Middle East & African Monitor – 14 September 2017

  • Saudi Aramco IPO May Be Delayed. 
  • Nigeria Prepares For Nationwide Strike Action.
  • Iraqi Kurds To Vote On Independence.
  • Tunisia Passes Controversial Amnesty Bill.
  • Bahrain Conducts Successful Bond Sale Despite Moody’s Report.
  • Egypt Ponders Expanded Financing Opportunity.
  • FCC Aqualia Wins US$320 Mio Contract In Egypt.
  • KSA To Lift Block On VOIP Services.


Saudi Aramco IPO May Be Delayed.
According to a Bloomberg article published early this morning, Saudi Arabia is allegedly making contingency plans for the potential delay to Saudi Aramco’s IPO by a few months. The much awaited sale, which would the largest ever, is earmarked to take place sometime during the second-half of next year but unnamed sources quoted by Bloomberg have suggested that the timetable is currently “is very tight.” If a delay is officially confirmed it will inevitably lead to questions by some, however as is the case with last week’s news that the Kingdom’s NTP program is also undergoing some tweaking, such extremely large and historic undertakings need to be carefully planned and executed properly, and thus delays, as long as they are not extensive, are almost certainly to be expected. Saudi Aramco has not yet set a target date for its IPO but said in a statement that; “The IPO process is well underway and Saudi Aramco remains focused on ensuring that all IPO related work is completed to the very highest standards on time.”

Nigeria Prepares For Nationwide Strike Action.
The United Labour Congress of Nigeria has advised people to stockpile basic necessities ahead of their planned seven-day strike which is due to begin tomorrow. A number of sectors could be affected including; energy, finance and transportation. The ULC had issued a series of demands to the government including; the withdrawal of military personnel stationed at certain workplaces, the payment of salary arrears still due to public employees, the cancellation of a proposed new law governing free speech and the repair of roads. The union’s President, Joe Ajaero, said that the government had not responded adequately enough to its demands and as such the strike would now go ahead. “This course of action, though very painful to us at this time, is the only alternative available to us as we have exhausted all known peaceful processes towards an amicable resolution of the dispute. We, therefore, call on all genuine patriots to join hands in solidarity with us to urge the Federal Government and state governors to be kind enough to meet the demands of Nigerian workers and masses. ULC urges all Nigerians to therefore take precaution and stock up on basic necessities as the strike will be very effective as we hope to cripple all modes of transportation within the nation; total black out nation-wide; cut-off petroleum products supplies; disrupt banking operations which will make life a bit more difficult for Nigerians. We regret these consequences on all of us but we hope that these measures will help us create a nation that is better governed for the benefits of Nigerian workers and Nigerian masses,” Ajaero was quoted as saying by the Vanguard newspaper.

Iraqi Kurds To Vote On Independence.
The leader of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Massoud Barzani, stated earlier this week that his semi-autonomous region of the country will proceed with a referendum on independence later this month despite the Iraqi parliament refusing to approve such a move and thus making a ‘Yes’ vote technically void from a legal standpoint. “The referendum will be held on time, and dialogue with Baghdad will resume after the referendum,” Barzani was quoted as saying by Reuters. Meanwhile the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al Abadi requested urgent discussions on the issue and at the same time accused the Kurds of continuing to “illegally export” Kirkuk’s oil production.

Tunisia Passes Controversial Amnesty Bill.
The Tunisian parliament approved a controversial bill yesterday which grants amnesty to government officials accused of corruption offences during the Zine El Abidine Ben Ali administration. The bill was opposed by a number of opposition MPs despite some last-minute amendments , but still passed with a reasonable margin. The government says it is time to move on from the past and focus on rebuilding the Tunisian economy. “The time has come to stop the isolation of those officials who could contribute to the building of the new Tunisia, we must reconcile, as happened in South Africa and Rwanda," a senior member of the governing ‘Nidaa Tounes’ party was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Bahrain Conducts Successful Bond Sale Despite Moody’s Report.
The Kingdom of Bahrain concluded a US$3 bio conventional and Islamic bond issuance yesterday, while the reported total order book of US$15 bio underlines an ongoing strong appetite for such paper by investors. The allocations and pricing of the issue were as follows: US$ 850 mio – 7.5 year (Sukuk) at 5.25%, US$1.25 bio – 12 year at 6.75% and US$900 mio – 30 year at 7.50%. Bahrain’s successful bond sale comes despite a recent report by the Moody’s ratings agency in which it warned that if the ongoing diplomatic dispute on Qatar is drawn-out, this may have a negative effect on the regional credit outlook especially with regards to Qatar and Bahrain. “The severity of the diplomatic dispute between Gulf countries is unprecedented, and while we expect the GCC to overcome its divisions, tensions persisting, or even escalating, would be the most credit negative for Qatar and Bahrain,” the report claimed, although adding that Bahrain’s strong ties to Saudi Arabia and the UAE mitigates some of this risk. Moody’s also estimated that Qatar had used US$38.5 bio of its reserves, and experienced US$30 bio in capital outflows during the first two months of the sanctions imposed by some of its Arab neighbours.

Egypt Ponders Expanded Financing Opportunity.
The Egyptian government is reportedly considering an offer from a consortium of foreign banks to extend the maturity of a US$2 bio repo agreement sealed last year and increase its size to US$5 bio. Referring to this proposal yesterday the Central Bank Governor, Tarek Amer, was quoted by Reuters as saying; We are still studying it, and maybe we won’t need to renew the deal,” adding, “We now have the ability to repay, and we’ve repaid a lot already." Meanwhile according to Egypt’s planning ministry the country recorded 4.20% GDP growth for the 2016/17 fiscal year, with the 4th quarter reaching 5.0% compared to 4.0% over the same period last year.

FCC Aqualia Wins US$320 Mio Contract In Egypt.
A joint-venture between Spain’s FCC Aqualia and Egypt’s Orascom Construction have reportedly been awarded a US$320 mio contract to build a waste-water treatment plant in Cairo. The Egyptian government has said previously that it plans to increase rural wastewater treatment from 15 % to 50% within the next 12-24 months, although the World Bank estimated back in 2016 that as much as US$14 billion in funding would be required in order to reach 100% wastewater treatment coverage across the entire country by 2022.

KSA To Lift Block On VOIP Services.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Telecommunications, Abdullah Al Sawahah, announced yesterday that the government would lift a year-long ban on VOIP services such as Skype, within the next few days. “In cooperation with our partners in the telecommunications sector, we have lifted the restriction on calling apps in one week,” the minister was quoted as saying by the National newspaper.


Did you know that the guitar as we know it today, originated from the Arabic oud – a lute with a bent neck? During the Middle Ages, it found its way to Spain, where it was referred to then as the “qitara.”

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