IBBC Webinar: Causes and Cures for Iraqi Corruption

Corruption Worse Than ISIS: Causes and Cures for Iraqi Corruption

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) is delighted to invite you to the public launch of Professor Frank Gunther's new paper on corruption in Iraq on Monday 26th of April from 1pm - 2pm BST.

Following the presentation of the paper there will be comments from Dr Renad Masour, Chatham House, and Maya Gebeily, AFP. The ensuing discussion will be moderated by Shwan Aziz Ahmed from the IBBC Advisory Council.

Read the paper here

Register Here

Speakers:

Frank R. Gunter is a Professor of Economics, a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and a retired U.S. Marine Colonel. After receiving his Doctorate in Political Economy from Johns Hopkins University in 1985, Frank joined the faculty of Lehigh University where he teaches Principles of Economics, Economic Development, and the Political Economy of Iraq. He has won four major and multiple minor awards for teaching excellence. Based on his two years in Iraq as an economic advisor to the US Government, Frank wrote The Political Economy of Iraq: Restoring Balance in a Post-Conflict Society (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013). This book was published in both English and Arabic and was selected as an "Outstanding Academic Title" by Choice magazine. His most recent work, "Immunizing Iraq Against al Qaeda 3.0" (Orbis, 2018, Vol. 62, No. 3, pp. 389-408), discusses the possible economic causes of political instability in Iraq. Frank is married with three children and his family shares their Pennsylvania home with over 4,000 books.

Ms Maya Gebeily is a reporter with Agence-France Presse based in Baghdad, where she covers Iraqi politics, security, economics, and societal developments. Before this posting, Maya spent three years at AFP's Beirut bureau covering the Syrian conflict. She covered Lebanon and Syria at local Lebanese news website NOW News, and have reported as a freelancer out of Beirut, Istanbul, and the Kurdish region of Iraq in recent years.

Dr Renad Mansour is a senior research fellow and project director of the Iraq Initiative at Chatham House. He is also a senior research fellow at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, and a research fellow at the Cambridge Security Initiative based at Cambridge University. Renad was previously a lecturer at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where he taught the international relations of the Middle East and, from 2013, he held positions as lecturer of international studies and supervisor at the Faculty of Politics, also at Cambridge.

Moderator:

Abdul Aziz (Shwan) A. Ahmed, is the immediate past Chief of Staff to Deputy Prime Minister Dr Fuad Hussain and before him Deputy Prime Minister Dr Rowsch Nouri Shaways. As Chief of Staff he oversaw an office of 70 including 5 Director Generals,  covering the portfolios of Politics, Economics, International Partnerships, Media & Public Relations and Finance & Administration. In this position he has been at the heart of the Iraqi Government for the past 10 years actively participating in the work of several administrations. From 1997 to 2009 Shwan had a distinguished career at UNDP in several countries with his last posting being the Head of UNDP office in Puntland/Somalia from 2006 to 2009. He managed his own engineering business in Iraq from 1993 to 1997 and worked for the Ministry of Industry from 1987 to 1993. He graduated from the University of Technology in Baghdad in as Systems and Control Engineering in 1983. Shwan is happily married with three adult children. He is of Baghdadi Kurdish and Finish origin and is fully fluent in Arabic, Kurdish and English.

Media Partner:
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Invitation to IBBC Members’ Introduction Webinar







Dar Al Handasah has provided consultancy services to more than 950 clients in 60 countries, and has handled projects involving a total investment cost of over US$ 300 billion. Through these projects, we participate actively in the development of our societies. With a permanent staff of 9,850 and over 4,000 successfully completed projects, DAR has in-house expertise and experience to cover a wide range of engineering fields.

AlBilal Group was Founded in 1993 by Mr. Akeel Abdul Razzak, AlBilal Group has for more than two decades operated across diverse development sectors including Oil & Gas, Power, Water and Infrastructure. The years that followed the tenuous security, socio-political and economic dynamics in Iraq, AlBilal Group emerged as a preferred and a reliable partner to international development agencies and companies such as USDoD, USACE, Black & Veatch, and Washington International in support of the Iraq's re-construction and development programs.

The National Bank of Iraq (NBI) was founded in 1995 as a publicly traded, private sector company, offering comprehensive banking services to individuals and businesses in Iraq. As a result of the Bank's success and to fuel future growth, its paid up capital was increased from the initial 400 million IQD (USD 361,000) to IQD 250 billion (USD 215 million) in December 2013. In 2005, Capital Bank Jordan acquired majority shares (61.85%) in NBI, allowing the Bank to expand its business offerings, strengthen its global footprint and help promote financial inclusion across the country.

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Iraqi Cabinet approves New “Alternative Energy” Power Plants

By John Lee.

The Iraqi Cabinet has agreed to approve a recommendation from the National Investment Commission (NIC) for the Ministry of Electricity to proceed with an investment project for the construction of seven "alternative energy" power plants.

The new power stations are to be built in Karbala, Wasit, Babylon, and Al-Muthanna provinces.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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Iraq, Iran to launch Joint Investment Fund

By John Lee.

Iraq and Iran are to launch a fund to finance joint ventures between the two countries.

In his closing remarks to the Iran-Iraq Economic Conference on Wednesday, Iran's Minister of Energy Reza Ardakanian said

"The proposal to establish a joint venture fund to support the private sector of the two countries was approved."

The conference also discussed plans to establish a branch of Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iraq.

(Source: Iranian Ministry of Energy)

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Saudi-Iraqi Business Forum Launched; New Projects Announced

By John Lee.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi received a delegation of Saudi officials and business people in Baghdad on Monday.

Among the visitors was the Saudi Minister of Commerce, Acting Minister of Media, and Chairman of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi.

The delegation included businessmen representing 22 Saudi companies.

During the meeting, they discussed issues of common interest between the two countries, and ways to support and enhance them in all fields.

The two sides also signed an agreement to establish a metal silo to store wheat in Al-Diwaniya province, and a hospital in Al-Saqlawiya, Anbar province.

(Source: SPA)

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Total “in Talks” to Sell Stake in Iraqi Oil Field

By John Lee.

France's Total is reported to be in talks to sell its 18-percent stake in the Sarsang block in Iraqi Kurdistan, in a move aimed at reducing the company's debt.

Bloomberg says the company is working with Jefferies Financial Group on the deal, adding that the holding could be worth as much as $500 million.

More here and here.

(Source: Bloomberg)

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Establishing a Sovereign Wealth Fund in Iraq

From the Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Prospects Of Establishing A Sovereign Wealth Fund In Iraq

Throughout history, financial crises have been met with innovative reform plans that help develop the resilience of a country's economic system, except when it comes to Iraq.

All major oil producing countries have developed sovereign wealth funds to help mitigate the effects of potential price drops on their economies, but Iraq has yet to do so.

This has not only resulted in temporary budgetary issues for Iraq, but has also allowed serious economic challenges to become entrenched in both the political and social structures of the country.

A first glance at the current economic crisis would suggest the need for a sovereign wealth fund (SWF) to overcome the impact of oil price drops.

However, Iraq's economic challenges stem from legacy issues. Therefore, can a SWF help alleviate these historical challenges and bring about reform?

In effect, can a tool for financial diversification become a means for political and socio-economic reform?

Click here to read the full report by Mohammed Hussein Baraka.

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Tabib Baghdad secures more Funding

By John Lee.

An online platform that connects Iraqi patients to doctors has reportedly raised a six-figure sum in its latest round of fundraising.

According to Startup MGZN, Tabib Baghdad raised the money through the recently-launched Iraqi Angel Investors Network, led by KAPITA and Nass Al Iraq.

It adds that the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) gave a grant of $20,000 towards this round, as part of its support to the Angel Network and the Iraqi startup ecosystem, as part of its "ICT for Youth in Iraq" scheme.

Tabib Baghdad started operations in Baghdad in 2018, and plans to cover the rest of Iraq in the coming year.

More here.

(Source: Startup MGZN)

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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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Iraq Pushes Faw Refinery Project

By John Lee.

The Iraqi Ministry of Oil has invited international companies to participate in the competition to implement the Faw Refinery Project in Basra.

The project will be offered on a BOO (Build, Own, Operate) or BOOT (Build, Own, Operate, Transfer) basis.

Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail said the refinery will be environmentally friendly and in conformity with international standards (EURO 5), adding that a petrochemical complex will be added to the project in the future.

(Source: Ministry of Oil)

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