Monday, 16 May 2022

AM — Madbouly announces plans to privatize state assets + boost private investment

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to a massive news day. The Madbouly government is driving the conversation in the business community this morning after the PM used an epic presser yesterday to go deep into weeds on how the government plans to attract USD 40 bn in private investment over the next four years.

Madbouly also said we’re looking at a new IMF program “within months.” Separately, Ittihadiya announced new measures yesterday designed to encourage growth of the country’s red-hot tech industry.

The good news doesn’t stop there: We’ve made a massive wheat buy from India despite New Delhi’s recently announced export ban. The shipment will further shore up food security in a nasty global climate — even without the Indian shipment, we’ve brought reserves back up to four months’ of demand from 2.6 months in April.

We have coverage of all of this and more in this morning’s news well, below.

HAPPENING TODAY-

It’s the second day of the US GreenTech business mission: More than 40 US companies are in Cairo for three days this week to discuss green investment and potential business partnerships in sectors ranging from energy to healthcare, agriculture, aviation, construction and water resource management. The high-level delegation will meet with members of the business community and senior government officials, including Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and other members of cabinet. The mission is being organized by AmCham and the US Chamber of Commerce.

US companies here on the visit signed two agreements yesterday:

  • Waste management and renewable energy company Energy3 International signed an MoU with the Environment Ministry to build a recycling facility in Fayoum that will convert municipal and agricultural waste to biodiesel and biochar, preventing the emission of 500k tons of CO2 every year. Energy3i will now submit a proposed schedule to the ministry. (Cabinet | Energy3i)
  • Environmental safety firm Okeanos signed an MoU with Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly to build a USD 50 mn factory that will manufacture plastic alternatives from limestone. The facility will be set up by Okeanos Egypt — a joint venture with local company Income Egypt — and will produce environmentally-friendly alternatives to single-use plastics. The project is being billed as the first of its kind in Egypt. (Cabinet)

Libyan political negotiations are continuing in Cairo today: Rival officials kicked off a new round of talks in the capital yesterday under UN-backed efforts to pave the way for national elections and end the east-west divide that has split the country since 2014. The talks wrap up on Friday.

LATER THIS WEEK-

It’s interest rate week here at home: The Central Bank of Egypt will likely raise interest rates when it meets this Thursday, according to a near consensus of analysts and economists we surveyed last week. Six of the seven respondents see the Monetary Policy Committee going ahead with a rate hike to combat inflation and stem portfolio outflows, with five forecasting rates to rise by up to 200 bps.

HC Securities is the latest to predict a 200-bps hike, writing in a note yesterday that this would bring Egypt’s inflation-adjusted interest rate back into positive territory. The carry trade is “essential” to supporting foreign reserves amid a “massive” sell-off in emerging markets across the world, the firm’s head of macro and financials, Monette Doss, wrote.

MARKET WATCH-

The EUR could reach parity with the USD this year for the first time in two decades, after slumping to a five-year low near USD 1.03, Bloomberg reports, citing research from HSBC and RBC Capital Markets. The EUR has slumped amid fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war. The USD is serving as a haven amid market turmoil resulting from the war while the EUR has slumped on fears of everything from a ban on Russian natural gas to the ECB’s policy response and the prospect the Europe’s economy will go to hell in a handbasket.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Budget season is in full swing at the House: The House of Representatives will begin holding committee-level discussions of the draft FY 2022-23 budget and economic and social development plan this week, Ahram Online’s Gamal Essam El-Din reports. If approved, the budget will be signed into law by the president. Head here for a refresher on the draft budget’s key figures.

SOUND SMART- Our latest Enterprise Explains column has everything you need to know about how an Excel sheet turns into a budget, and then the law of the land.

Need to get your head around the new e-receipt system? Lynx Strategic Business Advisors are following up their recent webinar on e-invoicing with a session introducing the Finance Ministry’s new e-receipt system, which is set to officially roll out on 1 July. The webinar will feature FinMin tax development advisor Yasser Taymour, as well as reps from Talabat, Jumia, Yoco, and the World Bank. It takes place on 18 May at 12:00-1:30pm CLT. Register here.

Venture capital 101: The Egyptian Private Equity Association (EPEA) is hosting a paid crash course in all things venture capital at the Zamalek Marriott on 21-23 May. Led by Avanz Capital Egypt MD Hany Assaad, the three-day course will cover everything you need to know about Planet VC, from fund structures and portfolio-building to due diligence and valuations.

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

enterprise

*** It’s Blackboard day: We have our weekly look at the business of education in Egypt, from pre-K through the highest reaches of higher ed. Blackboard appears every Monday in Enterprise in the place of our traditional industry news roundups.

In today’s issue: We break down the government’s education budget for FY 2022-2023: The Madbouly government has allocated more than a quarter of its total spend to education, with more than EGP 550 mn earmarked for K-12, higher ed, and academic research — up nearly 23% from the current fiscal year.

But the state’s spending priorities have shifted: While the FY 2021-2022 investment budget was marked by a push for tech universities, this year sees the government putting more focus on plugging teacher and classroom shortages and developing school infrastructure.

enterprise

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ECONOMY

Madbouly announces plans to privatize state assets + boost private investment

Madbouly announces plans to privatize state assets + boost private investment: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly outlined the government’s plans to privatize state-owned assets and increase the private sector’s role in the economy yesterday in a wide-ranging address that underlined the economic damage being done to Egypt by Russia’s war in Ukraine. The prime minister used the two-hour news conference (watch, runtime: 2:07:15) to announce a raft of new measures and ambitious targets designed restructure the economy in favor of the private sector. The PM also looked to reassure the public on the government’s handling of the crisis caused by the war, which he said was costing the economy hundreds of bns of EGP.

THE BIG SELL-DOWN

The government plans to attract USD 40 bn in fresh investments over the next four years by selling stakes in state-owned assets to local and international investors, Madbouly said. It is aiming to raise USD 10 bn each year by offering a range of assets to the private sector. The USD 40 bn figure was first made public by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in a speech late last month.

Up for sale, according to Madbouly:

  • New and renewable energy projects
  • Real estate assets in new cities
  • Desalination projects
  • Banking, telecom and education assets
  • At a later stage: Possibly transport infrastructure such as the under-construction high-speed electric rail line and the monorail.

The government has already selected assets that, if sold, would contribute USD 9.1 bn toward this year’s target of USD 10 bn and is currently working on appraising assets worth another USD 15 bn as part of a “fast-tracked” component of the strategy, which should be completed this year, Madbouly said. The remaining assets will also soon be identified and a timeline drawn up, he added.

The state wants to double the private sector’s role in the economy: The government wants to increase the private sector’s contribution to economic investment to 65% over the next three years, up from 30% last year, the PM said.

You can expect more details on this in the coming days: The government will announce a three-year roadmap for reducing the state’s involvement in certain sectors of the economy “within days,” Madbouly said. The roadmap will chart which industries the state will withdraw from and when, as well as ring fence strategic sectors where it wants to retain a presence. The government expects to meet its targets through as-yet unspecified incentives geared towards improving the business climate, as well as opening lines of communication with the private sector to help cater to their needs. This roadmap could be revised frequently down the line to ensure it aligns with the state’s goals, Madbouly said.

We liked Hala El Said’s traffic light system: The planning minister had earlier suggested the state could use a simple traffic-light system where green means go for the private sector, yellow means “Okay, but under conditions” and red means “hands-off or only with a state partner.”

STATE IPO PROGRAM

The government plans to list 10 state-owned and two military-owned companies on the EGX this year, Madbouly announced, confirming earlier statements from Finance Minister Mohamed Maait. Madbouly did not provide further details on the companies to be listed. The state will begin offering shares in companies on the EGX starting September, Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik said last week.

(A word of caution: Don’t expect 10 or 12 full-blown IPOs. A transaction selling a strategic stake to an anchor investor could qualify here, as would the sale — to a strategic, to retail investors, or on international markets — of a new stake in an already-listed company. And as we always note — IPOs are really (really) contingent on market conditions. And market conditions in 2022 haven’t been great. Strategic sales to qualified buyers are just about as valuable as IPOs.)

Hotels + ports could be listed: Seven of Egypt’s biggest ports will be merged under one entity and listed on the EGX, Madbouly said, without disclosing which ports will be selected or the timeline for the listing. A number of state-owned hotels will also be merged and offered to domestic investors, he added.

Already in the pipeline: Heliopolis Housing and Development (which is eyeing a secondary offering); state fertilizer producer Mopco; Misr Ins. Holding subsidiary Misr Life Ins.; and perennial candidate Banque du Caire. As for military-owned assets, smart money is on bottled-water maker Safi and filling station operator Wataniya, which are currently being prepared for public or private offerings before summer, according to Sovereign Fund of Egypt chief Ayman Soliman.

Safi and Wataniya are examples of companies where stakes could well be sold without going down the IPO route — Gulf and other multinational companies have previously expressed interest in acquiring significant stakes.

THE WAR HAS HIT US … HARD

Bns of EGP in losses: We have suffered around EGP 130 bn in direct losses due to the crisis due to spiraling commodity prices and global monetary tightening, Madbouly said. He estimated that the economy has seen another EGP 335 bn in “indirect losses”.

And capital outflows: ِAlmost USD 20 bn has exited Egypt since the start of the year due to the crisis and before, Madbouly said.

“Severe repercussions”: The disruption to Egypt’s wheat imports and the loss of Ukrainian and Russian tourists — which before the war accounted for more than 30% of the country’s visitors — will have “severe repercussions,” Madbouly said. The government has not surrendered to the challenges, he said, seeking to reassure the nation that the government is finding solutions to the multi-pronged crisis.

BOOSTING EXPORTS

The government wants to increase exports to USD 100 bn a year within the next five years, he said. The state has identified nine sectors to focus on, including textiles, food, pharma and metals.

GREEN ENERGY HUB PLANS

International companies contracted to help build our green energy industry will invest some USD 40 bn here through 2030, the PM said. This comes as the state plans to introduce more incentives to encourage investment in the industry, he added, without providing further details. By our math, the state has already inked agreements for some USD 10 bn in investment in green ammonia and green hydrogen projects in the Ain Sokhna as part of a plan to make the port a green energy hub.

NEW INVESTMENT INCENTIVES COMING

The PM said Egypt is preparing packages of incentives for a variety of industries including for companies investing in the chemicals, engineering, pharma, textile, food, and building materials industries. Separately, foreign investors will be offered incentives if they’re entering industries including data centers, telecom towers, and wind farms.

KEEP AN EYE ON THE CAR INDUSTRY

The long-awaited automotive strategy will be announced before the end of the month in a bid to localize more industries in Egypt, Madbouly said. Back in March, his cabinet reviewed the latest version of the new automotive “directive” — now formally named the Egyptian Automotive Industry Development Program (AIDP) — which has been in the works for years. The strategy aims to increase local assembly, grow the component manufacturing industry, up the sector’s competitiveness to become a regional manufacturing hub, and bolster export volumes.

MANAGING OUR DEBT

The state plans to bring the debt-to-GDP ratio down to 75% and the primary surplus up to 2.0%, by FY 2025-2026, Madbouly said. It also plans to bring the budget deficit down to 5.0% over the next four years. The government is targeting a 6.1% budget deficit next year, down from a projected 6.2% by the end of this fiscal year, and a primary surplus of 1.5%, up from an expected 1.3% by the end of this fiscal year. Debt-to-GDP is expected to narrow to 84% next fiscal year from around 85% this fiscal year.

Also from the presser:

  • The state is preparing a national intellectual property strategy that will involve establishing a national authority for intellectual property;
  • Manufacturers will be getting usufruct land rights, and will be allowed to pay fees in installments;
  • The government is working on drafting a new law that will allow factories set up in “fourth-generation cities” to apply for tax breaks of 3-5 years.

The story is getting attention from international press: Reuters | The National | AFP.

ECONOMY

An agreement with the IMF is coming “within months”

A fresh IMF program could be sealed in a few months: The government expects to reach an agreement with the IMF on a fresh support package “within months”, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said yesterday at a presser (watch, runtime: 2:07:15).

What IMF program? The government has been in talks with the IMF since March for a new assistance program to help it mitigate the impact on our economy of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Madbouly was tight-lipped on the talks: The PM offered no details on the shape of the program, saying only that “there are talks through the CBE and the Finance Ministry with the Fund … We are moving in great steps … I don’t want to get ahead of events, but the program will be in operation within the next few months,” he said.

What we know so far: Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad said in March that Egypt is negotiating a “program of support and technical advice” that “may include additional financing” as it tries to cushion the impact of the war in Ukraine on the economy. Talks had reached the “technical stage” in late April, Jihad Azour, the multilateral lender’s head of Middle East and Central Asia, said at the time.

Any new loan from the IMF would be our third in six years: The USD 12 bn facility in 2016 tied to economic reforms after the Sisi administration floated the EGP was followed in 2020 by a USD 5.2 bn standby loan and a USD 2.8 bn rapid financing instrument due to the pandemic.

We’re eligible for each of the three programs, a source familiar with discussions told Reuters in March. Egypt has exceeded its IMF borrowing quota, so any financial assistance will be lent under exceptional access criteria, meaning that the government will face greater scrutiny from the Fund, they said.

INVESTMENT WATCH

New regs aim make life easier for citizens of Planet Startup

The gov’t is trying to make life easier for tech startups: New rules will sweep aside obstacles for would-be tech entrepreneurs, government officials said yesterday, as part of the Madbouly government’s drive to attract private capital and drive growth of the domestic tech industry. The changes will make it easier for people to set up tech companies and offer a handful of tax exemptions and preferential customs treatment to some companies, Ittihadiya said in a statement yesterday following a meeting between President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and Communications Minister Amr Talaat.

Here’s what we know so far:

#1- It’s going to be easier to set up a tech company. People will be able to establish tech companies by notifying the government via a digital platform. No other details were provided about the procedure, but the statement says the measure comes as part of the government’s ambition to “remove all obstacles facing startups and entrepreneurs.” Tech companies will also no longer need to have a physical headquarters, a move designed to lower costs for firms in the sector. The government will also allow sole traders to set up companies, the statement said without providing further information.

#2- They’re on the customs “white list”: Tech companies importing electronic components will be added to the customs’ “white list”, allowing them to clear goods through customs more quickly. Per the Customs Act, goods imported by companies on the white list do not have to undergo inspection, making clearance quicker and reducing clearance fees.

#3- New tech investment zones + tax exemptions: The government will expand tech investment zones and roll out new tax exemptions for startups, the statement said, without offering further details.

The gov’t has been showing more love for startups and the VC scene as of late: Several government agencies are working to develop regulations to attract international VCs and make it easier for founders to start and grow their companies. In the coming months, we could be seeing a standard shareholder agreement for startups (allowing new-to-Egyptian-law minority right protections, including preferred shares and founder claw-back clauses, among other things) as well as a framework allowing convertible notes for the first time.

** We recently talked with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists about the proposed regulations: Read their thoughts in What’s Next here and here.

ECONOMY

Unemployment dips to 7.2% 1Q 2022

Egypt’s unemployment rate dipped to 7.2% in 1Q 2022 from 7.4% the previous quarter, according to the latest data by state statistics agency Capmas (pdf). Unemployment was also down 0.2 percentage points compared with the same period last year.

The jobless rate has remained more or less flat since the summer of 2020, with only mild fluctuations since spiking to a near-two-year high of 9.6% in 2Q 2020 on the back of the lockdown and economic disruption that accompanied the pandemic.

REMEMBER- The official unemployment rate only includes people who are looking for work. The labor force participation rate — which counts everyone aged 15-64 either in work or actively looking for work — fell 1.0 percentage points from the previous quarter to 42.8%.

Unemployment is still disproportionately affecting young people: The number of 15-29 year-olds out of work accounted for 63.0% of all jobless people, down from last quarter’s 64.3%.

The jobless rate among women remained flat from the previous quarter at 17.7%, down 0.1 percentage points from 4Q 2021. Unemployment among men continued to decline, falling to 4.9% from 5.2% the previous quarter.

Fewer jobs in the private sector? Private sector employment fell every month last quarter and saw its sharpest drop in a year in April, according to PMI data, as firms hold back from making new hires due to rising prices and falling demand.

COMMODITIES

Egypt to receive 500k tons of Indian wheat despite export ban

FROM THE DEPT. OF GOOD NEWS- We’ve locked in 500k tons of Indian wheat ahead of New Delhi's export ban: Egypt has agreed to buy 500k tons of wheat from India, Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy told Reuters yesterday, adding that an export ban introduced by New Delhi last week will not impact the shipment.

REMINDER- India has introduced a wheat export ban in response to surging local prices and a severe heatwave that is threatening to hit production. The decision was taken to “manage the overall food security of the country” though the government will still permit shipments under existing letters of credit.

But what about future purchases? Egypt is in talks with India about being exempted from the export ban. New Delhi said (pdf) last week that it would continue to ship wheat to “vulnerable developing countries … that are unable to access adequate wheat supplies,” provided they seek permission from the government. Friendly ties between our two countries dating back more than a generation to the Nasser-era Non-Alignment Movement suggest we have a good chance of getting that exemption.

Could this be the beginning of an “easier” wheat purchasing process? Moselhy said that the government gave state grain buyer GASC approval to sidestep its tender process and purchase wheat directly from countries or private sector traders.

Diversification is the name of the game: This comes amid ongoing talks with Kazakhstan, France and Argentina under efforts to diversify wheat imports. Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, continues to be hit from a grain shortage triggered by the Russia-Ukraine war. The two countries together supply more than 80% of our imported wheat in peacetime.

We’ve already purchased a 55k-ton shipment of Indian wheat: The ship is expected to depart from India soon after it passed the inspection of Egyptian officials last week.

The latest from the local harvest: The government has bought some 1.75 mn tons of local wheat since the start of the harvest season at the beginning of April, Reuters quoted a senior Agriculture Ministry official as saying. That’s just shy of a third of its 6 mn-ton target. The local harvest will run through to the end of August but the bulk of production will take place in April and May, by which time 75% of the country’s wheat will have been harvested.

Reserves are looking healthier: The government currently has enough wheat reserves to cover four months, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said during yesterday’s bumper press conference (see our full coverage above). We had enough wheat to cover only 2.6 months-worth as of early April.

Background: The government has shifted its focus to local harvest to help plug the wheat shortage resulting from the Russia-Ukraine war. The government has said it plans to spend around EGP 36 bn to purchase 6 mn tons of wheat from local farmers — nearly double the 3.5 mn tons purchased last season — to replenish strategic reserves.

IN OTHER COMMODITIES NEWS-

Our food exports rose 5.8% y-o-y to USD 1.05 bn in 1Q 2022, up from USD 996 mn in the same period last year, according to the latest figures from the Food Export Council. Arab countries were the biggest buyers, accounting for more than half of food exports (USD 588 mn or 56%) during the quarter. EU countries came second in the list, with imports worth USD 169 mn (16%). Non-Arab African countries (7%) and the US (6%) were our next biggest customers.

STARTUP WATCH

E-commerce startup Teegara raises undisclosed bridge round

E-commerce startup Teegara has successfully closed a five-figure USD bridge round led by Alexandria Angels Network, with participation from new angel investors in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Netherlands, CEO and co-founder Ahmed Kayyali told Enterprise.

What is Teegara? Teegara’s B2B online marketplace connects merchants with vendors of household products and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), offering multiple payment methods and shipping options to streamline the buying process. It also extends credit and other financial services to small merchants through various partners, and expects to sign a fresh partnership agreement with super-app MNT-Halan by next week, Kayyali said.

Where the money’s going: The round will be put towards Teegara’s expansion plans, helping it add more verticals to its platform, hire sales and operations talent, and build its technical capabilities, according to a press release (pdf) announcing the funding. Teegara last year closed a five-figure pre-seed round led by Alex Angels and angel investors from KSA, Egypt and the Netherlands.

Teegara is preparing to raise a seed round sometime during 2H 2022, when it hopes to raise funding to expand beyond Cairo and Giza to the Nile Delta and northern Upper Egypt over a six-month period, Kayyali said. The startup also wants to onboard 10k merchants by the end of the year, he said, without disclosing the number of merchants currently registered on the platform.

The startup will be looking at potentially expanding outside of Egypt starting 2024, when it expects to begin raising its pre-series A round, Kayyali told us.

IN OTHER STARTUP NEWS-

PayTabs Egypt launches social commerce platform with Paymes: EFG Hermes e-payments subsidiary PayTabs Egypt is partnering with social commerce payment platform Paymes to allow micro merchants in the MENA region to receive payments through social media platforms, the company announced in a statement (pdf). Paymes will serve as PayTabs Egypt’s’ social commerce platform. PayTabs has plans to launch in the UAE and Saudi Arabia soon, PayTabs CEO and founder Abdulaziz Al Jouf said in the statement.

The partnership: Paymes said last month that it is merging with PayTabs (not the Egypt arm in which EFG Hermes is a partner, but the parent company founded in Saudi Arabia), allowing its social commerce products to be offered to PayTabs’ clients in the MENA region. Paymes’ Turkey office will serve as the administrative center of PayTabs’ Eurasian operations. Paymes’ website now identifies itself as “a PayTabs company.”

How will the new payment system work? Egypt-based micro merchants and freelancers will be able to offer their products or services through their digital Paymes store windows, while sellers can share secure payment links across social media platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, according to the statement. The service targets the more than 14 mn existing freelancers, home-based business owners, consultants, food truck vendors, and gig workers in Egypt, the statement says.

PayTabs Egypt was recognized as the best e-payment solution in MENA at Entrepreneur Middle East’s 2021 fintech awards. The B2B payment powerhouse offers digital payment solutions including one-click payments and merchant solutions.

EARNINGS WATCH

Earnings: Edita, ABK Egypt

Edita Food Industries’ net income rose 86% y-o-y in 1Q 2022 to EGP 148.1 mn, according to the company’s latest earnings release (pdf). The company said that bottom line growth “reflected improved performance down the income statement”, with revenues jumping 34% y-o-y to EGP 1.56 bn, backed by strong performance by all six segments.

Driving revenue growth: The company’s cake and bakery segments were the biggest contributors, accounting for almost 75% of the company’s revenue for the quarter. Wafer revenues, which accounted for 16% of the company’s top line, grew 61% y-o-y. Meanwhile, revenues from the biscuits segment grew 62% on 1Q 2021.

The snack foods’ maker’s new facility in Morocco began generating revenues in 1Q, bringing in EGP 20.5 mn during the quarter, the statement said.

IN OTHER EARNINGS-

Al Ahli Bank Kuwait Egypt reported net income of EGP 551 mn in 1Q 2022, according to a statement (pdf). The bank also reported a 23% rise in net interest income to EGP 603 mn in the first three months of the year.

MOVES

Egyptian solar player KarmSolar has appointed Nabil Kammoun (LinkedIn) as its new chief financial officer, according to a press release (pdf). With almost two decades of experience in the energy sector, Kammoun joins the firm after spending 10 years at Baker Hughes, where he served as a finance director for various divisions covering Europe, North Africa, MENATI (MENA + Turkey and India)and Africa.

US private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) has appointed Amr Nosseir (LinkedIn) as a senior advisor, according to a press release (pdf). Nosseir, who has 30 years of experience working with investors in the Middle East, will “focus on reinforcing ties with existing limited partners and establishing new, trust-based relationships with investing organizations and families,” the statement said, under CD&R’s plan to expand relationships with investors in the region. He joins the firm from CVC Capital Partners, where he served as the chairman and managing director of its Middle East division.

enterprise

LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly’s epic presser yesterday was all over the airwaves last night: Business leaders gave their reactions to the state’s strategy to raise private investment and sell-off state assets (covered in depth in this morning’s news well, above), while Planning Minister Hala El Said appeared to answer questions on the plans. Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi led the coverage, calling the announcement a “dramatic strategic shift” in the country’s economic policies towards the private sector (watch, runtime: 20:09).

BUSINESS REAX: The overall sentiment among industry leaders last night was positive. Mohamed El Sewedy, head of the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi that the plan is an “important first step and the beginning of self accountability” (watch, runtime: 12:04). Mohamed El Damaty, vice chairman of cheese maker Domty, also shared his optimism over the state’s ambitious privatization targets with El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 7:00), while Sherif El Gebaly, the chairman of the Egyptian Chamber of Chemical Industries, praised the measures to support industry (watch, runtime: 8:08).

But questions of implementation abound: Elsewedy said that implementing all the measures will prove a “challenge” while El Gebaly wondered how achievable the government’s export targets are. The goal to raise exports to USD 100 bn a year in the next four years is “not easy, yet not impossible,” he said, calling for “out of the box” ideas such as establishing Egyptian companies in African nations and overseas logistics centers (watch, runtime: 1:49).

A WORD FROM THE PLANNING MINISTER: The government wanted to say that “it’s open to the private sector” through the plan, Planning Minister Hala El Said told El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 9:42). She responded to worries by key industry players on implementation, saying that the government has worked with the private sector to outline details on the plan through working groups. “Most details have been finalized, with only 20-25% of details left,” she said.

We’ll have more details in a few weeks: A state ownership policy document that makes clear where the private sector will be welcomed will be issued “in the next few weeks”, El Said said. The document would provide clear guidelines on which projects would be handled by the private sector, the public sector, or both, she said. Vital sectors “that directly affect citizens” would still be handled by the state solely, she said.

On the status of IMF talks: We still don’t have a figure for the assistance we’re seeking for the IMF, El Said said, refuting that outlining a plan to include the private sector came upon a request by the Fund in exchange of aid. A new structural reform program, which aims to diversify the economy to protect against external shocks, came way before talks with the IMF, she said.

PLANET FINANCE

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Saudi Aramco reported record net income in 1Q 2022, on the back of surging oil prices and rising demand, the company announced in its latest earnings release (pdf). The oil giant’s bottom line rose 82% during the quarter to a record USD 39.5 bn, which it attributed to higher crude prices, larger volumes, and improved downstream margins. The company will pay out USD 18.8 bn in dividends for the quarter, and will also distribute one bonus share per every 10 shares. Brent crude surged to its highest in over a decade in March, and is currently trading at USD 111.5 a barrel, nearly two-thirds higher than its price during the same period last year.

Aramco > Apple: The results come a few days after the company overtook Apple to become the world’s most valuable company by market cap. Buoyed by the volatility in the energy markets, Aramco shares have risen to record highs in recent weeks at the same time as Apple has come under pressure from the heavy sell-off in tech stocks in the US.

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THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell 1.4% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 733 mn (15.5% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net buyers. The index is down 11.8% YTD.

In the green: CIRA (+2.0%), Cleopatra Hospitals (+1.7%) and Eastern Company (+1.3%).

In the red: Ibnsina Pharma (-4.6%), EFG Hermes (-4.4%) and Credit Agricole Egypt (-3.5%).

It was a mixed open in the Asian markets this morning, after fresh data from China underscored the negative impact the country’s covid-19 lockdowns are having on the economy. Shares in China were in the red and exchanges elsewhere were marginally in the green after retail figures showed that sales fell 11% in April.

Stock futures suggest that US and European shares will fall when markets open later today.

CORRECTION- We incorrectly reported in yesterday’s EnterprisePM that Credit Agricole Egypt’s net income fell 69% in the first quarter of 2022. In fact, the bank saw its bottom line rise 30% during the period. The story has since been updated on our website. We regret the error.

AROUND THE WORLD

Lebanon elections: The full tally is yet to come in from yesterday’s parliamentary elections in Lebanon, the country’s first since 2018, but preliminary results indicate that the Iran-aligned Shiite party Hezbollah has lost seats, while the Saudi-backed Lebanese Forces say they have made gains. (Reuters)

Mass protests in Tunisia: Thousands of Tunisians took to the streets of the capital Tunis yesterday to call for democracy to be restored. (Reuters)

Shanghai lockdown endgame? Shanghai officials have outlined plans to gradually loosen covid-19 restrictions, allowing businesses to partially reopen starting today as daily reported infections continue to fall, according to the Wall Street Journal. A harsh lockdown in place since the end of March has kept some 25 mn people confined to their homes, shuttering most businesses in one of the region’s most important financial and commercial hubs.

blackboard

Breaking down the government’s education plans + expenditure in FY2022-2023: Last week, Planning Minister Hala El Said laid out the government’s sustainable development plan for FY2022-2023 (pdf) in an address to the House of Representatives, while Cabinet presented its revised draft budget (pdf and pdf) for the upcoming fiscal year. Education accounts for 26.8% of the nearly 2.1 tn planned for spending next year, with some EGP 555.6 mn earmarked for investments and expenditure in education, higher education, and academic research — up nearly 22.8% from the current fiscal year. Whereas the FY2021-2022 investment budget was marked by a push for tech universities, this year sees the government putting more focus on plugging teacher and classroom shortages and developing school infrastructure.

Remember: This is a crisis budget: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly had directed the Finance Ministry in March to “reassess priorities” for the FY 2022-2023 budget as rising global commodity prices on the back of the war in Ukraine began to do economic damage. The war also threatens a key hard currency earner: Prior to the invasion, Russian and Ukrainians together accounted for nearly a third of our inbound tourism market.

The big-picture breakdown: K12 education gets EGP 317 bn of the total budget allocation for education, which is equivalent to 15.3% of the entire budget. Higher education gets EGP 159.2 bn — around 7.7% of the state’s total spending — while EGP 79.3 bn is dedicated to scientific research, accounting for almost 4% of the entire budget, and marking a c.24% y-o-y increase from the current fiscal year.

The boost in scientific research is notable: A big hindrance for our research landscape has been a lack of funding, as we’ve reported earlier this year. Next year’s boost could mean more potential for the country’s academic researchers to shine, and higher global rankings for our universities.

A portion of the investment in K12 education is dedicated towards affordable schooling: Some EGP 5.2 bn are earmarked for schools targeting the middle-income segment. Those include Japanese schools, Nile Egyptian Schools, STEM Schools, and 20 new applied technology schools. The common denominator between the three categories? The target market is the middle-income segment, and the goal is to alleviate the pressure on families resulting from rising global prices and inflation — which reached near a three-year high in April — as well as building skill sets that meet the labor market’s needs.

Another goes towards plugging shortages, starting with classrooms…: Some EGP 4.5 bn are earmarked for building 25k classrooms, up 40% from the investments earmarked for classrooms in the current fiscal year. Education Minister Tarek Shawki has said that Egypt’s classroom shortage currently stands at over 300k classrooms across the country. The average number of students in each classroom is 49, according to statistics (pdf) published by the Education Ministry in the last academic year.

…and teachers: Another EGP 1.8 bn will go towards plugging the teacher shortage, with a plan to hire some 30k teachers over the next fiscal year. Government schools have been facing a substantial shortage of teachers, which Shawki has put at as many as 250k. In a bid to plug the shortfall, the government will hire an additional 30k teachers annually for the next five years.

REFRESHER- Why is there a shortage in the first place? Egypt’s K-12 teachers generally face a host of challenges, including (pdf) low salaries and a lack of necessary qualifications. Teacher training is especially challenging, as the education system often values academic prestige over the practical skills that would help teachers become better educators.

One of these issues is addressed in next year’s budget: The budget ups the allocation for wages of education and health workers by EGP 43 bn compared to the current fiscal year, with EGP 127.7 bn earmarked for wages, bonuses and compensation for workers. This comes as the government decided to increase the monthly minimum wage for state employees across all salary bands by EGP 300, bringing the public-sector overall minimum wage to EGP 2.7k as of 1 July. The new minimum wage hike came as part of a basket of measures announced in January to give incentives to public workers, including extending annual 7% bonuses first brought in last year, and hikes to pensions.

School infrastructure improvements also got a boost in the budget: Some EGP 324 mn is earmarked for expanding smart classrooms and providing smart boards to schools, with another equal amount earmarked for classrooms in applied tech schools. Another EGP 700 mn has been earmarked for the ongoing implementation of Education 2.0, a sweeping reform announced in 2018 that is set to cost some USD 2 bn and should be fully implemented by 2030, in line with the government’s broader development plan, Egypt Vision 2030. Meanwhile, procuring services and consumables for education will cost the government EGP 15.8 bn.

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.

MAY

13-22 May (Friday-Sunday): PSA World Championships, Cairo.

Mid-May: The trial period to extend the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system to air freight.

16-19 May (Monday-Thursda): HC Brokerage and Avior Capital Markets virtual conference investor conference.

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

19 May (Thursday): EFG Hermes’ general shareholders’ meeting to discuss, among several things, a capital increase of EGP 973 mn to finance the distribution of bonus shares to the company’s minority shareholders.

23 May (Monday): Lynx Strategic Business Advisors are hosting a webinar titled “Introducing Egypt’s New E-Receipt System.”

25 May (Wednesday): The deadline for private companies to pre-register ahead of bidding for the second phase of the PPP national project to establish and operate 1k language schools.

30-31 May (Monday-Tuesday): Egypt Can with Industry, Cairo, Egypt.

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

31 May (Tuesday): The application deadline for ITIDA’s annual Export IT program.

31 May (Tuesday): Extended deadline for EGX-listed companies to disclose 1Q 2021 earnings.

May: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

May: General Authority for Land and Dry Ports to issue the conditions booklet for the tender to establish and operate the Tenth of Ramadan dry port.

May: Egypt to sign contracts for second and third high-speed rail lines with Siemens by the end of the month.

May: Government to announce its automotive strategy by the end of the month.

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.

5 June (Sunday): GB Auto is hosting an extraordinary general assembly meeting (pdf).

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.

21-22 June (Tuesday-Wednesday): Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development, Cairo.

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.

June: Egypt will launch a unified ticketing system for all means of transport at the Adly Mansour Interchange Station.

June: Polish President Andrzej Duda will visit Egypt to coordinate ways to ship Ukrainian wheat to Egypt amid the war in Ukraine.

JULY

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

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

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

1 July (Friday): Official rollout of e-receipt system 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.

26–27 September (Monday-Tuesday): The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) at the Cairo Marriott Hotel.

OCTOBER

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

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

1 October (Saturday): Use of Nafeza becomes compulsory for air freight.

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 its 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.

2023: Egypt will host the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors in 2023.

**Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish above between the actual holiday and its observance.

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