Sunday, 10 April 2022

AM — FinMin narrows budget deficit target as the dust settles from war’s outbreak



Good morning, friends, and welcome to a blockbuster Sunday issue with exactly zero signs of the Ramadan news slowdown that we enjoyed for much of Thursday.

Two themes run through this morning’s issue: First up: Our ongoing bid to manage fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine. The latest on that front sees the government reporting that the hit to its deficit reduction target in the current fiscal year won’t be as nasty as it had feared. Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Egypt’s reserves announcement notes that the bank stepped in last month to deploy “excess foreign currency reserves” to push us through a period of exceptional global stress. Egypt is uniquely squeezed by the ongoing war in Ukraine, and cabinet and the central bank continue to show significant maturity in their policy responses.

The second big theme: Investment, investment and still more investment. ADQ looks set to buy the state’s stake in Abu Qir Fertilizers. The news comes after the Sovereign Fund of Egypt said last week that it expected “within days” to make public more information on ADQ’s USD 2 bn in investments here. The SFE itself is rolling out fresh investment in NBFS and financial inclusion companies, the fundraising drive on Planet Startup continues apace, and Edita is committing EGP 1 bn in investment over the next several years as it fast-tracks growth plans.

SPEAKING OF INVESTMENT- There’s probably no sector hotter than fintech. What’s Next in the sector is the topic of our sitdown with the Central Bank of Egypt’s Rasha Negm as well as the founders of two hot startups (Khazna and Kashat) and the VCs who have backed them (Accion and Cairo Angels).

LISTEN to part one of our talk on Apple Podcasts (listen, runtime: 44:59), Anghami or Omny — or read highlights in this morning’s What’s Next, below. Look for us later this morning on Google Podcasts and Spotify.

Make sure you listen to the end. That’s when the CBE’s Negm talks about new legislation and regulation in the works. She also gives us the inside track on what the central bank hopes will become of the exciting new “instant payment network” it launched just days ago.

MEANWHILE- When can we expect a decision on fuel prices? The state’s fuel pricing committee was due to announce prices for 2Q at the beginning of the month, but a government source told us yesterday that it still hasn’t set a date to announce a decision. The committee has met more than once since March to discuss the effect of the Ukraine war on the oil market, which sent Brent prices to as high as USD 139 a barrel last month. From what the source told us, the government is taking a ‘wait and see’ approach and wants to continue assessing the market, which has remained volatile since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

Another hike is in the cards: The source told us that the committee will raise fuel prices for the current quarter, but didn’t provide further details. This would be the fifth increase in less than a year, following a succession of hikes that have raised prices by as much as 16%.

FDI WATCH- EFG Hermes has been tapped as financial advisor to the Saudi Public Investment Fund on its upcoming investment in the three Siemens-built power plants as part of its proposed USD 10 bn investment in Egypt, Al Borsa reports, citing unnamed sources.


Green hydrogen high on priority list as top European Union official comes to town for climate meetings: EU Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans is in town today and tomorrow for climate talks centered on COP 27 — and will launch discussions on a “Mediterranean Green Hydrogen Partnership.” The news comes amid a sharp expansion in global interest in our nascent green hydrogen industry. Talks will also focus on “the clean energy transition and energy efficiency, green growth models and diversification, sustainable finance, carbon markets, adaptation,” the EU said in a statement.

Timmermans is meeting … everyone. He’s scheduled to speak with Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker, Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad, Oil Minister Tarek El-Molla and Planning Minister Hala El Said.

It’s inflation day — and it’s probably not going to be pretty: Consumer prices were already accelerating at their quickest rate in 31 months in February — and that was before the conflict in Ukraine / retaliatory sanctions really began to hit global commodity markets and before the devaluation of the EGP. Annual urban inflation remained just within the central bank’s target range at 8.8% in February, but with prices of food and raw materials rising rapidly last month, that’s not likely to last.

LEGISLATION WATCH- The Senate will discuss today new policy proposals to tackle population growth, as well as a report on the draft Unified Ins. Act and a proposal to restructure the Egyptian Supreme Council of Energy, according to Youm7. A new authority with more power to manage policy on the growing population crisis is likely in the works, as we noted last week.

COVID WATCH- Egypt saw an average of 400 new covid-19 infections per day last week, down from 559 per day the week before. We also saw a daily average of seven deaths (down from an average of eight the week before), according to Health Ministry figures released yesterday. Around 33 mn people are now fully vaccinated, and nearly 2.2 mn have had their boosters, the statement added.

SO, WHEN DO WE EAT? You’ll be breaking your fast at 6:19pm CLT this evening in the capital city, and fajr prayers are at 4:04am.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Ukraine is gearing up for a redoubled attack from Russia in the east, after Russian forces withdrew from the western region surrounding Kyiv. We have all the weekend’s developments in the war — including our abstention from a key UN vote kicking Russia out of the body's human rights council — in today’s War Watch section, below.

The first round of the French presidential election takes place today, and Camp Macron may be looking nervously at the polls as his far right rival Marine Le Pen continues to make gains. Over the past month, the French president has seen his commanding lead in the polls dwindle to just three points as the popularity of Le Pen’s National Rally has grown. Macron is still projected to defeat Le Pen in the second round (held on 24 April), but it’s unlikely to be a repeat of his resounding victory in 2017. Instead, the specter of a Brexit / Trumpesque populist turn in France is now a real possibility — an outcome that would leave the EU’s second-largest economy with its most radical government in decades.


Companies have just under two weeks to file their first quarterly ESG compliance report: Listed firms and non-bank financial services companies need to submit their first quarterly ESG report by 20 April, the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) announced last week. The regulator is making it mandatory for corporates to publicly disclose their performance on key environmental, social and governance metrics each year when they submit their annual financial statements, starting 2023. Reach out to Moustafa Taalab at InkankIR, our parent company, if you need some help.

PSA #2- State-backed Rowad 2030 is now accepting applicants between the ages of 22-40 for its masters program in entrepreneurship and Innovation in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and Cairo University. Learn more about the program requirements and application process here.

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


*** 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: Fintech is having its day in the sun, outgrowing all sectors when it comes to VC funding in the past couple of years. We have a deep dive this morning into where this is all going with top founders, investors — and a regulator. In this week’s What’s Next, you can choose to read or listen to the founders of hot startups Khazna and Kashat, two of the VCs that have backed them (our friends at Cairo Angels and Accion), along with special guest Dr. Rasha Negm, who leads on fintech and innovation at the Central Bank of Egypt.

Scroll down to What’s Next to read now or go listen on Apple Podcasts.


The Spring Edition of Somabay Endurance Festival takes place from May 26-28, featuring a races suitable for all ages and abilities. Join this family-friendly sports event by signing up at and get ready to #ExperienceEndurance. Book now:


FinMin narrows deficit target for this fiscal year as economy withstands global turmoil

The Madbouly government now expects the budget deficit to contract to 6.2% this fiscal year, down from a previous 6.9% target, as the economy absorbs the initial shock of the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told a Bank of America delegation, according to a Finance Ministry statement.

The cushion suggests we were doing better than expected before Russia invaded Ukraine: Officials widened the deficit target in mid-March after the price of key commodities including wheat and oil spiraled following the outbreak of war. The new 6.2% target not only reverses that revision, but is more ambitious even than the 6.7% goal FinMin laid out in its draft budget nearly a year ago. The news implies the government was significantly ahead of its target prior to the outbreak of war, giving it a cushion to absorb fallout from that and the commodity price acceleration that pre-dated it, but that it turbocharged.

The outlook for the primary surplus is also somewhat sunnier: The government is now targeting a primary surplus of 1.3% in this fiscal year. That’s an improvement on the 1.1-1.2% it had predicted a month or so before Russia invaded Ukraine (though it doesn't quite meet the 1.5% penciled in at the start of the year). We’re also still planning to bring the debt-to-GDP ratio below 90% by June as outlined in the draft budget, with the aim of cutting back to 85% by 2025 (up from the 82.5% targeted before Ukraine was invaded).

What changed? Policymakers have stepped in to limit the damage. In a bid to stem outflows, the Central Bank of Egypt devalued the EGP last month and raised interest rates by 100 bps. We also officially requested support from the IMF to mitigate the impact of the war on our economy and are in talks for a fresh financial package. Recent economic reforms have also made us “more able to flexibly manage internal or external issues and absorb the largest possible amount of global shocks,” Maait said.

We’re also getting support from the Gulf: Recently announced investment and funding from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE, totaling some USD 22 bn, is also partly to thank for the improved outlook. BNP Paribas estimated Egypt’s total funding gap in FY 2021/2022 at around USD 17.6 bn.

TBD- Next year’s budget. Ministries and government agencies are looking at ways to trim spending for next fiscal year, after the cabinet in March signed off on a revised FY 2022/2023 budget in light of recent price hikes. The government is now targeting growth of 5.5%, a 6.1% budget deficit and a primary surplus of 1.5%. We’ve had no word yet on revised debt-to-GDP figures — and everything could change up to and until the budget is passed by the House, typically before the end of June.


Reserves dip to USD 37 bn as CBE deployed excess liquidity to “calm the markets” –statement

Egypt’s foreign reserves declined last month for the first time since the early days of the covid pandemic as the conflict in Ukraine rattled the global economy, the central bank said (pdf) last week. Reserves came in at nearly USD 37.1 bn at the end of March from just under USD 41.0 bn at the end of the previous month.

What happened? The central bank “mobilized excess foreign currency reserves to calm the markets during periods of exceptional stress,” the statement said, pointing to what it described as a “massive sell-offs in emerging markets.” The CBE said it deployed some of its reserves to cover “substantial foreign investor outflows and partially cover local demand in order to ensure the availability of imported strategic goods and to repay external debt obligations in a timely manner.”

The CBE is projecting calm: “Net international reserves remain at ample levels, covering more than five months of imports, exceeding global reserve adequacy measures,” the central bank said.

The central bank is also getting more firepower to work with thanks to our friends in the GCC. The UAE is reportedly looking to invest USD 2 bn in Egypt, Qatar said at the end of March it would commit some USD 5 bn here and Saudi Arabia said days later that it was making a USD 5 bn deposit at the CBE and could invest some USD 10 bn in Egypt. The Madbouly government is also in talks with the International Monetary Fund for a new program that could unlock additional financing.

The story is getting coverage in the global business press: Reuters | Bloomberg | Xinhua.


ADQ could buy up National Investment Bank’s entire stake in Abu Qir

Abu Dhabi wealth fund ADQ is on course to acquire the National Investment Bank’s (NIB) entire 21.5% stake in Abu Qir Fertilizers as part of its USD 2 bn investment in Egypt, sources told Bloomberg Asharq, without disclosing the value of the sale. A senior exec at NIB would neither confirm or deny the news when we asked yesterday, but did confirm negotiations are ongoing between ADQ and the government committee managing the state privatization program.

REMINDER- ADQ is reportedly looking at state-held stakes in four other EGX-listed companies. The wealth fund is reportedly eyeing up to 18% of private-sector bank CIB (acquired by state vehicles as part of the CBE’s asset buying program to shore up the EGX in the early days of the pandemic) and an unknown stake in EGX-listed fintech player Fawry. Shares in state firms Mopco and Alexandria Containers are also reportedly in play, as may be stakes in privately held companies.

We’re expecting more details soon: Sovereign Fund of Egypt head Ayman Soliman said last week that details on ADQ’s investment are expected “within days.” ADQ has appetite for companies in sectors including infrastructure, education, healthcare, and financial inclusion, Soliman told Zawya last week.

The investment signals “renewed confidence” in the EGX, former head of the Egyptian Private Equity Association Hani Tawfik told Asharq.

Background: NIB, Abu Qir’s largest shareholder, sold 42.4 mn shares in the company and reduced its stake from 24.9% to 21.5% late last year. Institutional and individual investors now hold a combined 21.0% in the firm, while state-owned firms hold the balance.


SFE plans two investments in financial inclusion + NBFS sectors

SFE to invest in NBFS + financial inclusion companies: The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) is planning to invest in two companies in the financial inclusion and non-banking financial services sectors before the end of 2Q 2022, SFE head Ayman Soliman told Zawya. The fund will also take a 25% stake in a new financial services firm it is establishing alongside local and Arab investors, he said, without disclosing further details.

Background: The SFE has been eyeing investments in the fintech and financial inclusion sectors — in addition to healthcare services, logistics, food processing and agriculture — since 2020, with plans to use industry-specific sub-funds for the investments.

Also from Soliman:

  • The fund plans to double its AUM to EGP 33 bn by the end of 2022, up from EGP 15-16 bn currently.
  • The SFE has begun receiving bids for the contract to redevelop the site of the former National Democratic Party HQ. At least five groups are reportedly interested in the contract, which will see the land used for a hotel, commercial, and residential project. Companies will be able to bid until the end of this quarter.
  • Garden City incubator + French uni campus afoot: The SFE will this quarter ink an agreement with a consortium of Egyptian and international companies interested in developing space formerly owned by the Interior Ministry in Garden City. The consortium plans to turn the space into a startup incubator, a call center, and a campus for a French university not currently operating in Egypt, Soliman said.
  • A special logistics zone in the Suez Canal region? The fund plans to launch a special logistics zone in the Suez Canal through a joint investment with another local fund, Soliman added, without disclosing further details.


Egypt abstains from voting as UN kicks Russia out of human rights council

Egypt abstained from a vote to suspend Russia from the UN’s human rights council at a special emergency session at the UN General Assembly on Thursday. The general assembly suspended Russia from the human rights council after the resolution received a two-thirds majority, with 93 nations voting in favor, 24 against, and 58 abstaining. The move came after evidence came to light of atrocities against civilians by Russian troops in western Ukraine, particularly in the city of Bucha.

The resolution threatens to weaken the UN’s credibility, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a strongly worded statement following the vote. The UNGA resolution constitutes a “dangerous turning point” in the UN’s history, the ministry warned, expressing its discomfort with “double-standards” in the body’s attitude to human rights violations worldwide. “How many times were less decisive and more lenient decisions taken regarding clear human rights violations in the not-so-distant past,” the statement read.

We weren’t the only ones in the region to bow out of the vote: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, and Tunisia all abstained (see how everyone voted here).


EgyptAir is resuming flights to Moscow this week. The national flag carrier is resuming daily flights between Cairo and Moscow starting Tuesday, according to its flight timetable. MPs last week approved a draft law allowing the Finance Ministry to ins. EgyptAir against potential losses on flights to and from Russia, which were suspended in March due to the war.


It appears that Russia’s first external default in over a century is approaching after the country breached the terms of its bond payments by paying them in RUB instead of USD, Bloomberg writes. S&P downgraded Russia’s foreign currency rating to selective default after the Russian government breached the terms, it said in a release. “Sanctions on Russia are likely to be further increased in the coming weeks, hampering Russia's willingness and technical abilities to honor the terms of its obligations to foreign debtholders,” the ratings agency said.

Plot twist: S&P Global subsequently withdrew the rating — and all its Russia-related ratings — in line with EU sanctions forbidding credit agencies to rate Russian instruments after the end of this week. Competitors Moody’s and Fitch had already done the same, Bloomberg notes — begging the question as to who will let us know if and when Russia does default.

Russia says the RUB is strong enough to start reversing rate hikes, but independent strategists say the rally isn’t credible: “The exchange rate is no longer free-floating and the currency would be at a very different level if barriers were removed.”


Ukraine officials are calling on civilians to evacuate the eastern region after Russian forces amped up attacks in the area, AP reports. At least 52 civilians were killed and 100 more injured on Friday when Russian missiles struck a train station in the area, where thousands of people were trying to board trains to evacuate.


Edtech startup Sprints closes USD 1.2 mn Series A round

Cairo-based edtech startup Sprints has closed a USD 1.2 mn Series A round led by the Alexandria Business Angels Network and with the participation of MED Angels members, AUC Angels, Cubit Ventures, “Challenge Fund,” EdVentures, and Falak Startups, local media reported, citing a company press release.

About Sprints: Founded in 2019 by Ayman Bazaraa (LinkedIn) and Bassam Sharkawy (LinkedIn), Sprints aims to bridge the tech talent gap in MEA. The company offers online training programs to software developers, as well as crash courses in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, project management and more. Sprints bills itself as the MEA region’s only edtech startup that offers guaranteed hiring programs.

Looking ahead: “Over the next three years, we aim to revolutionize the technology sector by raising skills and securing employment for 1 mn young people,” Bazaraa said.


EDITOR’S NOTE- This story was amended on 10 April, 2022 to remove Cairo Angels from the list of participating investors. 



Gov’t moves to offer more cheap fruit + veg: The state is working to increase supply at state produce outlets as private sellers raise the price of their fruits and vegetables, Deputy Agriculture Minister Mohamed El Kersh said last night in a phone-in with Al Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 3:36). High demand on the back of the Ramadan and Coptic Easter holidays, along with the global inflationary crisis, could impact market prices, El Kersh said.

From Ramadan mosalsalat to Marvel mosalsalat: Adib also virtually hosted Moon Knight director Mohamed Diab, who explained how he went about integrating Egyptian music into the Marvel universe (watch, runtime: 8:44)


EU confirms end to Mubarak sanctions: A decade-long legal battle between the family of late president Hosni Mubarak and the EU has come to an end after the bloc’s top court confirmed a decision taken last year to unfreeze their assets, AFP reports. The EU decided in March last year to end its sanctions on the Mubarak family, which were imposed in the wake of the 2011 revolution. In a judgment last week, the European Court of Justice ruled in favor of the decision, arguing that the “unnecessary prolongation of the measure” was not legally justified.

Sectarian attack in Alex: A Coptic priest was stabbed to death on the Alexandria Corniche on Thursday. The Interior Ministry said a suspect had been arrested. (Associated Press)

Also making headlines:

  • Calls to release prominent activist Alaa Abdel Fattah continue: The editorial board of the Washington Post joins calls to let the activist go after he began a hunger strike last week. (Washington Post)
  • Tourists killed in Red Sea bus crash: A bus crash killed at least three people — including two Polish tourists and an Egyptian driver — on the Red Sea highway between Safaga and Al Quseir. The bus was carrying 21 people, sixteen of whom were hospitalized for treatment. (AP)
  • Comedy Sett: Egypt’s first all-female stand-up comedy act are hoping to empower more women comedians to take to the stage. (France24)


EGX-listed snackmaker Edita plans to invest EGP 1 bn over the coming three years to expand operations, company chairman Hani Berzi said, according to a company statement (pdf). Berzi made the announcement on the sidelines of a visit by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Trade Minister Nevine Gamea to the company’s Sixth of October factory. The snackfoods maker had previously said it plans to invest around EGP 400 mn to add new production lines for its baked goods and wafers segments in Egypt this year, as well as to expand to at least one new market in 2022 and another in the next five years.

Everyone seems to want in on our budding green hydrogen industry: Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker met with a delegation from General Electric to discuss boosting cooperation in renewable energy, electricity and green hydrogen ahead of COP27 in November. (Statement)

Ten of the 14 firms bidding for the right to manage the state’s planned EV charging firm have been selected to move forward in the tender process. (Hapi Journal)

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

  • Egypt has received 1.5 mn doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the US through the Gavi / Covax program. (Statement)
  • We’re getting USD 2.5 mn from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development to fund feasibility studies for the planned Egypt-Sudan railway. (Statement)
  • French tech consulting company Atos will finish digitizing operations at Ghazl El Mahalla and Misr Cotton Ginning Co factories in 1H2022. (Al Mal)
  • Misr Hotels is looking to inaugurate its delayed Safir Dahab Hotel during Eid El Fitr. (Al Borsa)


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Global food prices surged to a new all-time high in March as the Russia-Ukraine war battered already inflated commodities and grains markets, according to new UN data released Friday. The FAO Food Price Index rose to 159.3 points in March, up 34% y-o-y and eclipsing its record in February by almost 13%.

This is the second record high in as many months. Food prices are now more than 15% higher than the previous all-time high, recorded in February 2011.

Wheat prices soared almost 20% during the month, as the war disrupted exports from major exporters Russia and Ukraine — and exacerbated by crop conditions in the US.

Emerging-market fund managers are bracing for greater outflows and weaker earnings this year as the Russia-Ukraine war and battered Chinese markets weigh on investors, the Financial Times reports, citing a survey by Bank of America (BofA). The bank slashed its earnings forecast for one EM fund manager, Ashmore, by 6-9% in 1Q2022. “Emerging market debt saw outflows, not only for Ashmore but across the industry this quarter, which shouldn’t be a big surprise given higher US interest rates, higher rate expectations, strong USD and the Russia-Ukraine conflict,” said one BofA analyst.

Russia’s removal from EM indexes could be good news for Turkey: Turkey is poised for a pick up in passive bond inflows after seeing its weighting in major emerging-market bond indexes increase following the removal of Russian debt. US and EU sanctions have led to the removal of Russian debt from key indexes such as JPMorgan’s benchmark, which has boosted Turkey’s weighting to 4%. (Bloomberg)

ALSO- Shell faces up to USD 5 bn loss for Russia exit: Shell expects to lose USD 4-5 bn in 1Q 2022 as a result of its exit from Russia. The figure is higher than previously thought, with Shell initially estimating it would take a USD 3.4 bn hit. (Statement)




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The EGX30 fell 2.2% at Thursday’s close on turnover of EGP 992.89 mn (2.5% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 7.1% YTD.

In the green: Rameda (+3.1%), CIRA (+1.2%) and Orascom Development Egypt (+0.7%).

In the red: Mopco (-10.3%), Fawry (-6.0%) and MM Group (-5.4%).


Yemeni president stands down as Saudi, UAE signal they want an end to war: Yemen’s president-in-exile Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi resigned and handed power to a presidential council on Thursday, a week after warring parties agreed to a two-month ceasefire, Reuters reports. Saudi Arabia and the UAE — which have led the campaign against the Iran-backed Houthis — pledged USD 3 bn in aid to the government following Hadi’s announcement and urged fresh talks to bring an end to the war. GCC ministers also came out in support of the council and called for UN-sponsored negotiations to “reach a final and comprehensive political solution.” The Egyptian Foreign Ministry also welcomed the council’s establishment in a statement.

Also worth knowing this morning:

  • Turkey has stopped the Jamal Khashoggi murder trial and transferred it to Saudi Arabia, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tries to improve relations with Riyadh. Saudi Arabia had refused to extradite the 26 Saudi nationals on trial in Turkey and will now take on responsibility for the proceedings, which rights groups say ends prospects for a fair and transparent trial. (Reuters)
  • Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted in a parliamentary no-confidence vote on Sunday. (Reuters)

What’s in store for the fintech space in Egypt: For the past couple of years, fintech startups have been doing well for themselves, with fintech startups leading other sectors in terms of venture capital funding in Egypt in 2020 and 2021. Last year, 32 fintech startups raised over USD 159 mn in investments, up from around USD 37.1 mn in 2020, according to the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE’s) Fintech Landscape Report, which we cover in greater detail here and here.

Enterprise hosted a roundtable discussion with major players in the sector to discuss what’s next for fintech. In the first part of our discussion, the entrepreneurs and investors take us through the untapped potential of fintech and which industries in Egypt are most primed for change through fintech.

We highly recommend you listen to Part 1 of our discussion on our website (listen, runtime: 44:59) or on: Apple Podcasts | Omny | Anghami (and later in the day on Google Podcasts and Spotify). Or you can read edited excerpts of our conversation below:

A new fintech law in the offing? We also get rare insights from the central bank on what regulators are working on to help expand and propel Egypt’s fintech sector to the next stage of its development, including a new law to regulate crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending. Our guests are:

  • Karim Nour, the co-founder of Kashat — the first nano-finance company in MENA providing financial services to the un- and under-banked. Karim is also the non-executive chairman of Tarek Nour Communications Group
  • Omar Saleh, the CEO and co-founder of Khazna. Omar joined us the same day his company announced a blockbuster USD 38 mn Series A round.
  • Aly El Shalakany, a corporate lawyer and longtime angel investor turned venture capitalist who is now the CEO of the Cairo Angels Syndicate Fund.
  • Ashley Lewis is a partner focused on Africa with Accion Venture Lab and has been investing in financial services and social ventures across sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia for over a decade. El Shalakany is an investor in Kashat while Lewis was one of the first investors at Khazna.
  • Dr. Rasha Negm. Rasha is an assistant sub-governor of the CBE where she heads fintech and innovation. Rasha is not a newcomer to fintech. A veteran of the banking industry, she led product strategy for Vodafone Cash before joining the CBE.

How far along is fintech in Egypt? Fintech is slowly becoming part of life around us, but as for how long will it take us to fully embrace fintech? It’s going to take less than a decade, Negm believes. In the last year, Egypt has seen an increase of 20 startups , a 300% increase in funding, and more than double the average ticket size when it comes to fintech and fintech-enabled startups, she explained. The potential is there, but it’s important to establish the foundations of the landscape and a pipeline of early-stage startups to see the sector grow in the coming years, she added.

What’s the next frontier for fintech? Agriculture + healthcare, says Lewis: The concept of embedded finance allows for more intersectionality between different sectors, Lewis told us. Fintech could potentially expand into sectors such as agriculture and healthcare in the coming period, she believes.

For Nour, it’s ins.: It could make ins. products more accessible to average Egyptians by offering them bite-sized products instead of them being “unswallowable packages,” he explained.

Negm sees digitized ROSCA, supply chain and B2B as next: Digitizing anything that is embedded into Egyptian culture will also have a big impact, believes Negm, pointing to the ROSCA (or gam’iya). An important subset to expand into during the current macro environment is supply chain finance and B2B financing, she added.

Ditto El Shalakany: B2B financing “is going to be extremely important to keep pushing the economy forward, believes El Shalakany, especially under the CBE’s policy to promote lending to SMEs.

What is needed to get there? More data: To successfully venture into these sectors, fintech firms will need to incorporate credit scoring based on alternative data, which is what Kashat is focused on at the moment, Nour says.

The CBE is working to build a behavioral credit scoring hub with I-Score, Negm told us. The infrastructure is being set up and will allow the credit bureau to use behavioral scoring to provide financial services such as digital lending to customers, she said.

The CBE is expecting to roll out e-KYC next year, Negm told us. This will make it easier for platforms to verify a customer’s identity and relevant information electronically, instead of having to appear physically at a bank branch and fill out paperwork, Negm explained. The implementation takes a bit of time as it needs a lot of backend integrations to verify citizens’ data, but it’s expected to be out next year, she said. The central bank introduced streamlined light KYC regulations that paved the way for banks to use an agent to onboard customers using only each individual’s national ID.

Crowd-funding, peer-to-peer lending will be regulated under new legislation: The CBE is working on a new bill alongside the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) that will cover crowd-funding, peer-to-peer lending, and more in one piece of legislation, Negm revealed.

Negm expects the final stage of discussions with the FRA to be completed by the upcoming quarter, but the law will still need to be approved by the House of Representatives. Look for more on this in the coming months and for the bill to become a law in 2023.

Meanwhile, the digital banking license is set to be introduced in 2Q2022, Negm said.  Digital banking will further increase the financial inclusion in the country as more and more people adopt digital financial services, Negm indicated. As Enterprise noted last year, the prospect of digital banks already has interest from major players such as e-Finance and Banque Misr.

And the instant payment network (IPN) is already here: The IPN is a network that links different banks and financial services providers, allowing payments sent between accounts at different banks to be credited and debited instantly.

Background: As Enterprise previously noted, the CBE issued regulations for the IPN back in November, setting transfer limits and procedures for accessing the network, before introducing it to the market in March.

More than just an app: The IPN will create an open banking architecture that banks, payment service providers (PSPs), and fintech companies can integrate with, paving the path for customer-centric apps, Negm explains.

The IPN could be a “game changer” for the fintech sector, believes Saleh. “The IPN provides basic functionality that we’ve been waiting for to reduce reliance on cash,” he said. There are so many use cases across the board, but the underlying infrastructure could completely transform the way we use money, he added.

What more do the fintech players want to see from the CBE? Furthering lines of communication and widening the scope of engagement between regulators and market players, Nour and El Shalany said. That would include more transactions that come by fostering cooperation within the banking sector, Nour believes, pointing to the new USD 85 mn fintech fund which has three state-owned banks involved. Lewis, who noted that the CBE was the regulator that engaged with her the most across the markets she operates in, simply asked that the CBE continue to be open to international investment. Meanwhile, as the global macro climate gets tougher, Saleh believes the CBE needs to keep fintech as a priority for public policy.

NEXT WEEK- Karim, Ashley, Aly, and Omar continue our discussion on what’s next in fintech, this time focusing on the future outlook of investments and growth in the local sector. We discuss expectations for fintech ticket sizes in 2022, the potential for consolidation, and challenges the sector still faces such as finding talent.


CORRECTED ON 12 April 2022-

The CBE’s fintech report noted that Egyptian fintech startups brought in USD 159 mn in VC funding in 2021 and not USD 157 mn as an earlier version of this tory stated. The story was edited to denote background information and context.

Your top stories on future trends for the week:

  • Swvl makes Nasdaq debut: Shares in Cairo-born mass transit app Swvl rose on their Nasdaq debut earlier this month as the company concluded its SPAC merger with Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital.
  • Khazna closes bumper series A round: Egyptian fintech startup Khazna raised USD 38 mn in equity and debt in a series A funding round.
  • Mental health startup O7 Therapy closes seed round: Egyptian online mental health startup O7 Therapy has raised a USD 2.1 mn seed round in what the startup says is the largest seed round for a mental health startup in the Middle East.
  • Shift EV raises USD 9 mn: Electric mobility startup Shift EV has raised USD 9 mn in funding, putting it on the road to transform the EV landscape not just in Egypt, but across emerging markets with home-grown battery technology.
  • New measures to attract VCs: A cooperation agreement signed last week could be a first step toward making it more attractive for VC firms to directly invest in Egypt.
  • Flat6Labs launches new Saudi seed fund: Flat6Labs and the Saudi Venture Capital Company have launched a new seed fund in Saudi Arabia that is expected to back more than 60 early-stage startups over the next three years.


OUR CALENDAR NOW APPEARS into two sections:

  • Events with specific dates or months are right here up top
  • Events happening in a quarter or other range of time with no specific date / month appear at the bottom of the calendar.


April: Fuel pricing committee meets to decide quarterly fuel prices.

April: Ghazl El Mahalla shares will begin trading on the EGX.

April: A delegation from a major Belgian shipping company will arrive for talks on building an international shipping supply center in Egypt.

14 April (Thursday): European Central Bank monetary policy meeting.

18-24 April (Monday-Sunday): World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings, Washington D.C.

20 April (Wednesday): Deadline for listed companies and NBFIs to submit quarterly ESG reports.

Mid-April: Trading on the Egyptian Commodity Exchange to start.

21 April (Thursday): EGX-listed Taaleem will hold an extraordinary general assembly to discuss the mechanism to build and own nonprofit and private universities.

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.

30 April (Saturday): Fixed customs exchange rate lifted.

Late April through 15 May: 1Q2022 earnings season


May: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

1 May (Sunday): Labor Day.

1 May (Sunday): Suez Canal Authority raises tolls for different vessels.

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

4 May (Wednesday): 3 February (Thursday): Deadline to send in applications for Cultural Property Agreement Implementation projects to the US Embassy in Cairo.

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

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

15 May (Sunday): Last day for EGX-listed companies to file 1Q2022 earnings

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


5-7 June (Sunday-Tuesday): Africa Health ExCon, Al Manara International Conference Center, Egypt International Exhibitions Center, and the St. Regis Almasa Hotel, New Administrative Capital.

9 June (Thursday): European Central Bank monetary policy 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.

30 June (Thursday): Deadline for bids for National Democratic Party HQ redevelopment contract.


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

July: Fuel pricing committee meets to decide quarterly fuel prices.

Early July: Polish President to visit Egypt.

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

8 July (Friday): Arafat Day.

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

21 July (Thursday): European Central Bank monetary policy meeting.

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

30 July (Saturday): Islamic New Year.

Late July – 14 August: 2Q2022 earnings season.


August: Work to extend the capacity of the Egypt-Sudan electricity interconnection to 600 MW to be completed.

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.

September: Central Bank of Egypt’s Innovation and Financial Technology Center to launch incubator for 25 fintech startups.

8 September (Thursday): European Central Bank monetary policy meeting.

18 September (Sunday): Deadline for brokerage firms, asset managers and financial advisors to register with the Egyptian Securities Federation.

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

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


October: World Bank and IMF annual meetings in Washington, DC

October: Fuel pricing committee meets to decide quarterly fuel prices.

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.

27 October (Thursday): European Central Bank monetary policy meeting.

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.

4-6 November: The Autotech auto exhibition kicks off at the Cairo International Exhibition and Convention Center.

7-18 November (Monday-Friday): Egypt will host COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh.

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

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

15 December (Thursday): European Central Bank monetary policy meeting.


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


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

January: Fuel pricing committee meets to decide quarterly fuel prices.


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.

14 March-30 June: The “Escape to Egypt” exhibition at the Coptic Museum, in celebration of its 112th anniversary.

2Q2022: The Sovereign Fund of Egypt will invest in two companies in the financial inclusion and non-banking financial services sectors.

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

End of 2Q2022: Door for bidding for the contract to redevelop the site of the former National Democratic Party HQ to close.

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.

2H2022: The government will have vaccinated 70% of the population.

3Q2022: Ayady’s consumer financing arm, The Egyptian Company for Consumer Finance Services, to release first financing product.

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.

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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