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Wednesday, 19 October 2022

THIS MORNING: We’re getting the full NatGeo treatment + treats for iSheep

Good morning, nice people, and happy almost-THURSDAY. It’s another heavy news morning here in Omm El Donia, so we’re going to jump right in.

But first: A huge thank you to everyone who wrote in yesterday with words of encouragement and new ideas after reading our five-step recipe to boost exports + FDI. We’re wading through our inbox and WhatsApps and will reply to you all over the coming day or two.

We’re not done with the idea. We’re asking those of you attending next weeks’ Egypt and Egypt-UAE economic conferences to champion the idea — and we’ll have more for you in the weeks to come.

THE BIG STORY here at home dovetails nicely with our (not so) little project: The House passed yesterday the legislative framework that would set up a council to make policy for the automotive assembly industry. We’re (very) cautiously optimistic that after years of fits and stars on the so-called “automotive directive” this could signal today’s policymakers are more serious than were their predecessors about turning Egypt into an assembly and export hub for cars (conventional and EVs alike).

The background: After opening the door to investment in a domestic assembly industry in the 1990s and early 200s — and seeing Hyundai, Mercedes, Jeep, BMW and Toyota models put together here — we allowed policy drift to settle in and lost our first-mover advantage to regional competitors.

How did we mess up? In plenty of ways, but this was the big one: Officials at the time knew our trade agreements with the European Union and Morocco would provide offshore assemblers with zero-customs access to our market — and did absolutely nothing about it. Lots of lip service was paid to the notion of helping prepare the industry for the shock through an “automotive directive” that would help the industry move forward. Until the talk stopped and the market was flooded with EU, Moroccan and now Chinese imports. Let’s hope we’re serious this time — as we noted yesterday, two of the smartest guys we know think we could still build a car industry that exports to the GCC, Europe and Africa.

ALSO- Fundraising may have slowed down on Planet Startup, but fintech is still looking really interesting. We have at least four stories this morning with a fintech flavor to them, including an investment round led by our friends at e-Finance and Yalla super app’s push into the UAE and beyond.

^^ More on all of this in this morning’s news well, below.

EGP WATCH- The EGP will weaken to EGP 21 against the greenback by the end of the year, Fitch Solutions predicts in its latest MENA monthly outlook (pdf) report. “A strong USD and delays in reaching an IMF agreement have led to a faster depreciation than we had expected,” Fitch writes. The research house does not see the pace of depreciation slowing before 2H 2023, when it expects the USD to peak and our economy to stabilize as capital inflows start trickling in.

REMEMBER- The EGP has lost a little more than a quarter of its value against the greenback this year. Pundits see the currency settling somewhere between 22-24 to the USD — and Enterprise readers think the EGP will settle at 22.12 on average.

COUNTDOWN TO COP- We have 18 days to go and you can expect a whole lot of talk about green hydrogen in Sharm El Sheikh as Egypt prepares to announce framework agreements for the burgeoning industry, Enterprise Climate reports this morning.

HAPPENING TODAY- Cairo Water Week enters its final day: Some 18.5k attendees from 90 international and regional organizations are convening at the Nile Ritz Carlton in Cairo for the event. The focus of this year’s edition is on preparations to discuss water resources at COP27. Catch the full agenda here.

THE BIG STORIES ABROAD- Geopolitics + the energy crisis are still getting top billing in the international press. US President Joe Biden is expected to today announce the release of another 15 mn barrels of oil into the markets from strategic reserves in December, the FT reports. Expect an official announcement from the Biden administration today, along with a plan on how to replenish dwindling US stockpiles.

ICYMI- Biden wants more supply in the global oil markets to face down a looming winter energy crisis in Western nations, putting him at loggerheads with OPEC+ leader Saudi Arabia, which is cutting output on predictions of a recession induced demand slump.

ALSO- Egypt is getting lots of ink in the new issue of National Geographic, which shines attention on the Grand Egyptian Museum, the new administrative capital, and the centenary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. Meanwhile, Global Construction Review reports that the GEM is 99.8% complete. The NatGeo stories are:

MEANWHILE- Apple unveiled two new iPads last night — and the release date for the next iterations of iPadOS and macOS. Here’s the rundown:

  • The new entry level iPad (just iPad) gets its own keyboard with a function row and (at last) a FaceTime camera on the long edge of the device. It also now comes in four colors.
  • The new iPad Pro line (11” and 12.9”) keeps the same design for a fourth year and doesn’t get the FaceTime camera on the long edge (which is a crying shame considering how many of us would use them for video calls). Tentpole features include the new M2 processor, upgraded cameras, 5G, faster wifi, and a funky new feature for the Apple Pencil.
  • The latest versions of iPadOS (with a version of windowing) and macOS will drop on 24 October.


Take our EV survey: Are you an ex-petrolhead shopping around for your first electric vehicle? EV-curious and wondering what all the fuss is about? Or are you not ready to say goodbye to that sweet smell of benzene as you wait at the gas station?

We want to hear from you: We’re taking the pulse on how the nation feels about Egypt’s nascent EV transition. Take a few minutes to fill out our short survey. We’ll be back soon with the results.



The Madbouly government’s economic conference takes place Sunday-Tuesday next week. You can find the agenda for the conference here.

Egypt and the UAE will host a two-day conference marking 50 years of bilateral ties. The gathering will take place next Wednesday-Friday, 26-28 October and is being produced in association with the two governments. Day one is an economic forum featuring ministers, senior officials and business leaders, while the following day will feature a cultural forum, according to a statement.

The Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) will launch a promotional campaign next week to drum up interest in investing there, SCZone head Walid Gamal El Din said, according to a statement. The pre-COP campaign will launch domestically next Sunday, 23 October, before the international campaign kicks off on Monday, 24 October.

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

CORRECTION- In Monday’s edition of EnterpriseAM, we incorrectly said in Blackboard that nine Egyptian universities fell out of the Times Higher Education 2023 ranking. These universities were “reporter” universities for this year’s rankings — meaning they provided data for the scoring but were unranked.

CLARIFICATION- Price caps for unsubsidized bread only apply to bakeries who take up GASC’s offer of flour. We reported in Monday’s EnterprisePM that the government was reintroducing price caps on unsubsidized bread for a month. We were slightly off the mark: The price caps apply only to those bakeries who use the flour offered by state grain buyer GASC, which is making stock available to the private sector for a month while wheat cargoes remain stuck at ports amid an FX shortage. We have since amended the story on our website.


*** It’s Hardhat day — your weekly briefing of all things infrastructure in Egypt: Enterprise’s industry vertical focuses each Wednesday on infrastructure, covering everything from energy, water, transportation, and urban development, as well as social infrastructure such as health and education.

In today’s issue: We look at how the Universal Health Ins. System is drawing in more private-sector investment. The system, which will allow patients to select their service providers — both private and public — is encouraging investments and improving healthcare quality as it expands the participation of the private sector, a recent World Bank report suggests.

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