By John Lee.

Zain Iraq‘s revenues for the first half of 2019 were up 14 percent on the same period last year.

In its results for first six months of 2019, the company said:

Zain Iraq performed exceptionally well in H1 2019 when compared to H1 2018 with revenue reaching USD 522 million and EBITDA reached USD 220 million, up 14% reflecting an EBITDA margin of 42%.

“The operation reported a Net Income of USD 25 million for H1 2019, up 39% on the USD 18 million profit recorded for H1 2018.

“The operator added 600,000 customers (up 4% Y-o-Y) to reach 15.3 million and witnessed significant growth in data Revenue, as well as profitable progress in the enterprise (B2B) segment.

(Source: Zain)

(Picture: Bader al-Kharafi, Vice Chairman and CEO of Zain)

By John Lee.

Asiacell Iraq has increased its customer base by six percent in the first six months of this year, according to its parent, the Qatari company Ooredoo.

In its results for the first half of 2019, the company said:

Despite intensifying price competition, Asiacell maintained stable revenues of QAR 2.2 billion during the first half of 2019 as compared with the same period last year.

“EBITDA declined 9% to QAR 970 million, impacted by costs incurred for network upgrades and expansion as Asiacell continues to increase its reach and capacity in order to meet the data demand of its customers.

“Asiacell’s customer base increased 6% during the first half of the year to 13.9 million, a result of network expansion and enhanced sales and marketing activities.”

(Source: Ooredoo)

(Picture: Faruk Mustafa Rasool, Chairman of Asiacell)

By John Lee.

The Jordanian-Iraqi Forum on digital transformation in the financial sector was held on Wednesday in Baghdad.

It was organized as part of the partnership between Jordan’s Information and Communications Technology Association (int@j), the Jordanian-Iraqi Economic Association, the Iraq Private Banks League, and the International Finance Corporation, and saw the participation of 30 Jordanian IT companies.

Through the forum, int@j aims to assist Jordanian IT companies enter the Iraqi market.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors at int@j, Dr. Bashar Hawamdeh, said that the company’s role in organizing the forum is part of their efforts to bolster networking among Jordanian companies and Iraqi banks and others operating in the financial sector. int@j’s role in organizing the forum comes as well amidst efforts to enable Jordanian companies to offer their expertise in digital transformation and technology to Iraqi sectors more broadly, particularly considering there exists an urgent need on the Iraqi side to implement digital transformation projects.

Dr. Hawamdeh noted that the Iraqi market is an important market to Jordanian companies, as those companies possess significant expertise in systems building and management. He added that Jordanian companies have been instrumental in developing e-governance for states in the region and have assisted in building systems that serve digital transformation.

He added that the forum is an opportune time for Jordanian companies to explore opportunities related to cooperation and sharing of expertise, especially considering the faith the Iraqi market has in Jordanian expertise in all areas.

The following Jordanian companies are taking part in the forum: Access 2 Arabia, Bridges PR and Events, Globitel, Green Circle Co., Hayyan Horizons, MenalTech, HyperPay, MadfooatCom, Jordan Payments and Clearing Company (JoPACC), Middle East Payment Services (MEPS), and Quality Business Solutions.

Also participating in the conference are: Real Soft Advanced Applications, Sidra Electronic Payment Software, Synaptic Technologies, Trismart, VTEL Holdings, dot.Jo, Jordan Data Systems, Takamol, ProgressSoft, Al Bayanat Al-Raqamiah for Information Technology, Image Technologies (ITECJ), OPTIMIZA, Oracle, Jordan Systems Consulting Co, OFFTEC, Dell, KPMG Jordan, Virtual/Al-Nayi for Informational and Communications Consulting, and Mawdoo3.com.

(Source: int@j)

By John Lee.

Ride-hailing company Careem is reported to be testing a new system that allows people in Iraq to book rides using WhatsApp.

According to al-Bawaba, WhatsApp penetration is as high as 80 percent in Iraq, a country with low internet connectivity and a high dependency on cash, so the new scheme simplifies the booking process, and provides an alternative for people who aren’t familiar with ride-hailing apps.

Careem entered the Iraqi market in January 2018, and recently started operations in Basra. It was bought by Uber for $3.1 billion in March 2019.

More here and here.

(Sources: al-Bawaba, The National)

Address by Dr Victoria Lindsay, British Council Country Director for Iraq, to the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC)‘s International Tech Conference in Baghdad:

The fourth Industrial Revolution underway and it is technology changing the world and the way we live.

Globalization means it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore developments such as automation, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, mobile and cloud technology and the Internet of things; E-commerce is changing banking and shopping habits creating an increasingly globalized economy.

So far too little attention has been paid to the implementation of e-commence and the impact of this seismic shift on education and the educational infrastructure required to support e-commerce growth.

Skills and Education Disruption and Digital Literacy

The rapid changes described above are leading to skills disruption; a change in the nature of jobs available, and the work that people can undertake. This evolving need is driving a demand for new and adaptable skill sets. Alongside of this the nature of learning is also changing; no longer are students required to learn by rote instead they need to be able to locate, evaluate and use information. Education at all levels needs to change to support this shifting landscape.

These changes in education can be divided into three areas:

  • Firstly, those who study computer science education: the computer science graduates and professionals who are required to develop and maintain e-commerce and other systems;
  • Secondly e-commerce education itself: entrepreneurs and businessmen and women who need to understand how e- commerce and the online environment works;
  • Thirdly, the users who will require sufficient levels of digital literacy to be able to use online platforms and trust e-commerce and services become increasingly available online.

Digital literacy has been defined by organisations such as the Global Digital Literacy Council and can be evidenced by certificates such as the IC3 Global Standard; however, considering more fully and at individual level, digital literacy is a skill set that is more advanced than certification. Being sufficiently digitally literate to interact with an online world is beyond the ability to use computer programmes such as Word for Windows. It includes the skills to access and judge the value of information; ability to identify fake news and to use a search engine to locate trusted information, advice and guidance.

Digital literacy also includes the proficiency to interact with others in a global world using devices for synchronous and asynchronous communication. Digital users are also required to have developed their social emotional skills in this new environment; what is described as cyber awareness, navigating a world with trolling, flashing and phishing.

Lastly, digitally literate users require photo visual skills, the ability to navigate and read sources such as websites and to have learnt basic motor skills to connect and navigate an ever increasing variety of changing devices.

Turning now to each of these diverse but related areas of education.

Computing Education

Now and in the future those studying computer education will be providing the technological support and expertise that will support domestic economic growth via IT advancement, software, infrastructure and devices. They require a rapid and responsive curriculum which focuses on underpinning knowledge as well current and potential future programming skills.

Key to success will be the development of skills which will allow further development and adaptation that will support future developments. Related to this but not explored here in detail is the need for wider-reaching skills and knowledge that support the e-environment; for example, legislation and international business.

e-Commerce Education

The second area to consider is the implications for e-commerce education. A growth area will be short professional courses which will be delivered by commercial providers. Within formal education stand alone modules and extra curricular activity will develop to meet student demand. Longer term dedicated undergraduate and post graduate degrees will emerge.

These courses will provide students and attendees with sufficient knowledge to be able to make informed technical and marketing decisions relating to online business. Content might, for example, include the development of an e-catalog (product range), understanding of secure web servers and protocols, the development of a graphic user interface, underlying processing e-commerce engines and databases and communications management systems.

Digital Literacy

Finally, there is a need to consider the implications of a shift to e-commerce and e-society to digital literacy education. Users need to be able to use and understand mobile devices and the online environment. This could be achieved through a combination of formal education and informal learning through modeling innovators and early adopters.

Caution here is required when we think of younger generations, the so called Digital Natives — those considered, by their age or social demographic to be natural immersed in the online world. Research shows that these assumptions may be incorrect, and that although technologically familiar with devices, Generation Z struggles to evaluate and assess the validity of information.

It is also, at this point, worth highlighting those who will be left behind and the need to maintain a minimum level of service for those unable due to poor education (illiteracy), location (poor bandwidth) or social demographic (limited funds) who will be excluded from the digital revolution. Services and products whose services are essential to these customers should carefully consider a move into e-commerce to balance both current and future needs with social responsibility.

Recommendations

So, with regard to the next steps, the following recommendations can be made. The development of a Computing Education Plan to meet the technical needs, an E-commerce Education plan to meet the needs of innovators and entrepreneurs who will be in the vanguard of this shift change, and a digital literacy plan that raises users skills.

(Source: IBBC)

Zain Iraq becomes first operator in the Middle East to introduce purchase solution via Facebook

Zain Iraq, the country’s largest mobile operator by customer numbers, announces the introduction of a solution that enables customers to purchase offers via their Facebook app, making it the first operator in the Middle East to provide this functionality, and among the first 10 providers to do so worldwide.

The service, which is available on Android devices, and via the portal on iOS phones, was introduced by Zain Iraq in coordination with Facebook.

Ali Al Zahid (pictured), Zain Iraq CEO, commented:

“Zain wants its services to be as convenient as possible by providing the best customer experience. Being the first operator in the Middle East to launch this solution gives us tremendous confidence that we are building the next positive differentiator in our market.

“Our business is evolving, with customers in search of simple solutions that are easy to use, and which fit neatly into their daily lives. I am extremely proud of our team who cater to every need of our 16-million customers.”

Facebook is extremely popular in Iraq, numbering over 20 million accounts. Zain Iraq counts the highest number of Facebook phone users in the country with over 5 million  followers, according to figures from the social media platform.

(Source: Zain)

Zain Iraq becomes first operator in the Middle East to introduce purchase solution via Facebook

Zain Iraq, the country’s largest mobile operator by customer numbers, announces the introduction of a solution that enables customers to purchase offers via their Facebook app, making it the first operator in the Middle East to provide this functionality, and among the first 10 providers to do so worldwide.

The service, which is available on Android devices, and via the portal on iOS phones, was introduced by Zain Iraq in coordination with Facebook.

Ali Al Zahid (pictured), Zain Iraq CEO, commented:

“Zain wants its services to be as convenient as possible by providing the best customer experience. Being the first operator in the Middle East to launch this solution gives us tremendous confidence that we are building the next positive differentiator in our market.

“Our business is evolving, with customers in search of simple solutions that are easy to use, and which fit neatly into their daily lives. I am extremely proud of our team who cater to every need of our 16-million customers.”

Facebook is extremely popular in Iraq, numbering over 20 million accounts. Zain Iraq counts the highest number of Facebook phone users in the country with over 5 million  followers, according to figures from the social media platform.

(Source: Zain)

By John Lee.

Tribalco LLC, Bethesda, Maryland, has been awarded a $14,425,217 firm-fixed-price Foreign Military Sales (Iraq) contract for computer hardware, services and MEMEX software.

One bid was solicited with one bid received. Work will be performed in Bethesda, Maryland, with an estimated completion date of May 22, 2020.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

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)

By John Lee.

Zain Iraq has posted a growth in net income of 77 percent.

In its results statement for Q1 2019, the company said:

Zain Iraq performed exceptionally well in Q1 2019 when compared to the corresponding three-month period in 2018, with revenue reaching USD 262 million, and EBITDA having reached USD 109 million, up 13% Y-o-Y and reflecting an EBITDA margin of 42%.

“The operation reported a net profit of USD 14.2 million, up 77% on the USD 8 million profit recorded in Q1 2018.

“The operator added 1.5 million customers (up 10% Y-o-Y) to reach 16 million and witnessed significant growth in data revenue, as well as profitable progress in the enterprise (B2B) segment.

(Source: Zain)

(Picture: Bader al-Kharafi, Vice Chairman and CEO of Zain)