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Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Customs Authority head arrest, Eni dominate topics

Two topics reigned supreme on the airwaves last night: Eni’s new discovery, and the arrest of Customs Authority head Gamal Abdel Azim. We delve into the nuances of both in the Speed Round below.

Abdel Azim’s arrest gripped the nation yesterday, a fact reflected in the sheer number of talking heads discussing it. Perhaps the most interesting of all was a call-in by El Watan business journalist Mahmoud El Gamal on Masaa DMC to offer up some context. He noted that Abdel Azim, who was arrested a mere two months after being appointed to office, was a career bureaucrat at the authority and had no prior blemish on his record. Nonetheless, the appointment came as a surprise, as his predecessor Magdy Abdel Aziz, had been held in high regard. He added that the investigation is ongoing, but that as of now, Abdel Azim appears to be the only person implicated in the scandal (watch, runtime: 5:02).

Praise for the Administrative Control Authority (ACA) and its investigation was the talking point of the night. Former ACA deputy head Mohamed Abu Hussein called on Al Hayah fi Masr to say extoll the wider social, political and economic benefits of having a strong anti-corruption watchdog in place, while also urging harsher penalties (watch, runtime: 7:36).

Another day, another Eni discovery (we say that in the most positive way): Oil Ministry spokesman Hamdy Abdel Aziz made the rounds of the airwaves to provide details on Eni’s latest discovery in its South Meleiha concession in the Western Desert. He tells Hona Al Asema’s Dina Zahra that the new find lay close to an earlier well, with reserves of around 5,000 bbl/d. Abdel Aziz noted to Yahduth fi Masr that that the discovery was the result of the deployment of new technologies to explore in the Western Desert that allow for deeper drilling (watch, runtime: 6:24).

Former Oil Minister Osama Kamal hailed the new discovery, but pointed out that it’s relatively small. He noted in a call-in to Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary that only 15% of Egypt’s total area has been explored for oil (watch, runtime: 3:03).

He then gave a detailed accounting of Egypt’s fuel demand, saying that the country relies on imports of crude and condensates for 30% of its needs. Egypt’s production of both stands at a combined 650k bbl/d (watch, runtime: 6:56).

Hona Al Asema still has rice on the brain, following President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s decision to allow imports of rice. Agriculture Export Council head Mostafa Al Nagari called in to say that the House of Representatives had signed off on an Agriculture Ministry plan to limit rice growing to 725k feddans, which was the main driver behind the decision. He said the government’s rice strategy will see it buying from both farmers and from importers. Al Nagari believes Egypt should import about 400-500k tonnes of rice over the next year. He urged authorities to diversify their global rice sources and not rely on a single country (watch, runtime: 4:55).

We think importing rice is smart — exporting the water-hungry crop is basically exporting water, which as we’ve noted before is a fundamentally bad idea in a nation as resource-strapped as we are.

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