Iraqi regulator suspends Reuters’ license for 3 months over COVID-19 report

Iraqi authorities should immediately reinstate the license of the Reuters news agency, and allow all media outlets to cover the COVID-19 pandemic freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Yesterday, the Communications and Media Commission (CMC), Iraq’s media regulator, suspended Reuters’ license for three months and fined it 25 million Iraqi dinars ($21,000) for a news report published the same day, which alleged that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country are much higher than official statistics, according to a statement from the regulator and news reports.

In its statement, the regulator accused Reuters of relying on vague and untrue sources to fabricate news about pandemic in Iraq, and accused Reuters of endangering public safety and hindering the government’s efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. It also urged Reuters to issue a public apology to the government and the Iraqi people.

CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado, said:

If Iraq’s media regulator continues to suspend media outlets critical of the authorities, soon there won’t be any outlet left in Iraq at a time when the flow of news is vital to contain the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

“We call on Iraq´s media regulator to restore Reuters’ license and allow its staff to do their jobs freely and without fear of reprisal.

The Reuters report cited three doctors involved in the COVID-19 testing process, a health ministry official, and a senior political official, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because medical staff have been instructed not to speak to the media. Those sources alleged that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases was thousands higher than the official count of 772.

After the report was published, the Iraqi government on its official Twitter account criticized “some news agencies” for falsely claiming that the numbers disclosed by authorities were inaccurate.

In a statement sent to CPJ via messaging app, Reuters said it had not received any notification from Iraqi authorities regarding the license and was seeking clarification on the matter. The news agency said it stands by the story.

Iraq has also suspended the printing and distribution of newspapers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to news reports. Yemen, Oman, Jordan, Morocco, and Iran have similarly banned newspapers, as CPJ has documented.

On April 1, the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission issued a series of new regulations restricting the movement and work of journalists and media outlets, forcing radio stations and broadcasters to reduce their staff to a minimum, requiring journalists and media workers to wear protective gear, and providing the Joint Operations Command and the Baghdad Operations Command with a list of licensed radio stations and broadcasters, according to news reports and the local press freedom group the Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq.

The Media and Communications Commission did not immediately reply to CPJ’s request for comment sent via email and social media.

(Source: CPJ)

In the spirit of supporting Iraqi youth to increase their employment opportunities and boost the country’s creative industry, please consider donating to this campaign to launch Iraq’s first Digital Copywriting Program.

Iraqi Innovators’ mission is to change Iraq’s narrative through their media platform and to train a generation of writers that will document Iraq’s future and publish stories coming from within Iraq.

Help spread the word and donate at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/iraqi-innovators #copywriteiraq

Kerlink, a French-based specialist in solutions dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT), has announced the success of a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) pilot program for reservoir monitoring in Uganda and Iraq, which incorporates Kerlink’s LoRaWAN gateway technology.

The effectiveness of the sensor-to-cloud monitoring programs in remote locations is resulting in near-term expansion to eight additional installations in Africa and Asia, and officials see a multitude of potential applications for IoT-based wireless sensor networks going forward.

The UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, is charged with providing water to millions of people worldwide, often with daunting logistics. The Ugandan Arua Field effort, where the pilot monitoring program was first implemented, provides daily water deliveries to as many as 470,000 refugees.

The LoRaWAN-enabled sensors installed at reservoirs starting in January 2019 enabled managers to monitor water levels in real time, providing unprecedented visibility into usage and resource management. They also provided a reliable new source of coordinated payment information for some 630 rental tanker trucks that were hauling up to 6,387 cubic meters (about 1.5 million gallons) of water daily when the emergency response began in 2015.

Data from the sensors designed by several companies travelled through an outdoor Kerlink Wirnet™ Station LoRaWAN gateway, which provided essential connectivity with cloud databases and applications. UNHCR managers integrated the data into a dashboard that provided new levels of visibility into operations of this global program.

UNHCR Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Officer Ryan Schweitzer noted that the IoT made it both easy and cost-effective to roll out a static water-level monitoring system. The agency hopes to use it globally as a “basis-of-payment‟ system for water-trucking operations, which in Uganda are as high as $15 million per month. “The LoRaWAN IoT technology is mature, extremely cost effective and scalable. The static reservoir-monitoring technology works extremely well,” he said.

Schweitzer added that the approach has broad potential for all sectors of humanitarian services, including monitoring of groundwater, water-supply systems, water quality, waste collection, and air quality. He described it as a “possible game-changer for monitoring in refugee settings,” noting that the ability to document delivery of safe, potable water to refugees at all times is a “holy grail”-type of technology for UNHCR water and hygiene efforts.

Next steps include replication of the pilot systems at other locations in Uganda and Iraq, as well as Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Bangladesh.

“This unique and vital use case underscores the humanitarian benefits that the IoT can support,” said Stéphane Dejean, Kerlink’s chief marketing officer. “Because the UNHCR sensor-to-gateway-to-platform system provides critical life support for large numbers of people, there’s a very high need for trustworthiness and reliability.”

“At the same time, the projects’ remote location and minimal staffing also demanded a true carrier-grade solution with quick, easy integration and deployment, and secure and straightforward administration,” he said. “We’re gratified by our Wirnet Station’s performance under harsh conditions, and honored to work with UNHCR – their work reflects our values and commitments towards society and the environment, and we look forward to continuing to provide expertise on the next round of projects.”

Since its introduction in 2014 as the first commercial LoRaWAN gateway, the Wirnet Station has been chosen for thousands of installations worldwide by public operators, cable operators, private businesses, and public authorities. It has set new standards for robust, reliable, high-performance operation; an upgraded successor, the Wirnet iStation, was introduced in 2019.

(Source: Kerlink)

Asiacell reported revenue growth of 3% to QAR 4.6 billion in 2019, despite a flat customer base of 14.2 million customers.

The company maintained a healthy EBITDA margin of 45% in 2019 while EBITDA declined slightly from QAR 2.1 billion in 2018 to QAR 2.0 billion in 2019.

Asiacell upgraded its entire network to support 3G, achieving the widest 3G coverage in the country in 2019.

Committed to bringing connectivity to all communities it serves, Asiacell restored service to liberated regions and further expanded to the south of the country.

(Source: Ooredoo)

By John Lee.

Mobile telecommunications company Zain has reported that its Iraqi revenue was stable at USD 1.1 billion last year, despite a competitive landscape and economic and political issues in Zain stronghold regions.

Announcing its results for 2019, the company said:

[Zain Iraq] EBITDA grew strongly by 10% Y-o-Y amounting to USD 465 million (43% EBITDA margin) based on the operational transformation program.

“Accordingly, the operation reported a net profit of USD 63 million for 2019, up 28% Y-o-Y. Zain Iraq’s focus on customer experience, services expansion across the country and cost transformation combined with growth of data and digital revenue were key drivers of this exceptional performance.

“Retention and customer loyalty initiatives also resulted in the company serving 15.7 million customers.

(Source: Zain)

The PBS show Amanpour and Company has interviewed Ahmed Albasheer (pictured), the Iraqi comedian and host of the weekly satire program “Albasheer Show”.

Albasheer started the show in 2014 as a tool to fight corruption, extremism and terrorism.

He explains how a suicide bomber changed his life, and how “Albasheer Show” is fueling the demonstrations currently taking place in Iraq.

Click here to view the interview

(Source: PBS)

By John Lee.

Asiacell has reportedly been ranked as the best telecom company in Iraq for 2019 at the International Finance Award ceremony in Dubai.

According to a press release on PR Newswire, the award was made for the company’s network quality and the development of its infrastructure.

(Source: PR Newswire)

Iraq Business News is delighted to bring you a major new guide to business in Iraq.

Published by Allurentis, in association with Iraq’s National Investment Commission (NIC), Iraq 2020 – Discovering Business contains a wealth of case studies, commentary and data; it’s 68 pages of essential reading for everyone with an interest in the redevelopment of Iraq.

And as Salar Ameen, of the National Investment Commission, says in the introduction:

“We are determined to embark on real change and open up to other countries by providing every incentive to invest in Iraq … there is a firm desire to stimulate the private sector.”

We’d like to congratulate Laura Curtis (laura.curtis@allurentis.com) and all her team at Allurentis on a splendid publication.

Iraq Business News is delighted to make this guide available to readers in pdf format: Please click here to view or download the full document.

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Hackers zap official Iraqi websites with cyberattacks

Hack attacks are growing at the speed of 5G across the globe, and Iraq has been hard-hit lately.

The official website of controversial Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was hacked Jan. 6 after he called for his followers to activate the Mahdi Army to fight US troops.

His call followed the US assassination of top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani and the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The hackers put Iraqi-US flags on the homepage, writing: “Iran no more.”

That intrusion came just weeks after several other attacks on official Iraqi websites — including the prime minister’s.

Click here to read the full article.

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Hackers zap official Iraqi websites with cyberattacks

Hack attacks are growing at the speed of 5G across the globe, and Iraq has been hard-hit lately.

The official website of controversial Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was hacked Jan. 6 after he called for his followers to activate the Mahdi Army to fight US troops.

His call followed the US assassination of top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani and the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The hackers put Iraqi-US flags on the homepage, writing: “Iran no more.”

That intrusion came just weeks after several other attacks on official Iraqi websites — including the prime minister’s.

Click here to read the full article.