Egypt’s net foreign reserves rise for 13th consecutive month, hitting $40.9bn

Egypt’s net foreign reserves rise for 13th consecutive month, hitting $40.9bn
The Central Bank of Egypt in Cairo (Shutterstock)
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Updated 08 December 2021

Egypt’s net foreign reserves rise for 13th consecutive month, hitting $40.9bn

Egypt’s net foreign reserves rise for 13th consecutive month, hitting $40.9bn

Tthe Central Bank of Egypt's net foreign reserves went up by about $60 million in November to hit $40.91 billion, the bank said on its website on Dec. 7.

This reflected an annual growth rate of 4.3 percent, slightly up from the previous month’s expansion of 4.2 percent. 

Net reserves also increased by $1.68 billion since November 2020.

Egypt’s foreign reserves are made up of gold, foreign currency and special drawing rights. The latter is a type of reserve asset that is held by the International Monetary Fund.

In June 2021, the country confirmed its pledge to maintain an adequate level of foreign reserves during the economic reform program to meet the IMF’s metrics for flexible exchange rate regimes. One of those measures is through an accumulation of net foreign reserves.

Egypt’s gross official reserves reached $40.6 billion in June this year, slightly lower than the IMF projection of $41.1 billion revealed in the Fund's country report published in July.

Since June 2021 the country’s gross official reserves have increased by $325 million and reached $40.92 billion at the end of November.


China’s car maker Geely in solar factory push

China’s car maker Geely in solar factory push
Updated 10 sec ago

China’s car maker Geely in solar factory push

China’s car maker Geely in solar factory push

RIYADH: Chinese automotive firm, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. will install solar photovoltaic cells on the roofs of all its plants in the upcoming two years amid green push.

The firm, which is the largest carmaker in the country, wishes to cut carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2025, Bloomberg reported, citing Gong Jin, CEO of Geely JoiNet Energy Co. — the division accountable for transforming the carmaker's production hubs into more sustainable ones.

The division is also planning for the commencement of carbon trading within a year, with an estimated revenue from that move of around 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) annually in three years time.

The solar panel installations in two specific plants located in Xi’an and Ningbo cities respectively will aid the firm in cutting a total of 60,000 tons on a yearly basis.

This falls in line with China’s 2060 carbon neutrality goals which has encouraged businesses from various industries to search for green power generation sources.

Carmakers have allocated billions of dollars in technology to help lessen manufacturing emissions which represent from 75 to 85 percent of total emissions.

China saw a record number of rooftop solar panels installed in 2021, adding 29 gigawatts to the country’s energy capacity.


Russia plans to allow crypto mining, gold-backed stablecoins: Crypto Moves

Russia plans to allow crypto mining, gold-backed stablecoins: Crypto Moves
Updated 11 min 44 sec ago

Russia plans to allow crypto mining, gold-backed stablecoins: Crypto Moves

Russia plans to allow crypto mining, gold-backed stablecoins: Crypto Moves

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded higher on Tuesday, rising 5.14 percent to $36,374 at 12:53 p.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $2,417, up 3.47 percent, according to data from Coindesk.

Other News:

The free circulation of cryptocurrencies must not be allowed as they carry risks for unqualified investors, but Russia may permit the use of gold-backed stablecoins and the mining of cryptocurrencies under government control, according to the chairman of the State Duma Committee on Industry and Trade, Vladimir Gutenev.

Gold-backed stablecoin can also be used for saving, Gutenev told the RIA Novosti news agency.

Such a financial product would be an interesting proposition for both private investors and companies.

The gold-backed stablecoin could be similar to a golden ruble, the parliamentarian elaborated, claiming Russia can employ it to circumvent sanctions and the policy of containment applied against the country.

The coin can also be used to facilitate regular and transparent economic relations with other countries, according to Bitcoin.com.

Commenting on Bank of Russia’s call for a ban on crypto mining, Gutenev said he thinks that cryptocurrency farms can be allowed to operate legally if their activities are under strict control of the state.

Miners can take advantage of the abundant energy resources and favorable climate conditions in some Russian regions, provided their facilities are powered transparently and they pay all due taxes.

Amid expanding US sanctions, Moscow is putting an emphasis on de-dollarization, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Pankin said.

Adoption

Unionbank of the Philippines plans to offer cryptocurrency trading and custodial services, Bloomberg reported.

Unionbank is one of the largest universal banks in the Philippines with over $15 billion in assets under management.

The bank is also one of the first financial institutions in the Philippines to adopt cryptocurrency.

The average Filipino investor currently holds about 1 percent to 2 percent of their personal assets in cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin, Cathy Casas, head of the bank’s blockchain and application programming interface group said.

She added that if the markets were stable, investors would own between 3 percent and 5 percent in five years.

The Unionbank executive estimates that about 5 percent of the local population has dabbled in cryptocurrency. She added that many crypto investors are young people, some of whom earn tokens from play-to-earn virtual games.


Indonesia to develop $4bn polysilicon industry to boost solar panel production

Indonesia to develop $4bn polysilicon industry to boost solar panel production
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 20 min 23 sec ago

Indonesia to develop $4bn polysilicon industry to boost solar panel production

Indonesia to develop $4bn polysilicon industry to boost solar panel production
  • The Asian country also has a wish to generate 5.3 gigawatts by 2030

RIYADH: Indonesia will establish a $4 billion polysilicon industry amid efforts to boost solar panel production.

Polysilicon is a vital material for solar panels,  and prices soared to a 10-year high in 2021, driving local solar firms to boost production of the material. 

Indonesia is seeking to boost industry production in the country at lower levels than prevailing market prices as it seeks a move away from fossil fuels towards green energy instead, Bloomberg reported.

The Asian country also has a wish to generate 5.3 gigawatts by 2030 through vast solar panel installations.

Two plants are already in progress as a result of a collaboration between potential investors and domestic firms, Bloomberg reported, citing Septian Hario Seto, a deputy for mining and investment at the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment.

The first plant, worth $800 million, will be located in Batang, Central Java. It is set to open in the third quarter of 2022 and has an estimated production of 40,000 tons of polysilicon in its preliminary phase.

The second plant has an accumulated worth of $3.2 billion and is set to open in North Kalimantan with an estimated production of 160,000 tons of polysilicon.

This is expected to bring about a phase of excess supply in the country soon.


World Bank berates Lebanon’s elite for ‘zombie’ economy

World Bank berates Lebanon’s elite for ‘zombie’ economy
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 28 min 44 sec ago

World Bank berates Lebanon’s elite for ‘zombie’ economy

World Bank berates Lebanon’s elite for ‘zombie’ economy
  • Already one of the most unequal countries, millions more have been pushed into poverty

The World Bank blasted Lebanon’s ruling class on Tuesday for “orchestrating” one of the world’s worst national economic depressions due to their exploitative grip on resources.


The global lender said the nation’s elite were still abusing their position despite Lebanon suffering possibly one of the three biggest financial crashes globally since the 1850s.


“Lebanon’s deliberate depression is orchestrated by the country’s elite that has long captured the state and lived off its economic rents,” the World Bank said in a press release attached to a report on the Lebanese economy.


“It has come to threaten the country’s long-term stability and social peace,” the released added, echoing public sentiments that have prompted angry protests in recent years.


Fuelled by massive debt and the unsustainable way it was financed, the crisis has slashed Lebanon’s gross domestic product by 58.1 percent since 2019, plummeting to an estimated $21.8 billion in 2021, the World Bank said.


Already one of the most unequal countries, millions more have been pushed into poverty.

The World Bank expected those below the poverty line to have risen by as much as 28 percentage points by the end of 2021, after an increase of 13 percentage points in 2020.


Government revenues collapsed by almost half in 2021 to reach 6.6 percent of GDP: the lowest ratio globally after Somalia and Yemen, the bank said.


Real GDP is estimated to have declined by 10.5 percent last year, according to the report, while gross debt is estimated to have reached 183 percent of GDP, a ratio only exceeded by Japan, Sudan and Greece.

’DELIBERATE DEPRESSION'


“Deliberate denial during deliberate depression is creating long-lasting scars on the economy and society,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, the World Bank’s regional director of the Mashreq.


“Over two years into the financial crisis, Lebanon has yet to identify, least of all embark upon, a credible path toward economic and financial recovery.”


While government finances improved in 2021, that was driven by a decline in spending even steeper than in revenues, the World Bank said.


It projects a fiscal deficit of 0.4 percent of GDP in 2021 from 3.3 percent of GDP last year, helped by a recovery in tourism. Arrivals leapt 101.2 percent in the first seven months of last year, though still impacted by the pandemic.


But a sudden halt to capital inflows and a large current account deficit was steadily eroding reserves, the World Bank said.


Lebanon began talks with the IMF on Monday, hoping to secure a bailout — something Beirut has failed to achieve since 2020, with no sign of long-delayed economic reforms sought by donors.


“This elite commands the main economic resources, generating large rents and dividing the spoils of a dysfunctional state,” the World Bank said.


Lebanon’s politicians, former militia leaders and others from families wielding influence for generations over the Christian and Muslim communities often acknowledge corruption exists.

But they generally deny individual responsibility and say they are doing their best to rescue the economy.


The crisis has caused massive losses in the financial system, estimated by the government in December at $69 billion.


“Worryingly, key public and private actors continue to resist recognition of these losses, perpetuating the zombie-like state of the economy,” the World Bank said.


The nosediving exchange rate — the Lebanese pound has lost more than 90 percent of its value since 2019 — should have boosted exports.

“This did not happen,” the World Bank said, hindered by pre-crisis economic fundamentals, global conditions and the institutional environment.


Shell’s carbon capture plant releases more CO2 than it captures, study claims

Shell’s carbon capture plant releases more CO2 than it captures, study claims
Quest CCS facility. Shell.com
Updated 49 min 55 sec ago

Shell’s carbon capture plant releases more CO2 than it captures, study claims

Shell’s carbon capture plant releases more CO2 than it captures, study claims
  • The emission figure compares to the carbon footprint of 1.2 million diesel vehicles annually


RIYADH: Shell's carbon capture plant, better known as Quest, has been accused of releasing more greenhouse gases than it captures by UK human rights organization Global Witness.

The UK multinational oil and gas firm's carbon capture facility, located in Alberta, Canada, has averted 5 million tons of carbon dioxide from breaking free into the atmosphere since 2015.

However, Global Witness claim its investigation shows that at the same time it has emitted 7.5 million tons of greenhouse gases.


The emission figure compares to the carbon footprint of 1.2 million diesel vehicles annually, the study added.

The oil giant rebutted the study analysis by Global Witness stating it was “simply wrong”, CNBC reported citing a spokesman for Shell.

While the carbon capture and storage industry vowed a 90 percent carbon capture rate, the Global Witness study indicates that only 48 percent of Quest’s carbon emissions were, in fact, captured.

The Quest plant poses a potential solution to the energy transition and is designed to capture around 33 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, the Shell spokesman claimed.