Monday, 15 March 2021

CBE, Ittihadiya unveil EGP 100 bn plan to offer 30-year mortgages with 3% rate

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and welcome to another brisk news day in which M&A news takes a back seat to the latest developments in the pandemic and the launch of an EGP 100 bn program to offer 30-year mortgages to low- and middle-income earners with subsidized rates.

*** CATCH UP QUICK from yesterday’s M&A-heavy edition of EnterprisePM:

  • M&A Watch #1: Emirati real estate firm Aldar Properties has submitted a non-binding offer to acquire at least 51% of real estate giant Sodic, raising hopes for much-needed foreign investment in the real estate sector.
  • M&A Watch #2: GlaxoSmithKline has temporarily shelved plans to sell its units in Egypt and Tunisia following the breakdown of talks with UK-listed Hikma Pharma.
  • M&A Watch #3: A bidding war for hospitals operator Alexandria Medical Services is beginning to heat up after a consortium of Mabaret Al Asafra Hospitals and investment firm Tana Africa Capital said it plans to submit an offer rivaling another led by Saudi’s Tawasol Holdings and Speed Medical subsidiary Speed Hospitals Company.

PICKING UP WHERE WE LEFT OFF- Acdima Pharma expects to hear back from GlaxoSmithKline today on its request from last week to start due diligence on GSK’s Egypt operations. GSK had previously rejected separate takeover bids by Acdima and Rameda Pharma, saying last month it was focusing instead on talks with Hikma Pharma. GSK acknowledged yesterday that Acdima asked last week to start DD, but noted its parent company has backed away from a sale. Its board was due to meet yesterday. The breakdown of talks pushed GSK’s lightly-traded shares on the EGX to close down 10% yesterday.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

Proposed changes to the Bankruptcy Act could finally see the light of day when MPs reconvene today to finalize their discussion of the bill, according to the local press. The bill was approved at the committee level earlier this year, and would, if passed, give creditors more power to decide the future of bankrupt businesses and allow debtors to request bankruptcy protection, among other things.

The 2021 Grammys were still underway at dispatch time. Taylor Swift walked away with Album of the Year, while H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe” — a protest about last year’s police violence in the US, particularly the murder of George Floyd — landed the Song of the Year award.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

The US Federal Reserve is likely to decide to keep rates on hold at near zero levels during its two-day meeting beginning tomorrow, despite the successful vaccine rollout and the Biden administration’s recently passed USD 1.9 tn relief bill, Bloomberg reports. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected steady rates until 2023, whereas most economists in an earlier survey said they did not expect any rate changes until 2024. The Fed is also expected to continue with its USD 120 bn monthly asset purchase program, and to raise its estimates of 2021 growth to around 5.8%.

The Central Bank of Egypt meets on Thursday to review rates, with all 12 analysts we spoke with for our regular poll saying they think the CBE will leave rates on hold.

Life coach Arfeen Khan is giving a talk at a virtual AmCham event today.

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 tomorrow. 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. You can register for the event here.

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

enterprise

*** 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: The Higher Education Ministry is looking to give Egypt’s universities more of a tech focus, with six new tech universities planned and scientific research flagged as crucial to Egypt’s sustainable development. The shift in government policy priority is also encouraging the private sector to pour investments into tech universities.

enterprise

COVID WATCH

Mixed signals at public venues + next big vaccine shipment arrives end of March

All outdoor arts, culture, and entertainment events — including concerts — are now allowed to operate at 50% capacity, rolling back a three-month ban the Madbouly Cabinet had imposed late last year in a bid to contain the spread of the virus, according to a cabinet statement yesterday. The move to relax restrictions on outdoor gatherings comes after the Culture Ministry proposed resuming arts and culture events that were earlier pushed back. Book fairs will also resume across the country soon, Culture Minister Enas Abdel Dayem told Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa (watch, runtime: 7:57). The decision also comes as daily cases continue to creep up, giving rise to expectations that a third wave is on our doorstep.

Moving in the opposite direction: Churches in Upper Egypt’s Qena will temporarily shut down today through 3 April, with masses and other activities suspended, in a bid to curb the rising number of covid-19 cases in the governorate, the Bishop of Qena said in a statement.

Cases are rising in some governorates as more people get “pandemic fatigue” and get increasingly lax with preventive measures, Mohamed Abdel Fattah, head of the Health Ministry’s Central Administration for Preventive Affairs, told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi. Among the governorates seeing an uptick is Aswan, but ICUs in the governorate are not yet at full capacity, according to Abdel Fattah (watch, runtime: 10:25).

The latest on vaccines here at home: Our first batch of the 8.6 mn AstraZeneca doses from the WHO’s Gavi / Covax program is now expected to arrive at the end of March, Abdel Fattah told Lamees. The first shipment will be 6 mn jabs. So far, around 400k individuals have registered for a jab through the Health Ministry’s website and the pace of registration is picking up after being initially slow, he said (watch, runtime: 1:51). The shipment of 300k doses of Sinopharm jabs China is gifting us has arrived and we’re running tests on a sample of the shipment, Lamees’ sources tell her (watch, runtime: 2:10).

All of these incoming jabs will help accelerate our vaccination program and people will notice a marked uptick in speed this week, Abdel Fattah said. Those who are eligible for vaccines at the current stage — individuals above the age of 65 and / or who suffer from chronic conditions — could get the AstraZeneca jab, he said (watch, runtime: 2:15).

The Health Ministry reported 644 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 641 the day before. The ministry also reported 44 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 11,300. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 190,924 confirmed cases of covid-19.

Among the deaths: Four staff members at Alexandria Faculty of Medicine passed away due to complications related to covid-19 in the past two days, Al Masry Al Youm reports, citing an unnamed faculty source.

Nearly half of Italy will be back into lockdown as of today, as authorities aim to curb a recent spike in cases, Reuters reports. A nationwide lockdown will also be enforced during Easter weekend at the beginning of April, the government announced after cases rose 10% last week.

The rollout of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in Europe has run into a wall as more governments suspend the jab due to safety concerns. Netherlands and Ireland yesterday joined (pdf) a growing list of European countries halting shots, including Austria, Italy, Norway, and Denmark, after several batches of the vaccine were linked to blood clotting, despite a European regulator saying there was no link. AstraZeneca echoed the same results following a review of more than 17 mn people vaccinated with its jab in the UK and EU, which the drugmaker said showed no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots.

The one bit of silver lining for the EU: The bloc could meet its first-quarter covid-19 vaccination plan targets as Pfizer ramps up its jab deliveries to Europe in a bid to help bridge the gap Reuters reports. The EU's vaccination program is already hampered by repeated delays in deliveries of AstraZeneca, which cut planned 1Q2021 to one third of its contractual obligation.

Dubai is running a trial of a covid breath-test: Developed by the National University of Singapore’s Breathonix, the test is designed to detect the virus through a breath sample and produce results in just one minute, Bloomberg says. Clinical trials are currently underway on 2.5k patients to assess its accuracy.

MACRO

Egypt will be back near pre-pandemic growth rates by next year –AfDB

Egypt’s economy will be back near its pre-pandemic growth rate in 2022, coming in at 4.9% compared to the 5.6% recorded in 2019, according to estimates in the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) 2021 Economic Outlook report (pdf). While our economy grew at a 3.6% clip last year “despite the relatively severe health impact of the virus in the country,” the pandemic has exacerbated our short-term refinancing needs and exposed structural vulnerabilities, the report said.

High domestic consumption was key to Egypt avoiding contraction, bucking a trend that gripped most world economies. Cushioning the blow: strong fiscal buffers after years of consolidation, which kept the overall budget deficit unchanged at 8% of GDP in 2020; slowing inflation, giving room for monetary expansion and allowing exports to grow faster than imports. (Still consumption is not always the most sustainable driver.)

Growth is expected to remain subdued at 3% in 2021 as tourism is capped by the pandemic, keeping prospects for overall goods and service exports muted. Weak growth in Europe, Egypt’s largest trade partner and main inbound tourism market, is also expected to hamper the recovery. Previous forecasts by the IMF and Fitch Ratings, had put growth between 5 and 5.5% in FY2021-2022.

Weak private investment is also forecast to weigh on the outlook for the coming year, though capex could pick up over the medium term as a result of an “improved investment climate,” the bank said.

Covid-19 made exaggerated Egypt’s already significant refinancing, with 60% of government debt set to mature in one year or less, according to the report. The report notes that recent credit facilities lengthened the average maturity of public debt, with Egypt receiving a combined USD 8 bn in covid financing and tapping the international debt market with a USD 3.75 bn bond sale last month, and a record USD 5 bn sale last year. But more needs to be done to further extend the tenor of debt, with Egypt’s total debt stock projected to grow 90.6% this year before falling back to 77.2% in 2025, the report notes.

And “serious debt challenges might be looming” for the continent at large: Average debt-to-GDP ratio for African countries is seen climbing 10-15% in the short-to-medium term to reach 70-75% in 2021 with “direct implications” on budgets and debt burdens, the bank said.

Overall, Africa’s GDP is forecast to grow an average 3.4% this year, reversing a 2.2% contraction in 2020 as tourism gradually resumes, commodity prices rebound, and governments ease pandemic restrictions, the AfDB said.

Egypt’s 2020 3.6% growth rate helped buoy North Africa economies, with the region only collectively contracting an estimated 1.1% in 2020, the report said.

Egypt should continue implementing structural reforms “to catalyze private sector development and enhance domestic resource mobilization,” in order to maintain a long term growth rate supported by more than domestic consumption, the bank concluded

FINANCE

Are we getting 30-year, 3% mortgages?

Low- and middle-income earners will have access to EGP 100 bn-worth of subsidized mortgages, courtesy of the Central Bank of Egypt. The new initiative will allow would-be homeowners to tap mortgage finance at a subsidized rate of 3% and will offer a 30-year repayment period, according to an Itthadiya statement. The statement made no further mention of eligibility criteria, such as an income ceiling, nor did it specify a maximum size per transaction or total value for the program. CBE Deputy Governor Gamal Negm told Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa last night that the central bank is earmarking a total of EGP 100 bn for the new initiative (watch, runtime: 45:50).

Background: The new program comes after the CBE had launched last year its EGP 50 bn mortgage finance program for middle-income housing, which was a continuation of a previous initiative that ran from 2014 until January 2019. Under the previous initiative, those earning up to 40k a month were eligible for a preferential interest rate of 10% on their mortgages.

REAL ESTATE

The reckoning is near

All 3.16 mn building code violations across the country are on track to be settled with the government by the time the end-of-March deadline for settlements rolls around, Local Development Ministry spokesperson Khaled Kassem told the local press. Authorities have so far received 2.75 mn settlement requests worth some EGP 18 bn since the government launched its crackdown on illegal construction last year, and the ministry expects to receive another 410k settlement requests by the end of the month, Kassem said. House Local Administration Committee head Ahmed El Segeny had said earlier this week that 3 mn requests worth EGP 17 bn have been filed so far.

Background: A crackdown on wildcat building launched by the government last year is forcing people who have violated the building code to pay so-called “reconciliation” fees to legalize their properties. Owners in violation of the code have been given until the end of the month to settle with the state. The government separately ordered a six-month construction ban in late May, and extended the ban into 2021 as it works on new construction regulations that are expected to govern everything from building height, ratios, and usage to urban coordination and the hoops builders need to jump through before they can start construction.

INVESTMENT WATCH

USD 2.5 bn of Saudi investment in five years + Meamar launches healthcare unit

Sharbatly Group pouring USD 2.5 bn into Egypt? Saudi investor Hassan Sharbatly plans to invest some USD 2.5 bn in several ventures in Egypt over the next five years, he said during a meeting with Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and other members of cabinet yesterday, according to a statement. The statement, which included few details, says that Sharbatly will be investing through Sharbatly Group. The Sharbatly family is the driver behind CityStars Mall operator Golden Pyramids Plaza and is an investor in a wide range of sectors in Egypt.

Also sitting in on the meeting: Saudi investor Fahd El Shobokshy, chairman of the board at Al Ahli Investment and Development. The statement does not clarify whether El Shobokshy has separate investment plans. El Shobokshy and Abdulrahman Sharbatly had said back in 2017 that they would invest some USD 2.15 bn in Egypt, including USD 1 bn to expand their Golden Coast Company projects in Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada’s Somabay, USD 1 bn to fund new projects in cooperation with real estate development firm Arco, and USD 150 mn for a second production line at South Valley Cement Company.

OTHER INVESTMENT NEWS-

Meamar Real Estate Development has launched its first healthcare company, dubbed Healing Medical Care, with EGP 200 mn worth of investments, Chairman Mohamed Sobhy said. The new entity will roll out its first hospital in Sadat City in March 2022. The company is also looking at building facilities in New Cairo, Fayoum and Sohag. The company will sell up to 60% of its shares to unnamed private investors, the story says, in two transactions starting sometime in April.

M&A WATCH

Al Tayseer ups its stake in Mansoura Medical Center

Al Tayseer Healthcare Group (THG) has upped its stake in Mansoura Medical Center to 50.3%, acquiring an additional 17.3 % of the company’s equity through a mandatory tender offer in a transaction worth EGP 97 mn, CEO Mohamed Gazar told the local press. THG plans to spend EGP 120 mn over the next 12-18 months to modernize the center once they obtain management rights, Gazar said. Gazar had previously said that THG would seek full ownership of the center as part of its EGP 700 mn expansion drive, which includes an EGP 200 mn expansion of their Zagazig hospital and the acquisition of an 80% stake in an unnamed hospital in Alexandria this year.

MOVES

Swvl co-founder and CTO Ahmed Sabbah (LinkedIn) has announced his resignation, telling Enterprise that he intends to start his own consumer fintech business, without sharing further details. Sabbah co-founded the mass transportation startup with Mostafa Kandil and Mahmoud Nouh in 2017, and Swvl managed during this period to raise close to USD 90 mn and expanded into different countries such as Jordan, Kenya, Pakistan, and is working to expand into other Middle East markets. Sabbah is the second co-founder to leave after Nouh departed in 2019 to found a fintech startup called Capiter.

enterprise

EARNINGS WATCH

Raya Holding cut its losses by 46% y-o-y in 2020, posting a bottom line that was EGP 45.7 mn in the red compared to EGP 85 mn the year before, according to an earnings release (pdf). The company grew its top line 22% to EGP 10.76 bn.

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The Central Bank of Egypt’s new mortgage lending initiative was the talk of the town on the airwaves last night. Everyone had coverage (and praise), from Al Hayah Al Youm’s Mohamed Sherdy (watch, runtime: 11:41) to El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 7:06). Banque Misr Chairman Mohamed El Etreby also phoned El Hekaya to explain the procedures (watch, runtime: 3:14). We have chapter and verse in the news well, above.

Not getting the attention it deserves: The Council of State (Maglis El Dawla) signed off on appointing women judges to the council for the first time, after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi issued a directive earlier this month ordering women judges to be brought into the Maglis and the Supreme Judicial Council. The judges will be transferred from other judicial bodies, including the State Lawsuits Authority and the Administrative Prosecution. Among those taking note: Hadith Al Kahera’s Khairy Ramadan and Karima Awad (watch, runtime: 7:35) and Al Hayah Al Youm’s Sherdy (watch, runtime: 3:39).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

The foreign press is taking another breather from Egypt this morning. Among the human interest stories out there: Xinhua notes that Egypt has established the Dragon Boat Federation to officially recognize the Chinese sport of dragon boat racing, while Al Monitor profiles a South Sudanese man living in Cairo and former football professional who recently set up an academy to teach football to African refugees in Egypt, cutting his AUC education short.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Odin investments will split into two companies through a horizontal demerger, with one operating in the non-banking financial services sector and the other in real estate, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf). The split will allow the companies to appeal to more specialized investors, to manage resources more flexibly, and to improve each company’s financial standing, according to the statement.

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

  • A EGP 2 bn overdraft for the state’s FY2020-2021 budget earned the green light from the House of Representatives to help finance measures to prop up the economy and certain sectors amid the fallout from the pandemic.
  • Some 3k factories in Cairo and Alexandria will make the switch to natgas from diesel and mazut within five years, in a move that is meant to cut operating costs and bring down the price of product prices. It should also be a bit better for the environment.
  • Greek industrial investor Mac Optic will manage and operate a television channel dubbed HBC that is set to launch in 2H2021, through its Egypt-focused arm Mac Holding established last year.
  • A Cairo court will begin on 30 March the trial of the man accused of the attempted [redacted] assault of a young girl in Maadi. The prosecutor-general last week ordered the man to face trial on charges of assaulting a minor.

PLANET FINANCE

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Short sellers are circling SPACs, with the value of short positions being taken against SPAC shares tripling to USD 2.7 bn since the start of the year, according to financial data provider S3 Partners, the Wall Street Journal reports. Post-IPO companies are attractive for short sellers because SPAC investors are keen to sell shares and ensure a payoff. Shorting SPACs has become so popular that Goldman Sachs has begun offering similar bundles of stocks to short as a SPAC hedge.

2021 hasn’t been kind to the SPAC market: A recently-launched index that tracks SPACs is down 20% from its peak in February, putting the market in bear territory and raising speculation that one of the most feverish trades on Wall Street may be running out of steam.

Conditions aren’t right for a commodities supercycle, the Wall Street Journal writes, saying that the absence of major industrial expansion and the likelihood of another slump in oil demand makes a long-term climb in the price of commodities unlikely. Though commodity prices have seen strong gains since a covid-induced crash last year, the upward turn is likely to taper off as the global economy recovers and fiscal stimulus packages are phased out, he says.

That’s a good thing as far as Egypt’s concerned: Analysts we talked to earlier this month said that the Egyptian economy is heavily exposed to the rising inflation that accompanies higher commodities prices due to its reliance on imports.

US tech stocks could fall into a bear market if US treasury yields continue to rise: That’s according to a recent note by Ned Davis Research, which claims that the Nasdaq could drop as much as 20% if the yield of 10-year US treasuries rise another 50 bps to 2%. The forecast is based on an inverse relationship between bond yields and equity risk premiums, and the research house calculates that if the 10-year treasury yield tops 2% (from 1.52% last Thursday) — a level it believes we will see — the index will need to fall by 20% (which is the technical definition of a bear market) to make both yields equivalent.

What’s driving the crypto pop? Look no further than stimulus, Elon, short-sellers giving up, and “weekend liquidity,” one analyst tells Bloomberg. Bitcoin popped to an all-time high of USD 61.6k on Saturday, bouncing back from a rout in late February following a previous peak set that month. The valuation surge isn’t enough to push widespread adoption of the cryptocurrency, which market watchers say is now “a giant stimulus-fueled bubble on track to burst like it did in the 2017-2018 boom-and-bust cycle.”

Up

EGX30

11,290

+0.3% (YTD: +4.1%)

Down

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.63

Sell 15.73

Down

USD at CIB

Buy 15.62

Sell 15.72

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

9,665

+0.8% (YTD: +11.2%)

Up

ADX

5,684

+0.8% (YTD: +12.6%)

Up

DFM

2,600

+1.0% (YTD: +4.4%)

Up

S&P 500

3,943

+0.1% (YTD: +5.0%)

Up

FTSE 100

6,762

+0.4% (YTD: +4.7%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 69.99

+1.1%

Down

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 2.55

-1.9%

Up

Gold

USD 1,728.20

+0.5%

Down

BTC

USD 60,162.63

-1.24%

The EGX30 rose 0.3% yesterday on turnover of EGP 897 mn (39.6% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net sellers. The index is up 4.1% YTD.

In the green: Fawry (+6.8%), Orascom Development (+5.7%) and Sodic (+4.7%).

In the red: CI Capital (-7.3%), AMOC (-2.6%) and Orascom Investment (-2.5%).

Asian markets are mixed at the start of this trading week, with Shanghai and Korea’s Kospi in the red and the Nikkei and Hong Kong in the green. Futures point to a mixed open in Europe, while Wall Street and Bay Street are set to start the week in the green.

AROUND THE WORLD

Turkey’s actions need to speak for its intentions before it can mend fences with Egypt, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said yesterday, according to Reuters. Ankara and Cairo have established “limited” diplomatic contact after years of frosty relations, Shoukry confirmed. Top Turkish officials said last week that diplomatic contacts had resumed and that Ankara is trying to set up a meeting in Cairo to seek further cooperation that could potentially end a long-running dispute. Egypt dialed back the rhetoric, saying this can’t be taken to mean both countries have resumed “diplomatic communication.”

Libya wants Egypt to suspend the USD 25 entry visa fee for Libyans, as part of activating an agreement signed in 1992, which regulates the rights of movement, residence, work and ownership, between the two countries, it said in a statement.

FURTHER AFIELD: Syria’s First Lady Asma Al Assad could face terrorism charges and lose her British citizenship after the Metropolitan police opened a preliminary investigation into claims of her involvement in Syrian war crimes.

blackboard

What are the Higher Education Ministry’s investment priorities going into the new fiscal year? Aside from the usual suspects, it’s tech. As the Finance Ministry dots the i’s and crosses the t’s on the FY2021-2022 state budget, Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar and Planning Minister Hala El Said sat down last month to discuss the details of the Higher Education Ministry’s investment plan and priorities for the coming fiscal year. And while we don’t yet have precise figures for the Higher Education Ministry’s total budget allocations in the upcoming fiscal year, one thing is clear: While health / medical education and scientific research remain important, there is a concerted effort to push forward with tech universities to meet labor market needs.

Gov’t is pouring some EGP 1 bn into tech universities alone: Six new tech universities will be set up in East Port Said, 6 October, Borg Al Arab, Luxor, Assiut, and Gharbia’s Samanoud. These are in addition to three new tech universities recently set up in New Cairo, Quesna and Beni Sueif. The cost of setting up the three recently-established tech universities and the six new planned ones is approximately EGP 1 bn, estimates Ahmed El Hayawi, Secretary-General of the Education Development Fund.

For context: The higher education sector as a whole was allocated some EGP 122 bn from the EGP 2.2 tn state budget for FY2020-2021, out of a total of EGP 424 bn for education, higher education, and scientific research. That means education, higher education, and research accounted for around 19.3% of total spending, and higher education spending accounted for 5.5% of the overall budget.

The aim is to get them up and running quickly: Four of the six new tech universities should be ready to accept students in September 2021, El Hayawi tells Enterprise: Assiut, Luxor, Borg Al Arab and 6 October.

And by 2030, a total of 14 tech universities will be set up across the country as part of the government’s Vision 2030 plan, adds Mohamed Helmy El Ghar, head of the Supreme Council of Private Universities.

The goal? To produce students whose skills match the labor market’s needs. The universities are designed to provide new specializations that better qualify students for the labor market, El Ghar tells Enterprise. This plan has seen new disciplines introduced into tech universities: New energy programs, automotive technology, mechatronics engineering, gas technology, and manufacturing artificial limbs, El Hayawi adds.

There’s a clear link between science and tech studies and employability, Future University of Egypt head Ebada Sarhan tells Enterprise. Future University conducts annual surveys to track student employment after graduation, and observes consistently high employment rates ― close to 100% ― among graduates of scientific disciplines, he adds.

The push towards tech universities also entails encouraging students to enroll, which is the mandate of Egypt’s first tech syndicate — whose establishment Cabinet formally approved last month, says El Hayawi. The syndicate is responsible for promoting a “cultural shift” towards pursuing technical and technological specializations in higher education, he says.

And a push for more private sector participation and internationalization: The hope is that university curriculum reforms will encourage private sector investment in the education sector, says Higher Education Minister spokesperson Adel Abdel Ghaffar. Leveraging international partnerships is designed to meet the same goal. One of the new tech universities has entered into a partnership with a South Korean university, to localize tech expertise, as private universities in Egypt do, Abdel Ghaffar tells Enterprise.

Taking their lead from the government, private universities are following suit by introducing new tech specializations. Egypt’s private universities are also introducing new specializations and disciplines, with a focus on practical training, Sarhan tells Enterprise. The cost of establishing new technical or scientific colleges is significant, though ― each one might cost EGP 500 mn because of the laboratories and training facilities that are a Higher Education Ministry requirement, estimates Sarhan.

But tech isn’t the only area of higher education that’s expanding. With growing demand and investment interest — including in governorates outside urban centers — the government is working on setting up more local universities. Three new local universities ― King Salman University, Al Alamein International University, and Al Galala University ― started admitting students in September 2020. Mansoura International University is on track to open in the coming academic year, says El Ghar. And more local universities have been granted approval, according to El Ghar, one of which El Hayawi says is a new establishment in Helwan.

Also still playing key roles in the ministry’s plans: Developing Egypt’s health system — in which university hospitals play a “key” role, El Said said — and expanding scientific research. The reliance on university hospitals became particularly evident since the onset of the pandemic, as many were set up as dedicated quarantine facilities. And with the national healthcare system needing all the support it can get, the need for increased investment in equipment, manpower and training in university hospitals is clear, argues Mohamed Kamel, professor at Alexandria University’s Faculty of Medicine, in an Alexandria Journal of Medicine article.

Your top education stories for the week:

  • Mansoura University is ranked among the top 100 Universities in emerging markets this year in the Times Higher Education Emerging Economies rankings.
  • The government is looking to establish 100 universities by 2030 as part of its plans to build one in each governorate
  • A virtual version of higher education fair EduGate kicks off Thursday, through Saturday. The physical event took place last week.
  • An education portal for doctors completing fellowship programs in Egypt is now up and running. It was developed by the Health Ministry in partnership with unnamed foreign institutions.

CALENDAR

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

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.

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.