Kuwaiti telecoms operator Zain has signed a five-year network outsourcing agreement worth $650m with Swedish vendor Ericsson for its operations in Iraq.

Under the agreement Ericsson will optimise, modernise and manage IT operations and Zain’s mobile network in Iraq, which has 3,700 sites across the country.

“Through this agreement, Zain in Iraq will be better positioned to support the evolution and growth of the Iraqi telecommunications industry. Zain Group’s investment in Iraq since the launch of commercial services in 2003 and the subsequent development of the country’s largest mobile network has exceeded $4.5bn,” says Nabeel bin Salamah, chief executive officer of Zain Group.

Zain Iraq has a subscriber base of 12.4 million as of end-September 2011.