Sunday, 17 October 2021

EnterpriseAM — Egypt’s balance of payments flips to surplus in 2020-2021, current account deficit rises. Plus: 75 days until the end of the year.

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and welcome to another workweek as we start the 75-day countdown until the end of the year. It’s another very busy news day, but before we jump right in, let us take a moment to be thankful:

Bankers, finance folks and the business community can rejoice — you’re officially getting a three-day weekend. The nation’s banks will be off next Thursday in observance of Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday, the central bank announced Friday said in a statement to reporters. With banks closed, the EGX will also be off — look for an announcement from the bourse any moment now.

SMART POLICY- EgyptAir has made vaccinations mandatory for all of its employees. Unjabbed staff at the flag carrier and its subsidiaries will not be allowed to go to their workplaces starting 25 November, the company said.

** CATCH UP QUICK with the top stories from Thursday’s edition of EnterprisePM:

  • Egypt’s inclusion in JPMorgan’s EM government bond index could drive inflows worth USD 1 bn to Egypt’s local currency bond markets, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said.
  • Korea is lining up what seems to be a multi-bn USD infrastructure and defense sale to Egypt, including a shipyard construction contract in the Suez Canal area for Samsung Heavy Industries and unspecified technical support for the Dabaa nuclear power plant.
  • The robots are coming, Part XVII: Automated freight trains could be a long-term answer to global shipping woes.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

It’s the last day for retail investors to get their orders in for shares of e-Finance. Trading of shares in the state-owned fintech platform and payments infrastructure provider is expected to begin this week.

The IMF / World Bank Fall Meetings enter their final day later this afternoon in Washington, DC. The weeklong gathering was marked by a slew of reports and economic forecasts, including the IMF’s World Economic Outlook and Fiscal Monitor Report, as well as the World Bank’s MENA economic update.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD-

There’s no single story dominating the imagination of the global business press this morning. The Financial Times is leading news that China tested in August a new hypersonic missile “demonstrating an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise.” Your favourite TV show won’t be going on strike after Hollywood workers reached an agreement with studios, the Wall Street Journal notes. And Reuters has an exclusive that suggests China is looking to lock in US supplies of natural gas for the long term as the energy crisis bites in the world’s most populous country.

MEANWHILE- You no longer have to wear a mask in public places in Saudi Arabia as the kingdom starts easing today a number of covid restrictions, the Saudi Press Agency announced. The decision included a lifting of restrictions on the visitor capacity for holy sites in Mecca and Medina. The state will also allow restaurants, public transport, and cinemas to operate at full capacity across the country. Caps on attendance at weddings and other events have also been removed. The easing of restrictions apply only to individuals who have been double vaccinated.

The US is finally opening up for vaccinated travellers: Starting November 8, fully vaccinated international travelers will be able to visit the US, White House Spokesperson Kevin Munoz confirmed on Friday following a Reuters report. Fully-vaccinated travelers will be allowed to visit the US from 26 Schengen countries as well as Britain, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil. The White House had announced in September that the US would lift its travel ban on visitors from 33 countries, without specifying when. Egypt did not make the list.

British MP killed in terror attack: Conservative MP David Amess was stabbed to death in a church on Friday, where he was meeting with constituents. Police suspect the 25-year-old alleged assailant was motivated by Islamist extremism. The attack marks the second murder of a British MP in five years, after Labour lawmaker Jo Cox was killed by a pro-Brexit extremist on the eve of the Brexit vote in 2016.

MARKET WATCH-

Out of gas, buyers turn to oil: Brent crude prices hit a three-year high to settle at USD 85.10 on Friday, as companies rushed to secure alternative fuel sources amid the global gas supply crisis, Bloomberg reports. With a post-pandemic pickup in road, freight and aviation activity, oil demand looks set to outpace supply by up to 1 mn barrels per day in the fourth quarter, despite monthly supply increases OPEC+ producers. Half of the extra demand will come from firms looking to fill gaps in their gas supply, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday.

But the gas squeeze has its downside risks: If output cutbacks in China and Europe translate into a prolonged manufacturing slowdown, crude’s recent gains could be in danger, the IEA’s oil markets head told Bloomberg. Other market watchers point to different factors. “It will take a trifecta of events to derail this oil price rally: OPEC+ unexpectedly boosts output, warm weather hits the Northern Hemisphere, and if the Biden administration taps the strategic petroleum reserves,” one senior market analyst told Reuters.

Russia says it stands at the read: Despite seeing local demand soar to “a record high” in recent weeks, Moscow is ready to boost gas supplies to Europe should demand warrant it, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said yesterday, according to Reuters.

MEANWHILE- From the Dept. of Cloak and Dagger: Iran and Venezuela are said to be trading oil despite US sanctions. Reuters dives deep for you hydrocarbon (and diplomacy) types.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

i-Sheep, stay tuned: Apple will unveil a new lineup of products tomorrow. Macs are the most likely to get a revamp, with larger sizes of the MacBook Pro set to be on the agenda. Apple is also widely expected to announce new, redesigned AirPods. Also keep an eye out for the official release date for macOS Monterey, the latest software for Mac laptops and desktops, which will likely be announced at the launch event. The event kicks off tomorrow at 10 am PDT. That’s 7 pm CLT for the folks tuning in from home. You can catch a livestream here.

Google will hold an event on Tuesday to talk about its Pixel 6 and Pixel Pro phones (stream it here at 7pm).

Fall conference season is still going strong. Among the exhibitions and business events here and throughout the region:

  • The GITEX Global at the Dubai World Trade Center kicks off today and runs through this Thursday. The event brings together players in Big Tech to discuss what’s next in areas such as AI, cloud, 5G, cybersecurity, blockchain, and more.
  • Further down the road: The Middle East Angel Investment Network is hosting its Angel Oasis in El Gouna on 27-29 October, with separate pricing for in-person and virtual attendance.

Calling all entrepreneurs in Egypt: You have one month to apply for the acceleration exchange program Meet Silicon Valley, which will take a group of entrepreneurs to California for a 10-day program to meet with tech executives and investors. The program is being implemented by Injaz Egypt and TechWadi with the support of the US Embassy in Egypt. Startup founders must be between the ages of 23 and 35 to be eligible for the program. The deadline for applications is 15 November, and you can check out the full criteria and program details here.

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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ECONOMY

Egypt’s balance of payments flips to surplus in 2020-2021, current account deficit rises

Egypt’s balance of payments flipped to a surplus of USD 1.9 bn in the state fiscal year ending 30 June 2021, compared with a deficit of USD 8.6 bn in the previous fiscal year, when the early days of the covid-19 pandemic wiped out tourism and slowed global trade. “This improvement proved the ability of the Egyptian economy to quickly recover from the crises that hit the global economy,” the central bank said in a statement (pdf) released over the weekend that enclosed the figures.

What’s the balance of payments? You can think of it as the delta between all of the money that comes into the country thanks to things that bring in money (tourism, exports, Suez Canal revenues, FDI, remittances, etc) and the money we send outside the country (largely thanks to imports of everything from food to fuel).

Our current account deficit widened by USD 7.2 bn in the state fiscal year ending 30 June 2021, closing FY 2020-2021 at USD 18.4 bn compared with USD 11.2 bn the previous year, a fact the CBE attributed to a “noticeable drop in tourism revenues” thanks to the impact of the pandemic on tourism. (Diving a bit deeper, we think the current account deficit actually shrank from USD 5.7 bn in 3Q2020-21, likely on the back of rising remittances and portfolio investments.)

Our biggest gainer was remittances, which rose by 13.2% y-o-y in FY 2020-2021 to USD 31.4 bn, up from USD 27.8 bn the previous fiscal year. Inflows rose almost 30% to USD 8.1 bn in 4Q, up from USD 6.2 bn in the same period last year, the CBE noted last month.

Thank you, carry traders: Portfolio investments also turned positive this year, recording a net inflow of USD 18.7 bn this year, compared to a net outflow of USD 7.3 bn in the FY2019-20. Egypt’s high real interest rates have kept it as one of the most attractive emerging markets destinations for the carry trade, as the CBE kept interest rates on hold for the past seven MPC meetings. We’ll have to wait until 28 October to see if last month’s spike in inflation, coupled with the chance of a Fed tapering, will drive it to buck the trend.

And despite supply chain disruptions, global port lockdowns (not to mention a ship which will not be named) Suez Canal revenues saw a slight rise of 1.7%, to USD 5.9 bn, up from USD 5.8 the year before.

Trade deficit widened last fiscalyear: The non-oil trade deficit widened to USD 42.1 bn, from USD 36 bn in FY2019-2020, a 16.7% increase due to non-oil imports rising 15.2% y-o-y to record USD 62.1 bn from USD 53.9 bn.

Foreign direct investment for the year also dipped 30% y-o-y to USD 5.2 bn from USD 7.5 bn, which the statement attributed to continued blowback from the pandemic.

It was not a good year for tourism: Tourism revenues dropped by half during the fiscal year to record USD 4.9 bn, down from USD 9.9 bn during FY2019-2020, mainly due to the impact lockdowns and travel restrictions (thanks red list). That said, tourism is en route to recovery, with arrivals averaging 400k people per month — a near 40% increase in monthly average figures prior to the pandemic. This is only expected to get better as a number of nations lift these travel restrictions, including the UK, which took us off the red list last month. Bookings to Egypt and Turkey from the UK have soared 400% since our removal from the red list, an Easyjet executive told the Guardian last week.

MORE GOOD NEWS ON THAT FRONTRussia will lift remaining covid-related restrictions on flights to Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada from November 9, Russian state-run outlet TASS reported the government’s coronavirus task force as saying last week. Other countries to see restrictions lifted on the same date include Tunisia, Thailand, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Iran, Slovenia, and Oman, according to Reuters.

Russia has been gradually reinstating direct air links with Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh since August 9, when direct flights between Moscow and the two coastal cities were resumed after a six-year hiatus following the 2015 Metrojet crash in Sinai. Since then, Russia has twice upped the number of flights between Moscow and the two Egyptian resorts to reach as many as 25 per week, and expanded flights to other Russian cities outside of Moscow.

ENERGY

Egypt signs MoUs with Greece, Cyprus to link electricity grids + Globeleq invests in Benban

Hello, EuroAfrica: The USD 4 bn EuroAfrica Interconnector project, which will connect the electrical grids of Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus, got a huge boost over the weekend after Egypt signed MoUs with Greece and Cyprus. The MoUs with Greece — signed by Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker on Thursday during a trip to Athens — will see the two countries build an undersea cable connecting their grids. “The interconnection of transmission networks between our two countries represents a bold strategic initiative,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted on Thursday, adding that the agreement “secures the flow of green energy and enhances Europe’s energy security.”

Separately, Egypt and Cyprus signed yesterday an MoU that would see them connect their electricity grids, Reuters reports. “Fortifying our electricity grids and allowing the further integration of renewables in our respective energy mix, enhancing the security of our energy supply and enabling us to become exporters of energy, are but a few of the tangible benefits,” Cyprus Energy Minister Natasa Pilides said at the signing. The MoU, which sets out a framework of cooperation from planning to implementation, could see Egypt and Cyprus exchange up to 2 GW of electricity, Shaker told Youm7 following the signing ceremony. This could then possibly be bumped up to 3 GW, he added.

Timelines: The first, EUR 2.5 bn phase of the project will connect the three countries’ grids and is set for commissioning by December 2023 with an initial capacity of 1 GW, according to the project’s website.

Background: The project has been in the works for a while, as Cairo, Athens, and Nicosia signed the framework agreement back in 2019. The project comes at a time when Europe is experiencing an energy crisis.

This also isn’t our first rodeo merging grids: Contracts for the linkup of Egypt and Saudi’s electricity grids were handed down earlier this month.

GREEN ECONOMY

SFE, Fertiglobe partner with Scatec for Ain Sokhna green hydrogen plant

SFE, Fertiglobe, Scatec agree on green hydrogen plant: Norway’s Scatec is set to build a 50-100 MW green hydrogen project in Ain Sokhna, in partnership with Nassef Sawiris-backed ammonia producer Fertiglobe and the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE), according to a Cabinet statement. The new plant will be used as feedstock for green ammonia production, Scatec said. The facility will be built, operated and majority-owned by Scatec, which will have a long-term off-take agreement with Fertiglobe’s subsidiary EBIC. Construction of the plant is expected to begin next year and the facility should come online by 2024.

What is Egypt doing with green hydrogen so far? President Abdel Fattah El Sisi issued a directive to establish Egypt’s green hydrogen strategy in July, with an eye towards launching an initial phase of projects that could be worth USD 3-4 bn, according to previous statements by the Electricity Ministry. Several private sector players, including Siemens, Belgium’s DEME Group and South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem already signed in August to work with the government on feasibility studies. Taqa Arabia’s subsidiary Taqa Power has signed an MoU with German-based Man Solutions to pilot a green hydrogen project in Egypt.

Not sure what the green hydrogen fuss is about? Read our explainer here.

Speaking of Fertiglobe, its IPO on the Abu Dhabi bourse is off to a strong start with investor demand likely to see the offering priced at the top of the AED 2.45-2.65 per share price range, Al Arabiya reports. The final offer price is expected to be announced this Wednesday, 20 October, while shares should start trading on the ADX the following Wednesday, 27 October, according to an OCI announcement.

OTHER GREEN ECONOMY NEWS-

Independent power producer Globeleq has acquired ARC Renewable Energy’s 66 MW PV solar plant in Aswan’s Benban for an undisclosed sum, according to a statement. Globeleq, a subsidiary of the UK government’s development finance arm CDC Group, will provide ARC with asset management services and oversee the operation and maintenance contractor Gila Al Tawakol. The plant was developed by the SECI Energia, Enerray and Desert Technologies consortium in 2019 under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

More Globeleq investments in Egypt could be in the pipeline: “The country is a key target market for Globeleq and this acquisition provides a platform to support further investments in the country, including in solar PV, wind, battery energy storage and, in the longer-term, water desalination and green hydrogen projects,” the statement reads.

Advisors: Shahid Law was counsel to Globeleq on the transaction.

ECONOMY

El Sisi says Egypt needs a more effective, more digitized welfare system

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has called for a modernized, digitized ration card program, saying the government has long struggled to ensure the costly scheme directly benefits those most in need. Speaking at the inauguration of new social housing projects, El Sisi said the slow pace at which government data has been digitized has led to large-scale misallocation of welfare subsidies, meaning ration cards sometimes make it into the wrong hands. “I even have a [ration] card under my name in Minya that’s in use,” El Sisi said (watch, runtime: 5:48). Bloomberg also took note of the story.

This phenomenon has for years given rise to those that we here at Enterprise have fondly refer to as Kramers (our in-house term for subsidy moochers or fraudulent beneficiaries of the subsidy system). Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy said last year that the government has barred at least 10 mn alleged welfare cheats from receiving subsidies, bringing down the number of subsidy recipients to 70 mn from 80 mn, and saving the state coffers some EGP 5 bn.

Efforts to more accurately assess subsidy eligibility made the news back in 2018, when the ministry said it planned to use a wider basket of data points to determine who deserves to be on the subsidy rolls. At the time, the amended standards made ineligible citizens who pay EGP 1.2 or more per month on electricity, spend more than EGP 500 per month on mobile phone bills, pay for more than one mobile phone line, or own a “modern car.”

However, authorities last June expanded ration card eligibility, giving individuals earning less than EGP 2.4k a month the right to hold the cards after having limited the monthly salary cap to EGP 1.5k. The changes were in keeping with the recent bump in basic salaries for public sector workers to EGP 2.4k from EGP 2k, which effectively raised the nation’s poverty line.

We also noted last year that the government added 1 mn newborns on the cards, from an existing backlog of requests to add 6-7 mn others. In his statements yesterday, El Sisi identified rapid population growth as the main reason behind Egypt’s inflated ration card system.

This isn’t the only thing in store: The president’s calls for a more digitized ration card scheme follows calls he made earlier this year to revise a parallel bread subsidies scheme.

Could the Cash Subsidies Act save the day? The bill, which has been in the works since right before the pandemic hit in early 2020, was expected to govern a new system of direct money transfers instead of the current setup of in-kind subsidies using ration cards. It was sent to the House of Representatives back in July 2019, but has been in limbo since. Our best guess is that, well, covid happened.

M&A WATCH

Egytrans walks away from HAUH takeover bid

Egytrans pulls the brakes on HAUH takeover: A potential reverse merger between Egytrans and Hassan Allam Utilities Holdings (HAUH) subsidiary Hassan Allam Utilities BV appears to have fallen through after the two sides failed to agree on a fair value, the transportation firm said in an EGX disclosure (pdf). The shelved agreement would have been key to Hassan Allam Utilities’ expansion into transportation. Back in March, Egytrans had accepted an offer submitted by HA Utilities to acquire a controlling stake in the company via a share swap that would have seen Egytrans acquire 100% of HA Utilities BV in exchange for HAUH acquiring a 65% stake in Egytrans. HA Utilities BV had been valued at EGP 721.5 mn in a fair value assessment by Grant Thornton, while Egytrans’ shares were set at EGP 12.90 apiece, bringing its total value to EGP 414 mn.

It’s unclear how the transaction subsequently fell apart, but Egytrans has had more than one suitor: After opening talks with HAUH, Egytrans appeared to have attracted interest from Paradigm Logistics as well, but the potential Paradigm transaction fell through in May. Paradigm was willing to pay EGP 460 mn — which was higher than the EGP 414 mn HAUH had initially offered — but the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) stepped in and broke up the party. Paradigm had proposed to swap its 72% stake in shipping company Ostool, in exchange for new shares in EgyTrans, but the FRA said the offer had no grounds since Paradigm apparently never completed its purchase of stake in Ostool and was still paying it off. Egytrans then returned to the negotiating table with HAUH, but it is unclear whether HAUH made changes to its bid.

DEBT WATCH

Sodic obtains EGP 1.57 bn credit facility to finance Sodic West

Upmarket real estate developer Sodic has obtained a EGP 1.57 bn credit facility from the Arab African International Bank and Banque Misr to finance the Sodic West residential project, according to a bourse disclosure (pdf). The long-term facility will be used to refinance an outstanding EGP 1.1 bn from an EGP 1.3 bn medium-term facility signed in April 2017 as well as to partially finance the remaining capex for Sodic West.

STARTUP WATCH

Talabeyah raises seven-figure pre-seed round, Sympl gets ink from Bloomberg

Cairo-based B2B e-commerce platform Talabeyah raised a seven-figure pre-seed round from angel investors, according to a statement. The investment will mainly be used to enhance its tech infrastructure and build its team. The round will help scale operations, further build the technology, grow the team and incorporate AI and machine learning algorithms, CFO Hamed Barakat said. The company aims to help small retailers buy and manage their inventory through a platform in light of Egypt’s fragmented supply chain industry.

Background: Talabeyah launched in January 2020 to provide next-day delivery to merchants and help them manage their inventory efficiently. So far, the gross merchandise value of the business has reached USD 6 mn with an initial investment of USD 180k, and generated an annual revenue worth 66x the amount of capital injected into the business, the statement reads.

IN OTHER STARTUP NEWS-

Tech startups in Egypt and Jordan will be able to prepare for cross-border expansion through a new accelerator program that UAE-based open innovation platform Fintech Galaxy is launching with GIZ, according to a statement. Over two months, startups in the Yalla Xtech accelerator program will be provided with coaches, regulatory guidance, and a chance to network. The accelerator is open to technology and tech-enabled startups that have a genuine or competitive product or service offering in their home market, and are ready to expand. Startups can apply here until this Thursday, 21 October.

Deferred-payment startup Sympl gets ink from Bloomberg: The company aims to eliminate pre-registration, vetting and underwriting by targeting Egypt’s 40 mn bankcard holders with short-term, no-interest payment plans at the point of purchase, CEO Mohamed Elfeky told Bloomberg. The outlet reported that the company is backed by an undisclosed sum from Middle East venture capital firm A15. Sympl is founded by former valU execs Mohamed Elfeky and yasmine Henna and ex-Capiter exec Karim Tawfik.

DIPLOMACY

Ethiopia is ready to once again resume talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a spokesperson for Sudan’s foreign ministry, Dina Mufti, told Sky News Arabia (watch, runtime: 00:20). “We are expecting the current African Union head to send delegations to Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to hold talks regarding the GERD issue,” he said. Last month, the UN Security Council issued a statement on the dispute over the GERD, urging Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to return to the negotiating table under the auspices of the AU despite many months of Ethiopia ghosting us with no fallout from the AU.

In other diplo news, Shoukry attends AU gathering, talks Egypt’s support during covid: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry yesterday took part in the Mid-Year Coordination Meeting between the African Union, the Regional Economic Committees and the Regional Mechanisms, the foreign ministry said in a statement. The minister, who attended on behalf of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, touched on covid-19 and noted that Egypt contributed to funding the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), which was active throughout the pandemic.

MOVES

Choucri Asmar (LinkedIn) has been tapped as “chief providers officer, customer and experience” at Vezeeta, according to a statement (pdf). Asmar is former founding executive at AXA Africa Health, where he led OneHealth, Vezeeta said. Previously, Asmar was strategy and PMO lead at Mondelez International and regional suppliers manager at AstraZeneca MENA.

Aspire Capital and its newly-listed subsidiaries, Pioneers Properties and Gadwa Industrial Development have appointed Aspire Chairman Waleed Zaki (LinkedIn) as the managing director and CEO of Pioneers Properties and non-executive chairman of Gadwa. Mohamed Zakaria Mohieldin has been appointed chairman of Pioneers Properties, while Yasser Zaki Ibrahim has been appointed Gadwa’s managing director and CEO, according to three separate EGX disclosures here, here and here (pdfs). The disclosures contradict an earlier report we picked up from Al Mal that incorrectly stated Zaki would act as the managing director and chairman of Pioneers Properties.

Catalyst Partners has tapped capital markets veteran Maged Shawky, the former executive chairman of Beltone and onetime head of the EGX, as its new chairman, according to Al Borsa. Shawky, who replaces Catalyst’s co-founder Aly El Tahry (LinkedIn) as chairman. Shawky stepped down from an executive role at Beltone earlier this year and became a non-executive board member in the company’s recent reshuffle.

Former Emaar Misr Managing Director Mohamed El Dahan (LinkedIn) was tapped to take over the same role at City Edge Developments, reports Al Shorouk.

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ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

New housing project gets the talking heads’ attention: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s inauguration yesterday of a new social housing project in Sixth of October led the airwaves last night. Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Mousa spoke to Deputy Housing Minister Khaled Abbas, who said that the 13k new homes delivered yesterday are the latest batch of a 250k homes project of which 223k have been completed so far (watch, runtime: 4:01). The project aims to relocate residents of what the government has labeled “unsafe areas,” or parts of the slums in immediate danger, Abbas said. The government says that it has already moved most of the people in those areas into state-sponsored social housing, El Hekaya’s Amr Adib noted yesterday (watch, runtime: 5:32).

The project is the latest of a string of initiatives to relocate families from slums to more modern residential areas with subsidized payment terms. The latest was last month’s completion of the Sen El Agouz social housing project on the outskirts of Giza, which Al Hayah Al Youm’s Moustafa Sherdy recapped yesterday in a sit-down with Khaled Sedeek, who heads the state-led Informal Settlements Development Fund (watch, runtime: 3:46).

Meanwhile, Egyptian schools are suffering due to overpopulation, Education Minister Tarek Shawky told MBC Masr last week (watch, runtime: 2:41). The ministry’s budget has allowed it to build an additional 14k classrooms, only half the number of classrooms needed to accommodate the new number of students enrolling every year, according to Shawky. Over the past two years, some 1.5 mn new students have enrolled into Egyptian schools, he explained, adding that there is a major problem with the overcrowding of schools and the ministry is working on it.

Also on the airwaves last night: Violence in the streets of Beirut on Thursday that killed seven people was among the talking points on El Hekaya and Sada El Balad (watch, runtime: 2:00 and runtime: 7:28). Shooting broke out when armed men opened fire on a Hezbollah and Amal march calling for the removal of judges investigating last year’s Beirut port blast. The Shi’a Muslim groups accused the gunmen of belonging to the Christian Lebanese Forces, a long-time rival.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Making headlines globally was the suspension of the trial of four Egyptian security officials accused by Italian prosecutors of killing Italian student Giulio Regeni on Thursday. Judges at the trial ruled that prosecutors would have to again try and locate the defendants to notify them of the charges before the case could proceed. Another judge had in May ruled that the four men could be tried in absentia, marking the first attempt to prosecute Egyptian officials abroad for alleged human rights abuses. (Wall Street Journal | BBC | The Guardian)

Also making headlines:

  • Activist Alaa Abdel Fattah will appear in a state security court tomorrow, facing undisclosed charges after over two years in pre-trial detention. (AFP)
  • Egypt’s 3k% whiskey tax is nothing short of “perplexing,” Marc Busch writes for The Hill, noting that the exceedingly high levy is neither “growing a domestic industry” nor “filling the government’s tax coffers.”
  • The Pharaohs sure loved to imbibe: A 5,000-year-old brewery — one of the largest in ancient Egypt — was discovered, giving us direct evidence of the “kind of power wielded by Egyptian kings.” The facility apparently produced over a mn liters every year. (The Harvard Gazette)
  • Egyptian modeling agency UNN is getting some kudos for “decolonizing beauty standards.” Founded by model Iman Eldeeb, the agency aims to help Egyptian and Arab models break into the global fashion industry. (AFP)
  • Egyptian Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy is facing accusations of running a propaganda outlet for the UAE and Egypt — despite being convicted in Egypt in 2014 after being arrested as part of the so-called “Marriott cell” of journalists working for Al Jazeera. (National Post)
  • El Gouna Film Festival’s fifth edition received international attention after the event’s opening night went according to schedule despite a fire that broke out in a section of the festival plaza hours before. (Euronews)

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Egyptian women could have easier access to financing and investment thanks to an agreement the International Finance Corporation (IFC) signed with the International Cooperation Ministry and the National Council for Women (NCW) on Thursday to economically empower women, according to a statement. The agreement is meant to improve women’s engagement in the economy, as well as help to close gender gaps in remuneration and investment.

ALSO- The government will begin work on a new state-owned phosphate plant expected to cost EGP 14 bn in El Wadi El Gedeed in January 2022.

COVID WATCH

We just got another 1.6 mn Pfizer doses

Another 1.6 mn-doses of Pfizer vaccines landed in Cairo Airport yesterday, the Health Ministry said in a statement. This was the second batch of a total of 5 mn Pfizer doses that Egypt is receiving as a gift from the US. The first 1.6 mn-dose batch made the trip earlier this month. Other jabs that have landed recently include 5.4 mn doses of Sinopharm and Sinovac from China in late September.

Egypt will have 70 mn doses of various covid-19 vaccines available by the end of October, Health Minister Hala Zayed said during a meeting with Egypt’s governors yesterday, according to a cabinet statement. Egypt currently has some 60.5 mn doses, the minister said, without specifying whether the remaining 9.5 mn doses would arrive from abroad, or would be locally produced.

Some 17-18 mn Egyptians have received jabs so far, Presidential Health Advisor Mohamed Awad Tag El Din said on the airwaves (watch, runtime: 7:23). The target is to raise the figure to 40 mn by the end of the year, Tag El Din said.

Travel vaccine certificates are about to get more expensive: The Health Ministry has decided to raise the cost of obtaining a QR-coded vaccine certificate for travel at all vaccination centers, according to a circular seen by Al Shorouk. Certificates for Egyptians and foreign residents travelling for tourism will now cost EGP 1k, while those travelling for work or study will have to pay EGP 250, up from the previous EGP 100 that had been mandated for Egyptians travelling for any purpose. Non-Egyptians traveling for reasons other than tourism will have to pay USD 25, up from a previous USD 10. Egyptians wishing to obtain a barcoded vaccination certificate for internal use will have to cough up EGP 100.

The Health Ministry reported 874 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 869 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 317,585 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 42 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 17,962.

The government is planning to set up vaccination centers at frequented state establishments, such as courts, metro stations, train stations, mosques, and churches, Health Minister Zayed said in the statement, in a bid to boost vaccination rates.

Egypt has also agreed to begin exports of its locally produced jabs, the minister added, without disclosing further detail.

PLANET FINANCE

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Wall Street sails through global headwinds to post blockbuster 3Q2021 earnings: Goldman Sachs looks set to post its best year ever after reporting a 59% yearly increase in earnings to hit USD 5.4 bn in the third quarter, rounding off a week of stunning results from US investment banks, the FT reports. Concerns that higher expenses could squeeze earnings as other sectors face cost-related pressures proved unfounded, with Goldman’s third-quarter earnings (pdf) per share of USD 14.93 described by Oppenheimer analysts as “quite literally off the charts.” JP Morgan Chase (pdf), Morgan Stanley (pdf), Bank of America and Citigroup also posted impressive Q3 results last week, as the Fed’s easy-money policy spurred a boom in transactions.

Those big banks also saw USD tns of deposits flow into their balance sheets on the back of pandemic-era stimulus. When it comes to deploying those funds into good use, however, they seem to be pursuing different strategies when it comes to interest rates, with JPMorgan Chase, America’s biggest bank, content keeping them idle rather investing in what it sees as overpriced government bonds and BofA, the second-biggest, growing its treasuries portfolio some 77% over the past year, according to the Financial Times. The latter strategy will prove wise if rising inflation nudges interest rates higher, thereby making bonds worth less.

First US BTC ETF set to start trading this week: Exchange-traded fund manager ProShares will launch Amreeka’s first ETF for Bitcoin futures on the NYSE Arca Exchange as soon as Monday, according to a bourse filing. BTC prices surpassed USD 60k to approach all-time highs on Friday following reports of the listing, which is expected to widen access to crypto trading among retail investors, Bloomberg reports. The fund is set to be tacitly approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), signaling increasing institutional acceptance of cryptocurrencies, with other similar securities expected to be launched in its wake. The move marks the end of a near-decade-long lobbying campaign from the sector, after Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss — yes, the twins who sued Mark Zuckerberg — first applied to launch a BTC ETF in 2013.

Up

EGX30

10995.59

+1% (YTD: 1.4%)

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

Up

Tadawul

11,699.11

+0.6% (YTD: 34.6%)

Up

ADX

7,811.60

+0.3% (YTD: 54.8%)

None

DFM

2,789.51

– (YTD: 11.9%)

Up

S&P 500

4,471.37

+0.8% (YTD: 19%)

Up

FTSE 100

7,234.03

+0.4% (YTD: 12%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 84.86

+1%

Down

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 5.41

-4.9%

Down

Gold

USD 1,768.30

-1.7%

Down

BTC

USD 60,648.26

-1.2% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 1.1% at Thursday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.08 bn (28% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is up 1.4% YTD.

In the green: MM Group (+6.3%), Egypt Kuwait Holding (+4.8%), and Abou Kir Fertilizers (+4.0%).

In the red: Gadwa Industrial Development (-4.1%), Pioneers Properties (-4.1%) and CIRA (-2.5%).

CALENDAR

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

14-22 October (Thursday- Friday): El Gouna Film Festival.

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

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.

Week of 17 October: 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.

30-31 October (Saturday-Sunday): G20 Leaders’ Summit, Rome, Italy.

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.

15-21 November (Monday-Sunday): Intra-African Trade Fair 2021, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

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.

18-20 October 2022 (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

**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. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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