Wednesday, 20 October 2021

EnterpriseAM — e-Finance shares make their EGX debut this morning

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the final workday of this holiday-shortened week. We hope you’re all looking forward to a relaxing long weekend with family and friends. Make it count: Unless you’re declaring yourself an honorary ‘Murican next month (or your school is sending the kids home for Thanksgiving), this is the last long weekend for all of us until 2022.

It’s a busy morning for news here in Egypt even if it’s crickets and a pile of “meh” stories (so far) in the international business press.

IT’S A BIG DAY FOR the EGX as e-Finance shares start trading at the opening bell this morning under the ticker EFIH. Shares in the state-owned fintech platform and payments infrastructure provider will open at EGP 13.98 apiece, giving the company a market cap of EGP 22.37 bn (c. USD 1.43 bn). The institutional offering, meanwhile closed last week 6.8x oversubscribed, while the retail component of the IPO officially closed on Sunday 61.4x oversubscribed. The transaction as a whole was 10.2x oversubscribed and was worth c. EGP 5.8 bn (or nearly USD 370 mn), making it the largest IPO in Egypt in recent memory.

What’s next with the transaction? CI Capital will manage a stabilization fund running for the next 30 days to support aftermarket performance, the statement said. Meanwhile, shareholders who sold in the IPO will be subscribing to some 178 mn new shares in a closed capital increase, the company said in its start of trading announcement (pdf).

e-Finance is the second IPO of the year, following higher education outfit Taaleem’s debut in April. ​​LSE-listed healthcare player IDH also completed a technical listing, transferring 5% of its shares from London to the EGX in May. The stake sale is also the first activity in the state’s privatization program since March 2019 when the secondary sale of 4.5% of already-listed tobacco maker Eastern Company.

E-finance looks to grow existing footprint: Proceeds from the IPO will be used to finance the company’s existing projects and subsidiaries — which include tax solutions platform E-Tax and subsidiary eCards, chairman and CEO Ibrahim Sarhan told Al Borsa yesterday.

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


PSA #1- The kids may not find everything they want under the tree in December thanks to the supply chain crisis that stole Christmas — unless you order now. And even then… World Trade Organization head Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the latest international figure to warn that supply bottlenecks are likely to persist through the run up to the year-end holiday. Huge stimulus spending by wealthy nations led to a demand surge for which shipping companies were not prepared, Okonjo-Iweala said in an interview with the Financial Times at its Africa Summit. Supply chain problems alongside the continued risk of covid and rising inflation were also behind the IMF’s move yesterday to slash its growth forecast for Asia.

PSA #2- The Cairo International Furniture Show, Le Marche, kicks off tomorrow. The four-day event will run until next Sunday, 24 October. It is the first and largest furniture, material and home accessories exhibition in the region.

PSA #3- For entrepreneurs: you have until October 30 to apply for the second cycle of NilePreneurs’ NP Academy startup accelerator. The six-month intensive program is backed by HSBC gives Egyptian entrepreneurs expert help to identify pain points and drive growth in their businesses.

MORNING MUST WATCH-

Smile, you’re on livestream: A Youm7 journalist was out livestreaming a report on yesterday’s earthquake when his phone was swiped by a passerby, who unwittingly continued to film himself as he made his getaway. In silver linings, the culprit’s blunder did make for a better story. An Interior Ministry statement said that three suspects were arrested later in the day with the help of the video.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- It’s a quiet day (so far) in the international business press, which is leading the latest (meh) twist in the Evergrande saga and a (yawn) potential contempt charge being laid against Trump loyalist Stephen Bannon.

ALSO- Brent crossed the USD 85 per bbl mark for the first time since 2018 as the equities market rallied and amid ongoing concerns of an energy crunch, according to Bloomberg. Both Brent crude and WTI, the US benchmark, have since slipped slightly.

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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 as well as social infrastructure such as health and education.

In today’s issue: Over the last year, Egypt has seen a surge in telehealth — health services provided through telecoms — notably including a rapid and covid-spurred growth in teleconsultation. Long-term demand for telehealth in Egypt is likely to keep increasing, sources tell us. But telehealth’s potential also goes well beyond teleconsultation, says Philips Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) CEO Vincenzo Ventricelli. We look at how new healthtech solutions could transform large-scale patient care — with stakeholders eyeing expansion throughout Egypt and possibly further afield.

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This is your shortcut to a comprehensive platform, designed to bring you closer to 10 mn m2 of incomparable experiences, and a colorful art gallery inspired by the natural beauty of Somabay.

INVESTMENT WATCH

The SFE is launching new sub-funds + Zoomcar, Creams Cafe expanding in Egypt

Next up on the SFE’s sub-fund menu: Education + manufacturing and distribution. The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) is planning to launch two new sub-funds, with one focused on education and the other on manufacturing and distribution chains, SFE CEO Ayman Soliman said at a conference yesterday, according to Masrawy. Soliman did not disclose a target size for the funds or otherwise provide further details, but had previously said an education sub-fund would ​​finance the construction of hundreds of schools across the country targeted at middle-class families.

The SFE already has four sub-funds — one each for healthcare, banking, infrastructure, and tourism.

The fund aims to double the size of its portfolio of assets to more than EGP 26 bn by the end of 2022, according to Soliman. The fund’s assets reached EGP 13 bn as of this month.

Meanwhile, we could finally meet the private sector player that will renovate and reinvent Mogamma Tahrir this month, with the SFE planning to sign a contract before the end of the month, Soliman told Al Borsa. The fund is currently choosing between four shortlisted bidders, Soliman said. Planning Minister and SFE Chairperson Hala El Said had previously said the contract will prioritize the fastest route to execution possible. We were previously told to expect the government to announce which company will be handed the contract by the end of September.

What should we expect from the new and improved Mogamma? The project will see the iconic downtown Cairo building transformed into a multi-purpose attraction with an apartment hotel, commercial spaces and offices, with hotel space featuring prominently in the mix It will also include services and cultural and commercial activities, as well as a conference venue. The development process itself is expected to take 24 months, Soliman said.

Also on the SFE’s agenda: Finalizing within the next 45 days studies to develop the historic Bab Al Azab area. The historic area around the Cairo Citadel will be turned into an innovation zone that will support and be home to SMEs, Soliman said, adding that the fund is looking for a developer to implement an educational project in the handicraft professions in the area.

OTHER INVESTMENT NEWS-

India-based self-drive car rental company Zoomcar is investing up to USD 25 mn in Egypt over the next three years, Vice President and Egypt head Hany Olama said at a presser yesterday, according to Hapi Journal. The planned investment comes as the company plans to launch its services in Egypt as part of its plans to expand in the Middle East and North Africa, the company said in a press release (pdf). CEO and co-founder Greg Moran had said earlier this year that the company was eyeing ​​Egypt and Saudi Arabia as potential markets due to their low levels of vehicle ownership, but large upwardly mobile populations. The company will initially bring its services to Cairo and plans to grow its footprint to include Alexandria, Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada, Dakahlia, and Gharbia in 2022.

Move over Krispy Kreme, there’s a new player on the Egyptian dessert scene: UK-based dessert parlor Creams Cafe will open 22 Egypt branches over the coming five years after signing on its first international franchise partner, Cairo’s Mori International, BigHospitality reports. Mori International has previously brought us Mince Burgers and Mori Sushi. The dessert company’s first branch in Egypt will open in December at Garden 8 Mall in the Fifth Settlement, with more full-size stores and kiosks to follow.

International vendors seem to have taken note of Egypt’s sweet tooth: Over the summer Krispy Kreme came to Egypt with a bang — and with long queues. The franchise is looking to open up to 10 stores in Egypt in the next 12 months as part of its global expansion drive.

PARLIAMENT WATCH

MPs ask for formal debate on capital gains tax on EGX trades

A group of MPs have formally asked House Speaker Hanafy El Gebaly to allow debate of the upcoming 1 January 2022 reintroduction of a capital gains tax on EGX transactions, according to Al Mal. The 20 lawmakers, headed by the leader of the Homeland Defenders Party’s caucus in the house, Rep. Ahmed Bahaa Shalaby, signed the petition. This followed a similar push in the upper house of parliament by Sen. Ahmed Samir Zakaria proposing a series of meetings to discuss the feasibility of the capital gains tax.

What’s the CGT? The 10% tithe would hit the net realized portfolio gains each tax year of domestic investors on the EGX. After years of delays, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait has said the tax will come into effect on 1 January 2022. Many, from fund managers to figures from the securities industry and MPs have voiced concerns about the timing of introducing the tax, asking for it to be postponed after having been already pushed several times, or going as far as suggesting replacing it with another levy or scrapping it entirely to protect a still-recovering EGX. A related drive could put the tax on the agenda of the House Planning and Budget Committee.

ENERGY

Greece wants to be Egypt’s gateway to the EU energy market

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has pledged to link Egypt to the EU energy market through the undersea cable projects Egypt signed with each of Greece and Cyprus this week. “[Egypt’s] link to Europe will be Greece … [it] can also become a provider of electricity, which will be produced mainly by the sun,” the Associated Press quoted Mitsotakis as saying in a summit in Athens yesterday. This would eventually allow Egypt to step up as a key regional energy player, especially amid the global energy crunch, Mitsotakis added. Energy cooperation with Greece and Cyprus was also a key topic in President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s closing speech at the summit.

A step toward our energy ambitions: The USD 4 bn EuroAfrica Interconnector project, which will connect the electrical grids of Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus, will see an undersea cable built crossing the Mediterranean from Egypt, giving us a window to exchange electricity with Europe. Egypt, which has committed to producing 42% of its electricity from renewables by 2035, produces an excess of solar energy, which is notoriously hard to store, thanks to the completion of the 1.5 GW Benban solar park. The country has ambitions to become a regional energy hub and exporter of green energy.

COMMODITIES

GASC is angling for more competitive pricing on grain shipping

GASC may suspend NNC’s price advantage on grain shipments: State grain buyer GASC is set to suspend the 15% price advantage currently extended to national shipping line National Navigation Company (NNC) on delivering wheat imports to Egypt, Reuters reports, citing traders in Egypt and Europe. GASC runs shipping tenders parallel with its frequent tenders for wheat imports, but bids have been few and far between as a result of the

advantage given to NNC. One trader told the newswire that “it looks like a move to reduce shipping costs of wheat imports by increasing competition.” GASC has not made any official statement on the move.

The supply crisis has pushed shipping costs sky-high: Maersk, which accounts for around 20% of global shipping and is a general indicator for the state of the industry, told the Financial Times earlier this month that it expects to deliver record bottomline results amid the spike in freight rates, with a return to normality not expected till 2022 at the earliest.

It’s not just shipping — wheat is pricier, too. GASC last week called off a wheat tender as prices offered were higher than expected, marking the fourth time it has canceled a tender in recent months. Average wheat prices have jumped by as much as USD 100 per tonne since the season began amid the squeeze on global commodities, posing a challenge for Egypt as the world’s largest wheat importer.

IN OTHER COMMODITIES NEWS- Egyptian onion exporters stand to benefit from the surge of local prices for the produce in India, which is prompting Indian suppliers to look outside to ensure the popular commodity remains accessible to the population, reports Reuters, quoting Ajit Shah, the president of India’s Onion Exporters’ Association.

CABINET WATCH

Digital Egypt Fund gets the thumbs up from Cabinet

Egypt’s digital transformation drive is looking to get a boost after the Madbouly Cabinet approved a draft law to establish the Digital Egypt Fund in its weekly meeting yesterday, according to a statement. The fund is set to be headquartered in Cairo with the potential to add regional branches, and will operate across government departments to further the goals of the ICT Ministry’s Digital Egypt initiative.

What can we expect from the fund? The fund will look to develop the digital identity system, localize tech, improve digital literacy, establish data centers, modernize existing digital government services and systems, support young innovators, and finance technical studies on infrastructure development, according to the statement.

Also from the meeting:

  • Cabinet approved a draft decision to cut back on government spending in its economic development plan for FY2021-2022, for a period of six months; and
  • Greenlit agreements signed between the International Cooperation Ministry and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the first on improving Egypt’s electricity grid and the second on urban transport and express buses.
  • Mabouly directed officials to set up a working group to resolve issues facing Egypt’s fertilizer industry, including soaring prices for farmers and shortages.

ECONOMY

FDI surges globally, but emerging markets are lagging

Global foreign-direct investment (FDI) flows staged a strong comeback in 1H2021, jumping 78% y-o-y, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) latest Investment Trends Monitor (pdf). Global FDI during the first six months of the year sat at USD 852 bn — quickly approaching the USD 957 bn figure recording during all of last year. Global flows in 2020 dropped 42% from 2019 levels thanks to the pandemic.

Investor confidence in infrastructure played a significant role in FDI rebound, which the report attributed in part to recovery stimulus packages.

Developed economies are recovering just fine — but developing economies aren’t as lucky. Developed economies saw their FDI flows (not including cross-border M&A) soar 193% y-o-y, recording USD 424 bn in 1H2021 compared to a mere USD 290 bn during all of 2020. FDI flows to developing economies, meanwhile, is recovering at a much slower 28% y-o-y clip, recording USD 427 bn during the first six months of the year, in comparison to USD 667 bn during 2020.

Things aren’t looking as great for Africa, which only saw a 16% annual growth in FDI to record USD 23 bn during the half, in comparison to the USD 39 bn recorded during all of 2020. North Africa FDI remained flat year-on-year, recording USD 5 bn during 1H2021.

Where does Egypt stand? Egypt’s FDI for the most recent state fiscal year, ending on 30 June 2021, dipped 30% y-o-y to USD 5.2 bn from USD 7.5 bn, which the country’s most recent balance of payments attributed to continued blowback from the pandemic.

ECONOMY

Uneven post-covid recovery threatens MENA regions –IMF

The post-covid recovery in Egypt and MENA continues to be “uneven and incomplete” despite progress made in the region since the start of the year and a slightly more optimistic growth outlook, the IMF said in an update to its Regional Economic Outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia. The fund says that recovery will be especially uneven in emerging and middle-income countries in MENA, with countries that had made strong progress in vaccination (including Joran, Morocco and Tunisia) likely to recover quicker than those with more sluggish rollouts.

Highlights for Egypt: The report says we’re making progress on economic growth and employment — but that we lag the GCC countries in vaccine rollout. It also suggests we’re in a group of regional countries whose debt levels will eventually be lower than they were pre-pandemic.

Tap / click here to read the full report (pdf) — or check this afternoon’s Macro Picture in EnterprisePM, where we will have a full rundown on the report.

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ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Egypt’s strides toward becoming a significant exporter of electrical power kept the talking heads busy, with the late night shows all taking note of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s activities during the closing day of the Egypt-Greece-Cyprus summit in Athens yesterday. Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidy and Al Hayah Al Youm’s Moustafa Sherdy both aired highlights of El Sisi’s speech at the summit (watch, runtime: 1:40 and runtime: 2:16), while Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa had a few things to say on Turkey possibly feeling bad for being left out from the regional conversation (watch, runtime: 4:02), noting that the summit paves the way for Egypt to emerge as an energy exporter to Europe (runtime: 1:58). We have more on this story in Energy, above.

Also on the airwaves last night: Moussa gave a rundown of issues facing Egyptian farmers, who’ve been hit by soaring fertilizer prices and shortages (watch, runtime: 8:18). The talk show host says the situation requires presidential intervention, shortly after Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly yesterday ordered setting up a working group to look at ways to resolve the issue.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

The only story in the foreign press is Egyptology: The NYT is running a compelling review of science writer Edward Dolnick’s The Writing of the Gods: The Race to Decode the Rosetta Stone, which details the 20-year competition between British polymath Thomas Young and French scholar, philologist and orientalist Jean-François Champollion. (New York Times)

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Orascom Construction is looking at potentially acquiring a Sawiris family-owned entity operating in equipment import, distribution and services, OC said in a statement (pdf). The company is looking to acquire up to 100% of the entity, through its subsidiaries. OC will appoint HLB Financial Consultancies as an independent financial advisor to produce a valuation report. The transaction will then need board and shareholder approval.

Catalyst Partners is set to launch a new private equity fund, with plans to reach its first close by the end of the year, newly-appointed Chairman Maged Shawky tells Al Borsa. The Egyptian private equity firm separately plans to make 3-4 investments in healthcare, AI and logistics by the end of 2021, as well as to expand into non-banking financial services (NBFS) by extending factoring and leasing services to family-owned businesses, Shawky said.

Miner Centamin signed three gold exploration agreements in areas totalling 3k sqm in the Eastern Desert. The three exploration areas are near its Sukari gold mine concession and are named the Nugrus Block, the Najd Block, and the Um Rus Block. Centamin announced the agreements in a quarterly report (pdf) in which it said it saw a 19% drop in y-o-y gold production in Egypt in 3Q2021, with production figures dropping to 103.55k, compared to 128.24k in 3Q2020. Revenues from gold sales also fell 20% to USD 182.9 mn during the quarter. The Egypt-focused London-listed company operates the Sukari mine in the Eastern Desert.

United Oil & Gas brought online the new ASX-1X well at the Abu Sennan concession. The well was brought into production three weeks after initial drilling results showed a commercial discovery.

COVID WATCH

We’re expecting another 7 mn vaccine doses this month

The Health Ministry reported 868 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 883 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 320,207 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 43 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 18,058.

We’re getting our hands on another 7 mn doses of covid vaccines by the end of October, Health Minister Hala Zayed said during a meeting with governors. Vacsera is also continuing to manufacture 2 mn doses of Sinovac jabs weekly, meaning we will have a total of around 9 mn additional vaccine doses by the end of the month. The minister previously said that Egypt would add 9.5 mn doses to its vaccine arsenal in October, without specifying where the doses were coming from, bringing the total number of doses received to date to 70 mn.

ABROAD- The FDA could allow folks getting covid booster shots to mix-and-match vaccines, according to the Washington Post. Last week, the FDA recommended that receivers of Johnson & Johnson jabs take a booster shot, preferably of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech.

PLANET FINANCE

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Mubadala to kick off US listing of GlobalFoundries: Abu Dhabi sovereign fund Mubadala Investment is looking to raise nearly USD 2.6 bn from a US listing of portfolio company GlobalFoundries, according to a filing with the SEC yesterday. GlobalFoundries, a chipmaker whose major shareholder is Mubadala, is looking to market 33 mn shares, with Mubadala selling 22 mn. The USD 42-47 per share guiding range would value the company at nearly USD 25 bn. The IPO comes as chip manufacturers are becoming increasingly appealing to investors amid the global chip shortage. Bloomberg also has the story.

Teetering property giant China Evergrande has postponed plans to sell a 51% stake in its property management arm to a smaller competitor after failing to get approval from the Guangdong provincial government overseeing its restructuring, reports Reuters. The sale would’ve seen the company — whose USD 300 bn debt crisis caused global markets to sink for a time in September and threatened to spark a meltdown in the Chinese property market — bring in some USD 2.6 bn as it scrambles to raise funds to pay its creditors and suppliers.

Down

EGX30

11195.05

-0.7% (YTD: 3.2%)

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

11,792.54

+0.3% (YTD: 35.7%)

Down

ADX

7,888.41

-0.06% (YTD: 56.4%)

Up

DFM

2,818.26

+0.04% (YTD: 20.3%)

Up

S&P 500

4,519.77

+0.7% (YTD: 13%)

Up

FTSE 100

7,217.53

+0.2% (YTD: 11.7%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 84.96

+0.8%

Up

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 5.06

+1.4%

Up

Gold

USD 1,769.70

+0.2%

Up

BTC

USD 64,130.66

+3.8% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell 0.72% yesterday on turnover of EGP 1.24 bn (16.8% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net sellers. The index is up 3.2% YTD.

In the green: Egypt Kuwait Holding (EGP, +3.5%), Egypt Kuwait Holding (USD, +2.7%) and AMOC (+1.25%).

In the red: Aspire Capital (-9.4%), Raya Holding (-7.7%) and Speed Medical (-6.0%).

Asian markets are mixed at dispatch time this morning, with the Nikkei and Hang Seng in the green and benchmarks in Shanghai and Seoul slightly in the red. Futures suggest that shares in Europe and on Wall Street will face selling pressure at the opening bell later today.

DIPLOMACY

Infrastructure and utilities are among the EBRD’s priorities in Egypt going forward: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is looking to focus its work in Egypt on infrastructure and utilities, supporting the competitiveness of the private sector, and improving access to finance for SMEs, EBRD Vice President for Banking Alain Pilloux told Planning Minister Hala El Said, according to a statement. The bank also wants to support Egypt’s efforts in diversifying its energy sources, Pilloux said.

Cooperation in public transport projects and infrastructure was the topic of conversation in a meeting yesterday between Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir and his Saudi counterpart, Saleh bin Nasser Al Jasser, El Wazir’s ministry said in a statement. The two officials agreed to set up a joint Egyptian-Saudi working group to explore cooperation avenues.

Egypt and Sudan kicked off a joint military training program, “Protector of the South 1,” yesterday at the Mohamed Naguib Military Base in Egypt. The training is expected to run until next Friday, 29 October, according to an Armed Forces statement.

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What new telehealth developments are in the cards for Egypt? Telehealth — health services provided through telecoms — has surged over the past year, both globally and here in Egypt.

By February 2021, digital healthcare platform Vezeeta had served over 1 mn patients through its new ePharmacy service, launched in August 2020. Through the ePharmacy, patients can book and hold teleconsultations, receive prescriptions, and order medication. Vezeeta, which was in the black in 2020, planned to invest some USD 25 mn in 2021 on new services and tech infrastructure, according to founder and CEO Amir Barsoum.

And new telehealth startups have raised substantial investment: Online healthcare platform Clinido was up and running less than a year before raising a six-figure USD seed funding investment. Docspert Health — which provides video consultations, virtual reports, and travel for treatment, for Egyptian patients with doctors in the UK, US and Europe — also closed a six-figure USD seed round less than a year after its founding.

Remote consultations will continue to drive the growth of telehealth in Egypt for now, Docspert founder Hisham Mehanna tells Enterprise. Egypt tends to have a lot more home-based healthcare than a country like the UK, so telemedicine meets a core market need, he says.

Overall, covid has accelerated the adoption of telehealth services, Mehanna adds. Face-to-face consultations will remain important for certain patients, and particular conditions, he notes. But covid has accelerated the trajectory for the widespread adoption of teleconsultation in Egypt with Mehanna estimating that it will now take two years, as opposed to his pre-pandemic estimate of five, because people have experienced the benefits of online consultation, Mehanna adds.

Since Docspert launched in December 2020, it’s seen estimated 20-30% month-on-month growth in terms of its user base, says Mehanna. The company currently receives some 100-150 inquiries per day, including requests for consultations and questions about the service, he adds.

Egypt’s demand for telehealth is up this year, Philips Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) CEO Vincenzo Ventricelli agrees. Along with growing demand for clinical diagnostic equipment like MRI machines, there’s been higher demand in Egypt for tech solutions to complement equipment usage, Ventricelli tells Enterprise. “Telehealth is becoming very relevant.”

But telehealth’s potential goes beyond virtual consultations, says Ventricelli. Cutting-edge healthtech solutions have the potential to transform large-scale patient care throughout Egypt.

All Egyptian stakeholders in conversation with Philips are interested in telehealth, Ventricelli says. These include private clinics, hospitals, laboratories, radiology centers, public authorities, the Health Ministry and the military, he adds.

And there’s prospective private sector investment: There’s strong interest from funds — including those run by banks, NGOs, private equity and venture capital firms — in supporting key health initiatives that originate from Egypt, especially those that could be extended throughout Africa, Ventricelli says. The government is prioritizing healthcare investment, and it knows it needs the private sector, he says.

Egyptian stakeholders are particularly interested in Philips’ centralized command centers which connect and control health systems, notes Ventricelli. Radiology command centers allow centralized management of multiple radiology centers in different sites. Philips’ eICU program connects electronic intensive care units to a centralized command center, so critical care information can be shared among qualified staff.

Using AI and machine learning software, the programs can make smart recommendations for patient care. The eICU program collects vast amounts of data, and the system itself also learns through AI software, generating predictive algorithms to identify which patients need immediate interventions. Eventually, it will be able to recognize key signals and alert staff hours before patient conditions actually deteriorate, Ventricelli says.

They work in conjunction with qualified medical staff: The data provides insights and information, and then qualified staff can decide if the AI has suggested the right course of action,” says Ventricelli.

Everything must be underpinned by more effective data storage and deployment: “For AI to work, you need a rich database of information. The more data you have, the better the ability to connect it.” In Egypt, like most of the region, data laws tend to be restrictive, with most patient data stored in hospitals and clinics, he adds. “And rightly so, as they want to protect health data.” But Philips is looking at how to develop more cloud-enabled solutions, and talking with regulatory bodies to show the risks and possibilities of sharing some anonymized data in a controlled way, he adds.

Philips is already working with public and private entities to develop, run and scale pilot projects, using this kind of telehealth in Egypt, says Ventricelli. “When you have a successful pilot in a contained environment — with four or five hospitals connected — it can be quickly scaled nationwide.” Areas ripe for development include radiology, eICUs, telepathology and telecardiology, he adds. “These are the key diseases we’re trying to address. And I believe we’ll see strong development in these areas in the coming years.” These pilots are expected to run through 2022-23, he says.

They could scale outside of Cairo: Cairo is an obvious focal point for launching these programs, but the interest is nationwide, Ventricelli says. “Some of our pilot projects are deliberately being run in more remote areas, because if we succeed in less advanced places, it will be easier to scale nationwide.”

And possibly elsewhere in Africa too: There’s also great interest among private sector players and government bodies in expanding these solutions in Africa as a whole, he adds.

The bottom line: Egypt’s telehealth growth is set to continue — and likely at a faster pace, providers believe. Uptake of Docspert’s services is likely to grow, believes Mehanna, as an increasing number of people want to access high-quality healthcare from international experts, with telehealth being the only affordable way to do that. For Philips, Egypt is already a key hub within META, but it’s growing rapidly — and is set to become even more important, Ventricelli says.


Your top infrastructure stories for the week:

  • Gov’t eyes IoT: State-owned Telecom Egypt signed an agreement with Nokia to set up infrastructure that will support the Internet of Things (IoT) via Nokia WING.
  • PPA Act makes progress in parliament: The House of Representatives’ general assembly gave its preliminary approval to proposed amendments to the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Act.
  • Fast-tracking our ​​fastest-ever rail line: The first high-speed rail line in Egypt, which will connect the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, could take as long as 10 years to complete, but the project is “on the fast track,” Siemens Mobility Middle East and Africa CEO Leon Soulier said.
  • Infrastructure diplomacy: Arab Contractors will develop the main port in Lebanon’s Tripoli under an agreement signed with the Lebanese government.

CALENDAR

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

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.

20 October (ًWednesday): E-Finance begins trading on EGX.

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.

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

2-3 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

7-10 November (Sunday-Wednesday): Cairo ICT 2021, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo.

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

16-17 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Africa fintech summit, Cairo.

25-27 November (Thursday-Saturday): RiseUp Summit, Cairo, Egypt.

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.

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