Thursday, 11 March 2021

We have enough vaccines to inoculate everyone who registered with the Health Ministry — and more on the way

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends. We’ve nearly made it through another workweek together. As always, thank you all very much for starting your workdays with us.

THE BIG STORY here at home as we slide into the weekend: The government’s covid-19 vaccine program is on track, cabinet officials say, and we have even more M&A news as a unit of Hassan Allam Holding eyes a transaction in the transportation industry.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD is the US House of Representatives signing off yesterday on the Biden administration’s USD 1.9 tn covid stimulus bill — the largest in US history — which will see most American households receiving USD 1,400 stimulus payments. The bill, which was initially met with resistance from Republicans, is being touted as President Joe Biden’s “first major victory in office.” Reuters, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal have more.

*** CATCH UP QUICK from yesterday’s edition of EnterprisePM:

  • How are rising US treasury yields affecting the EGP as well as Egyptian stocks and bonds? Our lucrative carry trade could come under pressure if US bonds grow in attractiveness, analysts told us.
  • Inflation edged up to 4.5% in February from 4.3% the month before, thanks to rising housing, utility, and tobacco costs, Capmas said.
  • The eight-year Damietta LNG plant saga is officially over after Union Fenosa and the Spanish Egyptian Gas Company signed the final settlement agreement.

HAPPENING TODAY-

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok will arrive in Cairo for a two-day visit to follow up on GERD talks.

Oil Minister Tarek El Molla will discuss the government’s strategy to attract investment to Egypt’s mining sector at an event hosted by AmCham today.

Le Marché opens today. The anchor of the annual expo scene runs through Sunday at the Egypt International Convention Centre, with over 300 local and international brands set to showcase their wares. Full details and digital catalogue on the show’s website.

Our friends at CIB and Vodafone Egypt will receive their Egyptian Gender Equity Seal certifications (pdf) from the World Bank, the National Council for Women, and the UK Embassy in Egypt. CIB and Vodafone will be the first two recipients of the certification, which is designed for private sector companies.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

The House of Representatives returns from its recess this Sunday, 14 March. On the agenda for the House’s next plenary session:

  • The Bankruptcy Act which earned committee-level approval in January;
  • A EGP 2 bn overdraft for the FY2020-2021 state budget to help finance measures to prop up the economy and certain sectors amid the fallout from the pandemic, which also got a committee nod in January.

The Marketers League runs this Saturday and Sunday, 13-14 March, at Kundalini Grand Pyramids Hotel in Giza. This year’s theme is Beyond the Pandemic with panelists and speakers including our friend Tarek Nour (founder of Tarek Nour Communications), Ayman Hegazi (CEO of Allianz), Sherine Zaklama (CEO, Rada Research and Public Relations), and Walid Hassouna (CEO, EFG Hermes Finance).

Business tech expert and TEDx speaker Patrick Schwerdtfeger will explain how entrepreneurs, businesses and investors can harness disruptive tech at a webinar hosted by AmCham on Tuesday, 16 March. The two-hour event will see Schwerdtfeger talk block chain, AI and crypto, and discuss how the business community can reposition in a world undergoing rapid technological change. Register for the event here.

Life coach Arfeen Khan is giving a talk at a virtual AmCham event on Monday, 15 March.

The Central Bank of Egypt will meet to discuss interest rates on Thursday, 18 March.

The British-Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) will host a virtual conference on how Egyptian and UK firms can work together on sustainable manufacturing projects in Africa in the post-Brexit environment on Tuesday, 23 March. Check out the agenda here (pdf).

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


CORRECTION- The company named “Modon Real Estate Development” to which we referred yesterday in a story on construction in the new administrative capital is not the Modon Developments SAE owned by the Lotfy Soliman family, but a separate and unrelated company. The story has since been updated on our website.

enterprise

COVID WATCH

Our Gavi vaccines are en route

Procedures to get Egypt’s first batch of the 8.6 mn doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the WHO’s Gavi / Covax program are underway, Health Minister Hala Zayed said yesterday. The first shipment was originally scheduled to arrive at the beginning of this month, but this appears to have been delayed, with presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag Eldin saying earlier this week the shipment is coming within a few weeks. Citizens and diplomats, foreign residents, and refugees suffering from chronic conditions and / or above the age of 65 are currently being vaccinated.

The first shipment will have 4 mn doses of the vaccine, with the other batch of 4.6 mn doses coming in the next few weeks, cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad told Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa yesterday.

Egypt currently has enough vaccine doses on hand to inoculate all 250k individuals who have registered for the jab, Saad said, and the Gavi shipment will allow the Health Ministry to expand the vaccination program beyond the current eligibility criteria (watch, runtime: 32:30).

** You can register to get a jab here on the Health Ministry’s website (Arabic and English).

Vaccination certificates will be issued starting next week to folks who have taken both of their required doses, Zayed said in a separate statement yesterday. The certificates will be available in Arabic and English via the ministry’s vaccine registration website. Those who carry vaccination certificates are exempt from quarantine requirements in many foreign jurisdictions, so the ministry recommends having your certificate on hand before traveling.

The Health Ministry reported 645 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 622 the day before. The ministry also reported 46 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 11,128. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 188,361 confirmed cases of covid-19.

Rich countries are pushing back against a concerted move by some 80 emerging nations who want to ensure equitable access to vaccines by waiving global patent rules. The United States, United Kingdom, European Union and Switzerland are united in opposition to a push led by India and South Africa to allow vaccine makers around the world to start cranking out jabs by sidestepping patent rights governed by the World Trade Organization. The best Western leaders can do as they over-order vaccines to cover their own people? “We’re going to start off and ensure Americans are taken care of first … If we have a surplus, we’re going to share it with the rest of the world,” US President Joe Biden said yesterday.

But it’s complicated, as both the right-wing Cato Institute and the more left-leaning Conversation both suggest.

Pfizer and BioNTech could have the capacity to produce up to 3 bn doses of their covid-19 vaccine next year, BioNTech’s CEO Ugur Sahin told Bloomberg. The company is already contracted to produce 2 bn doses this year, and an increase in production next year would depend on demand, as well as the resistance of mutant strains to existing vaccines, Sahin said.

CABINET WATCH

Good news for economic growth in the second quarter of FY2020-2021

Egypt’s economy grew 2% in 2Q2020-2021, accelerating from 0.7% the previous quarter as the tourism sector contracted at a slower pace, Planning Minister Hala El Said said during cabinet's weekly meeting yesterday. Manufacturing and Suez Canal revenues — which had slumped thanks to the pandemic — also contracted more slowly than at the height of the pandemic in 1Q2020-2021, El Said said.

Growth during the first half of the fiscal year clocked in at 1.35%, a significant y-o-y drop from the pre-covid 5.6% growth rate recorded in 1H2019-2020, the minister said.

Logistics, agriculture, education, and healthcare continued to lead the rebound, achieving positive growth between July 2020 and January 2021, El Said noted. Growth rates in these sectors accelerated y-o-y after the government eased covid-19 restrictions in July, she said late last year.

The economy is expected to grow 2.8% this quarter, which wraps on 31 March, and 5.3% in the final quarter of the fiscal year ending 30 June, according to El Said.

On inflation: The government expects the annual urban headline rate to average between 4.8% and 6.8% this fiscal year, said El Said, while inflation figures released by state statistics agency Capmas yesterday showed a slight uptick to 4.5% in February from 4.3% in January.

PICKING UP WHERE WE LEFT OFF- Yesterday’s inflation reading — despite being below the lower band of the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) 7% (±2%) target range — isn’t enough to give the CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee room to enact a rate cut before 3Q or 4Q2021, Arqaam Capital analyst Noaman Khalid told Bloomberg Asharq yesterday (watch, runtime: 6:22). Khalid points to higher oil prices and rising US treasury yields as two factors creating conditions that make a rate cut highly unlikely.

Egypt and other emerging markets “don’t have the luxury” of going in the opposite direction as US treasury yields, but Egypt’s carry trade seems safe for now, Khalid said Pharos’ Radwa El Swaify is of the same mind, telling us yesterday that EGP-denominated treasuries offer high returns at lower risk compared to other EMs. Look for the CBE to stick to open market operations as a priority for the next several months, Arqaam said in a research note yesterday.

Don’t expect fuel prices to increase here at home, either: Fuel prices will likely remain unchanged when the government’s fuel pricing committee meets in the next few weeks, Arqaam says. The Finance Ministry is expected to “undershoot the average Brent oil price assumption even if oil prices stay at USD 70/bbl for the coming four months,” which would tack on another EGP 16-18 bn to our fuel subsidy bill, the note says. Spending on fuel subsidies dropped 45% y-o-y in 1H2020-2021 to EGP 8.2 bn, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said recently.

Also from cabinet yesterday:

  • Government employees moving to the new administrative capital will be getting relaxed payment terms to purchase homes.
  • State-owned payments platform e-Finance will provide a facelift to a government-run website where car owners can apply for financial support under a government scheme to swap out old cars for newer natural gas or dual fuel vehicles.

M&A WATCH

Hassan Allam Utilities eyes expansion into transport through M&A

HA Utilities Holding (HAUH) could soon expand into Egypt’s transport and logistics sector after it submitted a non-binding offer to take a controlling stake in Egyptian transport player Egytrans via a share swap, the two companies said in separate statements here (pdf) and here (pdf).

In detail: HAUH is eyeing a 65% stake in the company, which would be acquired via a reverse merger, CEO Menatalla Sadek told us. The transaction would see Egytrans acquire a subsidiary of HA Utilities Holding BV.

What are they offering? HAUH estimates Egytrans’ shares to be worth EGP 12-13 apiece, valuing the company at EGP 375-405 mn — a 20% premium to its six-month weighted average. Hassan Allam Utilities could be worth between EGP 680-800 mn, according to the company’s preliminary fair value estimates.

Egytrans’ board of directors will discuss the offer at a meeting next week, Chairman and CEO Abir Leheta told us, without offering further comment on the potential merger.

Background: HAUH, owned by Hassan Allam Holding and Tanmiya Energy, is an infrastructure development platform focused on conventional power, renewables, and water-related projects. The company set up a joint venture firm with BP’s renewables unit Lightsource BP in 2018, and a water-focused JV with Saudi conglomerate Abdul Latif Jameel in 2019, which last year acquired Ridgewood Egypt, owner of some 60 desalination plants across the country.

STARTUP WATCH

Fintech startup Dayra raises USD 3 mn in pre-seed funding round

Egyptian fintech startup Dayra has closed a USD 3 mn pre-seed funding round that includes both equity and debt financing, according to a company press release (pdf). EFG EV Fintech, EFG Hermes, Tanmiya Capital Ventures and a number of angel investors all participated in the round, which closed after the company landed USD 125k from startup accelerator Y Combinator in return for 7% of the company’s stock, Menabytes reports. The funds raised will be used to double Dayra’s 10-member team and expand its product features.

Dayra provides financial services to underbanked populations: Founded in early 2020 by Omar Ekram, the company provides virtual bank accounts, prepaid cards and loans to unbanked gig workers and micro-businesses through its app, or through API integration into companies’ own apps. With lending as its core service, the startup offers loans of varying terms averaging around USD 500, with repayments received automatically from earnings of the gig worker.

ALSO FROM PLANET STARTUP-

Egypt was the region’s fourth-largest destination in MENA for startup funding in February after five firms received a combined USD 11 mn in finance during the month, according to a Wamda report. Figures show that USD 160 mn flowed into startups across the region last month, with 16 companies in the UAE alone raking in a combined USD 88 mn. Saudi Arabia came in second, with nine companies receiving USD 36 mn, and Bahrain came a distant third, seeing USD 13 mn in inflows.

What’s hot: Foodtech startups received the most funding during the month, with four companies raising USD 36 mn, while fintech was the most crowded, with eight startups receiving USD 18.4 mn. Although at least two UAE startups — Yellow Door Energy and Starzplay — raised funds through debt financing, most rounds were at the seed stage. That’s largely in keeping with last year’s trends here in Egypt, where tech startups, including those in the fintech and e-commerce spaces, were the hot sectors for venture capital funding.

ENERGY

More natgas imports from Israel?

More signs we could see a bump in natgas imports from Israel: Egypt’s rising imports of natural gas from Israel’s Leviathan could help bump up the offshore field’s production and sales this year, CEO of Delek Drilling — a main operator of Leviathan — Yossi Abu told Reuters. Delek now anticipates exporting 10 bcm of gas from the field this year, after initially penciling in less than 9 bcm of exports, according to Abu. His statements come one day after Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told the newswire that Egypt could be looking at doubling its natgas imports from Israel thanks to a planned pipeline the two countries agreed to build that will connect Leviathan to the Damietta and Idku liquefaction plants. 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.

OTHER ENERGY NEWS- Wintershall Dea signed an agreement to explore the Nile Delta's East Damanhour onshore area with Cheiron and INA, and has received approval from Oil Minister Tarek El Molla. Wintershall had initially signed the exploration agreement for the concession in February of last year.

enterprise

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The attempted [redacted] assault on a young girl in Maadi earlier this week continued to get airtime on last night’s talk shows.

The Prosecutor General ordered yesterday a man to face trial on charges of assaulting a minor, for which the penalty is 7-15 years in prison. Additional time in prison could also be tacked onto his sentence for luring and forcing [redacted] activity on the child, according to Yahduth fi Misr’s Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 8:11). Amer discussed the case and the potential penalties with the girl’s lawyer (watch, runtime: 4:56). Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa also took note of the updates (watch, runtime: 1:51).

Special attention for GERD: The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations were of particular interest to Moussa, who called on the UN to interfere and mediate a compromise between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia (watch, runtime 9:03).

Egypt and Sudan should pursue plans to set up an international quartet to mediate the negotiation, as Ethiopia has shown it is intentionally stalling talks, former deputy chief of Sudanese Intelligence Hanafi Abdullah told Moussa (watch, runtime 11:17). Addis Ababa appears to be buying time until it concludes the second round of the dam filling, which would have very dangerous consequences for Khartoum and Cairo, former Irrigation Minister Mohamed Nasr Allam told Moussa (watch, runtime: 18:12).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

It’s a mixed bag of nuts for Egypt in the international press, which isn’t fixating on any one theme. Among the headlines to skim:

  • First Qatar, now Turkey? The desire to reach a mutually beneficial agreement on East Med maritime borders and other trade interests could encourage Turkey and Egypt to dial back tensions and cooperate more in the region. (Bloomberg)
  • Regressive legislation? The draft Personal Status Act is under fire for being patriarchal and undermining women’s rights. (Reuters)
  • From Egypt With Love: An Egypt-born former employee in the German government’s press office has been convicted of spying for the Egyptian government since 2010 and was handed a 21-month suspended prison sentence. (Associated Press)
  • Hard-hit job market: A cafe worker in Egypt is among those struggling in a global job market buckling under covid-19. (Associated Press)

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Hilton Hotels will open nine new properties in Egypt in the coming five years, adding another 1.7k rooms to its Egypt portfolio, Hilton Hotels Egypt Managing Director Mohab Ghali told Reuters. This will increase the number of rooms in Egypt by 28%. The international hotelier, which currently operates 14 hotels in the country, will launch its Waldorf Astoria, Hilton Garden Inn and DoubleTree hotel brands by 2026, Ghali told the newswire. Ghali is expecting widespread vaccine distribution and the inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum to help tourism pick up in the near future.

Akh Gold has identified a number of gold targets in its recently-awarded Eastern Desert blocks which it plans to commence fieldwork on shortly, parent company Altus Strategies said in a disclosure to the London Stock Exchange yesterday.

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

  • Higher education: Mansoura University is ranked among the Top 100 Universities in emerging markets this year in the Times Higher Education Emerging Economies rankings. Meanwhile, the government is looking to establish 100 universities by 2030, as part of its plans to build one in each governorate.
  • Exports: Exports of Egypt-grown Valencia oranges have risen 30% y-o-y this season after countries like Spain, Morocco and Russia resumed imports of the fruit amid weak international competition.
  • Imports: The first cargo ship from Sudan to Egypt in five years arrived yesterday at South Sinai’s Al-Tor Port carrying some 11.5k heads of livestock.

PLANET FINANCE

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Resource-based emerging markets usually get a big boost in a commodities supercycle, but it’s a bit more complicated this time around, Reuters says. In a supercycle, EM usually find higher demand for their wares, whether that’s agricultural output from Argentina and Egypt, minerals and ores out of Brazil, or metallurgical and other products from Egypt and the GCC. That usually gives a nice boost to EM currencies, but Reuters argues that this time around, the currencies of developed market commodities players such as Australia and Canada are going to outperform their EM competitors.

What gives? EM currencies are under pressure as US treasury yields rise — and Reuters suggests that “a mix of slower vaccination rollouts, fading growth prospects, rising debt burdens and geopolitical tensions” will continue to put pressure on select EM currencies, muting the bump they get from the supercycle.

How is the commodities boom affecting Egypt? Businesses in the metals and fertilizers industries in Egypt (of which Egypt is a net exporter) stand to gain, analysts told us last week. Muted demand for foodstuffs should keep Egypt shielded from a supercycle-induced rise in inflation, they said.

The news comes as developed countries’ economic recoveries appear to be slowing in March, reversing a boom in market activity in February, according to Bloomberg economic indicators. The exception is Spain, whose recovery has continued to accelerate.

Chinese stocks have fallen 14% from record highs over the past two weeks, wiping out some USD 1.3 tn and slashing the value of retail holdings, Bloomberg reports. Attempts by state-backed funds to quell a Tuesday sell-off by buying shares only briefly steadied markets, reversing a 3.2% drop in China’s benchmark CSI 300 index to a 0.3% gain, before closing at a 2.2% slump at the end of trading. Analysts say state-backed purchases could ramp up to prevent the rut from turning into a full blown selling panic.

Down

EGX30

11,236

-0.9% (YTD: +3.6%)

None

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.68

Sell 15.78

None

USD at CIB

Buy 15.68

Sell 15.78

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

9,596

+1.3% (YTD: +10.4%)

Up

ADX

5,607

+0.4% (YTD: +11.1%)

Up

DFM

2,547

+0.3% (YTD: +2.2%)

Up

S&P 500

3,899

+0.6% (YTD: +3.8%)

Down

FTSE 100

6,726

-0.1% (YTD: +4.1%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 68.38

+0.7%

Down

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 2.68

-0.3%

Up

Gold

USD 1,727.40

+0.3%

Up

BTC

USD 56,107.99

+3.7%

The EGX30 fell 0.9% yesterday on turnover of EGP 1.5 bn (1.6% above the 90-day average), the second day in a row it has closed in the red. Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is up 3.6% YTD.

In the green: Orascom Investment (+4.9%), CI Capital (+1.3%) and Sidi Kerir (+1.3%).

In the red: Ezz Steel (-2.5%), Fawry (-2.5%) and Heliopolis Housing (-2.1%).

It’s shaping up to be a great day for Asian shares and futures suggest shares in Europe, on Wall Street and in Toronto will all open in the green later today.

AROUND THE WORLD

Saudi Arabia’s 70-year-old kafala sponsorship labor system will end on 14 March, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development said in a tweet. Under the initiative announced last November, foreign employees will no longer need their work sponsor’s permission to change jobs, travel abroad or leave the country permanently.

The move portends the end of a musical trope. Check out our favourites, including the (accidental?) shtick of Bait Kafeel and the more pungent I’m not afraid of my kafeel.

Libya’s parliament approved yesterday its first interim government in years, which will be tasked with overseeing the election of a unified government in December as part of a UN peace plan, Reuters reports. It was the House’s first full session since 2014, in a country that remains deeply divided between forces led by General Khalifa Haftar in the East, and the Government of National Accord. Egypt welcomed the vote of confidence and is looking to cooperate with the interim government during Libya’s transitional phase, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Also worth knowing this morning:

  • Qatar has sent its first oil shipment to the UAE since resuming ties with the Arab Quartet earlier this year, Bloomberg reports. The shipment was purchased by state-owned Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC), and carried 700k of Qatari condensate.

WHO’S TALKING-

Military and security cooperation between Egypt and France were on the agenda for President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Director of the French external intelligence agency DGSE Bernard Emié, who met in Cairo yesterday along with intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, according to an Ittihadiya statement.

Developments on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and Egypt’s ties with the EU were the main talking points for Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell in a phone call yesterday, according to a statement.

MY MORNING ROUTINE

Nour Shawky, CEO of Softec Technologies: Each week, my Morning / WFH Routine looks at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Nour Shawky, CEO of Softec Technologies (LinkedIn). Edited excerpts from our conversation:

My name is Nour Shawky, I'm co-founder and CEO of Softec Technologies. With my wife Heba Makhlouf, we have three children: Yusuf, Ismail and Fairuz. My company is specialized in developing command and control software. This means building software solutions for transportation, logistics, last-mile delivery services and public safety organizations. Our products help companies move on the ground by optimizing vehicle routes using AI to reach destinations as fast as possible while reducing costs. We also help keep an eye in real time on how vehicles are doing and if there are any issues with deliveries that need solving.

I oversee the whole process. I’m responsible for business development, local and regional expansion and product development. We currently have 5k customers across the Middle East, Southeast Asia and most recently, Western Europe. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are now our biggest markets.

I wake up at 6 am, check my phone and read the day’s news. I quickly scan my emails and WhatsApp messages to see if there's anything that requires urgent care — which specifically applies to issues that may arise with some of our mission-critical operations clients like ambulances, police and civil defense organizations. I also do a quick review of our customer software consumption and software performance, which is sent directly to my phone. Then it's on to my news intake for the day, which starts with Enterprise.

I’ve picked up a daily exercise routine for the first time in my life. I'm now preparing for a triathlon so I'm training in cycling, swimming and running. My mornings are usually spent running or swimming and the evenings are when I get the chance to cycle. By 9:00 am I’m at the office where I start my day with two power hours while I'm at my most productive in reading and writing. The most enjoyable part of my day is when I get to my weekly sync-up meetings with our different business units. Then it's more meetings and calls until 5:00 or 6:00 pm when I end my day at the office and head home.

Football in the evenings and deep sea fishing when I get the chance. I’m a Zamalek fan and — like most Egyptians — a big fan of Liverpool because of Mo Salah, so if there's a match on I’ll usually catch that in the evenings. I enjoy a weekend-long deep sea fishing trip in the Red Sea whenever the opportunity arises. It requires a lot of patience and endurance, so it can be quite meditative. I try to take my kids along with me as much as I can, to get them acquainted with nature. The whole process is as important as the catch itself so I’m going to start releasing more fish.

We were fully WFH for eight months after the first wave of the pandemic hit. We sent everyone home in early March of last year and gradually started going back to the office in October. Then we had another full lockdown during January 2021. We went back to working at 50% capacity four days a week at the start of February. We have around 85 people in our Egypt office, 25 people based in the UAE and 5 people working from Saudi Arabia.

It's important to see the faces behind the screen. For the spirit and morale of our team it's very important to be together. Health and safety come first, but we felt human contact was lacking. Face-to-face interactions are essential for the sake of better brainstorming and innovation.

I was quite pessimistic at the start of the pandemic. The future was looking very uncertain at that time so we decided to implement some aggressive cost cutting measures. Luckily, e-commerce grew substantially during the pandemic which meant more business in the logistics sector and more home deliveries. Companies started investing more in home delivery services which was great for our business. In a matter of three months we were back on track to meeting our targets which allowed us to reverse our cuts. All in all, 2020 was a good year for us and we remain optimistic for 2021.

A lot of people incorrectly use the term AI to describe advanced technologies. There are very technically specific areas that constitute what AI means. Artificial intelligence, to a large extent, has to do with the science of interpreting data, so when it comes to AI it's really important that solutions are designed to serve a very particular purpose for a specific industry. Behind every solution there needs to be knowledge of the industry, or the business, along with technically capable scientists who can design appropriate algorithms.

I’m now listening to Moby Dick by Herman Melville as an audiobook during my morning drive to the club and the office. Blue Ocean Strategy by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim was game-changing for me, as was The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni, which is a great book about how to nourish a healthy corporate culture. For IT companies I recommend the book Crossing the Chasm by Jeffery Moore, which is about successfully launching a product. When the pandemic first broke out I read The Plague by Albert Camus which, to me, drew interesting parallels between how people reacted to the outbreak of a plague then and now.

I really appreciate this quote taken from Moby Dick: “Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth… then I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”

ON YOUR WAY OUT

Egypt has repatriated a 2,300-year-old cat statue representing the Ancient Egyptian goddess Bastet from Canada, which is believed to have been smuggled illegally, CTV News reports.The 15-cm bronze statue, which was seized by Canadian border agents last year, is believed to have been among a number of holy offerings Ancient Egyptians left at temples dedicated to Bastet.

CALENDAR

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. Non-members can register here.

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.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2021 Enterprise Ventures LLC.