By Ahmed Tabaqchali (pictured), CIO of Asia Frontier Capital (AFC) Iraq Fund.

Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

‘It’s Not the Donations, Stupid’: Key Points from the Kuwait Conference

With a few exceptions, the coverage of the “Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq” has been confusing at best, ranging from those who thought it was a failure for raising far less than needed to those who thought that that it was a reasonable success for raising a third of what was needed.

These thoughts were not helped by an Iraqi delegation that was focused on presenting a shopping list of projects that would need $88bn in financing. In the end, it was reported that Iraq received pledges of $30bn in loans and guarantees, just over a third of the required total.

Lost in all of this is the significant document “Reconstruction & Development Framework” that the World Bank Group (WBG) prepared with the Iraqi Ministry of Planning (MoP), as well as the IMF’s work on Iraq and its presentation at the conference.

The first is a comprehensive analysis of the reconstruction requirements across all sectors of the country and provides plans for short-, medium- and long-term reconstruction needs within the framework of a long-term recovery for the country. In combination with the second, they provide the structure for funding the reconstruction effort.

The key takeaway is that the Government of Iraq (GoI) is realistic in its expectations that external sources of financings will be small, and therefore it expects to utilize its own resources over the next five years for the required reconstruction.

Please click here to download Ahmed Tabaqchali’s full report.

Mr Tabaqchali (@AMTabaqchali) is the CIO of the AFC Iraq Fund, and is an experienced capital markets professional with over 25 years’ experience in US and MENA markets. He is a non-resident Fellow at the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) at the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani (AUIS). He is a board member of the Credit Bank of Iraq.

His comments, opinions and analyses are personal views and are intended to be for informational purposes and general interest only and should not be construed as individual investment advice or a recommendation or solicitation to buy, sell or hold any fund or security or to adopt any investment strategy. It does not constitute legal or tax or investment advice. The information provided in this material is compiled from sources that are believed to be reliable, but no guarantee is made of its correctness, is rendered as at publication date and may change without notice and it is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding Iraq, the region, market or investment.

Following the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq earlier this week, Iraq has so far received pledges of financing totalling around $30 billion to help with rebuilding the country after the devastating war against the Islamic State group.

While this is well short of the $88 billion in funding estimated to be needed, it is still a very significant boost for the country’s reconstruction programme, and will greatly improve the quality of life for millions of Iraqis.

Commenting on the outcome, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said:

After the last three days in Kuwait, I feel hope for a new Iraq that is open for business and prepared to face the next challenge of rebuilding communities while reconstructing schools, roads, bridges, hospitals and public infrastructure.

“A prosperous Iraq will be a pillar for development and stability in the region.

Many readers of Iraq Business News will play key roles in this reconstruction effort, and we would like to wish them every success in this important work.

To promote your business to the Iraqi market, please contact our sales manager, David Jeffries:, +44 20 8150 5293.

The World Bank Group and the Government of Iraq signed two projects today totaling US$510 million to help the Iraqi people by improving living conditions, enhancing water supplies, and creating jobs.

The two projects along with the ongoing US$750 million Emergency Operation for Development program and other planned commitments, will increase the World Bank’s total commitment to Iraq to US$4.7 billion, compared to US$600 million four years ago.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim (pictured) attended the signing ceremony for the two projects, which took place on the sidelines of the Iraq Reconstruction Conference hosted by the State of Kuwait.

The increased Bank commitment will help support immediate restoration of education and health services, rebuilding important roads and bridges, and rehabilitation of electricity and water systems. The ongoing emergency reconstruction projects have already created thousands of jobs for Iraqis and the new projects are expected to create millions more.

“We will mobilize the full range of the World Bank Group’s expertise to invest in a new, stronger Iraq,” President Kim said in a speech at the opening of the Iraq Reconstruction Conference. “We will continue to work with our international partners to ensure the smooth and sustainable transition from stabilization through recovery to reconstruction.”

The World Bank is committed to scaling up its support for Iraq reconstruction and development subject to availability of resources. In addition to the financial support, the World Bank Group has been actively engaging with the Iraqi Government through providing technical assistance for Iraq’s recovery and to lay the foundation for private sector investments in Iraq.

“We will work hand in hand with the private sector to support Iraq,” said Kim. “We must all invest in Iraq’s smart and ambitious youth. We must invest in Iraq’s resilient women. These are the investments that will remain long after the reconstruction process has ended.”

In the leadup to the conference, the Iraqi government unveiled its National Reconstruction and Development Framework. The framework aims to both redress the impact of the current crisis and prevent future crises by addressing the structural causes of conflict.

By promoting the critical reforms needed to establish a new social contract, the framework provides a roadmap for rebuilding trust between citizens and the government.

To read the full transcript of President Kim’s speech, click here.

(Source: World Bank Group)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched the Iraq Recovery and Resilience Programme today at the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq.

The two-year Recovery and Resilience Programme is designed to fast-track the social dimensions of reconstruction and help ensure that people see tangible improvements in their daily lives at the start of the reconstruction process, rather than waiting years to benefit from large-scale infrastructure projects and structural reforms.

“Iraq surmounted an incredible challenge in its defeat of ISIL, but many challenges still remain,” said the UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “After the last three days in Kuwait, I feel hope for a new Iraq that is open for business and prepared to face the next challenge of rebuilding communities while reconstructing schools, roads, bridges, hospitals and public infrastructure. A prosperous Iraq will be a pillar for development and stability in the region.”

The RRP focuses on urgent priorities – helping people who have suffered the most, revitalizing the areas at the highest risk of return to violence, and advancing broad political participation and inclusive social harmony.

“Reconstruction is not just about rebuilding infrastructure-it’s about improving people’s lives,” said United Nations’ Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande.

The RRP includes nine components. Three will be implemented in high priority communities where violent extremism may possibly emerge unless steps are taken to restore community trust, build confidence in the Government and open economic opportunities. Six of the components are national in scope.

These components focus on decentralizing basic services, promoting sustainable returns, providing support to survivors, accelerating community reconciliation and expanding political and social participation.

“Together with community and tribal reconciliation, national political settlement and accord, based on the principle of citizenship with equal rights, obligations, justice and opportunities for all, is critically important for a future stable, united and prosperous Iraq,” said the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq, Ján Kubiš.

The UN is seeking USD 482 million for the first year of the RRP and an additional USD 568 million to help stabilize high-risk areas. Separately, partners are seeking USD 569 million to provide life-saving assistance to 3.4 million highly vulnerable people across Iraq through the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan.

Download the Iraq Recovery and Resilience Programme here in English, and here in Arabic.

(Source: UN)

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq is hoping for more concrete pledges from international donors on the second day of a conference on rebuilding cities and infrastructure shattered by the conflict with ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS).

On Monday, non-governmental organisations pledged more than $300 million to the reconstruction effort, far short of the $100 billion the government says it needs.

Al Jazeera‘s Sami Zeidan reports from Kuwait:

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq is hoping to raise billions of dollars at a donor conference starting on Monday in Kuwait – to finance the reconstruction after its campaign against ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS).

It is estimated that $100bn is needed for the reconstruction.

Large parts of Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, are still in ruins, more than six months after it was retaken by the government.

Al Jazeera’s Sami Zeidan reports from Kuwait:

In the lead-up to the Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq, the World Health Organization (WHO) calls on the international community to further invest in Iraq’s devastated health sector.

In Anbar, Ninewa, Salah Al Din, and Kirkuk, 14 hospitals and more than 170 health facilities were damaged or destroyed in the three-year conflict. Water and power systems that health facilities depend on to function also need urgent repair.

Beyond physical damage, the crisis caused unimaginable mental distress for millions of people, left tens of thousands of Iraqis with severe physical injuries, disrupted the routine vaccination of millions of children, decreased reproductive health services to girls and women of child-bearing age, halted the supply of essential medicines and medical equipment, and interrupted the medical education for hundreds of thousands of aspiring medical workers.

“More than 2.4 million Iraqis are still displaced and need direct health care, and more than 3.3 million Iraqis who have returned home have gone back to areas where the health system needs to be almost entirely rebuilt,” said Altaf Musani, WHO Representative in Iraq. “Across the country, millions of Iraqis are in the process of rebuilding their shattered lives and WHO is keen on supporting the governmental health authorities to provide them with appropriate and dignified health care services.”

WHO has worked with health partners to support the Government of Iraq in providing emergency health services and strengthening the health care system to ensure vulnerable persons have access to quality health care. In 2017, partners including various departments of health provided over 6 million medical consultations across Iraq.

This was made possible by establishing and supporting at least 29 static health clinics in displacement camps and outreach through more than 64 mobile medical clinics. Notably, life-saving emergency health services were provided to more than 24,000 people through five field hospitals close to the front-lines in Mosul, Hawija and Al-Qaim.

To protect current humanitarian gains as well as reduce vulnerabilities, further investments in health are urgently needed. Support to rebuild health systems, provision of life saving medicines and upgrading medical technologies will ensure a responsive health care system.

WHO and health partners are appealing for firm commitments to Iraq’s health care system which will enable peaceful, dignified and safe returns as well as revitalization of new accessible areas.

(Source: UNAMI)

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

The reconstruction of Iraq’s liberated Sunni areas will open new horizons for the country, as 400 companies worldwide are engaged in the Reconstruction Fund for Areas Affected by Terroristic Operations to restore life to areas freed of the Islamic State (IS). Iraq will need $100 billion from other countries for the project, according to Planning Minister Salman al-Jumaili.

Chief among those countries is Saudi Arabia, which will take this opportunity to stem what it sees as the rising tide of Iranian influence in Mesopotamia. Iraq looks to Saudi Arabia as one of the big players in this process and wants it to play a large role.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi sent a letter Jan. 18 to Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud asking for support. On the same day, Salman stressed Saudi Arabia’s willingness to help Iraq. He said Iraq is Saudi Arabia’s “brotherly” country — one that holds deep strategic importance for Saudi Arabia.

In another sign of Iraq’s outreach to Saudi Arabia, Iraqi parliament Speaker Salim alJabouri met Jan. 18 in Baghdad with Saudi Ambassador Abdul Aziz al-Shammari, who confirmed his country’s support for Iraq in this issue.

Saudi Arabia wants to strengthen its relationship with Iraq’s Sunnis but doesn’t want to distance itself from Iraq’s Shiites. Riyadh is working to return Iraq to a higher standing in the Arab world and reduce Tehran’s influence, which became entrenched after Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.

Salman al-Ansari, head of the US-based Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, told Al-Monitor, “The size of Saudi Arabia’s participation in the reconstruction of the liberated areas is not bound by any financial ceiling. This will be proved during the Saudi participation in the conference of donor countries, which will be held in Kuwait between Feb. 14 and 16.”

Iraq expects 70 countries to take part in the donor conference, and Abadi has paved the way for the meeting by calling state leaders and explaining to them how much the reconstruction will cost.

Iraqi Planning Ministry spokesman Abdul-Zahra al-Hindawi told Al-Monitor the king has confirmed he will attend the conference but hasn’t disclosed how much Saudi Arabia plans to invest.

“Iraq is relying heavily on the role of Saudi Arabia in the reconstruction process because of Saudi Arabia’s economic and political clout in the region,” Hindawi said.

The political blocs of the liberated areas are on good terms with Saudi Arabia, which allows Riyadh to hit two birds with one stone: It can prove its good faith toward Iraq as a country and build the community base in those areas for pro-Saudi parties.

The two countries’ political relationship has seen progress in the past three years, and the Saudi support in restoring life to the liberated areas is expected to crown this rapprochement.

Denmark has contributed an additional US$ 21.4 million (DKK 135 million) to UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS), which finances fast-track initiatives to stabilize areas liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

This brings Denmark’s total contribution since 2015 to US$ 38.1 million (DKK 246 million).

UNDP Resident Representative for Iraq, Ms. Lise Grande, said:

“It is truly impressive to see the progress that is being made in newly liberated areas. More than half of all of the nearly six million people who fled their homes during the conflict have returned. Accelerating stabilization so the 2.6 million people who are still displaced can go home and rebuild their lives is one of Iraq’s highest priorities.”

The Danish Ambassador to Iraq, H.E. Gert Meinecke, said:

Denmark congratulates the Iraqi people and the Iraqi Security Forces on the continued success in liberating Iraq from ISIL, with support from the International Coalition. Rehabilitation of critical infrastructure and reestablishing public services remain critical to enable the return of people displaced by the conflict.

“This additional contribution to the Funding Facility for Stabilization, together with our funding for mine action and our support to strengthen the capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces, demonstrates Denmark’s continued commitment to support stability in Iraq.

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 1,600 projects underway in 23 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)

By John Lee.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said Iraq needs up to $100 billion to fix crumbling infrastructure, according to a report from Reuters.

Calling on foreign investors to help it rebuild the country following the defeat of the Islamic State group (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, he told the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland:

“It’s a huge amount of money. We know we cannot provide it through our own budget.”

Iraq has just announced a list of 157 large- and medium-sized projects to be presented during the Kuwait International Conference for Iraq Reconstruction, to be held in Kuwait from 12th to 14th February.

(Source: Reuters)