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)

Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) fields significant Baghdad meetings with Dr Barham Salih, President of Iraq, and Ambassadors, to strengthen private sector business in Iraq.

IBBC President Baroness Nicholson and MD Christophe Michels, Rasmi Al Jabri, IBBC Deputy Chairman and Mohanad Al Khatab Baghdad Office Manager, met this week with the President Dr Barham Salih and a range of Government of Iraq Ministers and business leaders.

The team updated the President on the work of IBBC and it’s members in Iraq. There followed wide ranging discussions on current affairs in Iraq and internationally. The President was ‘delighted to see IBBC in Baghdad in these challenging times and complimented the organisation for its ongoing and very effective work. He said that he was willing to support IBBC fully whenever required.’

Additional meetings included the Chief of Justice Faik Zidan, to follow up on his recent visit to London when IBBC hosted him, and to discuss the legal framework in Iraq and current affairs.

Dr Sami Al Araji, Head of the National Investment Commission (NIC) also agreed to plan future regular joint activities in Baghdad as the situation returns to normal.

Further meetings included Civil Society activist Mrs Hana to understand the many reasons for the protests and the latest news from Tahir Square and around the country. IBBC expressed sympathy for the movement and discussed ways in which the protest movement could succeed in some of it’s demands without facing a full confrontation with the security forces.

At the US Ambassador Tueller’s residence, the Ambassador, guests and Ambassadors from Canada and Australia and John Tucknot UK Deputy Head of mission, discussed the work of IBBC and how to strengthen collaboration with the US, Canada and Australia, to support the private sector. IBBC is widely recognised as being the most successful trade council in Iraq.

Thanks also to IIB, Al Burhan Group, G4S, Zain and March Group for their support during the visit.

(Source: IBBC)

Seedstars World, the largest seed-stage startup competition for emerging markets and fast-growing startup scenes, hosted its Iraq round this Friday, at The Station, where 8 selected startups were invited to present their companies in front of the local jury panel.

The local winners were chosen for their innovative sustainable solutions on their different fields. The 1st winner of the competition was IOT Kids,  an online platform teaching kids how to code using scratch and also direct courses in certain private schools. IOT Kids will go on to represent Iraq at Seedstars Regional Summit.

In second place went to Tabib Baghdad, an online booking platform that connects doctors with patients.

Third place was taken by Ur Transport, a revolutionary airboat eco friendly design which will serve as the major future infrastructure for rivers.

After a careful screening and training on Day 1, the Seedstars team shortlisted 8 of the best seed-stage startups in Iraq who pitched on August 2 for the opportunity to compete at the Seedstars Summit, that annually takes place in Switzerland. The list of the Jury members will included Ali Hili, Youth and Entrepreneurship at Zain Iraq, Bassem Abdel Hadi Hassan, Spokesperson for the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), Noor Alhandal, Chairman at Ashur International Bank, Khaled Alabadi, Project Manager at GE, Dhafer Hasan, Programme Analyst at UNDP and Anas Al-Chalabi, Business Development Manager at Social n’ Tech

A lot of partners have supported Seedstars at making this event happen. The Main Partners of the Event are Central Bank of Iraq continue to position themselves as great believers in the impact of entrepreneurship. The Local Partners of the event are The Station and Social N’ Tech . Further support is provided by Careem, one of the regions most successful startups, as Entrepreneurship Partners.

In order to provide local entrepreneurs with this opportunity and aiming to deliver the best possible event, Seedstars closely worked with Mohammad Salah, who is representing the initiative throughout the year. “As the Seedstars ambassadors in Baghdad, we’re more than proud to have hosted the competition in Iraq; This event was a massive networking and funding opportunity to the finalists. Bringing Seedstars to Iraq will open the door for other global incubators, accelerators and competitions by encouraging them to expand to Iraq. we are here to make a difference, to create opportunities and give exposure to the ecosystem” explains Mohamad Salah , Managing Director at Social N Tech.

Mira Charkawi, Community Events Manager at Seedstars also said:

“At Seedstars, we believe talent and good ideas are everywhere. We see ourselves as a platform connecting investors to the next generation of startup entrepreneurs in places where normally people wouldn’t think startup ecosystem have such traction, growth and buzz. We are very excited to have been in Baghdad, highlighting such a bustling entrepreneurship ecosystem and we are here to witness the reality”.

Continuing on its world MENA tour, Seedstars World’s next stop is in Cairo taking place at Seedstars Seedspace on the 21&22 of August. Seedstars World is looking for smart startups that solve regional issues and/or develop profitable products for the global market. Startups are invited to apply on the above mentioned websites.

(Source: Seedstars)

By John Lee.

Zain Iraq‘s revenues for the first half of 2019 were up 14 percent on the same period last year.

In its results for first six months of 2019, the company said:

Zain Iraq performed exceptionally well in H1 2019 when compared to H1 2018 with revenue reaching USD 522 million and EBITDA reached USD 220 million, up 14% reflecting an EBITDA margin of 42%.

“The operation reported a Net Income of USD 25 million for H1 2019, up 39% on the USD 18 million profit recorded for H1 2018.

“The operator added 600,000 customers (up 4% Y-o-Y) to reach 15.3 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)

Zain Iraq becomes first operator in the Middle East to introduce purchase solution via Facebook

Zain Iraq, the country’s largest mobile operator by customer numbers, announces the introduction of a solution that enables customers to purchase offers via their Facebook app, making it the first operator in the Middle East to provide this functionality, and among the first 10 providers to do so worldwide.

The service, which is available on Android devices, and via the portal on iOS phones, was introduced by Zain Iraq in coordination with Facebook.

Ali Al Zahid (pictured), Zain Iraq CEO, commented:

“Zain wants its services to be as convenient as possible by providing the best customer experience. Being the first operator in the Middle East to launch this solution gives us tremendous confidence that we are building the next positive differentiator in our market.

“Our business is evolving, with customers in search of simple solutions that are easy to use, and which fit neatly into their daily lives. I am extremely proud of our team who cater to every need of our 16-million customers.”

Facebook is extremely popular in Iraq, numbering over 20 million accounts. Zain Iraq counts the highest number of Facebook phone users in the country with over 5 million  followers, according to figures from the social media platform.

(Source: Zain)

Zain Iraq becomes first operator in the Middle East to introduce purchase solution via Facebook

Zain Iraq, the country’s largest mobile operator by customer numbers, announces the introduction of a solution that enables customers to purchase offers via their Facebook app, making it the first operator in the Middle East to provide this functionality, and among the first 10 providers to do so worldwide.

The service, which is available on Android devices, and via the portal on iOS phones, was introduced by Zain Iraq in coordination with Facebook.

Ali Al Zahid (pictured), Zain Iraq CEO, commented:

“Zain wants its services to be as convenient as possible by providing the best customer experience. Being the first operator in the Middle East to launch this solution gives us tremendous confidence that we are building the next positive differentiator in our market.

“Our business is evolving, with customers in search of simple solutions that are easy to use, and which fit neatly into their daily lives. I am extremely proud of our team who cater to every need of our 16-million customers.”

Facebook is extremely popular in Iraq, numbering over 20 million accounts. Zain Iraq counts the highest number of Facebook phone users in the country with over 5 million  followers, according to figures from the social media platform.

(Source: Zain)

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 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.

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)