Sunday, 21 February 2021

Welcome, comrades: Are we closing in on Sputnik V — and direct flights to the Red Sea from Moscow?

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the final workweek of February. Thank you, once more, for the honour of writing you each weekday morning. Russia plays heavily in this morning’s news amid word that Moscow is making some 300 mn doses of its Sputnik V vaccine available to the African Union — and confusion over whether direct flights to Sharm and Hurghada are back back on.

*** CATCH UP QUICK- The top stories from Thursday’s edition of EnterprisePM:

  • Egypt’s first oil and gas bid round of 2021 is now live, with 24 onshore and offshore blocks up for grabs.
  • Natgas filling station operators appear to be getting a package of incentives, courtesy of the Central Bank of Egypt.
  • Credit Agricole and NBK Egypt are planning capital hikes this year to meet CBE requirements.

PSA- It’s looking like a clearer, drier start to the week. Expect sunny skies with cloudy periods and a daytime high of 19°C in the capital city. Alex is also looking at a mix of sun and clouds with a high of 17°C. The national weather service is calling for coastal showers along the North Coast and Sinai.

THINGS TO KEEP YOUR EYE ON- The FRA wants EGX-listed non-bank financial services players to get serious about anti-money laundry: EGX-listed NBFS houses and companies regulated by the Financial Regulatory Authority need to draft an internal manual outlining rules and controls to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, according to a statement carried by Youm7. The rulebook needs to outline a mechanism to identify suspicious transactions and an internal audit structure, among other requirements.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

ESG investing for Egyptian businesses: AmCham is hosting a webinar on investing for social and environmental impact tomorrow. Guest speakers include Qalaa Holdings’ Chief Sustainability and Marketing Officer Ghada Hammouda, Catalyst Partners co-founder Abdelaziz Abdel Nabi, executive advisor to the chairman of Egyptian Arab Land Bank Hanaa Al Hilaly, and Investia Capital Group Chairman Samir Al Alayli.

Madbouly to chat with the business community: AmCham and the Egypt-US Business Council will host a webinar headlined "Egypt: 2021 and Beyond" this Thursday, 25 February. Guest speaker Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly will talk about Egypt’s strategy to mitigate the effects of the global downturn as well as the country’s future plans to maintain economic growth.

Fintech startups can join a three-day “innovation sprint” in March organized by the central bank and the Financial Regulatory authority. The focus is on prototype fintech that can be rolled out to help overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic, the central bank said in a statement (pdf) last week. Applications closed on Friday.

enterprise

COVID WATCH

Are we closing in on a supply of Sputnik V?

Is this one way Egypt will get hold of the Russian vax? Russia has offered to provide 300 mn doses of its Sputnik V vaccine to the African Union along with financing for countries that want to secure shipments, the African Union’s vaccine procurement body said in a statement on Friday. Member states will have a 12-month window to place their orders for the vaccine, starting from May from the AU’s Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), and are now able to start the pre-order process.

How many doses could Egypt lock in through the program? It’s not clear right now. We reached out to the AU for comment, but hadn’t heard back by dispatch time.

What about an earlier agreement Egypt had with Russia? An agreement that the Russian sovereign wealth fund signed with local pharma player Pharco last year was supposed to see us import some 25 mn doses of the vaccine directly from Russia. Pharco’s role in the process is uncertain, with the chairman of subsidiary Pharco B, Yasser Fayed, telling us over the weekend that its participation in distribution hinges on a Health Ministry decision.

And what about manufacturing? Pharco founder and president Sherine Helmy said last year that the company could produce the vaccine here in Egypt, but Fayed played down the likelihood of this scenario panning out, telling us that it’s too early to say if the company will manufacture Sputnik.

What is clear: The Egyptian government still wants Sputnik, which has a 91.6% effectiveness rate. Health Minister Hala Zayed said earlier this month that “large shipments” of vaccines — partly consisting of Sputnik doses — would start arriving by the second half of this month. Reports last week suggested that Moscow may struggle to keep up with demand because of its decision to outsource production to other countries.

And we have the manufacturing capacity at Vacsera, the state-owned institute that’s one of the top vaccine producers in Africa. Sputnik by itself is unlikely to be sufficient: With 100 mn people to take care of, Egypt will need to tap multiple suppliers and vaccine initiatives to lock in a sufficient supply.

KEEP IT ALL IN CONTEXT- Egypt isn’t the only nation taking more time than policymakers would like to roll out its vaccination program. Pressure is growing on the government of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, for example, as Pfizer and Moderna have missed delivery deadlines.

MEANWHILE- Finance Minister Mohamed Maait has tested positive for coronavirus, Youm7 reports, citing unnamed sources. The minister is said to be in a stable condition and is reportedly self-isolating at his home.

Egypt’s Evangelical Church is gradually resuming prayer and other religious congregational services including weddings, funerals and other activities at its churches nationwide in a statement on Friday. The Church suspended all congregational services late last year amid rising cases of covid-19.

The Health Ministry reported 600 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 610 the day before and a recent high of 656 on Friday. The ministry also reported 48 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 10,298. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 177,543 confirmed cases of covid-19.

EDUCATION

The academic year just got longer at public universities

Public university students will start their summer holidays three weeks later than originally planned after the Supreme Council of Universities decided to extend the academic year to compensate for lost time because of covid-19 closures. Classes for the second term of the academic year were originally scheduled to run until 10 June, with exams set to be held in June and July. The three-week extension means the end-of-year exams will likely run into August. Students will resume classes next Saturday, 27 February, under a hybrid learning system that will send students and staff to campus a few days per week, depending on their majors.

Exams are on track to begin as planned, but students with covid-19 concerns can opt out of sitting for their assessments if they submit a request not to attend before the beginning of term one exams. Under article 80 of the executive regulations of the Universities Act, the Higher Education Ministry will accept these requests as legitimate and these students will not be given a failing grade for the missed exams. It is unclear, however, when the students would sit for an exam or whether they’d be asked to do extra work to compensate.

Universities will impose stricter measures to contain the spread of covid this semester compared to last, Higher Education Ministry spokesperson Adel Abdel Ghaffar told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi. The ministry will be closely monitoring the situation, particularly during exams, to avoid an outbreak of the disease, he said (watch, runtime: 11:51).

The government has warned that we could face the peak of a third wave of covid in the week before Ramadan, which is set to begin on or about 13 April.

SAT exam scores soon won’t be accepted at Egyptian universities: Students in grades 11 and 12 following the American curriculum who already took the SAT or were planning to sit for the exam before 15 August will be allowed to submit their score for admission to an Egyptian university, Education Minister Tarek Shawki said separately (watch, runtime: 34:47). Any scores from an SAT taken after the 15 August cut-off will not be accepted, and only the Egyptian Scholastic Test (EST) will be accepted as a valid standard test for university admission, Shawki said. The shunning of SATs comes as students have been traveling abroad to sit for the test since CollegeBoard canceled SATs in Egypt due to persistent test security issues, which the minister says has put these students at an advantage over their peers who sit for standardized tests here at home.

TOURISM

Uh … privet?

There’s confusion over whether Russia will resume direct flights to Egypt's Red Sea resorts after contradictory statements emerged at the end of last week about moves to finally end Russia’s five-year ban on flights from Moscow to Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada.

The mixed messages started on Thursday, when the head of Egypt’s Civil Aviation Authority, Ashraf Noweir, told Reuters that flights will be up and running by the end of March. Russian leisure airline Nordwind Airlines, he said, has submitted a request to restart flights to the Red Sea destinations starting 28 March.

Russian civil aviation agency Rosaviatsia nixed that suggestion the next day, saying it could not verify whether the airline would launch flights in March, the newswire reported separately.

Neither Egypt nor Russia’s governments have announced anything official on the resumption of flights, but Egypt’s airports are ready to welcome tourists from anywhere, Tourism Minister Khaled El Enany said in a (diplomatically-worded) phone-in to Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi. The minister noted that only 100k tourists have landed in Egypt since the resumption of commercial air travel in August, which he said isn’t commensurate with Egypt’s potential, but at least the numbers are growing (watch, runtime: 15:20).

A refresher: Russian flights to Red Sea destinations have been on hiatus since the 2015 crash of Metrojet Flight 9268 in the Sinai peninsula soon after it took off from Sharm El Sheikh.

Russia has been more hesitant than other European countries to restore flights to the region: The country has been taking what seems now like an everlasting rain check on resuming flights to the Red Sea resort. This is in contrast with the UK which gave the green light to relaunch flights to Sharm El Sheikh in October 2019, ending a four-year flight ban.

IN OTHER TOURISM NEWS-

Tourism is still down, but the recovery is underway: Average hotel occupancy in 2021 through mid-February was around 50%, compared to 80% over the same six-week period last year, Arab News reports, citing Deputy Tourism Minister Abdel Fattah Al Assi. The Tourism Ministry has recently launched the “Shetty Fe Masr” initiative to promote winter staycations.

That’s an improvement over what we saw through most of 2020: Average occupancy rates in four of Egypt’s biggest tourist hotspots fell below 50% last year after the pandemic shuttered the tourism industry in the second quarter and hit international travel across the world. Rates are forecast to pick up this year with the roll-out of covid-19 vaccines, which will help kickstart international travel.

Egypt wants to add another 10k hotel rooms by the end of the year, after developers finished constructing 4k new rooms that will open to holidaymakers after global travel restrictions are eased and borders reopen, a Tourism Ministry source tells the newspaper. The additional 10k rooms will give us a total national stock of 215k hotel rooms.

ENERGY

Eni scales back Egypt production after demand shock

Eni’s daily production of oil and gas from its Egypt-based assets fell 18% in 2020, as global energy markets reckoned with one of the biggest demand shocks in history thanks to the pandemic. Figures in the company’s full-year earnings statement (pdf) show that oil and gas production slumped to 291k barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) from 354k in 2019, while natural gas output fell 20% to 1,203 mn cubic feet per day. The energy major operates Egypt’s giant Zohr natural gas field, the Noor concession, and the Damietta LNG plant, among others.

Eni remained in the black for 2020, despite seeing revenues plunge 36% to EUR 18 bn. The company cut back on capital spending, allowing it to net a EUR 1.7 bn bottom line through the year, down 43% from almost EUR 3 bn in 2019.

SMEs

Small and mid-sized manufacturers are struggling to access bank finance, AUC study suggests

Small businesses have continued to have limited access to bank finance, and manufacturers have suffered more than most despite the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) efforts to increase SME-oriented lending and improve business conditions for the private sector, according to an AUC policy paper (pdf). The study — conducted by labor economist Mona Amer and Cairo University assistant professor Irene Selwaness — found that access to finance remains a “major constraint” for small and medium-sized manufacturers even as a plethora of CBE programs have tried to channel liquidity to the sector.

What’s to blame? The authors point the finger at how micro businesses and SMEs are defined, arguing that categorizing them based on turnover and capital while ignoring the staff headcount can produce biases that tip the scale to favor larger firms. They also argue that the central bank’s programs haven’t been sufficiently targeted at the businesses most in need of capital.

Problem-solving: To ensure that liquidity is provided to companies that most need it, the authors recommend that all existing funding schemes are monitored and evaluated, and that new programs that better target manufacturing SMEs are introduced. Non-bank lending could be promoted as alternative sources of finance for businesses, while financial training should be rolled out to bank employees to help them allocate credit effectively.

DEBT WATCH

Tawasol isn’t self-financing AMS acquisition

FACT CHECK- Is Tawasol Holdings self-financing its acquisition of a stake in Alexandria Medical Services? Not according to its financial advisor, Prime Capital, whose managing director Sherif Bolbol told Enterprise that the company could turn to bank finance to fund the transaction. Al Mal reported on Thursday that Tawasol is planning to self-finance the takeover, but Bolbol tells us that it is in advanced talks with an unnamed bank and that the exact structure of financing will be decided later.

The transaction is c. 2 months away from closing: All documents related to the purchase offer, which includes development plan and listing status, will be submitted within two months to the EGX and the Financial Regulatory Authority, he added. Tawasol Holdings, which already holds a 25.92% stake in Alex Medical, is looking to take full ownership of the company by snapping up the remaining stake at EGP 38.09 per share.

OTHER DEBT NEWS-

Egypt Learning Group (ELG) will receive a EGP 113 mn loan from the National Bank of Egypt to fund the establishment of an international schools complex in Sixth of October City, Al Shorouk reports, citing unnamed banking sources. The long-term facility will fund 41% of the EGP 275 mn first phase of the project. ELG had invested a separate EGP 1 bn in two schools — the Leeds English School and Leeds British School — in Sheikh Zayed and the Fifth Settlement respectively.

REAL ESTATE

Real estate companies paying up to comply with new North Coast land regs

Top national players including Sodic, Emaar Misr, and Palm Hills are among hundreds of real estate developers in talks over payments to regularize the status of their land on the North Coast under new regulations ratified by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi last year, Al Shorouk reports, citing unnamed government sources. The new regulations are part of the government’s redevelopment plan for the “western” North Coast, which place some 707k feddans on the coast under the ownership of the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) to set up its own developments. This development plan is expected to be complete over four-five years.

The only problem is that the decision covers land that developers have already purchased and built compounds on, and it appears that the prior purchase and development of land plots does not exempt them from having to pay a fee to regularize their status. Around 200 companies are now on track to regularize the status of some 250k feddans within six months, and 15 companies have submitted the necessary paperwork and signed agreements so far, the government sources say.

IPO WATCH

Prime Group to debut two subsidiaries on EGX this year

Prime Group plans to debut its subsidiaries Prime Hospitality and Prime Real Estate on the EGX this year, Prime Group Chairperson Tamer Wagih told Masrawy. Wagih did not provide further details on the expected size of the stake sales. The company is currently studying the planned listings and should have a clearer picture by the end of 1Q2021. The company also plans to establish a EGP 1.5 bn Prime Outlet Cairo Mall on the Cairo Ismailia Desert road in 1Q2022, Wagih said.

ENVIRONMENT WATCH

AfDB could be the newest lender to support our water-saving plan

The African Development Bank is reportedly lining up to help us farm more efficiently, with Al Mal quoting unnamed sources it says have knowledge of the matter that AfDB could back a product that could help rehabilitate an inefficient agricultural wastewater system. The project will modernize an outdated network covering 600k feddans of agricultural land, 450k of which are in lower Egypt and 150k of which are in Upper Egypt, and will expand and deepen drainage canals serving 100k feddans nationwide. The project aims to retrieve higher quality wastewater to be reused for irrigation as part of a USD 50 bn multi-year water-saving plan through 2037.

The Irrigation Ministry is undecided on how much it plans to secure from the multilateral lender, with the remainder of the financing set to come from state coffers.

Authorities have been stepping up efforts to bolster Egypt's water infrastructure: The long term plan involves encouraging the use of modern irrigation methods, the cultivation of fewer water-intensive crops, and the establishment of desalination plants. Expanding irrigation networks to reduce agricultural water use is a policy priority in 2021, with the government planning to provide loans and technical support to farmers covering 300k feddans, Irrigation Ministry spokesperson Mohamed Ghanem previously told Enterprise.

The plan has gained a new sense of urgency over the past few years, particularly after Egypt’s share of Nile water fell by 5 bn cbm in 2019 due to decreasing rainfall in the Ethiopian highlands. More pressing shortages are set to occur in the near future with the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam potentially curbing Egypt’s water supply, and too little or too much rainfall brought about by the effects of climate change causing more waste if the grid is not upgraded.

But it hasn’t been an easy undertaking: Improving water grid infrastructure in Cairo alone over the last five years ate up EGP 5.5 bn, Cairo Wastewater Company Chairman Adel Hassan told Enterprise last year. An in-the-works plan to rehabilitate and depollute Egypt’s longest agriculture waste drain — the 69 km Kitchener drain running through the Nile Delta — is expected to cost EUR 481 mn. Constructing a wastewater treatment facility is also another costly endeavor, with the planned Bahr El Baqar water treatment system expected to set the state back some EGP 25 bn.

WANT A PRIMER ON OUR AILING WATER INFRASTRUCTURE? Hardhat took a deep dive late last year on what were the causes of leakages in our drinking water and irrigation water infrastructure, and what we’re doing about it. Read: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

EARNINGS WATCH

Consumer healthcare outfit IDH says it will beat FY2020 guidance

London-listed, Cairo-headquartered consumer healthcare firm Integrated Diagnostic Holdings (IDH) beat its guidance for FY2020, saying in a trading update that it expects to post revenues of c. EGP 2.6 bn with an EBITDA margin in excess of 40%. The company had previously suggested it expected revenues to close in the EGP 2.3-2.4 bn range for the fiscal year ending 31 December 2020. “Following Covid-19-related disruptions early in the year, starting in the second half of 2020 we witnessed accelerated top-line growth which culminated in a robust fourth quarter as the business captured strong consumer demand across its portfolio,” CEO Hend El Sherbini said. IDH’s 4Q results will “reflect a strong contribution from PCR and covid-19-related testing in Egypt and Jordan and the ramping up of IDH's house call services in both countries.” IDH operates in Egypt, Jordan, Sudan and Nigeria and is best known at home for its Al Borg and Al Mokhtabar brands. The company is presently looking to list its shares on the EGX while maintaining a primary listing on the LSE.

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ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The digitalization of court documents and archives in Egypt and across Africa was at the top of the talking heads’ agendas yesterday, after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi called for the transformation in a speech to the heads of Africa’s constitutional courts, Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary noted. (watch, runtime: 5:23). A digital platform to allow for communication between the continent’s judiciaries is now in the works, Supreme Constitutional Court spokesperson Boulos Fahmy told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Mohamed Sherdy (watch, runtime: 9:14).

Amr Adib is on the mend, but is on leave to recover from his car accident last week, an official from MBC Masr said. Lamees El Hadidi — Adib’s better half — took the time to reassure viewers that the host is in stable condition and thanked everyone for their well wishes (watch, runtime: 5:60).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

The Biden administration’s rhetoric on human rights is being called into question in the foreign press this morning after the government last week gave the all-clear to an arms sale to Egypt on the same day as members of Egyptian-American activist Mohamed Soltan’s family were detained here. The State Department said in a press briefing that the sales was a “routine replenishment.” The Washington Post editorial board wrote in an op-ed on Thursday that the sale conflicts with the administration’s call for a tougher stance on rights abuses, while Forbes contributor Michael Posner urges a rethink of the sale. Human Rights Watch has also weighed in.

Also getting some digital ink: Egypt’s “Jewish Disney bros,” the story of Herschel, Shlomo and David Frenkel, is being told by the Times of Israel. The three brought cartoon animation to Egypt in the 1930s and will be featured in an Israeli documentary film, Bukra fil Mish-Mish. Meanwhile, two Egyptian sisters who intersected with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof get attention for having “stood up to goons with clubs and razors in Egypt” a decade ago.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

French infrastructure firm Suez and Arab Contractors will take over operations and maintenance work at a wastewater treatment plant in Cairo’s Gabal El Asfar on 1 March, Suez said in a statement on Wednesday. The EUR 40 mn contract will see the two companies manage the facility for four years and carry out work to improve its energy efficiency. The plant has a capacity of 1 mn cbm/day, and treats wastewater for almost 5 mn people living in Cairo.

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

  • The Natural Gas Vehicles Company (Cargas) is planning to set up some 170 natgas refueling stations at a cost of some EGP 2.5 bn as part of the state’s natgas transition plan.
  • EasyJet will begin operating direct flights to Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada from London Luton in June.
  • Libyan Airlines flights are allowed to land in Egypt again after a one-year hiatus.
  • A 10k feddan orange farm will be established in El Wadi El Gedid under the terms of an agreement between the Supply Ministry and Greek company Orange Be Global.

PLANET FINANCE

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Climate change mitigation is the only factor that can drive the so-called commodities supercycle. This is the takeaway from an op-ed by CRU Chief Economist Jumana Saleheen for the Financial Times who casts doubt that the recent “panglossian” optimism over vaccines will bring us a new commodities boom, and warns those who are banking on huge new demand from China about Beijing’s its new dual circulation strategy, which will lessen its dependence on commodity imports.

Too early to call a supercycle? Huge demand for copper, nickel, lithium, cobalt and other materials necessary to produce low-carbon technology could be created, but only when policymakers act decisively. “Climate action is the only factor that has the potential to drive a multiyear commodity price rally. But a lot must be said and done before that materializes. It is too early to call a supercycle,” she writes.

Inflation is on the increase in the US and this isn’t great for emerging markets. The pickup has translated into higher treasury yields, meaning it could drive investors away from EMs and diminish the rally in EM asset classes as risky holdings become less attractive, according to Bloomberg. Investors are pricing in Biden’s USD 1.9 tn stimulus plan, driving the benchmark 10-year yields to their highest level in a year. This could also mean a quick repricing in EM bonds, said Sid Mathur, head of Asia Pacific research at BNP Paribas.

Down

EGX30

11,381

-0.3% (YTD: +4.9%)

Up

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.61

Sell 15.71

Up

USD at CIB

Buy 15.60

Sell 15.70

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Down

Tadawul

9,024

-0.7% (YTD: +3.9%)

Up

ADX

5,643

+0.1% (YTD: +11.8%)

Down

DFM

2,576

-0.7% (YTD: +3.4%)

Down

S&P 500

3,907

-0.2% (YTD: +4.0%)

Up

FTSE 100

6,624

+0.1% (YTD: +2.5%)

Down

Brent crude

USD 62.91

-1.6%

Down

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 3.07

-0.4%

Up

Gold

USD 1,777.40

+0.1%

Up

BTC

USD 56,579.03

+0.9%

The EGX30 fell 0.3% on Thursday on turnover of EGP 1.3 bn (9.8% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net buyers. The index is up 4.9% year-to-date.

In the green: Orascom Investment Holding (+4.3%), Abou Kir Fertilizers (+3.3%) and Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals (+3.2%).

In the red: Orascom Financial Holding (-6.2%), Palm Hills Development (-3.2%) and ElSewedy Electric (-2.7%).

AROUND THE WORLD

Is the US going easier on Ethiopia over GERD? The US has decided to “de-link” aid payments to Ethiopia from the country’s negotiating stance in the dispute with Egypt over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the State Department said on Friday. The White House will set “a number of factors” for the resumption of the USD 272 mn in annual aid to Ethiopia that former president Donald Trump suspended in September after it unilaterally began filling the dam without reaching an agreement with Egypt and Sudan.

As for the US’ policies regarding the other trouble kids … The US-Saudi relationship is “complicated,” with balancing the US focus on Riyadh’s human rights and the kingdom’s position as a security and intelligence ally in the Middle East seems to be “difficult,” according to the Financial Times. Although the Biden administration has already moved to end the period of cosy relations Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman enjoyed with the Trump White House, MbS is likely to evade personal blame for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Biden also appears to be unlikely to go easy on China, calling on allies in his address to the annual Munich Security Conference on Friday to rebuff what he called Beijing’s “economic abuses and coercion” and framing the tensions as an ideological battle between democracy and autocracy.

IN DIPLOMACY:

On President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s agenda over the weekend: Talks on Libya’s political reconciliation with interim Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, as well as pan-African development with Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embaló.

ON YOUR WAY OUT

Akher Al Nahar has been suspended and host Tamer Amin’s license has been revoked after Amin suggested that the fecundity of Saeedis is directly linked to their need to put kids to work and bring in income, the Egyptian Supreme Council for Media Regulation said in a statement yesterday. The TV host apologized for his comments, saying on Friday that they were taken out of context.

Covid sends Egypt through to the African basketball championships: The Egyptian national basketball team automatically qualified for AfroBasket 2021 after Thursday’s match with Uganda was called off due to several Ugandan players testing positive for covid-19, KingFut reports. Egypt, which led Group E with six points prior to the game, was declared to have won the game by Fiba Africa after the game was shelved, sending them through to this summer’s championship, which will take place in Rwanda.

And while we’re on the subject of sport: The national football team have maintained their position at #49 in the Fifa world rankings in the first ranking of 2021.

CALENDAR

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

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.

26-28 February (Thursday-Saturday): The second edition of the Egypt International Art Fair will be held at Dusit Thani Lakeview Cairo.

27 February (Saturday) — Mid-year school break ends for public schools and universities.

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.

March: CBE / FRA fintech “innovation sprint.”

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.

23 March (Tuesday): The second edition of the Egypt Retail Summit takes place at the Nile Ritz Carlton hotel.

25-27 March (Thursday-Saturday): The Union of Arab Banks holds a forum on compliance and combating financial crime, Sharm El Sheikh.

25-27 March (Thursday-Saturday): The Real Gate real estate exhibition, Egyptian International Exhibition Center, Cairo.

31 March (Wednesday): Deadline to visit the moroor and get an RFID sticker affixed to your car’s windshield — or run afoul of the Traffic Police.

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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