Monday, 8 November 2021

AM — Egypt + US open key diplomatic talks in Washington today

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, nice people, and welcome to a very busy news day that will likely accelerate as the day grinds on. We expect a lot of Egypt news to be coming out of Washington today and tomorrow as Egyptian diplomats kickstart a strategic dialogue with top State Department officials in DC.

THE BIG STORIES ABROAD- There’s no single story capturing the attention of the global press as we wake up this morning.

The Wall Street Journal’s front page sounds a note of caution, with a piece reminding us that it’s not all going to be plain sailing even as global growth figures recover from the shock of the pandemic. Accelerating inflation, continued supply chain disruption, rising interest rates, and a wobbly Chinese economy will all pose serious challenges to the global economy in the coming months, with some analysts not expecting supply chains to begin normalizing until the end of 2022.

Elon Musk has found another way of courting publicity after asking his Twitter followers whether he should sell down a 10% stake in Tesla in response to proposals to tax unrealized gains. He’s promised to abide by the result. With almost 60% of respondents voting yes, Musk will presumably now be offloading shares worth more than USD 20 bn — and paying the tax that goes with it. The FT and Bloomberg have more.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

Shoukry in DC for high-level talks: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will hold talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during the two-day US-Egypt Strategic Dialogue, which kicks off today, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and the US State Department said in separate statements over the weekend. The meetings, which will also be attended by senior officials from USAID and the Department of Defense, will cover “international, regional, human rights and bilateral cooperation on economic, judicial, security, educational and cultural issues,” the State Department said.

Here’s what we expect from the meeting: GERD, US military assistance, Israel-Palestine and the coup in Sudan will likely all be at the top of the priority list. Add to that the situation in Libya (more in Around the World, below) ahead of the talks in Paris this week — and US-backed plans to ship Egyptian gas to Lebanon — and there’s plenty to keep the two sides busy. More here.

Ahead of the meeting: Shoukry sat down for talks with the US envoy to Iran “to exchange views on the situation in the Middle East,” the Foreign Ministry tweeted last night, without providing further information.

This week on the Egyptian conference circuit: Today is Day Two of four at transport conference TransMea 2021 and the 2021 Cairo ICT exhibition, both of which are taking place at the Egypt International Exhibition Center.

PSA- Public school fees can now be paid digitally: The Education Ministry launched an e-payment service for public school fees, in collaboration with state-owned e-Finance and fintech startup KlickIt, according to local press reports. Parents can now pay school fees using debit and credit cards, a move which aims to decrease the use of cash and promote financial inclusion, a joint statement from e-Finance and Klickit said.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Inflation: Inflation figures for October will be released this Wednesday, 10 November.

Public sector workers have until next Monday, 15 November to get vaccinated or risk not being allowed into their workplaces.

The two-day Africa Fintech summit kicks off next Tuesday, 16 November. The summit looks at innovation in the fintech ecosystem, venture capital and other forms of investing, and will also discuss the rise of healthtech.

The British are coming: British royal family members Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will be in town next Thursday and Friday, 18 and 19 November.

Calling all Egyptian entrepreneurs aged 23-35: You have a little over two weeks to apply for the acceleration exchange program Meet Silicon Valley for a chance to travel 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, and the deadline for applications is 23 November.

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

enterprise

*** It’s Blackboard day: We have our weekly look at the business of education in Egypt, from pre-K through the highest reaches of higher ed. Blackboard appears every Monday in Enterprise in the place of our traditional industry news roundups.

In today’s issue: Unlike the US or UK, scholarships at the K-12 level aren’t popular in Egypt. We’ve found a few K-12 private schools offering academic or non-academic scholarships, but they appear to be in the minority. Instead, the norm is to offer financial aid under a charitable model as and when necessary — usually to existing students, to mitigate financial hardship.

enterprise

Enjoy yourself with family and friends in a fun and relaxed atmosphere with our new night golf experience.

INVESTMENT WATCH

Ibnsina’s investment arm to pour EGP 440 mn into logistics firm

EGX-listed Ibnsina Pharma’s investment arm AIM is investing EGP 440 mn to establish a logistics service provider, Ramp Logistics, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf). The third-party logistics business is set to provide warehousing and transport services, and will be 99% owned by AIM.

Ramp Logistics is planning both sector and regional expansion: The company is looking to serve sectors outside of pharma in Egypt while also planning to grow its geographical footprint. Ramp has already signed a contract with Orchid Kuwait Egyptian Company to set up a new 31k sqm warehouse in Tenth of Ramadan, doubling its storage capacity. “The planned expansion by Ramp Logistics … will allow Ramp Logistics to lower the required initial capex needed for expansion and extend the payment of investment cost over a long period,” said Omar Abdel Gawad, co-CEO of Ibnsina Pharma.

Background: Ibnsina, a pharma distributor, had previously signaled plans to shore up its logistics capabilities and was looking to invest EGP 180 mn in 2021 to set up new distribution hubs and improve its tech infrastructure.

EDUCATION

Lighthouse Education reaches EGP 560 mn first close

State-backed education investment platform Lighthouse Education has reached a first close of EGP 560 mn, beating its initial fundraising target, Deputy Chairman Mohamed El Sherif tells Enterprise. Backed by the Sovereign Fund of Egypt, the fund will channel investment into K12 private schools and originally targeted a EGP 500 mn first close.

Lighthouse has this Saudi investment company to thank: Al Rajhi Investment Holding Company (Rajhi-Invest) has become the latest limited partner in the fund with a EGP 75 mn commitment, Lighthouse announced in a statement (pdf) late last week. This is the company’s first investment in Egypt, said CEO Mohammed El Samman in the statement. The fund’s current portfolio spans industrial building materials, food and beverage, banking, real estate, and tourism, and is part of a large family-owned conglomerate that includes Al Rajhi Bank and Rajhi Steel.

Who are the other partners? The bulk of the capital has been provided by state-owned organizations. Misr Ins. Holding has made the biggest commitment, contributing EGP 125 mn, while the Sovereign Fund of Egypt and Banque Misr provided EGP 100 mn each. United Bank of Egypt has committed EGP 50 mn and fund managers Hossam El Kabbany, the founder of Al Orman schools, and privately-owned financial advisor Ironwood Investments have put up EGP 20 mn. The identities of the investors who provided the remaining EGP 90 mn are unknown.

The fund could start announcing acquisitions within months, El Sherif said in the statement. The platform aims to acquire majority stakes in at least two of four shortlisted K12 private schools before the end of 2021, and was conducting early due diligence over the summer, El Sherif told us at the time. All of the near-term acquisitions are located in Greater Cairo, he added, with greenfield projects expected to follow at a later stage.

Lighthouse was launched in July to channel investment into K12 private schools. The platform plans to invest in 10-12 schools, focusing initially on Cairo and Giza before turning its attention to other areas of the country such as Alexandria, Beni Suef, Assiut, Port Said, Gharbia, and Qalyubia. The platform is aiming to reach its second close before the end of 2022 and hopes to eventually increase its capital to EGP 1.75 bn.

EDITOR’S NOTE- We previously reported that Suez Canal Bank was among the founding members of Lighthouse Education. We’ve since been informed that this is not the case.

ECONOMY

A mixed picture

Arab Monetary Fund slightly more optimistic on Egypt’s GDP outlook than IMF: The Egyptian economy will grow at a 5.4% clip in FY 2021-2022, up from 3.3% last year, according to the Arab Monetary Fund’s latest Arab Economic Outlook Report (pdf). The estimate comes in slightly higher than the 5.2% growth pencilled in for Egypt for this fiscal year by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its most recent regional forecast. The AMF expects Egypt to see inflation of 5.9% in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, 0.4 percentage points lower than the IMF’s estimate of 6.3% inflation over the same period.

IN OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS-

Want growth in the private sector? The state needs to do more to level the playing field, Hasnain Malik, head of research at emerging market research firm Tellimer, told Bloomberg Daybreak yesterday (watch, runtime: 08:04). “Egypt is stuck in a high-government debt, low-growth equilibrium,” he said, commenting on recent PMI figures that showed that the Egyptian private sector contracted for the 11th consecutive month in October. “The only way to change that is for the state and the military enterprises to take a step back and level the playing field for the private sector, whether that’s domestically owned or foreign multinationals,” he said.

Supply chain issues are weighing on businesses already struggling for growth: Though the country’s non-oil private sector has now been in contraction for almost a year, activity weakened to its lowest level since May last month as bottlenecks in global supply chains caused prices to rise at their fastest rate in over three years. The headline urban inflation rate jumped almost 1% in September to 6.6%, led by a rise in food prices Malik described as “worrying.”

The recovery in the tourism sector could help to offset food price inflation, he said, but warned that many of the economy’s structural vulnerabilities have not been solved by the government or the IMF program,

On a more positive note: The EGX has woken from its slumber, said Malik, noting that equities have rallied around 10% in recent weeks thanks to more attractive valuations, persistent underperformance, and better-than-expected results at index heavyweight CIB. Equities remain cheap and are currently at a 20% below the historic five-year average, he said.

STARTUP WATCH

Swvl to invest USD 25 mn in engineering, marketing

Homegrown mass transport startup Swvl plans to invest USD 25 mn over the next year, part of which will go towards its engineering team in Egypt, CFO Youssef Salem told Hapi Journal. A portion of the investment will also go towards its marketing plan, according to the report, which appeared in yesterday’s print edition of the newspaper. The investment comes as part of a longer-term global expansion plan to invest up to USD 300 mn over the next three years. Swvl has invested a total of USD 120 mn since it was founded in 2017.

Tech upgrades + expansion plans are also on the way: The company is currently working on updates to the drivers’ app that will allow drivers to receive payments right before trips begin (rather than on a weekly basis), as well as pay for gas online. It is also in talks with banks to provide new vehicle loans to Swvl drivers. These plans are part of the three-year USD 300 mn investment plan, but are not covered by the USD 25 mn investment, Salem confirmed to Enterprise. A bulk of the USD 300 mn investment is also going towards an ambitious expansion plan that will see it begin operating in four countries in Latin America and Southeast Asia before the end of the year, and developing a subscription-based service to its frequent users.

Reminder: The startup announced it will go public on the Nasdaq through a merger with blank-check firm Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital back in July and is expected to list in December or January, according to Hapi Journal.

REGULATION WATCH

CBE issues framework for instant digital payments

The Central Bank of Egypt has released the regulations (pdf) for its instant payment network (IPN), part of its strategy to improve access to financial services and bring more people into the formal economy. The regulations lay out the rules and responsibilities for issuing banks, payment service providers and acquiring banks, including licensing, risk management, data protection, and security.

What’s an IPN? It’s the network that links different banks and financial services providers, allowing payments sent between accounts at different banks to be credited and debited instantly.

The regulations include new transfer limits: Account holders will only be permitted to transfer EGP 60k per day and EGP 200k per month via the IPN, while the maximum for a single transfer is EGP 50k.

Banks must get a license from the central bank before they can access the network: After getting approval, they are required to finish testing their IPN portals within six months and activate their transfer services for the IPN using internet banking and mobile banking services within a year.

This is the latest step taken by the central bank to increase financial inclusion and reduce the usage of cash in the economy. Last year’s Banking Act has handed the CBE more regulatory oversight of the sector, including over e-payments and fintech. Since then, the central bank has introduced new interoperability rules to simplify transfers between different banks and mobile wallet providers, opened up savings and loan services to mobile wallet users, and is moving towards issuing licenses for mobile contactless payments.

DEBT WATCH

Methanex Egypt settles debt for Damietta plant

Methanex Egypt fully settles USD 530 mn debt ahead of schedule: Canadian-Egyptian methanol producer Methanex has fully repaid a USD 530 mn facility before it was due, according to a company statement (pdf). The company used the facility to partially finance its USD 1 bn investment in its Damietta methanol plant, which is Egypt’s sole methanol production facility. The financing for Methanex Egypt was arranged 15 years ago by a consortium of 15 international and two local institutions led by MUFG Bank. Participants included our friends at CIB, APICORP, NBE and Export Development Canada was well as HSBC, NATIXIS, Arab Banking Corporation, among others.

Foreign investors, watch this space: “EMethanex represents an outstanding model for project financing and joint venture success that the Egyptian oil and gas and petrochemicals sector and [that] the Egyptian business community could benefit from replicating,” said Methanex Egypt Managing Director Mohamed Shindy, noting that the company has “fully met all loan commitments” despite “the economic challenges following the start-up of our plant … in 2011.”

What does Methanex do? The plant in Damietta has a production capacity of up to 1.3 mn tonnes of methanol per year and serves both domestic and export markets. Methanex Egypt is owned 50% by Vancouver headquartered, publicly traded Methanex. State-owned institutions hold 33% of EMethanex, while APICORP owns 17%.

What can you do with methanol, anyway? Make lots of other things, ranging from adhesives, foams, plywood subfloors and solvents to windshield washer fluid. It’s found in high-performance plastics (such as your favourite tech toys), paints, car parts, building materials — a rather long list.

Advisors: Zulficar & Partners were Egyptian counsel to Emethanex, while Slaughter and May did international duties. Lenders were represented locally by Baker McKenzie, while Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was international counsel.

STARTUP WATCH

Benya eyes African tech startups with new USD 50 mn VC fund

IT infrastructure contractor Benya Capital is launching a USD 50 mn venture capital fund, dubbed Benya Ventures, as part of its expansion strategy, Chairman and CEO Ahmed Mekky said on the sidelines of the Cairo ICT conference yesterday, according to Al Borsa. The VC, which will launch with an initial capital of USD 50 mn, will focus primarily on tech, IoT and AI startups in Africa.

Banque Misr loan to finance new factory: Benya signed a financing agreement worth EGP 481 mn with Banque Misr, which will be used to finance its fiber-optic cable factory in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, according to Hapi Journal. The company expects to open the EGP 1 bn factory in June 2022.

Also in the works for Benya: Benya Capital is launching a cloud computing arm, and planning to expand into the Saudi market next year, Mekky said. The company has also been eyeing a dual listing on the EGX and another foreign bourse.

CLARIFICATION- In our list of Egypt’s largest series A funding rounds in 2021, we left off Trella whose USD 42 mn round was the second-largest we’ve seen this year, after MNT-Halan’s record-breaking USD 120 mn round in September.

enterprise

LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Is new-build real estate about to get even more expensive? Property developers could hike house prices by 10-15% due to the rising cost of raw materials, Tarek Shoukry, head of the Real Estate Development Chamber at the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 12:58). The real estate sector is directly exposed to rising raw materials prices such as cement and iron, which saw an 80% price hike since the beginning of the year, he said.

No one is safe: Developers will raise prices even on properties which have already been sold to customers (but not delivered), Shoukry said. Some who are still waiting for their units to be delivered will face higher installments in the coming months as companies pass on the costs to the consumers.

The Consumer Protection Authority fights the “overpricing” of cars: The Consumer Protection Authority has issued a decision requiring car dealers to be more transparent in how they price their vehicles in an effort to stop consumers from being overcharged. From 15 November, dealers will be required to clearly display the cost on the car with a sticker, which the authority hopes will make it harder for them to inflate prices, CPA head Ayman Hossam El Din told Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 6:03).

The opening day of TransMea 2021 also got its fair share of airtime: Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 3:10), Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 3:09) and Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 3:02) all covered the inauguration of the transport conference yesterday.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

It’s another slow morning in the pages of the international press: AFP is out with a piece on the rise of money-pooling fintech startups and digital gameya in Egypt, while CNN looks at the ongoing Art D'Egypte exhibition at the pyramids. Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, writes that the legislative amendments passed by the House last week contain many powers similar to those of the emergency law, which was lifted last month for the first since 2017.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Raya Contact Center plans to acquire a US company in the near future as part of its expansion strategy. The acquisition would mark its second venture in the United States, with plans announced earlier this year to establish a 100% owned subsidiary in the state of Delaware.

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

  • Vodafone bringing 5G to the new capital? Vodafone Egypt is in negotiations with the National Telecom Regulatory Authority to start trialing 5G services in the new administrative capital.
  • Training programs in game development, virtual production and extended reality and simulation will be offered to programmers as part of a new academic partnership signed last week between Communications Ministry’s Information Technology Institute (ITI) and Epic Games’ Unreal Engine. The programs will train programmers to develop electronic games and digital interactive art.
  • Egypt could begin manufacturing water-saving taps, with the Trade and Industry Ministry looking into their feasibility and beginning talks with sanitaryware vendors.
  • EGOTH to restore Nefertari Hotel: The Egyptian General Company for Tourism and Hotels (EGOTH) and Misr Aswan Tourist signed an usufruct agreement to restore and manage the Nefertari Hotel Abu Simbel.

Basalt blocks that once formed part of the western and northern facades of the temple of King Nectanebo I have been unearthed by archaeologists in the Greater Cairo district of El Matareya, according to a Tourism and Antiquities Ministry statement. The temple wall fragments are among several new discoveries by the Egyptian-German archaeological mission working in the area, which was once the site of the Great Temple in the ancient city of Heliopolis.

COVID WATCH

The Health Ministry reported 903 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 909 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 337,485 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 65 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 19,076.

PLANET FINANCE

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Egyptian cement companies could get some respite from sky-high coal prices amid signs that the energy supply crises in China and India are abating. Global coal prices have soared to record highs this year as two of the world’s biggest economies faced serious fuel shortages, but the crises are beginning to ease after the countries forced coal miners to ramp up supply, potentially putting a ceiling above the spiralling prices. Bloomberg has more.

Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange is going public, offering a 30% stake in an IPO that will see Saudi Tadawul Group Holding offer 36 mn shares in a bid to expand its access to investors, Khalid Al Hussan, the stock exchange’s CEO, told Bloomberg. The subscription period is due to kick off on 21 November, and insiders told Bloomberg that the offering could value the exchange at USD 3-4 bn. The offering is potentially the biggest for a bourse since pan-european stock exchange Euronext NV’s 2014 listing. SNB Capital, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup will act as global coordinators and underwriters.

Down

EGX30

11555.58

-0.5% (YTD: +6.6%)

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USD (CBE)

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

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USD at CIB

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

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Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

11,842

+0.8% (YTD: +36.3%)

Up

ADX

8,094

+0.1% (YTD: +60.4%)

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DFM

3,098

-0.3% (YTD: +24.3%)

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S&P 500

4,698

+0.4% (YTD: +25%)

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FTSE 100

7,304

+0.3% (YTD: +13%)

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Brent crude

USD 82.74

+2.7%

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Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 5.52

-3.5%

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Gold

USD 1,818

+1.5%

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BTC

USD 62,853

+2.3% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell 0.5% yesterday on turnover of EGP 382.6 mn (74.9% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net sellers. The index is up 6.55% YTD.

In the green: Rameda (+5.5%), Ibnsina Pharma (+3.5%) and Ezz Steel (+3.5%).

In the red: GB Auto (-4.6%), Fawry (-3.6%) and Orascom Development Egypt (-2%).

Asian markets are largely flat this morning, while futures suggest that shares in Europe will likely follow suit later this morning. The Dow, S&P and Nasdaq look set to open slightly in the green, futures suggest at dispatch time.

DIPLOMACY

Oil Minister Tarek El Molla met with US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, where they discussed energy cooperation, according to a ministry statement. El Molla had previously announced Egypt's participation in the Net Zero World Initiative, launched by the US last week to accelerate the transition to net-zero energy resources. Other topics of discussion included Egypt's promotion of natural gas as fuel, plans to expand the use of hydrogen as an alternative source of power, and the measures taken to export Egyptian gas to Lebanon via Jordan and Syria.

More ITFC finance in the pipeline? International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat and head of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) Hani Sonbol talked future cooperation and financing projects with the aim of helping SMEs, according to a statement from the ministry. The ITFC has given GASC and the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation USD 2.3 bn in financing so far this year.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi called Iraqi Prime Minister Moustafa Al Kadhimi yesterday following the assassination attempt earlier that day, said Ittihadiya. The Iraqi PM was targeted with a drone loaded with explosives which flew towards his house in Baghdad’s Green Zone yesterday.

AROUND THE WORLD

Cracks appear in Libya’s interim government over dismissal of foreign minister: The suspension of Libyan Foreign Minister Najla El Mangoush by the country’s president is threatening to evolve into a power struggle between the two most senior Libyan political figures, days before a key conference in Paris designed to pave the way for national elections at the end of December. Interim president Mohamed Al Menfi’s decision to suspend the minister, apparently for making unilateral foreign policy decisions, has been publicly rejected by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, leaving El Mangoush’s position unclear ahead of the international conference on Friday. This came on the same day as the country’s electoral authority announced the conditions for the candidacy for standing in next month’s presidential elections. The BBC and Al Arabiya have more.

Military v teachers in Sudan: Sudanese security forces arrested more than 100 anti-coup protesters — most of whom were teachers — in Khartoum yesterday, according to the Associated Press. Yesterday marked the beginning of a two-day strike with the aim of having a full civilian government lead the transition, following calls made by the Sudanese Professionals Association, which was active during the 2019 protests that led to the ouster of Omar al-Bashir.

Iran ready to reenter the 2015 nuclear accord: Russia and Iran’s foreign ministers have expressed their support towards restoring the beleaguered 2015 nuclear accord, with Iran pledging to comply with its terms as long as the US doesn’t try to add new demands. (Bloomberg)

blackboard

Scholarships aren’t popular at Egypt’s K-12 private schools. Instead, most adopt a charitable model to offer aid if necessary. The availability of scholarships — particularly for academic excellence — in K-12 private schools in Egypt is strikingly low, especially compared to the UK and US. A few private schools offer academic or non-academic scholarships, but from what we’ve found, they’re rare. Instead, any kind of financial aid is almost always awarded to existing students — often to mitigate financial hardship.

Isn’t it a global norm to offer very few K-12 level scholarships? Not really. Over GBP 1 bn a year in financial support is available to UK parents whose children attend private secondary schools, the Financial Times reported in 2019. This means one in three private school students could have their school fees reduced or even waived, it noted. “The situation in the US is similar to the UK, where there’s more of a parallel between scholarships offered at the K-12 and university levels,” AIS Director Kapono Ciotti tells Enterprise. “Here it’s clear that university scholarships are available, but there aren’t really any for K-12 students,” he adds.

In Egypt, scholarships for students to attend K-12 private schools are rare: Regent British School Principal Claire Rowland tells Enterprise she isn’t aware of any K-12 private schools in Egypt having dedicated scholarship programs. AIS doesn’t have a formal scholarship program, Ciotti notes.

“It’s very unusual here at the K-12 level,” agrees Egypt Education Platform (EEP) — formerly GEMS Egypt — Director of Communications Amr Sherif, who’s spent some 14 years helping develop university scholarship programs in and out of Egypt.

EEP is actively trying to buck the trend in Egypt: EEP sees its K-12 scholarship program — designed in part as an adaptation of university scholarship programs — as unique, says Sherif. It has a newly-launched raft of scholarships, introduced a year ago. “We hope the wider industry follows us, because we’re trying to disrupt the system — in a healthy way.”

Its scholarships include several promoting K-12 academic excellence: Every year, EEP will select six academically outstanding students from years 6-9 in its national curriculum schools to transfer to its international curriculum schools, while continuing to pay national school rates, says Sherif. Financially, this involves “extremely significant” subsidies from EEP, he notes. “Average annual tuition at our British schools is EGP 135k, while in the national curriculum schools it’s EGP 25k.” And every year, two students in years 11 and 12 from every EEP international school will receive a scholarship covering 50% of their fees, and three students will receive one covering 25%, he says.

We’ve found only one other private school clearly doing something similar: Green Land International School offers scholarships recognizing “exceptional academic achievements,” its website shows. These range from 25-100% of school tuition fees. It’s unclear how many scholarships are available every year, as the school didn’t respond to our request for comment.

Meanwhile, both EEP and El Alsson offer non-academic scholarships: Every year, two students in years 11 and 12 from each of EEP’s international schools receive scholarships covering 15% of their fees, for excellence in areas including music, art and sports, says Sherif. El Alsson usually offers two ‘Director’s Scholarships’ a year to students of any age deemed to be excellent all-rounders, Executive Director Karim Rogers tells Enterprise. “We don’t necessarily target students with the most outstanding grades. We look for students with good grades, who also give back to the school community.”

Schools, however, sometimes offer financial aid if the families of existing students fall on hard times: Needs-based financial aid programs appear to be very widespread in Egypt. “Our board does support families that need support, but it's on an informal case-by-case basis,” says Ciotti. Gateway International Montessori and Al Manhal Language School are among the multiple institutions offering this kind of financial aid, teachers tell Enterprise off the record.

It’s a requirement by law for private schools to dedicate 5% of their annual tuition fees to go towards financial aid for students who meet the criteria for lowered tuition, says Islam Saeed, partner at Matouk Bassiouny. But the schools themselves can decide according to their internal policy what that criteria is — and which students are eligible for it, though they must supply the education ministry with a list of students receiving aid, he adds.

Regulators don’t get a say in how much aid is offered: Aid provided at El Alsson is determined by school owners and board members, says Rogers. “If you want to deduct 10%, 20%, 50%, it’s up to you. Regulators don’t look at what you do,” he says. In the case of the schools we spoke to, it’s unclear how substantial the fee breaks offered are and whether they’re usually considered grants or loans. “Anything we offer is done discreetly,” Rogers adds. It’s essentially a form of charity, he notes.

And covid has obviously upped the number of families that might need financial support, says Rogers. El Alsson always tries to support families who have a history of paying fees on time, but are struggling financially during covid. “We won’t put more pressure on them. So there’s been a board decision to keep some families off the books for the time being.” Still, this can’t continue indefinitely, he adds. “There has been a substantial increase during covid. And we as a school have to take care, as we can’t really sustain it.” The school has provided multiple flexible payment options to try to ease financial pressures on families, he adds.

So why do so many of Egypt’s private schools generally eschew scholarships in favor of a charitable model? Though no one seems to know for sure, it’s thought that in Egypt a combination of cost considerations are among the factors that keep scholarship rare, sources tell Enterprise. We’ll explore this in more detail next week.


Your top education stories for the week:

  • The tax man is coming for private and online tutors: Online tutors and private tutoring centers will have to register with the Tax Authority and pay income tax.
  • Online payments for public school fees: Public school fees can now be paid online through a digital payments service launched by state-owned fintech firm e-Finance and payment management platform klickit in collaboration with the Education Ministry.

CALENDAR

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 could significantly contribute to increasing the volume of Egyptian exports to the Russia-led bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

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

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

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

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

8-9 (Monday-Tuesday): US-Egypt Strategic Dialogue kicks off in Washington, DC.

11 November (Thursday): Deadline for Anghami SPAC merger.

15 November (Monday): Unvaccinated public sector workers won’t be allowed into their workplaces.

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 November (Thursday): Rameda Pharma’s annual general meeting (pdf), at which it will decide on the sale of a 5% stake in the company from an individual shareholder to an unnamed foreign institutional investor.

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).

1 December (Wednesday): Unvaccinated members of the public will be banned from government buildings from this date; unvaccinated students will be prevented from accessing university campuses.

1 December (Wednesday): Government departments will begin moving to offices in the new capital.

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.

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