Erbil Business Conference: Iraq presents opportunities in Education, Healthcare and IT
The last day of the Erbil Business conference saw panels on Higher Education, Health and IT with the participation of local and international experts, including IBBC members such as Restrata and IBBC’s own Associate Director, Dr Alastair Niven.
The Higher Education panel highlighted the existence of some partnerships between the Kurdistan and the UK emphasising that there needs to be a concerted effort to increase and diversify this cooperation.
Examples of future partnerships between universities could include academic staff development visits in learning and teaching, assessment, and academic support; training programmes in the UK for senior managers of Kurdistan universities; jointly supervised Ph Ds; student research visits to the UK to access resources not available in Kurdistan and Iraq; undergraduate students spending up to one year of a Kurdistan degree programme in a UK university.
The Health Sector panel discussed the fact that there has been a dramatic decline in health care expenditure in Kurdistan over the past 20 years, its potential improvement halted due to the current low oil prices. Apart from lack of cash, challenges to health care in Kurdistan include, in opinion of the panellists, anxieties about security, the quality of medications and the lack of trained staff expertise in many branches of medicine.
Though public – private partnerships are considered to be the way forward, there are particular problems with some branches of medicine being handed over to the market place, e.g. Caesarian operations, accounting for 13% of live births in Iraq, are often badly handled outside recognised hospitals.
The panellists believe that Iraq is set to become an attractive health care investment as soon as political uncertainties abate.
When covering the IT sector, the specialists mentioned that there are billion dollar opportunities for the IT industry in Kurdistan, since in Iraq as a whole there is only a 15% terrestrial network available at the moment.