Monday, 26 April 2021

Summer break comes early for public schools



Good morning, everyone — we’re almost halfway through Ramadan as day 14 gets underway, and we have plenty of news this morning, so let’s get straight to it:

THE BIG NEWS this morning here at home: Summer break is coming early for the nation’s public school students — but a major cramming session is in order. All students (except those sitting Adadiya and Thanaweya Amma exams) will have their end-of-year exams between today and Wednesday and break for the summer at the end of the week, according to a last-minute decision by the Education Ministry yesterday. The timetable for Adadiya and Thanaweya Amma exams remains unchanged, with students expected to sit their exams in early July. Classroom attendance will remain optional from now until the date of the exams.

Not so fast, private schools: The ministry’s decision doesn’t apply to private schools, where students and teachers will stick to their set study and exam timetables. The only rule is that attendance must be limited to three days a week, the statement said.

Schoolkids up and down the country have covid-19 to thank for their extended summer holiday. We have more in Last Night’s Talk Shows, below.

MEANWHILE: The Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review rates this Wednesday, 28 April, according to a statement (pdf). The meeting was originally scheduled to take place on Thursday, but the central bank has brought it forward to avoid meeting on a national holiday in observance of Sinai Liberation Day.

All signs point to a hold: Our poll of 14 economists and analysts suggests the central bank will choose to keep rates on hold for another six weeks because of rising commodity prices and higher US yields.

We still don’t know what the holiday schedule is for next week as officials have yet to make clear whether Sunday (Coptic Easter) is a bank holiday. They have also not indicated when we will observe Sham El Nessim, which falls on Monday.

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

  • Ambitious tourism targets: Egypt is targeting USD 6-7 bn in tourism revenues this year and wants visitor numbers to hit 60% of 2019 levels.
  • Dana Gas is staying put (for now): Dana Gas has abandoned plans to offload its Egypt oil and gas portfolio after acquisition talks with Wastani Petroleum broke down.
  • Heikal walks: Under-fire Information Minister Osama Heikal has resigned from his position citing “personal reasons.”

**So, when do we eat? Listen for Maghreb prayers this evening at 6:29pm, and Fajr prayers at 3:43am.

** We’re very pleased this morning to feature a sponsored message from our friends at the International Finance Corporation on the way forward for healthcare in Egypt. Drop us a line on if you would like to speak directly to our audience of more than 150k unique, engaged and influential readers.


Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will hold talks with his Sudanese counterpart Mariam Al Sadiq Al Mahdi today in Cairo, according to Al Shorouk. The report is light on information but we expect a little thing beginning with G and ending in ERD to be top of the agenda.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly will appear today before the parliament to deliver a statement on the president’s decision to renew the nationwide state of emergency for another three months, effective yesterday, Masrawy reports, citing unnamed parliamentary sources.

It’s Fed week: The US Federal Reserve will kick off its two-day policy meeting tomorrow against a backdrop of a rapidly recovering economy and an accelerating vaccine rollout. All the same, don’t expect any immediate unwinding of the central bank’s crisis measures. Fed chair Jay Powell has said nothing to indicate that policy will remain anything but ultra-loose. Interest rates remain at historic lows and the bank is still purchasing USD 120 bn of bonds every month, a measure that will become increasingly called into question as the economy recovers and inflationary pressures rise. What Powell says about the Fed’s inflation forecasts will be key. The FT has more.

The Oscars kicked off a few hours ago: You can follow the event live as the rest of the awards are announced. Here’s what we know so far:

  • Best picture went to Nomadland, which tells the story of an elderly woman's journey across America after being left rootless by the Great Recession.
  • Chloe Zhao won best director for Nomadland, making her the first woman of colour to win the award.
  • The best supporting actress nod went to Youn Yuh-jung for her role in Minari. Youn is the first Korean actor to take home an Oscar.
  • Daniel Kaluuya picked up the award for best supporting actor for his portrayal of Black Panther activist Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah
  • The award for best cinematography went to Erik Messerschmidt for his work on Mank
  • Chrisopher Nolan’s sci-fi mindbender Tenet won for best visual effects.


Finance Minister Mohamed Maait is addressing AmCham’s Pre-Annual General Meeting tomorrow to discuss Egypt’s economic reform beyond the pandemic. The event will be held virtually at 2pm CLT. Members and non-members alike are welcome to attend. Register here.

Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir will address the House of Representatives tomorrow to discuss his ministry’s plan to overhaul the country’s transportation system, according to the House agenda. El Wazir’s planned appearance in parliament comes after multiple calls from MPs to question the minister or otherwise hold him accountable for the recent spate of railway accidents, including the Qalyubia train crash, which left 23 dead and another 139 injured.


*** 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: Part 3 of our deep-dive into university entrepreneurship programs. As we reported in Part 1, these programs play a vital role in creating a pipeline of early-stage entrepreneurs. They’re particularly good at awareness-raising, providing sector-specific knowledge, access to resources, and mentorship, we found in Part 2. Today, we look at what they could be doing better: teaching governance and accountability; teaching executive leadership; and more service provision.



FinMin releases Egypt’s draft FY2021-22 budget

FinMin publishes draft budget as House pushes on with its discussion: The Finance Ministry released yesterday its draft FY2021-2022 budget (pdf), which is under discussion at the House of Representatives after earning cabinet sign-off last month. MPs need to approve the draft before the start of the fiscal year on 1 July.

Among the highlights:

Our financing gap is expected to increase 7.1% to EGP 1.06 tn, with the bulk of the gap, (nearly EGP 990 bn) to be plugged through local treasury sales. The remainder will come from EGP 66 bn in eurobonds and another EGP 123.8 bn in loans from foreign institutions. At least 70% of all new sovereign issuances in FY2021-2022 will be long-term, as the government continues to shift to longer tenor debt.

The budget deficit is expected to narrow to 6.7% of GDP, from an expected 7.8% in the current fiscal year, before falling to 6.2% in FY 2022-2023. The ministry expects the country’s primary surplus to increase to 1.5% in FY2021-2022 from 0.9% this year, before falling to 1.3% the year after.

Government spending to rise 14% next year: The ministry expects the government to spend EGP 1.84 tn in FY 2021-2022, up 14% from its EGP 1.61 tn projected spend this year.

But revenue growth to outpace rise in spending: Revenues are forecast to rise 22% to reach EGP 1.36 tn during the year. This will be driven by an 18% rise in tax collection, which will bring in EGP 983 bn compared to an expected EGP 830 bn in the current fiscal year. Income from other sources will rise 33% to EGP 380 bn.

Debt service will account for almost a third of government spending, with payments remaining the largest single spending item in the budget, rising more than 2% to EGP 579 bn.

Health and education will see the largest spending increases: Spend on healthcare will rise 16% to EGP 108.8 bn while education will receive EGP 172.6 bn, up almost 10% on FY 2020-2021.

But less will be spent on welfare programs: The ministry has allocated EGP 283 bn to social protection programs in the coming year, down slightly from EGP 286 bn this year.

Other key spending figures:

  • The public wage bill will rise 11% to EGP 361 bn, largely as raises for government employees and civil servants come into effect on 1 July.
  • Subsidies and social welfare payments will climb 5% to EGP 321 bn, but fuel subsidy spending is projected to drop 35% to EGP 18.4 bn.
  • Public investment will rise 54.5% to EGP 358 bn.
  • Spending on buying goods and services for the government will climb a bit over 22% to EGP 103 bn.
  • State grain buyer GASC will provide 8.6 mn tonnes of wheat in FY2021-2022, 5.1 mn of which will be imported.
  • EGP 2 bn in incentives will be paid out during the fiscal year to encourage car owners to replace outdated cars with natural gas-powered vehicles under the state’s multi-year natgas transition plan.

Also in the forecast:

  • GDP growth: 5.4%;
  • Public debt: 89.5% of GDP
  • Oil prices (Brent): USD 60 / bbl.
  • Wheat prices (AHDB futures): USD 255 / tonne.

The budget is getting attention from the foreign press: Reuters has the story.


We’re still a carry trade darling

Egypt’s carry trade is set to continue its upward trajectory thanks to our attractive real interest rates and low-risk environment, Hasnain Malik, head of equity research at emerging markets research firm Tellimer, told Bloomberg (watch, runtime: 6:57). “With a real interest rate close to 4%, very low currency risk because you’ve got very healthy FX reserves, and you’ve also got the policy credibility gains from the IMF program still there — that will last for some time,” Malik said.

We’re set to overtake Turkey as the most attractive EM carry trade: “The Egyptian carry trade has remained an investor favourite,” particularly as confidence in the Turkish carry trade craters with the downward spiral of the TRY following the dismissal of the central bank governor last month, Tellimer’s Patrick Curran wrote in a recent research note. HC Securities’ Monette Doss estimates that Turkey has a real yield of around 4% on 19-month bills compared to the 3.9% yield offered by one-year Egyptian treasuries.

As important as the carry trade is, high rates may discourage private sector investment: “The paradox in Egypt is that we’d like to see a bit more of private sector-led growth,” rather than having the focus centered squarely on foreign inflows into the local currency debt market, said Malik. This is unlikely to happen while interest rates remain elevated, as investors will continue to be drawn to low-risk, high-return government bonds instead of choosing to pour into private sector investments.

And they could hurt the equity market: Egyptian equities “to remain [underpriced] and moribund for a little bit longer” thanks to the high interest rate environment, said Malik. The EGX ended a near two-year IPO drought earlier this month when education outfit Taaleem made its debut on the bourse.

Regardless, the carry trade remains a priority: All 14 economists we surveyed last week said they expected the Central Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee to leave rates on hold during its upcoming meeting, with many citing the need to protect the attractiveness of Egypt’s carry trade as reasoning for the hold.

What the heck is a carry trade, anyway? We have a handy explainer here.


Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em

New rules for the license to establish Egypt’s second major tobacco company are now officially being drawn up by the government, a month after several tobacco players filed a formal complaint asking the state to rewrite the conditions booklet, the local press reports, citing anonymous government sources. Advisors are working with the cabinet to draft a new document after the issue was brought to the prime minister, the sources said. The new booklet will address concerns raised by tobacco companies that the license would have given way to a new monopolist in the e-cigarettes and heated tobacco segments.

Why do investors care so much about a cigarette company? It’s simple: Eastern Company, the current monopoly, is one of the richest dividend plays in our neck of the woods.

Background: The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) issued last month a tender for a license that would have curtailed Eastern Company’s monopoly over the country’s tobacco industry. Several major players were invited to compete, but some — British American Tobacco Egypt and Al Mansour International Distribution Company — objected to the conditions and pleaded with the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) that the rules would effectively create a monopoly on alternative tobacco products.


Elmenus eyes Africa expansion by the end of the year

Online food delivery platform Elmenus is planning to expand into new African markets by the end of the year, our friend Amir Allam, the company’s founder and CEO, tells Al Mal. Elmenus has not yet identified target countries but the expansion would begin with countries that are demographically similar to Egypt, Allam said. The Algebra Ventures-backed platform also plans to expand its food delivery services from Alexandria and Cairo to 15 governorates by the end of the year and is aiming to grow its market share to 50%, from the current 20%, within the next two years.

Despite rapid growth, the food delivery market still has a lot of untapped potential, Allam says. The company has seen a boom in revenues and market value on the back of the sector’s rapid growth during covid-19, but more than 90% of Egyptians ordering takeout still do so by phone, Allam says, meaning the USD 2.5 bn market still has huge growth potential.

The food delivery sector is on fire in Egypt right now: Former Just Eat CEO David Buttress invested an undisclosed amount in Elmenus earlier this year and has joined the company’s board of directors, after the company raised USD 8 mn in a funding round last year. With Uber Eats’ Middle East exit last year, online retail platform Jumia is looking to launch its Jumia Food services in Egypt soon, while Kuwaiti food tech startup Zyda launched in Egypt with plans to invest USD 2 mn. Last year also saw Berlin-based Delivery Hero’s buyout and rebranding of food delivery platform Otlob — which had at one time first-mover advantage in the sector, dating to the “dotcom boom” days — as Talabat.


Cairo Angels invests in Kashat

Kashat has landed Cairo Angels’ largest investment to date: VC firm Cairo Angels has made an undisclosed investment in our friends at Kashat, according to a press release (pdf). The statement did not disclose the exact value of the investment, saying only that it is the “largest investment in Cairo Angels’ history.” Co-founders Karim Nour and Sumair Farooqui told us last month that the investment was part of a private seed-extension round led by Cairo Angels, which closed in December.

About Kashat: The company, one of Egypt’s hottest fintech startups, is a nanoloan provider that offers small productive facilities of between EGP 200-1.5k to Egypt’s large unbanked population, with a repayment period of up to 61 days. Kashat is Egypt’s first FRA-regulated nano-finance player and has integrated with leading e-payment platform Fawry, as well as Vodafone Cash and Aman.

CORRECTION- 26 April 2021

An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Farooqui.


Evergrow mulls offering 40% stake in IPO

Egyptian fertilizer company Evergrow plans to offer a 40% stake in an IPO on the EGX in 2023, Chairman Mohamed El Kheshen told Hapi Journal. This appears to be a larger offering than the 30% stake Evergrow said last year it planned to sell in a public offering in 2022. The chairman did not specify how much Evergrow is looking to raise from the sale.

EFG Hermes is quarterbacking the transaction, El Kheshen said.

The company is trying to fix its finances: Evergrow is undergoing a three-month restructuring as it looks to solve its financial problems caused by the EGP float in 2016. Once complete, Evergrow will become a holding company bringing together its six subsidiaries under its umbrella, and is expected to be valued at EGP 15 bn, El Kheshen said. The restructuring will be backed in part by a USD 400 mn facility from a group of regional banks, which will be used to restructure existing debts and finance the completion of third phase of its Sadat City complex, which was held back by the devaluation.


SEII’s bid to acquire Al Babtain Egypt stake is over

Saudi Egyptian Industrial Investment won’t be acquiring a stake in Al Babtain’s Egypt unit: A bid by Saudi Egyptian Industrial Investment (SEII) to acquire a stake in Al Babtain Power & Telecom Egypt looks to be over after the Tadawul-listed company said yesterday that acquisition talks between the companies have been suspended. In a disclosure to the Saudi exchange, Al Babtain said the talks had come to an end due to “unstable” economic conditions and “unclear” market outlook caused by covid-19, and that the companies were unable to reach a mutually acceptable shareholder agreement.

Background: In December 2019, SEII signed a four-month letter of intent with Al Babtain’s Egyptian unit to negotiate acquiring an undisclosed stake in the firm via a capital increase. The original MoU was then extended five times by the companies, which Al Babtain attributed to complications caused by the pandemic and slow progress agreeing terms.

An IPO in the cards? Al Babtain will continue to study the possibility of offering a part of its Egyptian subsidiary on the EGX, it said.


Houses passes tougher FGM penalties

People will face tougher penalties for committing female genital mutilation after the House yesterday approved amendments to the penal code that would hand jail terms of up to 20 years to people found guilty, Al Shorouk reports. A minimum five-year jail term will be handed to individuals found guilty of committing FGM. Perpetrators will receive minimum seven years’ hard labor if the act resulted in permanent disability and at least 10 years’ hard labor if it causes the girl to die.

Doctors carrying out FGM face harsher penalties: Doctors and nurses could face up to 10-year sentences if they cause permanent disability and between 15-20 years in the event of death. Clinics and licensed facilities belonging to guilty practitioners will be closed for five years.


The nationwide state of emergency will remain in place for another three months after the president issued a decree (pdf) extending it effective yesterday.

A GIZ-backed program that aims to broaden MSME access to financial services earned the House’s approval yesterday. The project will see the German development agency work with the Financial Regulatory Authority and the Central Bank of Egypt to improve financial regulations impacting SMEs and provide technical support to non-bank lenders, among other measures. The project was greenlit by the president late last year.

The Hydro Power Plant Authority is one step closer to being scrapped after the House Energy and Environment Committee yesterday approved a bill that would put a new Renewable Energy Development Agency in control of the country’s hydroelectric assets, Masrawy reports. The bill has been collecting dust in the House for more than a year, having received preliminary approval by the committee in March 2020.



Covid-19 was again at the top of the agenda on the nation’s talk shows, with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s vaccination leading coverage. The talking heads used El Sisi getting the jab to reinforce the message that all vaccines used in Egypt are safe. Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 4:44), Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 4:39) and El Hekaya (watch, runtime 5:40) all had coverage.

Warnings of covid-19 surge: Presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag Eldin told Ala Mas’ouleety in a phone interview said that recent increases in covid-19 cases are due to the public not adhering to precautionary measures especially in crowded public areas, and warned that further increases will put pressure on hospital beds and oxygen supplies (watch, runtime 16:49). Tag Eldin said it is legitimate for the public to have concerns over the vaccines but sought to assure viewers that no adverse effects have yet been detected in Egypt

School’s out early thanks to covid: The Education Ministry’s decision to give an early summer break to the public school students had also got widespread coverage on the airwaves last night. Education Minister Tarek Shawki told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib that the decision was initially taken by his ministry, not the country’s covid-19 crisis management committee, and said that most of the annual curriculum has already been covered (watch, runtime: 16:31). The decision will see some 21 mn students staying closer to home and will hopefully help curb the recent rise in cases, he said.

Adadiya exams will take place across the country in June, Shawki said. Thanaweya Amma students will take experimental exams in May and full simulation tests in June before sitting their final exams in July and August.

It’s business as usual at the nation’s universities: Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar said universities would not break early for summer, telling Amr Adibi last night that currently there’s nothing to worry about (watch, runtime 6:32).

Why aren’t uni students getting a break too? Simply put, their hybrid learning model has been a lot more effective at preventing the spread of covid, Tag Eldin told Moussa. The government is closely monitoring universities and will take a similar decision if necessary, he said.

And finally: The resignation of Information Minister Osama Heikal was picked up by

El Hadidi (watch, runtime 1:47).


The Health Ministry reported 953 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 912 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 222,523 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 51 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 13,049.

Egypt’s national soccer team coach Hossam El Badry has tested positive for covid-19 after his daughter contracted the virus earlier this month, the Egyptian Football Association said in a statement. The Associated Press also covered the story.


  • US vows medical aid for India: The US will send medical and protective equipment as well as raw materials required for covid-19 vaccines to India as it grapples with an unprecedented swell in covid cases. (See tweets here and here.)
  • American pharma firms are playing the Russia card in a bid to keep their covid vaccine patents: US vaccine makers have warned US officials in closed meetings that Russia and China may get hold of their newly-developed mRNA technology if the government goes ahead and temporarily waives intellectual property rights for covid-19 jabs, the Financial Times reports.


It’s a super slow morning in the pages of the foreign press: The solitary article is brought to us by the Financial Times, which features an Egyptian respondent in a reader poll that highlights the precarious financial situations faced by younger generations across the world. Egyptian youth are struggling most with financial uncertainty, making planning for the future hard and taking risks impossible, says the salmon-colored paper’s Egyptian reader.


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Higher crude prices won't give Big Oil its swagger back: Although the recent recovery of Brent crude prices is helping the world’s top oil and gas producers compensate for their 2020 losses, Big Oil is unlikely to reap benefits. After taking on debt last year to keep up with the financial strain of maintaining dividend payouts in 2020, oil majors such as ExxonMobil and Total are now directing surplus revenues to pay down their pandemic-induced debts, Bloomberg reports. Major oil companies now “have limited appeal as long-term investments because they can’t demonstrate that they can deliver cashflow on a sustainable basis and return it on a sustainable basis,” JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s head of EMEA oil and gas Christyan Malek tells the business information service.

MARKET WATCH- Western economies are poised for a consumer-led rebound from covid as vaccinations gradually restore normalcy, says the Wall Street Journal. Vaccinated people could return with force to shops and hotels, releasing savings they had amassed during the pandemic — which Moody’s Analytics estimates exceeds USD 5.4 tn worldwide.




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The EGX30 ended today’s session flat on turnover of EGP 892 mn (31.5% below the 90-day average). Regional investors were net buyers. The index is down 2.2% YTD.

In the green: Orascom Development (+4.1%), Qalaa Holdings (+3.0%) and SODIC (+2.6%).

In the red: AMOC (-1.3%), MM Group (-1.1%) and Fawry (-0.9%).

Asian markets are in the green in early trading this morning. European shares look set to fall when markets open in the coming hours, while futures show US stocks opening in the green later today.


IN DIPLOMACY: Shoukry holds talks with Jordan foreign minister on Jerusalem unrest: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi yesterday condemned attacks on Palestinian worshippers by Israeli extremists in Jerusalem and called on Israel to restore calm, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Jerusalem has witnessed several nights of clashes between protesters and police, sparked by police setting up barricades outside the Damascus Gate and a far-right Israeli group staged an anti-Arab rally.

Egypt’s role in resolving the ongoing crisis in Yemen topped the agenda for Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths during a meeting in Cairo yesterday, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.


Egyptian university entrepreneurship programs Part 3: What do they need to improve? Today, we continue our look at how university entrepreneurship programs are helping to graduate our next batch of startups. In Part 1, tech leaders and college officials told us how universities here provide ideal environments for building a pipeline of early-stage entrepreneurs. In Part 2, we looked at what it is they get right. We found that they’re particularly strong at awareness-raising, providing access to resources and mentorship. But what could they do better? We asked startup program leaders, entrepreneurs and VCs.

What we found is that universities are finding it hard to prepare entrepreneurs to institutionalize and corporatize their businesses. Three key areas need more work, say stakeholders: teaching governance and accountability; teaching executive leadership; and more service provision.

#1- Teaching corporate governance and accountability: University entrepreneurship programs should provide training in clearly defining expectations between investors and founders, says one startup expert, speaking anonymously. “I’ve known of entrepreneurs — especially undergraduates — who used prizes or grants to travel, rather than injecting the funds directly into their companies. There needs to be a culture of accountability from day 1.”

How big is this issue? Lack of accountability is a common general sector problem, says Managing Director of Falak Startups Youssef ElSammaa. Falak often sees mismatched expectations and lack of accountability, especially with younger founders, he says. “Problems exist, so university programs definitely aren't tackling them enough. But this isn’t their responsibility alone: it’s a shared ecosystem responsibility.”

Are university programs teaching governance and business ethics? We don’t think so. “To the best of my knowledge, no Egyptian university-based startup incubators deliver formal sessions on governance and business ethics,” FEPS BI Executive Director Heba Zaki tells Enterprise. The concepts are discussed during FEPS BI mentorship sessions, without formal training, Zaki adds.

Should they be? Program leaders aren’t so sure. Accountability wasn’t tackled by university programs until two years ago, says iHub Founder Maged Ghoneima. “Then, V-Lab, iHub and Nilepreneurs started pushing it through bootcamps, because entrepreneurs need ownership and accountability.”

But governance doesn’t become relevant until a startup starts attracting investments and growing its team, he says. “Formal governance is most important when a company is owned by shareholders and managed by a different management team, who aren’t company owners,” says V-Lab’s Founding Director Ayman Ismail. “This is not the case for early-stage startups.”

#2- Creating startup executive leadership: Helping entrepreneurs turn ideas into viable businesses is important, but programs should also be building leaders, says Cairo Angels General Manager Zeina Mandour. “Startup founders need to be taught how to manage, how to build an organizational culture, talent acquisition. This is something a lot of entrepreneurs need.” From an investor perspective, startups shouldn’t just learn how to grow technically, but how to grow as businesses, KarmSolar’s Development Director Ibrahim Metawie tells Enterprise.

How big is the problem? Though university programs address it, results aren’t really being seen. At least one or two university incubator programs teach leadership and management, says Zaki. But impact isn’t being felt at the market level. Institutionalization is missing in the sector overall, so it’s probably not just about university incubators, says Metawie.

Should it be more of a focus? Some say university programs are too early-stage for that: More leadership is needed, but it can’t be taught overnight. And university entrepreneurship programs can’t focus on everything, say program directors. Teaching leadership happens at the product development stage. University programs focus on ideation and creating teams, says Ghoneima. “Programs support entrepreneurs at different stages,” agrees Ismail. “The focus of most university programs is on awareness, ideation and validation — making sure entrepreneurs are solving real problems, and able to go to market effectively,” he adds.

#3- Arguably the biggest problem of all? Many students remain underserved: University entrepreneurship programs need to grow massively, Nilepreneurs founder Nezar Sami tells Enterprise. Helwan University, with over 150k students, is hardly being catered to. V-Lab is an example of an excellent incubator, says ElSammaa, but though its startup portfolio is impressive, most aren’t AUC student-affiliated. “We’ve even had Falak graduates apply for V-Lab because they want access to their resources.” Even if V-Lab’s focus was solely on students, there are only 12k at AUC — not even 1% of Egypt’s total number of university students, says another off-the-record source.

So new programs are undoubtedly needed. But leaders warn against creating carbon copies of existing ones. “Don’t try to mimic other programs,” says Ismail. “Look at them, understand them, but design something that fits with your own internal and external stakeholders, your knowledge and assets. Play to your strengths.”

Or applying inflexible, academic models: Some programs need to modify their approach, says Zaki. “Some have the potential to grow. Others won’t unless they change their mindset and business model.” They can be too rigid and classically academic, she believes. “Some are trying to teach entrepreneurship through lectures. The approach should be a hands-on workshop format.”

Your top education stories for the week:

  • EBRD boss at Badr University: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development President Odile Renaud–Basso took a tour (pdf) of CIRA’s Badr University in Cairo and discussed further cooperation with the education player.
  • Education investment: Dubai-based Africa Crest Education is dusting off plans to invest EGP 900 mn in Egypt this year to establish two schools.
  • Tuition loans: Beltone’s Belcash has partnered with El Alsson British and American International Schools to provide tuition financing to parents.
  • Thanaweya Amma 2.0: The Senate has voted against the proposed amendments that aimed to change the assessment model for Thanaweya Amma. The proposal will now be debated by the House of Representatives.
  • Nurseries as MSMEs: Nurseries will be treated as MSMEs, granting them eligibility for all incentives available under the MSMEs Act, under new directives from President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.


26-28 April (Monday-Wednesday): Non Adadiya / Thanaweya Amma students sit end-of-year exams.

27 April (Tuesday): Finance Minister Mohamed Maait will address AmCham’s Pre-Annual General Meeting to discuss Egypt’s economic reform beyond the pandemic.

28 April (Wednesday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

29 April (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sinai Liberation Day.

29 April (Thursday): Start of school summer holiday for students not sitting Adadiya / Thanaweya Amma exams.

1 May (Saturday): Labor Day (national holiday).

2 May (Sunday): Coptic Easter Sunday (holiday for Coptic Christians, still unclear whether it will be a banking holiday).

3 May (Monday): Sham El Nessim (date of the national holiday still TBC).

13-15 May (Thursday-Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

16-19 May (Sunday-Wednesday): The Arabian Travel Market (ATM) takes place in Dubai.

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.

July + August: Thanaweya Amma exams take place.

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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