Tuesday, 2 November 2021

AM — Policymakers really want a local SPAC market

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, nice people, and welcome to a very busy news day to get us over the midweek hump. From SPACs to startups, climate change and spiraling inflation, it’s a very 2021 morning here at Enterprise World Headquarters.

SMART POLICY- Lawmakers are studying a bill they say would help reduce cigarette consumption. If passed, it would, ban smoking on public transport, in education, health and government facilities and sports clubs — and raise cigarette prices. Masaa DMC had the details (watch, runtime: 2:15) on the airwaves last night. No lighting up in hospitals or schools. Imagine that.

THE BIG STORY INTERNATIONALLY- The COP26 climate summit is dominating the front pages of the foreign press this morning after representatives from more than 100 countries gathered in Glasgow yesterday for the event’s opening ceremony.

Egypt calls on rich nations to stick to their word: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi urged developed countries to deliver on previous pledges to provide USD 100 bn a year in climate finance to developing countries. We have more on this in Last Night’s Talk Shows, below.

India brought a new commitment to the table, pledging to reach net-zero by … 2070. That’s 20 years later than climate scientists are advocating and a decade later than China’s 2060 pledge. Still, it’s something.

Domestic politics are raising doubts about the US’ ability to deliver on its pledge: President Joe Biden insisted that he will honour his climate pledges as rogue Democratic senator Joe Manchin refused to back the White House’s legislative plans, which will be key if the US is to slash emissions by 50-52% by the end of the decade.

Boris Johnson went all-in on the apocalyptic rhetoric, warning it’s “one minute to midnight” and conjuring images of “doomsday devices.”

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

Tourism Minister Khaled El Anani is at the Travel & Tourism Expo in London, which is running 1-3 November. The minister held a presser with UK media yesterday, answering questions about Egypt’s covid safety measures and the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum next year.

It’s Fed day: The US Federal Reserve begins its two-day meeting today, in which it is widely expected to announce the winding down of its USD 120 bn a month asset purchase program instituted at the start of the pandemic to stimulate the economy. All eyes will be on the Fed’s Open Market Committee’s decision on whether it will pull the trigger on scaling back its program, which Fed chief Jay Powell has previously said could happen in November.

The Fed has mostly been saying that inflation in the US is “transitory,” but warned in September that the unexpected persistence of supply-side disruptions amid strong demand across several sectors is driving up prices.

Inflation who? The Fed meets a week after fears of sustained inflation took a back seat in the European Central Bank and the Central Bank of Egypt’s decisions to keep rates on hold. The CBE’s move to leave rates unchanged was partially grounded in the importance of protecting Egypt’s portfolio inflows by maintaining Egypt’s position as the provider of one of the world’s highest real interest rates. Portfolio inflows will be all the more important should the Fed decide to raise rates or if local inflation rises again — each of which could translate into volatility here at home. Rising US rates could spell challenges for emerging markets as investors are tempted to sell-down riskier assets in favor of higher-yielding US treasuries.

It’s day two of the Egypt Energy exhibition: The three-day event will include speeches and discussions on the global energy outlook, the future of clean energy, financing green economy projects, and the future of connectivity with network management capabilities.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Here are dates for some key news triggers in November:

  • PMI: November’s purchasing managers’ indexes for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will land tomorrow;
  • Foreign reserves: October’s foreign reserves figures will be out sometime this week;
  • Inflation: Inflation figures for October will be released next Wednesday, 10 November;
  • There’s no MPC meeting this month — the central bank will next meet on 16 December to review interest rates for the final time this year. The CBE has yet to issue its MPC calendar for 2022.

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

enterprise

*** It’s Going Green day — your weekly briefing of all things green in Egypt: Enterprise’s green economy vertical focuses each Tuesday on the business of renewable energy and sustainable practices in Egypt, everything from solar and wind energy through to water, waste management, sustainable building practices and how you can make your business greener, whatever the sector.

In today’s issue: After years of legislative and policy measures, the government continues to struggle with the collection of municipal solid waste, and it remains commonplace to see piles of garbage strewn in the streets and dumped in the Nile. With an eye to help address Egypt’s perennial garbage issues, a number of grassroots initiatives have cropped up to help with garbage collection, raise awareness on sustainability measures, and contribute to new national policies. We take a look at some of these organizations and initiatives and the work they are doing.

enterprise

Dine around the bay and take your tastebuds on a whimsical gastronomical adventure. Enjoy a mouthwatering selection of vibrant restaurants serving versatile cuisine options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

CAPITAL MARKETS

The SPACs cometh

SPACs could be landing in Egypt soon, after the Financial Regulatory Authority’s (FRA) board greenlit a proposal to allow the establishment of blank-check firms here, the regulatory body announced in a statement yesterday. The proposal, which was put forward by EGX Chairman Mohamed Farid in September, would for the first time allow investors to set up companies created with the sole purpose of raising capital through an IPO to acquire or merge with another company.

The specific rules set to govern Egyptian SPACs are still TBD: SPACs will be subject to the same regulations as venture capital firms under the Capital Markets Act, with listing and delisting rules still to be decided by the FRA, FRA head Mohamed Omran said in the statement.

Digital and tech startups will be able to use SPACs to access investment under the new rules, helping boost Egypt’s investment climate and support SMEs, Omran said.

What’s with the sudden hunger for EGYSPACs? Swvl’s decision earlier this year to IPO on the Nasdaq via a blank check firm seems to have focused some minds in policymaking circles. The idea of launching local SPACs seems to have been hatched during a recent meeting between top government officials and a number of local startups in the wake of Swvl’s announcement. The message, we think, is clear: If you’re thinking of going for a foreign SPAC, we’d really prefer it if you went the EGX route instead.

How exactly will SPACs work in Egypt? SPACS first get institutional investors to buy in before floating on a stock exchange. The SPAC then places the funds raised into an interest-bearing trust account for a maximum of two years while it looks for a company to acquire or merge with. In the event that the SPAC fails to acquire another company in time, it is liquidated and the funds are given back to investors along with returns from the fixed-income investments.

What does this mean for the EGX? Allowing SPACs could offer startups a chance to list on the EGX early in their development, raising the EGX’s market cap and boosting the number of IPOs in Egypt, according to Farid. SPACs would give SMEs currently limited to the small-cap Nilex the chance to access investment through the main bourse. Regulators have been trying to persuade more companies to list on the EGX, most recently amending listing rules to make it easier for larger firms to go public.

The popularity of SPACs has picked up in MENA: Dubai-based Shuaa Capital plans to establish three SPACs worth USD 200 mn. Anghami was also intending to list in the Nasdaq via a merger with a blank-check firm, but has recently gone quiet about where those plans stand. Anghami has a deadline of 11 November to pull the trigger on the transaction with Vista Media Acquisition Company — and extension it announced in August.

SPACs are already a big thing in western markets. We have a full explainer on why — and how — they work here.

COMMODITIES

More inflation ahead as wheat prices continue to rise

Wheat prices rise again in fresh tender: Egypt has seen the price of Russian wheat rise another 1.5% in just a few days as its state grain buyer issued its second international tender in less than a week. The General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) yesterday purchased 180k tonnes of Russian wheat at an average price of USD 332.30 a tonne, according to Reuters, up from USD 328.05 per tonne last week when it bought 360k tonnes of from Russia, Romania and Ukraine

Egypt is shelling out the most in at least half a decade on wheat, and if the current price trajectory continues, it could be a challenge for the world’s biggest wheat importer. The government is preparing to start reducing bread subsidies to soften the impact on the state budget, and though the government is in talks to take out hedging contracts against further price rises, yesterday’s tender saw it pay almost USD 80 more per tonne than the USD 255 average price in the 2021-2022 budget (pdf).

This is all likely to provide further fuel for inflation in the coming months: Food has been the key culprit behind the recent rise in headline inflation, which in September hit a 20-month high of 6.6%.

US wheat prices yesterday hit their highest levels in almost nine years, with Chicago futures reaching USD 8 a bushel due to surging global demand and increasing fertilizer prices, according to Bloomberg and Reuters.

What’s fuelling the price surge? A convergence of factors, including reduced crop production in some of the world’s biggest producers, higher shipping costs, surging fertilizer prices, and trade tariffs, have pushed up global prices to highs not seen in years.

AUTO

Car sales dip in September — thank the global chip shortage

Passenger car sales dipped slightly in September, falling more than 2% y-o-y from the same month last year, according to industry figures released yesterday. Data from the Automotive Information Council (AMIC) showed that local distributors moved 16.6k passenger vehicles during the month, down from 17,051 last year and 18.3k units in August.

The global chip shortage is biting: A top exec at one of the country’s largest distributors tells us it is “day to day” when it comes to availability of many models — and thinks it is unlikely that supply of most brands will improve significantly before mid-2022 or later. The culprit remains shortages of the chips used in modern vehicles. Distributors are also facing pressure on pricing from rising freight costs as part of the Great Global Supply Chain Snarl — and will need to pass those on to consumers. The execs comments line up with what we’re heading from a number of would-be car buyers, who have cash in hand, but cannot find a model they would consider buying.

This is a global trend: Jaguar Land Rover said yesterday it is the latest victim of the chip shortage, reporting a GBP 302 mn 3Q pre-tax loss as the shortage in semiconductors hit sales. Other industry heavyweights including General Motors, Ford, and Volkswagen have all cited the chip shortage as they reported lower bottom lines in for 3Q.

Sales of buses had a weak month, trucks up: Less than 2k buses were sold in September, down almost 20% y-o-y from 2.5k last year, but up slightly from 1.9k in August. Truck sales were up almost 23% y-o-y to 4.1k.

Total vehicle sales fell almost 1% y-o-y to 22.7k units, compared to 22.9k in September 2020. The figure also fell on a monthly basis, down 7% from 24.5k in August.

Sales of all types of vehicles had seen a dip in 2Q2020 off the back of a pandemic-induced slowdown. But passenger car sales had recovered by August last year, increasing nearly 50% y-o-y from 10.7k in August 2019.

AMIC data is self-reported by member distributors, who include the majority of (but not all) industry participants.

INVESTMENT WATCH

Edita to kickoff production in Morocco within days, Egypt operation looks to expand bakery capacity in early 2022

Edita’s first production line in Morocco will be up and running within days, IR director Menna Shams El Din confirmed to Enterprise yesterday. The line will produce 2.7k tons of HoHos cakes each year, she said.

The first of four production lines: The Moroccan factory, which has seen EGP 200 mn in investments to date, is Edita’s first greenfield project in the country and will eventually include four production lines, Shams El Din said. The factory is being run through Edita Morocco, the company’s 76%-owned JV with local distributor Dislog Group. There’s no word yet on what the other three lines will produce, how much the company will invest in them, or when they will start operations.

Moving in on a slice of Morocco’s cake market: With the dedicated HoHos line, Edita aims to capture a share of Morocco’s USD 100 mn cake market, Shams El Din said. The opening of the Moroccan line marks “a key step in delivering on the company’s regional growth strategy,” the company said in its latest earnings release.

Expanding bakery line: Edita raised last week the price of its Molto lineup in a bid to improve margins amid rising global commodity prices. A company official told us at the time that Edita’s bakery line is running at more than 100%, a development that has prompted the country’s leading snackfood player to “install an additional bakery line in 1Q2022 that will allow it to increase capacity by 20%,” the official said.

Upsized Twinkies are coming: Separately, Edita is expanding its cake segment with the launch of upsized Twinkies Cream, strawberry- and chocolate-flavored Twinkies, and chocolate- and vanilla-flavored Twinkies Icing products, according to an emailed statement (pdf). The new products, which will launch within the next couple of weeks, will retail at EGP 3 per pack. The product launch will come with a rebranding campaign for its Twinkies line “to consistently stimulate demand across its existing segments.”

STARTUP WATCH

Delivery startup ShipBlu secures USD 2.4 mn seed round

Last mile delivery startup ShipBlu raised USD 2.4 mn in a seed round led by Saudi Arabia’s Nama Ventures, according to TechCrunch. Though the company did not specify how the funds would be deployed, co-founder Ali Nasser told the tech outlet that he wants ShipBlu’s network and infrastructure to span 99% of Egypt within the next couple of months.

This is the company’s second capital injection in recent months: ShipBlu graduated from Y Combinator’s summer round in August, where it was one of four Egyptian startups to secure USD 125k in seed funding from the US accelerator. The other startups include ins. marketplace Amenli, SaaS startup Pylon and online auto-marketplace Odiggo.

What does ShipBlu do? Founded by Nasser, Ahmed ElKawass and Abdelrahman Hosny last year, the company aims to provide “Amazon-level” logistics to online businesses looking to store and send their goods. It signed on more than 40 merchants in its first month, and has since doubled its client list and tripled its revenue, Nasser told TechCrunch without giving hard numbers.

OTHER STARTUP NEWS –

Taager invests in Pakistani startup Zarya: Egyptian social commerce startup Taager joined a number of regional and global VCs in a USD 1.7 mn pre-seed round held by Lahore-based B2B ecommerce platform Zarya. Like Taager and fellow Egyptian startup Brimore, Zarya is a social selling company that allows users to source different products and sell them over its network. In July Taager secured USD 6.4 mn in seed investment from a number of VCs and angel investors, while Brimore closed a USD 3.5 mn pre-series A round in May 2020.

CAPITAL MARKETS

EFG Hermes tops the EGX brokerage league — again

EFG Hermes topped the EGX’s brokerage league table once again in October, with a market share of 18.9%, according to figures from the EGX (pdf). Rounding out the top five were CI Capital (9.8%), Al Ahly Pharos (6.6%), Beltone (6.5%), and Pioneers Securities (6.0%).

(A quick word on methodology: Longtime readers will remember that we add CIBC + Dynamic to get the market share of CI Capital and Financial Brokerage Group + Hermes Securities Brokerage to get the market share of EFG Hermes.)

DEVELOPMENT FINANCE

USAID is giving us USD 125 mn in fresh development grants

Egypt is getting seven grants worth USD 125 mn from the US to support education, health and other development projects, USAID and the International Cooperation Ministry said in statements yesterday.

The breakdown: Almost USD 50 mn of the money will go towards education, with USD 31 mn going to higher education and USD 17 mn being earmarked for basic education, the ministry said. A USD 28 mn grant will go towards stimulating trade and investment while USD 27 mn will be allocated to improving economic governance, the statement said, without providing further details. Smaller grants include USD 13 mn for health, USD 5 mn for agriculture and rural development, and USD 4 mn for joint Egyptian-American projects in science and tech.

This is the latest in a long history of funding from the US: The US government has provided USD 30 bn of finance to Egypt over the past 40 years, while USAID has invested USD 900 mn since the Sisi administration came to power in 2014.

LEGISLATION WATCH

House okays lowering e-bike driving age

Teenagers aged 16 years-old will soon be able to get a license to drive e-bikes after lawmakers yesterday approved amendments to the Traffic Regulations Law. Currently, the legal age for driving an electric bike is 18. The bill will now be shipped to the president for ratification.

The Finance Ministry wants the House to return the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Act so it can redraft a problematic article rejected by lawmakers last month, according to Al Borsa. The House last month approved most of the provisions in the bill but said that Article 17 was inconsistent with legislation governing the Sovereign Fund of Egypt, whose investment mandate focuses on partnerships with the private sector.

MOVES

Walid Sheta (LinkedIn) has been appointed as the Middle East and North Africa president of Schneider Electric, the company announced (pdf) yesterday. Sheta, who was formerly regional president of Egypt, North East Africa and the Levant, has been at the company for 26 years. Sheta succeeds Caspar Herzberg (LinkedIn), who has been appointed chief revenue officer at IT consulting company Aveva, in which Scheider is majority shareholder.

enterprise

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The opening ceremony of the COP 26 summit dominated last night’s talk shows: In his speech at the opening ceremony​ (watch, runtime: 5:27), President Abdel Fattah El Sisi called on developed countries to follow up on their pledge to provide a USD 100 bn each in year in funding to help developing countries in their fight against climate change.

“Despite not being responsible for the climate crisis, Africa is suffering its consequences the most,” he said, expressing concern regarding the gap between the available funding and the amount needed to help the developing world face the effects of climate change. He also highlighted several of the government’s key successes, including selling the MENA region’s first ever green bonds last year to putting together a framework for improving the environment by the middle of the century. El Sisi’s speech was aired on both Al Hayah Al Youm and Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 5:39 | 7:52), while Al Hayah ran the summit’s opening ceremony in full (watch, runtime: 1:23:40).

A busy day of diplomacy: El Sisi held talks with a number of world leaders during the second day of the summit, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and Félix Tshisekedi, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is currently chairing the African Union. He also met Lebanese PM Najib Mikati, Libya’s interim PM Abdulhamid Dbeibeh, and Palestinian PM Mohamed Shtayyeh. Among the European leaders the president yesterday were Germany’s outgoing chancellor, Angela Merkel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg.

Egypt attaches great importance to adapting to climate change, Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 1:55), who broadcast her show from Glasgow (watch, runtime: 4:59). She reiterated the many consequences of climate change and Egypt’s important role during this year’s summit in preparation to host it next year.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Leading the conversation on Egypt in the foreign press this morning: Three workers from a hotel in Hurghada have been detained after almost 50 tourists were hospitalized with food poisoning last month, the Public Prosecutor said in several statements (here and here) last night. Two hotel managers and the head chef are accused of endangering lives after 29 Russians, 14 Estonians and four Czech tourists ended up in hospital following a dinner at the undisclosed hotel last month. Most have recovered and have been discharged from the hospital, the statement said. The workers deny the accusations. (Associated Press | CNN | Euronews | Daily Mail)

New military powers as state of emergency lifted: Special powers afforded to the military that were extended indefinitely in a series of amendments passed by the House this week are similar to those held under the emergency law, which was lifted for the first time since 2017 last month, the New York Times says. The amendments indefinitely give the military increased powers over public infrastructure and introduce harsher penalties for people convicted of leaking state secrets.

Another archaeological discovery: CNN picks up news that local archaeologists have excavated the Saqqara tomb of Ptah-m-Wia, who served as chief treasurer for King Ramses II.

COVID WATCH

2 mn Sinovac shots arrive in Egypt

Two mn doses of Sinovac arrived at Cairo Airport yesterday from China, according to a statement by the Health Ministry. By our math, the shipment should bring the total number of imported shots to some 74 mn.

The Health Ministry reported 951 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 933 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 331,968 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 60 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 18,711.

IN GLOBAL COVID NEWS-

Covid has now taken over 5 mn lives since it first broke out at the beginning of 2020: The US, EU, Britain and Brazil accounted for almost half of those deaths, the Associated Press writes, explaining that the 5 mn figure is most likely an undercount due to limited covid testing and people dying without medical attention.

A vaccine developed by US pharma company Novavax got its first authorization yesterday: Indonesia has authorized the covid-19 vaccine developed by Novavax, which called the decision a “historical milestone” for the company. In a disclosure yesterday, Novavax said it had also applied for regulatory approval for its protein-based shot in the EU, UK, Australia and Canada.

Australia opened its borders on Monday for the first time in almost 600 days, as the country loosens some of the world’s most restrictive pandemic measures.

PLANET FINANCE

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

US stocks close at record highs on strong earnings: US equity markets reached fresh record highs yesterday as the strong 3Q earnings season continued, according to Bloomberg. More than 80% of S&P 500 firms that have reported financials have beaten estimates, helping the benchmark index to close 0.2% in the green despite fresh data showing manufacturing activity slowed again in October due to supply chain issues.

The surge in oil prices is hurting Saudi Aramco’s refining and chemicals arm: While Aramco’s upstream operations continue to boom amid soaring oil prices, Aramco’s downstream arm — which includes refinineries and chemicals subsidiary Sabic — has not been as lucky, reporting a 13% q-o-q drop in net income in 3Q2021, suggesting margins have peaked, according to Bloomberg. Sabic expects the downtick to continue through the winter as fuel demand slackens.

Brent crude prices hit fresh three-year highs last month, as the global gas supply crisis pushes buyers to seek alternative fuel sources.

Dell is set to pull off one of the largest ever corporate spin-offs: The computer software giant will spin off its 81% stake in publicly traded cloud computing company VMware, creating a separate company with a market cap of almost USD 64 bn, reports the Financial Times. The spinoff will partly reverse Dell’s USD 67 bn takeover of VMWare owner EMC in 2015 — and will help reduce the debt load of the company, which borrowed USD 70 bn to finance the takeover.

Up

EGX30

11568.27

+1.3% (YTD: +6.7%)

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

11,723

+2% (YTD: +34.9%)

Up

ADX

7,925

+0.8% (YTD: +57%)

Up

DFM

2,882

+0.6% (YTD: +15.6%)

Up

S&P 500

4,614

+0.2% (YTD: +22.8%)

Up

FTSE 100

7,292

+0.8% (YTD: +12.8%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 84.71

+1.2%

Up

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 5.22

+0.7%

Down

Gold

USD 1,794

-0.1%

Down

BTC

USD 60,920

-0.9% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 1.3% yesterday on turnover of EGP 1.3 bn (15.1% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is up 6.7% YTD.

In the green: Raya Holding (+6.4%), Qalaa Holding (+6%) and EKH-EGP (+3.9%).

In the red: Pioneers Properties (-3.5%), Egyptian Resorts Company (-3.2%) and Mopco (-3%).

It’s a “meh” morning in global markets, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng trimming nearly half of its gains earlier in the session (it’s up 0.8% at dispatch time), while the Kospi in Seoul is up about 1.6%. Shares in Tokyo and Shanghai are skimming into the red, as is the ASX, where traders are waiting for Australia’s interest rate decision later today. Futures suggest shares on Wall Street, in Toronto and much of Europe will open in the red later today, with just the CAC 40 breaking the pattern.

DIPLOMACY

Cairo talks on Libya produce agreement on withdrawal of foreign fighters: Sudan, Chad and Niger have all agreed to allow the return of mercenaries who have been fighting in Libya, a sign of progress in UN-sponsored talks designed to speed up the withdrawal of foreign fighters deployed in the country during its recent civil war, Ahram reports, citing state news agency MENA. During the two-day meeting of the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission in Cairo, the three countries pledged to “fully” cooperate with efforts to pull mercenaries out of the North African state, ahead of national elections planned for December.

Egypt and US naval forces conducted joint naval drills in the Red Sea’s Southern Fleet operation zone, with the participation of Egyptian frigate Alexandria and the American cruiser USS Portland, according to an official statement.

AROUND THE WORLD

SUDAN WATCH- The six-week blockade on Sudan’s main port has been lifted following last week’s military coup, Reuters reports, citing an announcement by the Beja tribal group that controls the port. The blockade, which the group said would be lifted for a month, had led to shipments being re-routed through Egypt and wheat and fuel shortages in Khartoum. The Beja group had used the blockade to call for Sudan’ civilian leaders to be replaced by technocrats, among other demands.

Sudan’s public prosecutor was dismissed on Sunday, TRT World reports, citing Sudanese state TV, becoming the latest in a string of officials to be relieved of their posts since the coup. Meanwhile, former Bashir regime insider Ibrahim Ghandour was taken back to prison today after having been released in recent days along with other former officials, Al Arabiya reported.

greenEconomy

How grassroots initiatives are working to reduce Egypt’s garbage woes: Egypt has long been struggling with its waste management, with successive legislative and policy attempts to address the matter still falling short of completely and effectively addressing the problem. Faced with difficulties in even collecting trash, the government had imposed back in 2005 a garbage collection fee to help support the country’s waste collection infrastructure. Private sector companies have also been brought in to help with the waste management and recycling part of the equation. But as these measures have struggled to put a definitive end to the piles of trash on the street and plastic bags and bottles floating on the surface of various bodies of water, a number of grassroots initiatives, projects and organizations have cropped up. Their common goal: Making Egypt cleaner, with no solid waste in its bodies of water.

The figures help explain why individual efforts are becoming more commonplace: As of 2016, Egypt generated 23.4 metric tonnes of waste per year, with plastic comprising 13% of the total solid waste generated in the country, according to data collected from the World Bank. The same data indicated that a whopping 90% of the country’s waste was mismanaged. Part of the issue comes from the collection process itself, with only 15% of Egypt’s rural waste actually getting collected. Of the municipal solid waste that is collected in the country, only 12.5% of that is then recycled, the report says.

So who’s in the volunteer market today — and what are they doing? One of the current players is Bassita’s VeryNile, the first initiative specialized in clearing the Nile of solid waste. Since it started operating in 2018, VeryNile has organized over 120 cleanup events and removed around 100 tonnes of solid waste from the Nile, co-founder Mostafa Habib told Enterprise.

The initiative aims to eventually clear the Nile of solid waste and they have several projects in efforts to achieve this goal, with its own boat that cleans the river daily, according to Habib. The initiative also launched its VeryNile Shop, where it sells a variety of products from tote bags, bucket hats and laptop sleeves all made from recycled plastic bags collected from households, shops, universities and schools, putting every EGP made from it right back into the project.

The sustainability and waste collection drives are cropping up in holiday and tourist spots, too: Eco-Dahab, which was founded in 2017, is an initiative that aims to turn Sinai’s Dahab into a sustainable destination by identifying non-sustainable practices and providing alternative sustainable solutions for visitors and businesses alike. The initiative works with several local projects and aims to create a movement for change within visitors and residents in Dahab, specifically through amplifying the work of partner organizations and various advocates. “We don’t need to market the idea,” – an initiative – founder Nadine Wahab told us, “we just need to be able to organize it and make it consistent.”

The popularity of the initiative in a coastal haven like Dahab makes sense: Egypt is among the top 20 countries contributing to marine debris on an annual basis, according to a 2018 paper. This data point is particularly potent when considering that around a quarter (25.8 mn people) of Egypt’s population lives by its coasts.

In Hurghada and Marsa Alam, there’s also the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA), an NGO which focuses on solid waste management and environmental conservation. The organization is responsible for the waste collection in the entirety of Hurghada, and also either participates or organizes cleanups two-three times a month, environmental communication specialist Mariam Elsadek said.

Okay, so they collected the trash. Now what? Youth Love Egypt takes its collected trash, sorts it, and sends it out to agencies specialized in recycling. Eco-Dahab collects used jars gathered from cleanups, sterilizes them and offers them to people to use for food production or businesses who need them. VeryNile takes the plastic, sorts and presses it, then ships it to factories specialized in converting pressed plastic into palettes that can then be used to create a number of other products. As for non-recyclable waste, the initiative sends that off to factories that use it as fuel through waste-to-energy technology, Habib told us.

But it’s not just cleanups and gatherings — some of these initiatives are also getting in on policy work: Through its 2019 Clean Shores campaign, the Youth Love Egypt NGO took part in the draft law put forward by the Environment Ministry regulating waste management, which the House of Representatives greenlit last year, founder Ahmed Fathy told us. The organization is a Social Solidarity Ministry-registered NGO whose work focuses on sustainable development, climate change, the environment and women’s economic empowerment. The organization organizes cleanup campaigns in cooperation with a number of partners, focusing on the Nile, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

Despite the promising work the various initiatives are doing, it is not enough. Our usage outweighs our ability to recycle or upcycle all the products, Wahab said. “We don’t have the capacity to upcycle all the products,” even with recycling organizations’ best efforts. And even though the government is working to resolve the garbage problem, the amount of waste generated across the country (and discarded incorrectly) is almost impossible to cover entirely, particularly as much of that waste is concentrated in remote areas, according to Wahab.

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic hasn’t been helpful: “Our [cleanup] events have been severely impacted by the pandemic, pre-pandemic cleanup events would have a turnout of up to 800 people, now the maximum is 50 to ensure their safety,” Habib said. Sustainability has taken a backseat as more attention and importance is being attached to healthcare since the outbreak of the pandemic, he said. The initiative had to stop relying on volunteers and started relying on fishermen instead, with some 50 fishermen picking up solid waste from the Nile using their personal boats in exchange for monetary incentives.


Your top climate stories for the week:

  • COP26 kicks off: The high-profile COP26 global climate summit kicked off on Sunday in Glasgow with concerns being raised about whether world leaders will be able to agree on how to achieve the Paris climate goals.
  • G20 disappoints on climate breakthroughs: The two-day G20 conference wrapped up on Sunday with little consensus on climate change ahead of the COP summit.
  • Egypt among world’s top 30 CO2 emitters: Egypt ranked 28th on the Financial Times’ dashboard tracking 193 countries’ greenhouse gas emissions. China, the US, India, Russia and Indonesia together account for 50% of annual carbon dioxide emissions.
  • UN says emission cuts fall short: A UN report revealed that current plans to curb emissions still put the planet on track to reach a 2.7°C temperature increase before the turn of the century, significantly above the 1.5°C limit set out in the Paris agreement.

CALENDAR

30 October – 4 November (Saturday-Thursday): The first edition of Race The Legends, Egypt.

November: The French-Egyptian Business Forum is set to take place in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

November: Egypt will host another round of talks to reach a potential Egyptian-Eurasian trade agreement, which can significantly contribute to increasing the volume of Egyptian exports to the Russia-led bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

1-3 November (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Energy exhibition on power and renewable energy, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

31 October – 12 November (Sunday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

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

3-5 November (Wednesday-Friday): Africa Early Stage Investor Summit.

6 November (Saturday): Deadline to apply to Nahdet El Mahrousa’s Rabeha, a women entrepreneurship accelerator program.

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

8 November (Monday): Egypt CSR Forum, International Citystars, 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.

18-19 November (Thursday-Friday) British royal family members Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visit 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.

30 November (Tuesday): Launch of open call by GIZ and KfW for green project proposals in Egypt as part of their Investing for Employment facility (pdf).

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.

7 January 2022 (Friday): Coptic Christmas.

27 January 2022 (Tuesday): National holiday in observance of 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

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.

2 April 2022 (Saturday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

22-24 April 2022 (Friday-Sunday): World Bank-IMF spring meeting, Washington D.C.

24 April 2022 (Sunday): Coptic Easter Sunday (holiday for Coptic Christians).

25 April 2022 (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

25 April 2022 (Monday): Sinai Liberation Day.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

2 May 2022 (Monday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

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.

30 June 2022 (Thursday): June 30 Revolution Day, national holiday.

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

8 July (Friday): Arafat Day.

9-13 July (Saturday-Wednesday): Eid Al Adha, national holiday.

30 July (Saturday): Islamic New Year.

6 October (Thursday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

8 October (Saturday): Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.

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.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; Moharram & Partners (tax ID: 616-112-459), the leading public policy and government affairs partner; Palm Hills Developments (tax ID: 432-737-014), a leading developer of commercial and residential properties; Etisalat Misr (tax ID: 235-071-579), the leading telecoms provider in Egypt; and Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt.