Tuesday, 7 December 2021

AM — The Aldar / ADQ bid for upmarket developer SODIC is going through

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

It’s one heck of a busy news day today, wonderful people, so let’s jump right in and get this show on the road:

THE BIG STORY OF THE DAY- Aldar Properties and ADQ’s mandatory tender offer for up to 90% of upmarket real estate developer SODIC is going through after blowing past the 51% minimum subscription threshold for the acquisition to go through. SODIC subscribers have until the end of trading today to respond to the MTO.

A US-UAE consortium is going to turn our Temple of Bureaucracy into a multipurpose attraction that will anchor the heart of Downtown Cairo. The good people at the Sovereign Fund of Egypt announced the partnership yesterday.

And solid lobbying by industry participants seems to have put the state’s sale of a new tobacco license back on the front burner.

We have more on all three stories in today’s news well, below.

ALSO- It feels a lot like diplomats have taken a Hot Tub Time Machine to some twisted alternate-reality version of 1984. Consider this:

  • Washington is (kinda-sorta) boycotting the Beijing Olympics;
  • The UAE and Iran are edging toward restoring ties;
  • And Amreeka is getting edgy as China looks to project power into the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.

Oh, and Joe Biden is picking up the red phone to try to de-escalate with Vladimir Putin as old Cold War tensions flare. The FT wants you to know that “Western leaders are presenting a united front” as Biden is expected to threaten Putin with sanctions if Russia were to (further) invade Ukraine.

MEANWHILE- Have we reached peak 2021? A story in Fortune magazine suggests as much: This artist is auctioning off one of her eggs through an NFT. The creep factor is strong in this one.

Your daily reminder that technical analysis = the reading of sheep’s entrails, from a technical analysis guy with a sense of ha-ha.

PSA- We could be in for some gnarly weather, with wind and possibly rain sweeping Alexandria today and the capital city tomorrow. Our favourite weather app and the national weather service are both on the same page here. Check out Last Night’s Talk Shows (below) for more.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

The two-day North Africa Trade Finance Summit starts today, bringing together business leaders, people from the financial industry, logistics experts and policymakers to discuss trade finance.

THIS WEEK-

Inflation figures for November will be released this Thursday, 9 December. Urban inflation slipped slightly to 6.3% in October from 6.6% the month before, which was the highest reading since January 2020. The dip resulted from a serious slowdown in non-food inflation, though food and beverage prices continued to accelerate.

Renaissance Capital expects the trend to continue, writing in a research note yesterday that it is forecasting inflation to fall to 5.8% by the end of the year. Food price inflation, which has been rising for much of this year climbing to 11.6% y-o-y in October, will have started to abate in November, according to RenCap, which is penciling a 2022 year-end inflation rate of 5.2%.

That puts the focus squarely on the CBE’s final policy meeting of the year, which will take place on 16 December. Policymakers have held off lowering interest rates further this year and will continue to remain reluctant to do so next week in the face of Egypt’s current account deficit, RenCap says. The current account deficit widened by almost two thirds during FY 2020-2021 to USD 18.4 bn due to falling tourism revenues and rising imports. RenCap is expecting it to narrow to 4.0% of GDP during the current FY from 4.8% in 2020-2021.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research runs tomorrow through to Friday at the St. Regis Al Masa Convention Center.

The Cairo Woodshow kicks off on Thursday at the Cairo International Convention Center

Booster shot registration: The Health Ministry will begin allowing senior citizens with chronic medical conditions, as well as all medical staff, to register for a booster covid-19 vaccine as of next Sunday, 12 December.

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: With plenty of natural attractions across the country, ecotourism has been picking up in Egypt, particularly as the government has incorporated ecotourism into its broader tourism revival strategy. Today, we look at the state of the country’s ecotourism industry and what’s being done to support and encourage sustainable travel.

enterprise

M&A WATCH

SODIC is officially getting Emirati owners

The Aldar / ADQ takeover of SODIC is going through: SODIC shareholders have so far agreed to sell shares equivalent to a 77.26% stake (275.2 mn shares) in the company to a consortium of real estate giant Aldar Properties and Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ in a mandatory tender offer, CI Capital, which is advising Aldar and ADQ, confirmed to Enterprise last night.

What’s next? The 10-day subscription period for the MTO ends at the end of trading today, but the Emirati consortium’s MTO is effectively in the clear after passing the 51% minimum threshold for the agreement to go through. Aldar and ADQ are looking to acquire up to 90% of SODIC, meaning shareholders in the upmarket real estate developer can still sell shares equivalent to as much as 12.7% of the company before today’s closing bell.

It’s still unclear whether a group that is presently SODIC’s largest shareholder is among the sellers. A consortium of Act Financial, Hassan Allam Properties and Concrete Plus Engineering together make up SODIC’s single-largest shareholder with a 15% stake in the company. A top exec at one of the companies declined to comment.

The terms of the sale: The Emirati consortium — which is 70% owned by Al Dar and 30% owned by ADQ — is paying EGP 20 per share in an all-cash transaction, valuing SODIC at around EGP 7.1 bn (USD 452 mn). The company’s board called on shareholders last month to accept the offer despite it being priced almost 20% below the EGP 23.42 share the upmarket developer’s financial advisor BDO had suggested in its fair value study.

SODIC’s shares closed at EGP 19.75 each yesterday, rising from EGP 19.60 last week but remaining flat during yesterday’s trading, according to market data. The company’s shares have traded as low as EGP 14.02 and as high as EGP 19.89 in the past 52 weeks, according to Reuters data, meaning the MTO is at a premium to SODIC’s average share price in the past year.

Just what the nation’s real estate industry needs? Aldar is a proven, well-capitalized player in the UAE’s hyper-competitive real estate market and will bring to the Egyptian industry a set of skills and operating playbook that we expect will see many participants up their games. The transaction is also great news for foreign direct investment, underscoring to would-be strategics that it’s possible to efficiently enter a key industry here.

Background: The consortium had presented its takeover offer back in September, when it initially tabled EGP 18-19 per share, which would have valued SODIC at EGP 6.6 bn. The Financial Regulatory Authority approved the bid last month, kicking off the 10-day subscription window from 24 November.

REAL ESTATE

US consortium gets EGP 3.5 bn Mogamma revamp contract

US-led consortium tapped for Mogamma overhaul: A consortium of US-based Global Ventures and Oxford Capital together with the UAE’s Al Otaiba Investment signed yesterday a EGP 3.5 bn (c.USD 200 mn) contract to redevelop Tahrir Square’s Mogamma yesterday with the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) and the Planning Ministry, the Madbouly cabinet said in a statement. The consortium had put forth the best technical and financial offer in the tender to revamp the Mogamma, and has prior experience with renovating historic buildings in the US and Europe, cabinet said. (Global Ventures is of zero relation to the high-profile venture capital outfit of the same name.)

The group will develop and manage the complex that was previously the physical home and literal embodiment of Egypt’s state bureaucracy. The contract sets up a partnership between the consortium and the SFE and will see the consortium manage the development of the complex and operate it once complete, the group said (pdf). The iconic downtown Cairo building is set to be transformed into a multi-purpose attraction with an apartment hotel as well as commercial and office spaces.

Where’s the financing coming from? The announcement was silent on how the Global Ventures-Oxford-Otaiba group plans to finance what it said will be an investment “in excess of USD 200 mn” in the project.

The process is expected to wrap within 24 months of the development work actually beginning, Planning Minister Hala El Said told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 19:44), confirming the timeline previously laid out by SFE CEO Ayman Soliman.

Weren’t we about to choose Arab partners for the gig? The government had been looking at four shortlisted bids submitted by consortiums of local and Arab companies as of September, Planning Minister Hala El Said had said at the time. Since then, the decision — which was initially meant to be announced that month — was delayed a handful of times.

Advisors: Alliance Law Firm acted provided legal advice to the US consortium while Adsero – Ragy Soliman & Partners acted as counsel to the SFE. Colliers International conducted the market study to help advise the decision.

ALSO COMING UP- The redevelopment of Mubarak HQ: Five different consortiums want to get involved in the redevelopment of the site of the former National Democratic Party headquarters, which will likely become home to a hotel, commercial, and residential project overlooking the Nile, Soliman said at the signing ceremony yesterday, according to Bloomberg Asharq. The tender for the project will be issued “within weeks,” likely after the end of the winter holiday season, El Said told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 1:31). The SFE also plans to launch a tender to repurpose the Interior Ministry building in downtown, which could be used as a campus for an unspecified French postgraduate university, alongside a startup incubator, according to the minister.

MANUFACTURING

Tobacco tender is back on

Bringing a new tobacco competitor into the market, take three: The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) has relaunched a tender for a license to manufacture cigarettes, potentially ending the historical monopoly by state-owned Eastern Company, Masrawy reports. The license would allow for the establishment of Egypt’s second major tobacco company, entering a space that is currently occupied entirely by Eastern.

Who’s biting? As of yesterday, none of the four tobacco companies with local operations — Philip Morris, JTI-Nakhla Tobacco, British American Tobacco Egypt, and Al Mansour International Distribution Company — had purchased the booklet, Federation of Egyptian Industries’ (FEI) cigarettes division Head Ibrahim Embaby told Enterprise. British Tobacco intends to take out the booklet within the next couple of days, a company representative told us. The IDA has set this coming Thursday as the deadline for companies interested in the license to purchase the conditions booklet for the tender, which outlines the revised terms for the license. The IDA will review offers on 23 January.

What’s different this time around? Nobody really knows. JTI-Nakhla, British American Tobacco, and Al Mansour had previously requested, among other things, that the tender should only cover traditional tobacco products (rather than also including e-cigarettes and heated tobacco). The companies had also complained about tender terms that would protect Eastern’s market share, suggesting that any new market entrant wouldn’t be given a fighting chance. It’s currently unclear whether, or how, the new tender addressed these concerns. The tender may have been re-issued without any changes at all, Embaby suggested in comments to Masrawy. It’s also unclear why the IDA decided to issue a fresh tender, rather than opting to amend the terms of the original tender booklet, the British Tobacco representative told us.

So what changed? Good lobbying, we suspect, including a visit to Egypt in early November by a senior delegation from BAT to discuss with government officials “the company's ambitious strategy and plan to achieve an impactful change in tobacco and nicotine products.” The company issued a statement (pdf) that was heavy on the praise for the government’s management of the economy and investment environment — and called on the government to “issue multiple new manufacturing licenses for traditional cigarettes and new products separately.” BAT played up its GBP 20 mn investment in heated tobacco here this year and noted that it has “provided more than 1k jobs.”

Background: First introduced in March, the tender has been the subject of much drama, receiving strong backlash from several tobacco players who argued that the terms of the license would create an e-cigarette monopoly and provide preferential treatment to Eastern Company. Under the first tender, the new market entrant would have had to price its products 50% higher than Eastern, and allow the state company to own a 24% stake.

The government then conceded and redrafted the license terms, but companies were still unhappy with what they said were unfair conditions. Tobacco giant Philip Morris was the only company to take part in the bidding round for the new license in August, while the three other tobacco companies filed grievance letters to the Madbouly cabinet and requested a deadline extension until 1 December.

INVESTMENT WATCH

Edita starts operations at Morocco factory

Edita Food Industries has started operations at its new production facility in Morocco, the company announced in a statement (pdf) on Sunday. The plant is the company’s first greenfield investment outside of Egypt and makes the company’s transformation into a manufacturer that exports to a host of regional markets into a true multinational with offshore operations.

The EGP 200 mn plant currently has one production line that produces 2.7k tons of HoHos cakes every year. This will increase in the future with the addition of another two production lines.

The facility “significantly strengthens the company’s exposure” to the c. USD 100 mn Moroccan cake market, of which it aims to capture a “strong share,” Edita said.

The factory is operated by Edita Food Industries Morocco, a joint venture set up between Edita and Moroccan FMCG distributor Dislog Group. Edita holds a 76% stake in the company and Dislog holds 20%.

IN OTHER INVESTMENT NEWS-

Digital transformation, cloud, and cybersecurity services company Softline will increase its investments in Egypt following a series of meetings with GAFI, the CIT Ministry and ITIDA, the company announced in a press release (pdf) yesterday. The company didn’t specify how much it would be investing. In December of last year, Softline selected Egypt as its Middle East hub following its re-entry to the Egyptian market.

INVESTMENT WATCH

Elsewedy Electric unveils industrial complex in Tanzania

Elsewedy Electric inaugurates Tanzania industrial park: Elsewedy Electric opened a USD 35 mn electric cable factory in Tanzania yesterday, the company announced in a bourse filing (pdf), marking the start of the first phase of its Kigamboni industrial complex. Located near the country’s capital, the first phase of the park will include several factories for cables, wires, transformers, meters and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), as well as a 4.8k sqm logistics center, it said.​​

The industrial park aims to attract over USD 400 mn worth of investments from over 100 investors across the region, the company said in an emailed statement. It will span 2.2 mn sqm and will include chemical, engineering and mining plants, as well as a technical training academy. The park is being built by Elsewedy Electric’s subsidiary, Elsewedy Industrial Development.

It’s not clear how much Elsewedy will invest in the project, as the company didn’t disclose figures in the statement. Business Insider Africa reported last month that USD 200 mn will be spent on infrastructure for the first phase. The company declined to comment on the subject when approached by Enterprise.

This is not the company’s first rodeo in Tanzania: Elsewedy Electric and Arab Contractors were awarded the USD 2.9 bn contract to construct the country’s Julius Nyerere hydropower dam, a megaproject that will produce more than 2 GW of electricity when operational.

Elsewedy Electric has been increasing its African footprint in recent months. The company signed a USD 16.7 mn EPC contract to build a substation for Ghana’s state-owned electricity company, to be delivered within a two-year period.

EGX

OC announces dividend payout + acquisition in the cards

Orascom Construction’s (OC) board of directors has approved an interim dividend payout of USD 0.2313 per share, the company said in an EGX filing (pdf) yesterday. Investors holding shares listed on the Nasdaq Dubai will receive the payment in USD, while those holding shares on the EGX will receive the payment in the EGP equivalent.

This marks the company's fifth dividend payment to shareholders since 2018. The payout will be distributed on 31 January, bringing the dual-listed company’s total dividends in FY 2021 to USD 0.4626 per share.

IN OTHER NEWS FROM OC- The company is planning to acquire an equipment distribution and services business owned by the Sawiris family for USD 35 mn in an all-cash transaction, according to a statement (pdf) yesterday. OC announced in October that it was looking at acquiring up to 100% (pdf) of the company, and appointed HLB for Financial Consultancies on Securities to conduct a fair value study.

The business: The target company owns three separate businesses active in equipment import, distribution and maintenance: Orascom Trading, Orascom Freezone and National Equipment Company. The company is the sole agent for more than 45 original equipment manufacturers in Egypt, including Grove, John Deere, Volvo Penta, Hitachi, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. It is owned by the Sawiris family but is legally separate from OC.

The next steps: Shareholders who will be asked to approve the transaction at an extraordinary general meeting on 27 December. Shareholders who are members of the Sawiris family will abstain from voting, as will two board members.

The news comes as the company has reported solid earnings growth in 2021: OC last month reported (pdf) net income of USD 76.1 mn during the first nine months of the year, up 17% from 2020, as well as a pick-up in backlog and new awards, which were boosted by the contract for the construction of Egypt’s first high-speed rail system. The latest payout means OC will distribute USD 51.5 mn in dividends this year.

ENERGY

SFE to sign 3-4 green hydrogen production agreements

The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) will sign 3-4 green hydrogen production projects in the upcoming period, SFE CEO Ayman Soliman said yesterday, without disclosing further details, Bloomberg Asharq reported. Our first-ever green hydrogen facility is currently being built in Ain Sokhna by a consortium comprising Norway’s Scatec, Orascom Construction, Nassif Sawiris-backed Fertiglobe, and the SFE. Other companies are reportedly interested in setting up hydrogen facilities in Egypt, including Siemens, Eni, General Electric and ThyssenKrupp.

MOVES

Food ordering app Talabat has tapped Mohamed Sekkina (LinkedIn) as the new general manager of its grocery delivery service, Talabat Mart, reports Al Mal. Sekkina led the launch of Talabat Mart in Egypt and Oman in 2020, and headed the platform’s business operations in the UAE. Sekkina has been serving as interim country manager for the past 5-6 months.

enterprise

LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Mogamma overhaul gets star treatment: The Sovereign Fund of Egypt signing contracts with a US consortium to develop and manage downtown Cairo’s Mogamma complex was at the top of the talking heads’ agendas last night, with coverage from El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 4:47), Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa (watch, runtime: 5:08), and Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 0:34). We have the story in full in this morning’s news well, above.

Meanwhile, an expected bout of bad weather over the next couple of days also earned airtime. We might be getting a full-blown storm on the back of strong winds and dust, coupled with potential rainfall today and tomorrow, director of the Egyptian Meteorological Authority’s forecasting center Mahmoud Shahin told Adib. Rainfall is expected in the country’s northwestern region first today before hitting Alexandria, parts of the east coast, and Cairo tomorrow, according to Shaheen (watch, runtime: 2:34). Moussa also discussed the weather forecast with the forecasting center’s undersecretary, Iman Shaker (watch, runtime: 20:25).

Also: The Administrative Control Authority arrested yesterday a former secretary-general of the Cairo governorate on charges of graft that led to EGP 76 mn in foregone state revenues, Moussa reported (watch, runtime: 32:12).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

It’s a cops ‘n crime kind of morning of Egypt in the international press — in the old-fashioned, 1960s use of the word. The Associated Press says a building collapse that killed three siblings in Beni Suef is “common in Egypt.” Asharq Al Awsat also picked up the news. Reuters, meanwhile, is out with a story headlined “in conservative Egypt, women seek low-cost ways to 'prove' [they haven’t engaged in premarital relations].”

(We’re not being prudes about the word — it’s one of the many that prompt the algorithms to send our email to your bad folders if we mention it.)

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Egypt plans to debut “the world’s largest spinning and weaving factory” in Mahalla Al Kobra next year, with trial operations set to begin next April, Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik said. Several spinning and weaving factories are set to start production before the end of 2022, according to the minister, as part of the government’s EGP 21 bn plan to overhaul the industry.

Kent College West Cairo partnered (pdf) with Beltone Consumer Finance (Belcash) to offer financing for tuition.

NTRA is pouring EGP 513 mn in Sinai: The National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) is spending EGP 513 mn to increase the efficiency of basic telecommunications services in Sinai.

COVID WATCH

Funeral prayers can now take place at “major” mosques

Funeral prayers can now be performed at “major” mosques, after the newly-formed pandemic and epidemic management committee approved the Awqaf Ministry’s request to remove the ban on the prayers in its first ever meeting, cabinet announced in a statement. The committee was formed under a new law handing the prime minister extraordinary powers to respond to pandemics and public health crises.

The Health Ministry reported 871 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 902 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 364,033 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 43 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 20,770.

PLANET FINANCE

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Is Uber planning to sell a stake in Careem? Uber is in talks with its Middle East unit Careem to “bring outside investors” into the business, Reuters reports, citing sources in the know. It’s so far unclear what the size or structure of the investment would be, but the sources said Uber would remain a shareholder “while giving Careem’s management greater decision-making power.” The investment would support the roll-out of Careem’s planned foray into food delivery, digital payments and courier services and could eventually lead to a public listing. Uber bought Careem in a USD 3.1 bn transaction two years ago.

ACWA Power is getting USD 2 bn from the French Natixis bank: The Saudi renewables company signed an MoU with Natixis Corporate & Investment Banking to work together on advancing ACWA’s projects in the region, the bank said in a statement. The MoU includes a USD 2 bn financing target from the bank over two years to fund the company’s upcoming projects.

There’s an Egyptian project in the pipeline: ACWA is working on a 200 MW Kom Ombo solar power plant and had previously expressed interest in Egypt’s investment in desalination infrastructure. The company also has minority stakes in three plants in Benban and an upcoming project with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company to convert an electricity plant in Luxor to renewable energy.

Up

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11,515

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THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 1.0% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.86 bn (23.8% above the 90-day average). Regional investors were net sellers. The index is up 6.2% YTD.

In the green: Heliopolis Housing (+18.7%), GB Auto (+9.3%) and Madinet Nasr Housing (+7.4%).

In the red: Fawry (-3.4%), Rameda (-1.9%) and Speed Medical (-1.9%).

Shanghai is the only major Asian index in the red this morning as Asian shares followed Wall Street in rallying on “optimism” that the omicron variant of the virus that causes covid-19 may not kills us all. Futures suggest shares on Wall Street as well as Paris and Frankfurt will follow suit, while the FTSE looks set to open down just a smidge.

DIPLOMACY

Russia and Egypt have kicked off joint military exercises — dubbed Friendship Bridge Four — in the eastern Mediterranean yesterday, the Armed Forces said in a statement.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with Senegalese President Macky Sall yesterday on the sidelines of his visit for the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security. Shoukry delivered a message from President Abdel Fattah El Sisi suggesting ways to strengthen bilateral relations between the countries, according to a ministry statement.

AROUND THE WORLD

The UAE and Iran work to restore ties: The UAE’s national security chief held talks with the Iranian president in Tehran yesterday in the first official visit by an Emirati official to the country in almost 10 years. Ali Shamkani, Tehran’s top national security official, said Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed’s visit could open “a new chapter” in bilateral ties. This comes less than two weeks after the UAE took a large step to repairing ties with Turkey, in a visit during which the two signed agreements for bns of USD of investments. (Financial Times)

US government boycotts Beijing Olympics: The Biden administration will not be sending any government officials to the February 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, US Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a briefing yesterday. China earlier threatened to retaliate should the US implement the “diplomatic boycott,” which aims to pressure the country over human rights abuses. Canada has also said it is considering a boycott, but has yet to make a decision.

Chinese military power is reaching the Atlantic, and the US isn’t happy: China is looking to establish its first permanent military base on Africa’s Atlantic Coast in Equatorial Guinea, triggering concern in Washington which is now trying to persuade the country’s president to reject the proposal. (Wall Street Journal)

greenEconomy

Ecotourism is getting a lot of attention now, but just how significant of a force is the budding industry in Egypt? Armed with a wealth of natural attractions scattered across three deserts, two seas and the Nile Delta, Egypt is ripe with options for more sustainable travel. The government has in recent years started speaking about the importance of better nurturing Egypt’s ecotourism attractions in its strategy to revive the tourism industry at large. And while there have been some efforts made in that regard, operators say a few fundamental hurdles still stand in the way of fully realizing that potential. So what is the state of ecotourism at the moment and just how much is being done to support the transition to sustainable travel?

Pinpointing the exact size of Egypt’s ecotourism industry is tricky, in large part because what counts as “ecotourism” isn’t clear. There are general principles: Minimizing harmful environmental impact, maintaining natural areas, and protecting indigenous culture are all core components of this kind of travel. But as far as concrete certifications are concerned, there are no unified rules and regulations, meaning operators are the ones left to decide exactly how ecologically sound their practices should be.

In Egypt, ecotourism generally refers to lower-carbon accommodation like eco-lodges and camping that are situated in the country’s many natural protectorates. For Basata — one of the oldest eco-lodges and campsites in Sinai — ecotourism means using fresh water sparingly, sorting trash and engaging with the local community. “We use a dual plumbing system where saltwater is used for toilets and cleaning activities and fresh water for our showers,” founder Sherif El Ghamrawy tells Enterprise. A portion of their food waste goes to feeding livestock and whatever remains is used to manufacture mud bricks on site, which they use to build new structures.

In Siwa, the guiding philosophy is similar. “Creating a sustainable travel destination consists of three main pillars: Respecting natural heritage, reviving cultural heritage and engaging the local community in heritage conservation,” Dr. Mounir Naemattalla, founder of luxury ecolodge Adrere Amellal and sustainable development consultancy EQI, tells us.

Local operators insist that the interest is there: “I think people want to experience nature and stay in eco-lodges but there currently aren’t enough,” Ghamrawy says. Eco-lodges and “semi-eco lodging” — as Ghamrawy described some of the campsites between Nuweiba and Taba — actually attract more visitors than hotels in the area do, he explained.

And official figures suggest a rising appreciation of Egypt’s natural beauty: Some 1.1 mn tourists visited protected areas between 2018 and 2021, a figure that was 5x greater than what the Environment Ministry had anticipated. In FY2019-2020, ticket sales at these sites reportedly generated revenues of EGP 30 mn, more than triple the sum in the four fiscal years prior.

This is part of a global trend: The global ecotourism industry in 2019 was estimated to be worth USD 181.1 bn in 2019, and is projected to reach USD 333.8 bn by 2027. Ecotourism in Africa alone is now worth some USD 29 bn a year employing 3.6 mn people, and is crucial to conservation and economic development efforts in remote parts of the region.

What has the government done so far to support ecotourism? Over the past two years the government has started to speak publicly about the importance of better utilizing our natural resources for tourist activities. The Environment Ministry earlier this year launched an ecotourism campaign, dubbed Eco Egypt, to promote 13 of the country’s 30 nature reserves. Maintaining the health of natural reserves is one of the ministry’s top priorities at the moment, Tamer Kamal El Din, General Manager of Red Sea Protectorates at the Environment Ministry tells us. More specifically, the ministry has been working on developing a new system for accurately logging and studying ecosystems’ health, constructing dams in flood zones like Wadi Degla, installing buoys at popular dive sites and building bird-watching towers in Sharm El Sheikh.

What more can be done to support the industry? Putting in place clear rules that specifically govern the activities of companies in the ecotourism space would be a good start, says Ghamrawy. These include regulations on things such as how close to the coastline they can construct buildings, what materials to use and how to organize trips for guests. He adds that he is currently working alongside a number of operators on drafting a set of guidelines for how to run ecologically sound tourism businesses.

A little help for SMEs: Making it easier to register ecotourism-focused SMEs would really encourage a lot more activity too, Ghamrawy says. For some groups running low-capital operations like guided trekking tours in the mountains and wadis of South Sinai, the barrier to entry can be overwhelming. “It doesn’t make much sense to be governed by the same rules that large tourism operations are bound by,” Ghamrawy says. Shifting these rules would jive perfectly with the government’s policy of supporting SMEs, he said.

Opening up the outdoors: Easier access to nature would be a huge leap in supporting the industry, Wael Abed, who owns Al Tarfa Desert Sanctuary at the Dakhla Oasis in New Valley, tells us. Wadis and outdoor locations not designated as protectorates often see restricted access due to heightened security concerns in remote regions. Making it easier for visitors to access these locations would be a huge boost for the industry, both Ghamrawy and Abed agree.

Awareness campaigns on sustainability and environmentally sound development are at the forefront of Naemattalla’s concern, he tells us.

More private sector involvement with natural protectorates could be on the horizon. Protectorates are technically public land, which means they can’t be sold to private entities, but granting operation rights for limited time periods are currently on the books, says Kamal El Din. Environment Ministry proposals have long pushed for legislation to allow private companies to manage protected areas, similar to how Orascom Development won rights to manage the Pyramids Plateau. But so far there hasn’t been much happening on that front. The first steps towards private-sector involvement in nature reserves took place earlier this year with the introduction of a privately owned “Bedouin Tent,” at the Petrified Forest protectorate in New Cairo.

And it doesn’t necessarily have to be driven by altruism. Investing in ecotourism doesn’t always need to be a philanthropic endeavour, Naemattalla explains. “Any new product done well has a great chance for success. A commitment to sustainability is one of the most powerful forms of branding for a country, a region or an enterprise,” he says.

While there’s still a lot to be done to better support ecotourism, creating a thriving and sustainable industry will depend mostly on larger global trends like the resumption of global air travel and more visitors entering the country. What is clear though is that the way to better ensure visitors and operators commit to sustainable travel will likely require more than just promotional campaigns.


Your top climate stories for the week:

  • West Bakr wind farm is now live: Lekela’s Actis-backed 250 MW wind farm became fully operational last week.
  • Private sector eyes EV assembly: General Motors and Al Mansour Automotive could partner up to produce electric vehicles in Egypt under a MoU signed by the two companies last week.
  • New ESG bonds are coming to Egypt: Companies in Egypt will soon be able to list social, ESG, gender equity and women’s empowerment, and sustainable development bonds on the EGX.
  • Plastic Bank has collected 2.7k tonnes of plastic waste from Egypt and hopes to collect a total of 5k tonnes by 2023, the company announced in a statement.

CALENDAR

24 November-7 December (Wednesday-Tuesday): Designated period for SODIC shareholders to subscribe to Aldar Properties and ADQ’s mandatory tender offer (pdf).

7-8 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): North Africa Trade Finance Summit.

8-10 December (Wednesday-Friday): Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research (GFHS), Cairo, Egypt.

8-9 December (Wednesday-Thursday): The 14th General Conference of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (ICESCO) will be held in Egypt.

9 December (Thursday): Second vaccine shot appointments will be made available to those who previously missed their appointments.

9-10 December (Thursday-Friday): The US Summit for Democracy. Egypt is not among the invitees.

9-12 December (Thursday-Sunday): The 6th Edition of Cairo Woodshow, Cairo International Convention Centre, Cairo, Egypt.

10 December (Friday): Capmas will release November inflation figures.

10 December (Friday): Silicon Waha’s Startup Factory program kicks off in Assiut Technology Zone.

11 December (Thursday): Booster shot appointments for those eligible will roll in on the Health Ministry’s website.

12 December (Sunday): Raya Holding’s Ordinary General Assembly meeting.

12 December (Sunday): Deadline to apply to the McKinsey Forward program for young professionals.

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 December (Tuesday): Inquiry session for the Industrial Development Authority’s licenses to manufacture steel products.

14 December (Tuesday): CDC event to announce the details of its 2022-2026 strategy period.

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): Target date for snackmaker Edita to wrap up due diligence on its acquisition of the Ole brand owner Egyptian Belgian Company.

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.

End of December: El Nasr Automotive plans to sign contracts with a new partner to locally assemble EVs.

End of 4Q2021: EdVentures plans to have closed at least one more edtech investment round.

End of 4Q2021: Fawry plans to have launched its MyFawry card.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

1H2022: e-Aswaaq’s tourism platform will roll out its ticketing and online booking portal across Egypt.

1H2022: e-Finance’s digital healthcare service platform, eHealth, will launch its services.

1Q2022: Launch of the Egyptian Commodities Exchange.

1Q2022: Swvl acquisition of Viapool expected to close.

Second Half of January: Egypt will host the Egyptian-Bahraini Joint Committee.

The end of January: The Egyptian-Romanian business forum will take place with the aim of strengthening joint investment relations.

January 2022: Tenth of Ramadan dry port tender to be launched.

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

1-15 January 2022 (Saturday-Saturday): Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) Joint Committee.

4 January 2022 (Tuesday): OPEC+ ministerial meeting.

7 January 2022 (Friday): Coptic Christmas.

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

15 January (Saturday): Target date for the finalization of snackfood giant Edita’s acquisition of the Egyptian Belgian Company, owner of the Ole brand.

17-19 January 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): World Future Energy Summit, Abu Dhabi.

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

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

11-13 February (Friday-Sunday) FIBA Intercontinental Cup, Cairo.

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

15 February 2022 (Tuesday): The Industrial Development Authority’s deadline for receiving offers from companies for licenses to manufacture steel products.

19 February 2022 (Saturday): Public universities begin the second term of the 2021-2022 academic year.

March 2022: 4Q2021 earnings season.

March 2022: Deadline for the World Health Organization’s intergovernmental negotiating body to meet to discuss binding treaty on future pandemic cooperation.

March 2022: World Cup playoffs.

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

4 April 2022 (Monday): CDC Group will formally change its name to British International Investment.

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.

Late April – 15 May 2022: 1Q2022 earnings season

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.

July 2022: A law governing ins. for seasonal contractors will come into effect.

8 July 2022 (Friday): Arafat Day.

9-13 July 2022 (Saturday-Wednesday): Eid Al Adha, national holiday.

30 July 2022 (Saturday): Islamic New Year.

Late July – 14 August 2022: 2Q2022 earnings season.

September 2022: Egypt will display its first naval exhibition with the title Naval Power.

6 October 2022 (Thursday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

8 October 2022 (Saturday): Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.

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

Late October – 14 November 2022: 3Q2022 earnings season.

**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.