Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Your next car is going to run on natural gas

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and welcome to a particularly busy Tuesday on this holiday-shortened week.

Two big stories are vying for your attention here at home:

#1- Meet our natural-gas-powered future. The domestic press features wall-to-wall coverage of the Sisi administration’s drive to convert the nation’s cars, trucks and buses to run on cleaner-burning natural gas — which we just happen to have in abundance. The multi-bn EGP initiative includes subsidized funding from the Central Bank of Egypt to help roll out a national network of filling stations, convert qualifying existing vehicles, and get junkers off the roads. We have more in the news well, below.

#2- The international press has declared we’re all making up with Qatar today, ending the nearly four-year-old smackdown led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. Reuters quotes a Trump administration official as saying the deed is done, with the pact set to be signed in Al Ula, KSA, today, while the Financial Times says Saudi has already agreed to open its land, air and sea borders with the statelet. We have more in the news well, below, and in Last Night’s Talk Shows.

And two big stories dominate the global news agenda:

#1- US stocks celebrated the arrival of 2021 with a sell-off. Equities had their worst day since October on the first trading day of the new year as investors grew concerned about rising covid cases and the outcome of today’s Senate run-off vote in Georgia. More than 80% of companies listed on the S&P 500 lost value yesterday, dragging the index down 1.5% by the end of the session.

It’s red as far as the eye can see in Asian markets this morning, but this may not (yet) be the great selloff some have been salivating over in the past couple of weeks: Futures suggest Wall Street is likely to open in the green today, as will much of Europe.

#2- The handover of power from Agent Orange to the Biden administration enters a high-tension phase today. What you need to keep your eye on:

  • Those two key run-offs in Georgia today;
  • The National Guard is being called out to maintain order during a pro-Trump protest in Washington, DC, that Trump has called for today and tomorrow;
  • Congress gathers tomorrow to certify the results of the Electoral College vote amid what the New York Times calls an “insurgency from inside the Oval Office.”

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

It’s PMI day: Purchasing managers’ index figures for December are due out here at around 6:15am — just a few minutes after we land in your inbox. Egypt’s private sector continued to grow in November, albeit at a slower pace than in October, when business activity expanded at the fastest pace since August 2014.

December saw strong PMI growth across the world: US manufacturing grew at its fastest pace in six years, with the gauge (pdf) climbing to 57.1 in December from 56.7 in November as equipment and machinery manufacturers ramped up investment. Eurozone output also accelerated (pdf) to 55.2 during the month, from 53.8 in November, while in China the manufacturing PMI (pdf) fell back slightly from November’s 10-year high to reach 53.

Other key data releases to keep your eye on over the next several days:

  • Foreign reserves data for last month should be out later this week.
  • Inflation figures for December are due out on Sunday, 10 January.

PSA- Look for heavy fog coming into Cairo and within the Greater Cairo Area, the national weather service said as authorities ordered temporary closure of 10 roads including the Cairo-Ismailia, Ismailia-Port Said, and Ain Sokhna highways. It looked pretty nasty last night.

WATCH THIS SPACE-

State-owned investment bank NI Capital is planning to launch new investment funds “within days” to attract fresh local and international investments, according to a Planning Ministry statement out following a meeting between Minister Hala El Said and NI Capital CEO Mohamed Metwaly.

The government’s fuel pricing committee will announce new rates when it meets on Sunday, 10 January, Oil Ministry Spokesperson Hamdy Abdelaziz said on the airwaves (watch, runtime: 1:51). The committee, which meets quarterly to review fuel prices under pricing mechanism that pegs prices to Brent crude and global exchange rates, left prices unchanged at its most recent meeting last October.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Is Steve coming to town? Reports in December suggested US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was due in town this week as part of a tour that would also take him to Sudan, the UAE, Israel, and Qatar. His weekly schedule shows him comfortably in DC.

PSA- We’re heading towards a long weekend as the nation observes Coptic Christmas on Thursday. The private and public sectors are off for the day, the cabinet and Manpower Ministry confirmed yesterday. Look for announcements soon from the CBE and the EGX closing the nation’s banks and the stock market.

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.

enterprise

INFRASTRUCTURE

Meet our green(er) future

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has launched a multi-bn EGP program to encourage car owners to outfit their vehicles with dual-fuel engines under the government’s natural gas transition plan, Governor Tarek Amer said, according to Al Shorouk. Announced yesterday on the first day of the Go Green Exhibition — an expo put on by the government to publicise its natural gas plans — the central bank says it will make EGP 15 bn available for banks to loan out to car owners wanting to convert their vehicles. Borrowers will pay a fixed 3% rate of interest and the loan terms will range between seven and 10 years. The CBE initiative comes in addition to the EGP 1.2 bn set aside by the MSME Development Agency last year.

The CBE’s financing will cover the cost of 80k cars that are part of the plan’s earlier phases, Amer said yesterday. Overall the plan will need EGP 60 bn to cover the cost of subsequent phases, Amer said.

Larger handouts? Those looking to convert their engines or replace outdated cars with natgas-powered vehicles will be eligible for up to EGP 50k in state support, Trade and Industry Minister Nevine Gamea said yesterday, without providing further details. We had previously noted that owners of older cars would receive between EGP 5-20k just to cover down payments for new cars.

The Trade Ministry released yesterday the conditions to apply for funding for both passenger cars and microbus and taxis, and rolled out a website to apply for car replacements and conversions.

A refresher: Some 250k old cars will be taken off the road and outfitted with dual-fuel engines by the end of 2023 under the first phase of the plan. The first year aims to cover 70k cars that have been on the road for over 20 years — including 55k taxis and passenger cars and 15k microbuses, Gamea said last month. The plan was first announced last year with heavy backing from El Sisi. While promoting the use of natgas at such a large scale is totally new, the government previously completed a similar program a decade ago that got decrepit taxis off the roads.

Courting global manufacturers

The government is in talks with nine companies to locally produce 12 models of natgas cars, microbuses, and taxis, Trade Minister Nevine Gamea said yesterday. The ministry is lining up so-called “green incentives'' to encourage the companies, she said without providing further details. Local press reports suggested last month that participating companies could be in line for value-added tax and customs breaks on inputs.

We do know some of the companies getting involved: Toyota will work with the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) to produce microbuses, Italian industrial vehicle manufacturer Iveco will locally assemble 24-seaters, and VW has signed a preliminary agreement to produce natgas passenger cars, AOI head Abdel Moneim Al Tarras told Sada El Balad (watch, runtime: 3:37). Chinese automakers Foton and Jinbei are also expected to begin locally assembling natgas models in 2021, Khaled Saad, the secretary-general of the Egyptian Association of Automobile Manufacturers, told Enterprise last month.

El Sisi has also weighed in: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi held talks with representatives of major automotive manufacturers, and said his administration is prioritizing the natgas transition plan, Ittihadiya said.

Infrastructure

Three major energy players are working to deploy more natgas filling stations across the country, Qalaa Holdings Chairman Ahmed Heikal, whose company owns energy distributor Taqa Arabia, said on the airwaves last night (watch, runtime: 3:28). Taqa Arabia’s Master Gas and two state-owned players are working to expand the country’s network of natgas stations, he said, adding that around 300 stations would be built around the country over the next three years. This seems to be a pull-back from the Oil Ministry’s original target to give car owners access to at least 325 new stations in 2021 alone.

The central bank is also helping out with the costs of filling stations: It will lend out some EGP 5.3 bn to build 287 new natural gas filling stations, Amer said yesterday.

ٍState gas companies are getting a boost: State firms Cargas and Gastec will each receive EGP 100 mn to help convert 25k cars after signing financing agreements with the SMEs Development Authority yesterday, the Trade Ministry said in a statement. The money will be taken from the EGP 1.2 bn allocated to the authority last year to help finance the program.

IPO WATCH

Aman Holding wants to IPO

Raya subsidiary Aman Holding is eyeing an IPO in the coming two years, by which time it hopes to have captured more market share, Al Mal reports, citing unnamed sources. The ews comes after the National Bank of Egypt’s acquisition of a 24% stake last week. Aman also plans to double its capital to EGP 750 mn with the proceeds earmarked to fuel growth of its subsidiaries — Aman Financial Services, Aman E-Payments, and Aman Microfinance — as it adds points of sale and branches while growing its microfinance portfolio.

M&A WATCH

Beltone hands Auerbach keys to Indonesia’s MNC

Indonesian financial services firm PT MNC Kapital has acquired Beltone Financial’s majority stake in New York-based brokerage Auerbach Grayson, MNC said in a statement (pdf) yesterday. Beltone has remained tightlipped on the identity of the buyer, saying only that a group of investors had agreed to purchase its 60% stake in the brokerage. MNC is partnering with Auerbach co-founder David Grayson on the acquisition, who MNC said bought back the remaining shares in the brokerage firm, without disclosing how ownership will be distributed. The sale and purchase agreement has been finalized after earning approval from the US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority last week.

Beltone hopes to wave goodbye to a sea of red: The firm is offloading its stake following a string of losses since its purchase in 2016. Beltone CEO Ibrahim Karam said last year that the brokerage was responsible for “big” losses at the company, whose finances have remained in the red since 2018. Beltone reported a EGP 35.9 mn loss in the first nine months of 2020, an improvement on the EGP 63.3 mn loss in the same period the previous year.

About MNC Kapital: The company is owned by Indian businessman and politician Hary Tanoesoedibjo, who Reuters notes is a business partner of outgoing US President Donald Trump. MNC Kapital, a subsidiary of MNC Group, was set up as the holding company’s financial services arm in 1999 before going public in 2001.

TOURISM

Déjà vu

Orascom Investment Holding (OIH) looks set to snag the contract to develop the sound and light show at the Giza Pyramids after emerging as the sole bidder in the tender launched by the Sound and Light Cinema Company (SLCC). The Holding Company for Tourism and Hotels is now going to begin negotiations with OIH over the financial offer for the project, HOTAC Chairperson Mervat Hataba tells Masrawy. Five local and international companies were earlier reported to have expressed interest in the tender.

You’re not losing your mind: Orascom has been here before: OIH was awarded the same tender back in 2018, but failed to carry out the contracted work for the EGP 10 mn project, and paid a EGP 6 mn settlement to the SLCC in late 2019 instead. SLCC reissued the tender in September 2020 and specified new requirements for companies that would see them invest at least USD 15 mn in the project, while international firms would also need to create an Egyptian joint stock company with a minimum capital of EGP 25 mn.

This is part of a wider push by Orascom to dominate the redevelopment of the Giza plateau: Orascom Construction played a leading role in the construction of the Grand Egyptian Museum and the development of the plateau, Orascom Development Egypt is managing a plethora of services and facilities, while Orascom Pyramids is taking charge of the electric bus route that will take visitors around the complex.

DEBT WATCH

AT Lease gears up for new securitization

AT Lease gets preliminary approval for 1Q2021 securitized bond sale: AT Lease is looking to issue securitized bonds before the end of the quarter after receiving an early go-ahead from regulators, the company said in an EGX filing (pdf). The company said last year that it was looking to offload EGP 1 bn of its portfolio for the three-tranche issuance that was initially expected to go ahead in 3Q2020. The leasing company also plans to expand its factoring services for SMEs — which it launched last October after obtaining its license — during FY2021.

The securitized bond market heated up last year, with CI Capital’s Corplease just last weekend closing a record EGP 2.7 bn sale and GB Auto subsidiaries GB Lease and Drive taking to market a combined EGP 2.9 bn of bonds. The Financial Regulatory Authority said last month that five companies were planning seven issuances worth a combined EGP 9.3 bn are in the pipeline. Amer Group Holding, City Edge, and Talaat Moustafa Group subsidiary Al Rehab Securitization are among the names expected to tap the market.

OTHER DEBT NEWS-

Al Marasem Development is getting a EGP 2.3 bn syndicated loan this month to develop its Fifth Square project in New Cairo, CEO Tarek Helmy told Hapi Journal. The facility was provided by a syndicate led by Banque Misr that could also include the Export Development Bank Of Egypt, Arab Investment Bank, Al Baraka Bank Egypt, Industrial Development Bank, and MIDbank.

El Marakby Steel has landed an EGP 370 mn syndicated facility from the National Bank of Egypt, MIDbank, and the Egyptian Arab Land Bank, reports Al Mal. Proceeds will be used to finance working capital and new investments.

enterprise

TELECOMS

Google links up with TE

Google is looking to bump its international traffic capacity and reliability by tapping Telecom Egypt’s (TE) Mediterranean subsea cable and crossing network infrastructure. The two companies signed an agreement that will see the state-owned landline monopoly provide Google with a three meshed solution that connects several of TE’s cable landing stations in the Red and Mediterranean seas, according to a TE statement (pdf). The agreement will grant Google capacity on TE’s Mediterranean submarine cable, TE North. The project is expected to go live in 1H2021.

An expanded international presence and strengthened network infrastructure are expected to underpin TE’s revenue growth this year, which the company expects to be in the mid-to-high single digits, according to its 2021 guidance (pdf). TE is also looking to diversify its revenue streams by developing their network infrastructure and building new data center facilities.

REGULATION WATCH

How about a vacation to Basel instead?

Banks have until 1 January 2022 to comply with updated Basel III requirements — aka Basel IV — on managing operational risks, according to a Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) circular (pdf). The Basel Accords aim to ensure that financial institutions have enough capital on account to meet financial obligations and absorb unexpected losses. Banks in Egypt will need to send their forms to a special CBE email certifying their compliance with the Basel IV framework.

What’s all about? It’s all about standardized methods for dealing with risk at banks, including how it is assessed and how much reserve capital various banks have to have on hand as a counterweight.

Want to know more about the Basel Accords? Check our explainer on Basel I-III and then head here.

FROM THE REGION

Is the Arab Quartet ending its rift with Qatar?

Qatar could be coming in from the cold: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain have reportedly agreed ink a pact ending their feud with Qatar, ending a 3.5-year diplomatic crisis, a senior Trump administration official was quoted as saying by Reuters. The agreement should be inked at today’s GCC summit, taking place in the Saudi province of Al Ula. The quartet had ended diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Doha in 2017 over Islamist meddling in regional affairs.

Riyadh will reopen its land, sea, and air borders with the statelet ahead of the summit and made clear its intention to lift the blockade, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Ahmad Nasser al-Sabah said yesterday. Tomorrow’s meeting will help to unite Gulf nations “in the face of challenges facing the region,” Saudi state media quoted Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman as saying. Read: Iran.

We haven’t yet heard anything official coming out of Egypt, the UAE or Bahrain. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson quietly supported rapprochement, pledging cooperation with “sincere efforts” to resolve the dispute, but no senior officials have yet commented on the negotiations.

The nutter in Turkey is happy: Ankara said it welcomed the move by Saudi and hailed it as a key step to resolve the dispute, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement cited by Reuters. Qatar’s close relationship with Turkey has been one of the reasons the Arab Quartet severed diplomatic ties with the Gulf nation in 2017. Doha had also been handed 12 other demands — including closing Al Jazeera, cutting links with the Ikhwan, and demoting ties with Iran. At the time, those demands or “principles” were said to serve as a framework for future talks to end the dispute.

Investors will need more than a unified GCC before buying big into Gulf bonds, Bloomberg says. Any steps taken today towards mending relations will be warmly received by investors, but president-elect Joe Biden’s foreign policy and the deteriorating relations between Washington and Tehran are holding the attention of bond traders, meaning that bigger geopolitical moves will likely be necessary before bonds can rally.

MOVES

Mohamed Farid and Naglaa El Bayli have been tapped as assistant planning ministers, following a decision by Planning and Economic Development Minister Hala El Said, according to a ministry statement. Farid is now assistant minister for national projects and El Bayli is assistant minister for asset management and investments.

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The prospect of rapprochement with Qatar + the natgas transition plan stole the limelight on the airwaves last night. We have the full stories above.

Egypt is willing to end the dispute, provided Qatar stops meddling in its internal affairs. This was Amr Adib’s take on the most recent Ittihadiya statement on the matter (watch, runtime: 2:46). The Sisi administration welcomes the “sincere intentions” to end the rift, including the Kuwaiti mediation efforts, said the El Hekaya host, who was in full-on Qatar mode for much of last night. Saudi reporter Jasser Al Jasser (watch, runtime: 8:00) and Egyptian journalist Emad El Din Adib told Adib that Saudi Arabia is speaking for all four members of the quartet in its intent to secure an agreement.

Rapprochement with Qatar is a last ditch attempt by the Trump administration to score a foreign policy win, Adib said. Qatari lobbyists were also apparently successful in getting on the right side of Washington and convincing it to push for agreement, he added.

Tap / click here for the full conversation between the two Adib brothers (runtime: 21:18).

Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa, meanwhile, says that Egypt will not restore ties with Qatar — and that we won’t be attending today’s summit (watch, runtime: 10:57). Moussa put together bits and pieces of recent comments by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and argued that it would be a mistake to believe that Qatar will stop “conspiring against the country.”

The expo to publicise the government’s natural gas plans was another popular topic among the talking heads last night. Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hossary took note of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s inauguration of the three-day event (watch, runtime: 6:55), while Trade Minister Nevine Gamea told Al Hayah Al Youm that the private sector is the state’s “main partner” in the plans, without elaborating (watch, runtime: 8:08). Gamea gave the talk show host the broad strokes of the multi-year program, which we detail in the story above.

COVID WATCH

The Health Ministry reported 1,277 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 1,309 the day before. The ministry also reported 58 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 7,863. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 143,464 confirmed cases of covid-19.

A new initiative will see ministry officials travel to the hardest-hit areas of the country and test the oxygen levels of covid patients isolating at home, Youm7 reports. People with blood oxygen levels below 90% will be sent to hospital, Zayed said at a presser yesterday.

Covid-related deaths accounted for 3.3% of the country’s overall deaths last year, Zayed said (watch, runtime: 03:09). While the ministry’s official tally reports all known covid-19 cases, Egypt is like many other countries that only record around 10-15% of actual cases, as many people choose to get treated at home and do not report their infection. Some 85% of positive cases in Egypt don’t even realize that they are infected because they are asymptomatic, the minister noted.

Hospitals and clinics where the covid-19 vaccine will be administered are being whipped into shape ahead of the rollout of our national vaccination program, with Health Minister Hala Zayed issuing orders yesterday to get the Katameya Clinical Hospital prepared by tomorrow, according to a statement. The preparations include ensuring all medical equipment and vaccine refrigerators are functioning, and creating an automated system that links to the vaccine registration website and the ministry’s hotline. Regulators approved the emergency use of China’s Sinopharm 79%-effective vaccine earlier this week and the rollout is expected to begin sometime between the second and third weeks of January.

The Health Ministry will send medical teams to check oxygen supplies at hospitals and set up a new unit to monitor supplies nationwide, the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

This comes a day after a video allegedly shot in a Sharqia hospital sparked outrage on social media: The video alleged that a shortage of oxygen in the hospital caused a number of covid patients to die, and seems to depict nurses struggling to keep people alive. Sharqia Governor Mamdouh Ghorab and Health Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed have both denied that the patients died due to insufficient oxygen supplies.

More than 16k cafes, stores, and restaurants were shut down for a week by the government for getting lax on covid-19 precautions, Assistant Local Development Minister Khaled Kassem said on the airwaves yesterday (watch, runtime: 7:33).

New lockdowns in Lebanon and the UK: Lebanon is going into a three-week lockdown and the UK will return to restrictions last seen in March as cases surge in both countries.

The world’s first shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in the UK, AP reports.

Moderna to accelerate vaccine production: The company now expects to produce 600 mn doses of its vaccine this year rather than 500 mn as it ramps up investment and hiring to boost production capacity. The EU is expected to make a decision on the vaccine this week.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Leading the conversation on Egypt in the foreign press this morning: The Telegraph and the Independent report that the person who uploaded the video apparently showing nurses in a hospital in Sharqia struggling to keep covid patients alive without oxygen has been taken in for questioning.

From the Department of the Obvious: Egypt’s post-covid tourism recovery will be gradual (Reuters) and (yawn) it’s been 10 years since the “Arab Spring” (Haaretz). Meanwhile: The CPJ is calling for the release of a freelance reporter and photographer.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Other things we’re keeping an eye on this morning:

  • Toyota and Siemens have both qualified to bid for the tender to establish an supervisory energy control center for the Alexandria Electricity Distribution Company. The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will provide USD 65 mn to finance the project as well as another energy control center in the governorate.
  • Al Ismaelia for Real Estate Investment plans to earmark EGP 120 mn for real estate projects in Downtown Cairo this year, with a plan to invest EGP 900 mn over the next three years.
  • Export duties on some scrap metals, paper waste, and ores will remain in place until the end of the year.

PLANET FINANCE

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A global green bond boom may be coming in 2021: Governments and companies could issue up to USD 500 bn in green bonds this year — nearly half the total raised by the climate-friendly securities since their inception — as policymakers prioritize a green-led recovery from the pandemic, Swedish bank SEB says, according to the Financial Times. HSBC estimates a more modest USD 310-360 bn in total 2021 green bond issuance.

The EU plans to launch EUR 225 bn worth of green bonds, as part of its covid-19 recovery plan. But analysts say that the US market, which lags an estimated USD 326 bn behind Europe, may see particular growth this year. The current shortage of green bonds may have created a so-called “greenium,” with higher costs for investors and lower borrowing costs for issuers.

This could be good news for Egypt, which closed the region’s first ever issuance of sovereign green bonds in September, selling USD 750 mn of bonds to investors before listing them on the London Stock Exchange. Investors gobbled up the five-year securities, submitting USD 3.7 bn in bids and accepting a payout 50 bps lower than the initial 5.75% yield. The green bonds were 5x oversubscribed, showing substantial investor appetite.

Also worth knowing:

  • In late-breaking news, the NYSE looks like it is backtracking on the delisting of three big Chinese telecoms companies.
  • Oil prices are again approaching the USD 50 / bbl mark as OPEC+ met yesterday to decide on February production levels, Bloomberg reports. Possibly driving the price rise: A weakened USD boosting demand for USD commodities, along with nervousness over reported US-Iran tensions.
  • The Fiat Chrysler-PSA merger has been greenlit by PSA shareholders, bringing them one step closer to creating the world’s fourth largest automaker: A new company called Stellantis, Reuters reports.

Down

EGX30

10,814

-0.3% (YTD: -0.3%)

None

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.67

Sell 15.77

None

USD at CIB

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

8,667

+0.6% (YTD: -0.3%)

Up

ADX

5,115

+0.7% (YTD: +1.4%)

Up

DFM

2,579

+2.9% (YTD: +3.5%)

Down

S&P 500

3,700

-1.5% (YTD: -1.5%)

Up

FTSE 100

6,571

+1.7% (YTD: +1.7%)

Down

Brent crude

USD 50.69

-2.1%

Up

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 2.60

+2.4%

Up

Gold

USD 1,946.70

+2.7%

Down

BTC

USD 31,032

-6.3%

The EGX30 fell 0.3% yesterday on turnover of EGP 1.2 bn (10% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net buyers. The index is down 0.3% YTD.

In the green: Madinet Nasr Housing (+2.6%), Cleopatra Hospital (+2.2%) and Juhayna (+2.0%).

In the red: Orascom Development (-2.7%), Dice (-1.7%) and Pioneers (-1.7%).

AROUND THE WORLD

Sudan refused to attend GERD negotiations yesterday after Egypt and Ethiopia failed to respond to its request to increase the role of the African Union in the talks, the Sudanese Irrigation Ministry said in a statement. Sudan threatened to boycott the talks last year if the AU wasn’t brought in to meditate the negotiations, which have made little headway over the past 12 months. The Egyptian Irrigation Ministry said that Egyptian and Ethiopian technical and legal teams met yesterday in preparation for a ministerial meeting with AU chair South Africa on 10 January.

Trump is making a last-ditch attempt to prevent a Biden presidency: The outgoing president is attempting to raise the pressure on Republican lawmakers who intend to certify the Democratic president-elect’s victory, denouncing them as a “Surrender Caucus” planning to validate “fraudulent” electoral results. The Donald is due to leave the White House on 20 January when Biden is sworn in as the next president of the US.

ON YOUR WAY OUT

Egypt’s Mo Salah and Mohamed Elneny may be making international moves: Real Madrid are eyeing up Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, their “big target for next summer,” according to Sky Sports journalist Angelo Mangiante. Salah himself has indicated his possible interest in leaving Liverpool for Real Madrid or rival Spanish club Barcelona, King Fut reports. Meanwhile, Turkish club Besiktas are reportedly interested in resigning Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny, and veteran goalkeeper Essam el Hadary has been named the new president of the UAE’s second-division Liwa. El Hadary announced his retirement from football in 2020.

CALENDAR

January: US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is to visit Egypt (TBC)

4-6 January: (Monday-Wednesday): The Go Green Exhibition to support the government’s campaign to convert vehicles to natural gas engines, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo.

7 January (Thursday): Coptic Christmas, national holiday.

13-31 January (Wednesday-Sunday): Egypt will host the 2021 Men’s Handball World Championship in four venues in Alexandria, Cairo, Giza and the New Capital.

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

25-29 January (Monday-Friday): The World Economic Forum’s “Davos Dialogues” (virtual)

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

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

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

6-18 February (Saturday-Thursday): Mid-year school break (public schools — enjoy the break from bumper-to-bumper traffic)

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

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

13 April (Monday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

25 April (Sunday): Sinai Liberation Day.

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

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

1 May (Saturday): Labour Day (national holiday)

3 May (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

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

13-15 May (Thursday-Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

18-21 May (Tuesday-Friday): The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting “The Great Reset”

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

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

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

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

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

30 June (Wednesday): June 30 Revolution Day

1 July: (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 30 June Revolution

30 June- 15 July: National Book Fair.

1 July (Thursday): Large taxpayers that have not yet signed on on to the e-invoicing platform will suffer a host of penalties, including removal from large taxpayer classification, losing access to government services and business, and losing subsidies.

19 July (Monday): Arafat Day (national holiday)

20-23 July (Tuesday-Friday): Eid Al Adha (national holiday)

23 July (Friday): Revolution Day (national holiday)

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

9 August (Monday): Islamic New Year

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

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day

7 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday

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

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

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

Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish below between the actual holiday and its observance.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2020 Enterprise Ventures LLC.