Sunday, 30 January 2022

AM — Central Bank of Egypt likely to leave rates on hold in first 2022 meeting -Poll

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the last workweek of January. Hard to believe the year is 8.2% finished as of this fine, chilly morning.

It’s interest rate week, which means the Central Bank of Egypt will hold on Thursday its first policy meeting of 2022. The consensus in our poll of analysts is that policymakers will hold rates steady. The meeting is the first after the US Federal Reserve signaled last week that it could start raising interest rates in March. Goldman Sachs is calling up to five rate hikes this year in the US of A, while BofA Global Research is penciling in seven 0.25 point hikes. We have the full story in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

…And it’s also PMI week: January PMI figures for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are due out on Thursday.

THE BIG STORIES ABROAD-

The threat of armed conflict in Ukraine continues to capture the attention of the world’s media as we start this new week. Among the latest developments:

  • Britain goes for big-gun diplomacy: The UK is considering sending the biggest possible support package under NATO to defend Ukraine against a possible Russian attack, Reuters reports. Boris Johnson said a mass deployment that would double troop numbers and include arms could be on the cards, ahead of his visit to the region later this week.
  • US and UK intelligence officials believe a Russian strike is imminent — but the Ukrainian government refuses to be alarmed, with officials dismissing reports that Russia is ready to invade as “psychological warfare,” according to the Financial Times, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.
  • Sanctions the Biden administration has threatened to deploy if Russia does invade Ukraine could bring the Russian economy to its knees — but could easily backfire on the US, the New York Times reports.

The brief reprieve from Erdonomics may have been just that: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to continue cutting interest rates on Saturday, claiming that lower inflation will follow, Bloomberg reports. His comments come after the country’s central bank left interest rates on hold at its latest meeting, leading to hopes that Erdogan’s widely derided policy of severe rate cuts meant to bring down inflation — which has seen the TRY plunge and prices soar to a 19-year high in the country — had been put on pause. Also on Saturday, it was announced that Erdogan had replaced the head of the country’s national statistics institute, following reports of tension over inflation data, the Financial Times reports.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

AFCON- Egypt face Morocco in Afcon quarter-final clash: The Pharaohs face their biggest test of Afcon yet when they meet their North African rivals in tonight’s quarter-final. The team booked its place in the last eight on Wednesday by inching past Ivory Coast via a penalty shoot-out after a goalless draw. The game saw Egypt continue its run of unconvincing performances, with a mis-firing front line that has only netted twice this tournament but a stable defense that has now kept clean sheets for three consecutive games. The victors of tonight’s match will face hosts Cameroon— who last night knocked Gambia out of the tournament with a 2-0 victory — in Wednesday’s semi-final.

Kick off: 5:00pm.

Tonight’s match could also decide the fate of Al Ahly: The club could be forced to play their first fixture in FIFA’s Club World Cup in the UAE on 5 February without six of the team’s best players, who will be busy playing for the Pharaohs should they advance, Reuters notes.

Morocco will finally lift its ban on international flights starting 7 February, the official Moroccan news agency (MAP) reported. The country banned all flights into the country in late November after the emergence of the omicron variant.

Correction 30th January 2022: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Egypt / Morocco will face Burkina Faso in the semi-finals of Afcon 2021.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

PSA FOR (EARLY STAGE) FOUNDERS- Today is your last chance to apply for the spring 2022 cycle of EGBank’s Mint Incubator. The incubator offers two tracks: A sector-agnostic track for startups at the MVP stage and a fintech track that accepts early-stage startups both at the ideation and MVP stages. Main founders must be between 16-35 years old. You can apply here.

OPEC+ will meet this Wednesday, 2 February: The cartel is expected to agree to another gradual oil production increase, hiking supply by 400k bbl / day in March. Planned production increases by the cartel have so far failed to meet the recovery in demand as several member countries struggle to up their output. The tightening of the oil market has pushed prices to a seven-year high this month. Some analysts say Brent could breach the USD 100 / bbl mark this year unless supply is increased.

The Cairo International Book Fair continues today at the Egypt International Exhibition Center. The event runs through to 7 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: We look into so-called superapps: why they are on the rise, how can they accelerate financial inclusion, and what is the Egyptian market like?

enterprise

ANALYST POLL

Central bank to leave rates on hold despite Fed tightening

The Central Bank of Egypt will likely leave interest rates on hold when it meets this Thursday despite forecasts for rising inflation at home and higher interest rates abroad. All eight analysts and economists we polled expect the Monetary Policy Committee to maintain the benchmark rate at 8.25%, telling us that the EGP carry trade won’t face immediate pressure from rising US rates — and that inflation is unlikely to rise above the central bank’s target range.

The central bank has held interest rates steady for over a year, leaving the overnight deposit rate at 8.25% since making a 50 bps cut in November 2020. The lending rate has remained at 9.25% while the main operation and discount rates are both at 8.75%.

THE GLOBAL BACKGROUND: The Federal Reserve said late last Wednesday that it will likely start raising interest rates in March as policymakers try to get a handle on inflation, which has recently risen to highs not seen since the early 1980s. The market is currently pricing in four rate hikes this year, which would be the most aggressive tightening cycle in the US since the mid-2000s, putting pressure on risk assets across the world.

Egypt won’t come under pressure immediately: Egypt’s inflation-adjusted interest rate is the highest in the world and will attract portfolio inflows even as US interest rates start to climb, several analysts tell us. Egypt currently offers a real return of around 4%, which compares favorably to rates in the US and other high-interest rate emerging markets such as Turkey, according to HC Securities’ Monette Doss, who said, “We believe that Egypt's carry trade remains attractive at the current levels. … Even though the US Federal Reserve might start increasing interest rates in March, US two-year notes are expected to offer a negative real return of -2.2% … Turkey offers a real return of 3.8% on our calculations.”

How markets react to the Fed is the wild card: Some analysts expect the central bank could consider raising rates later this year as global rates tick higher. “With the Fed set to embark on policy tightening, the chances are growing that the central bank will need to hike interest rates later in the year,” James Swanston, MENA economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note earlier this month.

Inflation could also prompt policymakers to consider a rate hike: “We see a high probability that the central bank will raise interest rates by 100 bps in 2022. This will depend mostly on the impact of monetary policy in developed countries, and the rise of global commodity prices, especially food, and their ability to influence domestic inflation,” Prime Holding’s Mona Bedeir told us.

Analysts told us that inflation will continue to rise in the coming months, with most forecasting the headline urban rate to average between 7-7.5% during the first six months of 2022 as rising oil and food prices filter through to the local economy. Mohamed Abu Basha, head of macro analysis at EFG Hermes, expects inflation to average 7% through the year. Annual urban inflation rose slightly to 5.9% in December from 5.6% the month before.

But it’s unlikely to overshoot the central bank’s target range: None of the analysts polled expected inflation to rise significantly above the central bank’s 7% (+/- 2%) target range.

INVESTMENT WATCH

VC outfit TLcom Capital eyes Egypt. Plus: Aman + Taqa eye fintech

Africa-focused VC firm TLcom Capital plans to enter Egypt with its new fund, which hit a first close of USD 70 mn, TechCrunch reports. The firm, whose portfolio companies are all based in Nigeria or Kenya, is looking to use the fund to branch out to other areas of the continent, with Egypt as one of its prime targets.

TLcom is looking to raise USD 150 mn in the fund’s final close by November, founder and managing partner Maurizio Caio told Bloomberg. It wants to use the fund to add 20 early-stage startups to its portfolio, with individual investments ranging from USD 500k to USD 15 mn.

“We would really like to get exposure to Egypt in addition to what we have done where we are sitting in Lagos and Kenya … We see Egyptian entrepreneurs going into sub-Saharan Africa, so we want to get exposure,” Caio said.

What’s TLcom? TLcom is focused on start-ups in fintech, mobility, agriculture, healthcare, education and e-commerce, though Caio told TechCrunch that it is also interested in venturing into Web3.0 (explainer), crypto and DeFi (explainer)i. The firm’s first fund, the USD 71 mn TIDE Africa Fund, invested in 11 startups from seed to series B stages.

TLcom LPs include CDC Group, the International Finance Corporation, and France’s Proparco are among the international partners backing the fund, while local players FBN Quest and Sango Capital have also committed funds.

IN OTHER INVESTMENT NEWS-

Raya Holding subsidiary Aman and Qalaa Holdings’ Taqa Arabia are setting up a fintech company targeting energy consumers, the two companies announced in a statement (pdf) last week. The as-yet unnamed joint venture will be 51% owned by Aman and will provide e-payment services to Taqa customers, increasing the number of Aman branches at Taqa gas stations to 350, Hapi Journal reported, citing Raya Holdings Chairman Medhat Khalil.

The JV is expected to begin operations in 1H2022 after it lands the final licenses it needs. An Aman representative told us that Aman will invest EGP 300 mn in the venture over the next three years, but declined to disclose the company’s start-up capital.

DEBT WATCH

We’re getting a fresh USD 368 mn loan from the AMF

Egypt will receive a USD 368 mn loan from the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) to help strengthen its financial position and meet “emergency needs” amid challenges caused by the ongoing pandemic, the fund announced in a statement yesterday. The loan agreement, which was signed last Wednesday, comes as part of the fund’s support for member countries’ “reform efforts” and measures taken to “stimulate the economy and provide liquidity in order to contain the negative effects of the virus outbreak.”

The facility comes on the heels of several others geared towards fueling Egypt’s post-covid economic recovery, including two matching USD 360 mn facilities from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the World Bank last year. The International Monetary Fund also lent Egypt USD 8 bn to help cover a balance of payments shortfall and finance the budget deficit at the pandemic’s outset in 2020.

And it’s not the first time the AMF has lent to us: Egypt last summer received the second tranche of a USD 639 mn loan from the AMF, which it provided under its Structural Adjustment Facility to help us improve our fiscal position. Including the most recent facility, the AMF has provided Egypt with a total of 15 loans by our count, worth an estimated USD 2.6 bn.

M&A WATCH

Catalyst acquires 25% stake in ins. brokerage, OIH exists Pakistani subsidiary

Investment firm Catalyst Partners has acquired a 25% stake in Public Partners Ins. Brokerage (PPIB) as part of its plans to expand into ins. services, Al Borsa reports. The firm did not provide any other information on the value or specifics of the transaction.

The acquisition will see Catalyst Partners offer ins. services alongside the non-bank finance and direct investment it already provides to SMEs and family businesses, while PPIB clients will be offered existing Catalyst services. The two firms are also looking to set up tech infrastructure that would allow PPIB to offer ins. to individuals for the first time.

Just in time for the Ins. Act: The draft Ins. Act, which is currently in discussion by the House of Representatives, would make ins. compulsory for SMEs and freelancers.

ALSO IN M&A- OIH exits Pakistani subsidiary: Orascom Investment Holding (OIH) has sold its 51% stake in its Pakistani internet subsidiary Transworld Associates (TWA) for USD 35 mn (c. EGP 550 mn), the company announced in a disclosure (pdf) to the EGX on Tuesday. OIH didn’t disclose the identity of the buyer.

OIH telegraphed this nine months ago: The company announced its intention to exit its entire stake in the company in April 2021.

TWA is an internet service provider in Pakistan and owns a 1.3k km subsea cable connecting the country to the UAE and Oman.

EARNINGS WATCH

CIRA reports 1Q2021-2022 financials

CIRA net income down in 1Q2021-2022 on expansions, higher debt costs: Net earnings at private sector education outfit CIRA eased 12% to EGP 107.7 mn in the first quarter of their 2021-2022 fiscal year, which ended on November 30, according to the company’s latest earnings release (pdf). CIRA attributed the drop in net income to higher costs associated with establishing new institutes, which are yet to impact its top line. It also pointed to a 53% y-o-y increase in debt-related expenses, after the company took out new loans at higher interest rates and saw grace periods on existing loans come to an end.

But revenues are up: The company’s top line rose 16% y-o-y to EGP 430 mn, which it said came on the back of continued expansion in both K-12 and higher education, driving an uptick in enrollment. The solid top line growth came despite challenges “including nationwide changes in the admissions process, and regulatory delays associated with the launch of Badr University in Assiut,” said CEO Mohamed El Kalla.

CIRA ups its stake in Orcas: CIRA has increased its stake in Egyptian edtech startup Orcas to 12%, El Kalla said. CIRA’s prior stake in Orcas was not disclosed, though CIRA’s venture capital arm NFX Ventures has participated in two funding rounds for the edtech startup, most recently co-leading a USD 2.1 mn pre-series A round announced in January.

For the rest of the year: CIRA hopes to begin the enrollment process for Badr University in Assiut in 2022, once it receives its final operational licenses, says El Kalla (the university had been slated to launch this February). It is also planning to submit for presidential approval its plans for New Damietta University in partnership with Elsewedy this quarter, and will break ground on Cairo Saxony University in partnership with Al Ahly Capital by June.

COVID WATCH

Another daily covid case record

Another day, another record-breaking covid tally: Daily covid cases jumped to 2,018 on Saturday, the Health Ministry reported, up from 2,007 the day before — marking the fourth straight daily record for new cases. Case numbers have continued to climb since hitting 1,809 new infections last Wednesday, surpassing the previous record of 1,774, set in June 2020, during the first wave of the virus. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 421,478 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 44 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 22.566.

The current Omicron wave is expected to peak in mid-February before cooling off in early March, manager of Vascera allergy center Amgad El Haddad told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 11:45). Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 17:06) also took note of the spike in case numbers.

The vaccine tally: 25,763,453 people are now fully vaccinated against the virus, while some 11.4 mn people have received only their first shots and 615,876 people have received booster shots.

We received 4 mn covid vaccine doses from the UK as part of the Gavi / Covax program on Thursday, British Ambassador to Egypt Gareth Bayley said on Friday, without specifying the type of jabs donated. Bayley added that the bilateral donation was one of the largest ever made by the UK.

Merck’s antiviral covid-19 pill Molnupiravir will only be administered to the elderly and patients with weak immunity, Health Ministry spokesperson Hossam Abdel Ghaffar told DMC on Thursday (watch, runtime: 2:53). The Egyptian Drug Authority approved Molnupiravir for emergency use in hospitals last week, paving the way for five local firms to begin supplying local hospitals with the medication.

DIPLOMACY

US could cut USD 130 mn in aid to Egypt

The Biden Administration will cancel USD 130 mn in military aid to Egypt if it fails to meet human rights-related conditions by today, US State Department officials said in a call with reporters on Friday, Reuters and the Associated Press reported.

Background: The aid has been frozen since September, when Secretary of State Antony Blinken approved the annual USD 300 mn tranche to Egypt, but withheld almost half of it on the condition that we address “specific human-rights related conditions” by the end of January.

No final decision yet: The Madbouly government has “made notable progress” on the conditions but “has not met them all,” the newswires quote one official as having said. Blinken has not made a final decision, but if there are no major developments by 30 January, the secretary could reallocate the money.

Blinken raised human rights issues on a phone call with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Thursday according to a State Department readout. “The United States is committed to strengthening our partnership with Egypt to bolster regional stability and respect for human rights,” Blinken said in a tweet following the call.

This is only a fraction of the USD 1.3 bn Egypt has received from the US every year since 2017. While part of the aid comes with rights-related-requirements, the common practice by successive US administrations has been to override these rules and disburse the money regardless.

The US separately gave the green light just a few days ago to a USD 2.5 bn sale of weapons and equipment to Egypt, which will include 12 Super Hercules C-130 transport aircraft and air defense radar systems. Egypt remains a vital ally and Washington is still committed to support it for its “legitimate defense needs,” the unnamed State department officials said, adding that the huge arms sale specifically serves US interests.

IN OTHER DIPLOMACY NEWS:

El Sisi attends Egypt-UAE-Bahrain summit: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi discussed regional issues with the leaders of the UAE and Bahrain in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday — including the recent terror attacks carried out by Houthi militia in the UAE, according to Emirates News Agency (WAM).

COP27 preparations: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Thursday attended a virtual meeting of the US-convened Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF), where he joined US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, UN climate officials, and representatives of dozens of countries to discuss priorities ahead of COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh in November, according to a foreign ministry statement.

enterprise

LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Senegalese President Macky Sall’s visit and talks with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi dominated the airwaves last night. The two held a face-to-face yesterday, according to an Ittihadiya statement, where they agreed to strengthen coordination on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) situation.

Egypt has been making overtures to Senegal to get its support as the country prepares to assume the presidency of the African Union (AU) next month — especially as Ethiopia has signaled it wants to bring back GERD talks to the AU. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry last year met with Sall as part of a series of diplomatic visits to drum up support from the continent’s leaders for Egypt’s position on the issue.

The pair’s discussion of the GERD crisis ahead of Senegal’s assumption of the African Union’s presidency got coverage from Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 1:55; 3:16), Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 9:59; 2:31), Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 6:21) and Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 4:45).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Dominating the conversation on Egypt in the international press this morning: The Biden administration’s looming decision to cancel a small amount of Egypt’s military aid if Egypt fails to meet by today certain human rights-related conditions. We have the full story in this morning’s Diplomacy section, above (Reuters | AP | New York Times | Washington Post). Human rights issues are also getting attention from Reuters, the Algemeiner and France24.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

The Finance Ministry has reportedly pledged to review the real estate tax on factories, Al Borsa quotes Egyptian Federation of Investors Association (EFIA) head Mahram Hilal as saying. Factories have for years been vying for an exemption from real estate tax to allow them to pay off high production costs without success, though the government has instead proposed a reduction in property tax dues under a draft bill.

The Suez Canal Economic Zone is looking for ways of increasing business ties with Greece’s second-largest port after it signed an agreement with the Thessaloniki Port Authority last week.

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

  • The General Authority for Supply Commodities purchased 420k tonnes of wheat for March delivery in an international tender last week — more than 40% of it from conflict-threatened Ukraine, with the rest coming from Russia and Romania.
  • The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is working with QNB AlAhli and blockchain platform CargoX — of Nafeza fame — to test out digital trade finance network Contour in Egypt.

PLANET FINANCE

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EFG Hermes - https://efghermes.com/

US markets claw back losses at the end of an extremely volatile week: The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones rallied on Friday to break their three-week losing streaks, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 3.1%, erasing its losses for the week. A 7% rally in Apple shares on the back of a record earnings report had traders hailing the company as the markets’ savior, the Wall Street Journal reports. But it’s not over yet — expect more turbulence as earnings season rolls on and investors continue to closely track the macro picture — in particular rising inflation and the US Federal Reserve’s plans for dealing with it through a series of rate hikes starting in March.

Qatar is in early talks with international banks to issue its first sovereign green bond, Bloomberg reports, citing unnamed sources who say the country could “potentially raise bns” through the climate-linked securities. The newswire notes that the move could prove controversial given that Qatar’s gas exports make it one of the world’s largest CO2 emitters on a per capita basis.

Lebanon signed agreements on Wednesday to buy up to 250 MW a day of electricity from Jordan via Syria to ease its severe energy crisis, the Associated Press reports. Negotiations to secure World Bank financing for the agreement are underway and expected to conclude within two months, said Lebanese Energy Minister Walid Fayyad.

Lebanon is also due to start importing Egyptian natural gas in the coming months via the Arab Gas pipeline that runs through Jordan and Syria, which is being renovated for the plan.

Down

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11,500

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8.25% deposit

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THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell 0.4% on Wednesday on turnover of EGP 628 mn (44.5% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net buyers. The index is down 3.8% YTD.

In the green: Madinet Nasr Housing (+3.0%), Pioneers Properties (+2.5%) and Egypt Kuwait Holding-EGP (+2.4%).

In the red: MM Group (-5.6%), Orascom Development Egypt (-4.8%) and Fawry (-3.1%).

whatsNext

Why the Middle East and Africa in general — and Egypt in specific — could be fertile ground for super apps: Superapps are all the rage, specifically in Asia, where startups pioneered the idea of a single app that could do … tons of things, almost all of which involves a payment in one form or another. Instead of using different apps to order food, message a friend, pay your phone bill, transfer money, and order up a car, superapps allow users to do all that from one single platform.

When they get traction, superapps can be huge — if the experience in Asia is generalizable to the rest of the world. The specific services offered differ from one superapp to the next, but the mix can be powerful when companies get it right. Popular global examples include China’s WeChat with 1.2 bn users, Nasdaq-listed Grab with 670 mn users, and Indonesia’s Gojek with 125 mn downloads.

Today we look into why superapps are on the rise, what they have to do with financial inclusion, and why MEA, and Egypt specifically, are fertile grounds for them. Superapps pitch themselves as a convenience play to large groups of potential users, but they’re really all about fintech — an Egypt (and the wider region) is very fertile ground for that.

Superapps are actually really big, hairy fintech plays. Globally, superapps have a very fintech-focused foundation. Need proof? Paypal launched its own superapp back in September, offering a digital wallet, direct deposit, bill payments, peer-to-peer payments, shopping tools, cash-back rewards and crypto capabilities, according to a press statement. It also includes PayPal Savings, a high yield savings account provided by Synchrony Bank.

For users, this means peace of mind. For founders, it means data: While it is easier for users to have access to services via one single window (or screen), superapps can be “super-hoovers” for data collection and behavior tracking, which could also result in more earning power for the app. Superapps use their data to “improve operational processes — like using social media and transactional data to risk-assess loan applicants, and […] to better target financial products to customers, at the exact time they need them,” one of the global big four accounting organizations, KPMG, writes. WeChat, for instance, is used by over 1.2 bn people, majorly in China through its Weixin brand, according to a statement, which results in a massive amount of data. The app allows users to do everything from messaging, paying their restaurant bills, and transferring money, to booking transportation tickets.

(SOUND SMART- Weixin is WeChat’s domestic version in China, while the brand WeChat is the international version.)

While the idea of superapps originated in Asia, MEA has seen its own fair share of them over the past years. Dubai-based Careem, which was acquired by Uber in 2020, went from being a ride-hailing app to offering grocery delivery and payment services. UAE-based Rizek, which launched in Egypt last year, offers housekeeping, men’s grooming, packing and moving, pet care, beauty and wellness, healthcare (yes, that includes PCR tests), automotive and maintenance services. You get the idea.

MEA in general is a “fertile land” for the emergence of more superapps. “The prevalence of low-end mobile phones, as well as high internet costs in the MEA, make superapps an attractive product,” a report on the rise of superapps in the region by Economist Impact and Mastercard states. Further reasons include the massive MEA population count, which is expected to reach 3.4 bn by 2050, and the need for financial inclusion.

In Egypt, all of the above applies. Smartphone penetration stands at over 53% amongst 15-74-year-olds, according to the ICT Ministry’s annual report from September 2021. And with a 100+ mn population, about 67% remain unbanked, we reported last year, with 45% of payments being cashless, making us the world’s second most banknote-reliant country.

Egypt is already home to three superapps: MNT-Halan, MyFawry and Yalla Super App. Let’s meet them before we dive deeper next week into the domestic market:

MNT-Halan- MNT-Halan, which started out as a tuk-tuk and motorcycle ride-hailing app, has morphed into an epicenter of all things fintech and services. Today, it offers BNPL services, a digital wallet, loan applications, bill payments and requesting delivery or a ride. The company is also planning to launch its own payment card soon, founder and CEO Mounir Nakhla tells us. MNT-Halan had raised USD 120 mn last September from global investors, including Apis Growth Fund II, Development Partners International (DPI), and Lorax Capital Partners, in what we believe is the largest fintech investment round in the region thus far.

#2 MyFawry- E-payments giant Fawry is turning MyFawry into a superapp. This includes being able to issue MyFawry pre-paid cards and host digital accounts. The aim is to expand the superapp to allow customers to pay, invest, save, manage, borrow and shop, CMO of Fawry Wael Wahby tells us. So far, MyFawry offers hundreds of payments and subscription services, discount privileges and the ability to buy gift cards from the different brands in Egypt.

#3 Yalla Super App- A collaboration between fintech startup PaySky, Egypt Post, and Visa, Yalla Super App launched in December, PaySky founder Walid Sadek tells us. PaySky is a payment solutions provider for financial institutions, merchants, enterprises and consumers, founded in 2017. Its newly-launched app aims to provide its services to 1 bn consumers and 1 mn companies and merchants over the next 10 years, according to a previous press statement.

NEXT WEEK, we’ll dive deeper into the apps, how investors view them, and the challenges they face as they look to grow the market.


Your top stories on future trends for the week:

  • Dsquares does not, in fact, want to SPAC: Loyalty services provider Dsquares is not looking to create a SPAC, founder and CEO Marwan Kenawy told us, denying a report from Al Shorouk we picked up last week.
  • Chimera closes huge VC fund: Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Chimera Capital has closed its second venture capital fund at USD 10 bn — one of the largest-ever VC funds.
  • 2021 was a bumper year for EM VC funding: VC funding in emerging markets more than tripled in 2021 to USD 6.9 bn, according to a Magnitt report.
  • VCs poured USD 1.4 bn into publishing startups in the US and Europe last year, doubling their investments from previous years as interest in specialized publications grows.

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.

1Q2022: Rameda Pharma will begin selling its generic version of Merck’s oral antiviral covid-19 med.

1Q2022: Pharos Energy’s sale of 55% stake in El Fayum, Beni Suef concessions to IPR Energy Group subsidiary IPR Lake Qarun expected to close.

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: 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.

1H2022: Egypt’s second corporate green bond issuance expected to be announced.

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.

25 January – 1 February (Tuesday-Tuesday): EGX will open over the counter transactions for the National Bank of Kuwait.

27 January-7 February (Thursday-Monday): Cairo International Book Fair, Egypt International Exhibition Center.

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

30 January (Sunday): Apparent deadline for the Egyptian government to meet human rights-related conditions to unlock USD 130 mn in frozen US aid.

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.

Mid-February: A Hungarian delegation will arrive in Egypt for talks over a potential investment in an industrial area in the SCZone.

2 February (Wednesday): OPEC+ will meet to decide on another 400k oil production increase a day for March.

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.

14-19 February (Monday- Saturday): An art exhibition created by marginalized children will be held at Townhouse Gallery. The event is organized by the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, AlexBank, Townhouse Gallery, Al Ismaelia for Real Estate Investment, and Ubuntu Art Gallery.

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.

21 February (Monday): Hearing at Cairo Economic Court (pdf) on FRA lawsuits filed against Speed Medical.

26 February (Saturday): Speed Medical will elect a new board during ordinary general assembly (pdf).

https://enterprise.press/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Speed-Medical-statement_190122.pdf

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.

March: Egypt to host World Tourism Organization Middle East committee meeting.

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): Vodacom purchase of Vodafone Group’s stake in Vodafone Egypt expected to be completed by this date.

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.

November: Cairo Water Week 2022.

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

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

21 November-18 December (Monday-Sunday): 2022 Fifa World Cup, Qatar.

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.

January 2023: EGX-listed companies and non-bank lenders will submit ESG reports for the first time.

**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.

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.

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