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Monday, 7 June 2021

TONIGHT: Openner’s Ahmed Elsherif sits down with Enterprise. ALSO: BOE deliberates launch of digital currency + China’s consumption recovery staggers along.

It’s a capital markets-heavy issue today, ladies and gentlemen, with VCs and private equity news abound. We also have a touch of science fiction-comes-to-life stories as well.

THE BIG STORY TODAY- Why Egypt needs more venture builders: US-based VC firm Openner, which announced yesterday a six-figure investment in, is planning to make venture building a thing in Egypt. Don’t know what that is? Look to our Spotlight interview with Egypt MD Ahmed Elsherif to find out.

** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:

  • Made In Egypt Sinovac™ coming 15 June: The first batch of locally-manufactured Sinovac vaccines will be ready two weeks earlier than expected, and will undergo a final analysis before being dispatched to clinics, Health Minister Hala Zayed said.
  • We’re going to pay 14% VAT on online deliveries by restaurants and shops: All restaurants and businesses with more than EGP 500k in annual revenues will have to charge and remit VAT on online delivery services under an amendment to the VAT act.
  • Egypt Post’s private equity arm could be heading to the EGX: Market conditions and appetite from foreign investors will determine the timing and size of the offering, while preparations for the IPO should wrap up by the end of this fiscal year.


The Bank of England (BOE) is warming up to the idea of rolling out a digital currency, publishing a discussion paper that outlines the risks and benefits of launching a central bank digital currency (CBDC) and how to do it effectively, according to a press release. The BOE is open to CBDC’s in the event that they boost financial inclusion, create a competitive CBDC ecosystem, safeguard user privacy, and “do no harm” to the Bank’s ability to meet monetary and financial stability. The bank will be accepting feedback from stakeholders on the discussion paper till September, and responses will inform how it decides to move forward.

However, the BOE will still explore whether payment innovations could deliver the same benefits of a digital currency: The bank has raised a number of concerns that are under consideration, including public confidence in the financial system, banking sector liquidity resilience, credit conditions, money market functioning, and the implementation and transmission of monetary policy. To mitigate these risks, the BOE suggests that a transition period would be necessary for a rollout of CBDC to limit the pace of migration. A number of countries worldwide are considering the introduction of digital currencies, including Egypt who back in April changed regulations to allow commercial banks to issue e-currencies. If you’re still unsure what a digital currency could mean for the economy, check out our explainer on the topic.


The Entering African Markets exporter training program is ongoing till 10 June to strengthen and enhance the capacity of Egyptian exporters, according to a press release (pdf). The program was launched by the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation in cooperation with the Egyptian Export Development Authority.

Egypt is hosting the first forum of the heads of African investment promotion agencies from 11-14 June in Sharm El Sheikh under the theme “Integration for Growth,” according to a cabinet statement. Ministers and heads of investment agencies from 34 African countries are expected to attend in efforts to boost coordination and integration among the continent’s investment bodies and support foreign direct investment.

Entrepreneurs in the tourism sector have until 20 June to apply for the six-month Tourism Recovery Program launched by enpact and the TUI Care Foundation and supported by GIZ, according to a press release (pdf). Under the program, 100 tourism startups will be chosen to receive dedicated mentoring, training, and direct financial support of up to EUR 9k per business. The program also aims to create an international network of tourism business to expand cooperation between Egypt, Germany, and other European countries. You can apply for the program using this link.


The consumption bounceback in China has fallen short of expectations despite the economy having long reopened, hinting at a subdued recovery for other countries that have recently reopened, according to Bloomberg. Economists attribute the lack of a V-shaped recovery to an unequal distribution of savings from the pandemic as well as lingering virus worries prompting conservative spending habits, especially on services. But as vaccine rollouts pick up steam and uncertainty in the future begins to subside, China’s consumption is expected to pick up, with Bloomberg forecasting boosted spending levels by the end of 2021.

Google will pay a USD 270 mn settlement fee to French regulators in an antitrust case that alleged the tech company had abused its leading role in the digital advertising sector, the Wall Street Journal reports. Google also pledged to make it easier for competitors to use its online advertising tools, a commitment that will be legally binding in France for three years. Google could look to take a similar approach to settling other legislative battles, such as an ongoing antitrust probe in Germany.


Another Netflix doc on the complexities of being human: Human: The World Within explains the biological systems that define us as a species and influence every individual’s life, passions and goals. The six episodes focus on the nervous system, the heart, food and eating, adaptation, our senses, and the birth process. The documentary uses real people and situations to illustrate the scientific information it conveys, making the episodes more relatable. For the episode on food and eating, the documentary introduces us to a distance runner preparing for a trek who explains how different foods will affect him. In the adaptation episode on the other hand, a woman who lives in the desert explains how her immune system has adapted to the harsh environment. Ready Steady Cut are out with a review.


Don’t miss out on a Abdel Halim Hafez concert (you heard right): After 2Pac made a posthumous hologram cameo at Coachella (watch, runtime: 5:00) a couple of years back, Egyptian singing legend Abdel Halim Hafez will be making his hologram debut concert later this month: The 90-minute concerts will be held on 17 and 18 June and you can buy tickets through TicketsMarche.


How to navigate the technological world with the least amount of stress: Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport introduces a 30-day moratorium on digital noise and instructs readers on how to conduct a “digital declutter” to combat the overuse of technology. The book is filled with anecdotes on how getting off screens can allow for new passions and goals to emerge. While a lot of Newport’s arguments against technology-filled days have been said time and again, it's the approach he takes to changing the new normal, and the steps he outlines to getting there, that make it easier to accomplish.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Expect daytime highs of 38°C and nighttime lows of 21°C tomorrow, our favorite weather app says.

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