mn after being pushed back from an initial 17 May court date.

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.