By John Lee.

Iraq has fallen one place in this year’s Legatum Institute Prosperity Index, ranking in 142nd place out of the 149 countries measured.

The index ranks countries according to its nine pillars of prosperity: Economic Quality, Business Environment, Governance, Personal Freedom, Social Capital, Safety and Security, Education, Health and Natural Environment.

Despite Iraq’s dismal performance, the report found some areas of improvement:

“While its prosperity has been hit hard by the presence of ISIS, Social Capital has improved more than any other pillar over the last five years. Over the same timeframe it has seen a greater increase in Social Capital than any other country. The sense here is that in the midst of violence, Iraqis do not let go of their relationships; rather, they strengthen them.”

It also noted that, “despite ongoing conflict, Iraq has improved its Personal Freedom score significantly in the last five years.”

But it also pointed out that, “with oil rents amounting to 29% of GDP, Iraq ranks bottom in the world for the diversity of its exports.

Norway re-gained its place at the top of the Index, pushing New Zealand into second place, with Finland maintaining its position in third place.

The least prosperous country is again Yemen, behind the Central African Republic and Sudan.

(Source: Legatum Institute)

Finland’s Nokia will modernize and expand Zain Iraq‘s radio networks with its most advanced technologies across Karbala, Najaf and Basra, with a special focus on the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf, to support the expected increase in data and voice traffic during Zeyara as millions of people converge on the region.

Zeyara is an annual event in the holy city of Karbala, which culminates in the event of Al Arba’een. It attracts visitors from across the globe and is one of the world’s largest public gatherings.

Once completed, the upgrade will allow users to enjoy improved indoor and outdoor coverage in both urban and rural areas as well as increased data throughput, leading to an overall superior customer experience.

Nokia’s project management and proven services expertise will be used to expand and modernize Zain Iraq’s 2G and 3G network, providing ubiquitous coverage and faster mobile broadband.

Additionally, the Nokia Mass Event Handler will be deployed to address the surge in data and voice consumption expected during Zeyara. The network modernization will allow visitors to remain continuously connected with their loved ones through superior voice and data connectivity during Al Arba’een and beyond.

Ali Al-Zahid, Chief Executive Officer of Zain Iraq, said:

Our top priority is to provide superior services for our subscribers. This network modernization and expansion is only the beginning of providing the best possible service quality and coverage with the most advanced technologies across the overall Karbala and Najaf and rest of sourthern region.

“We selected Nokia, our longstanding technology partner, for this important project, as we are confident that its advanced technologies will enable our network to provide such superior services. The current project will also enable a best-in-class mobile experience for visitors to Zeyara when we expect a high turnout this year.

Bernard Najm, head of the Middle East Market Unit at Nokia, said:

“Nokia fully understands Zain Iraq’s requirements and is committed to providing leading technologies to enable pioneering services for its subscribers. Nokia’s solutions cater to the unique connectivity requirements of mass events, and will help Zain Iraq address the expected surge in data and voice consumption during Zeyara.”

Overview of the solutions:

  • The high capacity and energy-efficient Nokia Flexi Multiradio 10 Base Station will be used to add the third carrier of 5 MHz on the 900 MHz band, to enhance capacity and increase coverage in suburban and rural areas.
  • Nokia’s Mass Event Handler will ensure network performance is not adversely affected because of heavy traffic during Zeyara. Another feature of the software – HSUPA Interference Cancellation – handles data more efficiently, enabling end users to upload pictures without any network glitch.
  • Nokia FlexiZone will be deployed to enhance coverage and capacity of the existing 3G network in Karbala.
  • Nokia’s refarming service will refarm GSM 900 MHz frequency to expand the operator’s 3G network.
  • Nokia’s NetAct virtualized network management software will provide robust capabilities for troubleshooting, assurance, administration, software management and configuration.
  • Nokia’s Network Planning and Optimization (NPO), Network Implementation , and Care services will ensure smooth execution of the project and maximize the return on Zain’s technology investments.

(Source: Nokia)

The European Commission is currently working alongside EU Member States to facilitate emergency aid deliveries in Iraq, to help people affected by the crisis in Mosul.

Three additional planes carrying emergency assistance from Austria and France have now touched ground in Iraq, bringing the total number of flights facilitated and co-financed by the Commission to nine.

To date, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, Sweden as well as Norway have offered over 266 tonnes (1636 cubic metres) of relief assistance through the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism to assist civilians displaced due to the Mosul military operations.

Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, said:

“The EU’s aid operations in Iraq have now delivered urgently needed material such as tents, blankets, generators, hygiene articles, five tonnes of medicine and medical equipment. Let me thank all countries who have channelled support through the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism.

“This aid can make a real difference for civilians trapped inside Mosul and other locations affected by the conflict and those displaced by the fighting who are facing extremely dire conditions.  It is crucial to ensure the protection of all civilians and the respect of International Humanitarian Law during and after the conduct of hostilities.”

Winterisation support and emergency trauma care are key priorities. Additional material will be shipped to Iraq in the coming weeks. The material assistance complements the EU’s humanitarian aid to Iraq, the sum of which is over €159 million in 2016 alone.

In December 2016, a cargo plane carrying close to 40 tonnes (more than 290 cubic metres) of emergency supplies landed in Erbil, Iraq, in the first of several operations organised jointly by the European Commission and Member States.

(Source: European Commission)

By John Lee.

Iraq has reportedly extended its ban on poultry imports to three more European countries: Finland, Serbia and the United Kingdom.

The ban covers live and frozen poultry imports, and comes in response to bird flu outbreaks.

Iraq is the world’s fifth biggest buyer of chicken meat, with purchases of 670,000 tonnes last year, according to the US Department of Agriculture. It imports nearly 50 percent of its poultry needs.

The country had already banned imports from more than 20 countries.

(Sources: Agrimoney, Reuters)

Finland contributes funding to accelerate stabilization in newly liberated areas

The Republic of Finland is providing US$1,13 million (€1 million) to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to support stabilization in areas newly liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The Finnish contribution will be allocated to UNDP’s Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilization (FFIS) which channels fast-track support to liberated areas to help rehabilitate civic infrastructure, kick-start local economies, boost government capacity and promote community reconciliation.

UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Ms. Lise Grande, said:

“Helping to stabilize areas newly liberated from ISIL is one of Iraq’s highest priorities. Finland’s generous contribution comes at just the right time. Tens of thousands of displaced people have already returned to Ramadi and tens of thousands more want to come home in safety and dignity so that they can start to rebuild their lives.”

In turn, Finland’s Minister for International Trade and Development, Ms. Lenita Toivakka, said:

”It is not only houses and roads that have been torn apart on the land liberated from ISIL – it is also the social fabric. Finland emphasizes the need to ensure non-discrimination and support the most vulnerable groups, including women, in targeting the interventions of the FFIS.”

Established in June 2015, FFIS is currently working in nine newly liberated areas in Anbar, Salah al-Din, Ninewah and Diyala Governorates. FFIS has started work in Ramadi where widespread destruction and contamination of booby-traps have slowed stabilization and the return of displaced families.

(Source: UNDP in Iraq)

Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) has announced the inauguration of its new office in Erbil, the capital city of Kurdistan region in Iraq.

Until now the company has been operating at a different location in Erbil. This is NSN’s fourth modern office in Iraq, with the other offices located in Baghdad, Sulaymaniyah, and Basra to support nationwide operations of all its operator customers.

The office was inaugurated by Igor Leprince, head of Middle East & Africa business region, NSN, in the presence of Sirwan Saber Mustafa, chairman of the board, Korek Telecom; and Ghada Gebara, CEO of Korek Telecom.

The Iraqi telecom sector is fast growing, with operators increasingly demanding advanced mobile broadband technologies,” said Igor Leprince (pictured). “The inauguration of our modern office in Erbil further enhances our operational agility to further strengthen quality of our delivery to help our operator customers achieve their objectives. As the world’s specialist in mobile broadband, we remain strongly committed to helping operators in Iraq achieve becoming advanced mobile broadband providers on par with the world’s leading telecom services providers.

(Source: NSN)