Egypt’s unemployment rate inches up in Q3 of 2021

Egypt’s agriculture and fishing sectors generated most jobs in the third quarter of 2021, according to official data. Getty
Egypt’s agriculture and fishing sectors generated most jobs in the third quarter of 2021, according to official data. Getty
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Updated 18 November 2021

Egypt’s unemployment rate inches up in Q3 of 2021

Egypt’s unemployment rate inches up in Q3 of 2021

RIYADH: Egypt’s unemployment rate has increased by 0.2 percent to 7.5 percent in the third quarter of 2021, compared to 7.3 percent in the second quarter, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics reported on Wednesday. 

The number of unemployed Egyptians reached 2.2 million in the third quarter of 2021, compared to 2.1 million in the second quarter of 2021, it said.

The agency stated the size of the labor force increased 0.9 percent to 29.4 million from 29.1 million individuals during the previous quarter. 

The bulletin attributed the rise of unemployment and labor force to the influx of new graduates during the months of August and September into the labor market. 

Agriculture and fishing were the top sectors in terms of employment followed by education, public administration and compulsory social security. 


Lebanon’s 2022 draft budget forecasts 20.8% deficit amid financial crisis

Lebanon’s 2022 draft budget forecasts 20.8% deficit amid financial crisis
Updated 21 January 2022

Lebanon’s 2022 draft budget forecasts 20.8% deficit amid financial crisis

Lebanon’s 2022 draft budget forecasts 20.8% deficit amid financial crisis

Lebanon’s debt-ridden government expects a 20.8 percent deficit for the coming year, according to a draft budget released on Jan 21. 

The plan, seen by Reuters, will see ministers put forward a long-term treasury advance to Electricité du Liban, Lebanon’s electricity company, of 5.25 trillion Lebanese pounds ($3.5 billion).

The advance will be provided to pay for fuel purchases, interest and loan installments, in a country that has been hit by energy shortages.

Last year, Lebanon’s projected budget had a deficit of 31.3 percent, and the plan was not passed by the country’s parliament.

Political dissension and escalating tensions between communities have had a negative impact on economic growth, compounding Lebanon’s woes since its 2019 default on a $90 billion debt.

Nassib Ghobril, head of research at Lebanon’s Byblos bank, warned that the government’s projection of a lower deficit depends on whether it can “improve the investment climate for business.”

Speaking to Arab News, he argued that a 10 percent tax increase on imported goods “won’t be effective if the government keeps on avoiding combatting custom evasion and smuggling.”

Ghobril said the cost of smuggling to other countries, more specifically Syria, runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

He added that Lebanon’s 2022 growth, which he estimates contracted by 12 percent in 2021, and 25 percent in 2020, will depend on the Lebanese government’s next policies.

“There are two scenarios: either the government reaches an agreement on economic reforms, with a deal with the IMF (International Monetary Fund), and this will push growth into positive territory after four years of contraction; or it won’t and we will face another year of economic contraction,” he said.


Gulf electricity interconnection project saves members $3bn

Gulf electricity interconnection project saves members $3bn
Updated 21 January 2022

Gulf electricity interconnection project saves members $3bn

Gulf electricity interconnection project saves members $3bn

RIYADH: Gulf countries have saved $3 billion since the establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority in 2019, it said.

Savings have come from a reduced need for new generation plants, thus lower operating and maintenance expenses, and reduced carbon emissions, SPA reported.

The Authority has agreed an action plan for the establishment of a joint electrical interconnection project with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission and Jordan’s National Electric Power Co., it said.

In a two-day meeting, the parties agreed on preparing a business case to explain the benefits of electrical connection and to complete the required procedures, SPA reported.


Twitter offers NFT profile pics; Bitcoin falls below $40,000: Crypto moves

Twitter offers NFT profile pics; Bitcoin falls below $40,000: Crypto moves
Updated 21 January 2022

Twitter offers NFT profile pics; Bitcoin falls below $40,000: Crypto moves

Twitter offers NFT profile pics; Bitcoin falls below $40,000: Crypto moves

LONDON: Twitter’s premium users can display non-fungible tokens in new hexagonal profile pictures, as the social media giant embraces the growing craze of digital collectibles known as NFTs.

Currently, the feature is only available to Twitter Blue subscribers on Apple’s iOS platform, allowing them to link their accounts with crypto wallets where they keep their NFTs.

To distinguish them from regular profile pictures, NFTs are displayed in hexagons that, when clicked, display details about them including ownership.

Last year, Twitter — founded by Jack Dorsey — began allowing users to send and receive bitcoin. Dorsey quit as Twitter CEO in November to focus on another company he founded, Square, which has since changed its name to Block, a reflection of Dorsey’s desire to further embrace blockchain and Web3 technologies.

Sales of NFTs reached about $25 billion in 2021, according to data from DappRadar, but growth is believed to have slowed toward the end of the year.

The most-traded cryptocurrencies experienced another day of selling on Friday as Bitcoin slumped almost 9 percent to $38,464.90 as of 1:07 p.m. in London. Ethereum declined 11 percent to $2,794 and Solana lost 14 percent to $118.

Bitcoin was trading above $67,000 as recently as November.

“Crypto markets have been sitting on a critical support level for some time,” Stack Funds told CoinDesk. “Macro market weakness is causing a sell-off in risk assets. Further continuation of this sentiment will likely see BTC trade in the mid ‘30s.”

Risk assets are being hurt by expectations of at least three interest-rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve this year as it looks to counter accelerating inflation.

The selloff in cryptocurrencies has not deterred the new mayor of New York City Eric Adams, who said he plans to convert his first paycheck this week into bitcoin and Ethereum.

“New York is the center of the world, and we want it to be the center of cryptocurrency and other financial innovations,” Adams said in a statement. “Being on the forefront of such innovation will help us create jobs, improve our economy, and continue to be a magnet for talent from all over the globe.”


Mobily prepares major announcements for LEAP22 tech conference

Mobily prepares major announcements for LEAP22 tech conference
Updated 21 January 2022

Mobily prepares major announcements for LEAP22 tech conference

Mobily prepares major announcements for LEAP22 tech conference

RIYADH: Etihad Etisalat, known as Mobily, said it will launch a range of innovative and disruptive digital solutions during LEAP22, the technology event scheduled for Riyadh in February.

Mobily’s announcements will be in the area of the Internet of things, artificial intelligence, smart cities, smart health care systems and others, it said in a statement.

“LEAP is a turning point in the Kingdom’s journey toward digital transformation, elevating its position at the forefront of global players who develop and empower the latest technologies that shape the future of our world,” said Mobily CEO Eng. Salman Al Badran. “As the Kingdom moves toward enabling a leading digital economy, Mobily seeks to provide individuals and corporates with the tools they need to unlocking opportunities and pursue their ambitions.”

“At Mobily, we persistently contribute to the realization of Vision 2030 through providing advanced telecommunications services and digital solutions that contribute to transforming the Kingdom’s digitalization ambitions into reality, he said.

Leap will be held in Riyadh from Feb. 1 to Feb. 3, 2022.

Saudi Arabia has been embracing technology as a means to loosen the economy’s dependency on hydrocarbons.

In August, $1 billion of initiatives aimed at improving digital skills in the Kingdom were unveiled under the name Launch. Among the targets is an ambition to train one in every 100 Saudis to be programmers, and the creation of 25,000 jobs in data science and AI by 2030.

Saudi Arabia has also attracted the Middle East’s first Apple Developer Academy, which will initially focus on women coders.

LEAP will host 700 start-ups and will feature a host of keynotes, workshops and assemblies on topics from smart cities to space and satellites, health tech, future energy.

The LEAP Forward stage will tackle issues around the most prominent future technologies, including self-driving vehicles and AI, exosuits, nanorobotics, augmented reality, and bionics.

International speakers include Raghu Raghuram, CEO of cloud-computing giant VMware, Börje Ekholm, president and CEO of Ericsson, and Dr. Saket Kumar, chief data scientist for Global Premium Services at Google. Regional speakers include Manar Al-Moneef, regional CEO of GE Renewable Energy, and Ghinwa Baradhi, HSBC’s chief information officer in the Middle East and North Africa.

Altogether 450 speakers and 40,000 visitors are expected at the event.


Germany’s gas costs surged by 78.5%, despite drop in imports

Germany’s gas costs surged by 78.5%, despite drop in imports
Updated 21 January 2022

Germany’s gas costs surged by 78.5%, despite drop in imports

Germany’s gas costs surged by 78.5%, despite drop in imports

Germany saw its bill for importing gas shoot up by 78.5 percent last year despite a cut in the amount it brought in.

According to the country’s trade statistics office BAFA, Germany imported 7 percent less gas between January and November 2021 compared to the same period a year earlier, Reuters reported.

Tight global supply meant that prices soared, before recently coming down due to the arrival of more seaborne cargoes and environmental factors such as a relatively mild winter.

There could yet be another rise as there are fresh concerns over when the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline with Russia starts flowing. 

Also, disruption of shipments are expected to be caused by escalating tensions on the Russia/Ukraine border.

BAFA’s monthly figures showed Germany’s gas imports from January to November in 2021 totaled 4.546 million terajoules, compared with 4.888 million TJ in the same period a year earlier.

Importers’ bills over the 11 months amounted to $33 billion, versus $18.47 billion in the same period of 2020. In November alone, the price per TJ witnessed a rise of 217.5 percent year-on-year.

The average price paid per TJ on the border in the period was up 92 percent year-on-year, BAFA said.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, relies on gas from Russia, Norway, the Netherlands, UK and Denmark. 

German gas stocks, which can hold three to four months of annual consumption, dropped to 45 percent of available capacity this week, down 9 percent on the year, according to Reuters quoting figures by gas infrastructure group GIEs.