Monday, 21 December 2020

Egypt to begin limited vaccine rollout next week, some Giza gov’t offices move to 50% staffing

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Welcome to the shortest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere, ladies and gentlemen. It’s also the first day of winter — please consider this your annual reminder that covid-19 or not, Egypt has the best winters in the worlds, hands-down. (Though we’ll confess to missing snow on occasion.)

Look to the skies tonight at around 5:30pm CLT — that’s when (unrelated to it being the winter solstice) you’ll have the best chance to see the great conjunction between Saturn and Jupiter. It’s the first time in 800 years the conjunction has happened at night. There are a handful of places around Cairo offering viewing opportunities with telescopes, but you should be able to see it with your naked eye. NASA, Space.com and Ahram Online have more.

THE BIG NEWS OF THE DAY: A new, more transmissible mutant of the coronavirus has countries around the world closing their doors to travelers from the UK. The new strain of the virus is (so far) no more deadly, but is believed to be c. 70% more transmissible — meaning more people could get it in a shorter period of time, potentially challenging hospital capacity. It has so far been detected in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands and a close cousin has taken root in South Africa.

Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Israel have all closed their airspace to travelers from the UK.

Saudi Arabia in the meantime is taking no chances with the new strain, suspending all international flights, as well as closing off all land and sea borders for a week, subject to renewal, according to the Saudi Press Agency. Egypt and most other countries in the Arab world have yet to follow suit.

The story is front-page news everywhere from the New York Times to the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Don’t panic. Just wear your damn mask, avoid crowds and wash your hands. Also an antidote: This wonderful Twitter thread on a Canadian Muslim learning how to Christmas.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Egypt could secure EUR 1.1 bn in finance from the European Investment Bank this week, according to Al Mal, which cites unnamed sources saying that the lender and the transport and international cooperation ministries could sign on the dotted line in the coming days. The financing will fund the electrification of the Abu Qir-Alexandria railway, the renovation of the Raml tramline in Alexandria, and an extension to Cairo Metro Line 2.

It’s interest rate week: The Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meets to review rates this Thursday for its final sit-down of the year. All 10 analysts and economists we surveyed expect rates to be left unchanged, with some pointing to protecting the carry trade as a key reason the CBE could keep rates on hold.

The expectation comes as yield-hungry investors are piling into riskier frontier market bonds, including Egypt, Ukraine, Senegal and Belarus after the US Fed signaled its intention to keep rates lower for longer, Bloomberg reports. Analysts at HSBC Global and NN Investments tell the business information service they are bullish on frontier markets with a ratings upgrade in the works, or that are benefiting from an IMF program, such as Egypt and Ukraine. With the incoming Biden administration expected to stabilize global trade and vaccine rollouts boding well for an imminent economic recovery, investors are more confident chasing returns of up to 7% in next generation markets as opposed to an average of 4.4% in emerging markets.

Egypt will officially launch its natural gas transition strategy at an exhibition in January, according to a cabinet statement. The event will encourage local and international companies to locally produce natural gas vehicles, and will be attended by major auto companies operating in Egypt. The date of the expo is yet to be announced.

enterprise

*** It’s Blackboard day: We have our weekly look at the business of education in Egypt, from pre-K through the highest reaches of higher ed. Blackboard appears every Monday in Enterprise.

In today’s issue: Part 2 of our Year in Review looks at how internationalizing higher education became the major policy initiative of 2020. We explore the objectives of the policy, what steps took place this year to bring it about, and what is the likelihood of it improving quality and driving private sector investment and FDI.

enterprise

COVID WATCH

Egypt’s vaccination program kicks off next week

Egypt is kicking off its vaccination program around mid-next week, Hossam Hosni, head of the Health Ministry’s covid-19 committee, told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib last night (watch, runtime: 11:20). Healthcare workers are at the head of the line, he said, followed by other groups that the ministry has said in the past include seniors and other high-risk individuals. While Hosni did not explicitly say so, our assumption is that the first jabs will be from Sinopharm. Health Minister Hala Zayed said over the weekend that we’re getting additional shipments of the vaccine this week. Hosni had said just last week that the first doses of the jab will start rolling out in January 2021.

Does that mean the government has officially okayed the vaccine? Not quite. According to Hosni, Egypt is following the UAE’s lead, which cleared Sinopharm’s vaccine for emergency use, while our own scientific committees are still working on their independent studies that will greenlight vaccines for regular (non-emergency) use.

The Health Ministry is setting up an operations room to oversee the rollout of the vaccine, a cabinet statement quotes Zayed as saying. The ministry also said it is in talks with a number of privately owned medical gas manufacturers to ensure an adequate supply of oxygen in Egyptian hospitals as consumption increases during the covid-19 second wave.

Some government offices in Giza will cut in-office staff by 50% and adopt a rotating work schedule in response to the rising infection rates, Giza Governor Ahmed Rashed said in a statement.

Your kid doesn’t have to attend in-person classes for the rest of the semester: The Education Ministry issued a decision yesterday allowing parents to keep their kids at home instead of attending classes in person without it counting against their attendance records, Minister Tarek Shawki told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib. Students who decide to stay at home will be responsible for covering the same material from the curriculum and sit for the same examinations, Shawki stressed. The decision applies to all schools in the country, whether government-run or private (watch, runtime: 2:08).

The Health Ministry reported 664 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 611 the day before — the highest toll since late July. The ministry also reported 29 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 7,098.

Across the pond: The US is rolling out Moderna’s covid-19 vaccine today, a week after it began to dispense the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, reports Reuters. Moderna’s jab is 94.5% effective and was approved for emergency use on Friday.

IPO WATCH

IDH wants to list on the EGX in 1H2021

IDH targets dual listing by 1H2021, subject to approval: London-listed consumer healthcare giant Integrated Diagnostics Holdings (IDH), which owns the Al Borg and Al Mokhtabar brands in Egypt and operates in Jordan, Sudan and Nigeria, could go ahead with a dual listing of ordinary shares on the EGX by the end of the first half of 2021, the company said in a circular (pdf) inviting shareholders to an EGM meeting to approve the listing. IDH first announced the plan last month.

Nothing is set in stone: The company still needs to work out approvals from the Financial Regulatory Authority and the EGX. IDH will need to sell at least 5% of its shares on the EGX to retail or institutional investors to meet the exchange’s freefloat requirements. IDH has a market cap of USD 540 mn.

What’s next? IDH is holding the EGM meeting this Wednesday, after which we’re expecting to hear updates on the listing mechanism, process to obtain regulatory approvals, and the size of the stake planned for the EGX.

The company wants shareholder approval on three key items that would help make a local listing feasible: A 1 to 4 stock split; authorization to buy-back up to 10% of its LSE-listed shares; and permission for a capital increase through new shares.

A possible scenario: “While there is nothing concrete at this point, a possible scenario is to launch a share buyback and then offer those shares on EGX,” EFG Hermes analysts said in a research note. If the company manages to buy at least 5% of its shares from LSE, it would successfully meet EGX minimum freefloat requirements, using purely share buybacks. If not, it could plug the gap by issuing new shares, by an existing shareholder selling down part of a stake, and / or through a stock split, they added.

AUTOMOTIVE

Automotive-focused fund?

The automotive industry could be getting a boost from a fund the government is mulling to encourage local manufacturing, especially automotive components and vehicle assembly, said Trade Minister Nevine Gamea, according to a cabinet statement. The fund would also support manufacturing in other sectors where Egypt could have a competitive advantage, with an eye to establish Egypt a regional manufacturing hub, Gamea said.

Anyone else having flashbacks to the never-ending discussion of the so-called “automotive directive”?

The plan will begin with the launch of the government’s campaign to convert existing vehicles to natural gas engines, which will kick off at the start of 2021. The government will turn its attention to electric vehicles at a later stage after the necessary infrastructure, such as charging stations, is in place Gamea said. Egypt has been pushing for a shift to clean energy vehicles that run on natural gas and electricity, and will convert 250k old cars to dual-fuel engines by the end of 2023 under the first phase of the natgas transition plan.

For more on the government’s nat-gas conversion scheme, take a look our in depth pieces on the plan in our weekly infrastructure vertical Hardhat: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3.

RENEWABLES

Renewables are back on the table

We have more info on the government’s ambitious renewable energy plans: A few days after Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker announced plans to authorize 2.4 GW of renewable energy projects by 2022, the local press has reported that the ministry is in talks with international players to build wind farms capable of producing 1.7 GW, citing unnamed ministry sources. The projects will reportedly cost a combined USD 1.5 bn to implement, the sources said.

In detail: These include 500-MW plants with Siemens, another with a consortium of Toyota, GD France and Orascom, as well as one with the UAE’s Al Nowais. Talks are also underway with the UAE’s Masdar Clean Energy to build a 200-MW plant, the sources added, without providing additional details. All agreements are currently in the MoU stage and will be carried out under the BOO (build, own and operate) system, they said.

The vision: Egypt aims to produce 20% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2022, 12% from wind energy, 6% from hydroelectricity, and 2% from solar energy. The ministry had previously said that it has a larger vision with the oil ministry to ensure that 42% of the country’s energy is generated from renewable sources by 2035.

M&A WATCH

A smattering of M&A news to keep things interesting

Nutrien has agreed to drop its arbitration claims against a subsidiary of Misr Fertilizers Production Company (Mopco) as part of its agreement to sell its 26% stake in the company, the local press reports. The Canadian fertilizer producer said last week that it had agreed to offload its stake for USD 540 mn, which it said included the value of the shares and settlements, but a consultant at the cabinet’s Investment Contracts Dispute Settlement Committee said yesterday that the firm had agreed to drop its cases against the Egyptian Nitrogen Products Company (ENPC).

MEANWHILE- MM Group for Industry and International Trade (MTI) has purchased 49.9% of non-banking financial services company Basata Financial Holding for EGP 30 mn, according to a regulatory filing (pdf) on Sunday.

Egyptian-British entrepreneur Tamer Abdullah is seeking to increase his shares in Alexandria Medical Services Company from his current 9.8% stake which he bought last month, Al Mal reports. The report did not disclose how many shares he is aiming to purchase but said it would be done in coordination with 51% shareholder Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

Odin Investments has 10 days to make a new offer to acquire El Nasr Civil Works, a subsidiary of Madinet Nasr for Housing and Development (MNHD), it said in an EGX disclosure (pdf) on Sunday. The clock started yesterday MNHD was unhappy with an offer made by Odin last week for 90% of the company at EGP 11 per share, saying it was low for the company’s earnings and financial position.

CLARIFICATION A subsidiary of Raouf Ghabbour’s GB Capital and Africa-focused private equity fund Nationbuilders Capital Partners acquired 100% of Samih Sawiris’ New City Housing and Development in a USD 50 mn transaction, according to a statement (pdf). We picked up local press reports yesterday that incorrectly said the transaction was valued at EGP 365 mn. The story has since been updated on our website.

DISPUTE WATCH

DPA loses its appeal against USD 494 mn fine

Damietta Port Authority loses appeal of USD 494 mn arbitration ruling: The Cairo Court of Appeals has upheld the International Court of Arbitration’s (ICC) ruling ordering the Damietta Port Authority (DPA) to pay over USD 494 mn in compensation to the Damietta International Ports Company (DIPCO), according to Youm7. The ICC tribunal had slapped the DPA with the fine earlier this year for a five-year-old dispute over the termination of a contract to construct a container terminal at Damietta Port. DIPCO was awarded in 2006 the contract, which was annulled in 2015 by DPA, which claimed DIPCO failed to adhere to the agreed time frame.

Advisors: Cairo-based Youssef & Partners and US-based Crowell & Moring represented DIPCO in the arbitration, while Sarie ElDin & Partners represented DPA. MAS law firm also acted for DIPCO in the litigation, while Sarie El Din & Partners acted for DPA.

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PAYMENTS

SODIC clients can now pay online with AAIB

Upmarket real estate developer Sodic will now have an online payment gateway available for its clients after signing an agreement yesterday with AAIB, according to a company press release (pdf). Under the agreement, AAIB will set up the gateway to allow Sodic clients to pay for their home installments and other services online. Sodic subsidiary Soreal had signed a medium term facility package worth EGP 2.57 bn with AAIB earlier this year for the development of its Villette project in New Cairo.

INVESTMENT WATCH

SFE eyes Sixth of October dry port

The Sixth of October dry port has piqued the interest of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE), which could partner with the consortium of companies implementing and operating the project, Elsewedy Electric CEO Ahmed Elsewedy told Hapi Journal. There’s already an early agreement that would see the fund acquire a minority stake in the project, and talks are expected to wrap up within the next six months, Elsewedy said. This would come under the SFE’s mandate to seek partnerships with the private sector through minority stakes.

Things are starting to move forward: The House Transportation Committee last week approved awarding the contract to build, operate, and transfer the dry port to a consortium led by Elsewedy, several months after cabinet gave the green light. The final contract with the Transport Ministry is expected to be signed “in a few weeks,” Elsewedy said.

About the project: The first phase of the 100-feddan project is expected to cost USD 176 mn, which will be covered by the consortium. The port should be able to handle 720k cargo containers a year and will include cargo zones, customs clearance offices, and multipurpose storage facilities linked to a cargo railway and key seaports.

SUEZ CANAL

Who’s jockeying with the Suez Canal?

The Suez Canal Authority will slash transit fees for large oil tankers traveling between northern Europe and southeast Asia by 48% as it looks to maintain the canal’s status as a critical shipping route, Al Mal reports. The authority began implementing the decision earlier this month and the discounts will run until 31 May next year, according to the report.

What are the Suez Canal’s main competitors?

#1 The Israel-UAE connection: Former authority head Mahfouz Taha made a point of saying that the decision is unrelated to the proposed oil pipeline between Israel and the UAE that came following the normalization agreement between the two countries this year. Taha said that the discounts are simply a case of the authority making the route more competitive and that the decision wasn’t taken with the pipeline in mind. Nevertheless, the project is expected to be a major conduit between Europe and Asia, and could substantially eat into the government’s revenues as Europe and the Middle East become less dependent on the canal for energy supplies.

The project might have US backing: The US is pushing for new transit routes for Middle Eastern oil and gas to reduce reliance on the Strait of Hormuz off the coast of Iran, US Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told CNBC. Brouillette, who admittedly will be replaced by a Biden pick in a little over four weeks, floated moving hydrocarbons to Israel but didn’t cut Egypt out of the plan entirely. “If we can move natural gas to the coast of Egypt or the coast of Israel, then we’re moving it through the Mediterranean rather than going through some of the other chokepoints that we’re all accustomed to,” Brouillette said, hinting that Egypt could serve as an important gateway for natgas exports westward.

#2 Russia: Moscow is in the process of mainstreaming its Arctic shipping route, and is trying to persuade commercial shipping lines to use its waters as an alternative to the Suez Canal. The good news is it doesn’t expect to attract year-round business until the end of the current decade, but could offer to cover the extra ins. costs for shippers. The bad news: The route is some 3k nautical miles shorter than the Suez route, and while it isn’t yet traversable all year round, we wouldn’t be surprised if climate change helps Moscow speed up its plans.

Suez revenues have held up remarkably well this year: Authority boss Osama Rabie said earlier this month that the canal’s revenues YTD are currently at USD 5.72 bn, up 8% y-o-y. Canal revenues were relatively unchanged in FY2019-2020, despite falling towards the end of the year due to the pandemic. Revenues for the year came in at USD 5.72 bn, down only slightly from USD 5.75 bn the previous year, and dipping 9.6% y-o-y in May due to the covid-induced slowdown in global trade.

MOVES

Hazem El Far appointed Speed Medical MD

Speed Medical (SPMD) has appointed Vice Chairman Hazem El Far (LinkedIn) as managing director, following the resignation of Tariq El Qaii for personal reasons, the company said in an EGX filing (pdf).

The company is also now in compliance with the regulator’s diversity targets: SPMD appointed Shadia El Haddad as an independent, non-executive board member, complying with the Financial Regulatory Authority’s requirement to have at least one woman board member by the end of 2020. Just under half of the EGX30’s constituents still have all-male boards. SPMD is not one of the 30 companies in the benchmark index.

Meanwhile, at the Constitutional Court: Khaled Raafat El Desouki, Alaeddin Ahmed El Sayed, and Fatima Muhammad Al-Razzaz have been appointed as deputies to the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, following a decision by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, as published by the Official Gazette on Sunday.

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The biggest story on the airwaves last night was the upcoming rollout of the country’s vaccination program, which we cover in this morning’s Covid Watch, above.

But for us business nerds, the highlight of the evening was Planning Minister Hala El Said’s extended interview with Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi, in which the minister explained the purpose of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) as an investment vehicle, as well as the fund’s current portfolio.

We should get more clarity on the IPOs of military-affiliated Wataniya Petroleum and Safi in 1Q2021, when the SFE will decide the size of the stake that will be sold from each company on the EGX, El Said said. The decision will depend on how the private placement goes, the minister said, reiterating that the plan could see up to 100% of the companies owned by private investors. The minister also confirmed that all military companies that are IPOed will follow EGX and other regulatory requirements in disclosing their financials and other pertinent information to the public. El Said remained tight-lipped on the three other military-affiliated companies that will be opened up for private ownership. You can catch the full interview here (runtime: 24:53). Reuters also had the story.

Also getting wide coverage: Egyptian bodybuilder Mamdouh Elsebeie (aka Big Ramy) claiming the 2020 Mr Olympia title, making him the first non-Egyptian to lay claim to the title since 1997. Everyone from Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal (watch, runtime: 1:45) to Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary (watch, runtime: 18:19) took note.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

It is a blessedly quiet morning for Egypt in the foreign press. The only story of note making the rounds: Authorities are demanding that Italy extradite former Italian honorary consul in Luxor for smuggling artifacts out of Egypt, reports Arab News. Ladislav Otakar Skakal was sentenced to 15 years in jail in absentia by a Cairo criminal court this year.

PLANET FINANCE

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Predicting market movements in 2021 may prove to be as difficult as it was this year as the pandemic — and the fiscal and monetary responses — continue to distort markets, the Wall Street Journal says. The main takeaway here: Take each and every forecast with a handful of salt. Reading the fundamentals is no longer enough, and even if analysts correctly second-guess the policy responses to the pandemic, forecasts will likely be continuously revised through the year as markets continue to behave in unexpected ways.

When are we going to start calling this a bubble? Everything from stocks to bonds to bitcoin is surging despite renewed lockdowns, covid-19 spreading at its fastest pace, and an economic cycle “on life support,” says Bloomberg, which terms the financial goings-on as “a speculative frenzy” but stops short of using the B word. The rally has taken the value of global equities to USD 100 tn, new listings this year to a record USD 175 bn, and has led to negative yields on USD 3 tn-worth of bonds (or much higher bond prices). Underpinning this bull run: record easing from world central banks creating “the easiest financial conditions in history” and fear of missing out on the post-covid rally now that vaccines are rolling out.

Commodity-linked assets are set to see a second heyday as their cyclical price shifts make them likely to benefit from a global vaccine rollout, Bloomberg reports. While prices of copper, iron ore and soybeans were driven to their highest levels in six years by a Chinese buying spree, global investors are also now piling into commodities as a hedge against high inflation.

Up

EGX30

10,890

+0.4% (YTD: -22.0%)

Down

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.62

Sell 15.72

Down

USD at CIB

Buy 15.62

Sell 15.72

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Down

Tadawul

8,687

-0.3% (YTD: +3.6%)

Down

ADX

5,114

-0.4% (YTD: +0.8%)

Up

DFM

2,559

+0.4% (YTD: -7.4%)

Down

S&P 500

3,709

-0.4% (YTD: +14.8%)

Down

FTSE 100

6,529

-0.3% (YTD: -13.4%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 52.26

+1.5%

Up

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 2.70

+2.4%

Down

Gold

USD 1,888.90

-0.1%

Down

BTC

USD 23,514.90

-1.6%

The EGX30 rose 0.4% yesterday on turnover of EGP 1.2 bn (12% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 22.0% YTD.

In the green: EFG Hermes (+5.0%), Qalaa Holdings (+4.3%) and GB Auto (+4.2%).

In the red: CIB (-0.8%), Oriental Weavers (-0.7%) and Elsewedy Electric (-0.4%).

Asian markets are largely in the red this morning with the exception of Shanghai and futures suggest it’s going to be a rough start to the week in Europe and on Wall Street when markets open later today.

blackboard

2020 in review: How internationalization was the core policy to improve higher education and attract investment: In a year where we’ve seen schools having to adapt to lockdown measures and online learning, survival and adaptation was the name of the game for K-12. But at the university level, internationalization became the policy driving the sector in 2020. The strategy includes infusing foreign courses and curricula into institutions, partnering with overseas bodies, seeking international accreditation, attracting international students, and giving Egyptians that might look abroad more incentives to study here.

The aim: To increase in-country expertise, educational quality and investment. It’s characterized by a focus on partnerships — between the public and private sectors and between Egyptian and non-Egyptian bodies.

Becoming a hub for international students: The ongoing strategy aims to increase the total number of foreign students in Egypt to 200k. Their numbers were estimated at 87k a year ago.

And giving Egyptians who would normally seek better quality education overseas reasons to study here. Some 20-34k Egyptians currently study abroad, spending the equivalent of EGP 20 bn attending university overseas, and contributing to a brain drain which government representatives say they want to change to a “brain circulation.”

It’s a path well trodden in the GCC and Malaysia: The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Malaysia all top lists of global destinations for overseas students, having successfully implemented internationalization strategies. Saudi Arabia saw international student numbers rise from 18.7k in 2008 to 73k in 2017.

In Egypt, internationalization came by pairing Egyptian institutions with foreign ones and encouraging foreign institutions to open shop here. We’ve seen this in three major initiatives: forcing existing universities to partner with foreign ones, the international branch campuses program, and education franchising.

Gov’t pushed local operators to seek overseas expertise: A policy issued two years ago was enforced this year, that new universities seeking licenses in Egypt must form academic partnerships with foreign universities. The Egyptian university must offer at least some of the degrees and curricula of the partner university, provisions must be made for a study-abroad program for Egyptian students, and partnerships can only be formed with universities ranked higher in global indices than the highest-ranked Egyptian university. Existing institutions wanting to launch new faculties and departments are also bound by the regulations.

And made it easier for international universities to set up here: Under the International Branch Campuses Act (pdf), ratified in July 2018, established international universities can set up branches in Egypt, by building their own campuses, or partnering with an Egyptian educational hub. They offer undergrad and graduate degrees from their home countries, generally with a STEM focus, while ensuring “a path to equivalence” with Egyptian university degrees.

Branch campuses have flourished: Four universities have established branches in the New Administrative Capital since the Act was ratified. This included the branch campuses of Coventry University, the University of Prince Edward Island, the he University of Hertfordshire, and an alliance of 10 German universities, set to collectively open the German International University of Applied Sciences. Though covid delayed universities completing necessary paperwork or securing government approvals, these were temporary disruptions, sources said in July.

Light-touch regulation proved an effective way to secure private sector investment: Unlike in K-12, foreigners have the right to own up to 100% of their branch in Egypt, and there are no restrictions on tuition hikes. Furthermore, branch campuses have the liberty to set their own curriculum. The branch campuses pay only 2% of their annual tuition income to the government. Coventry, Prince Edward Island, and Hertfordshire’s branch campuses brought in over EGP 2 bn in new greenfield investments, and four new Canadian universities that had requested to open branches in Egypt as of July were set to bring investments reaching EGP 3 bn.

Education franchising — a wholly private sector initiative — also grew: Egypt only has a few international education franchises, but they’re increasing. Upcoming franchises include Kent College West Cairo, which is due to open in the fall of 2022 and Saxony International School Egypt, which is set to open in 2021-2022 as a franchise of German holding company Saxony International School, in partnership with CIRA and education management company Eduhive.

But to grow further, regulation needs to keep up with the private sector: As things stand today, there is no regulatory framework governing education franchises in Egypt. This is particularly important to education franchisors coming to Egypt, who must ensure that their brand reputation will be protected, we’re told. Dedicated franchising regulation covering registration, rights and responsibilities, intellectual property, and disclosures is essential for education franchising to grow.

Internationalization has been widely seen as a positive step: The international cooperation push we’ve seen this year is crucial to expand the market, meet soaring demand for university places, and transfer knowledge, say education leaders. There’s a good chance it will bring more international students to Egypt and encourage more Egyptians to study here, they add. Branch campuses could be effective in connecting Egyptian students seeking education in OECD countries to international universities, say sources.

And while covid wreaks havoc on the sector, internationalization might be a chance for Egyptian universities to shine. Travel restrictions, extra costs and disruption impacted international students in the UK and US in particular this year, and left the global education industry anticipating reduced demand for international study. We don’t know if this will send more students back home in the long-term, but it gave top-tier Egyptian universities a chance to show they’re viable competitors to overseas institutions, representatives say.

Your top education stories for the week:

  • Cairo University is partnering with education and tech company Blackboard to provide virtual learning tools for students, according to a statement (pdf).
  • The Egypt-Japan University for Science and Technology launched an educational initiative targeting school students to help develop their knowledge in fields such as solar energy and biotechnology, according to Amwal Al Ghad.
  • Women teachers in community schools will be trained to use digital technologies under an initiative from the Education Ministry and the World Food Programme that aims to ensure that students in the community schools have the same level of education as those in private or public schools, reports Sada El Balad.
  • Students studying under the American diploma system will receive their results of the newly launched EST exams this week, according to Masrawy. The EST exams were introduced as an alternative to the SATs when covid-19 disrupted test administration in Egypt.
  • The Cairo International Rally for Homemade Electric Cars 2020 Finals was held last weekend, featuring 19 teams from Egyptian universities nationwide. The Nile University team won first place for their car design and will receive a EGP 300k prize, according to Al Mal.
  • Egypt climbed nine spots in US News’ 2020 Best Countries for Education rankings, coming in at 42, up from 51 in 2019.

CALENDAR

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

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

23 December (Wednesday): Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly will deliver the keynote address at the 19th edition of Dubai’s Arab Media Forum, held virtually this year.

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.

31 December (Thursday): Deadline for car owners to comply with traffic regulations to install a RFID electronic sticker on their cars.

31 December (Thursday): Deadline for EGX-listed companies to comply with regulations requiring at least one member of their boards of directors be a woman.

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

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

January 2021: Expo to promote auto natgas transition strategy.

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.

Mid-January: Local expo to display natural gas-powered and dual-engine vehicles for Egypt’s car replacement program.

17 January 2021 (Sunday): 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 in case 445 of 2019.

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 2021 (Saturday-Thursday): Mid-year school break.

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

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.

30 May-15 June 2021 (Wednesday-Thursday): Cairo International Book Fair.

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).

17 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

30 June- 15 July 2021: National Book Fair.

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

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

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

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

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

13-17 December 2021: United Nations Convention against Corruption, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

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

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