Wednesday, 10 March 2021

M&A leads again on this very busy news day



Good morning, nice people, and welcome to a very busy newsday.

M&A is again the big story here at home, this time in the country’s red-hot non-bank consumer finance sector as the National Bank of Egypt begins what looks to be an aggressive push into the sector that will include further acquisitions. We also have news of a transaction in the country’s nascent waste management sector, as Empower looks to raise some EGP 400 mn through a sale of equity to unnamed investors out of the Gulf.

It’s been a really big week for M&A. Shell agreed yesterday to sell its assets in the Western Desert to our friends at Egypt’s Cheiron Petroleum Corporation and UK-listed Cairn Energy for up to USD 926 mn. That follows on the heels of news that the Saudi Public Investment Fund is bidding to take private driller ADES International and Banque Misr’s mandatory tender offer to acquire up to 90% of CI Capital. The MTO for CI ends on Thursday and a source close to the transaction tells us that Banque Misr has no intention of upping its offer price.

We also have lots of news from the energy sector, including word on the kickoff of the natgas car conversion project and news from the EastMed Gas Forum.

THE BIG STORY INTERNATIONALLY is the Nasdaq snapping out of correction territory yesterday to rise 4% by market close, buoyed by a rally in tech stocks. The story is on the front pages of Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Wall Street Journal this morning.

Asian markets followed Wall Street up overnight, but we’re looking at a mixed open in Europe later this morning. Futures also suggest the Dow, the S&P and Nasdaq will all open weakly in the red later today.


It’s inflation day: The Central Bank of Egypt and state census bureau Capmas should release February inflation figures later today. Annual headline inflation slowed in January to its lowest level since September 2020, raising the possibility of the CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee enacting a rate cut when it meets at the end of next week.

Banks in Egypt will be able to carry out immediate interbank payments in foreign currencies as of 22 March under a central bank decision (pdf) that aims to make FX transfers in Egypt cheaper for banks, and faster for their customers.

Only 65% of EGX-listed companies complied with a Financial Regulatory Authority directive to include at least one woman on their board of directors by the end of 2020, EGX Chairman Mohamed Farid said at a virtual IFC-organized event celebrating International Women’s Day, the EGX said in a statement (pdf) yesterday. This is an improvement from the 48% of companies that included a woman on their BoD in 2019. The regulator also has plans to raise each company’s quota of women’s board representation to 25%.

Women in Egypt are getting access to a mentorship program on digital and online marketing skills that USAID is launching with Google.


Individual taxpayers have until 16 March to request an extension to the 31 March deadline for submitting their income tax returns through the electronic filing system, the Tax Authority said in a statement. The deadline can be extended for up to 60 days. Both income tax and property tax needs to be filed online.

D-day for corporate taxes is the end of April.

We have a full calendar on our website. EnterpriseAM has a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers, while our Circle Your Calendar and Out and About sections in EnterprisePM has a rundown of upcoming arts, cultural and other similar things you can attend.


*** It’s Hardhat day — your weekly briefing of all things infrastructure in Egypt: Enterprise’s industry vertical focuses each Wednesday on infrastructure, covering everything from energy, water, transportation, urban development and as well as social infrastructure such as health and education.

In today’s issue: We look at our favorite documentaries about exciting and sometimes challenging aspects of global infrastructure — and how these global themes are relevant and hold potential lessons for Egypt. Our top picks cover key issues in structural engineering, aging road and bridge infrastructure, water shortages, smart city design, and solar energy.



NBE pushing into non-bank financial services

Al Ahly Capital has wrapped up its acquisition of a 75% stake in e-payments player Momken, National Bank of Egypt Chairman Hisham Okasha said at a press release (pdf). (NBE is parent company of Al Ahly.) The acquisition brings Momken under Tamkeen, a platform for a host of non-banking financial services companies that will operate as subsidiaries of a new holding company, Al Ahly Capital Holding Financial Services. Reports last week suggested Al Ahly was on board to pay EGP 100 mn for the stake, while Al Mal reports in its print edition this morning that the transaction was worth EGP 140 mn.

Advisors: On the buy-side, ALC Alieldean Weshahi & Partners acted as counsel for Al Ahly and PwC was financial advisor. Zilla Capital and Zaki Hashem & Partners, meanwhile, were the sell-side financial and counsel to Momken.

There’s more where that came from: State-owned NBE is looking to create one of the biggest NBFS players in Egypt and support the government’s bid to promote digitization and financial inclusion, Okasha said. There are more acquisitions in the pipeline, including potential stakes in several existing fintech and NBFS companies over the next three years and partnerships with startups in the field, NBE Vice Chairman Dalia El Baz said. While no potential targets were named, Al Ahly Capital was previously said to be in talks to acquire payments platform Sadad. The expansion plan also involves greenfield investments and setting up new companies, Al Ahly CEO Karim Saada said yesterday.

Beginning with microfinance: Al Ahly is aiming to set up 150 branches for microfinance clients over the next three years, all of which will rely on electronic services, NBE microfinance division head Magdy Moussa said. Some 50 branches will be added in the first year, with an eye to reach over 30k clients, starting with Upper Egyptian cities including Beni Suef, Luxor, Aswan, and Sohag, he added.

Further down the line: Tamkeen will be the umbrella for (and public face of) a full range of NBFS services — including consumer finance, leasing, micro-ins., and factoring, Moussa told us.


Gulf consortium eyes stake in Empower

Empower to raise EGP 400 mn from stake sale to Gulf consortium: A consortium of three Gulf companies and banks are eyeing an undisclosed stake in Egyptian waste management company Empower, Chairperson Hatem Elgamal told us. The company expects to raise EGP 400 mn from the sale, said Elgamal, who declined to reveal the names of the potential buyers. The funds will be used to finance several of the company’s ongoing projects, including two projects expected to produce energy and 120k tons of fertilizer annually in the Farafra and the Bahariya oases in Egypt’s Western Desert, which are expected to begin operations next year.

Expansion, IPO plans: The company is planning to expand in the GCC, particularly the fertilizer market in Saudi Arabia, and has partnered with Sabbour Consulting to enter new African markets, Elgamal said. The company also plans to debut part of its stock on the EGX in 2023, Elgamal told the local press.


Apis Partners is coming to Cairo

EXCLUSIVE- Global private equity outfit Apis Partners will have an office in Cairo and is open to Egyptian investments. The news comes in an exclusive sit-down with Apis Partner Hossam Abou Moussa (LinkedIn) one day after the announcement that he has left emerging markets private equity giant Actis to join the London-based firm PE firm, which specializes in financial services investments in growth markets. At Actis, Abou Moussa led a team that invested in financial services across global emerging markets and was chief operating officer of the firm’s private equity group. Actis has long been a high-profile investor in Egyptian companies.

Abou Moussa is careful to point out that his move to Apis is good for all parties — for Actis, for Apis and for his team. He and a team crossing over with him from Actis will continue to provide advisory services to Actis on the management of a number of investments, Actis partner Rick Phillips said in a statement yesterday.

As we reported yesterday, Apis is a financial services specialist with more than USD 1 bn invested in 25 financial services firms and a focus on environmental, social, governance and impact investing. The firm closed its USD 550 mn Apis Partners II fund on the eve of the covid-19 pandemic with a who’s who of limited partners including global banks, insurance companies, development financial institutions, fund of funds, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, and family offices from the U.S., Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Asia. Apis’ most recent investment includes an undisclosed stake in South African digital player TymeBank, where Apis will also join the board.

We sat down (virtually) for a talk with Abou Moussa about the transaction. Edited excerpts from our conversation:

Why the move to Apis after an almost 15-year run with Actis?

Actis is evolving their strategy to focus on hard assets. [Editor’s note: Our understanding is that this includes asset classes such as real estate, power, infrastructure and digital infrastructure.] This is certainly the right strategy for Actis. And then there’s my team. I’ve been leading a team of specialist financial services investors. Along with two of them who are also joining Apis, I want to continue to do that. As we discussed when we sat down for our interview on Making It, financial services is my passion. (Tap or click here to listen to the podcast.)

I believe the broader opportunity in financial services — regionally and in global markets — is incredibly exciting and I want to continue investing behind this growth thesis — in financial services, financial services infrastructure, and fintech. This transition allows us to continue investing in the sector by joining forces with a market-leading specialist investor, while supporting Actis in delivering its financial services investments. This transition creates value for everyone.

In the release published yesterday, Rick Philips talked about a partnership that allows Actis to “retain” your knowledge, expertise and relationships for a “number of financial services investments.” Can you unpack this?

Supporting Actis and maintaining our cooperation is at the center of this transition. Actis was my “home” for almost 15 years, so I’m really delighted that we’re going to be able to continue working together. Actis’ objective is to deliver in the best interest of its limited partners by having the right teams support the management of the portfolio to its natural maturity.

While supporting Actis, I still want to continue investing in FS globally — and I want to join a talented, successful team where my team and I compliment their existing skills and track record. That’s why we’re joining Apis Partners.

What assets are included in the co-advisory arrangement?

We’re talking about investments and commitments that are roughly USD 300 mn at cost, although the portfolio’s current net asset valuation is higher. The assets include our investment in Fawry, the high-profile Egyptian financial services business in which Actis invested in 2019. They also include assets in some of our core markets in Africa, South and Southeast Asia, among them payment and lending businesses.

Just before covid hit, Apis closed a USD 550 mn fund — will you have access to dry powder to invest?

Absolutely. I’m not leading a ring-fenced team sitting in a silo. Of course, some of my colleagues and I will be more engaged in the Actis portfolio because we know it well. But as an Apis partner, we are going to utilize Apis’ resources to advise on that portfolio — and we’re going to join the rest of the Apis team in managing Apis’ existing portfolio and investing funds.

Will Apis be investing in Egypt?

We’re definitely interested in investing here, yes.

Do you have a timeline for your first transaction? Any color you can give us on your transaction pipeline?

Nope. [laughs] Look, there’s no specific allocation to any specific market. Apis is open to new ventures in Egypt, exactly as it was before my joining.

Will you be opening an office in Cairo?

Yes. As part of the transaction, Apis is currently going through the process of opening an office in Cairo that I will run. But the team in Cairo won’t be limited to working on Egyptian transactions — Apis’ team works fluidly across transactions regardless of geography. So we’ll be working on financial services investments in Africa, in our region, in South and Southeast Asia.

Last question. What’s so exciting about fintech?

For starters, it’s the scale of the potential. This is driven by under-penetration in emerging markets, where you now have government financial inclusion drives, population growth and technology all pulling in the same direction. But that potential is just about as stark in developed markets. Simply put, technology is driving change in terms of distribution and how financial services reach customers. This is a global-scale opportunity.

And secondly, it’s the chance to do good. Investing in FS has a real, positive impact. Everybody benefits: It enhances the quality of life of consumers. It helps businesses grow and be more efficient and effective. And it helps governments deliver a more financially inclusive economy — more people with jobs, more people and businesses paying taxes and participating in the formal financial system.


Take your private jet to the Emirates for a jab?

The Health Ministry reported 622 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 591 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 187,716 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 44 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 11,082.

Russia will begin manufacturing its Sputnik V vaccine in Europe for the first time, after Switzerland’s Adienne Pharma & Biotech signed an agreement with Russia’s sovereign wealth fund to produce the vaccine in its Italy plant, according to Sputnik. Russia is also in talks to produce the shot — which is yet to receive EU approval — in Germany and France.

We’re still in line, too: Russian diplomats had previously said the country is open to handing Egypt the production technology to locally manufacture the vaccine, with the hopes that Egypt could act as an export hub to Africa.

The elite are hitting up the UAE for a vaccine wasta: Business moguls, royals, and politicians are getting vaccinated in the UAE through connections — including senior officials or royal family members — despite some being non-residents, the Financial Times reports, quoting officials. The UAE has enough vaccines for its entire population, but typically only gives them out to residents. Among those that took or were offered a vaccine after arriving on private jets and booking stays in Dubai’s luxury hotels: UK financier Ben Goldsmith, London-based SoftBank executives, and Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi.

And as we noted earlier this week, vaccine tourism can get you canned, as the head of Canada’s pension fund — and one of the world’s largest investors — found out.

Sudan kicked off its inoculation campaign with frontline workers yesterday after becoming the first MENA country to receive the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine through the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Gavi / Covax initiative, state news agency SUNA said.


Test, test …

It’s time for trial operations to begin at the new administrative capital ahead of its inauguration before 2022. Up first: The area’s government district, where employees will be relocated in stages to test out the district and its facilities as of this August, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said in a cabinet statement.

Where the district currently stands: As of last month, the district’s buildings were 90% equipped and furnished, Deputy Housing Minister Khaled Abbas said at the time. The district has also now been connected to utility infrastructure, including water lines, sewage systems, and the electricity grid, Housing Minister Assem El Gazzar said yesterday. The move to the new capital was scheduled to happen in June 2020 before President Abdel Fattah El Sisi decided to take a one-year delay on the inauguration of all national projects because of the pandemic.

MEANWHILE- The first phase of the Salam City-Tenth of Ramadan electric rail will also begin operating on a trial basis as of next August, ahead of opening to the public in October, Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime 5:35). The phase runs between Adly Mansour station and the new administrative capital. The trial will see two of 22 rail cars in operation. The ministry is also aiming to complete the construction of the concrete pillars for the USD 4.5 bn monorail project — which will extend a 54-km line between Nasr City and the new capital and a 42-km line from Sixth of October to Giza — by the time the new capital is inaugurated later this year, El Wazir added.

IN OTHER NEW CAPITAL NEWS- Modon Real Estate Development plans to spend EGP 3 bn on the build out of a residential development in the new administrative capital as its first foray into the nation’s real estate market, according to the local press.

CORRECTION: Modon Real Estate Development is not the Modon Developments SAE owned by the Lotfy Soliman family, but a separate and unrelated company. This story was corrected on 10 March 2021.


It’s go time

Vehicle owners in seven governorates can begin swapping out their old cars for natural gas or dual fuel vehicles before the month is out, with the government planning to launch its ambitious multi-year natgas conversion plan before April, according to a statement. The first phase of the program will cover Cairo, Giza, Qalyubia, Alexandria, Suez, Port Said, and the Red Sea governorates. This phase is expected to see 250k old cars taken off the road and outfitted with new engines by the end of 2023, Trade and Industry Minister Nevine Gamea previously said.

Some 80k individuals had already registered for the scheme as of February, Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad previously said Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa.

Background: The Sisi administration announced last year the multi-year plan to convert or replace 1.8 mn cars to run on dual-fuel engines, which is expected to cost EGP 320 bn at the program’s completion. The program provides EGP 1.2 bn-worth of subsidized loans through the Central Bank of Egypt, Trade and Industry Ministry, and MSME Development Agency. The Madbouly Cabinet also signed off on other incentives that will see private vehicle owners get up to 10% off of the cost of a new vehicle — with the ceiling set at EGP 22k — while taxi and microbus owners will be able to get 20% and 45% off, up to a maximum of 45k and 65k, respectively.


Class is in session for the EMGF

Gas decarbonization and using LNG as fuel for vessels are on the agenda for the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), whose member countries met in Cairo yesterday for the forum’s first ministerial meeting since the forum came into effect this month, according to an Oil Ministry statement. The seven founding members — Egypt, Palestin, Jordan, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, and Israel — agreed to have Egypt lead the forum until the end of the year. Cyprus will then assume its presidency in January 2022, and the presidency for each subsequent year will be determined by alphabetical order. The ministers’ next meeting will be in Cairo in 4Q2021.

SOUND SMART — What’s the EMGF? The forum was established last year to create a “regional gas market” and act as a market platform for natgas producers. Members will cooperate and coordinate policy on developing new and existing resources as well as the buildout of infrastructure.

Are we looking at 2x natgas imports from Israel? The planned pipeline Egypt and Israel have agreed to build to connect Israel’s offshore Leviathan gas field to the Damietta and Idku liquefaction plants could potentially “double Israel’s gas export capacity to Egypt,” Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said in an interview with Reuters. “We’re speaking about a possible 10 bcm annually, but it might increase in the future,” Steinitz said. Egypt imports gas from the Leviathan and Tamar fields under a landmark agreement signed by Alaa Arafa’s Dolphinus with Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Drilling. Leviathan’s offshore gas field came online in 2019.

ALSO IN THE EAST MED: Greece, Israel and Cyprus are expediting work on a 2k MW undersea electrical cable connecting the three countries, and aim to have the first phase of the project up and running by 2025, the Associated Press reports. The energy connection project could set the three countries on track to becoming energy exporters in the region. Egypt and Cyprus are working on their own connectivity project in the form of the EuroAfrica connector, a 2-GW transmission link that will connect Egypt’s electricity grid to mainland Europe via Cyprus and Greece. The link aims to position Egypt as a long-term renewable energy supply hub for Europe.


Debt costs fall in 1H2020-2021

Egypt’s debt service bill dipped 5% y-o-y in 1H2020-2021 to EGP 501.1 bn, according to a Finance Ministry report (pdf). The government made some EGP 224 bn in interest payments towards domestic debt obligations and another EGP 21.5 bn in foreign interest payments during the six-month period, in addition to EGP 255 bn in repayment instalments.

Who’s in the market for debt? Enara Energy’s unit Libra Capital has signed a EGP 200 mn long-term loan agreement with the Arab African International Bank to finance the development of its solar projects in Egypt.



The airwaves were abuzz last night with coverage of a man allegedly attempting to [redacted] assault a young girl in a stairwell in the upscale district of Maadi The Prosecutor General’s Office ordered the arrest of the man and has started an investigation into the incident, which was reportedly caught on CCTV footage.

The hero of the day: Ingy Osama, who caught and confronted the perpetrator before he was able to assault the girl and posted about the incident on social media, where it went viral. Osama recounted the incident to Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 14:45) and Al Kahera Wal Nas’ Khairy Ramadan (watch, runtime: 16:00), and earned well-deserved praise from Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa (watch, runtime: 5:47).

The perpetrator could be sentenced to 7-15 years in prison for assaulting a minor, criminal law professor Mostafa El Saadawy told Moussa (watch, runtime: 4:56). The director of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood’s child helpline, Sabry Osman, called for harsher penalties to be introduced for these crimes, claiming they have become increasingly common (watch, runtime: 2:28).

Also on the airwaves last night: GERD negotiations with Ethiopia will not go on forever with no progress, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said at a speech yesterday. (Sherif Amer on Yahduth fi Misr | watch, runtime: 2:06)


It’s a quiet morning for Egypt in the international press. Bloomberg Opinion is running with a piece headlined Egypt and Sudan are ganging up on Ethiopia’s Nile dam, saying “Cairo and Khartoum want to capitalize on Addis Ababa’s international isolation.” Meanwhile, Al Monitor writes that Egyptian diplomacy in Africa is geared to counterbalance Turkey’s incursion into the continent and ballet dancer Luca Abdel Nour — the first Egyptian dancer to win the Prix de Lausanneis getting digital ink from France’s AFP.


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GLOBAL M&A WATCH- It’s a record-breaking year for domestic M&A in China, with the country seeing USD 77.5 bn of transactions so far this year, the FT says. Powering the activity: the covid recovery and the government’s so-called dual circulation policy that will see it lessen dependence on foreign markets, according to PwC’s David Brown.

Crypto frenzy born anew? BTC prices leapt to a two-week high to breach the USD 54k mark yesterday, climbing back from a drop in late February. Other cryptocurrencies like Ether — which also reached its highest point in two weeks — show that interest from institutional investors for crypto “still seems strong,” analysts tell Bloomberg.




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USD 1,709.50




USD 54,150.21


The EGX30 fell 1,1% yesterday on turnover of EGP 1.2 bn (18.7% below the 90-day average). Regional investors were net buyers. The index is up 4.5% YTD.

In the green: MM Group (+3.0%), EDBE (+1.7%) and Heliopolis Housing (+1.6%).

In the red: Abu Qir Fertilizers (-5.1%), Ezz Steel (-2.9%) and Cleopatra (-2.8%).


US visa applicants from 13 Muslim-majority countries denied visas under Trump’s Muslim ban can now reapply, State Department spokesman Ned Price said yesterday, according to Reuters. US President Joe Biden overturned the ban on his first day in office on 20 January.

WHO’S TALKING- Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry talked regional developments and common foreign policy issues with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in a phone call yesterday, according to a statement.


Hardhat’s top five infrastructure documentaries: Infrastructure sectors — including energy, water, transportation, supply chains and urban development — are exciting but challenging areas for growth. Some of our favorite recent infrastructure documentaries explore key issues in structural engineering, aging road and bridge infrastructure, water shortages, smart city design, and solar energy. They’re global in scope, but raise topics relevant to Egypt.

Dream Big: Engineering Our World — a paean to human ingenuity (watch on Netflix, runtime: 42:00): This upbeat 2017 film focuses on innovative feats of engineering. When the 13k-mile long Great Wall of China was fortified 500 years ago, sticky rice in the mortar made it less vulnerable to erosion. Inaugurated in 2015, the Shanghai Tower was designed with a twist structure that protects it from typhoons. And plans for Hyperloop transport could soon see us traveling up to 700 mph in a floating pod inside giant low-pressure tubes.

Why it’s relevant: Egypt is already known for its own architectural marvels (hello pyramids), but the Sisi administration’s focus on infrastructure development and urbanizing desert areas means we could see modern-day ingenuity.

Be Prepared to Stop — a sobering look at the degradation of the US Interstate Highway System (watch, runtime: 01:02:00): The film’s stats — accurate as of 2017 — hit hard. 42% of the major roadways in US metropolitan areas are congested every day. 70k bridges in the US are structurally deficient, but motorists in urban areas drive over bridges 200 mn times a day. 32k people die in accidents on US roads every year. But road travel is essential: Over 80% of US communities depend solely on trucking for delivery of goods and commodities. 54 mn tons of freight is moved across the nation every day, set to increase over 40% by 2040. US government reluctance to invest in maintaining this aging infrastructure will lead to more accidents, supply chain disruptions and hits to economic competitiveness.

Why it’s relevant: Egypt is also heavily dependent on trucking, with less than 1% of domestic freight carried by train as of 2017. As of 2013, congestion caused losses amounting to some EGP 50 bn every year. Egypt’s estimated road deaths stand at 26,925 per year. But the government has prioritized investment in road and bridge building, allocating USD 9.79 bn for 2k road building projects in FY2019-2020 and USD 8.3 bn to finish building 1k bridges and tunnels by 2024.

A Thirsty World — blunt messaging about water consumption beneath aerial photography (watch, runtime: 01:31:00): As of 2012, a European family of four indirectly consumed some 140k liters of water every week. It took 3.4k liters to produce 1kg of rice and a whopping 11k liters to produce a pair of jeans. Over 1 bn people were facing desperate water shortages, while at least 85% of all the world’s waste water is left untreated. The situation is untenable. This film looks at people in 20 countries seeking innovative ways to reduce water pollution and manage water more efficiently.

Why it’s relevant: Protracted GERD negotiations, population growth and climate change are big threats to Egypt’s water security, making conservation efforts essential. The government has launched multiple water-saving projects, focusing on irrigation, rainwater, installing utilities, and constructing some 19 new desalination plants at an estimated cost of EGP 11 bn.

Smart Cities: Building for the Cities of Tomorrow — sustainable cities are on their way (watch, runtime: 44:23): Half the world’s population lives on 2% of its land, consuming 75% of its resources, according to this 2015 documentary, which showcases sustainable alternatives. Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City is an investment zone and residential area, targeting 50k residents and 40k daily commuters. It maximizes natural light, solar patterns and wind movement, to use energy and resources efficiently. The EUR 56 mn Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Center, is ⅓ underground and benefits from a supply of pre-cooled air circulating through 800 meters of piping. And Austria’s first smart grid model city, Köstendorf, generates electricity through 43 photovoltaic systems installed on house rooftops, with a total peak output of 200 KW.

Why it’s relevant: Egypt has clocked that sustainability is the name of the game. In October, the government said it would invest EGP 36.7 bn in FY2020-2021 and 30% of its investment budget in FY2021-2022 in green projects. Aspects of smart city design — including ‘Internet of Things’ software and hardware — will be part of the new administrative capital. And plans are underway to update the national grid, so it becomes a smart grid.

Catching the Sun — the value of solar energy and the green economy (watch, runtime: 01:15:00): There’s no shortage of solar energy. But as of 2015, US citizens comprised less than 5% of the world’s population, while using over 27% of its energy — with over half its electricity coming from coal. One hundred cars of coal power a fossil fuel-burning power plant for a single day, while one hour of sunlight on earth is equal to all the energy that every person on the planet consumes in a year. The cost of solar power plummeted by some 80% between 2010 and 2015, so the world could afford to be majority solar powered by 2030. If solar energy is set to eclipse other forms of energy, who will lead implementation of sustainable tech at scale? And who will benefit from the jobs it creates?

Why it’s relevant: There’s substantial investor interest in Egypt’s solar energy program. Benban Solar Park produces 1.8 GW of energy at its maximum capacity. But the bulk of our electricity generation still comes from fossil fuels. If we want to capitalize on the economic benefits of a green energy shift, we need to wind down parts of our fossil fuel-generation infrastructure and get ready to up electricity exports.

Your top infrastructure stories for the week:

  • Rail: The World Bank will provide a USD 440 mn loan to finance signaling modernization and rail track upgrades, with a particular focus on the Cairo-Beni Suef segment of the rail network.
  • Monorail: Phase 1 of Cairo’s USD 4.5 bn monorail project — which connects East Cairo to the new administrative capital — is slated for inauguration by the end of May 2022.
  • Electric rail: French transport company RATP Dev signed a contract with the National Authority for Tunnels to manage and operate the planned electric rail line between Salam City and Tenth of Ramadan City, via the new administrative capital.
  • Construction: Some 5 mn construction workers are currently without work as the sector waits on a new set of building and planning criteria.
  • Ports: The River Transport Authority has launched a tender for the construction and management of a port in Sohag and will review the offers in mid March.


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

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

11 March (Thursday): AmCham event featuring Oil Minister Tarek El Molla.

11-12 March (Thursday-Friday): Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok will arrive for a two-day visit to follow up on GERD talks.

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

11-14 March (Thursday-Sunday): First edition of Afaq Real Estate Expo, Tolip El Galaa Hotel, Cairo, Egypt.

11-15 March (Thursday – Monday): Al Bazaar fair for handicrafts and house decors, Cairo International Conference Centre, Cairo, Egypt.

11-20 March (Thursday-Saturday): Photopia’s Cairo Photo Week 2021 will take place with this year’s theme being Depth OFF Field.

13-14 March (Saturday-Sunday): The Marketers League Conference will take place at Kundalini Grand Pyramids Hotel in Giza. This year’s theme is Beyond the Pandemic.

15 March (Monday): AmCham event featuring life coach Arfeen Khan.

16 March (Tuesday): AmCham webinar featuring business tech expert Patrick Schwerdtfeger.

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.

23 March (Tuesday): The British-Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) virtual conference on sustainable manufacturing in Africa.

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

29-30 March (Monday-Tuesday): Arab Federation of Exchanges Annual Conference 2021.

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.

31 March (Wednesday): Income tax deadline for individuals. Real estate tax deadline.

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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