Sunday, 29 May 2022

AM — It’s shaping up to be a big week for FDI.
Plus: What you’re entitled to if you made a downpayment on a car before the float.

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to yet another blockbuster morning for business news. It’s a morning that we think sets up another very busy week, with the Madbouly government’s privatization strategy and a possible investment pact with the UAE being the two most-anticipated developments on which we’ll be keeping an eye. Let’s start with that, shall we?

WATCH THIS SPACE #1- Are we going to see the government’s privatization strategy in full this week? The Madbouly government is supposed to be publishing this week its state ownership policy, a document that outlines how it plans to withdraw from certain areas of the economy. An early version obtained by the press this month showed that the state is aiming to fully phase out its activities in as many as 79 industries — and gradually introduce more private sector involvement in another 45. The strategy comes as part of the government’s plan to double the private sector’s share of the economy over the next three years.

WATCH THIS SPACE #2- Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly is in Abu Dhabi today to launch a new industrial partnership with the UAE and Jordan that should unlock fresh FDI according to a cabinet statement. We have more details on the PM’s visit in the news well, below.

WATCH THIS SPACE #3- Taxpayers will get a partial waiver on late fees provided they pay their taxes before 30 June under legislation being drafted by the Finance Ministry, according to a cabinet statement. The bill would waive a portion of interest payments and late fees on overdue income tax, VAT, stamp duty, and development fees, it said.

This isn’t the first time cabinet has forgiven late payment fees: A previous iteration of the bill in 2020 saw the state waive 100% of late fees if taxes were settled before a set deadline — and break on fees thereafter depending on whether the taxes were paid within 60, 120, or 180 days of the deadline.

PSA #1- EGX-listed companies have until Tuesday to file their 1Q 2022 earnings. The FRA extended its 45-days from end-of-quarter deadline because of Eid El Fitr.

PSA #2- Expect your American colleagues to be quiet today and tomorrow as they observe Memorial Day (which doubles as the unofficial “start of summer” in the US of A).

CLOSER TO HOME- We have one month to go before our next long weekend, which falls on Thursday, 30 June as we observe the anniversary of the 30 June Revolution.

PSA #3- AmCham’s annual general meeting and luncheon with Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir has been postponed. The folks at AmCham hope to have a new date shortly.

PSA #4- People suffering from chronic illnesses will not be granted visas to perform the hajj this year to protect their health, Social Solidarity Minister Nevine El Kabbaj told MBC Masr (watch, runtime: 7:27) on Wednesday.

There are fewer visas to go around: Egypt has been allocated only a quarter of the hajj visas it got before the pandemic, El Kabbaj said.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

IN THE HOUSE- The Senate will reconvene today to discuss the government’s economic and social development plan for the coming fiscal year, Ahram Online reports. If approved by the Senate, the report will be referred to the House of Representatives.

ON THE COURT- El Gouna International Squash Open 2022 continues today and wraps this 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 took home the PSA squash championship cup). The prize pool for each of the men’s and women’s competitions is USD 180k.

HAPPENING THIS WEEK-

You can expect lots and lots of talk about sustainable development and COP27 as the Islamic Development Bank holds its 2022 annual meetings in Sharm El Sheikh. We’ll be swinging by the gathering, so look for coverage later this week and early next.

WATCH THIS SPACE-

Monkeypox is not the new covid (yet) — but the government is covering its bases just in case. The Health Ministry wants to secure raw materials to manufacture monkeypox meds and import testing kits to detect the virus, Acting Health Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar told Ala Mas’ouleety last week (watch, runtime: 2:40:11).

WHO warns outbreak could be “peak of the iceberg”: “We don’t know if we are just seeing the peak of the iceberg [or] if there are many more cases that are undetected in communities,” a senior World Health Organization official said during a briefing Friday, according to AFP. The global health body has so far detected almost 200 cases in countries in which it is rarely found including the US, Canada and Europe.

COVID WATCH-

Egypt saw an average of four new covid infections per day last week, down from five a week earlier, according to Health Ministry figures released yesterday. Egypt also saw an average two fatalities last week, the same as the week before. Almost 35.2 mn people are now fully vaccinated, and 3.4 mn have received their booster shots, according to the ministry.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD-

Ukraine steps up calls for heavy weapons as Russia makes gains in the east: The tide seems to be turning in favor of Russian forces in the battle for eastern Ukraine after Moscow yesterday seized control of a strategic town, bringing them closer to taking full control of Luhansk province. US and UK officials indicated over the weekend that they would meet Ukraine’s demands for heavy weaponry and long-range missiles to fend off the Russian attack — a move that Russian state TV anchors warned would provoke a “harsh response” from Moscow, potentially drawing it closer towards direct conflict with Nato.

Fresh calls for peace talks: During a three-way phone conversation yesterday, Russian president Vladimir Putin told Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz that Moscow is willing to restart peace talks with Ukraine but warned Western governments against sending any more weapons into Ukraine. Reuters, the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times have the latest on the conflict.

MARKET WATCH-

Emerging-market bonds are seeing their worst losses in around 30 years, as investors flee risk assets on growth concerns, rising interest rates, and the conflict in Ukraine, according to the Financial Times. The JPMorgan EMBI Global Diversified index is down 15% year-to-date, making it the worst start to a year since 1994.

Around USD 36 bn have exited EM bond funds since the start of 2022, data from EPFR showed, and equity flows have also turned negative this month. David Hauner, head of EM strategy and economics at Bank of America Global Research, told FT that the situation could get worse. “The big story is that we have so much inflation in the world and monetary policymakers continue to be surprised by how high it is,” he said. “That means more monetary tightening and central banks will continue until something breaks, the economy or the market.”

US equities broke their epic weekly loss streak on Friday, Bloomberg writes. The S&P 500 climbed 6% over the week, its best rally since 2020. “I think this is the beginning of that long-awaited relief rally,” one investment strategist told CNBC.

But don’t hold your breath: The bears don’t seem in a mood to go back into hibernation: The only thing that’s predictable right now in the markets is volatility — and analysts are divided over whether last week’s good news means we’ve bottomed out, or that stocks are simply still in see-saw mode.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Public consultations on non-bank financial services: Public consultations on the second phase of the Financial Regulatory Authority’s (FRA) strategy to develop the non-banking financial services sector will begin on Monday, the regulator said in a statement (pdf) yesterday. The FRA has identified six key priorities for the four-year strategy including boosting use of fintech, accelerating digital transformation, achieving financial inclusion, and improving risk management.

State to launch new regulatory reform guide this week: State regulatory reform body ERRADA will on Tuesday launch a new guide on reforms to improve our investment climate, according to a Planning Ministry statement. ERRADA is launching the guide in cooperation with the ministry, the OECD’s governance improvement program, and the EU.

Central Bank of Egypt Governor Tarek Amer is set to chair the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s Annual Meetings, which will be held in person in Washington, DC. The meetings have been held virtually since the start of the pandemic. Amer will give the opening speeches at both meetings alongside the head of each of the two lenders and will chair the board meetings of the World Bank, the IMF, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the central bank said in a statement. The meetings will be held on 10-16 October.

It’s official: We’re hosting next year’s African Development Bank (AfDB) annual meeting. The meeting will be held in Sharm El Sheikh from 22-26 May, 2023, the bank said yesterday.

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

enterprise

*** It’s What’s Next day: We have our weekly deep-dive into what makes and shapes pre-listed companies and startups in Egypt, the UAE and KSA, touching on investment trends, future sector insights and growth journeys.

In today’s issue: Last week, we made our way to Lagos, Nigeria, where we spent five days accompanying Egyptian entrepreneurship stakeholders on an exploration tour of the country that has raised the largest amount of startup funding last year. Here’s what we found out.

enterprise

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TRANSPORT

Orascom Construction, Siemens and Arab Contractors consortium ink multi-bn USD high-speed rail contract

Siemens Mobility, Orascom Construction (OC) and Arab Contractors have signed a contract with the government for the second phase of the planned 2k-km high-speed rail line, Siemens and our friends at OC said in statements yesterday (here and here, pdf). The consortium will design, install, commission and maintain the line for 15 years in what Siemens CEO Roland Busch called “the biggest order” in the company’s history.

The contract is for the second and third lines: The second line will run 1.1k km between Greater Cairo and Abu Simbel near the southern border, passing through Luxor and Aswan, while the 225-km third line will connect Luxor and Hurghada.

The initial contract was signed last year: The consortium signed a USD 4.5 bn contract to build the first phase of the line last September. This section runs 660 km between Ain Sokhna and Marsa Matrouh.

A world beater: This will be the sixth-longest and most-modern high-speed rail network in the world, Busch said. The project will connect 60 cities nationwide, with trains running at up to 230 km/h. “This means that approximately 90% of Egyptians will have access to this modern, safe, and integrated rail system,” the Siemens statement read, with the project slashing carbon emissions by 70 percent compared to traditional modes of transportation.

How much is this costing? It’s not quite clear. Neither of the companies provided a value for the contract, instead breaking it down into individual shares. Siemens said its total share of the combined contract is EUR 8.1 bn (c. USD 8.7 bn) while OC’s share is USD 1.8 bn. Arab Contractors’ share is unknown.

Siemens: The German conglomerate will supply 41 Velaro eight car high-speed trains, 94 Desiro high-capacity four car regional train sets, and 41 Vectron freight locomotives. It will install the signaling systems on all three lines, and deliver the power supply system for the project.

OC: Orascom is entering a joint venture with Arab Contractors to cover “the supply and installation of track works, installation of signaling and overhead catenary systems, telecommunication system, and traction power substations''. It will maintain the track and telecoms system for the 15-year period.

A big job-maker: “The consortium will directly create more than 40k jobs in Egypt, with an additional 6.7k at Egyptian suppliers and indirectly through the wider Egyptian economy,” the partners said.

What they said: OC CEO Osama Bishai called the line a “transformational project” that will boost the country’s infrastructure, industrial and tourism sectors. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said that the line will mark “a new era in the railway sector in Egypt, Africa and the Middle East,” while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a video statement (watch, runtime: 3:21) that the contract is “a milestone for Egyptian-German economic relations.”

INVESTMENT WATCH

Madbouly continues Egypt’s drive for fresh FDI in the UAE

Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly will launch a new industrial partnership with the UAE and Jordan in Abu Dhabi today, according to a cabinet statement. The PM is leading a delegation of cabinet ministers and senior officials to the Emirati capital where they will announce the initiative alongside Emirati and Jordanian officials. The partnership will “support and strengthen industrial integration between the three countries and serve development objectives,” the statement said, without providing further details. This comes a month after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi held talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed in Cairo.

Madbouly targets fresh Emirati investment: The PM held a meeting with leading Emirati investors yesterday in a bid to draw fresh investment, cabinet said in a separate statement. Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ has already invested USD 1.8 bn into EGX-listed companies this year, but Madbouly now wants to secure new commitments to help fund the government’s ambitious infrastructure plans, which include new LNG terminals and pipelines to ramp up gas exports to Europe, renewable energy projects and airports.

Another USD 15 bn coming by 2027? Emirati investors could up their investments in Egypt to USD 35 bn over the next five years from USD 20 bn currently, said Jamal Bin Saif Al Jarwan, head of the UAE International Investor Council (UIIC), during the meeting.

The government is prioritizing attracting foreign direct investment over portfolio flows, which have had destabilizing effects on the currency in recent weeks, Planning Minister Hala El Said said during the meeting. Egypt has become increasingly dependent on hot money as a source of hard currency in recent years, making it vulnerable to global market volatility.

The government is going all out to attract fresh investment in the economy: The PM last week advertised the government’s infrastructure plans in a meeting with US CEOs and pledged fresh incentives in a bid to get them to invest. At the weekend, Vice Minister of Finance Ahmed Kouchouk held similar talks with representatives of 20 French companies, calling on them to invest in upcoming projects and offering “golden licenses” to expedite production and investment.

ECONOMY

Moody’s Egypt outlook turns negative on “rising downside risks”

Moody’s has cut its outlook on Egypt’s credit rating to negative as tightening financing conditions puts pressure on the country’s ability to make external debt repayments, it said on Thursday. The ratings agency maintained Egypt’s B2 rating but warned that a further drop in foreign reserves could force it to downgrade its score for the first time since March 2013.

The rationale: “The negative outlook reflects the rising downside risks to the sovereign's external shock absorption capacity in light of a significant narrowing in the foreign exchange reserve buffer to meet upcoming external debt service payments,” Moody’s said. A prolonged rise in borrowing costs will heighten liquidity risks and reduce debt affordability, it added.

Moody's competitors S&P and Fitch both maintained their ratings with stable outlooks in April. S&P currently rates Egyptian debt at BB while Fitch has it one notch higher at B+.

Higher rates, lower reserves: Egypt has raised interest rates by 300 bps since March and let the EGP slip against the USD in a bid to keep inflation in check and remain attractive to the carry trade. Some USD 20 bn left the country since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Foreign reserves have fallen almost 10% to USD 37.1 bn since February as the central bank intervened to cover foreign outflows, meet debt repayments, and purchase strategic goods.

Maybe easing the pressure: Recent financial support from the Gulf and the potential for a new IMF program. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar have committed USD 22 bn in investment and central bank deposits to support Egypt’s external position. At the same time, policymakers are in talks with the Fund for a limited amount of new financing, which could add USD 3-4 bn to the country’s reserve buffers — and see the Madbouly government double-down on its commitment to policy and other reforms.

On the plus side: The B2 rating is supported by the government’s “proactive crisis response and track record of economic and fiscal reform,” Moody’s said. Expectations of strong GDP growth will help Egypt to attract foreign direct investment, while the country’s large domestic funding base will help the government meet its high borrowing requirements, it said.

Privatization strategy gets a thumbs up: Moody's expects the government's privatization strategy — which aims to bring in USD 40 bn in fresh investments over the next four years — to help “bolster Egypt's FX reserve buffer in the future,” though it doesn’t expect “renewed large-scale inflows” in the short term.

ENERGY

The EU is working on an agreement to import Israeli gas via Egypt

The EU is working on an agreement to import more Israeli gas through Egypt as the bloc tries to secure new supplies and cut imports from Russia, according to documents seen by Bloomberg.

The proposal: We could sign an MoU with the EU and Israel that would up the amount of Israeli gas that we process into LNG and ship on to Europe, according to the business information service. The agreement could also see us work more closely with the EU and Israel on clean energy projects. All EU member states would have to approve the potential agreement for it to go through.

War in Ukraine has ignited EU demand for our gas: The east Mediterranean could become one of the EU’s most important sources of natural gas in the coming years as the bloc looks to wind down imports of Russian gas, which currently provide 40% of its consumption. In a plan released earlier this month, 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.

We’re keen to up LNG exports to Europe, too: “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,” Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said recently.

And we’ve laid the groundwork: 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, and will start construction by the end of this year on a pipeline connecting Cyprus’ Aphrodite natural gas field to Egypt’s liquefaction plants.

But this is no quick fix: Egypt will be in a position to increase exports to Europe in the next two or three years, El Molla said last week. Local consumption has increased in the early summer months, reducing LNG exports to around 1 bn cubic feet per day from 1.6 bn cf/d in December, when the Idku and Damietta LNG plants were running at maximum capacity. The government plans to bring exports back up to 1.5 bcf/d over the next couple of years.

And more capacity would be needed: Shoring up EU supplies significantly would require the development of new large gas deposits in the east Mediterranean, Bloomberg says. Israel is set to double its gas production to reach around 40 bn cubic meters over the next few years.

REMEMBER- Israel currently ships gas to Egypt via the Eastern Mediterranean Gas pipeline that runs between Ashkelon and Arish, which has an approximate annual capacity of 7 bcm. The country in March began exporting gas to Egypt via the Arab Gas Pipeline for the first time, with exports targeted at 2.5-3 bcm this year, potentially increasing to 4 bcm in the future.

AUTOMOTIVE

How it works: The CPA’s refund scheme on car down payment

Want to get a refund on your car payments? Here’s what you can do: Customers who made a down payment or paid partial installments on a car before 12 April but have yet to receive their cars are entitled to receive a full refund plus 18% annual interest, according to a Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) decision published in the Official Gazette on Thursday.

How much can you expect to pay for the car you’ve been waiting on? It depends on whether or not you made a full payment. Customers who paid 100% up front set are entitled to receive their cars “without any additional cost burden,” the decision reads, meaning that dealers can’t ask them for more money.

You still have a good measure of price protection if you didn’t pay 100% up front: Customers who only made partial payments prior to 12 April (regardless of what percentage of the total amount they have paid) will be subject to as much as a 5% price increase, as per a previous CPA decision.

Consumers have the upper hand: The full text of the decision, which informally circulated earlier last week, gives consumers the option to decide whether to take the refund and interest, or try and reach a “better” agreement with the dealer. What exactly a better agreement entails would be in the consumer’s hand to negotiate.

“Each customer can decide how to move forward and try to find alternative arrangements with dealerships that they’re happy with,” head of the Egyptian Association of Automobile Manufacturers and the deputy general director of Bavarian Auto Group Khaled Saad told Enterprise. The CPA’s decision is designed to give customers their basic rights, but it’s only binding for the sellers, not the buyers, Saad said. “For example, a customer can settle with the dealership to pay an extra EGP 100k in exchange for reserving the car. It makes sense to try and negotiate on a case-by-case basis because the 18% interest on your money isn’t going to do much when some car prices have effectively increased 100%,” he said.

The timeline: Dealers will have a maximum period of five weeks to comply with the decision. This includes a two-week deadline to notify the CPA of why they are unable to deliver cars and another three-week period to refund customers. The decision does not, however, stipulate a timeline for dealers to actually deliver the cars.

Some automotive players are already letting their customers know that they won’t be able to deliver their cars: Toyota Egypt notified people who had made down payments on cars that it would not be able to deliver their cars and that they can begin heading to the company’s branches to claim their refunds, Masrawy reported last week.

TAX

FinMin to rollout e-receipts nationwide by mid-2025

All companies will be required to implement the new e-receipt system for B2C transactions by July 2025, the Finance Ministry said in a statement Thursday outlining the timeline for the rollout of the real-time digital system. The ministry has been piloting the system with around 100 taxpayers since April, and will gradually onboard companies over a three-year period from October, the ministry said.

Companies will be onboarded in batches, with an additional 400 in Cairo and Alexandria joining the program in October. Other deadlines will follow with companies grouped by industry (consumer durables, jewelers, grocers) and others by governorate. We have the full breakdown here.

Refresher: E-receipts will work alongside the ministry’s e-invoicing system to allow authorities to monitor all transactions in the country. E-receipts will record all business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, enabling the Tax Authority to detect tax evasion and bring more businesses into the formal economy. Read this for more on how the system works.

A MESSAGE FROM

enterprise

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Get in touch with Moharram & Partners — the public policy and government affairs partner of choice of top companies operating in Egypt and the region — and leave the rest to our experts.

Learn more here.

COMMODITIES

We’ve bagged half of our targeted local wheat purchases for the season

The Madbouly government has purchased 3 mn tons of local wheat since the start of the harvest season, bringing it halfway to its 6 mn-ton target, according to a cabinet statement on Thursday. The government upped its target for domestic wheat purchases by some 70% last year, having decided to focus on the local harvest — which runs through the end of August — after war in Ukraine sent prices spiraling on the international market.

The carrots and sticks are doing the trick: The government raised local wheat prices by 22% as part of a raft of measures to incentivize farmers to increase production. It also introduced a minimum selling quota to the state and tightened restrictions on sales to non-state actors.

The state had been expecting 75% of domestic grain to be harvested by the end of May, with the remainder set to be harvested in June.

Egypt now has enough wheat to last until January 2023, Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy said on Thursday. The country had four months worth of grain in reserve nearly two weeks ago.

Remember: We don’t necessarily have all of this wheat. Egypt’s reserves figure includes purchases rather than just fulfilled deliveries, according to commodity traders.

ON THE IMPORT FRONT-

Could the gov’t loosen wheat quality rules as it seeks to diversify supply: Egypt will allow wheat imports with a moisture content of up to 14% — up from 13.5% — for a year due to supply restrictions in the global market, according to a Trade Ministry document seen by Reuters.

The move could widen our grain supplier pool: “Most of the EU, especially Poland and Baltic wheat, have 14% moisture level in their contracts. That’s why they were not usually offered in tenders,” one trader told the newswire. The government has redoubled efforts to buy wheat from new suppliers following the loss of grain from Ukraine, which before the war was a key supplier to Egypt.

MOVES

Osama El Gohary has been reappointed to head the cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (ISDC), according to a cabinet statement. El Gohary has been the ISDC’s acting head since 2019.

enterprise

LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Leading the airwaves yesterday: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly’s visit to Abu Dhabi to launch a new industrial partnership with the UAE and Jordan led the conversation on the nation’s talk shows last night, with ِAl Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 2:38), El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 3:28), Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 9:32) and Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 19:12) all taking note. Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad was on Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 9:20) to talk about the initiative — though he gave precious little away about the nature of the agreement — and Sherif El Gabaly, the chairman of the Chamber of Chemical Industries at the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), joined Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 3:56) to discuss the PM’s meeting with Emirati investors yesterday. We have more on this in this morning’s What We’re Tracking Today, above.

Mom Facebook groups in Egypt are freaking out about tomato flu: MBC’s Al Youm (watch, runtime: 3:51) and Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 0:55) both ran segments on the Indian viral disease after parents reported their children showing similar symptoms on Facebook. Ahmed Al Mandhari, the World Health Organization’s regional director for the eastern Mediterranean, told El Hadidi that the flu is a kind of skin irritation, while Islam Anan, Lecturer of Health Economics and Pharmacoepidemiology told Al Youm’s Sara Hazem that ‘tomato flu’ is another name for the highly contagious hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD).

Also on the airwaves last night:

  • El Sisi says high-speed rail a “new era” for sector: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s remarks following the signing of contracts for the second and third lines of the country’s mega high-speed railway. We have the full story of the new contract signed yesterday by Siemens and Orascom Construction in this morning’s news well, above. (Al Hayah Al Youm | watch, runtime: 4:41)
  • Sudan’s GERD rebuke: Sudan’s response to controversial statements by the GERD’s project manager on the third filling of the dam also got a mention. More in this morning’s Diplo, below. (El Hekaya | watch, runtime: 5:19)

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Dominating coverage in the foreign press: Former Louvre head Jean-Luc Martinez has been charged in connection with the trafficking of Egyptian artifacts. The former president of the world-renowned Paris museum was charged with conspiring to hide the origin of archeological artifacts that may have been stolen from Egypt during the Arab Spring, when hundreds of artifacts were suspected to have been looted. The gallery owner who brokered the sale was arrested in Hamburg in March and extradited to Paris for questioning in the case, which is getting coverage everywhere: The Guardian | New York Times | Washington Post | BBC | AFP.

Activist Alaa Abdel Fattah’s ongoing hunger strike is still getting ink: British MPs have demanded that the UK government apply “maximum pressure” on Egypt to allow jailed activist Alaa Abdel Fattah consular access, the Independent reports.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Somabay to renovate Sheraton resort + Egypt to spend another USD 2.6 bn on US arms

Sheraton Soma Bay to get a new look: Somabay has secured an EGP 143 mn loan from Ahli United Bank Egypt (AUB) to renovate its Sheraton Soma Bay Resort, it said in a statement (pdf) at the weekend. The money will be borrowed under the Central Bank of Egypt’s tourism support program, which offers companies in the tourism industry soft loans at an 8% interest rate. The first phase of the renovation will take two years to complete, the company said.

Another major arms agreement with the US: The US has approved a USD 2.6 bn arms sale to Egypt, the US Department of Defense said in a statement Thursday. The order includes 23 Chinook helicopters, engines, navigation and positioning systems, software, and ammunition. This takes our total spend on US weapons so far this year to around USD 5.8 bn, by our count.

Digital solutions firm Fixed Solutions and Etisalat Misr have launched their e-signature service. (Statement)

PLANET FINANCE

Powered by
EFG Hermes - https://efghermes.com/

Introducing the Middle East’s first SPAC: ADQ and Chimera’s ADC Acquisition Corporation officially began trading in Abu Dhabi on Friday, closing its first day AED 0.5 up at AED 10.50, Bloomberg Asharq reported. The SPAC managed to raise AED 367 mn (USD 100 mn) in its IPO, selling 36.7 mn shares at AED 10 apiece. The ADX is now the region’s first exchange to set up a legal framework for blank-check firms, after issuing its SPAC regs back in February. The blank-check firm will look to merge with one or more “fast-growing, technology-driven businesses with strong management teams and attractive valuations” across the MENA region, ADQ and our friends at Chimera said in a joint statement.

EGY-SPAC when? Egypt has tried to position itself to capitalize on the SPAC fad, and issued a set of regulations aimed at attracting companies to list local blank-firms on the EGX. FRA chief Mohamed Omran even suggested in January that the country’s debut SPAC would launch by February though we haven’t heard anything since then — unsurprisingly perhaps given the war in Ukraine, the tanking US SPAC market, and the poor performance of the EGX.

Did someone say “tanking US SPAC market”? Some 25 companies that completed SPAC mergers in 2020 and 2021 have issued “going-concern” warnings, which indicates that they are likely to go bust within 12 months, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing data from Audit Analytics. That’s more than 10% of all the SPACs that listed during the so-called SPAC boom, with many startups — including several EV makers, scooter-rental company Helbiz, and glass window maker View — missing their forecasts so far. Shares of companies that listed through SPACs in 2021 alone were down 59.5% on average as of Tuesday, according to analysis from University of Florida researchers.

Down

EGX30

10,201

-0.5% (YTD: -14.6%)

Up

USD (CBE)

Buy 18.55

Sell 18.63

Up

USD at CIB

Buy 18.57

Sell 18.63

None

Interest rates CBE

11.25% deposit

12.25% lending

Down

Tadawul

12,530

-0.5% (YTD: +11.1%)

Up

ADX

9,689

+1.5% (YTD: +14.1%)

None

DFM

3,297

0.0% (YTD: +3.2%)

Up

S&P 500

4,158

+2.5% (YTD: -12.8%)

Up

FTSE 100

7,585

+0.3% (YTD: +2.7%)

Up

Euro Stoxx 50

3,809

+1.8% (YTD: -11.4%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 119.43

+1.7%

Down

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 8.73

-1.9%

Up

Gold

USD 1,857.30

+0.2%

Up

BTC

USD 28,965

+0.7% (YTD: -37.3%)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell 0.5% at Thursday’s close on turnover of EGP 572 mn (32.4% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 14.6% YTD.

In the green: EFG Hermes (+3.0%) and CIB (+0.5%).

In the red: Palm Hills Development (-8.9%), GB Auto (-8.3%) and MM Group (-7.6%).

DIPLOMACY

Ethiopia will start the third filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in August and September, the dam’s project manager told Al Arabiya Friday (watch, runtime: 11:37). The filling of the dam is an “automatic process” that cannot be stopped, Kifle Horo told the broadcaster.

The dam has long been a source of tension between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan: Talks over the filling and operation of the dam have been deadlocked for the past year as Ethiopia perseveres with filling the reservoir without an agreement with Cairo and Khartoum. Earlier this year, Ethiopia began to generate power from the dam.

Sudan’s foreign ministry denounced Horo’s “irresponsible statements” and reiterated its demands for a “fair and binding” agreement before Ethiopia continues to fill the reservoir, the state-run Sudan News Agency reported.

Also in diplomacy:

  • Shoukry, Blinken discuss impact of Ukraine war: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the repercussions of the war in Ukraine and its impact on the economies and living conditions of countries around the world, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement yesterday.
  • Plans to export gas to Lebanon are not going as smoothly as the two sides had hoped, Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib told Bloomberg Asharq (watch, runtime: 1:24). The plan will not go through until Egypt gets further assurance from the US that the move will not run afoul of sanctions against Syria, Bou Habib cited the Egyptian Oil Ministry as saying.
whatsNext

How StartupLand Africa is coming together — and how Nigeria was able to pool USD 1.8 bn in 2021: Last week, we made our way to Lagos, Nigeria, where we spent five days accompanying Egyptian entrepreneurship stakeholders on an exploration of the country that raised the largest amount of startup funding last year. In total, Nigerian startups raised a total of USD 1.8 bn in 2021, with the largest round coming in at USD 400 mn.

We went on a quest to find out why Nigeria is so attractive to Africa-focused investors. Led by Cairo Angels Syndicate Fund (CASF) CEO Aly Shalakany, two Egyptian startups and one of CASF’s portfolio companies from Kenya traveled to Lagos to explore the country’s startup scene — and we tagged along to find out more about Nigeria’s secret sauce. We gathered insights from one VC investor and two angel investors: Omobola Johnson, senior partner at VC firm TLcom Capital and former ICT minister of Nigeria; Biola Alabi, cofounder and GP of Atika Ventures and deputy chair to the Board of Governors of the Lagos Angel Network; and Tomi Davies, angel investor, our chaperone, and collaborator-in-chief of TVC Labs.

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 | Goodbye, Lagos.

Before dive into Nigeria’s record-breaking funding year, we need to set some context. From what we’ve heard and seen over the past week, the narrative among investors is very continent-driven, as opposed to country-driven. Davies is one of the investors who has been actively working on building bridges through angel investment networks across Africa to push the continent forward — which was also what our trip was all about. And in general, stakeholders are keen to come together cross-borders and work on the continent’s problems together.

“I’ve been trying to build this bridge [between Egypt and Nigeria] for a while,” Davies says. He has been in touch with Shalakany, managing partner of HIMangel Khaled Ismail, and chairman and cofounder of AlexAngels Tarek El Kady, to bring angel investors on the continent closer together. He’s also been following the same concept with Nairobi in Kenya and South Africa. Johnson believes that the startup epicenters in Africa are Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya, based on the amount of investment that these countries have attracted.

And we’ve heard of quite a few pan-African investment firms and vehicles, such as TLcom Capital and the Future Africa Collective. Their main aim is to fund and support startups that solve problems affecting large populations across the continent.

But the aim isn’t only to pool more funding, but also extend these partnerships into themes. Davies wants to have angel investors come together on themes including smart cities, sustainable agriculture, and clean energy. “This year, I’m working on creating three pan-African angel networks in those spaces,” he tells us.

Why these areas? Because these are spaces where Africa is behind, unlike fintech for example, which has been gaining enormous momentum, Davies says.

So, how has Nigeria attracted all that funding in the past year?

#1- Size: Nigeria is a very populous country, which makes it attractive for investment, TLcom Capital’s Johnson says. “Nigeria is a big market in terms of the market and size of the problems,” she adds, saying it’s a very compelling argument for being a VC in Nigeria.

#2- The underbanked population: There is a large number of unbanked locals: About 36.6 mn adults are financially excluded, according to a survey conducted by sector development organization EFInA. Fintech is exploding here, with some of our trip participants realizing that almost every second billboard is that of a fintech startup. But does that mean there are too many fintechs in the country? Not necessarily. Atika Ventures’s Alabi believes that there are still a number of payment solutions that need to be built.

#3- Very high mobile penetration: Nigeria has a mobile penetration of 82.4%, according to a frequently cited report by Datareportal. “Almost 65% of our population is under the age of 35 — these are people that have never lived in a world without a mobile phone,” Alabi tells us. People’s first introduction to anything is mobile, she adds.

#4- Bad infrastructure: As we’ve briefly mentioned in our travel log, Nigeria lacks basic infrastructure. There is a dearth of power infrastructure, Davies tells us, and that “gives us an advantage.” It opens up the doors to come up with real solutions to real problems, and pushes Nigerians to enter the green energy sphere — for instance — early on and find an alternative to the basic power distribution network.

#5- Availability of capital. “There was a lot of [startup-dedicated] capital in the US that had nowhere to go, so [funds] decided to look towards Africa,” Johnson tells us. Nigerians label themselves as a “nation of entrepreneurs,” which we’ve heard from quite a few people. “Building things is not foreign to us,” Alabi tells us. Everyone has a side-hustle and everyone is aspirational, she adds. “We are inherently entrepreneurial,” Davies says.

NEXT WEEK- We’ll be looking into how the Nigerian startup scene is expected to develop in the coming months (hello, down-rounds?), what challenges they face, and what Egyptian startups looking to expand into the country need to keep in mind before they do.


Your top stories on future trends for the week:

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

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 1Q 2022 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: 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.

10-16 October (Monday-Sunday): World Bank and IMF annual meetings, Washington, DC, chaired by CBE Governor Tarek Amer

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.

MAY 2023

22-26 May (Monday-Friday): Egypt will host the African Development Bank (AfDB) annual meetings in Sharm El Sheikh.

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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