TONIGHT: Positive covid news afoot + the scramble out of Afghanistan is in full swing. ALSO, is Egypt safe from stagflation? More football docs for you to watch.
Welcome to the accidental covid watch issue, ladies and gentlemen, as a number of positive Egypt-related pandemic news led the conversation today.
THE BIG STORY TODAY- The Health Ministry appears to be planning a massive vaccination campaign, announcing plans to dole out at least one dose of a vaccine to more than a third of the population in under three months. Some 35 mn people would receive a shot in just 88 days, under the plan.
MORE GOOD NEWS on that front, as Russia’s covid committee has deemed us safe enough to raise the number of direct flights to Egypt’s resorts to 15 flights. We have both stories in today’s Speed Round.
** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:
- Unemployment rates remain flat: Unemployment rates for 2Q2021 only fell by 0.1 percentage points relative to last quarter reaching 7.3%. However, it is nowhere near where we were last year with an unemployment rate of 9.6% for 2Q2020.
- New sanctions to Securities companies: The companies could face sanctions if they don’t join the Egyptian Securities Federation (ESF). The news comes after the ESF submitted a proposal to the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA). Specifics are yet to be determined.
- Geely cars will now be sold by Abou Ghali Motors: The chinese carmaker announced the deal with Abou Ghali Motors in a statement (pdf). The new agreement comes less than two weeks after GB Auto refused to renew its contract with Geely.
THE BIG STORY ABROAD- A number of countries have evacuated their citizens and closed their embassies in Kabul, including Saudi Arabia, the UK and Finland, following the Taliban’s seizure of the capital city. Governments are continuing to organize flights to evacuate their citizens despite the shuttering of Hamid Karzai International Airport and the suspension of international flights, according to CNN.
Escaping is becoming dire over there: While the international press is playing up the Saigon comparison to death, it’s hard not to draw comparisons when a number of Afghan men fell to their death after clinging to the exterior of the aircraft. Videos circulating on social media showed people running after planes as they take off, in hopes of fleeing the country.
Meanwhile, an Afghan plane crashed today in Uzbekistan, Sky News Arabia reports. Sources told Russian news agency TASS that the reason behind the crash is still unknown and is currently being studied.
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
The annual gathering of central bankers and monetary policymakers at Jackson Hole will kick off on Thursday, 26 August. In a sign that worries about covid might have subsided, the event will be held in “a modified, in-person program” this year, after it went fully-virtual last year for the first time. This year’s symposium will focus on “Macroeconomic Policy in an Uneven Economy," though very little detail has been made public on what that actually entails. We expect inflation and worries over the Delta variant will also feature heavily during the discussions. This is only major event macro policy watchers need to keep keeping an eye, with August generally lacking in business-related events.
🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
Stagflation—when inflation rises even as economic growth and employment rates stagnate or decline—could become the new reality for EM economies. Rising commodity prices, the pandemic, governments’ limited scope for spending, the knock-on effects of developed economies’ fiscal policies, and climate change are combining to create a perfect stagflation storm in the developing world, Indian economist Jayati Ghosh writes in Foreign Policy. She says stagflation is already apparent in countries like Saudi Arabia, Mexico, South Africa, the Philippines and Brazil.
Global monetary tightening could make things worse: Adding to the pressure on EMs is the likelihood of monetary policy tightening as the commodities boom drives inflationary pressures. And when the Fed does eventually tighten policy, the negative effect on EMs is “inevitable,” Ghosh writes.
We’re inflating but not stagnating: Egypt has so far managed to dodge stagflation. Inflation did hit a year-to-date high in July and expectations are that it will continue to rise on the back of the hike in global commodities as well as domestic price increases. That said, the IMF is projecting a “strong rebound” for Egypt in FY2021-2022, with GDP coming in at 5.2%.
Africa’s huge new internet cable is going to be bigger than we thought: The 2Africa subsea cable being installed by a consortium of global telecoms firms — among them, Telecom Egypt — will be bigger than planned, according to a statement (pdf) out this morning which announced new connections to the Seycelles, the Comoros, Angola and Nigeria. The 37k-km cable, which is being installed by companies including Facebook, Orange, Vodafone, and China Mobile International, will run along the entire African coast, connecting the continent with several European countries and the Arabian Peninsula. It is expected to significantly expand broadband and mobile networks across Africa when it comes online in 2023-2024.
TE is ahead of schedule laying its section of the cable, announcing in December that it had connected the landing sites on the Mediterranean and the Red Sea via a terrestrial link. The company will now lay a sub-sea cable to diversify the connection
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
Oscar-winning documentary Icarus explores the dark side of athletics: The documentary was first meant to follow Bryan Fogel as he explores doping in sports. However, a chance encounter with a Russian scientist leads him to discover a conspiracy that turns the documentary into more of a geopolitical thriller. The two-hour film explores the 2014 revelations that Russian authorities had engaged in systematic doping at the Sochi Winter Olympics, a story that became one of the biggest scandals in modern sporting history and saw Russia banned from competing in international athletics events.
⚽ Tonight in La Liga: Villareal kick off the new season by hosting Granada in a game that kicks off at 8pm. Later on, Elche and Athletic Club kick off at 10pm.
Matchday 2 of the Premier League and Matchday 3 of France’s Ligue 1 (attention Messi watchers) will resume this weekend, while Italy’s Serie A will kick off on Saturday, 21 August.
🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-
Good news for film lovers: Zawya arthouse cinema in Downtown Cairo announced yesterday it’s kicking off September with a retrospective of legendary director Stanley Kubrick. The seven films being screened include Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Shining — with some being shown for the first time on Cairo’s big screen.
Rock and blues group Hardcase are playing at Room New Cairo at 9pm this evening, with tickets going for EGP 150.
And it’s Afrolatin night over at the Sheraton in Dokki, with salsa, bachata and kizomba tunes playing from 8pm. Entry price after registration is EGP 150, and details on how to register are on the event Facebook page.
💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-
Feeling sad could be part of the evolutionary process: Good Reasons for Bad Feelings is written by Dr. Randolph Nesse who helped to establish the field of evolutionary medicine. In his book, Nesse attempts to reexamine how we think of mental disorders by asking why natural selection has left us all with fragile minds. Negative emotions such as anxiety can be beneficial in certain situations, causing us to make better decisions or protect us from harm, which can be explained from an evolutionary standpoint. Other conditions such as addiction and anorexia result from the mismatch between modern environment and our ancient human past, Nesse argues, while the persistence of disorders such as schizophrenia have evolutionary explanations.
☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- … is the same as today’s: Expect daytime highs of 39°C and nighttime lows of 25°C in Cairo tomorrow, our favorite weather app tells us. Sahel will see daytime temperatures of 31°C and nighttime lows of 22°C.