Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Summer retail hours are back in effect today as lockdown measures ease

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning ladies and gents, and welcome to a new month. We start June with the easing of many of the semi-lockdown measures brought in before Eid last month. Referring to it as a “lockdown” at all is probably stretching the definition a tad — especially when compared to the “stay in your house or else” model favored in some other parts of the world. Still, those of us still awake at that hour are nevertheless looking forward to the return of the simple pleasure of heading out for a coffee at 9:01pm.

What you’re allowed to do: Summer retail hours make their return, meaning shops and restaurants no longer have to close by 9pm. Retail outlets will now shutter by 11 pm, while cafes and restaurants can stay open until 1 am.

What you’re not: Large weddings and funerals are still a no-no, although “small” events of up to 300 people can still go ahead.

Welcome back, US and UK readers. We hope you were able to disconnect over your respective long weekends — and that you’re all looking forward to fantastic summers as lockdown measures ease. Futures suggest markets in Europe and North America are looking at a mixed open later today. Shares in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai are in the red as we inch toward our dispatch deadline this morning.

Goodbye May, hello June. Among the handful of dates you should keep your eyes on:

  • 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.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

The Export–Import Bank of Korea is in town for a seven-day visit to negotiate the financing of transport projects, the International Cooperation Ministry said yesterday. The visit ends on Thursday, 3 June. Among the potential projects is an upgrade of the Luxor-Aswan railway signaling system. The bank has previously funded higher education, IT, and transport projects — and provided financing to Egyptian SMEs in 2019 as part of a USD 3 bn package pledged in 2016.

OPEC+ will likely decide to continue ramping up oil output at its monthly meeting today, Bloomberg says. The cartel of oil producing countries had announced in April that it would gradually increase supply through July, bringing back online some 1.1 mn bbl per day it had cut during covid-19 (anybody else remember when oil prices were negative for a while there?). With oil having now recovered to around USD 70/bbl and with some producers raising supply slower than expected, the cartel will likely opt for another supply increase.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- China is trying to tackle its demographic time bomb, announcing yesterday that couples will now be able to have up to three children. Recent census data showed the country’s birth rate is continuing to fall sharply, posing a serious threat to the aging country’s future prospects. China abolished its one-child policy — introduced to curb rapid population growth — five years ago in a bid to raise its birth rate. The story is everywhere this morning: CNBC | WSJ | BBC | NYT | Bloomberg.

WE’RE ALSO KEEPING AN EYE ON- The fifth and possibly final round of nuclear talks between Iran, the US and other world powers began yesterday. The talks could finalize an agreement between Tehran and Washington that would see Iran comply with terms of the 2015 accord in return for the US dropping sanctions and reentering the agreement, Bloomberg reports.

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

  • FRA pulls the brakes on Egytrans, Paradigm Logistics partnership: The Financial Regulatory Authority annulled an offer by Paradigm Logistics to swap out its 72% stake in shipping company Ostool for new shares in Egytrans, on the ground that Paradigm has not yet completed acquisition of a stake in Ostool.
  • Sodic, Ibnsina report higher net incomes, OIH narrows net losses: Sodic bottom line surged to EGP 100 mn in 1Q2021 from EGP 30 mn in 1Q2020, while Ibnsina increased its net income slightly y-o-y in 1Q2021 to EGP 50.4 mn from EGP 50.3 mn. Orascom Investment Holding (OIH) reported a 75.8% drop in its net losses to EGP 103 mn in FY2020
  • Self-learning platform Almentor raises USD 6.5 mn from Partech: This third round of fundraising brings the company’s total investments to USD 14.5 mn, with San Francisco-based VC firm Partech leading the round with participation from Sawari Ventures, Egypt Ventures, and Sango Capital.

enterprise

*** It’s Going Green day — your weekly briefing of all things green in Egypt: Enterprise’s green economy vertical focuses each Tuesday on the business of renewable energy and sustainable practices in Egypt, everything from solar and wind energy through to water, waste management, sustainable building practices and how you can make your business greener, whatever the sector.

In today’s issue: As we reported last week, construction materials are key drivers of Egypt’s CO2 emissions, with cement among the industry’s top polluters. But some companies have started producing so-called “green” cement — a product that is less polluting than standard cement — to meet ambitious emissions reduction targets. We speak to industry heavyweights Suez Cement and Lafarge Egypt about the impact of “green” cement on emissions and its future market potential.

enterprise

COVID WATCH

Daily cases back in three figures for the first time since April

Daily cases of covid-19 in Egypt have fallen back to three-figures for the first time in over a month, according to official figures released early this morning. The Health Ministry reported 984 new cases of the virus, down from 1,007 on Sunday.

This is the first time since 26 April that we haven’t had more than 1k cases every day. Daily figures remained above 1k throughout May, rising to a peak of 1,203 on 15 May. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 262,650 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 49 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 15,096.

We’ve passed the peak of the third wave, covid-19 task force member Mohamed Nady told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 2:42). He called on citizens to register as quickly as possible to get vaccinated and help contain the epidemic and prevent another resurgence in cases.

How do I get vaccinated? Register online here in English or in Arabic (it’s very easy). If tech isn’t your thing or you need to change your registration, call the ministry’s covid-19 hotline on 15335.

Sinovac is looking more attractive: The Brazilian town of Serrana saw deaths due to covid plummet 95% after its entire adult population received the Chinese Sinovac vaccine, the Wall Street Journal reports. Organized by Brazilian researchers as part of the “Project S” experiment, the February-to-April campaign was the first such clinical mass vaccination trial in one of the world’s worst affected countries, and saw the number of symptomatic cases fell 80%, and hospitalizations related to the disease plunged 86%.

Why this matters: Egypt plans to manufacture the Sinovac jab at Vacsera, with the first 3 mn locally produced doses expected to be available as early as this month.

Egypt ups preparations to treat “black fungus” viral infection: The Health Ministry has been providing treating people suffering from mucormycosis, also known as the “black fungus” infection, since last week, Al Shorouk reports, citing head of the government’s covid-19 committee Hossam Hosni. Egypt has identified a handful of cases, including a possible case in Menoufia, among covid patients with weakened immune systems, along with another two infections earlier this month, Hosni said. The disease is fatal in around 50% of cases but is not contagious, committee member Jihan El Assal said.

Health Ministers of World Health Organization member states will meet in November to discuss launching an international treaty to boost pandemic preparedness, Reuters reports. The proposed treaty comes as part of reform recommendations put forward by independent experts, that include granting the UN body power to deploy investigators swiftly in the event of new disease outbreaks, and the establishment of a Global Health Threats Council that will maintain governmental commitment to prepare for pandemics

WTO to waive or not to waive vaccine IP? The World Trade Organization (WTO) could seriously reconsider an intellectual property waiver for covid-19 vaccines, after the US expressed support for the waiver earlier this month, Bloomberg reports. The WTO will meet in November to discuss the waiver as part of its ministerial meeting, though the European Union, Canada and Switzerland still oppose the plan. A draft submitted by India, South Africa and dozens of other proponents had called on the WTO to suspend vaccine IP rights in order to boost worldwide production and ensure equitable access for poorer nations.

DIPLOMACY

Egypt brokering prisoner swap, Gaza donor conference + another stick in the eye from Ethiopia

Is Egypt about to broker a Hamas-Israel prisoner swap? Hamas leader Yehya Sinwar said the group is ready for “immediate negotiations” on a prisoner swap with Israel — a proposition on which Tel Aviv has made contingent on the reconstruction of Gaza and a permanent ceasefire, the Times of Israel reports. “There is a real chance to make progress” over a swap, the Associated Press quoted Sinwar as saying.

Sinwar’s announcement came following a meeting with Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, who was in Gaza yesterday to discuss terms for extending the truce with Israel, rebuilding Gaza, and swapping prisoners.

The sticking point: Israel insists that any agreement on reconstructing Gaza must be conditioned on a prisoner swap, an idea that Hamas continues to strongly reject. “Our brothers in Egypt understand this,” the Times of Israel quoted senior Hamas official Khalil Al Hayya as saying. “We will not accept the prisoner file being tied to the reconstruction, or the siege, or Palestinian rights.”

Kamel’s visit was the first by an Egyptian intelligence chief to the enclave since the early 2000s and came a day after his meetings on Sunday with Israeli PM Benjamin Netenyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Egypt has been leading the drive to forge a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, hold fresh reconciliation talks between Palestinian factions, and potentially restart direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Who’s going to pay to rebuild Gaza? That could be decided at a donor conference Egypt is apparently planning. A Fatah source told Turkish media that Egyptian diplomats will invite donors to the conference, but said that a date has not yet been decided.

IN OTHER DIPLO NEWS- Ethiopia wants to build 100 more “small and medium dams” across the country in the coming fiscal year as part of its plans to boost its agricultural sector, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Sunday at a presser, reported Ethiopian news agency ENA. Ahmed’s statement comes as Ethiopia prepares to go ahead with the second phase of filling the GERD in July — with or without an agreement with countries downstream of the Nile. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Hafez rejected the plans, saying that they once again demonstrate Addis Ababa’s “bad faith” in the negotiations.

All of this was happening as Egypt + Sudan wrapped up six days of military drills in Sudan, the Sudanese Armed Forces said in a statement. The exercises aimed at “strengthening bilateral relations and unifying methods on dealing with threats that both countries are expected to face,” Khartoum previously said. Egypt has been beefing up its military ties with other states in the region, including Uganda and Burundi. The Associated Press also has the story.

*** A MESSAGE FROM IDG ***

enterprise

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DEMERGER WATCH

Egyptian Iron and Steel downs tools ahead of liquidation

State-owned Egyptian Iron and Steel officially stopped operations yesterday as a prelude to its liquidation, Masrawy reports, quoting an unnamed source in the Public Enterprises Ministry. Work will be halted until a settlement agreement is reached on compensation with the company’s employees, the source added.

The latest on the liquidation process: The company has appointed accountant and former liquidation advisor for the state-owned Metallurgical Industries Holding Company Mostafa Hassan to wind up the company, it said in an EGX disclosure (pdf). The liquidation process is expected to take up to two years.

Protesters demand better compensation: Yesterday saw protests by factory workers who are angry at the state-owned company’s compensation plan, Masrawy reports. The state is offering to pay EGP 225-450k in compensation to each worker, while the union is requesting payouts of EGP 400-700k per person.

A newcomer to the EGX: Iron and Steel spinoff Iron and Steel Mines and Quarries began trading on the EGX Sunday with some listed c. 978 mn shares, giving the company a market cap of nearly EGP 1.79 bn. Retail investors drove shares up on their first day of trading, but it remains an open question whether they’ll stick with the stock going forward.

Background: The separation of the mining operations is taking place in tandem with the perennial lossmaker’s sale of its steel plant in Helwan. The company will need to sell 6 mn sqm of its land assets to be able to pay off EGP 9 bn worth of outstanding debts before liquidation, Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik said earlier this year.

DISPUTE WATCH

Acumen v Omran wraps

Acumen just lost its appeal in its lawsuit against the FRA’s Omran: Acumen Holding won’t be receiving compensation from Financial Regulatory Authority boss Mohamed Omran after a Giza court yesterday again rejected its lawsuit, Al Mal reports. The company was trying to claim EGP 20 mn in damages from Omran, alleging that its reputation was damaged after the regulator banned it from purchasing shares of Egypt Gas in 2017. Acumen was appealing a 2019 court verdict that didn’t go in its favour.

MOVES

Palm Hills appoints Hazem Badran, Tarek Tantawy as new co-CEOs

Palm Hills Development has appointed former CI Capital co-CEOs Hazem Badran and Tarek Tantawy (LinkedIn) as new co-CEOs and managing directors to replace founder Yasseen Mansour, who is handing over the CEO’s job but will remain executive chairman, according to a statement (pdf) yesterday. The pair left CI Capital in April, and are setting up a PE firm together, dubbed Valor Capital Partners. Badran has 22 years of experience in corporate finance and investment banking in the MENA region and was at EFG Hermes before joining CI Capital, where he became co-CEO. Tantawy was also formerly CI Capital’s managing director and co-CEO, having joined the company from Telecom Egypt, where he was CEO of the fixed-line and mobile giant.

Maxim Investment Group has appointed Mohamed Samir El Sayed (LinkedIn) as its new CEO, it said in a statement (pdf). Sayed has almost two decades of experience in development and hospitality, and joins from Emaar Hospitality Group, where he served as its corporate director of operations and development. Maxim also appointed Alia El Nagdi (LinkedIn) as its chief marketing officer. El Nagdi will bring to the company over 25 years of experience in the hospitality and real estate development industries.

EARNINGS WATCH

Drop in 1Q income thanks to unfavorable base effect -MNHD

EARNINGS UPDATE- The sizable fall in Madinet Nasr Housing and Development’s (MNHD) net income in 1Q2021 was due to an unfavorable base effect caused by a land sale in 2020, the company said in a press release (pdf) yesterday. MNHD’s earnings statement showed that net income fell 70% y-o-y in 1Q2021 — reflecting the fact that the comparable period last year included EGP 1.15 bn in proceeds from the sale of a 115k-square-meter land plot.

Crunching the numbers: The real estate developer this week reported net income of EGP 114.5 mn in 1Q, down 70% from EGP 378 mn in 2020. Revenues were down 46% to EGP 493.1 mn during the three-month period. Excluding the land sale, net income during the quarter fell 3% while presales grew 6% to EGP 1.5 bn, MNHD said yesterday.

enterprise

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The nation’s airwaves last night were awash in coverage of intelligence chief Abbas Kamel’s meeting with Hamas leader Yehya Sinwar in Gaza yesterday: Kamel’s visit — the first by an Egyptian intelligence chief to the enclave since the early 2000s — concluded with positive statements coming from the Hamas leader that suggests a prisoner swap between the two sides may be in the works. We have more on the story in this morning’s news well, above. Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 8:07), El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 24:44) and Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 46:55) all had coverage.

Tensions over GERD were also on the agenda of the nation’s talking heads, after Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed yesterday announced plans to build more than 100 small dams on the Nile. Veteran diplomat Amr Moussa, who joined Amr Adib on El Hekaya last night (watch, runtime: 7:04), claimed that the GERD is just a small part of a wider project by Ethiopia to build four major dams on the Blue Nile, which are currently under construction (watch, runtime: 4:48). Egypt and Sudan could maximize the flow of the Nile by either finalizing the Jonglei Canal project, which was never completed as it was suspended in the 1980s due to civil war in Sudan, or by avoiding use of flood irrigation — the traditional method of irrigating crops in Egypt — and turning to water-saving methods, he said (watch, runtime: 2:16). Ala Mas’ouleety also had GERD coverage (watch, runtime: 9:25 | 1:30).

There was still time for covid: All the nation’s talking heads covered the Health Ministry’s webinar on its updated treatment protocol for covid-19. Now in its fifth iteration, it employs lower doses of antiplatelet medication and immunosuppressive drugs such as cortisone and antibiotics, excessive doses of which can factor into susceptibility to mucormycosis or the “black fungus” infection, the ministry said. El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 3:27), Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 1:51), Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 6:14) and Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 3:06) all recapped the meeting with reporters.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

The world has forgotten about Egypt. There’s not a squeak about us in the foreign press this morning. We are NOT complaining.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

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

  • Representatives of German shipmaker Lürssen discussed Egypt’s shipbuilding industry and modernizing local shipyards with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi during a meeting in Cairo yesterday.
  • The Global Academic Foundation will spend EGP 4.5-5 bn over the next three years to build a campus in the new capital that will host an international branch of the UK’s University of Hertfordshire.
  • An Indian Embassy delegation was onboard the Ever Given yesterday to follow up on the health status of crew members, the Suez Canal Authority boss Osama Rabie said.
  • The House Economic Committee has ratified a recent agreement to add USD 22.8 mn to the inclusive economic governance grant signed last September with USAID, bringing the US's total commitments under the program to USD 50.5 mn.
  • A draft law to set up an emergency fund for government healthcare services was approved by the Senate in a final vote yesterday.

PLANET FINANCE

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Investors are pumping the brakes on the red-hot US IPO market: The strength of first-day IPO “pops” in the US is dipping, a sign that investors are becoming more discriminating after throwing money at everything during the first two months of the year, the Financial Times reports. The share prices of companies listing on the NYSE rose by an average of more than 40% on their first day of trading during January and February as investors poured money into the IPO market. This has since fallen back, averaging around 20% in March and April and 18% in May.

And companies aren’t being quite as bold with their pricing: The final quarter of 2020 saw almost 40% of new companies price above their expected range, and a quarter doing the same in 1Q2021. So far in the second quarter, just 11% of companies have exceeded their pricing range.

Could Ether soon leave BTC in the dust? Ether, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency, has closed the gap on market leader BTC over the past month after proving more resilient during the recent crypto rout, according to Bloomberg. A downturn in the asset class saw Ether lose 11% of its value, leaving it USD 350 bn closer in market value to BTC, which plunged 37% from its recent peak.

Some market watchers are tipping it to one day become the preeminent crypto asset: Though BTC’s market value is more than double Ether’s, the latter “will likely exceed BTC at some point in the future, as Ethereum will be superior when it comes to innovation and developer interest,” one industry participant said. The currency is popular with blockchain-based financial services firms and digital collectibles, while efficiency upgrades are being made to the Ethereum network.

Others don’t see bitcoin being knocked off its perch: “BTC will still remain king of the cryptos,” said one market analyst. “It had too big of a lead for Ethereum to catch and has one major advantage, a fixed supply of only 21 mn coins.”

Up

EGX30

10,309

+0.1% (YTD: -4.9%)

None

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.63

Sell 15.73

None

USD at CIB

Buy 15.63

Sell 15.73

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

None

Tadawul

10,551

-% (YTD: +21.4%)

Up

ADX

6,558

+0.7% (YTD: +30.0%)

Down

DFM

2,797

-0.4% (YTD: +12.3%)

Up

S&P 500

4,204

+0.1% (YTD: +11.9%)

None

FTSE 100

7,022

-% (YTD: +8.7%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 69.32

+0.9%

Up

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 3.04

+1.8%

Up

Gold

USD 1,909.50

+0.2%

Up

BTC

USD 37,047

+2.5% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose less than 0.1% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.77 bn (26.6% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 4.9% YTD.

In the green: CI Capital (+13.3%), Export Development Bank (+3.3%) and Orascom Financial Holding (+3.1%).

In the red: Sidi Kerir Petrochem (-2.4%), Ibnsina Pharma (-2.4%) and Cleopatra Hospital (-2.0%).

AROUND THE WORLD

Breakthrough? Greece and Turkey avoid arguing at a press conference. Greece wants to gradually normalize relations with its neighbor and longtime foe Turkey, Greek FM Nikos Dendias said after talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu yesterday. The two ministers agreed that the Greek and Turkish presidents will sit down for a face-to-face meeting at next week’s Nato Summit, and announced agreements on a "limited list" of economic partnerships.

A change in tone: The vibe of the press conference was markedly different to April’s meeting, when a joint statement by the two ministers degenerated into a public spat over sovereignty and regional interests. The rivals are at odds over many issues, from competing territorial claims to migrant boats and the status of Cyprus, and last year came close to armed conflict over natural gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Israel and the UAE have inked a agreement to avoid double taxation, Israeli Finance Minister Israel Katz said yesterday.

greenEconomy

‘Green’ cement could put a dent in Egypt’s CO2 emissions, but market uptake is slow: Heavily-polluting construction materials are among the biggest drivers of Egypt’s CO2 emissions, with cement among the top polluters, we noted last week. To align with ESG commitments, some companies are supplying cement that emits significantly less CO2 than industry benchmark Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC). But adoption of this ‘green’ cement in Egypt is relatively slow, some say.

Globally, demand for green cement is growing: Green cement is expected to grow from USD 21 bn in 2019 to USD 43 bn by 2027. It’s driven by increased construction in emerging economies, increased alternative fuel use, and a push to reduce carbon emissions. Researchers from Western Sydney University say it could one day replace conventional cement.

What makes cement ‘green’? Definitions of ‘green’ cement vary, and include using low-carbon production processes and recycling industrial waste. The word ‘green’ should be used carefully, Suez Cement’s CEO Jose Maria Magrina tells Enterprise. “The reality is, you have cement that emits more CO2 and cement that emits less.”

In Egypt, Suez Cement offers a low-emissions blended cement (PZZ) — while Lafarge Egypt offers PZZ cement and an even lower-emissions EcoLabel cement. Suez Cement uses low-emissions pozzolanic and limestone (blended) cement, says Magrina. Lafarge Egypt introduced a PZZ cement in January, Solomon Baumgartner Aviles, Lafarge Egypt’s CEO and Chairman, tells Enterprise. It’s also developed its own lower-emissions EcoLabel cement, it announced (pdf) in April.

For them, it’s all about using less-polluting raw materials: The main pollutant in cement is the production of clinker, which releases CO2, says Magrina. “In our blended cement, we substituted some of the clinker for rocks of volcanic origin or limestone, which have zero CO2 emissions.” Lafarge Egypt’s HydroCem Plus is made of 60% recycled slag, while HydroCem is 50% recycled slag, says Aviles. OPC is an estimated 95% clinker and 5% gypsum and other materials.

Using blended cement and other fuel substitution measures has reduced Suez Cement’s CO2 emissions by 20-30% since 2018, says Magrina. Suez Cement’s low-emissions cement produces 20-30% less CO2 than OPC. It now comprises 70% of all cement used by Suez Cement in Egypt, up from less than 5% five years ago, he says.

While Lafarge Egypt’s EcoLabel cement emits 50-60% less CO2 than OPC: “Lafarge’s HydroCem EcoLabel produces 50% fewer CO2 emissions than OPC, while HydroCem Plus produces 60% fewer emissions,” says Aviles. Lafarge’s PZZ — which makes up over 50% of Lafarge Egypt’s cement portfolio — reduces emissions by about 10%, and so doesn’t qualify for the EcoLabel.

EcoLabel products represent only 2% of Lafarge’s cement portfolio, but this will grow, believes Aviles. Their use is expected to increase at a proportional rate to the increase of large construction projects, he says.

Suez Cement and Lafarge are market heavyweights, so their use of lower-emissions cement is a big step. If we measure market share by production capacity, Suez Cement has a 14% share and Lafarge 11%, according to the most recent available data from the Federation of Egyptian Industries’ Cement Division.

Are other players producing ‘green’ cement? Only a few — as far as we know. Magrina estimates that only three or four cement companies in the Egyptian market produce low-emissions PZZ cement. One is presumably CEMEX Egypt, whose Assiut Portland Pozzolanic Cement is said to reduce CO2 emissions by 15-20%.

That said, emissions reduction is a priority for some of the world’s biggest cement companies, who have made it part of their incentives structure. Heidelberg Cement — which owns Suez Cement — committed in 2018 to reduce its CO2 emissions to 30% below 1990 levels by 2030, and to be carbon neutral by 2050, says Magrina. “CO2 reduction targets are integrated into our salary structure, and it’s paying off. Our target is now to reach 30% below 1990 levels by 2025.” Lafarge Egypt’s parent company LafargeHolcim has joined the SBTi Business Ambition for 1.5°C, pledging to reduce emissions to reach net-zero by 2050. LafargeHolcim is the largest cement producer in the world, and Heidelberg Cement the 4th largest, says Construction Review Online.

Low-carbon solutions are just one step: Lafarge’s emissions reduction activity includes reducing the clinker content in cement, using alternative fuels and raw materials, and optimizing its power-producing assets and transportation network, says Aviles. A large part of Suez Cement’s fuel needs are covered by municipal waste and biomass, with at least 300k tons of household waste used as fuel every year, says Magrina.

These steps are encouraging, but we must guard against greenwashing: A 30% reduction in CO2 emissions is significant for Suez Cement, but the term ‘green’ is generally a marketing definition, says Magrina. Still, if it’s used to promote lower-CO2 products to an environmentally conscious audience, that’s positive, he adds.

Would setting a cut-off point for what makes cement ‘green’ be helpful? Possibly, but it’s difficult to do in practice, says Magrina. If setting a cut-off point helps to reduce emissions, it’s a good step, says Magrina. But he notes that comparisons between different kinds of cement aren’t straightforward, because they have different uses, properties and fuel sources. Setting CO2 emissions quotas for all industries would be more helpful, he adds.

So far, uptake in the Egyptian market is slow: Customers in the Egyptian market are unlikely to seek out emissions-reducing cement unless there’s a clear cost advantage — because cost remains the key market driver, say sources speaking anonymously. Generally, the companies pushing green cement use are multinationals with specific environmental commitments, whose shareholders look carefully at whether these are being met, says Magrina.

One solution? Force a change: “We basically forced the market to use lower-emissions cement,” says Magrina. It takes time to convince customers to use new products with lower environmental footprints, but product performance is exactly the same. This appears to be working: many companies are currently using their low-emissions PZZ cement, he notes.

Next week: Beyond green cement, what are traditional construction companies doing to reduce their use of polluting materials?


Your top climate stories for the week:

  • Global warming threats heat up: The chance of global warming temporarily hitting the dangerous 1.5°C mark in the next five years has risen to more than 40%, roughly doubling from the 2020 estimated likelihood.
  • Egypt could make carbon neutral fertilizers: German engineering company Thyssenkrupp discussed establishing a green ammonia plant — used in fertilizer manufacturing — for export to Germany with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly Thursday.
  • A bad week for Big Oil: Shell was found in a Dutch court to be partially responsible for global warming, while Exxon now has two activist investors on its board of directors.

CALENDAR

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

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

14 June (Monday): Egypt 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).

2-4 August (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt is hosting the Africa Food Manufacturing exhibition at the Egypt International Exhibition Center.

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.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2021 Enterprise Ventures LLC.