Zain Iraq CEO calls for fibre backbone to aid investment
Ali Al-Dahwi warns country's government not to be "penny wise and dollar foolish"
LONDON: The CEO of Iraq's largest mobile operator by subscriber numbers bemoaned the lack of fixed infrastructure in the country, as he set out his vision for the development of the telecom sector.
A limited amount of fixed line infrastructure is operated by the Iraq Telecommunications and Post Company (ITPC), but years of embargo followed by extensive damage caused during the US-led invasion of Iraq have taken its toll on the country's cables.
Zain CEO Ali Al-Dahwi, who gave the keynote speech at the opening of the Iraq Telecoms conference in London on Tuesday, dismissed the current fixed line access in the country, and said that fibre optic connectivity will be play a vital role in the country's future.
"The infrastructure is key to Iraq, and there is none," he said. "I don't want to hear that there is, because there isn't. So we have to build it."
Al-Dahwi, who highlighted the locations around the country where Iraq could connect to fibre optic cables in neighbouring countries, said that a lack of fibre optic connectivity will impede national growth and limit international growth and collaboration.
"We want to be part of the outside world, and we want to be part of the tidal wave of information to the world. Let's not be penny wise and dollar foolish. We need to think of the bigger picture.
"Every indicator in the world suggests that in the next few years voice will be irrelevant as a revenue generator. We need to sit down in the young Iraq and think about how we can allow these companies to go wild with the data offers...Iraq has to move forward, and to do that we need to wash our heads of these old thoughts and move into the future," he added.