What we’re tracking on 2 March 2020
You made it over the weekly hump, everyone, and you can now begin the countdown to the weekend.
OUR BIG READ- We explore how any potential commodities super-cycle can impact Egypt in the Speed Round below. If you’re anything like us, then the lockdown has made you extra paranoid about what a spike in global commodities prices can mean for your grocery shopping and the macro climate. We talk to analysts and research houses, who tell us that yes, inflation may likely take a hit.
Fears on how it may hurt food prices globally hasn’t abated in the foreign press, with Bloomberg outlining the five hotspots which are most vulnerable to a supercycle. Brazil tops that list after seeing the fastest increase in food prices in the past year relative to overall inflation because of a sustained decline in the currency, followed by Russia who this year imposed tariffs and quotas on wheat to meet local demand. Nigeria is next up on the list, followed by Turkey and India. Arab countries such as Lebanon and Tunisia seem likely to move up the list soon, while even oil-rich UAE is considering possible price caps on some foods.
HAPPENING NOW- Real Estate Registry Act amendments postponed to 2023: The House of Representatives’ Legislative Committee approved postponing implementing amendments to the Real Estate Registry Act till June 2023, in compliance with a presidential directive issued yesterday to allow time for public consultations on the legislation, Al Shorouk reports. The committee also agreed to remove a clause making utility infrastructure access for new properties contingent on the registration of property and payment of real estate tax and
a clause imposing a 1% fee to be paid to the lawyers syndicate upon the registering of new properties.
It’s official, foreign holdings of EGP debt have overtaken pre-covid levels: Foreign investment in Egyptian bonds and treasury bills currently stands at USD 28.5 bn, head of the Finance Ministry’s debt management unit Mohamed Hegazy tells Bloomberg, confirming reports last week. Hegazy noted that inflows have bounced back from 60% capital outflows between March and May last year due a covid-19-induced sell off. Low inflation and high yields were luring foreign investors back to Egypt’s debt markets, which offer some of the highest real return rates in the world, second only to Vietnam, according to Bloomberg indexes.
The International Cooperation Ministry launched a digital campaign today titled #GameChangers to highlight the value of public-private partnership. The campaign will feature several testimonials from private sector firms who partnered with public institutions, including large entrepreneurs and MSMEs, the ministry said in a press release (pdf).
The social media push will also encourage businesses to take steps to pave the way to a greener economy: The first #GameChangers video celebrates Egypt’s flagship project, the Benban Solar Park, which was erected by the ministry’s partnership with the Saudi Fund for Development to finance private sector company IND for Construction and Solar Energy (watch, runtime: 02:03).
Nigeria is looking to Egypt’s electricity buildup as a model, with the two countries set to collaborate to roll out the Nigerian Presidential Power Initiative with Siemens, using Egypt’s successful experience in implementing a power upgrade with the German company, reports Nigeria’s Nairametrics. Siemens had helped build Egypt’s three main combined cycle power plants, which drove our capacity to around 60 GW. The collaboration also comes as Egypt looks to exercise infrastructure diplomacy and cooperation in the region. Read more.
YOUR MANDATORY COVID STORY- The covid-19 variant found in Brazil is almost twice as transmissible and is more likely to evade natural immunity brought about by prior infection, compared to other virus strains, reports Sky News, citing a study conducted by a UK-Brazilian team of researchers that is yet to be released. The so-called P1 variant was able to evade 25-61% of protective immunity elicited by previous infection, a sign that current vaccines could also be less effective against it. International concern about the P.1 variant is escalating as more than 25 countries have so far detected the variant, including Belgium, Sweden and the UK. The Guardian is out with an explainer outlining what the world currently knows about the P.1 variant, while Virological studies the variant in more medical terms.
FOR TOMORROW- PMI day: PMI figures for February will land tomorrow at 6:15am CLT. Non-oil private sector activity in Egypt continued to contract in January, albeit at a slower pace, with the gauge edging up a little to 48.7 from 48.2 in December.
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
AUC is holding Mad March this month, their biggest book sale of the year with up to 75% on all books. The book sale is on everyday from 10am–6pm CLT at AUC Tahrir Bookstore & Garden and is open to the public.
Tough Mudder’s resilience-testing obstacle course will take place this weekend. You can learn more about Tough Mudder Egypt and register for the event on their website.
The IDC Future of Work conference is kicking off next Monday, 8 March, under the theme “The Path to Business Resiliency”.
The Cairo International Furniture Show, Le Marche, is set to take place from 11-14 March at The Cairo International International Convention Centre, with over 300 local and international brands to showcase their pieces. The Cairo Fashion & Tex trade show will also take place at the same venue from 11-13 March.
🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
Carbon emissions were up 2% y-o-y in December 2020, coming back fast after their record fall early in the pandemic as economic activity picks up as markets reopen, according data from the International Energy Agency on 2020 emissions out today. The end of the year saw US emissions approaching the level seen in the same period in 2019 while China’s emissions were 7% higher in December 2020 than they were in the same month the year before. Other culprits include Brazil and India, where oil demand also pushed emissions to 2019 highs.
We need to be thankful for whatever emissions cuts we saw in 2020: Overall, the world saw a 6% reduction in carbon emissions in 2020. Both the US and EU saw emissions fall by 10% on an annual basis, while China was the only large economy that saw emissions increase, going up by 0.8%. The sector with the biggest drop in energy-use emissions during 2020 was transportation, as workers quarantined, business slowed or halted, and flights were grounded. Emissions from energy fell 5.8% y-o-y in 2020, compared to the prior year.
Are SPACs a launchpad to the final frontier? More space-focused companies are seeing the benefits of a quick IPO through a merger with a SPAC to fund space operations and R&D. Spire Global and Rocket Lab are the latest in a series of space ventures that have gone public via a SPAC, following companies such as BlackSky, rocket builder Astra, and Virgin Galactic, reports CNBC. These are proving to be a boom for valuations, with Spire being valued at a USD 1.6 bn equity valuation, while Rocket Lab is expected to be valued at more than USD 4 bn when the SPAC merger closes.
Still confused about what a SPAC is? Check out our explainer.
Cairo’s Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Barquq is first up on a list of 10 virtual tours of spectacular buildings around the world, curated by The Guardian. Other cool additions include Paris’s Palace of Versailles, Barcelona’s Casa Batlló, Moscow’s futuristic Dominion Tower, and Iran’s Golestan Palace. All virtual tour links are included in the article.
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
Throwback Tuesday, anyone? Netflix seems to be up for the series, encouraging us by adding classics to its roster today such as Batman Begins (Christian Bale was still Batman), Will Smith’s I Am Legend (a very fitting covid watch), and even one of our favorites, Jack Black’s Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny.
30 for 30 on Amazon Prime also caught our eye… 30 for 30 is a series of short documentaries created by ESPN celebrating interesting people and events in sports history from Muhammad Ali-Larry Holmes boxing rivalry, to how Nelson Mandela and a rugby team helped heal South Africa. Making it even more interesting is that every episode is created by a different director, featuring at points Barry Levinson, Ice Cube, and Clifford Bestall (who teamed up with none other than Morgan Freeman).
The Egyptian Premier League has three matches on today, with El Gouna and Smouha just hitting the field a half hour ago. Meanwhile, Misr Lel Makassa and Al Makawloon will play at 5pm CLT while Al Masry and Pyramids will play at 7pm CLT.
Across the Med in Europe, The English Premier League has a single match between Man City and Wolves today at 10pm CLT, while Serie A will see Lazio play versus Torino at 7:30pm CLT and Juventus versus Spezia at 10pm CLT.
🍲 EAT THIS TONIGHT-
Feeling experimental? Otto in Garden 8 Mall in New Cairo has some dishes we’ve never seen before and frankly wouldn’t have imagined otherwise. From blueberry risotto to dessert ravioli and truffle everything, it’s a new culinary experience that doesn’t disappoint. If you want your own plate, we recommend their carbonara pasta, but if you’re willing to share with a friend or two, Otto serves a salt-cooked fish dish that comes with a show where they crack the salt off with a hammer at your table and extract the meat to add it to your plate (trust us, it’s cool).
🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-
Picasso Art Gallery in Zamalek is hosting two openings for exhibitions today, with the first being Blessed by Hanan Youssef, while the second is Brick Paper Scissors by Noura Baraka. Both openings will take place from 5-9pm CLT, while the exhibitions will run until 10 March.
Luke Lehner Studios is kicking off an improv workshop today that aims to improve your intuitive speed, boost your self-confidence, and beat your social anxiety. The workshop consists of 12 sessions, one every Tuesday and Saturday, from 6:30-10pm CLT. The studio in Maadi (Google Maps) has a series of ongoing workshops related to acting, filmmaking, and screenwriting.
The Room Art Space in New Cairo has band Mixtape on today at 9pm CLT to play a collection of favorite hits.
💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-
In honor of the AUC book sale, we thought we’d share some of our favorite picks published by AUC Press this week: Mirrors by Naguib Mahfouz (Arabic version here) is a collection of short stories profiling a person the narrator comes across. Each “profile” comes with a colorful illustration of the subject by artist Seif Wanli, in a book that plays out like a speed-dating scenario between different characters you can relate to, you can’t stand, or you want to know more about. Like much of Mahfouz’s work, Mirrors is timeless and gives context to people you might have met many times before.
🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- The temperature is taking a dip tomorrow, falling to 17℃ during the day, with nighttime lows of 8℃. Our favorite weather app says a mix of sun and clouds, but knowing Om el Donia, we think the sun will probably shine through.