Sunday, 14 February 2021

EnterpriseAM — Covid cases could be on track to peak in April — right before Ramadan

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. We love you folks, each and every one of you — thank you for starting your weekday mornings with us.

THE BIG STORY here at home to start your workweek: New daily cases of covid-19 could peak in April, Health Minister Hala Zayed suggested on Thursday. That’s just in time for the month of Ramadan, which is set to begin on or about 13 April. (That’s 58 days away, for those of you keeping count at home). We have chapter and verse in this morning’s Covid Watch, below.

CATCH UP QUICK- Weekend amnesia have you scratching your head about where we left things off on Thursday? The big stories at week’s end in EnterprisePM were:

  • Taaleem Management Services is about to break our IPO drought, announcing its intention to make an initial public offering of its shares on the EGX some time in 1Q2021.
  • Egypt was Africa’s most-active destination for VCs last year, accounting for nearly a quarter of all transactions on the continent.
  • State-owned El Nasr Automotive plans to begin assembling electric vehicles in Egypt sometime in July, by which time it should be done setting up its assembly lines.

THE BIG STORY INTERNATIONALLY this morning- Donald Trump was acquitted of charges of inciting insurrection in his second impeachment trial yesterday in a Senate vote that fell two votes short of the majority needed for a conviction. Seven Republican senators broke rank and joined Democrats in voting against the former president — the most bipartisan support for a conviction in the senate’s history. Although Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell voted against Trump’s impeachment on the grounds that it was unconstitutional to put Trump on trial after leaving office, he still held Trump “practically and morally responsible” for the violence at Capitol Hill last month that left five people dead.

Everyone everywhere has the story: Bloomberg I Washington Post l Wall Street Journal l New York Times

ALSO: One of our biggest trade, tourism and investment partners officially has a new prime minister after “Super” Mario Draghi was sworn in yesterday to lead a “unity” government. Readers will remember Draghi as the well-regarded former head of the European Central Bank.

HAPPENING THIS WEEK-

IN THE HOUSE- A bill that would hand investors an income tax break on interest earned from bonds issued abroad — introduced as an amendment to Law 182 of 2020, which repealed an income tax exemption on income derived from treasury holdings — is up for discussion in a plenary session at the House of Representatives. MPs are also set to discuss (and potentially vote on) the Senate’s bylaws, which earned the House Constitutional Affairs Committee’s sign-off last week.

Ministers’ policy statements are still on the agenda, with the plenary session scheduled to discuss a committee report on Information Minister Osama Heikal’s address to parliament. MPs were less than pleased with the minister’s statements, leading at least one to publicly call for the entire ministry to be scrapped again. Justice Minister Omar Marwan is separately due to deliver his own policy statement.

Today is your last chance to settle late taxes — including VAT, income, and real-estate tithes — and still get 50% break on penalties.

Students have until tomorrow night to apply for admission to private universities in Egypt through the Higher Education Ministry’s new online applications portal.

The Columbia Entrepreneurs Organization will be hosting a MENA x CEO panel on venture capital and entrepreneurism in our neck of the woods. The gathering headlined “Investor Perspectives from New York to North Africa” takes place on Wednesday, 17 February. Lots of friends are among the panelists, including Global Ventures Managing Director Amal Enan, HOF Capital Managing Partner Onsi Sawiris, AAF Management General Partner and CFO Omar Darwazah and AUC Entrepreneurship Professor Ayman Ismail. Tap or click here to register.

Our politicians are going to be labeled on Twitter as … politicians. Egypt is among 16 countries where the verified Twitter accounts of heads of state, government officials, ministers, spokespeople and ambassadors will receive labels notifying users of their positions, the social media company announced on Thursday. The changes, which take effect this Wednesday, 17 February, will be expanded in the coming months to include the official accounts of state-affiliated media channels. Twitter says it is introducing the changes to provide context to users and make them better informed.

Public schools and universities are getting an extra week tacked onto their mid-year holiday, but aren’t escaping mid-year exams. State-run schools and universities will now begin their second term on Sunday, 28 February instead of next Sunday, 21 February, according to a cabinet statement. The news was all over last night’s talk shows, with Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi among those taking note (and giving students an earful for wishing their end-of-term exams were getting scrapped) (watch, runtime: 5:56). Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal (watch, runtime: 2:57) and Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary also had coverage (watch, runtime: 1:26).

Expect more details today to come out of a press conference Education Minister Tarek Shawki is scheduled to hold at 5pm CLT today, according to a ministry statement.

Is going back to school and moving ahead with exams putting kids at risk? Not really, says Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad, who told Lamees that the number of infections in the country dipped when classes were held in person and rose when the country moved towards online learning, suggesting there is no real correlation between the two (watch, runtime: 15:50).

PSA- ITIDA and Visa are inviting Egyptian fintech startups and entrepreneurs to apply to their mentorship program, which will allow shortlisted companies to develop and test their platforms on Visa’s development API, and receive technical training and mentorship, ITIDA said in a statement (pdf) last week. Ten companies will be accepted, one of which will be awarded USD 20k prize at the end of the program. The deadline for entry is 3 March. Apply here.

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

Correction: 14 February 2021. A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Donald Trump had avoided impeachment for the second time.

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COVID WATCH

Are we in a third wave now?

Covid cases could be on track to peak in April: That was Health Minister Hala Zayed’s message to the World Health Organization (WHO) during a meeting on Thursday, explaining that the expectation is based on cases typically peaking in the seventh week of each wave, Zayed said. While the minister did not explicitly say it, our math suggests that being seven weeks out from the “peak” means that we are now in the third wave, putting us on track to hit the next crescendo about a week before Ramadan. Presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag Eldin had said last month that we had already passed the peak of the second wave.

Cases have risen steadily the past seven days, hitting 600 new cases last night after touching a low of 509 last Saturday, 6 February. New cases hit 603 on Thursday evening and 609 in Friday night’s report.

Reason for (cautious) optimism: Deaths have been inching down over the past few days from 53 on Thursday and 42 on Friday, to 36 reported yesterday. This is the lowest single-day death toll since 22 December. Then again: Deaths are a trailing indicator, and the uptick in new cases this past week suggests it will rise again.

Shoring up our oxygen reserves + supplies: Egypt has 1.16 mn liters of liquid oxygen in reserve, Zayed said at a meeting of the covid-19 crisis management committee yesterday, and the Health Ministry has purchased 1.7k new oxygen flowmeters to replace old meters and minimize oxygen waste, according to a cabinet statement. Zayed’s status report on Egypt’s oxygen supplies comes after public hospitals came under scrutiny last month, when alleged oxygen shortages reportedly resulted in the death of four covid-19 patients.

Patients with chronic illnesses and all medical staff at all hospitals across the country will begin receiving covid-19 vaccines as of next Saturday, after the ministry completed the inoculation of medical staff at 363 isolation and fever hospitals last week, Zayed said at the Thursday WHO meeting.

We’re waiting for at least two large shipments of vaccine by the end of February, including the first shipments from a 5-8 mn dose order from Covax and some 300k from China’s Sinopharm.

Speaking of which: The WHO still needs USD 27 bn to fund its Covax scheme to ensure equitable covid-19 vaccine distribution to developing countries, leaving many countries at risk of spikes in infection and death rates, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing on Thursday.

An all-in-one shot on the horizon? German pharma company CureVac plans to use artificial intelligence to predict future covid-19 mutations, and has partnered with the UK government and GlaxoSmithKline to rapidly produce mRNA vaccines in response, Bloomberg reports. The companies also plan to develop a vaccine that can address multiple variants in one shot.

African countries that are unaffected by the South African covid-19 variant should go ahead with the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement on Wednesday. The WHO is still recommending the vaccine even for countries with the variant strain, the Washington Post reported.

COMMODITIES

Did someone say super-cycle?

Just in time for the super-cycle, we were treated to a flurry of commodities news over the weekend:

Egypt could export significantly more potatoes to Russia this season: Russia, which is increasingly importing more of the produce, is facing rising prices at home and issues with the quality of tubers stored in warehouses, Fresh Plaza reports. The season’s first shipment of Egyptian potatoes landed two weeks earlier than it did in the 2019-2020 season, which suggests a more active shipping season.

Good news, but it’s probably not going to compensate for the higher wheat prices which are likely coming after Russia introduces export restrictions this week. Global wheat prices have already been edging up in recent weeks since news of the increase in duties first emerged in December before being confirmed last month. The restrictions, designed to stabilize domestic wheat prices in Russia, have already seen wheat shipments to Egypt drop by 50% this month. Egypt called off a January tender and is now looking to source wheat from elsewhere, including Canada, France and possibly the United States.

Over on planet soy: GASC paid 1.7% less in an international tender to import soybean oil that closed on Thursday, Agricensus reports, quoting unnamed market sources. The state buyer purchased 30k tonnes for delivery between mid-March and early April from grain exporter Cargill. While there was no mention of the origin of the produce, much of GASC’s soybean oil purchases in its latest reported tender came from Argentina.

But this might not last as a drought in Brazil could soon drive up soy prices. Delays in harvest at the top soybean producer is nudging exporters, including Egypt, to rely on rival producers in the US, Reuters reported, citing government data and traders. Egypt, along with Mexico, made their biggest soybean purchases from the US on record last month, according to USDA data.

Meanwhile, the value of Egypt’s food exports to China grew 21% in 2020 to USD 36 mn, Tameem El Dawy, the deputy executive director of the Food Export Council said, according to Youm7. Egypt primarily sold sugarcane bagasse and frozen strawberries, which accounted for 87% of shipments to the world’s second largest commodities importer, El Dawy said.

Egypt’s spending on oil imports plunged by 32.3% in 2020, reaching USD 6.38 bn compared to USD 9.42 bn in 2019, according to Capmas figures. The report does not include the volume of oil imports from last year, making it difficult to ascertain whether the drop in spending is more due to global oil prices falling through the floor or Egypt’s plan to trim its spending on oil as part of a longer term strategy to ramp up exploration and set up new production to cover more domestic consumption. We think it’s safe to say that both factors lent a helping hand. The downside risk: Oil rallied above the USD 60 / bbl mark for the first time in a year earlier this month — and is currently trading at USD 62.43 — which some trading houses suggested puts crude in “overbought territory” and means a price pullback is in the cards.

TRANSPORT

Green car incentive program to cost EGP 7.1 bn in stage one

The first stage of the government’s green car incentive program will cost state coffers EGP 7.1 bn, according to a Finance Ministry statement. The program aims to swap out 250k vehicles over 20 years old with new vehicles that can run on both natural gas and petrol. Seven governorates will participate in round one, the ministry said. Borrowers will take our money on a 10-year term with a 3% declining interest rate.

BACKGROUND- Cabinet approved the financial incentives program last week, giving private vehicle owners up to 10% off of the cost of a new vehicle — with the ceiling set at EGP 22k — and providing taxi and microbuses with 20% and 45% off, up to a maximum of 45k and 65k, respectively.

M&A WATCH

Is ADIB about to sell Assiut Islamic Trading?

A group of investors want to acquire up to 100% of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank subsidiary Assiut Islamic Trading. The investors — led by Amr Ibrahim Abdel Nasser and Mohamed Ahmed Shalaby — filed a mandatory tender offer for the 76% stake they don’t already own, the Financial Regulatory Authority said in a filing to the EGX (pdf). The investors have offered to buy the 5+ mn shares at EGP 28.5 apiece, valuing the stake at close to EGP 145 mn. Amr Ibrahim Abou El Oyoun Abdel Nasser is a non-executive board member in Assiut Islamic Trading.

What is Assiut Islamic Trading? A commodities and equipment wholesaler that has had a zombie listing on the EGX since 1996. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank owns 66% of the company, a 40% stake it owns directly and 26% through its subsidiaries including Cairo National Company Investments.

IN OTHER M&A NEWS-

Maridive Oil & Services looks like it’s set to offload subsidiary Maridive Offshore Projects after formally receiving a USD 48 mn offer from Jeddah-based Al Subaie Investment Group to acquire 100% of the company, Maridivde said in a disclosure (pdf) on Thursday. The offer will be up for board approval today, and the company will still seek regulatory approval before closing the sale, the disclosure said. EGX-listed Maridive said last March it had opened talks with its creditors as covid-19 and the ensuing collapse in oil prices took their toll on the business. Al Subaie had expressed interest in Maridive Offshore Projects in June, but no details were announced at the time.

ECONOMY

Taking stock

Egypt recorded a primary budget surplus of EGP 18.1 bn in 7M2020-2021, up from EGP 14 bn at the end of 1H2020-21, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said yesterday during a meeting with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, according to an Ittihadiya statement.

State revenues rose 16% y-o-y, a marked improvement from the EGP 115 bn shortfall in tax revenue in the previous fiscal year resulting from the economic fallout caused by covid-19. Overall public spending also increased 12.4% during the first seven months of the fiscal year, the minister said. Spending on social security programs was up 24% to EGP 114 bn.

The overall budget deficit narrowed to 4.4% from 4.6% during the same period the previous fiscal year, but widened from the 3.6% recorded at the end of 1H2020-2021.

ENERGY

Dana Gas says Egypt asset sale didn’t do its earnings any favors

Dana Gas points to Egypt asset sale for its 2020 losses: Abu Dhabi-listed energy producer Dana Gas reported a net loss of USD 376 mn in 2020, compared to a net profit of USD 157 mn the year before, according to an earnings release (pdf). The Emirati firm attributed the bulk of the losses to Egypt, saying that it incurred a USD 412 mn impairment that was “mostly related to” the sale of its onshore assets in Egypt, and also saw a dip in revenues because of lower production levels in Egypt, coupled with lower realized prices.

Dana had sold its Egypt assets for less than half of its original asking price, agreeing to hand over the portfolio to IPR Wastani Petroleum for USD 236 mn, well below the USD 500 mn price tag it had hoped to fetch. The sale is due to close in 1H2021, the company said in its release. “When we agreed to sell our onshore assets in Egypt, we took an impairment in relation to those assets, both in relation to the fair valuation of those assets as well as a share of goodwill related to the purchase of those assets,” CEO Patrick Allman-Ward told Bloomberg TV (watch, runtime: 4:43). The impairment was therefore “a complete one-off,” Allman-Ward said.

DIPLOMACY

EastMed Gas Forum to come into effect 1 March

The Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum will come into force on 1 March, the foreign ministers of Egypt, Greece and Cyprus announced in a joint statement last week. Speaking on the sidelines of a regional forum in Greece, the three ministers said that the organization’s charter, signed in September, will be activated next month and officially establish it as a regional organization.

First proposed in 2019, the Cairo-based forum will serve as a market platform for regional natgas players to develop existing resources and infrastructure, as well as regulate the region’s natgas policies. The founding member states — Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine — will exchange information and seismic data on potential gas finds, and negotiate ownership of fields that straddle maritime borders.

ALSO FROM GREECE-

Close cooperation across the EastMed is the best way forward for all countries to achieve mutual benefits and address shared challenges, such as covid and illegal migration, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said at the Philia Forum in Athens. The minister also reiterated that Egypt wants to see all foreign military forces and mercenaries leaving Libya, and maintains that a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine to ensure regional peace and stability. The forum brought together representatives from Greece, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and France.

FINANCIAL INCLUSION

CBE waives fees for SMEs new e-payment services

SMEs can now set up digital payment channels without charge until the end of June, under a Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) decision (pdf). The CBE has waived fees for SMEs to set up online payment gateways and QR code infrastructure for e-commerce transactions in an effort to encourage small businesses to adopt digital payments and reduce the frequency of cash-based transactions. The decision comes as the pandemic helped double the use of e-payments, said CBE deputy governor Rami Aboul Naga.

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ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The highlight of last night’s talk shows: Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi’s extensive chat with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on the state of (and outlook for) the global economy, progress on vaccine programs around the world, and what the fund thinks Egypt is doing right and wrong. Tap / click here for the full segment (watch, runtime: 40:56).

The “harmony” between Egypt’s fiscal and monetary policymakers earned particular praise from the IMF boss, who said swift and targeted policy responses helped shield the most vulnerable sectors from bankruptcy and crippling job losses despite the pandemic. Georgieva said the partnership between the Central Bank of Egypt on the monetary side and the Finance Ministry on the fiscal side should continue beyond the pandemic to help the economy get back on its feet.

Egypt’s economic recovery moving forward would be best served by the government continuing to provide support to sectors like aviation and tourism, while moving ahead with its economic reform program to continue narrowing its budget deficit, Georgieva said. She also encouraged the government to create a more dynamic and competitive economy across all industries, and remain engaged with the IMF to remain prepared for any future shocks.

Globally, the outlook is mixed: 150 countries are not expected to return to pre-covid growth levels this year despite the global economy beginning to grow again, Georgieva said. This uneven recovery could be balanced out somewhat if the rollout of vaccines also becomes more equitable and is sped up, with global GDP positioned to tack on USD 9 tn by 2025 if global cooperation on vaccinations improves. The majority of the extra growth would be registered in developing countries, she said. That being said, what the year ahead ends up looking like depends on the outcome of the race between virus mutations and vaccine adaptations for these mutations, whether or not policymakers continue rolling out stimulus, and the scale of international cooperation to reach an adequate level of vaccine coverage.

The world is divided into four categories as far as vaccines go, which doesn’t help the disparity in growth outlooks, the IMF boss said. There are countries with vaccines secured from multiple manufacturers and the ability to roll them out quickly; a second category of countries with one or two types of vaccines but difficulties in distribution, and therefore low vaccination rates; a third category that manufactures vaccines and has the ability to distribute them; and then there’s the lowest-income countries who have yet to get their hands on any vaccines. Georgieva pointed to a handful of African countries where no vaccines have been administered thus far.

Another major highlight from the airwaves: Vice Minister of Finance Ahmed Kouchouk talking about the state privatization program and the latest eurobond issuance Egypt took to market last month. You can watch Kouchouk’s full interview on Nile TV’s Business Insider with Ayman Salah last week here (runtime: 37:02).

The state privatization program will resume once market conditions improve, and the government has been working with the Sovereign Fund of Egypt to get the pipeline of companies in tip-top shape during the pandemic, Kouchouk said. The program is a key step towards widening the investor base in Egypt’s assets, and will help increase private sector participation in the economy.

Reducing the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio is a top policy priority for the Finance Ministry, which plans to bring the ratio down to 80% of GDP by 2024, Kouchouk said. On the debt front, he pointed to Egypt’s recent USD 3.75 bn eurobond sale, saying the lower-than-expected yields are a reflection of investor confidence in the Egyptian economy, and noted that the bonds carry longer tenors as part of the government’s shift towards longer-term debt.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

The Arab Spring is still the topic du jour in the foreign press this morning, with Ikhwan-era planning minister Amr Darrag writing in the Guardian, the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen, and the Financial Times’ International Affairs editor David Gardner all looking back on events over the past 10 years. There’s more of the same from US public broadcaster PBS.

Egypt has “good reason to worry” about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam as the country could lose almost 50% of its share of the Nile – which currently represents 95% of its water consumption – if Ethiopia fills the reservoir within three years, the Economist said last Thursday. The talks may restart amid US efforts to mediate negotiations, but “do not expect an agreement soon,” it added.

Archaeologists in Sohag have unearthed what they think is the world’s oldest commercial-scale brewery, according to an Antiquities Ministry statement. Archaeologists say one batch at the brewery would have been about 22.4k liters of ethanolic beverages. The story is getting digital ink all over the foreign press: AFP I Associated Press I Guardian.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Qatar Airways Cargo to resume Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE operations with the appointment of new general sales agents, taking cargo sales and bookings starting Sunday, 21 February. Venus Air Cargo got the nod for Egypt. Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia formally re-established diplomatic ties and reopened their airspaces to Qatar last month after agreeing to normalize relations at a GCC summit in Saudi Arabia, bringing to an end 3.5 years of hostilities.

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

  • Ticket sales for NordStar Airlines’ weekly direct flights from Russia’s Rostov-on-Don to Cairo kicked off after the airliner got a nod from the Russian federal authorities to start the new flight route on Saturday, 20 February.
  • Budget airline Easyjet will begin running three weekly flights from Milan, and four weekly flights from London and Manchester to Sharm El Sheikh starting 30 March.
  • Indian solar energy company Sterling and Wilson has signed a USD 127.5 mn order agreement to construct a power plant in Egypt’s Kom Ombo for an unnamed Saudi Arabian renewable energy company, which we assume is Acwa Power.

PLANET FINANCE

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Even stonks that make it to the moon, must return to Earth: That’s the message from Muddy Waters’ Carson Block, who writes in the Financial Times that GameStop’s recent boom and bust should alert us to the fragility of the “stonk bubble” that lies before us. The dominance of passive investing and crazed speculation fueled by low interest rates has given us share prices that bear no relation to fundamentals, Block says, calling on policymakers to focus on deleveraging the market and address the market distortions before a passive fund-driven sell-off causes what he predicts could resemble a 1929-style market collapse.

Exhibit A: Investors poured a record USD 58 bn into global equity funds in the week (37.5% of it into US equities) to Wednesday, 10 February, the Financial Times reports, citing a report by the Bank of America (BofA) and fund-tracker EPFR Global data. Tech stocks snagged USD 5.4 bn during the week, driven by US equities and tech stocks, while bond funds attracted USD 10.6 bn. BofA’s gauge of market sentiment is approaching levels of extreme bullishness on the back of powerful stimulus measures across the world, low bond yields and optimism that global rollouts of covid-19 vaccines can lead to the revival of major economies.

None

EGX30

11,546

– (YTD: +6.5%)

Down

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.57

Sell 15.67

Down

USD at CIB

Buy 15.56

Sell 15.66

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

8,944

+0.5% (YTD: +2.9%)

None

ADX

5,667

– (YTD: +12.3%)

Up

DFM

2,634

+0.1% (YTD: +5.7%)

Up

S&P 500

3,935

+0.5% (YTD: +4.8%)

Up

FTSE 100

6,590

+0.9% (YTD: +2.0%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 62.43

+2.1%

Up

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 2.91

+1.5%

Down

Gold

USD 1,823.20

-0.2%

Down

BTC

USD 47,676.11

-0.1%

The EGX30 was flat on Thursday on turnover of EGP 1.56 bn (8.5% above the 90-day average). Local investors were net buyers. The index is up 6.46% YTD.

In the green: GB Auto (+3.4%), Palm Hills (+2.9%) and Ibn Sina (+1.0%).

In the red: Ezz Steel (-2.5%), MM Group (-1.4%) and ElSewedy Electric (-1.2%).

AROUND THE WORLD

The US and China still don’t see eye-to-eye — but that doesn’t mean they can’t work together. This was the takeaway from US President Joe Biden’s inaugural phone call with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Wednesday. Biden, who’s already well acquainted with Xi from his time as VP, raised concerns about Beijing’s aggressive economic policies and human rights abuses, yet left open avenues for cooperation on global issues, according to a White House readout. Xi also apparently prefers to dial back tensions, saying “confrontation between China and the US would certainly be a disaster for both countries and the world,” according to the official Chinese account of the call.

IN DIPLOMACY:

UN calls on Egypt to take some people off the terror list: UN experts are calling on Egypt to remove Palestinian-Egyptian activist Ramy Shaath and human rights lawyer Ziyad El Elaimy from the “terrorist” list that included them last April allegedly “without evidence,” the UN Human Rights Office said on Thursday. Both activists were arrested in June 2019. El Elaimy received a one-year jail sentence and an EGP 20k fine last March, while Shaath has been held for over 1.5 years in pretrial detention.

ON YOUR WAY OUT

Al Ahly took home the bronze medal at the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020 on Thursday, after beating Brazil’s Palmeiras in a penalty shootout following a goalless match. Goalkeeper Mohamed ElShennawy was crowned hero of the 3-2 shootout. Bayern Munich took home the main prize, beating Mexico’s Tigres 1-0 on Thursday night.

Missed the game? Catch the highlights here: (watch, runtime: 2:09).

Egyptian singer Ali Hemeida passed away last Thursday at the age of 55 after a battle with cancer, according to the official Facebook page of the Actors' Syndicate. Hemeida was catapulted to fame after releasing the 1980s pop hit Lolaky which sold mns of copies in Egypt and the region, but disappeared from the spotlight shortly afterwards. He was beset with financial struggles for years, and the government had recently approved covering his treatment expenses.

CALENDAR

February: France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, is set to visit Egypt.

6-27 February (Saturday-Saturday): Mid-year school break (public schools — enjoy the break from bumper-to-bumper traffic).

7-28 February (Sunday-Sunday): The Finance Ministry will receive applications from companies wishing to take part in the second phase of its program for the immediate payout of export subsidy arrears to exporters, minus a 15% fee.

12-15 February (Friday-Monday): Students will be able to apply for placement at private universities on the Higher Education Ministry’s electronic university admissions site

17 February (Wednesday): MENA x CEO MENA Entrepreneurship & VC Panel: Investor Perspectives from New York to North Africa will be hosted by the Columbia Entrepreneurs Organization.

20 February (Saturday): Final results of applications for private university places will be announced on the Higher Education Ministry’s electronic university admissions site

22-24 February (Monday-Wednesday): Second Arab Land Conference on land management, efficient land use, among other topics.

22 February- 5 March (Monday-Friday) Egypt will host the World Shooting Championship in 6 October’s Shooting Club, with 31 countries set to participate

26 February (Thursday): The Afro Future Summit will take place virtually.

28 February (Sunday) Deadline for businesses, sole traders, and those generating income from sources other than their day job to file wage tax returns through the electronic filing system.

March: Potential visit to Cairo by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

1 March: Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum comes into effect.

1-5 March (Monday-Friday): Aswan Forum for Peace and Development will take place virtually.

4-6 March (Thursday-Saturday): Cairo Fashion & Tex trade show, Cairo International Convention Centre, Cairo, Egypt

8 March (Monday): The IDC Future of Work Egypt conference will be held virtually featuring experts from Egypt and Jordan.

9-11 March (Tuesday-Thursday): EduGate 2021 – Enter The Future conference, Kempinski Royal Maxim Hotel, Cairo, Egypt.

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

1-3 April (Thursday-Saturday): HVAC-R Egypt Expo.

8-10 April (Thursday-Saturday): The TriFactory’s Endurance Festival at Somabay.

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 (TBC),

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

1 May (Saturday): Labor Day (national holiday).

2 May (Sunday): Easter Sunday.

3 May (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

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

25-28 May (Tuesday-Friday): The World Economic Forum annual meeting, Singapore.

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).

7 June-9 June (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

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, Cairo, Egypt.

30 June (Wednesday): 30 June 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.

12 August (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Islamic New Year.

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

30 September-2 October (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Projects 2021 expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

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.

21 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday.

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

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

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.

27 June – 3 July 2022 (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

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.

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