Thursday, 26 May 2022

AM — Madbouly rolls out welcome mat for US investors in infrastructure

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

The torrent of news continues on this fine (warm) Thursday morning, and we’re loving every second of it.

Speaking of the heat: It looks very much like spring weather came to an end yesterday. The mercury is set to rise steadily from 36°C today in the capital city to 40°C by Sunday and to stay between 38-44°C as far into the future as the weather witches who run our favourite app can see.

THE BIG STORY here at home: The Madbouly is looking to attract foreign investors with major new projects. In a meeting with US and Egyptian CEOs yesterday, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said his government will launch a string of major new projects in the coming months and pledged fresh incentives to draw foreign investors into the country, according to a cabinet statement.

What’s the PM cooking up? Data centers, LNG terminals, telecom towers, oil and gas pipelines, and wind plant upgrades are all in the government’s plans, he said during a virtual meeting of the Egypt-US Business Council.

Energy is a high priority for Egypt, Madbouly said, reiterating the nation’s plan to become the premier East Mediterranean energy hub and establish new conventional and renewable power plants, he said.


MEANWHILE- Egypt’s economy grew at a 5.4% clip in 3Q 2021-2022 (the three months ending 30 March 2022) accelerating from 2.9% in the same period last year, according to figures released by the cabinet yesterday. The figure indicates that the economy continued to rebound from the covid-induced slowdown the year prior, despite rising inflation and the commodity price shock exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Growth in the January-March period slowed notably from the first two quarters of the fiscal year, which began on 1 July 2021. The economy expanded by 9.8% in 1Q and 8.3% in 2Q. It’s not just about Ukraine: The slowdown in 3Q reflects stronger growth in the corresponding quarter last year, versus the first two quarters of the year whose GDP figures were magnified by a strong base effect.

Full-year outlook upgraded: The government has revised upwards its 2021-2022 growth outlook to 6.2% on the back of the figures. The Planning Ministry had in March cut its full-year forecast to 5.7% due to the war.


WAIT, WAIT — there’s more: Egypt’s official COP27 website will launch in the coming days, cabinet said yesterday. The announcement comes almost two weeks after Egypt unveiled the logo for the upcoming COP27 conference, which will take place in Sharm El Sheikh in November.

Also on the sustainability front: The US Securities and Exchange Commission (essentially their version of our FRA) has proposed new disclosure and naming requirements for ESG funds in what the Wall Street Journal says is “an effort address concerns about ‘greenwashing’ by asset managers seeking higher fees.” Not surprisingly the industry is split on the proposed requirements, with money managers saying the rules will drive up their costs — and force them to pass that on to their investors.

WATCH THIS SPACE #1It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood (with apologies to Mr. Rogers). Two aides to US President Joe Biden are on a secret visit to Saudi Arabia for talks on raising oil production, improving ties between Washington and Riyadh, and an agreement between Egypt, KSA and Israel that could pave the way for an unprecedented normalization of relations between Riyadh and Tel Aviv, Axios reported, citing three current and former US officials.

Biden could be in Riyadh next month: The trip comes ahead of a potential visit by Biden to the kingdom at the end of June. Sources say that the two countries need to reach an understanding on all three issues if the president is to visit the country.

What has this got to do with us? Axios reported on Tuesday that the Biden administration is working with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to finalize the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, a move that it believes could lead to a normalization of ties between Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

This comes as we continue to deepen economic ties with Israel, particularly on transforming Egypt into the Eastern Med’s premier energy hub. (See related story at the top of this morning’s news well, below.)

Meanwhile, MbS is reportedly looking at pulling off his first regional tour since 2018, with whistle stops in Cairo, Amman, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.

Wait, there’s more: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu became the first Turkish minister to visit Israel in 15 years yesterday, traveling to Jerusalem for talks with his Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, Axios reports. The two agreed to revive a joint economic committee and launch talks on a civil aviation agreement, but stopped short of announcing a return of ambassadors as Turkey had reportedly hoped.


WATCH THIS SPACE #2- Egypt + Qatar ties are growing: Acting Health Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar discussed investment opportunities in the health sector with his Qatari counterpart Hanan Mohamed Al-Kuwari, on the sidelines of the 75th session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva. (Arab News)

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

It’s the final day of Davos 2022:Sombre,” “apocalyptic,” and “uncertain” are just some of the words describing this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) as the event wraps today. War, food shortages, debt crises, economic uncertainty and climate change have dominated discussions at the elite gathering. And underlining the concerns about a deglobalizing world economy, journos are starting to question the future of the WEF in a rapidly changing world. The UK seems more than happy to help push Davos into irrelevance, and is apparently plotting a rival summit of its own.

Here’s just a sample of the ominous forecasts coming out of Switzerland:

  • Global recession incoming? World Bank chief David Malpass warned yesterday that the spillover effects from the war in Ukraine could tip the global economy into recession. (And a gentle reminder, dear reader, that we’re so far looking at slower growth here in Omm El Donia, not at a shrinking economy.) (Reuters)
  • WTO warns of extended food shortages: The global food crisis could be with us until 2024 if Ukrainian wheat exports don’t resume, World Trade Organization chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said. (The Guardian)
  • The EU is warning of mass migration the longer this goes on: Food shortages could trigger a new wave of migration towards Europe, EU Commission VP Margaritis Schinas said, warning that it is “not going to be so manageable [than Ukrainians fleeing to Europe], it’s going to be more messy.” (Bloomberg)
  • Global corporate tax plans face delay: The introduction of the OECD-brokered agreement to introduce global corporate tax rules has been pushed back a year, according to OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann, who said that “difficult discussions” were being had over its implementation. It’s now not expected to kick in until at least 2024. (FT)

ON THE WEF AGENDA TODAY: Trade, press freedoms, food technology and the metaverse are all up for discussion, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian will give special addresses.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

The Madbouly government will hold public consultations on its privatization plans over three months, according to a cabinet statement. “We as a government are ready to hear all opinions and approaches because our objective is the interest of the country and the advancement of the economy,” PM Moustafa Madbouly said at a Cabinet meeting.

PSA- Companies have another month to bid for the government’s PPP schools program: The Finance Ministry has extended the deadline for receiving bids from private sector companies to build and operate schools under its public-private partnership (PPP) schools program to 26 June, instead of 25 May, Al Mal quoted Ater Hanoura, head of the Finance Ministry’s Private Partnership Unit, as saying.

** Amcham AGM: Our friends at Amcham are hosting their annual general meeting on Sunday, 29 May at the St. Regis Cairo Hotel. Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir will give a guest speech.

The Fin Expo Egypt is kicking off tomorrow and will run until Thursday at the Intercontinental Citystars. The expo will feature over 25 companies exhibiting their fintech products and services with 3k visitors expected.

El Gouna International Squash Open 2022 will kick off on Friday and run until the following Friday, 3 June. The competition will feature some of Egypt’s top seeds including world #1 Nouran Gohar and world #2 Ali Farag (who just earned the PSA squash championship cup). The prize pool for each of the men’s and women’s competitions is USD 180k.

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

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ENERGY

Egypt, Cyprus to break ground on gas pipeline this year -El Molla

Construction of the pipeline connecting Cyprus’ Aphrodite natural gas field to Egypt will begin by the end of the year, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla told Bloomberg Asharq yesterday at the World Economic Forum (WEF). The planned pipeline will allow natural gas from the field — estimated to hold as much as 4.5 tn cubic feet of natural gas — to flow to Egypt’s liquefaction facilities at Idku and Damietta for processing and shipment onward to Europe and elsewhere as liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The pipeline is expected to be up and running by 2025, El Molla said, adding that both countries’ parliaments have signed off on the plan. That’s just about what the industry expected: Gas flows from the field had been projected to start by 2024 or 2025.

Who’s involved? Israeli energy company NewMed Energy and Chevron are developing the Aphrodite gas field in partnership with Shell. We don’t yet know which companies are being brought on board to build the pipeline itself. NewMed and Chevron which are also the joint developers of the two Israeli gas fields that already supply our LNG plants.

The project is more important than ever in light of the war in Ukraine: The east Mediterranean could become one of the EU’s most important sources of natural gas in the coming years as it looks to wind down imports of Russian gas, which currently provide 40% of the bloc’s consumption. In a plan released last week, the EU said it will invest EUR 12 bn in pipelines and LNG facilities to increase gas supplies from other producers such as Egypt and Israel.

Egypt is on board: “We have ambitious plans to coordinate with neighboring eastern Mediterranean countries on meeting the increased demand from the EU — and the world — for LNG over the next few years,” El Molla said. The minister said earlier this week that Egypt will be in a position to increase exports to Europe in the next two or three years.

We’ve been working to boost our energy ties with our neighbors for some time: The Cairo-based East Mediterranean Gas Forum brings Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Italy and France together to work on developing regional gas assets. The Madbouly government also late last year signed agreements with Greece and Israel laying the groundwork to up import and re-export volumes.

Rising summer consumption curbs exports: Egypt is currently exporting around 1 bn cubic feet of LNG per day — down from exports of 1.6 bn cubic feet per day back in December, when the Idku and Damietta LNG plants were running at maximum capacity. Shipments had been expected to fall to 1 bcf/d by this summer due to rising domestic consumption.

We won’t raise LNG exports back to last year’s levels for some time: The government plans to bring exports back up to 1.5 bcf/d over the next couple of years, El Molla said yesterday.

And some projects to add capacity have been delayed: Plans to develop some local refineries have been pushed back to FY 2023-2024, El Molla said, without clarifying which projects he was referring to.

BUDGET WATCH

Next year’s budget remains “tentative,” Madbouly tells MPs

Gov’t responds to MP reservations about budget allocations: MPs now reviewing the draft FY 2022-2023 state budget should view the spending plan as “tentative” as global conditions continue to shift the goalposts, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said in a meeting with the chairs of the House of Representatives’ 25 committees on Tuesday. The meeting — which several members of cabinet also attended — came after MPs raised eyebrows last week at earmarks for food subsidies and the social safety net in particular, with some arguing they should be expanded.

This is already a revised budget: “By mid-February, we had already prepared a budget that we were ready to present to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, but we were forced to revise it after war broke out in Ukraine on 24 February,” Madbouly said. “It’s already the case that the current budget is completely different from the original pre-war draft.” Madbouly had directed the Finance Ministry in March to rethink the budget to “reassess priorities,” particularly as key commodity prices were soaring globally on the back of the war.

The revised budget focuses primarily on shielding the most vulnerable from the economic fallout of the war, including deciding against slashing bread subsidies or dramatically raising the price of fuel, the PM said. The government’s fuel pricing committee raised prices by around 3% last month, despite Brent prices rising 40% in 1Q2022. The committee is able to move the price of fuel up or down 10% at the beginning of each quarter.

Balancing social security against the budget deficit: Civil servants got their 8% annual raises as of the beginning of April, ahead of the regular schedule that would have seen them receive raises in July, Madbouly pointed out. The move was part of a stimulus package to mitigate the impact of the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) decision to raise interest rates for the first time in five years and the simultaneous c. 16% slide of the EGP against the greenback. “The salary increases are a type of social protection that we didn’t sacrifice, even though they put a lot of pressure on the budget,” Madbouly said.

Reducing our debt-to-GDP ratio also remains a priority: “I know that many MPs voiced their concerns over what they described as an ‘alarming’ rise in our foreign debt levels and have suggested trimming our borrowing,” Madbouly said. The state budget aims to bring down the debt-to-GDP ratio to 84% for the next fiscal year, and to 75% over the next four years, “even though this is not an easy goal, considering unfavorable global conditions.”

And resilience is the name of the (long) game: The government’s priority right now is ensuring the economy remains resilient in the face of global economic shock and shoring up basic commodity supplies to avoid any food shortages. “We don’t know when this war will end, but as per President El Sisi’s directions, we’re doing our best to secure strategic reserves of basic commodities to last 4-6 months,” Madbouly said.

WHAT’S NEXT- Expect Planning Minister Hala El Said and Finance Minister Mohamed Maait to sit in on House committee discussions of the budget to respond to MPs’ questions as they wade through the spending plan before signing off.

Need a refresher on the full budget process? We’ve got you covered with our explainer.

M&A WATCH

Qatari dairy outfit Baladna ups its stake in Juhayna

Baladna buys more JUFO shares: Qatari dairy firm Baladna raised its stake in EGX-listed dairy company Juhayna to 10.14% from 9.99% in a EGP 12.4 mn transaction, according to a disclosure (pdf) to the EGX yesterday. The firm bought a total of 1.4 mn shares in Juhayna, at an average price of EGP 8.85 per share.

Baladna paid more for Juhayna shares this time around: The average share price in yesterday’s transaction is almost 50% more than what Baladna paid to acquire a 5% stake in Juhayna less than three months ago, marking its entry to Juhayna. The Qatari firm bought 47.1 mn shares in Juhayna for EGP 285.8 mn in March, at an average price per share of EGP 6.07. The Doha-listed firm has continued to up its stake since then, reaching 9.99%, before announcing its latest purchase yesterday.

Baladna is the company’s third-largest shareholder: Pharon Investment — an offshore vehicle owned by the Thabet family — owns 50.1%, and Al-Rashed’s Dubai-domiciled Rimco Investments holds 10.6%.

This comes on the back of a strong 2021 for Juhayna: The firm reported a 23% increase in profits in 2021 on strong sales growth.

OTHER M&A NEWS-

UK’s DPI wants a piece of Kazyon: The UK’s Development Partners International (DPI) is in talks to acquire a minority stake in Tawfeer for Food Products — the parent company of supermarket chain Kazyon — Al Mal reports, citing sources it says are in the know. The company is also reportedly getting interest from other unnamed investors. Kazyon is led by former EFG Hermes CEO Hassan Heikal.

EIPICO could bring a sibling firm under its umbrella: Egyptian International Pharma Industries Company’s (EIPICO) board has approved the start of procedures to potentially acquire a 99.9% stake in Upper Egypt Pharma (UP Pharma), EIPICO said in an EGX disclosure (pdf). Both firms are owned by the Arab Company for Drug Industries and Medical Appliances (ACDIMA).

INVESTMENT WATCH

Lots of fresh investment in food, pharma and alumium

Yesterday was a particularly busy day for mid-sized investment news spanning industries from pharma to food and aluminum. Here’s the rundown:

Egypt Otsuka plans USD 30 mn factory: The local unit of Japanese pharma company Otsuka plans to invest USD 30 mn in a new factory to produce nutritional supplements and health drinks, the cabinet said in a statement yesterday. Otsuka Egypt will export its products to GCC countries and Africa and will also sell here on the domestic market.

EGP 500 mn aluminum factory in the works: A consortium of Egypt’s Octa International and Saudi Olayan Group’s Aluminum Products Company (ALUPCO) signed an MoU with the National Organization for Military Production to build an EGP 500 mn aluminum factory, a cabinet statement read. Per the MoU, Olayan will put up the full investment cost and finance the raw materials and operating equipment, as well as take responsibility for the factory’s construction. Octa is an arm of the Kasrawy family’s Dunes Capital Group. It says it will source the raw materials and develop, market and distribute the products. The military-affiliated authority will provide the labor and land for the factory, and contribute to its management, operation and maintenance.

Snackmaker Lorenz to invest EGP 200 mn in Egypt: German snack food maker Lorenz Snack-World plans to invest EGP 200 mn in Egypt between 2023 and 2026, Al Mal reports, citing sources it says are in the know. The company has set up an Egyptian arm — Lorenz Snack World Egypt — and at one point owned a factory in Port Said that has since been sold, the sources said. The company is looking to sell its products in the local market and use Egypt as an export hub for the GCC and Africa.

Dairy producer Milkys will spend EGP 400 mn on a new factory, CEO and Managing Director Hany Kamel told Al Mal. The dairy producer said around EGP 200 mn would be invested initially, and a further EGP 200 mn will be spent in a later phase. The company plans to import around 3k cows, bringing its total number of cows to 7k.

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TOURISM

Egypt moves up ranking of World Economic Forum tourism index

We’ve moved up the World Economic Forum’s tourism index: Egypt has moved up six spots in the WEF’s Travel & Tourism Development Index 2021 (pdf) to rank 51st of 117 countries.

The ranking makes us the second-most improved country, as well as the highest-ranked African nation, and fifth-highest in the Middle East. The last time the forum published the list was in 2019.

What exactly does the ranking mean? The list measures “the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable and resilient development of the travel and tourism sector, which in turn contributes to the development of a country,” the WEF says. The ranking takes into account factors including the business environment for tourism firms, price competitiveness, infrastructure, demand drivers, and environmental sustainability.

Elsewhere in the region: The UAE ranked 25th in the WEF’s list and first in the Middle East, followed by Saudi Arabia, which jumped 10 places to come in 33rd, Qatar (43rd) and Israel (47th).

STARTUP WATCH

Wellness startup Esaal closes USD 3 mn seed round

Health and wellness platform Esaal has raised USD 1.7 mn from A15, the startup said in a press release (pdf). The funding marks the final tranche of Esaal’s USD 3 mn seed round, which has been funded entirely by the VC, company CEO and founder Fadi Doss told Enterprise.

About Esaal: Founded in 2018 by Doss (LinkedIn), the company offers clients remote health consultations with some 350 medical professionals in physical health, mental health, and nutrition. Clients can book sessions through its website and app and pay through Fawry, Vodafone Cash, and by credit card.

The company had a solid 2021: The startup’s revenues grew 250% last year, while new users were up 55%, according to the release.

It’s active in eight markets in the Middle East: Esaal operates in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Palestine and Iraq, Doss told us.

And it’s targeting more: The company wants to eventually build a presence in every country in the MENA region, Doss said.

Where the money is going: The startup will use the fresh capital for brand, business, and product development, Doss said, adding that it hopes to add new features including mental health ins.

Esaal wants to address the gap in mental health services: “Our main concern was that a lot of people want to talk about their mental health and wellness, [but] they are still afraid to take action” and seek professional help, Doss told Enterprise. “We thought: Why not create a platform that would put users in touch with medical experts who will take the issue seriously?”

DEBT WATCH

valU to sell EGP 700 mn of securitized bonds in 2Q 2022

valU is planning to issue EGP 700 mn in securitized bonds in a single tranche in 2Q 2022 as part of its EGP 2 bn securitization program, CEO Walid Hassouna told us. This is EGP 200 mn more than previously reported. The company kicked off the program in September with a EGP 323 mn bond issuance.

EARNINGS WATCH

Earnings: EFG Hermes, Contact Financial, Elsewedy Electric report strong 1Q 2022 results

EFG Hermes’ net income rose 18% y-o-y to EGP 345 mn in 1Q 2022, the bank said in its earning release (pdf) yesterday. Revenues were up 55% y-o-y to EGP 1.9 bn.

Revenue growth was underpinned by a strong quarter for EFG’s core businesses despite a challenging operating environment. Top line growth was driven by the inclusion of revenues from commercial bank aiBank — in which EFG acquired a controlling stake late last year — and solid performance at EFG’s investment banking and non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs). Revenues from the group’s investment bank rose 12% y-o-y to EGP 901 mn. NBFI revenues grew 34% y-o-y to EGP 601 mn, driven by microfinance platform Tanmeyah, consumer finance subsidiary valU, and the bank’s factoring business. Growth in core businesses more than offset a 24% y-o-y drop in revenue generated by holding and treasury activity.

aiBank + inflation push up operating costs: Group operating expenses were up 49% y-o-y to EGP 1.2 bn, driven by the consolidation of aiBank’s operating costs and higher marketing spend at valU, which recently attracted investment from Amazon. Expenses at the group’s investment banking platform rose 16% to EGP 569 mn, largely because of inflationary pressures.

More GCC + NBFI expansion ahead: “In the quarters to come, we will continue to focus on garnering more opportunities in the GCC and cementing our foothold there in the investment bank space,” EFG Group CEO Karim Awad said in a press release (pdf). “At the same time, our NBFI platform will continue to grow as our BNPL player valU expands its operations and Tanmeyah continues to deliver solid revenues. ”


Elsewedy Electric’s net income was up 9% y-o-y to EGP 760.9 mn in 1Q 2022, according to the company’s latest earnings release (pdf). Revenues rose 51% y-o-y to EGP 18.6 bn. The company attributed the jump in revenues to growth in its turnkey projects as well as its wires and cables segments, where new awards and higher pricing in response to inflationary pressures were reflected in its top line.

The wires and cables segment accounted for half of all revenues, rising 48% y-o-y to EGP 9.3 bn. Turnkey projects brought in EGP 7.6 bn or 41% of all revenues, up 66% y-o-y.

Elsewedy is navigating the global rise in raw materials: Shortages in raw materials and cargo ships “remain an issue,” but one the group is mitigating by redesigning products and placing larger advance orders from suppliers.

What they said: “I consider our strategic efforts towards geographic and operational diversification as a major contributor to our ability to navigate the latest exchange rates’ movement and its related effect on our financials,” said CEO Ahmed Elsewedy. The company is focused on contingency planning as market volatility and uncertainty continues amid the war in Ukraine and rising global inflation, he added.


Contact Financial Holding’s net income jumped 40% y-o-y to EGP 154 mn in 1Q 2022, the company said in a press release (pdf) yesterday. Net income from Contact’s financing business rose 46% y-o-y to EGP 141 mn, which the company attributed to “growing demand across the division’s consumer finance, mortgage and commercial vehicles products.” Contact’s ins. income grew 39% y-o-y, adding EGP 18 mn to its bottom line.

New loan products helped push the company’s growth: Contact saw a near five-fold increase in new consumer finance, driven by growth in home interior, club membership, and education financing. The company’s mobile app also gained more traction, with total downloads growing 35% q-o-q to reach 105k.

Looking ahead, Contact plans to invest ‘innovatively’ + enhance its digital presence: “We will continue to survey the market for innovative opportunities to invest in as we look for new ways of serving our expanding audience, and continue to transform the way consumers and businesses access financial services,” said management.

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LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Planned public consultations on the state’s privatization strategy got the talking heads talking last night — one day after Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said his government would seek opinions from stakeholders over a period of three months before signing off on the plans. Salet El Tahrir (watch, runtime: 23:55) and Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 2:04) had coverage, among others.

Privatization is good for the budget: Economist Mostafa Badra told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Mohamed Sherdy (watch, runtime: 5:27) that opening up the economy to the private sector will boost public finances, lower the budget deficit, prevent further hikes, and support the EGP. Badra was referring to the draft state ownership policy document obtained by the press last week, which would see the government withdraw from as many as 79 industries over the next three years.

Another state-owned company is set to be axed: That’s according to Public Enterprise Minister Hisham Tawfik, who told Salet El Tahir’s Azza Mostafa that the ministry will soon announce which company will be wound down (watch, runtime: 23:55). Compensation for workers has already been worked out, he said, remaining tight-lipped on the details.

Three loss-making state-owned enterprises have been liquidated over the past four years, the latest being Egyptian Iron and Steel in 2021. The National Cement Company (NCM) and the Egyptian Navigation Company (NNC) were also wound down in 2018 and 2020, respectively after suffering bns of EGP in losses.

Tawfik is crossing his fingers for no further liquidations: “We hope we don’t see any liquidations [after that]. Any company that is not able to turn profitable within three years will be liquidated,” he said.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

COP27 dominates the conversation in the foreign press this morning: Egypt will remain impartial at this year’s summit to help mediate between developing and developed countries to reach a consensus on climate finance pledges, Wael Aboulmagd, special representative of COP27 president Sameh Shoukry, told Reuters. He reiterated Shoukry’s pledge earlier this week to allow climate activists to protest at the venue. "There are certain rules and we're working with the secretariat to ensure that if there are people who want to protest, they're entitled to do that, and it's done in a peaceful manner," he said.

Al Mashat + Maait talk COP: International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat and Finance Minister Mohamed Maait talked to the Guardian about Egypt’s plans for the summit.

  • Al Mashat emphasized the importance of bringing in the private sector to contribute to the process, and said that the government’s focus for COP27 would be on implementing the pledges that haven’t been acted on. “For us, what we want this COP to be about is moving from pledges to implementation. And we want to highlight what are the practical policies and practices, the processes that can actually push the pledges [into action], to bridge that gap.”
  • Maait said that Egypt would push for commitments to simultaneously provide debt relief for the developing world and build climate resilience. “Most developing countries are in debt. Can we do something to engage those countries? Can we reduce this burden and assist them towards net zero?,” he said, reiterating calls for rich nations to step up funding to help the global south combat climate change.

ENTERPRISE ON THE ROAD

Goodbye, Lagos — it’s been phenomenal. In a few hours, we’ll be heading back on a six-hour flight to Omm El Donia, with the adrenaline of the past four days slowly dialing down, giving us time to process what we have experienced — and add all those new connections to our LinkedIn profiles. It’s been a whirlwind of meetings, chapmans (refresher: the local go-to drink), beautiful people, spicy food, inspiring stories, lessons learned, and relationships built.

If there was one word to describe this trip, it would be vibrant. The energy of the local startup scene is contagious, and we now understand why many stakeholders told us that Nigerians are inherently entrepreneurial.

On our last day, our dedicated host Tomi Davies put together a reception for us with angel investors and local startups (pictured above). And again, we’ve met some inspiring people. One of them is Yemi Keri (LinkedIn), cofounder of The Rising Tide. Keri was able to pool together 87 investors to build an angel investors network — and here’s the interesting part: they’re all women. So far, they’ve invested USD 1.8 mn in 28 startups. We also met startup celebrity Iyinoluwa Aboyeji (aka E — LinkedIn), who was a cofounder of two of Nigeria’s poster children: fintech Flutterwave and job placement network Andela. Today, he is the founder and GP of the Future Africa fund.

Lagos and Cairo seem to be very much “same, same, but different” — at least that is how our trip companions feel. “The energy levels have been really, really high; people have been super nice and expressive. That feels very much like home,” CEO of the Cairo Angels Syndicate Fund (CASF) Aly Shalakany — and trip organizer — said. The streets never sleep, and the people we’ve met in the tech space are a reflection of that, he added. Adham Azzam, CEO and cofounder of fintech startup Balad, agreed, adding that “things here move very fast.”

…which led some of us wonder whether expanding into Nigeria may make more sense for Egyptian startups than expanding into the GCC. Given similar market dynamics, the expansion of Egyptian startups into Nigeria and Africa in general may be more successful than moving to the East, CEO and founder of Nawaah Scientific Omar Shoukry tells us. Especially in the life sciences space, Shoukry believes that there is a greater need and opportunity in Nigeria than Dubai, for instance.

And fintech seems to be the biggest player in Nigeria at this point in time. “Every second billboard is that of a fintech company,” Azzam tells us.

We’ve also noticed that a lot of founders and investors were part of the Nigerian diaspora. Based on our conversations with local stakeholders, we’ve realized that a lot of the active players and entrepreneurs are Nigerians who had either lived abroad or studied in another country, and decided to come back to help move their country forward through either building a company or funding startups.

But building a company seems to be more challenging in Nigeria than Egypt, mainly due to problems in the traditional infrastructure. (Almost) every building in Lagos has a generator, which is operated at least 3-4 hours a day, due to frequent power cuts. Moreover, a lot of neighborhoods in Lagos don’t have access to water, which is why they dig boreholes accompanied by micro-desalination plants, locals tell us. That makes it a lot easier to build a company in Cairo than Lagos, Shalakany suggests.

What can we learn from Lagos? Definitely hustling. “The market in Nigeria is much more competitive [than Cairo], and a lot of the founders here know that they have a tough journey ahead,” Shalakany says. Since the volume of startup funding to Nigeria is crazy, competition is very high, which pushes for higher quality products and services — and pushes people to work harder.

And maybe that purely digital solutions are not necessarily … solutions, especially in the fintech space. “Here, every fintech company has a hybrid model,” Azzam says. Having a business model that combines on-ground activities and physical solutions, while also providing the digital solution allows for larger market penetration, he adds.

Lastly, there was one narrative that kept repeating itself: building Africa. Whether we were talking to entrepreneurs or investors, almost everyone was aligned on a continent-wide objective, as opposed to a country-focused one. Davies summed it up beautifully at yesterday’s reception, saying: “We are building Africa — profitably and impactfully.”

Big final thanks Davies and his team at TVC Labs: Mayowa and Segun Ojuri (along with their nine-month old son and his grandmother, who also accompanied us on our trips through Lagos). They allowed us meet the maximum number of people in such a limited time and made sure everything ran smoothly. They were even kind enough to welcome us at the airport with a WiFi modem so that we could tell our folks back home we’d landed safely.

Over the next weeks, we’ll be publishing in-depth analysis of the conversations we’ve had in our What’s Next vertical. And in case you’ve missed some our travel logs this week, catch up on them here: Enterprise is visiting Planet Startup — in Nigeria | Day one | Day two | Day three.

CORRECTION- In our coverage of day one in Lagos, we’ve mistakenly referred to Victoria Island as Virginia Island. The mistake has since been corrected on our website.

PLANET FINANCE

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Two more 50-bps Fed rate hikes coming up? That’s what the newly-released minutes (pdf) from the Federal Reserve’s May meeting suggest. In its 3-4 May meeting, the central bank went ahead with its biggest hike since 2000 raising rates by 50 bps in a bid to quell soaring inflation. Minutes from the meeting released yesterday shows that officials expected to have to deliberately slow economic growth in order to combat inflation. “Most participants judged that 50-bps increases in the target range would likely be appropriate at the next couple of meetings,” the minutes said. “A restrictive stance of policy may well become appropriate depending on the evolving economic outlook.” The minutes also showed members agreeing to a plan starting 1 June to start unwinding the central bank’s USD 9 tn of treasuries and mortgage bonds on its balance sheet.

ALSO IN PLANET FINANCE-

  • Russia is now officially on the brink of its first debt default since the 1990s, after the US officially decided to close a loophole that has allowed Moscow to continue paying coupons on its foreign bonds despite sweeping sanctions. (US Treasury)
  • The Chinese economy could contract this quarter as the country struggles with covid-19 lockdowns that have shuttered some of the country’s most important commercial hubs, Prime Minister Li Keqiang warned yesterday. (FT)
  • Aramco eyes Valvoline unit: Saudi oil giant Aramco has shown interest in buying motor oil and lubricant producer Valvoline’s retail-services unit, people familiar with the matter said. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Turkey drafts bill to regulate crypto: Turkey is drafting legislation to impose tighter regulations on the crypto market, sources say. The proposals could reportedly include requiring global cryptocurrency platforms to open tax-able branches in Turkey. (Bloomberg)

Down

EGX30

10,247

-1.6% (YTD: -14.2%)

Down

USD (CBE)

Buy 18.55

Sell 18.63

Down

USD at CIB

Buy 18.57

Sell 18.63

None

Interest rates CBE

11.25% deposit

12.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

12,589

+2.3% (YTD: +11.6%)

Up

ADX

9,559

+0.9% (YTD: +12.6%)

None

DFM

3,258

0.0% (YTD: +1.9%)

Up

S&P 500

3,979

+1.0% (YTD: -16.5%)

Up

FTSE 100

7,523

+0.5% (YTD: +1.9%)

Up

Euro Stoxx 50

3,677

+0.8% (YTD: -14.5%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 114.50

+0.8%

Up

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 8.97

+2.0%

Down

Gold

USD 1,852.50

-1.0%

Up

BTC

USD 29,766

+0.7% (YTD: -35.6%)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell 1.6% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 694 mn (18.3% below the 90-day average). Arab investors were net buyers. The index is down 14.2% YTD.

In the red: GB Auto (-10.7%), MM Group (-7.9%) and Ibn Sina Pharma (-6.5%).

MY MORNING ROUTINE

Håkan Emsgård, Swedish ambassador to Egypt: Each week, My Morning Routine looks at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Håkan Emsgård, the Kingdom of Sweden’s ambassador to Egypt.

My name is Håkan Emsgård, I’m 61 years old, and I’m the Swedish ambassador to Egypt — a post I’ve held for a little less than a year. Prior to coming to Cairo, I was the head of the Foreign Ministry’s European department back in Stockholm, I served as Sweden’s ambassador to the Netherlands, and I’ve worked at the Finance Ministry and at an international financial institution. Altogether, that’s my professional background.

The basis of my job as the ambassador is to promote relations between Sweden and Egypt across all fields. Our relations are very good as it already stands: We work together on political, economic, and cultural issues. If you look back in history, there have been a lot of links between the two countries. Our royal family has been very engaged over the years in archaeological research — we have a Swedish-Egyptian archaeological mission that visited Egypt last autumn, and this is something we’ve been doing for many years but it deserves more attention than it has received.

Perhaps the focus at the moment is to boost our economic relations; there’s a strong interest now among Swedish companies in coming to invest in Egypt, particularly in sectors like energy, where Egypt has the ambition of becoming a regional hub. For example, a Swedish company is involved in the Egypt-Saudi electricity interconnection project, and there are plans to set up similar links with Greece and Cyprus so it’s very interesting for us to be partnering on that.

Where I really see a bright future for our relations is the health sector. Egypt’s introduction of its universal healthcare scheme creates lots of windows in the whole health sector. On the pharma side of things, AstraZeneca is already a very active partner to the Egyptian government, but we also have another company called Elekta that produces radiotherapy equipment. They’re now opening a regional office in Cairo to serve the region with this high-tech equipment. So I think this is an exciting way of bringing new, modern technology to Egypt — and it means that there won’t just be an investment but also the transfer and knowhow and technology from the company to Egyptian workers and the local market.

I’m lucky in the sense that I live very close to my office — about 100 meters [laughs] — so I can wake up relatively late. We usually start our day at the office at 9am, starting with a small internal meeting to go through our calendars and see what events are on the agenda. I also follow the news both in Egypt and in Sweden to make sure I’m updated on current events, so I read the Financial Times, New York Times, and the Economist. It’s important to know what’s going on in the region too with the political and economic situation. I often have lots of contact throughout my days — whether at lunches or other meetings — with Swedish companies and Egyptian authorities to sort out cooperation and troubleshoot issues.

We’re also working on becoming more active in the cultural world, so sometimes we have small events to promote Swedish films, writers, and the sort, which I think is important. My wife has been visiting, so we make it a point to have lunch together everyday here at the residence to spend time together, and then sometimes she is able to join me in my evening obligations.

I just experienced my first Ramadan and I realized that it’s a month during which you gain weight, rather than lose it [laughs]. But I really enjoyed the experience and the atmosphere, particularly the iftar gatherings with lots of food.

My days are often pretty long, because there are typically functions in the evening and often I have more than one invitation on the same day. I try to make a judgment call on where I can give and benefit the most to prioritize that invitation.

I like to wind down by reading. I read a lot about Egypt and particularly its historical developments. That includes ancient history but also modern history; fiction is also an important tool to help understand the culture. People’s mentality and how they think is often best portrayed in fictional works.

I’ve really enjoyed traveling around Egypt. My wife and I recently traveled to Aswan; we did the traditional Nile cruise and spent time at the famous Old Cataract Hotel. It was a wonderful experience and I hope I’m able to take more of these types of trips.

The biggest piece of advice I would give to somebody entering the diplomatic corps would be to have a little bit of patience with each new post. Take the time to formulate your own understanding and feelings for the job to figure out what’s going to work and what you can do. You have to reach your own conclusions about a lot of things, and once you do, trust your own judgment.

CALENDAR

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.

MAY

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

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.

29 May (Sunday): AmCham holds its AGM, St. Regis Cairo Hotel.

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

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): EU-Egypt Sustainable Food Value Chain conference, Grand Nile Tower Hotel, Cairo.

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.

26 June (Sunday): 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.

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

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.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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