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Sunday, 3 October 2021

THIS MORNING: We should be inking contracts to link grids with Saudi this week + Nafeza is here

Good morning, friends, and welcome to an abbreviated workweek. We have plenty of news for you this fine fall morning, so let’s jump straight in:

The House was back in session yesterday after its summer recess. A raft of business relevant legislation is on the agenda, from the Unified Budget Act, VAT amendments to a bill that would regulate the fintech space, lawmakers told us last week. Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal spoke to MP Amr Darwish yesterday, who gave her a rundown on what to expect from the legislative session (watch, runtime: 9:43).

We’re kicking off a shortened workweek today, with the nation getting Thursday 7 October off in observance of Armed Forces Day. We can also expect to have a Thursday (or possibly Sunday) off later in the month thanks to the Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday, which is formally observed on Monday, 18 October.

Nafeza is here: The Customs Authority’s new one-stop Advanced Cargo Information (ACI) platform graduated from a pilot into first-phase implementation on Friday, 1 October. Anyone who has not signed up for Nafeza can no longer clear imported goods out of customs at seaports.

The rollout went ahead after delays and calls from the business community to postpone yet further as they get to grips with the new process. For more on the hows and whys of the blockchain-based documentation system, read our explainer here.

HAPPENING TODAY- A Hamas delegation headed by the group’s leader, Ismail Haneyah, will be in Egypt later today, the Jerusalem Post reports. The delegation, which will also include the movement’s leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, will reportedly sit down with Egyptian officials to continue negotiations on a prisoner swap agreement with Israel.

It’s day two of Techne Summit, with the three day investment and entrepreneurship event in Alexandria held under the auspices of the CIT ministry bringing together some 600 startups.

Investment in Egyptian startups has more than doubled in 2021, rising to USD 390 mn year-to-date from USD 190 mn in 2020, CIT Minister Amr Talaat said at the gathering yesterday.

The Cairo International Fair continues today at the Cairo International Conference Center, running through 8 October.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia are set to ink contracts to start linking their electricity grids on 5 October, with implementation of the project set to begin in 2022, Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker said Thursday at the inauguration of the test phase of the New Cairo electricity grid automatic control center, Al Mal reports. Separately, Shaker told Al Shorouk that the contracts would be signed “within days.” The Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company is expected to sign agreements governing cables, overhead lines, and transformer stations with their Saudi counterparts. The 3GW project is now set to become operational in 2023, after reportedly being delayed due to Saudi Arabia’s Neom project.

The final quarter of 2021 is here. Get these dates in your diary:

  • PMI: September’s purchasing managers’ indexes for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will land on Tuesday, 5 October.
  • The Senate will convene for its 2021-2022 legislative season on Tuesday, 5 October.
  • Foreign reserves: September’s foreign reserves figures will be out sometime during the first week of October.
  • Public schools are back in session this coming Saturday.
  • Inflation: Inflation figures for September will be released on Sunday, 10 October.
  • IMF + World Bank meetings: The IMF and the World Bank will hold their annual meetings during the week beginning 11 October.
  • Interest rates: The Central Bank of Egypt will meet to review interest rates on Thursday, 28 October.

SMART POLICY- CBE makes it easier for guardians to manage dependents’ bank accounts: Guardians of minors and other dependents are now permitted to open bank accounts and access statements on their behalf, as well as withdraw accrued interest and pensions without requiring approval for every withdrawal, according to a CBE circular (pdf) out on Thursday. The CBE said the move aims to enhance financial inclusion, noting that women often manage bank affairs for dependents.

** Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Are you ready for a long, dark winter with no presents under the tree? That’s how things are looking in many western economies, the global business press warns. Everyone from the Financial Times to Canada’s CBC is flagging that “Christmas shortages are now a certainty.” At play: kinks in the global supply chain and surging fuel and food costs, warns Bloomberg.

The European natural gas squeeze seems to be getting worse: Algeria is signalling that it plans to shut down a pipeline that supplies Spain through Morocco — thanks to long-standing tensions between the two North African neighbors over Algeria’s support for a Western Sahara secessionist group, the Financial Times notes. Record high prices are threatening a winter energy crisis across the continent, with several European countries announcing support packages to cover households’ skyrocketing electricity bills.

And it could get much worse: A shortage of coal combined with a 15% increase in demand for power this year means China is making a state-backed play to secure as much of the world’s natgas supplies as it can, following energy blackouts that forced a large number of companies to curb output.

US legislators have one more month to pass a USD 1.2 tn spending bill after Congress passed an emergency measure over the weekend to continue funding federal road programs to avert a government shutdown, according to a press release by Pelosi.

MARKET WATCH-

Markets rollercoaster into the weekend: Volatility dominated the conversation at the end of last week, as the S&P 500 registered its worst weekly performance since February, Bloomberg reported. Stocks dropped on Thursday on the back of a laundry-list of worries spanning US budget drama, the upcoming Fed taper, high inflation, the global supply crisis, mounting energy shortages, Chinese regulatory restrictions, and the pandemic.

Friday saw a rebound on the back of high hopes for a reopening following the release of strong results for an experimental covid-19 drug and positive US economic indicators, Bloomberg reported.

But we’re far from out of the woods: The S&P could see a “5-7% pullback … at any time given we haven’t had one in so long,” one strategist told Bloomberg.

** IN CASE YOU MISSED IT – Stories from Thursday’s edition of EnterprisePM:

  • The silver lining to global supply chain chaos: Egypt could be one of the top beneficiaries as Western fashion brands try to localize their supply chains and lower their reliance on their far-flung, low-cost manufacturing centers in Asia.
  • Fancy a trip to the metaverse? Facebook is trying to make sure it has as much control as possible over the next frontier: the metaverse.
  • Squid Game: Go watch it.

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