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Sunday, 23 October 2022

THIS MORNING: It’s economic conference week

Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to what promises to be a very busy week on the economic policy front as politicians, cabinet members and folks from industry associations gear up for three big events ahead of COP27.

It starts today with the Madbouly governments Egypt Economic Conference 2022, which runs through Tuesday and will see heavy presence from members of the cabinet economic group. It’s still not clear to us who is attending from the private sector who doesn’t also hold a position at an industry association or chamber of commerce.

Are you attending? We’d love it if you plugged our five-step recipe for how to build a new Egyptian economy that puts FDI and exports at the heart of everything we do.

Focus is key: Technical committees associated with today’s conference are weighing some 480 proposals (we kid you not). The various sub-committees of the National Dialogue have sent in a barrel of questions of their own, on everything from inflation to the budget deficit. Folks, we need to focus. The government cannot be all things to all industries, and this conference is NOT the forum to bemoan L/Cs vs documentary collection, how far the EGP will need to fall against the greenback, or any of our other current problems.

Those issues are not what ails us — they’re symptoms of the real problem: Our failure to build an economy that prioritizes exports and FDI while simultaneously harnessing the power of the Arab world’s largest consumer market.

Lamees agrees: Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi urged last night that we use the conference to set out clear, focused, measurable, and realistic goals for the economy (watch, runtime: 6:29).

“We need to focus. We need to have clear goals, and a clear path to achieve them,” says El Hadidi. “We can’t export everything, we can’t open every topic… If we decide to focus on industry, we need to choose a limited group of industries… five or six industries at most, [and say] these are the priorities, the ones we’ll support.”

If you’re attending, drop us a note later today by replying to this email and let us know how things are going or email

^^ We have the inside track on what you can expect from the event in this morning’s news well, below.

ALSO TODAY- Egypt plays host to the annual Gas Exporting Countries Forum meetings: Ministers from the 19 member countries as well as eight observer nations are in Cairo for the next three days for the annual meetings of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum.

Why this matters: Egypt has been positioning itself for some years now as the premier energy hub in the Eastern Mediterranean, serving as a hub for natural gas and electricity exports to Europe, the Levant, GCC, Sudan and North Africa. Throw in the energy war between Russia and Europe and things look very interesting right now.

MEANWHILE- Egypt and the UAE will host a gathering marking 50 years of bilateral ties. The conference takes place 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 from the two countries, while the following day will feature a cultural forum.

AND- The Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) will launch a promotional campaign ahead of COP27 on potential investments in the zone. The domestic campaign will be launched today before the international campaign kicks off tomorrow.

THERE’S NO SIGN THIS MORNING of an IMF facility. The IMF executive board’s public agenda page hasn’t been updated since before the IMF / World Bank annual meetings earlier this month. A senior government official said last week that Egypt expected the announcement would come “quickly.”


In the absence of an IMF package, speculation on the “real value” of the EGP continues apace. Reuters is the latest to join the party, with a poll of economists predicting the EGP will ease to 21.16 to the USD by the end of the current fiscal year next June and 22.08 by the end of FY 2023-2024. That’s a faster pace than in the news organization’s July poll, when respondents forecast 19.86 to the USD by the end of FY 2023-2024. Reuters poll was carried out 10-19 October.

Others see a bigger drop: Enterprise readers are, on average, using 22.12 in their 2023 budgets. Goldman Sachs said last month that most folks it spoke with see the EGP settling somewhere between 22-24 to the greenback once an IMF package is in place.

Where do we stand now? The greenback was changing hands at EGP 19.7284 on Thursday. The EGP has lost a little more than a quarter of its value against the greenback this year, including March’s steep devaluation.


COUNTDOWN TO COP (13 days to go)-

We have just under two weeks to go before COP27 kicks off in Sharm El Sheikh.

A rare bit of good climate news: Global CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels are forecast to rise by less than 1% this year thanks to the strong push into renewables and electric vehicles, according to the International Energy Agency. Emissions are set to rise by only 300 mn tons in 2022 to 33.8 bn tons — a much smaller jump than the 2 bn-ton increase last year, the organization said in a report.

The African Development Bank will unveil at COP27 a USD 1.5 bn green facility to help African countries develop clean energy and adapt infrastructure to handle the effects of global warming, the bank’s principal climate officer told Bloomberg. The bank will offer the funding to climate-related projects through partnerships with commercial banks and governments. The lender plans to raise USD 100 mn by the end of next year, and the full USD 1.5 bn by the end of 2025.

UK Minister for Africa Gillian Keegan was in town last week for talks ahead of COP27, meeting with Foreign Minister and COP27 President Sameh Shoukry and Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker on the sidelines of Cairo Water Week, the UK Foreign Office said.

  • UK firms investing in Egypt’s renewables sector was on the agenda — as was jailed activist Alaa Abdel Fattah: Keegan met with Alaa’s family “to express the UK’s sympathy and our commitment to his case,” according to the British statement.

Cairo’s bike-sharing program is finally live: Cairo Bike made its long-awaited debut on Thursday, introducing 250 bikes and 25 stations to the streets of downtown Cairo, cabinet said in a statement. A second phase will double the number of bikes to 500 when another 20 stations go live in Zamalek and Garden City. The project allows members of the public to rent bikes for EGP 1 per hour via a mobile app and is operated by European bike rental firm Donkey Republic.

Another mode of green transport getting traction: Rabbit Mobility’s e-scooters in Maadi — we seem to see more and more of them on the street every day. Rabbit CEO Kamal ElSoueni was our founder of the week earlier this year.

Some 422 startups from around the world applied to the ClimaTech Run competition, which offers startups a top award of USD 100k and the chance to pitch their product at COP27, the International Cooperation Ministry said Friday. The startups presented sustainable solutions in sectors including energy, agriculture, food security, transport, and urban development. Fifteen of them will be shortlisted to pitch at the global climate summit.


China’s Xi set for third term: Xi Jinping is on course to be nominated for an unprecedented third five-year term as China’s president after the Chinese Communist Party elected a central committee stacked with Xi loyalists at its congress, which wrapped yesterday. Key party leaders not seen as being close to Xi, Premier Li Keqiang and ex-Guangdong head Wang Yang, will retire early from the powerful seven-member Standing Committee, which will be revealed today. (Reuters | CNN | The Guardian)


EU moves closer to capping gas prices: EU countries tentatively agreed a plan to cap natural gas prices at a summit Friday after Germany dropped its opposition to the move, the Financial Times reports. Energy ministers are set to resume talks over the size of the price cap and details for its execution in the next two to three weeks. The main European benchmark index dropped 7.0% to EUR 115 per megawatt hour on Friday following the news.


*** It’s What’s Next day: We have our weekly deep-dive into what makes and shapes pre-listed companies and startups in Egypt, the UAE and KSA, touching on investment trends, future sector insights and growth journeys.

In today’s issue: We dive into the local deep tech sector.

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