Showing posts with label Iraq. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iraq. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Ericsson may have bribed ISIS in Iraq

An internal investigation at Ericsson has found unusual expense claims in Iraq, dating back to 2018 with evidence of corruption-related misconduct. 

Regarding the situation, Ericsson issued this statement (in part):

"The investigation included the conduct of Ericsson employees, vendors and suppliers in Iraq during the period 2011-2019. It found serious breaches of compliance rules and the Code of Business Ethics. It identified evidence of corruption-related misconduct, including: Making a monetary donation without a clear beneficiary; paying a supplier for work without a defined scope and documentation; using suppliers to make cash payments; funding inappropriate travel and expenses; and improper use of sales agents and consultants. In addition, it found violations of Ericsson’s internal financial controls; conflicts of interest; non-compliance with tax laws; and obstruction of the investigation."

"The investigating team also identified payments to intermediaries and the use of alternate transport routes in connection with circumventing Iraqi Customs, at a time when terrorist organizations, including ISIS, controlled some transport routes. Investigators could not determine the ultimate recipients of these payments. Payment schemes and cash transactions that potentially created the risk of money laundering were also identified. "

"Ericsson invested significant time and resources to understand these matters. The investigation could not identify that any Ericsson employee was directly involved in financing terrorist organizations."

In an interview with a Swedish newspaper cited by Bloomberg, Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm said the unusual payments may have been bribes to ISIS to secure contracts or operations in Iraq.

Ericsson said its has dismissed several employees, terminated a number of third-party relationships, and is working with external counsel to review other remediation measures,

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Iraq's ScopeSky picks Nokia'sNuage SD-WAN

ScopeSky, a leading internet service provider in Iraq, has selected Nokia’s Nuage Networks Virtualized Network Services (VNS) SD-WAN solution to deliver greater network automation, enhanced security and visibility to its enterprise customers.

Mohamed Faisal, Head of Customer Business Team for Iraq at Nokia, said: "Nokia’s Nuage Networks has become a leader in helping service providers harness the full potential of cloud and network automation and extend that to its enterprise customers’ branch locations. Our technology provides a flexible and open SD-WAN infrastructure that will serve as a foundation for ScopeSky to enhance network connectivity and deliver cloud-based services to customers across Iraq."

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Nokia to supply next-gen microwave network in Iraq

Asiacell Telecom, Iraq’s leading telecommunications services provider, selected Nokia to build its next-generation microwave network. 

For this project, Nokia will replace legacy microwave equipment by either modernizing or deploying approximately 3,000 network links across multiple locations in Iraq over the next five years. The network will use Nokia's Wavence microwave packet radio portfolio.

As part of this renewed partnership, Asiacell will leverage its existing Nokia Network Services Platform (NSP) deployment for managing the complete set of Nokia transport equipment. This will enable automation for rapid equipment commissioning, optimizing network performance, and the automating of operational tasks, thus simplifying microwave integration into Asiacell’s existing network environment. By utilizing Nokia’s NSP, Asiacell will also be able to use the network automation capabilities to ensure maximum network service performance and reliability.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

ZAIN Iraq picks Ericsson for RAN upgrade

Zain Iraq selected Ericsson to upgrade a number of its legacy sites with Ericsson Radio System.

Under the contract, Ericsson will provide higher capacity and improve network performance.

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.

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."

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Orange-directed Korek Telecom's Future Looks Bright if Iraq Recovers

Preamble - Cisco Ericsson partnership deal highlights little-known Iraqi operator Korek Telecom

On March 1st, Cisco and Ericsson announced that through their cooperative marketing agreement signed in November 2015 Korek Telecom, a 16 year-old mobile telecommunications provider headquartered in Erbil in the Kurdistan region, with whom Ericsson has a longstanding relationship, had selected Ericsson and Cisco to transform its IP core network using integrated solutions based on Ericsson services and Cisco ASR 9000 routers.

Although Korek is for the moment only the third operator in Iraq and Iraq itself is a deeply divided country whose society and economy are in near chaos, nonetheless the country hosts the world's fifth largest oil reserves and ranks somewhere in the lower half of the world's Top 10 countries with the largest natural gas reserves and could grow quite a bit (particularly in natural gas exports where it lacks the necessary infrastructure). Iraq still has an operational though weak government but 93% of the state budget is dependent on oil production. Still, there is a strong probability that with western help it will recover over the next five years and of the three Iraqi operators Korek looks to be the most competent and fastest growing and could have a good future. The general situation of Korek today is that it dominates the Kurdistan region, which constitutes about one sixth of Iraq, and from that stable profitable base is now beginning to grow its share in the rest of the country. The increasing tendency has been for Kurdistan, the most stable part of Iraq during the last few years, to seek more autonomy and a crucial issue related to the Kurdistan economy has been a dispute with the central government over the sharing of oil revenues, which as shown below seems at last to have been  resolved.

Up-to-date fundamentals about Iraq

The two following quotes are key extracts from a 45 page official letter, entitled Letter of Intent, Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies, and Technical Memorandum of Understanding, of December 2016 by Iraqi PM Dr Haider Al-Abbadi to Christine Lagarde, MD of the International Monetary Fund, which is currently providing financial support to the government in exchange for various specific social and economic commitments.

Quote on status of internally displaced persons and refugees:

-    "The ISIS attacks have boosted the number of internally displaced persons - estimated at 3.3 million in September 2016… close to 10 million Iraqis (26% of the population) need humanitarian assistance…. with 225,000 Syrian refugees, Iraq is the fourth largest hosting country in the region for people fleeing Syria... refugees, 60% women and children, mostly reside in the north, including in the Kurdistan region where they have been granted residency status including the right to work".

Quote on the latest oil-revenue sharing agreement between the Iraqi government and the local government of Kurdistan:

-    "According to the agreement the revenue from the oil extracted in the KRG accrues to the federal government and the federal government makes transfers to the KRG equivalent to 17% of non-sovereign spending in the federal budget (i.e. total spending minus expense of the parliament, the presidency, the cabinet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, the federal court, federal government commissions and debt service)… in the revised program for 2016 presented in this MEFP, the oil revenue projected for KRG is IQD 7.8 trillion and the transfers to the KRG IQD 8.5 trillion".

Background and news about Korek Telecom

Prior long historical relationship with Ericsson and other vendors

Korek was co-founded in 2000 reportedly by four Kurdish businessmen including the company's current chairman, Sirwan Mustafa Baser, vice president Dr. Hamid Akridi, plus Jeksi Hama Mustafa and possibly the company's current MD Sirwan Barzani, who is said to have a stake in the company and is the nephew of Massoud Barzani, the acting president of the Kurdistan region and head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) (Sirwan Barzani is not shown as a director possibly because he has had an active parallel role in the Kurdish military). The company initially focused on mobile services in Kurdistan, but in 2007 obtained a nationwide operating license and now operates across Iraq.

In November 2009 Korek awarded a contract to Ericsson for the deployment of a billing post-paid system in the country. In September 2011 Korek, which served about 3 million subscribers at that time, said it had contracted Ericsson to upgrade and expand its network to make it ready for 3G and LTE, including the deployment and integration of multi-standard radio base stations, RBS 6000, across the country, and a core network expansion including EPC and mobile packet backbone. 

In March 2011 Orange, in a JV with Agility, a large international logistics and infrastructure investment group, acquired a 44% share of Korek Telecom for a combined $295 million, plus about $285 million in loans. Through this JV Orange held an indirect 20.24% and Agility the remaining 24% in Korek, while the remaining 56% majority stake was held by CS Limited, an SPV reportedly owned by the four Kurdish businessmen who founded the company. Reportedly, Orange also acquired an option to increase its indirect stake in Korek to 27% in order to gain indirect control of the company.

In July 2012 Korek signed a three year managed services agreement with Ericsson to provide field maintenance services including day-to-day services for Korek’s network in Baghdad. In April 2013 Korek hired Ericsson to deploy a new convergent charging and billing system designed to provide subscribers with greater personalisation, control and quality of service. In July 2013 Korek selected Nokia (NSN) to deploy advanced radio, microwave transmission and packet core network elements and to expand its 2G network in southern Iraq. The operator also renewed its care and managed services contract with Nokia.

In February 2015 it was announced that Korek Telecom had chosen Ericsson to provide a spare parts management service, designed to deliver a higher standard of network performance to subscribers which would cover operations of warehouse storage in Erbil and Baghdad, as well as logistics such as transporting parts between Ericsson's global replacement warehouse to different delivery points across Iraq.

In March 2015 Korek announced at MWC that it had chosen Ericsson's Telecom CRM system to automate its sales, marketing and customer care processes, which would include the consolidation of user data and the capability to expose user data in real time through the system's User Profile Gateway. In October 2016 Ericsson announced it was helping Korek prepare for a predicted strong growth in traffic as well as for the implementation of LTE by transforming and expanding its WCDMA core network for greater capacity and scalability with new SGSN and GGSN platforms from Ericsson.

Other developments affecting the company

Asiacell and Zain Iraq execute successful IPOs of 25% of their equity

According to the terms of their 2007 national licences all three operators were required to offer 25% of their equity to the public through IPOs and in 2012 it was reported that all three companies were being fined for not having done so. In February 2013 Asiacell, majority owned by Qatar's Ooredoo, raised $1.24 billion through its 25% IPO. In June 2015 Zain Iraq listed on the Iraq Stock Exchange as Al Khatem Telecom. At the end of its first day of trading its market capitalisation was $9.4 billion, which added almost 50% to the exchange’s total value. Korek Telecom has made several moves towards an IPO in the past but has not yet gone ahead with one.

Korek litigation against Zain Iraq

In May 2014 the National reported that Zain Iraq was being sued for $4.5bn by Korek Telecom, which claimed that Zain's acquisition of the mobile operator Iraqna in 2007 had stopped Korek from buying the unit, resulting in huge losses.

Possible approval of a 4th Iraqi mobile operator

At the end of 2015 the Iraqi regulator, the Communication and Media Commission, called for expressions of interest regarding a 4th mobile license. However, as of early 2017 no decision had been made on that issue.

Agility reported to be claiming confiscation of its Korek stake

On February 10, 2017 Capacity Magazine, a specialised source, reported that Agility, a global logistics company based in Kuwait, had filed a complaint with the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, claiming that the government of Iraq had 'indirectly confiscated' its 54% stake in Korek, worth $380 million . However, it said that so far it had been unable to ascertain what the fundamental reason was for the complaint.


As of January 2016 Korek Telecom was reported to employ about 2,500 people, to have deployed 3,500 towers and to be serving 7 million subscribers, giving it just over 20% of an estimated national Iraqi subscriptions base of about 34 million and showing a roughly doubled market share since 2011. In competing with Asiacell Iraq and Zain Iraq Korek's revenue may be somewhere in the range $500-$1,000 million and some estimates have suggested it is worth around $2 billion. Korek has some advantages, i.e. a relatively secure base in Kurdistan, where it has been reported to have a 70% share, and a good relationship with the local government, which now has an assured income from its 17% share of national oil revenue. Through further market share gains, Iraqi national growth, diversification into markets like banking and social stabilisation, as well as the lack of fixed infrastructure in Iraq, it is possible that Korek could double in size in the next five years. However, in January 2015 Orange CEO Stephane Richard, reviewing some of Orange's investments, said that although Korek Telecom was performing well it was very unlikely that the group would increase its involvement and exposure in Iraq.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Cisco Delivers IP/Optical for Iraqi National Backbone

Cisco is providing optical transport systems for rebuilding the Iraqi National Backbone, a multi-layer IP and optical network that spans the long terrestrial route from Iraq to Turkey.

The Iraqi National Backbone is a joint venture between Symphony and EarthLink JLT, reaching most major Iraqi cities. Commercial launch is expected in March 2017.

Cisco said it is supplying a mix networking technologies for the projecy, including the Cisco NCS 5500 and ASR 9000 router platforms and the NCS 2000 for DWDM. The entire solution is based on industry standard protocols, including WSON in the optical layer. Cisco Software Defined Networking (SDN) coordinates restoration events between the optical and IP portions of the network. A common management solution with Cisco Evolved Programmable Network (EPN) Manager is also critical for the multi-layer network views into each event. The IOS XR operating system powering the Iraqi Backbone network will be capable of supporting advanced operational capabilities such as segment routing, real-time model driven telemetry and standards-based programmability using NETCONF and YANG.

“Creative thinking by the leaders of Symphony and EarthLink will soon be changing the lives of the people of Iraq,” said Mike Weston, vice president, Middle East, Cisco. “The extended reach of the network and its advanced capabilities unleashes the transformational power of connectivity and sets a solid foundation for achieving Iraq’s development goals. With this project, Cisco further establishes its leadership with IP and optical networks that require multi-layer restoration and automation, and industry leading performance in long haul applications.”