Monday, 13 September 2021

Egypt saw more M&A in 1H2021 than in all of 2020



Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to a very busy — and very hot — Monday. We’re looking at a daytime high of 40°C today with a chance of high humidity. It should be fleeting, though: Our favourite weather app shows the mercury cooling back down to a more seasonal 33°C by Wednesday.

Two PSA’s before we get underway this morning:

PSA #1- Please don’t be a glasshole. Remember Google Glass, the “smart” glasses that allowed wearers to surreptitiously take photos? They’ve mercifully faded away, but Facebook is in the game now with glasses that allow you to (with a simple piece of tape) secretly snap photos and short videos of people around you. Wired and the New York Times have more.

PSA #2- Is Facebook a glitch in the Matrix? Or is it maybe the Matrix itself? And does it really matter when the first trailer for Matrix Resurrections has just been released (watch, runtime: 2:52). Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are back as Neo and Trinity while Neil Patrick Harris plays Neo’s therapist. There’s no sign of Lawrence Fishburne reprising his role as Morpheus.

Meanwhile: Daniil Medvedev claimed his first grand slam title yesterday after beating world no.1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the US Open tennis final. Medvedev’s victory ends Djokovic’s quest to become the first person in more than a generation to claim a calendar-year grand slam — the winning of the US, Australian and French Opens alongside Wimbledon in the same year. You can catch match highlights here (watch, runtime: 2:54).


EFG Hermes’ fourth Virtual Investor Conference kicks off today and runs through to 21 September with the theme of “After Reflation — FEMs in 2022.”

Environment minister speaks at AmCham: Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad will give a speech on strategies for generating green, private sector-led growth at AmCham’s virtual monthly event tomorrow. Register here.

Ride-hailing app DiDi is launching in Egypt today, Al Arabiya reports. The Chinese company will launch in Alexandria before expanding to other areas of the country.

It’s day four of the CIB Egyptian Squash Open today: There are eight matches on today as the bottom half of the men’s and women’s round three draws are decided. You can find the schedule here.

Sahara Expo: The five-day agricultural conference continues at the Egypt International Exhibition Center. The event wraps up on Wednesday.


ARE WE LOOKING AT A FALL CORRECTION? The Wall Street Journal is the latest in the global financial press to warn that all is not well in the US equity markets, picking up this morning on the growing number of analysts predicting a bumpy autumn ahead. Strategists at big firms from Morgan Stanley to Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and Bank of America have all published notes detailing the risks in the current US stock market, as inflationary pressures raise the risk that the Federal Reserve could soon taper its stimulus program.

We covered this in more depth in yesterday’s EnterprisePM, and we have more on yesterday’s market activity below.

Democrats want to trim the Biden tax hike: Democratic lawmakers in the House want to reduce the Biden administration’s proposed corporate tax hike, according to the Financial Times, which obtained a copy of the tax plan. Under the proposals, the corporate tax rate would rise from 20% to 26.5%, short of the 28% rate suggested by Biden. The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post also have the story.

And lastly: The FBI has released a previously classified, yet inconclusive internal memo on its investigations into alleged Saudi government involvement in the 9/11 attacks, Bloomberg says. The document reveals links between the terrorists and one of Saudi Arabia’s US diplomats but does not draw any conclusions on the allegations, which have long been insisted by family members of some of the victims of the attack.


Tomorrow is the final day that shareholders in EK Holding can apply to convert the trading currency of their shares from USD to EGP. Since 15 June, shareholders have been able to apply through their custodians to switch the currency of their shares to EGP — but will still be able to collect their dividends in USD. The EGX will announce after 14 September the EGP rate at which the shares will be converted.

The UN General Assembly starts tomorrow in New York and runs through to 30 September. The general debate will take place from 20-28 September. Leaders from at least 83 countries are expected to attend in person — in contrast to last year, when the meeting was almost 100% virtual. There’s no word yet on whether President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will attend in person or virtually.

iSheep rejoice: Apple is holding a virtual event on Tuesday where we can expect a new iPhone, new AirPods and probably a new watch. Apple has scheduled the event for 7pm CLT and shows it running for two hours. You can stream it here.


It’s interest rate week and 10 analysts we polled expect the central bank to leave rates on hold for a seventh consecutive meeting when CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee meets on Thursday. Analyst pointed to the uptick in inflation and the pressure to maintain foreign inflows into Egyptian debt.

Israeli PM Naftali Bennett could be on his way to Cairo this week if Axios’ Barak Ravid is to be believed. The Israeli journalist reported last week that Bennett could hold talks with President Abdel Fattal El Sisi this week, in what would be his first official visit to Egypt — and the first of any Israeli PM since Benjamin Netanyahu visited Hosni Mubarak just a few weeks before the 2011 revolution.

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.

MARKET WATCH- Jitters in the US stock market reverberated in Middle East equities yesterday: Saudi Arabia took the brunt of decline yesterday, with the Tadawul dropping 0.7%, though oil stocks saved the Saudi index from further losses, according to Bloomberg. Markets in Dubai, Bahrain, Kuwait, Tel Aviv and Egypt were all in the red at close on Sunday, while Oman’s index was the only equities market in the region to end higher, gaining 0.1%.

US stocks had their worst week since June last week as higher-than-expected producer inflation data spooked investors.

There may be more where that came from later this week when the latest US consumer prices data is released tomorrow and retail sales figures land on Thursday, CNBC reports. Annual consumer prices are expected to have risen by 5.3% in August, a slight deceleration from July, while economists see monthly prices growing 0.4%.

This week’s inflation data will have a huge say in what happens next week when the Federal Reserve meets to discuss interest rates. If inflation exceeds that expectation, pressure will ramp up on the Fed to take a more hawkish stance on tapering in its September meeting. “If the CPI is hotter than expected, it could make the difference between a September announcement for tapering or waiting to November,” one industry player told the broadcaster. The two-day Fed meeting takes place on 21-22 September.


  • Shippers get biggest paydays since 2008: The global demand for vessels is soaring along with the earnings of the shipping industry as the demand for goods bounces back but supply chains continue to be hampered by covid-19.
  • Wall Street banks get nervy on stocks: Some analysts are beginning to think that US equities peaked, after stocks last week saw their worst performance since June.
  • On the tube: Nine perfect strangers is a star-studded psychological thriller that asks: What can broken people offer each other?


*** 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: Last month, we explored the challenges faced by private K-12 school operators when expanding outside of Cairo and Alexandria, which included lower income levels and the lack of availability of land. The situation is a little different for private university education. We look into how the nature of the business coupled with greater support from the government on land and red tape makes university expansion in governorates more possible.


We can’t wait to see the endurance sports community back at Somabay Redsea, taking on the Supersprint, Sprint, Olympic, Youth, & Kids Races at a destination that’s truly outstanding by nature.


Egypt sees blockbuster 1H2021 for M&A

Boom time for Egypt M&A: The value of M&A transactions in Egypt more than quadrupled y-o-y during the first half of 2021 as the effects of cheap borrowing and economic optimism that has fuelled a surge in consolidation globally were felt here at home. Egypt saw transactions worth more than USD 4 bn during the six-month period, up significantly from USD 906 mn during the same time in 2020, according to figures published (pdf) yesterday by Baker McKenzie in a release that built on the firm’s regional figures published last week.

Egypt appears to have seen more M&A in 1H2021 than in all of 2020: There were 111 transactions in the January-June period this year, up 50% from 1H2020, where Baker McKenzie counted 74 transactions. Our in-house M&A tracker recorded a total of 110 transactions in all of 2020.

Domestic transactions had a slight edge in 1H2021, with 59 domestic transactions versus 52 cross-border arrangements. As you might expect, though, the total value of cross-border M&A came in ahead, though, in overall value USD 2.8 bn, up from USD 744 mn last year.

The value of the domestic market skyrocketed by tenfold: Domestic transactions were valued at USD 1.6 bn, up from just USD 162 mn in 1H2020. The number of cross-border transactions, meanwhile, rose to 52 from 32 last year.

March was the best month for M&A in the first half, with 25 transactions worth a combined USD 2.2 bn.

Cross-border M&A was largely inbound to Egypt, with 39 transactions worth USD 2.5 bn, while the remaining 13 transactions worth USD 231 mn were made by Egyptian companies on targets abroad. The UAE was the biggest investor in Egypt by volume and value, with 11 transactions amounting to USD 1.7 bn. The US, Saudi Arabia and the UK followed for the most transactions made in Egypt, while Libya was the second-largest investor in Egypt by value. The health care industry saw the most inbound M&A by value, with USD 1.5 bn, while the financials industry saw the most transactions with 10, increasing from just one transaction in 1H2020.

The UAE was also the top target country for Egyptian investors by volume with five recorded transactions, while Ghana took the top spot by value thanks to Mansour Group’s USD 121 mn acquisition of the country’s Right to Dream football academies. Consumer products and services alongside energy were among the top sectors for outbound M&A from Egypt.

Egypt was also the most popular target country in the region for inbound M&A from investors outside the Middle East by value, and the second most popular by volume, with 18 transactions worth USD 1.8 bn, Baker McKenzie said last week.

Global dealmaking has surged this year, putting 2021 on course to smash records, as we noted last week. But Baker McKenzie’s regional figures show a slightly different story, suggesting by its math that total regional transaction values actually fell slightly this year, reaching USD 40.3 bn from USD 43.5 bn in 1H2020, despite the number of transactions rising by almost 60% to 307. Egypt appears to have bucked that trend, with the increase in overall transaction value far outpacing the rise in volume — making its M&A performance so far this year all the more impressive.


The FRA is making it easier to list on the EGX

Egypt’s financial regulator is making it easier for large companies to list on the EGX. New listing amendments (pdf) that were announced (pdf) yesterday by the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) will reduce the amount of capital that companies need to offer to the public in a move designed to encourage share sales on the Egyptian bourse. The move comes ahead of what officials have suggested will be a pickup in IPO activity in the coming months.

The old rules: Companies looking to list on the EGX used to need to offer a minimum of 25% of the company’s total shares, with no less than 10% in freefloat.

The new rules: Companies now only need to offer a total number of shares equal to 1% of those in the EGX’s total freefloat market cap. Under the new regulations, companies should have a freefloat market cap (the number of shares in freefloat multiplied by the share price) of no less than 0.5% of the EGX’s total freefloat market cap.

The rationale: By scrapping the requirement to list a 25% stake, the FRA hopes to encourage large, multi-bn EGP companies who might otherwise be reluctant to offer such a large stake to the public. That will allow them to tap public markets without significantly diluting anchor, founding or strategic shareholders who may not want to be as diluted. It will also make it easier for bankers to structure transactions — the move would make manageable the size of an offering by an extremely large size company, which under the old rules would require massive sums of capital to cover, an FRA source told us. And by cutting the value of a stake that very large company would have to take to market, the new regs would ensure the transaction would not suck up market liquidity or otherwise distort trading.

The amendments will likely pave the way for mega-listings by state-owned companies expected in the coming years: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi had last month announced that state-owned Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD) could go public on the EGX in a record IPO within two years, a move that would double the value of the EGX, FRA head Mohamed Omran said at the time.

More IPOs are planned before year’s end: Planning Minister Hala El Said recently said the state’s privatization program would be making a comeback before the end of the year, with at least two, maybe three state-owned companies looking to IPO between now and December. State-owned e-finance will be among the companies to offer stakes, with unnamed government sources telling Al Borsa that 10% of the company could be offered as soon as next month. We believe that figure could ultimately be higher.

The FRA’s latest changes come following new regulations announced in July under which a maximum of five companies operating in each sector can be included on the EGX30, in a move aimed at improving the index’s diversity and representation of the market. Listing rules were also amended earlier this year to mandate that EGX-listed firms and non-banking financial services companies appoint women to at least 25% of their board seats.


Al Nowais to sell solar license in Benban?

Ten companies are in the running to purchase the Emirati energy firm Al Nowais’ license to operate a solar plant in Aswan’s Benban solar park, Al Mal reports, citing unnamed officials “in the renewable energy sector.” The Emirati company was planning to construct a 500 MW solar facility and inked a contract with the Egyptian government in late 2019, but has now offered its license to 10 companies operating in Egypt, including ACWA Power and Infinity, the sources said.

The rationale: The company is looking to sell the contract in the hope of generating the liquidity it needs to pursue other projects in the renewable energy sector, the newspaper claims.

Enterprise was unable to independently verify this story: We were unable to reach a representative from Al Nowais and ACWA Power. Infinity declined to comment on the story.


Kashat closes USD 1.75 mn bridge funding round

Egyptian fintech and microloan solutions provider Kashat received USD 1.75 mn in a recent bridge funding round, the company said in a statement. A senior company executive told us earlier this month that the company had received the funding but declined to disclose its value. The round saw participation from pan-African fund Launch Africa, which typically invests up to USD 300k per transaction, with Cairo Angels also taking part. This latest funding “backs Kashat’s mission to positively affect financial inclusion in Egypt, and the Arabic speaking world at large, by providing accessible, productive, financial services,” a company senior exec told us.


  • Food ordering service Talabat Mart is expanding to Alexandria, Mansoura and Tanta as part of its plan to cover more cities and governorates, Al Mal reports.
  • Vezeeta will provide healthcare services to beneficiaries of the Tahya Misr Fund, according to Al Mal. The healthcare platform will offer doctors’ consultations, medication and some operations through providers in the Vezeeta network after signing an MoU with the state-backed fund, the newspaper claims.


EgyLease to issue EGP 750 mn in securitized bonds

Financial leasing company EgyLease is working to issue EGP 750 mn in securitized bonds, a move that is being carried out by Misr Capital and state-affiliated securitization firm Al Taamir, Al Taamir Chairman Mazen Hassan told Hapi Journal, without providing further details.

Al Taamir is busy right now: The special purpose vehicle — owned by the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) — is also in talks to manage issuances for Al Oula, Palm Hills, and Mountain View. Hassan told us last month that Al Oula is planning a EGP 650 mn securitized bond sale, which still needs to be signed off on by the company’s board.

The securitized bond market has been picking up this year: Earlier this year, Raya subsidiary Aman completed the issuance of EGP 585 mn in securitized bonds, while upmarket developer SODIC has closed a EGP 343 mn securitized bond sale.

And there are a few we’re still keeping an eye out for: EFG Hermes subsidiary Valu has said it is planning a maiden securitized bond issuance worth EGP 2 bn and EFG Hermes Corp-Solutions revealed plans to raise EGP 500-700 mn from a securitized bond issuance in 4Q2021. SODIC, Contact Financial Holding, Edge Holding and Raya’s Aman have all been reported as having plans to securitize parts of their portfolios.

Need a refresher on how securitized bonds work? We’ve got you covered right here.


Egyptian gas could be ready to flow to Lebanon in 3 weeks

Egypt could be ready to start pumping natural gas to crisis-stricken Lebanon within the next three weeks, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi on Saturday (watch, runtime: 1:20).

Egypt agreed last week to ship gas to Lebanon through a pipeline running through Jordan and Syria to lessen the energy crisis currently gripping the country, whose devastating economic crisis has resulted in chronic fuel and electricity shortages.

“As soon as possible”: El Molla said at the time that vital maintenance work and outstanding contractual issues meant that the gas couldn’t be sent immediately but that he hoped it could start “as soon as possible.” But on Saturday the minister told El Hadidi that these issues could be solved within just three weeks, allowing Egyptian gas to be delivered to a power plant in northern Lebanon and providing an estimated 450 MW of power. The 20-year-old pipeline has been offline for more than a decade and has suffered damage through Syria’s civil war.



The fourth wave of the covid-19 pandemic was the main focus of last night’s talk shows: Case numbers so far this month have already exceeded those recorded for the entire month of September last year, according to Hossam Hosny, head of the Health Ministry’s covid committee. In a phone interview with El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 1:26), Hosny attributed the increase to a lack of caution as people tire of following precautionary measures, as well as the emergence of more potent variants of the virus (watch, runtime: 1:43). Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 4:18) also pressed the importance of vaccination, noting the 36% weekly increase and 5% daily increase in covid case numbers in Egypt as of yesterday.

Vaccination has become mandatory for entry to university campuses ahead of the start of the new school year on 9 October, Higher Education Ministry Spokesperson Adel Abdel Ghaffar said in a phone interview with Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 9:51). He said that every college would issue vaccination cards to students, faculty and staff.

Egypt is suffering from a medical brain drain: “Egypt is among the countries suffering from a shortage of doctors, despite the fact that 9,000 doctors graduate from the country’s medical schools every year,” Health Minister Hala Zayed said in an interview with El Hadidi for Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 6:15), adding that 65% of Egyptian doctors work abroad.

The new waste management system is being launched in 18 Cairo districts, with private sector companies Irtiqaa and Enviromaster set to manage solid waste disposal in western and eastern Cairo, respectively, Local Development Ministry spokesperson Khaled Qassem told El Hadidi on Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 20:40). Meanwhile, head of the local development ministry’s executive unit for garbage, Ahmed Saeed, told Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 48:16) that the government has invested EGP 9 bn in infrastructure as part of its overhaul of the country’s waste management system, establishing 26 sanitary landfills and more than 15 fixed and seven mobile treatment plants at a cost of EGP 3 bn, and clearing more than 40.5 mn tons of dumped garbage.

Also on the airwaves last night:

  • A 2019 law on licensing requirements for retail stores will apply to both new and existing shos, according to MP Ahmed El Segini, head of the parliament’s local administration committee. Theact is in the headlines now as a two-year window for shops to comply ends and governorates thus start enforcing it. (Lamees El Hadidi on Kelma Akhira | watch, runtime: 14:08)
  • The delay in delivery of natgas-powered vehicles under the government’s replacement scheme came as a result of the global microchip shortage, and not due to a lack of dealers participating in the scheme, according to initiative spokesperson Ahmed Abdel Razeq. (Al Hadath Al Youm | watch, runtime: 4:37)


It’s another slow morning in the pages of the foreign press: The Jerusalem Post is asking whether Turkey is ready to drop its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in order to reset ties with Egypt, while Deutsche Welle reports that a new religious ruling allowing women to repair their hymens is generating controversy among some who believe it will lead to an increase in pre-marital [redacted].


Egypt has edged out South Africa to become the biggest exporter of oranges to the EU, according to a report (pdf) from the Spanish agriculture ministry. Egypt exported almost 310k tonnes of oranges to the EU between September 2020 and July of this year, up 22% from the previous year, while South African exports declined 16% to 290k tonnes. South Africa has been the biggest overseas provider of oranges to the EU for at least the past six years.

Saudi IT company Brmaja plans to establish a technology hub in Egypt including an operations center, a data center, an outsourcing center and a research and training center, CEO Hatem Bakheet told Al Mal (watch, runtime: 43:50).


Covid cases continue to rise: The Health Ministry reported 471 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 458 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 292,957 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 11 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 16,871.

The fourth wave is in effect: Daily cases have now risen 70% since the beginning of September.

But deaths are remaining low: The daily death toll has remained low over the past two weeks, despite the rise in cases.

Egypt still has one of the worst mortality rates in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data, with almost 6% of confirmed cases resulting in death.

Egypt, South Korea in talks over vaccine tech: Egyptian health officials are discussing with the South Korean government the transfer of technology and expertise needed to produce covid-19 vaccines, the Health Ministry said in a statement yesterday, without providing further details.


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Economic headwinds are coming from the East as well as the West: Fissures in China’s economic recovery could drag down riskier emerging markets, Bloomberg reports. Production slowdowns as a result of the spread of the delta variant, the government’s regulatory crackdown on parts of the private sector, and the potential default of Chinese property giant Evergrande are all putting strain on the Chinese economy, analysts say.

China’s slowdown could cause knock-on effects in developing countries, including the upping of risk premiums on EM assets, due to its heavy weighting in EM indexes. “It’s going to be the rest of the world’s problem and it has already started to show up in a lot of the emerging-market countries,” said one EM and Asia Pacific analyst. “I expect China’s slowdown to accelerate from here.”

That said, the impact has so far been confined to countries in China’s direct orbit, like Thailand and Korea, as investors continue to benefit from a strong carry trade and what are seen as undervalued equities in EMs elsewhere.


The UAE will spend USD 6.5 bn to entice citizens into the private sector, offering a package of incentives to try and persuade 75k Emiratis to join private companies in the next five years, Bloomberg reports. As in many Gulf countries, UAE graduates often hold out for the better pay, benefits and working hours of public-sector positions, while most private-sector jobs are held by expats. But with unemployment rising sharply from 2.2% in 2019 to 5% in 2020 due to the pandemic, the state is now set to offer monthly stipends for private-sector workers with children as well as supplemental income and bonuses to try and reverse the trend.

Residency rules relaxed: The policy switch comes a week after the country announced it would relax residency rules in a bid to attract more high-skilled foreigners to the country.




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The EGX30 fell 0.2% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 867 mn (43.4% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net sellers. The index is up 1.8% YTD.

In the green: Raya (+3.9%), Mopco (+2.4%) and Palm Hills (+1.6%).

In the red: MM Group (-2.9%), Eastern Company (-2.5%) and Cleopatra Hospitals (-2.2%).

Asian markets are mostly in the red in early trading this morning and futures suggest that European shares will follow them later this morning. US stock futures are currently in the green.


Why private universities do not share the pains of K-12 schools when setting up shop in the governorates: Last month, we explored the challenges faced by private K-12 school operators when expanding outside of Cairo and Alexandria. These included lower income levels and the lack of availability of land has been making an expansion to the outlying governorates uneconomical save for a few players. When looking at private university education in these governorates, a very different picture is painted, as the nature of the business coupled with greater support from the government on land and red tape, university reps tell us. The sector, however, does come with its set of unique challenges.

This wasn’t always the case: The number of private universities have almost doubled in the past seven years, as Egypt currently boasts 36 private universities and technical colleges that offer apprenticeship programs, up 100% from 18 in 2014. But just like private schools, universities are heavily focused on Cairo, with just eight of Egypt’s 33 private universities based outside of the capital, according to the Supreme Council of Universities.

But this is starting to change: New private and non-profit universities have been opening up recently or are expected to. These include Al Salam University in Gharbia, which opened its doors in 2018 with six faculties, and Sphinx University which started operating in 2019 in New Damietta. Private sector education outfit CIRA, which as we’ve previously noted targets expansion in the governorates as a key strategic priority, is partnering with privately owned investment company Elsewedy Capital Holding to build and run an EGP 2.5 bn private university in New Damietta. The university is set to open in the 2023-2024 academic year, and will include 16 faculties serving some 25k students locally and regionally.

So, how are they doing it? For one, land availability for schools is limited, as opposed to universities. Schools are best situated in residential areas to ensure a certain proximity to homes. Universities, on the other hand, can be built in areas on the border of a city. And with the government’s urban development plan focusing on expanding into new cities in the suburbs, this has helped universities acquire lands on the outskirts of governorates, head of Theba Educational Group and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Merit University Seddik Afifi tells Enterprise.

And land in the desert is cheaper than land in cities. In Upper Egypt, for instance, the land available to universities through the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) can cost between EGP 970 and EGP 1.15k per meter, Afifi adds. Land within cities or residential areas can on the other hand reach up to EGP 50k per meter, he says.

The government also appears to be cutting red tape for private universities to open their doors outside of Cairo. These include fast-tracking permissions and approvals when it comes to establishing universities, their programs, curriculum and internal codes of conduct and regulations, president of Badr University Mostafa Kamel says.

Beyond policy, the dynamics vis-a-vis students is also different. Namely, location isn’t as important. Several university representatives tell us that one of the most important criteria for choosing a school for their children is its proximity to home. When looking at universities, the quality of education and word-of-mouth testimonials is much more important, Afifi says.

Furthermore, students usually resort to enrolling in private universities in other governorates because they cannot find seats in Cairo-based ones. When it comes to disciplines such as medicine, pharmacy and dentistry, seats at Cairo universities get maxed out very quickly, which leads students to look for options outside the capital, Sarhan says. For instance, 70% of enrolled students at Merit University in Sohag did not begin their college education over there.

Some private universities outside of Greater Cairo are more expensive, but financial facilities for higher education can help cover the fees. Merit University’s Faculty of Medicine costs about EGP 185k a year, compared to EGP 120k at Sixth of October University. Badr University charges EGP 97k. While these prices are high, some banks offer student loans which could help. When it comes to university loans, banks are offering to give parents up to EGP 1.5 mn with tenors of up to three years to match the nature and time commitment of postgraduate education, we previously wrote.

This is way higher than available K-12 school loans: Parents can acquire K-12 tuition loans that typically range from EGP 2k all the way to around EGP 500k.

But despite the lower land cost, other challenges can hinder private investors from building universities in the governorates. As with schools (and healthcare), a lot of talent needs to be brought in from other governorates in order for a university to be operational, Afifi tells us. The private investor has two options here: either to be close to a state-owned university in order to cross-employ its staff, or pay large incentives and bear accommodation expenses for faculty moving to the governorate to teach, he adds.

One challenge that could come into play down the line: the crowding out of the private sector: The government has been focusing on building non-profit universities, approving four new ones in 2020. These universities aim at providing high-quality education at about 50% of the fees of normal private universities, according to head of the Supreme Council of Private Universities Helmy El Ghorr. These include El-Galalah University, AlAlamein International University, New Mansoura University and King Salman International University. These are completely managed by the Higher Education Ministry. The government plans to build 14 private non-profit universities in the next two years, according to El Ghorr. With that in mind, it would appear that now is the time for private university owners to pull the trigger on any new project, while the going is good.

Your top education stories for the week:

  • The new school year: Students at international schools began the 2021-2022 academic year yesterday.
  • The vaccine rollout: Some 800k people working in Egypt’s education system have so far received at least one dose of a covid vaccine in preparation of the school year starting.
  • Plan B: Schools will not shut down except for the worst of scenarios when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, Health Minister Hala Zayed told MBC Masr last week (watch, rutime: 1:24).
  • Orascom scholarships: Orascom Construction has awarded (pdf) scholarships to three Egyptian students to study undergraduate and postgraduate programs at Harvard University and the University of Chicago.


10-17 September (Friday-Friday): CIB Egyptian Squash Open, Giza.

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

13 September (Monday): Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad will give a guest speech at AmCham’s monthly virtual event,

13-21 September (Monday-Tuesday): EFG Hermes’ fourth Virtual Investor Conference.

14-30 September (Tuesday-Thursday): 76th session of the UN General Assembly, New York.

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.

18 September (Saturday): Expiration of United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Daesh/ISIL

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.

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

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.

30 September (Thursday): First tranche of overdue subsidy payouts will be handed to eligible exporters.

October: New legislative session begins — must be held by the first Thursday of October.

October: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis could visit Egypt in mid this month to discuss ways to boost tourism cooperation between the two countries.

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.

28 October (Thursday): Second tranche of overdue subsidy payouts will be handed to eligible exporters.

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

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.

16-17 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Africa fintech summit, Cairo.

26 November-5 December (Friday-Sunday): The 43rd Cairo International Film Festival.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Centre.

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.

22-24 April 2022: World Bank-IMF spring meeting, Washington D.C.

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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