World Bank sees ‘great potential’ in doing business in Iraq

Iraqi construction workers. The World Bank is working on a new strategy for Iraq that aims to promote private sector development and boost job creation. Only 38 percent of adults in Iraq are employed, according to the World Bank, and 32 percent of them work for the government. Photo by: Petty Officer 1st Class Carmichael Yepez / U.S. Forces Iraq / CC BY-NC-ND

The World Bank is working on a new strategy for Iraq, one that’s meant to address some of the major impediments to the Asian country’s economic growth: dependence on oil, low employment rate and poor service delivery.

Under the new strategy, the World Bank plans to invest $900 million in Iraq over the next four years. The country depends largely on oil for revenue, but the strategy aims to help Iraq diversify its economy. This is important for the country to withstand any future oil price and volume shocks.

The strategy hopes to promote private sector development in Iraq  and in the process boost job creation, especially among women. Only 38 percent of adults in Iraq are employed, according to the World Bank, and 32 percent of them work for the government. Women, meanwhile, continue to face challenges in economic participation.

An improved service delivery will also be among the focus of the new strategy. Service delivery remains “unreliable” in Iraq, with only a small percentage of people having stable water and electricity.

The strategy is still being discussed by the bank’s board of directors. But according to the bank’s country brief for Iraq, World Bank support will be mainly on analytical work, technical assistance and capacity building. Almost all World Bank projects in Iraq are implemented by government authorities. This, according to the bank, “helps build capacity and increase local ownership and sustainability.”

The bank’s private sector arm sees “great potential for doing more business in the country, especially if the security situation continues to improve” International Finance Corp. Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa region Mouayed Makhlouf said in a statement.

Izumi Kobayashi, executive vice president of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, the bank’s political insurance risk arm, said Iraq “offers considerable potential for investors seeking opportunities in frontier markets.”

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.