Tuesday, 16 November 2021

AM — Gov’t signals it could bring the private sector in from the cold

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Happy hump day, wonderful people. We have a huge issue this morning, and no story has piqued our interest as much as a statement from the Cabinet economic group last night that suggests the state is looking to back out of select sectors of the economy in an orderly way.

Sensitive to the notion of “crowding out”? The ministers are mulling the results of a recent study that will guide cabinet as it decides (a) which “priority areas for structural reform” will open the door for “more private sector involvement” in the economy, (b) identify industries from which the state will exit and hand the reins to private business, and (c) which industries are sufficiently strategic for the state to need at least a foothold.

THE KEY QUOTE is right up top: “Our goal is to make it possible for the private sector to participate more in the implementation of many [national] development and service projects.” The study, it says, “confirms the government's full awareness of the importance of a real partnership with the private sector” and the need for the state to “create an enabling and stimulating environment for the private sector.”

THE KICKER- Cabinet is committing to a review every two years of which state-owned enterprises it needs to keep in the government’s portfolio as well as to an annual “dialogue” with private business on the state of play. Ministers are also looking into the possible setup of a body that will “supervise and manage” the companies of which the state retains ownership.

What’s the economic group? Members include the PM — who heads the committee — as well as the ministers of planning, finance and public enterprises and a number of key direct reports, among them our friends Vice Minister of Finance Ahmed Kouchouk and top Planning Minister advisor Nada Massoud as well as and GAFI boss Mohamed Abdelwahab.

The statement should be good news for capital markets, as ministers nodded to the privatization of state assets through both sale to strategics and via offerings on the EGX. Sales through IPO have proven compelling for investors this year in Egypt (e-Finance) as well as in Saudi and UAE. There’s sufficient hunger for new paper on the EGX that we see little room for state offerings to “crowd out” private-sector companies looking to offer shares. Abu Auf, Macro Group and Ebtikar are all on deck right now eyeing sales as early as 2022, and others have suggested recently they’re keeping an eye on market conditions.

IN THE SAME VEIN- Lawmakers in the House gave approval yesterday to a bill that would make it easier for the private sector to bid for public infrastructure projects in a range of industries. We have the full rundown in the news well, below.

HAPPENING TODAY-

The two-day Africa Fintech summit kicks off today. 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 BIG STORY ABROAD- Biden’s bumper infrastructure bill is everywhere in the foreign press this morning. The US president signed into law yesterday the USD 1.2 tn bill, which will enable the biggest upgrade to America’s roads, bridges, railways and internet infrastructure in more than a decade. The story is everywhere from AP and Reuters to the FT and CNN.

MARKET WATCH-

El Erian’s crystal ball doesn’t see oil hitting USD 100 / bbl: Forecasts that rallying oil prices will break the USD 100 mark are overlooking key demand factors, markets guru Mohamed El Erian told CNBC’s Dan Murphy on the sidelines of the Adipec conference in Abu Dhabi. His comments come as Brent and US crude surged past USD 80 per barrel in recent weeks, thanks to post-pandemic demand outstrippng supply. “If you look at what is happening on the demand side, there you get some questions. Demand is robust today but will it be robust in six months’ time?” El Erian says.

Abu Dhabi’s Adipec will keep energy in the headlines this week, bringing together CEOs for in-person events with ministers from countries that form the OPEC+ oil alliance, according to Bloomberg. The event kicked off yesterday and runs through to Friday.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

We’re getting a royal visit this week: British royal family members Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will be in Cairo on Thursday and Friday (18-19 November).

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: Green finance has been gaining speed in Egypt and a main contributor to this movement is programs implemented by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development that provide both funding and technical knowledge. We went down the food chain to talk to all the parties involved, from the EBRD’s independent consultants and the local banks which are doing the on-lending, to the private-sector firms which are receiving the finance.

enterprise

LEGISLATION WATCH

House gives final approval to PPP Act amendments

It’s about to get easier for the private sector to bid for public infrastructure projects after lawmakers yesterday gave final approval to amendments designed to encourage more public-private partnerships (PPP). Changes to the PPP Act passed by the House yesterday explicitly allow public entities to partner with private companies on transport, energy, communications and healthcare projects, and introduce new mechanisms to simplify the process.

What does the bill entail? Companies are now allowed to submit unsolicited proposals and negotiate directly with public sector entities for contracts, circumventing the traditional competitive bidding process, according to a House committee report containing a draft of the law (pdf). The use of PPPs will be expanded to include everything from designing and financing to operations and maintenance, while a previous requirement that was known to slow down the time it takes for the government to enter into contracts has been scrapped. PPP projects will also be made part of the Planning Ministry’s development strategy, while changes will be made to rules governing the post-project engagement period to ensure higher quality standards.

Why is this important? Mobilizing private sector investment through PPPs could go a long way to helping Egypt close its huge infrastructure funding gap, which the World Bank has estimated sits at around USD 230 bn. It would also help address the notion that the state’s growing involvement in the economy, especially through mega-projects, is crowding out parts of the private sector.

BACKGROUND- Passed in 2010, the legislation sought to put in place a regulatory framework to attract more private investment into government projects. Within a year of passing, the government awarded Orascom Construction and Spanish firm Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas a USD 475 mn contract to build the New Cairo wastewater treatment plant.

But since then the model hasn’t caught on in a big way, with few large-scale projects being tendered through PPPs in recent years. Things have picked up in recent months though, with Bombardier, Orascom and Arab Contractors being handed the reins to the Cairo monorail, a number of logistics projects — including the Sixth of October and Tenth of Ramadan dry ports — getting initial approval, and the government turning to the private sector for its USD 2.5 bn desalination plan.

Why the slow progress? Regulatory uncertainties stemming from overlapping legislation, a lack of transparency over how contracts are awarded, an absence of incentives for ministries to turn to the private sector, and unclear dispute resolution mechanisms have all been cited as reasons for why PPPs have not become more common in Egypt.

What’s next? The bill will now make its way to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to be signed into law before its executive regulations are published in the coming months.

INVESTMENT WATCH

e-Finance pushes expansion with B2B e-commerce, digital health, and tourism platforms

What’s next for e-Finance as a public company? Following its blockbuster debut on the EGX as part of the state privatization program last month, e-payments firm e-Finance is focused on the build-out of new lines of business and expanding its regional footprint. The company had said earlier this year that it will use the funds raised through its IPO to invest in growth. Among the priorities: A taxation and B2C receipts platform it’s launching with the Finance Ministry and a digital health services platform with the Universal Health Ins. Authority.

e-Finance is also pursuing a number of non-bank financial services licenses, which it says will “allow the group to provide the full payment value chain” for 22 mn current customers are well as newcomers to its platforms.

Particularly interesting is e-Aswaaq, the company’s new e-commerce platform. Here’s the rundown:

e-Aswaaq, which was launched in 1Q2021, aims to become the first and largest full-fledged, homegrown B2B e-commerce platform in Egypt, e-Aswaaq CEO Islam Mamoun tells us. The platform will source goods from both Egyptian and foreign vendors, giving customers a wide range of products to choose from — and setting itself up as a competitor for other major B2B e-commerce players such as Alibaba.

e-Aswaaq is also getting in on tourist site ticketing management: Apart from its e-commerce activities, e-Aswaaq also has a tourism platform operating under its umbrella to manage EgyMonuments, the government’s online booking and on-site ticketing platform.

e-Aswaaq Misr has contracted with the Ministry of Tourism to build a full portal that kicked off operations with ticketing and booking services at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir a month and a half ago, followed by the Giza Pyramids, where EgyMonuments began offering its services a little over two weeks ago. e-Aswaaq plans to toll out the platform across Luxor by the end of December, with an eye to be covering the country’s 30 most-visited attractions by H1 2022.

Revenues coming in from the project are already much higher than expected, Mamoun told us. Since launching at the museum in downtown Cairo, it has processed 16 mn transactions, and at the pyramids, it has processed 17 mn transactions.

MEANWHILE- eHealth is launching its services next year: eHealth, the digital healthcare service platform e-Finance launched with the Universal Health Ins. Authority last month ahead of its IPO, is set to begin its service rollout in 1H2022, Executive Chairman and CEO Ibrahim Sarhan confirmed to us. e-Finance is currently hiring talent for the platform, which will manage and operate the tech backbone of the government’s universal health ins. scheme.

AND- e-Tax is will begin offering services next April: Among the new lines of business e-Finance announced previously is E-Tax, its EGP 100 mn joint venture with the Finance Ministry to provide companies and authorities with tech solutions. The now EGX-listed firm said back in April it is ramping up investments in the JV, among other core projects. E-Tax is set to be involved in the nationwide rollout of a digital system through which tourists will be able to claim VAT drawbacks prior to departing from the country.

STARTUP WATCH

Career 180 lands investment from EdVentures + Tyro to acquire Nafham in share swap

Edtech startup Career 180 scored a USD 200k investment from EdVentures to develop a new employment platform, the VC firm said in a press release (pdf). The site would be merged with freelance job site Freelance Yard to create a platform that provides employment services to young people across a range of industries.

This marks the second investment by Nahdet Misr Publishing’s VC arm in the startup, bringing its total investments to date to USD 300k. EdVentures invested an initial USD 100k in the business back in 2019.

The new platform is set to launch in two months, and will involve providing job seekers with qualifications through live courses that provide them with badges upon completion, and supporting them through training throughout their application process, co-founder Shorouk Alaa El Din told Enterprise. The startup plans to provide training to up to 1 mn people, and connect 300k users with jobs, according to the press release.

A platform for freelancers: The merger with Freelance Yard, which was already a partner working in collaboration with Career 180, will allow the startup to venture into freelance work and contracting, rather than full-time gigs alone, explained Shorouk. Legal proceedings for the merger are currently underway, she confirmed.

What does Career 180 do? The online platform allows users to connect with career experts in virtual one-to-one sessions, and provides them with resources like career counselling videos to help equip them with skills for the job market. The startup also hosts various workshops, training programs, and the annual Egypt Career Summit.

This marks EdVentures’ fourth investment this year, by our count. Last week, the company announced it had invested USD 400k in OTO Courses. Earlier in the year, it made a USD 160k investment in edtech platform iSchool, and another a six-figure investment in book summary platform Akhdar. We can expect at least one more edtech investment round from the investor before the end of the year, EdVentures’ General Manager Maged Harby told us, saying the average ticket size for remaining investments will range between USD 100k-300k.


ALSO IN EDTECH- Tyro is acquiring crowdsourced educational content platform Nafham, the company announced in a press release (pdf). The transaction will be executed by share swap and will see Tyro’s leadership take over Nafham’s management and operations. Tyro has already secured funding from Flat6Labs and NXL Partners for the new entity, it said without disclosing further details.

What are these two platforms? Tyro connects students and instructors in one-to-one and group sessions and boasts 50k paid sessions since 2017, while Nafham, which has 6 mn users annually, offers recorded educational video content covering national school curriculums in Egypt, Kuwait, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Algeria.

STARTUP WATCH

Startup investment up >33% on 2020 + Kiwe closes first round, MNT-Halan launches core banking system

Investors have put almost USD 2 bn into startups in MENA, Pakistan and Turkey so far this year, with USD 150 mn being deployed in October alone, according to Magnitt.

Putting this in perspective: Less than USD 1.5 bn was invested in MENAPT startups through the whole of 2020.

Fintech + e-commerce continue to dominate: Investments grew 10% m-o-m compared to September, with the bulk of the funding going to companies in the fintech and e-commerce sectors.

Healthcare + transport and logistics also hot: Of the big five sectors, only healthcare and transport saw a y-o-y increase in transaction number during the month, growing by 50% and 300% respectively, according to the report.

The biggest transaction of the month came in the agriculture sector: Emirati agritech firm Pure Harvest raised USD 64.5 mn from a Korean investment firm at the end of October, accounting for almost half of the funding raised by all MENAPT startups during the month.

November seems to be continuing the trend, with Egyptian startups Rabbit and Breadfast both closing multi-mn USD rounds.

A pipeline still backed up from 2020: Magnitt a slowdown in investment activity last year thanks to the pandemic. That said, 2020 was also a good year for MENA startups, with capital inflows climbing to USD 1 bn in 2020, up from USD 700 mn the year before, despite the economic damage and market volatility caused by the pandemic.

Egyptian startups landed some 26% of VC funding deployed to MENA in 1H2021, with a total of USD 194 mn pouring into startups in the country, a 30% year-on-year increase from the same period in 2020.


PAYMENTS NEWS- E-payments app Kiwe closed its first investment round, led by Digital Finance Holding (DFin), with participation from our friends from EFG Hermes, Marakez and other angel investors, according to a press release (pdf). The value of the round was undisclosed.

Kiwe will use the investment to expand its platform, CEO and co-founder of the startup Fatma Khalifa told Enterprise. The platform provides money pooling, transfer, and payment features that can be used across their portfolio of merchants, which include F&B players, retail and furniture stores, and social commerce platforms, she said.


ALSO- MNT-Halan has successfully rolled out its Neuron banking software, which will enable it to scale up and handle mns of customers transacting in multiple currencies, the company announced in a press release. Launched earlier this year, the core banking software was developed in house, making it the first of its kind in the Middle East and Africa. “We built this technology to accelerate our trajectory and ability to scale, ensure frictionless transactions, predict customer behavior, and maintain the security of our customers’ data,” said co-founder and CTO Ahmed Mohsen, calling the software a “game changer.”

EARNINGS WATCH

E-payments giant Fawry saw its bottom line ease 26% to EGP 36.1 mn in 3Q2021, according to its earnings release (pdf). Revenues rose 31% y-o-y during the quarter to EGP 448.3 mn.

On a nine-month basis, Fawry’s net income is nevertheless up 25% over the same period last year at EGP 149.4 mn on revenues of EGP 1.2 bn (+33%).

Banking + microfinance segments underpin revenue growth: The strong performance was driven by the company’s banking segment, which saw revenues more than double to EGP 118.3 mn in 3Q. Its microfinance services also performed well, bringing in EGP 35.6 mn, up almost 90% from 3Q2020.

Why the dip in the bottom line in 3Q? Fawry’s bottom line remains “solid” despite “aggressive spending” on marketing and human resources, it said in the release, noting that its gross and EBITDA margins improved significantly during 3Q2021 compared to the same period last year.

Fawry is getting into the BNPL game: The company’s buy now pay later platform, Fawry Consumer Finance, will launch next year and will “strengthen Fawry’s growing presence in the financial services space” and “drive further business at our acceptance segment,” CEO Ashraf Sabry said. The Central Bank of Egypt has also approved the company’s myFawry card, which it hopes to launch before the end of the year, he said. The service allows consumers to deposit and withdraw funds from anywhere across the country and it is expected to fuel the use of P2P and payout services, yielding new revenue streams for Fawry, Sabry added.


Elsewedy Electric’s net income fell 14% y-o-y to EGP 703.9 mn in 3Q2021, according to the company’s earnings release (pdf). Revenues for the quarter came in at EGP 14.9 bn, up 31% y-o-y. The company booked EGP 2.3 bn in net income in 9M2021, up 32% y-o-y, while net revenues for the nine-month period came in at EGP 40.9 bn, up 30%.

Wires + turnkey projects drive top line growth: The company’s quarterly performance was underpinned by its wires and cables segment, whose sales grew 57% to EGP 7.4 bn. Turnkey projects also saw significant growth, rising 14% to EGP 5.9 bn.

Looking forward: “Management is encouraged by the solid performance we have

delivered across our business lines … and is optimistic about Elsewedy’s growth prospects and its ability to sustain strong performance,” said CEO Ahmed El Sewedy.


GB Auto’s net income dipped 11% y-o-y to EGP 332.3 mn in 3Q2021, the company said in its earnings release (pdf). Revenues rose 34% y-o-y to EGP 8.3 bn during the quarter. GB Auto reported a 39% y-o-y increase in 9M2021 revenues on the back of “overall improved demand,” with net income for the period soaring 60% y-o-y to EGP 1 bn.

In detail: Revenues from the auto and auto-related segment grew 35% y-o-y to EGP 6.5 bn in 3Q2021, “driven primarily by healthy demand and increasing consumer purchasing power,” the company said. Despite rising sales, the segment’s bottom line dipped 21% y-o-y to EGP 185.6 mn which the company attributed to the “high base effect of capital gains in the comparable period.” GB Capital delivered 26% y-o-y revenue growth to EGP 2.1 bn, while net income inched up 4.4% y-o-y to EGP 146.3 mn.

Looking forward: GB Auto also sees strong demand in the auto sector continuing to drive its performance through the end of the year and “offset the impacts of anticipated supply chain disruptions,” said CEO Nader Ghabbour. The company plans to continue expanding its fintech product offerings through GB Capital to capitalize on Egypt’s “thriving” fintech market, he said. The company is also working on finding substitutes to tuk-tuks following the Madbouly government’s decision to ban imports of the three wheelers’ components, Ghabbour said. GB Auto currently has 3-6 months of tuk-tuk inventory to clear out, giving it some breathing room while it searches for substitutes, board member Mansour Kabbani told us earlier.


Tenth of Ramadan for Pharma Industries and Diagnostic Reagents (Rameda) reported an 82% y-o-y increase in 3Q2021 net income to EGP 45.3 mn, according to the company’s earnings release (pdf). Revenues for the quarter grew 34% to EGP 314.7 mn, buoyed by sales growth across all of Rameda’s segments. Net income in the first nine months of the year rose 56% to EGP 107.1 mn on revenues of EGP 852.5 mn, up 27% from the same period in 2020.

What’s driving growth? Private sales accounted for more than two-thirds of the company’s overall revenues, rising 26% to hit EGP 587.2 mn on the back of heightened demand for antivirals and antibiotics as well as the continued normalization of the market post-covid. Tender volumes fell by almost a quarter in line as Rameda reduced their contribution to sales but revenues still managed to increase 3%, accounting for 18% of its top line.

Rameda’s growing nutraceuticals portfolio is expected to drive short- and long-term growth, CEO Amr Morsy said, pointing to “the spread of covid-19 and its various strains, the MENA region’s high prevalence of lifestyle diseases and the general increase in consumption of natural health and wellbeing products by more health-conscious consumers.” The company is expecting to launch another four products before the year is out, three of which fall under the “lucrative” nutraceutical sub-segment, according to Morsy.

DEBT WATCH

CIRA to borrow EGP 375 mn for capex spending + EgyLease closes securitized bond issuance

EGX-listed education outfit CIRA is borrowing EGP 375 mn from Ahli United Bank to finance fresh investments, the company said in a regulatory filing (pdf) yesterday. The company’s board greenlit the decision earlier this week, the disclosure says. No further details or information were provided in the disclosure and a company spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

This is the latest loan CIRA is taking on to fund its investment plans: The company had said in September that it’s planning to borrow EGP 260 mn from an unnamed Egyptian bank to fund unspecified new projects. CIRA also said earlier this year that it was in talks with a syndicate of three international banks for a credit facility to finance around 40-50% of its planned EGP 2 bn applied tech university.

MEANWHILE- Financial leasing company EgyLease closed a EGP 749.8 mn securitized bonds issuance, according to a statement (pdf) from Misr Capital, which acted as co-lead on the transaction alongside state-affiliated securitization firm Al Taamir.

The securitized bond market has been on a roll these past few months, with Raya subsidiary Aman completing the issuance of EGP 585 mn in securitized bonds, while upmarket developer SODIC closed an EGP 343 mn securitized bond sale. Palm Hills Development, Premium International, and Arabia Investment Holdings subsidiary Rawaj also took sales of the asset-backed securities to market earlier this year.

Unclear about how securitized bonds work? We’ve got you covered right here.

enterprise

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

It was a mixed bag on the airwaves yesterday: The nation’s talking heads covered the first day of the workplace ban on unvaccinated public sector workers, aid to Aswan (which is still reeling from last week’s storms), and the return of the World Youth Forum.

Happy first day of no vaccine, no work: Hossam Abdel Ghaffar made his debut as the Health Ministry’s spokesperson last night, telling Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi that things went fairly smoothly as the new workplace policy was introduced (watch, runtime: 3:16). Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 1:30) and Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 15:33) also had the story.

The workplace ban leads coverage of Egypt in the international press this morning with Reuters, AFP, CNN and Sky News all taking note.

Eyes are still on Aswan, following up on the heavy rains that swept over the southern city last week. A number of trucks loaded with aid are on their way to Aswan and should arrive by 9am this morning, Mohamed Mokhtar, spokesman for the Tahya Misr Fund, told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 6:29), adding that some 2k people are in need of aid after the destructive rains. The aid will also help to rebuild homes, 500 of which were damaged. Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 2:18) and Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 3:20) also covered the story.

The New York Times and Washington Post have both taken note of the story.

The World Youth Forum is back for its fourth run: After last year’s covid-imposed hiatus, the World Youth Forum will return to Sharm El Sheikh for its fourth iteration on 10-13 January. The story was all over the airwaves: Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 4:00), Hadeeth Al Kahira (watch, runtime: 0:43), Kelma Akheera (watch, runtime: 1:13) and Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 8:09).

COVID WATCH

If you’re not vaccinated, the gov’t isn’t going to deny you access to hospital: Unvaccinated patients seeking treatment at a state hospital are exempt from the decision prohibiting the unjabbed from accessing government facilities, Health Ministry spokesperson Hossam Abdel Ghaffar told Youm7. Starting 1 December, members of the public will need to show proof that they have received at least one dose of covid-19 vaccine to enter government facilities.

The Health Ministry reported 946 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 935 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 344,907 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 68 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 19,567.

PLANET FINANCE

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A surge in US inflation is threatening to end the emerging-market USD carry trade: EM carry trades funded in USD have seen the biggest drop-off since the covid market crash in March 2020, tumbling more than 4% over the past two months as US inflation has risen, according to a Bloomberg carry trade index. News last week that US inflation reached a 30-year high in October has increased pressure on the Federal Reserve to tighten policy, an act that would raise costs for investors borrowing greenbacks and push them out of the carry trade. “Sharply higher-than-expected inflation readings in the U.S. and China will play havoc with the narrative that inflation pressures are transitory,” said one EM strategist. “This bodes badly for EM carry trades in the near term as it reduces the relative yield gap.”

The Fed is struggling to control the narrative: In an interview with CNBC yesterday Mohamed El Erian suggested that the Fed’s doubling down on its short-term inflation theory risks undermining US monetary policy. “I think the Fed is losing credibility,” the famed economist and Allianz chief economic advisor said during the Adipec energy expo in Dubai “I’ve argued that it is really important to reestablish a credible voice on inflation and this has massive institutional, political and social implications.”

Egypt is better positioned than most, and thanks to its benchmark rate remaining at 8.25% it still enjoys one of the highest real rates in the world even as inflation has ticked up in recent months. The most recent foreign holdings data (from August) showed that investment in local debt remained at record highs at around USD 33 bn.

But rising US yields could change the calculus: US yields have been climbing since the Fed announced two weeks ago that it would begin tapering its USD 110 bn-a-month bond-buying programme later this month. The bond-market sell-off that began last week continued yesterday, with 10-year yields pushing back above 1.6% as concerns about tightening conditions continued to cause volatility.

“We’re in a very tricky time,” said Ryan Jacob, chief investment officer of Jacob Asset Management. “We’re dealing with kind of a very, very unusual set of crosswinds in the economy that we need to kind of get past.”

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THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell 1.4% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.02 bn (31% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is up 6.0% YTD.

In the green: Rameda (+5.5%), CIRA (+1.5%) and Speed Medical (+0.8%).

In the red: Fawry (-5.8%), Aspire Capital (-4.3%) and Palm Hills Development (-4.3%).

DIPLOMACY

We have a new ambassador in Qatar: Egypt’s new ambassador to Qatar, Amr El Sherbini (LinkedIn), presented his credentials to Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamed Al Thani, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said yesterday. Tensions between the countries are thawing following the January agreement to end the GCC’s four-year blockade of Qatar and restore diplomatic ties.

Other items on the Diplo front:

  • President Abdel Fattah El Sisi discussed joint projects with Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday, Ittihadiya said in a statement. They focused on Egypt’s first nuclear power plant, Dabaa, and creating the Russian industrial zone in the Suez Canal area.
  • An Israeli delegation headed by national security chief Eyal Holata landed in Cairo on Sunday for talks with intelligence chief Abbas Kamel about the Gaza ceasefire and other bilateral issues, according to Israeli news reports (here and here).
greenEconomy

The ins and outs of DFI-backed green finance in Egypt: Interest in green finance is continuing to grow in Egypt, in part thanks to a number of programs that have been established and supported by foreign financial institutions. Multilateral lenders such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have offered new lending programs to channel finance into green projects, enabling Egyptian private sector businesses to raise capital through a new avenue. Enterprise went down the food chain to talk to the parties involved, from the EBRD’s independent consultants and the local banks which are doing the on-lending, to the private-sector firms which are receiving the finance.

The EBRD first introduced green finance to Egypt in 2014 through a pilot program that saw the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) receive a USD 30 mn loan to on-lend to SMEs and large businesses committed to energy efficiency or power generation from renewables. The pilot was quickly followed by a larger program under the EBRD’s regional Green Economy Financing Facility (GEFF), which lent out EUR 140 mn to four partner banks: QNB Alahli, NBK Egypt, Alexbank, and Arab African International Bank.

The GEFF program has since been fully allocated, but its success has driven the EBRD to launch more programs in the past two years: In 2020, the EBRD launched an EUR 70 mn program titled Green Value Chain (GVC) which was extended to QNB AlAhli. In 2020 and 2021, the NBE received two green loans from the EBRD totalling USD 200 mn. The EBRD recently launched GEFF II, with QNB AlAhli so far snagged USD 50 mn and NBK receiving a USD 25 mn loan from the total EUR 150 mn earmarked for the program.

This brings the tally of EBRD’s green finance contributions to Egypt to over USD 650 mn, Ashraf Zeitoun, GVC’s Team Leader and GEFF technical advisor, told Enterprise. Zeitoun works with Stantec, an independent consultant that oversees the day-to-day operations of several of the EBRD’s green programs in Egypt.

How it works: The EBRD provides loans to banks that are then on-lent to private sector companies on a per project basis. The loans to the private sector are offered at a reduced interest rate of 5-8% if they are in EGP and eligible for the CBE’s SMEs and Industrial Sector initiatives. Loans in a foreign currency also have a competitive rate, Zeitoun told us. In many cases, projects can also receive a 10-15% cashback grant. These incentives are used to help businesses shoulder the initial cost of shifting towards greener technologies, he said.

What kind of projects do they cover? Everything from sustainable energy technologies, climate mitigation and adaptation tech, sustainable irrigation, water desalination, sustainable land management, and recycling, Zeitoun said. Eligible projects need to ensure reduction in resource consumption or greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20%, or use renewable energy resources instead, he added.

SolarizEgypt is one of the companies that has benefitted from the programs: The solar energy company has received around EGP 290 mn in green financing from GEFF through QNB, which it used to implement eight projects that produce 47 MW of solar energy, founder and managing director Yasseen Abdelghaffar told Enterprise. The duration of the loans they have received ranged from 8-12 years. Their first project was a 1 MW PV system for Coca Cola Egypt, which made SolarizEgypt the first independent power producer to sell electricity to another private company in Egypt. The venture proved successful, and soon the company implemented similar projects for five more of Coca Cola’s local facilities, supplied with a total of EGP 150 mn from green financing facilities. The solar company has also received EGP 70 mn to create a PV system for Arabian Cement as well as another EGP 70 mn to convert 30% of El Gouna’s energy consumption to solar. The company’s technology offers a 10-15% reduction in energy bills compared to what firms would pay to the government, Abdelghaffar explained.

Waste-to-energy startup Bio Energy also received financing: The company initially borrowed EGP 2 mn to create a waste management plant in Minya, and followed that up with an EGP 27 mn loan to build the second phase of the Minya project, as well as new plants in Giza and Alexandria, founder and CEO Mahmoud Galal told Enterprise. As an SME, Bio Energy received the loan at a 5% interest rate, to be paid over a duration of 4-5 years, giving the Gala an alternative to selling equity and losing ownership, he explained.

For both SolarizEgypt and Bio Energy, projects they implemented were given cashback grants of varying amounts. To be eligible for the grant, companies have to go through a more stringent requirement system before beginning work, Abdelghaffar said. Once a project is completed, GEFF sends a consultant to verify that it meets specifications, and the grant is received within a few months.

How much demand is there for green loans? Zeitoun says demand is growing, but economic stress caused by the pandemic means the market isn’t reaching its potential. “Since it’s a loan in the end, it is impacted by the macroeconomic situation and the lending environment is worse than it was before the pandemic,” he explained. Many companies have been hesitant to make large capex investments, but there is a slow but steady return to pre-pandemic demand for smaller investments, he added.

On the private-sector side, the largest demand still comes from commercial and industrial companies, but there’s also been an increase from F&B and textile firms, as well as agribusinesses, especially with the program’ increased focus on SMEs, Zeitoun said.

What’s next for green finance in Egypt? While he can’t speak on behalf of the bank, Zeitoun tells us that once demand and need is shown, EBRD typically launches several phases of green credit lines. His hunch seems to be playing out, as Banque Misr is currently in line to receive a USD 100 mn facility from the EBRD to finance local SMEs working on green projects. As energy prices increase and the cost of green technology decreases, more companies will opt for these initiatives to stay competitive, Abdelghaffar believes. Meanwhile, Galal pointed to Egypt hosting next year’s COP27 and CIB’s green bond issuance as indicators that the government is pushing a more climate-conscious future that will encompass more green finance.

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

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

15 November (Monday): Car dealerships must comply with new consumer protection rules requiring price stickers to be attached to vehicles.

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

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

17 November (Wednesday): The International Finance Corporation hosts the Sustainable Finance Forum.

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

23 November: 2021 Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) summit in Sharm El Sheikh.

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 institutional investor.

25 November (Thursday): Ibnsina Pharma’s extraordinary general assembly meeting (pdf) to discuss the company’s planned capital increase to EGP 280 mn through a share issuance.

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 KfW for green project proposals in Egypt as part of their Investing for Employment facility (pdf).

End of November: El Nasr Automotive expects to have found a replacement for Dongfeng as its partner for its local EV assembly plans.

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.

15 December (Wednesday): The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will give its final approval for a USD 100 mn facility to state-owned Banque Misr to finance local SMEs working on green projects.

16 December (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

1 January 2022: Capital gains tax comes into effect on the EGX for local investors.

1Q2022: Launch of the Egyptian Commodities Exchange.

10-13 January 2022 (Monday-Thursday): World Youth Forum, Sharm El Sheikh.

7 January 2022 (Friday): Coptic Christmas.

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

11 February 2022 (Friday): Deadline for Anghami SPAC merger.

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.

March 2022: World Cup playoffs.

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. © 2021 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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