By John Lee.

The Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) has reportedly extended of the ban on regular flights in the country until 15th July.

According to Xinhua, the ban includes both domestic and international flights with the exception of those of emergency, medical evacuation and air cargo as well as planes that cross Iraqi airspace.

In another exception, Iraqi Airways will resume commercial flights between Baghdad and Beirut starting 2nd July.

(Source: Xinhua)

Dr Rita Columbia (pictured), an American national, assumed her responsibilities as UNFPA Representative to Iraq on 1 July 2020. Previously, she served as UNFPA Representative to Moldova and Country Director for Albania.

Dr Columbia has more than 20 years of experience in the area of public health, sexual and reproductive health as well as programme management and advocacy. She worked in governmental institutions, non-governmental sector and UNFPA.

In 1997, she headed the first country programme of Pathfinder International in Kazakhstan, and a few years later she joined UNFPA country office in Kazakhstan leading a programme on sexual and reproductive health.

She managed regional and global programmes while working in the International Planned Parenthood Federation, European Network and International Youth Foundation.

In 2009, Dr Columbia returned to UNFPA as Regional Programme Advisor on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and later joined UNFPA Technical Division in New York.

Prior to joining UNFPA in Iraq, she was part of UNFPA Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia’s Senior Management team.

She holds a medical degree specialized in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a Master’s degree in Health Management.

Dr Columbia takes over from Dr Oluremi Sogunro, who serves as UNFPA Representative to Iraq from 1 October 2018 until 30 June 2020.

(Source: UNFPA)

By John Lee.

Swedish company Linxon has won an order of around $80 million to the Ministry of Electricity in Iraq for delivery of four turnkey 132/33 kV GIS substations. The contract forms part of the Electricity Sector Reconstruction Project (Phase 2) financed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The delivery includes all needed equipment (High Voltage 132 kV GIS, 132/33 kV power transformers, 33 kV switchgear, control & protection system, communication system etc) as well as design, civil construction works, installation and commissioning. The delivery time is 18 months and the project will start around July, 2020.

Frédéric Tréfois, CEO of Linxon, said:

We are honoured to have received this mandate and are grateful for the collaboration and support by JICA in financing this project.

“This type of EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) project truly demonstrates the confidence of our clients in our comprehensive offering and our ability to deliver enhanced value.

“We have a good relationship and long-standing experience working with the Ministry of Electricity in Iraq in helping the country to ramp up it’s electricity capacity. I am proud of the Linxon team demonstrating resilience and winning this award during the current situation“.

JICA is the agency implementing Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA). JICA works proactively to address development challenges in Iraq by utilizing Japanese ODA loans. The Electricity Sector Reconstruction Project supports construction of power transmission and distribution facilities in Iraq, where the demand for electricity is especially high.

Linxon is a joint venture company set up in 2018 by SNC-Lavalin and ABB to deliver turnkey electrical AC substation projects.

(Source: Linxon)

By John Lee.

Swedish company Linxon has won an order of around $80 million to the Ministry of Electricity in Iraq for delivery of four turnkey 132/33 kV GIS substations. The contract forms part of the Electricity Sector Reconstruction Project (Phase 2) financed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The delivery includes all needed equipment (High Voltage 132 kV GIS, 132/33 kV power transformers, 33 kV switchgear, control & protection system, communication system etc) as well as design, civil construction works, installation and commissioning. The delivery time is 18 months and the project will start around July, 2020.

Frédéric Tréfois, CEO of Linxon, said:

We are honoured to have received this mandate and are grateful for the collaboration and support by JICA in financing this project.

“This type of EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) project truly demonstrates the confidence of our clients in our comprehensive offering and our ability to deliver enhanced value.

“We have a good relationship and long-standing experience working with the Ministry of Electricity in Iraq in helping the country to ramp up it’s electricity capacity. I am proud of the Linxon team demonstrating resilience and winning this award during the current situation“.

JICA is the agency implementing Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA). JICA works proactively to address development challenges in Iraq by utilizing Japanese ODA loans. The Electricity Sector Reconstruction Project supports construction of power transmission and distribution facilities in Iraq, where the demand for electricity is especially high.

Linxon is a joint venture company set up in 2018 by SNC-Lavalin and ABB to deliver turnkey electrical AC substation projects.

(Source: Linxon)

By John Lee.

Spartan Air Academy Iraq LLC, Irving, Texas, has been awarded a $14,769,952 firm-fixed-price modification (P00006) to contract FA8617-20-C-6232 for the Iraq T-6A contractor logistics support and training maintenance program.

The modification provides for the exercise of an option to extend the term of the contract for the continued services needed in order to effectively maintain and operate a fleet of 15 T-6A training aircraft.

Work will be performed at Balad Air Base, Iraq, and is expected to be completed Dec. 31, 2020.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

 

By John Lee.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi chaired on Monday a meeting in Baghdad of the Higher Committee for Health and National Safety.

At the start of the meeting, the Prime Minister told the Committee that the coronavirus pandemic challenge facing Iraq is unprecedented, and that this challenge has been exacerbated by cumulative past administrative failures.

Following discussions, the Committee decided to:

  • Provide the necessary additional funding, through inter-government fiscal transfer arrangements, to the Ministry of Health
  • Direct state-owned profitable and self-financing enterprises to support the Ministry of Health, and for the extra funds to be used by the provincial health authorities for the direct purchase of medicine and medical supplies
  • Permit the Ministry of Health to recruit additional medical staff, both on continuing and short term contracts, and to fund their salaries through inter-government fiscal transfer arrangements
  • Direct the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers to prepare a draft law to grant medical and health professionals who have died as a result of their work combatting Covid-19 a pension equal to their last salary
  • Allow a number of  accredited private laboratories to conduct Covid-19 tests based on the strict criteria set by the Ministry of Health
  • Permit oxygen imports to enter Iraq via all border crossings, and to suspend payment by the Ministry of Health of the cost of oxygen supplies until its finances have recovered
  • Amend the partial curfew to start from 7 PM to 6 AM in line with the increase in daylight hours
  • Direct Baghdad Operations Command and the operations commands in the provinces to strictly enforce the curfew restrictions, and to hold them responsible for curfew violations
  • Direct Baghdad Municipality and the Directorate Civil Defence to disinfect areas in Baghdad which have a high rate of Covid-19 cases 
  • Exclude staff of the Arab Company for Antibiotic Industries and Supplies (AKAI) from curfew restrictions 
  • The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall coordinate with other countries which have announced that they are working on a potential treatments for Covid-19, and to negotiate with these countries to ensure that Iraq receives the necessary medicines and supplies  

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

By John Lee.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi chaired on Monday a meeting in Baghdad of the Higher Committee for Health and National Safety.

At the start of the meeting, the Prime Minister told the Committee that the coronavirus pandemic challenge facing Iraq is unprecedented, and that this challenge has been exacerbated by cumulative past administrative failures.

Following discussions, the Committee decided to:

  • Provide the necessary additional funding, through inter-government fiscal transfer arrangements, to the Ministry of Health
  • Direct state-owned profitable and self-financing enterprises to support the Ministry of Health, and for the extra funds to be used by the provincial health authorities for the direct purchase of medicine and medical supplies
  • Permit the Ministry of Health to recruit additional medical staff, both on continuing and short term contracts, and to fund their salaries through inter-government fiscal transfer arrangements
  • Direct the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers to prepare a draft law to grant medical and health professionals who have died as a result of their work combatting Covid-19 a pension equal to their last salary
  • Allow a number of  accredited private laboratories to conduct Covid-19 tests based on the strict criteria set by the Ministry of Health
  • Permit oxygen imports to enter Iraq via all border crossings, and to suspend payment by the Ministry of Health of the cost of oxygen supplies until its finances have recovered
  • Amend the partial curfew to start from 7 PM to 6 AM in line with the increase in daylight hours
  • Direct Baghdad Operations Command and the operations commands in the provinces to strictly enforce the curfew restrictions, and to hold them responsible for curfew violations
  • Direct Baghdad Municipality and the Directorate Civil Defence to disinfect areas in Baghdad which have a high rate of Covid-19 cases 
  • Exclude staff of the Arab Company for Antibiotic Industries and Supplies (AKAI) from curfew restrictions 
  • The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall coordinate with other countries which have announced that they are working on a potential treatments for Covid-19, and to negotiate with these countries to ensure that Iraq receives the necessary medicines and supplies  

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

By Safa Fadhil, Head of Exploration and Sundus Abass, Gender Advisor at UNDP Iraq. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council (UNSCR) Resolution 1325, which helps to ensure women are on the frontlines of achieving stability and peace in Iraq.

With this in mind, UNDP Iraq’s  Accelerator Lab and Gender Division partnered with French Embassy in Iraq, Ambassade de France en Irak, The Station for entrepreneurship, Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie , Zain Iraq Telecommunications Company, and Ashur Private Bank on a competition to support Iraqi women entrepreneurs.

The Raa’idat Competition encourages women to develop and grow their own enterprises. Despite the financial stress and anxiety resulting from the outbreak of Coronavirus in Iraq, the initiative captured the enthusiasm of Iraqi women keen to expand their business know-how.

To start, leaders from 20 entrepreneurial projects participated in training courses related to business planning and management, and other relevant topics prescribed by telecommunications company Zain Iraq. Seventeen projects progressed to the next stage of the competition, with leaders participating in financial budgeting training undertaken by UNDP Iraq’s Accelerator Lab.

The competition is ongoing – from these seventeen, five finalists will be selected, and then one overall winner, who will receive $ 10,000 in the form of a six-month incubation period, consultant support, recruitment costs, and purchasing specific equipment for its development. Cash prizes will also be awarded.

UNDP Iraq’s training offered participants a holistic approach to women’s economic empowerment, defining it as ‘a process whereby women’s and girls’ lives are transformed from a situation where they have limited power and access to economic assets, to a situation where they experience economic advancement’. In addition, it underlined the factors that enable and constrain women’s economic empowerment, while using the Design Thinking and Behavioral Insight methodologies to guide the work.

UNDP Iraq provided expertise to highlight the importance of women’s economic empowerment and financial budgeting techniques to enable women entrepreneurs to effectively compete in the market. The training was conducted virtually and used a combination of interactive methods to deliver the target. The Accelerator Lab in Iraq used a human-centered approach to structure the training material, commencing with a needs-assessment session before planning the three lectures that followed.

The competition was integral to amplifying women’s voices. “I want to prove myself; I do exist, and I have the right to participate in my country’s economic empowerment,” says participant Nadia. For UNDP, this sentiment sits at the heart of the organization’s work.

it also enhanced the Accelerator Lab’s mandate in fostering collaborations with local and international partners to solve the issues of tunnel-vision employment experienced in Iraq, – i.e, pressures placed on young people to attain certain jobs. The competition also led to the discovery of 17 new, local, under-the-radar solutions and opened the door to experimenting with them.

To ensure the sustainability of the project, The Accelerator Lab in Iraq will be part of the training and competition evaluation that will take place after COVID-19. This will ensure the empowerment of women is prioritized alongside sensing and exploring innovative local solutions.

(Source: UNDP)

In Iraq, a country most recognized for its oil production, it’s the micro – small – and medium-enterprises (MSMEs) that bring life and colour to the streets. Despite being the ‘small’ players in business, the private sector (excluding oil) accounts for close to 60% of employment, with MSMEs active in the widest range of sectors and with the greatest opportunities for youth.

In Basra City and Al-Qurna, two cities in the largest oil producing region in the nation, the unemployment rate has risen to at least 30% in recent years. Largely attributed to the lack of government employment opportunities and the skills mismatch of the growing youth demographic, investment in micro- small- and medium-enterprises is bringing new hope and opportunities for economic development.

Since mid-2019, the United Nations Development Programming (UNDP), in partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), has provided targeted support to 319 new and established MSMEs across Basra City and Al-Qurna through business development training and cash-grants. The training worked to build skills that would enable enterprise growth, such as finance and accounting, marketing, human resources and employment management, as well as soft skills such as communication, leadership, negotiation skills, decision making and problem solving.

“I learned the importance of good leadership,” says Labieb, 57, father-of-5 and owner of a cherry and nuts store in Basra City. “I also learned how to best deal with customers and be part of a team.” Following completion of his training and receiving his cash-grant, Labieb was able to hire an additional staff member to manage increased stock and customers and enjoyed a 15% increase in profits.

But like most other cities around the world, the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 was also felt in Basra and Al-Qurna. Businesses took all precaution to prevent the spread of the virus, ensuring the safety of both staff and customers by wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and adhering to the government curfews, with limited operating hours. By demonstrating solidarity, these business owners were not only able to continue making a livelihood for themselves and their employees, but to set an example for the community.

“As a business owner, I am empowered to build something successful – that I created the plan for, and that enables me to give back to the community,” explains Hisham, 40, father-of-2 and owner of a small five-a-side football stadium in Abu Al-Khaseeb.

For Kawthar and Jenan, both mothers-of-five and owners of successful beauty salons in Basra and Al-Qurna respectively, hygiene and care are always a big part of their daily work. “After receiving the grant, I was able to hire three new staff members and saw my profits increase by 40% – this is because I put together a good business plan, but also because we take the necessary precautions to keep ourselves and others safe,” says Kawther.

MSMEs continue to face challenges to their growth during COVID-19 pandemic, limiting their capacity to hire additional employees, but with the recognition and support they need, could MSMEs be the way forward for economic growth in Iraq?

Sustainable livelihoods through small business development and job placement in Basra

Together with NRC, and generous funding support from the Government of Japan, UNDP has supported 319 MSMEs through training and cash-grants and placed 125 individuals in jobs through private sector partnerships, since mid-2019.

(Source: UNDP)