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Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Last night’s talk shows for Tuesday, 3 December 2019

It was a mixed bag of nuts on the country’s airwaves last night. Among the highlights: Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia’s first meeting of the second round of technical negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Egypt’s performance on global indices, and proposed amendments to the Personal Status Act.

Beyond the routine statements on the urgency of the matter, we don’t know much about yesterday’s GERD talks. That’s the takeaway from Al Kahera Alaan’s Lamees El Hadidi’s recap of Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Aaty’s opening remarks at the meeting. The minister stressed that Egypt is already facing an annual water shortage, but is committed to cooperating with Ethiopia on a mutually satisfactory agreement for filling and operating the dam (watch, runtime: 3:31).

“Cautious optimism” is the prevalent theme on GERD: Hany Raslan, head of the Sudan and Nile Basin research division at Al‑Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told El Hadidi that Ethiopia is trying to keep its compromises to a minimum. He implied that the African country is “stirring up a lot of complications,” pointing to its side talks with other influential nations — including China, Italy, Germany and France — and its recent purchases of “large quantities” of weaponry. The outcome of the meeting going forward is thus largely unclear, especially considering this round is meant to focus on Egypt’s proposal for filling and operating the dam.

The two-day Cairo meetings are set to wrap up later today. Two subsequent meetings are scheduled for the end of December in Khartoum and early January in Washington, which is sponsoring the talks alongside the World Bank.

Egypt has advanced on several indices that measure sustainable growth — including rising four spots to 24th on the Climate Change Performance Index and several spots to 32nd in an index of renewable energy efficiency in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal recapped the improvements, which were compiled in an infographic released by the Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (watch, runtime: 3:04). Egypt has reportedly also improved its ranking in a budget transparency index, Hona Al Asema’s Reham Ibrahim said, without naming the index. We presume this is the biennially produced International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey, but the 2019 edition is not yet available online (watch, runtime: 1:18).

The “let it rust” auto industry boycott campaign is back in the spotlight, with El Hadidi bringing on campaign spokesman Mohamed Sheta and Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce’s auto division member Alaa El Saba to debate the efficiency of the campaign. El Saba noted that continued customs reductions and the EGP’s year-to-date appreciation have been the key drivers of car prices falling, but Sheta claimed that the campaign is ensuring these price drops are sustained (watch, runtime: 27:46).

Personal Status Act gets backlash over Al Azhar’s heavy influence: Elsewhere, House reps Solaf Darwish and Margaret Azer had a chat with Assal on Al Hayah Al Youm on the in-the-works Personal Status Act, which has been met with criticism on social media because the latest draft was drawn up by Al Azhar. Critics say that the country’s highest religious authority for doing legislative work that is beyond its purview. Both Darwish and Azer told Assal that the proposed act, which will cover matters of marriage, death, inheritance, child custody, etc, should be subject to wider public consultations (watch, runtime: 4:43 and runtime: 3:15).

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