Monday, 31 May 2021

Egypt’s Lockdown Lite comes to an end tomorrow

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the last day of May. We may not be relaxing today as are our friends in the US and UK (it’s a holiday weekend for both) but it won’t be long before many of us start thinking about WFH from Sahel — or of leaving the office a bit early on Thursday afternoon (and coming in just a bit late on Sunday morning) so that we can make the drive to the coast.

It’s a moderately busy news morning, with the biggest development coming in the covid file, where the official count of new daily cases continues to trend downward. In parallel, access to vaccines continues to improve. We have more in this morning’s news well, below.

Speaking of covid: We’re going to soon have our very own digital covid passport to store proof of vaccination as well as to schedule a time to go get jabbed, Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 4:23) last night. The digital certificates will be authenticated by the foreign and immigration ministries and will meet the requirements of countries that require proof of vaccination status as a condition of entry, Saad said.

This comes amid a global move to demand digital covid passports. Greece was the first European Union country to unveil a covid passport as the country looks to save this summer’s tourist season and Ireland has followed suit, saying it will issue covid passports to nationals and accept them from visitors arriving from the UK and United States. Debate over a covid passport remains controversial in some quarters of the US, but Canada looks set to issue some form of covid document, and the UK has said that it will not require them to be used for domestic events.

Also going online: The Justice Ministry’s registry (notary) office, where iPhone users can now use an app to locate their nearest office and use their national ID number to book appointments, according to a statement. The app has been available to Android users for a while and has now rolled out for iPhone aficionados.

THE BIG STORY INTERNATIONALLY- Is the end finally nigh for Netanyahu? Efforts to force embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power went up a notch yesterday after far-right settler leader Naftali Bennett threw his weight behind centrist Yair Lapid, who is currently trying to cobble together a governing coalition following a fourth indecisive election. Bennett, a former advisor to Netanyahu, is positioned as the powerbroker who may call the shots over whether the country heads to yet another election or a fragile coalition of liberals and ultranationalists take over from Netanyahu’s long-reigning Likud party.

The story is dominating the front pages of the international press, with everyone from Reuters and the AP to the New York Times and the Washington Post

The timing of is certainly interesting given an intense Egypt-led diplomatic effort yesterday to bring about a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas — and potentially restart direct peace talks between Tel Aviv and Ramallah. A fall of the Netanyahu government will almost certainly have major implications for Egypt’s ambitions to restart talks between the PA and Israel and rebuild Gaza, particularly if Naftali Bennett is anywhere near the levers of power in Tel Aviv. We have full coverage of yesterday’s diplomatic blitz in the news well, below.


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

  • Iron and Steel mining spinoff begins trading on the EGX: The company’s shares are now trading separately from Egyptian Iron and Steel under the ticker ISMQ. Shares closed the day at EGP 1.81 a piece, giving the company a market cap of nearly EGP 1.8 bn.
  • Speed Medical quits bidding war for Alex Medical: The company bailed on a consortium of Saudi’s Tawasol Holdings and Sherif El Akhdar’s LimeVest which had been gunning for 100% of Alex Medical, saying it would focus instead on new investments that it could consolidate on its balance sheet.
  • Orascom Pyramids to invest EGP 200 mn in new Giza sound and light show: The revamp — which will include new equipment, office spaces, and retail outlets — is expected to cost EGP 350 mn on completion.

HAPPENING TODAY- Egypt will today host a virtual edition of Trescon Global’s World AI Show: Held with support from the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), the conference will bring together AI experts, business leaders and tech heads to discuss how the latest trends in advanced technologies will impact the Egyptian economy. You can register for the event here.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Here are some of the key news triggers this upcoming month as we bid farewell to May:

  • PMI: May’s purchasing managers’ index for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will be out on Thursday, 3 June.
  • Foreign reserves figures for May will be out early next week.
  • May inflation data will be released next week.
  • Interest rates: The Central Bank of Egypt will meet Thursday, 17 June to review rates.

The FIG World Challenge Cup in Artistic Gymnastics for men and women will take place in Egypt on 3-6 June.

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: The popularity of adaptive learning software — which incorporates basic AI tech — has grown steadily in recent years, with all of Egypt’s international schools now using adaptive learning to some degree to supplement their teaching. Egypt’s international schools have come to rely on automation for basic functions, communication and data collection, we reported last week. But can adaptive learning replace human teachers? Absolutely not, sources say.

enterprise

COVID WATCH

Gov’t to begin phasing out lockdown-lite tomorrow as daily case count continues to decline

We’re going back to normal summer retail hours as of tomorrow after the government’s covid-19 committee agreed yesterday to lift the semi-lockdown measures it imposed earlier this month to contain the country’s covid-19 outbreak ahead of Eid El Fitr holiday, the cabinet announced in a statement. Retail shops will now have to close by 11 pm, while cafes and restaurants can stay open until 1 am. Shops, restaurants and malls had been required to close at 9 pm since 6 May under a two-week order that was later extended.

Large wedding celebrations and funeral prayers will remain banned, though “small-scale” outdoor wedding parties will be allowed with a cap on attendance set at 300 people and an 11 pm deadline to turn off the music, whether they’re held in hotels or on the street, Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad said on Ala Mas’ouleety last night (watch, runtime: 3:06).

There’s still no shisha in cafes and restaurants and other precautionary measures remain in place. All restaurants, cafes, shops, and other establishments that violate the restrictions will be shut down for a week, with owners facing a EGP 4k fine and / or imprisonment.

The government could again tighten restrictions if we’re not good about social distancing or get lax about wearing masks indoors, Saad said (watch, runtime: 2:07).

The move comes as new daily cases are on a noticeable downtrend. Figures have been falling gradually since the Eid break, from a peak of 1,203 on 16 May to 1,007 yesterday. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 261,666 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 46 new deaths yesterday, bringing the country’s total death toll to 15,047.

A really big vaccination target: The government aims to vaccinate half of Egypt’s population before the end of the year, Saad told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 3:28). Some 325k people have now been fully inoculated against covid-19, and as many as 2.1 mn people have received their first dose.

All tourism workers in South Sinai and the Red Sea have been fully vaccinated, Health Minister Hala Zayed said during the committee meeting yesterday. The ministry began inoculating tourism workers on 6 April.

Next on the priority list for vaccines: Residents of Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh, who will receive their covid shots after the ministry wraps up the inoculation of other workers affiliated to the tourism sector, which is currently underway, Zayed added. She didn’t specify a start date for hte drive.

As many as 7 mn covid vaccines could be in Egypt next month, 3 mn of which will be locally manufactured Sinovac vaccines through state-owned Vacsera, according to Saad. Manufacturing of the jab should have already begun given that the first batch of raw materials used to produce the jab arrived last week in Egypt, though it remains unclear when manufacturing is due to begin.

The remaining vaccines include a new 1.9 mn-jab batch of Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccines to be delivered through the Gavi / Covax program during the first week of June, while a 2 mn-dose shipment of China's Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines will also arrive around the same time, Saad said. Johnson & Johnson is also sending Egypt 20 mn doses of its single-shot jab, head of the Egyptian Authority for Unified Procurement Bahaa El Din Zidan said last week. These doses would be separate from the shots we could be receiving through Covax and from the 4 mn doses that are said to be delivered in 4Q2021, which will likely be received through the African Union.

An unnamed Emirati company will ship to Egypt as many as 20 mn doses of the Sputnik V vaccine before the year is out, Zidan said yesterday. The UAE firm had recently obtained the rights to supply the Russian jab in the MENA region and Egypt contracted with it for the shots. A timeline on when we would get our hands on the vaccines remains unclear, but Bahaa earlier said that they will be delivered in batches over the next several months. The Health Ministry had already signed an agreement with Russia earlier this month to get 10 mn doses of the jab. It is unclear whether the 20 mn doses include or are in addition to the initial 10 mn.

ECONOMY

More FDI, please

Net foreign direct investment is expected to rebound next fiscal year to a near pre-pandemic level, Planning Minister Hala El Said told the Senate yesterday, saying she expects Egypt to land some USD 7 bn worth in FY2021-2022, just ahead of the USD 6.8 bn we are on track to land this fiscal year (pdf).

The bigger picture: Prior to the pandemic, annual net FDI was in excess of USD 7 bn, reaching USD 7.5 bn in FY2019-2020, according to Central Bank of Egypt figures. The country saw its highest level of FDI in more than a decade the year before, receiving USD 8.2 bn in 2018-2019.

FDI is recovering: Net FDI rose around 10% q-o-q in the second quarter of the government’s current fiscal year to USD 1.75 bn from USD 1.6 bn. FDI figures remained almost a third lower y-o-y than the USD 2.6 bn worth of net FDI recorded in 2Q2019-2020. S&P forecast the FDI-to-GDP ratio to bounce back to 2% in FY2021-2022 from 1.4% this fiscal year, before slipping marginally over the following two years.

The IMF thinks we might do a bit better, estimating in January (pdf) that FDI would reach USD 8.3 bn in FY2021-2022, before jumping to USD 11.4 bn in FY2022-2023, then to USD 14.6 bn and USD 16.3 bn in the following two years.

*** A MESSAGE FROM IDG ***

enterprise

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For more information, visit e2-alamein.com.

TOURISM

It’s Groundhog Day on the Red Sea

A delegation of 12 Russian security and safety experts arrived in Egypt yesterday to conduct yet another round of “control inspections” of Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh airports, assessing the aviation security measures as well as protective measures against covid-19 to ensure the safety of tourists, Russian news agency Tass reported, citing a spokesperson for the Egyptian Holding Company for Airports and Air Navigation. Inspectors will assess the security and sanitary measures in place at airport terminals, planes and baggage handling areas, the spokesperson said.

Inspect. Check. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Russian safety teams have inspected Egypt’s airports many times since the 2015 Metrojet crash in Sinai, which killed all 224 passengers and crew members on board. Moscow banned direct flights to Red Sea resort towns following the crash, a ban that has remained in place ever since.

There’s still no word on when Moscow will allow direct travel to Red Sea destinations to resume. We were expecting to see flights return in June following a verbal agreement last month between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. Statements by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko called into question the June estimate for the restart of direct flights, telling reporters that when Russian flights resume will depend on the covid-19 pandemic.

The inspections come less than a week after some Egyptian and Russian investigative teams met in Cairo to discuss and “exchange information” about the deadly crash.

IN OTHER TOURISM NEWS- Air Arabia Egypt will begin operating four weekly flights between Sharm El Sheikh and Jeddah from 16 June, the budget carrier announced yesterday. The Air Arabia subsidiary’s announcement comes a few days after Emirati budget airline Flydubai said it will begin operating three weekly flights to Sharm El Sheikh as of 15 June.

DIPLOMACY

Another shot at peace

A day of high stakes diplomacy: High-level talks aimed at forging a lasting truce between Israel and Hamas took place between Egyptian, Israeli and Palestinian diplomats in Cairo, Tel Aviv and Ramallah yesterday as Egypt stepped up efforts to bring the two sides to the negotiating table following the 11-day conflict in Gaza earlier this month. Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi travelled to Cairo — the first official visit to Egypt by an Israeli foreign minister since 2008 — for talks with FM Sameh Shoukry, while Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel was in Tel Aviv and Ramallah, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss ways to restart direct peace talks.

The Egyptian and Israeli foreign ministers agreed to continue coordination to bring about a permanent truce between Israel and Hamas, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that offered no additional details. During the meeting Shoukry emphasized the need to establish a positive climate for relaunching “serious and constructive” negotiations between Israel and Hamas, who were also urged to refrain from “any measures” that could hamper efforts to revive peace talks, according to the statement.

Egypt has been leading the drive to convert a ceasefire into a longer-term agreement, which includes the reconstruction of Gaza, a resumption of Palestine-Israel peace talks, and a prisoner swap, since renewed conflict erupted between Israel and Hamas earlier this month.

A new round of Palestinian reconciliation talks may take place in Cairo in the coming weeks, after Abbas agreed with Kamel to hold a series of meetings with other Palestinian factions to “unify the Palestinian position,” according to Ahram Gate. Talks between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo earlier this year looked to have produced the first Palestinian elections in 15 years, before factional bickering and Israeli intransigence lead to Abbas cancelling the May and July polls

What about this three-way summit? Reports in Israeli press last week suggested that a three-way summit between the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Israel could soon go ahead.

Tel Aviv will only take part if reconstruction and peace talks take place separately, and if progress is made on the return of the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in a 2014 clash with Hamas and two citizens it thinks Hamas is holding captive, according to Israeli media. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh is reportedly due in Cairo to discuss the plans.

The issue of the prisoner swap was raised by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu during his meeting with Kamel yesterday, according to a statement from the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The two also discussed “mechanisms” to prevent Hamas bolstering its military capabilities and its use of reconstruction materials destined for Gaza.

The meetings are dominating the conversation on Egypt in the foreign press: AP | Reuters | Xinhua | Times of Israel.

SUEZ CANAL

A solution to the Ever Given spat could be found within a week

An imminent breakthrough in Ever Given talks? A breakthrough in settlement talks between the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) and the owners of the Ever Given container ship might be coming “in the coming days or week,” Khaled Abu Bakr, an advisor to the SCA chairman, said at a presser yesterday, according to Bloomberg. Negotiations between the two sides over the size of compensation demand are proceeding in a “positive direction” as shipowner Shoei Kisen “showed good intentions and appreciation to the Egyptian role” in dislodging the Ever Given from the narrow waterway in March, Abu Bakr said.

This came a day after the Ismailia Economic Court postponed until 20 June a hearing in the USD 550 mn lawsuit filed by the SCA over its compensation demands for the six-day blockage of the canal. The two sides have been at loggerheads over how much the shipping company’s insurers should pay out to the SCA, with the authority initially demanding USD 916 mn in damages. The authority has since slashed this to USD 550 mn, but insurers are reportedly willing to only pay out USD 150 mn. The SCA will put forward a new calculation of the cost of rescuing the ship during the hearing later this month, SCA lawter Nabil Zidan said yesterday.

EARNINGS WATCH

MNHD’s consolidated net income falls 70% in 1Q2021

Madinet Nasr Housing and Development’s (MNHD) consolidated net income fell 70% to EGP 114.5 mn in 1Q2021, down from EGP 378 mn in the same period last year, according to its quarterly financials (pdf). Revenues followed suit with a 46% y-o-y decline to reach EGP 493.1 mn during the three-month period, compared to the EGP 914.9 mn recorded in the same quarter last year.

MOVES

Uber appoints Saad Pall as MENA + Pakistan GM

Uber has appointed Saad Pall (LinkedIn) as the new general manager for the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan succeeding Abdellatif “Tino” Waked, the ride-hailing company said in a statement (pdf). The position, based in the company’s Dubai headquarters, covers Uber’s operations in 36 cities across eight regional countries. Pall has 15 years of strategy and marketing experience working in the US, Singapore and Pakistan, and served as Uber's general manager in Pakistan for two years. Waked has been leading Uber’s operations across all of the Middle East and Africa since September 2020 as general manager of the 15-country territory.

enterprise

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Egypt’s diplomatic blitz in Israel and Palestine yesterday got the headline treatment on the nation’s airwaves last night: Israeli FM Gabi Ashkenazi’s visit to Cairo — the first official visit by an Israeli foreign minister in 13 years — and Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel’s back-to-back visits to Tel Avivi and Ramallah took much of the limelight. Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies’ head Khaled Okasha told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi that the meetings were evidence of Egypt’s influential role on the international stage (watch, runtime: 2:43). El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 2:14), Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 3:13) and Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 2:58) also covered the meetings.

The end of lockdown-lite: The government’s decision to loosen some covid restrictions got coverage across the airwaves last night. Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 10:58), Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 6:56), Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 21:54) and Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 2:52) all had coverage. We have the full story in this morning’s Covid Watch, above.

Also on the airwaves last night:

  • More threats over the Ever Given: The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) could unilaterally sell cargo aboard the Ever Given as compensation in case the Ismailia Economic Court rules in favor of the vessel’s owners on 20 June, member of the SCA’s negotiation team Mohamed Sayed said. (El Hekaya | watch, runtime: 5:02)
  • A stuck record on Ala Mas’ouleety: Ahmed Moussa gave more coverage to the GERD dispute, last night accusing Ethiopia of “malicious intentions” toward the countries downstream of the Nile (Ala Mas’ouleety | watch, runtime: 7:27).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Egyptian diplomacy at home and abroad is topping coverage of the country in the international press this morning: The government’s efforts to forge a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and restart peace talks between Ramallah and Tel Aviv is everywhere. We have more in this morning’s news well, above.

Elsewhere: The Associated Press says Egypt is banking on newly-discovered pharaonic treasures to help drag tourism out of the covid-19 induced slump.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

M&A WATCH- Odin Investments has fully acquired Alpha Capital Holding for almost EGP 50 mn, Chairman Hashem El Sayed told local press. Odin will raise Alpha’s capital to EGP 100 mn, and maintain its current management structure, he said, adding that the acquisition supports Odin’s ambitions to become an integrated investment bank.

What’s in the pipeline? Odin has plans to establish three funds, one each for real estate, minerals and SMEs, he added. Odin said in January that it would set up four investment funds, each with AUM of about EGP 500 mn, by the end of 2021

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

  • Egypt will invest EGP 3 bn to establish what it says will be the largest medical complex in northern Egypt in Suez, providing medical services to beneficiaries of the universal healthcare scheme. The scheme has so far been rolled out on a trial basis in Luxor, Ismailia and South Sinai.
  • Travellers passing through Cairo International Airport can now catch a glimpse of ancient Egyptian artifacts at the recently-inaugurated mini museums in terminals 1 and 2.
  • Mortada Mansour making a comeback soon? The Administrative Court has overturned the Olympic Committee’s decision to ban Mortada Mansour from assuming leadership roles in domestic sports activities for four years, Mansour wrote on Facebook. The new ruling comes two months after the court upheld a decision to suspend the Zamalek board and Mansour as chairman following allegations of financial violations. Mansour says he intends to file a lawsuit today to claim EGP 20 mn in compensation from the committee.

PLANET FINANCE

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EFG Hermes - https://efghermes.com/

US regulators are continuing to make vague statements about maybe doing something to temper the madness in the crypto markets: US regulators may be about to put a leash on your doges, according to this front page story in the Financial Times, which may be overreaching slightly with its headline. Michael Hsu, the US Treasury’s new comptroller of the currency, tells the salmon-colored paper that he wants agencies to set up a “regulatory perimeter” for crypto assets, and speaks of “some interest” among “some” of his peers for “coordinating.”

Seems kinda non-committal and vague in comparison to Beijing, which went almost nuclear earlier this month by banning financial institutions and payment companies from using crypto and pledging to clamp down on bitcoin mining and trading.

Crypto assets of all stripes have been on a wild ride this year, soaring to record highs during the first quarter before crashing over the past two weeks, whipsawing largely on the whims of tech bn’aire and Tesla boss Elon Musk.

Up

EGX30

10,302

+0.6% (YTD: -5.0%)

None

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.63

Sell 15.73

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USD at CIB

Buy 15.63

Sell 15.73

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Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

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Tadawul

10,547

+0.3% (YTD: +21.4%)

Down

ADX

6,513

-0.6% (YTD: +29.1%)

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DFM

2,809

-0.3% (YTD: +12.7%)

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S&P 500

4,204

+0.1% (YTD: +11.9%)

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FTSE 100

7,022

-% (YTD: +8.7%)

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Brent crude

USD 68.72

-0.7%

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Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 2.99

+1.0%

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Gold

USD 1,905.30

+0.4%

Up

BTC

USD 36,126

+4.9% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 0.6% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.37 bn (5% above the 90-day average). Regional investors were net sellers. The index is down 5% YTD.

In the green: CI Capital (+8.4%), Pioneers Holding (+7.2%) and Palm Hills Development (+3.9%).

In the red: Ibnsina Pharma (-2.1%), Export Development Bank of Egypt (-2.1%) and MM Group (-2.1%).

AROUND THE WORLD

Talks to bring the US and Iran back into the 2015 nuclear pact have resumed in Vienna for a fifth — and possibly final — round, Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s UN envoy to the Austrian capital, said on Twitter. Officials from world powers including the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China, besides the US and Iran, have been back and forth from Vienna in past weeks to discuss how to get the US back into the agreement and restore Iran’s compliance with the terms,, which had ended Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for an end to sanctions.

The talks should decide once and for all whether it will be possible to revive the pact that has been “on life support” since former US President Donald Trump pulled out in 2018, prompting the Islamic Republic to gradually breach the terms by ramping up its nuclear enrichment.

Ethiopians protest against US sanctions: Over 10k Ethiopians rallied Sunday to protest US restrictions on security and economic aid to Ethiopia, imposed over atrocities related to the months-long Tigray conflict, Reuters reports.

blackboard

Automation and education – How Egypt’s international schools are using adaptive learning: Education is widely seen as one of the hardest sectors to automate. Egypt’s international schools match regional and international peers in automating basic school functions, as we noted last week. But how much is AI being used for actual teaching?

The use of adaptive learning software — which incorporates basic AI tech — has grown steadily in recent years. In Egypt, it’s become a standard supplementary teaching aid for international schools, with programs used for homework, or to help drill in fact-based information. Gamified platforms heighten student engagement, and basic yes-no feedback helps essential skill development. Still, adaptive learning software doesn’t come close to competing with teachers when it comes to identifying knowledge gaps and addressing student learning challenges. It certainly can’t replace teachers, school leaders say.

The software adapts activities to individual learner needs, giving feedback and tailoring follow-up questions. Adaptive learning platforms are interactive, with questions or exercises for learners to complete independently, without input from a teacher or parent. Learners usually receive immediate feedback about whether their answers to questions are right or wrong.

And sometimes allocates harder or easier tasks based on performance. Some systems send follow-up exercises based on learner performance. “Get an exercise right, and you’re automatically sent a harder one. Get the exercise wrong, and you’re sent an easier one,” AIS Director Kapono Ciotti tells Enterprise.

Students can practise particular skills independently, which can improve performance: Adaptive learning gives students the chance to independently practise and develop particular skills, says Claire Rowland, Regent British School Principal. And giving individual students the chance to move at their own pace can enhance their performance, notes Toya Are, Cairo English School’s Deputy Head of Key Stage 2.

Widely-used programs build essential skills, like math and reading: Many adaptive learning programs used in Egypt focus on math, reading and science, say Rowland, education management company Eduhive CEO Karim Mostafa, and El Alsson Executive Director Karim Rogers.

The most popular combine instruction, assessment and reporting: Reading Eggs provides reading lessons and comprehension quizzes for 2-13 year olds, with automated reporting. Bug Club has teaching and reading assessment tools for 3-11 year olds. Mathletics provides primary and secondary school learners with math-focused eBooks, videos and assessments. MyiMaths offers interactive lessons and worksheets for 5-18 year olds. Raz-Kids provides leveled lessons and reports in reading, writing, science, and vocabulary for pre-K-6 students. Science Kerboodle offers interactive tests, quizzes and worksheets for students aged 11-18.

They’re more often used for homework rather than actual teaching: The software is often used for homework assignments and to drill information that needs memorization, like arithmetic times tables, says Rowland. It’s typically been used by students who need extra practise in particular areas, says Ciotti.

Programs are often gamified, so student engagement is high: Adaptive learning tech is highly engaging, with software like Mathletics and Reading Eggs using gamification to increase student motivation, says Are. “Children don’t even realize they’re learning. They just think they’re playing a game.”

And some provide basic data on student performance: Some programs show teachers how many times a student has attempted an exercise, and what their score has been on each occasion, says Rowland.

All international schools in Egypt use adaptive learning software to complement in-person teaching, Rowland believes. How the software is used might vary, she says, but all international schools are likely to be using it in some capacity — even if it’s at the most basic level of assigning homework that teachers don’t have to mark.

This follows the trend worldwide: “In the last 5-7 years, adaptive learning software has become very popular in global education,” notes Rowland. The global market for adaptive learning software stood at USD 1.86 bn in 2020 and is expected to grow to USD 9.11 bn in 2028, according to recent market analysis by Emergen Research.

Still, for all its benefits, adaptive learning remains an add-on: Pre-covid, less than 10% of school learning processes in Egypt involved adaptive learning software, says Ciotti, though usage likely increased during covid. Rowland estimates that adaptive software is used for less than 10% of learning at Regent.

Why is this? Partly because of teaching culture: Many teachers aren’t used to being learning facilitators, rather than delivering lessons at the front of a classroom, says CES Head of Secondary Andrew Lennie.

…And because software feedback is limited to right/wrong automated responses: “In education, there are many other options when it comes to student progress,” notes Ciotti. Feedback from programs like Kerboodle is helpful, but very basic, notes Lennie. “It just gives students the correct answer.”

It doesn’t come close to replacing teachers, school leaders say. Adaptive learning can’t compare with a teacher’s ability to identify student challenges, understand what they need, and provide tailored support, says Rowland. She’s never seen an adaptive learning system identify a student’s learning style or specific learning needs, as teachers can. “Old-school adaptive software, like Raz-Kids — designed ten years ago — is a nice supplement but doesn’t come anywhere near replacing a teacher,” agrees Ciotti.

Could more advanced AI software be poised to shake this up? Cutting-edge AI education software, which goes a step beyond adaptive learning to actually learn from students, and then incorporate that learning into its recommended individual education pathways, has started to appear in Egypt.

We explore the learning potential it opens up in part 3, next week.


Your top education stories for the week:

  • Our first nanotech faculty opens its doors: Egypt’s first graduate studies-level nanotechnology faculty was inaugurated last week at Cairo University’s Sheikh Zayed branch. The Cabinet had approved the faculty’s formation in mid-2019, with an eye to training researchers building on the work of the Egypt Nanotechnology Center (EGNC).
  • Misr Insurance Holding plans to set up an education platform with an initial investment capital of EGP 700-800 mn.
  • The Endowments Ministry will establish a charitable endowment fund to raise donations for higher education and other institutions, under a new bill approved by the parliament.
  • The IMF gave a nod to the government’s plan to ramp up its investments in priority sectors including education.
  • Private-sector education provider Cairo for Real Estate and Investment (CIRA) is eyeing a 40% stake in school furniture manufacturer Global Furnitures Company.

CALENDAR

31 May (Monday): Egypt is hosting Trescon Global’s World AI Show with the support of ITIDA.

7 June (Monday): British Egyptian Business Association hosts an event featuring Oil Minister Tarek El Molla.

3-6 June (Thursday-Monday): Egypt is hosting the FIG World Challenge Cup in Artistic Gymnastics.

14 June (Monday): Egypt's Green Economy Forum.

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.

20 June (Sunday): Ismailia Economic Court to hold hearing on Ever Given compensation case.

22-27 June (Tuesday-Sunday): The CIB PSA World Tour Finals for 2020-2021 will take place in Cairo.

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): The IMF will complete a second review of targets set under the USD 5.2 bn standby loan approved in June 2020 (proposed date).

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 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.

1 July (Thursday): Businesses importing goods at seaports will need to file shipping documents and cargo data digitally to the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system.

15 June (Saturday): EGX-listed will have to complete filing their financial disclosures for the period ended 31 March.

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 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.

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

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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