Wednesday, 1 June 2022

AM — Is the Manpower Ministry about to enforce a 1% tithe on corporate profits?

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to June. We know it’s a few days early, but if the calendar says June, it’s summer — the season of sun, the beach and travel. So happy summer, everyone.

THE BIG STORY HERE AT HOME is the prospect that government inspectors could be asking us all to hand over 1% of our net profits after a Supreme Court ruling paved the way for the Manpower Ministry to collect a 1% tithe. The levy on corporate profits had been on hold for years while it was the subject of the court challenge.

There’s a way out, though: The House of Representatives needs to get moving and pass the new labor act, which has been in the pipeline for ages now, but which appears to be stalled in committee. The new act would replace the 1% tithe on net profit with a much more modest fee capped at a maximum of EGP 50 per employee per month.

We’re hoping our elected representatives act quickly — that 1% of net income is flexibility that business owners need as their companies (and their staff) come under pressure from rising inflation.

^^ We have chapter and verse on that and a ton of other stories in this morning’s news well, below.

NEWS TRIGGERS you’ll want to keep an eye on as the new month gets underway:

  • PMI: Purchasing managers’ index figures for May will be released on Sunday, 5 June. Saudi Arabia’s PMI will be out the same day, and the UAE data is released on Friday, 3 June;
  • Foreign reserves figures for May should be announced sometime next week;
  • Inflation figures for May are due out on Saturday, 9 June (from state statistics agency Capmas) and Sunday, 12 June (central bank figures);
  • Capmas’ monthly bulletin covering the price of key building materials is due out on 5 June;
  • The Central Bank of Egypt’s monetary policy committee meets next on Thursday, 23 June.

SIGN OF THE TIMES- Don’t expect a ton of output from RenCap for a while: Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital will close its offices in London, New York and Johannesburg and suspend all of its research coverage as Western sanctions hit the business, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the move. The bank will lay off some of the employees in their New York office and the majority of 60 employees in London, with only a few remaining to wind down operations in the UK. Its Russian and Cypriot operations would not be affected, according to two of the people. We’re reaching out to friends at RenCap’s Cairo and Dubai offices to see what’s up there and will report back tomorrow.

MEANWHILE- The wait is finally over—Egypt has launched its official COP27 website. The site went live just a few weeks after it unveiled the logo for the upcoming conference, set to take place in Sharm El Sheikh in November.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivier Varhelyi is in town to discuss European investment in Egypt as well as efforts to overcome global food insecurity triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to a statement from the European Commission. Varhelyi yesterday attended the signing ceremony for the project to expand the Helwan wastewater treatment plan, which is being backed with a EUR 78 mn loan from the European Investment Bank.

REMEMBER- The EU is providing Egypt with EUR 100 mn in support to help us tackle rising food prices amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, The funding, announced in early April, is part of a freshly announced EUR 225 mn Food and Resilience Facility for MENA countries.

The EU might step up its funding to Africa: The visit comes as the EU is studying a proposal to allocate EUR 500 mn to African countries struggling amid the record food prices and rising food shortages, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

A drop in the ocean: The proposal, which might include both loans and grants, would be sufficient to purchase only 1.3 mn tons of wheat, a tiny amount compared to the 50 mn tons imported by the continent each year.

Africa isn’t happy about the sanctions on Russia: African Union head Macky Sall has criticized Western financial sanctions on Russia for making it harder for African nations to purchase Russian food. Speaking to EU leaders at a summit yesterday, the Senegalese president said that the banning of Russian banks from the Swift payment system makes it “complicated, if not impossible” for countries to purchase grain. The EU yesterday banned Russia’s biggest bank, Sberbank, from accessing Swift as part of a new round of sanctions targeting Moscow’s energy exports and financial system. The Wall Street Journal and the FT have the story.

HAPPENING IN THE REGION-

There’s a new sovereign wealth fund on the block: It only took eight years, but Israel's sovereign wealth fund will finally start operations today after regulators said this week that it has met the minimum revenue required by law, according to Bloomberg. The fund, which will invest tax revenues from the country’s offshore gas fields, was approved by parliament back in 2014 but low gas tax revenues have prevented it from launching.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in Saudi Arabia to meet with GCC ministers today, Reuters reports. Ministers from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain (which Lavrov visited yesterday) and Qatar will hold talks with the Russian minister at the GCC headquarters in Riyadh, the sources said, without disclosing the subject of the discussions.

Likely to be on the agenda: Some OPEC members are considering exempting Russia from OPEC+ supply agreement as Western sanctions undermine the country’s ability to increase production, the Wall Street Journal reports. Under the agreement, producers are supposed to gradually ramp up output each month, but with Russian production forecast to fall 8% this year, it’s unlikely that it will be able to stick to the terms. Leaving Russia out of the agreement could allow other producers to significantly up supply and calm oil prices which have surged above USD 100 a barrel. The OPEC+ alliance is scheduled to meet on Thursday where it is expected to sign off on another 432k barrels a day increase in July.

MEANWHILE- The EU’s oil embargo is the big story globally this morning: Fresh off of pledging to block 90% of its oil imports from Russia by the end of the year, the EU yesterday agreed with the UK to block insurance on ships carrying Russian crude. The move means that tankers will be unable to access Lloyd’s of London, the most important insurance market for the shipping industry in the world.

Gazprom cuts more gas flows to Europe: The Russian gas giant will today cut supplies to Denmark and Germany after Danish supplier Ørsted and Shell refused to comply with its RUB-for-gas scheme. Though Germany relies on Russia to provide 55% of its gas imports, the impact on the country is expected to be limited given Shell only supplies a fraction of its annual consumption. This comes a day after Gazprom cut supplies to the Netherlands and a month after it suspended shipments to Poland and Bulgaria.

The energy markets have shrugged: Brent, US crude and natgas futures are marginally up in trading this morning following yesterday’s rally.

The tit-for-tat energy war is front page news in the global press: Bloomberg | FT | WSJ | Reuters | AP | BBC | CNN.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

The Greek Campus is holding a workshop today headlined “Transitioning to e-mobilitythat will look at the electric vehicle industry in Egypt (and worldwide). The workshop will run from 6-9pm and will be led by Ayman Mohamed and Ahmed El Hosseny, co-founders of local EV marketplace Electrified.

Conference season continues next week:

  • Africa Health ExCon runs from Sunday-Tuesday, 5-7 June at Al Manara International Conference Center, Egypt International Exhibitions Center, and the St. Regis Almasa Hotel in the new administrative capital.
  • Technology conference Tech Invest 4 will take place next Tuesday, 7 June at the Grand Nile Hotel in Cairo.

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

enterprise

*** It’s Hardhat day — your weekly briefing of all things infrastructure in Egypt: Enterprise’s industry vertical focuses each Wednesday on infrastructure, covering everything from energy, water, transportation, and urban development, as well as social infrastructure such as health and education.

In today’s issue: As the PPP model for infrastructure models gains popularity, how is Egypt comparing to the MENA region and beyond? A new report by the World Bank maps out the landscape of committed PPP investments globally in the region, including a breakdown by sector and value. Enterprise crunched the numbers to see which infrastructure PPP trends are taking place in Egypt as well as where we’re lagging.

enterprise

Miss Elite will be kicking off its second edition at Somabay from 3-11 June. The international beauty pageant helps contestants showcase and present their nation’s identity, beauty, culture, tradition and ethnicity.

For more information, visit: https://misseliteworld.com/

REGULATION WATCH

Is the Manpower Ministry about to enforce a 1% tithe on corporate profits?

The House of Representatives needs to move quickly if it wants to prevent every business with more than 10 people on payroll from being hit with a new(ish) 1% tithe on net profits as the Manpower Ministry looks at how enforce a decision published in the Official Gazette (pdf) on 22 May. The decision orders ministry inspectors to inform businesses with 10 or more employees that they have one month to pay the tithe. The fee is supposed to flow into the ministry’s training fund.

MPs have a way out if they finally pass proposed revisions to the Labor Act, which would see the 1% hit to net profit replaced with a new tax that would cap the per-employee contribution to the training fund at EGP 50 — a much more reasonable figure.

So what, exactly, is this 1% tithe on net profits? Article 134 of the current Labor Act of 2003 requires businesses with at least 10 employees to pay 1% of their net income into a Manpower Ministry “training fund.” The fund is supposed to finance job skills training programs and training centers nationwide.

You’re not paying that 1% fee now — it’s been held in abeyance because of a lawsuit. The fee had been the subject of a lawsuit that made its way to the Supreme Constitutional Court back in 2009 after ExxonMobil filed suit against the government, claiming the tithe was unconstitutional. The Manpower Ministry’s decision to start collecting the tax comes after the SCC issued a ruling in favor of the government in March of this year, saying the article does not violate the constitution. Under the court’s ruling, ExxonMobil is required to pay the ministry by the time the government closes out its budget at the end of the fiscal year — ie: 30 June, the last day of this month. That explains the one-month timeline in the Gazette.

KEEP CALM- Nothing is set in stone — yet: The Manpower Ministry is still sorting out the details of how the tithe will be enforced, a government source with insider knowledge tells Enterprise. “The ministry’s counsel is currently working on the mechanisms for enforcing the article,” he told us, declining to say more.

Until the ministry speaks, there remains the risk that the tithe will be collected — and that it could be retroactive. “This point [retroactivity] still isn’t clear and will require further reading and guidance from the government’s legal counsel,” a member of the board of the ministry’s training fund tells us. A top advisor to the National Council of Wages, though, tells us that it is “unlikely that the decision will be applied retroactively.”

THE SAVING GRACE: The new Labor Act would do away with the tithe — if it passes the House. Article 19 of the proposed New Labor Act (pdf) would see the 1% tithe replaced by a monthly tax of 0.25% on salaries covered by social ins. The tax per employee would be capped at EGP 50 per month, with an EGP 5-per-person floor. If, for example, a company has 100 employees covered by social ins. the maximum it would pay the ministry’s training fund under the new Labor Act would be EGP 5k per month.

So where is the new Labor Act? Stuck in parliament — and that’s the risk to business. Sources at the House tell us the draft act is still in committee-level discussions during a busy season for the House — MPs are focused right now on higher priority legislation including the state budget (see separate story, below). The bill earned approval in the Senate, the nation’s upper house of parliament, in February, as we reported at the time — and it doesn’t seem to have moved since.

NEED A REFRESHER on the key provisions of the proposed labor act? Read our in-depth coverage here.

ENERGY

The war in Ukraine is accelerating plans to link our electricity grid to Greece

Plans to link our electricity grid with Greece could move faster after the shunning of Russian fossil fuels: The Greek developer of a proposed direct link between the electricity grids of Egypt and Greece expects the EU to accelerate the project as the bloc looks to transition away from Russian fossil fuels, Bloomberg reports. Renewable energy player Elica — a 50/50 joint venture between big-time Greek infrastructure investor Copelouzos Group and Samaras Group — is applying to the EU for funding. Elica says that the European Investment Bank (EIB) and a number of Greek banks are on board to partially finance the EUR 3.5 bn project.

Introducing GREGY: The planned Greece-Egypt Interconnector (GREGY) will run almost 1.5k km from Wadi El Natroun directly across the Mediterranean to mainland Greece, according to an EU project document. It will have a maximum capacity of 3 GW and transmit only renewable energy generated in Egypt.

This is not the same thing as EuroAfrica: The USD 4 bn EuroAfrica Interconnector is a larger project that will connect Egypt to Cyprus, Crete and mainland Greece. The first leg of the 2 GW link between Egypt and Cyprus is expected to start “commissioning” (an industry term for entering the final stages of pre-launch testing) this December, and the Cyprus-Crete section will commission in December 2023, according to the project’s website.

It’s going to take time before we see GREGY up and running: “The project needs European funding and the hope is to submit a financing request to the European Commission within the next 12 months,” Manos Manousakis, CEO of Greek electricity grid operator Admie, told Bloomberg. Admie is working with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company on the design of the cable.

This has been in the works for 14 years: Plans for a Greece-Egypt link first surfaced back in 2008, but were shelved following the 2011 revolution, Bloomberg says.

GREGY isn’t the only project that could be expedited: A parallel project that will link the grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece has already received EUR 757 mn in funding from the EU. Construction on the EuroAsia Interconnector is expected to finish at the end of 2025 and commissioning in the first half of 2026. The line will have a 2 GW capacity and will transmit power generated by natural gas from Cyprus and Israel, as well as renewable energy.

Dash for energy: The report comes as the EU searches for new sources of energy to replace Russian oil and gas, which it's looking to transition away from in response to its invasion of Ukraine. The bloc this week announced that it would cut imports of Russian oil by 90% by the end of the year, and plans to end its dependency on gas later this decade. The EU imports 40% of its gas from Russia, forcing it to go in search of new suppliers in the eastern Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East.

MORE INFRASTRUCTURE LINKS-

Telecom Egypt + Saudi’s Mobily shake hands on data link: Telecom Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) have signed a MoU to link their internet networks via a new submarine cable, CNBC reports. The connection would expand Mobily’s reach westward toward Europe through TE’s network, and do the same for TE eastward into the Arabian Gulf through the Saudi telecom operator.

This could be part of 2Africa: It’s not clear if this is related to the massive 2Africa subsea cable, which will connect Europe to the Middle East and Africa via countries including Egypt and Saudi Arabia. As part of the project, TE lay a new cable linking Egypt and Saudi Arabia across the Red Sea.

ENERGY

Gas export revenues double January-April 2022

Our gas exports are riding the squeeze in energy markets: Gas export revenues almost doubled to USD 3.9 bn in the first four months of 2022, according to Oil Ministry data seen by Reuters.

This is almost as much as we made in the whole of 2021: Gas receipts totalled almost USD 4 bn last year, jumping more than eightfold (from USD 456 mn) from 2020 when exports tanked in response to the collapse in global gas prices due to the covid-19 pandemic. The restarting of the Damietta LNG plant also helped boost exports, and both of Egypt’s LNG terminals were running at full capacity by December.

Global gas prices have surged over the past year: Gas prices in Europe and Asia — where Egypt sells its gas — have hit record highs over the past 12 months on the back of tightening supply post-lockdown and, more recently, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. European gas futures have quadrupled in price over the past 12 months, while front-month contracts on the JKM Asian benchmark are up 130% from a year ago.

It’s the same story across the Atlantic: US gas prices hit a 14-year high yesterday, tripling over the past year and rising more than 20% in May, according to the Wall Street Journal.

HOLD YOUR HORSES, THOUGH- Rising gas revenues doesn’t necessarily = net gain. Egypt is a net importer of oil, and with prices at their highest levels in more than a decade, the amount the government is spending on oil could cancel out the extra gas revenues.

We’re keen to up LNG exports to Europe: “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 the government wants to boost export capacity: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly is trying to court foreigin investors to finance new LNG terminals to boost Egypt’s gas exports.

Now there’s an opening to do so: 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.

M&A WATCH

Raya finalizes Ostool sale

Raya Holding is close to selling its 62.3% stake in freight subsidiary Ostool to Paradigm Logistics for EGP 266.6 mn, it said in a disclosure to the EGX (pdf) yesterday. The company will sell 53.9 mn shares to Paradigm at EGP 4.94 apiece, the filing said, adding that the two sides are continuing to negotiate “remaining conditions” before the shares are transferred. The agreement between Raya and Paradigm Logistics was signed in April 2021.

M&A WATCH

Appetito acquires Tunisian e-grocer Lamma

Cairo-based grocery delivery startup Appetito has acquired Tunisian startup Lamma for an undisclosed sum, it said in a press release (pdf) yesterday. The merger is expected to close by the end of 3Q2022 and will give Appetito access to Lamma’s markets in Tunisia and Morocco.

About the companies: Established in March 2020, Appetito is an online platform offering next-day or pre-scheduled grocery and home supply deliveries in Cairo, Alexandria, and Giza. The company uses a network of dark stores — warehouses that store consumer goods purchased online. The acquisition comes a few months after Appetito raised USD 2 mn in pre-series A funding from several Africa-focused investment companies. Lamma launched in Tunisia in 2021 and operates a similar e-delivery platform. It first rolled out in Morocco at the beginning of 2022 and has plans to expand to other African markets.

Dream team: The two startups are “a perfect match,” Lamma co-founder Yassir El Ismaili said, adding that the new entity would help in expanding into new markets in the continent. El Ismaili will joini Appetito as its chief expansion and growth officer.

The acquisition puts Appetito on track to become the biggest on-demand delivery player in Africa, CEO Shehab Mokhtar said. “I’m delighted to welcome unparalleled talent and like-minded entrepreneurs to our family. We believe it’s the best time to expand in Africa to solve the huge in-efficiencies in the retail supply chain,” he said.

enterprise

BUDGET WATCH

MPs think the tax revenue targets in the budget are a bit optimistic

After flagging FY 2022-2023 budget allocations for subsidy + social safety net spending, MPs are zeroing in on tax receipts: MPs at the House Planning and Budgeting Committee are skeptical that the government’s forecasted tax revenues for the upcoming fiscal year are attainable, suggesting in a committee meeting yesterday that the target needs to be revised downwards. The draft FY 2022-2023 budget, which Finance Minister Mohamed Maait presented to the House of Representatives earlier this month, has penciled in EGP 1.2 tn in tax receipts, up from EGP 950 bn at the end of the current fiscal year and EGP 834 bn in FY 2020-2021. The forecast suggests tax revenues will grow 26% y-o-y.

“In normal economic conditions, tax receipts usually grow only 12% y-o-y,” said Committee Deputy Chairman Mostafa Salem. “The current economic conditions are by no means favorable to generate such record growth in tax money,” he said.

Gov’t maintains these targets are attainable…: “We expect an increase of around EGP 200 bn in tax receipts in one year — this is not an exaggeration at all,” Tax Authority Chairman Reda Abdel Kader told MPs.

…especially since we’re expected to absorb external shocks: The Finance Ministry expects that the economy will be able to absorb the impact of the war in Ukraine and see GDP growth accelerating in the upcoming fiscal year. “Most international financial institutions expect Egypt to achieve 5.7-6% growth in FY 2022-2023 despite the Russia-Ukraine crisis,” Abdel Kader said. The IMF expects our economy to grow at a 5.0% clip in FY 2022-2023, according to its latest World Economic Outlook, while a poll of economists by Reuters last month penciled in 5.2% GDP growth for the upcoming fiscal year.

We also have something of a precedent — Egypt’s tax revenues grew throughout covid-19: “Despite the pandemic’s negative effect on the economy in FY 2020-2021, growth rates were still high, allowing the state to generate EGP 834 bn in tax receipts, which was higher than the previous fiscal year,” Abdel Kader said.

HEALTHY DEBATE- MPs’ concerns are part of the natural back-and forth between the House and government on its spending plan. Last week, the House Planning and Budgeting Committee raised flags on the government’s allocations for subsidies and social safety programs, suggesting that these spending areas need to be expanded. As we noted in our explainer of how the state budget process works, House committees could push back on key points in the budget as part of their review and discussion of the spending plan.

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.

MINING

Altus strikes gold

Sawiris-backed Altus Strategies has made multiple “high grade” gold discoveries across the four projects held by its Egypt subsidiary Akh Gold, it said in a statement yesterday. The company has mapped more than 100 hard artisanal gold workings with grades of up to 100g of gold per ton, it said, adding that samples show a prospect of multiple multi-km long prospective structures.

Further discoveries coming soon? “Maiden exploration results indicate that we may already be on the tail of a number of potentially significant hard rock gold discoveries,” said Altus CEO Steven Poulton.

The company just won new exploration licenses: Altus was awarded two gold exploration licenses in the Eastern Desert earlier this month in the government’s recent bid round. The company said the two blocks cover 349 sq km, bringing the company’s total land holding to 1.9k sq km.

The announcement comes as the Oil Ministry bids farewell to competitive bid rounds following low interest in the recent tender. Going forward, the ministry will rely on direct contracts for new gold exploration licenses, source from the ministry told Bloomberg Asharq earlier this week.

Four miners landed licenses to explore for gold in the Eastern Desert in the latest bid round as we reported last week, including Ankh Resources, Akh Gold, Canadian miner Lotus Gold, and Marine Logistic.

EARNINGS WATCH

Earnings Watch: E-Finance, Palm Hills

E-Finance’s net income soared 41% y-o-y in 1Q2022 to EGP 200.3 mn, according to the company’s earnings release (pdf). Revenues at the EGX-listed fintech firm rose 21% during the quarter to record EGP 559.5 mn.

The breakdown: Topline growth was driven by e-Finance’s digital operations subsidiary, where revenues grew 23% to EGP 501.8 mn, accounting for 90% of total revenues. The company’s card services business, eCards, saw revenues rise 14% to EGP 34.7 mn, offsetting a 28% decline at its digital payments arm eKhales. The figures cited are after intercompany eliminations — i.e. not counting money that changed hands between the company’s subsidiaries. Strong revenue growth, wider operating margins, and higher interest income (up more than fivefold to hit EGP 75 mn) was reflected in the company’s bottomline, despite an 81% rise in operating expenses as the firm took on new staff to fuel its growth.

Looking ahead: The group is looking to expand outside Egypt, placing a “particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa, which is experiencing rapid economic and demographic growth.” The first quarter saw the company take its first step in an overseas market with the signing of an agreement to supply smart cards to a Zimbabwean health firm. E-Finance is also scouting “high-potential investment opportunities that will deepen our presence in the startup and fintech spaces,” following its USD 10 mn investment in Global Ventures’ NClude fintech fund.


Real Palm Hills Developments’ bottom line rose 44% y-o-y to EGP 295 mn in 1Q2022, the real estate developer reported in its quarterly financials (pdf). This came on the back of a 47% rise in revenues to EGP 2.9 bn during the quarter.

enterprise

LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

We could be finally getting our hands on some Ukrainian wheat: A shipment of Ukrainian wheat will soon make its way to Egypt from Romania, Egyptian Holding Company for Silos & Storage official Yasser Tawfik told Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa (watch, runtime: 4:59). The shipment arrived in Romania from Ukraine via rail, he said. This will be the first cargo of Ukrainian wheat to reach Egypt since the war began in late February.

We don’t know how much grain is on the boat: Tawfik didn’t disclose how big the shipment will be or provide a more specific timeline for when it might leave the country.

A lot of wheat earmarked for Egypt is stuck in Ukraine: Some 300k tons, to be exact, traders said recently.

More wheat is also on the way: Five ships carrying thousands of tons of wheat from Europe will be arriving in Egypt in June, he said, with a ship from Bulgaria carrying 55k tons and four ships from France carrying 63k tons each. A 63k-ton shipment of Russian wheat will also arrive some time this month, he said.

State-owned Nasser Social Bank is now offering the best interest rate in the country on its savings certificates, after it launched a new three-year certificate with a 15% interest rate, the bank’s Vice Chairman Mohamed Ashmawy said last night. This is 1% higher than NBE and Banque Misr’s three-year certificates and 1.5% higher than CIB’s. The new rate comes a day after the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) and Banque Misr suspended their 18% CDs. Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 5:43) and Masaa DMC (watch runtime: 7:13) had coverage.

Around 4k people have purchased forms needed to register their properties under the new amendments to the Real Estate Registry Act, which went into effect on 8 May, Real Estate Registry Head Gamal Yacout told Kelma Akira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 8:46) The changes, which received the greenlight from the House of Representatives in February, simplify the property registration process by reducing the volume of documentation needed, digitizing parts of the procedures, and putting a time limit on the process.

But what about new cities? It will be on the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) to register the property on behalf of real estate developers or individuals owning plots in return for a fee, Yacount told El Hadidi. This is according to amendments to the Urban Communities Act, which were approved by the House Legislative Affairs Committee yesterday.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

It’s a quiet morning in the foreign press as far as Egypt is concerned: Bloomberg is out with a piece that juxtaposes the opportunities and the dangers for Egypt that have been brought about by the war in Ukraine. On the one hand: Becoming a top 10 gas exporter and crucial supplier to Europe. On the other: Rising food insecurity and economic instability. Meanwhile, an opinion piece in the Hill says that reports that the Biden administration is working with Egypt and Saudi Arabia to finalize the transfer sovereignty of the Tiran and Sanafir islands to Riyadh would be a “major breakthrough” for the US president, and one that could allow Israel and Saudi Arabia to normalize relations.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Ghazl El Mahalla FC will publish the public subscription notice (PSN) for its upcoming IPO this Thursday, Hassan Samir, the managing director of capital markets at bookrunner Prime Holding, told Hapi Journal. The EGP 98 mn retail offering has been approved by the Financial Regulatory Authority, paving the way for the football club to go ahead with the sale later this month. The club has already completed the private placement component of the offering, raising EGP 37 mn from institutional investors back in November.

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

  • EGX-listed snackmaker Edita has signed an agreement with TotalEnergies to use its fuel cards for its fleet trucks to help track expenses and improve fleet management. (Statement, pdf)
  • The government is cutting electricity and water supplies to 27 tourist resorts on the north coast for failing to pay their utility bills. (Statement)
  • The Local Development Ministry signed protocols with Kafr El Sheikh, Dakahlia and Gharbia governorates to start the EBRD-funded project to clean the Kitchener Drain of pollution. (Statement)
  • Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank Egypt is expanding its partnership with banking software firm Temenos to introduce instant and cross-border payment services. (Statement)
  • The Egyptian Space Agency will open the first facility at its “Space City” — a satellite assembly and testing center — by the end of the year, and expects the complex to be fully operational by 2027, agency head Mohamed El Qousy told ETC TV (watch, runtime: 5:39).

PLANET FINANCE

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Israel + UAE ink trade agreement: Following months of negotiations, Israel and the UAE have inked a bilateral trade agreement that they hope will boost the value of trade between them by more than USD 10 bn and add USD 1.9 bn to the UAE’s GDP over the next five years, Emirati state news agency WAM reported yesterday. The trade agreement — which is the first Israel has signed with an Arab country — is set to either remove or reduce tariffs on over 96% of goods traded between the two countries.

Israel wants to up trade with us, too: Egypt and Israel want to more than double the value of annual bilateral trade to USD 700 mn by 2025 (excluding natural gas exports and tourism). The two countries could turn the Nitzana border crossing in Sinai into a logistics zone to increase commercial trade, and collaborate on green energy projects and R&D.

ALSO IN PLANET FINANCE-

  • Abu Dhabi-based petrochemicals firm Borouge raised some USD 2 bn in its IPO, selling some 3 bn shares in a transaction that values the company at USD 20 bn. (Bloomberg)
  • Whatever it takes: US Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller is the latest to throw his weight behind accelerating the bank’s tightening cycle, advocating making 50-bps hikes until inflation is brought under control. (Bloomberg)
  • The Central Bank of Oman is working to develop a digital currency. (Oman News Agency)
  • The GBP is heading towards EM status, says BofA: “The increasing politicization of UK policy undermines the GBP in ways that would appear EM-like,” warns Bank of America strategist Kamal Sharma, who warns that the currency is heading towards an “existential” crisis. (Bloomberg)

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THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 0.4% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.5 bn (44.4% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net buyers. The index is down 15.1% YTD.

In the green: E-Finance (+4.1%), Abu Qir Fertilizers (+3.1%) and Ezz Steel (+2.8%).

In the red: Palm Hills Development (-9.4%), Cleopatra Hospital (-6.4%) and Heliopolis Housing (-4.3%).

DIPLOMACY

Shoukry in Stockholm for climate talks: Foreign Minister and COP27 President Sameh Shoukry was in Sweden yesterday for the annual climate ministerial, co-hosted by Canada, the EU and China and attended by officials from 37 countries. The delegates discussed key issues ahead of this year’s COP27 summit in Sharm El Sheikh, including climate adaptation, finance and meeting the targets agreed at last year’s COP in Glasgow.

Shoukry met with his Swedish counterpart Ann Linde on the sidelines of the meeting, and discussed increasing Swedish investment in the Egyptian economy, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken commended Egypt’s decision to approve direct flights between Yemen’s Sanaa and Cairo during his phone call with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry earlier this week, according to a US embassy statement.

hardhat

The global overview of public private partnerships in infrastructure in 2021: Investment commitments to public private partnership (PPP) projects in infrastructure have begun recovering from the covid-19 slump, with investment commitments growing 49% y-o-y in 2021 to USD 76.2 bn, according to a recent World Bank report (pdf). PPPs involve collaboration between a government agency and a private-sector company that can be used to finance, build, and operate projects. East Asia and the Pacific led in terms of investments with USD 28.1 bn earmarked during 2021, rising 196% from 2020, the report shows.

MENA PPP investments for the year accounted for the smallest share of the global total both in absolute numbers and in terms of regional GDP: The MENA region lagged behind on the global scale, committing USD 626 mn to infrastructure PPPs in 2021, down 90% compared to 2020. The figure is also 81% below the past five-year average. MENA’s 2021 PPP investments accounted for 0.05% of the region’s national GDPs, with only three countries launching PPP projects: Egypt, Morocco, and Iraq. During the year, Egypt financially closed three PPP projects in each of energy, transport, and water and sewage.

The transport sector accounted for over half of global infrastructure PPPs: Transport received the most investments by far in 2021, with USD 43.8 bn-worth of PPP projects reaching financial close during the year. The sector — which covers everything from roads and airports to railways and ports — returned to the average trend of the past decade, after covid-19 saw 2020 investments in transport reaching a near-standstill due to drastic declines in international travel, worldwide lockdown measures, and supply chain disruptions.

This trend held up in Egypt: Out of a total of USD 5.23 bn spent on infrastructure PPPs in 2021, around USD 5 bn were from the transport sector for a railway project, according to country-specific data from the World Bank. These figures mesh with the high-speed railway, which we previously reported will cost us USD 4.5 bn. A consortium of Siemens Mobility, Orascom Construction and Arab Contractors will work alongside the state-owned National Authority for Tunnels on the project.

But again, MENA didn’t keep up: Last year saw a substantial decrease in transport investments across the region compared to 2020 — the only region that saw such a trend. In 2020, the financial closure of the USD 4.5 bn Cairo Monorail was the largest infrastructure PPP for MENA.

The vast majority (95%) of energy infrastructure PPPs were green last year: The second largest contributor to infrastructure PPPs, with USD 22.4 bn spent in 2021, energy saw an increase in the amount of green projects set to be implemented under the model. Renewable energy projects accounted for 95% of total PPP projects compared to 91% in 2020, with investments increasing nine percentage points to 72% of the total. By added capacity, 71% of new energy generation projects in 2021 were renewable compared to an average of 61% over the last five years, the report stated.

Egypt inked a USD 165 mn agreement for the PPP Kom Ombo solar plant during the year, the data shows. The 200 MW solar plant will see Saudi renewables company Acwa Power work alongside the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company and the New and Renewable Energy Authority under a 25-year BOO (build-own-operate) framework. The project has received financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the African Development Bank.

Investments in global water and sewage PPPs last year rose 146% y-o-y, coming in at USD 9.9 bn across 44 projects. Although the sector as a whole saw investment growth, municipal solid waste projects saw the largest decline (-84% y-o-y) in commitments.

Egypt earmarked USD 49 mn for a waste and sewage PPP in 2021 — the Gabal El Asfar water treatment plant. Under a four-year contract, French infrastructure firm Suez and Arab Contractors together manage the facility and carry out work to improve its energy efficiency. The plant has a capacity of 1 mn cbm/day, and treats wastewater for almost 5 mn people living in Cairo.

On the global scale, the majority of financing came from the private sector: Around 18% of financing came from public sources, 19% came from development and export finance institution (DEFI) sources, and 63% came from private sector sources. The figures show a slight 4% y-o-y increase in private sources of financing in 2021 compared to the previous year, with the “upturn in private financing coinciding with the general pandemic recovery seen this year,” the report explains.

However, MENA was largely reliant on development and export finance institution (DEFI) investment “given the relatively underdeveloped financial sectors in these regions,” the report said. DEFI investment accounted for 55% of the total commitments in 2021 compared to 23% in 2020. However, other international debt saw a significant drop, falling to 4% in 2021 compared to 76% the previous year.

And yet, the year saw the percentage of public investment grow 40x — which isn’t too high of a bar given that the percentage of financing from MENA’s public sector in 2020 was only 1%.

Greenfield projects continued to dominate in 2021, representing 61.5% of all PPP infrastructure investments. This increase in greenfield projects was due to the substantial increase in greenfield transport sector projects such as roads and railways.


Your top infrastructure stories for the week:

  • High-speed rail contracts signed: Siemens Mobility, Orascom Construction and Arab Contractors signed a contract with the government for the second phase of the planned high-speed rail that will see them design, install, commission and maintain the line for 15 years.
  • Madbouly luring US investors to infrastructure: The Madbouly government will launch a string of major new projects in the coming months and pledged fresh incentives to draw foreign investors into sectors such as energy, data centers, and LNG terminals.
  • Construction of the gas pipeline from Cyprus to Egypt will begin by the end of the year and is expected to be completed in 2025, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said last week.
  • Talgo trains coming soon: The Transport Ministry has begun trials of its new Talgo trains along the Cairo-Alexandria line, and will soon launch trials on the Cairo-Aswan rail line.
  • Planned investments in Egypt’s IT sector: IT systems provider Select International is looking to invest (pdf) EGP 330 mn in Egypt in 2022.

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.

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, 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.

21-23 June (Tuesday-Thursday): Commonwealth Business Forum, Kigali, Rwanda.

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.

3-5 November (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Fashion Week.

4-6 November (Friday-Sunday): The Autotech auto exhibition kicks off at the Cairo International Exhibition and Convention Center.

7-18 November (Monday-Friday): Egypt will host COP27 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.

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