TONIGHT: New details on construction licenses; Chip shortage bites; Mega steel merger in the Gulf; Musk hurts the Doge.
Good afternoon, wonderful people. Only two more days to go until we start Eid vacation. And the best part? The heat wave is going to die down overnight tonight.
THE BIG STORY this afternoon here at home: Details of the new system through which the government will hand out construction licenses were announced this morning, according to a cabinet statement. The licensing requirements include setting limits on building heights that vary with street width and standards for built-up areas depending on land size. A two-month pilot phase began on 1 May in districts including Heliopolis, South Giza, Montaza, Kowesna, Kafr El Dawar, Qaha, Marsa Matrouh, Tanta Second, and Sidi Salem. The full rollout is expected at the start of the new fiscal year in July. The government announced a six-month construction ban last year in a crackdown on building code violations after getting a sharper teeth to clamp down on illegal construction.
The measures are designed to curb unlicensed construction, a government campaign against which has resulted in bns on EGP in fines collected and settlements reached in the past year.
COVID WATCH- State-owned Vacsera will locally manufacture 2 mn doses of China's Sinovac vaccine by end of June, Health Minister Hala Zayed said at a presser (watch, runtime: 16:12). The first shipment of the vaccine’s raw materials will arrive on 18 May, Zayed noted. The vaccine, which is cleared for emergency use in Egypt, will be available without charge, she confirmed. The government plans to produce 5 mn doses of the vaccine within two months, before raising capacity to 40-60 mn per year. China is also expected to send 500k doses of the Sinovac vaccine this month.
We have steady increases in daily cases.The minister noted that daily covid-19 cases are rising at a steady pace that is likely to continue until Eid Al Fitr, noting that the past three week didn’t witness big increases. She added that hospitals still have enough capacity for new infections.
EU leaders are pushing back on the US-backed proposal to waive intellectual property rights on covid-19 vaccines, saying that the move is not the answer to increasing vaccine supply, according to the Financial Times. Allowing the export of raw materials required for jab manufacturing and sending more doses to developing countries would instead fill in the gap, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said following a two-day EU leaders’ summit in Portugal. This was echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron and European Council President Charles Michel.
The waiver: The US last week came out in favor of a proposal pushed by South Africa and India in October to temporarily suspend patents on vaccines, which they claim would allow manufacturers in other countries to produce shots and speed up the rollout in the developing world. The proposal has the backing of more than 100 countries and is being negotiated at the World Trade Organization. Pharma companies and a number of countries have come out against the idea.
THE BIG STORY INTERNATIONALLY #1: We’re happy to report that the Chinese rocket spared Enterprise World Headquarters when it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere this morning. Most of the rocket burned up on re-entry and the remaining debris landed in the Indian Ocean. The US wasn’t happy (coz, China), with NASA accusing Beijing of “recklessness” and “failing to meet responsible standards” regarding their space debris. Most outlets have the story this afternoon, from the Associated Press and Reuters to Bloomberg.
(STILL) THE BIG STORY INTERNATIONALLY #2: Last night’s cyberattack on a US oil pipeline remains front page news across much of the international press. The White House has pledged to crackdown on hackers, who have stepped up attacks in recent weeks, according to Bloomberg.
** So, when do we eat? We sit down to eat at 6:38pm, and we’ll have until 3:27am to eat and hydrate.
** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:
- IDH going live this month on the EGX: IDH is expected to float 5% of its shares on the EGX on 20 May after receiving regulatory approval for the dual listing last week. It will be the first technical listing on the EGX.
- S&P affirms ‘B’ sovereign credit rating: S&P Global Ratings expects Egypt to have no trouble meeting upcoming debt payments but warned that lower foreign inflows would weigh on its fiscal position in the coming months.
- Private sector minimum wage coming? The National Council for Wages will draw up plans to introduce a national minimum wage for private sector workers this month.
FROM THE REGION- Plans for a Gulf mega-merger are afoot: Abu Dhabi wealth fund ADQ plans to form the UAE’s biggest steel and building materials company through a merger of Emirates Steel Industries and Arkan Building Materials Company, combining their assets for a total of USD 3.54 bn. This comes as part of the Emirate’s push to support the economy and diversify away from oil and gas production. Reuters and Bloomberg have the story.
Israel is refusing to stop the forced removal of Palestinians from East Jerusalem: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he “firmly rejects the pressure to stop building” in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, an area in which the government is planning to evict Palestinians and replace them with Israeli settlers, reports Reuters. There are growing international calls to half the evictions after hundreds of Palestinians were injured yesterday when Israeli forces attacked worshippers gathered in Al Aqsa Mosque for prayers.
Dogecoin’s record rally reversed on Saturday after Elon Musk called the meme cryptocurrency “a hustle” while hosting an episode of Saturday Night Live last night, reports Bloomberg. The currency fell almost 30% during the airing of the show, dropping to USD 0.49 at one point from its previous high of USD 0.73, according to CNBC. The sell off was so rapid that popular trading app Robinhood experienced a blackout. Dogecoin has surged more than 26k% in the past six months amid rampant speculation in the crypto market. Dogecoin’s price is currently at USD 0.628 as of this afternoon.
Stonks and doges aren’t impressing the powers-that-be in Germany and the US, where regulators may be about to push for tighter control of the crypto market, the Financial Times reports. Crypto giant Binance is currently in a showdown with German regulators over whether its new stock tokens — a crypto derivative of publicly-traded shares — break European securities rules. And in the US, new head of the Securities and Exchange Commission Gary Gensler last week hinted at plans for new regulations over the market, telling a congressional hearing that investors would benefit from tighter controls.
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
It’s inflation day tomorrow: The long Eid break shouldn’t get in the way of Capmas and the CBE releasing inflation figures for April, which should land tomorrow.
Africa-based startups have until 26 May to sign up for the French government-sponsored AFD Digital Challenge, an annual startup competition (pdf) run by the French Development Agency (AFD). This year, the competition is targeting startups that work on environmental protection and tackle carbon emissions. The 10 startups chosen will receive a package of technical and financial support worth EUR 20k.
The IMF will conduct on 1 June a second review of targets set under Egypt’s USD 5.2 bn standby loan. The loan was approved in June 2020.
The El Gouna International Squash Open 2021 and the CIB PSA World Tour Finals will go ahead as planned, PSA World Tour announced. The El Gouna Open will take place on 20-28 May, while the CIB-sponsored World Tour Finals will run on 22-27 June in Cairo.
🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
The global semiconductor shortage may be about to hit us where it hurts: The severity of the chip shortage has increased in recent weeks and will likely start hurting consumers’ wallets as products dry up and prices increase, analysts tell CNBC. The supply crisis is beginning to be felt in a multitude of sectors — from cars and home appliances to games consoles and dog-washers — and consumers will soon start to feel the impact. “What it will mean is they can’t get something, or prices are slightly higher,” says a Gartner analyst.
Automakers are already raising their prices, as the twin shock of the chip shortage and surging commodity prices squeezes the sector, Bloomberg reports. Analysts at JPMorgan estimate the price of an auto’s raw materials have climbed 83% in the year through March, and although companies usually avoid passing on higher input costs to consumers, the surge in demand for vehicles is adding to inflationary pressures caused by supply issues.
The Egyptian auto sector is already beginning to feel the pinch: Local companies have been forced to reduce production amid a dearth of electronic components.
Need a refresher on the global chip shortage? Check out our in-depth explainer here.
Meanwhile, one staple food commodity is helping the world stave off a food crisis: While crop prices have been increasing across the board this year, the price of rice has bucked the trend by falling in recent months, according to Bloomberg. Why? Among other factors, rice is grown primarily for human consumption, and the recent surge in food prices has been driven by growing demand for livestock feed.
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
A recent Netflix release, The Sons Of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness, is a four-part docuseries that explores investigative journalist Maury Terry’s obsession with the case of David Berkowitz (aka The Son of Sam). The American serial killer pleaded guilty to eight separate shooting attacks that began in 1976 in New York City. However, the now-deceased Terry spent a large portion of his career trying to prove that Berkowitz didn’t act alone but instead was part of a cult. He even corresponded with Berkowitz (who is still in jail today) for tips on where to look. The NYPD denounced Terry’s findings, refusing to reopen a closed case, and his alternative solutions to the murders have yet to be proved correct. You can check out these reviews by The New Yorker and Roger Ebert.
⚽ It’s a busy day for football.
In the Premier League: Aston Villa and Man United have just finished the half at Villa Park, with West Ham and Everton’s match starting at 5:30pm followed by Arsenal and West Brom at 8pm and Fulham vs. Burnley at 9pm.
Juventus vs AC Milan is the match of the night. The two rivals are currently tied on 69 points and must battle it out to secure that top 4 spot and qualification to next season’s Champions League. The match kicks off in Turin at 8:45pm.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid are still in with a chance of being crowned La Liga champions, but will likely have to beat fourth-placed Sevilla tonight to do it. The two sides kick off in Madrid at 9pm.
🥐EAT THIS TONIGHT-
Our final Ramadan dessert recommendation of the season: After trying all the unique creations from several joints this holy month, we found ourselves going back to basics time and time again. Zanobia in El Rehab and Nasr City has given us some of the best classic Ramadan treats with their baklava, kunafa, and atayef. Definitely worth a try before the desserts stop blessing your dining room table every night. We’ve also loved Abdel Rahim Kouiedar’s basbousa, proving itself to be as soft and sweet as you could ever wish for. Finally, Voila’s balah el sham and halawet el jabn blew us away — without sending us into a sugar coma in the process.
💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-
She Made It aims to be a guide for women to launch successful businesses during the digital age. The book is packed full with advice, inspiration and wisdom from author Angelica Malin and other successful female entrepreneurs. It’s also not afraid to delve into the nitty gritty of day-to-day operations of building a startup, such as the hiring process, investment, and presenting ideas, while also shedding light on the challenges that might face female entrepreneurs. Malin is the founder and editor-in-chief of About Time Magazine and is a commentator on business and entrepreneurship in the UK.
🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Expect daytime highs of 38°C and nighttime lows of 20°C tomorrow, with the rest of the week looking pretty much the same, our favorite weather app indicates.