Tuesday, 12 April 2022

AM — GASC is once again tapping the int’l wheat markets — but only wants European offers

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and happy hump day. It’s a brisk day on the news front, but there’s no single theme running through it.

THE BIG STORY here at home is that state wheat tenders are back on — for European suppliers, at least. Meanwhile, Nigerian fintech player Opay (of no relation to Orascom despite the name) is expanding in Egypt, the latest sign of how hot our fintech market has become. We have the full rundown on both stories in the news well, below.

MORNING MUST-READ: Our interview with World Bank Managing Director Mari Pangestu about COP 27, which appears in this week’s Going Green, also below.

UPDATE- The new Visit Egypt website though which arriving travelers can register personal and covid-19 data before arrival is now up and running. Citizens, residents and visitors can register online up to two days before arrival and expedite their clearance through their port of entry. You can still fill out paper health forms on arrival, the site notes. The website was not live at dispatch time yesterday.

SO, WHEN DO WE EAT? You’ll be breaking your fast at 6:20pm CLT this evening in the capital city, and fajr prayers are at 4:02am.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is in Washington today for talks with his US counterpart, Antony J. Blinken, according to a ministry statement. Shoukry will also meet with other US officials, members of the US chambers of commerce, and think tanks.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will launch its 2021-2022 Transition Report today at an event taking place at the Nile Ritz Carlton, the lender said (pdf) yesterday. The report looks at how countries have used technology and digitalization to fuel economic growth in the post-covid era. EBRD chief economist Beata Javorcik will present its findings and discuss the implications for the private sector in a panel discussion with Algebra Ventures Managing Partner Karim Hussein and Orange Egypt CEO Yasser Shaker. You can read the Egypt chapter of the report here (pdf).

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Russia looks set to launch a fresh offensive in eastern Ukraine, which has put out a plea for more help from its allies (more on that in today’s War Watch section, below).

Meanwhile, the international business press has its gaze firmly fixed on the rout in global markets as central banks — led by the US Federal Reserve — solidify plans to significantly hike rates this year. Some economists spy a recession on the horizon, as we noted yesterday. We have the full rundown just below.

KUDOS- Props to the six Egyptian healthcare players who were included in Forbes Middle East’s Top 50 Healthcare Leaders for 2022. They are:

MARKET WATCH-

The only way is up: US inflation figures are out today and analysts are expecting the CPI to have hit fresh 40-year highs in March on the back of surging commodity prices caused by the war in Ukraine. A FactSet survey of analysts picked up by Axios has the headline rate reaching 8.4% in March from 7.9% the month prior — a reading that will pile even more pressure on the Federal Reserve to accelerate its tightening cycle.

A Reuters poll of economists expects the Fed to do just that: The survey of more than 100 economists sees the Fed going ahead with 50-bps rate hikes at each of its May and June meetings in response to surging inflation. This would take the benchmark interest rate to 1.25-1.50%, and mark the first back-to-back half-point rate hikes since 1994.

The bond markets are reacting: Long-term US Treasury yields rose to the highest level in almost three years yesterday as investors dumped bonds, Bloomberg reports. Rates on 10-year bonds surpassed 2.75% for the first time since May 2019, while yields in Europe also surged amid rate-hike expectations.

Other asset classes weren’t spared: Risk-off sentiment also saw the S&P 500 fall and the tech-heavy Nasdaq close down more than 2%. BTC felt the impact too, falling below the key USD 40k threshold for the first time since mid-March.

Positive for markets? End of zero-covid as Chinese authorities make a hash of the lockdown in Shanghai. Shanghai authorities have announced plans to lift the total lockdown on the city following a sharp sell-off in the Chinese stock markets yesterday, despite covid cases continuing to reach record highs, the Financial Times reports. Restrictions in China’s financial and trade hub are now stretching into their third week, and reports of unrest are beginning to surface as residents complain about being denied access to food.

China’s move spurred a rebound in the oil markets: International benchmark Brent crude fell along with almost everything else during yesterday’s trading, losing 4.2% to below USD 100 per barrel — but pared some of the losses to trade at USD 100.23 as of early this morning on the news out of Shanghai.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Companies have less than 10 days 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.

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

enterprise

*** It’s Going Green day — your weekly briefing of all things green in Egypt: Enterprise’s green economy vertical focuses each Tuesday on the business of renewable energy and sustainable practices in Egypt, everything from solar and wind energy through to water, waste management, sustainable building practices and how you can make your business greener, whatever the sector.

In today’s issue: Enterprise talks COP 27 with Mari Pangestu, managing director of development policy at the World Bank: With less than seven months to go before the COP 27 summit takes place in Sharm El Sheikh, pressure is rising on global leaders to take decisive action. Last year’s summit in Glasgow did not accomplish what many had hoped. And UN climate scientists are now warning that global emissions will need to peak in 2025 if we are to keep temperatures beneath the all-important 1.5°C.

Enterprise sat down with Mari Pangestu, the World Bank’s managing director of development policy and partnerships, to discuss what the Bank is doing to support Egypt, how developing countries can balance climate and development targets, and how the conflict in Ukraine could impact the push to lower emissions.

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COMMODITIES

GASC is tendering again — but only for European wheat

GASC wants to buy wheat — but only from European suppliers: State grain buyer the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) issued yesterday a limited tender for an unspecified amount of European wheat, Reuters reported. The tender is open only to European suppliers already accredited in GASC’s tender book, marking the first time in years the authority has launched a limited tender, according to traders cited by Reuters. State wheat tenders are usually open for bids from all 16 accredited import countries.

The details: Suppliers have until the end of tomorrow to submit their bids on either a cost and freight or FOB basis, with the grain set to be shipped in late May or the first half of June.

Among the contenders: Smart money may well be on France, Germany and a handful of eastern European states. France has said it will “stand by Egypt” on wheat and make sure we get what we need if the war in Ukraine drags on. Private sector traders in March secured Egypt’s first shipment of German wheat in years alongside Lithuanian and Bulgarian cargos. Buying more Romanian wheat is also on the table, Internal Trade Development Authority head Ibrahim Ashmawy said back in February.

The tender comes a month sooner than expected: Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy had previously said that Egypt wouldn’t be tapping the international wheat market before the middle of May. The news came after GASC was forced to cancel two tenders as the global wheat trade was upended by the outbreak of war in Ukraine. Egypt’s last international wheat purchase was in mid-February.

Why now? Our wheat reserves are running lower than usual thanks to war in Europe. Egypt currently has enough wheat to cover the next 2.6 months’ worth of consumption, cabinet announced last week, down from the four-month figure announced by the government in early March. We received all our backlogged orders of Russian wheat in March, but blockaded ports mean there’s little to no grain coming out of Ukraine. The two countries together supply more than 80% of our imported wheat in peacetime.

The government remains focused on the local harvest: With global markets in disarray, the Madbouly government has shifted its wheat procurement focus to local sources. The government will spend around EGP 36 bn to purchase 6 mn tons of local wheat this year, roughly doubling its purchase budget from last year.

LEGISLATION WATCH

Senate gives final nod to draft ins. bill

The Senate approved yesterday the Unified Ins. Act, according to Ahram Gate. Once passed in the House, the law — which has been more than three years in the making — will grant the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) broad new powers to regulate the sector and mandates economic courts with adjudicating disputes under the act.

(Editor’s note: We don’t use the full word and instead use the abbreviation “ins.” because the full word enrages the algorithms that govern our deliverability. Using it — along with many of the other words we use on a daily basis — tends to see us sent to a bad folder in your email client.)

About the bill: It tasks the FRA with regulating the establishment, licensing and oversight of ins. and reins. companies; will make ins. compulsory for SMEs and freelancers; and sets the economic court system as the adjudicator of disputes that fall under the act. It would also raise the minimum paid-in capital requirement for ins. companies to EGP 250 mn from a current EGP 150 mn, according to Ahram Gate. Previous drafts had also proposed upping minimum capital requirements for reinsurance companies and raising the ceiling for life ins. payouts. We’ll bring you the details once we know more.

What’s next: The act will now make its way back to the House of Representatives for further discussion and a final vote. (For those still trying to get their heads around our bicameral system, draft laws are generally passed from cabinet to the House, which sends them on to the Senate following discussion and amendment. The Senate makes its own changes and votes to send the bills back to the House, where — after another round of debate — they are granted final approval and sent on to the president to be ratified into law.)

That’s all from the Senate for now: The Senate was adjourned after yesterday’s session, Shorouk News reports. The dates for its next round of plenary sessions haven’t been announced.

FINTECH

Nigeria-based fintech OPay moves forward with pre-paid cards and more in Egypt

OPay is expanding in Egypt: Nigeria-based fintech player OPay is preparing to expand its footprint in Egypt, launching pre-paid cards and linking up with the central bank’s new digital payment app less than a year after it first entered the country. The company has partnered with Masria Digital Payments (MDP) on its new pre-paid cards, which are pending approval from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), the company’s director of business development and partnership for Egypt and North Africa, Mahmoud Khedr, told Enterprise, confirming a report from Al Mal. It expects to issue some 200k cards in the first phase of its rollout, he said.

OPay plans to join the CBE’s new digital payment app + get a new PayFac license: The fintech outfit will soon apply to join the CBE’s new national digital payment app, InstaPay, Khedr said, explaining that the instant payment network is a “fundamental turning point for the payments landscape in Egypt.” OPay is also in talks with an unnamed local bank for a new payment facilitator license (which would allow it to receive and process payments on behalf of banks, making it easier for businesses to accept electronic payments), he added. Opay has already obtained licenses to receive and process credit payments for Banque Misr and the National Bank of Egypt.

SOUND SMART- Payment facilitators say they offer businesses an easier route to accepting card payments by including them under a “master merchant account” — saving them the time and effort of having to get approvals for an individual account. Payfacs help get merchants ready to process payments in hours — as opposed to days or weeks for the traditional route, which goes through banks directly. Payfacs say this spares their clients from dealing with harder-to-navigate bank bureaucracies.

“New service” to launch in 3Q2022: The company is gearing up to launch a new service in Egypt in 3Q, which would be a “first for the MENA region,” Khedr said, without disclosing what the service will be. This will come as part of its wider expansion in Egypt, which will include opening more branches and using the country as a “center” for its service operations in the MENA region.

About OPay: The Nigerian firm became Africa’s second fintech unicorn last year after raising USD 400 mn in a SoftBank-led funding round that valued it at USD 2 bn. The company opened its first brick and mortar shop in Egypt in March, after launching operations in the country in 2021. OPay currently has tens of thousands of points of sale (POS) across the country, processing mns of transactions per month, Khedr told us. It’s now expecting 300% growth this year.

More African fintechs following OPay here? Churpy, a Kenyan account receivables automation startup, and ImaliPay, a financial services firm aimed at gig workers, have both said recently they are preparing to enter Egypt.

Our fintech industry has been getting a lot of interest lately: A stream of local fintech startups have secured new investment this year, including Khazna, which raised USD 38 mn in a series A round, and Lucky, which received USD 25 mn in its series A. Other fintechs closing investment rounds in 2022 include MoneyHash, PayMint and FlapKap.

For thoughts on What’s Next in the fintech space, check out our latest podcast, which dropped on Sunday and features Khazna and Kashat alongside VCs Accion and Cairo Angels — with a special appearance by the Central Bank of Egypt. Listen here on Apple Podcasts (or use the player at the foot of our website here) or read a summary here instead.

OTHER FINTECH NEWS- Visa will provide digital payment services for Orange Cash users after signing an agreement with the telecoms company, the two companies announced in a joint press release (pdf).

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DEBT WATCH

AAIL eyes a securitization this year + plans to launch a factoring arm

Arab African International Leasing (AAIL) plans to issue securitized bonds worth EGP 500-600 mn by the end of 2023, Chairman Mahmoud El Sakka told Enterprise, confirming a report by Al Mal. AAIL is the leasing arm of the Arab African International Bank (AAIB).

The firm is also planning to enter the factoring market: AAIL has obtained initial approval from the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) to set up a factoring arm, El Sakka said. It expects to receive final approval after it completes its operating structure.

The local securitization market has stepped up a gear this year: Total corporate issuances totalled around EGP 9.2 bn (based on our calculations) in 1Q2022 — 58% of the EGP 15.8 bn taken to market in the whole of 2021.

Want to know more about factoring? We have an explainer on the third-oldest profession here.

M&A WATCH

Ireland’s Kingspan to do DD on Icon subsidiary

The board of Industrial Engineering Company for Construction and Development (ICON) has agreed to allow Irish insulation manufacturer Kingspan to conduct due diligence on its sandwich panel-making business, it said in a bourse disclosure (pdf) yesterday. An independent financial advisor will also be appointed to prepare a fair value study for the business.

Background: Kingspan is bidding to acquire at least 65% of Icon’s sandwich panel division. Icon is set to spin off the division (which manufactures components used to insulate the exteriors of buildings) into a separate company, in which Kingspan would then buy a stake.

Advisors: First Capital is acting as Icon’s financial advisor, while Alliance Law Firm is providing legal advice.

WAR WATCH

Egyptian exporters want to open up RUB bank accounts + Zelensky could address the AU

Egyptian exporters don’t want to lose business with Russia — even if it means getting payments in RUB. The Egyptian Businessmen’s Association wants Egyptian businesses to be able to open RUB bank accounts, Al Borsa writes citing association chairman Ali Issa. The plan is aimed at maintaining trade between the two countries amid western sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

How would it work? The RUB generated from our exports to Russia would be used to pay for our imports from Russia, allowing traders to sidestep the USD as a trade currency, Issa reportedly said.

This could come in handy if Russia starts expecting payment for its exports in RUB. Moscow has already said it will demand payment in RUB for its key gas exports to “unfriendly countries” (read: pretty much all of Europe), later signaling that the scheme is a “prototype” and could soon expand to other categories of exports.

The association will submit its proposal to the cabinet and the central bank, Issa is quoted as saying, adding that it would then need agreement from Russia to move forward.

REALITY CHECK- Don’t hold your breath. We can’t imagine Egyptian financial institutions (or pols, for that matter) running the risk of breaching sanctions against Russian financial institutions, at least seven of which have been cut off from the global Swift network through which banks send transfer instructions. And don’t even get us started on the fact that — pre-invasion — we imported about six times more than we sold Russia.


WARTIME DIPLOMACY-

Zelensky makes a push for African support: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wants to address the African Union, Senegalese President and current AU president Macky Sall said in a tweet after the two spoke by phone. African countries (including Egypt) accounted for 24 of the 58 countries that abstained from voting to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council last weekend, while another nine African nations voted against the motion.

Finland and Sweden could join Nato as soon as this summer, indicating that Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine is inadvertently strengthening the alliance in what US officials are calling a “massive strategic blunder.” (The Times)


PAYING FOR WAR-

Ukraine calls for more military aid as it gears up for renewed attacks in the east: Ukraine’s finance minister called for USD tens of bns in support from allies to urgently plug a gaping hole in the country’s finances, in an interview with the Financial Times. “We are under great stress, in the very worst [financial] condition,” Sergii Marchenko said. “Now it is a question of the survival of our country.” Zelensky also requested more military aid during a virtual address to the South Korean parliament (watch, runtime: 19:55).

Both the US and Kyiv have warned that Russia is gearing up for a major new offensive in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.


ON THE FRONT LINES-

Civilian death toll mounts in Mariupol: At least 10k and potentially even more than 20k civilians have died in the besieged eastern city of Mariupol, the city’s mayor told the AP yesterday.

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LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

It was a slow night even by Ramadan standards for the country’s talking heads. New rules signed yesterday between the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (the unfortunately-named Fedcoc) and the Tax Authority on how to collect the 14% VAT on platinum, gold, silver and precious stones got an explainer courtesy of Al Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 8:28). VAT will only be applied to stamped gold pieces, Hani Milad, head of Fedcoc’s gold and jewelry division, told Adib.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Human rights is leading the conversation on Egypt in the international press this morning. Prominent activist Alaa Abdel Fattah has been granted British citizenship in a move that the Associated Press says aims to secure his release. Abdel Fattah has been imprisoned for much of the last decade and last week began a hunger strike. The story is getting wide coverage from the Guardian, Reuters and Euro News. The AP in the same story notes that economics researcher Ayman Hadhoud died in early March at Abbasiya Mental Health Hospital after reportedly being detained by government agents a month earlier. AFP also has news of Hadhoud’s death.

Also making headlines:

  • Suits Arabia faces a real-life lawsuit … about suits: Local clothing brand Orange Square is taking legal action against the production company behind the Egyptian remake of the hit US show, for allegedly failing to pay EGP 2.7 mn for costumes — a claim the showrunners deny. (The National)
  • Egypt’s economic ties with Israel are growing closer despite the country’s unpopularity among the Egyptian public. (Haaretz)

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Australia (sort of) re-opens to Egyptian air cargo + contractors feeling the squeeze

Egyptian exporters can (sort of) use air freight to ship goods to Australia again after Canberra relaxed a 2015 ban on air cargo earlier this month. Shipments will only be accepted if they pass through specific intermediate countries such as the UAE, the US and Japan. Egyptian exporters have had to ship products to Australia via sea since late 2015 after the government banned air freight as a security measure. The ban was introduced just a few months after the downing of the Russian metrojet in Sinai.

The war in Ukraine paired with the EGP devaluation is putting the squeeze on contractors, African Federation of Construction and Building Contractors chief Hassan Abdelaziz told CNBC Arabia (watch, runtime: 25:26).

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

  • Egyptian B2B marketplace Fatura has inked an agreement with Saudi SME fintech player Geidea to provide retailers and wholesalers with e-payment services. (Al Borsa)
  • Egypt will ban entry of pesticides without testing and shipments will be disposed of if proven hazardous. (Al Shorouk)
  • Air Arabia Egypt will launch a new service between Cairo and Dammam in Saudi Arabia starting 26 April. (Statement)

PLANET FINANCE

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The coming earnings season — like so much these days — will be all about inflation, according to the Wall Street Journal, which writes that Q1 performance will depend heavily on the impact of price hikes on different sectors. Energy companies are likely to see their bottom lines skyrocket, while higher freight and logistics costs mean others won’t be so lucky. “This quarter we’re going to find out who can pass on costs and who can’t,” said one market strategist.

ALSO ON PLANET FINANCE-

  • The UAE’s DeFi drive continues: Investcorp has launched the GCC’s first institutional blockchain fund in Abu Dhabi. The fund will be led by Investcorp’s Abu Dhabi office and will invest in early-stage companies specialized in blockchain infrastructure, platforms and exchanges, decentralized finance, and data analytics. UAE wealth fund Mubadala is InvestCorp’s largest shareholder. (Statement)
  • Elon Musk won’t be taking up his seat on Twitter’s board … but don’t expect him to keep his beak shut (or his thumbs idle). He’ll still have the right to weigh in on the company’s activities “without limitation,” both directly to board members and over social media, according to a regulatory filing (pdf)
  • Apple vs Spotify antitrust probe: The iPhone maker is set to face another antitrust charge in Europe in the coming weeks. The company is accused of distorting competition in the music streaming market in an investigation triggered by a complaint from Spotify. (Reuters)
Down EGX30 10,729 -1.6% (YTD: -10.2%)
Up USD (CBE) Buy 18.37 Sell 18.47
Up USD at CIB Buy 18.37 Sell 18.47
None Interest rates CBE 9.25% deposit 10.25% lending
Up Tadawul 13,483 +0.7% (YTD: +19.5%)
Up ADX 10,166 +0.7% (YTD: +19.8%)
Up DFM 3,588 +1.3% (YTD: +12.3%)
Down S&P 500 4,413 -1.7% (YTD: -7.4%)
Down FTSE 100 7,618 -0.7% (YTD: +3.2%)
Down Euro Stoxx 50 3,840 -0.5% (YTD: -10.7%)
Down Brent crude USD 98.48 -4.2%
Up Natural gas (Nymex) USD 6.64 +1.1%
Up Gold USD 1,957 +0.5%
Down BTC USD 39,335 -7.8% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell 1.6% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 837 mn (13.3% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 10.2% YTD.

In the green: Mopco (+2.1%), Cleopatra Hospital (+1.8%) and EFG Hermes (+1.1%).

In the red: Heliopolis Housing (-5.3%), CIRA (-4.8%) and Orascom Development Egypt (-4.7%).

Traders are feeling a bit jittery about what China’s covid lockdowns mean for global trade and it shows: Major Asian benchmarks are all in the red this morning (albeit a little less so than at this time yesterday) while futures again suggest that Paris’ CAC 40 will be the only major western benchmark to open in positive territory at the start of the trading day today in Europe and North America.

DIPLOMACY

More COP 27 discussions: Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad discussed preparations for COP 27 with the EU executive vice-president Frans Timmermans yesterday, according to a ministry statement.

Timmermans has been in Egypt this week for energy and climate talks with several senior government ministers, with discussions focusing on boosting LNG exports and developing Egypt’s green hydrogen sector ahead of the climate summit in November in Sharm El Sheikh.

ALSO IN DIPLOMACY- Gov’t and the UN launch joint tech and innovation task force: The international cooperation and communication ministries have launched a joint technology and innovation task force in cooperation with the UN, according to a statement. The task force will see UN agencies help the government develop tech-based projects that can attract development funding.

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Enterprise sits down with Mari Pangestu, managing director of development policy and partnerships at the World Bank. There are now less than seven months to go before the COP 27 summit takes place in Sharm El Sheikh, and pressure is rising on global leaders to take decisive action. Last year’s summit in Glasgow did not accomplish what many had hoped. And UN climate scientists are now warning that global emissions will need to peak in 2025 if we are to keep temperatures beneath the all-important 1.5°C. This year’s gathering will play a key role in determining whether that target will be reached.

To discuss COP 27, we sat down with Mari Pangestu (bio), the World Bank’s managing director of development policy and partnerships, who was in town last week to discuss preparations for the summit. Pangestu acquired more than three decades of experience working in policy and academia before joining the bank in 2020, and served as Indonesia’s trade minister from 2004 to 2011 and tourism minister from 2011 to 2014.

During our conversation, we discussed her recent visit, what the bank is doing to support Egypt as it prepares for the summit, and her thoughts on COP26. She tells us how developing countries can balance climate and development targets, the importance of climate adaptation for countries like Egypt, and how the conflict in Ukraine could impact the push to lower emissions.


ENTERPRISE: What brings you to Egypt, Mari?

MARI PANGESTU: I’m visiting Egypt to discuss the programs we have here, whether it's the Cairo Clean Air project, Hayah Karima, or the Upper Egypt development project, and so on. We met with the Planning Ministry, International Cooperation Ministry, Foreign Ministry, and the Water Ministry. We also just met a network of women from business and NGOs, to learn more about the gender issue. We know the government is very interested in mainstreaming gender and for us at the Bank, we mainstream gender in all our programs. And because Egypt is hosting COP 27 in November, we’ve also come here to see how we can support the preparations.

E: What is the World Bank doing to support Egypt as it prepares to host COP 27?

MP: We have been involved with supporting COP meetings for many years, and we have different relationships with countries depending on what they ask us to do. In most cases, we support the preparation for their initiatives because we have knowledge and analytical work on climate. We will also help to prepare some of the discussion events at the summit.

E: COP26 was regarded by some as not being ambitious enough, and not meeting some of its goals. In your opinion, what should we be aiming for at this year's summit and what would constitute success?

MP: I think people have mixed views about COP26. Last year, there was a lot of expectation just because it was the five-year milestone after Paris, and I don’t think it achieved what it wanted to in terms of having all countries update their contributions (NDCs). But to be fair, there were some good outcomes at Glasgow. Some major countries that previously didn't have NDCs announced some, and others updated their NDCs including a number of major economies like China and India. And I think we’re seeing a shift of willingness by developing countries to want to undertake more action on climate, but wanting at the same time to make sure that they can continue to develop.

E: And they’re in a unique position because they're often feeling the impact of climate change the most.

MP: But that's a change actually. Even a couple of years ago, developing countries still saw climate and development as a trade-off. Now we’re seeing a shift in the integration of climate with development, and they’re realizing that you can actually achieve both.

I think that what most people felt wasn’t achieved in Glasgow was on the implementation side. And that's why Egypt has taken the theme of Together We Implement — and implement especially for developing countries. They also want to focus on a regional dimension, which is Africa. And of course, the shift to adaptation. There's a feeling that there was too much focus on mitigation in Glasgow, so there’s a big push to give more attention to adaptation.

But I think we really also need to be realistic, given the current situation of the war in Ukraine. We really need to make sure that we focus on a few very key priorities.

E: And what would those be?

MP: I think adaptation is a key priority. We know for the least developed countries — even for Egypt and for many other countries in Africa — the issue is not so much mitigation in terms of decarbonizing energy or transport. It's more about adaptation and building resilience.

It's very much related to issues we are facing today such as the food crisis. The increasing hotspots, the increased drought in this part of the world, which has affected food production. Water scarcity, land use and agriculture are all adaptation issues. I think that's one big issue that Egypt has prioritized and this is what we hope we can support the government with.

E: So what does a successful COP look like for you?

MP: We’re observers at the COP and as such we’re not too involved in the negotiations. But if you ask me, what does it mean to have a successful COP, I think it’s about how we concretize discussions into action.

It's a very complicated and broad agenda, but the way we see it, there are two things. One is how do we make sure that we continue the framing of climate and development. Last year we developed this new diagnostic tool called Climate Change and Development Reports (CCDRs) , and we are doing it in 30 countries, including Egypt. The intention is to help countries frame their climate and development strategy, and then prioritize which one or two actions would actually have the biggest impact on climate, as well as on development.

We are still finalizing the CCDR for Egypt, but it has identified four priorities: agriculture and water; decarbonization in energy and transport; building resilience in cities; and the coastal economy. These are the priorities that we think Egypt is going to focus on.

Then it’s a question of what kind of investments are needed to make that happen and how much of that will come from the public sector, how much from multilateral development banks, and how much from the private sector. And what are the policy and institutional changes that must go with that transformation? So for us that’s concretizing the climate and development framework at the country level.

It has to then be led by the country. It’s about the country deciding what its priorities are and what changes they plan to make. Then there will be discussions about how you actually implement them.

E: How do you anticipate that the spillover effects from the conflict in Ukraine might impact climate progress?

MP: Well, the immediate impact is on food and energy prices. In the short term all countries will face higher inflation, higher energy and food prices, and potential fiscal issues. The more important question is actually how it affects the urgency of addressing the climate crisis.

Energy security is now a big issue, and it may mean that we have to slow down the phase-out of fossil fuels. But at the same time, it should accelerate the transition towards renewable energy. Energy security is about diversifying the sources of energy that you have. If you're importing a lot of fossil fuels, you can reduce that reliance by developing what's in your own country, whether it's the sun or the wind.

Food is the same. Even before this current spike in wheat prices, the issue of food insecurity was already very high, particularly in this region, which is one of the more vulnerable. But we have to address the hike in prices and the availability and also the sustainability of food systems. Whether it's making better use of water, more efficient use of fertilizers, canal restoration, desalination… These are all actions which will help development because it's going to improve the livelihood of farmers and increase productivity, but will have good climate outcomes as well.

E: You wrote a blog post last year about the trend towards protectionism. In light of what's going on with Ukraine, is there a sweet spot that enables countries to protect their food and energy security while maintaining open trading relationships?

MP: I think the objective is not just to be self-reliant, because self-reliance will not work for most countries and it's not a good strategy. The strategy should be to diversify sources of supply, whether it's food or energy, and that is partly about looking domestically, about asking what we can do to improve production within our own country but in an efficient way, not in a protectionist way. If you do it in a protectionist way, you're just going to end up having the consumers in your country pay a higher price, even for a lower quality product.

Diversifying the sources of energy or food means that we have to keep trade open, that countries should not panic by either restricting exports or importing unnecessarily high amounts because they're afraid and are hoarding. If you do that, you will increase costs, and that will lead to a spike in prices. The issue today is not about a shortage of food. There's actually more than enough production. It’s more the issue of making sure that trade flows are not impeded so that food will go where it should be going.

I was in government before, and in a crisis the most important thing that a government can do is have very clear policies that instill confidence and not have policy changes that lead to confusion and panic. You have to give the signal that 'there's enough food available. Don't worry. We have contingency plans and we are also focusing on production for the next season, making sure farmers have enough fertilizer to produce for the next season.' I think those are kind of the policy messages that governments should be focusing on.

E: And are governments focusing on this?

MP: I would say that for most governments, even in advanced countries, the issue of food is something that touches people. Some countries are introducing controls and restrictions, but it hasn't been excessive like in 2008, where there were huge fluctuations. I think we just have to continue emphasizing the importance of not impeding the flow of trade goods or the inputs for agricultural production.

And that's been our message. It's been the message of the G7. It's probably going to be the message of the G20 and it's the message of the World Trade Organization. Let's remember what happened in 2008 and let's not repeat that outcome.


Your top climate stories for the week:

  • Electric mobility startup Shift EV has closed a total of USD 9 mn in funding, putting it on the road to transform the EV landscape not just in Egypt, but across emerging markets. We met up for coffee with CEO Aly Eltayeb.
  • Top EU official visits to talk energy, climate ahead of COP 27: EU Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans discussed boosting our green hydrogen plans and climate summit prep with cabinet ministers.

CALENDAR

OUR CALENDAR NOW APPEARS in 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

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.

12 April (Tuesday): EBRD launches Transition Report 2021-2022

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

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.

JUNE

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

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

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

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

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

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 COP 27 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.

DECEMBER

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

JANUARY 2023

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.

EVENTS WITH NO SET DATE

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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