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Wednesday, 29 August 2018

What we’re tracking on 29 August 2018

CI Capital’s annual Egypt equities conference in Cape Town wraps up today. Some 22 Egyptian issuers are attending.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is set to meet with his Sudanese counterpart Al Dridiri Al Dhaheri in Cairo today. The two were originally scheduled to sit down yesterday, but the meeting was postponed as Shoukry was in Addis Ababa for talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to a Foreign Ministry statement picked up by Ahram Online.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio is in Cairo today for a three-day visit. He is expected to talk energy, infrastructure and trade with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, state-run Al Ahram reports. The investigation into the murder of Italian grad student Giulio Regeni is also likely on the agenda.

El Sisi to hold meeting on GERD in China this Saturday? If you, like us, get GERD when thinking when thinking about the GERD, take heart: The next big checkpoint in the story appears to be this coming Saturday. That’s when President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is reportedly scheduled to meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on the sidelines of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in Beijing. Shoukry was in Addis with intelligence boss Abbas Kamel to lay the groundwork for the meeting, reiterating Cairo’s position that the two countries need to come to an agreement “in a way that guarantees both Ethiopia’s development needs and Egypt’s water security.” We have more on relations with Ethiopia in Diplomacy + Foreign Trade, below.

Contracts for the USD 4.4 bn Hamrawein coal-fired power plant to be inked while the president is in Beijing: That’s when the EEHC reportedly expects to close the contract on the 6 GW facility, which is being built by a consortium that includes Shanghai Electric, Dong Fang and Hassan Allam.

The China-Africa summit runs 3-4 September. You can check out the website for the gathering or dive deeper into how China’s propaganda machine builds up its relationship with Africa.

Busy fall season for diplomacy: The China trip is the first big meeting of El Sisi in what looks set to be a busy fall on the diplomatic front:

  • French President Emmanuel Macron will be in town this fall, he confirmed in a speech on Monday. Macron did not specify the exact dates but said that his visit will coincide with our appointment to chair the 2019 African Union summit. The president previously announced that his trip to Egypt will be sometime in November or December 2018. You can watch the full speech here (runtime: 1:30:47), or read the full text in French.
  • Indian PM Narendra Modi will also be in town and looks interested in both defense cooperation and growing our USD 3.5 bn trade relationship, according to reports yesterday in the Indian press. Egyptian ambassador to India Hatem Tageldin told reporters there yesterday that Modi’s visit is agreed, it’s just about working out a time. Tageldin also expects India’s defense and environment ministers to visit Cairo before the year is out. The sit-down would be the fifth between Modi and El Sisi, who have worked consistently to grow political and business ties. India’s Economic Times has lots more, as does The Statesman.

The UK wants to become the largest foreign investor in Africa within four years, British Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday as she kicked off a visit to South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, the Financial Times reports. May is looking to counter-balance France’s influence in Africa, the newspaper adds.

Abraaj dodges jail term with settlement in bounced-cheque case: Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi reached a settlement agreement in a case over USD 217 mn-worth of bad cheques, his lawyer said two days after a UAE court handed Naqvi a three-year prison sentence, according to Bloomberg. The news was confirmed by attorneys on the opposing side, who said that “all criminal proceedings relating to this case have been discontinued.” The parties will also “apply to the court and the public prosecution to withdraw the cases brought on the bounced checks,” Naqvi’s lawyer Habib Al Mulla said. The case, which was filed by another of Abraaj’s founding shareholders, Hamid Jafar, is the second of its kind to be brought against him. Jafar had previously accused Naqvi of issuing bad cheques worth at least USD 48 mn. Abraaj is in the midst of a court-ordered restructuring and has filed for provisional liquidation after it was implicated in a scandal over misallocated funds.

It’s been a quiet week for emerging markets (Turkey not included): Major EM currencies have recovered or at least stabilized this week, leaving Turkey as an “outlier,” Adam Samson writes for the Financial Times. “MSCI’s broad EM FX gauge has risen 0.63 per cent this week, following a 0.35 rise during the previous five working days.”

Is Germany about to offer Turkey a financial lifeline? Yes, suggests the WSJ, which argues that Berlin is mulling everything “from a coordinated European bailout similar to the kind deployed during the eurozone debt crisis to project-specific loans by state-controlled development banks and bilateral aid.” Germany would prefer to do it without itself offering “emergency financial aid,” Bloomberg adds, suggesting Berlin is looking to broker a wider European response to the brewing crisis in Erdoganland.

The biggest global business news remains whether Canada will reach an agreement with the US to remain part of the North American Free-Trade Agreement before Washington-imposed end-of-week deadline. See coverage from the Wall Street Journal, the FT and CNBC.

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