By Kate Denereaz, for the AMAR International Charitable Foundation.

Work is a huge part of our lives. It provides security, meaning and a sense of belonging. It’s part of who we are.

Many AMAR staff, like the people they serve, have been displaced by war and violence. Working for AMAR provides structure and a semblance of normality.

But work means many different things to different people. To mark International Women’s Day, we’re asking some of the women of our workforce, “what does working for AMAR mean to you?

Click here to hear their stories.

(Source: AMAR)

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.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have reportedly signed a four-year political agreement which includes measures to speed up the formation of the new Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

According to a report from Rudaw, KDP deputy president Nechirvan Barzani and the PUK’s acting leader Kosrat Rasul Ali signed the cooperation deal in Erbil on Monday afternoon.

It adds that the deal was welcomed by the Change Movement (Gorran), which struck its own deal with the KDP on 16th February.

More here.

(Source: Rudaw)

The government of Japan has donated US$3.4 million to provide lifesaving health and nutrition assistance for vulnerable children in conflict affected areas in Iraq.

Approximately 4.2 million people have returned to their homes after fleeing the violence that erupted in 2014, however many find their homes and communities have been reduced to rubbles and essential health services overstretched.

“Across all conflict affected governorates, hospitals have been destroyed and those that are functioning are overwhelmed and struggling to meet health and nutrition needs, placing the lives of the most vulnerable children at risk of deadly diseases, including polio and measles,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative to Iraq.

“Japan has recently decided on a new assistance package for Iraq amounting to 63 million US dollars, including this project as contribution in health and nutrition sectors. With this package, the total amount of Japan’s assistance to the people affected by the crisis in Iraq reaches 500 million US Dollars,” said H.E. Mr. Naofumi Hashimoto, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Iraq said.

UNICEF is grateful to the Government of Japan in their unwavering support to vulnerable children and families in Iraq. Since 2015 UNICEF Iraq has partnered with Government of Japan to support the needs of children caught in cycles of violence.

The latest funding of US$.3.4 million will compliment Japan and UNICEF’s investment for Iraqi children by building the capacity of health workers, strengthening health systems in conflict affected governorates as well as providing immunization and nutrition services to nearly 1 million children and breastfeeding mothers in areas of returns as well as in the camps for displaced people.

(Source: UN)

By Alexander Southworth, Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC).

Exploring Tech in Iraq: ‘Hackasuly – Promoting Tech Literacy for a New Generation of Iraqis’

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. In a country which has seen its fair share of weapon misuse over the last few decades Mandela’s quote could not be more relevant in the climate of present-day Iraq.

With a beleaguered state education system and struggling infrastructure, there exists a community within the Tech Sector that is trying to navigate these challenges and promote education of Iraqi youths through the cultivation of digital skills that will help them reach their goals and find meaningful employment.

In the IBBC’s Tech Series: Exploring Tech in Iraq, we speak to some of the innovators and founders of tech organisations making a difference in Iraq.

One such organisation, HackaSuly, is an initiative that aims to promote technology in Sulaimani, Kurdistan and wider Iraq through tech events, hackathons, meetups and to create a network of tech enthusiasts.

We spoke to one of the founders, Hero Mohammed, to find out more about HackaSuly’s events, how they are empowering young Iraqis, the inspiration behind the founding of the organisation and any advice she has to aspiring tech entrepreneurs.

I believe there is a great potential in Iraq for the tech-industry. The people of Iraq are hungry for stability, innovation and facilities after decades of war and conflict” – Hero Mohammed, Founder of HackaSuly

Growing up in Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan, Hero describes her desire to participate in coding challenges and tech events but due to a near complete lack of opportunities, this simply was not possible. In 2015, she helped organise HackaErbil, the first Hackathon in Iraq, which would inspire her to embark on a journey to help others in the community to have the opportunities her peers did not have as college students. Building on the success of that first event, Hero started by organising the first hackathon in Sulaimani with the help of some friends.

So how exactly does HackaSuly help young coders through its events? HackaSuly is trying to help young coders to develop their skills and match them with the existing tech market demands. In the meanwhile, they are encouraged to update themselves with cutting-edge technologies and tools.

Until now, they have had three different types of events.

  1. Meet and code (Co-founded with Razhan Hameed): regular weekly coding meetups for coders and people who are interested in coding to come together, collaborate and share their knowledge and skills.
  2. HackaSuly Hackathon (co-organised with Snur Hamid): an annual hackathon that brings together developers, designers and entrepreneurs to come up with ideas that have a technological implementation, form teams and develop their prototypes over a weekend.
  3. Suli Tech Festival (Co-founded and co-organised with Razhan Hameed in collaboration with five one labs): a day-long tech celebration in Sulaimani. The Festival brought together young innovators and members of the local tech community with leaders and companies in the industry. The goal was to help promote technology, generate more interest in the field, and expand knowledge of career opportunities (from the participant’s side) and potential hires (from the business’ side) in the tech industry in Sulaimani. The Festival contained a number of exciting events over the course of the day, including: a welcome speech by the Deputy Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government, a Coding Challenge, an Intro Workshop to Web Development, a Tech Career Fair and Project Presentations.

While events of this nature may be common in more tech-developed countries, their establishment in Iraq brings many serious challenges. Hero describes how their ideas and events are new to the society in general and the biggest challenge has being delivering their message. Explaining the events and ideas especially when seeking funds and support have been challenging. When they first started with the HackaSuly hackathon, there was significant difficultly making people within the tech industry, even professionals, understand what a hackathon is.

Support has been key to growing the operation, Hero states great support has been forthcoming from local and international NGOs and private sector companies, especially those that are operating within the Iraqi tech industry, many as part of their Social Responsibility programs. More support is necessary to keep momentum growing, especially government contributions.

“I can imagine HackaSuly in 5 years… A large tech community across the country working together to make technology an important sector for the economic development of Kurdistan and Iraq” – Hero Mohammed, Founder of HackaSuly

Inspired by her strong love of coding and tech, Hero is one of the inspiring young innovators that are driving tech literacy and interest in a new generation of Iraqis. By creating a community of tech enthusiasts in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan, HackaSuly is empowering young people to believe in their abilities, learn new skills and create for themselves tech start-ups in Iraq’s fast growing tech Sector.

As Hero states: Access to new technologies can have many benefits for any developing countries. One such benefit is its impact on reducing the costs of production. Other ways technology is helping developing countries is by boosting economies through innovation, SMBs and advanced communication.

IBBC is holding a Tech Conference in Iraq in early 2019, where we aim to bring together the key innovators transforming the digital landscape in the country, explore solutions to better governance and industry reforms using technology and give a platform to young Iraqi entrepreneurs breaking the mould. For more information, and to get involved, please email: London@webuildiraq.org or visit: https://www.iraqbritainbusiness.org/event/tech-conference-in-baghdad.

(Source: IBBC)

By John Lee.

Iraq’s Ministry of Oil has announced interim oil exports for February of 101,387,615 barrels, giving an average for the month of 3.621 million barrels per day (bpd), down from the 3.649 bpd exported in January.

These exports from the oilfields in central and southern Iraq amounted to 99,120,006 barrels, while exports from Kirkuk amounted to 1,753,373 barrels, and from Qayara 514,236 barrels.

Revenues for the month were $6.168 billion at an average price of $60.834 per barrel.

January export figures can be found here.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

GardaWorld, a global leader in comprehensive security and risk management, has made its weekly security report available to Iraq Business News readers.

Prepared by GardaWorld’s Risk Analysis Team in Iraq, this essential report includes short- and medium-term outlooks on the security situation, reports and commentary on recent significant events, and a detailed overview of developments across the country.

Please click here to download the latest report free of charge.

For more information on how GardaWorld’s services can support your business in Iraq, please contact Daniel Matthews, Senior Director Iraq, at daniel.matthews@garda.com

Advertising Feature

Rabee Securities Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) market report (week ending: 28th February 2019).

Please click here to download a table of listed companies and their associated ticker codes.

The RSISX index ended the week at IQD577 (-4.6%) / $621 (-4.4%) (weekly change) (-12.5% and -12.5% YTD change, respectively). The number of week traded shares was 2.0 bn and the weekly trading volume was IQD1.3 bn ($1.1 mn).

ISX Company Announcements

  • According to the ISX announcement, the opening price of the IQD5.0 mn class bonds (CB125) will be IQD5,368,219 on Sunday (Mar. 3, 2019). [Table: 2.3]
  • ISX will suspend trading of Al-Mansour Bank (BMNS) starting Mar. 11, 2019 due to the AGM* that will be held on Mar. 14, 2019 to discuss and approve 2018 annual financial results.
  • Commercial Bank of Iraq (BCOI) announced that it will start distributing 3.5% cash dividend (IQD0.035 dividend per share) starting Mar. 3, 2019.
  • AL- Kindi of Veterinary Vaccines (IKLV) announced that it will start distributing 4% cash dividend (IQD0.04 dividend per share) starting Mar. 3, 2019.
  • Middle East Producing & Marketing – Fish (AMEF) announced that it will start distributing 20% cash dividend (IQD0.20 dividend per share) for the year ending Mar. 31, 2017 starting Mar. 3, 2019.
  • ISC sent a letter to North Bank (BNOR), Modern Paint Industries (IMPI), Electronic Industries (IELI), Al-Hilal Industries (IHLI), Iraqi Carton Manufactures (IICM), AL-Badia for General Trans (SBAG) and Iraqi Land Transport (SILT) to ask for the disclosure of requested financial results.
  • ISX sent a letter to United Bank (BUND) to disclose AGM* minutes which was held on Feb. 20, 2019.
  • ISC sent a letter to Union Bank of Iraq (BUOI), Al-Qabedh Islamic Bank (BQAB) and Al-Khair Financial Investment (VKHF) on Feb. 26, 2019 asking the disclosure of their 2016 and 2017 annual financial results because they didn’t reply ISC’s previous letters.

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)

Support for Iraq stabilization continues with EUR 2.4 million contribution from Italy

The Government of Italy has contributed an additional USD 2.7 million (EUR 2.4 million) to UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) supporting communities affected by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), taking its total contribution to USD 12.9 million.

“Iraq was officially declared free from ISIL just over one year ago, but that doesn’t mean efforts to stabilize the country are over,” says Mr. Gerardo Noto, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. for Iraq. “Now is not the time to be scaling back funding for a programme that has helped almost three million displaced Iraqis return home.”

“It’s very heartening to see countries like Italy acknowledging this and reaffirming their commitment to helping communities across Iraq rebuild their lives. We are grateful for this support and we look forward to continue serving the people of Iraq,” adds Mr Noto.

“Italy maintains its commitment in supporting Iraq’s stabilization efforts to provide basic services to the newly liberated areas,” says Italian Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Bruno Pasquino.

“This fourth contribution to the FFS is a testimony of the full engagement of Italy for the people of Iraq, as a qualified partner in various fields, from the provision of services to the rehabilitation of infrastructure and to the capacity-building activity in favour of the Iraqi Security Forces,” adds Ambassador Pasquino.

At the request of the Government of Iraq, UNDP established the Funding Facility for Stabilization in June 2015 to facilitate the return of displaced Iraqis, lay the groundwork for reconstruction and recovery, and safeguard against the resurgence of violence and extremism.

The Facility currently has more than 3,100 projects underway in 31 liberated cities and districts, helping local authorities to quickly rehabilitate essential infrastructure. More than 95 percent of all stabilization projects are done by the local private sector employing local labour.

(Source: UNDP)