Monday, 1 March 2021

EnterpriseAM — If you’re 40 and healthy, no vaccine for you (yet)

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Welcome to March, ladies and gentlemen. It’s the start of a new month, and we are cautiously optimistic that good things are coming as the country’s vaccination program begins to open up to non-medical personnel.

Speaking of which: The Health Ministry wants you to know that you’re not considered “elderly” if you’re above the age of 40, and therefore not yet allowed to register for the vaccine. We have the full story in this morning’s Covid Watch, below.

THE BIG STORY AT HOME besides the vaccination program is the Real Estate Registry Act, which — after stirring up a public opinion storm over the past couple of weeks — will not come into effect before December, and will likely undergo some surgery first. The details are in the news well and Last Night’s Talk Shows, below.

THE BIG STORY INTERNATIONALLY- Stand by for another announcement on US-Saudi ties: The Biden administration will make a new announcement elaborating on its relationship with Saudi Arabia later today, a few days after it imposed sanctions on members of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s inner circle for their involvement in the 2018 murder of journalist and critic Jamal Khashoggi, Reuters reports. The White House stopped short of sanctioning MbS — the kingdom’s de facto ruler who US intelligence accused of being directly implicated in the killing in a report declassified last week — drawing the ire of observers including the Washington Post editorial board, which insists MbS ”should not get a pass.”

But let’s not jump to conclusions: A White House insider suggested that there may not be any new measures, and the announcement could just be an elaboration on Friday’s statement.

Sanctioning a foreign leader is not customary foreign policy, but that “there are a range of diplomatic conversations” behind the scenes to “recalibrate” Washington’s relationship with Riyadh, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Fox News Sunday and CNN’s State of the Union

Biden isn’t getting good coverage in the Saudi press right now: Saudi media figures have spoken out in support of MbS, with local journalists saying the US does not have the right to “bully” Saudi, while UK-based Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper wrote that the kingdom “was not a banana republic” and would not kowtow to US threats. The hashtag “We are all Mohammed bin Salman” has been trending on Saudi Twitter.

Saudi may not be under sanctions, but its market is feeling the pinch: The Tadawul All Share Index closed down 0.5% on Sunday, its sharpest single-day decline since 18 February, Reuters reported. The downturn is arguably not alarming, and even flows shouldn’t be badly hit at this point, “unless sanctions hit particular asset classes,” Alia Moubayed, Jeffries International’s chief MENA economist, told Bloomberg TV (watch, runtime: 6:56).

*** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from yesterday’s edition of Enterprise PM:

  • Speed Medial could partner up with Tawasol Holding and others in an acquisition bid for Alexandria Medical;
  • The House of Representatives is finally discussing the Sovereign Sukuks Act.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

Happening this morning: Chairman and managing director of Misr Ins. Holding Co. Basel El Hini will deliver a speech at a breakfast hosted by the French Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, which will take place at the French ambassador’s residence this morning at 8:30am.

Today is the official launch of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, with the foreign ministers of Greece, and Cyprus expected to attend the opening of the forum’s regional office which will be based in Cairo. The meeting is expected to see the organization’s charter, signed in September, activated next month and officially establish it as a regional organization.

The Aswan Forum for Peace and Development gets underway today and will run until Friday, 5 March under the title “Shaping Africa’s new normal: Recovering stronger, rebuilding better.”

MARKET WATCH-

Warren Buffett’s annual letter (pdf) to the shareholders of his Berkshire Hathaway hedge fund is getting a mixed response from the business press: MarketWatch leads with the Oracle of Omaha’s optimistic message about the resilience of the US economy, describing the letter as “reassuring.” Bloomberg’s Katherine Chiglinsky, on the other hand, highlights Buffett’s refusal to mention the covid-19 pandemic and US racial politics, which one analyst called “tone deaf” and “disappointing.” Several outlets — including CNBC and the Wall Street Journal — drew attention to Berkshire’s share buybacks. The fund spent USD 25 bn buying back its own shares last year, a move Buffett said provided “intrinsic value” to shareholders. And the Financial Times leads with his comments on the state of the bond market. According to Buffett, bond investors face a “bleak future” as they try and find returns in a market dominated by rock-bottom — and even negative — yields.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Today is a brand new month:

  • PMI figures for February will land later this week, on Wednesday 4 March.
  • Foreign reserves figures should be out at the end of the week.
  • Inflation data will drop on Wednesday, 10 March.
  • The Central Bank of Egypt will discuss interest rates on Thursday, 18 March.

KEEP AN EYE OUT for a potential visit from Russian President Vladimir Putin sometime this month. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire was also scheduled to visit Egypt last month, but the trip did not come to fruition.

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

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

In today’s issue: As demand for private K-12 education keeps growing, a host of new schools are being built to meet this need. Today, we profile six schools either recently established or getting ready to open their doors in 2021 or 2022: A new branch of the British Columbia Canadian International School (BCCIS), Kent College, Saxony International School (SIS), Haileybury, and new branches of Regent British School and Futures Language Schools. We ask whether covid has affected their OPEX investments and what the removal of foreign ownership limits means for the sector overall.

enterprise

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COVID WATCH

You’re not elderly if you’re 40+

Clarifying who’s currently eligible for the vaccine in Egypt: All Egyptian citizens and foreigners living in Egypt (including diplomats, residents, and refugees) above the age of 18 who suffer from a chronic illness are able to register for a covid-19 vaccine. The registration is currently also open to those above the age of 65, even if they do not have any underlying conditions, Assistant Health Minister Khaled Megahed told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 1:08).

There appears to have been some confusion yesterday over the eligibility criteria after the Health Ministry launched the registration website, and some individuals were not allowed to register. The confusion arose from previous statements from the ministry suggesting that the minimum age for registration was 40, not 65.

At least 68k eligible individuals had signed off for a vaccine on the website as of yesterday evening, Megahed told Hadith Al Kahera’s Khairy Ramadan and Karima Awad (watch, runtime: 13:22). More than 45k people had signed up within 12 hours of the launch, Health Minister Hala Zayed said in a statement earlier in the day.

The registrations come as Egypt should be receiving 8.6 mn doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine sometime this week as part of the agreement signed with Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance) which will see Egypt receive 40 mn doses of the AstraZeneca jab during 2021, Zayed previously said.

The Health Ministry reported 595 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 588 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 182,424 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 49 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 10,688.

Johnson & Johnson’s covid-19 vaccine is now cleared for emergency use in the US, making it the third in the US following Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech to receive approval, according to a statement from the Food and Drug Administration. The US has purchased 100 mn doses of the vaccine, and expects to distribute 3-4 mn this coming week. The vaccine is administered as a single dose, and — unlike the Moderna jab — can be stored in normal freezers, meaning it will be easier to ship and more accessible to parts of the world without ultra cold chains.

But the J&J rollout has faced other distribution setbacks, including issues with quality checks and upscaling manufacturing, the Financial Times reports. This has cut delivery expectations to 4 mn instead of the 10 mn originally agreed by the US government.

Some 130k Palestinians working in Israel or its settlements in the West Bank will get the Moderna vaccine as part of a limited plan from the Israeli government to inoculate Palestinians who come into direct contact with Israelis, according to a statement by Israeli liaison office COGAT. Israel signed off on the program after international pressure and criticism for not offering to vaccinate mns of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where vaccine campaigns have barely started for vulnerable groups.

LEGISLATION WATCH

Rain check, please

Controversial amendments to the Real Estate Registry Act look like they will be introduced at the end of December instead of this coming Saturday, after the Madbouly Cabinet submitted proposed legislative amendments allowing the prime minister to postpone the changes coming into effect, according to a statement. The House of Representatives will put the proposed postponement to a discussion later today, after receiving preliminary approval from the Constitutional Affairs Committee yesterday, committee undersecretary Ali Badr told Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa. New changes will likely be introduced to the bill to no longer make getting access to basic utilities contingent on paying the 2.5% property disposal tax (watch, runtime: 7:32).

Until the bill receives a final vote, the property disposal tax will not be applicable to any properties that are registered, Real Estate Registry head Gamal Yacout explained to Moussa (watch, runtime: 1:30). And if your property is already connected to basic utilities, there’s nothing forcing you to register your property, since the bill does not retroactively revoke utility access, Yacout explained to Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 5:19). If you want to change the name that shows up on your electricity bills, however, you will need to go through the registry process, Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad told Lamees (watch, runtime: 11:05). The levy can be paid in installments, Saad said.

DID YOU KNOW? Only 5% of apartments and other properties across the entire country are actually registered at the Real Estate Registry, Justice Minister Omar Marwan told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 1:30).

Background: Changes to the Real Estate Registry Act — which have been in the works since early 2020 — were supposed to come into force as of Saturday, 6 March after being passed in February. The changes would require a visit to a local ma’moreya and a judge to validate property sale and purchase agreements before heading down to the Real Estate Registry, and would make registering new property a requirement before getting access to basic utility infrastructure. The changes caused confusion as people thought that the government is introducing a new 2.5% tax on real estate disposal, leading the Finance Ministry to clarify that the changes are only administrative, and that the levy has been flat since 1996.

OTHER LEGISLATION NEWS-

  • The House Industry Committee is considering a new law to simplify the process for electing members of the Federation of Egyptian Industries board.
  • A law regulating blood donation and the manufacturing and collection of plasma earned preliminary sign-off from the House general assembly, with the final vote scheduled for a later session.

PRIVATIZATION WATCH

Misr Life Ins. IPO in 2022?

Misr Life Ins. won’t be ready for its EGX debut as part of the state privatization program before the end of 2021, Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik tells Al Mal. The company is set to sell 25% of its shares after the government committee managing the privatization program gave its initial approval at a recent meeting, Tawfik said, according to the report in Al Mal’s print edition. The committee’s final approval for the IPO will depend on the results of feasibility studies and other steps needed to prepare the transaction, which according to the minister will not be complete until the end of the year. Tawfik had recently said the IPO could go to market before the year is out.

Advisors: State-owned investment bank NI Capital is quarterbacking the transaction.

Background: The IPO was originally slated for 2018, but was then postponed to the following year to give the company more time to reorganize ahead of the transaction. The listing was postponed again in 2019, and Chairman Basel El Hiny said that the IPO would go ahead by the end of 2020, but covid-19 pushed the timeline to 2021. This listing gets an Enterprise Realness Rating of 3.

M&A WATCH

United Bank likes the digital banking space

United Bank is looking to acquire a controlling stake in an unnamed e-payments company, and is currently in negotiations over the potential transaction, Chairman and Managing Director Ashraf El Kady told Al Mal. The bank has completed due diligence on the firm, and will announce the transaction before the end of the year, he said. He refused to disclose the names of the companies until the agreements were finalized.

The bank is also considering investing in an unnamed fintech company with which it is currently developing a closed loop digital wallet, El Kady said. A closed loop payment system in a digital wallet offers users incentives to load money onto their account for use at specific linked retailers. The product would provide services to certain segments of society, El Kady said.

The bank already has a presence in the digital banking space: United Bank launched its digital wallet in 2018 in an effort to expand the public’s access to non-cash payment services, and received the award for Best Electronic Banking Channels by the UK’s International Finance magazine in 2020.

OTHER FINTECH NEWS-

Holders of UnionPay International cards will be able to pay for their purchases electronically across AlexBank’s merchant network in Egypt for the first time under a new agreement between the Chinese payment services provider, Alexbank and Network International, UnionPay said in a press release (pdf) yesterday.

FINANCE

2020 was a slower year for microfinance

Microlending still grew in Egypt in 2020 — just at a slower rate than it did in the previous two years. Figures (pdf) released by the Financial Regulatory Authority yesterday showed that lending grew 17% y-o-y to EGP 19.3 bn last year, a noticeably slower rate of growth than that of 2019, when microloans surged 43.5% y-o-y (pdf) and 2018, when it grew 62% y-o-y (pdf).

In detail: Around 3.2 mn people took out microloans in 2020, compared to 3.1 mn and 2.8 mn in 2019 and 2018 respectively, with women accounting for 60% of the total and Upper Egypt governorates accounting for 54%.

Why the slump? Some players stopped extending new loans and only focused on collections in 2Q2020 and 3Q2020 to mitigate risks and bad loans during the pandemic, Associate Vice President of Financials at Beltone Financial Abanob Magdy told Enterprise. Once the initial market meltdown had tapered off, lending began to pick up again in 4Q2020, Magdy said.

Growth is expected to accelerate this year: Beltone expects the value of microloans to expand by 23% in 2021 as covid-fueled fears abate and businesses begin to operate normally. The entry of new players into the market will continue to support lending growth but will also put pressure on income margins, Magdy said.

ESG WATCH

When private equity meets ESG

Catalyst, UNDP to boost impact investing in Egypt: A pool of “investment-ready” SMEs will have access to tools designed to help them measure their environmental and social impacts, as part of a partnership between Egyptian private equity firm Catalyst and the UN Development Program, according to a UNDP statement. The two organizations will work together to create “a practical impact measurement manual and a user-friendly digital platform,” the statement says. The partnership is designed to channel more investment into sustainable Egyptian businesses. Egypt obtained USD 9.9 bn in development financing last year to meet its 2030 SDGs, including USD 6.7 bn for government-led projects and USD 3.2 bn to the private sector.

AUTOMOTIVE

A good-ish start to 2021

Auto sales had a better start to the year than they did in 2020: Passenger car sales soared 71% y-o-y in January, with nearly 14.9k vehicles sold during the first month of the year, according to figures from the Automotive Information Council (AMIC). On a monthly basis, however, sales decelerated from 20k passenger vehicles sold in December.

Bus + truck sales had mixed results: Truck sales rose 48% y-o-y to 3.7k, from 2.5k in the same month in 2020. This is a steep fall from 4.5k trucks sold in December 2020. Bus sales were down both y-o-y (-23%) and m-o-m (-24%) with 1.9k units sold.

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EARNINGS WATCH

Leading private sector bank CIB posted EGP 10.2 bn in consolidated net income in 2020, down 13% y-o-y from EGP 11.8 bn the year before, according to a company statement released overnight (pdf). The bank’s bottom line in 4Q2020 came in at EGP 2.89 bn, dipping 11% y-o-y from EGP 3.26 bn in 4Q2019. Revenues for the quarter were up 7% y-o-y to EGP 6.58 bn, while full-year revenues were up 12% y-o-y to EGP 25.9 bn. You can also check out the bank’s consolidated financial statements for 2020 (pdf).

Commenting on the results, management said “CIB achieved another milestone in financial performance, while maintaining top-notch solvency,” despite the year being “beset with unprecedented dynamics” for the bank internally and on the macroeconomic front. The lender ramped up its loan loss provisions in 4Q2020 to continue prioritizing solvency over short-term profitability.

Looking ahead, management “remains confident in CIB’s ability to endure any arising challenges, drawing on its resilient balance sheet fundamentals and robust solvency.”

The Housing and Development Bank’s net income dropped 7.4% y-o-y in 2020, netting EGP 2.1 bn compared to EGP 2.2 bn in 2019, according to the bank’s earnings release (pdf).

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The Madbouly Cabinet’s move to postpone the implementation of amendments to the Real Estate Registry Act, which we cover in detail in Legislation Watch, above, was the talk of the town on the airwaves last night. The decision earned (figurative) applause from El Hekaya’s Amr Adib, who said that laws that are drafted without people’s needs in mind will be met with popular resistance (watch, runtime: 1:30). Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa went with literal applause, after expending much energy over the past several days criticizing the amendments (watch, runtime: 1:04).

Also on the airwaves last night:

  • The government is kicking off a new award program for young creatives, First Lady Entissar El Sisi said yesterday. (Eman El Hosary on Masaa DMC | watch, runtime: 0:53)
  • A presidential initiative to develop 4.5k villages in Egypt within three years in cooperation with civil society will cost some EGP 515 bn, Sona3 El Kheir’s board of trustees President Mostafa Zamzam said. (Lobna Assal on Al Hayah Al Youm | watch, runtime: 11:29)

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

On an otherwise quiet morning for Egypt in the foreign press, human rights are leading the conversation: There is speculation in Al Monitor that Egypt’s deepening ties with Palestine may lead to detained Palestinian-Egyptian activist Ramy Shaath being removed from Egypt’s terrorist list on 10 March, while AFP talks to exiled activist Sherif Mansour about his family members back home.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Porto Group is setting up a still-unnamed business development entity with Prime Group and UAE-based seafood provider Asmak after Porto’s board approved the partnership agreement on Thursday, the company said in an EGX filing (pdf). The new JV’s activities will include development and management of projects in various fields including real estate, Porto’s Investor Relations Director Ahmed Khalil told us. More details about the company, including its name, capital and shareholding structure will be announced within three months.

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

PLANET FINANCE

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Time for OPEC+ to reverse production cuts? With global demand for oil surging and supply rapidly tightening, observers are urging the alliance of oil producing nations to start reversing some of the output cuts made last year at their meeting this Thursday, 4 March, Bloomberg reports. OPEC+ are holding back about 7% of the world’s supply, and will decide at their meeting whether to add 500k barrels to daily output in April, in addition to 1 mn barrels that Saudi Arabia could bring back online. The calls come as prices rise to pre-covid levels for the first time since the onset of the pandemic, prompting bullish projections with some suggesting that we could soon see the return of USD 100 oil if supply continues to shrink.

China’s economy expanded at a slower pace in February, with manufacturing activity dropping to a nine-month low after the week-long Lunar New Year holidays upended factory output, Bloomberg reports. The services sector was also disrupted due to covid travel restrictions, though consumer spending at big retailers and restaurants in main cities was higher than a year ago.

A slight boost in airline stocks last month is giving analysts cause for optimism, though smaller budget airlines are more likely than large long haul carriers to quickly recover once tourism picks up following the global rollout of covid vaccines, Bloomberg says. Airline stocks rose 15% in February as investors anticipate a rise in holiday travel during the summer as travel restrictions are tapered. Analysts remain cautious though: Stock levels remain 17% short of their pre-covid 2020 highs, while average earnings for airlines have flatlined since last May, indicating a proper recovery is still a ways away.

Down

EGX30

11,525

-0.8% (YTD: +6.27%)

Up

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

None

USD at CIB

Buy 15.65

Sell 15.75

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

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Tadawul

9,145

-0.5% (YTD: +5.2%)

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ADX

5,664

+0.6% (YTD: +12.3%)

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DFM

2,552

+1.0% (YTD: +2.4%)

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S&P 500

3,811

-0.5% (YTD: +1.5%)

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FTSE 100

6,483

-2.5% (YTD: +0.4%)

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Brent crude

USD 65.69

+2.0%

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USD 2.80

+1.0%

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Gold

USD 1,743.80

+0.9%

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BTC

USD 46,539.52

+0.4%

The EGX30 fell 0.8% yesterday on turnover of EGP 1.59 bn (8.5% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is up 6.27% YTD.

In the green: Orascom Investment Holding (+7.3%), Ibn Sina Pharma (+3.7%) and Oriental Weavers (+3.4%).

In the red: MM Group (-5.3%), Sidi Kerir Petrochem (-3.9%) and Alexandria Minerals Oil Company (-3.5%).

Asian markets are solidly in the green in early trading this morning and futures suggest US markets will follow suit when they open this morning, while Canadian and Brazilian markets look like they will open in the red.

AROUND THE WORLD

Trump 2024? Say it ain’t so. In his first public appearance since leaving the White House, Agent Orange hinted that he could run for president again in 2024 through the Republican Party. Speaking at the right-wing Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando yesterday, Trump said again that he won the 2020 election and strongly criticized President Joe Biden’s policies on immigration, energy and other issues, which he called “a destructive agenda.”

Also worth knowing this morning:

  • Major infrastructure projects look to be the next legislative priority for the Biden administration, which is looking to put together a bill for “sustained spending” on infrastructure, the Associated Press reports.
  • Iran has rebuffed an offer from the EU to rekindle talks with the US on Tehran’s Obama-era nuclear program, continuing to insist the US lift sanctions before talks resume, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing unnamed senior Western diplomats.
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New private schools opening in Egypt: What we know so far. Demand for private K-12 education in Egypt is soaring. Private school growth took place at a CAGR of 4.4% between 2014-15 and 2018-19 — over double the public school growth rate, while some 2.1 mn new seats will be needed in private sector schools in Egypt by 2030, with almost 1 mn in Cairo, we recently reported.

A host of new schools are being built to meet growing demand, some as international education franchises and others as national private schools. Today, we briefly profile six schools that either recently opened or are poised to admit students in 2021 or 2022: A new branch of the British Columbia Canadian International School (BCCIS), Kent College, Saxony International School (SIS), Haileybury, and new branches of Regent British School and Futures Language Schools.

British Columbia Canadian International School (BCCIS) West: Set to open in September 2021 in Sixth of October’s O West, BCCIS West will follow the same model as its sister school BCCIS East, operating in Shorouk since 2005, Vice Chairman Karim Mostafa tells Enterprise. Its admissions process has kicked off for the 2021-2022 academic year. BCCIS West offers the British Columbia curriculum from KG2 to grade 12, leading to the British Columbia graduation certificate known as the Dogwood Diploma. It also offers Advanced Placement (AP) courses at grade 12 level, and Arabic. The school was built with an investment of EGP 230 mn and can accommodate 1200 students, says Mostafa.

Kent College West: Also in O West, the Egyptian branch of the UK’s Kent College is set to open its doors in 2H2022, Chairman Shady Eshra confirms to Enterprise. Kent College West will provide the national UK curriculum, with senior students able to choose between the IGCSE/ A-level track and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. Investment in the school stands at EGP 500 mn and it can accommodate 1500 students, says Eshra.

Saxony International School (SIS): Another O West development, SIS is open for admissions for the 2021-2022 academic year. It’s a franchise of German holding company Saxony International School, in partnership with CIRA and education management company Eduhive, says Mostafa, who is also Eduhive’s CEO. It teaches Germany’s Saxonian educational curriculum, and students graduate with the IB Diploma. EGP 230 mn was invested in the school and it can accommodate 1200 students, Mostafa adds.

Haileybury Cairo: In Mountain View iCity, Sixth of October, Haileybury Cairo — Egypt’s branch of the UK’s Haileybury — is opening its doors in September 2021, and currently accepting admissions for children aged 3 and upwards, Headmistress Jane Knight tells Enterprise. Children aged 3-5 will follow the UK’s Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), with themes and topics adapted to be globally relevant, says Knight. Older children will study the Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) curriculum, with IGCSEs offered, Knight adds. A decision is still pending on whether the IB will also be available. Haileybury isn’t disclosing what was invested in setting up its Cairo branch, which can accommodate some 1500 students.

Regent British School: Regent British School in New Mansoura opened its doors in October 2020, with 60 students enrolled for the first academic year, we previously reported. The K-12 school is not targeting a fully-fledged opening this year, but ultimately plans to accommodate 100-150 students, says Mohamed El Kalla, CEO of private sector education outfit CIRA, which owns the school. It offers the British curriculum, in English, with students taking IGCSEs.

Futures Language School: More CIRA-owned Futures Language School outposts are being planned, including one in Sohag this year, El Kalla confirms. Campus activities are expected to begin by the end of September 2021. Each of the new branches is expected to accommodate 200 students in its first year, El Kalla says. There are currently three branches of CIRA’s international Futures schools throughout Egypt, and 15 branches of the national Futures Language schools, CIRA’s website shows. They have a variety of offerings, including the national curriculum, US, British and Canadian curricula, and the Egyptian national curriculum in French and German.

All the new international school branches follow the same recruitment policy: The international school branches recruit the bulk of their teachers from the countries of their parent schools, representatives tell Enterprise. As per Egyptian government stipulations, all teachers of Arabic and religion are Egyptian. BCCIS teachers have to be certified by the British Columbia education ministry, which regulates the school and curriculum, says Mostafa. SIS has a network of over 40 schools in Germany, so SIS Cairo West has been able to recruit teaching staff from that network, he adds. Haileybury’s teachers have to be UK-trained and qualified, while assistant teachers have to be fluent in Arabic and English and be fully qualified here in Egypt, says Knight.

And CIRA’s national schools offer extensive teacher training, says El Kalla. CIRA’s international schools primarily recruit expat teachers, but for their national schools they prefer to target recent graduates who have gone through university teacher training. The schools then provide further training themselves, El Kalla adds.

Schools are taking extra covid-19 measures, but the impact on investment and OPEX spending has been minimal, they say. Eduhive — which manages BCCIS West, SIS and Regent, among other established schools — has seen an increase of some 6-7% in OPEX spending on things like internet bandwidth and sanitization, says Mostafa. CIRA made substantial investments in online learning for several years before the pandemic hit, positioning the company and all its subsidiaries well when the shift online was needed, says El Kalla. Overall, extra investments in extensive tech usage, as well as cleaning and sanitization, are essentially balanced out by overhead reductions for electricity, gas and running school buses while students aren’t on campus, he adds. Kent College saw some delays in its construction process and permit approvals, due to covid, but no significant changes to spending, says Eshra.

And because all six schools or school branches are Egyptian-owned, removing the 20% cap on foreign ownership limits (FOL) doesn’t impact them directly, representatives tell Enterprise.

But the removal of FOL is already sparking investor interest: “My phone hasn’t stopped ringing with investors asking about potential investments here since the FOL were removed,” says Mostafa. “There’s palpable interest from investors. People are very excited about this market.” Mostafa supports regulation, but is also glad to see investor interest in Egypt’s education space once again picking up, he adds. Removing the FOL is a very positive development, because it’s opening the market up to attract more investment in the education sector, agrees El Kalla.

Your top education stories for the week:

  • Online exams didn’t get off to a smooth start: Some of the 600k students who sat their first electronic public school exams Saturday experienced technical difficulties due to the platform crashing, with Education Minister Tarek Shawki saying that students who faced difficulties would automatically be given a passing grade.
  • Back to our roots: Archaeology and ancient Egyptian history could be integrated into national curricula as part of a proposal put forward by the education and antiquities ministries.
  • Not the Harvard Business Center: Two unlicensed education providers — Harvard Business Center and Sama Information Technology Training — were shut down on the order of Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar.
  • We’re hosting another conference next year: Egypt will host the World Federation for Medical Education Conference in 2022 after a bid was submitted by Ain Shams University and the Higher Education Ministry.

ON YOUR WAY OUT

Famed Egyptian actor Youssef Shaaban passed away yesterday at age 89 due to complications linked to covid-19, the local press reported. The actor had been in hospital care since last week. Shaaban — who announced his retirement in 2017 — made his big-screen debut in 1961, starring in over 300 films and TV series. He was also elected chairman of the Actors Syndicate for two terms, starting in 1997.

CALENDAR

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

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.

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.

11-13 March (Thursday-Saturday): Cairo Fashion & Tex trade show, Cairo International Convention Centre, 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 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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