What we’re tracking on 16 April 2019
Today’s the big day: After weeks of deliberation, the House of Representatives will today vote on the proposed constitutional amendments that would extend presidential terms, restore the office of the vice president, create an upper house of parliament and set a 25% quota for women’s representation in the House, among other things. Successful passage of the measure would set up a national referendum. The National Election Commission, the body responsible for holding the poll, poured cold water earlier this week on reports that we could be voting as early as next week.
Will we need another constitution in a decade’s time? That’s the contention of House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal, who is quoted by Al Ahram as having said earlier this week that the move will be made necessary by “changing political and economic conditions.” Abdel Aal also said that the House Constitutional and Legislative Affairs committee had nixed a suggestion that measures be included in the package that would have allowed President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to remain in office until 2034. “We chose a middle-ground option that will allow the sitting president to remain in office until 2024, and then he will be allowed to run for another six years,” said Abdel-Aal. “This way, I can say that the amended constitution still does not lead to any kind of inheritance of power or perpetuation of rule.”
Also on our radar today:
Egypt is taking part in the Atom Expo 2019 nuclear power conference in Sochi, which finishes today. We could well see more Dabaa action today: Rosatom subsidiary TVEL signed yesterday an agreement with Egypt’s Atomic Energy Authority to provide uranium for the Dabaa nuclear plant. Amjad Al Wakeel, head of the Nuclear Power Plants Authority, is representing Egypt at the conference, the local press report.
A delegation of 21 Hungarian companies arrives in Cairo today to explore investment options.
The two-day North Africa Iron and Steel Conference also gets underway today at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza.
Coming up later this week:
- OPEC+ oil ministers will meetin Vienna on 17-18 April to discuss an extension to the oil supply cuts.
- Keep a close eye on US and European corporate earnings this week. The pundits expect an “earnings recession,” CNBC writes, but Blackstone says it is still bullish on stocks.
- The Mueller report on Russian interference in US elections is due to be released to the public on Thursday.
An Egyptian team from the Associated Press has won a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting for “a revelatory yearlong series detailing the atrocities of the war in Yemen, including theft of food aid, deployment of child soldiers and torture of prisoners.” The AP said yesterday that the work “documented civilian casualties of a U.S. drone campaign, drew attention to the presence of child soldiers on the front lines and showed evidence of torture by both Houthi rebels and U.S.-backed forces.” The winners are longtime Cairo reporter Maggie Michael, Egyptian-Canadian photographer Nariman El-Mofty and video journalist Maad al-Zekri. You can read the team’s work here or catch the full list of 2019 Pulitzer winners here.
Another boon for Egypt’s gas hub ambitions: Greek oil and gas explorer Energean discovered yesterday 1-1.5 tcf of natural gas in one of its wells off the coast of Israel on Monday, the FT reports. Hopefully this will mean more gas flowing in our direction: we of course signed a USD 15 bn gas deal with Israel last year which could see them export up to 10 bcm each year to our LNG facilities. Now if they could just sort out their pipelines…
The robots are coming for us all, part XLVII:
Robots may be able to recognize when an employee is likely to quit — even before the staff member herself knows it, reports the Washington Post. So claims IBM, which is selling (and making use of) a “proactive retention” tool it claims has a 95% accuracy rate in identifying employees likely to leave within a six-month period. We get it: replacing staff is a pain — and expensive, with one estimate pegging the cost of employee turnover at over 200% of salary at the senior executive level. But we’re as weirded-out about this as we were yesterday about traders facing their own Minority Report moment as AI tries to predict when they’re going to go rogue before they themselves know it. But that’s not all:
Robots are already telling you how to be a better manager as “more companies are turning to AI-driven apps that aim to help newer bosses with reminders and tips on how to maintain a well-run office,” the Wall Street Journal tells us. Among them: Coach Amanda, Butterfly and
The quants want to use robots to “disrupt” private equity, the Financial Times adds. “Maths-savvy, computer-toting investors have already disrupted traditional tactics in asset management. Next in their sights is the red-hot private equity world,” says former Mideast hand Robin Wigglesworth.
Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is in ruins after a fire broke out at around 7 pm CLT yesterday, taking down both the roof and a part of its gorgeous spire (watch the early moments, runtime: 0:29). The only reported casualty was one firefighter who was seriously injured, according to Euronews. Authorities have launched an investigation, and early speculation is that the blaze was linked to recently-started renovation work. The core structure and two main towers survived, a fire chief told reporters. French President Emmanuel Macron vowed in a later public address to rebuild the world-famous landmark. ABC News, and the New York Times have more.
FACTOID OF THE MORNING: >13 mn. That’s the number of tourists who visit Notre Dame every year. Egypt in its entirety attracted just over 11 mn last year.
PSA- The weather could be decidedly “meh” today. Look for morning fog and a chance of blowing sand in the capital city with a daytime high of 25°C, according to the Meteorological Authority. Heading north this morning? The Mediterranean coast is looking at a high of 21°C and a chance of rain.