Sunday, 19 September 2021

E-Finance announces fall IPO + CBE leaves rates on hold once again

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to the last week of summer in the northern hemisphere: This coming Wednesday is the first day of fall. We’re apparently going to be celebrating the end of summer with warm weather today through Wednesday, so don’t put away the sunscreen quite yet.

It’s an exceptionally busy morning on the news front between e-Finance dropping the intention to float overnight, the CBE leaving rates on hold for a seventh consecutive meeting, and Egypt (kinda-sorta) getting off the UK’s red list. We have all of this and more in this morning’s Speed Round — and you’ll want to check out Covid Watch and Last NIght’s Talk Shows, too, for the latest on this fourth wave of the pandemic.

HAPPENING THIS WEEK-

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

Do you, like us, miss the days when we used to do this type of thing in person in London or Dubai? The first bank that thinks it can pull off an in-person conference will have corporates beating down the doors asking for slots. The bigger question is when fund and portfolio managers will be unshackled and allowed to travel (or receive travelers in their offices) once again. Meanwhile…

The UN General Assembly is ongoing in New York until 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.

IMF + EBRD webinar: Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik will speak during a webinar hosted by the IMF and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on Wednesday, 22 September at 3pm CLT. The gathering is running under title of “State-owned enterprises in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia,” with Tawfik set to speak on the role of the state in the economy alongside five other panelists including the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia head Jihad Azour and the EBRD’s head of external relations Alan Rousso. Register for the event here and check out the agenda here.

The Cityscape real estate investment conference gets underway this week at the Egypt International Exhibition Center. The event runs from Wednesday, 22 September through Saturday.

The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates on 21-22 September. Pressure has been building on the Fed to take a more hawkish stance to combat inflation by bringing its stimulus programme to a (premature?) end and start raising interest rates earlier than planned. But a slight slowdown in US consumer price inflation last month could give the Fed a breather and relieve pressure for a policy change.

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


Gohar, Farag champions of CIB Egyptian Squash Open: Two Egyptians were crowned champions of the 2021 CIB Egyptian Open on Friday night in two finals played in front of the Giza Pyramids. World no.2 Nouran Gohar overcame first seed and fellow Egyptian Nour El Sherbini 3-2. The men’s final was also taken to five sets, with world no.1 Ali Farag beating Mohamed El Shorbagy.

** IN CASE YOU MISSED IT — highlights from Thursday’s edition of EnterprisePM:

  • Egypt needs to accelerate its vaccine rollout pronto, the World Health Organization said last week in a report that noted a “significant surge” in cases.
  • Vaccines could wane in effectivnessover time — without a booster shot: Pfizer said that booster doses are an effective way to restore immunity that is bound to erode over time with a two-jab regimen. But the US FDA voted over the weekend only to recommend the boosters for people above the age of 65.
  • Just when you thought covid couldn’t get any worse: Your cup of morning joe is getting more expensive as a lockdown in Vietnam hits global supply.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Is a corruption scandal brewing at the IMF? IMF head Kristalina Georgieva has been accused of pressuring statt to artificially improve China’s ranking in the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business report during her time heading up the bank, the Financial Times reports. An inquiry commissioned by the bank found that the irregularities — which saw China’s ranking improve from 85 to 78 as a result of changes made by WB staff to business conditions indicators — happened as a result of Georgieva’s instruction. They took place against the backdrop of a capital increase campaign by the bank, and concerns that countries including China might reduce their commitments. Georgieva has denied the allegations.

RIP Doing Business: In a statement acknowledging the damage caused by the “data irregularities” found in the 2018 and 2020 reports, the World Bank announced Thursday that it would scrap the Doing Business report, and that it would be working on “a new approach” to measuring business and investment conditions.

Egypt was last ranked #114 in the report and policymakers in Cairo have for well over a decade taken very seriously the regulatory and legislative changes that necessary to improve our ranking.

ALSO MAKING HEADLINES- The Pentagon has admitted a drone strike that killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan last month was “a tragic mistake,” backtracking on its initial claim that the strike — one of its final acts in its 20-year war in Afghanistan — had targeted IS militants. After a New York Times investigation, the story is all over the foreign press from the Financial Times to Bloomberg and CNBC.

One of the Western world’s oldest alliances is in unprecedented territory after Paris recalled its ambassador to Washington over Australia’s cancellation of an agreement to buy French submarines in favor of a new security pact with the US and the UK known as the Aukus pact, the FT reports. France’s ambassador to Canberra is also on the way home. The alliance will see the US and UK sell the Aussies nuclear-powered attack submarines instead of the fleet of conventional boats they had agreed to buy from Paris in what was one of France’s largest-ever defense contracts. The New York Times has a deep dive here.

Former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika passed away on Friday at the age of 84, Reuters reports. Bouteflika was in power for 20 years until mass protests forced his resignation in 2019.

MARKET WATCH-

Corporate earnings could falter in latest alarm bell for US markets: An “alarming number” of US companies are warning that earnings won’t meet expectations when they report in a month, Bloomberg reports. The S&P 500 has weathered inflationary pressures, widespread supply-chain disruptions, and the delta variant so far this year, largely on the back of strong earnings that have seen companies beat profit estimates by at least 15% for five quarters running. But the tide now seems to be turning: The index closed down for the second week in a row last week, while Bank of America’s “corporate misery indicator” is pointing to “a bad inflation environment.” A poor earnings season could pull the rug out from under investor optimism about an economic recovery: “It’s been upward earnings revisions that have supported stocks here and rather high valuations,” one investment strategist told Bloomberg . If “we start getting some disappointment, as we’ve recently had with the economic data, that could undermine the key support for the market.”

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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.

IPO WATCH

E-Finance to IPO this fall

E-Finance, the state-owned fintech platform and digital payment infrastructure provider could become the second company to IPO on the EGX this year after formally announcing its intention to go ahead with a public share sale in 4Q2021. In an intention to float (pdf) released early this morning, the company revealed plans to offer up to 14.5% of its shares on the Egyptian bourse next quarter in a sale that would see the company offer almost 258 mn shares to investors, 177.8 mn in a primary issue and 80 mn in a secondary sale.

Shares will be offered to both institutional investors and retail investors at the same price, according to the statement, which didn’t disclose how many shares might be allocated to institutional players. E-Finance is still waiting for the customary regulatory approvals from the EGX and the Financial Regulatory Authority. The company has been looking to IPO since 2019, but had plans kicked down the road thanks to the covid-19 pandemic.

So what does e-Finance do? For starters, you can think of it as the providing the pipes down which you send the government funding. “E-finance is the sole entity authorized exclusively to process and settle Government payment and collection transactions and is the state’s digital partner of choice,” the ITF says. The company is also positioning itself as a leader in digital payments, pointing to an “ecosystem of bill aggregators” it owns including Khales, a central bill processing hub that it calls an “aggregator of aggregators” for 13 partners, more than 326k POS machines, a mobile app and digital bill payment portal. E-finance also owns e-aswaaq, a “digital purchasing platform with more than 300k merchants specializing in agriculture, commerce, industry and tourism,” among other services.

How will the offering be priced? Look for more information there in the weeks to come as the investment bankers gauge appetite. E-finance is IPOing based on its audited FY2020 financials and a “limited review” of its 1H2021 statements, it said.

Strong recent growth looks set to attract investors: The digital payments firm recorded net earnings of EGP 352 mn in 2020, up 30% from 2019, according to figures included in the ITF. Its top line, meanwhile, grew to EGP 1.2 bn last year, good for a 2018-2020 CAGR of 41%. The company looks set to beat that growth rate again this year if its 2021 figures f are anything to go by, reporting EGP 276 mn in net earnings in 1H2021 on EGP 904 mn in revenues.

Key investment drivers: The company points to the booming MEA digital payments market, which in Egypt is being driven by “regulatory reforms, a young population, and growing smartphone penetration.” E-Finance is also positioning itself as “the state’s exclusive digital partner, providing a one-stop-shop e-payments solution.”

Ambitious plans to expand into every corner of digital Egypt: E-Finance lays out a four-pronged strategy for expansion on the back of the IPO. It will look to build new digital solutions for services, including automated border control systems, or e-Gates, and smart transportation. It is also set to acquire a number of new platforms: one for POS machines and ATMs, an e-payments platform for banks, a B2C digital payment platform, digital lending platforms, and a management platform. The company will also add new services including in data analytics, cybersecurity and enhanced hosting. Finally, E-Finance has established a fintech accelerator to grow new startups in Egypt’s underpenetrated digital financial services sector.

ADVISORS: Renaissance Capital, CI Capital and Al Ahly Pharos are quarterbacking the transaction as co-lead managers. NI Capital is acting as the IPO advisor for the listing. Zaki Hashem & Partners has been appointed as counsel for e-Finance, while Norton Rose Fulbright LLP is acting as US counsel to the co-lead managers. Inktank is the investor relations advisor.

This is the EGX’s second IPO of 2021, following Taaleem’s debut in April. LSE-listed healthcare player IDH also completed a technical listing, transferring 5% of its shares from London to the EGX in May.

WATCH THIS SPACE- E-Finance’s IPO will be closely watched by other players contemplating an IPO. EGX boss Mohamed Farid expects 5-6 IPOs this year after postponements in 2020 thanks to the pandemic. But whether and when we see an Ebtikar or Macro Group go to market this fall or winter will very much depend on how the e-Finance offering performs.

Regulators have been trying to persuade more companies to list on the EGX, most recently amending listing rules to make it easier for larger firms to go public in Egypt. Companies no longer need to offer a 25% stake and can instead sell shares equal to the 1% of the exchange’s freefloat market cap.

IN OTHER IPO NEWS-

OCI NV, Adnoc fertilizer giant could IPO next month: OCI NV’s fertilizer venture with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) could debut on the ADX as soon as October, Bloomberg reports, citing sources familiar with the transaction. Fertiglobe, a joint venture between OCI NV and the Emirati energy giant, could list a 10-15% stake on the Abu Dhabi bourse in what would be one of the UAE’s largest offerings in years.

Fertiglobe’s advisors have already held initial meetings with investors, and plan to formally announce the IPO in the coming weeks, the sources said. Bloomberg reported in April that Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, HSBC and First Abu Dhabi Bank are advising the company on the listing. Sources said in April that the IPO could value Fertiglobe at around USD 7 bn, but the company could now fetch even more following a rebound in fertilizer prices and damage sustained by fertilizer producers in the US and the Gulf of Mexico as the result of recent extreme weather events.

About Fertiglobe: OCI NV and Adnoc agreed to merge their fertilizer businesses into a single company in 2019, creating what they said was the largest fertilizer producer in the Middle East. OCI owns 58% of the company and Adnoc holds the remaining 42%.

(THIS STORY WAS CORRECTED ON 19 SEPTEMBER to reflect the fact that Fertiglobe is a JV between OCI NV and Adnoc, not Orascom Construction as we had previously written.)

ECONOMY

CBE leaves rates on hold for seventh consecutive meeting

The Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) left interest rates on hold for a seventh consecutive meeting on Thursday. Overnight deposit and lending rates were left unchanged at 8.25% and 9.25%, respectively, while the main operation and discount rates remained at 8.75%, the central bank said in a statement (pdf) following the meeting.

All 10 analysts we surveyed before the meeting saw this coming: The analysts expected the CBE to maintain its cautious approach and hold rates as it monitors the uptick in inflation, as well as the effect of possible US tapering on the appeal of Egyptian debt to global investors, who have been a key source of foreign currency.

The message on inflation: Keep calm. Annual headline inflation is well within the committee’s inflation target of 7%( ±2%) on average by 4Q2022, and is consistent with price stability over the medium term. International food and commodity prices remain at multi-year highs, the CBE noted. Rising food and energy prices pushed annual urban inflation to its highest level since November in August, rising slightly to 5.7% from 5.4% in July.

Global inflation putting CBE on guard? Global food prices resumed their climb in August after witnessing a retreat in June and July, while factory closures and supply chain issues off the back of the delta variant have driven up commodity prices, putting the CBE on guard over stimulating inflation through a rate cut, said Prime Holding’s Mona Bedeir.

More importantly: The CBE wants to keep rates high ahead of possible US tapering. The US Federal Reserve is widely expected to start reducing its covid monetary stimulus later this year in a move that will push up US rates and potentially put pressure on the EGP carry trade. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait took to Bloomberg earlier this month to reassure investors about the impact of rising rates on Egypt’s borrowing costs, emphasizing Egypt’s experience facing capital market volatility and the ministry’s preparedness for outflows.

The rate hold leaves us with one of the highest real rates in the world: Egypt’s real interest rate is the highest among more than 50 economies tracked by Bloomberg, the business news information service said last week. This will provide a buffer against rising US rates, S&P Global Ratings said in a recent report. “Compared with some other emerging markets, we think Egypt may fare somewhat better in the event of US interest rate hikes, mainly due to high real interest rates,” the ratings agency wrote.

Foreign holdings of Egyptian domestic debt increased to a record USD 33 bn at the beginning of August as the country’s real interest rate kept yield-hungry investors buying into the local market. Inflows have surged by some USD 23 bn since the sell-off from emerging-markets triggered by the pandemic last year, during which holdings of EGP bonds fell.

“We believe Egyptian treasuries will remain attractive, underpinned by EGP stability and maintained real interest rates given the low inflation,” Beltone wrote in a note following the meeting. “Among emerging markets with comparable yields, Egypt still stands out with a relatively less impacted economy from the repercussions of the covid-19 pandemic as it provides growth potential.”

Covid-19 may still present headwinds: Though the CBE noted that global economic activity was continuing to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic and monetary policy remained largely accommodative the world over, it warned that “prospects of global economic recovery remain contingent on the efficacy of vaccines and the ability of countries to contain the spread of the virus.”

The MPC remains optimistic saying that “leading indicators point towards a sustained strong pick-up across most sectors,” reflected in the GDP growth of 7.7% in 2Q2021 rebounding from last year’s -1.7%.

Looking ahead: Inflation is likely to fall below the CBE’s target range by the end of the year, and to remain subdued going forward, prompting further easing to an overnight deposit rate of 6.75% by the end of 2022, Capital Economics’ James Swanson wrote in a research note. Prime Holding’s Bedeir and Arqaam Capital’s Noaman Khalid also see the central bank holding rates till at least the beginning of 2022.

The Central Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee is set to next meet on 28 October, and will meet once more on 16 December before the year is out.

TOURISM

Egypt is off the UK’s “Red List”

Egypt is finally off of the UK’s red list: Starting 22 September, travellers arriving in the UK from Egypt will still need to quarantine on arrival, but won’t need to do so at an expensive government-mandated hotel — and may be able to earn their way out of covid jail a bit early. The news comes after revisions to the UK’s traffic light system over the weekend that saw Egypt’s removal from the UK’s red list of countries — and the scrapping of the three-tiered red-amber-green list classification altogether.

How will the new system work? Eight countries will be taken off the red list on 22 September ahead of the introduction of the simplified, two-tier system that will come into effect on 4 October and will include only one “red” list of countries. Fully vaccinated passengers from other countries who have been jabbed by a list of health bodies recognized by the UK will need to take a covid-19 test on or before their second day of arrival in the UK, but will not be required to take a pre-departure PCR test, or to quarantine on arrival.

So does that include us? Not quite. The list of recognized public health bodies does not include Egypt, meaning even individuals who have been fully vaccinated in Egypt — including those who have received vaccines that have been approved by the British government such as Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson — must follow the rules for the unvaccinated when travelling to the UK.

So what will I be doing if I’m flying into the UK? Travellers from Egypt must take a pre-departure PCR test within 72 hours of travel, take covid-19 tests on days 2 and 8 of arrival in the UK, and quarantine at their place of residence for 10 days. Travellers wishing to end quarantine early can pay for an extra day 5 Test to Release scheme. From the end of October, fully-vaccinated travellers will be able to replace the day 2 PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow test.

Caveats aside, this is good news for our FX inflows: Egypt had been placed on the UK’s red list since 8 June, a move that was estimated to cost us a potential EGP 31 mn in foregone daily revenues. Red list restrictions had deterred UK travellers from visiting Egypt due to the inconvenience and cost of a mandatory 10-day quarantine when reentering the UK, with tourists flinching at having to pay the GBP 2,285 charge.

HOSPITALITY

Sharm El Sheikh: Radisson is coming for you

Radisson Hotel Group is eyeing a re-entry into Sharm El Sheikh as part of a plan to have 50 hotels in North Africa under its belt by 2025, North Africa Director of Development Alban Mabille de Poncheville told Hotelier Middle East. Egypt and Morocco are the group’s focus countries, but it is also looking at Algeria and Tunisia.

Cairo and the new administrative capital also top the list of potential locations: Cairo is under consideration as a location for both new hotels and serviced apartments, while the group is considering greenfield projects for the new administrative capital.

And Sahel is also under consideration: The group is also looking to acquire and convert preexisting establishments along the Mediterranean, and is mindful of “the growing importance of the North Coast in Egypt,” de Poncheville said.

Radisson thinks tourism prospects for Egypt are on the up: “The market has started to show positive signs of recovery and the upcoming lifting of flight restrictions should further accelerate this trend,” de Poncheville said. Deputy tourism minister Ghada Shalaby said in July that Egypt was expecting a 45-60% y-o-y increase in incoming tourists in the “next period,” without specifying what this timeframe may be, while the ministry revised its targeted tourism revenues upward to USD 9 bn by the end of 2021.

In 2019, Radisson was on the road to become one of the largest hoteliers operating in Egypt after signing an agreement to acquire six new hotels in Heliopolis, New Cairo, Golf City, Ain Sokhna, and Hurghada. The properties will open at varying times between 3Q2019 and 4Q2021, the company said at the time, but we haven’t heard much since.

IN OTHER INVESTMENT NEWS-

The Hyatt is officially back in Cairo: Hyatt Hotels Corporation opened the doors of its 250-room Hyatt Regency Cairo West hotel, in a bid to “strengthen its growing brand footprint in North Africa,” according to a statement. Plans to launch the hotel were announced in 2019, after Hyatt signed a franchise agreement for its establishment with Al Dau Development. The EBRD provided financing for the project with a USD 12 mn loan to Al Dau in January. One of us got married at what was once called the Hyatt Nile Tower, or something to that effect, so we’re particularly happy this morning to see the brand make a comeback.

INVESTMENT WATCH

NBE, Ikarus to invest USD 150 mn in petrochemicals

Kuwaiti energy investor Ikarus Petroleum Industries will invest around USD 150 mn in the Egyptian petchem sector alongside the National Bank of Egypt (NBE), according to a joint statement (pdf) last week. NBE’s investment arm Al Ahly Capital will act as the JV’s direct investment manager, according to the terms of a partnership agreement signed last week. Kuwait’s Ikarus Petroleum Industries is looking to increase its investments in Egypt, with a focus on petrochemicals, oil and gas, Chairman and CEO Riyad Al-Idris said.

Advisors: Amr & Partners Law Firm was NBE’s legal advisor while Al Tamimi & Company acted as Ikarus’ legal advisor for the agreement.

Egypt is upping its petchem production capabilities: The Red Sea National Refining and Petrochemicals Company signed an agreement with the SCZone back in June to build a USD 7.5 bn petchem complex in the Ain Sokhna industrial zone. Said to be the largest of its kind in Africa and the Middle East, the petrochemical complex will produce a raft of refined oil products such as polyethylene, polyester and bunker fuel.

CAPITAL MARKETS

EFG Hermes subsidiary to list securitized bonds on EGX next week

Two tranches of a securitized bond issuance by EFG Hermes’ Financial Group For Securitization worth EGP 211 mn will begin trading on the EGX on 21 September, the financial services firm announced (pdf) Thursday. The firm will list 2.1 mn in 10-month bonds with a par value of EGP 100 after getting EGX approval.

About the issuance: The 1.89 mn of tranche A bonds will pay a yield of 9.5% with the first installment to be paid after four months and subsequent installments every three months. The 211k tranche B bonds will carry a fixed annual rate of 10.76%, with installments to be paid according to the same timeline. Both tranches mature on 26 May 2022. The Arab African International Bank acted as underwriter for the listing.

No more than 90% of the bonds will be offered to institutional investors, while 10% will be reserved for retail investors, as per the Financial Regulatory Authority's regulations.

DIPLOMACY

Egypt and Libya signed a raft of agreements last week that will see Egyptian companies play a larger role in the country’s reconstruction and strengthen Cairo’s ties with the interim government in Tripoli. A meeting of senior Egyptian and Libyan political figures in Cairo on Thursday saw the two countries ink six contracts for infrastructure projects and 14 memoranda of understanding covering a range of sectors, a statement from the Egyptian cabinet said following the talks.

Among the agreements signed: Orascom Construction, Hassan Allam Construction and Elsewedy Electric subsidy Rowad Modern Engineering will construct and supply two new gas power plants, build a new ring road around Tripoli and lay a new road between Ajdabiya and Jalu. The 14 MoUs covered a number of sectors including industry, energy, agriculture, telecoms, and civil aviation.

The agreements came during the visit of Libya’s interim prime minister Hamid Dbeibeh, who headed a delegation to Cairo for the first Egyptian-Libyan Higher Committee meeting since 2009. The committee was revived this spring following the restoration of official ties between Egypt and Libya. Libyan General Khalifa Haftar and the speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives Aguila Saleh were in Cairo on Tuesday for talks with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

Prior to the meeting, transport ministers from both countries signed two agreements that will see Egyptian companies work on Libyan infrastructure works such as roads and bridges as well as projects to upgrade Libya’s ports and lower pollution.

Libya may also be opening its door to more Egyptian workers, with Libyan Minister of Manpower Ali Al-Abad telling Al Ahram that the country needs as many as 1 mn Egyptian staff. Around 1 mn Egyptians once worked in Libya prior to the events of 2011.

IN OTHER DIPLOMATIC NEWS OVER THE WEEKEND-

Egypt, Bahrain talk GERD: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi discussed recent developments in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam dispute with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa during talks in Sharm El Sheikh on Thursday, Ittihadiya said in a statement. Al Khalifa restated his country’s support for Egypt and Sudan in the negotiations with Addis Ababa, which have been stalled for much of this year over disagreements over who should mediate the talks. The UN Security Council last week reiterated calls for the three countries to re-engage under the African Union-led talks.

Egypt and Russia reached a preliminary understanding regarding the compensation for the families of the victims who lost their lives in the 2015 Metrojet crash, Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson said during a presser on Thursday. The Russian Embassy in Cairo is working out the details of the payments with the Egyptian Tourism Federation, Maria Zakharova said, without providing further details. The downing of the Russian airliner in Sinai six years ago killed all 224 passengers and crew members onboard. Last month, Egypt welcomed the arrival of the first Moscow-Hurghada flight in six years as Russia’s ban on direct flights finally came to an end.

MOVES

QNB Al Ahli appoints new CEO

QNB Al-Ahli appointed Mohamed Bedeir (LinkedIn) as CEO, it said in an EGX filing (pdf) on Thursday. Bedeir joins from Bank Audi Egypt, where he served as CEO and managing director for over two years.

enterprise

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

It was wall-to-wall covid coverage on the airwaves last night. In particular, there’s confusion about whether the government plans to hand out jabs to under-16s after a member of the government’s covid-19 committee last night contradicted statements made by the Health Ministry’s spokesperson last week.

No decision has been taken on whether pregnant women and children under the age of 16 will be included in the vaccination campaign, Mohamed El Nady, a member of the government’s covid-19 committee, told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi, describing the subject as a “thorny area” (watch, runtime: 10:26). “What matters to us is that vaccination is safe and effective, and so far it has not been confirmed that the vaccination of these groups is safe and effective,” he said.

This clashed with what Health Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed said on Wednesday, telling Sada Elbalad that the Health Ministry is planning to start vaccinating minors between the ages of 12 and 18 within days (watch, runtime: 51:59). Earlier this month, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said that Egypt could start providing vaccines to children under the age of 18 at schools once vaccines are approved for use by minors in Egypt.

First year Cairo Uni students: No jab? No worries. First-year students at Cairo University who have not received the vaccine will be given a grace period to come to the university and get vaccinated, university president Mohamed Othman Elkhosht told Lamees, without disclosing how long students will be allowed to remain unjabbed (watch, runtime: 5:30). Older students will be expected to have been vaccinated when they return to campus unless they have a reasonable excuse such as having a chronic illness, he said. Around 3k students are receiving the jab every day and 12k of the 18k teachers and university staff are now vaccinated, he added.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

A slap with a wet noodle: Credit for this evocative image goes to Bloomberg op ed editor Bobby Ghosh, who used it to describe President Joe Biden’s decision to withhold part of the US’ military aid to Egypt in light of human rights abuses. But Egypt has been taking steps towards improving human rights, the New York Times writes, with the country announcing its first national human rights strategy just last week. Amnesty International, meanwhile, published another report last week on the treatment of human rights activists, the AP reports.

Also making headlines:

  • High-speed rail line gets foreign press nod: Egypt’s high speed electric rail line — the first stage of which will connect Ain Soknha to Marsa Matrouh — could expand Egypt’s scope for land transport, creating a “Suez Canal” on tracks. (CNN)
  • As do other mega projects: The New administrative capital, the Suez Canal expansion, and the electric rail all got a mention in this slideshow of Egypt’s recent infrastructure endeavours (CNN).

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Qalaa holdings subsidiary TAQA Arabia’s power arm — TAQA Power — will provide energy solutions to luxury real estate project Eighteen in Islamabad, Pakistan, according to a press release (pdf). The long-term agreement entails designing and building a distribution network, in addition to a power source that includes both backup generation and solar plant. The real estate development is a joint venture between Egypt’s Ora Developers, Saif Group and Kohistan builders.

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

  • Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir discussed railway sector cooperation with Deutsche Bahn representatives, including possible investments in the operation and management of railway systems and the establishment of a tourist transport and sleeping trains company.
  • The French Agency for Development (AFD) is providing Abu Qir Fertilizers with EUR 15 mn for a new urea production plant.

COVID WATCH

AfDB could work with Egypt to export vaccines

The African Development Bank (AfDB) could help fund Egypt’s bid to become Africa’s vaccine hub: Senior bank officials were in town last week for talks with International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat and Vacsera representatives to discuss the bank’s potential involvement in increasing the state-owned vaccine maker’s production capacity and exporting vaccines to other parts of Africa, the ministry said in a statement yesterday. Vacsera is currently producing 300k shots of Sinovac per day for local use, and the Health Ministry is in talks with Moderna about permitting Vacsera to produce its shots for export to the rest of Africa.

The Health Ministry reported 637 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 588 on Friday and 569 on Thursday. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 296,276 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 16 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 16,951.

PLANET FINANCE

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A covid-induced surge in shipping costs is the latest flashpoint for inflation: With an increase in gas prices, a shortage of truck drivers, and a dearth of shipping containers, elevated freight costs globally are expected to continue into 2023, translating into higher price tags for everyday products, the Wall Street Journal reports. Spot container rates for Asia to US West Coast shipping increased fivefold y-o-y in early September compared to 2020, and were 14 times higher than in 2019. End consumers can expect these higher transport costs to trickle down to the final product prices, further driving up inflation. One Moody’s analyst suggested that transport costs could be responsible for as much as 10% of price inflation over the past year.

A commodities supercycle? Tell that to iron ore, which has just suffered its worst week since the global financial crisis, according to the Financial Times. Prices were down 22% last week to USD 100.80 per tonne, continuing its spectacular fall from its record highs of more than USD 230 in May. What’s to blame? Mainly Chinese curbs on steel production, analysts say.

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Interest rates CBE

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-0.3%

Up

BTC

USD 47,987

+1.7% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell 1.4% at Thursday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.94 bn (20.1% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is up 1.4% YTD.

In the green: Speed Medical (+5.7%), Ezz Steel (+2.2%) and Raya Holding (+2.1%).

In the red: TMG Holding (-4.2%), AMOC (-4.1%) and Ibnsina Pharma (-3.7%).

AROUND THE WORLD

Biden administration embraces mission to normalize Arab-Israeli ties: Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Friday said that the US will work to encourage more Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel, Reuters reports. His comments came during a virtual meeting with Israeli, Emirati, Bahraini and Israeli officials to mark the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords. Blinken said the US would work to foster ties between Israel and its co-signers, as well as Sudan — which also normalized relations with Israel following the signing of the accords last year — and Egypt and Jordan, which have long-standing peace deals with Israel.

Iran has started exporting fuel to crisis-hit Lebanon: Hezbollah started importing gas from Iran on Thursday to ease Lebanon’s energy crisis, Reuters reported. Hezbollah plans to donate the oil to government hospitals and orphanages and sell it at “an appropriate price” to others including private hospitals, medical storage facilities and flour mills.

CALENDAR

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.

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

22 September (Wednesday): IMF + EBRD “State-owned enterprises in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia” webinar.

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.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of Commercial International Bank (tax ID: 204-891-949), the largest private-sector bank in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; and Act Financial (tax ID: 493-924-612), the leading activist investor in Egypt; and Abu Auf (tax ID: 584-628-846), the leading health foodmaker in Egypt and the region.