Despite of large swatches of the country being under the control of terrorist group Daesh, a company executive claimed that Ericsson remains optimistic on Iraq.
Tarek Saad, President of Ericsson, North Middle East Region, said, “Iraq is one of the more important markets for Ericsson in the Middle East.”
Ericsson works with all three operators in Iraq including a network management contract with Zain. The company says it operations have not been largely affected by the increasing instability in the country, which has seen the United States lead military strikes against Daesh.
Daesh caught security forces by surprise when it took large parts of north western Iraq in August. However, the group has so far been held back by US strikes and Iraqi and Kurdish forces from taking Arbil in Kurdistan and Baghdad. Basra, the oil-rich city in the south, has also so far been safe from the violence.
Saadi said the Ericsson drew up contingency plans following August’s surprise attack by Daesh but that since the US-led strikes it has been “busy as usual.” However, if more Iraqi controlled areas were to fall to Daesh and the Zain network was threatened, Saadi said there is a plan to operate the network from Arbil, which is protected by Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces.
“We still believe in the long terms prospects of the country,” Saadi said while admitting that his “very optimistic” outlook for the country had been moderated.
He said, “We believe 3G [will] be a long term revenue driver to the operators and to Ericsson.”
Ericsson is continuing talks to increase its services in Iraq, despite the ongoing instability, including expanding its business with operators and discussions with private sector companies looking to outsource some of their IT services.
Saadi declined to state how much the company is investing in Iraq over the next but maintained that resources will not be shifted out of Iraq.