What we’re tracking tonight on 16 February 2021
We hope you’re all warm on this cold winter afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If ever there was a day for hot chocolate…
The Central Bank of Egypt is THE BIG STORY AT HOME this afternoon after it issued a circular this morning saying tourism companies can draw up to EGP 40 mn from a central bank initiative to support struggling industry. The program, launched last year as part of the bank’s wider covid stimulus program, is now set to wrap up at the end of June. The bank also handed down today changes to how banks can extend credit to real estate developers. We have chapter and verse on both stories in this afternoon’s Speed Round, below.
HAPPENING NOW- Egypt will try to speed up the implementation of the Universal Healthcare Program to cover all governorates in 10 years, as opposed to the previously planned 15 years, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said in a speech in Alexandria during the inauguration of Ismailiyah Integrated Healthcare Complex and other medical centers in the area. El SIsi also thanked healthcare workers and outlined steps his administration has taken to keep Egyptians safe and healthy during the pandemic.
BACKGROUND- The Sisi administration started its governorate-by-governorate rollout of the new national healthcare system in 2019. Under the scheme, the state will contract out the delivery of healthcare services to private sector hospitals that have signed up to provide services under the Act. You can catch Ittihadiya’s statement on El Sisi’s speech here or give a listen yourself (watch, runtime: 20:51).
ALSO- Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has landed in Cairo for a two-day visit that will include talks with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, reports Geo News. Egypt is a gateway to Africa as Pakistan aims to enhance trade relations with the continent, Qureshi said. The minister is planning to visit Al Azhar University and talk investment with Egypt’s business community, reports The Daily Pakistan.
** CATCH UP QUICK- The top stories from this morning’s edition of EnterpriseAM:
- We passed a grim milestone overnight as more than 10k Egyptians have now died of covid-19. Meanwhile, the Health Ministry is now giving required second shots to medical professionals participating in the first phase of the vaccine rollout.
- The unemployment rate effectively held steady at the end of 2020, improving 100 bps.
- The IFC is giving USD 30 mn in financing to the Egyptian arm of Turkish glass maker Pasabahce.
THE BIG STORY ABROAD? No single story has captured the imagination of the global business press. The WSJ is giving plenty of ink to Goldman Sachs getting into the robo-advisory business with “Marcus Invest” and to Bill Gates’ book on climate change. Meabwhile, Bloomberg notes that the TRY is winning over investors as its appreciation against the greenback continues.
YOUR STATUTORILY REQUIRED AFTERNOON COVID UPDATE: Three Israelis who had previously recovered from a coronavirus infection have been reinfected by the South African variant, the Washington Post writes. The phenomenon underscores the need for widespread pickup of vaccinations and prevention measures such as double-masking to prevent mutant strains from taking hold.
???? HAPPENING TOMORROW- A MENA x CEO panel on venture capital and entrepreneurism in our neck of the woods hosted by the Columbia Entrepreneurs Organization in the form of a MENA x CEO panel. The gathering headlined “Investor Perspectives from New York to North Africa” takes place tomorrow at 7:30pm CLT. 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.
???? FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
???? We have aliens on the brain today thanks to The Economist, which writes in its “leader” piece this week that “the search for ET may soon yield an answer” as “a variety of telescopes and spacecraft are, or soon will be, looking for signs of life in places ranging from the moons and planets of the solar system to other stars in Earth’s corner of the Milky Way.” The results could change how we view what it means to be human — and our “place in the universe,” the magazine writes.
This time ‘round, there’s plenty of scientific progress — and maybe evidence that ET has already swung by our neighborhood. Go deep with The search for ET hots up, then read about The alien hunter of Harvard and before you move on to a review of said scientist’s new book, which is appropriately titled Extraterrestrial: The first sign of intelligent life beyond earth. The book argues that we were visited by an alien probe in late 2017. The New Yorker goes even deeper into the distinguished astronomer Avi Loeb’s argument in Have we already been visited by aliens?
What’s with all this outer space stuff lately? It’s probably a function of our looking forward to season two of For All Mankind, as we noted the other day. It’s back for season two on Friday. For superfans: Apple is launching an every-other-week podcast to back the show, hosted by the very talented Krys Marshall, who plays an astronaut on the series. Catch the season two trailer here (watch, runtime: 2:42).
Are your electronic gadgets about to get even more expensive? China is asking top execs to help estimate how badly it can hurt the US with a ban on exports of rare earth metals. Beijing is targeting US defense contractors, but rare earths are key components of consumer electronics such as mobile phones and laptops every bit as much as they’re used in weapons. Each one of America’s F-35 fighter jets uses about 417 kg of rare earth metals in its electrical power systems and magnets, for example, the Financial Times reports. Wired magazine called it about 18 months ago when it asked Are rare earths the next pawn in the US-China trade war?
Not just for tech nerds: While you’re on Wired’s website, go read The untold history of America’s zero-day market by Nicole Perlroth, on the “lucrative business of dealing in code vulnerabilities [that is] central to espionage and war planning.” Perlroth is an awesome New York Times reporter and the story is an adaptation of her book This Is how they tell me the world ends: The cyberweapons arms race.
???? ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
Season three of Good Girls is out today. If you haven’t watched the series yet, think Breaking Bad, but with a female-led cast and less white powder. Three housewives decide to become criminals to support their families — and quickly get in over their heads. It’s a light watch to close out your night.
The UEFA Champions League kicks off today with two matches at 10pm CLT. Mo Salah’s Liverpool faces off against RB Leipzig while Barcelona plays Paris Saint-Germain.
A match to look out for: South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs are set to face Morocco’s Wydad Athletic Club in Egypt for their CAF Champions League group stage debut. The match was previously scheduled to take place in Morocco last Saturday, but Casablanca refused to issue the Chiefs travel visas, citing the new covid-19 variant reported in South Africa, and instead found a “neutral venue”, reports Kickoff. The match is expected to be played before 20 February.
???? EAT THIS TONIGHT-
If you haven’t already tried O’s Pasta, their delicious creations will make this rainy day infinitely better. Located in Zamalek (Google Maps), it’s some of the best pasta we’ve ever had in Cairo, with fresh ingredients and innovative combinations. We’ve recently had the Sun-kissed Cream off their new menu and are still daydreaming about it.
???? OUT AND ABOUT-
A game-based art exhibit, anyone? The opening of exhibition Shish Bish — where you can visually enjoy and play with the pieces — is on today at Garden City’s Medrar (Google Maps). The exhibit runs until 3 March.
Ziad Khaled and El Waili will be playing a set at Cairo Jazz Club at 9pm CLT for Alt Tuesday.
Instrumental band Insjam will be playing at the Room New Cairo tonight at 9pm CLT. Insjam’s music is a fusion between Eastern and Western sounds and genres.
???? UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-
A book to help you look forward: Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria is a timely read that explores the political, technological and economic implications of a post-pandemic world that may take years to unfold — from the quality of government to the rise of digital life. You can also check out The New York Times’s review of the book.
???? WEATHER UPDATE- We’re looking forward to a cold, windy evening in Cairo with the mercury hitting 7°C overnight. Expect more wind and a daytime high of 12°C in the capital city tomorrow, according to our favourite weather app. And there could be up to three more days of rain in store for Alexandria along with plenty more cold weather.