Sunday, 16 January 2022

AM — Grand Egyptian Museum could open its doors in 2H2022

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to what’s shaping up to be a very busy news week. Let’s jump right in:

The Central Bank of Egypt will allow banks to launch digital lending services via mobile wallets this year, the bank announced in its financial stability report (pdf). The regulations on the decision, which will allow loans to be approved immediately with reliance in part on an online credit rating, were issued in April last year. The rules are part of the CBE’s drive to improve financial inclusion.

PSA #1- It’s going to be another cold week: Temperatures will remain low across the country and there could be moderate rainfall today and tomorrow from Cairo through the Delta and along the North Coast. Expect winds to be elevated all week. In the capital, look for daytime highs of 15-17°C and overnight lows of 8-9° this week.

PSA #2- First, every Egyptian guy of a certain age had to say he was reading Yuval Harari’s Sapiens. Then it was investor Ray Dalio’s Principles. Is Dalio’s follow-on book, Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order, up next? It’s flooding our social media.

ALSO- The Financial Times would like you to understand how the world got hooked on Wordle. If you haven’t yet played the fun / frustrating once-per-day word game, try it out here.


There are plenty of BIG STORIES ABROAD that you need to know about on this chilly midwinter morning. Among them:

US-Russia tensions over Ukraine spiral after high-stakes talks collapse: Officials from all sides of the battle for Ukraine’s future are openly warning of conflict in Europe after last week’s talks failed to overcome differences between the US and Russia. Moscow declined to pull back its troops deployed on the Ukrainian border, while Washington and Europe have refused to discuss ending Nato expansion, a red line for Russian president Vladimir Putin. The AP and Reuters have more.

Rhetoric is hardening and tensions are rising on the ground: The White House over the weekend accused Moscow of planning a false-flag attack in Ukraine, a day after Kiev was hit by a cyberattack.

The US is preparing for the worst and is drawing up contingency plans with several energy companies over supplying gas to Europe in the event that conflict hits Russian supplies to the continent, Reuters reports. European gas prices jumped on Friday after the breakdown in talks, with the benchmark European gas contract climbing almost 25% to reach EUR 90 per megawatt hour.

Also worth noting this morning:

  • El Sisi calls for dialogue in Sudan: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has urged dialogue in Sudan to end the political deadlock as demonstrators continue to protest against the military coup that overthrew the civilian leaders in October, the Associated Press reports.
  • COP26 president Alok Sharma has pledged to give the UK’s “full support” to Egypt during talks with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, as the country gears up to host the COP27 climate conference in November. (Joint Statement)
  • GSK rejects Unilever’s USD 50 mn offer for Pfizer JV: GlaxoSmithKline has turned down Unilever’s USD 50 mn bid for GSK’s consumer healthcare JV with Pfizer, calling the offer “fundamentally undervalued.” (Financial Times | Bloomberg)

When does covid stop being a pandemic and start being endemic? This is the debate currently playing out among scientists across the world and in the global media. Last week Team Endemic was all over the front pages, arguing that the omicron variant represents the end-game for covid as a deadly virus and the beginning of its transition into a more benign illness easily fought off by a more immune population.

This morning we’re seeing the counterpoint, with the Associated Press and newspapers including the Washington Post relaying the thoughts of some epidemiologists who warn that the virus could continue to evolve into more transmissible, more harmful variants. “People have wondered whether the virus will evolve to mildness. But there’s no particular reason for it to do so,” one disease expert told the AP. “I don’t think we can be confident that the virus will become less lethal over time.”

^^ Expect to see this debate pick up steam in the weeks and months ahead as health authorities deliberate policy responses to the virus, post-omicron.


WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

The Senate is holding plenary sessions today and tomorrow to finish discussing a bill that would create a new Labor Act, to which it gave a preliminary thumbs up earlier this month, Al Borsa reports. The Senate will then pass the legislation back to the House of Representatives for final approval. If passed, the bill would dictate 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 local media. It is unclear to us where the dividing line is between the private and public sectors as regards the amendments.

SODIC shareholders will vote on the company’s new board of directors at an extraordinary general meeting today. 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 EGP 6.1 bn all-cash transaction.

PSA #3- Today is the last chance for property and land owners to make good on overdue real estate dues without facing late fees, so long as they pay the full overdue amount, Housing Minister Assem El Gazzar said in a statement.

MARKET WATCH-

Wall Street earnings season kicks off: Did banks peak in 2021? Bulge bracket stalwart JPMorgan Chase reported record net income for the year on a larger number of transactions, according to its earnings release (pdf) — but warnings from the bank’s CFO of a rocky few years ahead sent its shares down by over 5% on Friday, the Financial Times reported. Citigroup’s net income doubled (pdf) from the year before, but weak fourth-quarter earnings also saw the bank’s shares slide more than 1% on the announcement, according to CNBC.

What’s next: On the banking front, Goldman Sachs reports on Tuesday, followed by Bank of America and Morgan Stanley on Wednesday. Tech firms will start reporting by midweek, with Intel up on Wednesday and Netflix publishing its results on Thursday. We’ll get our first glimpse of how the US airline industry weathered omicron disruption when United Airlines reports on Wednesday.


AFCON 2021: Mohamed Salah was the difference in the Pharaoh’s match last night with Guinea-Bissau, with Egypt closing out the engagement 1-0 to claim a vital victory that keeps our hope of qualification alive. Salah volleyed the Pharaohs into the lead in the 68th minute, latching onto a chipped cross to bag his first goal in six appearances for the national team.

Elsewhere in the group: After beating Egypt in the opening game of the tournament, Nigeria sealed qualification to the next round after seeing off Sudan 3-1, leaving our southern neighbor bottom of the group.

The pathway out of the group: The top two teams in each group are automatically sent through to the knockout stage of the competition, meaning that Egypt need to beat Sudan when they meet on Wednesday in order to guarantee a place in the next round. Should Guinea-Bissau beat Nigeria and Egypt draw or lose to Sudan, the Pharaohs still have a possibility of going through, courtesy of rules that see the four highest-ranked third-placed teams progress.


CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

The World Art Forum is ongoing at Cairo’s National Museum of Egyptian Civilization until Wednesday, 19 January. The inaugural edition of the forum, which kicked off yesterday, will see artists from around the world participating.

National flag carrier EgyptAir will operate a flight from Casablanca to Cairo this Wednesday, 19 January, to bring home Egyptian expats stranded in Morocco following border closures.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is due in town from 20-21 January on an official visit, during which he will meet President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

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: After looking at the trends that drove the conversation in Planet Startup last year (here and here), we’re looking at What’s Next for up-and-coming businesses this year. In a nutshell, it’s more of the same: More funding, more international players, more exits, more M&A, and more fintech.

enterprise

Elevate your spirit where breathtaking mountains rise wherever you turn. Somabay; so magnificent, every day.

TOURISM

Grand Egyptian Museum slated for 2H2022 opening

The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) could open its doors to the public in 2H2022, Tourism Minister Khaled El Anany told ABC News on the sidelines of the World Youth Forum last week. The opening of the state-of-the art museum is contingent on the stability of “coronavirus-related conditions,” the minister said

The GEM is near completion and will be ready by mid-year, “but we want to make sure that our guests can arrive in large numbers,” El Anany said, adding that the aim is to invite heads of state from around the world to the museum’s inauguration. As a globally significant attraction, the museum is widely expected to help tourism rebound post-pandemic.

Happy discovery day, King Tut: Opening the GEM would be the best way to celebrate the centennial of the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb, El Anany said. The museum will hold more than 100k artifacts, among them the c. 5k treasures belonging to the boy king that will be displayed in full for the first time. His world-famous tomb was discovered in November 1922 by British archeologist Howard Carter.

The GEM’s grand opening was delayed by the pandemic: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi postponed the inauguration of the GEM, initially set for June 2020, at the pandemic’s outset. Toward the end of 2020, El-Enany said that the opening could happen in 2H2021 if covid conditions allowed. Construction has been at least 98% complete since early last year.

The GEM is set to be the largest museum in the world dedicated to a single civilization. Part of the Giza Vision 2030, the museum is the centerpiece of the EGP 30 bn development of the Giza plateau area, accounting for around two-thirds of the project’s costs. Check out our two-part series on the Giza Plateau revamp here and here.

STARTUP WATCH

Orcas raises USD 2.1 mn pre-series A round

EXCLUSIVE- Orcas raises USD 2.1 mn pre-series A round: Egyptian edtech startup Orcas raised USD 2.1 mn in a pre-series A round co-led by our friends at CIRA’s NFX Ventures, and Access Bridge Ventures, according to a statement (pdf). Algebra Ventures, Launch Africa Ventures, Cairo Angels Syndicate Fund (CASF), and Seedstars International also participated.

Next steps: Orcas aims to use the funding to develop its technology, hire new talent and expand into new markets in MENAP. Its tech needs to be customizable but also scalable to smoothly operate in different markets, co-founder and CEO Hossam Taher tells us. Operations started in Pakistan’s Lahore in early 2022 and Orcas is planning to expand into the KSA next, he adds. “We’re looking to expand in markets that have a large young population and high out-of-pocket tutoring expenses.”

What does Orcas do? Founded in 2019, the platform offers online and in-person tutoring and courses for K-12 students as well as personalized learning plans, learning-style assessments, and practice assignments.

This marks CASF’s first investment after launching last month as a micro-VC fund to fill the “missing middle” between post-seed and pre-series A investments.

Orcas and CIRA are becoming firm friends: The two firms teamed up last year on a JV to co-develop an online social learning platform for after-hours support to students. The hybrid platform, which makes use of Orcas’ online tools as well as CIRA’s 21-strong school network, is now available in governorates including Cairo, Assiut and Suez.

Edtech startups raised eight investment rounds in 2021, up three from the year before, putting edtech among the most popular sectors for investment. Read our What’s Next story recapping investment in Egypt’s startup scene last year.

IN OTHER STARTUP NEWS-

  • El Sisi wants the WYF to set up an incubator: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has directed the World Youth Forum’s management to establish a global incubator for startups and SMEs, involving private sector firms, international lenders and development organizations.
  • Foodtech startup 3attar raised an undisclosed seed round from AUC Angels, UI Investment and individual angel investors, according to a statement picked up by Wamda. The B2C health foods platform aims to expand its customer base and develop its tech with the funding.

DEVELOPMENT FINANCE

APICORP and IsDB launch USD 1 bn Infra Initiative

Apicorp and IsDB launch USD 1 bn Infra Initiative: Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (Apicorp) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) have launched a three-year, USD 1 bn initiative for private-sector focused infrastructure financing in countries including Egypt, according to a statement.

Who’s in line for funding? The Infra Initiative will finance renewable projects in electricity generation and transmission, water, and waste management in APICORP’s ten member countries, all of whom are also IsDB members: Egypt, Kuwait, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Algeria, Iraq, Bahrain, Syria and the UAE. Projects with private-sector involvement will be at the top of the priority list. Projects elsewhere within the 57 Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries will also be considered, if they are sponsored by a company headquartered in one of these ten countries.

The initiative aims to drive PPPs in energy projects. Infra is designed “to address low private sector participation in funding energy projects by incentivizing public-private partnerships (PPPs),” the statement reads. The initiative also hopes to mobilize financing for PPP projects from commercial and multilateral banks, development agencies and capital markets.

Background: Egypt holds a 3% stake in APICORP, which is a multilateral development institution targeting the development of renewable energy in oil-exporting nations, and a USD 3.6 bn capital subscription in IsDB, equivalent to nearly 7.1% of the bank’s total capital.

M&A WATCH

German prosthetics firm Ottobock won’t be taking a 20% stake in Orthomedics

Egyptian prosthetics company Orthomedics will not sell a 20% stake to Ottobock after ending talks with the German firm, Al Borsa cited Orthomedics Chairman Khaled El Deeb as saying, without disclosing further information. Negotiations between the two firms had been ongoing since early 2020.

IPO still in the cards: El Deeb reiterated the company’s intention to go public on the EGX, first announced back in 2020. He said at the time that the firm could sell a 49% stake in an IPO.

COVID WATCH

Egypt’s daily covid tally is back in four figures + 1 mn AstraZeneca jabs from Argentina

Egypt’s official daily covid tally is back in four figures: The Health Ministry reported 1,101 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 1,079 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 398,879 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 26 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 22,123.

Egypt received 1 mn AstraZeneca jabs as a gift from Argentina on Thursday, a gesture to celebrate the countries’ 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations, according to a statement (pdf) from the Argentinian embassy. Our friend Eduardo Varela, Argentina’s ambassador to Egypt, met several local officials at Cairo International Airport as the vaccines arrived.

Omicron was the likely cause of an 89% spike in covid cases during the first week of January across the Eastern Mediterranean, the WHO’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, Ahmed Al Mandhari, said at a media briefing. Al Mandhari noted that the rise in cases coincided with a 13% drop in deaths in the region, but added that while the omicron variant appears to cause less severe disease than its predecessor delta, “this certainly does not mean it should be underestimated.”

EARNINGS WATCH

Earnings watch: Taaleem

EGX-listed Taaleem saw a 23.7% y-o-y increase in its bottom line in 1Q2021-2022 to EGP 71.9 mn, the company said in an earnings release (pdf). Revenues also rose 27.3% y-o-y to EGP 171.7 mn for the September-November 2021 period, the company said. The strong performance came on the back of higher operating revenues as operational conditions continue to normalize post-pandemic, which outstripped growth in operating costs and expenses by 20.4 percentage points.

Enrolment at Nahda University in Beni Suef was down 48% y-o-y, with 916 new students admitted during 1Q2021-22. The decrease followed a decline in the pool of eligible applicants after the Thanaweya Amma examination system was updated, the company said. That said, average tuition revenue per student was up 30.5% y-o-y at EGP 27k. Progress continues on the company’s second higher education institution, Badya University in West Cairo.

The higher ed outfit expects the growth to continue going forward: Taaleem built “a strong platform for further growth during the rest of the year” in the first quarter, said Managing Director Mohamed El Rashidi. The company will continue to focus on growth and cost-level efficiencies to yield strong profitability, he added.

enterprise

LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

GERD returned to the nation’s talk shows last night after the Ethiopian government announced plans to clear 17k hectares of forest in preparation for the third filling of the dam this summer. The process will take two months to complete and the government wants to start the work in February. Addis Ababa began unilaterally filling the dam’s reservoir in 2020 without an agreement with Egypt and Sudan over how to allocate the Nile’s water between the three countries, inflaming tensions with Cairo. Negotiations have been on ice since last summer, when Ethiopia completed the second filling of the dam and Egypt failed to get the backing of the international community to intervene in the dispute. El Hekaya’s Amr Adib covered the story (watch, runtime: 3:55).

The death of veteran journalist Wael Elebrashy is being investigated by the public prosecutor after his wife accused doctors of negligence that caused his death. Elebrashy died last week due complications resulting from covid-19. The Doctors’ Syndicate is also conducting an investigation into the physicians who treated him and the medication he was told to take, syndicate member Ibrahim El Zayat said on Ala Mas’ouleety last night (watch, runtime: 3:22). The story was also given attention by Al Hayah Al Youm, (watch, runtime: 2:06), El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 11:11), and Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 9:40).

Also on the airwaves last night:

  • Egypt has entered the fifth wave of covid-19, the former dean of the Heart Institute said on Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 5:07)
  • IMF executive director Mahmoud Mohieldin has called on the government to increase public investment by at least 20% to support the economy in an interview with Extra News (watch, runtime: 4:38). Mohieldin said that private investment needs to triple to make up for the declines seen in recent years.
  • The conclusion of the World Youth Forum got airtime on Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 22:15) and El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 1:02).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

It’s a mixed bag in the pages of the foreign press this morning: The trafficking and assault allegations against former CBC owner Mohamed El Amin are getting ink in the Guardian after a local court extended his pre-trial detention for a further 15 days. Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that thousands of mausoleums in Cairo’s historic City of the Dead could be destroyed to make way for a new road, as the government continues with its huge infrastructure drive to ease traffic congestion in the nation’s capital. Lastly, Canada’s CBC reports that Canadian-Egyptian citizen Joseph Attar has returned to Canada after 15 years of imprisonment in Egypt. Attar was arrested in Cairo in 2007 on spying charges.

PLANET FINANCE

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The US Federal Reserve could start raising interest rates in March: Fed Governor Lael Brainard is the latest official to signal that the Fed is leaning toward a March “lift-off” on planned rate hikes. At a congressional hearing to confirm her nomination for another term as Fed vice chair, Brainard said the Fed could hike rates as soon as it finishes unwinding its asset-purchasing stimulus, opening the door to a rate rise at the central bank’s mid-March meeting.

Four rate hikes this year? A number of Fed officials last week came out to back a March rate increase and as many as four rate hikes this year. The increased sense of urgency comes after data showed that US inflation was at its highest in forty years in December. The Fed plans to taper its bond-buying program in February — twice as fast as originally expected — ahead of a planned three rate hikes in 2022, followed by another three next year, and two in 2024.

Down

EGX30

12,012

-0.4% (YTD: +0.5%)

None

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

None

USD at CIB

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

12,079

+1.0% (YTD: +7.1%)

None

ADX

8,425

– (YTD: -0.7%)

None

DFM

3,202

– (YTD: -0.4%)

Up

S&P 500

4,663

+0.1% (YTD: -2.2%)

Down

FTSE 100

7,543

+0.3% (YTD: +2.2%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 83.82

+2.1%

Down

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 4.26

-0.2%

Down

Gold

USD 1,816.50

-0.3%

Down

BTC

USD 43,332

-0.0% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell 0.4% on Thursday on turnover of EGP 807 mn (32.8% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net buyers. The index is up 0.5% YTD.

In the green: Cleopatra Hospital (+2.8%), MM Group (+2.0%) and Egypt Kuwait Holding (+1.0%).

In the red: Madinet Nasr Housing (-4.2%), Speed Medical (-3.2%) and Egyptian Resorts Company (-2.9%).

whatsNext

What’s in store for Planet Startup in 2022? More of the same — and that’s a great thing. In the past two weeks, we’ve looked at how much funding Egyptian startups raised in 2021 and the new investment vehicles that have emerged in the market. This week, we’re looking at what lies ahead.

The theme of 2022 when it comes to funding for startups is simple: MORE. More funding, bigger ticket sizes, more international players (VCs and startups alike), more exits, more M&A, and last, but not least, more fintech.

Your guides to What’s Next in the startup space in the year to come are three top industry leaders: Tarek Assaad, managing partner at Algebra Ventures. Hany Al Sonbaty, managing partner at Sawari Ventures. And Basil Moftah, general partner at Global Ventures.

All three insiders expect 2022 to be another record year for fundraising by startups. “We’re expecting USD 3 bn to be raised in MENA, and that Egypt will lead in terms of number of transactions for the first time,” Moftah says. The UAE and KSA will round out the top three in terms of number of transactions. In terms of total investment value, the UAE will be at the forefront, he expects.

The venture capital landscape is going to get more crowded… We also expect a number of Egypt-based VCs to (a) close funds for which they’re now raising funds and (b) to launch new funds. And the market can also expect to see other players looking at the startup space, with Assaad pointing to corporate investors, financial institutions and later-stage players. Al Sonbaty reiterates what he had told us in his Morning Routine two years ago: “I personally expect that the capital available for VC will increase by close to two orders of magnitude within our lifetime.”

…and VCs are going to write larger and larger tickets. The average VC investment in an Egyptian startup has grown steadily in the past three years, but compared to other emerging markets, the sizes are not insane, Assaad said, implying that there is still significant breathing room. “Egypt has been underinvested and behind due to the revolutions and then the economic reforms. Today, it is becoming a darling story to investors, as a place that is undervalued and underrepresented in the tech scene,” Moftah notes.

Expect an influx of international players: Top-tier international investment vehicles that have global mandates will be coming into and looking at Egypt, Al Sonbaty says. Assaad and Moftah said much the same thing.

2022 could shape up to be the “year of the exit,” too. Momentum for exits is gaining steam as investment rounds grow in size and more sophisticated investors enter the scene. “We will see exits next year and we’re hoping to see a lot of them,” Assaad confirms.

M&A is also picking up. Consolidation in the market started on a smaller scale in 2021, as we’ve previously reported, and you can expect lots more where that came from. “M&A will become more of a feature, be it startup-to-startup or larger companies acquiring startups, so we’re dedicating part of our investment team to focus on that,” Moftah says.

Companies are eyeing Egyptian startups as acquisition targets because, simply, Egypt is the hottest place to be, Moftah adds. Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul opening the door to tech startups interested in listing will be good for Egypt: KSA-listed companies will be eyeing acquisition targets in Egypt (and elsewhere) to deliver growth. “I’m looking forward to seeing some more consolidation in 2022 as companies […] think about exits and IPOs,” Assaad says.

Venture debt is coming in strong. Across MENA, 80% of investors and startups are planning to use venture debt as a funding tool in the near future, according to the Venture Debt Sentiment Report by Magnitt and Shuaa. And it seems Egypt is going to follow suit. US venture debt firm Partners for Growth is looking at lending to four companies in Egypt, Moftah says. “Venture debt will become mainstream [and] part of how the ecosystem expands,” he adds. Other investment vehicles in the market, which we covered in detail last week, are set to increase the base and depth for startups at an earlier stage, Al Sonbaty tells us.

Fintech, fintech, and more fintech: “Fintech is destined to attract more money this year and accelerate, given the size of the [potential],” Al Sonbaty says. A number of African fintech unicorns will come to Egypt in search of growth, so that’s going to make things interesting, he adds. Egypt’s new SPAC regulations and fintech law have been in the making for a few years now — and will be coming together to create a more vibrant regulatory environment in 2022, he explains. We may even see some specialization in investment vehicles, particularly on the corporate side, Assaad adds.

But isn’t everything fintech? A lot of startups are taking the “fintech highway,” regardless of their sectors, because the need for financing is everywhere. “Fintech is an integral part of infrastructure — it is not a vertical, but rather required for industries to thrive, including healthcare and education,” Al Sonbaty says.

What we need to work on: Technical talent, corporate governance, and infrastructure. “Something on everybody’s mind is access to technical talent on a more senior level, such as CTOs and senior developers,” Assaad says. There is a lot of competition for tech talent, particularly as many of the nation’s best and brightest are (a) lured to jobs abroad or (b) opt to work remotely for global companies, whether on contract or as freelancers. In parallel, the nation’s infrastructure still needs to improve in terms of internet speed and data centers — and regulations to support startups and IPOs, Moftah tells us. But most importantly, governance and transparency need to be a priority. Egypt’s entrepreneurs still need to exert more effort in communicating transparently and manage the governance of their companies better, he recommends.

What we need to watch out for: the global debt bubble. There is a credit bubble brewing globally, especially when it comes to consumer and SME lending, Moftah says. “We’re expecting a correction of that in 2022, starting in the US, which will spill over into emerging markets and lead to a correction of valuations on some businesses that have high exposure to credit and lending,” he adds. These businesses include BNPL, working capital financing and microfinancing. The exact timing is still unclear, but corrections can be very disruptive to companies, boards and investment flows.

Egypt’s fintech sector is well-regulated by both the Central Bank of Egypt and the Financial Regulatory Authority. We think the risk to Egypt of a correction in developed markets is not that local players will default, but that international investors will pull back because they worry that Western risk is generalizable to EMs like us.

The dominant theme at the start of this new year: Optimism. Tech startups are attracting strong talent and going after big markets, technology adoption has turned a corner as it is now in the hands of the masses, there’s plenty of capital sloshing around in search of returns, entrepreneurs are more competent and capable, and there’s interest everywhere from corporations to government, Assaad says. “I’m looking forward to Egypt regaining its position in the tech world,” Moftah tells us. “There is a new caliber of entrepreneurs coming into the scene, of which a few are second-time founders.”

What’s next (further down the line)? Open banking and Web3 startups. Web3 businesses will become the hottest sector, including businesses related to crypto-exchanges, NFTs, blockchain and smart contracts, Moftah says. Other MENA countries, like the UAE and KSA, have also been working on their open banking mandates. Open banking is the idea that you force financial institutions and ins. companies to open up their APIs for fintech companies to capture and pass data. “This is the missing piece of making fintech successful in MENA,” Moftah concludes.


Your top stories on future trends for the week:

  • Tawfeer Market closes seed round: Grocery delivery startup Tawfeer Market has raised USD 500k in seed funding, with participation from the Alexandria Business Angels Network.
  • Homzmart looks to Asia: Furniture and home goods marketplace Homzmart is targeting expansion into South Asian countries.
  • MNT-Halan is looking at cross-border expansion this year, with plans to tap markets where “there are large unbanked populations that need serving,” CEO and co-founder Mounir Nakhla told the Banker magazine.
  • Licenses for fintech startups: Startups will be able to apply for a short-term fintech startup license valid for up to two years under the fintech bill passed by the House last week.

CALENDAR

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.

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.

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

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

January: Three-month trial period of ACI for air freight to begin.

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

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.

15-19 January (Saturday-Wednesday): World Art Forum, National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, Cairo.

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.

19 January (Wednesday): EgyptAir will operate an exceptional Casablanca-Cairo flight to bring home Egyptians expats stranded in Morocco following border closures.

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

20-21 January (Thursday-Friday): South Korean President Moon Jae-in will visit Egypt as part of his diplomatic tour of the region.

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 January (Tuesday): Techne Summit announces awardees of Corporate Innovation Program.

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

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

30-31 January (Sunday-Monday): Ins. Federation of Egypt medical ins. forum.

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.

February: Suez canal transit fees set to increase 6%, exempting cruise ships and LNG carriers.

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.

15 February (Tuesday): Orange Ventures’ deadline to receive applications from seed-stage fintech startups.

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

19-21 February (Saturday-Monday): Nebu Expo for Gold and Jewelry 2022.

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: The government hopes to sign a final contract between El Nasr Automotive and a new partner for the local production of electric cars.

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.

28-29 March (Monday-Tuesday): The Egypt International Mining Show (EIMS 2022) will take place virtually.

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: The inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum.

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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