Tuesday, 14 February 2023

AM — EBRD’s Khalid Hamza on the big year (and big plans) for Egypt



Good morning, friends, and welcome to a reasonably quiet Valentine’s Day (at least on the news front).

Setting the tone this morning: Just about all of the newsflow is out of petroleum expo EGYPS and the House of Representatives, though we’re very happy indeed to note Flat6Labs having hit first close on its USD 20 mn KSA fund.

ALSO- Don’t miss our sit-down with EBRD Egypt boss Khalid Hamza, who spoke with us about the EBRD’s very big (and very green) year just ended — as well as why we can expect one of our most important investors to do even more here this year. The interview appears in this morning’s Going Green, below.

MORNING RANT- We’re still feeling a bit grumpy about the government’s plan to raise wage tax to 27.5% at the top of the bracket. The move would apply to the portion of annual gross salaries above EGP 800k a year. We broke the news in December and, as of early this month, the plan is still moving forward, though we have no clarity on when it might be implemented.

This just isn’t the time to talk about tax hikes: Inflation is running at a five-year high, with urban inflation running at an annual rate of nearly 26% in January. And anecdotal evidence suggests the real rate is even higher for the nation’s white collar workers, whose basket of goods and services skews heavily toward things that are (a) imported or (b) reliant on imported production inputs. That’s not surprising: At the time of the last “big” devaluation of 2016-2017, we reported, middle and upper-middle class inflation was running at north of 80% for a time.

It took two years for wages to catch up — and even then, there’s an argument to be made that consumer spending power never fully recovered. (Is it a coincidence that the turbocharged growth of BNPL and other consumer finance solutions followed the last deval?)

Businesses are now under pressure from their staff to deliver significant raises as people cope with the rising cost of everything from groceries and tuition to clothing and car maintenance (and don’t even get us started on the price of new cars — if you can even find one.)

How big will those raises have to be? Our 2023 Reader Survey will have the lowdown when we release the results next week, but so far:

  • 23% say they’re doing 6-10% raises;
  • 24% will give raises in the 11-15% bracket;
  • 21% will give bumps in the 16-20% bracket;
  • 13% will offer raises on the order of 21-25%.

And God help you if you’re competing for software engineers, (certain types of) copywriters, UI / UX specialists, or others who are in demand by offshore employers:

  • Stay in Egypt and work for hard currency for a foreign employer is now a very big “thing”;
  • A growing number of software houses (not startups, software houses) are offering salaries pegged to the USD;
  • Lots of Gulf-based companies (those in the KSA in particular) aren’t just looking for “work in Egypt” positions, but are headhunting talent to go live in the GCC.

“But Enterprise, I keep hearing about layoffs on Planet Startup.” Yup, you do. Again anecdotally: Some startups are shedding staff under financial stress. But plenty of those being laid off are finding WFH gigs for offshore companies in the Gulf, Europe and the US instead of looking for new jobs at other startups. We feel it is a “reassignment” of tech- and tech-adjacent talent, not a net shedding of tech jobs.

OUR TAKE- New taxes in the current climate make it more expensive for businesses to give raises and invest in the very growth that creates new jobs — particularly at companies that do not employ large numbers of blue collar workers. The folks at the Tax Authority have a tough job — we don’t envy them. But amid record high inflation, high interest rates, and our new USD-EGP reality, today simply isn’t the day to make it more expensive to employ the nation’s best and brightest.


Several cabinet members as well as leaders of state-owned companies are still in the UAE for this year’s World Government Summit, which wraps tomorrow. Alongside appearances on panels and at networking sessions, they’re leading an effort to drum up fresh investment from the Gulf just days after Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly unveild the contours of the rebooted privatization program.

Youth and Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhy will be in the hot seat to answer questions from MPs on youth centers, sporting clubs, stadiums and Egypt’s preparations for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- No single story has captured the imagination of the global business press on this fine mid-winter morning:

  • Because everything old is new again, the Financial Times looks at Amazon’s vow to “‘go big’ on physical stores”;
  • The Wall Street Journal warns that China will not “save” the global economy, arguing that its recent reopening from covid will benefit its domestic services industry more than anything else;
  • The New York Times and Reuters are still leading with tensions between Washington and Beijing over China’s spy program after a fourth craft was downed over North America;
  • Bloomberg is trumpeting what it says is an imminent bid from Qatar for Manchester United;
  • CNBC is holding its breath as Chinese companies prepare to launch ChatGPT “clones.”

MORNING MUST-READ: The Economist argues that “war and subsidies have turbocharged the green transition” and may have hastened progress by as much as a decade.

DATA POINT- Another 1 mn households got broadband in 2022: The number of broadband internet subscribers was up nearly 10% y-o-y in December to reach 11 mn, according to data (pdf) by official statistics agency CAPMAS. The number of mobile internet subscribers rose to 71.5 mn last year, up 9% from December 2021.


SPEAKING OF ENERGY- OPEC+ won’t compensate for a drop in Russian oil output: The oil cartel doesn’t plan to up production to cover the 500k-barrel-per-day production cut Moscow is implementing in retaliation for Western sanctions, Bloomberg reports, citing UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei. OPEC+ will stick to planned production cuts through the end of 2023 unless “we have something that would shake the market,” Al Mazrouei said.



We’re excited to unveil our next C-level event: The Enterprise Exports & FDI 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.


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


*** 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.


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Conference report: Flat(ish) LNG exports to EU, Dana Gas to commit more to Egypt + greenifying the petroleum industry

The EU doesn’t expect to import more LNG from Egypt this year: Last year’s agreement to boost natural gas exports to the EU from Israel and Egypt will allow Cairo to “keep the relatively high volumes of LNG that it delivered to Europe last year,” EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson told Reuters on the sidelines of the Egypt Petroleum Show (EGYPS).

El Molla agrees: LNG production in 2023 is expected to stay flat at around 7.5 mn tons — in line with 2022, when 80% of output went to Europe, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said at EGYPS yesterday, according to Reuters.

We still have spare capacity at our two liquefaction plants, El Molla said during the conference. “They are there prepared for the time when we make the decision to increase their capacity to double or triple,” he said. El Molla had previously said the country hopes to run the Idku and Damietta liquefaction facilities at full tilt throughout 2023, adding that maximum capacity for LNG exports could reach 12 mn tons per annum by 2025.

So what’s stopping us from upping exports? “Now we have to solve some of the bottleneck issues,” Simson said, suggesting the solution lies in Israeli hands. “It depends on national decisions. Of course Israel is the one that has to decide; what are the volumes they are willing to export,” she said. “We see that there is spare capacity in liquefaction facilities here in Egypt, but exact volumes were not part of our memorandum of understanding.”

We knew this could take time: A major infrastructure push — including fresh exploration and the construction of new LNG terminals and pipelines — will likely be needed to significantly up LNG exports to Europe, officials have said. El Molla last year said he expects it to take two or three years before we are realistically able to boost capacity.

BACKGROUND- Simson is set to hold meetings with Oil Minister Tarek El Molla and his Israeli counterpart Israel Katz during EGYPS to move forward with the nine-year framework agreement signed between the three parties last summer. The pact should pave the way for more investment in gas exploration and infrastructure in Israel and Egypt, in a bid to increase natural gas shipments to the EU from Israel via Egyptian liquefaction plants. The agreement is a cornerstone of the state’s efforts to up energy exports to Europe, helping plug the gap left by the loss of Russian supply and positioning us as a “key gas corridor” in the Eastern Mediterranean.

REMEMBER- We’ve done what we can in the short term on the domestic front: The state is rationing its usage of gas for domestic power production and turning to other types of fuel in order to free up more gas for export, amid a foreign currency shortage that has brought fresh urgency to efforts to ramp up exports of all stripes.


Emirati firm Dana Gas wants to invest USD 100 mn in our oil and gas sector over the next two years, CEO Patrick Allman Ward told Asharq Business in an interview (watch, runtime: 0:50). The company negotiated “a new set of terms” with state-owned EGAS in December that will allow it to make the investments and extend the life of its local gas fields by another two-three years, Allman Ward said.

Dana has its eye on fresh tenders: The company is interested in bidding for concessions in the three new international oil and gas tenders Egypt plans to launch this year, Allman Ward added. Dana has had a tumultuous relationship with Egypt over the years, but remains an active player in the domestic industry.


Oil and gas giants Chevron, Shell, and Apache, and tech multinational IBM signed agreements on low(er) carbon projects, crude exports, and digital transformation with the Oil Ministry and affiliated firms at the conference yesterday, according to ministry statements (here and here.)

  • Chevron signed an MoU with the Oil Ministry to cooperate on projects to lower its carbon footprint, including methane emissions reduction;
  • Shell signed an agreement with a Bechtel-led consortium including Enppi and Petrojet to reduce carbon emissions in Shell’s gas facilities, kickstarting a project to unify the energy system for the Egyptian LNG export complex in Idku and a nearby onshore gas processing facility.
  • Apache signed an MoU with the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation to export EGPC’s share of crude from their joint facilities to the global market.
  • IBM signed an MoU with the Oil Ministry to support digital transformation and sustainability at ministry-affiliated companies.

AND- More cooperation through the East Mediterranean Gas Forum: The regional gas forum signed two MoUs with the International Energy Forum and the Observatoire Méditerranéen de l'Energie (OME) to work more closely to develop the natural gas sector and accelerate the green transition, with a focus on green hydrogen.


MPs approve tourism, transport finance, and oil bills + Watch out, Netflix

MPs approved bills on tourism, development finance, and fresh oil exploration yesterday, while various committees of the House were busy with everything from carbon trading to a bid to tighten controls on Netflix and other streamers.

#1- MPs approved the remaining articles of a draft tourism bill that would strip the power to form and regulate tourism chambers from the tourism minister and place it in the hands of the Egyptian Tourism Federation (ETF). The 72-article bill aims to make tourism chambers more democratic and independent and reinforce their role in promoting the industry. The bill as a whole, which the House approved in principle last month, is still pending a final vote in the House.

Private sector front and center: “The most important objective of this bill is that it will strike a balance between the Tourism Ministry as a regulator and the private sector as the main player,” Tourism Minister Ahmed Issa said yesterday. The government wants to see the private sector build “at least” 290k new hotel rooms, improve the quality of services and entertainment for tourists, and put on low-cost flights, Issa told the Senate last month.

#2- Alexandria metro money from the AFD: The House also approved an EUR 250 mn loan from the French Development Agency (AFD) to upgrade the Alexandria-Abu Qir metro line. The EUR 1.6 bn project is also being financed by the European Investment Bank (EUR 750 mn), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EUR 250 mn), and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

#3-More gas exploration: The House greenlit seven bills that will allow the Oil Minister to contract companies for oil and gas explorations. One bill paves the way for state-owned EGAS and Cheiron Egypt to explore for oil and gas west of the Burullus offshore gas field in the Mediterranean, while the remaining six bills will allow the oil minister to contract the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) and six foreign companies to explore for oil in the Western Desert.


#1- One step closer to a local carbon trading scheme: The House Economic Affairs Committee gave preliminary approval to amendments to the Capital Markets Law that would allow for the trading of carbon certificates on the Egyptian bourse, Al Mal reports. The FRA late last year said it was drafting the amendments ahead of EGX plans to launch Africa’s first voluntary carbon market in mid-2023.

#2- Streaming platforms v. social values: The Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR) is “in the process of drafting ethical, religious and legal criterion that would regulate the performance of [streaming] platforms to make sure they observe religious and moral values and that they are not involved in spreading extremist or atheist thoughts,” SCMR head Karam Gabr told the House Human Rights Committee.

Netflix + friends have already been warned: In September, the SCMR issued new regulations and licenses for online streaming platforms that require them to ensure their content “adhere to social values and morals,” singling out Netflix and Disney+. The council is also looking at legislation that would stop social media platforms from spreading “destructive ideas.”

AND- No risqué Ramadan ads: The SCMR is also drafting rules that will regulate the content of TV advertisements during Ramadan, Gabr said. “We will make sure that children and women will not be used in an undignified or a dishonorable way in TV advertisements during Ramadan,” he said, warning that channels that violate the rules could see their licenses revoked.

#3- An overpopulation conference in the making? The 12 parliamentary committees focused on population will hold a conference “in the near future” to discuss Egypt’s overpopulation crisis and attempt to find a solution.


Flat6Labs’ Saudi Seed Fund reaches first close + MobileMasr raises USD 500k seed round

Flat6Labs reached a first close on its USD 20 mn Saudi seed fund with the participation of the Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC) and the Public Investment Fund’s Jada Fund of Funds, it said in a press release (pdf).

What Saudi seed fund? Flat6Labs and SVC last year launched the Saudi fund, at the time hoping to raise some SAR 150 mn (USD 40 mn) within twelve months to back more than 60 early-stage startups. The fund will invest up to SAR 2.4 mn (USD 640k) in early-stage KSA startups with a focus on tech and innovation, the release read. It aims to back some 180 entrepreneurs in the kingdom and create c. 6k private-sector jobs while helping Saudi companies expand through Flat6Labs branches in the region.

The fund “will adopt a highly diversified, systematic investment plan that aims to reduce the risks faced by venture capital and reduce the administrative and legal costs incurred by early-stage startups,” the press release reads.

Flat6Labs runs seed programs in seven countries in the region with total assets under management of more than USD 85 mn, as well as accelerators in Egypt, the UAE, and the KSA. Flat6Labs Egypt invested in 13 startups with a total value of EGP 33 mn (USD 1.3 mn) in 2022.


Used mobile e-commerce platform MobileMasr has secured 500k in a seed round from unnamed UAE and Qatari angel investors in the telecom and media sectors “in partnership with” investment banking firm Intercap Capital, according to a press release (pdf). The company will use the funds to expand its presence in the market and launch of new products and services, it said.

About MobileMasr: Founded two years ago by Wael El Ashry, the company’s platform allows customers to buy and sell new and used mobiles and tablets. It offers payment solutions, shipping, and warranty and returns, as well as mobile diagnostics software that can assess the condition of used devices.


President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi had a busy day on the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai, meeting with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum, and private sector executives.

El Sisi x Georgieva: Our USD 3 bn loan agreement with the IMF — and the economic reform program to which it is attached— unsurprisingly topped the agenda in talks between El Sisi and the Fund’s most senior official. El Sisi reaffirmed the country’s commitment to fiscal and monetary structural reforms and increasing the private sector’s role in the economy, efforts that Georgieva said the lender would continue to support, according to an Ittahidiya statement.

El Sisi x Al Maktoum: The Dubai ruler and El Sisi reaffirmed the strength of Egypt-UAE relations in bilateral talks, according to a separate Ittihadiya statement. The meeting came against the backdrop of an online spat between some regional commentators over the level of support our Gulf neighbors have offered to help the country weather economic headwinds (More on that in our talk shows coverage, above.)

El Sisi x global execs: El Sisi met with the heads of unnamed companies including tech, AI, and e-commerce to drum up FDI. He discussed potential projects in which the firms could invest and outlined ongoing reforms meant to boost the local operating environment, according to a third Ittahidiya statement.


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CIB could raise USD 1 bn for expansion: CIB is seeking regulatory approval to issue financial instruments worth up to USD 1 bn or the equivalent in EGP or other currencies to finance the bank’s expansion, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf). The bank provided no additional information about what it plans to do.


Is CIB’s CVentures winding down? The bank’s board of directors has decided to begin the liquidation process for its fintech-focused VC arm CVentures this year, the bank’s standalone financial statement (pdf, page 52) show. The bank has yet to release more information on the liquidation, where on its balance sheet it will house CVentures’ existing holdings, or whether it will continue to invest in startups from its own balance sheet. The captive VC outfit launched in 2018, making it among the first in the country to jump on the corporate VC trend. It has invested in local startups including pharma app Yodawy and fintech Khazna.


Meds still stuck at ports on FX crunch? The pharma chamber of the Egyptian Federation of Industries called on the government to make hard currency available to release raw materials and equipment for industry players, Al Mal reports.

REMEMBER- The backlog at ports thanks to now-scrapped import restrictions was cleared in January — but that doesn’t mean that hard currency is necessarily available to allow importers to keep their goods moving through ports.



All eyes were on Dubai on last night’s talk shows as President Abdel Fattah El Sisi sought to draw a line under recent controversy stirred up online over Gulf-Egypt relations during his attendance at the World Government Summit in the UAE.

A message of gratitude to the Gulf: “Without the support of our brothers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, Egypt would not have risen [to its feet again],” El Sisi said (watch, runtime: 1:31.) “Don’t allow ill-intended [posts on] social media and reflections to impinge on our relationship as brothers.” El Sisi’s statements come days after he denied a rift with Saudi Arabia and accused local media and social media users of trying to foment trouble, in the wake of a public spat started by two Saudi commentators who publicly criticized Egypt’s economic policies.

Friends, not foes: Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi said El Sisi had made a “clear statement on the solid relationship between Egypt and Saudi Arabia or Egypt and the UAE” (watch, runtime: 2:22.) El Sisi’s comments at the summit also got coverage from Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 3:43), El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 3:32), and Masa’a DMC (watch, runtime: 3:02.)

The privatization program is also still getting airtime, with Kelma Akhira’s El Hadidi searching for assurances on whether the government will be capable of selling stakes in 32 state-owned companies within a year as planned. “I believe the challenge in this plan would be related to the readiness of the 32 state-owned companies for the entry of private strategic investors or offerings on the EGX,” former EGX board member Ahmed Abou El Saad told El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 9:52). He said a number of the named companies are ready, but added that completing this number offerings within a year would require “a vast army of investment bankers.” Abou El Saad said he’s hoping to see a major chunk of the companies make offerings through “investments as a capital increase… This will be a form of FDI, albeit indirectly.”

A renewed bid to revive the cotton and textile sector: PM Madbouly said the government would spend EGP 30 bn to reform the state-owned Cotton & Textile Industries Holding Company. Madbouly said the plan will see the private sector invited to participate in the management, operations and marketing of the cotton and textile sector, during a visit to Gharbia governorate (watch, runtime 8:03.) The story got attention from El Hekaya’s Adib (watch, runtime: 16:26.)


It’s a very quiet day for Egypt in the international press.

Setting the tone: The Associated Press’ Jon Gambrell’s “Egypt’s president praises UAE, seeking to heal Gulf aid rift,” covering President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s remarks in the Emirates yesterday — and the favorable reception they received from a top UAE diplomat.

MEANWHILE- The Financial Times is out with a review of former top EU diplomat Dame Catherine Ashton’s memoir, describing her account of meetings with ousted former president Mohamed Morsi as “fascinating.” Meanwhile, the National takes a look at the pets abandoned on Cairo’s streets as economic difficulties continue to bite.


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IMF gives the Gulf tub-tubs on battling its oil dependency: Oil-producing Gulf countries have been successful in diversifying their economies by advancing private investments and collecting more taxes, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said during the World Government Summit in Dubai, Bloomberg reports. Georgieva dismissed the “impression” that Gulf nations were only progressing due to higher oil and gas prices in recent years. “They have been reforming relentlessly how they raise money and how they spend money,” she said.

Gulf stocks have been MIA from the EM equities rally: Declining oil prices, a weaker USD, and China’s reemergence from covid lockdowns have left Gulf equities lagging behind amid a surge in emerging-market stocks, Bloomberg reports. MSCI’s EM Index is up 20% since November, while its gauge of GCC equities is down 10% — marking a stark turnaround from recent years, when growth in Gulf stocks far outpaced the majority of EMs. An Adani-related drag on Abu Dhabi stocks isn’t helping matters, Tellimer strategist Hasnain Malik told Bloomberg. Gulf stocks are expected to continue to underperform through this quarter at least.

US equity funds aren’t too popular right now, either: US funds have seen some USD 31 bn in outflows since the start of the year — their worst start to any year since 2016, according to Refinitiv data cited by the Wall Street Journal. In parallel, investors have poured some USD 12 bn into international equity funds. The data suggests that confidence is low among investors that the recent US stock rebound is here to stay, the WSJ writes. “The sense of [potential] certainly lies elsewhere,” one researcher said.


  • E-commerce platform Noon has closed its USD 335 mn acquisition of fashion retailer Namshi from Emirati real estate developer Emaar. (The National)
  • Brussels is predicting 0.8% growth for the EU this year, as “falling gas prices, supportive government policy, and firm household spending” help the bloc dodge recession. (Financial Times)
  • Three of France’s richest families including the owners of Chanel plan to invest to take French bank Rothschild & Co. private. (Bloomberg)




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The EGX30 fell 0.4% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 2.3 bn (22.4% above the 90-day average). Regional investors were net sellers. The index is up 17.9% YTD.

In the green: EFG Hermes (+2.5%), Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (+1.6%) and Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals (+0.9%).

In the red: Credit Agricole (-4.6%), Fawry (-2.4%) and Heliopolis Housing and Development (-2.1%).

Major Asian markets are largely in the green this morning in early trading, with Hong Kong (down 0.33%) being the sole outlier. CNBC says Asian traders are waiting for “the release of the US consumer price index report, which will shape the Federal Reserve’s path ahead.” Futures suggest a mixed open in Europe later this morning, while Wall Street could open in the red and Toronto in the green.


After a solid 2022, the EBRD has its eyes on plenty more green financing for Egypt + other markets in 2023: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) had a record 2022, investing EUR 13.1 bn globally, almost half of which (EUR 6 bn) went towards green financing. Egypt took up around 10% of the bank’s financing over the year, with the bank investing EUR 1.3 bn in 25 projects, 59% of which went towards the green economy, the EBRD said in a press release (pdf) earlier this month.

EBRD is one of the most important investors in Egypt: Altogether, Egypt accounted for more than half of the EUR 2.4 bn of investments made in the southern and eastern mediterranean (SEMED) region.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2023, the EBRD has a lot more where that came from for Egypt. The EBRD plans to ramp up its investments in Egypt this year, with a continued focus on the green economy, Khalid Hamza, the bank’s director and head of Egypt, told Enterprise in an interview about 2022 and the year ahead. Edited excerpts from our conversation:

Recapping 2022: In 2022, the bank invested in 25 Egyptian projects across different sectors, many of which are critical to different aspects of supporting and developing Egypt’s economy, Hamza said. He pointed to the bank snapping up USD 100 mn worth of Scatec’s “landmark” USD 334.5 mn green bond issuance to refinance its six solar plants in Benban“It brought a different type of investor base to the country … it’s a capital market transaction which showed that Egypt can bring to the market sophisticated transactions,” Hamza said.

“It’s not always about the size of the transaction, but it’s about the impactfulness,” he said, pointing to the EBRD’s EUR 9 mn investment in Abou Ghaly Motors to fund its acquisition of electric vehicles. These were initially used during COP27 and are currently on Cairo’s streets as taxis.

More than half (59%) of the bank’s spending in Egypt went towards green projects. The bank provided a USD 80 mn loan to the Fertiglobe-Scatec-OC-SFE ammonia plant, the country’s first integrated green hydrogen plant. The bank also increased its stake in renewables player Infinity Group in a USD 41.5 mn investment, which helped fund Infinity’s acquisition of African renewables player Lekela Power.

With the broad majority of its spending geared towards the private sector, there’s scope for even more private sector investments: Last year, 78% of the EBRD’s spending targeted the private sector — 50% of which went to banks to on-lend to SMEs and “making sure that the access to finance is maintained or increased,” Hamza told us. Most of the bank’s most impactful work in 2022 was in the private sector, Hamza noted.

The lender’s biggest policy work in 2022 was on the energy pillar of the government’s Nexus on Water, Food and Energy (NWFE) program, to which it committed some USD 200-300 mn. The bank — acting as the lead partner on NWFE’s energy pillar — is working with multilateral institutions to secure investments needed to strengthen the grid, which will allow for more private sector investments in renewables, Hamza said. “The idea is to attract USD 10 bn in investments by 2028 — when the NWFE program will be concluded.”

Egypt has growth potential — but it needs to come from the private sector, which is why the EBRD is trying to focus on leveling the playing field to ensure the private sector can compete freely and therefore attract more FDI. The bank is also looking into participating in the government’s privatization program, hoping to see real governance change to empower private sector participation, Hamza said.

We also have strong policy credibility after a successful COP27: “Egypt was able to bring to the table the issue of climate finance and adaptation and I am happy there was a conclusion that was reached regarding the loss and damage fund that will address adaptation issues,” Hamza said. Just addressing the issue and making headway in resolving it was a huge political success, he added.

Our unfavorable economic conditions came with an upside: The Egyptian economy’s rollercoaster of a year only made the EBRD more committed, seeing that “that’s our role to be there during tough times,” Hamza said, “and see through the transition impact that the bank is trying to achieve and also help the Egyptian government achieve its goals.”

Now, the bank is ready to lend more: “When our countries of operation are affected, we tend to double down on our efforts to do more,” he said. The lender is targeting even more investments this year, Hamza said, adding that its materialization is not certain seeing Egypt’s current situation — EGP devaluation, high food prices, and high inflation. “A lot of work needs to happen to achieve that target, the best way to achieve that is for Egypt to really focus on leveling the playing field for the private sector and locking in more FDI.”

What type of investments can we expect to see? More of the same targeted investments, Hamza said, with more projects targeting inclusivity, the green transition, and manufacturing. “Typically around 20% of our annual investments targets private sector manufacturing projects, so I think we will see more investments coming in that space.”

The focus on green spending will remain unchanged, Hamza said. “We’ve seen that Egypt is really committed to the green agenda. In order for Egyptian products to remain competitive and to be able to penetrate its biggest market — Europe — it has to become greener over time to avoid the additional carbon tax that is going to be levied.” The green movement will come offering more jobs and attracting foreign currency into the country. Egypt’s ambitions to become a green energy exporter can happen through targeting the hydrogen sector and renewables, and capitalizing on the green movement would provide significant economic support, Hamza said.

The lender is also working to help introduce policy changes: “We also are working on the policy side with the government to improve the level playing field for the private sector … we are engaging with the General Authority for Investment and Freezones (GAFI) and the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) to see how we can assist to improve their capacity.”

Your top green economy stories for the week:



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

13-15 (Monday-Wednesday): World Government Summit, Dubai.

19 February (Sunday): Senate reconvenes.

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


March: 4Q2022 earnings season.

March: Gov’t to launch the National Governance Index.

3 March (Friday): Journalists’ Syndicate midterm elections.

5 March (Sunday) Nahda Economic Forum, Intercontinental Cairo Semiramis.

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.

16-18 May (Tuesday-Thursday): Egypt will host its first conference on cybersecurity and defense intelligence systems (CDIS-Egypt).

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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