Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Are you ready for the rainapocalypse?


What We’re Tracking Today

All anyone is talking about this morning is … the weather. Heck, we know folks who have canceled vacation days because of it. (In fact, some of us may be those people…)

We’ve got a six-day stretch of bad weather ahead of us, with rainfall expected to peak on Friday, head of the Irrigation Ministry’s planning department Iman Sayed told Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan last night. The weather should end on Sunday, but floods are expected in Sinai’s mountainous and desert areas, she said (watch, runtime: 11:21).

Don’t panic, though: It’s not expected to be as bad as March’s “dragon storm,” director of the Egyptian Meteorological Authority’s forecast center Mahmoud Shahin told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Mohamed Sherdy (watch, runtime: 4:08).

Oh, and our favorite weather app? It’s calling for clear skies for the next 10 days. Still: Let’s be careful out there.

But if there is a deluge? National and government schools could get a day off on Saturday if heavy rainfall calls for it Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad told Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa (watch, runtime: 10:48).

Meanwhile, some very nice news courtesy of our friends at the central bank: Foreign holdings of Egyptian treasury bills ticked up for the third consecutive month in August, edging up to USD 13.3 bn from USD 10.8 bn in July, according to the CBE’s latest monthly statistical bulletin (pdf — pp. 113, table 38). Net inflows increased in June for the first time since February, and continued on an upward trajectory in July, suggesting foreign investors have chilled out after having exited Egypt during a wider flight from emerging markets early during the pandemic.

Voters abroad begin casting their ballots today to elect a new House of Representatives, kicking off the multi-stage process that will see the first wave of voters at home going to polling stations this coming Saturday (24 October).

If you’re voting here at home, you can find your polling station by putting your national ID number on the National Elections Authority’s website.

Furniture expo Le Marché begins tomorrow and will run until Sunday, 25 October at the Egypt International Exhibition Center.

AmCham Egypt, AmCham Cyprus, and AmCham Greece are signing a trade, investment, and business promotion MoU today at 2pm CLT. US Ambassador to Egypt Jonathan Cohen and the US Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Vice President Myron Brilliant are expected to speak at the event. You can watch the signing of the agreement via a live broadcast here.

The Gouna Film Festival kicks off on Friday and wraps at the end of the month. Variety suggests this year’s iteration of the festival will mark a new beginning for Middle Eastern cinema post-covid.

Three things to keep on your radar:

#1- For bankers and PE types: ADQ. That’s the Abu Dhabi investment firm that’s been making a splash in the past month with investments real and rumored in Egypt and the wider region. It now wants to set up a digital bank and has acquired a license to do just that from First Abu Dhabi Bank.

#2- Could you fully audit your staff’s interaction with a client? Probably not, given how much of it happens on channels like WhatsApp, where you have exactly zero visibility. We’re half a decade behind the west on how to regulate stuff like this, as underscored by the recent firing of two top commodities traders at Morgan Stanley. The firing offense? Using WhatsApp to talk to clients — even though a probe found no evidence they did anything wrong on El Whats.

#3- For the iSheep among us, reviews of the new iPhones are trickling out. Well, half of the new iPhones: The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are out now, but the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max will only follow next month (thank you, covid). We suggest you start with TechCrunch boss Matt Panzarino’s piece, then check out Joanna Stern’s take at the WSJ.


Volkhard Windfuhr, the dean of foreign correspondents in Egypt, passed away on Monday aged 83 after a long illness, according to an emailed statement from the State Information Service. Volkhard was without question the longest-serving foreign correspondent in Egypt — and probably the wider Arab world — and was simply a dude. Volkhard moved to Cairo as a kid when his widowed mother took a teaching job here in the early 1950s, and he graduated high school with a working knowledge of Arabic that he perfected over the following years. He was with German magazine Spiegel since the 1970s, reporting on everything from Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem to 9/11 by way of the civil war in Lebanon and the downfall of the shah in Iran. The head of the Foreign Press Association since 1994, Volkhard was awarded the First Class Order of Merit last year by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Germany’s Federal Cross of Merit in 2002. His funeral is today at the German Cemetery in Old Cairo.

The Health Ministry reported 158 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 123 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 105,705 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 12 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 6,142. We now have a total of 98,413 confirmed cases that have fully recovered.

The Sisi administration has lined up sufficient doses of potential covid-19 vaccines to ensure that it can rapidly vaccinae a fifth of the population, including healthcare workers and people with chronic illnesses, including heart disease and compromised immune systems, presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag Eldin said yesterday, according to Al Mal. Russia’s sovereign wealth fund said last month that it alone would provide its Sputnik V vaccine to around a quarter of the population.

Weekly charter flights from Spain to Luxor could be up and running by the end of the year. The group is also reportedly looking to set up flights that will take travelers from Aswan to Cairo as part of a week-long tour of Egypt.

Travelers from Canada, Tunisia and Georgia might soon be unable to travel to the EU as Brussels considers shrinking its travel whitelist to just nine countries, Bloomberg reports, citing EU officials.


The US filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google yesterday, targeting the tech giant’s search advertising business in the most significant antitrust action in the US in at least two decades. While being a monopoly is not in itself illegal in the US, critics argue Google’s search engines, and its Android mobile operating system, give it unfair advantages over rivals. The case is the first in what is shaping up to be a series of antitrust actions that also target Apple, Facebook, and Amazon: Japan is working on a new way to regulate the “GAFA” companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) and the UK could investigate Google and Facebook next year.

The story leads headlines in much of the foreign press: Bloomberg | Financial Times | Washington Post | New York Times | Associated Press | Reuters.

Silicon Valley-based fintech company MagicCube — founded by Egyptian power couple Nancy Zayed and Sam Shawki — has unveiled their new product, i-Accept, which acts as a software-based replacement for traditional payment terminals. The product paves the way for increased financial inclusion and contactless payments by providing smaller merchants a cheaper alternative to buying and subsidizing the single-function card acceptance hardware devices. The application is currently functioning on Android and supports American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa. You can request a demo here.

You can learn more about MagicCube and the company’s awesome founders in an upcoming episode of Making It, our podcast on how to build a great business in Egypt.


*** 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 as well as social infrastructure such as health and education.

In today’s issue: Part two of our series on the Giza Pyramids Plateau’s development looks at what it took to develop the infrastructure of the area.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Aside from the rainfall we’re expecting over the next few days, veteran economist Mahmoud Mohieldin’s appointment to the IMF executive board was the most popular topic on the airwaves last night.

Mohieldin made the rounds on the airwaves to talk about his responsibilities as a board member, including representing the interests of Egypt and the Arab world in terms of monetary and fiscal policies. The pandemic is expected to have long-lasting effects on the global economy, particularly with a significant slowdown in growth, and an anticipated uptick in unemployment and debt levels, all of which will be priority areas for the IMF to address throughout this year and next, Mohieldin told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 10:30). He also stressed the importance of Egypt’s continued support of the healthcare sector to be able to cope with a potential second wave of infections, as well as an extension of fiscal support measures to help keep the economy afloat and allow the private sector to lead the rebound in growth in separate phone-ins with Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan (watch, runtime: 18:49) and Al Hayah Al Youm’s Mohamed Sherdy (watch, runtime: 17:05).

Meanwhile, the beginning of the House of Representatives election for Egyptians abroad today was Emigration Minister Nabila Makram Ebeid’s key talking point as she explained the process to Sherdy (watch, runtime: 19:59) and Radwan (watch, runtime: 9:05)

Speed Round

Israel, UAE make progress on oil route to Europe that could bypass Egypt’s Suez Canal: An agreement signed this week by Israel’s state-owned Europe Asia Pipeline Co (EAPC) and UAE-based Med-Red Land Bridge could see oil shipped from the Gulf to Europe bypass the Suez Canal. The binding MoU aims to use the existing Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline connecting the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, EAPC, which owns the pipeline, said in a statement cited by Reuters. EAPC and its new partner Med-Red — a consortium of Emirati and Israeli companies — are aiming to use a “land bridge” to ship oil between countries in the region through a route that saves time and fuel compared to the Suez Canal, according to the newswire. “There will be options to bring the oil by tanker to Eilat port or to build a pipeline from the UAE across Saudi Arabia to Israel,” Israeli newspaper Globes said. Med-Red is already in “advanced negotiations with major players in the West and in the East for long-term service agreements,” according to EAPC’s statement.

While financial details weren’t made public, EAPC said it could increase the quantity of shipped oil by “tens of mns of tons per year,” according to Reuters. A final agreement could be worth USD 700-800 mn over several years and could see oil start flowing at the start of 2021, the newswire quoted a source in the know as saying.

This could chip into Suez Canal revenues. The proposal to bypass the canal began floating around last month, when EAPC suggested using the 60-year-old pipeline to lessen Israel’s dependence on the canal, Suez Canal Authority head Osama Rabie said at the time. Rabie said the plans would pose a national security risk, depriving Egypt of a vital source of revenue. Nearly 66% of oil sent from the GCC to western countries is shipped through the Suez Canal or the Sumed pipeline linking Alexandria to the Red Sea.

The recent Israel-UAE normalization agreement is allowing this arrangement to be made in the open, suggests Bloomberg. Prior to that, Israeli officials considered information on the operations of the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline as classified. The pipeline, with a capacity of 600k barrels per day and some 23 mn barrels of storage, was built in the 1960s by Israel and Iran. When both nations cut diplomatic ties following the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979, they stopped using the pipeline as an official channel for shipping Iran’s oil.

The UAE and Israel are eager to become BFFs, also announcing yesterday that they would give each other’s citizens visa-free travel.

INVESTMENT WATCH- McDonald’s is investing EGP 200 mn to open 12 new branches next year: Fast food giant McDonald’s Egypt franchise, McDonald’s Manfoods Egypt, is planning to invest more than EGP 200 mn to open 12 new branches across the country in 2021, General Manager Alaa Fathy told Al Mal. The company was forced to temporarily halt construction on four outlets that had begun earlier this year and has seen a decline in revenues. Construction has now resumed and the drop-off in sales has been contained, Fathy said.

STARTUP WATCHVC firm Foundation Ventures has launched its inaugural Egypt-focused fund with an initial portfolio of four companies, Enterprise has learned. The firm’s first fund, which focuses on early-stage, pre-seed to series A start-ups, has so far led or co-led investments in fintech companies Capiter and Nowpay, entertainment platform Minly, and an undisclosed logistics company. Foundation invested in the companies alongside a syndicate of 12 regional and international VC firms.

Foundation ventures plans to maintain a focused, meticulously curated portfolio to maximize the impact of its investments. Its first fund is backed by major family offices and business leaders in Egypt and the wider MENA region, bringing an innovative approach to venture capital in the country that looks to build a strong foundation for its portfolio companies by relying on local know-how and private capital. Launched in 2019, Foundation Ventures is managed by Mazen Nadim, Omar Barakat, and Ziyad Hamdy, in partnership with US-based HOF Capital and BPE Partners. “Venture as an asset class and ecosystem is reaching an inflection point in the region, with the quality of dealflow improving drastically over the past couple of years,” said Nadim when asked for comment.


M&A WATCH- A joint venture between Hassan Allam Holding and Abdul Latif Jameel has acquired Ridgewood Egypt, which owns some 60 desalination plants across the country, Hassan Allam said in a statement. There were no details on the value of the transaction, which is the first addition to the JV’s portfolio, which was established in April 2019 to develop and invest in existing water projects. The JV has a long-term plan to develop water projects in Egypt under the build-operate-own (BOO) or build-operate-transfer (BOT) frameworks, the statement said. It currently “provides upstream solutions for municipal and industrial clients, including water desalination, as well as wastewater and industrial water treatment.”

Context: Investment in water infrastructure is a priority for the Sisi administration, which last year said it could spend more than USD 50 bn to combat water scarcity through 2037. Those projects will ensure alternative sources of drinking water as climate change is a growing threat to water security and as Ethiopia has started to fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Private companies have been investing heavily, acting primarily as engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors to build and then manage the facilities under operations and maintenance (O&M) agreements. We took a deep dive into the water strategy in a January issue of our weekly infrastructure vertical, Hardhat.

DEBT WATCH- Sarwa, Amer to close sukuk sales before 2020 ends: Sukuk issuances by EGX-listed Sarwa Capital and Amer Group are set to go to market before the year is out, the local press reports, citing sources it says have knowledge of the transactions. Sarwa, a structured- and consumer-finance player, is likely to tap the sukuk market within a month. Sarwa Promotion & Underwriting Managing Director Ayman El Sawy said last week that the EGP 2.5 bn offering will be completed as early as the end of October, and the company has previously said it will issue sukuk to the tune of EGP 2.5 bn. Amer was said to have been planning to take EGP 2 bn-worth of sharia-compliant securities to market, but the local press suggests the company hasn’t yet decided on the final figure for the sale, which should materialize in December.

Background: Sarwa’s will be the second sukuk issuance to hit the Egyptian market after Talaat Moustafa Group’s (TMG) offering earlier this year. The Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding Company was also reportedly planning an EGP 1 bn sukuk issuance — the first by a state-owned company — though this has not materialized as of yet.

The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) has appointed specialized boards for its four sub-funds, said Planning Minister Hala El Said, according to a cabinet statement. The five-member boards will advise on the fund’s activities and asset management, and will serve renewable three-year terms.The General Assembly is expected to approve the sub-funds’ financial statements by the end of the year, El Said said. The sub-funds cover the healthcare, financial services, infrastructure, and tourism and real estate sectors, and were unveiled by the SFE in September.

DEMERGER WATCH- Look for Orascom Investment Holding’s focus on financial services to be clearer now that shareholders have approved the company’s horizontal demerger. The move will see OIH spin off its financial services holdings to create the separate joint stock company Orascom Financial Holding (OFH), according to an EGX filing (pdf). OIH will be relisted on the EGX after its issued capital is reduced, and the chairman will apply to list OFH on the EGX, the company said.

Who gets what? Nine companies will remain under OIH, while OFH will take over OIH’s holdings in Beltone Financial (74.5%) and Sarwa Capital (28.8%). OIH’s subsidiaries include Orascom Telecom Ventures, O Capital, and Orascom Pyramids, along with its sister Cheo Joint Venture Technology company. Both OIH and OFH will continue to be owned by the same shareholders who will hold the same pre-demerger stakes.

Why the demerger? The split, which received regulatory approval last month, is designed to improve the performance and financial positions of both companies, OIH said yesterday. The demerger will allow OIH to more clearly distinguish between the company’s investment activities and its operations in the financial services industry to allow investors to make more targeted investment decisions, it said in July.

Now we know who’s getting that green-bond financing: The new monorail project, three wastewater treatment facilities, and a desalination plant will be partially funded through USD 500 mn of last month’s USD 750 mn green bond issuance, according to Al Mal, which obtained a list of the projects. Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad said earlier this week that the government selected five projects out of a list of 41 to receive two-thirds of the proceeds from the sale, but stopped short of disclosing which projects would get the funding. According to Al Mal, the government has allocated the funds to the new capital and sixth of October monorails, a desalination plant in El Dabaa, and wastewater treatment plants in east Alexandria, Arab El Madabegh village in Assiut Governorate, and Al Ayat in Giza.

Preventing a water crisis is a top priority for the government and funding new desalination plants and wastewater treatment facilities is seen as the best way ahead as climate change and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam threaten to reduce the country’s water supply. The government is spending some EGP 134.2 bn through 2050 to build seawater desalination plants that would provide some 6.4 mn cbm/d of water. The plan spans over six five-year phases, the first of which will see the government investing EGP 45 bn to build 47 desalination plants by 2025.

The new USD 4.5 bn monorail project extends a 54-km line (expected to be completed in 2022) between the new capital and Nasr City, and another 42-km line (scheduled for completion in 2023) from Sixth of October City to Gameat El Dowal.

Background: The five environmentally friendly projects were selected from a longlist of 41 to receive USD 500 mn in funds generated by Egypt’s USD 750 mn maiden green bond sale. The remaining USD 250 mn will be allocated to other unnamed projects from the longlist. The World Bank is consulting the government in preparing annual reports on the allocation of funds from the sale. Al Tamimi and Company acted as the government’s legal advisor on the issuance, the office said in a press release (pdf)

Average annual inflation in Egypt is expected to increase to 9.5% by the end of the current fiscal year before edging up to 10% in FY2021-2022, the World Bank said in Egypt's Economic Update this week. Inflation has been stabilizing since the beginning of FY2019-2020, and continued to fall to record a 5.7% average throughout (from 19.6% over the previous three years), the bank said. The deceleration is due to subdued demand from the onset of the pandemic and falling global commodity and oil prices, it added.

Where we are now: The headline rate hovered between 3.4% and 4.2% since the start of the fiscal year in July. A point close to record lows at 3.4% was reached in August, followed by a slight uptick to 3.7% last month. The central bank’s 50 bps rate cut last month may help to stimulate inflation in the remaining months of the year to keep it within its inner band target of 6-12%.

MOVES- Karim Eid (LinkedIn) has been made Vodafone Egypt’s head of commercial marketing effective 1 November, taking over from Mohamed Abdallah who was appointed CEO earlier this month, Hapi Journal reports. Eid, who currently heads Vodafone Egypt’s retail business unit, has over 17 years of experience in the industry and has been with the company since 2001.

You don’t need to be at the start of your career to launch a startup: Fawry CEO had 20 years of experience in the corporate world before launching Fawry. His time with IBM and Raya gave him a better sense of the type of product he wanted to launch: one with recurring revenue streams that leverages technology. The bill payment platform was launched in 2008 and is used today by 29 mn customers.

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Where the UK’s CDC plans to invest in Egypt this year + how it sees the private sector leading post-covid growth: CDC Group, the UK government’s development arm, has been investing in Egypt since 2003. The group sees Egypt as a “priority market” for its investments as it looks to support private sector-led growth. We spoke with Sherine Shohdy (LinkedIn), CDC Group’s coverage director in Egypt, for a closer look at the group’s investment priorities in Egypt going forward and how it sees the private sector leading the post-covid economic recovery. Edited excerpts from our conversation:

As of the end of 1Q2020, CDC’s portfolio value in Egypt this year hit USD 146.6 mn with investments in 29 Egyptian companies across a wide range of sectors, including infrastructure, manufacturing, trade and microfinance, healthcare, business services and financial services. Across the continent, CDC has a portfolio of investments worth USD 3.3 bn. Our investments in Egypt currently directly support over 28k jobs, with many more created indirectly in the wider economy through our supply chains.

Egypt is a priority market for CDC's investment activities. My appointment and the establishment of a permanent presence in the country are key to achieving our objectives and a strong signal for our commitment to doing more in Egypt. Our strategy is to drive origination by leveraging our links with Egyptian entrepreneurs and the broader investment community to identify attractive ventures where our flexible, long-term capital and operational expertise can help scale businesses. By working hand in hand with our portfolio, we are able to create sustainable employment opportunities, grow our investee businesses and improve their environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices and business integrity standards.

Investment pipeline focuses on human development, improving livelihoods: While CDC does not comment on specific transactions and speculative investments in our pipeline, I can say that our forthcoming investments in Egypt will be a combination of direct investments and intermediated investments via the local private equity and venture capital funds we have invested in, such as Ezdehar and Sawari Ventures. Our pipeline in Egypt currently includes investments in food & agriculture, healthcare, education, manufacturing, infrastructure, financial institutions and telecommunications — all sectors that accelerate human development and enhance livelihoods.

Our vision for Egypt's economic development is one of sustainable and inclusive private sector-led growth. Encouragingly, we believe Egyptian authorities are committed to this vision and the ongoing structural reforms, which will create jobs and reduce poverty and inequality, even in the current context where covid-19 has reshuffled medium-term priorities.

The main challenge the private sector faces relates to access to finance, with many SMEs facing liquidity strains now amplified by the pandemic. Persistent challenges in obtaining credit and a lack of integration between banks and the broader investment community are also important challenges. There’s no shortage of promising Egyptian businesses led by ambitious entrepreneurs who are seeking investment to accelerate the growth of their businesses. The pandemic has also shone a light on the vulnerability of global supply chains. But there's opportunity here too — within some sectors, businesses are pivoting to local production instead of imports. We are proud to have been one of the first development finance institutions to be given clearance to provide Tier 2 capital to Egypt's banking sector with a USD 100 mn package for CIB to support its lending to over 1 mn Egyptian customers and to export-oriented sectors.

Renewed investment from the private sector will be key to accelerating countries’ economic recovery from the pandemic. In many emerging and frontier markets, governments do not have the fiscal manoeuvring space to sufficiently stimulate the economy. In these countries, private investment — from international financiers or local sources — becomes doubly important. CDC is committed to leveraging its extensive networks across its priority markets to identify, structure and finance bankable projects that will accelerate growth, create long-term jobs and improve economic resilience.

Small SMEs are best supported through CDC’s intermediated funds business — where we invest in local private equity funds such as Ezdehar, who then invest in SMEs — because CDC’s direct investments are typically too large to be absorbed by small businesses. Our direct equity investments typically involve influential minority stakes ranging from USD 10 mn to USD 150 mn. SMEs are the backbone of economies across Africa. It’s vital that the investment community continues supporting and investing in the SME segment, particularly in the context of covid-19.

Egypt has a strong track record, having successfully completed its home-grown economic reform program over the last few years, resulting in strong growth, falling unemployment, increased reserves and a reduction in public debt.The country's growth prospects were among the strongest in emerging markets prior to covid-19. The government and central bank have taken decisive steps to respond to the crisis, protect the economy and vulnerable sectors and individuals, while also strengthening the healthcare system. Continuing the government's support in creating a stable environment to attract much needed local and foreign investments over the coming period will be vital. Nonetheless, the country faces a high degree of uncertainty in the context of domestic and global economic disruption.

The diversified nature of the Egyptian economy, its large population, and commitment to economic reform will all help growth rebound to an estimated 6.5% in FY2021-2022. While certain sectors such as tourism, manufacturing, real estate and trade have been particularly affected, construction, oil refining and agriculture remain relatively robust. Moreover, the banking sector has remained stable, liquid, profitable and well capitalized.

Our 2021-2025 strategic framework, which we are currently drawing up, will see gender and climate change play an increasingly important role. Our long-term priorities will remain the same: Investing to create jobs and sustainable long-term economic transformation to reduce poverty. The pandemic has shown that we can act with rapidity and agility in times of crisis, using a flexible approach to support specific companies with financial or technical assistance, or to inject systemic liquidity into Africa’s financial markets. This new, more responsive way of doing business is a principle we’ll be embedding in our organization going forward.

Addressing gender inequality is a core priority for CDC. All our investments are made with gender in mind and we work closely with our investee businesses to help create jobs for women. We are also working to get more women into senior positions and boardrooms across our portfolio. CDC is a founding partner of the 2X Challenge, an initiative launched by development finance institutions in 2018 to unlock resources that will help advance women in emerging markets as entrepreneurs, business leaders, employees and consumers. The initiative has already mobilised USD 4.5 bn to support women’s economic empowerment.

As part of our response to the covid-19 pandemic, CDC remains committed to investing in Egypt and across its key markets, both directly and via private equity funds that we partner with. This will ensure a quicker medium- and long-term economic recovery, and is part of our three-pillar response strategy. We believe the pandemic is a chance to “build back better” and address structural weaknesses and inequalities within our societies. Our USD 100 mn commitment to Helios Investment Partners in early July forms part of this pillar.

Our primary focus is preserving the viability of our existing portfolio of investees. To this end, we are providing targeted support and technical assistance where it is most needed. We are also providing systemic liquidity to Africa's financial systems via existing partners and financial intermediaries. We've recently announced a USD 100 mn risk sharing facility with Societe Generale and a USD 75 mn trade finance facility with Absa. These facilities will help protect vital supply chains, sustain trade and enable importers to continue operating, with a particular focus on the food & agriculture and healthcare sectors — which we believe will attract increased attention post-pandemic.

Egypt in the News

Topping coverage of Egypt in the foreign press: The new archaeological find of dozens of 2.5k year-old sarcophagi in Saqqara this week: CNN | Associated Press | Daily Mail.

Journalism awards: Cairo-based multimedia reporter Solafa Magdy was one of four recipients of this year's International Women’s Media Foundation’s Courage in Journalism Awards. The Washington Post took note.

Elsewhere, Reuters looks at how the start of the school year has stirred up emotions for a 12-year-old student who lost her father to covid-19 earlier this year.


The Giza pyramids area is getting a makeover — here’s how (Part 2): The development of the Giza plateau has been one of the major tourism and infrastructure projects of recent years, and a cornerstone of our tourism revival plan. In Part 1, we explored what the objective of the megaproject was and what tourists and visitors can expect once the development is completed. Today, we get down to the nitty gritty of the project, and see what it took to develop the infrastructure of the area.

A substantial transport, electricity, and water infrastructure development: Huge investments have been channeled to the outlying area, including the construction of the Sphinx International Airport, the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), and the development of Al-Wahat Road and Fayoum Road that surround the area, which are being developed by the Engineering Corps of the Egyptian Armed forces. Infrastructure development for the roads leading to the site, improving the water, wastewater, and electricity network has been estimated to cost over EGP 400 mn so far, Major General Atef Moftah, General Supervisor of the Grand Egyptian Museum project, said.

The total amount of investment into the entire project, including the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), has reached some EGP 30 bn, Moftah tells Enterprise. The opening ceremony alone has been allocated an initial budget of over EGP 350 mn. A restaurant named 9 Pyramids Lounge also opened its doors yesterday, making it the first-ever diner at the plateau.

At a cost of EGP 20 bn, GEM (the centerpiece of the development) accounts for most costs, according to the local press. Foreign funding has covered the bulk of the costs of the museum, with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) alone putting in USD 753 mn and the Egyptian government covering the rest. A bulk of the museum construction has been assigned to a consortium of Orascom Construction and the Belgian Besix group, in which Orascom holds a 50% stake. The contract was estimated at USD 810 mn at the time, according to Masrawy. The estimated high cost of construction pushed the government in early 2016 to task the army with completing other parts of the project, which has saved some USD 770 mn, Moftah told Enterprise.

A substantial amount of urban redevelopment was needed: The government had to remove shops, houses, and facilities blocking the project, including slums and recreation clubs, Moftah says. The plateau had been surrounded by illegal slums in the Nazlet Al Siman area, so the government decided to build 3k residential units for them in the nearby area, each of 90 sqm, to relocate the slums’ residents. The project has been split between the Slums Development Fund and the New Urban Communities Authority and cost EGP 2.2 bn.

But exceptions were made when necessary. An international school that serves the population of the area has been permitted to stay put, at least for the time, Moftah said.

And what they couldn’t move, they had to work around: When engineers and workers started working on infrastructure, they kept finding uncharted water pipelines and electricity cables used by the slums. This was particularly inconvenient because the plan included building a highway tunnel at the beginning of the Cairo-Fayoum road and pedestrianizing the area, linking the GEM to the pyramids plateau. To avoid making things worse, the Engineering Corps decided to go another way, and built a 2.5 km overhead tourist footpath linking the two areas, Moftah said. On top of this, part of the development plan included building tunnels for all of the cables and pipelines underneath the areas through to the new residential units.

A megaproject in collaboration with the private sector: The government decided to stop relying on its own authorities, and instead seek the help of the private sector, Waad Abu Al Ela, head of the projects department at the Tourism Ministry and the person in charge of the project, tells Enterprise. Orascom Construction won a global bid to develop the pyramids plateau, while ODE obtained a contract to manage services and facilities in the area and will supply environmentally-friendly cars, and construct shops, banks, ATMs and international restaurants, he added.

Most of this has already been completed. All construction works inside the pyramids campus have been completed, Abu Al Ela tells Enterprise. The only thing left is the service areas and the fence that will surround the nearby park. This has cost nearly EGP 1 bn, Ayman Ashmawy, head of the Pharaonic Antiquities Department at the Tourism Ministry, tells Enterprise.

Not even the great disruptor halted progress. Development work did not stop in response to covid-19, continuing during past months until the vast majority of the construction and engineering works were completed, Moftah says.

The project will be ready by the end of the year. While the pandemic has meant that an official opening date has not yet been decided, the area will be completed in full by the end of this year, Ashmawy tells Enterprise. The opening of the museum remains a political decision and the date will depend largely on how the virus develops and when international travel begins to return to normal, he added.

Your top infrastructure stories for the week include:

  • SCZone ro-ro station: Bolloré, Toyota and NYK will establish and operate a roll-on, roll-off station in the Suez Canal Economic Zone’s East Port Said Port after Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly gave the consortium the green light yesterday, according to Al Shorouk.
  • Also at the SCZone: Siemens Energy inaugurated the Egyptian German Technical Academy for vocational training as well as a service center on Thursday.
  • Egypt-Saudi interconnection project: The Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) will announce the winner of the USD 1.6 bn Egyptian-Saudi electricity interconnection project tender in the first half of 2021.
  • New capital light rail: Al Salam City-new capital-Tenth of Ramadan City light rail will launch in October 2021, after undergoing two months of trial runs.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.65 | Sell 15.75
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.65 | Sell 15.75
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.65 | Sell 15.75

EGX30 (Tuesday): 11,158 (-0.1%)
Turnover: EGP 928 mn (17% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -20.1%

THE MARKET ON TUESDAY: The EGX30 ended Tuesday’s session down 0.1%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended up 0.2%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were the Export Development Bank up 5.4%, Cleopatra Hospitals Group up 2.9%, and EFG Hermes up 2.1%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Egyptian Iron & Steel down 2.6%, Beltone Financial Holding down 2.4% and Pioneers Holding down 2.0%. The market turnover was EGP 928 mn, and foreign investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Short | EGP -65.0 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +20.5 mn
Domestic: Net Long | EGP +44.5 mn

Retail: 76.0% of total trades | 77.4% of buyers | 74.7% of sellers
Institutions: 24.0% of total trades | 22.6% of buyers | 25.3% of sellers

WTI: USD 41.46 (+1.54%)
Brent: USD 43.16 (+1.27%)

Natural Gas: (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.91 MMBtu (0.00%, November 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,913.80 / troy ounce (-0.08%)

TASI: 8,533.00 (-0.17%) (YTD: +1.71%)
ADX: 4,542.63 (-0.37%) (YTD: -10.50%)
DFM: 2,180.81 (-1.27%) (YTD: -21.12%)
KSE Premier Market: 6,245.02 (+0.42%)
QE: 10,015.52 (+0.16%) (YTD: -3.93%)
MSM: 3,586.98 (-0.04%) (YTD: -9.90%)
BB: 1,454.61 (-0.44%) (YTD: -9.66%)

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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.

22-25 October (Thursday-Sunday): Le Marché furniture expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

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.

13-15 November (Friday-Sunday): A conference on banking in the time of covid by the Union of Arab Banks, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

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.

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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