North Africa News August 2021
(as at August 1, 2021)
EGYPT – EgyptAir launches new direct air route between Cairo and Düsseldorf
Egypt’s national air carrier EgyptAir has launched a new air route between Cairo and Düsseldorf, in western Germany. EgyptAir will operate three weekly flights on the new direct route, on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. The Egyptian airline announced that there is a possibility to increase the frequency of the flights between Cairo and Düsseldorf, depending on the demand.
Jul. 3, 2021
EGYPT – Suez Canal witnesses record revenues in 2020/2021 fiscal year
The revenues of the Suez Canal have recorded their highest value in history in the 2020/2021 fiscal year, at USD 5.8 bn. The revenues recorded a 2.2% annual increase compared to the 2019/2020 fiscal year. The net tonnage transiting the canal increased by 3.8% in the first half of 2021, from 587.7 million tons to 610.1 million tons. Meanwhile, the number of ships transiting the canal went from 9,546 ships in the first half of 2020 to 9,763 in the first half of 2021 – a 2.3% increase.
Jul. 11, 2021
EGYPT – Egypt signs four new contracts for gold exploration
Australian mining company Centamin and Canada’s B2Gold have signed four new contracts with the Egyptian General Authority for Mineral Resources to explore and mine for gold in Egypt. The contract with B2Gold concerned an investment of USD 8.0 mn to search for gold in six regions. Meanwhile, the three contracts with Centamin provided for an investment of USD 9.1 mn to research 19 regions.
Jul. 12, 2021
MOROCCO – Automobile sales in Morocco grow by 105% in the first half of 2021
Automobile sales in Morocco have grown by 105% in the first half of 2021 in comparison to the same period in 2020, and by 16.4% in comparison with the first half of 2019. The number of vehicles sold between January and June 2021 reached 94,025. Dacia remains the most sold brand in Morocco, with a 29.6% market share, followed by Renault (14.4%). Peugeot, which used to have the third-highest market share in the country, was overtaken in the first half of 2021 by Hyundai. Meanwhile, the brands with the highest sales growth between the first half of 2019 and the same period in 2021 were Opel (+202%) and Skoda (+53%).
Jul. 8, 2021
MOROCCO – Fusion Fuel to finance the 1st phase of Morocco’s green hydrogen project
Irish green energy operator Fusion Fuel is set to finance the first phase of the “Hevo Ammonia Morocco” project for the production of hydrogen and ammonia. The first phase has an estimated budget of EUR 22 mn and is set to allow Morocco to begin producing green hydrogen by the end of 2022. Scheduled over four phases, from 2022 to 2026, the “Hevo Ammonia Project” will have a global budget of EUR 865 mn. It aims to establish an annual production capacity of 31,850 tonnes of green hydrogen, 151,800 tonnes of nitrogen, and 183,650 tonnes of green ammonia by 2026.
Jul. 13, 2021
MOROCCO – Mediterrania Capital Partners invests over EUR 26 mn in Morocco’s Dislog Group
Private equity firm Mediterrania Capital Partners has a part in Moroccan logistics and distribution leader Dislog Group with an investment of MAD 280 mn (EUR 26.6 mn). Dislog Group will use the new capital to acquire brands of fast-moving consumer goods in Morocco and abroad, in preparation for the company’s entry into the stock market, scheduled for June 2024.
Jul. 15, 2021
MOROCCO – STMicroelectronics’ future Moroccan plant to supply Tesla with microchips
Multinational STMicroelectronics is set to open a new plant in Morocco, near Casablanca, dedicated to manufacturing microchips for American giant Tesla. STMicroelectronics announced that the opening of the new production unit will take place “very soon” without disclosing further details about the project. The company already operates one plant in Morocco that employs 5,000 workers.
Jul. 15, 2021
TUNISIA – BluePeak Private Capitals invests USD 16 mn in Tunisia’s Sotupa Group
Asset management company BluePeak Private Capitals has invested USD 16 mn in Tunisian hygiene products manufacturer Sotupa Group. The Tunisian company, mostly known for brands such as Peaudouce, Nana, Lotus, and Tork, is one of the largest manufacturers of hygiene products in Africa. The new investment will help Sotupa Group expand its geographic presence in the continent and further diversify its products.
Jul. 15, 2021
ALGERIA – Dutch group Veon sells its shares in Algerian mobile operator Djezzy
Dutch telecommunications company Veon has decided to leave the Algerian market and sell its shares in Algerian mobile operator Djezzy to the Algerian state. Veon used to have 45.57% ownership of Djezzy, the second-largest mobile operator in Algeria. The Algerian state has purchased the shares that Veon held through its National Investment Fund (FNI). The parties did not disclose details about the transaction.
Jul. 1, 2021
ALGERIA – Expansion of Algeria-Spain Medgaz pipeline to go operational in Q4-2021
Algerian oil company Sonatrach and its Spanish partner Naturgy have announced that the expansion of the Medgaz pipeline, linking northwestern Algeria and southeastern Spain, will become operational in the fourth quarter of 2021. The expansion project has a total budget of EUR 73 mn and will increase the pipeline’s capacity from 8 billion cubic meters per year to 10 billion. After its expansion, Medgaz will supply more than 25% of Spain’s needs in terms of natural gas.
Jul. 13, 2021
EGYPT – Russia lifts ban on charter flights to Egypt
Russia has lifted its ban on charter flights to Egypt. The charter flights have been suspended for six years, after a Russian passenger plane crashed in the Sinai Peninsula in October 2015, killing 224 people on board. The Russian decision comes after a phone call between the Egyptian and Russian presidents in April 2021, in which the two state leaders agreed to fully resume flights between the two countries, especially to the coastal cities of Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh – two important Egyptian touristic destinations.
Jul. 8, 2021
MOROCCO – Moroccan government allows at-home quarantine for Moroccans, foreign residents
The Moroccan government has allowed Moroccans and foreigners residing in Morocco traveling from a country on “List B” – the list of countries concerned by stricter sanitary measures – to undergo the mandatory quarantine period at home. All travelers coming from “List B” countries were initially required to undergo quarantine at a hotel. The duration of the quarantine was also reduced from 10 days to five for Moroccan citizens and foreigners residing in Morocco, on the condition that they conduct a PCR test for COVID-19 on the fifth day of quarantine. Foreigners who do not reside in Morocco are still required to undergo a 10-day quarantine at a hotel.
Jul. 12, 2021
MOROCCO – Morocco reintroduces restrictive measures against COVID-19
The Moroccan government has announced a new set of restrictive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, going into effect starting July 23. The measures include a night curfew from 11 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. – even for fully-vaccinated citizens; a ban on intercity travel for non-fully vaccinated citizens or those without an official movement authorization; a ban on parties, weddings, and funerals; the reduction of the hosting capacity of public transportation, cafés, restaurants, and swimming pools to 50% of the maximum capacity; and a ban on outdoor public gatherings of more than 50 people.
Jul. 15, 2021
TUNISIA – Tunisia extends measures against COVID-19 in highly infected governorates
The Tunisian government has decided to extend “until further notice” the restrictive measures implemented in governorates with high COVID-19 infection rates, including the capital Tunis. The measures include a ban on travel between governorates during weekends (from Saturday at 5 a.m. to Monday at 5 a.m.); a night curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.; the closure of worshipping sites; the suspension of weekly markets; a ban on gatherings; and the closure of restaurants at 4 p.m.
Jul. 12, 2021
TUNISIA – Tunisian President suspends Parliament, dismisses Prime Minister
Tunisian President Kais Saied has decided to suspend the Tunisian Parliament and to remove deputies’ immunities, according to Article 80 of the Constitution. The Tunisian President has also dismissed the Prime Minister, Hichem Mechichi, and his government. The decision, according to Saied, comes in light of “the prevalent corruption” and “the ongoing loss of lives” in the country. Large numbers of Tunisians have gone to the street to express their support for the Tunisian President’s decisions, with many considering the move to start a new page for democracy in Tunisia.
Jul. 25, 2021
ALGERIA – Algerian President announces new government members
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has announced the 34 members of the new government to be led by Prime Minister Aimene Benabderrahmane. The list includes 17 ministers who kept the same roles as in the previous government, notably the Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Education, the Minister of Health, and the Minister of Communication.
Jul. 7, 2021
ALGERIA – Algerian government tightens restrictive measures against COVID-19
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has announced that the night curfew hours have changed to 8 p.m. – 6 a.m. in the governorates most impacted by COVID-19. The concerned governorates are 35 in total and include Algiers, among other highly-populated regions. The Algerian President has also announced the suspension of intercity travel in the highly infected governorates during weekends. Restrictive measures in the 35 governorates also include the closure of entertainment venues, such as parks and beaches, and the ban of public gatherings and celebrations. The decisions will remain in effect until the epidemiological situation in the country improves.
Jul. 25, 2021
ALGERIA – Algeria removes quarantine requirement for incoming passengers
The Algerian government has removed the 5-day quarantine requirement imposed on travelers entering Algeria. Instead, passengers will only have to present the results of a PCR test conducted less than 36 hours before their flight, and then conduct a rapid antigen test for COVID-19 at their arrival. Algeria had gradually resumed commercial flights since June 1, allowing both Algerians and foreigners to enter its territory under strict sanitary requirements.
Jul. 26, 2021
EGYPT – Egypt’s trade deficit drops by 13.3% in April 2021
Egypt’s trade deficit declined 13.3% during April 2021, standing at USD 3.1 bn and down from USD 3.5 bn in the same month of 2020, according to the Egyptian official statistics agency CAPMAS. In its monthly bulletin, CAPMAS reported that Egyptian exports recorded an annual increase of 47.4% between April 2020 and April 2021, growing from USD 1.9 bn to USD 2.8 bn. The increase in exports was mainly driven by medicines and pharmaceutical preparations (+77.2%) and fresh fruits (+60.2%). On the other hand, Egyptian imports increased by 8.1%, from USD 5.5 bn in April 2020 to USD 5.9 bn in the same month of 2021. The products that witnessed the highest increase in imports were passenger cars (+58.9%), iron ores (+58.6%), and plastics in their primary forms (+27.2%).
Jul. 11, 2021
MOROCCO – Moroccan economy records 12.6% growth in second quarter of 2021
Moroccan economy has recorded a 12.6% growth in the second quarter of 2021, compared to a 1% growth during the same period of 2020, according to Morocco’s High Commission for Planning (HCP). The growth is thanks to an 11.7% rise in the added value of non-agricultural sectors, as well as a 19.3% increase in the added value of agriculture. Based on these results, the HCP forecasts a 7.2% growth of the Moroccan economy in the third quarter of 2021, compared to a -6.7% contraction in the same period of 2020.
Jul. 6, 2021
TUNISIA – Fitch Ratings downgrades Tunisia’s long-term foreign-currency IDR to B-
Fitch Ratings has downgraded Tunisia’s long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating from B to B- with a negative outlook. According to Fitch Ratings, the downgrade and the negative outlook reflect heightened fiscal and external liquidity risks in the context of a delay in agreeing on a new program between Tunisia and the International Monetary Fund.
Jul. 8, 2021
TUNISIA – Tunisian exports grew by 25.5% in the first half of 2021
Tunisian exports have witnessed a 25.5% growth in the first half of 2021. The value of exports went from TND 18.2 bn (EUR 5.5 bn) in the first half of 2020 to TND 22.8 bn (EUR 6.9 bn) in the same period of 2021. Tunisian imports have also increased by 22.4% in the first half of 2021, from TND 24.8 bn (EUR 7.5 bn) to TND 30.7 bn (EUR 9.2 bn).
Jul. 14, 2021
ALGERIA – Algeria’s non-oil exports record an 81.8% annual increase in the first 5 months of 2021
Algeria’s non-hydrocarbon exports have witnessed a record annual increase of 81.8% in the first five months of 2021. Their total value went from USD 852 mn to USD 1.5 bn. Non-hydrocarbon exports represent 11.1% of the total value of Algerian exports. They mostly include mineral and chemical fertilizers (USD 412.3 mn), food products (USD 242.1 mn), oils (USD 207.2 mn), sugar (USD 146.7 mn), and cement (USD 75.7 mn).
Jul. 2, 2021
Key Economic Indicators