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)

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) welcomes the contribution of SEK 75 million (approximately USD 8.3 million) from the Government of Sweden on mitigating the threat from explosive hazards in support of enhanced provision, facilitation and enablement of humanitarian and stabilization support.

Approximately 1.8 million people are estimated to be internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq, equating to 18 percent of the Iraqis who live in conflict-affected areas, and more than 5 percent of the overall population. According to an assessment carried out in 2018, on average and across affected areas, 22% of IDPs in camps cite explosive hazards as a main reason for not intending to return to their areas of origin, rising up to 52% in some governorates.

In addition, 12% of out-of-camp IDPs cite the same. As for those who do choose to return, do so in potentially unsafe environments contaminated by explosive hazards (Multi-Cluster Needs Assessment VI led by the Assessment Working Group and facilitated by REACH, September 2018).

UNMAS Iraq, working in tandem with its implementing partners, continues to maintain a weighted presence in Iraq, especially in the areas liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Through strategic partnerships and engagement of both internal and external stakeholders, and in support of the Government of Iraq and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNMAS has so far cleared over 1,100 sites of critical infrastructure. These include bridges, water plants, power plants, hospitals, schools, etc. that were once the strongholds of ISIL and which were littered with explosive hazards after their defeat.

With this contribution from Sweden, UNMAS will be able to better support communities with explosive hazard management, risk education, and capacity enhancement initiatives in support of the Iraqi government.

The contribution comes in concert with a recent field visit organized for representatives of the Government of Sweden, including the Swedish Ambassador to Iraq Mr. Pontus Melander, to Sinjar and Kocho in the Sinjar District of the Ninewa governorate. During the visit, the delegation gained a first-hand insight on UNMAS planned clearance activities inside the district’s most damaged area, with its scale of destruction and contamination continuing to be prime inhibitors for the safe, dignified and voluntary return of IDPs to their homes.

His Excellency Mr. Pontus Melander said:

“As we have seen firsthand, it is painfully clear how explosive hazards prevent humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and the safe return of internally displaced persons. Sweden proudly supports UNMAS’ critical work, as well as the efforts of the Government of Iraq, with explosive hazards management and demining. These efforts are crucial for both the delivery of humanitarian assistance and protection of civilians, as well as being a precondition for safe reconstruction and returns.”

Pehr Lodhammar, Senior Programme Manager of UNMAS in Iraq, added:

The severity of explosive hazard contamination in ISIL-affected areas in Iraq cannot be understated. The methods and explosive devices used by ISIL are unlike any we have seen previously. They planted, sometimes very complex improvised explosive devices, across all areas previously under their control. These devices are constituting a threat to returning populations and humanitarian actors, still, and long after ISIL were defeated.

“This new funding from Sweden will go a long way in ensuring that UNMAS can provide the support needed to ensure the safe return of IDPs to their communities.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

Iraq has been ranked last out of 153 countries in this year’s Good Country Index, placing it just behind Libya and Yemen. Iran was ranked 138th.

The idea of the Good Country Index to measure what each country on earth contributes to the common good of humanity, and what it takes away, relative to its size. Using a wide range of data from the U.N. and other international organisations, each country is given a balance-sheet to show at a glance whether it’s a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, or something in between.

The creator of the Index, Simon Anholt, commented:

“Today as never before, we desperately need a world made of good countries. We will only get them by demanding them: from our leaders, our companies, our societies, and of course from ourselves.”

Top ranking went to Finland, followed by Ireland and Sweden.

(Source: The Good Country Index)

Government of Iraq and United Nations Launch National Strategy to Combat Violence Against Women in Iraq

The Government of Iraq and the United Nations in Iraq launched today a national strategy to combat violence against women, a significant step towards achieving women’s rights.

This strategy provides an overall framework on which policy and decision makers will draw to take concrete actions aimed at preventing violence against women and girls and protecting survivors of violence. Endorsement by all stakeholders of this updated national strategy formalises the commitment of the Government of Iraq and the United Nations to take concrete action.

The launch event in Baghdad was attended by the First Lady of Iraq, Ms. Surbagh Salih, the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, Dr. Mahdi al-Allaq, the Director-General of the Women Empowerment Department, Dr. Ibtisam Aziz, ministers and members of parliament, members of the High Judicial Council, civil society and international NGOs, diplomats as well as representatives of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The launch was supported by the embassies of the Kingdoms of Norway and Sweden.

“It is a propitious day to be thinking and talking about the rights of women to live lives free of violence,” the Deputy Special Representative for Iraq of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ms. Alice Walpole, said in remarks delivered at the event. “The national strategy to combat violence against women will be a significant tool for the Iraqi government to fulfil its international gender commitments, including the Sustainable Development Goals, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and the Beijing Platform.”

UNFPA Representative to Iraq, Dr. Oluremi Sogunro, stated: “This strategy is yet another win for women and girls in Iraq as it adds to the progresses observed in the past few years. UNFPA is proud to have worked with the Government of Iraq to develop this strategy through the provision of the technical capacities and expertise.”

Despite achievements in the field of women’s protection and empowerment, significant challenges remain, such as the lack of parliamentary endorsement of a Law to Protect Families from Domestic Violence. The delay in the approval of this law hinders the journey towards gender equality and women’s empowerment as well as overall national sustainable development and peace-building.

The United Nations reiterates its commitment to support and engage with the new Iraqi government, including the senior political leadership and the Council of Representatives, to advocate for the prioritisation of relevant legislation in the new parliament.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

ABB is reportedly targeting 2024 for the completion of energy projects in Iraq.

Its managing director for the Middle East, Mostafa Al Guezeri, told The National that the Swiss-Swedish company is in the planning stage for its $1.2-billion work in the country.

He added that the company was committed to spending more on Iraq by helping the country access finance, saying “Iraq is one of the most important countries for us.

(Source: The National)

In an effort to make quality secondary education more accessible in Iraq, Ericsson has partnered with Zain Iraq to bring its ‘Connect to Learn’ global education initiative to the country, with its initial deployment set for a school in Baghdad.

The initiative aims to scale up quality secondary education for students and teachers by providing ICT infrastructure with mobile broadband, open source, and cloud-hosted learning solutions to facilitate connected learning in underserved schools.

Ali Al Zahid, CEO, Zain Iraq, says:

Education is one of the most valuable investments we can make in society, and in our future. It is a universal human right – and in the digital era, where ICT has the ability to reach every corner of the globe, there is no excuse for quality secondary education to be inaccessible.

“By partnering with Ericsson to bring ‘Connect to Learn’ to schools in Iraq, we are uplifting our communities and empowering them to reach their full potential. We look forward to introducing this initiative in Baghdad and watching it unfold as we move forward.

With the modern technology and solutions offered through ‘Connect to Learn’, ICT solutions become a cost-effective method for rural and limited-resource schools as a means of delivering quality education for students and teachers alike.

Cloud technology enables support and maintenances tasks to be handled externally and remotely, which simplifies the user experience and enables teachers to focus on education. The system is also designed to be easily used and understood by teachers with limited IT competence, inspiring confidence and capability in them as educators.

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

When a girl receives quality education, she will earn a decent living, raise a healthy, educated family, and improve the quality of life for herself, her family, and her community.  The ‘Connect to learn’ initiative aims to ensure that girls have access to quality education, regardless of their location or other limitations.  

“We look forward to continue working with Zain Iraq to leverage our technology and the expertise of our employees to make a positive impact in Iraq.

 The ‘Connect to Learn’ initiative was launched in 2010 and is currently deployed in 25 countries, benefitting more than 120,000 students and engaging 16 mobile operators.

(Source: Ericsson)

Zain Iraq has selected Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) to modernize a number of its legacy sites with Ericsson Radio System in a contract signed recently that serves to strengthen the partnership of the two companies.

Under the terms of the deal, Ericsson will reinforce its role as a trusted business partner by providing higher capacity and improving network performance.

In an effort to accelerate digitalization in the region, Zain Iraq and Ericsson are enabling rapid deployment of innovative services in the Internet of Things (IoT) in the coming years. The partnership will also ensure seamless 4G and 5G evolution across Zain’s networks

Ali Al Zahid, Zain Iraq Chief Executive Officer, says:

“Zain is committed to bringing the latest technology and cutting-edge services to its customers.  Upgrading current networks with the latest technology to cater for increasing traffic volumes and enhanced customer experience is a key priority. It also reflects our commitment to providing the mobile community in Iraq with the highest quality of service available.”

In addition to consumer services, security and energy companies are some of several industries starting their own digital transformations. Ericsson Radio System offers far more than the benefit of capacity building and performance, it also provides high bandwidth for content-rich applications.

Rafiah Ibrahim, Head of Ericsson Market Area Middle East and Africa, says:

“I am glad that we continue a good cooperation with our long-term partner Zain.  This new contract will accelerate Zain’s digital journey and build its digital infrastructure with the introduction of new services and virtual functions.  This will enable Zain to deliver the best possible user experience in two major cities in Iraq and meet the data demands of tomorrow in a timely manner.”

Zain Iraq and Ericsson are pioneering the use of next-generation networks with the anticipated increase in data traffic as IoT promises new capabilities and use cases.

Network modernization and adoption of new technologies are essential to meeting users’ demand for capacity and coverage. Modernizing the network infrastructure of Zain Iraq’s network services will not only improve end-user experience through increased capacity, but also accommodate future needs.

(Source: Ericsson)

By John Lee.

Fly Erbil, Iraq’s only Kurdish airline, successfully completed its first scheduled flight on Monday.

The plane set off from Erbil International Airport en route to Stockholm in Sweden.

The airline’s administrative director Ahmad Jamal told AFP that Fly Erbil currently has three planes and plans to increase to 10 in the future.

Other destination served include Gothenburg (Sweden), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Birmingham (UK), Kiev (Ukraine) and Nuremberg (Germany).

(Sources: AFP, Fly Erbil)

Swiss-Swedish group ABB has won orders from the Ministry of Electricity in Iraq to deliver five fixed and 15 mobile 132-kilovolt substations that will help strengthen the power grid and provide electricity in central Iraq.

The government of Iraq is rebuilding the country and investing in its grid as part of its ambitious plan to develop its power infrastructure to meet electricity needs. The substation projects are supported by Swedish government financing.

As part of the projects ABB will also deliver key products like gas- and air-insulated switchgear, power transformers and  capacitor banks to improve power quality and advanced IEC 61850-based  automation, protection and telecommunication systems for control and monitoring of substation assets. The 15 mobile substations will enable fast electrification in some of the mostneedy areas.

Patrick Fragman, head of ABB’s Grid Integration business, a part of the company’s Power Grids division, said:

The substations will help to improve the electricity supply by expanding capacity and strengthening Iraq’s power infrastructure. These projects add to our extensive installed base in the region and support our focus on growing markets, reinforcing ABB’s position as a partner of choice in enabling a stronger, smarter and greener grid.

”ABB is the world’s leading supplier of air-insulated, gas-insulated and hybrid substations with voltage levels up to 1,100 kV. These substations enable the efficient and reliable transmission and distribution of electricity with minimum environmental impact, serving utility, industry and commercial customers as well as sectors like railways, urban transportation and renewables.

(Source: ABB)

Sweden increases its support to stabilize newly liberated areas in Iraq

The Government of Sweden has contributed an additional US$ 12 million (SEK 100 million) to UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS), which finances initiatives for rapid stabilization of areas liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

This brings Sweden’s total contribution since 2015 to US$ 26 million (SEK 212.1 million).

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

Enormous progress is being made in the areas that have been newly liberated. It’s wonderful to see people choosing to go home and start rebuilding their lives and communities. At this stage in Iraq, nothing is more important.

“The scale of destruction and damage cannot be underestimated, however, particularly in Mosul, and this is why this generous contribution from Sweden comes at exactly the right time.”

H.E. Pontus Melander, the Ambassador of Sweden to Iraq, said:

Sweden is firmly committed to supporting the Government of Iraq’s efforts of providing essential services that benefit all Iraqis in the newly liberated areas.

“UNDPs Funding Facility for Stabilization is indeed a crucial component to ensure the military effort against ISIL. It is our sincere hope that stabilization will lay the foundation for a more peaceful and inclusive society. Beyond and in addition to stabilization, Iraq will remain a prioritised country for Swedish Development Cooperation.”

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 emergence of violent 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)