Successful IBBC Conference in Dubai

IBBC's 5th Annual Iraq Conference in Dubai - Opportunity in Adversity

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) was much praised at its conference on Thursday for pioneering in COVID-19 times by bringing together senior officials from Iraq, the UAE and the UK, prominent international and Iraqi businessmen, bankers and professional advisers as speakers and over 100 delegates.

With the Address Hotel as host venue implementing the strictest hygiene regime and using video links, delegates enjoyed a day of vigorous analysis and debate about the issues currently creating the adverse conditions dominating the Iraqi political and business landscape and what measures were needed to improve matters, but nevertheless inspirational presentations highlighted success stories across a number of sectors in panel sessions covering energy, finance, infrastructure/logistics and tech.

Highlights of the day were presentations made by Mrs Zena Yousif Iraq consul general in Dubai, the first woman to ever hold that position, and the fact that all the leaders of the energy companies presenting were Iraqi nationals for the first time ever, namely Mr Zaid Elyaseri, Vice President Iraq from BP, Mr Ali Al Janabi, Chairman, from Shell, Mr Musab Alkateeb, Managing Director, from Siemens Energy, and all were addressing common global issues currently affecting that sector - low oil and gas prices, environmental and green issues.

Mr Aziz Khudairi, Chairman of the Khudairi Group with multiple businesses in Iraq urged the Iraqi Government to embrace the private sector to grow prosperity in Iraq and to provide employment for the millions of young Iraqis, to protect Iraqi businesses from unfair dumping by foreign competitors, but in return emphasised the need for the Iraqi workforce to rediscover a work ethic so that Iraqi companies would become efficient and profitable.

Baroness Nicholson made her Welcome Address by video link from London and at the end of the day announced the new annual award to be made to an Iraqi SME for its contribution to business in Iraq, in memory of the recently deceased Engineer Rasmi al Jabri, IBBC deputy chairman.

Amongst the many excellent speakers were:

  • H.E. Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, UAE
  • H.E. Dr Abdulkariem Al Faisal, Chairman of the Prime Minister's Advisory Commission
  • Mrs Zena Yousif, Consulate General of Iraq in Dubai
  • Mr Simon Penny, Her Majesty's UK Trade Commissioner for the Middle East

Conference Sponsors were Basra Gateway Terminal, Siemens Energy and Serco.

Vikas Handa of Gulftek, Conference chairman said:

"Today's IBBC conference in Dubai is the testimony of human resilience on the face of adversity. We had unexpected turnout & great participation from the ministers, industry leaders and businesses from Iraq, UAE & UK.

"We covered a lot of ground to chart the way forward, network & learn from each other. I along with IBBC MD Christophe Michels would like to thank our key members for their unwavering support to make it happen."

In parallel

The Tech Forum took place online, with participants from Iraq, UK, Dubai and France, to review and discuss the digitisation of Iraq, based on the World Bank's Report in April.

Chaired by Ashley Goodall of IBBC, we reviewed how the Government of Iraq ( GOI ) and digital development in general has been evolving since April, as Alexandre Laure, the World bank Sector specialist, who wrote the report - shared with us areas of development : namely, 6 key areas : Digital inclusion, banking and finance, Investment, Infrastructure, SMEs and start-ups, skill development and linking to external digital organisations. Two areas of progress include the establishment of a Tech fund for start-ups and SME investment, and the payment of Government salaries directly to bank accounts digitally. Additionally, there are areas of deregulation for start -ups and new businesses, although the registration cost of $37500 was deemed exclusionary for most start-ups.

Jawad Abbasi of GSMA MENA said that 4G infrastructure is critical in extending internet across Iraq, and this has been put on hold for the moment. This would increase the ability of users to trade, exchange and create new products on-line, as well as boost the digital economy. Yazen Altimimi CEO of Zain Cash echoed this issue as Zain are often blamed for poor internet experience, when it's an infrastructure issue. Zain's consumer uptake is rapid and there is a healthy growth and interest in the digital economy as a business and consumer medium. If 4G can be delivered the economy will see a rapid upswing. In short there is pent up demand and an appetite from consumers to transact on- line, so it makes sense to deliver 4G to ensure the whole economy expands.

Laura Oliver, director of Iraq Tech Ventures, amplified the issue for start -ups and SME.s who want to trade on line, and the raised the issue of the high cost of registration that prohibits start-ups registering formally, and therefore rely on the cash economy, so they are unable to get formal credit and investment. These two issues, of 4G and registration should be straight forward to address and would make a big different to the overall digital development of the Iraqi economy, and encourage investment from external digital companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google.

In a second panel: Online Consumer behaviour, Caroline McGarr of ThinkBank - a leading research agency in Irbil, presented key finding among Iraqi consumers between 18-45, and again found a big demand for consumer goods, banking on line for an unbanked 83% of the population. In sectors such as Fashion, health and social media there is enormous pent up demand as over 50% of these people spend over 5 hours a day on-line. Again, the issue of reliable internet, useful apps and products to purchase and reliability of banking, echo the first panel's concerns.

The overall message from both panels is that there is huge unmet demand among youthful Iraqi's for more services, better internet, better banking (trust) and online interaction with Government and products that will be better served by better internet and the proliferation of new goods and services from SMEs and start-ups, who themselves are constrained by registration fees and investment.

A full video of the sessions, including the presentation charts can be viewed here

For more information please contact london@webuildiraq.org

(Source: IBBC)

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Why you should come to IBBC Conference: Opportunity in Adversity

Why you should come to the IBBC Conference in Dubai, entitled 'Opportunity in Adversity'

On 19th November the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) is holding its Autumn conference in person at the Address hotel Dubai Marina.

Some would say it's a brave decision, considering COVID, but others are keen to take up the challenge and opportunity to engage, meet, listen to expert business voices of Iraq and overall have proper opportunities for networking.

Not only do we have a good level of members signed up to attend, but also one of the strongest line ups of speakers, ready and willing to address the opportunities for Iraq in 2020.

The backdrop to this conference is not just COVID, but the election of a new American President, rising oil prices, a fundamental change in the way oil and gas companies are globally which will also affect their work in Iraq, a Government willing and able to make significant changes, in the way finance operates, investors can start up and a white paper that will impact a range of activity and on-going digital modernisation.

All these topics will be covered, and we are expecting significant speakers and attendees from our membership and the Ministry of Oil, the Deputy Minister of Electricity, and online from the World Bank, Central Bank payments director and Ministry of Communications, Mastercard and Zain Cash to name a few.

You can hear about one of the biggest changes as the oil and gas companies redefine themselves as Energy companies, and vertically integrate fuel with electricity generation. BP, Shell, Siemens and Ministry of Electricity will address this and other matters on the Energy panel.

On the Finance panel, we are looking at how to operate successfully in the present very challenging financial situation of the country. New proposals by the Government's white paper will also be discussed and how these align with the need of private sector.

Finally, the Tech Forum with the World Bank on the digitisation of Iraq, the progress that is being made with GOI, and to hear from Mastercard and GSMA and Thinkbank on consumer online behaviour and attitudes.

Now is a great opportunity for change and we believe Iraq won't let the opportunity go to waste. Iraq is at a critical inflection point and the Government understands the importance of encouraging the private sector as a vehicle to solving investment, jobs and diversifying the economy at this time, which is why we are expecting a strong attendance from members and speakers alike from sectors crucial to Iraq's future.

As we look to the coming year, we see a Government making good decisions, investing in large projects, understanding the importance of diversifying its economy and also providing work and opportunity to its young population.

Now is the time to turn up, attend and make plans for the future of Iraq, and we look forward to welcoming you.

Please register here:

https://iraqbritainbusiness.org/event/ibbc-autumn-conference-at-the-address-hotel-dubai-marina

The post Why you should come to IBBC Conference: Opportunity in Adversity first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Breaking Out of Fragility: Diversification and Growth in Iraq

Breaking Out of Fragility: A Country Economic Memorandum for Diversification and Growth in Iraq

Iraq is at a crossroads. Almost two decades after the 2003 war, the country remains caught in a fragility trap, facing increasing political instability, growing social unrest, and a deepening state-citizen divide.

Amid a multitude of crises (including an oil price shock, the COVID-19 pandemic, and recent protests) as well as a culmination of poor economic policies, a lack of reforms, and an inability to tackle corruption, Iraq is having its worst annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth performance in 2020 since the fall of the Saddam regime.

Instability, a lack of jobs, corruption, and poor service delivery remain among the most important risks to the country's long-term growth.

With every crisis comes an opportunity to reform. However, Iraq's path to reform will be challenging and uncertain. Given current oil prices and the persistent drop in global demand for oil because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country will have a tough time addressing the needs of its people in the short term.

It can, however, embark on a long but much-needed path toward structural transformation and reform, one that could leave its economy less dependent on oil and more driven by private sector activity.

The widespread protests since October 2019, which have called into the question the country's current political economy, illustrate that such path for reform can no longer be avoided. Nevertheless, as this report shows, this path will demand persistence, and Iraq will face much uncertainty as it tries to address its long-lasting challenges and change the status quo.

This report highlights what Iraq can do to sustain future growth, but it also shows why the country has not yet managed to achieve high levels of diversified growth alongside peace, stability, and a better standard of living for its people.

The report also suggests strategic pathways by which Iraq can break free from this fragility trap, in which peace and stability can create the conditions for people to fulfill their aspirations, find private sector jobs, and thrive.

In this context, the report's four chapters provide:

  1. an understanding of Iraq's underlying fragility and political economy challenges and their implications for a diversified growth model;
  2. an analysis of Iraq's growth characteristics and the country's potential for and benefits from eco¬nomic diversification;
  3. a trade diagnostic and assessment of Iraq's potential for trade and regional integration to create growth and stability; and,
  4. a review of Iraq's agriculture sector, from primary agriculture to agrifood systems, and its potential to support economic diversification, growth, and stability.

Breaking Out of Fragility: A Country Economic Memorandum for Diversification and Growth in Iraq (Full Report in a PDF Format)

(Source: World Bank)

The post Breaking Out of Fragility: Diversification and Growth in Iraq first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Genel Energy considers new Bond Issue

By John Lee.

Genel Energy has engaged Pareto Securities to organise a roadshow with international credit investors. The Company may, subject to market conditions and acceptable terms on the new issue, raise a new five-year bond of up to $300 million to replace the Company's existing bond maturing in December 2022.

Genel had cash in excess of $350 million at 30 August 2020, and net cash of $55 million. Acdording to a company statesment, it "maintains a positive outlook, a strategy of maintaining a robust balance sheet through cycles, and is proactively managing its liquidity runway and debt maturity profile".

(Source: Genel Energy)

The post Genel Energy considers new Bond Issue first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Iraq 2020 – Discovering Business

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.

IBBC Council Meeting and Members’ Dinner

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBCC) held its Council Meeting, Dinner & Reception for IBBC Members and distinguished guests on 28 January. The Council Meeting, hosted by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of IBBC and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan took place in the House of Lords.

Ms Jwan Khioka, Minister Plenipotentiary from the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq greets IBBC Members and distinguished guests

The Council Meeting was followed by a Reception & Dinner hosted by Brigadier James Ellery CBE at the Cavalry & Guards Club, where Ms Jwan Khioka, Minister Plenipotentiary from the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq greeted more than 40 guests.

After dinner, Dr Heike Harmgart, Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) elaborated EBRD’s strategy and business plan for the SEMED region, especially highlighting the business opportunities in the Republic of Iraq.

Dr Heike Harmgart, Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), after dinner speaker

The Education, Training and Heritage Sector Table Meeting hosted by IBBC in its London offices on 28th January was attended by representatives from the UK Embassy of the Republic of Iraq, Bath Spa University, the University of Northampton, Stirling Education, UB Holdings, Unihouse Global, the British Council and the IBBC.

The meeting agreed its over-riding objective is to improve education across Iraq, build in-country capacity and facilitate cooperation between Iraq and international, especially UK, universities. The BC confirmed it is continuing to function in Iraq, albeit at a lower activity level with some restrictions to personnel movement. The proposal for senior representatives of UK universities to visit Iraq was well supported, subject to acceptable security, all parties agreed that involvement of relevant ministries in Iraq is essential to  A number of initiatives to encourage Iraq’ entrepreneurs in were presented, including establishing a Tech Hub in Baghdad, run seminars to assist students aiming to study outside Iraq and setting up an alumni network for Iraqi graduates who has studied in UK. It was agreed that the Chevening Programme had been successful and should continue.

A highlight of the meeting was the detailed presentation of Dr Amir Saadati, Strategic Advisor, City & Guilds MENA (Projects) (https://www.cityandguilds.com/) who gave a detailed presentation on the organisations plan to roll out a number of essential training programmes across Iraq in conjunction with IBBC Member Stirling Education.

IBBC Education, Training and Heritage Sector Table Meeting

The Construction and Infrastructure Sector Table met earlier in the day with Jones Lindgren of Perkins and Will in the chair. The main discussion was about current work and opportunities in the water and environment sectors with Brad Moxham of Pell Frischmann and Steve Rowan of Eame, both active in Iraq, leading the discussion.

The IBBC Executive Committee met in the morning of 29th January. The Committee of IBBC Members, reviews IBBCs activities and advises the management of its future planning. After many years of service Alistair Kett of PWC, Hadi Nezir of UB Holding, Hani Akkawi of CCC retired from the committee. The new committee members are John Curtin of EY, Charles Walker of ZHA, Charlie Burbridge of G4S and Sadar Al-Bebany of Sadar Trading Agencies.

IBBC Executive Committee meeting

The Oil & Gas Sector Table Meeting was hosted by IBBC in its London offices On 29th January was attended by representatives from BP, ExxonMobil, SKA, Constellis, Gulftek, Petrofac, Basrah Engineering Group, the UK FCO and the IBBC. There was wide ranging discussion on the current situation in Iraq and its adverse impact on investment in the country, in particular in the oil and gas sector. There was general agreement that more investment is required to maintain current levels of production, and additional investment will be required to increase production and monetise the extensive associated gas reserves currently being flared.

Oil & Gas Sector Table Meeting

Conference: Find Out What’s Happening in Iraqi Business

From Peace to prosperity:

The Conference to find out what’s happening for Iraq business.

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) Autumn Conference in Dubai on December 8th is set against a backdrop of relative peace and security in Iraq, and the prospect of oil revenues surging through the economy is driving a wider range of business opportunities and a prospective 8% increase in GDP.

Peace is enabling the economy to diversify through the revenues that pay for a range of infrastructure projects. So this Autumn we are focusing on a range of sectors set to benefit from a stable Iraq: namely, Water, Transport and Logistics, Energy and Tech.

The recent protests have also spurred on Government reforms and incentives to drive employment, entrepreneurship and service diversity, and increase the volume of opportunity that lies ahead and the prospects for not just business-to-business but also a burgeoning consumer market.

The Iraqi Electricity Minister will likely be speaking about his reforms to open up the market to SME’s, training and new players. Other ministers including those from Construction and Transport are attending.

The recent announcement of a 10year tax-free period for SMEs in Iraq will also stimulate the Tech entrepreneur market and drive the uptake of engineering skills.

At this conference, we will discuss big-picture economics with Professor Frank Gunter (Lehigh University), Ahmed Tabaqchali (AFC Iraq Fund), and Simon Penny (UK Trade & Investment), who will address the economic backdrop in the Middle East, and the context for Iraq in particular.

The World Bank and Wood Plc will cover the water sector, while Rolls Royce, Basra Gateway Terminal (BGT), and Menzies will look at transport and logistics, and Iraq’s Electricity Minister, GE, Siemens and Enka will focus on energy.

Alongside the conference our Tech Forum brings experts on HealthTech and Educational Tech, including speakers from GE, Siemens Healthcare, KPMG, EY, Google and the British Council, among others.

While key opportunities will be outlined, the real opportunity for business is to meet the people directly involved in contracts and supply-chain opportunities. This is the place to do business, to network and to find out what’s happening in the Middle East’s most potentially dynamic market that is Iraq.

For further information and to find the latest updates on speakers – more are expected – please contact  london@webuildiraq.org or visit the website to register for tickets.

https://iraqbritainbusiness.org/event/autumn-conference-at-the-address-hotel-dubai

The year it’s all on the up…

Conference: Find Out What’s Happening in Iraqi Business

From Peace to prosperity:

The Conference to find out what’s happening for Iraq business.

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) Autumn Conference in Dubai on December 8th is set against a backdrop of relative peace and security in Iraq, and the prospect of oil revenues surging through the economy is driving a wider range of business opportunities and a prospective 8% increase in GDP.

Peace is enabling the economy to diversify through the revenues that pay for a range of infrastructure projects. So this Autumn we are focusing on a range of sectors set to benefit from a stable Iraq: namely, Water, Transport and Logistics, Energy and Tech.

The recent protests have also spurred on Government reforms and incentives to drive employment, entrepreneurship and service diversity, and increase the volume of opportunity that lies ahead and the prospects for not just business-to-business but also a burgeoning consumer market.

The Iraqi Electricity Minister will likely be speaking about his reforms to open up the market to SME’s, training and new players. Other ministers including those from Construction and Transport are attending.

The recent announcement of a 10year tax-free period for SMEs in Iraq will also stimulate the Tech entrepreneur market and drive the uptake of engineering skills.

At this conference, we will discuss big-picture economics with Professor Frank Gunter (Lehigh University), Ahmed Tabaqchali (AFC Iraq Fund), and Simon Penny (UK Trade & Investment), who will address the economic backdrop in the Middle East, and the context for Iraq in particular.

The World Bank and Wood Plc will cover the water sector, while Rolls Royce, Basra Gateway Terminal (BGT), and Menzies will look at transport and logistics, and Iraq’s Electricity Minister, GE, Siemens and Enka will focus on energy.

Alongside the conference our Tech Forum brings experts on HealthTech and Educational Tech, including speakers from GE, Siemens Healthcare, KPMG, EY, Google and the British Council, among others.

While key opportunities will be outlined, the real opportunity for business is to meet the people directly involved in contracts and supply-chain opportunities. This is the place to do business, to network and to find out what’s happening in the Middle East’s most potentially dynamic market that is Iraq.

For further information and to find the latest updates on speakers – more are expected – please contact  london@webuildiraq.org or visit the website to register for tickets.

https://iraqbritainbusiness.org/event/autumn-conference-at-the-address-hotel-dubai

The year it’s all on the up…

Iraq to Import $5bn Gas, Electricity from Iran

By John Lee.

Iran’s gas and electricity exports to Iraq are reportedy expected to reach $5 billion by the end of the current Iranian calendar year, which ends on March 21, 2020.

Mehr news agency quotes the Secretary General of Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber, Seyed Hamid Hosseini, as saying that if Iraq agrees it is possible for Iran to barter the necessary goods in return for the gas and electricity, the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) “should cooperate in this regard“.

(Source: Tehran Times)