THIS MORNING: Shoukry + El Molla at Davos; MbS in Egypt next month
Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to another very heavy news day in which business news again tops our tl;dr — including M&A news and a massive raise by one of the newest citizens of Planet Startup. We have the rundown on everything in this morning’s news well, below.
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-
It’s Day #2 at Davos: The second day of the gathering of global business, policy and media chiefs will feature talks on everything from global tax and the future of work, to the digital economy and all things climate. Our friend Mahmoud Mohieldin, wearing his hat as UN high-level climate action champion for COP27 will join a panel discussion on climate transition in emerging economies this morning at the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos (11:30 CLT). European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez will deliver special addresses.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Oil Minister Tarek El Molla gave interviews on the sidelines of the gathering yesterday, answering questions on how the government is responding to the spillover effects from the crisis in Ukraine. Here are the highlights:
- The energy crisis is good for Egyptian gas exports: As Europe searches for new sources of energy, Egypt is “well-positioned” to take advantage of the crisis and increase its role as a regional gas hub in the East Mediterranean, El Molla told CNBC (watch, runtime: 3:39).
- When can Europe expect more gas from Egypt? Egypt will be in a position to increase exports to Europe in the next two or three years, the minister said. International energy companies are investing more to accelerate gas production in the region, which will allow Egypt to boost LNG volumes, he said.
- Elevated oil prices won’t last forever: El Molla expects oil prices to fall back towards the end of the year, predicting that the OPEC+ alliance of oil producers will eventually agree to raise supply to calm the market (watch, runtime: 1:53).
- A risk of civil unrest globally: “The pressures on normal people could raise the potential of civil unrest. It will be upon governments to do the best they can and to provide the services that can support the population,” Shoukry told the broadcaster (watch, runtime: 2:11).
- “We’ll continue to do the best we can”: Asked whether the government is in control of the situation, Shoukry said that ministers are working to tackle inflation and to diversify the country’s food supply.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman is planning to visit Egypt as part of a Middle East / EastMed diplomatic tour that will take him to Turkey, Cyprus, Greece and Jordan, Reuters reports, citing four sources familiar with the matter. The visit could happen at the beginning of July, two of them said. This would be MbS’s first diplomatic tour outside the MENA region since the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
WATCH THIS SPACE #1- The long-awaited executive regulations to the Public-Private Partnership Act will be out “in the coming weeks,” Al Masry Al Youm reports, citing an unnamed Finance Ministry official. The bill passed the House in November and aims, among other things, to make it easier for the private sector to engage with the state in sectors including transport, energy, communications, and healthcare.
Good timing: Their publication comes as the government looks to net as much as USD 10 bn a year for four years through a renewed privatization process. As part of that process, the government will look at expanding PPPs to new sectors, according to a draft policy documen that leaked last week. We can expect the government to publish the final document by the end of May.
THE BIG STORY ABROAD- It’s a mixed bag of nuts on the global front pages this morning: Reuters is reporting that the EU could agree to an embargo on Russian oil “within days,” the Associated Press is looking at the abortion debate in the US, while the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times highlight yesterday’s Sleepy Joe moment that appeared to upend Washington’s decades-long policy towards Taiwan.
WATCH THIS SPACE #2- Erdogan is still trying to patch things up with our part of the world. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is heading to Israel on Wednesday (the first official visit by a Turkish foreign minister in 15 years) and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will reportedly visit Ankara in the “coming days.”
*** It’s Going Green day — your weekly briefing of all things green in Egypt: Enterprise’s green economy vertical focuses each Tuesday on the business of renewable energy and sustainable practices in Egypt, everything from solar and wind energy through to water, waste management, sustainable building practices and how you can make your business greener, whatever the sector.
In today’s issue: Enterprise attended USAID’s Alternative Finance conference yesterday, where the main focus was on how policymakers can get the private sector to buy into Egypt’s development program.