Weekly Update: MENA
Iraq – CIPE partner the Kurdistan Information and Strategic Studies (KISSC) held an advocacy workshop to improve infrastructure in the Kurdish region. Eighteen representatives from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ministries of Planning, Electricity, Natural Recourses, and Education and Scientific Research, as well as from the Kurdistan Investment Commission and the private sector, discussed recommendations from the updated Kurdistan Business Agenda (KBA2). The public-private dialogue centered on improving the Kurdish region’s electricity and fuel infrastructure. The debate focused on how to improve foreign investment and partnerships with local firms to ensure new fuel projects employ safety standards that meet best international practices and to build up the capacity of the Kurdish region’s electricity grid through new means such as building dams and recycling waste.
Iraq – KISSC also held an advocacy workshop on the KBA2 and the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. Fifteen representatives from the KRG Prime Minister’s office, Ministry of Transportation, and Investment Commission, as well as from academia and the private sector discussed issues that the ICT sector in the Kurdish region faces, such as lack of ICT experts and specializations at universities and institutes and strict regulations in providing licenses to ICT companies. The public-private dialogue yielded specific solutions to these problems, including a commitment from the KRG Ministry of Higher Education to facilitate opening more ICT departments in universities as well as a new institute for computer science and a commitment from the KRG Investment Commission to reduce regulatory barriers to licensing ICT companies.
Iraq – CIPE partner the Iraq 2020 Assembly organized a second policy analysis workshop to develop recommendations for amending Iraq’s Regulation of Trade Law. Parliamentarians from the Economic and Investment Committee worked with private sector organizations, including Iraq’s largest business associations, the Federation of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce and the Iraqi Businessmen Union, to address these issues. Participants agreed on the necessity of replacing the existing legislation, originally passed in 1970 when Iraq had a socialist, centrally planned economy. The Iraqi Central News Agency and al-Iraqiya Channel provided media coverage.
Iraq – CIPE partner the Iraqi Businessmen Union organized a roundtable event for the Iraqi private sector to engage public officials on issues of economic reform, focusing on the Customs Tariff Law. Iraqi Parliamentarians, officials from the Ministries of Trade and Industry, and the National Investment Commission worked with Iraqi business associations, academics, and other stakeholders to address the lack of enforcement and possible revision of the Customs Tariff Law. Ministry of Trade officials also updated participants on the World Trade Organization negotiations. CIPE’s Mohammed Alauldeen addressed the 45 participants, emphasizing the importance of public-private dialogue and the role of the private sector in economic reform and development. The Al-Fayhaa satellite channel provided media coverage.
Morocco – CIPE held a capacity-building workshop for Moroccan partner Espace Point de Depart (ESPOD). On the first day, CIPE consultant Yasser Akkaoui led participants through exercises that helped them analyze ESPOD as it now is, and ESPOD as they wish it to become. Fifteen people participated in the workshop, including founders, members, and staff of ESPOD. By the end of the day, the participants successfully articulated more focused organizational mission and objectives, in addition to discussing ways to better align both mission and objectives with ongoing and future activities. On the second day, Mr. Akkaoui and CIPE staff met with ESPOD program staff. They used input from the first day to develop a concrete action plan to improve ESPOD’s governance and decision-making mechanisms and ensure organizational sustainability. The draft will be shared with stakeholders and implemented over the coming months.
West Bank/Gaza – As part of a CIPE-supported project to strengthen corporate and democratic governance, the Palestine Governance Institute (PGI) convened a workshop entitled “Legal Registration of Land: An Assessment of Governance Structure” in Ramallah. Thirty-two participants attended the event. Speakers included Chairman of the Palestine Land Authority Nadim Barahmeh, Director General of the Land Registration Department Shawkat Barghouti, Legal Adviser to the Land Authority Samer Odeh, and Land Registration Judge Ra`afat Younis. The workshop concluded with policy recommendations to improve land registration procedures. PGI will relay these recommendations to top government officials.
West Bank/Gaza – PGI hosted a workshop entitled “Future of Family Firms: Proper Governance is a Vital Prerequisite” in cooperation with the Nablus Chamber of Commerce. The featured speaker was Deputy Chairman of PGI Dr. Saed Kouni. During his presentation, Dr. Kouni explained why family-owned firms will continue to constitute the backbone of the Palestinian economy but he noted that these firms suffer serious organizational and operational problems following the transition of ownership to second and third generations. To prevent these problems Dr. Kouni cited specific corporate governance practices that family-owned firms should adopt to improve their governance structure.
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