Sunday, 9 January 2022

AM — Fintech law gets House approval

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and welcome to your first full-length workweek of 2022. News flow this morning is dominated by the House of Representatives (habemus fintech law) and government policymakers (an outlook on the next budget). With the lawmakers pushing hard on multiple fronts, we expect more regulatory and policy news in the weeks to come even as corporates return from winter break and get back into the swing of things.

SIGN OF THE TIMES #1- Mobile wallet use rose again in 2021, with the number of mobile wallets surging 27% y-o-y to 25 mn in 2021, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) said in a press release (pdf). Users executed some 227 mn mobile wallet transactions last year — double the number of transactions made in 2020 — with the total value rising 160% y-o-y to EGP 233 bn.

You can now manage your mobile wallet subscription without needing to visit a provider’s physical branch through a new platform the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has launched, the CBE press release added. The without-charge Meeza wallet management platform allows users to check if their phone number is linked to a mobile wallet, cancel their mobile wallet subscription, and inquire about service options.

ALSO- Over 31k companies have so far registered on the government’s electronic invoicing platform for B2B transactions, Egyptian eInvoicing, the Tax Authority said (pdf) last week. The authority is currently processing more than 650k invoices daily and that figure to rise to 1 mn daily by the end of March.


THE BIG STORY ABROAD- US offers (limited) compromise ahead of Russia talks: The US looks set to offer some concessions over its military presence in Europe ahead of direct talks with Russia in Geneva tomorrow, which are aimed at defusing tensions over Ukraine. Everyone in the US and Russian media is talking about it this morning from the Wall Street Journal, the AP and the Washington Post to Sputnik, RT and Tass. The Journal says this is “the most dangerous moment for Eastern Europe in decades,” while the New York Times makes clear the Biden administration is preparing a range of possible sanctions ahead of the talks.

SMART POLICY- The UAE experienced its first working Friday as the country officially shifted to a Monday-Friday work week — though the dreaded rush hour never materialized, according to the National, suggesting that many continue to work and study from home as part of the country’s bid to quell covid-19. The UAE is the first country to implement a 4.5-day work week, with public sector workers and schools ending the last day of the week no later than 12:30pm.

SIGN OF THE TIMES #2- IMF delays its global forecast to factor in latest covid disruptions. The International Monetary Fund will release its updated World Economic Outlook on 25 January, a week later than planned, to give it time to incorporate the latest omicron-related developments, Reuters reported. IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva last month primed us to expect further downgrades to global growth projections thanks to omicron’s arrival.

SIGN OF THE TIMES #3- No jab, no job: Citigroup will fire unvaccinated US employees. The Bulge Bracket bank will fire workers who have not been vaccinated by the end of this month unless they have been granted a religious or medical exemption, the Financial Times reports.


WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

It’s the first day of Afcon: The football tournament gets underway at 6pm this evening, when hosts Cameroon play their opening game against Burkina Faso. Keep an eye out for the Pharaoh’s first match of the championship against Nigeria at 6pm on Tuesday.

Our national team is heading to Afcon more than a few men short, after eight covid cases were confirmed among staff and players, including goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal, goalkeeping coach Essam el-Hadary, and Ibrahim Adel, one of three players put on the reserves list for precautionary measures. All those who tested positive were forced to stay behind in Cairo. It’s unclear if they will miss the whole tournament, which runs until Sunday, 6 February, or will be able to join the team later.

FOR TOMORROW-

Inflation figures for December are due out tomorrow. Annual urban inflation slowed for the second month running in November and dipped to its lowest since July as pressure on food prices continued to ease, but some analysts have flagged a potential acceleration in inflation figures.

The World Youth Forum kicks off in Sharm El Sheikh tomorrow and runs until Thursday, 13 January.

MARKET WATCH-

It could be a rocky few weeks for global equities: Som pundits are calling an end to the historic tech equity bull run as bond yields rise in response to the Federal Reserve’s hawkish turn. The yield on US 10-years rose to its highest level since January 2020 and stocks sold off last week after a weak US jobs report had traders anticipating that the Fed could hike rates in March. Higher returns in the bond market could see investors increasingly rotate out of tech stocks, indicated last week by the Nasdaq 100 which suffered its worst week in almost a year as the attractiveness of growth stocks dimmed. (Bloomberg)

Inflation, interest rates and the Federal Reserve will continue to dominate the conversation this week as US inflation figures are released and Fed chair Jay Powell appears before a Senate panel. (CNBC)

US earnings season is also upon us: US banks are expected to announce record annual earnings this week and the next thanks to huge investment banking fees. Citi and JPMorgan are up first this coming Friday, Goldman Sachs reports on 18 January, and Bank of America and Morgan Stanley are on 19 January. (Financial Times)


CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

SODIC shareholders will vote on the company’s new board of directors at an extraordinary general meeting on Sunday, 16 January. The formation of the new board comes after an Emirati consortium of real estate giant Aldar Properties and Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ in December acquired 85.5% of SODIC in an all-cash, EGP 6.1 bn transaction.

Bringing home Egyptians stranded in Morocco: National flag carrier EgyptAir will operate one flight from Casablanca to Cairo on 19 January, to bring home Egyptians stuck in Morocco following border closures, the Egyptian Embassy in Morocco said in a statement. Moroccan authorities have twice extended the suspension of all passenger flights in and out of the country first introduced at the end of November amid the emergence of omicron, with the flight ban now set to last until at least the end of January.

First interest day of 2022 is set: The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE)’s monetary policy committee will hold its first policy meeting of 2022 on Thursday, 3 February.

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

enterprise

*** It’s What’s Next day: We have our weekly deep-dive into what makes and shapes pre-listed companies and startups in Egypt, the UAE and KSA, touching on investment trends, future sector insights and growth journeys.

In today’s issue: In Part 2 of our Year-in-Review series, we look at what it was like to be an investor in Egypt last year, which we think we can safely dub the year of investor adaptation. Investors are moving away from the typical models as they look to adapt to market needs and fill the gaps they’ve identified along the way.

enterprise

Endless discovery above and below.

LEGISLATION WATCH

Egypt now has a regulatory framework for the fintech industry

Fintech, consider yourself regulated: Legislation to regulate the fintech industry received final approval from the House of Representatives on Wednesday, according to Al Borsa. The bill, which was first drawn up by the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) in 2020, hands the regulator broad powers over licensing and corporate governance in the sector, as well as the power to penalize firms that breach legislation.

What other activities count as fintech? Robo-advisory, nano-finance, insurtech, and (tech-enabled) consumer finance, among others, according to the bill.

The law grants the FRA the power of regulation for the fintech industry, including issuing licenses and approvals for fintech businesses and services, according to the House CIT Committee report (pdf) on the bill. The FRA is also mandated with taking steps to using fintech tools to promote financial inclusion, which the law defines as expanding the use of banking and non-banking financial services (NBFS).

Want to apply for a fintech license? You’ll need to submit a standard request form, along with proof of sufficient issued capital for the product / service you’re providing and of having onboarded an auditor. NBFS players seeking a fintech license will also need to have the necessary tech, database and data protection infrastructure, as per FRA requirements.

It seems there will be a separate, time-limited fintech license for startups. Startups can apply for a short-term fintech startup license that is valid for a maximum of two years, the law stipulates. We expect the final executive regulations to make clear where the dividing line is for regular vs. startup fintech licenses.

What other powers will the FRA have? The act will also see the FRA lay out data protection regulations, task it with protecting users who rely on fintech products or services, and “raise awareness” of the fintech services available to consumers. The FRA will also need to prepare and publish studies and statistics to help encourage fintech activity. It will also regulate a testing environment (akin to the Central Bank of Egypt’s sandbox) to test new fintech products.

The act empowers the regulator to set out further requirements pertaining to businesses’ governance, including ownership and board of directors’ structure, the price of each license (although the law sets an EGP 50k ceiling), and the experience that will be required to register with the FRA as a service provider. Providers will also need to comply with anti-money-laundering regulations and procedures.

Penalties: A business that is no longer compliant with one or more of its licensing requirements, or otherwise violates the law, can see the FRA issue a warning; decide to hold a board or general assembly meeting to assess and resolve the issue; disband its board and temporarily instate an FRA delegate to manage the business for up to one year; suspend the business’ activity for six months; and / or revoke the license altogether. Unlicensed operators face minimum prison terms of six months, and / or fines ranging from EGP 200k-1 mn. License holders who fail to comply with data privacy regulations also face prison sentences of at least three months and / or an EGP 200k-1 mn fine. Any disputes that arise from implementing the law will be mediated by the nation’s economic courts.

Fintech players have a six-month window, starting from the date the executive regulations are published, to comply with the requirements under the legislation. The FRA has the right to grant three further extensions of six months each, with the law setting a maximum of two years in total for compliance. The prime minister has the right to grant a further two-year extension.

What’s next? President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will need to sign off on the legislation before the executive regulations are made public in the Official Gazette.

ALSO IN FINTECH LEGISLATION- The ban on brokerages using fintech firms’ payment solutions only applies to transactions carried out online. Transactions processed at fintech firms’ branches are accepted as long as the proper identity checks are carried out, according to an FRA statement (pdf).

ALSO ON THE LEGISLATION FRONT-

Annual surplus from ministerial funds going to state coffers: The House of Representatives also approved in its Wednesday plenary session a bill to funnel a percentage of the annual surplus generated by ministerial “private funds” to the state treasury, according to Al Borsa. The bill is expected to generate a combined EGP 2.5-3 bn for state revenues, Al Borsa reported, equalling some 7-8% of the annual EGP 36 bn surplus. The legislation, which was first approved in 2018 and provides for between 5-15% of surplus ministerial funds to be channeled to the treasury, sunsets each year and requires renewal.

A bill that will scrap the Hydro Power Plant Authority was passed by the House on Wednesday, Al Borsa reports. The law, which now requires ratification from President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, will put the New and Renewable Energy Authority in control of the country’s hydroelectric assets. Cabinet proposed the legislation two years ago.

The draft Labor Act earned a preliminary thumbs up from the Senate last week. The bill would lay out new rules on how employees can be dismissed, making it harder for employers to fire staff for illnesses but allowing workers to lose their jobs if convicted of a felony. The bill would also set a minimum annual raise requirement equal to 3% of the amount covered by social ins., according to Masrawy. It is unclear to us where the dividing line is between the private and public sectors as regards the amendments.

What’s next? The Senate is set to finish discussing the law when it resumes plenary sessions on 16 January, according to Ahram Gate.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was corrected on 12 January, 2022 to reflect that the body responsible for the country’s hydroelectric assets after the scrapping of the Hydro Power Plant Authority is the New and Renewable Energy Authority. 

BUDGET WATCH

First look at next fiscal year’s budget

The Finance Ministry is penciling in 5.7% growth for its FY2022-2023 state budget, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in a statement on Wednesday. That’s more or less on par with the 5.5-5.7% growth rate the government expects for the current fiscal year, which ends in June. Our growth is expected to gradually accelerate over the coming years to reach 6% in FY2024-2025, Maait said.

The budget deficit is expected to narrow to 6.1% in the upcoming fiscal year, with an eye to trim it further to 5.1% in FY2024-2025. The ministry is also looking to achieve a 2% primary surplus in the medium term, the statement says. Our primary surplus is expected to increase to 1.5% during the current fiscal year from 0.9% a year prior, with the ministry previously forecasting it dipping slightly to 1.3% in the upcoming fiscal year.

Medium-term debt strategy is moving forward: The government is planning to bring down our debt-to-GDP ratio to below 90% in FY2022-2023 and 82.5% by June 2025. Our debt service bill is also set to decline to 30% of total state expenditure next fiscal year, compared to 31.5% penciled in for FY2021-2022. The ministry is looking to achieve these debt targets by expanding its debt diversification strategy to extend the average tenor of our debt to five years, rather than the current average of 3.4 years.

Education and healthcare spending will also ramp up next fiscal year, the statement says. Maait did not break down the expected spending figures, saying only that the government plans to ramp up spending on the Decent Life initiative.

WHAT’S NEXT- The Finance Ministry plans to begin public consultations on the budget and the government’s strategic targets this month, ahead of shipping the draft bill to the House of Representatives for discussion and approval. Reuters also had the story.

DEBT WATCH

Get ready for Sovereign Sukuk Act exec regs

Sovereign Sukuk Act exec regs about to drop? The government is looking to finalize the executive regulations of the Sovereign Sukuk Act by the end of the month, setting the stage for the country’s c.USD 2 bn maiden issuance before the end of the fiscal year in June, Mohamed Hegazy, head of the Finance Ministry’s debt unit, told Bloomberg Asharq. The Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) and Al Azhar are working with the ministry on the regulations, which were previously expected to be issued by November last year.

Maiden USD 2 bn sovereign sukuk issuance could come in 1H2022: Egypt could make its first sovereign sukuk issuance to the tune of USD 2 bn within the next five months, Hegazy said. His comments confirm details set out by Finance Minister Mohamed Maait last summer on the potential timing and size of the issuance. Maait made the remarks after the long-awaited Sovereign Sukuk Act was signed into law in August

What we know about the issuance: Returns and trading on the securities will be subject to the same tax rules as treasury bonds, Maait said previously, adding that the sharia-compliant bonds will be issued on both the local and international stock exchanges.

Issuing sovereign sukuk is part of a wider strategy to reduce government debt and shift towards longer-term borrowing. To diversify its debt portfolio, the ministry completed its maiden green bond issuance in 2020 and is planning to sell new “floating rate” bonds, and is focusing on selling longer-term bonds to increase the average maturity.

The state is also looking to issue green bonds greater in value than those issued in 2021, Hegazy added. The government held the region’s first sovereign green bond issuance last September, raising USD 750 mn from investors to channel into green projects. Private sector bank CIB issued Egypt’s first corporate green bond back in November, raising USD 100 mn in a five-year, fixed-rate offering.

CABINET WATCH

Private sector strategy cometh?

A shot in the arm for private sector participation in the economy? The government is preparing a strategy to enhance the role of the private sector in development, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said last week, according to a cabinet statement.

Expect the details “soon”: The statement says little about what the strategy might entail, saying only that Madbouly is circulating a document to his ministers to review ahead of an upcoming meeting with private sector players. The details of the plan will be announced soon, Madbouly said.

The strategy could tackle the perception that there has been a “crowding out”: The planned strategy comes on the heels of a recent study reviewed by cabinet’s economic group, meant to guide the government as it looks to strengthen private sector participation in national projects. Based on the study, cabinet has already committed 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 consultation 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.

ALSO APPROVED LAST WEEK-

  • Tourism industry regulation: A draft law aimed at reorganizing the structure and electoral system of the Egyptian Tourism Federation and other tourism-related unions and bodies.
  • Establishing Helwan National University and Al Mansoura National University as part of the state’s push to build more nonprofit universities in partnership with international and private universities.
  • An increase to African Development Bank’s callable capital through the issuance of temporary shares.
  • A government committee recommendation to regularize the status of 141 churches and their affiliated buildings, bringing the total number of regularized church buildings to some 2.2k properties.

enterprise

LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

It was a quiet night on the airwaves after Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi and El Hekaya’s Amr Adib — married IRL — both tested positive for covid-19 over the weekend. It’s unclear when they’ll be back on our TV screens.

Former CBC owner Mohamed El Amin was detained on Friday and is being held for four days pending investigation on charges of of human trafficking and the assault of girls in an orphanage he established. Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Mousssa held an extended interview with Social Solidarity Minister Nevine El Kabbaj (watch, runtime: 54:26) on the arrest.

Sixteen people died and 18 were hospitalized after a bus and a microbus collided in South Sinai on Saturday, the Health Ministry said yesterday. The injured were taken to hospitals in Sharm El Sheikh and El Tor, and are receiving treatment, the statement said. Masaa DMC covered the story (watch, runtime: 1:34).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Topping coverage in the foreign press this morning: Egyptian-Palestinian activist Ramy Shaath gave up his Egyptian citizenship as a precondition for his release, his family said at the weekend. He is now in France after being deported to Jordan. The story is everywhere from Reuters to AFP and the AP.

Also making headlines:

  • Egypt’s prison overhaul is part of the plan to repurpose underutilized state assets, with 11 prisons across the country — including a few in the Tora complex — to be closed following the relocation of prisoners to newly opened Wadi El Natrun prison. (The National)
  • The small village of Shubra Beloula produces more than half of the world's supply of jasmine, an essential ingredient in many iconic perfumes. (BBC)

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Meeza cards to replace all gov’t payroll cards by the end of January: Around 4.3 mn public sector workers will be receiving their salaries via Meeza debit cards by the end of the month, according to a FinMin statement. The ministry had previously hoped to complete the rollout by the end of 2021.

Background: The government began rolling out Meeza cards in 2019 and trialed their use to pay salaries in August. Employees can receive a 30% salary advance at no charge for card purchases made in the first six months of using the card.

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

  • The Industrial Development Authority will tender five industrial complexes for SMEs after the World Youth Forum this week.
  • Dana Gas collections from Egypt rose 141% y-o-y to USD 193 mn in 2021, the company said (pdf) last week, after a payment of USD 48 mn in December reduced our arrears to their lowest levels since the company began operating here in 2007. The company initially said in December that it collected USD 184 mn from Egypt in 2021.
  • Ismailia murderer handed death sentence: The Ismailia criminal court has sentenced to death the man who beheaded another man on the streets of the city last year in November.

COVID WATCH

22 bn: The number of mRNA vaccines scientists say the world needs in 2022 to slow covid

The world needs about 22 bn doses of mRNA vaccines to slow the pandemic’s spread, which means that we need to produce an additional 15 bn doses this year, according to a report from public health advocates and scientists titled ‘22 bn in the hole’ (pdf). Increased demand from wealthy nations for booster shots will make harder for poorer nations to get their hands on enough doses — and as long as so many in the developing world remain unjabbed, there's a chance the virus will continue to mutate, bringing us more variants, according to experts cited by the Washington Post.

Kazakhstan just pledged to give us 5 mn doses of its homemade vaccine: Kazakhstan will donate 5 mn shots of its QazVac covid vaccine to Egypt as soon as our regulators approve it, the country’s ambassador to Egypt told interim health minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, the Health Ministry said yesterday. The two-shot vaccine has been used in Kazakhstan since April, but the World Health Organization is yet to approve its use, and only one other country — Kyrgyzstan — has given it the green light. The results from last year’s phase 3 trials are expected to be published early this year.

The Health Ministry reported 830 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 821 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 391,945 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 29 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 21,938.

Omicron may be an easy come, easy go variant: While omicron caused a spike in cases worldwide, countries who were hit by the variant early on are now indicating that the spread might have “peaked,” writes CNBC. Nationwide case numbers in South Africa — where the strain was first discovered — began to decrease in the final week of 2021, while experts say London may also now be seeing cases plateau.

ALSO- Hong Kong has banned incoming flights from eight countries including the US and UK for two weeks and tightened restrictions as authorities look to ward off a fifth, omicron-fuelled wave of the virus, Reuters says.

PLANET FINANCE

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Global food prices soared as much as 28% in 2021 to the highest level in ten years, driven by poor weather, rising commodities prices and supply chain disruption, according to figures from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Little respite: Prices fell back slightly in December, but according to FAO this is unlikely to signal an immediate trend reversal, with current market conditions expected to continue into 2022. “The high cost of inputs, ongoing global pandemic and ever more uncertain climatic conditions leave little room for optimism about a return to more stable market conditions even in 2022,” said senior economist Abdolreza Abbassian.

US replaces Qatar as world’s biggest LNG exporter: The US eclipsed Qatar to become the world’s largest LNG exporter for the first time in December amid a rise in shipments to Europe, whose energy supply crisis is driving prices to new record highs, according to Bloomberg.

Spiraling fertilizer prices took a breather in the US, where they fell back from a record high last week, seeing their biggest daily drop since 2009 on Friday, according to Bloomberg. But the break in the months-long fertilizer rally — which has helped drive global inflation — will likely be short-lived, with major urea producers including Egypt sold out through February, one analyst said.

Abu Dhabi’s wealth fund is creating the UAE’s biggest healthcare provider: Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ has agreed to merge five companies — Abu Dhabi Health Services Co. (SEHA), National Health Ins. Co. (Daman), Tamouh Healthcare, Yas Clinic Group, and Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Center — with Pure Health, Bloomberg reports. Pure Health, which has partnered with the UAE government to conduct covid screening at the country’s airports, will now become the country’s largest healthcare provider, with ADQ as its biggest shareholder. The company is also gearing up to go public.

PMI IN THE REGION-

  • The UAE’s non-oil private sector registered another month of strong growth in December amid Expo 2020 and an easing of travel restrictions. PMI registered 55.6 (pdf) – down from 55.9 in November but still well above the 50.0 threshold that separates growth from contraction.
  • Qatar’s PMI (pdf) was also “well into” expansion territory last month, registering 61.4 — only slightly down from November’s record-high of 63.1 in November — as new orders and output continued to register rapid growth.

Up

EGX30

12,043

+0.5% (YTD: +0.8%)

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USD (CBE)

Buy 15.66

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USD at CIB

Buy 15.66

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Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

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Tadawul

11,431

-0.2% (YTD: +1.3%)

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ADX

8,379

-0.2% (YTD: -1.3%)

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DFM

3,220

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Brent crude

USD 81.75

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USD 3.92

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Gold

USD 1,797

+0.5%

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BTC

USD 41,765

-0.3% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 0.5% on Wednesday on turnover of EGP 1.17 bn (7.3% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is up 0.8% YTD.

In the green: Madinet Nasr Housing (+4.1%), Credit Agricole Egypt (+3.2%) and Raya Holding (+2.8%).

In the red: Egypt Kuwait Holding-EGP (-2.3%), AMOC (-2.3%) and CIRA (-1.9%).

whatsNext

Egypt’s startup scene in 2021 (Part II): The year startup investment diversified. As the year comes to a close, we think 2021 can be dubbed as a year of investor adaptation in Egypt. Instead of sticking to the model of either setting up a VC fund, joining an angel investor network, or building an accelerator / incubator, regional investment outfits have started to adapt to the gaps and needs in the market in 2021. (Editor’s note: We’ve got nothing against any of the traditional routes — we’re just pointing out that this is how things typically go.)

Investments have taken on new shapes and sizes: The year has seen the launch of venture debt funds, micro-VCs, corporate accelerator programs (outside fintech for a change), new tech funds, and even a VC university. Let’s take a look at the investment trends that emerged here at home in 2021.

#1- Venture debt: Two venture debt funds were announced, of which one is home-grown, while the other is MENA-wide with a dedicated local partner. UAE-based VC firm Shorooq Partners launched Nahda Fund I, with ticket sizes ranging between USD 5-10 mn. The firm’s local partner is seasoned VC Tamer Azer (LinkedIn). Back in February, Digital Finance Holding (DFin) announced it is also setting up a venture debt fund under the name Camel Ventures.

What is venture debt? Think of it as a loan made to startups by investors, who are repaid in installments and interest. Unlike venture capital, where investors provide financing in return for equity in the company, venture debt provides entrepreneurs access to finance without being diluted.

#2- Micro-VC: Just last month, Cairo Angels announced the first close of its USD 5 mn micro-VC fund, under the name Cairo Angels Syndicate Fund (CASF). The second and final close is expected to be completed by the end of May 2022 with institutional investors, CASF CEO Aly El Shalakany (LinkedIn) said.

What is a micro-VC fund? Think of it as a fund focusing on post-seed and pre-series A investments, to fill the “missing middle” of investments between USD 100k and USD 500k. Startups wanting to scale can find themselves in a bind when seeking investments in that frame, since there are barely any investment vehicles that focus on that spectrum. The fund has the agility and mindset of an angel fund, and the discipline and speed of deployment of a VC, El Shalakany says.

#3- Corporate accelerator programs: 2021 saw one of the very few non-fintech corporate accelerator programs come to life, namely Raya FutureTECH, launched by Raya Holdings subsidiary Raya Customer Experience and VC firm Openner. Although we’ve seen similar programs over the years before, most of them had focused on fintech, such as AUC Venture Lab’s Fintech Accelerator with CIB as well as Flat6Labs and (back then) Barclays’ 1864 acceleration cycle, and EGBank’s MINT incubator.

What are corporate accelerator programs? These programs aim to connect big businesses with external innovation, by bringing in startups to either add new services or products to the existing offering, or to drive solutions to existing problems within the company. The startups benefit by being able to adapt their product with the corporate’s strategy, while also receiving mentorship, growth support, resources and sometimes even investment.

#4- New tech funds: The year saw four major tech funds launch: Algebra Ventures’ USD 90 mn fund, Sawari Ventures’ USD 28 mn, Benya and Openner’s USD 50 mn, and Sequence Ventures’ EGP 500 mn deep-tech fund. Three state-owned banks — National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, and Banque du Caire — jointly launched a EGP 1 bn fintech fund in September to invest in startups and international outfits that want to establish themselves in the local market.

The common denominator? They’re all very big on tech, which is not necessarily an anomaly in the age we’re in. But it is heartening and certainly a trend worth watching that some of these funds are interested in sectors that are What’s Next, like AI, IoT, and DevOps.

#5- VC University: New funds need fund managers — and those are hard to find. That is why GIZ Egypt partnered with the government’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA), Endure Capital, and Changelabs to launch VC University, a EUR 100 mn funding program for first-time venture capital funds. The one-year program will offer funding, mentorship and access to worldwide investors for prospective fund managers, while MSMEDA will provide technical support. The program will also train fund managers on how to raise capital and overcome various challenges in the industry.

Chatter in the market is also moving towards the establishment of venture studios, but no official announcements have been made just yet. While the need for venture studios has been the topic of discussion at several events and some firms dedicated business streams to the idea’s application in Egypt, we’ve unofficially heard about the launch of at least two venture studios in the coming year.

Simply speaking, venture studios are company builders. These entities solve problems by matching great business ideas with entrepreneurs that have a solid track record. These ideas are then tested and backed with funding, and put on a growth path that includes functional resources in order to launch and scale, according to the Global Startup Studio Network (GSSN). All the while, the startup gets hands-on support from the studio’s in-house teams, or entrepreneurs-in-residence. This support can cover functions like HR, PR and the likes. The aim is simple: The entrepreneur should not have to be distracted by anything else than growing the company and achieving optimal product-market fit.


Your top stories on future trends for the week:

CALENDAR

Early 2022: Results to be announced for the second round of the state’s gold and precious metals auction.

1H2022: Target date for IDH to close its acquisition of 50% of Islamabad Diagnostic Center.

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

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

1H2022: The government will respond to private companies’ bids to build desalination plants.

1Q2022: Launch of the Egyptian Commodities Exchange.

1Q2022: Swvl acquisition of Viapool expected to close.

1Q2022: Waste collection startup Bekia plans to expand to the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

January: Sovereign Sukuk Act executive regulations expected to be finalized.

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

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

9 January – 6 February (Sunday-Sunday): 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon.

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

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

Second half of January: Regulations for installing EV charging stations will be published.

16 January (Sunday): SODIC shareholders will vote on the company’s new board of directors at an extraordinary general meeting.

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

20 January (Thursday): Kadmar Shipping’s new line transporting agricultural crops between Alexandria and Russia begins its operations.

23 January (Sunday): Deadline for Macro Pharma to IPO on the EGX.

25 January (Tuesday): The IMF will release its World Economic Outlook.

25 January (Tuesday): 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

25-26 January (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

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

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

January-February 2022: Construction work on the Abu Qir metro upgrade will begin.

February: Hassan Allam Construction’s new construction firm established with Russia’s Titan-2 to handle construction work on the Dabaa nuclear power plant begins its operations.

February: Ghazl El Mahalla shares will begin trading on the EGX this month.

Mid-February: End of grace period to comply with new minimum wage for firms who sent in exemption requests.

3 February (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

3 February (Thursday): January PMI figures for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE will be released.

4-20 February (Friday-Sunday): 2022 Winter Olympics, Beijing.

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

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

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

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

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

End of February: Lebanon to receive gas from Egypt via a pipeline crossing Jordan and Syria.

March: Rollout of the government financial management information system (GFMIS), a suite of electronic tools to automate the government’s financial management processes (pdf) that will replace the existing “closed” financial management system.

March: 4Q2021 earnings season.

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

March: World Cup playoffs.

March: Target date for Saudi tech firm Brmaja to IPO on the EGX.

9-18 March (Wednesday-Friday): The 55th edition of the Cairo International Fair.

15-16 March (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

24 March (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

31 March (Thursday): Deadline for submitting tax returns for individual taxpayers.

31 March (Thursday): Supply Ministry expected to take final decision on bread subsidies by this date.

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

3 April (Sunday): Bidding begins on the Industrial Development Authority’s license to manufacture tobacco products.

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

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

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

25 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

25 April (Monday): Sinai Liberation Day.

28 April (Thursday): National Holiday in observance of Sham El Nessim.

30 April (Saturday): Deadline for submitting corporate tax returns for companies whose financial year ends 31 December.

Late April – 15 May: 1Q2022 earnings season

May: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

1 May (Sunday): Labor Day.

3-4 May (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

5 May (Thursday): National Holiday in observance of Labor Day.

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

19 May (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

14-15 June (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

15-18 June (Wednesday-Saturday): St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), St. Petersburg.

16 June (Thursday): End of 2021-2022 academic year for public schools.

23 June (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

27 June-3 July (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

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

End of 2Q2022: The Financial Regulatory Authority’s new Ins. Act should be approved.

End of 1H2022: Emirati industrial company M Glory Holding and the Military Production Ministry will begin the mass production of dual fuel pickup trucks that can run on natural gas.

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

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

1 July (Friday): FY 2022-2023 begins.

8 July (Friday): Arafat Day.

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

26-27 July (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

30 July (Saturday): Islamic New Year.

Late July – 14 August: 2Q2022 earnings season.

18 August (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

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

20-21 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

22 September (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

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

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

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

Late October – 14 November: 3Q2022 earnings season.

1-2 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

3 November (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

13-14 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

22 December (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

End of 2022: e-Aswaaq’s tourism platform will complete the roll out of its ticketing and online booking portal across 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 above between the actual holiday and its observance.

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