By John Lee.

The Iraqi Government has announced that commercial operations have begun at the “Al-Kaytan Falcon Cement Plant” in Basra.

According to a government tweet, the project cost $43.7 million to build, has a production capacity of a million tonnes annually, and created more than 250 new jobs.

Falcon is a cement brand owned by Attock Cement Pakistan Limited (ACPL), which is a member company of Pharaon Commercial Investment Group. According to a statement made to the Pakistan Stock Exchange in September, commercial production started with effect from 1st September 2019.

According to previous information from Business Recorder, the investment is a joint venture with the Iraq-based Al Geetan Commercial Agencies.

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) held its biannual council meeting on Wednesday 8 July. The meeting was chaired by Bob Phillips (Mott MacDonald), member of IBBC’s Executive Committee and was attended by over 30 IBBC member company’s representatives.

Following a discussion of the present situation in Iraq and the UK, led by IBBC’s President Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, IBBC members reviewed the Council’s activities since January.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of IBBC

Christophe Michels, MD of IBBC commented “since the lockdown started in March, with its management based out of London, Baghdad and Erbil, IBBC organised 25 online meetings for its members with, among others, GoI and KRG Ministers and Governors, officials from the FCO, DIT and a series of meetings with the WB and IFC. We also vigorously continued to pursue our tech, education, women in business and young executive initiatives and have launched free WB and IFC sponsored business awareness online tutorials for Iraqi SMEs. Our Advisory Council published a white paper for the incoming Iraqi Government which was widely praised in Iraq and by the international community”.

Mrs Hadeel Hassan, The Founder and Managing Director, Al Hadeel Al Hasan & Partners

Prior to the Council Meeting there was a meeting of the IBBC Executive Committee, which reviews the overall work of IBBC and advises its management. At the meeting the committee welcomed two new members, Mrs Hadeel Hasan, the founder and managing director at Al Hadeel Al Hasan & Partners, and Zaid Elyaseri the Country Manager of BP in Iraq.

Zaid Elyaseri, Country Manager Iraq, BP

At both meetings IBBC members expressed their satisfaction with the work of the Council in these challenging times. Many also acknowledged that the present crisis facing Iraq was indeed very challenging and that all businesses were suffering from it, but that the country had seen worse economic and other crisis in its recent history and was extremely resilient and resourceful in weathering such difficult times.

(Source: IBBC)

By John Lee.

Iraq has reportedly partially reopened its southern Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran, more than three months after it was closed to help combat the spread of the coronavirus / COVID-19.

According to Shafaaq, the crossing will open every Wednesday and Sunday from now on, but only for the trade of foodstuffs; it will allow in 500 trucks per week from Iran.

(Sources: Shafaaq, Reuters)

KRG’s Reform Programme Continues: government’s operational expenditure system goes digital

The Kurdistan Regional Government is this month rolling out a fully digitalised system to control operational expenditure. This important modernisation step – the result of detailed collaboration between various government bodies – will increase efficiency and reduce corruption by ensuring that all government day-to-day expenditure is completed online.

Welcoming the announcement, Minister of Finance and Economy Awat Janab Noori announced that this month, following instructions from the Prime Minister, all operational expenditure and the process has now become digitalised.

“This progress is part of the government’s broader package of modernisation and reform measures, reducing bureaucracy to allow the government to better serve our citizens. Increasing transparency in government, and reducing corruption, are essential components of these reforms. The more the government can control its operational expenditure, the better positioned it is to spend on vital public services and projects that benefit all citizens. I commend staff in the Department of Information Technology and the Ministry’s Directorate General of Public Accounting for building the application.”

The new digital system will be rolled out across government departments this month and the whole of the KRG will be online by the end of July with all data being recorded in the government’s own data centre. It will ensure that the KRG will be able to record savings made from spend requests for operational goods and services, providing the government with real-time visibility over its budget so data from the system can be used to make better strategic financial decisions.

It will also help to establish stronger financial management processes across government and ensures that individual ministries are held accountable for their spending, as well as reducing unnecessary bureaucracy and the time it takes for entities to receive their requested goods or services, provided the request meets the spend controls criteria.

(Source: KRG)

By John Lee.

Moody’s Investors Service has said that Iraq’s credit profile of Caa1 is supported by the country’s “ba2” economic strength, reflecting, “the balance of strong growth potential associated with large natural resource endowment against low competitiveness and the significant loss of productive capacity and infrastructure after many years of armed conflict“.

More here.

(Source: Moody’s Investors Service)

By John Lee.

GE Gas Power has reported that it has successfully completed services on four 9F.03 gas turbines, two steam turbines and six generators at Iraq’s Besmaya Power Plant safely and on time, while continuing to execute wider operations and maintenance (O&M) works at the site despite the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These service activities reduced the risk of unplanned downtime of power generation equipment at the site, enabling the plant to reliably supply up to 3 gigawatts (GW) of electricity to the national grid to help meet the peak summer demand for power.

Owned by Mass Group Holding (MGH), Besmaya is Iraq’s largest power plant. Phases 1 and 2 of the project can generate up to 3 GW and Phase 3, which is currently under construction, is expected to add up to another 1.5 GW. The facility is the first one in the country outside the Kurdistan region to be developed by an independent power producer on a build-own-operate basis for the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity.

GE has supplied eight gas turbines, four steam turbines and 12 generators that are covered by a 20-year service agreement and is also responsible for O&M services for Phases 1 and 2 of the project to ensure smooth operations at the site. Additionally, GE won a contract to supply four 9F.04 gas turbines and four generators for Phase 3. Much of the electricity generated at Besmaya is fed to the capital Baghdad and surrounding areas and its uninterrupted operations are critical to power local healthcare facilities, homes, businesses and more.

Ahmad Ismail, Chairman of MGH, said:

At MGH, we are committed to strengthening Iraq’s power sector further.

“The logistical and mobility constraints resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak led to several unexpected difficulties in carrying out the required service works at Besmaya including delays in the arrivals of parts and challenges in access to technical experts.

“However, the determination, flexibility and efficiency GE displayed by being able to draw on local teams on the ground, remote support from experts and access to a global supply chain, enabled us to keep the plant operational with high levels of reliability and efficiency and to deliver on our commitments.

Beginning February 2020, over 110 GE and FieldCore (a GE-owned field services execution company) staff members liaised closely with MGH to execute the services safely and as per schedule. The works conducted included the first phase of Hot Gas Path inspection services of the gas turbines, steam turbine minor inspections and generator MAGIC (Miniature Air Gap Inspection Crawler) inspections.

Experts based in the Middle East and Europe liaised with the local site team through digital tools, video conferences and phone calls on a daily basis to remotely support mechanical and commissioning works, identify and transport stocks of parts that needed to be replaced and keep track of overall project progress. To reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, additional hygiene, health and safety measures were implemented at the site, including more frequent disinfection and cleaning activities, thermal screenings of everyone entering the site, distribution of additional mandatory personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks, COVID-19 prevention training sessions, accommodation for staff on-site, as well as other precautions.

Joseph Anis, President and CEO of GE Gas Power, Middle East, North Africa and South Asia said:

As we work through these exceptional times, our resolve to support the Ministry of Electricity and people of Iraq by providing the electricity needed to power everyday life, growth and progress remains unchanged. Our top priority remains the safety of our people, while continuing to deliver results for our customers and the communities we serve.

“I would like to thank the supportive staff at GE and MGH who stayed away from their loved ones for months, working long hours to secure reliable power supplies during this unprecedented period and for the hot summer months ahead. Together, we are honored to make a positive difference to the lives of millions of Iraqi citizens.

GE and FieldCore have up to 300 people across Iraq. The company has supported the development of the country’s energy infrastructure for over 50 years and since 2011, helped to bring up to 15 GW of power online across Iraq, including up to 1.4 GW in conflict affected areas such as Diyala and Mosul.

The company has also helped bring over US$2.4 billion in financing for energy sector projects in Iraq in collaboration with export credit agencies, commercial banks and other organizations.

(Source: GE)

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 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)

You are invited to help IBBC and World Bank to introduce Iraqi SME’s to FREE business training courses

WHEN: 29th June, 6pm to 8pm Iraq time

Please share this free business training initiative and the course registration with any SME in your network, however small, and encourage them to sign up.

Arabic version for sharing with your contacts here
WebEx Link: Join Using WebEx

YouTube Livestream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxeuaarijuE

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) has been asked by the World Bank to support them in the promotion of business resilience and training courses for SME’s in Iraq.

The driver behind this initiative is to give Iraqi SME’s support to ride out and survive the business effects of COVID-19 pandemic and the effect it has particularly on the smaller businesses in the economy.

The support is in the form of four free business training courses that SME’s can take via Webex or Youtube, provided they sign up.

As a partner to the World Bank, IBBC is contacting our Chambers of Commerce and Union contacts, and those businesses we can alert.

The courses cover four topics :

  1. Business Planning.
  2. Accessing Finance.
  3. Communicating.
  4. Thriving.

We recognise that your suppliers are most likely to be already well prepared, but if there are some who may be finding the current economic climate challenging, these courses will provide a good sense check to best practice.

Please follow this link for the WebEx how-to manual in English

Please follow this link for the WebEx how-to manual in Arabic

Please let us know if there are any further questions by contacting london@webuildiraq.org

We very much hope that your teams will be able to share these courses with your supplier and business ecology.

(Source: IBBC)