Tuesday, 30 August 2022

AM — Maait looks to shift the economic narrative with media blitz, says new int’l debt sales and IPOs are in the works

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, everyone, and happy hump day. Thank you to the incredible number of people who have written to us in the past couple of days about our launch of Enterprise Climate. We’ve read every email and are sending replies as fast as we can. You folks are simply fantastic — we couldn’t ask for better, smarter, more-engaged readers.

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Take our Fall Reader Survey today and we’ll have the results for you in a couple of weeks — just in time to give you a sense of what everyone else is thinking heading into budget season.

How has 2022 been for your business? And how do you feel about what’s left of the year? Are you investing? Do you plan to hire new staff (or make cuts to your existing staff) now or in 2023? What’s the USD / EGP rate you expect to use for your 2023 budget? Where do you see your industry as a whole heading?

Let us know in our Fall Reader Survey. It won’t take more than a few minutes to complete — and we’ll be sharing the results with the entire community.

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We kick off this morning with a report FROM THE DEPT. OF GOOD NEWS- M&As will be on the fast-track in the Farid era. The Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) said in a statement (pdf) yesterday that it will work with the General Authority for Investment and Freezones (GAFI) to fast-track M&As for companies under its jurisdiction. Recently appointed FRA chief Mohamed Farid understands from his time at the EGX that investors and business leaders value clarity above all else in a regulator, particularly after we saw Emirati lender FAB call off its in April its bid for EFG Hermes amid reports that FRA was slow-walking the transaction.

WATCH THIS SPACE #1- Some importers could be in line for a measure of relief as the Madbouly government looks set to announce measures that will allow the release of some of the goods that have piled up in Egypt’s ports. Expect an announcement as early as today, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said last night (watch, runtime: 1:13:18), with the measures coming into effect later this week. Maait did not get into policy specifics ahead of the announcement.

^^ That wasn’t all from Maait: We have the full rundown on his presser in the news well, below.

In the background: A week of speculation that policymakers are looking for ways to ease the requirements to use letters of credit (L/Cs) for some imports, which since being introduced by the central bank in March have made it almost impossible for importers to get most goods into the country. Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly has met with the new central bank governor, Hassan Abdalla, and Trade and Industry Minister Ahmed Samir to discuss allowing importers to purchase certain goods — including raw materials and manufacturing essentials — via documentary collection rather than L/Cs.


EGP WATCH-

The EGP continued to slide yesterday, hitting 19.26 against the USD amid continuing speculation that the currency will be allowed to continue sliding against the greenback. The currency has now fallen more than 22% against the USD since the devaluation in March and is now just 30 piasters away from its all-time-low of 19.56 set in 2016.

Deval, not default: “Strong positive catalysts” in the form of support from the IMF and our GCC friends mean the economy will likely avoid a default, Standard Chartered MENA economist Carla Slim told Bloomberg TV yesterday (watch, runtime: 05:20). Instead, “we’ll see the adjustment happen on the currency basis,” Slim said, becoming the latest market watcher to predict a further devaluation of the EGP.

Slim predicts a gradual 10-15% devaluation over the coming months, adding her voice to growing expectations that the central bank’s new leadership will manage the depreciation over time to avoid stoking inflation, rather than in a 2016-style shock move.

DATA POINT- Natural gas production at the Zohr supergiant natural gas field averaged 2.7 bn cubic feet per day in FY 2021-2022, according to Oil Ministry figures out yesterday. Zohr, one of the Mediterranean’s largest gas fields, also produced an average 5k barrels of condensate a day, the statement said.

The more gas, the better: Egypt is trying to maximize its natural gas exports to bring in vital hard currency revenues, and recently inked an agreement with Israel and the European Union that will see it ramp up shipments across the Mediterranean. European appetite for natural gas will be particularly strong this winter in the absence of additional supplies from Russia.


WATCH THIS SPACE #2- Is Alex Medical back in play? Regular readers may remember how last year’s bidding war for healthcare provider Alex Medical fizzled out. It may be that the Alex Medical is back in play after Tawasol Holdings and LimeVest sent a letter (pdf) to the Financial Regulation Authority (FRA) yesterday offering to purchase 74% of the company at EGP 47.67 a share. The revision reflects approximately 1.3 mn additional shares issued by Alex Medical to raise capital since the consortium's last bid to purchase the 74% stake at EGP 52 a share in June 2021, the letter reads. Tawasol already owns 26% of Alex Medical, meaning an acquisition would give the consortium 100% ownership. At the time of dispatch, it is unclear how many other interested parties are still in play for acquisitions of the company. We’ll be following up on the story in the coming days, so keep your eyes peeled.

In context: 2021 was a big year for healthcare M&A, ending with the late-December announcement of the transaction that saw a unit of CI Capital take a 23% stake in Cleopatra Hospitals after Fahad El Khater’s Alameda Healthcare called off its merger with the EGX-listed business. Healthcare was the top sector for inbound M&A activity in Egypt last year and number three (behind oil and gas and real estate) in total transaction value, according to our in-house M&A tracker.

SIGN OF THE TIMES- Attention, Egyptian Premier League fans: Games will start earlier next season to comply with the government’s measures to reduce public electricity consumption, Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhy told ON Time Sports (watch, runtime: 6:23). The last kickoff for games next season — which will begin on 15 October — will be at 7pm CLT, as opposed to the current 9pm, he said. Sports facilities (including stadiums, clubs, and gyms) were instructed to hold events in daylight as far as possible and to turn off their lights once evening events are over as part of measures implemented earlier this month.

Background: Stadiums were among a list of buildings and facilities that were told to begin rationing their use of electricity earlier this month as the government looks to redirect more natural gas towards exports and increase inflows of foreign currency.

HAPPENING TODAY-

The UN’s Africa Climate Week continues today in Gabon: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is attending the five-day gathering which wraps on Friday. On the first day of the event, Shoukry met Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba and the country’s environment minister, Lee White.

The Madbouly government will hold consultations with representatives from the food and hospitality sector on its privatization strategy. The government is holding workshops and consultations with stakeholders from different industries every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday on its privatization plans. You can find more details on the schedule of the meetings here.

HAPPENING TOMORROW-

Beltone Financial shareholders will elect new board members following Chimera Investments’ acquisition of a majority stake in the firm, it said in a disclosure (pdf) to the EGX yesterday. The company confirmed that it is planning to go ahead with a capital increase but only once it has formed a new board. The Abu Dhabi-based investment company purchased Orascom Financial’s 56% stake in Beltone earlier this month and appointed former investment minister and Masar chairwoman Dalia Khorshid the following week.

PSA #1- Tomorrow is your deadline to catch a 65% break off late payment fines for your taxes. The waiver applies to late payment fees for customs tariffs, income, real estate, and sales taxes, VAT, and stamp duties among others. The remaining 35% of your due payments will need to be paid before next March.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD-

It’s a mixed bag on the global front pages this morning: US monetary policy is the main thing on Bloomberg and CNBC’s minds, the Financial Times is leading with the European energy crunch, and the FBI’s investigation into The Donald’s use of classified information is getting attention from the AP and Reuters.

And: “One small step for … wait a minute, can we try that again?” The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal cover the abortive launch of Nasa’s Artemis moon rocket yesterday, which was shelved due to technical issues.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWEIF) is taking place in Cairo for the first time on 26-27 September, according to a press release (pdf). The hybrid event will bring together more than 60 African and global policy and business experts to discuss how gender integration can boost SME growth.

The Arab Pensions and Social Ins. Conference takes place on 28-29 September in Sharm El Sheikh. The conference will bring together state-run social ins. organizations and public and private pension providers to discuss widening coverage through region-wide pension reform.

PSA #2- Exporters have until 15 September to apply to join the fifth phase of FinMin’s export subsidy program, according to a statement. Cabinet has given its approval to pay a total EGP 10 bn out to exporters, with payments to be made on 1 October and 1 December. The program allows exporters to receive overdue subsidies in a single payment rather than in installments over four to five years, in return for a haircut.

Ration card holders now have until 30 September to register their mobile numbers to their cards, in a move meant to make it easier for the Supply Ministry to contact them, the ministry said in a statement 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 Going Green day — your weekly briefing of all things green in Egypt: Enterprise’s green economy vertical focuses each Tuesday on the business of renewable energy and sustainable practices in Egypt, everything from solar and wind energy through to water, waste management, sustainable building practices and how you can make your business greener, whatever the sector.

In today’s issue: A minor oil spill in the Gulf of Aqaba hit Dahab’s shores earlier this month. Community organizers and local authorities helped clean it up.

enterprise

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ECONOMY

Maait looks to shift the economic narrative with media blitz

Maait says the economy can ride out global economic shocks: Finance Minister Mohamed Maait took to the mic yesterday in a bid to counter a wave of negative press on the economy in recent weeks. With the recent narrative around the economy being dominated by concerns about the currency and Egypt’s access to FX, Maait sought to refocus the conversation on the ministry’s recent fiscal achievements, pointing to years-long trends of solid GDP growth and rising tax revenues, a decent primary surplus, and a solid track-record of narrowing the budget deficit.

The message? “Keep calm and carry on” amid concerns about inflation, calls for a further devaluation of the EGP, and investor fears about the country’s external debt position.

NEW INT’L DEBT SALES IN THE WORKS-

Egypt plans to issue CNY-denominated bonds worth more than USD 500 mn, Maait said. Earlier this month, Maait told us that Egypt is in talks with Chinese officials to issue panda bonds and is still on the hunt for bookrunners for the issuance.

And another Samurai bonds issuance in the pipeline … this time green? The government is also in discussions to issue green samurai bonds, Maait said. We made our maiden samurai bond debut in late March, when the government sold USD 500 mn of the JPY-denominated bonds.

FinMin is still waiting for conditions to improve before issuing any other bonds: The ministry will hold off on planned issuances of sustainable development bonds and sukuk until the markets stabilize, Maait reiterated.

Background: The government had been mulling selling the JPY- and CNY-denominated bonds back in 2019, but the sales were delayed because of complications caused by the pandemic.

ON THE PRIVATIZATION FRONT-

Could we still see state IPOs this year? The government is still hoping to offer shares in state companies on the EGX between September and December, Maait told CNBC Arabia (watch, runtime: 9:29). Egypt had hoped to sell shares in as many as 10 state-owned companies on the EGX in 2022, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine upended the global economy. Officials have since then suggested that strategic stake sales will be the way to go in the foreseeable future thanks to the volatility in global markets, which have seen two IPOs postponed and one fail.

UPGRADED FORECASTS-

Maait used the presser to unveil new figures from FY 2021-2022 and announced updated forecasts for the current fiscal year:

  • The ministry now expects the budget deficit to narrow to 5.6% this year and 5.0% in FY 2023-2024, down from 6.1% last year, Bloomberg Asharq reported Maait as saying. The government forecast this year’s deficit to come in at 6.1% in the budget.
  • The primary surplus will rise to 1.6% for the current fiscal year, up 0.1 percentage points from its budget forecast and 1.3% in FY 2021-2022.
  • The debt-to-GDP ratio rose from a forecasted 85% to 85.3% during last fiscal year, thanks to the changes in the exchange rate, Maait said. The ratio remains well within FinMin’s previous target of less than 90%.
  • Tax revenues were up 18.7% y-o-y to EGP 990 bn during FY 2021-2022, beating the ministry’s forecast of EGP 950 bn, as the state pushes to integrate the informal economy into a new, digitized tax system.

MAAIT VS. FAKE NEWS-

You’ve tuned in to Maait TV: Maait’s presser was given attention by most of the nation’s talking heads last night and the minister took his defense of the government’s economic record to Salet El Tahrir (watch, runtime: 24:48) and Al Hadath Al Youm’s Hadret Al Mowaten (watch, runtime: 1:13:18), where he criticized press reporting on the economy.

The message on the airwaves was rather different as the minister went on the offensive, accusing some in the media of peddling fake news and spreading “defamatory lies” that he said could either be stemming from ignorance or from a desire to incite panic among Egyptians. One such story the minister singled out: Reports that the IMF is trying to impose tough conditions in return for a loan — such as reforming bread subsidies and cutting back on social spending — which he said were untrue.

What Trump was to Jim Acosta, Maait was to Al Arabiya: The minister singled-out the Saudi broadcaster for particular criticism after it inaccurately quoted him as saying that the government is preparing measures to make hard currency available for certain industries during the presser. “I never said that; they misquoted me,” he made a point of saying on both talk shows.

INVESTMENT WATCH

China could be making an entry into Egypt’s solar industry + yet more logistics zones

Chinese firms could be looking to build a massive solar panel parts factory + two more logistics zones in the works: There’s talk of Chinese players coming on board to build a major industrial complex for manufacturing solar-panel components while a senior official at the Internal Trade Development Authority (ITDA) has been quoted saying that it has invited a consortium of local and international investors to establish two new logistics zones.

FIRST UP- The solar panel plant reportedly in the works: The Madbouly government is in talks with unnamed Chinese players to build and finance a USD 2.3 bn complex to make solar panel components, Bloomberg Asharq reports, citing four unnamed government sources. The move comes as part of state efforts to localize the industry, the sources reportedly said.

Details: The complex — which could be located in Suez, Minya or Aswan — would house silicone, polysilicon, chip-cutting, solar cell, glass, and PVC plastics factories, as well as a station to power the facility. The electricity, military production, planning and trade ministers are all reportedly part of the negotiations with Chinese firms to build the project and are also in talks with Chinese banks for a long-term, low-interest loan to finance it. Asharq’s sources did not disclose a timeframe for the talks.

China has been eyeing a project like this for years: An unnamed Chinese firm was reportedly looking to build two facilities to produce solar panels with a combined annual capacity of 5 GW in Aswan and Zaafarana back in 2020, two years after talks with China’s Golden Concord Group (GCL) over a similar project broke down.

Local solar panel manufacturers have struggled with high input prices + a shortage of parts: Local solar panel manufacturers have been hit hard in the past year by the global chip shortage, which sent prices of solar cells soaring, as well as higher input prices on the back of the commodities crunch. “Local solar panel manufacturing is no longer viable without a governmental strategy to support the industry,” Mohammad Makhlouf, chairman and CEO of local manufacturing solar company Sunprism, told us back in April. The government has since moved to help the industry as part of its push to localize manufacturing, scrapping plans to impose a 10% duty on solar and wind components and replacing it with a smaller 2% tariff.

AND- Two new logistic zones up for grabs? An alliance of local and international companies is reportedly looking to invest EGP 5 bn to build an agricultural logistic zone to boost date farming in New Valley Governorate, and another EGP 500 mn for a logistics zone for the tourism and hospitality sectors in South Sinai Governorate, ITDA deputy head Walid Seif El Din reportedly told Hapi Journal. Seif El Din declined to disclose further details, saying that the companies are still studying the projects’ feasibility.

Another French-built wholesale market? French company Rungis will build a wholesale market in Ismailia in cooperation with local private sector players, Seif El Din reportedly said. Rungis is already working with the Supply Ministry to establish a wholesale market in Borg El Arab with EUR 100 mn in funding from the French Development Agency. The agency said at the time it was studying the development of 14 wholesale wheat markets across the country.

M&A WATCH

KarmSolar is looking for investors

Solar energy company KarmSolar will sell a minority stake to investors via a capital increase as it looks to expand its presence in Egypt and across the region, it said in a statement (pdf) yesterday. The company hopes to raise “a significant amount” in the investment round, KarmSolar CEO Ahmed Zahran told Enterprise, but stopped short of disclosing the target sum or how much equity will be on offer.

The details: The round should take three to six months to close, Zahran said, adding that the company has already registered interest from European, Asian and American investors. KarmSolar has tapped US-based Synergy Consulting to advise on the transaction.

The capital injection will help grow the company’s existing power generation and distribution business and allow it to push into new markets in the region, Zahran said, without naming any specific countries. Funding will also be directed to its solar-powered desalination firm KarmWater, he added.

EV charging firm in the works: Part of the capital increase will go towards a new EV charging venture, KarmCharge, that the company hopes to launch early next year, Zahran said.

The stake sale is part of a five-year IPO plan: “We’ve initiated this round of investment, to bring more partners into the company in preparation for a potential IPO, hopefully in five years time,” Zahran added.

About KarmSolar: Including secured and financed projects that are yet to come online, the company holds a portfolio of 42 MW of renewables plants, and 48 MVA of distribution capacity in the industrial, commercial, agricultural, and tourism sectors. The Financial Times in May named KarmSolar Africa’s 19th fastest-growing firm after more than tripling its revenues between 2017 and 2020, making it the second-fastest growing energy company on the continent. France’s EDF Renewables bought an undisclosed “strategic stake” in the company through a capital increase back in 2019.

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INVESTMENT WATCH

Gennecs plans USD 150 mn vaccine factory in Egypt, backed by export ambitions

Local pharma firm Gennecs will invest USD 150 mn to build a vaccine manufacturing facility in Egypt, CEO Adam El Daba told Enterprise. The factory will be able to produce 300 mn vaccines every year, making it the largest of its kind in the MENA region.

The vaccines: The company will produce jabs included in the country’s national immunization program, including for HPV, polio, hepatitis A and B, and others, co-founder and General Manager Nibal Dahaba told us.

The finance: The company is lining up capital from foreign investors including regional and global institutions, as well as family offices in Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Egypt, El Daba said.

Timeline: The factory will begin producing ready-to-fill vials by 2026 and is expected to start producing antigens for the vaccines by 2029 after it has received accreditation from the World Health Organization (WHO), Dahaba said.

Accreditation just got easier for Egyptian firms: Egyptian medical authorities received the WHO’s second-highest regulatory classification — the ML-3 level of national vaccine regulation — earlier this month, which allows local firms to apply to the WHO to have their products pre-qualified and listed for emergency use.

This will be essential for Gennecs’ export ambitions: The classification will eventually allow companies to export vaccines manufactured in Egypt. “WHO prequalification is a must if you need to be accredited and start being a global player,” Dahaba said. “It will allow us to export all over the world.” The company plans to export vaccines to all countries in the GAVI alliance, which includes most of Africa, Dahaba said.

Where things stand now: The company has acquired land in an industrial zone in Greater Cairo and completed the initial design phase for the factory, with help from an Italian construction firm CSV Construction, Dahaba said.

The facility will also have a research and development center and a “strain bank,” which catalogs different African disease strains.

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LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Finance Minister Mohamed Maait headlined the talk shows last night after his press conference yesterday defending the government’s economic record. We have the full story in this morning’s news well, above.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Nobody in the international press is paying attention to Egypt this morning.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

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

  • The Holding Company for Food Industries has reportedly acquired a 17% stake in Fayoum Sugar Works for EGP 305 mn, upping its stake in the company to around 20%. Banque Misr, the National Bank of Egypt, Misr Ins. Company and Misr Life Ins. were the sellers, with Banque Misr making a full exit. (Al Mal)
  • A ship carrying 11k tons of corn was set to leave Ukraine’s Odessa port yesterday for Egypt. (UN News)
  • Lafarge Egypt will help Raya Holding’s freight subsidiary Ostool convert the fleet trucks serving the building materials producer to operate on natural gas. (Statement, pdf)
  • Sharm El Sheikh will host the telecoms industry’s Global Symposium for Regulators in the second half of 2023. (Statement)

PLANET FINANCE

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EU hits panic button as energy crisis escalates: The EU plans to “decouple” electricity prices from gas as part of an emergency package of measures to tackle the spiraling energy crisis in the continent, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday. Natural gas and electricity prices are now 10x higher than they were a year ago as the sanctions war between Europe and Russia disrupts gas supplies.

Also in the cards: Price caps on wholesale gas and taxes on windfall profits made by the energy sector are also being discussed.

This could last for years, says Shell: “It may well be that we have a number of winters where we have to somehow find solutions through efficiency savings, through rationing and a very, very quick buildout of alternatives,” CEO Ben van Beurden said. (AFP | Financial Times | Bloomberg)


Investors are upping wagers against the EUR as Europe’s energy crisis goes from bad to worse, the Financial Times reports. Investor wagers on a decline in the value of the EUR reached their highest level since the start of the pandemic, as the threat of recession in Europe intensifies prompted by record energy prices. The EUR fell below USD parity last week, reaching a two-decade low of EUR 0.99.

Also contributing to the EUR’s bearish outlook: The unstoppable rise of the USD. The USD hit a 20-year high on Monday following signals from Jackson Hole that the Fed will continue to raise interest rates, Reuters reports. The USD peaked at 109.28 on the USD index, which measures the currency's value relative to a basket of foreign currencies.

A mega rate-hike in Europe was enough to lift the currency off its lows yesterday: Several European Central Bank officials were reported to be in favor of a 75-bps interest rate hike in September, helping lift the currency off its multi-decade lows against the greenback yesterday.


Sweetener for a nuclear deal? Iran is ready to bring an estimated 60-93 mn barrels of Iranian oil to the global market if a nuclear agreement is reached with the US, Bloomberg reports, citing shipping tracking data.

Tempting for Biden? The US president has had mixed results convincing his Gulf allies and other OPEC nations to ramp up production as the sanctions war with Russia sends shockwaves through global energy markets. Iranian supply could ease some of the pressure just as the Biden administration stops drawing on its strategic crude reserves in October and OPEC+ threatens to curb production.

Oil is now back in triple digits after Saudi Arabia last week threatened to cut output. Brent crude finished yesterday’s trading session at USD 103 a barrel yesterday, its highest close since the end of July.

Down

EGX30

10,122

-0.6% (YTD: -15.3%)

Up

USD (CBE)

Buy 19.15

Sell 19.26

Up

USD at CIB

Buy 19.18

Sell 19.24

None

Interest rates CBE

11.25% deposit

12.25% lending

None

Tadawul

12,531

0.0% (YTD: +11.1%)

Down

ADX

9,964

-1.1% (YTD: +17.4%)

Down

DFM

3,436

-0.8% (YTD: +7.5%)

Down

S&P 500

4,031

-0.7% (YTD: -15.4%)

Down

FTSE 100

7,427

-0.7% (YTD: +0.6%)

Down

Euro Stoxx 50

3,571

-0.9% (YTD: -16.9%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 105.09

+4.1%

Up

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 9.35

+0.6%

None

Gold

USD 1,749.70

0.0%

Up

BTC

USD 20,205

+1.2% (YTD: -56.4%)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell 0.6% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.58 bn (46.4% above the 90-day average). Local investors were net buyers. The index is down 15.3% YTD.

In the green: Qalaa Holdings (+3.6%), Alexandria Containers (+3.3%) and Palm Hills Development (+2.1%).

In the red: Madinet Nasr Housing (-7.0%), Elsewedy Electric (-3.0%) and Ibnsina Pharma (-2.4%).

AROUND THE WORLD

Clashes in Iraq as Al Sadr resigns from politics: Supporters of Moqtada Al Sadr have stormed the presidential palace in Baghdad after the Shia cleric announced he would exit politics. At least 15 protesters were killed and dozens wounded in clashes with security forces, which saw Sadr supporters breach the palace gates and rush into the building, the Associated Press reported yesterday. This follows weeks of protests and political deadlock that followed October’s parliamentary elections. Sadr’s coalition won a plurality of seats in the ballot but failed to secure a majority, leaving rival Shiite parties unable to agree on who should serve as prime minister.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi pledged his support to Iraqi Prime Minister Moustafa Al Kadhimi, offering to help de-escalate tensions and open a path for dialogue to end the conflict, according to an Ittihadiya statement. El Sisi also spoke with Iraqi President Barham Salih, it said in a separate statement.

The story got significant attention in Egypt on last night’s talk shows: Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 1:31), Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 3:45) and Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 2:57).

greenEconomy

A minor oil spill in the Gulf of Aqaba hit Dahab’s shores. Community organizers and local authorities helped clean it up. In mid-August, photos were posted to social media showing parts of Dahab’s coastline dotted with thick patches of crude oil, reportedly the result of an oil spill from a vessel in Jordan’s Aqaba Port. Volunteers and local environmental organizations have since led efforts to scrub the oil off the South Sinai town’s shores, which sustain an abundance of marine life and are a huge draw for tourists.

The local community stepped up fast: Volunteer environmental initiative Eco-Dahab and the Tourism Ministry’s Diving and Water Sports Chamber raised the alarm on August 16, posting photos of the spill to social media alongside warnings not to enter the water.

Locals immediately took to scraping and shoveling what they could off the beach into plastic bags. “These were all individual efforts at first so we started to organize those that were already cleaning,” Nadine Wahab, founder of Eco-Dahab, told Enterprise. “We made sure they knew what to do. We spoke to consultants, we got gloves, shovels and started using 19-liter water containers with the tops cut off to store the oil we removed,” Wahab says.

Teamwork makes the dream work: The Environment Ministry-affiliated Salam Center for Combating Marine Pollution in Sharm El-Sheikh surveyed the area and undertook immediate damage control, according to a ministry statement. Some 50 members of the local community pitched in to remove oil from the beach, while Dahab’s local authorities contracted the private cleaning company that deals with the town’s waste management to take the contaminants to landfill. “Day by day we learned how to better facilitate this community response, in coordination with the government,” Wahab tells us.

Where the oil hit: The area visibly impacted is a stretch of about 1.5 km along Dahab’s coast where clumps of crude oil had accumulated on shore, according to the Environment Ministry. That includes the neighborhoods of Eel Garden, El Assala and Zarnouk — from which some 4 tons of crude-oil contaminated waste was collected and transported to landfill, the ministry said.

And where it came from: The oil appears to have been carried on currents from Jordan’s Aqaba port, where an oil spill earlier this month leaked some 11.4 tons of crude oil from a docked tanker into the Gulf of Aqaba. Tidal movements caused most of the spilled oil to settle in the port of Aqaba itself, an environment and tourism official reportedly told the Jordan Times, though he added that “small traces of the polluting matter [reached] beaches at the three neighboring countries surrounding the Gulf of Aqaba [Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel].”

Investigations are ongoing on both shores: Officials from the South Sinai protectorates have collected samples of the oil, which are being analyzed at an Environmental Affairs Agency lab in Suez to determine their source ahead of potential legal action against those responsible, the Environment Ministry said. Meanwhile, Jordanian authorities are carrying out their own “judicial investigation” into the Aqaba spill, with preliminary findings suggesting it was the result of “technical failures” on the Palauan-registered vessel Flower of Sea. Jordan has also submitted an incident report on the spill to the Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (PERSGA).

We don’t yet know the extent of the damage in Dahab. But crude oil contamination is no joke: Crude oil is toxic and can seriously harm people and animals unlucky enough to inhale, ingest, or touch it, Dr. Mahmoud Hanafy, professor of marine biology at Suez Canal University and scientific advisor to the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA), tells Enterprise. The implications of oil spills for marine life including seabirds are dire, and can render fishing stock unsafe for human consumption, Dr. Hanafy explains.

And once oil has spilled, it sticks: Skimming oil off the ocean’s surface in the immediate aftermath of the spill can remove about 40% of contaminants at best, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It's even harder to clean an oil spill once it reaches the shore because it has spread out across a wider area and is much more difficult to extract from sand than water.

The spill highlights the need for closer ties with our neighbors when it comes to conservation: “For the oil to have made it to our shores from the other side of the Gulf Aqaba, it had to travel about 150 km—that’s a lot of time to have remedied the problem had we been notified of it sooner,” Hanafy says.

Oil pollution is likely a wider problem — but more research is needed: Tankers transport mns of tons of hydrocarbons through the Suez Canal every year — so “there’s no doubt that some of that material has seeped into the sea over the years,” Hanafy says. What we don’t know is what impact small-scale contamination events have had on marine ecosystems in Egypt. “It's a very understudied area of research,” he adds.

For now, it’s safe to reenter Dahab’s waters — but the local community is on standby. “We aren't experts, [but] we are lucky that there seem to be very little residual effects of the oil spillI,” Eco-Dahab’s Wahab says. The group continues to keep a close eye on the worst-hit areas to make sure no more oil washes up. “We’re asking people to be aware of any sight, smell or taste of oil in the water, just to be safe,” she adds. “If anything like this were to happen again in the future, the community is more connected to official channels and we’ll be prepared to more quickly coordinate a response.”


Your top green economy stories for the week:

  • Management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group has been named exclusive consulting partner for the COP 27 summit, during which it will provide “analytical capabilities and industry insights.”
  • Seven international companies have signed early agreements to build facilities that will produce mns of tons of green fuel in the Ain Sokhna Industrial Zone.
  • South Korea’s state nuclear power company has signed a KRW 3 tn (USD 2.2 bn) contract with Rosatom to supply equipment and help build the 4.8 GW Dabaa nuclear plant.

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.

AUGUST

August: Sharm El Sheikh will host the African Sumo Championship.

29 August-2 September (Monday-Friday): Africa Climate Week, Gabon.

30 August (Tuesday): Deadline for companies to file 2Q financial statements.

30 August (Tuesday): Deadline to apply for government non-profit universities via the tansik (enrollment) website.

30 August (Tuesday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with representatives from the food and hospitality sector.

31 August (Wednesday): Late tax payment deadline.

31 August (Wednesday): Deadline for qualifying companies to submit offers to manage and operate a soon-to-be-established state company for EV charging stations.

31 August (Wednesday): Submission deadline for fall 2022 cycle of EGBank’s Mint Incubator.

31 August (Wednesday): Beltone convenes its general assembly to restructure the board following the change of ownership.

SEPTEMBER

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

September: Egyptian-German Joint Economic Committee.

September: A delegation from Germany’s Aldi will visit Egypt to look at potential investments.

September: Government to launch an international promotional campaign for Egyptian tourism.

September: Egypt will host the second edition of the Egypt-International Cooperation Forum (ICF).

1 September (Thursday): Credit hikes for ration card holders will come into effect.

1 September (Thursday): Madbouly government set to introduce new social protection measures.

1-2 September (Thursday-Friday): Egypt and UN-led regional climate roundtable ahead of COP27, Santiago, Chile.

1-3 September (Thursday-Saturday): The Union of Arab Banks is organizing a forum on money laundering and terrorism financing in Sharm El Sheikh.

3 September (Saturday): The National Dialogue board of trustees holds a meeting to set the agenda for the dialogue and choose rapporteurs for the involved committees.

4 September (Sunday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with electricity players.

4 September (Sunday): Industrial Development Authority’s deadline for companies interested in providing various services in the industrial zones in Qena and Sohag to submit a written expression of interest.

5-8 September (Monday-Thursday): Gastech 2022, Milan, Italy.

6 September (Tuesday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with building and construction players.

6-9 September (Tuesday-Friday): Gate Travel Expo 2022, El Qubba Palace, Cairo.

7-9 September (Wednesday-Friday): African Finance Ministers to meet in Cairo to coordinate an African-led position during COP27.

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

8 September (Thursday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with experts and think tanks.

11 September (Sunday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with accommodation and food services players.

13 September (Tuesday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with sports industry players.

11-13 September (Sunday-Tuesday): Environment and Development Forum (EDF), InterContinental City Stars, Cairo.

14 September (Wednesday): Expedition Investments’ MTO for Domty expires.

15 September (Thursday): Deadline for B Investments to respond to Adnoc’s bid for TotalEnergies Egypt.

15 September (Thursday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with water and sewage utilities players.

15 September (Thursday): Deadline to apply for the fifth phase of the export subsidy program.

15 September (Thursday): Egypt and UN-led regional climate roundtable ahead of COP27, Beirut, Lebanon.

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

19-22 September (Monday-Thursday): EFG Hermes One on One Conference, Dubai.

20 September (Tuesday): Fifth Egypt and UN-led regional climate roundtable ahead of COP27, Geneva, Switzerland.

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

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

22 September (Thursday): Deadline to submit prequalification applications for companies interested in submitting a proposal for sea water desalination projects

25-27 September (Sunday-Tuesday) A delegation of executives at Egyptian real estate companies visit Saudi Arabia to present developers with investment opportunities in Egypt’s real estate sector.

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

27-29 September (Tuesday-Thursday): Africa Renewables Investment Summit (ARIS), Cape Town, South Africa.

28-29 September (Wednesday-Thursday): The sixth edition of Arab Pensions and Social Ins. Conference in Sharm El Sheikh.

OCTOBER

October: House of Representatives reconvenes after summer recess

October: Air Sphinx, EgyptAir’s low-cost subsidiary to commence operations.

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

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

1 October (Saturday): Start of 2022-2023 school year.

1 October (Saturday): 2022- 2023 academic year begins for public universities.

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.

15 October (Saturday): Cairo Metro will launch a global tender for maintenance work on the power stations and overhead catenary system of Line 1.

16-19 October (Sunday-Wednesday): Cairo Water Week 2022, Nile Ritz Carlton, Cairo.

18-20 October (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria.

27 October (Thursday): European Central Bank monetary policy meeting.

Late October-14 November: 3Q2022 earnings season.

NOVEMBER

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): Autotech auto exhibition, Cairo International Exhibition and Convention Center.

6-18 November (Sunday-Friday): Egypt will host COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh.

7 November (Monday): The inauguration of the first line of the high-speed rail.

7-13 November (Mon-Sun): The International University Sports Federation (FISU) World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

21 November-18 December (Monday-Sunday): 2022 Fifa World Cup, Qatar.

DECEMBER

13-14 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

13-15 December (Tuesday-Thursday): US-Africa Leaders Summit.

15 December (Thursday): European Central Bank monetary policy meeting.

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

December: The Sixth of October dry port will begin operations.

December: Egypt to expand Sudan electricity link capacity to 300 MW.

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.

1 January (Sunday): Residential electricity bills are set to rise as per the government’s six-year roadmap (pdf) to restructure electricity prices by 2025.

7 January (Saturday): Coptic Christmas.

25 January (Wednesday): 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

26 January (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

FEBRUARY 2023

11 February (Saturday): Second semester of 2022-2023 academic year begins for public universities.

13-15 February (Monday-Wednesday): The Egypt Petroleum Show (Egyps), Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo.

MARCH 2023

March: 4Q2022 earnings season.

23 March (Wednesday) — First day of Ramadan (TBC). Maghreb will be at 6:08pm CLT.

APRIL 2023

17 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

22 April (Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

25 April (Tuesday): Sinai Liberation Day.

27 April (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sinai Liberation Day (TBC).

Late April – 15 May: 1Q2023 earnings season.

MAY 2023

1 May (Monday): Labor Day.

4 May (Thursday) National holiday in observance of Labor Day (TBC).

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

JUNE 2023

28 June-2 July (Wednesday-Sunday): Eid El Adha (TBC).

30 June (Friday): June 30 Revolution Day.

JULY 2023

18 July (Tuesday): Islamic New Year.

20 July (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Islamic New Year (TBC).

23 July (Sunday): Revolution Day.

27 July (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Revolution Day.

Late July-14 August: 2Q2023 earnings season.

SEPTEMBER 2023

26 September (Tuesday): Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (TBC).

28 September (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (TBC).

OCTOBER 2023

6 October (Friday): Armed Forces Day.

Late October-14 November: 3Q2023 earnings season.

EVENTS WITH NO SET DATE

2H 2022: The inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum.

2H 2022: IEF-IGU Ministerial Gas Forum, Egypt. Date + location TBA.

2H 2022: The government will have vaccinated 70% of the population.

3Q 2022: Ayady’s consumer financing arm, The Egyptian Company for Consumer Finance Services, to release its first financing product.

3Q 2022: Swvl to close acquisition of Urbvan Mobility.

4Q 2022: Infinity + Africa Finance Corporation to close acquisition of Lekela Power.

4Q2022: Raya Holding subsidiary Aman and Qalaa Holdings’ Taqa Arabia to launch their fintech company.

End of 2022: Decent Life first phase scheduled for completion.

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.

1Q 2023: Adnoc Distribution’s acquisition of 50% of TotalEnergies Egypt to close.

**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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