Wednesday, 6 October 2021

EnterpriseAM — Jobs and business confidence are up, but the the PMI is at a four-month low

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to your final workday of the week. The nation is off tomorrow in observance of Armed Forces Day, which is formally today.

Enjoy your last “good” commute until the end-of-year slowdown: Public schools and universities are both back in session for fall term as of Saturday, meaning rush hour is about to become a bit more ugly.

It’s a fairly busy news day here at home, including the latest on the PMI (confidence is at a record level), progress on the Egypt-Saudi grid interconnection project, and the launch of the country’s latest venture capital fund. On the covid front, there’s the prospect that Egypt may soon be jabbing 12-year-olds. We have more on all of this below.

MEANWHILE- Stay tuned for an imminent Mogamma announcement: The company chosen to redevelop the Mogamma building in Tahrir will be announced within days, Sovereign Wealth Fund CEO Ayman Soliman told Reuters on Monday. Planning Minister Hala El Said previously said that the announcement would be made before the end of September.

SMART POLICY- CBE instructs banks to improve access for people with disabilities: The Central Bank of Egypt has instructed banks to make their services more accessible to people with disabilities in a circular (pdf) earlier this week. Among the list of requirements: banks will need to ensure that at least 10% of their branches and ATMs are physically accessible to everyone.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD is still Facebook. US lawmakers accused the company of prioritizing growth of its business over user safety and urged regulators to step up their scrutiny of the social media giant as they listened keenly to former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen. Haugen exposed Facebook’s continued efforts to boost user engagement at any cost during a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing, and said that Facebook operates “in the shadows,” hiding its research practices away from public eyes. “The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical [income] before people,” she said. Lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum could finally be moved by Haugen’s testimony to take action on a raft of long-idling legislation, including a bill banning data collection on under-13s. The story is all over the international press: Reuters | Financial Times | NYT | CNBC.

** IN CASE YOU MISSED IT- Stories from yesterday’s edition of EnterprisePM:

  • Egypt voices support for embattled IMF head: Egypt is among 16 African countries to come out in support of IMF head Kristalina Georgieva ahead of her interview with the Fund’s executive board regarding allegations of corruption during her time at the World Bank.
  • In 2022, it could be deja vu: The energy crisis currently gripping some parts of the world is unlikely to be a one-off as the transition into renewable energy destabilizes markets and fuels inflation, analysts tell Bloomberg.
  • Meet our analyst of the week: Alaa Tolba, consumer sector head at CI Capital.

Windows 11 is here, but some say it disappoints: Microsoft announced yesterday that the update is now available for PC users whose machines can support it. The most distinguishing feature of the new operating system is a revamped version of the Start menu, which will be at the center of the taskbar in the new iteration. But some users have lamented the absence of some anticipated features, including Android-app support, third-party widgets and a universal mute control, and warn you’re probably better off waiting for updates that will enable the operating system to run smoothly on PCs of various descriptions, rather that just the ultra-new Microsoft models it seems to be designed for. The Verge thinks it is “a work in progress,” in a piece headlined: A familiar home that’s still being renovated.

How can I get it? If your machine has gotten it, the download is available without charge under Settings > Windows Update. Or follow these instructions on how to download it.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Key dates for your diaries this month:

  • Inflation: Inflation figures for September will be released on Sunday, 10 October.
  • Interest rates: The Central Bank of Egypt will meet to review interest rates on Thursday, 28 October.

The Cairo International Fair continues today at the Cairo International Conference Center, running through 8 October.

A digital credit scoring webinar series will begin airing in mid-October. Organized by the Egyptian Banking Institute, the Financial Services Institute, and I-Score in partnership with GIZ Egypt, the line-up of sessions on the banking sector and banking regulations will be delivered online by Frankfurt School of Finance & Management according to a press release (pdf). You can tap/click here if you’re interested.

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 Hardhat day — your weekly briefing of all things infrastructure in Egypt: Enterprise’s industry vertical focuses each Wednesday on infrastructure, covering everything from energy, water, transportation, urban development and as well as social infrastructure such as health and education.

In today’s issue: We take a deeper dive into the long-awaited Egypt-Saudi interconnection project, which kicked into gear yesterday after the government awarded contracts to an Orascom Construction-Hitachi constortrium. We examine the details of the project, its potential to boost electricity efficiency and promote energy exports, and how it could affect our electricity supply glut.

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ECONOMY

Jobs and business confidence are up, but the the PMI is at a four-month low

Private sector activity hits four-month low: Business activity in Egypt’s non-oil private sector continued to contract for the tenth consecutive month in September, reaching a low not seen since May, according to the IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (pdf). The index dropped to 48.9 in September from 49.8 in August — a four-month low from 48.6 in May, all of which are below the 50 mark that separates contraction from expansion.

Output, demand fall: Output and new orders dropped due to weaker customer demand in September, after rising the month prior. September also marked the first time sales to foreign customers saw a significant drop since March.

It’s hardly a disaster: “While the latest PMI data pointed to non-oil output and new orders declining at the end of the third quarter, these reductions were only slight, while the two indices remained above their long-run averages for the fifth month in a row,” said IHS Markit economist David Owen.

Confidence at record high: Despite the slip in output and demand, Egyptian non-oil private sector firms reported a record level of confidence in upcoming business activity, with about 71% of respondents giving a positive forecast, indicating that firms are growing hopeful that the economy is the road to recover from the pandemic over the coming 12 months. “The rise coincided with a faster vaccination programme in Egypt and a further relaxation of travel measures that should aid tourism income in the fourth quarter,” Owen said.

Employment rose for the third successive month, despite the rate of job creation remaining mild with companies failing to find staff replacements.

Supply chains continue to be an issue: “While there was also further supply risk from lower inventory levels and raw material shortages, a record improvement in vendor performance suggests that firms may start to see procurement issues ease,” Owen said.

Firms were faced with a significant hike in prices, with the prices of raw materials rising and a renewed increase in staff costs.

Poor PMI v strong economic growth shows the continued dominance of the public sector: The PMI figures don’t reflect last year’s 3% GDP growth and the 5% GDP growth forecasted this year and that’s largely due to Egypt’s growth being driven by the government and public sector, Khatija Haque, Emirates Nbd, Chief Economist and Head of Research told Bloomberg.

The PMI figures got attention from foreign press: Reuters | Bloomberg.

ELSEWHERE IN THE REGION- Saudi Arabia’s PMI (pdf) saw a 4.5 point gain in September, its largest gain since the index started collecting data 12 years ago. The index is now at 58.6 in September, up from 54.1 in August, the strongest improvement in non-oil operating conditions since August 2015.

Private sector activity in the UAE slowed slightly, recording a PMI (pdf) reading of 53.3 in September down from 53.8 the month prior. Despite the drop, expectations improved for the first time in three months with firms expecting an increase in activity due to Dubai Expo 2020 and an easing of pandemic restrictions.

INVESTMENT WATCH

Venture capital firm Sequence Ventures has launched a new EGP 500 mn fund dubbed Egypt Deep-Tech, it said in a press release (pdf). The fund plans to invest in Egyptian startups operating in health-tech, fintech, ed-tech, prop-tech, logistics, and DevOps. It aims to raise between EPG 100-150 by its first close, which is expected to wrap up before the year is out, Sequence Executive Chairman Karim Helal told Hapi Journal during a press conference yesterday.

The fund’s edge? A network of alliances with European VCs and accelerators. Sequence Ventures has created strategic alliances with 45 VCs and accelerators in four main base regions, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, and Russia. “The strategic alliances we have serve as an asset to the startups in our portfolio as they offer matchmaking and later on exit options for Egyptian startups in Europe, such as acquisitions,” Senior Business Analyst Alia Bayoumi told Enterprise.

Where will the fund invest? “We’re investing entirely in Egypt in the pre-seed to series-A range,” Bayoumi told us. The company also works with a team of four technical advisors who are experts in areas including AI and blockchain, and help screen startups and decide on potential investments.

Who is behind Sequence Ventures? Founded in 2019, Sequence Ventures counts Carbon Holdings Managing Director Karim Helal as its executive chairman and capital markets veteran Maged Shawky, the former executive chairman of Beltone, as a member of its management board. Mohamed El Sherif, Ironwood Investments’ managing director, is the firm’s founding partner and his co-founder at Ironwood, Mohamed Fahmy, is also on board as a managing partner.

On the advisory board: Mohsen Mahgoub, Mohamed ElSewedy, Salma ElSaidy, Ayman Korra, Ahmed Shalaby, and Sohair Awad.

STARTUP WATCH

Digital ins. startup Amenli raises USD 2.3 mn in seed round

Egypt-based digital ins. startup Amenli raised USD 2.3 mn in a seed round, TechCrunch reported yesterday. The round was co-led by P1 Ventures, Global Founders Capital, and Anim Fund, and also included Costanoa Ventures, Liquid2 Ventures, Cliff Angels and other angel investors. The company will use the proceeds to expand its team and grow its operations, CEO Shady El Tohfa told the website.

What’s Amenli? The startup is the first licensed digital ins. broker in Egypt, and sells life, medical and car policies.

Amenli is targeting middle-income Egyptians, which the company says is a largely untapped market of 50 mn people. Ins. companies in Egypt tend to focus on the large, high-value customers and neglect individuals, for which it can take 5-6 weeks to finalize a single policy, the company says. These middle-income earners are the company’s core market. Amenli claims to be capable of processing more than 500 policies in less than 10 minutes, compared to the minimum three weeks offered by traditional firms.

This is the company’s second capital injection in as many months: Last month, Amenli was one of four Egyptian startups that secured USD 125k in seed funding by US accelerator Y Combinator. The other startups include Cairo-based delivery service ShipBlu, SaaS startup Pylon and online auto-marketplace Odiggo.

Since graduating from Y Combinator, Amenli has been able to triple its revenue, El Tohfa said, without disclosing figures. The increase in revenues came from repeated customers who use more than one policy instead of new customers, he explained.

NON-BANK FINANCE

EFG Hermes signs EGP 750 mn sale and leaseback agreement with Misr Italia

EFG Hermes’ leasing and factoring arm has signed an EGP 750 mn sale and leaseback agreement with Misr Italia Properties to refinance its Garden 8 Mall in New Cairo, EFG Hermes Corp-Solutions announced in a statement (pdf).

Misr Italia will direct the funds to other projects: The money raised through the sale and leaseback of Garden 8 Mall will be directed to expansion in “higher growth areas of the business,” according to Misr Italia CEO Mohamed Hany El Assal. He noted that the advantage of this kind of financing is that the company can “generate significant proceeds while essentially maintaining long-term control of value-generating facilities.” The statement did not specify the duration of the lease agreement.

EFG likes commercial property: The leaseback agreement comes as EFG Hermes Corp-Solutions looks to expand its business in commercial real estate financing. “The commercial real estate sector in Egypt continues to benefit from strong demand driven by solid retail growth,” company CEO Talal Elayat said in the statement, describing the agreement with Misr Italia as a “compelling [chance] for us to add high-quality, income-generating assets to our portfolio.”

ENERGY

Egypt is putting the final touches on an agreement to supply natural gas to Lebanon in a bid to help the crisis-hit country mitigate shortages of fuel imports, Energy Minister Tarek El Molla and his Lebanese counterpart, Walid Fayad, said following a meeting yesterday, according to CNBC Arabia. A few remaining “measures” to move forward are expected to wrap up in the coming few weeks, El Molla said. Reuters also took note of the story.

The agreement could be expanded to move more gas than both countries had originally planned, Fayad said yesterday, without offering further detail. The Lebanese minister added there would be further discussions soon. Lebanon hopes the gas supply will allow it to generate 450 MW of power and is in talks with the World Bank for funding, officials said last month.

Egypt agreed last month to ship gas to Lebanon through a pipeline running through Jordan and Syria to alleviate the energy crisis currently gripping the country after its central bank removed fuel subsidies that had strained state coffers during a devastating economic crisis that has left the country with chronic fuel and electricity shortages.

A potential complication: The plan could be complicated by sanctions the United States has imposed on Syria since 2011. Lebanese officials are appealing to Washington to make an exception.

OTHER ENERGY NEWS- The general assembly of a new company that will manage a giant state-owned petrochemicals complex in Alamein had its first meeting yesterday. The company will oversee the construction of petrochemicals plants on a 1600-feddan plot in the city at an investment cost of USD 10.5 bn, the Oil Ministry said in a statement.

TELECOMS

The government’s digitization arm, Misr El Raqameya holding, has signed a partnership agreement with African Mobile mast operator IHS Towers to obtain a license from the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority to set up and lease mobile phone towers, cabinet said in a statement. The joint venture, branded IHS Telecom Towers Egypt, will be 20% owned by Masr El Rakameya and 80% by IHS Towers. It aims to build 6k towers throughout the country over the coming three years. The license would also allow for the acquisition and operation of existing mobile phone towers.

IHS Towers is the largest independent mobile towers operator in Africa. It is currently eyeing a New York Stock Exchange listing that is looking at a valuation of upwards of USD 7 bn, which would make it the largest US listing by an African company, the Financial Times reports.

EDUCATION WATCH

CIRA to offer 17 new majors in Badr Assiut uni, BUE signs up with Belcash

EGX-listed education outfit CIRA has received presidential approval to begin offering seventeen majors at its flagship Badr University in Assiut. The degrees include veterinary medicine, physical therapy, nursing, biotechnology, law, linguistics, political science, business and economics, and AI and data management, the company said in a press release (pdf). CIRA will prioritize launching medical faculties, which will be among the four to six it will launch by the spring semester of the 2021-2022 academic year.

Belcash, BUE to provide new education finance product: Beltone Consumer Finance (Belcash) and the British University in Egypt (BUE) signed a partnership agreement to provide tuition fee loans to the parents of BUE students, according to a BUE press release (pdf). The lender will cover partial and full loans over six to 12 monthly installments.

MOVES

Egypt-based fintech startup Dopay has named Ron Vollebregt as its new chairman, the company announced yesterday. Vollebregt co-founded and acted as COO of international payment services provider GlobalCollect prior to joining DoPay. He is the chairman of the board of directors of global payments infrastructure company Terrapay, board member at the Paris-based SlimPay, and an advisor to the board of directors of Yoco, a Cape Town-based company fulfilling online and offline payment needs for South Africa-based companies. The appointment comes less than a month after the company closed a USD 18 mn series A round.

KUDOS

Banque Misr was ranked as the top lead arranger for syndicated loans in Egypt in 9M2021, according to a Bloomberg league table, the bank said in a press release (pdf). Banque Misr concluded 27 syndicated loan transactions in 2021 with a total value of USD 4.12 bn, ranking as the fourth mandated lead arranger of syndicated loans in the MENA region.

The National Bank of Egypt (NBE) is also out with a statement on its 9M performance in the syndication market, saying in a press release (pdf) it was ranked third as facility agent, fourth as bookrunner and fifth as marketer of syndicated loans in MENA during the period. NBE closed 38 financing agreements for a total value of EGP 164 bn during the first nine months of 2021. Bloomberg has not made its most recent league table public.

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ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

There was little of note on the airwaves last night: The agreement to move ahead with the USD 1.8 bn Egypt-Saudi electricity interconnection project was among the highlights. Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker phoned in on Al Hayah Al Youm to comment on the linkup, for which contracts were handed to a consortium of Orascom Construction and Japan’s Hitachi yesterday (watch, runtime: 4:14 and runtime: 5:43). We have chapter and verse on the story in tonight’s Hardhat, below.

Elsewhere, Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi aired the highlights of yesterday's Senate testimony by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen (watch, runtime: 3:38). We recap this story in What We’re Tracking Today, above.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

The sole notable mention of Egypt news on this otherwise quiet morning in the international press: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s newly launched human rights strategy is receiving mixed reviews from human rights advocates, according to this Washington Post piece, which includes interviews with Assistant Foreign Minister Alaa Roushdy and several prominent Egyptian civil rights figures.

COVID WATCH

Health Ministry mulls allowing 12 year olds to be jabbed

The Health Ministry could bring down the minimum vaccine eligibility age to 12, cabinet spokesman Nader Saad said last night, depending on the availability of vaccines approved for use in children (watch, runtime: 4:06). The government aims to gradually bring down the age of eligibility, from 18 to 15, and then later to 12, Saad added. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi had previously said Egypt could begin offering vaccines to children at schools once they are approved for use by minors.

The Health Ministry is considering banning unvaccinated people from entering government service offices, Saad told Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Mousa (watch, runtime: 4:38). This measure would follow the completion of the vaccination of all government employees, with 3 mn out of 3.5 mn government administrative employees having been vaccinated so far, Saad said.

Good news travelers: The cost of getting a covid PCR test is about to get 25% cheaper after the cabinet approved the decision to reduce the cost of the test for both Egyptians and foreigners during its weekly meeting. Egyptian travelers will now pay EGP 900 for the test instead of EGP 1,200, while foreigners will pay EGP 1,200 instead of EGP 1,600. We believe the pricing decision applies only to prospective travellers requesting pre-departure tests at government labs, but the statement does not make that clear.

Egypt will receive a donation of 2 mn doses of Sinovac from China, which is expected to arrive during “the coming period”, the Health Ministry said in a statement during a visit on Monday by the Chinese ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang.

The Health Ministry reported 778 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 771 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 308,347 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 39 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 17,508.

Pfizer vaccine 90% effective at preventing hospitalization: Two doses of Pfizer/BioNtech’s covid-19 vaccine have been shown to be “highly effective” against covid-related hospitalizations for a six-month period according to a new 3 mn-person study, published in the Lancet medical journal. The vaccine remained 90% effective at preventing hospitalizations from all variants, including the more virulent delta strain.

But efficacy against infection wanes considerably after just five months: The vaccine’s effectiveness at preventing infections dropped considerably, from 88% protection against contracting the virus in the first month after vaccination to some 47% after five months. The findings come after a separate CDC study last month said that vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization went from 91% in the first few months to 77% after four months.

PLANET FINANCE

Powered by
EFG Hermes - https://efghermes.com/

Sawiris-backed Fertiglobe to go public in Abu Dhabi this month: Nassef Sawiris-backed chemical producer OCI and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) yesterday announced their intention to offer a 13.8% stake in their joint venture Fertiglobe on the ADX later this month. The listing could value the company at around USD 7 bn, potentially making it one of Abu Dhabi’s largest ever IPOs.

The listing is timed to take advantage of the soaring fertilizer sales and higher prices driven by the commodities boom, and though record natural gas prices are hurting many producers in the sector, Fertiglobe has long-term contracts keeping its gas costs cheap, CEO Ahmed El Hoshy told Bloomberg.

OCI currently owns 58% of the JV and Adnoc the remaining 42%. Post-IPO, OCI will indirectly continue to own a majority stake in the company, while Adnoc will indirectly own at least 36.2% of the company’s share capital.

Advisors: Citigroup, First Abu Dhabi Bank, HSBC Bank Middle East and Morgan Stanley have been appointed as joint global coordinators. EFG Hermes UAE, Goldman Sachs and International Securities have been appointed as joint bookrunners.


EMs will need to out-hawk the Fed to survive stagflation: So says the FT’s Robert Armstrong, who joins those warning that stalling growth, high prices and tightening monetary policy among developed economies is already hitting emerging-market bonds, assets and currencies with force. Consumer price inflation in EMs is more exposed to volatile and rapidly rising food and energy prices, while currencies will weaken as the US Fed tightens policy. As a result, investors are best sticking to those countries where central banks are making a serious attempt to tackle inflation by raising rates, analysts tell Armstrong: “If you are out there as an EM central bank talking about transitory inflation and anchored expectations, you are deluding yourself,” says one.

Up

EGX30

10432.63

+0.05% (YTD: -3.8%)

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USD (CBE)

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

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USD at CIB

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

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Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

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Tadawul

11,539.23

+0.6% (YTD: +32.6%)

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ADX

7,669.57

-0.4% (YTD: +52.2%)

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DFM

2,783.39

+1.02% (YTD: +11.7%)

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S&P 500

4,345.72

+1.05% (YTD: +15.7%)

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FTSE 100

7,077.10

+0.9% (YTD: +9.5%)

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Brent crude

USD 82.60

+1.7%

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Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 6.31

+9.5%

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Gold

USD 1,760.90

-0.4%

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BTC

USD 51,594.20

+5.56% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose less than 0.1% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 813 mn (47.9% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 3.8% YTD.

In the green: Raya Holding (+7.5%), Fawry (+3.9%) and Ezz Steel (+3.6%).

In the red: Cleopatra Hospital (-3.4%), Egyptian Resorts Company (-2.5%) and CIRA (-2.3%).

Global markets are looking a bit gnarly this morning. The Nikkei, Kospi and Hang Seng are all down c. 1% at dispatch time, with only Shanghai clinging to the green. Futures suggest the FTSE 100 and DAX 30 will both open in the red, with the CAC 40 in Paris being the only major European index on deck to start the day in the green. It’s also looking like the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq will all open in the red later today.

DIPLOMACY

El Said talks sustainability with EU top green official: Planning Minister Hala El Said discussed investing in sustainable development and the government’s Decent Life initiative in a meeting yesterday with First Vice President of the European Commission and champion of EU green initiatives Frans Timmermans, on the sidelines of the second Union for the Mediterranean ministerial climate conference, the planning ministry said in a statement.

Egypt and Russia talk cooperation: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev to advance various bilateral cooperation files on the regional and international fronts, according to a MFA statement.

hardhat

The linkup of Egypt and Saudi’s electricity grids is finally moving forward — here’s what you need to know: A consortium of Orascom Construction (OC) and Japan’s Hitachi ABB Power Grids were awarded the project’s execution contracts by the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company yesterday, OC said in a press release (pdf), bringing the massive project to connect the national power grids of Egypt and Saudi Arabia one step closer to becoming a reality. The project had been on hold since at least 2018, when initial tenders were launched, primarily due to the Saudi government’s work on its massive Neom City. We took note of the signing in yesterday’s EnterprisePM, but were yet to describe the ins and outs of the project, which will be the first inter-continent high-voltage direct current (HDVC) project in the world.

This is what we know so far: The first 1.5 GW phase will be operational by 2024, with the second 1.5 GW phase to follow a year later. The project will cost some USD 1.8 bn, up by nearly USD 200 mn since its initial announcement in 2018, cabinet said in a statement. Egypt will cover somewhere in the region of 45%, covering the cost of work within its borders, Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker meanwhile told CNBC Arabia. The OC statement said that funding would be provided by a multilateral development finance institution, while Shaker separately said on the airwaves last night that the Islamic Development Bank, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development are all on board as financiers for the project (watch, runtime: 4:15).

How big is the project? Touted as “the most advanced and complex … of its kind worldwide,” the project will allow Egypt and Saudi to exchange up to 3 GW of electricity at peak times, powering upward of 20 million people. It will additionally accommodate the exchange of renewable energy, OC said. According to Shaker, Egypt and Saudi produce a combined 160 GW of electricity every year. The interconnection will transport the 3GW at 500 kV along 1.3k km using overhead power lines and a subsea cable across the Red Sea.

What will the OC-Hitachi consortium do? It will build the main HVDC converter station on the Egypt side in northeast Cairo and a substation in Sinai’s Taba. “Orascom Construction is once again playing a key role in transformational projects that drive Egypt towards sustainable infrastructure development. We continue to collaborate with our long term client, the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity represented by EETC, and we are proud to partner with Hitachi ABB Power Grids,” OC CEO Osama Bishai said, according to the press release. On the Saudi side, a separate consortium comprising Hitachi and SSEM will take charge.

The interconnection project has been in the works for years. Sources from EETC last year confirmed that the delay was due to Saudi’s Neom project, which crosses through a section that was originally meant to be used for the shared grid. The original route for the power transmission lines had to be redrawn by the Saudis to avoid conflict.

How much is Egypt going to get out of this exchange? “The exchange goes both ways,” sources from the company told us without elaborating more on the question of excess capacity the grid will channel out of Egypt.

The project offers Egypt multiple potential benefits: The country will get the chance to use Saudi electricity at peak consumption times in the evenings, while Saudi will benefit from using Egyptian electricity at their own peak consumption time in the afternoon, Hamza told Enterprise. Egypt will also be able to access the wider GCC grid, potentially exporting electricity to countries including Bahrain, Oman, and Kuwait, Hamza added. How much the EETC will charge for electricity generated in Egypt is still undecided, according to Hamza.

Egypt has a large surplus of electricity generation it built over the past few years after struggling from blackouts, creating a large amount of surplus energy. That, combined with our natural gas bonanza, has us positioning ourselves as a regional energy hub.

The gov’t is looking to exports as a potential solution for the surplus. Authorities were looking to export around 15 GW of excess capacity to neighbors in Europe, Africa, and the GCC, a government source we spoke to for a Hardhat feature on our electricity surplus late last year said. Egypt’s grid is currently linked with Jordan, Palestine, Libya, and, most recently, Sudan.

The first phase of the USD 4 bn EuroAfrica project to connect our grid to Cyprus is also underway. Speaking to us yesterday, Hamza said several MoUs are currently being prepped soon between Egypt, Cyprus and Greece for electricity interconnection.


Your top infrastructure stories for the week:

  • ACWA Power eyes desalination plants: The Saudi renewables company may be looking to partner with Egyptian companies to bid for desalination projects being offered by the SFE.
  • Another petchem complex in the SCZone: Anchorage Investments is looking to build a USD 2.5 bn petrochemical complex in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone)
  • SFE could embark on new desalination projects: Orascom Construction and Hassan Allam Holding are in early talks with the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) for contracts to build several new desalination plants.

CALENDAR

30 September-8 October (Thursday-Friday): The Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo, Egypt.

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

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

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

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

9-15 October (Saturday-Friday): Turathna Exhibition, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

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

12-14 October (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

15-21 October (Friday-Thursday): Intra-African Trade Fair 2021, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Mid-October: The Egyptian Banking Institute, the Financial Services Institute, and I-Score will begin airing in mid-October the Digital Credit Scoring Webinar Series, a line-up of webinars on the banking sector and banking regulations.

18 October (Monday): E-Finance begins trading on EGX.

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.

31 October (Saturday): World Cities Day, Luxor, 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.

8-10 December (Wednesday-Thursday): Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research (GFHS), Cairo, Egypt.

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.

1Q2022: Launch of the Egyptian Commodities Exchange.

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

19 February 2022 (Saturday): Public universities begin the second term of the 2021-2022 academic year.

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.

2H2022: IEF-IGU Ministerial Gas Forum, Egypt. Date + location TBA.

**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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