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Thursday, 17 February 2022

THIS MORNING: EU-AU summit kicks off + Oil prices keep on rising

Well, friends, we’ve nearly made it through another workweek together. We hope you’re looking forward to a relaxing weekend with family and friends as much as we are.

THE BIG STORY here at home this morning? It’s got to be energy, with news of everything from USD 1.5 bn in financing for a refinery in Assiut to a USD 1.5 bn solar-powered desalination plant that underscores how serious the state is about shoring up water security amid the twin challenges of climate change and Ethiopia’s dam. We have more on those stories — and lots, lots more — in this morning’s news well, below.

PSA #1- We’re just over six weeks (44 days) away from Ramadan. We hope you’re planning accordingly. And that if you’re in the ad industry, things are going smoothly for you in this silly season.

PSA #2- Your commute is going to be much worse on Sunday. Public universities begin the second term of their 2021-2022 academic year this Saturday, 19 February.


The two-day EU-AU summit kicks off in Brussels today, where President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is set to meet with Prime Minister Alexander De Croo to talk diplomatic relations and regional issues.

Also on the agenda for the summit: Look for El Sisi to speak about the integration of African countries into the global economy, ramping up foreign investment across the continent, and supporting developing countries in their green transition — all of which are key action points for COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh this November.

In Brussels ahead of the summit: El Sisi discussed yesterday the protection of Egypt’s coastline from erosion, cooperation in defense-related industries and the production of green hydrogen in meetings he held with Belgian business leaders, according to an Ittihadiya statement. He also spoke with European Council President Charles Michel about Libya and with Belgium’s King Philippe about Belgian investment in Egypt as well as ways of boosting trade and commercial ties, according to another Ittihadiya readout.


THE BIG STORY ABROAD- It’s still Ukraine — and it could be for a while, as the international papers tell us with one voice this morning that Russia is growing, rather than drawing down, its military presence along the border with its neighbor. Russian officials had earlier this week said that some of the c. 150k assembled troops were being withdrawn — claims that US officials are now describing as false. The US estimates Russia to have mobilized another 7k troops — and alleges the country is still looking for a pretext to invade. The news is making headlines across Bloomberg, Reuters, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

CLOSER TO HOME- More ways the Ukraine crisis could directly affect us: Any sanctions on Russia in the event of a Ukraine invasion should also prohibit the country from exporting arms, the head of Ukraine’s center for defense reforms, Oleksandr Danylyuk, writes in a letter to the Financial Times. Egypt is both a major non-Nato ally of the US and a top-five buyer of Russian arms, Danylyuk points out. He adds that Russia should be barred from owning uranium deposits abroad — again namedropping Egypt for its under-construction Dabaa nuclear plant, which is contracted to Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom. (It’s not clear to us, though, that anyone is actively mining uranium here, though there are known deposits in Sinai.)

If you care about oil prices, keep your eye on the crisis: Market watchers are now near-certain that international benchmark Brent crude will cross the USD-100 threshold, CNBC reports. And it’s likely not stopping there: “There is a scenario where we could vault past USD 120, even as high as USD 150,” one analyst was quoted as saying. Brent settled 1.6% up at USD 94.81 yesterday, as the threat of war in Ukraine continues to pressure an already tight market.


The Nebu Expo for Gold and Jewelry 2022 kicks off this Saturday, 19 February and wraps on Monday, 21 February.

A call for tech startups: The Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) and US-based VC firm Plug and Play have launched an incubator and accelerator program for digital transformation-focused startups in partnership with our friends at USAID. The newly launched “Smart Cities” innovation hub will select 20-30 Egypt-based companies for its inaugural three-month program, which starts in March. Startups can apply here before applications close on 28 February.

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

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