What we’re tracking on 14 February 2021
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. We love you folks, each and every one of you — thank you for starting your weekday mornings with us.
THE BIG STORY here at home to start your workweek: New daily cases of covid-19 could peak in April, Health Minister Hala Zayed suggested on Thursday. That’s just in time for the month of Ramadan, which is set to begin on or about 13 April. (That’s 58 days away, for those of you keeping count at home). We have chapter and verse in this morning’s Covid Watch, below.
- Taaleem Management Services is about to break our IPO drought, announcing its intention to make an initial public offering of its shares on the EGX some time in 1Q2021.
- Egypt was Africa’s most-active destination for VCs last year, accounting for nearly a quarter of all transactions on the continent.
- State-owned El Nasr Automotive plans to begin assembling electric vehicles in Egypt sometime in July, by which time it should be done setting up its assembly lines.
THE BIG STORY INTERNATIONALLY this morning- Donald Trump was acquitted of charges of inciting insurrection in his second impeachment trial yesterday in a Senate vote that fell two votes short of the majority needed for a conviction. Seven Republican senators broke rank and joined Democrats in voting against the former president — the most bipartisan support for a conviction in the senate’s history. Although Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell voted against Trump’s impeachment on the grounds that it was unconstitutional to put Trump on trial after leaving office, he still held Trump “practically and morally responsible” for the violence at Capitol Hill last month that left five people dead.
ALSO: One of our biggest trade, tourism and investment partners officially has a new prime minister after “Super” Mario Draghi was sworn in yesterday to lead a “unity” government. Readers will remember Draghi as the well-regarded former head of the European Central Bank.
HAPPENING THIS WEEK-
IN THE HOUSE- A bill that would hand investors an income tax break on interest earned from bonds issued abroad — introduced as an amendment to Law 182 of 2020, which repealed an income tax exemption on income derived from treasury holdings — is up for discussion in a plenary session at the House of Representatives. MPs are also set to discuss (and potentially vote on) the Senate’s bylaws, which earned the House Constitutional Affairs Committee’s sign-off last week.
Ministers’ policy statements are still on the agenda, with the plenary session scheduled to discuss a committee report on Information Minister Osama Heikal’s address to parliament. MPs were less than pleased with the minister’s statements, leading at least one to publicly call for the entire ministry to be scrapped again. Justice Minister Omar Marwan is separately due to deliver his own policy statement.
Today is your last chance to settle late taxes — including VAT, income, and real-estate tithes — and still get 50% break on penalties.
Students have until tomorrow night to apply for admission to private universities in Egypt through the Higher Education Ministry’s new online applications portal.
The Columbia Entrepreneurs Organization will be hosting a MENA x CEO panel on venture capital and entrepreneurism in our neck of the woods. The gathering headlined “Investor Perspectives from New York to North Africa” takes place on Wednesday, 17 February. Lots of friends are among the panelists, including Global Ventures Managing Director Amal Enan, HOF Capital Managing Partner Onsi Sawiris, AAF Management General Partner and CFO Omar Darwazah and AUC Entrepreneurship Professor Ayman Ismail. Tap or click here to register.
Our politicians are going to be labeled on Twitter as … politicians. Egypt is among 16 countries where the verified Twitter accounts of heads of state, government officials, ministers, spokespeople and ambassadors will receive labels notifying users of their positions, the social media company announced on Thursday. The changes, which take effect this Wednesday, 17 February, will be expanded in the coming months to include the official accounts of state-affiliated media channels. Twitter says it is introducing the changes to provide context to users and make them better informed.
Public schools and universities are getting an extra week tacked onto their mid-year holiday, but aren’t escaping mid-year exams. State-run schools and universities will now begin their second term on Sunday, 28 February instead of next Sunday, 21 February, according to a cabinet statement. The news was all over last night’s talk shows, with Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi among those taking note (and giving students an earful for wishing their end-of-term exams were getting scrapped) (watch, runtime: 5:56). Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal (watch, runtime: 2:57) and Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary also had coverage (watch, runtime: 1:26).
Expect more details today to come out of a press conference Education Minister Tarek Shawki is scheduled to hold at 5pm CLT today, according to a ministry statement.
Is going back to school and moving ahead with exams putting kids at risk? Not really, says Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad, who told Lamees that the number of infections in the country dipped when classes were held in person and rose when the country moved towards online learning, suggesting there is no real correlation between the two (watch, runtime: 15:50).
PSA- ITIDA and Visa are inviting Egyptian fintech startups and entrepreneurs to apply to their mentorship program, which will allow shortlisted companies to develop and test their platforms on Visa’s development API, and receive technical training and mentorship, ITIDA said in a statement (pdf) last week. Ten companies will be accepted, one of which will be awarded USD 20k prize at the end of the program. The deadline for entry is 3 March. Apply here.
Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.
Correction: 14 February 2021. A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Donald Trump had avoided impeachment for the second time.