Sunday, 22 November 2020

Second round of covid stimulus gets okay from El Sisi


What We’re Tracking Today

Good morning, friends, and welcome to a new workweek. We hope you’ve finished bailing out after Friday’s unexpected (but still frankly delightful) rain. Keep your eye on the forecast for later this week as the weather office and our favourite weather app both suggest we could see more “instability” starting Wednesday. That means a chance of rain, though it seems more likely right now in coastal areas than in the capital city.

The big story of the day: The Sisi administration has preemptively authorized a second wave of stimulus be readied and left on standby as we head deeper into this second wave of covid-19.

PSA- If you don’t have one of those electronic vehicle stickers on your windshield this morning, you’re in violation of the traffic law and may want to schedule a little visit to the moroor. Yesterday was the deadline for all vehicles to comply with the requirement to have one of the RFID stickers placed on your windshield to make it easier for authorities to track your car.

The Cairo ICT expo gets underway today and runs through Wednesday. This year’s iteration of the fair focuses on “the big reset” of how we look at business, the economy, and life in general post-covid.

Want a hint about what that post-covid life is gonna look like? The anti-vaxxers won’t be happy. “As she rushes to her gate, the traveller can see her plane through the airport window, sitting on the tarmac, loaded and ready to leave. After a year of drastically reduced travel, the airport is bustling. As she approaches the desk, she pulls out her usual passport and boarding pass, then opens a new app. She shows it to the boarding agent, and it flashes her confirmation: She has the required vaccine.”

^^ From the Toronto Star’s really awesome So we get a COVID-19 vaccine. Then what? A glimpse of how the coming months could play out. From Toronto to New York to East Africa, it envisions a future where your vaccine status will determine your mobility — from whether you can cross a border down to whether you get into a concert.

It’s also Thanksgiving week, so give an American a (virtual) hug — and if you’re mulling a Thanksgiving get-together here in Omm El Donia, consider limiting it to just the people you live with? As the Madbouly government has made clear the past week, we’re very much in the early days of the second wave of covid-19.

The (virtual) Canada-Arab Business Forum runs Tuesday and Wednesday, making the case for more trade and investment between Canada and the Arab world. Ministers and industry experts will be talking, and you can sign up here.

Also coming up: The latest edition of the Cairo Art Fair, hosted by our friends at TAM Gallery. The fair, which will feature some 1,500 works of art from 140 artists, kicks off on Saturday, 4 December and runs until 31 January 2021.

(Want to hear TAM’s origin story? We sat down with co-founder Lina Mowafy for an episode of our podcast, Making It, in which she told us how her struggle to find an entryway to the Egyptian art scene led to the creation of TAM. Listen on our website, Apple Podcast, or Google Podcast.)

More into collecting books than art? The FT is ready to help you pad your TBR list as we slide into the holiday season. Check out the Financial Times’ Books of 2020 list. Browse the critics’ picks or delve into the category of your liking, with recommendations available on: Business | science | food and drink | politics | fiction and more. The landing page is here.

The Health Ministry reported 358 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 363 the day before, but still above the figure we reported in last Thursday’s issue. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 112,676 confirmed cases of covid-19. The daily death count is holding steady at 13-14 each day since Thursday.

There’s now more disagreement over treatment protocols for covid-19 after a World Health Organization panel said on Friday that there is “no evidence” Remdesivir improves survival rates or eliminates patients’ need for ventilators, according to the Associated Press. The panel’s statement comes as preliminary findings on other meds — including the anti-inflammatory tocilizumab and baricitinib — suggest they could be helpful, but have yet to be confirmed and widely accepted as standard practice.

On a related note: Are we over-treating covid in Egypt? That’s the suggestion from this Twitter exchange between prominent cardiologist Hany Ragy and University of Maryland infectious diseases expert Faheem Younus.

Sinopharm has tested its vaccine on 1 mn people and is reporting what it says are promising results with scant data to back it up, the New York Times reports. The chairman of the company said that only a handful of people had contracted the virus after having the inoculation, and claimed that it is “leading the world in all aspects.”


Listed German companies with management boards of three or more people must now include at least one woman, after Angela Merkel’s coalition government agreed to introduce a new gender quota, the Financial Times reports. Proposals for a quota came after a voluntary commitments system introduced in 2015 failed to result in more female board members.

Egypt isn’t doing better than the Germans: We got an “F” for gender parity on corporate boards in 2019. Women presently account for just 10% of board members in Egypt.

Investors are continuing to favor EM equities over growth stocks: Analysts are calling investors’ keenness on EM stocks the fastest emerging market rotation in over a decade as hopes for a covid-19 vaccine increases risk appetite, Bloomberg reports. Though Asia’s EM stocks in particular seem to have outperformed emerging market equities elsewhere, with the MSCI EM Asia index up 17.5% this year, and the MSCI EM index excluding Asia down 19.9%, equities outside of Asia, particularly those in energy and basic materials, stand to gain more from a covid-19 recovery, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The IMF’s firepower could grow at this weekend’s G20 virtual summit hosted by Saudi Arabia to help it support low-income countries facing default, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan told Bloomberg on Friday. Proposals to increase the fund’s reserves by USD 500 bn earlier this year had been vetoed by the US, the fund’s largest shareholder, but Jaadan expressed optimism that the 20 nations will find a breakthrough during the current meeting, which ends today.

Rising covid-19 cases and the US Treasury’s decision to end several of the Fed’s emergency lending programs drove down major US stock indices and bond yields on Friday, reports Reuters. The S&P, Dow and Nasdaq were all down by a little under 1%. Benchmark 10-year treasury yields also fell to an 11-day-low before bouncing back.

Trump isn’t the kind of guy to let a string of legal defeats stop him from desperately trying to cling to the presidency. His team’s attempts to roll back the results of the election were dealt another blow over the weekend after Republican lawmakers in Michigan rejected his pleas to hand him the state, and a hand recount in Georgia confirmed Biden’s win, the Financial Times reports. And in the early hours of this morning, an attempt to make use of a legal loophole to decertify the result in Pennsylvania was struck down by a judge, who criticized the president for relying on “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations,” the New York Times says.

*** HOW HAS BLENDED LEARNING BEEN TREATING YOU SO FAR? Tell us what you think. We’ve put together a quick survey asking parents and students how things are going on the blended front. We’ll have the results in an upcoming issue of Blackboard.

We’ll draw the names of three respondents who will receive an Enterprise mug and a bag of our favourite coffee from our friends at 30 North.

Tap or click here to take the survey. It’s quick and painless, we promise.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Finance Minister Mohamed Maait headlined the talk shows last night, dropping into Ala Mas’ouleety to discuss the IMF’s review of the economy and the disbursement of the next tranche of the USD 5.2 bn standby loan (watch, runtime: 23:29). We have full coverage in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Second round of stimulus gets the go-ahead: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has authorised the government to deploy a new round of stimulus to support the economy through a second wave of the virus, Maait said. He declined to say how much money would be made available. The ministry still has some bullets left in its chamber from last time, having spent only EGP 65 bn of its original EGP 100 bn fiscal package. The president has also directed the government to ensure there is money allocated to pay grants to day laborers, the minister said.

Maait reeled off a handful of stats to demonstrate that Egypt had successfully navigated its economy through choppy waters. Egypt is among the just 15% of countries that have avoided economic contraction this year — and the only country to enjoy a positive growth rate of more than 2% in the MENA region. The minister said more than 100k jobs are created for every percentage point of economic growth, and that there have been 300-400k new jobs in spite of the pandemic.

The state is getting serious with its covidiot crackdown: Al Hayah Al Youm's Lobna Assal phoned Cairo Metro spokesperson Ahmed Abd El Hadi, who suggested that teams of plain-clothes police officers are now patrolling stations across the capital in search of people breaking covid protocol. El Hadi said that there is no fixed fine for being caught without a mask on the metro and that violators will be referred to prosecution who will determine the size of the penalty. Around 1k fines were issued on Friday alone, he said (watch, runtime: 6:47). Assal also phoned Khaled Kassem, spokesperson for the Local Development Ministry, who confirmed that shops caught violating precautionary measures would be forced to shut for three days (watch, runtime: 6:01).

We know a little bit more about the new regulations governing opening hours: Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi phoned Adel Al Masry, head of the Tourism Chamber at the Federation of Egyptian Industries, who said that the Tourism Minister confirmed that nightclubs across the country would be forced close at 2am, and cabarets and live music venues at 3am. Al Masry voiced support for the new rules and said they will review them with the Tourism minister after their introduction (watch, runtime: 6:35).

Heavy rain sparks flooding in Alex, Kafr El Sheikh: Alexandria governor Mohamed El Sherif appeared on Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 9:32), Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 7:58) and Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 16:55) to respond to the flooding in Alexandria over the weekend. El Sherif blamed the city’s poor infrastructure and climate change for the flooding. When pushed by Lamees on why the infrastructure had not been upgraded, El Sherif said the EGP 13-15 bn price tag is too expensive and installing new drainage systems would be too disruptive for the city. Schools will operate as usual this week, he added. Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary phoned Kafr El Sheikh governor Gamal Nour El Din, who said that all rainwater has been drained from the streets (watch, runtime: 3:26). Cairo governorate spokesperson Ibrahim Awad (watch, runtime: 5:48) told El Hosary about the death of a girl who was electrocuted by a damaged power cable.

Speed Round

Egypt is on track to receive the second tranche of its USD 5.2 bn IMF standby loan after it reached a staff-level agreement with the fund following a review of the 12-month program, the IMF said in a statement. Some USD 1.6 bn will be paid out should the fund’s executive board give its approval when it meets in the coming weeks, it said. This would take the total disbursements under the program to USD 3.6 bn, with Cairo having received the first USD 2 bn installment in the summer alongside a USD 2.8 bn rapid financing instrument designed to shore up the country’s balance of payments.

The standby loan: A refresher. The financing is meant to support Egypt’s economic recovery through covid-19 as key economic sectors such as tourism remain deflated by the pandemic’s effect on international travel. The extra cash will continue to help Egypt narrow its budget deficit and boost social spending to protect vulnerable groups, as well as increase spending on health and implement structural reforms.

When can we expect to receive the money? It’s possible the money will be paid out in December, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in an interview on Ala Mas’ouleety last night (watch, runtime: 23:29).

The economy is beating forecasts: “The Egyptian economy has performed better than expected despite the pandemic. Containment measures, supported by the authorities’ effective crisis management, and strong implementation of their policy program helped mitigate the effects of the crisis,” IMF Egypt boss Uma Ramakrishnan said. Private sector activity has shown signs of recovery in recent months and conditions in the financial markets have stabilized, she said.

But we’re not out of the woods yet: A potential resurgence of the virus continues to pose a threat to the economic recovery, while the country’s vital tourism sector remains “at an almost standstill,” she said.

Reserves, primary balance get us brownie points: The IMF team found that all program targets for end of September had been met, while the primary balance and international reserves had exceeded targets. Foreign reserves have been steadily rebounding since June, rising from USD 36 bn in May to USD 39.22 bn in October thanks in part to the government’s FX-denominated Eurobond and green bond issuance earlier this year. Meanwhile, the government achieved a small EGP 100 mn primary surplus during 1Q2020-2021. Egypt “remains on track to achieve a primary surplus of 0.5% of GDP,” slightly above the 0.4% forecast by the IMF in October.

The IMF also praised the passing of the Customs Act ahead of schedule. The act is expected to expedite clearance times and imposes harsher penalties for customs evasion.

What about our low inflation? September’s 3.7% headline inflation rate was lower than the target band of 6-12%, triggering consultations with the IMF’s technical team under the terms of the SBA, the statement said. The IMF staff praised the central bank’s two 50-bps interest rate cuts in September and earlier this month, which Ramakrishnan described as “appropriately accommodative.”

The IMF could press for more easing if inflation doesn’t pick up in the months ahead: Inflation in October remained below the target range despite September’s rate cut helping to spark a slight acceleration in price growth. Analysts expect inflation to close out the year between 5-6%, which under the terms of the arrangement may mean that Egypt has to consult with the fund’s technical team.

What we need to do to stay in the IMF’s good books: The IMF urged “continued strong program implementation, including sustained progress in key structural reforms.” It called for the central bank to maintain flexible exchange rates to help the economy withstand economic shocks, and for the government to stick to its commitment to return to a 2% primary surplus, which it forecasts from FY2022-2023 onwards.

Gov’t GDP forecast revised upwards:The government expects the economy to grow at a 3.5-3.8% clip in the current fiscal year, Deputy Planning Minister Ahmed Kamaly said on the sidelines of an energy conference yesterday. The range is higher than the outlook offered by Finance Minister Mohamed Maait earlier this month, who said that the economy is likely to grow between 2.8% and 3.5% during the year.

This is in line with analyst expectations: Last month the IMF, Fitch, and Deutsche Bank all predicted growth coming in at 3.5% this year, while a recent Reuters poll of economists saw the economy growing at a 3.3% clip (versus 3.1% in a similar survey in July).

Also from Kamaly: Egypt’s external debt — which rose to USD 123.5 bn in 4Q2019-2020 — remains at a “safe level” while the fall in the unemployment rate during the previous quarter serves as a positive economic indicator, he said.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Orange will invest EGP 4 bn on network upgrades in 2021, Hisham Mahran, who is chief of Orange’s enterprise segment, told Al Shorouk yesterday. The company will allocate more resources to expanding its data transfer capacity and footprint in financial services, he said, adding that the company spent 80% of its investments this year on expanding its data transmission services to cover more regions across various governorates. Orange currently has a 23% share of the mobile wallet market in Egypt.

Orange missed out on acquiring new bandwidth in the recent government auction, after they were edged out by Etisalat Misr in the race for a 20-MHz band.

The results of Egypt’s latest gold + mineral exploration auction are here: Eleven mining companies have been awarded 82 gold exploration blocks in the Eastern Desert under an Oil Ministry tender launched earlier this year, Minister Tarek El Molla said in a statement on Thursday. The winners include seven foreign firms: Canadian miners Barrick Gold, Lotus Gold and B2Gold, British firms Red Sea Resources, AKH Gold and SRK, and Australian gold miner and Sukkari operator Centamin. Four local firms also won: Mining and Manufacturing Company (MEDAF), North Africa Mining and Petroleum Company (NAMC), Al-Abadi, and Ebdaa for Gold Mining.

The companies will collectively spend at least USD 60 mn during the early stages, El Molla said.

Background: This is the first tender to be launched since amendments were made to the Mineral Resources Act which offer investors more attractive terms. The blocks have been awarded on two-year exploration licenses that can be renewed either two or three times depending on the circumstances. El Molla said earlier this year that a new gold exploration tender would be launched every four months, meaning that we could see a new tender in January.

New bid round to explore for mineral ores and other associated minerals: A fresh bid round to explore for 10 types of mineral across 208 blocks in the Eastern Desert kicked off on Thursday and is expected to continue until March 2021, El Molla said. The ores include iron, phosphates and copper.

INVESTMENT WATCH: Aton Resources will invest USD 7-8 mn in its Egypt operations during 2021, CEO of Egypt-focused miner Aton Resources Mark Campbell told Masrawy. The company — which owns the Abu Marawat concession in the Eastern Desert — made a pass on the latest tender in favor of focusing on its existing exploration operations, he told us earlier this year.


M&A WATCH- Sawiris’ attempts to acquire Shalateen Mining in doubt as talks stop: Naguib Sawiris’ talks with the government to acquire 51% of state-owned Shalateen Mining have been suspended, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla told Reuters without giving further detail. The La Mancha chairman said in February he was eyeing the majority stake in Shalateen, but the company’s discovery of a 1 mn-ounce gold reserve in the Eastern Desert last month appears to have thrown the sale off course. The Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority holds 35% of Shalateen, while the Defense Ministry’s National Service Products Organization holds 34%, the National Investment Bank has 24%, and the Egyptian Company for Mineral Resources owns 7%.

DISPUTE WATCH-Ibnsina faces boycott, legal action from Pharmacists Syndicate: The Pharmacists Syndicate called on its members to boycott Ibnsina Pharma and will pursue legal action against EGX-listed company for allegedly using the 3elagi app to sell product directly to customers, the syndicate said in a statement on Wednesday. The pharmacists gave the company 48 hours to stop using the app and Ibnsina declined to do so, the statement claimed. The syndicate’s grounds for legal action remain unclear; we were unable to reach the syndicate for comment before dispatch time.

Ibnsina denied their use of the app breaks the law: In a statement carried by Souq Al Dawaa, the company said that it complies with all legal requirements and that the app doesn’t interfere with the sales process or favor particular pharmacies when connecting customers.

What’s going on here? The syndicate is the gatekeeper to the profession and has always held the line that a single pharmacy, owned by a single pharmacist, is the only legal means of dispensing meds outside a hospital setting. The organization is also likely concerned with curbing the power of wholesalers like Ibnsina — the leading private-sector distributor — amid concerns they could effectively cut out retail pharmacies by selling directly to consumers.

About the app: Ibnsina Pharma acquired a 75% stake in the app earlier this month. 3elagi is a platform that links customers to pharmacists around the country and enables them to get medicine delivered directly to their doors. The company’s website claims its algorithm selects pharmacists based on their prices and location. Other competitors in the field include Yodawy.

IN OTHER INDUSTRY NEWS- A new pharmacopeia listing approved meds and compounds is in preparation by the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA), according to Youm7. The EDA is now the sole body in charge of registering new products, maintaining production standards, and setting customs rates on imported products after regulatory powers were transferred from the Health Ministry last year.

REGULATION WATCH- The EGX has changed how it calculates closing share prices: Closing share prices on the EGX will be calculated according to the volume-weighted average, as long as this meets a minimum value based on the share’s trades over the preceding three months, according to an EGX statement (pdf). The conditional value is calculated by taking the share’s total value traded over the three months, dividing that figure by the number of trading days during that period, and multiplying the outcome by 0.5%. For the volume-weighted average price to be used, it must be more than the product of this equation or EGP 100k, whichever is higher. The new mechanism came into effect last Thursday but will be revised every three months, the bourse said.

Background: The EGX and Financial Regulatory Authority had planned to implement a mechanism that would see the bourse conduct auctions to determine the closing price of shares, EGX boss Mohamed Farid said earlier this year. The mechanism would have seen the price set by the auction override the weighted average calculated from the latest session price. The outcome of the auction would only be applied if a minimum participation requirement from brokerages was met. Officials have been discussing changes to how closing share prices are calculated since 2018. Other scenarios that were being considered included using the average price during the last hour of the trading day or only using the volume of trade.

EARNINGS WATCH- LSE-listed Integrated Diagnostics Holding (IDH) reported a 39% y-o-y increase in net profit to EGP 201 mn in 3Q2020 on revenues of EGP 720 mn, up 23% y-o-y, according to a company earnings release (pdf). Net profit grew 4% to EGP 375 mn during the first nine months of the year as revenues rose to EGP 1.67 bn, up 1% from the same period in 2019. IDH’s performance was supported by the government gradually lifting covid-19 lockdown measures, allowing the company to reopen all its branches during the third quarter of the year, said IDH CEO Hend El Sherbini. Profits were also driven by “IDH’s ability to adapt its service offering to the changing dynamics by ramping up its house call service and offering Covid-19-related testing in Egypt and Jordan,” El Sherbini said. In Nigeria, a surge in sales and “cost control efforts” helped the company turn in a positive EBITDA for the first time in 3Q2020, while Sudan is poised to be a bigger contributor to IDH’s profitability as international sanctions are gradually lifted after the US scrubbed Sudan from its terrorism list.

*** DR HEND CHARTS HER CAREER IN THIS WEEK’S EPISODE OF MAKING IT: From taking over the family business in 2004, to leading a diagnostics giant with 450 labs across Egypt, Jordan, Sudan and Nigeria, we explore what it took to institutionalize her business and the role of consolidation in providing quality healthcare that’s affordable, especially in light of covid-19.

You already have a podcast app on your iPhone and you can listen on Google Podcasts | Anghami | Omny. We’re also available on Spotify, but only for non-MENA accounts. Subscribe to Making It on your podcatcher of choice here.

It’s also easy to listen on our website.

EARNINGS WATCH- Orascom Construction (OC) profits fell 6.2% y-o-y to USD 30.2 mn in 3Q2020 from USD 32.2 mn last year, the company said in its earnings release (pdf). Revenues for the quarter were up 4.4% y-o-y to USD 824.5 mn. CEO Osama Bishai said the results indicate “steady performance” and the increase in revenues demonstrates that the group’s sites are operating on a “full-fledged” basis after the earlier challenges of covid-19 “Our business development efforts and our competitive edge continue to allow us to sustain a solid backlog by maintaining a healthy project pipeline and securing an inflow of high-quality projects,” he said. The company’s consolidated EBITDA fell y-o-y during the third quarter and in 9M2020 due to the pandemic, but increased on a quarterly basis, reflecting an improved performance and ongoing recovery, OC said.

OC’s consolidated backlog excluding Besix inched up 0.4% y-o-y to USD 5.3 bn as of 30 September 2020. Consolidated new awards rose 49.7% y-o-y to USD 674.4 mn during the first nine months of the year. Including the group’s 50% share in Besix, pro forma backlog as of the end of September rose 0.2% y-o-y to USD 7.7 bn. OC distributed a smaller dividend in August than was originally intended, but obtained board approval to dole out “an interim dividend” in January 2021, the amount of which will be announced next month.

APPOINTMENTS- Law firm Matouk Bassiouny & Hennawy has been appointed to advise Orascom Development Holding (ODH) on the sale of its stake in Orascom Housing Communities, Al Shorouk reports, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter. ODH announced last week that it is seeking to sell some or all of its stake in the company, a few days after reports in the local press suggested that CEO Samih Sawiris is looking to offload 85% of its shares to an unnamed UK investment fund, including the 30% stake held by ODH and his personal 55% stake. The remaining 15% will be retained by US company Blue Ridge and PE firm Equity International.

*** WE’RE HIRING: We’re looking for smart and talented people to join our team at Enterprise, which produces the newsletter you’re reading right now and Making It, our very first podcast. We offer the chance to work in a unique and casual work environment that promises to be intellectually challenging and rewarding. Enterprise is currently in the market for:

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Interested in applying? To apply for the editor / reporter positions, please submit your CV along with 2-3 writing samples and a solid cover letter telling us a bit about who you are and why you’re a good fit for our team. The CV is nice, but we’re much more interested in your clips and cover letter. Please submit all applications to


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Egypt in the News

Human rights topped coverage of Egypt in the foreign press over the weekend following the arrest of Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) executive Gasser Abdel Razek just days after authorities detained two other senior staffers. Coverage is everywhere: Reuters | the Associated Press | New York Times | Washington Post | CNN | Financial Times | Deutsche Welle.

The international community is being very vocal: The US State Department joined a number of senators and President-elect Joe Biden’s foreign policy aide expressing concerns at the arrests. The EU, UN, UK, Germany and Canada all issued similar statements calling for their release.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Egypt respects the rule of law and that the right to organize in civil society is protected under the constitution, but said “no group of persons enjoy immunity for their work in any field.” The Foreign Ministry urged other nations to refrain from interfering in Egypt’s domestic affairs. Reuters and the AP have more on the fallout.

US Senators from both sides of the political aisle are separately lobbying for the release of two other rights advocates, one of whom was imprisoned last year, the Hill reported.

Alleged terrorist attack hits North Sinai pipeline: Daesh have claimed responsibility for an explosion that hit a natural gas pipeline running between El Arish and El Qantara in North Sinai on Thursday. Reuters and the Associated Press have the details.

Elsewhere: The Economist looks at why doctors in Egypt and the Middle East at large are likely to take their talents abroad in search of better pay and working conditions.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Headlining diplomacy news this morning: Sudan boycotts “useless” GERD talks: Sudan walked away from negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) scheduled to take place yesterday, calling the previous rounds of talks “useless” and urging the African Union to step in to mediate the process, Sudan’s news agency SUNA reports. The meeting was set to bring together the foreign ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to try and agree on how to proceed with the talks. Egypt has insisted that Sudan return to the negotiating table (watch, runtime: 1:12).

Speaking of water: Irrigation and Water Resources Minister Mohamed Abdel Aty held a virtual meeting with a World Bank delegation to discuss reforms being made to the country’s water infrastructure, including the use of less water-intensive irrigation systems, the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

In trade news, some 650 exporters want to receive their overdue subsidies in a single lump sum, and more can still apply until 30 November, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said, according to Hapi Journal. Maait didn’t specify how much those exporters are entitled to. Exporters earlier this year agreed to take a 15% haircut on their arrears as a condition of receiving the payouts this year, rather than spacing out the payments over four to five years. Exporters who choose to receive the full amount will be paid out under the original timeline.

The Export Development Fund will start doling out lump sum payments worth EGP 3.2 bn today to the first batch of 323 companies (of 903 applications received), Trade and Industry Minister Nevin Gamea said yesterday.

Banking + Finance

Fawry and Banque du Caire sign contract for remittance transfer service

EGX-listed e-payments platform Fawry and Banque du Caire have signed a contract to set up an instant remittance transfer service through Fawry outlets, Fawry CEO Ashraf Sabry told Al Mal. The Central Bank of Egypt approved Fawry’s request to set up a remittance transfer service with a local bank last September.

Raya Holding’s Aman receives security certification to expand bank card compatibility

Raya Holding’s non-banking financial services provider Aman has received the international payment card industry data security standards certification (PCI-DSS), allowing Aman’s 90k points of sale nationwide to process payments from bank cards of all kinds and enhancing protection of customer data, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf).

On Your Way Out

Ahmed Zaki commemorated by Google: Google’s Doodles paid tribute on Wednesday to what would have been the late actor Ahmed Zaki’s 71st birthday. Critically acclaimed and beloved by fans, he broke ground as a dark-skinned thespian performing leading roles, and delighted audiences with his impressive range. Viewers in the know will recognize the films referred to in the images that flank his likeness.

AUC Venture Lab and ITIDA launch startup training program: Tech entrepreneurs can now apply for Startup Launchpad, an eight-week training program courtesy of the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) and AUC’s Venture Lab, and delivered by the US’ Babson Collaborative for Entrepreneurship Education, according to a press release (pdf). The program runs starting January and will culminate in a pitch day to investors in March. Applications are open until 3 January.

SIGN OF THE TIMES? A photo of Mohamed Ramadan chilling with Israeli singer Omer Adam in Dubai has gone viral. The Egyptian star was reportedly forced onto the defensive after catching heat from social media users for posing with an Israeli artist.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.57 | Sell 15.67
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.57 | Sell 15.67
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.59 | Sell 15.69

EGX30 (Thursday): 10,899 (-0.8%)
Turnover: EGP 1.5 bn (33% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -21.9%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session down 0.8%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended down 1.1%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Heliopolis Housing up 4.1%, Oriental Weavers up 3.2%, and Pioneers Holding up 0.5%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were Dice down 4.2%, Ibnsina Pharma down 4.0% and Beltone Financial Holding down 2.6%. The market turnover was EGP 1.5 bn, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net long | EGP +128.4 mn
Regional: Net short | EGP -16.6 mn
Domestic: Net short | EGP -111.8 mn

Retail: 72.6% of total trades | 70.1% of buyers | 75.1% of sellers
Institutions: 27.4% of total trades | 29.9% of buyers | 24.9% of sellers

WTI: USD 42.42 (+1.24%)
Brent: USD 44.96 (+1.72%)

Natural Gas: (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.65 MMBtu, (+2.24%, December 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,878.20 / troy ounce (+0.61%)

TASI: 8,578 (-0.50%) (YTD: +2.26%)
ADX: 4,913 (-0.78%) (YTD: -3.19%)
DFM: 2,316 (-0.34%) (YTD: -16.23%)
KSE Premier Market: 6,118 (+0.92%)
QE: 10,107 (-1.37%) (YTD: -3.05%)
MSM: 3,627 (+0.09%) (YTD: -8.88%)
BB: 1,452 (+0.49%) (YTD: -9.82%)

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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.

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

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

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

24-25 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Canada-Arab Business Forum (virtual).

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 (date TBC): Egypt Economic Summit, Cairo, Egypt, venue TBD.

December: Fifth round of Egypt-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks.

December: A meeting to finalize membership and trading rules governing Egypt’s Commodities Exchange (Egycomex).

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).

4 December (Friday): Cairo Art Fair kicks off and runs through 31 January 2021.

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 December: Former Civil Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafik faces trial over embezzlement allegations.

7-8 December (Monday-Tuesday): Runoffs 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, Nile Ritz Carlton Hotel, Cairo, Egypt.

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 December (Tuesday): House of Representatives reconvenes from recess.

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.

31 December (Thursday): Egypt-UK post-Brexit trade agreement to take effect.

1Q2021: The Seventh Annual Egypt Automotive Summit will be held

1H2021: Egypt’s Commodities Exchange (Egycomex) will begin trading.

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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