What we’re tracking tonight on 17 March 2021
Good afternoon, wonderful people, and welcome to our final issue of EnterprisePM for the week. It’s one of those Goldilocks days: Not a heavy news day, but what news there is … is meaty.
THE BIG STORY OF THE DAY here at home: Registration for the covid-19 vaccine is now open to everyone over the age of 18, whether you’re Egyptian, a foreign resident or a refugee. Signing up is ridiculously easy in English or in Arabic on the Health Ministry’s registration portal. We have more in this afternoon’s Speed Round, below.
CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from this morning’s edition of EnterpriseAM:
- The talking heads on TV are worrying about a third wave of covid-19 as presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag El Din says we’re all cancelling covid.
- How much will car owners pay to transition to natgas? We have the rundown on the seven models — from Hyundai, Nissan, Chevrolet, Lada and BYD — that are part of the state-subsidized vehicle replacement program.
- Coca Cola, Porto Group, and BTech are all talking up their investment plans for the year.
*** EnterprisePM is taking tomorrow off. Longtime readers know that we take occasional “Enterprise holidays” when we need to retool, focus on something new or otherwise catch our breath. EnterprisePM is doing that tomorrow, but EnterpriseAM still be in your inbox at our customary hour.
THE BIG STORY ABROAD as we slide toward the end of the workday? Obviously, we’re all waiting to hear from the Fed as its its FOMC meeting comes to an end later today (see below). In the meantime, both the Wall Street Journal and Reuters are leading with Uber caving to labor activists in the UK, where it’s giving drivers an employment status that entitles them to a minimum wage, vacation pay and pensions. Both outlets agree the precedent could mean major changes to the gig economy.
Is ESG more your thing? You’ll definitely want to read The fall from favour of Danone’s purpose-driven chief, which leads the (digital) front page of the Financial Times this afternoon. looks at how Emmanuel Faber lost his job at the top of the company that makes everything from yoghurt to Evian water. His ouster this week was “a loss for those who prized the 57-year-old as a powerful advocate of the view that businesses must become more sustainable and forge a purpose alongside making profits.”
In a similar vein: TAQA (the Abu Dhabi utility, not Qalaa’s Egypt-based outfit) may be looking to get out of the oil and gas businesses, burnishing its ESG credentials a little bit while simultaneously doubling down on power generation, according to one of Bloomberg’s top stories out of the region today.
Pundits think the Fed is going to signal an improved economic outlook for the United States when its Federal Open Markets Committee wraps up its two-day meeting later today. A significant improvement to the Fed’s December prediction could test the central bank’s commitment to ultra-loose policy in the coming years, says the Financial Times. No one is hanging their hats on considerable policy changes, but a more upbeat outlook will get investors talking about when to expect a rate hike. Pundits in December figured the Fed would start hiking rates by 2024.
Will tightening come sooner? Some, including Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius, are saying it could happen as early as 2023 as US policymakers signal a rosier outlook. The FT has five specific things to be on the lookout for from the meeting and signals on what to expect.
Why should you care, sitting here in Egypt? Because it’s the “most important meeting in a very long time” for emerging markets, a top market watcher tells the salmon-colored paper. Among other things: Any sign the Fed is even considering hiking rates sooner will pressure EM central bankers to start raising their policy rates, suggests the salmon-colored paper.
The Central Bank of Egypt meets tomorrow. All 12 analysts we spoke with for our regular poll are saying they think the Monetary Policy Committee will leave rates on hold, accounting for a possible uptick in inflation due to a commodities boom and potential EM outflows as investors are lured away by rising US treasury yields.
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
(All times CLT)
CSA Maadi is hosting a two-day sustainability event tomorrow (9am-3pm) and Friday (12:30-5pm). The outdoor garden event will feature experts in the fields of sustainable architecture, fashion, interior design, waste management and ecotourism. They’ll be showcasing some of Egypt’s most eco-friendly and socially responsible brands and projects including architectural design firm El Agizy, street cleaning app Dawar, our favorite plant-based food vendor Sincerely V, and more. Catch the full program of events here.
The CIB PSA Black Ball Open 2021 women’s squash wraps up tomorrow while the men’s event starts on Friday and runs until 25 March. Players from all over the world, 48 men and 48 women, will compete for a USD 350k purse split across both divisions in what will be the opening PSA World Tour event of 2021. You can check out the results for women so far, and you can stream the event live on SquashTV or the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour (excluding Europe and Japan). You can also snag tickets online to attend in person at the Black Ball Sporting Club in New Cairo.
There are three days to go for Photopia’s Cairo Photo Week 2021, which wraps on Saturday. The photo festival features over 100 activities including workshops, panels, photo challenges, exhibitions, portfolio reviews and photo walks throughout the week, all led by more than 80 local and international photographers. You can check out the event program on Photopia’s website, there’s plenty to look at on the group’s Instagram feed @cairophotoweek, and both physical and virtual tickets are available here.
The Spring Flowers Exhibit (Ma3rad El Zohoor) is currently taking place at Orman Botanical Garden in Giza. More than 200 exhibitors have set up shop to sell flowers, plants, agricultural products, and gardening equipment. The exhibit runs through 13 April.
AUC Press’s Mad March book sale will be ongoing for the rest of the month. The sale is open to the general public every day from 10am–6pm CLT at AUC Tahrir Bookstore & Garden.
🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
Egypt may be taking a bite out of US-based fintech lender Lendable’s USD 180 mn loan target this year as it seeks to expand lending to new markets in Africa, South East Asia and Latin America, Bloomberg reports. Lendable, which focuses on financing for fintech startups in emerging markets, has since its founding in 2015 disbursed USD 125 mn to companies like payments providers TerraPay, MFS Africa and Egypt-based Trella. The company is reportedly spending “a lot of time” in Egypt where it sees “a ton of innovation” in business digitization, Lendable CEO Daniel Goldfarb told Bloomberg. Fintech startups in the region have been gaining interest over the past year after the pandemic pushed digitization into overdrive. MENA-based Fintech startups reportedly raised a collective USD 18.4 mn in February alone, keeping pace with the fintech frenzy taking place over the past year.
The global chip shortage has reached Samsung, with the company sounding the alarm over a “serious imbalance” in the semiconductor industry that is now spilling over into the broader technology sector, writes The Financial Times. Samsung’s warnings come as governments and companies expressed concerns that shortfalls in the semiconductor market might slow the economic recovery from the pandemic. We delved into detail about what the global shortage means for the global economy and how it came out in our story The global chip shortage explained.
The Amazon’s leaky carbon problem: The Amazon rainforest, long understood to be one of the world’s largest carbon sequesters, has started emitting as much greenhouse gasses as it takes in, according to a new study published in Frontiers. The new research has shown that soil degradation (caused by a warming planet) and forest fires set by ranchers and industrialists have contributed to the release of dangerous, less popularized, greenhouse gasses like nitrous oxide and black carbon from the forest. The release of these gasses into the atmosphere has a compounding effect where it both contributes to and is accelerated by a warming planet.
The International Air Transportation Association could see its members commit to a net zero carbon pledge by 2050, considerably ramping up the industry group’s 2005 pledge to decarbonize by cutting net emissions in half by 2050, IATA chief executive Alexandre de Juniac told the Financial Times. The industry’s current pledge to reduce emissions has mostly relied on airlines purchasing carbon offsets but challenges in measuring progress and bringing on board companies from emerging markets with less cash to spare, casts doubt on the likelihood of meeting even more ambitious goals.
US resorts are trying to lure travellers with complimentary rooms and flights if they test positive for covid while on vacation, reports Bloomberg. High-end resorts are trying to recapture business from travelers who are more afraid of getting stuck than of getting sick.
Ancient Egyptian artifacts that were part of the “Secrets of Sunken Egypt” exhibition have safely landed back home after embarking on a tour for more than six years around the world, the Tourism and Antiquities Ministry said in a statement. The touring exhibition featured 293 artifacts that had been discovered underwater in Alexandria’s Mediterranean Sea. The worldwide tour began in 2015 in Europe, starting with Paris, and then off to the US in 2018 where the tour ended almost three years later.
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
(All times in CLT)
We DGAF about the British monarchy (particularly on St. Patrick’s Day), but for the rest of you: Oprah’s interview with Harry and Meghan will air locally today and Saturday. OSN has bought the rights to broadcast the sitdown in MENA, reports BroadcastPro. The two-hour special will air on OSN Woman tonight at 7pm and Saturday at 7pm. There’s more on the link if you care.
The Champions League will see two matches at 10pm as Bayern go up against Lazio and Chelsea play Atletico Madrid. Sevilla take on Elche at 8pm in La Liga while Torino will hit the field against Sassuolo at 4pm in Serie A.
🍰 EAT THIS TONIGHT-
Who doesn’t like cake? The name alone, Cake Cafe, is enough to inspire joy in our hearts with the image it conjures up — and the real life cafe doesn’t disappoint. With an assortment of flavorful and colorful cake creations, Cake Cafe promises to satisfy your sweet tooth while also giving you a place to relax and recharge with their stunning interiors. They also offer more savory options including sandwiches, wraps, soups, and salads. You can find Cake Cafe at Zamalek, New Cairo’s Swan Lake, Sheikh Zayed’s Capital Promenade and Palm Hills, and Hacienda in North Coast.
🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-
(All times in CLT)
Hankering for some rap? Abyusif is performing tonight at 9pm at Cairo Jazz Club in Sheikh Zayed. Kubbara is playing the opening and closing set for the rapper, who was part of the diss track battle that took place last month.
Cairo Opera House is presenting a selection of Disney songs at a concert that will see performances by the Cairo Opera Company, the String Orchestra, the Cairo Opera Ballet Company, and Cairo Opera Choir. The concert will take place on Thursday and Friday at 8pm and you can get tickets using this link.
TAM Gallery is showing the exhibition Solos in Parallel starting Saturday, featuring M. Jamal Bassiouni’s collection Deshret and TAM Gallery founder Lina Mowafy’s collection Mistress of Life. We sat down with Mowafy on our podcast Making It (listen, runtime: 29:19) where she told us all about the origin story of the gallery and its future prospects.
💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-
Spotify’s first chief economist, Will Page, is due to release his book Tarzan Economics early next month, presenting what he deems the “eight principles for pivoting through disruption”. Pivoting through disruption has to do with being able to see the revolutionary changes around the corner, recognizing your strengths, and having the confidence to let go of the old vine of doing business and grab onto the new, Page explains. The principles are meant to help readers fail-safe a business in any industry that is undergoing any disruption whether it’s the digital revolution or a sly competitor.
🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Expect daytime highs of 24°C and lows of 12°C tomorrow and we could be in for foggy mornings in the coming days while coastal areas will be experiencing heavy winds, the national weather service warns.
ALSO: Brace yourselves for a (modest) heat wave starting Saturday. Expect highs of 35°C Saturday through Tuesday before the mercury returns to a more seasonally appropriate 24°C on Wednesday, our favorite weather app says.