Canadians plan Irbil housing factory

16 September 2005
The Kurdistan Regional Government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with QB Technology Canadato set up a joint venture to build a factory for the manufacture and assembly into homes of steel-reinforced polystyrene panels. Located in the northern city of Irbil, the agreement on the plant is expected to be signed by late September once QB receives approval from the US and Canadian authorities.

The plant will have a built-up area of about 12,000 square metres and have capacity to assemble 80-100 units a day. Under the terms of the MoU, QB will develop the facility on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis, handing the plant back to the government within five years. Local contractors will be invited to build the estimated $8 million plant, on which construction is expected to take about 12 months. Total project costs are initially estimated to be about $100 million.

The government will hold a 53 per cent stake in the venture with QB owning 39 per cent. Canada Strategies, which arranges business opportunities for Canadian companies overseas and brokered the deal, will hold an 8 per cent stake.

The venture is looking to build 5,000 homes in the first two years, although the exact number will depend on labour resources and the security situation. The move was prompted by the Kurdish government after plans to build a large shopping mall in Irbil's city centre forced residents to relocate. Many of the new homes will be located opposite the shopping mall.

The precast technology ensures that there is no need for wood framing with walls assembled from interlocking panels of rigid polystyrene. In turn the product is strengthened by light-gauge and galvanised structural steel. The houses are then sprayed with polyurea and acrylic stucco. According to QB, the properties will have a 300 per cent increase in insulation value over conventional construction methods. Setting up the homes takes about 48 hours and they can either be assembled at the factory or installed on site.

Irbil is one of Iraq's fastest growing cities. With relative security compared to the rest of the country, the city is witnessing a construction and industrial boom. Among the highlights include plans to build the Dream City housing development and a new airport. The Iraqi American Chamber of Commerce & Industry (IACCI) is organising an international trade fair in the city on 15-18 September.

QB is also in early negotiations for similar contracts in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

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