Iraq and the Kurdistan region within it can look to the world’s leading tech hub countries for guidance on how to create a strong tech sector, rich in entrepreneurial spirit and innovative ideas.
Both governments have spoken of the their support for diversifying Iraq’s economy away from dependence on oil and to attract more investment to the country.
Here are six ways the world’s leading tech hub governments help their own tech sectors, which the Iraqi and Kurdistan regional governments can follow:
- Promote investment with more diverse tax incentives
While the Iraqi government does have investment incentives in place, it can do much more. It is much easier and cheaper to establish small startups with tax breaks in place. Not only would this promote startup ideas from within Iraq, it would be an attractive reason for foreign investors to invest in the country.
The good news is that there are so many options now and potential paths that government can explore in order to create investment via diverse tax breaks and incentives. The Jordan government for instance, has a wide range of tax breaks and incentives specifically in place for the tech sector. Jordan of course has received a lot of attention in recent years for the growth of its tech startup scene and investment to the country.
- Create new, common education programmes to service a tech ecosystem
Every country that wants to grow their economy through promoting entrepreneurship understands the importance of creating an education support system that produces knowledgeable, talented individuals.
Government-sponsored workshops, programmes, courses and learning centres are essential.
This education is imperative in providing the necessary skills and knowledge for the positions needed in a modern tech sector: web developers, coders, engineers, designers, marketers and sales people equipped for the high-tech working environment are just some roles.
Then there are programmes designed to develop entrepreneurs. MBA programmes, courses on entrepreneurship and courses with a more specific market focus.
- Promote an entrepreneurial spirit
Government can reach out to the emerging tech ecosystem that is taking shape in Iraq right now, which includes us here at Bite.tech as the country’s go-to resource for Iraqi tech news.
It is the countries with a strong entrepreneurial spirit that are the most robust in the world, which quickly bounce back from economic downturns. This is no coincidence.
In addition to working directly with groups devoted to growing the Iraqi and Kurdistan tech sectors, the government can help further by introducing general entrepreneurial campaigns at the state school and higher education levels.
Along with government support regarding access to finance and tax incentives, this would likely see a large increase in entrepreneurship interest, which would inevitably help a growing tech sector to grow.
- Reduce barriers to foreign assistance
In order to attract foreign investment towards a tech sector, the country must demonstrate that suitable infrastructure is in place, that economic and political risk is stable, that any restrictions on the movement of capital are eliminated, and importantly, that the country produces a feeling of trust in foreign investors.
What are the risks that deter foreign investors and how can they be eliminated or reduced? This is the question that the Iraqi and Kurdistan governments can seek to answer in order to attract investment.
- Improve tech ecosystem infrastructure
A strong tech ecosystem set-up has a solid foundation of the basics in place – high speed internet that is widely available and a reliable, continuous electricity supply are the very basics.
As the Iraqi tech sector develops, demand for more advanced transport links and office space will increase, thereby progressively improving infrastructure.
- Create liquidity solutions for new tech startup companies
Starting new tech companies requires money. Due to a lack of financing, so many companies across the global tech sector can’t grow or even fail.
While there are international NGOs that do help Iraqi SMEs by providing grants and funding, it is very limited and competitive, making it difficult to obtain. More needs to be done.
Government startup investment programmes and institutions are common across the world. Government can also look to encourage bank lending to promising tech startups and examine financial technology growth in other countries as an example of what is possible away from traditional financing options.
As a regional example, Lebanon has progressed impressively in recent years by building a successful tech startup ecosystem. This comes in large part from good work by the Lebanese government, particularly in developing a range of funding options.
Promotion of crowdfunding and peer-to-peer loans are yet more examples of solutions to liquidity problems, which would surely be of great benefit to the growth of Iraqi and Kurdistan tech.