By Ahmed Tabaqchali, for 1001 Iraqi Thoughts.

Iraq’s new entrepreneurial generation of civil activists’ sense of civic duty flourished during the trauma brought by the ISIS takeover of a third of the country in 2014, and has continued to grow since then as reviewed in a recent report.

The report into “A New Generation of Activists Circumvents Iraq’s Political Paralysis” also looked into the origins and the determination of these civil activists to “develop solutions to policy problems that the political class has been unable to address”.

Click here to read the full article.

IOM Iraq’s Enterprise Development Fund (EDF) encourages rapid, large-scale private sector job creation and economic recovery through tailored support to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The EDF is a financing mechanism that provides SMEs with financial capital to contribute to their recovery and/or expansion.

To assess the capacity of the market to absorb medium-sized grants, the EDF market assessment was rolled out in Kirkuk, Fallujah, and Mosul in November 2018.

The assessment was led by IOM Iraq’s Return and Recovery Unit (RRU) and contributes to the necessary groundwork to introduce the EDF in any location.

Please see below the assessments for three governorates:

(Source: IOM)

By Padraig O’Hannelly.

Building a successful business means delivering what you promise.

When I recently needed to go to Baghdad at short notice, I remembered a conversation I had with Abir Burhan, Operations Director of Al-Burhan Group: “Any time you want to go to Iraq,” he said, “we can take care of your visa, flights, accommodation and security – just give me a call.”

So I did, and a few days later I was on a plane from London Gatwick to Baghdad with Iraqi Airways, booked via IKB Travel; conveniently, a direct flight, which saves the time and trouble of getting a connecting flight somewhere else.

Staying at the Al-Burhan Centre, just minutes from the terminal building at Baghdad International Airport, was also very convenient, and probably the most secure location in Baghdad, situated as it is within the heavily guarded airport complex.

While in Iraq, I (and my family!) also needed to know that I’d be safe when travelling about in the capital; Gethin Wilson, Operations Manager at Al-Burhan Security, and his highly professional team, ensured that I was always where I needed to be, on time and in total safety.

But it’s not just about convenience and security. The success of the Al-Burhan Centre owes as much to the friendliness and hospitality of its people as it does to their efficiency and professionalism.

These factors are even more important for those staying long-term. Many of the guests at the Al-Burhan Centre are ex-pats, staying on rotations that can last weeks or months at a time, so it’s important not only that that they feel safe, but also that they are well catered for and enjoy their time at the centre.

George Mansour and his staff really understand that excellent food and a comfortable and friendly environment are essential for well-being, morale and productivity. And despite all the good food, there’s no excuse for putting on weight, as the centre even has two gyms to help work off the calories.

The al-Burhan family have created a real home from home, and take seriously the sign in their office: “Only promise what you can deliver.





By John Lee.

The National Investment Commission (NIC) has published details of a new round of solar energy projects:

The Ministry of Electricity is please to invite local, regional and international Independent Power Producers (IPP) to submit Expressions of interest (EOI) to embark into a proposed reverse auctioning round for SEVEN (7) Green field solar PV IPP projects (each a “project”) with a potential combined capacity of 755MWp.

A project involves the design, finance, construction operation and maintenance of a utility scale solar power project to the Ministry on a Build, Own and Operate (BOO) basis. A dedicated Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) shall be established to undertake the construction and operation of each project.

The Ministry, in its commercial capacity as a grid operator, will connect the SPV to the Iraqi transmission grid under a Transmission Connection Contract (TCC) and, in its capacity as owner of the land, will lease the land to the SPV under a Land Lease Contract (LLC). Also, the Ministry will purchase produced electricity from the SPV under the terms of the power purchase Contract (PPC).

The Ministry expects these project(s) to employ around 1300 people in the Republic of Iraq and supply more than 250,000 households with critically needed electricity supply.

The following projects are available :

  • Sawa-1 Solar PV IPP with a capacity of 30 MWp to be located in Muthana Province,
  • Sawa-2 Solar PV IPP with a capacity of 50 MWp to be located in Muthana Province,
  • Khidhir Solar PV IPP with a capacity of 50 MWp to be located in Muthana Province,
  • Iskanariya Solar PV IPP with a capacity of 225 MWp to be located in Babil Province,
  • Jissan Solar PV IPP with a capacity of 50 MWp to be located in Wassit Province,
  • Karbala Solar PV IPP with a capacity of 300 MWp to be located in Karbala Province,
  • Al-Diwania Solar PV IPP with a capacity of 50 MWp to be located in Diwania  Province,

The above project(s) may, at the Ministry’s discretion, be tendered on a standalone basis or grouped. For the proposed tender, the Ministry will conduct a transparent, fair and competitive reverse auctioning process to select a developer or a consortium for a single or a group of project(s).

Parties interested in participating (the “respondent”) in the process must fulfill the following pre- requisites for short listing:

  • Successful, proven and verifiable technical and financial capability and experience of no less than 10 years in developing renewable energy IPP Project(s) of no capacity less than 50 MW on an individual and not collective project basis, particularly utility scale solar PV projects.
  • An average annual turnover of more than US$ 10 Million for the last three years solely from revenues obtained via renewable energy projects development and operatorship, preferable majorly from solar PV projects.
  • Previously awarded projects should have been tendered according to the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model on similar auctions regionally or globally.
  • The respondent must have registered and licensed official regional and international offices.
  • The respondent must demonstrate previous initiative towards social responsibility and willingness to contribute to capacity building, to integrate local content, and to support the nascent renewable energy manufacturing and service sectors in the republic of Iraq.
  • The respondent must have never been barred by the Government of the Republic of Iraq, or any entity controlled or regulated by them, from participating in any project or conducting work of any form in the Republic of Iraq, including the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Also this applies to any other government, or any entity controlled or regulated by any other government.

Respondents that fulfill the requirements above shall express their interest to participate in the tender process by 29 April.2019 and the finnnal time to receive the (IPP) documentation 60 days from the announced date.

The number call of is MOE- HQ5/ 2019 An package (the “package”) must be sent in electronic copy format (a single PDF file) from an official business email address to 32_contracts@moelc.gov.iq

The requirements set herein;

  • Name of the respondent
  • Name and contact details (Postal address, telephone number, and email address) for the appropriate point of contact (Point of Contact) to whom future correspondence may be sent; and
  • Where the respondent is considering potential consortium partners, an indication of such intention and details of potential consortium partners (to the extent it is known).

The Ministry will not consider any proposals or packages submitted by mail, in person, or via liaison.

The following submission of the EOI, and after passing this stage this stage the respondent will bay the documentation (RFQ). The RFQ will include further information, including a description of the project(s), an outline of the tender process and eligibility criteria for pre- qualification.

The announcement shall not constitute in any way a commitment by the Ministry to proceed with the next stage, hold the proposed reverse auction, announce the tender, award any project or comply with the information provided herein. The Ministry retains the right to amend the scopes of the project(s), modify, extend, cancel or suspend the project(s), at any time for any reason without clarification or any liabilities for the Ministry or any other entity of the Government of the republic of Iraq.

This announcement shall be considered a complementary and integral part of the Project(s) Documentation.

(Source: NIC)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) held Iraq’s first International Tech Conference in Baghdad at the Babylon Rotana Baghdad Hotel on 30 April, hosting government ministers, private industry, entrepreneurs, investors, and representatives from the leading UK and Iraq Tech companies.

The purpose of the Conference was to drive confidence, investment and awareness of the power of the new tech economy and how it can benefit Iraq.

The event – Iraq Tech Conference – was led by Ashley Goodall, IBBC’s Marketing Adviser. Keynote addresses were given by H.E. Dr Sami Al Araji, Chairman of the National Investment Commission and Mr Ashraf Al Dahan, Chairman of the CMC Board of Commissioners.

The agenda for the day comprised four panels: Consumer Tech panel, E-Government Panel, Business Fintech and a Consumer Fintech Panel.

Fintech in particular is making strides forward with the blessing of the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), as Mr Waleed Eidi, Advisor to the Governor of the Central Bank, explained and encouraged the adoption of steps to include Women, those excluded from banking and the digital economy and young people.

The CBI is being ambitious in encouraging banks and financial institutions to modernise and offer new ways to distribute the flow of funds for investment and those who need it. This will also have a big impact on the overall economy and growth.

Ahmed Elkady of EY echoed the importance of Fintech as he led the Consumer FinTech Panel discussion onto technical infrastructure and what needs to happen to grow the opportunity for financial transactions. He was ably supported by National Bank of Iraq’s Eyad Mahmoud and Roger Abboud of Arab Payment Systems – who are modernising banking transactions – and Douglas Way of Almaseer Insurance – who are enabling business to reduce risks and transact insurance products rapidly and scalably.

The conference also embodied eight presentations:

  • “How technology is driving the business and consumer world in Iraq and Internationally” by Zain Iraq;
  • Online Literacy” by Dr Victoria Lindsay, Country Director – Iraq for the British Council;
  • Automating & digitising BP and Iraq” by Zaid Elyaseri, Country Manager-Iraq for BP;
  • Restrata Product Announcement” by Botan Osman, CEO for Restrata;
  • “Five One Labs” by Patricia Letayf, Co-Founder and Director of Operations for Five One Labs;
  • Blockchain and AI – The Future Talk” by Muhana Almrahleh, Director – Head of Information Technology Advisory for KPMG (Jordan); and,
  • How Re:Coded are Training the Next Generation of Technology Leaders in Iraq” by Zahra Shah, Country Manager-Iraq for Re:Coded.

Attendees were able to enjoy one-to-one meetings and conversations.

As part of the Tech Conference on April 30, IBBC hosted an Evening Reception for Entrepreneurs and Start-ups at The Station, Baghdad, the evening prior on 29 April. The evening, planned in partnership with Iraq Tech Ventures and Arabnet, showcased the growing tech community in the country and gave an outstanding platform for some of the leading start-ups and entrepreneurs in a more informal setting.

The participating start-ups pitched their business in 5 minutes to a panel of seven judges composed by: Mohammed Khudairi, Managing Partner of Khudairi Group and Founder of Iraq Tech Ventures; Hal Miran, CEO of MSelect and Founder of Bite.Tech and TechHub; Richard Greer, Venture Capital Investor in Asia, Middle East, & UK and Philanthropist in Northern Iraq; Zahra Shah, Iraq Country Manager for Re:Coded; Ali Ismail, Co-Founder of Fikraspace and Co-Founder & Partner of Solo Creative Studio; Patricia Letayf, Co-Founder and Director of Operations for Five One Labs and Maryam Allami, Advisor for Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Through this first international Tech Conference in Iraq, IBBC aims to provide a foundation, a platform and focus for Tech in Iraq and give inspiration and confidence to those building a modern Iraq.

For more information on the Iraq Britain Business Council, visit our website at https://www.iraqbritainbusiness.org/

To contact IBBC for Interviews, registration and sponsorship please contact london@webuildiraq.org

(Source: IBBC)

IMF Staff Completes 2019 Article IV Mission on Iraq

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team led by Gavin Gray visited Amman from April 26 to May 2, to hold discussions with the Iraqi authorities in the context of the 2019 Article IV Consultation.

At the end of the visit, Mr. Gray made the following statement:

“The end of the war with ISIS and a rebound in oil prices provide an opportunity to rebuild the country and address long-standing socio-economic needs. However, the challenges to achieving these objectives are formidable. The economic recovery has been sluggish, post-war reconstruction is limited, and large current spending increases risk placing the public finances and central bank reserves on an unsustainable path. Moreover, combatting corruption is critical to promote the effectiveness of public institutions and to support private-sector investment and job creation.

“Near-term vulnerabilities subsided in 2018, with the budget in surplus and a build-up in central bank reserves. Non-oil growth is expected to increase to 5.4 percent in 2019 on the back of higher investment spending. However, fiscal deficits are projected to rise over the medium term, requiring financing that may crowd out the private sector or erode central bank reserves. In these circumstances, it would be hard to sustain capital spending, and growth would slow markedly.

“Policy changes and structural reforms—including to improve governance—are therefore essential to maintain medium-term sustainability and lay the foundations for inclusive growth.

“Fiscal policy should aim to scale up public investment gradually while building fiscal buffers. To make space for this, staff recommends budgetary savings of around 9 percent of GDP over the medium term through tight control of current spending, particularly public-sector wages, and phased measures to boost non-oil revenue. Setting ceilings on current expenditure in the 2020 budget onwards would strengthen the fiscal framework’s capacity to support higher capital spending and to adapt to oil price shocks. Key reforms should include:

  • Containing public-sector wages. Spending pressures could be dampened in the short run through compensation measures such as capping allowances, bonuses and other non‑base wage payments, and by not fully replacing retirees. Structural measures will be required over the medium term, based on a functional workforce review as well as deeper civil service reform once new HR management and information systems are in place.
  • Electricity reforms are key to addressing the weak quality of service and reducing the high budgetary costs, due to modest tariff rates, chronic non-payment of electricity bills, poor maintenance and over-reliance on expensive generation sources, coupled with losses throughout the generation, transmission, and distribution process. It would be important to ensure that the poor and most vulnerable are protected throughout this reform.
  • Bolstering public financial management. Enhancing the legal framework and improving commitment and other control systems are key to minimizing misuse of public resources and restoring budgetary discipline.

“In the financial sector, a robust plan to restructure the large public banks coupled with enhanced supervision is essential to secure financial stability and will help promote financial development and inclusion. Strengthening anti-money laundering and countering financing terrorism (AML/CFT) controls and oversight will help prevent Iraq’s financial sector from being misused for the laundering of criminal proceeds and terrorist financing.

“Addressing governance weaknesses and corruption vulnerabilities is critical to achieving the described policy objectives. As a first step, the authorities need to develop a comprehensive understanding of the corruption risks present in Iraq and then implement policies to tackle these risks in a coherent and coordinated manner. The legislative framework needs to be strengthened to effectively prevent officials from abusing their position or misusing state resources. To this end, laws strengthening the asset declaration regime and criminalizing illicit gains should be rapidly adopted. Furthermore, the independence and integrity of bodies involved in combatting corruption should be ensured and the AML/CFT regime should be mobilized to support anti-corruption efforts.

The team will prepare a report that, subject to management approval, is tentatively scheduled to be considered by the IMF’s Executive Board in July 2019.

“The IMF team would like to thank the authorities for the candid and constructive discussions during this visit.”

(Source: IMF)

2.5 Million Iraqis and Businesses to Benefit from Improved Electricity Services

A new US$200 million World Bank project will provide increased and more reliable supply of electricity to about 2.5 million Iraqis and productive enterprises in the governorates of Basra, Al-Muthanna, Thi Qar, and Missan who currently suffer from frequent and long power cuts and rely on private or shared generators to cover the shortages within the public network.

The Electricity Services Reconstruction and Enhancement Project, approved today by the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors, will support the Government of Iraq’s efforts to improve the quality and reliability of electricity supply by reducing the capacity limitations in the electricity distribution and transmission network.

The project aims to support increased efficiency of electricity operations and management which is key to reducing the fiscal burden levied by the sector on Iraq’s budget, drawing resources away from other public sector needs such as reconstruction, health and education.

Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director, said:

The lack of access to reliable power has a significant impact on household well-being, business growth, and the capacity of the enterprise sector to create sustainable jobs for the growing numbers of youth entering the job market.

“Improved electricity supply will support job creation, including enhancing women’s ability to engage in income generating activities. It will also promote economic diversification and allow enterprises to increase their productivity, thus fostering inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity for the population of Iraq South region”.

The project will support the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the electricity transmission and distribution grid including installation of new lines and power substations. In addition, the project will include installation of an Integrated Management Information Systems and customer call centers.

These activities will not only increase the network capacity to deliver electricity to the consumer premises, but will also support improvements in network operations efficiency and customer care such as reducing the duration of electricity outages, improving the accuracy in meter reading and billing records and fast response to electricity consumer concerns.

Paul Baringanire, World Bank Senior Energy Specialist and Project Team Leader, said:

Improved efficiency, transparency, and accountability of operations will not only improve the sector’s performance but also enhance the image and credibility of the sector institutions namely the Ministry of Electricity, the South Electricity Transmission Company, and the South Electricity Distribution Company with shareholders and electricity customers thus contributing to restoring citizen confidence and gaining support for sustained operations.”

(Source: World Bank)

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.

 

Germany’s Siemens and the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity have agreed on the award of contracts valued at approximately EUR 700 million for Phase 1 of their “Iraq Roadmap“, covering short-, mid- and long-term addition of new highly-efficient power generation capacity, rehabilitation and upgrade of existing plants, and the expansion of transmission and distribution networks.

The agreement builds on the exclusive Memorandum of Understanding signed between the ministry and Siemens in October last year, and outlines the specific projects, associated budgets and timelines for the execution phase, covering all essential elements of the electrification of Iraq.

The document was signed by Joe Kaeser (pictured), President and CEO of Siemens AG, and Luay al-Khatteeb, Iraq’s Minister of Electricity, in Berlin in the presence of Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Prime Minister of Iraq and Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Projects include the EPC construction of a 500 megawatt gas-fired power plant in Zubaidiya; the upgrade of 40 gas turbines with upstream cooling systems; and the installation of 13 of 132 kilovolt substations along with 34 transformers across Iraq.

The ‘Siemens Roadmap for the Electrification of the New Iraq’ is a series of short, medium and long-term plans designed to meet the reconstruction goals of Iraq and support the country’s economic development. Along with the electrification scope, Siemens had also committed to the donation of a smart health clinic, a 60 million US-dollar software grant for universities of Iraq, and the training of more than 1,000 Iraqis in vocational education.

The clinic will be equipped with the company’s medical devices to make healthcare more accessible to Iraqis and will support the rehabilitation of populations in liberated areas of the country, with the capacity to treat up to 10,000 patients per year. As for the grant, it will empower local university students with the digital skills essential for the future.

The economic viability of the plan is secured by billions of US dollars in potential fuel savings and revenue generation for the electricity sector. The company also envisions the creation of tens of thousands of jobs over the course of the projects. The roadmap focuses on energy, education, compliance and financing, aiming to advance sustainable economic development, national security and quality of life for the people of Iraq. Siemens initially presented the Roadmap to the Government of Iraq during the Iraq Reconstruction Conference in Kuwait, in February 2018.

Kaeser commented:

Our mission is to secure reliable and affordable electricity for the Iraqi people and help them rebuild their country. This binding agreement addresses the various aspects of the roadmap. We are also committed to supporting Iraq in arranging financing for the projects, creating attractive jobs and opportunities for small and medium enterprises.

“Investing in the country’s future workforce through education and training is close to our heart. Contributing to social and economic development is at the core of what we do and forms a significant part of this agreement.

(Source: Siemens)

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.