Tuesday, 14 September 2021

EGX could open the door for SPAC + Capiter is the latest fintech startup to close a huge fundraising round

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, wonderful people, and happy hump day. And what a busy one it is, as we mull SPACs on the EGX, another blockbuster Egyptian fintech round and the expected unveiling this evening of Apple’s iPhone 13.

Dominating coverage of Egypt in the international press today: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s meeting with Israeli PM Naftali Bennett yesterday in Sharm, the first such sitdown of its type in the post-Mubarak era.

We have chapter and verse on all of this and more, below.

There’s no “big” story abroad this morning on what is so far a quiet day for international business news. The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook has a program that allows mns of VIP users to sidestep the platform’s rules, effectively protecting “public figures whose posts contain harassment or incitement to violence, violations that would typically lead to sanctions for regular users.” The Financial Times is worried about an app in China that authorities are using to monitor users’ visits to overseas financial news websites, while Reuters is leading with a push by House Democrats to roll back Trump-era tax breaks for corporations and the rich.

WATCH THIS SPACE- Could Egypt be taken off the UK’s “red list” this week? The UK government is expected to review its “red list” of countries considered to pose the highest risk of covid variants later this week, and the Telegraph quotes an industry official speculating whether Egypt could be among the lucky few to be promoted to amber. Egypt was placed on the red list in June, a decision that has all but barred visits from British tourists, who currently have to pay GBP 2,285 for a mandatory 10-day quarantine when returning home.

Customs outlets do not need Egyptian embassies and chambers of commerce to authenticate certificates of origin before allowing goods to enter Egypt, according to a circular issued by the Customs Authority carried by Al Mal. The requirement was first suspended last year to speed up customs clearance through the pandemic, a decision made permanent by the Trade Ministry earlier this year.

Why are we covering this now, then? Apparently some customs outlets have continued to require authenticated certificates of origin despite the Trade Ministry’s decision, prompting the Customs Authority to issue the circular this week.

PSA- The mercury will dip to 36°C today before falling to a more seasonable 32-33°C from tomorrow through early next week.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

It’s 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 today 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.

It’s a big day for iSheep: Apple is holding a virtual event at 7pm CLT where we can expect a new iPhone, new AirPods and probably a new watch. The event will run for two hours, and you can stream it here. You’ll probably need to wait for one or more virtual events later this fall to see a new iPad, iPad Mini and, most interestingly, the hotly anticipated new MacBook Pros running on souped-up Apple silicon.

Canon will officially unveil its EOS R3 mirrorless camera aimed at news, wildlife and sports photographers. The company is also expected to announce today an affordable 100-400mm variable aperture zoom, according to Canon Rumors..

ALSO- EFG Hermes’ fourth Virtual Investor Conference continues today, running through to 21 September with the theme of “After Reflation — FEMs in 2022.”

It’s day five of the CIB Egyptian Squash Open today: There are four matches on today between 6:15 and 8:30 PM CLT, with the final set to be played on Friday 17 September. You can find the schedule here.

Sahara Expo: The five-day agricultural conference continues at the Egypt International Exhibition Center through Wednesday.

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

All 19 analysts surveyed by Reuters also expected the MPC to leave rates unchanged. "Eyes still remain on global inflationary risks and potential global monetary tightening, leaving the CBE likely to keep its course of action thereby leaving rates on hold," said EFG Hermes’ Mohamed Abu Basha.

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

** IN CASE YOU MISSED IT-

  • Foreign Ministry scheduled for an EU meeting: The EU is set to begin discussions with the Foreign Ministry this week over its 2021-2027 strategic cooperation priorities.
  • Quarantine gets shortened in Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia has reduced the quarantine period for travellers to the kingdom to five days effective from 23 September.
  • Orascom Investment Holding narrows losses: The company reported losses of EGP 35.5 mn in 2Q2021, compared to losses of EGP 49.9 mn over the same quarter last year.

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*** 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: Choosing locations for solar power plants is a little more complicated than just choosing sunny areas. Dust, pollution and other environmental factors can all make or break how much energy your solar installation is going to be able to draw from the sun. Enter solar validation sites.

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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.

CAPITAL MARKETS

EGX could open the door for SPACs

Egypt could be welcoming SPACs soon, after EGX boss Mohamed Farid suggested amendments to listing rules that would allow Egyptian companies to go to market while being acquired by or merging with another company. The amendments have been submitted to the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) for consideration, according to an EGX statement (pdf). The proposed changes also include clauses that would ease the process of listed companies acquiring non-listed entities.

SPACs would have two years after debuting to acquire a target company and are required to invest the funds they raise from investors into fixed income instruments in the meantime. In the event that the SPAC fails to acquire another company during that time period, funds should be given back to investors along with returns from the fixed-income investments, and the company will be obliged to delist.

Why is Egypt jumping on the SPAC train? EGX boss Farid said sees the amendments as a great chance for startups to grow and a way to raise the EGX’s market cap. The amendments were reportedly suggested after Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly recently met with a number of startups, including ride-hailing app Swvl, PayNas, Fatura, Bypass, and Garment IO. The meeting came on the heels of Swvl’s announcement that it would IPO on the Nasdaq later this year via a SPAC merger.

What exactly is a SPAC, you ask? SPACs — special vehicle acquisition companies — are listed entities whose sole purpose is to raise capital through an IPO to acquire other companies. SPACs don’t actually have commercial operations. After going public, the SPAC places the proceeds in a trust while it finds a company to acquire (this usually has to be done within two years or it faces liquidation). They’re still a big thing in western markets, and we have a full explainer here.

The EGX is also looking to up its market cap through new regulations that will make it easier for large companies to list on the EGX. The new listing amendments (pdf) 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.

Earlier this summer Bloomberg said the Middle East could see a SPAC boom, citing Dubai-based Shuaa Capital’s plans to establish three SPACs worth USD 200 mn each as evidence that the trickle of MENA blank-check companies might turn into a “flood.”

STARTUP WATCH

B2B e-commerce platform Capiter raises USD 33 mn for expansion in series A round

Cairo-based B2B e-commerce startup Capiter has raised USD 33 mn in a series A funding round co-led by Quona Capital and MSA Capital, according to an emailed statement (pdf). Savola, Shorooq Partners, Foundation Ventures, Accion Venture Lab, and Derayah Ventures also took part in the round.

This is one of the largest series A rounds led by an Egyptian startup, and follows MaxAB’s USD 40 mn round as the second-largest “A” round we’ve seen in 2021. MNT-Halan still holds the record for both the biggest raise of any form so far this year and the largest fintech round ever raised in MENA after announcing a blockbuster USD 120 mn round last week.

The company will use the funds to finance expansion in Egypt and across the region in 2022, particularly in digital financial services, according to the statement. “We’re well-placed to scale geographically to enable more retailers across the region to use Capiter’s services while also expanding into new verticals like agriculture and pharma offerings,” said Capiter COO Ahmed Nouh.

Founded in 2020, Capiter’s platform allows SME retailers to order inventory, arrange delivery, and access financing to pay for the goods, while also offering data-driven insights using machine learning to help SMEs build more efficient supply chain management and distribution strategies. “The inefficiencies of the supply chain have been a pain point for suppliers and merchants and that is being efficiently addressed by Capiter’s platform,” said Savola Foods CSO Mohamed Badran.

The funding represents emerging-market fintech investor Quona Capital’s first investment in Egypt, the statement says. “Quona’s investment in Capiter builds on our existing B2B e-commerce portfolio and growing presence in MENA. We look forward to helping Capiter on its journey to revolutionize the retail landscape in the region and provide a model for peers globally while increasing services for the underbanked,” said Quona co-founder and managing partner Monica Brand Engel.

DEBT WATCH

Valu kicks off EGP 2 bn securitization program + Fawry eyes consumer finance space

EFG Hermes’ consumer finance subsidiary Valu has kicked off its EGP 2 bn securitization program with a EGP 323 mn bond issuance, according to a statement (pdf) yesterday from the financial services corporation, whose advisory arm managed the issuance. The security is backed by a EGP 369 mn receivable portfolio, and was given an investment-grade prime-1 rating by Middle East Rating Services, the statement read.

Valu isn’t the only EFG subsidiary selling asset-backed securities: Its factoring and leasing arm, EFG Hermes Corp-Solutions, is also planning to take an EGP 300 mn issuance to market later this year.

Egypt’s securitization market has been on a roll these past few months: With Raya subsidiary Aman completing the issuance of EGP 585 mn in securitized bonds, while upmarket developer SODIC closed an EGP 343 mn securitized bond sale and financial leasing company EgyLease recently revealing that it is working to issue EGP 750 mn in securitized bonds.

Advisors: EFG Hermes acted as the sole financial advisor, transaction manager, book-runner, underwriter, and arranger on the issuance. Dreny & Partners acted as legal advisor and KPMG was the auditor of the transaction. Suez Canal Bank and AAIB acted as underwriters and AAIB acted as custodian.


In other NBFS news:

  • Fawry will launch a consumer finance company with EGP 10 mn in capital, it announced in an EGX filing (pdf) yesterday after its board green-lit the decision. The company will be fully owned by Fawry, which will contribute EGP 7.5 mn of the start-up capital, while subsidiary Fawry Microfinance will provide the remainder.
  • Contact now has the right to promote and cover issuances of securities under amendments approved by its general assembly, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf).

OTHER DEBT NEWS- OIH takes out loan for Pyramids sound and light show: Orascom Investment Holding (OIH) will borrow EGP 311 mn from the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) over a nine-year term to improve the Giza Pyramids’ sound and light show, the state-owned bank said in a statement (pdf) yesterday. The company has estimated the project will cost EGP 350 mn in total, the remainder of which will be self-financed.

More sound, more light: The project, part of the company’s larger development plan to revamp the area around the Giza Pyramids, involves installing new equipment to modernize and improve the 40-year-old landmark spectacle, as well as build office spaces for its workers and open restaurants and retail outlets.

TRANSPORT

Siemens could sign contracts for second, third high-speed rail lines within 2 months

Siemens will sign up to USD 6 bn in contracts to implement the second and third lines of Egypt’s high-speed rail project within the next two months, Amwal Alghad reports, citing sources at the Transport Ministry. The ministry has reportedly reached a preliminary agreement with the German conglomerate on the implementation of the second and third phases of the USD 26 bn megaproject, which will connect Sixth of October to Aswan, and Luxor to Hurghada via Safaga, the sources added.

The contract for the first phase of the USD 23 bn project was signed earlier this month. Siemens, along with Orascom Construction and Arab Contractors, this month signed a USD 4.5 bn contract with the government to design, install and maintain the first line, which will run 660 km between Ain Sokhna, Alexandria and Marsa Matrouh. The first line should be complete within two years, setting up a completion date sometime in 2023.

Siemens has begun discussions with international financial institutions to secure funds for the first leg, the sources told the newspaper yesterday, without disclosing the lenders. The project is being undertaken on an EPC-plus-finance basis, meaning the contractors are responsible for arranging the financing. Siemens’ share of the contract is worth around USD 3 bn, which will see it provide high-speed and regional trains, locomotives, rail infrastructure, system integration among other services.

TOURISM

Russia may up flights between Moscow + Red Sea

Russia may increase the number of direct flights between the country and tourist hotspots Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada, according to a Russian government statement. The number of direct flights between Moscow and each of the two Red Sea resorts could be upped from a current 15 up to as many as 25 per week starting from 21 September, according to the statement. The country will also resume direct flights to destinations in Iraq, Spain, Kenya and Slovakia from the same date, as it continues to ease coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

Between one and three flights per week will also be operated from Russian airports outside of Moscow that have resumed international flights to Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh, the statement added. It was not immediately clear which Russian airports that referred to, though Bloomberg in August reported that the Russian state aviation agency had cleared eight Russian airlines to operate flights to Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh from 43 cities across the country. Flights will also resume between Egypt and the international airports of Pskov, Magadan, Murmansk and Chita on 21 September, though the statement did not mention how frequently these would run.

Russia last month tripled the number of flights from Moscow to Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada, with each of the two Red Sea resorts now welcoming 15 planes every week. Egypt last month welcomed the first direct flights between Moscow and its Red Sea resorts in six years, as Russia’s flight ban finally came to an end.

INVESTMENT WATCH

Banque Misr gets gold bug

Banque Misr is aiming to launch what it is positioning as the country’s first gold investment fund, Akef El Maghraby, the bank’s vice chairman, told Al Shorouk. The fund aims to meet the needs of investors who wish to invest in gold but lack the necessary experience, according to El Maghraby.

More projects in the pipeline: The bank is currently in the process of establishing the Pyramid Investments Company, which aims to support projects in labor-generating industries and exports, as well as the expansion of existing local industrial facilities.

The bank has already branched out into education: Earlier this year Banque Misr, along with Misr Ins. Holding Company (MIH), the SFE, and the Suez Canal Bank contributed a combined EGP 375 mn to paid-in capital of Lighthouse Education — which is eventually expected to become one of the largest education sector investment vehicles in the country.

The bank is also expected to take part in the launch of an EGP 1 bn fund of funds during 4Q2021, in cooperation with four other state-owned banks — the National Bank of Egypt, Suez Canal Bank and Banque du Caire. The fund plans to invest in SMEs and companies operating in healthcare, education, fintech, agribusiness, renewables, fast-moving consumer goods as well as information and communications technology.

DIPLOMACY

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met in Sharm El Sheikh yesterday — the first time leaders from the two countries have met publicly in more than a decade. Efforts to revive peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians were at the top of the agenda, Ittihadiya said in a statement, which added that El-Sisi “affirmed Egypt's support for all efforts to achieve comprehensive peace in the Middle East, according to the two-state solution.” A statement from Bennett’s office made no mention of the peace process, saying only that the two leaders discussed diplomatic, security and economic issues.

Bennett signaled that the meeting had set the two countries up for a deepening of ties: “We created a foundation for a deep connection going forward,” Bennett said in the statement. He added that Israel had been “increasingly opening up to the countries of the region,” a strategy that has peace with Egypt at its core.

Egyptian-Israeli transport will get a boost int he wake of the talks: Several direct flights a week will run between Cairo and Tel Aviv starting in October, Reuters reported, citing sources from EgyptAir. Meanwhile, Israel’s transport ministry said that the Taba crossing between Israel and Sinai, which has been intermittently closed as the result of coronavirus prevention measures, was set to become fully operational as of Monday.

This was Bennett’s 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.

The visit came amid reports that Egypt is preparing a new roadmap to restart Israel-Palestine peace talks, although Bennett is a far-right nationalist who opposes Palestinian statehood. El Sisi in August extended the invitation to Bennett to visit, before last week calling Israeli President Isaac Herzog to wish him a happy Rosh Hashanah.

IT’S A BIG STORY — dominating coverage on Egypt in the foreign press, from Reuters and AP to Bloomberg and Haaretz.

And it was also the talk of the airwaves last night, with most of the nation’s talking heads giving the meeting some airtime: El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 11:00), Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 1:35) and Alaa Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 9:32) were among those that had the story.

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ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s meeting with Israeli PM Naftali Bennett was the talk of the airwaves last night: We have more on the story in this morning’s Diplomacy section, above.

Covid still got its regular slot in the coverage: The pandemic’s fourth wave will not peak until the end of October, presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag El Din said in a phone call on Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 3:17). He said vaccination would become mandatory in some cases if the progress of the pandemic necessitated it and enough vaccines were available, adding that Egypt is studying whether to expand the range of vaccines we’re now making here at home.

About 8 mn Egyptians have so far received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and 25% of that number have received two doses, said Awad Tag El Din (watch, runtime: 6:17). This is up 500k from three weeks ago, when Health Minister Hala Zayed said that 7.5 mn people had received at least one dose of a vaccine. Egypt is aiming to vaccinate 40 mn citizens by the end of the year.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

The first official meeting of Egyptian and Israeli leaders in more than 11 years is stealing all the limelight in the foreign press. We have full coverage of Israeli PM Naftali Bennett’s trip to Sharm El Sheikh for talks with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in the Diplomacy section, above.

Human rights is back on the agenda: Italian newswire ANSA covers the new human rights strategy Egypt announced earlier this week, while the Committee to Protect Journalists covers the upcoming trial of journalist and human rights activist Hossam Bahgat, who will be in court on 2 November on charges of allegedly spreading fake news and insulting the government.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) could triple the funding it gives Egypt for food commodities, Supply Minister Aly El Moselhy has claimed. The lender has agreed in principle to raise the funding it gives to the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) from USD 400 mn to USD 1.3 bn, provided the money only be spent on basic commodities such as wheat, oil and sugar, he told Al Mal. The ITFC has not commented publicly on the suggestion.

It’s not clear from the article whether the minister is referring to an extension of the current USD 1.1 bn loan agreed in January for the 2021 calendar year, or whether he is talking about negotiating a future loan.

Jordan will not allow first-time GCC work visa holders to transit through the country for two weeks in a decision that will potentially affect thousands of Egyptian workers transiting through Jordan to work in KSA. The Manpower Ministry said yesterday that the Jordanian tourism ministry decided to introduce the restrictions after “chaos and confusion” caused by travel agents who failed to ensure appropriate accommodation for travelers or to confirm that they had left Jordan on their scheduled dates of departure. Jordan is currently considered the most affordable transit point for travelers to Saudi Arabia and is used by Egyptian workers with Saudi residence permits, who quarantine in Jordan before continuing on to Saudi Arabia.

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

  • Housing and Development Bank will more than triple its issued capital to EGP 5.31 bn from EGP 1.52 bn using reserves and retained earnings from the previous year, after receiving regulatory approval, it said in a bourse filing (pdf).
  • Real estate developer Master Group has signed an EGP 600 mn contract with contracting firm Kenaaz to implement the second phase of its The City project in the new administrative capital, Hapi Journal reports, citing a company statement.

COVID WATCH

Registered for a vaccine but didn’t hear anything? Try registering again

People who have been waiting 3-4 months for vaccines should be able to register again, the head of the government’s covid-19 committee Hossam Hosny told Khairy Ramadan on Al Kahera Wal Nas (watch, runtime: 1:51:05). Those who register a second time should receive an appointment within 48 hours, Hosny said.

How do you register a second time? You’re going to need to call the Health Ministry’s covid-19 hotline on 15335 — there’s no option to re-register on the website.

We tried it out and … we’re still waiting. A number of us who are waiting for jabs called the hotline to re-register, but were unable to complete the process because we couldn’t speak with anyone. One of us was put on hold for 20 minutes before the call failed, suggesting you’ll need to set aside from time to call and keep trying.

The Health Ministry reported 491 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 471 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 293,448 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 14 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 16,885.

PLANET FINANCE

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The UAE wants its business ties with Israel to be worth more than USD 1 tn by the end of the decade, the country’s economy minister said Monday, according to Bloomberg. The trading relationship is already worth USD 600-700 mn while bns of USD of investment has already been announced, including Mubadala’s USD 1 bn purchase of a stake in Israel’s Leviathan gas field.

US crude rose to a six week high as concerns grew that the incoming Storm Nicolas will further disrupt supply from the Gulf of Mexico following Hurricane Ida just two weeks ago, according to Bloomberg. Nearly 50% of US oil supply is located in the Gulf.

The economic recovery in Saudi Arabia’s private sector stumbled in the second quarter, with official figures showing yesterday that business’ contribution to GDP fell to 48% from 50% in the first quarter, Bloomberg reports.

Up

EGX30

11,140

+0.9% (YTD: +2.7%)

None

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

None

USD at CIB

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

11,386

+0.4% (YTD: +31.0%)

Down

ADX

7,764

-0.7% (YTD: +53.9%)

Down

DFM

2,888

-0.3% (YTD: +15.9%)

Up

S&P 500

4,468

+0.2% (YTD: +19.0%)

Up

FTSE 100

7,068

+0.6% (YTD: +9.4%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 73.51

+0.8%

Down

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 5.20

-0.6%

None

Gold

USD 1,794.90

+0.0%

Down

BTC

USD 45,129

-0.2% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 0.9% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.2 bn (21.6% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net sellers. The index is up 2.7% YTD.

In the green: Egyptian Resorts Company (+5.9%), Palm Hills (+4.4%) and Cleopatra Hospitals (+2.4%).

In the red: Raya (-0.8%) and Speed Medical (-0.4%).

It’s a mixed picture in the Asian markets this morning as traders await fresh US inflation data. Futures suggest that European and US shares will open in the green later today.

greenEconomy

ENTERPRISE EXPLAINS- What is solar irradiance validation and could it help us step up our solar power generation? Ever wonder how locations for solar power plants are chosen? It’s a little more complicated than just simply choosing a sunny, hot area. Other factors come into play, including how much dust, pollution and other environmental factors. This is where solar validation sites come in.

But do we really need them here? Despite this, Egypt doesn’t appear to have any solar irradiance validation sites, according to the Africa-focused solar energy supplier and operator CrossBoundary Energy. Inaccurate measurements, which appear to be systemic across the continent, could cause lower than expected energy output, higher prices for consumers and lower ROI for investors, they tell us. So in today’s issue, we explore what exactly these sites are, how important they are, as well as asking local operators and regulators if they really are necessary.

Now what is a solar irradiance validation site, you ask? At their most basic form, these are sites that use a number of scientific instruments (namely pyranometers and pyrheliometers) that measure the exact amount of direct and indirect sunlight actually reaching the Earth’s surface — which is technically known as solar irradiance. The actual level of irradiance at a given location on this planet isn’t solely a function of its proximity to the sun. It is in fact hugely influenced by factors like clouds, humidity, pollutants and dust. These validation sites are responsible for tracking and storing this information for more precise measurements that take into account changing climatic conditions in real time.

Why does this matter? Figuring out how much sunlight hits different parts of the planet is crucial for entities in the solar power business to determine where to best place their photovoltaic (pv) solar panels and to make predictions about pricing and future energy output.

Who’s using them? Public irradiance validation sites exist in places as close as Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. There are sites in most parts of the world and cluster heavily in Europe and North America.

Our current methods for estimating solar irradiation relies on satellite imagery and meteorological models to map out the solar irradiation hotspots around the globe. SolarGIS is one such organization that provides maps indicating satellite-modeled pv power potential in different parts of the world. Meteonorm is another tool that companies use to access data gathered from a combination of weather stations and satellite imagery to predict energy potential.

But satellite models alone might have their limitations: While satellite imagery provides us with good guesses about the amount of sunlight we can expect to get in different parts of the world based on long term climate patterns, they are unable to detect the exact amount of light ultimately reaching the Earth’s surface, according to this CrossBoundary Energy report (pdf). Satellite-based models of irradiation seem to more often than not overestimate the actual amount of sunlight hitting the earth by as much as 3-5% in two of CrossBoundary’s operational sites in Kenya and Ghana. That figure goes up to 20% in locations outside major cities in Africa, the group says.

What do we stand to lose because of this? From a buyer’s standpoint, someone relying on projections of savings from switching to solar power could miss out on as much as 4-5% of expected savings in major metropolitan areas and up to 20% if they are located outside cities in Africa, “which tend to systematically overestimate” solar production, Kathleen Jean-Pierre, Vision & Delivery Lead at CrossBoundary Energy tells us. Now if you’re an energy investor with some skin in the solar game, CrossBoundary projects losses of 1% in investment rate of return because of the discrepancies between projections and actual output, which, depending on the size of the investment, could easily add up.

Local solar providers are not buying it: Companies like KarmSolar have still been able to maintain fairly accurate projections of energy production at their various sites across the country and avoid financial losses, Ahmed Zahran, the company’s CEO tells us. This is because in the past 10 years since their founding, KarmSolar has been able to individually collect enough crucial operational data through their own sites that there is no longer any real need for public irradiance validation sites. Despite some minor fluctuations in weather patterns caused by climate change “all you need is about one year at a given site to give you the information you need to know about irradiation at a particular location to a pretty accurate level,” Zahran says, which most solar utilities companies in Egypt are capable of doing. “This would have mattered five years ago, but we have so many stations around the country that these kinds of things aren't really necessary anymore,” Zahran added.

We do have a number of government owned on-ground tools that help measure irradiation in different parts of the country, says Dr. Mohamed El Khayat, head of the New and Renewable Energy Authority. Although Khayat did not specify the precise instruments used or the sorts of data collected, he did mention that they play a role in the NREA’s irradiation maps (pdf) of Egypt. There are of course limitations on just how much data the NREA can collect with its own resources, Khayat explains, which is why private solar utilities companies in Egypt are also required by the authority to conduct a year-long study on a potential location before building out their facilities.

It’s tough to quantify how big of a problem irradiance overestimation presents Egyptian solar initiatives at the moment. Given that there are no publicly accessible irradiation validation sites to compare satellite models to, “it’s actually impossible to know whether or how much this same overestimation bias affects Egyptian projects,” says Kathleen Jean Pierre, Vision & Delivery Lead at Crossboundary Energy. She suggests the uncertainty could cause complications for the industry’s growth but the concern among local players at both the public and private level in the solar industry seems muted for now.


Your top climate stories for the week:

  • Solar power producer KarmSolar has launched its water solutions division KarmWater with a solar-powered water desalination project in Marsa Alam, the solar power developer and distributor announced (pdf). The new division provides fresh water through designing, building and operating solar-powered desalinations stations.
  • Suez Cement is investing USD 20 mn in building a waste heat recovery system in its Helwan factory that will allow energy to be produced using excess heat from the production lines, generating up to 18MW of power and reducing CO2 emissions.

CALENDAR

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.

13-21 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.

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.