Sunday, 5 February 2023

AM — CBE keeps rates on hold in surprise move



Is this the week? Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly is expected to reveal the list of at least 20 state-owned companies that the government plans to offer stakes in this year. At a presser last week, the PM said he would announce the details of the government’s privatization program following the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Final prep: The PM held a meeting with key ministers and central bank officials over the weekend to review the plans, cabinet said yesterday.

Expect the oil and gas industry to dominate the offering pipeline: That’s according to Oil Minister Tarek El Molla, who told Asharq Business on Thursday that as many as half of the companies on the list are in the petroleum sector (watch, runtime: 1:34).

The EGX flagged a number of oil and petrochemical firms as being candidates for privatization earlier this month: The government could sell strategic stakes in or look to IPO contractors Enppi and the Egyptian Drilling Company; petrochem firms eMethanex, Ethydco, Egyptian Linear Alkylbenzene Company and WAPHCO; and refineries Midor and Assiut Oil Refining Company, according to the EGX’s annual report (pdf).

CBE steers interbank FX towards imports: The Central Bank of Egypt has reportedly instructed local banks to use FX obtained from the interbank market to fund imports rather than to cover overdrawn FX accounts, according to Al Shorouk, which cites anonymous banking sources.


It’s PMI day: We’ll find out how Egypt’s non-oil private sector performed in January just after we ‘send’ on this morning’s email when S&P Global releases its latest purchasing managers’ index. Surging inflation, the weaker EGP and import curbs have weighed on business activity in recent months, leading it to extend its contraction to 25 consecutive months in December.

The Romanian PM is in town: Several MoUs and agreements will be signed today between Egypt and Romania to coincide with Romanian PM Nicolae Ciucă’s visit to Cairo. This is according to Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly who was speaking yesterday ahead of talks with Ciucă. The two leaders discussed increasing Egypt’s imports of Romanian wheat and upping Romania’s purchase of Egyptian petrochemicals and fertilizer, the Egyptian cabinet said in a statement.

Business meeting today: Egyptian and Romanian businesses will meet at a forum today to discuss commercial ties and investment opportunities, Madbouly said.

Talgo train launches on the Cairo-Luxor line: The second of our seven new Talgo passenger trains will start running today on the Cairo-Luxor line, according to a Transport Ministry statement. Ticket prices range from EGP 250-600 depending on destination and class.

ON THE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA- The Senate is back in session this week with a busy schedule:

  • The Industrial Committee will begin discussing a new government-drafted bill on legalizing unlicensed industrial projects.
  • The Financial and Economic Affairs Committee will resume discussions over a report by the pro-government Mostaqbal Watan party that aims to overhaul how we approach foreign direct investment (FDI).
  • The Agriculture Committee will discuss how to turn the country’s chemical fertilizers industry to a leading export business.
  • The Culture and Tourism Committee will look into reasons behind the closure of Cairo’s Nile Meridien Hotel.
  • A study on family violence will be up for discussion amid a noticeable rise in domestic violence crimes.

REMINDER- The House is still out of session: MPs are due to reconvene next Sunday, 12 February.


Operation Save Lebanon: Egyptian officials are attending an international meeting in Paris called by France to discuss how to end a political impasse in crisis-hit Lebanon, AFP reported, citing statements by the French Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson. Officials from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the US will also be in attendance.


Palestine talks in Cairo: Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is expected to fly into Cairo this week to hold talks with Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and other security officials, a Hamas spokesperson said in a statement picked up by the Jerusalem Post. The secretary of Palestinian Islamic Jihad was in Cairo yesterday for talks, the Israeli newspaper reported. The invite came days after Kamel visited Ramallah for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other officials in a bid to end the recent violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem.


Dominating the conversation in the global press this morning: The US has downed a suspected Chinese spy balloon to the consternation of Beijing, which has accused Washington of breaching international conventions. (AP | Reuters | Bloomberg | FT | WSJ | NYT)

TAKE OUR JANUARY ENTERPRISE READER SURVEY and get a chance to break bread with us: Give us your thoughts on how 2022 panned out for your business and industry, and what you’re expecting in the year ahead in our Enterprise Reader Survey.

We’re asking you to share your expectations on the EGP / USD rate in 2023, how you’re managing expenses amid the rising cost of living, where you see your industry as a whole heading, and whether you expect to make fresh investments — among a few other questions we ask our community on a regular basis. As is our custom, we’ll be sharing the results with all of you in a few weeks’ time to help you shape your view of the year.

You can take the Reader Survey here — it won’t take more than a few minutes to complete.

Want to have a meal with us? Leave your name, email, mobile number, and where you work in the box for “Is there anything else you want to tell us.” We’ll be inviting eight participating readers to a meal at one of our favorite restaurants.

OBITUARY- Former PM Sherif Ismail has passed away at age 67 after a battle with illness, state news agency MENA said yesterday. Ismail was appointed the country’s prime minister in September 2015 and resigned in June 2018 shortly after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi began his second presidential term. During his tenure, Ismail saw through tough economic reforms as part of his government’s agreement with the IMF for a USD 12 bn loan in late 2016. Prior to his appointment as PM, Ismail served as Oil Minister from July 2013 until September 2015. El Sisi described him as a “great man who took responsibility in the most difficult circumstances and the hardest of times,” in a social media port yesterday.

DATA POINT- The 13 draft oil agreements for oil exploration in the Western Desert, Gulf of Suez, and the Mediterranean will bring minimum investments of USD 650 mn, the Oil Ministry said Thursday. The exploration rights will go to the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC), EGAS, and a number of unnamed international companies.



We’re excited to unveil our next C-level event: The Enterprise FDI + Exports Forum, where we will take a deep dive into two of the most critical topics affecting our community.

Exports and foreign direct investment (FDI) have never been more important to our economy — or our businesses — than in the wake of the float of the EGP. We think we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build an export-led economy that makes us a magnet for FDI and all the benefits that will come with it for our nation.

Want to join the conversation? Drop us a line on


The key remaining news triggers this month:

  • Foreign reserves: The central bank will release January’s foreign reserves figures next week.
  • Inflation: The CBE and Capmas will publish inflation data for January the week after next.

Unis go back this week: The second semester of the 2022-2023 academic year begins for public universities on 11 February.

Petro-show next week: Oil and gas industry figures from Egypt and the region will congregate at the Egypt International Exhibition Center for the Egypt Petroleum Show (Egyps) starting next Monday. The three-day conference runs 13-15 February.

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


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

In today’s issue: We look at how FX restrictions continue to impact startup’s USD spending capacities, with main budget lines, tech tools and ads taking the hit. Analysts who spoke with Enterprise believe that restrictions would make doing business more difficult, affecting growth trajectories and sales.


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CBE keeps rates on hold in surprise move

CBE unexpectedly holds interest rates steady in its first meeting of the year: The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) left interest rates unchanged on Thursday, defying expectations of a third consecutive hike. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) left the deposit rate at 16.25%, the lending rate at 17.25%, and the main operation and disc. rates at 16.75%, it said in a statement (pdf) following its policy meeting.

The wait-and-see approach: The central bank said it was keeping rates unchanged as it waits to see the full impact of the 800 bps of hikes it made in 2022 to counter high inflation. Most of that tightening came late in the year, with the central bank enacting a jumbo 300-bps rate hike at the end of December before allowing the EGP to slide to a fresh low against the greenback in January. “The MPC decided to maintain key policy rates unchanged in today’s meeting in order to assess the impact of the implemented front-loaded tightening policies,” the statement reads.

A surprise hold: Four of the seven analysts surveyed by Enterprise ahead of the meeting expected the central bank to hike rates by 100-200 basis points on the back of persistently high inflation. The median estimate in a Reuters poll was for a 150-bps hike. Two analysts — HC Securities banking and macro analyst Heba Monir and Faisal Islamic Brokerage’s head of research, Hesham El Shebeini, — told us they thought the CBE would likely keep rates steady to maintain growth while the market absorbs December’s jumbo hike .

The right call? “Further tightening of the monetary stance may have been justified in order to manage inflation expectations in the aftermath of the depreciation of the EGP over the past month and upcoming upward fuel price adjustments,” Goldman Sachs’ Farouk Soussa is quoted as saying by Bloomberg. “Higher rates may also be needed to stimulate further portfolio inflows.”

Inflation is still running high: Annual urban Inflation jumped to a five-year high of 21.3% in December, up from 18.7% the month before, as the impact of successive currency devaluations continued to feed through to the economy. Core inflation, which strips out volatile items such as food and fuel, recorded 24.4% y-o-y in December — its highest since December 2017. The central bank is targeting inflation of 7% (± 2%) by 4Q 2024. “Demand side pressures on inflation continue to be present, as evidenced by developments in real economic activity relative to potential capacity and the impact of recent exchange rate fluctuations,” the MPC said. Inflation figures for January will be released later this week.

And future hikes are not off the table: The MPC didn’t rule out the possibility of future rate hikes, noting that “maintaining tight monetary conditions [is] a necessary condition to achieve the CBE’s upcoming inflation targets and price stability over the medium term.” Six of the seven analysts we surveyed expect rates to rise by a total of 100-250 bps over the course of 2023. All of them expect inflation to continue rising in the coming months and to remain elevated over the course of 2023, driven by the EGP depreciation, expected fuel price increases, seasonal factors including Ramadan, and a potential hike to household electricity bills at the end of the fiscal year in June.

The Fed is taking it slow, too: The Federal Reserve last week raised rates by 25 bps to a target range of 4.5-4.75% as it switches to a more moderate pace of monetary tightening.

The news got attention in the foreign press: Bloomberg | Reuters.


Current account deficit narrows 20% in 1Q 2022-23

Egypt’s current account deficit narrowed by 20% to USD 3.2 bn in 1Q 2022-23 on the back of higher FDI, exports and tourism revenues, according to central bank figures (pdf) out Thursday.


#1- A surge in FDI makes up for hot money outflows: Net FDI inflows doubled to hit USD 3.3 bn, driven by USD 1 bn in sales of local entities to foreign investors and USD 1 bn of investment in existing companies.

#2- A tourism rebound: Tourism revenues surged more than 43% y-o-y to USD 4.1 bn in the first quarter of the current fiscal year. This was driven by a more than 50% increase in arrivals, which totalled 3.4 mn during the three-month period, the central bank said.

Expect that to continue this year: Fitch Solutions is projecting annual revenues to reach a record USD 13.6 bn this year as 11.6 mn tourists flock to the country.

#3- More exports, fewer imports: The trade deficit narrowed to USD 9.1 bn, down 18% from the same period last year. This was the result of a 13% increase in exports — driven mostly by the oil sector — and a 4% drop in imports. Non-oil imports were down almost 10% y-o-y due to the central bank’s move to curb imports while oil imports rose by more than a quarter.

REMEMBER- Now-scrapped restrictions brought in by the CBE amid the FX crunch last year had stymied the import of all but the most essential goods, causing a backlog at ports that has only in recent weeks been cleared.

#4- Suez Canal receipts rose 19% to USD 2.0 bn in the July-September period, driven by a 14% increase in the tonnage of goods transiting the canal, the central bank said.


#1- Portfolio flows continued to leave the country: Foreign investors pulled almost USD 2.2 bn from Egypt during the quarter as the war in Ukraine and interest rate hikes by global central banks drew funds away from emerging markets. Egypt saw USD 3.6 bn of inflows in the same period a year earlier.

On the bright side: The rate of outflows is slowing. Almost USD 15 bn left the country in 3Q 2022-2023 and more than USD 3.7 bn in 4Q.

#2- Remittances were down: The amount of foreign remittances entering the country fell more than 20% to USD 6.4 bn during the July-September period.

Continuing the trend: Egypt’s current account deficit narrowed by 10% to USD 16.6 bn in FY 2021-2022, buoyed by oil and non-oil exports, rising tourism receipts, and a jump in FDI. The government is aiming to reduce the current account deficit to 2% of GDP over the medium term.


Gov’t to launch in-school tutoring in bid to compete with private tutors

Govt lays out the details of in-school tutoring scheme: The Education Ministry will launch an in-school tutoring scheme across all governorates at the start of the second semester of the academic year next week, Education Minister Reda Hegazy told reporters on Thursday, according to a ministry statement. The move comes as the ministry looks to crack down on the private tutoring industry, which Hegazy earlier this month described as the “biggest challenge to the education system” in a hearing at the Senate.

How it works: Between three and five schools in each school district will host the optional tutoring for pupils in preparatory and secondary schools. Lessons in public schools will cost between EGP 20-80 per session depending on the type of class, while private school students will be charged EGP 30–100. A 50% discount will be available for children of teachers.and some other groups.

FinMin will tax in-school tutors 20%: The government will collect the revenue and take 20% in tax before paying the remainder back to tutors “at regular intervals,” according to a previous ministry statement.

Private tutors are invited to the party: The majority of tutors will be public school teachers, but non-ministry affiliated tutors could account for up to 40% of those hired for the scheme. Outside tutors will be hired on a temporary basis and will be evaluated by school administrators to determine if they remain in post.

If you can’t beat them, join them: The government is looking for ways to formalize the unregulated and untaxed private tutoring sector, which Hegazy has blamed for low attendance levels in public schools. Last year, the Tax Authority demanded that tutoring center owners start paying taxes, while Hegazy suggested private tutors could be forced to get licensed. He later walked back the proposal amid a backlash from those who said it would only exacerbate the problem of tutoring replacing schooling. The industry is worth some EGP 66 bn a year, reps said during the Senate education hearings in January.


Emirates NBD Egypt has appointed Amr El Shafei (LinkedIn) as its new CEO, replacing Mohamed Berro. El Shafei served as executive vice chairman of Banque du Caire from 2018 until 2021, after an 18-month stint as group head of corporate banking, debt, and structured finance at the National Bank of Egypt. Prior to that, he spent eight years in various senior roles at Barclays.



Sherif Ismail’s passing topped the agenda on the airwaves last night: Most of the nation’s talking heads dedicated segments to remembering former PM Sherif Ismail, who passed away yesterday following a battle with illness.

Ismail, who had a three-year tenure as PM between 2015 and 2018, was praised by the media: Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa said Ismail led the government at a “difficult time”, describing him as a “dedicated” man to the country (watch, runtime: 7:13). Ismail assumed responsibility as PM at a “difficult period” economically and amid a spike in terrorism, Kelma Akhira’s Lamis El Hadid said (watch, runtime: 2:56). The former PM’s passing also got a mention from Masa’a DMC (watch, runtime: 1:01).

No World Youth Forum this year: This year’s World Youth Forum has been called off on the back of the global economic turmoil, according to a statement (pdf) from the forum’s administration yesterday. They said the decision not to go ahead with the event comes amid global crises “which resulted in humanitarian and economic repercussions that have become additional burdens on the shoulders of states, governments, and citizens.” The news was covered by Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 1:14) and Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 7:24), which talked to forum spokesperson Sarah Badr about the decision (watch, runtime: 6:25).

The continuing crisis in the automotive sector was back in the conversation: Automotive expert Mahmoud Khairy was on El Hekaya discussing the reasons behind the crisis facing the automotive companies. “The problem now is that there are piling up cars at ports … cars that had customers already pay deposits to book,” he said. He said the market was currently seeing a recession, estimating the prices of economy cars at near EGP 500k (watch, runtime: 0:38).

2022 was a year to forget for auto firms: Car sales fell more than a third in 2022 due to import curbs introduced by the central bank to address the country’s foreign-currency shortage.

Also getting a mention: The US shooting down a suspected Chinese spy balloon was covered by El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 3:59) and Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 3:01).


It’s a quiet start to the week in the foreign press: In one of the only Egypt-related stories on the web this morning, the New York Times reports that a Paris appeals court has upheld charges of complicity brought against the former head of the Louvre, Jean-Luc Martinez, for allegedly trafficking Egyptian artifacts. Martinez was charged in May with conspiring to hide the origin of archaeological artifacts that may have been looted from the country during the Arab Spring. Martinez is set to appeal the ruling, according to his lawyer.



Another record-breaking month for Suez Canal revenues: Suez Canal revenues grew 47% y-o-y in January to an all-time monthly high of USD 802 mn, according to a Suez Canal Authority (SCA) statement. Some 2.15k vessels transited the canal last month, up 21.5% y-o-y, according to the figures. The authority is targeting record revenues of USD 8.7 bn this year.

FACT CHECK- The Suez Canal has not been leased: The SCA and the cabinet have denied rumors circulating on social media that they had entered into agreements with foreign companies to manage the Suez Canal for a 99-year period. ”The Suez Canal will remain wholly owned by the Egyptian state, and subject to its absolute sovereignty, whether in its management, operation or maintenance,” the cabinet statement read.


GASC buys Russian wheat in second World Bank-backed tender: State grain buyer GASC bought 535k tonnes of Russian wheat for delivery in late February and early March in last week’s international tender, the Supply Ministry said in a statement, without disclosing the price it paid for the grain. Traders were quoted by Reuters as saying that GASC bought the wheat in five separate shipments for USD 323-326 per ton on a cost and freight basis.

This makes a pair: This is GASC’s second international grain tender so far this year and the second to be financed through a food security loan from the World Bank, which still needs to greenlight the latest purchase. Both tenders appear to have been awarded to Russian suppliers.


More AfDB funding for feasibility studies on the Lake Victoria-Mediterranean river link: The government is in the process of finalizing an agreement with the African Development Bank (AfDB) for USD 2 mn to fund the second phase of feasibility studies on the proposed Lake Victoria-Mediterranean Sea river transport route, Transport Minister Kamel El Wzir said at an African infrastructure financing summit in Dakar last week, according to a ministry statement. The government previously said it was seeking some USD 11.7 mn to fund the phase-two studies, which will look into the technical, economic, and environmental aspects of the project. Preliminary studies were funded by a USD 650k grant from the AfDB.


Swedish Transcom opens outsourcing center: Sweden-headquartered outsourcing company Transcom has opened a center in Sixth of October’s Smart Village, employing some 650 people, according to a Communications Ministry statement. The company wants to expand the center to hire another 1k employees within three years. The ministry is working to attract more FDI to the local outsourcing industry, in December signing agreements with 29 multinational firms to up their investments here.


Coming to a post office near you: Al Khair Microfinance signed a cooperation agreement with Egypt Post allowing customers to access its microfinance services at post offices across the country, according to an Egypt Post statement.


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US job growth signals further Fed rate tightening ahead: Interest-rate futures traders priced in further rate 25 bps hikes in March and May in light of strong jobs figures in January, Reuters reports. The US job market grew sharply last month with the addition of more than 500k jobs prompting a drop in the unemployment rate to 3.4%, the lowest in more than half a century. The Federal Reserve moved last week to hike rates by 25 bps to a target range of 4.5-4.75%.

The prospect of more tightening triggered a sell-off in the markets: Stocks, bonds, gold, oil and crypto all fell on Friday while the USD strengthened as markets reacted to the prospect of rates moving higher than expected in the coming weeks.

Bad week for oil: Brent futures fell almost 8% during the week, including a 3.0% slide on Friday, to its lowest level since 11 January. US crude also fell 8% during the five-day period to its weakest since 5 January.

Investors are worrying less about EM defaults: The cost of financial products that protect investors against sovereign default in emerging markets fell to the lowest in almost a year on the back of the weakening greenback and hopes that slowing US rate hikes will give developing countries more breathing room, Bloomberg reports. An IHS Markit index that tracks credit default swaps linked to 18 EM sovereigns fell to 211 bps on Friday — the lowest level since Russia invaded Ukraine last February.

Egyptian CDS have fallen back but remain elevated: The cost of insuring against default on Egypt’s one-year t-bills is currently around 500 bps, down significantly from the peak of almost 1,800 last July but still up significantly from lows in 2021.


  • Global food prices continue to fall in January: Global food prices fell for the 10th consecutive month in January, according to the UN food price index, which fell 0.8% m-o-m to 131.2 points, 18% below its peak last March. (FAO)
  • Deutsche Bank reports bumper 2022 earnings: Germany’s largest lender reported net income of EUR 5.7 bn in 2022 — its highest since 2007, according to its earnings release (pdf). In the fourth quarter, the bank reported EUR 1.8 bn in net profit attributable to shareholders — almost double analysts’ expectations — though shares fell 2.4% due to weaker investment bank revenues and uncertainty over the economic outlook.
  • Everything’s under control, India’s market regulator tells investors following Adani wipeout: India's market regulator moved to ease investors’ concerns yesterday following last week’s rout of Adani Group firms which have lost more than USD 100 bn of market value. (Statement)




-0.9% (YTD: +11.4%)



Buy 30.22

Sell 30.31



Buy 30.23

Sell 30.33


Interest rates CBE

16.25% deposit

17.25% lending




-0.8% (YTD: +2.1%)




+0.7% (YTD: -2.7%)




+0.5% (YTD: +1.4%)


S&P 500


-1.0% (YTD: +7.7%)


FTSE 100


+1.0% (YTD: +6.0%)


Euro Stoxx 50


+0.4% (YTD: +12.2%)


Brent crude

USD 79.94



Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 2.41




USD 1,876.60




USD 23,420

+0.2% (YTD: +41,7%)


The EGX30 fell 0.9% at Thursday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.87 bn (4.2% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is up 11.4% YTD.

In the green: Edita Food Industries (+11.0%), Juhayna (+2.7%) and Credit Agricole Egypt (+1.2%).

In the red: Oriental Weavers (-8.6%), GB Auto (-6.5%) and Elsewedy Electric (-6.0%).


More cooperation with Hungary: Egypt and Hungary signed several agreements to forge closer economic ties at the first meeting in four years of a joint economic committee in Budapest last week, the International Cooperation Ministry said in a statement Friday. The two countries signed MoUs to exchange experiences in international cooperation, development financing, and social affairs. They also inked a wide-ranging protocol to cooperate more closely in areas including trade and investment, finance, and the Suez Canal, and agreed to up the number of scholarships offered to Egyptian students to study in Hungary. An Egyptian-Hungarian business forum will take place in Cairo at the end of the month, the statement added.


Sudan + Israel finalize normalization agreement: Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met with de facto leader Gen. Abdel Fattah Al Burhan in Sudan last week to finalize the agreement normalizing diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said Thursday. The signing of the agreement is set to take place in Washington later this year following the transfer of power in Sudan to a civilian government, making Sudan the fourth country to sign a peace agreement with Israel, the statement reads. Sudan agreed to take steps towards normalizing ties with Israel in 2020, at the same time the US-brokered Abraham Accords established formal diplomatic ties between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco.

Also worth knowing this morning:

  • The US is pressuring Turkey + the UAE to restrict trade with Russia: A senior US Treasury official has told officials from the two countries that their continued trade with Moscow is hindering efforts to halt Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Bloomberg)
  • The Ethiopian peace process: Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed met with senior officials from the Tigray region for the first time since a historic peace agreement was signed with the government in November. (EBC News)

How have Egypt’s FX restrictions affected StartupLand? Last week, we took a look at how taxation, regulatory and legislative factors, and payment facilitation have historically led many local startups to incorporate offshore. While this move is not a novelty nor unusual, the recent FX shortage and foreign spending limits on Egyptian credit and debit cards have made it all the more certain that startups will continue to be domiciled abroad to facilitate their Egypt operations. Startups that have raised more than USD 1 mn via investment rounds are most likely to have gone the offshore domicile route to create a holding company abroad from which they can easily manage USD expenses, our sources agree. Early-stage startups, however, are typically domiciled in Egypt, which limits their FX spending capacity.

The big spending issue: For many startups, two of the biggest budget line items — tech tools and ads — need to be paid in USD.

REFRESHER- Lenders introduced monthly limits on FX withdrawals and purchases in October, which a few banks then tightened late last month. The tightened limits came as the Central Bank of Egypt instructed banks to notify them if credit and debit cards were misused to secure foreign currency.

Besides the spending limits, foreign spending on Egyptian cards becomes more expensive for businesses with fees: Amid the FX crunch, a few banks upped their commission fees on overseas withdrawals or purchases to 10% from between 3-7% previously. This effectively means that what businesses are able to spend on FX-denominated tools and services is partially eaten up by commission fees.

For startups, just getting a corporate credit card is arduous: For a company in Egypt to obtain corporate credit for its expenses, many banks require 100% collateral against the card’s limit, Aly El Shalakany, managing partner of Acasia Ventures, told Enterprise. “So if you want a credit card limit of EGP 100k, you’ll have to provide the same amount in cash upfront, in order to secure your card, which defies the purpose of the credit card,” he adds. This has led many startups to use their personal credit cards to pay for company expenses, and then reconcile with the business later, several sources who asked to remain anonymous tell us.

This issue is then compounded by the chunk of monthly expenses that need to be paid in USD: Sources Enterprise spoke with gave varying accounts of the exact percentage of total expenditures that USD-denominated spending accounts for, based on the nature of the startup’s sector and the company’s size. But the emerging consensus is that, after salaries (which are paid out in EGP to local employees), USD-denominated expenses are the second-largest chunk in their budgets. We’ve heard numbers varying from 20-30% up to 50% — meaning spending limits on their credit cards are unlikely to be sufficient .

Tech-focused and tech-enabled startups — and many other more established businesses — need certain tech stacks to keep their business running. Tech stacks are a collection of tools and services that are used to build a web or mobile app, which is the bread and butter of many tech startups today. These tools include subscriptions to cloud hosting, Amazon Web Services, security protocols, development tools and many others, but also extend to more mundane tools like email providers and project management tools. Several startups also rely on AI tech, for example, to build and develop products and services.

There’s also a lot of spending funneled into social media — a major source for customer acquisition: Several startups of varying sizes rely heavily on advertising and marketing through social media channels to grow their customer base. While the rising USD rate has already made customer acquisition costs more expensive, some platforms only accept payment in foreign currency. These include Meta platforms like Instagram and Facebook. “Facebook and Meta are the most effective performance marketing channels,” a founder of a social media agency handling performance marketing for various local startups tells us. As an agency, the company needs its clients to provide it with FX for online marketing campaigns. But given the scarcity of foreign currency and the limit imposed on credit cards, it has become difficult for those clients to make that commitment. “We therefore opted to run campaigns for those businesses on platforms that accept EGP payments, such as TikTok and Google,” the founder says.

This has impacted startup’s growth trajectories and possibilities: “Their ability to do market spend has been getting tighter and tighter, which impacts their sales,” Shalakany explains. Startups need to upgrade their tech tools to be able to make their services available to more customers, while they need to spend on performance marketing in order to acquire more customers. It’s a dent at the very core of any business’ growth. “That is exactly why companies off-shore because they need to hedge against such risks,” Shalakany says.

Your top stories on future trends for the week:

  • Unicorn status: Abu Dhabi-based Chimera Investments will acquire 20% of MNT-Halan after investing USD 200 mn in the firm, putting the Egyptian super app on track for a valuation of more than USD 1 bn.
  • Swvl can’t catch a break: Cairo-born mass transport app Swvl received its second delisting warning from the Nasdaq after the market value of its listed securities dipped below the benchmark USD 50 mn.
  • A new fintech startup on the block: Former Beltone Financial executives are launching fintech startup Invia, which will provide financial services to informal small businesses that have limited access to financing.



26 January-6 February (Thursday-Monday): Cairo International Book Fair, Egypt International Exhibition Center.

5 February (Sunday): The Senate reconvenes.

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

12 February (Sunday): The House reconvenes.

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

23-27 February (Thursday-Monday): Annual Business Women of Egypt’s Women for Success conference.


March: 4Q2022 earnings season.

6-9 March (Monday-Thursday): EFG Hermes One-on-One conference, Atlantis, Dubai.

21-22 March (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

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

30 March (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.


April: GAFI to launch the country’s first integrated electronic platform to facilitate setting up a business.

1 April (Saturday): Deadline for banks to establish sustainability units.

10-16 April (Monday-Sunday): IMF / World Bank Spring Meetings, Marrakesh, Morocco.

16 April (Sunday): Coptic Easter

17 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

21 April (Friday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

25 April (Tuesday): Sinai Liberation Day.

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

30 April (Sunday): Deadline for self-employed to register for e-invoicing.

30 April (Sunday): End of Mediterranean, Nile Delta oil + gas exploration tender.

Late April – 15 May: 1Q2023 earnings season.


1 May (Monday): Labor Day.

2-3 May (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

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

4 May (Thursday): IEF-IGU Ministerial Gas Forum, Cairo.

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

20-21 May (Saturday-Sunday): eGlob Expo, St. Regis Almasa Hotel, Cairo.

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


7-10 (Wednesday-Saturday): The second edition of Africa Health Excon.

10 June (Saturday): Thanaweya Amma examinations begin.

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

19-21 June (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Infrastructure and Water Expo debuts at the Egypt International Exhibition Center.

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

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

30 June (Friday): June 30 Revolution Day.


18 July (Tuesday): Islamic New Year.

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

23 July (Sunday): Revolution Day.

25-26 July (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

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

Late July-14 August: 2Q2023 earnings season.


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


19-20 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

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

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

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


6 October (Friday): Armed Forces Day.

Late October-14 November: 3Q2023 earnings season.

31 October – 1 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.


2 November (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.


12-13 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

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


2023: The inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum.

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.

1Q 2023: Egypt + Qatar to launch joint business forum.

1Q 2023: FRA to introduce new rules for short selling.

1Q 2023: Internal trade database to launch.

1Q 2023: The Madbouly government will choose which state-owned hotels will be merged into a new hotels company ahead of an offering to foreign and Gulf investors.

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