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)

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.

Kuwait’s Qualitynet is reported to have been granted a licence to provide internet, telecommunications and satellite services in Iraq.

According to CommsMEA, the move makes it the first Kuwaiti telecommunications service provider to win a service licence in the country.

Said Qualitynet CEO Mohammed Nizar Al-Nusif is quoted as saying:

Winning this licence comes after an extensive study of the needs of the Iraqi market, the estimation of investment volumes and feasibility studies for the establishment of infrastructure, and will complement our strategic plan for regional and international expansion.

“Our experts are currently working on deploying the network and infrastructure to provide our services to our customer base across Iraq, and to provide the network with point-of-presence devices through Qualitynet Iraq, for which it was officially established.

(Source: CommsMEA)

(Picture credit: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By John Lee.

Iraq is reportedly considering banning several popular video games over fears that they encourage violence and crime.

MP Sami’a Ghulab, who chairs the Parliamentary Committee on Culture, Information, Tourism, and Archaeology, is quoted as saying that games such as Fortnite, Apex Legends and PlayerUnkown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) are “affecting the social, psychological and educational level of everyone [who plays them]“.

According to The Independent, the MP provided no evidence for this alleged damage, nor any details about how the ban would be enforced. The newspaper also cites a recent study from the University of Oxford which suggests that links between violent video games and real-world violence have been overblown.

The National reports that Iraq’s 2005 constitution enshrines press freedom unless they “violate public order or morality.”

(Source: The Independent, The National)

By John Lee.

Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) has reportedly ordered operators to block calls between their customers and Korek users in a dispute over number portability.

According to Rudaw, the regulator told mobile network providers that Erbil-based Korek had failed to meet its “contractual obligations” to allow customers to keep their phone number when they change service provider, while other providers such as Zain and Asiacell had complied with the regulations.

Korek has called the policy “unfair and unjust” both to customers and companies.

More here.

(Source: Rudaw)

By John Lee.

Iraqi media reported on Thursday that an agreement was signed between the Iraqi Ministries of Education and Communication to cut internet service during the period of the next “ministerial examinations” (sic).

The Ministry of Communications denies the reports, adding that it wishes to assure the Iraqi public that there is no intention to cut off the internet under any circumstances, because it “affects the lifeblood of life in Iraq, causing it to be blocked or severely damaged by the Iraqi national economy and all life facilities in the country“.

The Ministry also calls upon the relevant authorities in the Ministry of Education to use other methods to combat exam fraud.

(Source: Ministry of Communications)

A new cybercrimes law that would impose heavy prison sentences and hefty fines against peaceful critics who express themselves online would be a devastating setback for freedom of expression in Iraq, Amnesty International has said.

The organization has highlighted its serious concern over the draft “Law on Information Technology Crimes” in an open letter signed by nine other NGOs. The letter was submitted to the Iraqi authorities this morning and warns that the proposed law would “establish a climate of self-censorship in the country.

If passed, this draconian cybercrime law will be a devastating blow for freedom of expression in Iraq. The vague and overly broad wording of the law means it could easily become a tool for repression in a country where the space for critical voices is already severely restricted,” said Razaw Salihy, Iraq researcher at Amnesty International.

More here.

(Source: Amnesty International)

By John Lee.

Zain Iraq and Ericsson have announced an Internet of Things (IoT) competition for university students in Iraq.

The first-of-its-kind competition will run for six weeks during which the students are invited to present use cases to address the possibilities of 5G-IoT and industry digitalization and ultimately capture their full business potential.

The competition is supported by the Communication and Media Commission (CMC) in Iraq as part of its initiative (Du3M 2025) with an aim to engage millennials from top Iraqi universities in identifying innovations that will transform the way they live, work and learn.

Dr. Ali N. Al-Khwilidi, Chief Executive Officer of CMC said:

“IoT is being widely embraced with the number of connected devices growing rapidly. The IoT competition for universities allows students to unleash their potential in the IoT domain and actively involve talented Iraqi youth in the country’s evolution towards a connected society.”

Around 29 billion connected devices are forecast by 2022, of which around 18 billion will be related to IoT. Connected IoT devices include connected cars, machines, meters, sensors, point-of-sales terminals, consumer electronics and wearables. Between 2016 and 2022, IoT devices are expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21%, driven by new use cases.

Ali Al Zahid, Chief Executive Officer at Zain Iraq, said:

“IoT supports digital transformation and development of new business models and offerings. This competition will enable the Iraqi youth to share their technology innovations and act as a platform to facilitate the country’s digital transformation.”

The collaboration between Zain Iraq, Ericsson and CMC is a continuation of the series of initiatives to help turn the communications sector in the Middle East and Africa into one of the most dynamic and vibrant in the world.

Rafiah Ibrahim, Head of Ericsson Middle East & Africa says:

“With 20 billion IoT devices predicted in the next five years, there is an array of untapped business opportunities. Our joint initiative with Zain Iraq and CMC aims to create sustainable value and eventually make a positive impact on business, people and society in Iraq. By engaging with students, we share our knowledge on the latest advanced technologies and capitalize on their innovative thinking towards a connected future.”

(Source: Ericsson)

Parallel Wireless has announced that Kalimat Telecom, a subsidiary of Kuwait’s Trade Links, has selected Parallel Wireless to build out their mobile broadband network in Iraq.

According to the GSMA Mobile Economy: Middle East and North Africa 2018 report, Iraq has only a 52% wireless Internet penetration rate, presenting a great opportunity for telecom service  providers in that market.  Poor infrastructure and high operating costs are currently stunting development.

Kalimat recognized the inflexibility of legacy cellular solutions to bring digital services to the Iraqi population that is hungry for digital services.

Parallel Wireless says that its fully-virtualized HetNet and core solutions enable Kalimat to deploy a distributed virtualized mobile broadband network delivering consumer and enterprise wireless services across the region cost-effectively and on an accelerated timeline.

(Source: Parallel Wireless)