Wednesday, 14 October 2020

No lockdown if there’s a second wave –Health minister

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

Good morning, wonderful people. The big news of the day: We may still face a second wave of covid-19, but we’re not going back into lockdown, according to Health Minister Hala Zayed, who spoke at a regional World Health Organization meeting yesterday (watch, runtime: 1:08:26). The government plans to respond instead to clusters or specific areas that see surges in case numbers, the minister said. Officials will also leave in place (and presumably tune up or down) measures designed to slow the spread of the virus, including capacity limits on restaurants and the like.

A little covid distraction for you: Expect TV with less violence and less seekoseeko as production resumes on big-name shows that hope to return to your small screen in 2021, among them Stranger Things, Bosch, Succession, the Morning Show and Grey’s Anatomy (which is apparently in its ten-thousandth season?). This piece from the WSJ has you covered. And while we have your attention: If you’re a big fan of TV and think about things like social mobility, this is one of the best meditations on the small screen we’ve ever read: Everything know about elite America I learned from “Fresh Prince” and “West Wing.”

We now have a full Senate ahead of next Sunday’s inaugural session, after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi named the final 100 members by presidential appointment. Nationwide elections held in August and September saw 200 representatives elected.

Among the most prominent figures El Sisi selected: Well-known attorney Hani Sarie Eldin, El Wafd Party chairman Bahaa Abu Shouka, journalist, PR man, talk show host and former MP Mohamed Sherdy, AMAY Chairman Abdel Moneim Said, and veteran actor Yehia El Fakharany. More of the appointments are available on Al Masry Al Youm.

TODAY IN ESG: P&G is under fire from investors including BlackRock, which backed an “unusually big investor rebellion” and voted in favor of a shareholder resolution that took aim at how the multinational giant “uses palm oil and forest pulp in products including Bounty paper towels and Charmin toilet paper.” The Financial Times has the full story.

** MUST READ- This morning’s Hard Hat, presented in association with Orascom Construction, which brings to life the government’s plans to give the Giza Pyramids Plateau a makeover as part of Egypt’s tourism revival strategy. In part 1 of this two-part series, we look at what the overhaul entails — and what we can expect once it’s complete. We want a time machine to visit the final product — it’s that interesting.


The Health Ministry reported 139 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 132 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 104,787 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 9 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 6,071. We now have a total of 97,841 confirmed cases that have fully recovered.

The country now has 600 hospitals equipped to handle covid-19, some of which were recently upgraded, Health Minister Hala Zayed said. These include an “extensive network” of chest and fever hospitals, Health Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed told Yahduth fi Misr’s Sherif Amer yesterday (watch, runtime: 3:55). Meanwhile, Egypt also now has 61 testing labs that can handle 30k samples a day — and within a week, we could have 81 labs ready to process a combined 50k samples per day, Zayed said. The minister also noted that some 56% of Egypt’s reported deaths from covid-19 were patients with chronic illnesses, and that those with chronic conditions or immunodeficiency, the elderly, and pregnant women will be prioritized when Egypt secures a vaccine.

Saudi Airlines will resume flights between Jeddah, Cairo and Alexandria tomorrow, according to a statement.

The CIB Foundation will be covering EGP 10 mn in expenses for 100 open heart surgeries at the Al Nas children’s hospital as part of an agreement with the medical institution, according to a CIB Foundation statement (pdf).

European governments are tightening restrictions after infection numbers jumped by 34% last week to hit new record highs, the Associated Press reports. Stopping short of returning to nationwide lockdowns, Italy, France, and the UK have restricted gatherings and put limits on the opening times of restaurants and bars. The measures come as the EU produced a map with color codes differentiating areas based on risk that will help determine who has to quarantine when moving from zone to zone.

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WORLD ENERGY OUTLOOK- Global energy demand is on track to reach its lowest levels of growth since the Great Depression as “hopes for a rapid halt to the global spread of the coronavirus and its economic fallout have dissipated,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its World Energy Outlook. After projecting 12% growth in demand between 2019 and 2030 prior to the pandemic, the organization is now forecasting growth of 9% as a base case scenario and 4% if recovery from the virus is more protracted than expected. In either case, the group is expecting “oil demand growth will come to an end in the next 10 years,” IEA chief Fatih Birol told the FT. The IEA’s forecast comes a month after BP suggested that the pandemic may have pushed us past peak demand, possibly leaving the industry facing a terminal decline in the years ahead.

Moody’s has downgraded Dubai education outfit GEMS’ credit rating, citing the “negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the economic environment in the UAE, and in Dubai in particular,” the ratings agency said yesterday. The Middle East’s largest private education provider is facing lower revenues as the number of foreign students falls and parents with children under five postpone entry, Moody’s said. GEMS said in August it would invest EGP 1 bn to add four additional schools to its Egypt portfolio.

The EU can impose tariffs on USD 4 bn of US goods in response to subsidies given to Boeing after being given the green light from the World Trade Organization yesterday, Reuters reports. The EU could now move to impose tariffs on a range of goods including wine, spirits, suitcases, tractors, frozen fish, as well as agricultural produce.

3Q earnings season kicked off in the US of A yesterday and the titans of finance are doing okay even as the rest of the economy smolders: JPMorgan Chase saw 4% growth in 3Q profits as it booked much lower provisions, while fund manager BlackRock saw net income grow 27%.


US ELECTION WATCH- Investors are banking on a “blue wave” sweeping the Republicans out of the White House and Congress: US investors have swarmed to small-caps this month — which had been underperforming compared to large-caps — in preparation for a dominant Democratic victory in next month’s presidential election, according to the Financial Times. Trump’s chances of reelection seem to have tanked following a historically-bad debate performance and the coronavirus outbreak in the White House, with the Biden campaign this month opening up a huge 10-point lead this month according to polling averages. A Reuters-Ipsos poll shows the Democratic candidate is well ahead of Trump in Michigan, and the two are tied in North Carolina. In response, investors moving out of safer assets for small-caps in anticipation of a big fiscal package passed by a Democratic congressional majority and Joe Biden presidency.


If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that a little kindness goes a long way. Enter new charity app Rahma Initiative: Homegrown Egyptian app Rahma Initiative is set to launch shortly, and aims to raise the profile of charitable causes, share facts and stories, and simplify the donation process. We know the folks behind Rahma, and they’re legit — this one is worth checking out on the IG.

The iPhone 12 has arrived, and it’s packed with stuff photographers will like — but the real crowd pleasers will be the snap-on accessories and wireless charging. The tentpole for the announcement was 5G, but given we here in Egypt have heard … exactly nothing about 5G in the past five years? It’s all about the accessories (and the four different sizes), folks. The Verge has a rundown on the seven biggest announcements from last night (spoiler alert: no tags, no new Mac running Apple silicon), the WSJ’s Joanna Stern helps you sort out which of the four sizes is for you and the paper’s Nicole Nguyenhas a first impressions piece. The front pages of 9to5Mac and MacRumors are wall-to-wall coverage this morning.

Photography nerds will be waiting today to see what Nikon is stuffing inside the refreshes of its Z6 and Z7 models, which look (nearly) physically identical to their predecessors, and Fujifilm is also expected to announce a new midrange camera this week.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

The talking heads had plenty to mull yesterday thanks to an active news cycle, but no single story dominated the conversation.

The IMF’s upwards revision of its forecast for Egypt’s GDP growth in the World Economic Outlook, which was released yesterday, earned airtime on Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 1:42) and Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 2:30). We have chapter and verse on the report in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Egypt being the Middle Eastern economy whose economy will grow this year was a focal point of International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat’s speech at the G24 Ministers and Governors Meeting yesterday during the IMF and World Bank’s annual meetings. Our ability to eke out growth is largely thanks to large-scale infrastructure projects, including those with private sector participation, in electricity, renewable energy, water desalination, and social housing, Al Mashat told Yahduth fi Misr’s Sherif Amer. Meanwhile, on the funding side, Al Mashat called on international institutions to diversify their financing tools to give countries the support they need to recover from the pandemic (watch, runtime: 13:23). We also have more on Al Mashat’s participation in yesterday’s meeting in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

On the covid-19 front, Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi took note of Health Minister Hala Zayed saying yesterday that Egypt will not return to a lockdown if cases begin to spike again (watch, runtime: 2:02). We have more on the story and Zayed’s other remarks at the WHO Regional Committee meeting for the Eastern Mediterranean Region in What We’re Tracking Today, above.

We still don’t have an ETA for the Chinese-developed vaccine, which is currently in phase three clinical trials in Egypt, advisor to the Health Minister Noha Assem told Lamees (watch, runtime: 7:33). Once the trials are complete, Egypt plans to begin producing the vaccine as soon as the full trials are complete and the vaccine is proven effective, Assem said (watch, runtime: 1:45).

Speed Round

IMF warns of long, slow recovery as it eases global recession forecast: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) now sees the world’s GDP contracting at a 4.4% pace — an improvement from the 4.9% it projected in its June outlook — after economies coming out of lockdown showed improved trade, retail activity, and growth figures, it said yesterday in its October World Economic Outlook (pdf). Launching the report titled “A long and difficult ascent,” the fund’s chief economist Gita Golpinath warned that the economic recovery will be “long, uneven and uncertain” as the pandemic continues to spread and countries begin to reintroduce lockdown measures. Many countries will see “lasting damage” to output, inflicting a “major setback” to living standards, she said, adding that the process of transferring workers from sectors at risk of long-term decline such as travel to growing industries like digital technology will require significant policy support.

The IMF has downgraded its outlook for 2021, saying it sees the global economy growing 5.2% and not the 5.4% it had previously forecast due to expectations that some restrictions on movement and social distancing may remain in place well into next year. The global economy experienced a “strong rebound in the third quarter, but slowing momentum entering the fourth quarter” as new infections rose across many developed economies, the report says.

The G20 group of countries, meanwhile, are expected to come out with statements today saying that the outlook for the global economy is less negative, according to a draft statement seen by Reuters. Steps taken to stimulate a recovery have paid off, and that the G20 is prepared to help if needed, reads the statement. Financial leaders from the world's top 20 economies will hold a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers virtually today to discuss pressing challenges as the pandemic will cause an output contraction this year.

How is Egypt faring in all of this? The IMF upgraded its growth projections for Omm El Donia to 3.5% this year from its 2% forecast in June. It left its 2021 forecast for 2.8% growth unchanged but sees output rising at a 5.8% clip by 2025.

Egypt is one of just three Middle East and Central Asia economies that won’t shrink this year. On the flipside, the IMF sees the country’s current account deficit widening to 4.2% of GDP in 2021 from 3.2% this year, and lists Egypt among several countries that are particularly vulnerable to a decline in remittance flows. It also predicts the unemployment rate to rise to 9.7% next year from 8.6% in 2019.

Emerging economies will lead global growth next year: Emerging economies are likely to contract 3.3% this year, a 0.2% downgrade from what the fund had projected in June, but this will be followed by 6% growth in 2021. This is above 2021 global growth forecasts and markedly higher than the 3.9% growth the fund is projecting for advanced economies. The hit to tourism, remittances and foreign debt hangs a dark cloud over emerging markets, the prospects for which “remain precarious,” the report said.

Governments across the world are going to have to step it up in the months ahead: Direct income support to those who’ve seen lost wages and unemployment insurance are some of the measures the IMF is recommending to help cushion declining spending. In terms of monetary policy the IMF is urging central banks in emerging markets that “launch asset purchases to communicate clearly the objectives of the program and its consistency with price stability objectives” to reduce the potential for inflation and capital flight.

EXCLUSIVE- Mercedes-Benz could resume assembling its passenger car models in Egypt “very soon” after a five-year hiatus, two sources in government tell Enterprise. The company said in September 2019 that it expected to produce its first locally assembled vehicle in years by the second half of 2020 and added at the time that production would “focus on SUVs that are not yet available in the Egyptian market.” The company now seems to have passed a turning point.

The German luxury car maker imported two shipments earlier this week including assembly inputs, spare parts, and fully-assembled vehicles, one of the sources said. A number of sticking points, including the regulations that would allow Mercedes-Benz to assemble its vehicles at a local partner’s facilities while still enjoying customs incentives, have now been resolved after months of talks with the Customs Authority and Trade Ministry, the sources noted. Mercedes now has the green light to resume its assembly operations in partnership with the Egyptian German Automotive Company (EGA). Mercedes Egypt did not respond yesterday to a request for comment.

Did new customs breaks play a role? While the covid-19 pandemic and trade disruptions have slowed Mercedes’ plans to return to the country, a recent decision cutting the value of local components needed to qualify for customs breaks pushed it to expedite the process, the sources said. Under that decision, the local component threshold that allows importers to claim customs discounts of up to 90% was lowered from 30% to 10% in the final product. The government has also agreed to provide the company with additional breaks on imported production inputs provided it exports parts made in Egypt, one of the sources said. Mercedes will also benefit from the European partnership agreement allowing it to import European-made components without paying any custom duties.

Background: The luxury car maker had shut down its local assembly in Egypt in mid-2015, saying at the time that Egypt’s freetrade agreement with the EU — which saw tariffs on European cars to zero as of 1 January 2019 — would make it economically infeasible to continue its local assembly operations here long-term. Egypt was the company’s fastest-growing market in 2019. The company has discussed going into the SCZone with a logistics base. The Madbouly Cabinet’s dispute resolution committee ruled in favor of an importer of Mercedes-Benz vehicles in its EGP 700 mn dispute with Egypt’s Customs Authority.

INVESTMENT WATCH- RMBV about to hit the road to raise a USD 300 mn fund that will target the Middle East and North Africa, with up to 40% of its investments earmarked for Egypt, RMVB Managing Partner Ahmed Badreldin told Al Mal. The fund will begin courting international institutions in 2021, Badreldin said. The European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Finance Corporation, Proparco, the German Investment Corporation (DEG), and the Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets are on the list of potential limited partners, the story suggests. The new fund will invest in food, healthcare, education as well as tech. Badreldin did not specify when the fund expects to launch.

Background: RMBV, which is domiciled in the Netherlands, currently manages funds and has AUM of c. USD 400 mn invested in a current portfolio of 22 companies. RMBV’s six investments in Egypt include the Cleopatra Hospital Group (where Badreldin is now non-executive chairman) and Nahda University.

In other investment news, Nestlé will invest CHF 30 mn (c. USD 32.8 mn) in Egypt through 2022 to expand its local business, Nestlé Egypt CEO Moataz El Hout tells Amwal Al Ghad. The investments will include setting up new Nescafé and Maggi seasoning production lines, El Hout said.

Google is offering a total of USD 2 mn worth of loans (and a slice of USD 10 mn in grants) to help Egyptian small businesses. The tech giant has earmarked USD 2 mn to fund loans to small businesses in Egypt through its new “Grow Stronger with Google” program, which it launched yesterday, Country Manager for Egypt Hisham El Nazer said. The company expects up to 1 mn people to benefit from a combination of loans, grants and training initiatives it is launching — all of them, it says, geared to accelerate economic recovery across the MENA region by helping businesses and individuals acquire digital skills, develop their businesses, and go digital.

Google will be funneling the loans through US-based microfinance company Kiva, which will on-lend a total of USD 3 mn to thousands of businesses across the MENA region through the end of 2021.

About the loans: Each business or individual will be eligible for anywhere between USD 200 and USD 5k, depending on an assessment to best determine their needs, El Nazer told Enterprise. The loans will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and will not be limited to businesses of a certain size or in any specific industry. The program is, however, aimed to support businesses across a wide geographical base, he noted. The interest rate on the loans, which will carry a two-year tenor, has yet to be determined.

There’s also c.USD 10.1 mn-worth of grants up for grabs: Google has also pledged another USD 9 mn in ad credits and grants to businesses and government entities in the region through the program, El Nazer said. Some 800 businesses in Egypt will also get a combined USD 350k in grants that will be delivered through Misr El Kheir, while 20k entrepreneurs and job seekers in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE’s tourism and travel industries are each getting a piece of another USD 350k grant package from Google.org. A third USD 350k grant package will be distributed to small businesses in the region that lack resources for consultations.

In Egypt, the Grow Stronger with Google program will focus largely on honing digital skills and providing cloud training to small business owners. Through the program, Google will provide digital marketing training to 100k students, artisans, and businesses in the country in partnership with the Tourism and Antiquities Ministry, the Youth and Sports Ministry, and the Egyptian Tourism Federation. Another 70k developers — particularly women — will also get advanced training on digital skills such as flutter machine learning. Separately, Google will train 1k employees at the ministries of tourism and youth. These training programs are aimed at developing skill sets among job seekers and small business owners to best equip them with the tools they need to adapt to an increasingly digital job market, El Nazer said.

Aside from training, Google has launched its new Market Finder product, which helps businesses reach new markets and attract global customers.

The program “is our largest in the MENA region and our biggest financial commitment,” El Nazer said. Google has plans to announce a number of local partnerships and programs “for individuals and businesses in the coming months to help the domestic economy face the persistent challenges resulting from the pandemic,” he said.

The upside of the pandemic: A renewed focus on the importance of digital skills in the job market. The most in-demand jobs in Egypt have shifted over the past seven months towards software developers, project managers, IT managers, and digital marketing specialists, El Nazer said. This increased demand for a digitally-skilled workforce came in tandem with an uptick in overall reliance on technology in businesses, including for the shift to remote work amid nationwide lockdowns and to continue offering services remotely — such as telemedicine, he said.

The tech giant has separately been working to ensure it has strong privacy protections in place to protect users and enhance transparency, El Nazer said. “We are happy to have been consulted as part of the process of drafting the data privacy law in Egypt which allowed us to share international best practices.”

M&A WATCH- The new, slimmer HCCD: The state-owned Holding Company for Construction and Development (HCCD) is merging 11 of its subsidiary companies into just five in a bid to streamline the company and make it more efficient, Chairman Hesham Aboul Atta tells Enterprise. The company has completed the merger of six of its subsidiaries into just two and will merge six others into three by next week, he said. Combining the companies — many of which operate in the same sectors and have overlapping operations — will improve HCCD’s efficiency and profitability, he said.

The breakdown:

  • A construction arm will be made of Cairo Contracting and Real Estate Investment, General Construction Co. Rolin, and the General Egyptian Buildings Co.;
  • A contracting and building materials arm will be composed of Atlas General Contracting and Real Estate Investments, Air Condition & Elevator Works Co., Misr Concrete Development Co., and the Egyptian Contracting Co. El Abd;
  • An electricity arm will see the merger of High Dam Electrical and Industrial Projects Co. (Hideleco) and the General Company For Electrical Projects (Eleject);
  • An infrastructure arm will consist of El Nasr Building and Construction Co. (Egyco) and Ramses Agricultural Projects Management;
  • A major construction arm will be made of Nasr General Contracting Co. along with the Arab Co. for Foundations (Vibro).

On a related note: HCCD’s subsidiary Heliopolis Housing and Development (HDD) is not seeking a loan for the first year in its five-year development strategy that was unveiled earlier this week, Aboul Atta said. Instead, the company is in negotiations with a number of banks to secure funding for its pipeline of projects without adding to its debt burden, he said, declining to explain how the transaction might work until an agreement is reached.

HHD’s strategy will see the company develop EGP 100 bn of assets through partnerships with private developers after scrapping plans to sell a stake with management rights earlier this year. The strategy focuses on putting the development of the first phases of the New Heliopolis and Heliopark projects on track before the end of 2021, before raising the company’s capital by as much as EGP 1.2 bn to finance later phases.

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M&A WATCH- HeidelbergCement and Suez Cement’s MTOs for the remaining stakes in their subsidiaries got the regulatory greenlight from the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) yesterday, according to two separate regulatory filings (here and here — pdfs). HeidelbergCement is lodging a mandatory tender offer for 33% of its Egypt subsidiary, Suez Cement, while Suez is looking to acquire a 28% stake in its subsidiary Tourah Portland Cement Company (Tourah Cement). The offers which value the 33% stake in Suez at over EGP 448 mn and the 28% stake in Tourah Cement at c. EGP 144 mn.

Advisors: EFG Hermes is acting as financial advisor on both MTOs, while Grant Thornton Mohamed Hilal was tapped to determine a fair value for the target companies, Al Mal reports (here and here) EFG Hermes’ brokerage arm, meanwhile, will execute the MTO on the EGX, the newspaper says.

The international community must agree on an alternative to Libor before it is phased out by the end of 2021, said International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat during the World Bank’s annual meeting yesterday, according to a ministry statement. Speaking during a virtual session on the transition from Libor, Al Mashat called on global financial chiefs to settle on a replacement benchmark to avoid disruption when the rate officially expires at the end of next year.

Wait, what is Libor? Standing for the London interbank offered rate, Libor is the benchmark interest rate for interbank borrowing, and determines borrowing rates for public and private loans, bonds, credit cards and derivatives around the world. It is often referred to as the "world's most important number" because of the sheer volume of financial instruments that are based on it, with some putting the figure at USD 350 tn. Put simply, it’s a huge financial shift that could cause chaos if the rates on these debts are not readjusted in an orderly way.

Why is it expiring? The UK regulator, which oversees the rate, announced in 2017 that it would be phased out next in favor of a more reliable alternative following the revelations in 2012 that some of the world’s largest banks had colluded to rig the rate for almost a decade.

What Al Mashat said: The minister warned that the transition to the post-Libor world could disrupt debt payments by governments and the private sector, and urged international institutions to work with the World Bank to agree on how debts will be recalculated before the end of next year. She also called for the terms on existing contracts to be amended and for policymakers to take steps to mitigate the potential risks.

Regulators worldwide have been working to develop alternatives to Libor: The US is planning to adopt the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR), based on overnight transactions secured by US treasuries, making the rate virtually risk-free and resulting in a lower rate than Libor. The UK plans to transition to the Sterling Overnight Index Average, which operates similarly. Japan has also developed its own risk-free rate (TONAR) while the Euro and Swiss Franc will rely on EONIA and SARON respectively.

We sat down with Al Mashat for the first episode of our podcast series Enterprise After Hours, which you can read here. You can listen to the episode on our website, or on Apple Podcasts.

LEGISLATION WATCH- SME lenders are now subject to the Microfinance Act now that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi ratified amendments to the law yesterday. The amendments raise the maximum value of a micro-loan to a single company or project to EGP 200k from EGP 100k, according to a summary of the final draft by El Dostour. They should take effect once amended executive regulations for the law are published.

Other elements: The changes, which received a final nod from the House of Representatives last month, mean all stipulations in the 2014 microfinance law (pdf) aimed at regulating microfinance activity — including articles pertaining to lenders’ technical and risk management capabilities — now apply to SME lenders. They introduce a EGP 20 mn capital requirement for SME lenders, and keep the requirement for microfinance counterparts at EGP 5 mn, as well as allow SME finance providers to be members of a rebranded Egyptian Microfinance Federation.

STARTUP WATCH- B2B e-commerce platform Fatura is expanding to 10 governorates across Egypt to cover all regions including Greater Cairo, Alexandria, Delta, Upper Egypt, and the Canal, the company said in a press release (pdf). Fatura aims to become the leading provider of B2B payment solutions, connecting all stakeholders in the FMCG industry through this“aggressive” expansion plan, which came after the company raised more than USD 1 mn in July in its first funding round led by Disruptech, reads the release.

MOVES- CIB’s Chief Sustainability Officer Dalia Abdel Kader was elected as a MENA representative on the Banking Board for the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB), according to a statement carried by Al Mal. PRB is a framework launched by the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI) where member banks make pledges to take climate action.

Mohamed Abdel Karim is now the CEO of the Industrial Modernization Centre, succeeding Amr Taha, whose term ended on 7 October, Trade and Industry Minister Nevine Gamea told Youm7.

Egypt in the News

It’s crickets for Egypt in the pages of the international press this morning. Rejoice, and move along.

Worth Listening

Is it falafel or taamiya? When building the Zooba brand, CEO Chris Khalifa took the risk of setting Egyptian street food apart from Middle Eastern cuisine. With a franchise agreement in the GCC and a successful outpost in New York City — not to mention seven local branches in Egypt — this strategy proved successful.

You already have a podcast player on your iPhone, or you can listen to the episode through our website (no download required). We’re also on Google Podcast | Anghami | Omny. Making It is on Spotify, but only for non-MENA accounts.

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The Giza pyramids area is getting a major makeover — here’s how: Tourism has for long been a major pillar in the Egyptian economy, contributing some 11.3% to GDP, while securing 19.3% of Egypt’s hard currency and employing over 12.6% of the total workforce, according to the Tourism Development Authority. Tourism in Egypt can hardly be decoupled from the Giza Pyramids, but that being said, the image that comes to mind has not always lived up to the heritage site’s potential. A 2015 Tourism Ministry poll of tourists found that 58% felt the pyramids area is not safe, while 70% said it is unclean, and 74% pointed to a lack of clear signage, according to Al Monitor. With that in mind, the government launched a massive plan to completely overhaul the area.

Giving the Pyramids Plateau a complete makeover has been a major element of Egypt’s tourism revival strategy. The plan involves everything from the roads leading to the last-standing wonder of the ancient world to every small booth selling souvenirs, according to Ashraf Mohi El Din, who is director of Pyramids Area Antiquities at the ministry. In part 1 of this two-part series, we look at what the plan entails, and what you can expect once the project has been completed.

The end goal is to boost tourism traffic to the pyramids to over 8 mn visitors annually. Infrastructure developments at the plateau aim to support 2 mn tourists in the first year of its opening, then 5 mn tourists within three years. But the infrastructure is designed to accommodate 8 mn tourists in the future, Mohi El Din tells us.

Background: Developing the Pyramids Plateau has always been on the mind of tourism ministers. The current project, however, had started back in January 2009 and was due to be completed in 2012, according to Egypt’s Projects Map. The project was suspended during the turmoil that followed 2011 before being revived in 2018.

What can we expect when all is said and done? The Giza Vision 2030 encompasses the Pyramids Plateau development plan, the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), an open Sphinx Museum, and the Khufu Avenue, which would extend along 8 km linking Sphinx Square in Mohandiseen to the Pyramids, along with a monorail covering the same distance. But the project does not stop at bricks and stones. It will also overhaul the current Nazlet El Seman area and rebrand it as Sphinx Village to afford a better quality of life for its residents.

Arriving at the area: A complete overhaul of the transportation modes in the area will change the experience of just getting there. If you are flying in, a flight that lands in Sphinx International Airport will be a 20-minute drive away from the pyramids. Are you a VIP? There’s a helipad waiting for you with a capacity of 4 choppers, Mohi El Din says. And if you are driving, get ready to see the pyramids from 10 km away if you take the Khufu Avenue linking Sphinx Square in Mohandeseen to the plateau, according to Giza Vision 2030. Soon enough, you will be able to take a quick metro ride and exit right by the new entrance, the construction of which is slated to begin at the end of the year, Al Masry Al Youm reported, citing an unnamed source.

No more long lines: The new massive 4 sqkm visitor centers located by the new main entrance on Fayoum Road will have 12 ticket windows, including two for people with special needs, four for Egyptians, and six for foreigners, in addition to three windows offering tickets for students. The information center will also feature a 150-seat theatre that offers a brief documentary for visitors. Some 18 gift shops will be available on site, along with a small café and restaurant, a clinic, and toilets, Waad Aboul Ela, head of the projects department at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the person in charge of the project, tells Enterprise. Some of these services are already up for grabs for investors, according to Egypt’s investments portal.

Getting around EV-style: Although visitors will have to leave their vehicles at the entrance and camel and horse rides will be limited to the outside park and banned in the archaeological areas, electric cars and EV tour buses will be available to pick up visitors every five minutes, Aboul Ela told Enterprise.

Inside the archaeological area, Orascom Development Egypt (ODE) will offer WiFi without charge for visitors, print guidebooks, and develop a mobile app. Senior citizens will have access to tailored services, including cleaning services. The company is providing some security, while the Interior Ministry and the Supreme Council of Antiquities will continue securing the public site, visitors, archaeological sites, and antiquities.

Craftsmen, horse and camel owners, merchants, and photographers will be trained by the company and offered booths in designated areas to ensure they are providing quality products and services at reasonable prices without annoying visitors, according to Aboul Ela.

NEXT WEEK: We dive into the nitty gritty of how this major redevelopment was undertaken, what the challenges were and how they were overcome. We also look at where the project stands today and when it will be completed.

Your top infrastructure stories for the week include:

  • The Egyptian Chemical Industries (Kima) and Italian Tecnimont have agreed to sign a settlement agreement which would see Tecnimont compensated for losses it suffered from the EGP devaluation during work on the KIMA 2 project, according to the local press.
  • The Suez Canal Economic Zone can develop and oversee electricity distribution networks after being granted a license from the Electric Utility and Consumer Protection Regulatory Agency.
  • Revenue Collection Systems France will supply and install ticket vending machines in Cairo Metro stations after a contract was signed with the National Authority For Tunnels.
  • Indian sweet maker Monginis plans to open a EGP 150 mn factory in Sadat City within the next three months.

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EGX30 (Tuesday): 11,291 (-1.0%)
Turnover: EGP 1.5 bn (33% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -19.1%

THE MARKET ON TUESDAY: The EGX30 ended Tuesday’s session down 1.0%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended down 0.5%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were CIRA up 1.0%, Pioneers Holding up 0.2%, and Eastern Company up 0.1%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Heliopolis Housing down 4.3%, Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals down 3.6% and AMOC down 2.9%. The market turnover was EGP 1.5 bn, and foreign investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Short | EGP -25.9 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +8.3 mn
Domestic: Net Long | EGP +17.6 mn

Retail: 78.5% of total trades | 81.9% of buyers | 75.1% of sellers
Institutions: 21.5% of total trades | 18.1% of buyers | 24.9% of sellers

WTI: USD 40.18 (+1.90%)
Brent: USD 42.40 (+1.63%)

Natural Gas: (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.76 MMBtu, (-4.06%, November 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,894.50 / troy ounce (-1.78%)

TASI: 8,601.07 (+0.66%) (YTD: +2.53%)
ADX: 4,545.18 (+0.27%) (YTD: -10.45%)
DFM: 2,237.36 (+0.11%) (YTD: -19.08%)
KSE Premier Market: 6,413.48 (-0.4%)
QE: 10,056.86 (0.00%) (YTD: -3.56%)
MSM: 3,594.65 (+0.29%) (YTD: -9.71%)
BB: 1,482.23 (+0.25%) (YTD: -7.95%)

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Calendar

October: Trade and Industry Ministry allocates SMEs seven industrial complexes.

10-15 October (Saturday-Thursday): Turathna 2020 exhibition for traditional handicrafts, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

11-12 October (Sunday-Monday): Regional Forum for Medical Insurance and Healthcare, Cairo, Egypt.

12 October (Monday): The Egyptian Iron and Steel company general assembly would discuss demerging its mining and quarrying unit and restructure the company’s board of directors

12-18 October (Monday-Sunday): 2020 Virtual Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.

10-17 October (Saturday-Saturday): CIB Egyptian Squash Open, New Giza Sporting Club / Pyramids of Giza.

17 October (Saturday): 2020-2021 academic year begins for K-12 students at state schools and students in public universities.

18 October (Sunday): The newly-elected Senate will hold its inaugural session.

18 October (Sunday): A court will hold a postponed hearing to look into an unpaid claims lawsuit by Syria’s Antradous against Mansour Amer’s Amer Group and Porto Group.

18-22 October (Sunday-Thursday): The annual Cairo Water Week event — which will be semi- virtual this year — will be held under the slogan “Water Security for Peace and Development in Arid Regions”

21-23 October (Wednesday-Friday): Polls open to international voters for first round of Parliamentary elections in Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira, Matrouh.

23-31 October (Friday-Saturday): El Gouna Film Festival, El Gouna, Egypt.

24-25 October (Saturday – Sunday) Polls open for first round of Parliamentary elections in Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira, Matrouh.

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

End of October: Last chance to settle building code violations for illegal buildings.

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

November: An Egyptian-Russian ministerial committee will meet to discuss trade and investment in Moscow.

2 November: Former Civil Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafik faces retrial at Cairo Court of Appeals in the so-called Aviation Ministry corruption case.

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

4-6 November (Wednesday-Friday): Polls open to international voters for first round of Parliamentary elections in Cairo, Qalyubia, Menofia, Gharbia, Kafr El Sheikh, Sharqia, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.

4-7 November (Wednesday-Saturday): Cityscape Egypt Expo, International Exhibition Center, Cairo

7-8 November (Saturday-Sunday): Polls open for first round of Parliamentary elections in Cairo, Qalyubia, Menofia, Gharbia, Kafr El Sheikh, Sharqia, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.

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

15 November (Sunday): Egyptian Tax Authority’s online intro seminar on new electronic invoice system for first tranche of companies transitioning to e-filing program.

19-28 November (Thursday-Sunday): Cairo International Film Festival, Cairo Opera House, Egypt.

22-25 November (Sunday-Wednesday): Cairo ICT 2020, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

23-24 November (Monday-Tuesday): Reruns for Parliamentary elections in Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira, Matrouh.

30 November (Monday): Final results will be announced for Parliamentary elections held in Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira, Matrouh.

December: The 110th regular session of the Egyptian-Iraqi Joint Higher Committee will be held under the chairmanship of the prime ministers of the two countries.

December: IMF delegation visits Egypt in first of two reviews ahead of disbursement of second tranche of USD 5.2 bn SBA.

1 December (Tuesday): The IMF will conduct a first review of targets set under the USD 5.2 bn standby loan approved in June (proposed date).

5 December (Saturday): A court will hold a postponed hearing to look into an appeal by Syria’s Anataradous against an arbitration ruling in favor of Amer Group and Amer Syria.

7-8 December (Monday-Tuesday): Reruns for Parliamentary elections in Cairo, Qalyubia, Menofia, Gharbia, Kafr El Sheikh, Sharqia, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.

9-10 December (Wednesday-Thursday): BiznEx, the international business expo in Egypt, venue TBD.

14 December (Monday): Final results will be announced for Parliamentary elections held in Cairo, Qalyubia, Menofia, Gharbia, Kafr El Sheikh, Sharqia, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.

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.

13-31 January (Wednesday-Sunday): Egypt will host the 2021 Men’s Handball World Championship at the Giza Pyramids.

25 January 2021 (Monday): 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

25-29 January 2021 (Monday-Friday): The World Economic Forum’s “Davos Dialogues” will take place virtually.

26-28 January (Tuesday-Thursday): Future Investment Initiative, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

28 January 2021 (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

4 February 2021 (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

6-18 February (Saturday-Thursday): Mid-year school break.

18 March 2021 (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

12 April 2021 (Monday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

25 April 2021 (Sunday): Sinai Liberation Day.

29 April 2021 (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sinai Liberation Day.

29 April 2021 (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

3 May 2021 (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

6 May 2021 (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sham El Nessim.

12-15 May 2021 (Wednesday-Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

18-21 May 2021 (Tuesday-Friday): The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting will be held under the theme of “The Great Reset” in Lucerne-Bürgenstock, Switzerland

31 May-2 June 2021 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

1 June 2021 (Tuesday): The IMF will conduct a second review of targets set under the USD 5.2 bn standby loan approved in June 2020 (proposed date).

10 June 2021 (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

24 June 2021 (Thursday): End of the 2020-2021 academic year.

26-29 June 2021 (Saturday-Tuesday): The Big 5 Construct Egypt, Cairo International Convention Center

22 July 2021 (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

30 July-3 August 2021 (Thursday-Monday): Eid Al Adha, national holiday (TBC).

1 October 2021-31 March 2022 (Friday-Thursday): Postponed Expo 2020 Dubai.

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