By Padraig O’Hannelly.

More than 100 guests gathered at the Babylon Hotel in Baghdad on Tuesday to attend Iraq’s first Tech Conference.

Hosted by the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) and chaired by Ashley Goodall, the event brought together the leading companies involved in the technology sector in Iraq to discuss how the power of the tech economy can benefit the country.

Among the many speakers and contributors during the day, Mohammed Khudairi of Iraq Tech Ventures emphasised the need to create the right environment for innovative companies, adding:

“We want to create a cluster of inovation as they’ve done in San Francisco, as they’ve done in London, and in many other places around the world; Iraq has the skillset, the talent and the motivation to make this happen, and has a great path ahead of it over the coming years.”

Patricia Letayf of Five One Labs discussed the changes they’re working to bring about in Iraq:

“When you hear the word “Iraq” we want you to think of start-ups and innovation … we want Iraq to be a focal point and a competitive business environment.”

According to Mohammed al Hakim, of Careem Iraq:

“There is no lack of human capital in Iraq — there is a lack of investment in human capital in Iraq.”

The event, along with the Start-Up Championship the previous evening, forged connections between people from various disciplines and locations, and will doubtless be a starting point for many of tomorrow’s success stories.

 

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

Iraqi tech start-up Sandoog has won the Iraq round of Arabnet‘s Start-up Championship.

The company aims to solve local logistical issues using an e-logistics solution that allows merchants to send, track and manage their deliveries, invoices and customer base anywhere in Iraq.

As part of the IBBC (Iraq Britain Business Council) Tech Conference in Baghdad on 29th and 30th April, Iraq Tech Ventures and Arabnet hosted the competition on Monday at The Station Co-Working Space.

In front of a large audience, startups had five minutes to pitch their business to a panel of judges made up of angel and corporate investors, along with key industry leaders.

The top three businesses, which will be entered into Arabnet’s Regional Startup Championship in Beirut, were:

Also taking part and making impressive pitches were Alsaree3, Brsima, Dakakenna, Erbil Delivery, IOT Kids, Sumer Card, and Tabib Baghdad.

By John Lee.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mr. Mohamad A. Alhakim received Turkish Foreign Minister Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu at the Ministry’s headquarters in Baghdad; they reviewed bilateral relations, areas of joint cooperation between Baghdad and Ankara, as well as regional issues and mutual interest.

Minister Alhakim called for Turkish companies to contribute to the reconstruction of liberated areas, focussing on infrastructure, to ensure the return of displaced families to their homes.

He also stressed the need to activate a loan agreed with Turkey at the Iraq Reconstruction Conference last year in Kuwait.

(Source: MOFA)

New IEA report provides practical roadmap to address Iraq’s current electricity shortfall and future energy needs

Iraq, one of the world’s biggest energy producers, can address its current electricity shortfall and growing power needs through immediate action to relieve pressure on the system, according to an in-depth report published Thursday by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

It also provides a medium-term strategy that makes the best use of the country’s abundant oil and natural gas resources and solar potential.

Despite the extraordinary challenges of war in recent years, Iraq has made impressive gains, nearly doubling the country’s oil production over the past decade. But the turmoil has also undermined the country’s ability to maintain and invest in its power infrastructure.

The new IEA report, Iraq’s Energy Sector: A Roadmap to a Brighter Future, maps out immediate practical actions and medium-term measures to tackle the most pressing problems in Iraq’s electricity sector.

The analysis finds Iraq has huge potential to cut its electricity network losses, which are among the highest in the world. Reducing these losses by half would help dramatically improve the efficiency of grid supply, effectively increasing available capacity by one-third.

The report also takes a detailed look at the country’s oil and gas sector. It projects that Iraq’s oil production will grow by 1.3 million barrels a day by 2030, accounting for the third-largest increase globally over the period, and soon becoming the world’s fourth-largest oil producer behind the United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The report also notes that more gas can be captured and put to use in efficient power plants. Today, 16 billion cubic meters of gas are flared each year, more than enough to replace Iraq’s current imports.

Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director met, with Iraqi President Barham Salih on Wednesday in Baghdad, and presented the study’s findings and recommendations. He then met with Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to discuss ways forward for the electricity sector, including making best use of Iraq’s significant natural gas and solar resources.

On Thursday, Dr Birol will discuss the report at a press conference with Thamir Ghadhban, the Deputy Prime Minister for Energy and Minister of Oil, and Luay Al-Khatteeb, the Minister of Electricity.

The IEA has worked closely with the Iraqi Ministries of Oil and Electricity to produce the report, and would like to thank the ministers and their staff for their cooperation with this study.

“Operating under extremely challenging circumstances, Iraq has done a remarkable job expanding its oil industry,” said Dr Birol. “Today’s urgent issue is to address the national power sector as the summer heatwave approaches by improving grid maintenance, boosting electricity production with larger mobile generators, and incentivising upgrades of power plants. The IEA is pleased to recommend immediate practical actions for the benefit of the entire Iraqi people, and provide a roadmap for a sustainable power system in the medium term.”

Iraq’s electricity demand is set to double between now and 2030, and its shortfall in electricity supply will widen, as the country’s population grows by more than 1 million people each year.

Without changes to the current structure of electricity supply and improvements to the network, domestic generation, imports and neighbourhood generation would need to double by 2030, for a total supply of over 250 TWh. However, there are many opportunities to improve on this outcome through measures such as investing in transmission and distribution to cut network losses.

Promoting the more efficient use of electricity, including by introducing more progressive tariffs, would play an important role in ensuring that the growth in demand during the summer peak does not continue to outpace supply.

Iraq also needs to take advantage of its abundant renewable energy potential.  The analysis shows that expanding the share of solar PV and wind to 30% of electricity supply by 2030 would bring benefits both to the Iraqi consumer, in the form of reduced electricity bills, and to the environment.

Reducing network losses and moving towards an electricity mix where renewables play a more prominent role would free up 9 billion cubic meters of gas for other uses in 2030, plus 450 kb/d of oil for export.

“In addition to oil, Iraq is blessed with some of the richest solar and gas resources in the world but it is yet to take advantage of them,” Dr Birol said. “Turning that potential into fuel for its own economy and for export would help bring about a more sustainable, reliable and affordable energy future.”

The report is the second in-depth study of Iraq’s energy sector following the publication of the Iraq Energy Outlook in 2012.

(Source: IEA)

Advertising Feature

Rabee Securities Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) market report (week ending: 25th April 2019).

Please click here to download a table of listed companies and their associated ticker codes.

The RSISX index ended the week at IQD584 (-1.2%) / $629 (-1.1%) (weekly change) (-11.4% and -11.4% YTD change, respectively). The number of week traded shares was 1.3 bn and the weekly trading volume was IQD1.0 bn ($0.8 mn).

ISX Company Announcements

  • Iraqi Carton Manufactories (IICM) will hold an AGM* on May. 9, 2019 to discuss and approve 2016 annual financial results. The company has been suspended from trading since Aug. 6, 2017 due to not disclosing 2016 and 2017 annual financial results.
  • ISX will suspend trading of Kurdistan International Islamic Bank (BKUI) starting Apr. 29, 2019 due to the GA that will be held on May. 4, 2019 to elect 4 original and 7 alternative board members. The bank will resume trading on May. 5, 2019.
  • National Company for Tourism Investment (HNTI) will resume trading on Apr. 28, 2019 after discussing the changes in the company’s business schedule.
  • Region Trade Bank for Investment and Finance (BRTB) resumed trading on Apr. 25, 2019 after electing 4 original and 4 alternative board members.
  • Asiacell (TASC) resumed trading on Apr. 21, 2019 after discussing and approving 2018 annual financial results and deciding to distribute 100% cash dividend (IQD1.00 dividend per share, 12.2% dividend yield).
  • Cross Transactions: 50 mn shares of Gulf Commercial Bank (BGUC) on Apr. 21, 2019, which represent 0.02% of BGUC capital. 32 mn shares of Iraqi Middle East Investment Bank (BIME) on Apr. 21, 2019, which represents 0.01% of BIME capital.

Advertising Feature

Rabee Securities Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) market report (week ending: 25th April 2019).

Please click here to download a table of listed companies and their associated ticker codes.

The RSISX index ended the week at IQD584 (-1.2%) / $629 (-1.1%) (weekly change) (-11.4% and -11.4% YTD change, respectively). The number of week traded shares was 1.3 bn and the weekly trading volume was IQD1.0 bn ($0.8 mn).

ISX Company Announcements

  • Iraqi Carton Manufactories (IICM) will hold an AGM* on May. 9, 2019 to discuss and approve 2016 annual financial results. The company has been suspended from trading since Aug. 6, 2017 due to not disclosing 2016 and 2017 annual financial results.
  • ISX will suspend trading of Kurdistan International Islamic Bank (BKUI) starting Apr. 29, 2019 due to the GA that will be held on May. 4, 2019 to elect 4 original and 7 alternative board members. The bank will resume trading on May. 5, 2019.
  • National Company for Tourism Investment (HNTI) will resume trading on Apr. 28, 2019 after discussing the changes in the company’s business schedule.
  • Region Trade Bank for Investment and Finance (BRTB) resumed trading on Apr. 25, 2019 after electing 4 original and 4 alternative board members.
  • Asiacell (TASC) resumed trading on Apr. 21, 2019 after discussing and approving 2018 annual financial results and deciding to distribute 100% cash dividend (IQD1.00 dividend per share, 12.2% dividend yield).
  • Cross Transactions: 50 mn shares of Gulf Commercial Bank (BGUC) on Apr. 21, 2019, which represent 0.02% of BGUC capital. 32 mn shares of Iraqi Middle East Investment Bank (BIME) on Apr. 21, 2019, which represents 0.01% of BIME capital.

The total amount of the Iranian exports to neighboring Iraq during the last Persian calendar year (March 2018- March 2019) hit a record high, the data released by Iran’s Customs Office showed.

During the last Iranian year, the Islamic Republic exported $9 billion worth of products to Iraq, indicating a 36 percent increase comparted to a year earlier, setting a new record in the bilateral trade between the two countries, the Customs Office report said.

The data also showed that the total value of Iran’s non-oil exports over the 12-month period amounted to $44 billion, with petrochemicals accounting for $14 bln of the exports.

The top export destination of Iran was China, according to the report.

Iran and Iraq have stepped up efforts in recent years to develop their ties in different areas, including economy and trade.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Iraqi President Barham Salih in Tehran back in November, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the value of trade and economic interaction between Tehran and Baghdad stands at around $12 billion, adding that the two neighbors have the potential for a $20-billion trade target.

In February, the governors of the central banks of Iran and Iraq signed an agreement to develop a payment mechanism aimed at facilitating banking ties between the two neighboring countries.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By Hussein Al-alak. Republished with permission.

Iraqi Children Foundation, safeguarding Iraq’s future generations

For millions of people around the world, the welfare of Iraqi children is key to safeguarding the future peace and stability of Iraq. In this exclusive interview, Hussein Al-alak talks to Mohammed Khudairi, of the US based Iraqi Children Foundation (ICF), about their ongoing efforts in Iraq.

What is your name and what do you do?

My name is Mohammed Khudairi. I am the Chairman of Iraqi Children Foundation, as well as the Managing Partner of Khudairi Group.

Can you please tell us about the Iraqi Children Foundation?

The Iraqi Children Foundation intervenes in the lives of orphans and street children who are vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation by criminals, traffickers and extremists. The organization was set up ten years ago by Americans who saw the need to help rebuild Iraq after so many years of conflict. More than 800,000 children were orphaned as a result of the Iraq War, and the ISIS occupation displaced another 1.3 million.

How does the work of the Iraqi Children Foundation help vulnerable children?

Our vision is that all children in Iraq have a voice, and are empowered to reach their full potential. All our programs have this goal in mind. We help vulnerable children through several channels, including:

⦁ The Hope Bus program – we convert used city buses into colorful, child friendly classrooms. Each bus has two teachers and a social worker, and serves around 50 children with tutoring, nutrition, health care, social services, practical life lessons, community, and fun.

⦁ The Street Lawyers program – our lawyers provide legal protection for children who are targeted by criminals and traffickers, abused by employers, or are facing other risks. They also assist children to get their papers so that they can go to school.

⦁ Social Services program – social workers on our team work to end child labor and get children off the streets. They also work to stop domestic abuse, provide medical care, and help get access to psychosocial services for children with mental health issues.

As Iraq has experienced decades of conflict, can you please tell us how this impacts on children? Children who are displaced, or have been exposed to high levels of violence, are often left emotionally and physically vulnerable. Can you please tell us about some of the risks that children in Iraq now face?

Many children have been left orphaned (800,000) or displaced (1.3 million) as a result of conflict in Iraq. Children who are in this vulnerable position are less likely to reach their full potential, as they are less likely to have access to education, health care (both mental and physical), and community support.

These children are more likely to become targets for human traffickers or extremist recruitment. The importance of ensuring children are not radicalized in Iraq cannot be overstated; extremism is a destabilizing force in the Middle East and globally. This is not just a humanitarian issue, it’s a regional security issue.

In the past, there have been cases where children have also been used as weapons of war, or due to bereavement, have been forced into exploitative trades. Can you please tell us about some of the safeguarding measures that have been, or are currently being put in place?

As an organization, the Iraqi Children Foundation looks to empower children so they are less vulnerable to exploitation. This includes educating children about risks, and providing a safe space for them to learn and form a sense of belonging with caring adults, and other children.

We also try to protect children and give them a voice, by providing legal representation in cases where children are exploited. Other nonprofits, non-government organizations, and government organizations all contribute to safeguarding measures; there is still a lot of work to be done.

As the media often gives focus to human interest stories from Iraq, or children left disabled by war, what support is available for children born with either physical or learning disabilities?

For families stuck in cycles of poverty in Iraq, there is limited access to medical care for children with disabilities. Often, these disabilities go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. As a result, these children are unable to receive the treatment they need.

Our social workers spend time getting to know families who live in impoverished areas of Baghdad, and to identify cases where children are suffering due to disabilities. We will work with the families of these children to get the correct medical attention and ongoing support, providing financial aid where necessary.

As the Iraqi Children Foundation is based in the USA but are working with children, on a grassroots level across Iraq, can you please tell us how people in Britain and America can support your work?

We have extremely competent NGO partners in Iraq who deliver our services to the children. We have worked with our primary partner, Justice Gate, for the past 7 years. We partner with local NGOs because we believe it is important to invest in Iraqi organizations and build capacity to provide ongoing services and ensure the growth and success of the country.

Our team and donors in America, Britain, and across the globe are working hard to raise awareness and dollars so we can continue to invest in the children of Iraq. On a practical level, our greatest need is ongoing financial support – those interested can donate via Global Giving. For those located in or near Washington DC, we also have a fundraising 5K run each year.

This year the race is in June, and we would love to see you there! We are extremely transparent at ICF, and very focused on effectiveness and efficiency of our programs. We are always open to discussing our work and results, you can find more information and our contact details at our website.

Advertising Feature

Rabee Securities Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) market report (week ending: 18th April 2019).

Please click here to download a table of listed companies and their associated ticker codes.

The RSISX index ended the week at IQD592 (+1.8%) / $636 (+1.7%) (weekly change) (-10.3% and -10.4% YTD change, respectively). The number of week traded shares was 5.2bn and the weekly trading volume was IQD4.0bn ($5.3mn).

ISX Company Announcements

  • Iraqi Carton Manufactories (IICM) will hold an AGM* on May. 9, 2019 to discuss and approve 2016 annual financial results. The company has been suspended from trading since Aug. 6, 2017 due to not disclosing 2016 and 2017 annual financial results.
  • Asiacell (TASC) will resume trading on Apr. 21, 2019 after discussing and approving 2018 annual financial results and deciding to distribute 100% cash dividend (IQD1.00 dividend per share, 12.2% dividend yield).
  • ISX suspended trading of Region Trade Bank for Investment and Finance (BRTB) starting Apr. 17, 2019 due to the GA that will be held on Apr. 22, 2019 to elect 4 original and 4 alternative board members.

By John Lee.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia have signed 13 political and economic agreements during the visit by Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to the Saudi capital Riyadh.

According to Reuters, Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban has said that Saudi state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco will help Iraq explore for gas in the western desert.

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Baghdad after it invaded Kuwait in 1990, but the new moves are seen as a sign of improving relations between the two countries.

(Sources: Office of the Iraqi Prime Minister, The National, Reuters)