Tuesday, 24 May 2022

AM — From a stalled car market to a massive pre-seed round and another hospital acquisition, it’s a huge day of business news



Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to another very heavy news day in which business news again tops our tl;dr — including M&A news and a massive raise by one of the newest citizens of Planet Startup. We have the rundown on everything in this morning’s news well, below.


It’s Day #2 at Davos: The second day of the gathering of global business, policy and media chiefs will feature talks on everything from global tax and the future of work, to the digital economy and all things climate. Our friend Mahmoud Mohieldin, wearing his hat as UN high-level climate action champion for COP27 will join a panel discussion on climate transition in emerging economies this morning at the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos (11:30 CLT). European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez will deliver special addresses.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Oil Minister Tarek El Molla gave interviews on the sidelines of the gathering yesterday, answering questions on how the government is responding to the spillover effects from the crisis in Ukraine. Here are the highlights:

  • The energy crisis is good for Egyptian gas exports: As Europe searches for new sources of energy, Egypt is “well-positioned” to take advantage of the crisis and increase its role as a regional gas hub in the East Mediterranean, El Molla told CNBC (watch, runtime: 3:39).
  • When can Europe expect more gas from Egypt? Egypt will be in a position to increase exports to Europe in the next two or three years, the minister said. International energy companies are investing more to accelerate gas production in the region, which will allow Egypt to boost LNG volumes, he said.
  • Elevated oil prices won’t last forever: El Molla expects oil prices to fall back towards the end of the year, predicting that the OPEC+ alliance of oil producers will eventually agree to raise supply to calm the market (watch, runtime: 1:53).
  • A risk of civil unrest globally: “The pressures on normal people could raise the potential of civil unrest. It will be upon governments to do the best they can and to provide the services that can support the population,” Shoukry told the broadcaster (watch, runtime: 2:11).
  • “We’ll continue to do the best we can”: Asked whether the government is in control of the situation, Shoukry said that ministers are working to tackle inflation and to diversify the country’s food supply.


Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman is planning to visit Egypt as part of a Middle East / EastMed diplomatic tour that will take him to Turkey, Cyprus, Greece and Jordan, Reuters reports, citing four sources familiar with the matter. The visit could happen at the beginning of July, two of them said. This would be MbS’s first diplomatic tour outside the MENA region since the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

WATCH THIS SPACE #1- The long-awaited executive regulations to the Public-Private Partnership Act will be out “in the coming weeks,” Al Masry Al Youm reports, citing an unnamed Finance Ministry official. The bill passed the House in November and aims, among other things, to make it easier for the private sector to engage with the state in sectors including transport, energy, communications, and healthcare.

Good timing: Their publication comes as the government looks to net as much as USD 10 bn a year for four years through a renewed privatization process. As part of that process, the government will look at expanding PPPs to new sectors, according to a draft policy documen that leaked last week. We can expect the government to publish the final document by the end of May.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- It’s a mixed bag of nuts on the global front pages this morning: Reuters is reporting that the EU could agree to an embargo on Russian oil “within days,” the Associated Press is looking at the abortion debate in the US, while the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times highlight yesterday’s Sleepy Joe moment that appeared to upend Washington’s decades-long policy towards Taiwan.

WATCH THIS SPACE #2- Erdogan is still trying to patch things up with our part of the world. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is heading to Israel on Wednesday (the first official visit by a Turkish foreign minister in 15 years) and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will reportedly visit Ankara in the “coming days.”


*** 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 attended USAID’s Alternative Finance conference yesterday, where the main focus was on how policymakers can get the private sector to buy into Egypt’s development program.


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Are international car brands cutting Egypt out of their short-term export plans?

WATCH THIS SPACE- Are international car brands cutting Egypt out of short-term production plans in response to a slowdown in finance available for imports? Both Al Borsa and Al Mal are reporting that as many as eight international auto companies have stopped exporting cars to Egypt on the back of Egypt’s decision to move importers to letters of credit instead of the longstanding process of documentary collection to import goods. The combination of a very tight global car market and delays opening letters of credit (L/Cs) has seen manufacturers diverting shipments to other markets, the newspapers quote industry sources as saying. One dealer expects imports to decline “significantly” in the coming months.

We’re looking into the story and will be back tomorrow with more on what has so far been a less-than-wonderful week for the car industry. The Consumer Protection Agency ordered dealers to hand a full refund of down payments with 18% interest to customers who had placed since 12 April, and said that anyone who purchased a vehicle prior to 12 April would be protected from any subsequent price hikes. The CPA is also raising by 5% the cap on prices it introduced in March in the wake of the float of the EGP, despite the industry’s demands of around 10%.

That Consumer Protection Authority (CPA) ruling on down payments yesterday? It applies to all consumer goods. People who put down down payments on any consumer goods prior to 12 April will enjoy the same protections against higher prices, CPA chief Ayman Hossam El Din said on Al Hayah Al Youm last night (watch, runtime: 6:40). Retailers will be required to return down payments plus 18% interest to anyone who wants a refund, he said. The measures come following complaints by customers that sellers are hiking prices above the original price in response to rising inflation.

Why the 12 April date? That’s when the repercussions of the supply crisis really started to kick in, he said.


Egypt Education Platform enters pre-K sector with acquisition of two preschools

Education management firm Egypt Education Platform (EEP) will acquire a majority stake in Montessori preschool chains Trillium and Petals, it said in a press release (pdf). EEP Communications Director Amr Sherif declined to disclose the exact stake or value of the transaction when asked by Enterprise. The acquisition is in its final stages and has received regulatory approval, Sherif said.

The move ties in with EEP’s expansion strategy: Trillium and Petals are the first preschools EEP will add to its portfolio, Sherif told Enterprise. The two preschools together have eight branches across Cairo. “The move makes sense for our strategy since preschools are natural feeders for the industry, which means we can be involved in students’ enrollment cycle from beginning to end,” Sherif said.

Why these schools? EEP was attracted to the two schools’ strong brand name in the local market, and not because of a particular interest in Montessori education, Sherif said. The Montessori system — which emphasizes learning through choice-driven play and movement — diversifies EEP’s portfolio, which currently includes schools following the IB, American, British, and national curriculums, he added.

What’s next for Trillium and Petals? EEP plans to work on further expansion with the schools’ founder and CEO, Sherine Ibrahim, who will be retaining a stake in the preschools. The hope is to open new branches of the two schools in East and West Cairo, Sherif told us.

EEP is also exploring investments in international schools targeting the medium-income segment, particularly in Alexandria, as well as edtech companies, Sherif said. “We hope to close at least one investment very soon,” Sherif added.

About EEP: Formerly GEMS Education Egypt, the company manages the assets of the Egypt Education Fund, a 50/50 JV established in 2018 by EFG Hermes and GEMS Education to invest in Egypt’s K12 education sector. It currently has 11 schools with more than 20k students in its portfolio.


Saudi healthcare group looks to enter Egypt by acquiring New Cairo hospital

Saudi Arabia’s Mouwasat Medical Services has signed a non-binding MoU to acquire 100% of Al Marasem International Hospital in an all-cash transaction, the company said in a disclosure to the Saudi stock exchange. The final value of its purchase from Al Marasem International Development will be set after the completion of due diligence, it said. Neither party replied to multiple requests for comment yesterday when we reached out.

About the hospital: Situated in New Cairo, the 220-bed hospital has been in development for over a decade but Al Marasem has reportedly not been able to acquire funding to finish construction or purchase beds and medical equipment. The real estate developer, a subsidiary of the Saudi construction giant Binladin Group, had been looking to borrow EGP 700 mn to complete the EGP 1.5 bn facility back in 2020.

About Mouwasat: The Tadawul-listed company owns six hospitals in Saudi Arabia. The acquisition would, if it goes through, appear to be Mouwasat’s first foray into a foreign market. The group, which has said it aims to expand across the region, posted earnings of SAR 150.2 mn (EGP 737 mn) in 1Q 2022, up 2% y-o-y.

This is the third potential investment in Egypt by a Saudi entity we’ve gotten wind of this week: This week, we’ve heard that the Saudi wealth fund is considering purchasing United Bank from the Central Bank of Egypt, and a Saudi food company is close to acquiring the Egyptian Belgian Company.

It’s also the second healthcare M&A of the week after meds distributor Ibnsina said it was getting into the hospitals business with the EGP 430 mn purchase of Al Shorouk Hospital.


Ghazl El Mahalla could wrap its IPO in June

Ghazl El Mahalla football club’s public subscription notice (PSN) will be out in a few days, Mohamed Maher, head of bookrunner Prime Holding, confirmed to Enterprise. The EGP 98 mn public offering to retail investors has received approval from the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) for the offering, which Maher said will likely go forward in June after the regulator has signed off on the PSN.

Trading to begin late July or early August: The football club’s EGX debut is slated to follow a month after the public offering is complete, by late July or early August, Maher said.

BACKGROUND: The club managed to attract EGP 37 mn from institutional investors during the private placement component of the IPO back in November. While diminutive in IPO terms, the transaction would make Ghazl El Mahalla the first publicly traded Egyptian football club — and could pave the way for Al Ahly to follow suit.


Orascom Construction and Al Ahly Capital to build West Cairo industrial park

Orascom Construction + Al Ahly Capital partner on new industrial park: Orascom Construction (OC) subsidiary Suez Industrial Development Company (SIDC) signed an agreement with Al Ahly Capital Holding — the investment arm of the National Bank of Egypt — to build an industrial park in West Cairo’s Abu Rawash, according to a statement (pdf) yesterday.

Who’s doing what? Al Ahly Capital will own 75% of the joint venture set up to build the project, while SIDC will own 25% and be the park’s lead developer and operator, Omar Bebars, the CEO of OC’s building materials division, told Enterprise. Bebars declined to disclose the cost of the project.

About the park: The industrial park will be home to companies working in logistics, light industries, and MSMEs, according to the press release. “I believe there will be a lot of logistics companies due to the industrial park’s location, which connects several areas together,” Bebars said. The project could in part be powered by renewable energy, and the companies will discuss green targets with the Electricity Ministry, he added.

Where plans stand: The companies are currently at the engineering and design stage and are developing the masterplan for the project, which should take 3-4 months, Bebars said. The entire project could take up to eight years to be fully completed, Bebars said.

ADVISORS: Our friends at ALC Alieldean Weshahy & Partners advised Al Ahly Capital, while Baker McKenzie advised SIDC.


Subsidies + social safety net allocations dominate House budget debate

MPs raise flags on FY 2022-2023 budget allocations for subsidy + social safety net spending: Members of the House Planning and Budgeting Committee appear to be divided on whether the state should be upping its spend on commodity subsidies and expanding social safety programs, particularly as the Russia-Ukraine war has led to a jump in global food prices and inflationary pressures. The proposed budget, which Finance Minister Mohamed Maait presented to the House of Representatives earlier this month, penciled in EGP 90 bn for food subsidies next fiscal year, rising slightly from EGP 86 bn allocated for the current fiscal year.

“The budget’s food subsidy allocation is by no means enough to contain the dramatic spike in global food prices caused by the war,” Rep. Mostafa Salem, co-deputy chairman of the committee, said at a meeting last week.

On the flipside, a restructured welfare system has brought down our subsidy spending needs, which partially explains why the subsidy bill for next fiscal year hasn’t ballooned, General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) Chairman Ahmed Youssef Mansour told MPs. “We cut spending on ration cards by EGP 600 mn during the current fiscal year, not to mention that many subsidized bread bakeries were forced to cut costs by using natural gas instead of gasoline,” he said.

MPs raised eyebrows at the ministry’s wheat price forecast: The Finance Ministry has earmarked EGP 43 bn to cover wheat purchases through the year, based on projections that imported wheat will cost USD 330 per ton on average through the year. “These allocations are by no means sufficient — local wheat procurement alone is expected to cost EGP 15 bn, and the remaining EGP 28 bn budgeted is not enough to cover the cost of imported wheat, the price of which has skyrocketed,” said Yasser Omar, co-deputy chairman of the committee. Omar also pointed out that the ministry’s price forecast for wheat falls far below the current global market price, which stands at USD 435 per ton.

GASC thinks it’s enough: Local and imported wheat have cost state coffers around EGP 38 bn so far during the current fiscal year, suggesting that next year’s wheat budget should be sufficient, the wheat buyer’s Mansour said. The government has paid on average USD 335 per ton of imported wheat so far this year, spending EGP 25 bn on 4.7 mn tons, while local wheat purchases have cost around EGP 13 bn.

And the Planning Ministry insists that it has done its math: The budget allocation for foreign wheat purchases in the upcoming fiscal year “were revised several times to make sure they are in line with global wheat prices,” said Sherine Khallaf, director of the Planning Ministry’s Central Administration of Trade and Industry.

REMEMBER- Budget allocations can still be changed. “Most of the figures in the budget, particularly those related to subsidies and wheat purchases, should be considered tentative,” said Mansour. “The budget was already revised because the Russia-Ukraine war made it difficult to come up with fixed figures,” he said.

WHAT’S NEXT- Maait is expected to attend committee meetings this week to discuss the draft budget. The minister was originally scheduled to appear last week, but was traveling to London for the Financial Times’ Moral Money Summit.


Used-car retailer Sylndr raises USD 12.6 mn in pre-seed round

Online used-car retailer Sylndr has raised USD 12.6 mn in a pre-seed round led by RAED Ventures, the startup said in a press release (pdf). Other participants in the round included Algebra Ventures, Nuwa Capital, 1984 Ventures, Global Founders Capital, and regional and international angel investors.

That’s a huge raise for a pre-seed round and fits nicely into a trend of larger and larger fundraising rounds we’ve seen in Egypt this year, including Pylon’s USD 19 mn seed round last month, Khazna’s USD 38 mn series A, and Paymob’s USD 50 mn series B.

About Sylndr: Founded late last year by CEO Omar El Defrawy (LinkedIn), a former investment banker, and startup veteran Amr Mazen (LinkedIn), the company sells used cars through its online marketplace. Sylndr says car owners can sell their vehicles in as little as 24 hours. All cars will get a full inspection before being resold, with buyers offered the option to exchange the car for another within a week of purchasing, El Defrawy told Enterprise. Sylndr also hopes to offer consumer financing, “be it through Sylndr directly or in partnerships with banks or buy-now-pay-later platforms,” El Defrawy added.

Where the money’s going: The company will use the funds to expand its operational capabilities, tech, and marketing, and to make new hires. Sylndr hopes to more than double its 40-strong team by the end of the year.

Where plans stand: The company is buying used cars to build its inventory and plans to start selling them next quarter, El Defrawy said. “We want to become the go-to marketplace for used car needs in general. We are starting with fixing the selling experience,” he added.

Why do we need this? “The secondary car market is highly fragmented and more often than not, consumers do not have a trusted counterpart … The market is massive, ripe for disruption,” said Raed Managing Partner Omar Almajdouie.

How will the current turmoil in the car market affect business? Shortages of new cars could present an upside for the used car market, El Defrawy told us. With the limited options right now, consumers are more likely to consider purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, and inflated prices mean some are jumping on the chance to sell their cars at a higher price, he said.


Day 2 in Lagos, Nigeria

DAY TWO- We’ve had a fabulous and dense day two in Lagos, ladies and gentlemen. Between tuktuk-rides through Lagos’ Yaba Valley, walking up six flights of stairs, and learning the term “Pidgin English,” we met up with a bunch of local entrepreneurs and investors and visited an innovation hub.

We spent the day in Yaba Valley — yes, derived from Silicon Valley. Lagos’ Yaba suburb may not give off the vibe of a tech hub, but it’s home to a large concentration of startups for one simple reason: fiber-optic cable that delivers high-speed connectivity for startups such as fintech Paga who we visited on Monday.

We’ve also met up with former CIT minister-turned-VC Omobola Johnson. She’s now senior partner at TLcom Capital, a pan-Africa VC that has also set its sights on some Egyptian startups. When we’re back in Cairo, we’ll be deep-diving into her views on why Nigeria landed USD 1.8 bn in startup funding during last year, why she’s interested in Egypt, and what’s next for the Nigerian ecosystem. She also had valuable insights on how to enter the Nigerian market, if you’re a startup looking to expand here.

Crypto is huge in Nigeria, Johnson told us. Some 35% of Nigerian adults are crypto investors, equivalent to 33.4 mn people, according to a report by cryptocurrency exchange KuCoin. Peer-to-peer lending via crypto has been gaining momentum, with more than a dozen crypto companies actively operating in the space, she added.

We’ve heard more than a few inspiring stories of companies that have had real impact. Social enterprise Semicolon is a software company that trains literally anyone on how to become a software engineer, promising graduates one of three things: a job, a space in its venture studio to build your own startup for a year, or a job at Semicolon Labs, which develops software products for companies. So far, over 450 people have graduated from Semicolon’s training program, with a 98% successful placement rate. Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola (LinkedIn) founded waste management company Wecyclers, which was so successful that she was recruited by the Lagos government. LifeBank, a company conceived within the walls of Yaba’s Co-creation Hub (CcHUB), optimized the blood delivery process in Nigeria, before adding oxygen to its roster during covid.

“Don’t be the vitamin. Be the painkiller.” That’s the refrain of the good people at CcHUB in Yaba Valley. It sounds like a no-brainer, but startups need to put that at the center of their business model whether they’re looking for funding from a venture capital outfit, an incubator, or various programs and projects.

So what was that about “Pidgin English”? That’s what locals call their dialect, which is English that simply sounds different from the American or British accent, with some unusual wordplays. We loved learning about “pay small small” — which ultimately means paying for something in installments. The term is used in fintech company ads and conversations across Nigeria.

And we love nothing more than people coming into the room and instantly speaking the same language. There is a certain charm to having people from Nigeria, Kenya, and Egypt sit in one room, casually throwing around industry jargon including “hockey stick” and “BNPL” with no doubt about who means what. (We do have a soft spot for startup slang — or at least some of us do.)

Politics has a different flavor in Nigeria: The 2023 general elections are coming up, and there are banners and signs for different candidates on every lamppost and street corner. While Lagos is considered the most liberal of all cities in Nigeria, with an almost even 50-50 split of Muslims and Christians, religious slogans are everywhere. We’ve read candidate posters that say “Behold, the light will come,” and “God’s time,” for instance.



On the airwaves last night: Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy denied that Egypt is working through delayed wheat shipments, telling El Hekaya’s Amr Adib that only one cargo — a 63k ton shipment in Romania — is stuck due to shipping disruptions in the Black Sea caused by Russia’s blockade of Ukraine (watch, runtime: 4:26).

Some 300k tons of wheat booked for February and March delivery for Egypt are stranded in Ukrainian ports, traders told Reuters last week.

The CBE isn’t funding wheat imports, the minister said. Shipments are being paid for by funding obtained from the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) (watch, runtime: 3:08).

Also on the airwaves last night:

  • Monkeypox latest: There are no reported cases of monkeypox in Egypt, according to the Health Ministry, amid a global outbreak that has seen the virus spread to 15 countries. (Al Hayah Al Youm | watch, runtime: 5:11)
  • El Sisi wants more green hydro: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi told ministers to secure more investment for more green hydrogen projects. (Al Hayah Al Youm | watch, runtime: 5:38)
  • No delays at Dabaa: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has not impacted work at the USD 30 bn Dabaa nuclear power plant it is building with Russian state nuclear company Rosatom, Electricity Ministry spokesperson Ayman Hamza said. (Ala Mas’ouleety | watch, runtime: 3:48)
  • A new list of presidential pardons will be announced in the coming days, said Tarek El Kholy, a member of the Presidential Pardons Committee. (Kelma Akhira | watch, runtime: 2:37)


Leading the conversation on Egypt in the international press: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry was interviewed by several outlets on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, talking to CNBC (watch, runtime: 2:11) about the government’s response to rising inflation and soaring food prices (more on this in this morning’s What We’re Tracking Today) and the Associated Press about the upcoming COP27 climate summit.

Climate protests at COP? Shoukry also told the AP that Egypt would allow climate demonstrations during the summit despite protests being largely illegal in the country since 2013. “We are developing a facility adjacent to the conference center that will provide them the full opportunity of participation, of activism, of demonstration, of voicing that opinion,” he said. The news came on the same day that Amnesty International called on governments to press Egypt to ease restrictions on civil society groups to allow more participation in the summit.

Egypt is still the poster child of the growing global food crisis: The Wall Street Journal is out with a feature looking at the impact of rising food prices on Egyptian society, while German outlet Qantara looks at the government’s efforts to increase local wheat production.


EBRD Alex metro loan gets House approval: MPs have approved a EUR 250 mn loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to finance the conversion of the Abu Qir railway into an electrified metro line, Al Shorouk reports. The Transport Ministry signed the final agreement with the European lender in March.

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

  • Customers of the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) and its subsidiary Zero Tech will be able to purchase products on credit using valU’s buy-now pay-later service after the three companies signed a partnership agreement. (press release, pdf)
  • Former CBC owner Mohamed El Amin has been handed a three-year prison sentence and an EGP 200k fine after being found guilty of assaulting children at his orphanage. (Ahram Gate)
  • UN chief Antonio Guterres thanked President Abdel Fattah El Sisi for allowing direct flights between Cairo and Yemeni capital of Sanaa under the framework of the UN’s brokered truce in the war-torn country. (Foreign Ministry)


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The IPOs in the Gulf just won’t stop:

  • Abu Dhabi-based petrochemicals firm Borouge is set to raise some USD 2 bn in its upcoming IPO, after setting its share price at AED 2.45 (USD 0.67) a share. The company has already secured a total c.USD 570 mn worth of commitments from seven anchor investors including sovereign wealth fund ADQ, covering its books within an hour of opening. The company will offer some 3 bn existing shares — or a 10% stake — in its IPO. (Reuters)
  • Saudi Arabia’s Rawabi Energy hopes to raise up to USD 500 mn ahead of an IPO later this year, which could value the energy company at around USD 1 bn. People familiar with the matter said that Rawabi is working with New York’s Evercore on the funding, and has opened talks with potential investors. It is also talking to banks to appoint financial advisors for the sale. (Bloomberg)

The Gulf IPO market is red-hot right now thanks to surging oil prices: The region has hosted some of the biggest IPOs this year, and raised USD 4.8 bn during 1Q 2022, surpassing the European IPO market for only the second time since the global financial crisis.

NewMed Energy is making progress developing Cyprus’ Aphrodite gas field: Israeli energy company NewMed Energy and its partners at the Aphrodite gas field have agreed to “engage with a drill ship to drill the first production well,” a step which the company called “significant” in the development of the field, Reuters reported. The company did not disclose a timeline.

Why do we care? The Aphrodite field — estimated to hold up to 4.5 tn cubic feet of natural gas — could be key to Egypt’s ambitions to become a regional gas hub. Egypt and Cyprus are planning to lay a pipeline linking the field to LNG facilities on Egypt’s north coast, enabling it to export the gas to Europe and elsewhere. Flows from the field are expected to begin in 2024 or 2025.

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The EGX30 rose 0.5% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 586 mn (31.4% below the 90-day average). Regional investors were net buyers. The index is down 12.0% YTD.

In the green: Madinet Nasr Housing (+2.7%), Mopco (+1.9%) and Housing and Development Bank (+1.9%).

In the red: GB Auto (-2.8%), Fawry (-2.3%) and Ezz Steel (-1.6%).

Most indexes in Asia are in the red this morning, following US stock futures which have quickly lost momentum following yesterday’s rally. Shares in Europe are also on course to fall when markets open later this morning.


How will Egypt finance everything it needs to make Vision 2030 a reality? Speakers and participants at USAID’s Alternative Finance conference were thoroughly engaged and excited about the government’s plans to open up the economy to the private sector. But with so much to go as far as adapting to the challenges of Russian-Ukraine war, residual impact from the pandemic and meeting our Vision 2030 targets, much of the discussions revolved around how to fund these changes. Enterprise attended the event, which saw attendees including Planning Minister Hala El Saeed and Finance Minister Mohamed Maait, in addition to key private sector players and development finance partners.

They all tried to answer one question: How do we get the private sector to buy into Egypt’s development program?

The two buzzwords at the conference were “blended finance” and “crowding in”: Much was made in previous weeks on the importance of the state taking a step back from the economy, with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi mandating notherthat the private sector’s share in the economy should grow to 65% in three years from a current 30%. But this doesn’t mean the state is ceding its leadership on the economy. Instead, the state will help funnel private sector investments in the direction of Egypt’s Vision 2030 development goals. The consensus from the conference appears to be that this should be done through a mix of blended finance — think of what the state is doing with sukuks, green and development bonds — and the “crowding in” of the private sector, whereby the state’s resources drive private investment into a target sector.

Blended finance needs to focus on equity alongside — or even over and above — debt: The concept of blended finance, which is a big priority for the OECD, should involve equity mobilization, noted Paul Horrocks, Private Finance for Sustainable Development Manager at the OECD. Though debt has a key role to play in development finance, equity is also critical, Horrocks added.

So what can Egypt do to mobilize equity? A pipeline and simplified regulatory framework: By providing a pipeline of new listings, Egypt could draw more investment, Horrocks noted. While Egypt’s regulatory framework is robust, particularly compared with other emerging markets, it can sometimes be overly complex, he added.

Collaborating with DFIs and bringing local equity investors on board: There’s considerable scope to work with institutional investors — including DFIs — on development issues including gender, climate and various social sectors, and this should be a priority, Horrocks continued. Bringing local Egyptian equity investors on board is also key, he added.

Currently, 75% of investment comes from the public sector, noted Mark Ahern, the World Bank’s Lead Economist for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti. The private sector needs a better enabling environment to spur investment, Ahern added, noting that the World Bank had identified in a late-2020 report several key issues that are holding back private investment.

What does Egypt need to focus on to spur further private investment?

  • Build human capital: Building good human capital is essential for Egypt to leverage the resources available to it, said Ahern. More needs to be done in this area for Egypt to be globally competitive as a hub for investment, he noted.
  • Reduce trade barriers: Trade also needs some reform, in order to build better connections, Ahern noted. The effect of non-tariff barriers is currently a big obstacle to trade and investment in Egypt, making cross-border trade here both complicated and burdensome.
  • Increase commercial justice: There’s currently a lack of certainty and clarity when it comes to economic judicial issues, and this is a deterrent to investment, said Ahern — though he added that the World Bank had seen encouraging signs with the passing of the Bankruptcy Act some years ago.
  • Balance state and private sector involvement: State enterprises need to take a step back, to avoid competing with the private sector, Ahern said. How the state and the private sector can manage their involvement in different sectors on a more equal basis is a key issue to resolve to encourage investment, he added.

The primacy of sovereign wealth funds in the era of crowding in: Sovereign wealth funds have been playing a key role in meeting development goals, particularly since the pandemic, with funds investing 3x what their private sector counterparts do in green financing, noted Ameer Toma, senior director of Global Sovereign & Strategic Investors at Fitch. By virtue of their raison d’etre, sovereign funds take a long view and have a strong presence in highly illiquid markets, giving them the firepower to lead on driving investments in areas of developments we need.

Ultimately, it boils down to the “G” in ESG: What sovereign funds bring to the table is the governance aspects of an investment. As they interact with global funds and sit on key international organizations, they are mandated to make sure investments are run under a good governance structure, Toma added.

Banking and heritage were highlighted as success stories of how the SFE is getting crowding in” right: The Sovereign Fund of Egypt’s partnership with EFG Hermes to turn around the Arab Investment Bank before the latter’s acquisition is a good example of this leadership role, Mostafa Gad, co-head of EFG Hermes Investment Banking said. The heritage tourism sector in Egypt was another beneficiary of crowding in, with projects such as the Giza Plateau redevelopment and the Bab El Azab transformation highlighting the leadership role of sovereign funds in attracting investment in an otherwise neglected sector, said Ahmed Shaboury, CEO of Torasna for Heritage Development.

Your top green economy stories for the week:

  • Egypt outlined its national climate strategy last week. The strategy aims to reduce harmful emissions, increase investments for climate projects, and prepare the country to withstand the impact of a warming climate.
  • The SCZone will sign final agreements for green fuel projects worth USD 10 bn on the sidelines of COP27, Chairman Yehia Zaki said.
  • State-owned Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding Company plans to produce algae oil — a feedstock for biofuels — with UAE company Rega Energy.
  • Carbon capture and storage is a pathway to net zero, but it can’t get us there on its own as the technology is not yet widespread and price tags remain high.


OUR CALENDAR 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.


22-26 May (Sunday-Thursday): Davos 2022.

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

23-24 May (Monday-Tuesday): The International Conference on Alternative Financing Opportunities in Egypt … Towards Sustainable Financing for Development, Marriott Hotel, Zamalek.

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.

25-26 May: (Wednesday-Thursday): Fintech gathering FIN Expo Egypt is taking place at Intercontinental Citystars, Cairo, Egypt.

27 May-3 June (Friday-Friday): El Gouna International Squash Open 2022.

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.


1-4 June (Wednesday-Saturday): The Islamic Development Bank will hold its 2022 annual meetings in Sharm El Sheikh.

2-3 June (Thursday-Friday): Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) will hold two high-level parallel meetings on climate action and digital transformation during IsDB’s 2022 annual meetings in Sharm.

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).

7 June (Tuesday): Technology conference Tech Invest 4 will take place at the Grand Nile Hotel in Cairo.

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

18 August (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.


September: Egypt will display its first naval exhibition with the title Naval Power.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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: 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.


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


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

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


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.

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.

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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