Iraq’s Communications Minister angers regulator

08 November 2010

Ministry and regulator relationship strained

Alleged pro-Kurdish remarks from Iraq’s Telecommunications Minister Farook Abdulqadir Abdulrahman have concerned the industry regulatory body, the Communications Media Commission (CMC).

In a speech at the Iraqi Telecoms Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, the minister saluted his “Kurdish brothers for paying no attention to the CMC”.

According to the minister, this has enabled the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to develop its telecoms industry, particularly the internet sector. His remark was met with a round of applause by the audience made up of local and international operators and investors.

The relationship between the Communications Ministry and CMC is strained and has been exasperated by the absence of the proposed Telecommunications Law, which has still not been ratified after almost four years. “CMC’s lack of authority and understanding has meant that regulation has been poor,” says Rear Admiral David Simpson, director of communications and information systems of the multinational forces in Iraq. The CMC was set up by Paul Bremer’s interim government six years ago. 

Commissioner Ahmed Alomary of the CMC says: “The ministry has been around for a long time and does not want to let go of its power.”

Over the past few years the Communications Ministry has issued contracts and tenders without CMC approval. The fourth mobile licence is one such case. Although greatly delayed, it is a deal being spearheaded by the ministry.

The ministry also announced the liberalisation of Iraq’s fixed-line market, where it currently holds a monopoly through its enterprise the Iraqi Telecoms & Post Company (ITPC). The government is working with 15 local operators in the private sector to provide an alternative line in each city.

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