Wednesday, 14 April 2021

The Ever Given has been seized — and its owners aren’t happy

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, everyone. We hope you had a phenomenal iftar last night — and that you’re settling in for a productive workday. One more to go after this and we can all settle in to enjoy the weekend.

This morning’s news? You could be forgiven for thinking we jumped back in time. The big news stories of the day include the Everwhatever, a third wave of covid-19 and GERD, GERD and still more GERD.

Also on the time warp front: We’re still oddly happy that the Citadel’s “Ramadan cannon” is back in service, booming to signal iftar for the first time in 30 years after being reconditioned.

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

  • M&A Watch: Cleopatra Hospitals has confirmed that it’s in the race to acquire a majority stake in Alex Medical.
  • Tourism slump? What tourism slump? We currently have 54 new hotels in development across Egypt, which will add a combined 16k new rooms by 2023.
  • The emerging markets of the future: Future EM growth will be driven by tech adoption, not exports, in a de-globalizing world.

So, when do we eat? Iftar tonight is at 6:21pm CLT. You’ll have until 3:58am CLT to eat your sohour, hydrate, and gulp down as much coffee as you can.


THE BIG STORY INTERNATIONALLY THIS MORNING- The US’ 20-year war in Afghanistan will officially come to an end in September. All US troops in Afghanistan will be withdrawn from the country by 11 September, the Associated Press reports, citing several US officials. The decision will see the withdrawal come up to four months’ later than the Taliban had agreed with the Trump administration last year, but it sets a firm deadline for the administration to finally wind down the war — one that one official said was absolute and won’t be affected by changes in security conditions. Prompted by the 11 September terrorist attacks, the US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, triggering a two-decade conflict with the Taliban that cost USD 1 tn, the lives of 2.2k US troops, and the deaths of unknown thousands of Afghan civilians. (Washington Post | NYT | CNN | FT)

MORNING MUST READ- FOMO may be what saves office life: Employees working from home after colleagues have returned to the office are likely to experience fear of missing out on insider intel, office gossip, and the chance to network, writes Bloomberg Businessweek contributor Peter Coy. Just 19% of employees said they wanted to continue working from home full-time, which may be caused by the drop in time spent collaborating with coworkers during hours on the clock, Coy writes.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

iSheep, take note: Apple is running a virtual event on Tuesday, 20 April at which pundits think it will unveil AirTags and a new iPad Pro with an improved display and faster processor, among other goodies. The headline: Spring Loaded. The event will stream at 7pm CLT on Apple’s website and on Youtube.

More information on the new construction licenses + building code will be made public by tomorrow to explain the details of the new system that will hand out construction licenses.

EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso could visit Egypt later this month, Al Masry Al Youm reported this weekend following a meeting with Egypt’s ambassador to the UK Tarek Adel. This would be her first official visit to Egypt since she was appointed to head the bank in November.

“Summer hours” will come into effect for retail stores and restaurants as of this Saturday, 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 Hardhat day — your weekly briefing of all things infrastructure in Egypt: Enterprise’s industry vertical focuses each Wednesday on infrastructure, covering everything from energy, water, transportation, urban development and as well as social infrastructure such as health and education.

In today’s issue: In just six days, the Ever Given’s mishap in the Suez Canal cost Egypt around USD 90 mn in foregone revenues — and has the country seeking some USD 900 mn in damages. This prompted experts to take a closer look at the canal’s infrastructure — and prompted us to look into what they had to say. Suggestions include more dredging efforts, acquiring high-capacity equipment and establishing a parallel railroad track.

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SUEZ CANAL

The Ever Given has been seized — and its owners aren’t happy

The Ever Given’s owners aren’t happy that their ship has been seized: The owners of the Ever Given have said they are “disappointed” at the Suez Canal Authority’s (SCA) decision to seize the vessel, claiming they had offered the authority “carefully considered and generous” compensation for blocking the canal last month. In a statement released yesterday, the ship’s protection and indemnity insurer UK Club said the SCA had requested it pay USD 916 mn in compensation for the incident, a claim it says was “largely unsupported.”

What did the SCA ask for? According to UK P&I, the SCA’s claim included a USD 300 mn “salvage bonus” and another USD 300 mn for “loss of reputation.” It described the USD 916 mn demand as “extraordinarily large” and said that the authority had not provided justification for the figure. The claim also does not factor in the cost of salvaging the vessel, which “owners and their hull underwriters expect to receive separately,” the statement said. This is slightly higher than the USD 900 mn reported by local media on Monday and lower than the USD 1 bn the authority had previously been expected to claim.

Neither UK P&I nor the ship’s owner — Japan’s Shoei Kisen — have disclosed how much was offered in compensation. A day after an offer was made on 12 April, the SCA submitted a seizure request to the Ismailia Economic Court, allowing it take control of the vessel until its compensation demands were met. A day before the insurer claimed its “generous” offer, Chairman Osama Rabie told state TV that “they don’t want to pay anything” for the incident (watch, runtime: 9:46).

The ship is officially impounded: Rabie confirmed that the authority had taken control of the ship yesterday after the court approved its seizure request, Ahram Gate reported.

Negotiations are continuing: “The owners will continue to negotiate with the SCA,” the insurer said. An SCA official confirmed the talks to Reuters. The authority has reportedly been in talks with Shoei Kisen for two weeks now to reach a financial settlement outside of court.

Another unfortunate byproduct of the Suez blockage: A surge in ship pollution that the BBC says was visible from space. Sulphur dioxide levels in the air rose to five times their normal levels in the Mediterranean last month, as hundreds of ships were left idled by the blockage. This was picked up by the EU's Sentinel-5P satellite, which carries devices capable of detecting pollutants in the atmosphere.

The story is everywhere in the foreign press this morning: Bloomberg | AFP | Washington Post | Wall Street Journal | CNN.

COVID WATCH

Covid cases rise for ninth consecutive day

Covid cases in Egypt rose for the ninth day running yesterday, providing more evidence that the country is experiencing a third wave of the virus as it enters Ramadan season. Egypt saw 823 new infections yesterday, up from 818 the day before, while 39 more people died from the virus, down slightly from 42 on Monday, according to Health Ministry figures released early this morning.

Cases have been slowly creeping up this month, rising from 699 on 31 March. This has prompted government ministers and talk show hosts to warn the public of an oncoming third wave, the timing of which is particularly problematic given Ramadan, Coptic Easter and Sham El Nessim are all taking place over the coming month. There have been suggestions that new restrictions could be introduced in the coming days should large crowds turn out in the streets to celebrate Ramadan; measures that could include closing public spaces, banning public prayer and reducing hours at government buildings.

Egypt has now disclosed a total of 212,130 confirmed cases of covid-19, while the country’s total death toll now stands at 12,526.

COVID ABROAD-

The US, Europe and South Africa have suspended their rollouts of the Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccine while experts investigate cases of rare blood clots that may be linked to the jab, the BBC reports. US health agencies earlier in the day called on the US government to temporarily halt its use while it studies the cases, six of which were detected in more than 6.8 mn doses of the inoculation. This prompted the company to delay its rollout in the EU which started this week, and South Africa to suspend its use.

How big is the risk? There are six reports of women with clots from among the 7 mn doses given (in total, to men and women) in the United States. Those same women, if on birth control pills, have an even higher risk: The US Food and Drug Administration “estimates that the risk of birth control users developing a serious blood clot is three to nine women out of 10,000, every year.” (The clots are admittedly different.)

Haven’t we heard this story before? AstraZeneca’s jab has faced similar charges, with a rate of 166 reported clots in 37 mn doses administered — meaning you have about a 3x greater chance of getting a clot after taking AstraZeneca than you do of being hit by lightning the next time you’re allow to go to Europe for vacation.

All adults in the UK over the age of 50 have now been offered at least one covid-19 shot, the government announced yesterday, making its vaccine rollouts one of the fastest in the world. The government reached its vaccination target several days ahead of schedule, and has now administered over 40 mn vaccines. The next phase of the program will target those in their 40s, with the aim of giving all UK adults at least one vaccine dose by the end of July.

REGULATION WATCH

Investor Protection Fund expands coverage to forced delistings

The Investor Protection Fund (IPF) will expand its coverage to stock market losses if a listed company is ordered by regulators to delist shares, according to updated regulations (pdf) published by the Financial Regulatory Authority yesterday. An earlier version of the regs (pdf) issued in 2016 shows that the fund had only compensated investors if publicly traded companies went bankrupt or got into deep financial distress, or if it was proven that the investor’s losses were due to mismanagement, negligence or fraud on the part of the company.

DIPLOMACY

Sudan wants PM-level jaw-fest over GERD

Sudan has called on the prime ministers of Egypt and Ethiopia to attend a summit within 10 days in a bid to revive stalled talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), state news agency SUNA reported yesterday. The invitation for a meeting, which would be attended by Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed, comes amid rising tensions between the three countries, which again failed to agree on a path forward for new talks last week.

Finding an agreement is becoming increasingly pressing, Hamdok said yesterday in an apparent reference to Ethiopia’s plans to continue filling the dam this summer, a move which President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has warned would be a red line for Egypt. Talks in Kinshasa last week ended without an agreement, with Ethiopia refusing to agree to Sudan’s proposal to bring in new mediators, preferring to stick with the current African Union-led talks.

The US is backing the AU: Washington is pushing all three countries to return to the negotiating table under the AU-led process, a State Department spokesperson told Sky News Arabia yesterday. “The negotiating table is the only solution to the crisis," the spokesperson said. This came a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called for a swift resolution to the dispute during talks in Cairo with Sameh Shoukry and El Sisi.

Is Egypt trying to bring the UN into the fold? Shoukry yesterday spoke to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about the current state of talks, according to a cabinet statement which provided little information on the substance of the conversation. The minister has also sent letters to Guterres, the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly after the latest developments on the GERD, the statement said, without disclosing further information. The UN is one of the organizations Sudan and Egypt want to bring into the mediation process, and Shoukry last week suggested that Egypt could appeal to the Security Council for a resolution if current efforts falter.

EARNINGS WATCH

National Bank of Egypt profits drop 40% in 2019-2020

State-owned National Bank of Egypt’s net income declined 40% to EGP 13.1 bn in its 2019-2020 fiscal year, compared to EGP 20.2 bn a year earlier, the bank said in a statement (pdf) this week. The statement provides little insight into why the state-owned bank’s profits declined and does not disclose its net interest income during the period. The country’s largest lender saw its loan portfolio rose 33% to EGP 721 bn during the year, while the ratio of non-performing loans fell to 1.4%, compared to 1.6% in FY2018-2019.

NBE claims a 35.2% share of all loans in the banking sector, saying it grew its portfolio 33% Y-o-Y to EGP 720 bn as of June 2020 and to EGP 935 bn as of March 2021. The bank’s non-performing loans fell as a percentage of total loans to 1.4% last year compared to 1.6% the year before. It also claimed a 35.5% market share of deposits as of March 2021 at about EGP 2 tn.

NBE emphasized in the statement that it paid EGP 17.5 bn in taxes to the public treasury and said it had 1.4 mn customers sign up for its internet banking service in the period. The bank had 553 physical branches, offices and other units in service at the end of March 2021.

(If you’re clicking through to the press release, you’ll want to read carefully: Financial figures are for FY2019-2020, while some figures including total loan book, deposit and market share are variously quoted that fiscal year and for 9M2020-2021.)

MOVES

Managing director, non-executive chairman named for new central clearing and depository company

Yasser Zaazaa (bio) has been appointed managing director of the new central clearing and depository company for state debt issuances, while Central Bank of Egypt Deputy Governor Rami Aboul Naga (LinkedIn) was named non-executive chairman, Al Mal reports, citing unnamed sources. The new state-run company will handle all the clearing and registry of government debt issuances and its existence is one of the key conditions to local debt being cleared by the Belgium-based clearinghouse Euroclear.

enterprise

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

All aluminum products will face additional import duties for a three-year period, Trade and Industry Minister Nevine Gamea said in a statement yesterday. A 16.5% tariff of the CIF (cost, ins. and freight) value of imported aluminum moulds, cylinders and wire with a minimum value of USD 333 per tonne will be applied for the first year. The duty will be reduced by 3% for each of the following two years, reaching a minimum value of USD 211 per tonne by the third year, Gamea said.

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

  • Amazon Payment Services is waiving service fees for businesses in Egypt who ink an agreement before the end of June. The announcement does not make clear when the waiver would come to an end.
  • Vodafone is in talks to operate the new administrative capital’s planned 5G network, and has submitted proposals to the National Telecom Regulatory Authority.
  • Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will begin operating four flights a week from the UAE to Luxor and Sohag next month. Flights from the UAE to Sohag will run Wednesdays and Saturdays starting 29 May and flights to Luxor will begin operating every Monday and Friday on 4 June, and Tuesdays and Saturdays from 15 June.
  • Real estate developer Inertia will borrow EGP 1.1 bn in Islamic financing from Banque Misr to finance construction works for the fourth phase of its flagship Jefaira North Coast project.
  • Banque Misr will provide electronic collection services to the Petroleum Commercial Services Company (Petrotrade), which processes more than 70% of the country’s gas bill payments, Al Mal reports, citing a statement from the bank.
  • The Dostour Party’s former spokesperson Khaled Dawoud has been released from pre-trial detention — where he has been held since 2019 on charges of reporting fake news — pending further investigation.
  • The Court of Cassation has upheld death sentences for four defendants and the imprisonment of 14 others who were found guilty of killing eight members of the police service in Helwan in 2016.

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The Ramadan talk show slowdown began in earnest last night, with several channels transitioning to mosalsalat mode for the first day of Ramadan.

Ahmed Moussa provided the sole piece of political commentary last night — about GERD (what else?). Moussa had a thorough read of Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s invitation for a three-way summit next week to renew negotiations over the dam (watch runtime 4:56). We have more on this in this morning’s Diplomacy section, above.

A final attempt at diplomacy? Sudanese political analyst Essam Dakeen described Hamdok’s move as a “final attempt” to avoid the situation from seriously deteriorating. He suggested that the initiative will likely fail, given what he said was Ethiopia’s non-compliance with the 2015 Declaration of Principles (watch, runtime 4:40). Egypt and Sudan should stop the second filling as it would be a “real disaster” if it's done unilaterally, he stressed, suggesting that there may be a war to prevent it “if necessary.” Ala Mas’ouleety also covered Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Cairo on Monday (watch, runtime 2:02) and Sameh Shoukry’s call with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres yesterday (more on this above) (watch, runtime 1:52).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

The escalation of the dispute over the Ever Given container ship is dominating the pages of the foreign press this morning after the Suez Canal Authority yesterday seized the vessel. We have all the latest on the situation above.

The few foreign journos that don’t have their eyes trained on the Suez Canal are talking about Ramadan: Reuters and the New York Times are both out with pieces covering the first day of the holy month, noting that Ramadan 2021 is slightly more normal than Ramadan 2020.

Israeli tourists are (slowly) making their way back to Sinai, provided they show proof of a negative PCR test or that they’ve previously contracted and recovered from the virus that causes covid-19 at the border. (Times of Israel)

PLANET FINANCE

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The biggest SPAC acquisition ever is coming out of Singapore as ride-hailing and food delivery platform Grab is going public on the Nasdaq through a record breaking USD 39.6 bn agreement that will see it merge with a US-based SPAC Altimer Growth, Reuters reports. Altimer Capital is leading the offering with USD 750 mn from funds it manages and has so far seen at least USD 4 bn in private investment in public equity (PIPEs) from a number of investors including BlackRock and Fidelity International.

SPACs had a breakthrough year in 2020 that saw the blank cheque companies raise some USD 83 bn. Appetite looks set to continue this year with SPACs already raising USD 99 bn so far, despite fears last month that a US bond market selloff would kill investor appetite for the highly speculative asset.

Need a refresher on your SPACs and PIPEs? You can find our explainers here and here.

Coinbase valued at USD 65 bn ahead of direct listing: Nasdaq has given crypto exchange Coinbase a reference price of USD 250 a share, valuing the company at USD 65.3 bn as it prepares to go ahead with a direct listing in the US today, CNBC reports. This will be the first listing of a crypto firm in the US and has been called a watershed moment for the industry indicative of digital currencies’ increasing acceptance among mainstream investors.

Chinese regulators have given tech companies a month to clear up anti-competitive practices following the antitrust ruling against e-commerce giant Alibaba which saw it slapped with a record USD 2.8 bn fine, the Financial Times reports. A record 76 tech companies shelved plans to list on Shanghai's answer to the Nasdaq, Star Market, last month, after China pulled the brakes on Alibaba-affiliate and financial tech powerhouse Ant Group's USD 37 bn IPO amid increased scrutiny and tighter regulation.

Down

EGX30

10,306

-1.4% (YTD: -5.0%)

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USD (CBE)

Buy 15.63

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Buy 15.64

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8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

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-0.7% (YTD: +13.2%)

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USD 63.99

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USD 2.62

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USD 1,747.60

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USD 63,148

+5.3% (as of midnight)

The EGX30 fell 1.4% yesterday on turnover of EGP 995 mn (27.3% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 5.0% YTD.

In the green: AMOC (+15.1%), Fawry (+0.8%) and Credit Agricole (+0.3%).

In the red: ElSewedy Electric (-7.3%), Heliopolis Housing (-4.4%) and Ibnsina Pharma (-4.1%).

Japan’s Nikkei is the only major Asian market in the red so far today, while futures suggest that European shares will open in the green later this morning, as will stocks in Toronto. Wall Street so far looks set to start the day in the red at the opening bell.

AROUND THE WORLD

Iran is raising the stakes ahead of upcoming nuclear talks: One of Iran’s nuclear negotiators has announced that the country will go ahead and enrich uranium to 60% for the first time ever, a few days after an apparent attack on one its nuclear facilities and hours before talks resume in Vienna to resurrect the 2015 pact with world powers, the Associated Press reports. The country’s foreign minister warned yesterday that the attack, which Tehran labelled an act of “nuclear terrorism” committed by Israel, threatens to upend the current negotiations, which aim to get the US back into the accord and end its sanctions regime in return for Iran getting back into compliance with the terms of the agreement.

hardhat

What infrastructure upgrades does the Suez Canal need to avoid an Ever Given Season 2? In just six days, the Ever Given’s mishap in the Suez Canal cost Egypt around USD 90 mn in foregone revenues, Suez Canal Authority (SCA) boss Osama Rabie told Ala Masouleety’s Ahmed Moussa. The SCA is currently considering an expansion at the southern section of the canal where the Ever Given got stuck, Rabie recently announced. This prompted us to ask logistics insiders what other infrastructure developments need to be implemented, in order to avoid another Ever Given mishap. More dredging, high-capacity equipment and a parallel railroad track were all recurring suggestions, our sources tell us.

Background: So what actually happened to the Ever Given? Initial reports indicated that the 400-meter-long vessel got caught up in a dust storm on 23 March, causing it to float sideways and hit the canal’s embankment, finally settling diagonally across the canal. Dredgers were used to remove sand from underneath the ship and mud that was caked to its port side. With the help of a rising tide, the ship was finally freed after six days. Depending on the severity of the grounding, the salvage and re-floating of this type of ship is a complex operation, requiring specialist equipment and potentially a lot of time, the World Economic Forum stated. Around 420 ships were stuck on either end of the canal, unable to deliver their shipments, costing the world over USD 9 bn a day, the ripple effects of which will most likely be felt until the summer, the Wall Street Journal reported. A formal investigation is ongoing to determine what exactly happened on board the ship, and is expected to wrap up by the end of the week. Meanwhile, the SCA has demanded the owner of the ship to pay USD 900 mn in compensation, and has obtained a court order to seize the ship until it receives payment, Al Shorouk reported.

The canal’s infrastructure has in fact been seeing upgrades in the past few years. This included the expansion of berths, ports, and the establishment of transit stations, head of the Alexandria Navigation Chamber Mohamed Moselhy tells us. These upgrades increased the volume of transit across Egypt, with the canal seeing the movement of 4.8 mn containers in 2020, up from 4.4 mn in 2019, according to a sector performance report issued by the Transportation Ministry. The SCA is looking to get the canal’s regular daily capacity to 95 vessels by 2030, Rabie recently said.The establishment of container terminals and unloading berths will even further increase the circulation of goods in all Egyptian ports, not just the Suez Canal, Moselhy believes. But further steps need to be taken in order to avoid another Ever Given-like disruption, vice president of the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AAST) Mohamed Daoud says.

Expansion of the dredging works on the canal edges: A lot of work was dedicated to dredging in the past years during the establishment of the New Suez Canal, Daoud tells Enterprise. Although it is unlikely that a second grounding incident will happen, the dredging process needs to continue in order to widen the shipping route, he explains. Dredging means removing sediments and debris from the bottom and edges of the canal, such as silt and sand. This is a necessary routine because it increases the depth of the canal, allowing the safe passage of large ships and vessels. Today, the depth of the Suez Canal stands at 24 meters, which is sufficient for the crossing of giant ships. However, further dredging works need to be done on the edges of the waterway to avoid another Ever Given situation, Daoud explains.

Purchase of high-capacity tugboats and equipment: In the Ever Given saga, it took a few days until Italian and Dutch tugboats arrived to help handle the situation. Hence, some have suggested that the equipment of the SCA needs to be updated and expanded in order to be able to handle these situations in a faster manner and not rely on hired boats to arrive, member of the International Maritime Transport Division at the Egyptian Chamber of Commerce in Alexandria Ahmed Mostafa says. Additionally, there was no readily available equipment to offload some of the Ever Given’s weight, United Nations International Maritime Organization advisor Michael Kingston told Reuters. El Sisi already pledged to purchase new equipment and boats for the Suez Canal, and called on ministers to immediately sign off on any needs by the SCA, and new tugboats, dredgers, and cranes are already on the shopping list.

Parallel railway track: To relieve the pressure on the Suez Canal, some are suggesting expanding the railway infrastructure running alongside the waterway. While a railway running from the ports of Sokhna and Suez to Alexandria already exists, it needs to be expanded, Mostafa says. It can then be leased to private companies who can provide the vehicles needed to transport goods. The operation of the railroad will therefore not require heavy government funding. Given the rise in oil prices since the Ever Given mishap, small shipping companies may find the transit fees of the canal too high. A functioning railway would allow them to move their goods to Alexandria via trains, which is much cheaper, Mostafa states. It would also reduce the pressure on the canal’s infrastructure and provide the state with profitable returns.

Safety measures: While the past years have seen new safety measures implemented in the canal, additional measures are needed, owner of Saratoga Maritime Transport Agency Ahmed Al-Saeed tells Enterprise. Such measures could include urging the ships to shut down their machines upon entry and depending on the SCA’s tugboats to pull ships through the canal.

Maybe some cybersecurity? The canal’s IT and communications systems could be vulnerable to hacks and cyber attacks, former senior director for Middle East and North African affairs at the US National Security Council Robert Greenway recently wrote in a Bloomberg Opinion piece. Greenway points to recent cyber attacks on industrial control systems, saying that the canal is vulnerable to similar hostility because of its “antiquated” IT architecture.

Is global shipping growing at a faster rate than our infrastructure? Worldwide, about 11 bn tons of goods are transported by ship each year, which represents 1.5 tons per person, based on the current global population, according to the International Chamber of Shipping. To stay competitive, companies are increasing the sizes of their ships to be able to handle more cargo. “The [Ever Given] incident […] highlights that as ships get larger and more complicated, their reliance on narrow shipping routes constructed in an earlier age looks increasingly risky,” the World Economic Forum writes. Adding to that, there remains the question of whether ports are equipped to handle that much cargo unloading. It remains to be seen whether Suez Canal infrastructure developments — if they happen — will be enough to handle these global concerns.

Your top infrastructure stories for the week:

  • Suez Canal: The Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) has signed a long-term syndicated loan worth EGP 10 bn to finance infrastructure projects.
  • Railway funding: AfDB has approved a EUR 145 mn loan to finance railway upgrades to enhance rail safety through the Egyptian National Railways Modernization Project.
  • Railway manufacturing: The Arab Organization for Industrialization’s SEMAF railway factory will manufacture and supply 1k railway trucks within four years under an agreement signed with the Egyptian National Railways.
  • Natgas transition infrastructure: Egypt is doubling its natgas filling station target to 1k by the end of the year under a government-backed program to expand natgas refueling infrastructure nationwide.

CALENDAR

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

April: EBRD president Odile Renaud-Basso expected to visit Egypt.

25 April (Sunday): Sinai Liberation Day.

29 April (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sinai Liberation Day (TBC — the holiday could be observed on a Sunday or a Thursday).

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.

30 September-8 October (Thursday-Friday): The 54th session of the Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference 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.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

27 June-3 July 2022 (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish below between the actual holiday and its observance.

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