Wednesday, 15 February 2023

AM — Tons of investment news, from data centers to oil and gas + privatization



Good morning, wonderful people, and a very happy almost-THURSDAY. We have an absolutely stacked issue for you this morning, so we’re going to jump right in.

PSA #1- School’s rained out in Alex: Schools across Alexandria will be closed today due to bad weather, Alexandria Governor Mohamed El Sherif announced in a statement yesterday.

What’s the forecast? We’ll see moderate rainfall on the North Coast and Nile Delta, according to the Egyptian Meteorological Authority. There’s a 30% chance of intermittent rain in parts of Cairo, too, according to the EMA — though our favorite weather app only sees a few clouds on the horizon, with a very low possibility of sprinkles between 1-3pm CLT. Alexandria will see a high of 16°C and low of 10°C, while Cairo is set to a high this afternoon of 16°C and an overnight low of 9°C.


SCZone courts Japanese FDI: SCZone Chairman Walid Gamal El Din is in Tokyo to drum up investment in the zone from Japanese investors, according to several statements (here, here, and here.) In the first two days of the tour, Gamal El Din met with more than 100 representatives from Japanese firms including manufacturer AGC Group, industrial group Mitsui, tech startups ArkEdge Space and LocationMind, and engineering construction provider DAI Nippon Construction to discuss potential projects. Water treatment, desalination plants, and green fuel production were the focus of some of the talks.

Separately in Cairo, SCZone officials met with representatives from Malaysian palm oil giant Sime Darby to discuss efforts to localize the palm oil industry, according to a statement.


#1- The World Bank could finalize its development finance program with Egypt next month, the lender’s MENA president Ferid Belhaj told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai. The bank’s board could meet to approve the framework agreement, which will likely extend for five years, on 21 March, he said. The lender has extended some USD 900 mn in finance to the country so far this fiscal year and “will see how things go — we may commit more,” Belhaj said.

We’ve been lobbying for more from the WB: Finance Minister Mohamed Maait called on the World Bank to provide more money to support development programs. Maait made the remarks in a meeting with a delegation from the multilateral lender days ago. Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly called for finalizing the bank’s development finance program with Egypt “as early as possible” in a meeting with bank representatives a few weeks back.

There will — as always — be strings attached: The level of state involvement in MENA economies “has always been a matter of concern for us,” Belhaj told Reuters. He also called for greater transparency in Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, and Jordan when it comes to the level of public debt. “Egypt needs debt transparency that touches on the debt of state-owned enterprises,” Belhaj told Bloomberg TV in a separate interview (watch, runtime: 10:34). “They are moving ahead with it, but there is still effort to be made,” Belhaj added.

#2- Get ready for 5G? Egypt is nearing the completion of a detailed study on the launch of 5G, CIT Minister Amr Talaat told Asharq Business in Dubai (watch, runtime: 10:19.) “A timeframe [for implementation] will be announced soon,” Talaat said. His statements come nearly a year after Talaat told the media outlet that his ministry had contracted with a consultancy firm to “look into the optimal form of providing the service to individuals and corporations”.

Once again, there is no single BIG STORY ABROAD dominating the front pages of the global business press. Some stories you’ll want to know about:

  • US inflation cooled for a seventh consecutive month in January, rising 6.4% at an annual rate, figures by the US Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed;
  • China’s economic recovery is “off to a slow start” since the end of covid restrictions in December, CNBC reports.
  • Western intelligence services are reporting that Russia is staging warplanes on Ukraine’s border, prompting a scramble to shore up Ukraine’s air defenses. (Financial Times)

AND- Folks in DC are slowly turning their eyes toward the 2024 presidential race:

  • Republican Nikki Haley has thrown her hat into the ring, becoming the first credible candidate to say she will challenge Agent Orange for the Republican nomination. Haley, 51, would be the first woman and first American of Indian descent to become president if she were to make it. Check out her campaign announcement (watch, runtime: 3:33) or get more from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
  • Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard is stepping down to lead US President Joe Biden’s economic team as he prepares for an reelection campaign amid economic headwinds, Financial Times reports.

OBITUARY- Veteran journalist Morsi Atallah passed away yesterday at the age of 80, Ahram Online reports. Atallah served as the former chairman of state-owned Al Ahram daily newspaper and was the founding editor-in-chief of its evening edition, Al Ahram Al Massai. He also served as chairman of the board of Zamalek FC in 2005.


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

In today’s issue: A plan to upgrade the nation’s irrigation canals is running into some difficulties..


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Privatization update: United Bank, Helwan Fertilizers, Pachin

This morning brings news on the progress of potential stake sales in three state-owned companies that were last week named on the list of 32 state-owned companies the government plans to take to market over the next year.


Two Saudi banks have United Bank on their radar: Riyadh-listed Saudi lenders Riyad Bank and shariah-compliant lender Al Rajhi Bank are looking to either fully acquire or buy into state-owned United Bank, Al Mal quotes Rep. Fakhri El Fiqi as having said. The banks would be looking to come on board as strategic investors, according to El Fiqi, who didn’t disclose how much of United Bank is up for sale. The CBE currently owns 99.9% of the bank. We were unable to reach representatives of Riyad Bank and Al Rajhi Bank for comment yesterday.

Riyad + Al Rajhi aren’t the first Saudi institutions to express interest: News has been circulating since May in local media that the Saudi sovereign wealth fund — the Public Investment Fund (PIF) — is in talks with the government to fully acquire the bank for USD 600 mn via its Egypt investment arm. The PIF is the largest shareholder in Riyad Bank, holding 22% of its shares. The CBE first floated plans to sell United to a strategic investor in 2017.

Advisors: Reports in local media have suggested that PIF has appointed EFG Hermes as financial advisors and US law firm Akin Gump as counsel. CI Capital is reportedly acting as United Bank’s advisor.


Helwan Fertilizers up for grabs to strategic investors? The government is reportedly looking to sell up to 20% of the state-owned Helwan Fertilizers Company to strategic Gulf investors, Al Mal reports, citing sources it says are in the know. PIF and Abu Dhabi’s wealth fund ADQ are eyeing a stake in the fertilizers company, the sources added, saying that listing the company on the EGX is unlikely, without disclosing further information.

Who’s selling? Most likely the state-owned Metallurgical Industries Holding, as well as the National Investment Bank (NIB), and the Agriculture Ministry, according to the sources. Helwan’s website lists 12 shareholders, the largest of which is the partially privatized, EGX-quoted fertilizers outfit Abu Qir, one of the nation’s largest fertilizer producers, with 17%. The state’s Social Ins. Fund is the next-largest shareholder with 15%.

Once again: Will strategic investors be happy with less-than-majority stakes and no management control? That remains one of the biggest questions hanging over the privatization program.


Pachin bidders are evaluating their positions: Compass Capital, Eagle Chemicals and the Abu Dhabi-based National Paints Holding (NPH) are rethinking their options for EGX-listed Paint and Chemical Industries (Pachin) following its inclusion in the state privatization program, Al Mal reports, citing unnamed sources. The three companies had all launched takeover bids for the company but its inclusion in the program has raised the possibility that the government may look to dilute its position by calling for a capital increase via EGX or decide not to bring in strategics.

REFRESHER- The three companies have all made initial offers to purchase the company and are currently doing due diligence. Compass leads the pack with a EGP 30 per-share bid, while Eagle Chemicals offered EGP 29.5 and NPH EGP 29. Pachin is currently approximately 54% owned by state-owned companies and banks.

Advisors: Al Ahly Pharos is advising Pachin while Shalakany Law Office is counsel. Marei, Fayez, Dardiry & Partners is legal advisor to Compass Capital, which has not yet appointed a financial advisor.


Ripplewood flips big part of its EFG Hermes stake to Chimera, others

EFG Hermes’ second-largest shareholder, Tim Collins’ Ripplewood, has sold two thirds of its position in a series of block transactions on the EGX on Monday, according to trading data out yesterday. Units of the US-based investment firm sold almost 92 mn shares at an average price of EGP 19.32 per share, taking home EGP 1.77 bn, EFG Hermes said in a disclosure (pdf). This reduced Ripplewood’s holdings from 11.7% to 3.9%.

Who’s Ripplewood? Collins and Ripplewood are long-time investors in Egypt and hold or have previously held shares in blue chip names including SOIDC, PHD, CIB and Edita alongside EFG Hermes.

The new shareholders #1: Chimera Investments. Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Chimera purchased a 2.62% stake in EFG Hermes via its newly-acquired local financial services firm, Beltone Financial. The firm purchased more than 30.5 mn shares for EGP 590.6 mn, Beltone said in an EGX disclosure (pdf).

The latest addition to Chimera’s growing Egypt portfolio: Chimera, part of Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed’s Royal Group, has made a string of investments in Egypt over the past 12 months, most recently investing USD 200 mn in local super-app MNT-Halan. It also acquired 45% of NBFS outfit GB Lease.

The new shareholders #2: JS Holding Ltd: The company purchased a 5.25% stake — or 61.3 mn shares — for nearly EGP 1.2 bn, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf). The transaction was executed by EFG Securities Brokerage Company.

EFG Hermes shares closed up 1% yesterday at EGP 20.00 apiece.


We could host Africa’s largest data center complex

El Sewedy Capital’s subsidiary, El Sewedy Data Centers, and Emirati firm Gulf Data Hub plan to invest USD 2.1 bn to build three data center complexes here, according to a company statement (pdf). The firms signed an MoU on the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai to build the three complexes, which together would form the African continent’s largest data hub, Emirati state news agency WAM reports.

The details so far: The project will be built out in three phases over 5-7 years, with each of the three data center complexes comprising four separate data centers.

Regional links: The data center complexes would be linked to other Gulf Data Hub centers across the GCC, pushing forward the Madbouly government’s ambition to become a regional data hub.

Want to know more about Egypt’s data center landscape (and what a data center even means)? We covered the topic in detail in a three-part series of Hardhat, our infrastructure vertical. Read part one to get a lay of the land, then read part two for a better understanding of what’s impeding our data center growth, and finish off with part three, which lays out the drivers of growth.


The company that signed the MoU with Gulf Data Hub was El Sewedy Data Centers – a subsidiary of El Sewedy Capital – not El Sewedy Electric as a previous version of this story had said. 


SFE wants to turn old Downtown ministry buildings into tech office space

SMART POLICY- The SFE wants more tech space Downtown: The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) plans to use several buildings in Downtown Cairo and Zamalek to create a new hub for tech businesses, fund head Ayman Soliman told Asharq Business earlier this week. The fund is looking to collaborate with private-sector firms to repurpose the old interior, youth and sports, and tourism ministry buildings to house services geared towards tech firms, he said. This includes IT services, startup incubation, and training, as well as business process outsourcing.

Companies have already shown interest: “We have major companies interested in contributing to this project, and we have signed contracts," he said, speaking on the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai. “We have specific partners who have submitted feasibility studies” for the development of the buildings, he said. Soliman did not disclose how much the project might cost, how it will be funded or over what timeframe it will be done.

The SFE had been planning a Garden City incubator: Soliman last summer said the fund expected to sign an agreement with a consortium of Egyptian and international companies interested in turning space formerly owned by the Interior Ministry in Garden City into a startup incubator, a call center, and a campus for a French university not currently operating in Egypt.

Big ambitions: The SFE thinks the project could raise annual revenues from IT exports to USD 10 bn, Soliman said, from USD 4.9 bn in FY 2021-2022.

Reminder: An overhaul of the ministry buildings cannot begin until the ministries relocate to the new capital, which is due to finish by the end of March, the head of the city’s chief developer told Al Arabiya last month.


Conference report: Energean to invest USD 350 mn here this year, EGAS expects Egypt to up production in next two years

The penultimate day of the Egypt Petroleum Show (EGYPS) brought news on fresh investment from Energean and the country’s efforts to up gas production and exports to Europe.

Big local investment plans for Energean: London-headquartered exploration and production outfit Energean plans to invest USD 350 mn in its Abu Qir concession this year, Nicolas Katcharov, Energean International CEO and chairman and Egypt country manager, reportedly told Asharq Business on the sidelines of EGYPS.

IN CONTEXT- That’s a lot of money. The planned investments are equal to about 17.5% of the USD 2 bn Energean has invested in Egypt to date, per Katcharov.

About Abu Qir: Energean holds a 100% stake in the concession, which it acquired from Edison in 2019 as part of a wider purchase of the Italian company’s total energy portfolio. Abu Qir is the oldest gas production area in the Mediterranean Sea and contains some 88 mn barrels of oil equivalent. Production is expected to continue until 2033.

Energean is putting its money where its mouth is: The company has been banging the drum for more gas investment in the Eastern Mediterranean after it began drilling Israel’s Karish gas field following an agreement over disputed maritime territory between Israel and Lebanon. The region could be a “stable supplier” of gas to the EU, CEO Mathios Rigas said in November. “I think there is a lot more gas to be found.” The first oil shipment out of Karish was loaded on Monday, the Financial Times reports, marking the first time Israel has exported crude.

MEANWHILE- Egypt’s gas production is expected to remain flat this year but a raft of new exploration projects the government is planning in the next two years should raise output going forward, Reuters reports EGAS chairman Magdy Galal as saying at the EGYPS conference yesterday. Production in the current fiscal year is likely to be around 6.4 bn cubic feet per day but plans to drill around 30 new wells this fiscal year and next should increase this, he said.

There’s room to expand at Idku and Damietta: Adding five new liquefaction units to the Idku and Damietta plants could boost the country’s export capacity from 13 mn tons annually to 30 mn tons, Galal said. Expanding the terminals would take several years and require sizable investment, the newswire says, citing industry sources.

REMEMBER- Our liquefaction plants aren’t yet running at full capacity, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said at EGYPS earlier in the week. To up LNG production in the short term, Israel would need to increase its gas exports to Egypt for processing at the Idku and Damietta facilities, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson seemed to suggest to Reuters on Monday. Our LNG exports are expected to remain flat this year at around 7.5 mn tons.


Expat car-for-FX scheme likely to be extended again amid low turnout

The expat car-for-FX scheme is sticking around a while longer: The government’s expat car-for-FX scheme will likely remain open until mid-May after the House Planning and Budget Committee yesterday gave preliminary approval to amendments granting it a two-month extension.

What’s next: The amendments extending the scheme will now go up for a vote by the House’s general assembly when it reconvenes on Monday 27 February.

REFRESHER- The scheme allows expats to bring cars into Egypt, paying customs fees, VAT, and other taxes upfront in FX. The expats will then receive a full rebate on the dues in five years’ time — paid in EGP at the USD-EGP exchange rate at that time and without interest. The scheme was introduced by the government as one of several measures to drum up hard currency amid an ongoing FX shortage.

Finance Minister Mohamed Maait had said last month there would be no further extensions to the 14 March deadline. The deadline was initially set for 15 February but was pushed after the ministry introduced amendments to make it easier for Egyptians abroad to take advantage of the scheme.

The CBE is on board: “The CBE has no objection to any amendments that could pump foreign exchange into the country, and all we want is that the amendments strike a balance between the interests of Egyptian expats and the need for doubling the country’s FX revenues,” Deputy Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Governor Sherif Farouk told MPs yesterday.

The program has so far raised less than 2% of its target: Ahead of the program’s launch, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said that the scheme could bring in more than USD 2.5 bn by the time it ended on 15 February. As of earlier this week, Egyptian expats had transferred just USD 38.5 mn to import cars into the country, Customs Authority head El Shahat El Ghatwary told a parliamentary committee yesterday, according to Youm7. Some 39k expats have registered for the scheme, 11.4k have paid, and 2.3k have received approval. Just 126 cars have so far been cleared through customs under the scheme, he added.

Expats could also get five years to bring their vehicles into the country under the scheme, up from one year previously, House Budget and Planning Committee Deputy Chairman Yasser Omar told Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 8:42).


An EUR 64 mn loan from South Korea’s Export-Import Bank (KEXIM) and Credit Agricole for 32 underground trains got a nod from the House Transport Committee. KEXIM will lend the government EUR 36 mn (60%) while the remaining EUR 28 mn will come from Credit Agricole. The trains are set to run on Cairo Metro Lines 3 and 4.


External debt falls for a second consecutive quarter

Egypt’s external debt dropped by 0.5% q-o-q to just under USD 155.0 bn in 1Q FY 2022-2023 (from July-September 2022), down from USD 155.7 bn in the fourth quarter of last fiscal year, according to central bank figures. This is the second consecutive drop since external debt hit a record high of USD 157.8 bn during the third quarter of FY 2021-2022.

External debt is still running high: The figure is up some 12.8% y-o-y from 1Q FY 2021-2022. Egypt’s external position has come under significant pressure on the back of a stronger USD, higher interest rates, and turmoil in the financial markets. The EGP has lost more than half of its value against the USD since last year, making it more difficult to repay our debts.

REMEMBER- Our USD 3 bn IMF financing package is helping to alleviate the squeeze on our external position and could help attract more FDI from other quarters, while the devaluation of the EGP has seen a partial return of foreign inflows. That said, Moody’s downgraded Egypt’s credit rating earlier this month on “reduced external buffers,” while Fitch Ratings cut its outlook on Egyptian debt from “stable” to “negative” in November due to “deterioration” in the country’s external liquidity position. Fitch says the country has USD 15 bn of public external debt coming due this fiscal year and the next.


Juhayna shares soar as Seif Thabet reappointed CEO

Juhayna Food Industries has reinstated Seif El Din Thabet (LinkedIn) as CEO and vice chairman, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf). He has also been appointed as a board member of Pharon Investment Limited, which owns a 52% stake in Juhayna. This comes after Thabet and his father Safwan were released from prison last month after spending more than two years in pre-trial detention on charges of joining and funding a terror organization. Thabet is taking over from Niels Thomsen (LinkedIn), who will now become the company’s managing director. The dairy giant’s shares rose 7.7% following the announcement on Tuesday.



More from Dubai + How many ways can MPs think of to drum up FX?

It was a mixed bag on last night’s talk shows. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s participation in Dubai’s World Government Summit led coverage for a second day, while amendments to the expat car-for-FX scheme and the state privatization program also got attention.

Analysts gave the pundits their two cents on the importance to the business community of El Sisi’s Dubai trip. Economist Mostafa Badra told Ala Mas’ouleety that President El Sisi “is the best promoter” of local investments to countries participating in the summit (watch, runtime: 2:49.) Al Hayah Al Youm ran a summary of El Sisi’s participation at WGS (watch, runtime: 3:13.)

The expat car-for-FX scheme got airtime once again, with House Budget and Planning Committee Yasser Omar making the rounds on Kelma Akhira and Salet El Tahrir to discuss amendments to the scheme making their way through the House. We have the full story in this morning’s Legislation Watch (watch, runtime: 8:42 | watch, runtime 5:25.)

More out-of-the-box thinking on FX: The House is looking into more proposals to help drum up hard currency amid the FX shortage — including allowing Egyptian expats exemption from customs tariffs on personal luggage in return for a one-year deposit of USD 3-10k. “You’ll be exempted from customs [on goods worth] within the amount you paid [for the deposit],” Omar said. Another proposal suggests a 50% break on deposits paid by expats for vehicles coming from the Gulf. The House committee will hold a meeting next week to decide on the proposals, he added.

Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa dedicated most of his show to discuss the government’s ambitious privatization program, with EGX board member Rania Yacoub describing it as a “kiss of life to the economy” (watch, runtime: 40:12). “The state now has a clear vision,” she said, in reference to the state ownership policy document. The privatization plans also got a mention by Masa’a DMC (watch, runtime: 7:25.)


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A new export subsidy program in the making? The government is considering launching a new export subsidy program at the start of the upcoming fiscal year, Finance Ministry sources told us. The government said last week that it would finish clearing the backlog of unpaid subsidies during FY 2023-2024 after years of paying out arrears. It wrapped the fifth phase of the program in December, which saw the Export Development Fund disburse some EGP 2.5 bn, putting the total of overdue subsidy payments at EGP 42.5 bn.

More sectors eligible for export subsidies: The state is also looking into adding new sectors to the subsidy program, the sources told us.


EGX-Tadawul dual-listings? The MoU signed between the Egyptian and Saudi stock exchanges earlier this week will see the two parties explore dual listings, the EGX said in a press release (pdf). The agreement, which was inked on the sidelines of the Saudi Capital Market Forum in Riyadh, also aims to facilitate an exchange of knowledge between the two bourses in fintech, databases, legislation, trade systems, ESG reporting, and HR, an EGX source told us, adding that a committee will be set up to determine areas for cooperation.


Suez Canal to hike transit fees for oil tankers in April: The Suez Canal Authority will raise fees for oil ships transiting the waterway from the beginning of April, it announced yesterday (here and here). Tankers carrying crude oil and petroleum products will pay a 25% surcharge as of 1 April, while their empty counterparts will pay 15%. Crude oil and petroleum product vessels, both laden and ballast, are currently charged 5% on top of the normal Suez Canal transit dues. The surcharges are “temporary” and revised or scrapped based on global shipping conditions.

Maersk sues Evergreen for blocking the Suez Canal in March 2021: Maersk filed a claim in a Danish court against Evergreen Marine, the parent company of the Ever Given vessel that blocked the Suez Canal in March 2021, the Associated Press reports, citing an email it received from the Danish shipping giant. The company is looking to get mns of USDs in compensation to recoup costs it incurred as a result of the blockage, according to the news outlet. The owner of the Ever Given reportedly paid out USD 540 mn to Egypt back in 2021. Fitch Ratings estimated that year that claims by everyone affected by the incident could easily surpass hundreds of mns of EUR.


Sha7en x Elsewedy EV charging stations: EGX-listed MB Engineering's EV charging subsidiary Sha7en has signed an initial partnership agreement with Elsewedy Electric to install, operate, and maintain EV charging stations over the coming three years, MB said in an EGX disclosure (pdf) yesterday. Sha7en received its license to start operating EV charging stations late last year.


Palm Hills Developments has restructured its 18.2% stake in International Company for Leasing (Incolease), selling it to Palm Holding for Financial Investments in an EGP 149.9 mn transaction, according to EGX disclosures (here, pdf and here, pdf). Incolease company offers leasing services with a focus on assets including commercial vehicles, machinery, IT equipment, production lines, and real estate. Other shareholders include El Tarek Automotive (23%) and SAIB Bank (20.2%). A consortium of four state-owned banks and ins. companies last year exited Incolease, selling their 38.7% stake for EGP 316.9 mn.


Egypt has reportedly expressed interest in buying fighter jets from Indian defense firm Hindustan Aeronautics, the company’s chairman and managing director told reporters, according to Reuters. The newswire doesn’t provide further details.


Tech startup Yassir eyes regional expansion with the help of M&P: Moharram & Partners will help Algerian tech startup Yassir expand across the Middle East and Africa under a newly signed strategic partnership agreement, the Cairo-based PR firm said in a statement (pdf). The statement didn’t disclose which markets Yassir is looking to enter.

About the company: Launched in 2017, Yassir offers ride-hailing, delivery and e-commerce services. Last year it raised USD 150 mn in series B funding, bringing its total funding raised to almost USD 200 mn. It currently operates in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, South Africa, France, and Canada.


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Are global grain prices inching up again? Wheat futures posted their first decline in five sessions after trading near two-month highs during the day yesterday on fears of fresh supply constraints, Bloomberg reports. Chicago wheat contracts for March closed down 0.5% at USD 7.97 per bushel, after peaking on fears that intensified fighting in Ukraine could once again stymie exports out of the country, which is a key producer of the grain. Uncertainty over the future of a UN-brokered agreement allowing Ukraine to resume its grain exports via the Black Sea amid the war is also stoking price hikes. The agreement is up for renewal in mid-March.


  • Borsa Istanbul to resume trading today: Turkish authorities are channeling bns of TRYs into the stock market and planning tax waivers to boost equities ahead of today’s reopening. Trading was suspended last week in the wake of two deadly earthquakes. (Bloomberg)
  • Automaker giant Ford plans to cut 3.8k jobs in Europe — more than 10% of its European workforce — in the next three years, as it shifts its focus to electric vehicles. (CNBC)




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The EGX30 rose 1.3% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 2.3 bn (21.4% above the 90-day average). Local investors were net buyers. The index is up 19.4% YTD.

In the green: Heliopolis Housing and Development (+8.0%), Juhayna (+7.7%) and Ibnsina Pharma (+5.7%).

In the red: Cleopatra Hospitals Group (-2.1%), Telecom Egypt (-0.8%) and e-finance (-0.8%).


More diplomacy at the World Government Summit in Dubai: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met Tunisian Prime Minister Naglaa Boudin and Islamic Development Bank President Mohamed Al Jasser to discuss bilateral relations, regional issues and Egypt’s economic future, Ittihadiya said yesterday.

CIT Minister Talaat drums up tech FDI: CIT Minister Amr Talaat met separately with the heads of Emirati retail conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) and regional ride hailing giant Careem at the Dubai summit to discuss upping the two firms’ local investments, according to a ministry statement. Talaat’s meeting with MAF focused on potentially expanding its Cairo outsourcing center under an agreement signed in December. In his meeting with Careem, Talaat spoke about ways to increase the business volume of the company’s Egypt-based engineering center.

Egypt joins call for Lebanon to elect new leadership or risk being ostracized: Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon Yasser Alawi joined counterparts from the KSA, Qatar, the US, and France to pressure Lebanon to end its political stalemate and elect a new government, AFP reports citing a joint statement. “Failing to elect a new president means all ties with Lebanon will be reconsidered,” the five diplomats reportedly said after meeting with caretaker prime minister Nijab Mikati on Monday, promising “real support” once a new administration is in place. Lebanon has for months been without a president after Michel Aoun’s mandate elapsed. The current caretaker government has limited ability to address the country’s worsening financial crisis.


Egypt’s massive canal upgrade project is facing some challenges: The government’s plan to upgrade and reinforce the lining of some 20k km of water canals — announced back in 2020 — has come under fire at the House of Representatives, where MPs summoned Irrigation Minister Hany Sweilam to discuss the state of the country’s water resources last month. MPs questioned Sweilam about the cost, feasibility, and status of the project, following complaints about delays and the quality of implementation.

REFRESHER- The initiative is expected to cost some EGP 68.2 bn and could save up to 5 bn cubic meters of water annually upon its completion by the end of FY 2023-2024, Planning Minister Hala El SAid previously said. The project is being rolled out in two phases, with the first EGP 14 bn phase covering upgrades for over 1k canals across 20 governorates. Some 60% of the phase’s financing is coming from local creditors, 25% is from foreign loans, and 15% is from international financing institution grants, according to State Information Services.

Where things stand so far: Some 6.6k km worth of canals have been upgraded out of a total of 12k km that are being targeted throughout the country. Currently, work on some 3.8k km of canal networks are underway and construction on an additional 1.6k km are expected to begin soon, the Irrigation Ministry said late last month. In Hayah Karima villages, almost 3k km (or 66.1%) of canals have been upgraded as of late January and upgrades to another 1.5k km stretch are now underway, according to an Irrigation Ministry statement last week.

But there have been issues cropping up: Some user-uploaded images circulating on social media have shown cracks and misalignments in some of these newly upgraded canals’ concrete banks. Some farmers have also voiced concerns about the lower than usual water levels running through the canals which has made the process of extracting water to irrigate their farmland even more challenging. These issues led the Irrigation Ministry to put together a special unit last month tasked with investigating construction work on canals and ensuring they meet the quality standards outlined in their agreements. Faulty canal work or upgrades that failed to meet those standards are now being redone at the implementing contractor’s expense, Irrigation Ministry spokesperson Mohamed Ghanem said last month.

Gov’t says contractors violated guidelines: The entire project was supposed to follow a precise set of guidelines determining the extent of reinforcement needed and exactly how to implement those changes, according to Ghanem. The priority outcome is for canals to serve their primary function, which is to deliver water to those who need it, Sweilam told the House. If canals require reinforcement, this can be done using concrete or alternative materials that are less costly and more environmentally friendly. “It is impossible to line all canals with concrete. It would be a waste of public money,” Sweilam told the House.

The situation on the ground: Concrete is in many cases being used to reinforce canals, in place of increasingly scarce and eroded soil, and to reshape the waterways to their original form, former Irrigation Minister Mohamed Nasr Allam told Enterprise. Most canals in Egypt have grown far wider than they were first dug, Allam explained. Many of the problems that have emerged with canals are linked to a decades-long reliance on mechanical purification techniques and weak technical supervision. In many instances, restoring canals to their initial size has become impossible because of a lack of soil and high costs.

Cost pressure following the float: All canal upgrades currently being implemented are based on the findings of a three-year study prepared by consulting firm Dar Al-Handasah, the Irrigation Ministry said in 2021. A separate ministry study published in 2010 estimated that there would be an annual reduction of some 25-35% of the Nile River flow between the Aswan High Dam and the Delta region. That same study also made the case that reinforcing our canal systems’ lining would “not be a waste of public money,” land and water professor Nader Nour El Din explained in a televised interview (watch, runtime: 18:14). However, the reality on the ground has recently changed with economic pressures that have made these projects more costly, Cairo University geology and water resources professor Abbas Sharaky told Enterprise. “If we have the resources to line all the canals in the country, we can do that, but right now there are only some canals that really need it and it would otherwise be extremely costly to line the entire country’s canal network,” Sharaky said.

The project has already yielded positive results, the ministry says: More equitable water distribution, faster water flow, improved water quality and more efficient distribution are among the many benefits the Irrigation Ministry says farmers have enjoyed since upgrades have been made. The ministry has also said the value of agricultural land located in close proximity to canals increased 30%, while there’s been a net reduction in irrigation pump use. Upon completion, farmers should see annual water savings of about 5-10% and those with land that was once beyond the reach of canals should expect to be able to irrigate fields that have been left barren for years, according to a 2021 ministry statement.

The project’s timeline has been amended more than once: Before the government announced that it would be undertaking this initiative only some 50 km worth of canals were being lined every year. But as demand for water has steadily increased in recent years, the government decided it would target lining some 2k km every year over the course of a decade. In 2020, the government ramped up the pace once more to instead target a two year time limit for the project’s completion.

Estimates vary on exactly how much water we lose under our current irrigation system: Most of Egypt’s water waste is the fault of leakages and evaporation, which are extremely difficult to accurately quantify, an Irrigation Ministry official previously told Enterprise. Still, there are some figures, including those provided by state statistics agency Campas, that set water losses in the Nile Delta to 9.5 bcm in FY 2018/2019 due to canal leakages (7 bcm) and evaporation (2.5 bcm). Irrigation canals, which span about 30k km, waste 8 bcm from water leakages alone, Sharaky previously told us.

Your top infrastructure stories for the week:

  • Faster imports / exports: The French container and shipping giant CMA-CGM announced the inauguration of its freight rail services connecting the ports of Alexandria and Ain Sokhna to the Sixth of October Dry Port.
  • GREGY is advancing: The consortium behind the 3-GW Greece-Egypt Interconnector (GREGY) is putting together the final technical and financial surveys ahead of an investment decision.
  • Metro Line 1 tender: Germany’s Siemens and French firms Alstom and Colas reportedly submitted separate offers in a government tender to develop Cairo’s oldest metro line.



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.

23 February (Thursday): Telecom Egypt to announce its 2022 results.


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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