Monday, 16 August 2021

Unemployment remains flat quarter-on-quarter in 2Q2021 — but we’re well ahead of where we were this time last year



Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to a surprisingly brisk morning. Mondays in mid-August are usually slow news days on par with the late-December news slowdown, but … let’s just say we live in interesting times, shall we?

Let’s start with some very welcome news: The EGX extended its gains to a sixth day yesterday, its longest upwards run since January, off the back of positive 2Q2021 earnings, Bloomberg reports. The benchmark EGX30 is now up nearly 1.7% for the year.

International schools are due back in session for the 2021-2022 academic year on 12 September, the Education Ministry said yesterday, according to Al Masry Al Youm. Public schools, meanwhile, will be back on 9 October, with their 2021-2022 academic year running through 16 June 2022.

Association-owned international schools are hitting the books this month, as are other K-12 institutions not directly regulated by the Education Ministry. CAC, BISC, NCBIS and MBIS all go back this month, with Cairo American College starting tomorrow (or today, if you’re a grade 9 student…).

The Sisi administration says it will make vaccinating university and school staff a top priority after the president directed officials yesterday to come up with a plan to jab all educators and students ahead of the start of the school year, according to an Ittihadeya statement. This comes after news earlier this month that schools and universities would be next in line for covid shots. Some universities are already making vaccination mandatory, with AUC announcing last week that only vaccinated individuals would be allowed access to its campus as of the upcoming academic year.

The news comes as the covid case count officially surpassed the 100 case per day mark for the first time since 13 July, a steady climb from daily infections in the early 30s just under three weeks ago, with the exception of a brief drop on 5 August, according to our in-house covid tracker.

The Health Ministry reported 101 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 99 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 285,385 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 4 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 16,619.


Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi is in town for meetings with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, Al Shorouk reports, as part of a Middle East tour during which the Japanese FM is expected to discuss regional security issues and the response to the covid-19 pandemic.

Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble should land in Cairo in the coming days following a visit to Nairobi, Somali press reports.

Middle-income earners have until 9 September to apply to buy one of 100k fully-finished houses through subsidized 3% 30-year mortgages under the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) EGP 100 bn mortgage finance initiative launched last month, the local press reports. Applications are here.

PSA- Expect the heat and humidity to go up a notch today, with temperatures hitting 36°C in Cairo and breaching 40°C in Upper Egypt and South Sinai, according to the Egyptian Meteorological Authority. Sahel is still blessed with cooler weather, with highs of 32°C throughout the week.

THE BIG STORY INTERNATIONALLY- Kabul has fallen and Afghanistan’s president has fled the country as the Taliban poured into the capital yesterday, facing no resistance. One journalist yesterday told CNN that the streets are empty and many government and security personnel have exchanged their uniforms for the white scarf worn by members of the militant Islamist group. The Islamist group said it is calling for an “open, inclusive Islamic government.”

How is this playing in the press? Like a once-in-a-generation foreign affairs story, with plenty of comparisons to the 1975 fall of Saigon at the end of the US war in Vietnam. The Financial Times notes that this marks the “chaotic end” of a “20-year US military project.” The story leads the front page of the New York Times with a rare ALL-CAPS headline noting that the US is “scrambling to evacuate Americans” as the Taliban seize the country. The Washington Post is giving the story similar large-type coverage. The US has moved its embassy to a compound at the airport, CNBC adds, while Reuters notes that diplomats are fleeing as the world waits for the Taliban’s announcement the “type and form” of the new regime in Afghanistan would be made clear soon.

The crisis is sending a shockwave through US politics, where Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has defended policy on Afghanistan in the face of rising criticism, including from one Republican senator who branded the US withdrawal a “shameful, Saigon-like abandonment of Kabul.” (This despite Biden having clearly campaigned on a promise to end America’s involvement there.) You can read Biden’s statement on the fall of Afghanistan here on the US embassy in Egypt’s news page.

The UAE is working to facilitate the evacuation of Egyptian diplomats and other foreign consular personnel from Afghanistan through Emirati airports, according to the country’s foreign ministry, Reuters reports.

IN RATHER MORE PROSAIC NEWS- Canadians are going to the polls on 20 September after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a snap election yesterday. The PM is “seeking to gain a majority on the strength of his Liberal government’s record in managing covid-19,” the Globe and Mail reports, “but opposition parties are casting the campaign as unnecessary and a blatant attempt at a power grab amid the fourth wave of the pandemic.”

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

  • A great day for the EGX: The EGX30 index closed yesterday’s session at 1.3% in the green, putting the benchmark index ahead 1.7% for the year.
  • Earnings season continued, with Ibnsina and Alexandria Medical posting improvements in net profit
  • Egypt receives EGP 282 mn from AMF: The money will be used to help Egypt carry out structural and economic reforms, according to an AMF statement. This is the Arab Monetary Fund’s (AMF) second tranche of a EGP 639 mn loan approved in July 2020.



Unemployment flat quarter-on-quarter in 2Q2021

Egypt’s unemployment rate was largely flat in 2Q2021 at 7.3%, improving just 0.1 percentage points from the preceding quarter, according to official figures (pdf) released yesterday by state statistics agency Capmas.

That’s still a huge improvement from 2Q2020, during which the jobless count rose to a two-year high due to the covid-19 pandemic. The unemployment rate hit 9.6% between April and June last year as the partial lockdown of the economy took its toll on the job market.

Egypt had fewer unemployed in 2Q2021 — and fewer people in the workforce. The labor force participation rate — which looks at those between the ages of 15 and 64 — fell to 41.9% from 42.2% in 1Q2021. The size of the workforce fell to 29.1 mn, down from almost 29.3 mn in the previous quarter. Capmas suggests the declines were the result of covid-19, likely meaning factors at play here include government support to people who lost their jobs during covid, measures in place to curb covid-19, and subdued economic growth thanks to the pandemic.

The unemployment rate among women which is consistently recorded as much higher than that among men came in at its lowest in over a year at 15%, down 0.9 percentage points q-o-q and 1.2 percentage points y-o-y. As we noted at the height of the pandemic, that could mean that many working moms left the workforce to stay home and look after kids. Unemployment among men stood at 5.7% in the second quarter, up from 5.6% in the first quarter, its highest since 3Q2020 — though still well below its 2Q2020 peak of 8.5%. Youth unemployment came in at 68.4%, up more than 8 percentage points from 60% in April-June last year.

The figures come on the back of the most positive PMI reading for employment since 2019: Employment in Egypt’s non-oil private sector rose for the first time since late 2019 in July, according to last month’s purchasing managers’ index.


The Egyptian Securities Federation really wants more members

The Egyptian Securities Federation (ESF) wants tough new measures to force firms to pony up membership fees: Securities companies could face sanctions if they don’t sign up to the Egyptian Securities Federation under proposals submitted to the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) by the organization, Rania Yacoub, a member of the FRA’s advisory committee, tells us. The measures, part of a drive by the ESF to grow its membership, would see the regulator refuse to approve board meeting minutes and reject applications to renew licenses by firms which don’t become members of the organization, she adds.

LET’S BE CLEAR- The federation ≠ the Egyptian Capital Market Association (ECMA), the (much) better-known of the two industry associations.

It’s not clear whether the FRA is taking this seriously: The FRA has yet to look into the ESF’s proposal, Yacoub said. She declined to specify when the measures may come up for discussion.

Membership is already a requirement for new companies: New brokerage firms, asset managers and financial advisors have to register with the federation to obtain an FRA license, Soliman Nazmy, head of the federation’s founding committee, told us.

The federation has struggled to increase its membership since launching in 2019: Currently, less than half of all licensed securities firms have signed up to the federation even after the FRA slashed membership fees by 60% last year. Nazmy told the local press last week that it wants more than 50% of FRA-licensed firms to join the organization, increasing the membership to 250-270 companies from 182 currently.


The FRA is developing a new stress test for non-banking financial services companies alongside the Frankfurt School of Finance, Hapi Journal reports. The model will assess sector risks at the macro level rather than testing individual institutions, and will be 80% financed by Sanad Fund.


Abou Ghaly Motors is now local agent of Geely

Geely cars will now be sold in Egypt by Abou Ghaly Motors: Chinese carmaker Geely Auto has inked an agreement with local agent Abou Ghaly Motors to sell its vehicles in Egypt, less than a fortnight after splitting from GB Auto, Geely announced in a statement (pdf) yesterday. The two companies have entered into an “official cooperative partnership” that will see Abou Ghaly become the primary distributor of Geely cars in the Egyptian market.

Abou Ghaly is the local distributor of a number of global auto brands, including Mercedes-Benz, Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Subaru and Ram.

GB Auto parted ways with Geely after introducing it to the market: The move comes less than two weeks after GB Auto announced (pdf) that it would not renew its distribution agreement with Geely, citing “strategic reasons.” GB Auto had been Geely’s local agent since 2012.


More startup news than you can shake a stick at

Transport startup Schoolz has closed a six-figure USD pre-seed round from angel investors in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the company said in an emailed statement (pdf). It plans to use the capital to launch several new products, including Schoolz for Business, a new product aimed at commuters that is currently in beta testing, and a new cloud services product, which it plans to debut in Egypt and Saudi Arabia in 4Q2021, co-founder Ayman Hamza tells us.

What’s Schoolz? Launched in late 2020, the company provides an app that enables parents to schedule school transport for their children and track the journey through live cameras and notification updates.

EFG Hermes Finance to invest in 4 startups

EFG Hermes has investments in four startups in its pipeline, EFG Hermes Finance CEO Walid Hassouna told Al Mal. The company is targeting startups in the logistics, fintech, education and health sectors, he said, without providing further information. EFG declined to provide more details when approached for comment by Enterprise.

EFG has an investment arm for startup funding: EFG EV Fintech, which was established as a partnership between Egypt Ventures and the group’s non-bank financial services arm EFG Hermes Finance, aims to increase investments in fintech startups via capital venture firms and accelerators. EFG EV Fintech lists a portfolio of 24 startups, most recently participating in funding rounds held by e-commerce platform zVendo and fintech firm Dayra. EFG Hermes Finance, meanwhile, has invested EGP 60 mn in 35 startups, Hassouna said.

Saudi gifts delivery platform Floward launches in Cairo

Saudi flower and gifts delivery platform Floward has launched in Cairo and will gradually roll out elsewhere in the country, according to a press release. Floward’s services include fresh-cut flowers sourced from around the world and arranged locally by a team of florists. Egypt’s USD 300 mn flower industry offers the company, “a very promising and attractive market,” according to CEO Abdulaziz Al Loughani.

About Floward: Established in 2017, Floward provides same-day delivery of gifts ranging from cakes and chocolate to perfumes to customers across the GCC and the UK. The company had in June raised USD 27.5 mn in a funding round led by Saudi tech VC fund STV, bringing the total raised to date by Floward to more than USD 30 mn. Floward is planning an IPO within the next two years, with London, New York, and Saudi Arabia as possible venues.

Mrsool to introduce e-payments by year’s end

ALSO- Delivery app Mrsool Egypt will introduce an e-payments feature for the first time before year’s end, and has contracted an undisclosed online e-payment gateway provider in Egypt to offer its e-payment feature through Mrsool’s mobile application in 4Q2021, Osama Harfoush, the company’s Egypt country manager, told Mubasher yesterday.

Mrsool — originally based in Saudi Arabia — wants to go public in the GCC: The company is planning to set up a separate entity to carry out requirements for an IPO on the Saudi or UAE stock exchanges, Harfoush said, without going into details or specifying a timeframe for the transaction.

About Mrsool: Established in 2015 in Saudi Arabia, Mrsool is an on-demand delivery network that allows people to place orders for a product then crowdsources the delivery by matching shoppers with couriers, who offer varying prices for their services. Mrsool first rolled out its services in Egypt in mid-2019, and has since then invested almost EGP 300 mn into the local market, according to Harfoush. The app claims to have overtaken Uber and Facebook in terms of number of downloads in KSA.


NREA projects’ energy production up 22% in FY2020-2021

Egypt’s renewable energy production from the New and Renewable Energy Authority’s (NREA) projects has increased over 22% y-o-y in FY2020-2021, reaching c. 4.5k megawatts / hour, the NREA announced in a meeting last Tuesday, attributing the increase to improved operational efficiency and maintenance. Solar and wind projects affiliated with the NREA offset around 2.2k tons of CO2 emissions officials said, adding that the NREA runs projects with a collective capacity of 6k MW, of which 1.2k MW is owned by the NREA. Egypt’s solar energy production was up 306% y-o-y to 3.6k GWh in FY2019-2020 thanks to contributions from Aswan’s Benban solar power park, which came online in December 2019.



Egypt’s renewable energy production from NREA projects was up 22% in FY2020-21, not FY2021-22 as was previously noted. 



El Sisi’s meeting with the head of the US Central Intelligence Agency took center stage on the airwaves last night. The talking heads fixated on President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s sit-down yesterday with CIA chief William Burns, during which the two discussed everything from tensions in the Eastern Med to Afghanistan, Israel-Palestine, Libya and, of course, Ethiopia and its dam, according to an Ittihadeya statement. The meeting — attended by intelligence chief Abbas Kamel — saw the two discussing the latest developments on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, as well as the situation in Afghanistan and the crisis in Libya. Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 1:59), Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 3:03) and Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 1:42) are among those who took note of the meeting.

Coming in second place: Sada El Balad’s Ahmed Moussa’s sitdown with Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhi, who said that Egypt is looking to snag a total of 10 medals in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, four of which would be gold (watch, runtime: 3:53). Sobhi believes that Egypt can break into the top 10 in the Olympic rankings by 2028, especially with the recent progress in swimming and athletics. The minister also hailed the historic victories by Egyptian athletes in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, adding that Egyptian banks had provided EGP 35 mn in funding to support local participants in this round of the games (watch, runtime: 10:24).


On another quiet morning in the foreign press: Bloomberg spoke to Administrative Capital for Urban Development’s (ACUD) head Ahmed Zaki Abdeen about the state-owned company’s plans to go public on the EGX — and “very possibly in another international market as well” — in a record IPO within two years.


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

  • The UAE’s National Marine Dredging Company has been awarded a AED 290 mn contract for dredging work at Damietta Port, the company said in a disclosure (pdf) to the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) on Sunday. The project, which is expected to be implemented in 17 months, will deepen the basins and sea lanes of the port.
  • A new B2B wholesale ecommerce platform has kicked off operations in Egypt. Gahez Market connects retailers to factories manufacturing readymade garments, accessories, and other items.


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Emerging-market currencies poised for selloff amid possible US yield spike? Developing-nation currencies may suffer losses amid a possible sharp rise in US real yields as inflation rises and the mitigating effects of China's economic rebound fade, according to Bloomberg. Emerging-market currencies saw their biggest losses since July 9 as the two-year yield jumped last week, while the benchmark gauge for emerging-market currencies has fallen about 2% from a record in June and is close to wiping out its gains this year. EM currencies could see their losses deepen further if key economic indicators — including China’s industrial production and South African consumer prices — point to a worsening macroeconomic forecast.

US and European banks make rebound the theme of the quarter amid stellar earnings: Most banks in the United States and United Kingdom have taken back reserves they set aside last year for pandemic-related operational risks — ditto European banks — as their second-quarter investment banking revenues skyrocketed to outstrip pre-pandemic levels, driven by a flurry of M&A and capital markets activity, the Financial Times reports. Reduced loan loss provisions, as well as fewer than expected defaults thanks to government stimulus programs also buoyed the positive earnings, and put banks on track to weather the long term economic effects of covid-19.

Ethiopian banks were over the weekend ordered to temporarily suspend lending on loans backed by collateral, after authorities suspected the money was being used on the black market, Bloomberg reports. The national bank directive comes amid a civil war in Ethiopia’s northern region, and after inflation rates reached a decade-high of 24.6%.

If you squint right, a US bill may just have made crypto legit: The crypto market soared over the weekend despite the US Senate’s passing of an infrastructure bill last week that would impose broad oversight of the sector through tax reporting rules, Bloomberg reports. Analysts noted that the passing of the bill may have sent the signal that crypto is here to stay as a part of the financial system, calling the legislation “a legitimizing event.”

Aramco will join forces with ACWA power to build a USD 1 bn solar power plant in Saudi Arabia: Dubbed the Sudair solar project, the plant will be the largest in Saudi Arabia when it starts production in 2H2022.




+1.3% (YTD: +1.7%)



Buy 15.65

Sell 15.74



Buy 15.65

Sell 15.75


Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending




+0.25% (YTD: +30.64%)




+0.1% (YTD: +50.67%)




+0.05% (YTD: +13.00%)


S&P 500


+0.16% (YTD: +18.95%)


FTSE 100


+0.35% (YTD: +11.74%)


Brent crude

USD 70.59



Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 3.86




USD 1,778.20




USD 46,876.91

-0.36% (as of midnight)


The EGX30 rose 1.3% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.55 bn (14.2% above the 90-day average). Local investors were net sellers. The index is up 1.7% YTD.

In the green: Speed Medical (+4.6%), Egypt Kuwait Holding (+4.4%), and CIB (+3.0%).

In the red: Raya Holding (-2.5%), TMG Holding (-2.4%), and Medinet Nasr Holding (-2.2%).

Asian markets are, with the exception of Shanghai, in the red this morning, with futures suggesting leading indexes in Europe and on Wall Street are going to follow suit later today.


26-28 August (Thursday-Saturday): Jackson Hole Economic Symposium.

September: Delegation of Russian companies to visit Russian Industrial Zone.

1-3 September (Wednesday-Friday): Digi Sign Africa, Cairo International Convention Centre, Cairo, Egypt.

2 September (Thursday): The new EGX mechanism for calculating closing share prices will come into effect.

3-5 September (Friday-Sunday): The World Karate Federation will hold the third competition of the 2021 Karate 1-Premier League in Cairo.

5-7 September (Sunday-Tuesday): The Arab Security Conference, The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo, Egypt.

7-8 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): Euromoney Conferences will host the GlobalCapital Sustainable and Responsible Capital Markets Forum 2021, featuring Vice Minister of Finance Minister Ahmed Kouchouk.

7-9 September (Tuesday-Thursday): Egy Health Expo, Al Manara International Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

9 September (Thursday): DevOpsDays Cairo 2021 is being organized by ITIDA and the Software Engineering Competence Center in cooperation with DXC Technology, IBM Egypt and Orange Labs.

12 September (Sunday): International schools begin 2021-2022 academic year

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

15 September (Wednesday): The CFO Leadership & Strategy Summit is taking place in Egypt.

16 September (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

21-22 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

22-25 September (Wednesday-Saturday): Cityscape Egypt, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

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.

30 September: Closing of 2021’s first oil and gas tender in the Gulf of Suez, Western Desert, and the Mediterranean.

October: New legislative session begins.

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

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

1 October (Friday): State-owned companies and government service bodies selling goods and services to customers 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.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

7 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day.

9 October (Saturday): Public schools begin 2021-2022 academic year

11-17 October (Monday-Sunday): IMF + World Bank Annual Meetings.

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.

24-28 October (Sunday-Thursday) Cairo Water Week, Cairo, Egypt.

27-28 October (Wednesday-Thursday) Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference, Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski, Cairo, Egypt.

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

30 October – 4 November (Saturday-Thursday): The first edition of Race The Legends, Egypt.

31 October – 12 November (Sunday-Friday): The 26th UN Climate Change Conference, Glasgow, UK.

November: The French-Egyptian Business Forum is set to take place in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

November: Egypt will host another round of talks to reach a potential Egyptian-Eurasian trade agreement, which can significantly contribute to increasing the volume of Egyptian exports to the Russia-led bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

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

2-3 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

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

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

7-8 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): North Africa Trade Finance Summit.

12-14 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Food Africa Cairo trade exhibition, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

13-17 December: United Nations Convention against Corruption, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

14-19 December (Tuesday-Sunday): The Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater.

14-15 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

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.

16 June 2022 (Thursday): End of 2021-2022 academic year for public schools

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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