Monday, 20 September 2021

Alameda to double its investments in Egypt over the next 5 years

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, ladies and gents— Before we get down to business, a reminder:

EGP-denominated shares in Egypt-Kuwait Holding (EKH) began trading on the EGX yesterday, the company said in a press release (pdf). More than two-thirds (68%) of all investors holding EGX-listed shares opted to convert their holdings from USD into EGP during a three-month window over the summer, meaning that their combined 461.3 mn shares, worth USD 540 mn (EGP 8.4 bn), will now trade in local currency. Dividends will continue to be paid out in USD, in a move that the company hopes will incentivize trading and widen its shareholder base.

Strong demand a vote of confidence in EKH, says CEO: The strong take-up is “a testament to the public’s trust in EKH” and its share performance, and reflects “growing confidence” in the Egyptian economy, EKH CEO Sherif El Zayat said. EKH’s share price has risen almost 250% over the past five years, easily outperforming the EGX which has risen almost 36% over the same period. EKH is looking to build on its success in recent years, with a planned USD 300 mn in investments in the pipeline for this year and next.

Property ID numbers will make their debut before the end of this year, according to Communications Minister Amr Talaat, who told Al Arabiya that some properties in Port Said will have the numbers attached to their electricity bills later this year before a nationwide rollout in 2022.

Why am I getting a property ID? The identification system is being introduced as part of recent building code reforms designed to crack down on wildcat construction and the buying and selling of illegal property.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

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

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is in New York for the UN General Assembly’s general debate, which kicks off tomorrow and finishes on 27 September. Shoukry will attend the assembly, and hold talks with other foreign ministers and UN officials.

It’s looking like President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will address the assembly on Tuesday afternoon, according to a tentative schedule being carried by the National and WIO News, though there’s still no word on whether he is heading to New York for the event. At least 83 world leaders are expected to attend in person, despite being encouraged by the UN to send in pre-recorded videos of their speeches instead.

THE BIG STORIES ABROAD- The diplomatic spat between France and the so-called Aukus axis is still front page news in the global press this morning. French officials are lashing out with barbed comments against longtime allies the US, Australia and the UK, after being incensed by Australia’s move to renege on a 2016 promise to buy USD 50 bn worth of French-made submarines in favor of a new trilateral pact for nuclear-powered subs with its Anglophone friends. Reuters and the BBC both report that France has pulled out of upcoming defence talks with the UK, while US media say that the Biden administration is keen to talk to French President Emmanuel Macron to defuse the crisis, which yesterday saw France’s foreign minister accuse the three countries of “duplicity” and “contempt.”

There’s plenty of talk about soaring natural gas prices in the front pages of the global business press this morning: The Financial Times is warning of the implications for European inflation, the Wall Street Journal is getting concerned about what will happen in the US this winter, while an imminent demise of many small British gas suppliers is headline news in the UK.

The 2021 Emmys was still underway in LA as of dispatch. Stay tuned for this afternoon’s EnterprisePM for coverage.

*** IN CASE YOU MISSED IT-

  • EGX updates price closing mechanism: The EGX appears to have raised the ceiling over which a new closing price would need to be determined, in a new decision by the bourse issued yesterday (pdf).
  • Fears of Evergrande contagion continue: Investors expect indebted Chinese giant Evergrande to default on its interest payments this Thursday, potentially leading to collapse of the country’s second-largest real estate firm, which has accrued some USD 300 bn in debt.
  • The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator: Quackery or instruction manual?

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

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. 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.

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*** 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: Boosting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education has become a top priority for Egypt. Effective STEM education is all about using complex math and science concepts to solve real-world problems, with innovation being a key part of the process. Today, we take a look at some of the most innovative STEM education programs we’ve encountered in Egypt — many of which are programs or competitions that aim to make STEM learning fun for pre-university students.

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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.

INVESTMENT WATCH

Alameda to double investments in Egypt over the next 5 years

Alameda to double Egypt investments in the next 5 years: Healthcare provider Alameda plans to invest EGP 5 bn over the coming 3-5 years to expand its services in Egypt, it announced in a statement (pdf) yesterday. The company will invest the funds into facilities in the new administrative capital, Al Alamein City, Alexandria, Mansoura, and Assiut, bringing its total investments in Egypt to EGP 10 bn, Chairman Fahad Khater said at a press conference.

Additional expansion plans include the increase of Al Salam International Hospital’s bed capacity by 100 beds, as well as the inauguration of a new branch of Al Salam International Hospital in New Cairo, with a capacity of 150 beds, which should launch in the coming weeks. The group also plans to launch a nursing academy to enhance the quality of care offered to its patients. A EGP 60 mn radiotherapy accelerator will also be installed at Al Salam Maadi hospital by the end of the year.

The company had injected over EGP 5 bn of investments in Egypt over the past decade to develop its medical facilities, the statement said. As Salam International Hospital and its two branches and Dar Al Fouad Hospital and its two branches. Earlier this year, Alameda’s Dar El Fouad opened a state-of-the-art oncology center at its Nasr City branch, including PET imaging and dedicated chemotherapy and radiation therapy units.

The new investment drive comes a few months after Cleopatra Hospitals Group’s attempts to acquire Alameda fell through. The two companies were in talks to sell 100% of Alameda’s assets to CHG, which would have given it control over 15% of beds in private sector hospitals in the Greater Cairo area. Both companies announced in May that they would cancel the initial agreement, without disclosing why.


PVH wants to invest in Egypt’s garment market: US clothing company PVH wants to partner with a ready-made garment factory in Alexandria or Minya, Trade Minister Nevine Gamea said in a statement following a meeting with a company official. The statement did not disclose how much the company might be prepared to invest in Egypt or detail what the partnership could look like.

Egypt wants to quintuple annual exports to the US to USD 5 bn within the framework of the Qualified Industrial Zones agreement, Gamea said. PVH is one of the largest clothing companies in the US, and owns two of the best known brands in Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger.

DEBT WATCH

Banque Misr borrows USD 1 bn from int’l syndicate

Banque Misr has obtained a syndicated loan worth about USD 1 bn,the bank announced in a statement (pdf). The three-year loan will be used to refinance existing debts and expand its loan portfolio, it said. Sources told CNBC Arabia last month that the bank will use the proceeds to pay off USD 550 mn which the bank had borrowed back in 2018 from foreign lenders to improve USD liquidity.

Banque Misr was met with huge demand among international banks: Originally intending to raise USD 550 mn, the bank received bids worth USD 1.2 bn. Twenty-two banks from 11 countries participated in the loan.

BANKING

Banque Misr wants to launch its digital bank in 1Q2022

Banque Misr plans to launch Egypt’s first digital bank during 1Q2022, the bank’s Vice Chairman Akef El Maghraby told Masrawy.

The launch date will depend on when there’s a framework in place: The Central Bank of Egypt is still working on a regulatory framework governing digital banks. We were originally expecting an announcement in July but sources tell Masrawy that central bank officials hope to have the rules in place before the end of 2021.

Banque Misr isn’t the only bank planning to go digital: National Bank of Egypt, Emirates NBD, QNB Al Ahli and Bank ABC have also applied to the central bank for a digital banking license.

Visa is on board: Misr Digital Innovation (MDI), a subsidiary set up last year to launch the bank, has signed a seven-year partnership agreement with Visa, that will see it issue Visa-branded cards, use its APIs, and work with it on marketing and design, it announced in a statement (pdf) yesterday. Visa will also provide licensing, implementation and technical support to MDI.

As is Atos: The French IT firm agreed in February to build the digital platform that will be used by the bank’s customers.

TAX

E-invoicing rollout rolls on

Joint stock companies and investment companies in Cairo will have to register with the government’s electronic invoicing platform and begin issuing digital invoices by 15 December under a directive (pdf) issued by the Tax Authority on Thursday. The decision will affect more than 3.7k companies, the names of which were published by the authority.

Large taxpayers are already on board: Some 2.8k large taxpayers have signed up to the Finance Ministry’s new digital platform over several phases going back to last November, and last week was the final deadline for them to register. Large companies who have not joined the system now face penalties that include inclusion in the Tax Authority’s black list and being denied basic government services.

What next? State agencies and companies in which the state owns a majority stake must also register by 1 October. The government plans to roll out electronic invoicing for all business-to-consumer transactions, a process which Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told Reuters last week will start to be implemented within six months but one that is expected to be altogether more complicated than the first B2B phase. The ministry is hoping to get all of the country’s taxpayers submitting B2B invoices by April 2023.

The new system could double the government’s tax revenue, Maait said. “My expectation is that with the completion of the easiest project, tax revenue will be doubled, from EGP 1 tn to EGP 2 tn,” the minister said.

COVID WATCH

We have another 550k Astra doses, courtesy of France

Egypt received 546k AstraZeneca vaccine doses from the French government under the Covax initiative, Health Minister Hala Zayed announced yesterday. The shipment arrived in two batches, the first on Friday and the second on Saturday, ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed said.

Egypt will get its first batch of 1.6 mn Pfizer doses on 24 September, Megahed said on El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 1:41) on Friday night. We’re also expecting to receive around 3.5-4 mn doses of AstraZeneca this week from France, Germany, Greece and Poland.

The government is expecting to obtain 17 mn additional doses this month, which includes several international shipments as well local Sinovac, which is currently being produced at a rate of 300k doses a day.

The Health Ministry reported 653 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 637 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 296,929 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 19 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 16,970.

US set to purchase and donate another 500 mn covid-19 vaccines: The Biden administration is in negotiations with Pfizer to buy another 500 mn vaccines for global donation, after donating 500 mn to international vaccine program Covax in August, Bloomberg reports. The agreement is expected to be finalized in the coming days, just ahead of an international covid-19 summit Biden has called for on the sidelines of the upcoming UN General Assembly.

Egypt is one of the countries that is set to receive donated vaccines from the US: The White House said in June that we would receive a portion of 14 mn doses to be distributed among around 30 other priority countries, but we haven’t heard anything about these vaccines since.

ENERGY

Egypt to soon ink contracts for KSA-linked power network

Egypt is close to signing contracts for a 2 GW electricity transmission network that will link Egypt’s electricity grid to Saudi Arabia, Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker told eXtra News last Wednesday.

Wait a second: This is 1 GW less than was previously expected. Shaker said back in 2018 that the connection would have a 3 GW transmission capacity.

Egypt will fund about 40% of the project, while Saudi Arabia will pay for the remaining 60%, MEED writes. The USD 1.6 bn project is looking to connect both countries’ grids with 900 km of overhead transmission cables. The project is expected to go live in 2023, after being delayed from an original 2021 launch date due to Saudi Arabia’s Neom project.

Eight companies have so far made bids for the construction of the project in a tender that went live earlier this month, MEED reports. Saudi Arabi’s Alfanar has so far submitted the highest bid at USD 624.8 mn, while South Korea's Hyundai Engineering and Construction presented the lowest bid of USD 446.8 mn.

Two consortiums have submitted proposals in early May to design and build four USD 1 bn substations across both countries as part of the project, the business intelligence wire adds. A Chinese-led consortium, as well as a team comprising Hitachi, Orascom and Saudi Services for Electromechanic Works (SSEM) have so far bid for the substations contract. The project was originally supposed to go live last year but was pushed back to 2023 due to Saudi Arabia’s USD 500 bn futuristic city project, Neom. The cable routes extend 25 km across the sea bed.


IN OTHER ENERGY NEWS-

Egypt and Cyprus have agreed to begin studies that would pave the way for Cypriot gas to be sent to Egypt for re-export, the Cypriot press reported on Thursday. A meeting between the Egyptian Oil Ministry and the Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company discussed ways to improve the design of the pipeline that would run from Cyprus’ Aphrodite gas field to the Damietta and Idku LNG plants. Officials from both countries have reportedly been in “extensive discussions” over the pipeline project since early this month. Two more meetings will take place before the end of the year.


Misr Methanol will within days sign a land use contract to build a new USD 2.5 bn methanol plant with the General Authority for the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone), SCZone Vice President Mohamed Shabaan said on the sidelines of last week’s Port Said Investment Forum, according to Al Borsa. The plant, which will be established on the plot in the SCZone’s Ain Sokhna site, aims to produce 1 mn tonnes of methanol and 400k tons of ammonia annually, a portion of which will be exported.

This is the first project to be established by Misr Methanol and Petrochemicals, a state-owned petrochemicals company formed by the Oil Ministry in August and jointly owned by Abu Qir Fertilizers, Helwan Fertilizers, and Al Ahly Capital Holding. An Oil Ministry statement at the time of the company’s founding said that around USD 1.6 bn would be invested in the plant’s first phase. Misr Methanol will compete for market share with the Canadian-Egyptian firm Methanex, which for a decade has been Egypt’s only methanol producer.

MOVES

GB Auto has appointed Kamal Ebrahim Morsy Khafagy as its new CTO and Hesham Helmy as CEO of Haram Tourism Transport, according to a statement (pdf).

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LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Last night’s talk shows focused on President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s directives regarding efforts to develop the social support system for artists, including a potential increase in pensions for members of arts unions and legislative reform to improve social security and make new funding sources available for the system. El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 3:52), Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 6:14 | 5:15 | 7:30), Hadith Al-Qahera (watch, runtime: 8:56) and Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 4:59) all had coverage.

Microsoft and Atos are working to digitize Egypt’s social ins. system within the next 18 months, National Organization For Social Ins. (NOSI) head Gamal Awad said on Ala Mas’ouleety, without disclosing the names of the companies (watch, runtime: 25:03). Awad added that the minimum pension for artists is EGP 900.

COFFEE WITH… AMAZON

Amazon has launched in Egypt: What does it have planned? This month saw the official launch of Amazon in Egypt, with Amazon.eg replacing Souq.com and customer data migrated onto the new platform. This marks a notable step in Amazon’s regional growth: Egypt is its first outpost in Africa and the largest MENA country it’s physically present in.

We sat down with Ronaldo Mouchawar, vice president of Amazon MENA, and Omar Elsahy, general manager of Amazon Egypt, to talk about the launch, Amazon’s plans for Egypt, and overall growth potential in Egypt’s e-commerce sector.

Below are edited excerpts from our conversation:

Egypt and the MENA region are strategically important for Amazon: “I’m super excited that Amazon finally launched in Egypt. That’s key for us,” says Mouchawar. MENA as a region is quite strategically important, with 400 mn people and multiple countries, he notes.

At least EGP 1 bn went into the Egypt launch: The EGP 1 bn that we previously identified as slated for future investment in Egypt is actually what was invested in getting the launch off the ground, Elsahy confirms. “It mostly went into our fulfilment centers (FCs), and building the readiness to serve customers at the scale we’d like to.”

And while future investment plans remain under wraps, the EGP 1 bn speaks to Amazon’s commitment to Egypt, Elsahy adds. “We do identify Egypt as a very important market segment, and one we need to continue investing in over the course of the next year. And probably many years afterwards.”

IT infrastructure will be one key area of investment: Expanding IT infrastructure is an essential part of supporting the growth of Amazon’s e-commerce systems, says Elsahy. Making processes — whether scanning, weighing and moving items, packing them, or distributing them in a warehouse — more efficient, and trying to better understand what customers want, all involves processing a lot of data, meaning a lot of IT power is needed. But quantifying the investment is difficult. Once certain IT systems are in place, they can be enhanced with incremental investments, he says.

That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see Amazon data centers here soon: While Amazon’s FCs require data centers to operate, they don’t necessarily have to be housed in the same country, says Elsahy. Amazon Web Services (AWS), which powers Amazon’s data centers, is separate from the company’s e-commerce operations. As we’ve previously noted, Egypt has aspirations to become a data center hub.

But using tech and machine learning to improve efficiency is definitely on the cards: Machine learning tools will likely be used to refine how addresses are stored and used, to maximize supply chain efficiency, says Mouchawar. “That’s an area where we can innovate — not just in Egypt, but in other countries with similar challenges.” Machine learning can also be used to improve mechanisms like customer search, recommendations, tracking what people are looking for and what they buy, he adds.

Automation is key for Amazon, as for any online business, notes Elsahy. In Egypt, the focus will be on using automation to improve the efficiency of delivery on the road and product storage in FCs. “Just as with the network routings, you can think of the FC as a city in itself. How do you drive efficiency there, or automatically stow products in higher demand in places that allow our teams to be able to pick them up faster?”

*** Tap/click here to read the rest of the interview.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

It’s slim pickings as far as Egypt is concerned in the foreign press this morning: UK tabloids are suggesting that a pick-up in online searches for holidays in Egypt could forecast a swell in demand now that the country has been taken off the UK’s “red list.” One price comparison site said it saw searches for Egypt spike 1,170%.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

We could soon see more German tourists in the Red Sea, Luxor: Flights between Germany and Sharm El Sheikh and Luxor could resume by mid-December, an official at the World Tourism Organization has claimed in an interview with Al Mal. WTO economic adviser and member of the UN Economic Commission for Europe Saeed El Batouti doesn’t explain what he’s basing this on, but predicts that tourist arrivals from Germany will reach 60% of 2019 levels this winter and next summer. Earlier this month, the Marsa Alam International Airport received its first German flight in over a year.

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

  • SODIC snags Russia medical center contract: SODIC will construct a sports medical center in Egypt after signing an MoU (pdf) with the Olympic Council in Kazan, Russia. The council will supply the center with tech used to measure and track athletes’ development.
  • Sanad Fund to finance new NBFS stress test: The Financial Regulatory Authority has reached a final agreement with Sanad Fund to finance 80% of the costs associated with developing a new stress test for non-banking financial services companies.
  • Japan Tobacco International (JTI) will continue producing cigarettes for Eastern Company for another three years after it renewed its contract with the Japanese producer. JTI, which produces 1 bn cigarettes every year for the Egyptian market, said that the renewal of the partnership did not mean that it had pulled out of the tender for a license to set up Egypt’s second tobacco company.

PLANET FINANCE

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Companies + governments are rushing to issue debt before the Fed taper: The past week saw a spike in USD- and EUR-denominated bond issuances in emerging markets, as anticipation builds that the Federal Reserve could announce a timeline for tapering its covid stimulus programme when it meets this week, Bloomberg reports. Concerned about an imminent rise in US rates, governments and companies in EMs have looked to capitalize on the current low-rate environment, selling some USD 36 bn of bonds last week — almost a third of the volume issued over the previous 10 weeks combined.

“It is going to pick up pretty fast from now and the fourth quarter will be high,” said a London-based analyst at Vanguard Asset Management. “Many countries have yet to complete their funding and some will pre-finance next year, especially before Fed tapering.”

The majority of economists are expecting the Fed to curtail its bond-buying programme before the end of the year: More than 70% of economists recently surveyed by the Financial Times expect an announcement either in November or December, while 60% of economists polled by Reuters see the first move coming in December.

Also worth noting this morning:

  • US junk debt sales are on course for a record year: Companies with junk credit ratings have issued more than USD 786 bn of bonds and loans so far this year, beating full-year sales for every year since 2008. Investors and analysts expect 2021 to set a new record for junk issuances, as companies take advantage of ultra-low interest rates and investors desperate for returns buy into the riskiest debt. (WSJ)
  • Another casualty of the China tech smackdown: China’s ride-hailing app Didi has seen its users plunge 30% after the app faced backlash from Chinese regulators after its USD 4.4 bn IPO last June. China’s cyber security regulator ordered Didi to be removed from domestic app stores in July, alleging that the company had illegally collected customer data and violated antitrust rules. The app launched in Alexandria last week, with plans to soon expand to the rest of Egypt. (FT)
  • Wall Street firms aren’t being deterred from the crypto markets by increasing talk of regulation: Wall Street trading firms are planning to expand their crypto footprint, with US equity players Jump Trading, GTS and Jane Street all saying they are in the process of setting up separate businesses for proprietary trading in digital assets. (FT)

Down

EGX30

10,890

-1.0% (YTD: +0.4%)

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

Down

Tadawul

11,397

-0.2% (YTD: +31.2%)

Down

ADX

7,808

-1.0% (YTD: +54.8%)

Up

DFM

2,905

+0.2% (YTD: +16.6%)

Down

S&P 500

4,432

-0.9% (YTD: +18.0%)

Down

FTSE 100

6,963

-0.9% (YTD: +7.8%)

Down

Brent crude

USD 75.34

-0.4%

Down

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 5.11

-4.3%

Down

Gold

USD 1,751.40

-0.3%

Down

BTC

USD 47,412

-1.2% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell 1.0% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.2 bn (23.1% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net buyers. The index is up 0.4% YTD.

In the green: Abou Kir Fertilizers (+4.0%), Mopco (+3.5%) and AMOC (+1.7%).

In the red: Fawry (-7.3%), Egyptian Resorts Company (-5.8%) and MM Group (-4.9%).

Asian markets are firmly in the red this morning amid concerns about an imminent Fed taper and the fate of Chinese real estate giant Evergrande. Shares in Europe and the US will follow them according to stock futures.

DIPLOMACY

Egypt and Libya have agreed to resume direct flights between Cairo and three Libyan airports at the end of this month, according to a Libyan government statement. Direct flights between the Egyptian capital and Mitiga near Tripoli, Benina in Benghazi, and Misrata will start operating from 30 September, the statement said. The announcement comes less than a week after Egyptian and Libyan officials signed a raft of agreements that will see Egyptian companies play a larger role in the country’s reconstruction and strengthen bilateral ties.

Egypt-Israel talks focus on peace process: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process with his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid during a phone call yesterday, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Shoukry stressed the need for Israel and Palestine to resume peace negotiations, and reaffirmed Egypt’s commitment to supporting the peace process. This came less than a week after Israel PM Naftali Bennett made a landmark visit to Egypt for talks with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

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A run-down of some of Egypt's most innovative STEM education programs: Boosting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education has become a top priority for Egypt. Since 2011, USAID has helped set up 15 STEM schools reaching over 12k students, all owned and operated by the education ministry. Many degrees offered by international branch campuses are STEM-focused, and collectively almost 50% of Egypt’s STEM graduates are women. The government recently announced its plans to work with European companies to establish technical schools specialized in STEM education and advanced technologies.

Innovation is key to teaching STEM well: Effective STEM education tends to focus on using complex math and science concepts to solve real-world problems, say multiple studies and reports. It’s less about textbook learning or lectures, and more about applying skill sets in a way that’s fun, innovative and inclusive. Today, we look at some of the most innovative STEM education initiatives we’ve come across in Egypt.

innovSpace — an online platform hosting competitions and educational programs for youth aged roughly 7-18: innovSpace runs programs and competitions in Egypt, Canada and the US, and has served over 2.3k students so far, with a network of 334 mentors and ten partner organizations, its website tells us.

Its core initiatives include: the Smart Innovative Competition, Innospace, and the Smart City project: SICompetition is aimed at 9th-12th grade students, who develop and submit their own design solutions — prototypes or apps — for global problems around the themes of quality education, global overconsumption, and sustainable cities and communities. Winning teams can present their ideas to entrepreneurs and emerging companies. Innospace offers training in engineering, technological and applied sciences to secondary school students, to prepare them for further education at leading science universities. The Smart City project is aimed at 7-12 year olds, and takes place through online and in-person camps. Participants design their own cities, leveraging science knowledge like using clean energy and electrical circuits for lighting, and using robotics for building.

Praxi Labs — accessible 3D interactive virtual simulations: Praxi Labs provides access to tens of interactive 3D virtual lab simulations in biology, chemistry and physics, allowing students to get virtual hands-on experience to build on their theoretical knowledge. As of April, the platform had seen some 65k students make use of its services since its 2016 launch, founder Khadija ElBedweihy told Disrupt Africa. The company reports B2C users in 160 countries, and B2B customers in seven: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the US, Peru, the UK, Singapore and Thailand. A lot of its further growth will be centered on Africa, as well as Europe and Asia. It raised some USD 150k after taking part in Norway-based Katapult Accelerator in 2018, but is otherwise self-funded.

Nutty Scientists — science camps and edutainment to bring STEM to life for young children: Targeting younger children, Nutty Scientists offers field trips to its house of science, where children can see an interactive science show and take part in hands-on experiments. It has designed 100+ workshops on different science themes for in-school and after-school activities, and runs weekend programs, camps and science shows for events. Its Scienterrific programs use art, cooking and hands-on experiments to help young children master scientific ideas while having fun.

Engineeius — after-school STEM programs and camps for 5-16 year olds: Engineeius develops and runs programs under the themes of engineering, game and app programming, digital media, robotics and math.

The BP Global STEM Academies — 4-week scholarship programs focused on STEM, in multiple locations: The BP Global STEM Academies are hosted by BP and AFS and take place as four-week programs in Egypt, Brazil, India and the US. Students take part in interactive programs that aim to build scientific knowledge, problem solving, analytical skills, and intercultural understanding, the website tells us. At the end of the program, teams work on projects and presentations aimed at addressing climate change and the transition to clean energy. 2020 scholarships were open to citizens of Brazil, China, Egypt, Germany, Ghana, India, Mexico, South Africa and the USA, born between December 2002 and June 2005.

There’s also a whole host of annual robotics competitions aimed at sparking a love of tech and automation in young people:

First Lego League Junior targets 6-10 year olds, who explore scientific problems like food safety, recycling or energy in teams with adult coaches, before creating a poster and a motorized LEGO model showing what they’ve learned and introducing their team.

Meanwhile, First Lego League targets 9-16 year olds, who form teams to build and program robots designed to help solve a problem tackling natural disasters, senior citizens, food health and safety, climate change, medical science, and nanotechnology.

RoboCup Junior Egypt aims to introduce Egyptian students aged 9-20 to the RoboCup initiative — to develop by 2050 a robot football team capable of winning against the human team champions of the FIFA World Cup.

In the ROV Egypt Regional Competition, kids aged 10-20 use a specially provided robot kit to design their own underwater robots, which compete with one another to complete missions. Egyptian participants compete with regional peers, and the winners automatically qualify to participate in the MATE International ROV Competition.

Your top education stories for the week:

  • Lighthouse Education nears first close: Education investment fund Lighthouse Education is only weeks away from its first close of EGP 500 mn, Managing Director Mohamed El Sherif tells Enterprise.
  • The Education Ministry has signed a MoU with the USAID-funded Workforce Egypt project, to support the ministry’s push to improve technical education, according to a USAID statement. USAID will also be establishing 10 international applied technology schools in partnership with the ministry and the private sector, the statement added.
  • Egyptian students studying at Beni Suef’s Nahda University can now study a master’s degree in business from Northern Kentucky University online after the two institutions signed an agreement.

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.

30 September (Thursday): Direct flights between Egypt and three Libyan airports resume.

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): Deadline for state-owned companies and government agencies to sign up to e-invoicing platform.

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.

15 December (Wednesday): Deadline for joint stock companies and investment companies in Cairo to join e-invoicing platform.

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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