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Sunday, 7 February 2021

Last Night’s Talk Shows on 7 February 2021

The biggest story on the airwaves yesterday was pretty big: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi called in to El Hekaya for a chat with host Amr Adib on a range of issues, a rare one-on-one with the media. You can catch the full interview here (runtime: 26:25). Key talking points:

Vaccination program: There are some 35 mn people in the first tier of individuals in the vaccine drive — medical professionals and people with chronic conditions — meaning the country needs 70 mn vaccine doses to inoculate them, El Sisi said. The financing is ready and available to complete their vaccination, he said. The government is committed to getting its hands on all of the doses needed to inoculate the rest of the country and get the virus under control, he stressed.

Real estate + housing: The president spent a great amount of time discussing building code violations — which have recently become a policy focal point for his administration — pointing to an unlicensed building in Alexandria that tilted because it didn’t meet construction standards as an example of why this issue is so pressing. El Sisi blamed corruption for building code violations and the prevalence of slums (which apparently account for nearly half of all buildings in the country). Egypt needs some EGP 4 tn to solve the slums problem, and Alexandria alone needs some EGP 400 bn to address the buildings in violation of the code, he said. The government currently plans on spending around EGP 500 bn to develop 4,500 villages over the next three years, El Sisi added.

The president touched on family planning as one of his “top priorities,” but said that his government is not planning any “aggressive” measures to confront the issue at this stage. The Social Solidarity Ministry had launched the “Two is Enough” family planning program in 2018 in a bid to curtail the country’s birth rate.

GERD and other regional happenings: El Sisi reassured viewers that Egypt is standing its ground in negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, but is also working on a strategy to reduce water waste, such as the rehabilitation of canals. (Read more on the water saving plan and the focus on agricultural water infrastructure in our industry vertical, Hardhat.) Meanwhile, regarding our neighbors to the west, Egypt is throwing its support behind the new Libyan government and the road towards peace and stability, El Sisi reiterated. We have more on the Libya story in From the Region, above.

GERD was also on the menu for former Irrigation Minister Mohamed Allam, who stressed to Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi that Ethiopia moving ahead with the second stage of filling the dam’s reservoir this summer would seriously impact Egypt and Sudan’s water needs. In the meantime, Ethiopia is dragging its feet on reaching an agreement on purpose and will try to push ahead with its plans regardless, Allam said (watch, runtime: 11:51).

Teachers are getting the salary bump and bonuses they were promised as of this month, and a separate Finance Ministry committee is looking at civil servants’ wages, Minister Mohamed Maait told Masaa DMC's Eman El Hosary. The committee is primarily focused on addressing “defects” in the wage system, Maait said, without providing further details (watch, runtime: 14:14).

Also on the airwaves last night: The Suez Canal reeled in USD 5.6 bn in 2020 — the third-highest annual revenue in the canal’s history, Suez Canal Authority boss Osama Rabie said (Lobna Assal on Al Hayah Al Youm | watch, runtime: 8:24).

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