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Wednesday, 15 February 2023

THIS MORNING: A rainy post-Valentine’s

Good morning, wonderful people, and a very happy almost-THURSDAY. We have an absolutely stacked issue for you this morning, so we’re going to jump right in.

PSA #1- School’s rained out in Alex: Schools across Alexandria will be closed today due to bad weather, Alexandria Governor Mohamed El Sherif announced in a statement yesterday.

What’s the forecast? We’ll see moderate rainfall on the North Coast and Nile Delta, according to the Egyptian Meteorological Authority. There’s a 30% chance of intermittent rain in parts of Cairo, too, according to the EMA — though our favorite weather app only sees a few clouds on the horizon, with a very low possibility of sprinkles between 1-3pm CLT. Alexandria will see a high of 16°C and low of 10°C, while Cairo is set to a high this afternoon of 16°C and an overnight low of 9°C.


SCZone courts Japanese FDI: SCZone Chairman Walid Gamal El Din is in Tokyo to drum up investment in the zone from Japanese investors, according to several statements (here, here, and here.) In the first two days of the tour, Gamal El Din met with more than 100 representatives from Japanese firms including manufacturer AGC Group, industrial group Mitsui, tech startups ArkEdge Space and LocationMind, and engineering construction provider DAI Nippon Construction to discuss potential projects. Water treatment, desalination plants, and green fuel production were the focus of some of the talks.

Separately in Cairo, SCZone officials met with representatives from Malaysian palm oil giant Sime Darby to discuss efforts to localize the palm oil industry, according to a statement.


#1- The World Bank could finalize its development finance program with Egypt next month, the lender’s MENA president Ferid Belhaj told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai. The bank’s board could meet to approve the framework agreement, which will likely extend for five years, on 21 March, he said. The lender has extended some USD 900 mn in finance to the country so far this fiscal year and “will see how things go — we may commit more,” Belhaj said.

We’ve been lobbying for more from the WB: Finance Minister Mohamed Maait called on the World Bank to provide more money to support development programs. Maait made the remarks in a meeting with a delegation from the multilateral lender days ago. Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly called for finalizing the bank’s development finance program with Egypt “as early as possible” in a meeting with bank representatives a few weeks back.

There will — as always — be strings attached: The level of state involvement in MENA economies “has always been a matter of concern for us,” Belhaj told Reuters. He also called for greater transparency in Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, and Jordan when it comes to the level of public debt. “Egypt needs debt transparency that touches on the debt of state-owned enterprises,” Belhaj told Bloomberg TV in a separate interview (watch, runtime: 10:34). “They are moving ahead with it, but there is still effort to be made,” Belhaj added.

#2- Get ready for 5G? Egypt is nearing the completion of a detailed study on the launch of 5G, CIT Minister Amr Talaat told Asharq Business in Dubai (watch, runtime: 10:19.) “A timeframe [for implementation] will be announced soon,” Talaat said. His statements come nearly a year after Talaat told the media outlet that his ministry had contracted with a consultancy firm to “look into the optimal form of providing the service to individuals and corporations”.

Once again, there is no single BIG STORY ABROAD dominating the front pages of the global business press. Some stories you’ll want to know about:

  • US inflation cooled for a seventh consecutive month in January, rising 6.4% at an annual rate, figures by the US Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed;
  • China’s economic recovery is “off to a slow start” since the end of covid restrictions in December, CNBC reports.
  • Western intelligence services are reporting that Russia is staging warplanes on Ukraine’s border, prompting a scramble to shore up Ukraine’s air defenses. (Financial Times)

AND- Folks in DC are slowly turning their eyes toward the 2024 presidential race:

  • Republican Nikki Haley has thrown her hat into the ring, becoming the first credible candidate to say she will challenge Agent Orange for the Republican nomination. Haley, 51, would be the first woman and first American of Indian descent to become president if she were to make it. Check out her campaign announcement (watch, runtime: 3:33) or get more from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
  • Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard is stepping down to lead US President Joe Biden’s economic team as he prepares for an reelection campaign amid economic headwinds, Financial Times reports.

OBITUARY- Veteran journalist Morsi Atallah passed away yesterday at the age of 80, Ahram Online reports. Atallah served as the former chairman of state-owned Al Ahram daily newspaper and was the founding editor-in-chief of its evening edition, Al Ahram Al Massai. He also served as chairman of the board of Zamalek FC in 2005.


*** 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: A plan to upgrade the nation’s irrigation canals is running into some difficulties..

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