Monday, 5 April 2021

Foreign reserves inch up again in March + gov’t mulls new covid-19 restrictions

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, nice people. We have lots of stuff going on today as we speed toward the first day of Ramadan — those who observe will start fasting one week from tomorrow, so look for the coming week to be a busy one.

THE BIG STORY OF THE DAY here at home: We could be facing new restrictions designed to tamp down the amplitude of the third wave of covid-19 if we don’t all start playing ball now. We have chapter and verse in this morning’s news well, below.

It’s PMI day: Figures measuring business activity in Egypt’s non-oil private sector in March will land here at 6:15 am CLT. The recovery stalled in December and business activity continued to contract in February, albeit at a slower pace than it did the previous month.

The Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group begin today and run through Sunday, 11 April. This year’s virtual meetings will bring together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, private sector executives, representatives from civil society organizations and academics.

Look for the meeting to dominate business and economy news this week, with the Wall Street Journal writing, “The world’s top economic officials plan to focus … on the prospect of new Covid-19 variants and shutdowns undermining the global rebound, while weighing measures to prevent lasting damage to the poorest and most vulnerable populations.” Some events will be open to the public and can be streamed live from the World Bank’s platform.

GERD talks wrap today: Three days of talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in a bid to get negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) back on track are wrapping up today in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The foreign and irrigation ministers from each country are trying to agree on how to restart negotiations. Positions remain entrenched on the issue, with Egypt and Sudan calling for bringing in new international mediators and Ethiopia preferring to stick with the African Union-led process.

This is the “last chance” to reach an agreement, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in a statement last night. “These negotiations represent the final chance the three countries must seize in order to reach an agreement to fill and operate the GERD … before the upcoming floods season,” he said. Ethiopia is planning to push ahead with the second filling of the dam in July and August this year with or without an agreement — an act President Abdel Fattah El Sisi last called a “red line” for the Egyptian government.

It’s Unesco director-general Audrey Azoula’s final day in Egypt. She heads to Aswan today after attending the inauguration of the Museum of Egyptian Civilizations in Fustat on Saturday night and holding talks with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi yesterday. She also visited a number of sites around Cairo yesterday including Saqqara, the Pyramids of Giza and Islamic Old Cairo.

THE BIG STORY IN THE REGION- Jordan has accused King Abdullah II’s half-brother, former Crown Prince Hamza Bin Hussein, of plotting to destabilize the kingdom in concert with foreign entities, Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi said yesterday. “The investigations had monitored interferences and communications with foreign parties over the right timing to destabilise Jordan,” he said, claiming that a foreign intelligence agency had planned to evacuate Prince Hamza and his wife from the country. The Jordanian government on Saturday arrested 16 people to protect the “security and stability” of the country. Hamza has denied being a part of a foreign conspiracy. Bloomberg and Reuters have full coverage of the story.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi spoke to King Abdullah via phone yesterday and reiterated Egypt’s support for the stability of the kingdom, according to an Ittihadiya statement.

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

  • IPO WATCH I: State-owned e-payments firm e-Finance could pull the trigger on its IPO during the second half of the year.
  • IPO WATCH II: Integrated Diagnostics Holdings (IDH) has announced plans to add 30-35 new branches in Egypt, Jordan, and Sudan this year. IDH is gearing up for a technical listing on the EGX which it hopes to complete this month.
  • INVESTMENT WATCH: Catalyst Partners and the UNDP have launched a EGP 500 mn fund to support Egyptian SMEs.

MARKET WATCH-

Strengthening US economy raises alarms for emerging markets: Investors in EM stocks and bonds are preparing for more losses in April amid expectations that US bond yields will continue to creep up and the greenback will continue strengthening, Bloomberg reports. Traders are now pricing in a Fed rate hike earlier than expected following strong US jobs data on Friday — a move that could precipitate large-scale outflows from risky EM assets. Demand for EM assets dwindled in March, with flows to equity funds falling to less than a third of their peak in February, while bonds and currencies saw net quarterly outflows for the first time in a year.

There’s more pain still to come, according to Morgan Stanley and Citigroup. Morgan Stanley is staying out of EM currencies, citing growth concerns stemming from the delayed vaccine rollout. And Citi thinks that rising US yields and a stronger greenback will continue to heap pressure on the asset class.

European markets will remain closed today for Easter Monday while exchanges in the US reopen for trading.

HAPPENING THIS WEEK-

Egyptian Iron and Steel’s mining spinoff should be going live on the EGX sometime this week as the parent company prepares to go into liquidation. Sources told the local press last week that a liquidator will also be appointed this week to kick off the process which is expected to take up to two years.

Amendments to the VAT act will be in the spotlight when Finance Minister Mohamed Maait meets this week with the House Planning and Budgeting Committee, committee head Fakhry El Fekky told Al Mal. The committee has a raft of amendments to the law to discuss, including applying the 14% tax to the rent and purchase of commercial and administrative properties, imposing VAT on crackers and some sweets, and removing the tax on imports of strategic commodities.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

The Sovereign Fund of Egypt will issue the conditions booklet for the contract to develop the Mogamma El Tahrir this month, CEO Ayman Soliman said yesterday, according to the local press. Foreign and local investors will be able to bid for the contract, which will likely see the Mogamma transformed into a multi-purpose building, with a portion turned into an apartment hotel and others used for commercial purposes.

Inflation data for March will be out on or around Saturday, 10 April.

The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry is hosting a webinar that will take a deep dive into the Madbouly government’s program to create a national ID for all residential and commercial properties and to digitalize the country’s building permit system. The gathering runs Tuesday, 6 April from 4pm to 5:30pm and you can sign up here.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is due in town on 12 April to discuss the latest developments on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, signaling Russia could be looking to play an active role in mediating the impasse, according to TenTV’s Al Mashhad (watch, runtime: 1:28). Lavrov’s planned trip comes after expectations that Russian President Vladimir Putin would visit Egypt sometime in March did not materialize.

“Summer hours” will come into effect for retail stores and restaurants as of 17 April. This means retail shops can close at 11 pm (instead of 10 pm during the winter), while cafes and restaurants can stay open until 1 am (instead of midnight currently). We have more details on the winter vs. summer hours here.

The Central Bank of Egypt will meet to discuss interest rates on Thursday, 29 April.

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

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: A EUR 100 mn partnership between Right to Dream (RTD) — which gives young football talent an education and trains them in football — and Man Capital, the Mansour Group’s UK-based investment arm, will see a EUR 30 mn RTD Egypt academy open its doors in 2022. We speak to RTD’s CEO Tom Vernon and RTD Egypt’s new MD Mohammed Wasfy to discuss the organization’s approach to education and football, its business model, and plans for expansion in Egypt and beyond.

enterprise

ECONOMY

Slowly, but surely

Egypt's foreign currency reserves inched up by almost USD 140 mn in March to end the month at USD 40.34 bn, according to figures released by the Central Bank of Egypt yesterday. Foreign reserves had risen USD 100 mn in February and USD 38.2 mn in January, after jumping by nearly USD 800 mn last December to their highest level since last April. Foreign reserves are still below the USD 45.5 bn pre-covid peak seen last February, and have been gradually inching up in recent months after plummeting almost USD 10 bn during the peak of the covid-19-induced global pullback from emerging markets last year.

OTHER ECONOMY NEWS-

The pace of Egypt’s sovereign debt issuances will remain essentially flat this quarter, according to Finance Ministry figures reported by Al Shorouk yesterday. The ministry plans to sell a little over EGP 642 bn of treasuries during 4Q FY 2020-2021, most of which will be short-term debt. This is down slightly from the EGP 647.5 bn offered in 3Q. The ministry has no plans to return to the international debt market before 30 June after seeing huge demand in a USD 3.75 bn eurobond issuance in February.

COVID WATCH

Stricter covid measures could be coming to a street near you (just in time for Ramadan)

Egypt could impose stricter measures in April and May to combat a third wave of covid-19 if the public doesn’t adhere to precautionary rules, government sources told Al Shorouk. These may include closing public places, banning prayer in the street, fining people for not wearing masks, and reducing working hours at government departments and public facilities, the sources added. The government fears that mass gatherings during Ramadan and Eid El Fitr — and increasing laxity towards precautionary measures — could hike the amplitude of the third wave cabinet has been warning about for weeks now.

The Health Ministry reported 709 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 710 the day before. The ministry also reported 40 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 12,163. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 204,965 confirmed cases of covid-19.

Almost 149k citizens have so far received a covid-19 jab since Egypt began its vaccine rollout in late February, Health Minister Hala Zayed said in a statement yesterday. The ministry is adding capacity, opening yesterday another 200 vaccination centers to add to the 139 units already in operation while doubling the number of medical staff available in existing centers to accommodate the higher influx of patients and long waiting lists at some centers.

Still waiting in line: Tourism workers, who will soon be eligible to receive vaccines especially those in coastal areas, with the rollout expected to take place before the summer tourist season, Zayed said. Zayed previously said that all tourism workers in Sinai and the Red Sea would be vaccinated by the end of May.

TRANSPORT

Swvl courts businesses + students

Swvl is planning to begin offering rides to employees and students through B2B partnerships with private and public businesses of all sizes, as well as schools and universities, the mass-transport app’s corporate director Khaled Metwaly said, according to Al Mal. The plan will see the company expand its business after catering primarily to individuals, Metwally said. The company is banking on the growth potential — and, one presumes, lower cost of sales — of the market of transporting employees and students to and from workplaces and schools, especially as large government agencies and companies are starting to relocate to the new administrative capital, Metwally added. Swvl had launched Swvl Business, which provides tailored routes and schedules for businesses, in Jordan late last year.

AUTOMOTIVE

Hit the road, Jack.

The dual-fuel vehicles being delivered in the pilot phase of the government’s natgas transition plan are now on the road after Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly handed over the keys to their new owners in a ceremony last night, the cabinet said in a statement.

We’re not sure how many vehicles are being distributed during the pilot: Local media quoted the initiative’s spokesperson Ahmed Abdel Razek as saying that the first batch would consist of just 30 vehicles — a figure the ministry denied when we reached out to confirm it. A ministry source told us that there hasn’t been a target number of vehicles set for the pilot phase. Abdel Razek told us last month that the initial rollout would be “small” to minimize rollout errors.

Less than half of the applicants so far are eligible for the scheme: Some 30k people who met the conditions of the program have been contacted by the ministry, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said during the ceremony. Around 68k people have so far applied to convert their vehicles to run on natural gas.

The government’s entire plan will swap out 1.8 mn cars over the course of a decade — a move that is expected to cost some EGP 320 bn. This includes handing over 70k new dual-fuel cars this year, with hopes to have converted 250k vehicles by 2023. The Finance Ministry is providing vehicle owners with financial incentives to take part in the scheme, while some EGP 16.2 bn is being made available by the government and the central bank to provide subsidized loans through local banks.

FINANCE

NBFS player MLF plans to increase portfolio to EGP 2 bn in coming year

Non-banking financial services player MLF Finance is seeking to double the size of its portfolio to EGP 2 bn by the end of 2021, CEO Ahmed Zahran told Al Mal. The company also completed a EGP 200 mn capital increase, which it funded through issuing new stock to new and existing shareholders at a 40% premium.

About MLF: Zahran set up MLF a little over a year ago with Samih Sawiris and five other business figures to provide mortgage financing and factoring services. The company is licensed under a mechanism the Financial Regulatory Authority had launched allowing NBFS firms to provide these services under a single license.

MARKETING

TE is most influential local brand in Egypt -Ipsos

Telecom Egypt ranked at the top of an Ipsos ranking of the most influential local brands in Egypt for 2020, with payment solutions provider Fawry coming in second. El Araby, the National Bank of Egypt, Cottonil, Venus, Chipsy, Tornado, Banque Misr and Aman also made the top 10. The survey (pdf) is based on an online poll of 1.2k people and covers 120 top local and international brands. Jump to slide 58 for this list.

Google topped a list of the most influential brands in Egypt. The list was dominated by tech brands, with Facebook coming in second, followed by Whatsapp and Youtube. E-commerce sites also featured prominently, with Jumia and Souq coming in 7th and 10th respectively. Jump to slide 57 for this list.

By industry, Ipsos says the most influential brands are: Nescafé (food and grocery), McDonald’s (fast food), Jumia (online retail), Vodafone (telecom), Google (tech), BMW (automotive), Facebook (social media), National Bank of Egypt (banking) and Elaraby (retail).

LEGISLATION WATCH

Egycomex law to finally head to parliament + tougher penalties for bullies

The law governing the forthcoming Egyptian commodities exchange will soon be with the House of Representatives for review and approval, Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy said at a conference yesterday, state news agency MENA reports. The minister did not provide any details on the contents of the legislation itself.

So when will the exchange launch? Egycomex is expected to launch on a pilot basis this month, giving the House a relatively small window in which to review the bill if the government is to stick to this timeline. The law had been expected to be submitted to parliament last year after receiving cabinet approval.

OTHER LEGISLATION NEWS –

The Senate gave its final approval to amendments to the Disabilities Act, which would toughen penalties for those convicted of bullying persons with disabilities, Youm7 reports. The amendments increase the minimum sentence to two years from one, and to three years if the perpetrator is the guardian of the bullied person. The law also stipulates a fine between EGP 50-100k for those convicted of bullying, and of EGP 100-200k if the perpetrator is the bullied person’s guardian. The law was originally enacted in 2018 and its regulations mandated the establishment of special government services, including in healthcare, education, employment, and rehabilitation.

MOVES

Abdelaziz Ali (bio) has been appointed non-executive chairman of Ibnsina Pharma, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf). Ali also serves as chairman of the Egyptian Agricultural Production Company, and has co-founded high-profile companies companies including Chipsy, Al Shorouk Hospital and El Masreyeen Dairy.

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The Golden Parade continued to dominate the nation’s airwaves last night: Lamees El Hadidi’s Kelma Akhira dedicated another full show entirely to covering Saturday night’s ceremony, featuring interviews with some of the event’s musicians including Nader Abbassi (who led the orchestra) and singer Nesma Mahgoub (watch, runtime 1:58:13). Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal interviewed Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El Anany (watch, runtime 8:39), while Hadith Al Qahera featured Egyptian soprano Amira Selim (watch, runtime 9:37) as well as former antiquities minister Zahi Hawass, who said that a new archaeological discovery would be announced this Thursday (watch, runtime 9:24). Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime 27:54) and El Hekaya (watch, runtime 2:35) also had coverage.

The ongoing talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in the DRC Kinshasa also got attention last night. El Hekaya’s Amr Adib described the talks as the “last chance” to reach an agreement after 10 years of failed attempts. Sudan wants to get out of the discussions with a "yes" or “no" on the question of whether Ethiopia has a political will to reach an agreement before starting any technical talks. This comes as Ethiopia wants to agree on water shares first among the countries of the Nile Basin, which would take four or five years (watch, runtime: 1:23 | 1:21 | 6:58). President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s message to the Congolese president, which expressed Egypt’s genuine intention to reach an agreement over GERD before the flood season, earned airtime on Masaa DMC (watch, runtime 1:18) and Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime 7:23). Meanwhile, former irrigation minister Mohamed Nasr Allam told Al Ghad TV that the second filling of GERD without the consent of the other two countries would deplete water reserves in the Aswan High Dam (watch, runtime 2:35).

Is Information Minister Osama Heikal being blacklisted by some state media? Some of the country’s editors-in-chief have demanded he be sacked and have said they won’t be covering anything he does in the meantime. They held a press conference that was aired in full on Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime 4:06) and got brief coverage in Masaa DMC (watch, runtime 0:38). The minister has come under fire in recent weeks over his record in office.

The unfolding of events in Jordan over the past 24 hours also earned airtime on El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 06:24) and Hadith Al Qahera (watch, runtime: 04:55). We have the latest in this morning’s What We’re Tracking, above.

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EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Dominating coverage on Egypt in the foreign press this morning: Online trolls are targeting Egypt's first woman ship’s captain, Marwa Elselehdar, wrongly accusing her of being responsible for the Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal last month: BBC | South China Morning Post | USA Today | Arab News.

Saturday’s Golden Parade of mummies is also still getting plenty of attention: Euro News | Voice of America | Global Times | Axios.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Some 25 shipments of liquefied natural gas were exported via Egypt’s Idku LNG terminal in the first three months of 2021, sources told Youm7. More shipments will be exported from the Damietta and Idku liquefaction plants, sources added.Shipments began making their way out of the Damietta in February after the planet was brought back online after an eight-year hiatus. This comes after a dire year for Egypt’s LNG exports: Egypt completed only a few LNG shipments in 2020 after the onset of the pandemic in March as global gas prices hit record lows.

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

  • Faragalla Group plans to establish factories in Sudan and Rwanda this year and to expand its product distribution points in Africa and the GCC.
  • The Trade Ministry has extended for three months its ban on exports of beans and legumes to ensure supply in the lead up to Ramadan.
  • Al Ahly Sabbour Development has partnered with Abu Dhabi-based Reportage Properties for a real estate development in East Cairo's Mostakbal City.

PLANET FINANCE

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Morocco’s debt is now rated junk after S&P downgraded the north African country’s long-term FX and local currency rating to BB+ from BBB-, citing expectations of slow “budgetary consolidation over 2021-2024,” according to Bloomberg. S&P says the rating outlook is now stable, after previously giving Morocco a negative outlook.

Middle Eastern logistics firm Tristar Transport has priced its planned IPO in Dubai at AED 2.2-2.7 (USD 0.60-0.74) per share, giving the company a market cap of AED 2.64-3.24 bn after listing, it said in a press release (pdf). Tristar is offering up to 24% of its shares in the IPO, and could raise as much as AED 777 mn from its secondary and primary sales. If it is priced at the upper end of the range, Tristar’s listing would be the biggest on Dubai’s main exchange since 2017, when Emaar Development’s IPO raised USD 1.3 bn, Bloomberg reports. The bidding process started yesterday and will wrap up on 15 April, the statement said.

A record 76 tech companies shelved plans to list on Shanghai's answer to the Nasdaq, Star Market, last month, after China put the brakes on Alibaba-affiliate and financial tech powerhouse Ant Group's USD 37 bn IPO amid increased scrutiny and tighter regulation, the Financial Times reports, citing figures released by the exchange. There have now been over 180 withdrawn offerings on Star compared to 12 in November, when Ant Group’s IPO was canceled. This flurry of cancellations suggests China is backtracking on its plans to simplify listing procedures under a registration-based system, which could throw a wrench in the country's plans to develop its onshore capital markets in light of a US law that could push Chinese companies to delist from Wall Street.

Down

EGX30

10,417

-1.4% (YTD: -3.95%)

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USD (CBE)

Buy 15.65

Sell 15.75

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USD at CIB

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

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Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

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Tadawul

9,962

+0.7% (YTD: +14.7%)

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ADX

5,953

+0.2% (YTD: +18.0%)

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DFM

2,550

-0.3% (YTD: +2.3%)

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S&P 500

4,019

+1.2% (YTD: +7.0%)

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FTSE 100

6,737

+0.4% (YTD: +4.3%)

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USD 64.56

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USD 2.61

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Gold

USD 1,729.10

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BTC

USD 58,143

+1.1% (as of midnight)

The EGX30 fell 1.4% yesterday on turnover of EGP 789 mn (45.2% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 4.0% YTD.

In the green: Eastern Co. (+1.6%) and Oriental Weavers (+0.3%).

In the red: Abu Qir Fertilizers (-4.4%), MM Group (-3.7%) and Ibnsina Pharma (-3.6%).

blackboard

The Right to Dream – Mansour Group partnership kicks off a new model for ESG education investing in Egypt: Right to Dream (RTD) — which gives young football talent an education and trains them in football through academies in Ghana and Denmark — is kicking off a EUR 100 mn partnership with Man Capital, the Mansour Group’s UK-based investment arm, which, among other things, is looking to launch an academy in Egypt. The partnership hits all the right notes for us. It’s got education, sports, and with it an interesting model for ESG investing here in Egypt.

RTD’s plans for Egypt? Establishing a EUR 30 mn RTD Egypt academy, to give 30 students a chance to potentially play in top tier European leagues, with plans for that number to grow to 100 students by year four. And for those with aspirations beyond football, some 50% of RTD’s students will attend top universities, while the other 50% will go on to pursue professional football careers, with attendance for all students being tuition-free. The Mansour Group’s investment will help RTD diversify revenue, away from reliance on transfer fees.

We sat down (virtually) with RTD’s CEO Tom Vernon and RTD Egypt’s new MD Mohammed Wasfy to discuss RTD’s business model, education vision, and growth plans for Egypt.

The Egypt opening is an important step in RTD’s expansion plan: The Egypt expansion is a key part of a strategic plan to expand RTD in Africa, the UK and eventually Europe and the US, says Vernon. One organization-wide focus is expanding programs for women and girls, and a new Egyptian professional women’s team will be an integral part of the Cairo academy. “We've been really excited about the quality of talent in the Egyptian market,” he adds.

What does RTD actually do? RTD academies offer education, football training and character development, serving over 140 graduates and 82 existing students. In Ghana, students usually join RTD aged 11, with a five-year contract, before pursuing academic or professional football paths. Students have full academic days, typically including 90 minutes of football training in the early morning.

Students attend RTD on full scholarships: Attending RTD currently costs an estimated USD 25-30k per year per student, and the organization covers all, says Vernon. Partner schools and universities in the US and UK provide scholarships for students who follow the academic path to study abroad, with over USD 45 mn in scholarship funding raised in the US.

Academic programs are tailored by country: There’s no one-size-fits-all RTD approach to education. Here in Egypt, students will follow the national curriculum, accredited by the Education Ministry, taking classes in English and Arabic and graduating with the Thannaweya Amma, says Wasfy. Those following the academic track will be eligible for universities in Egypt or the US. The academy in Ghana on the other hand, is a Cambridge IGCSE school, fully accredited by the British Council and Ghanaian Education Ministry. RTD has several school partnerships in Denmark, for students of the Danish academy, Vernon says.

Many on the pro football track play for RTD-owned Danish Superliga club FC Nordsjaelland (FCN). Sixty-one graduates from the Ghana academy have played football professionally, including in North America’s MLS, the Champions League and World Cups. RTD bought FCN in 2015, and the club has since founded a professional women's team that won the 2020 National Cup.

But what about students who decide football may not be a career for them? It’s roughly a 50-50 split between students that follow the academic track and students that follow the pro football track. “In 20 years, about half our students have gone to the US aged 15, attending private USD 55k a year boarding schools,” says Vernon. “From there, they go on to university. Students have attended top US universities through our program.” Those on the pro football track remain at the academy for another three years, completing the BTech program.

Now, everything’s kicking off for the academy in Egypt: Construction of the academy, located in Palm Hills’ Badya in Sixth of October city, is due to start imminently. Interviews for the Head of School are already underway.

RTD Egypt will admit some 30 students in its first year, reaching its maximum capacity of 100 students by year 4, says Wasfy.

June-September will see trials of some 30k children across Egypt to recruit talent: In six different regions spanning the country, RTD organizers will hold football events lasting 2-3 days, so they can assess local children on the pitch, says Wasfy.

They’ll also test academic performance. “We don’t recruit just for the best footballers and then send some of them to the US,” says Vernon. “We take the highest academic achievers with a solid football level, as well as the highest football achievers with a variable academic level.”

Currently, revenue comes primarily from transfers: Transfer fees provide a significant percentage of RTD’s annual budget, says Vernon, though he believes the system needs a review. “We feel the current transfer system devalues the African player. That’s one reason we bought FCN. Now some of the best young players in Africa and Scandinavia play on our team.” FCN has generated transfer fees of over USD 76.6 mn since the acquisition, mainly from academy graduates.

The Mansour Group investment helps diversify RTD’s revenue streams, Vernon says. “The partnership is EUR 100 mn, reflecting the value of existing assets I’ve built over the years,” he says. In part, this covers Egypt’s capex construction costs and operating costs. “The Mansours are totally underwriting the first years of the academy, but then RTD’s business model should start to generate some of its own revenues too.” This would focus on commercial sponsorship — likely brand partnerships across programming products and services — along with some not-for-profit funding, primarily from the US.

It’s a long-term investment, with social rather than financial returns: Man Capital isn’t investing in RTD as a CSR venture, Vernon and Wasfy state clearly. “In the UK, the business could be framed as a for-profit, not-for-dividend social enterprise,” says Vernon. “We see it as a progressive way of investment.” Neither side plans to exit, nor has an IPO ever been discussed, he adds.

So what do the coming 5-10 years hold for RTD? Expansion, tech and media investments, and acquiring more football clubs: Disseminating RTD’s values in Africa and Europe is important for the growth model, says Vernon. This includes expansion, and investments in tech and media to help change conversations about the potential of talented young Africans. Scaling university partnerships and acquiring more football clubs are also core to the strategy, he adds.

Your top education stories for the week:

  • Taaleem IPO: The retail portion of higher education management company Taaleem’s offering was more than 29x oversubscribed on Thursday.
  • SFE makes its first investment in education: The Sovereign Fund of Egypt invested EGP 250 mn in EFG Hermes’ Education Fund, bringing it to its third close.
  • Foreign investments The UK is planning to invest “heavily” in Egypt’s science and technology development as it recasts its foreign policy after Brexit.
  • New guidelines on administering Thanaweya Amma exams: National public and private schools will apply new guidelines and regulations when administering first and second-year Thanaweyya Amma exams in April and May, including a new system of resits, after the government last year upended the traditional standardized testing system.
  • Egypt's research centers make headway in SCImago institutions rankings:

The Egyptian Network of High Energy Physics has been ranked as the number two research institution in Africa by Spain’s SCImago Journal Rankings (SJR) of universities and research focused centers worldwide. The institute improved its overall ranking to 495, from 752 in 2020.

CALENDAR

April: The government’s fuel pricing committee is scheduled to meet for its quarterly review of prices

5-11 April: The Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group will take place virtually.

5-6 April (Monday-Tuesday): Cityscape Egypt virtual conference on real estate investment.

6 April (Tuesday): French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Egypt working breakfast with Sovereign Fund of Egypt CEO Ayman Soliman.

6 April (Tuesday): French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Egypt will host the “Egyptian Government's Real Estate Wealth Inventory and Management Project” webinar.

7 April (Wednesday): British-Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) webinar on digital banking and fintech.

8 April (Thursday): The Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) will host a matchmaking virtual event, dubbed “Hangout with VCs.”

8-10 April (Thursday-Saturday): The TriFactory’s Endurance Festival at Somabay.

12 April (Sunday): Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit Egypt for GERD talks (watch: runtime: 1:28).

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): Coptic 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).

7-9 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.

17-20 June (Thursday-Sunday) : The International Exhibition of Materials and Technologies for Finishing and Construction (Turnkey Expo), Cairo International Conference Center.

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.

30 June- 15 July: National Book Fair.

1 July: (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 30 June Revolution.

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.

12-15 September (Sunday-Wednesday): Sahara Expo: the 33rd International Agricultural Exhibition for Africa and the Middle East.

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.

12-14 October (Tuesday – Thursday) Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt

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.

1-3 November (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Energy exhibition on power and renewable energy, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

29 November – 2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo

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.