Displaying items by tag: Zain Iraq

Zain Iraq to modernize and expand radio networks

Written on Sunday, 15 October 2017 07:31

Nokia will modernize and expand Zain Iraq's radio networks with its most advanced technologies across Karbala, Najaf and Basra, with a special focus on the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf, to support the expected increase in data and voice traffic during the annual Holy event Zeyara as millions of people converge on the region.

Once completed, the upgrade will allow users to enjoy improved indoor and outdoor coverage in both urban and rural areas as well as increased data throughput, leading to an overall superior customer experience.

“Nokia fully understands Zain Iraq's requirements and is committed to providing leading technologies to enable pioneering services for its subscribers,” said Bernard Najm, head of the Middle East Market Unit at Nokia. “Nokia's solutions cater to the unique connectivity requirements of mass events, and will help Zain Iraq address the expected surge in data and voice consumption during Zeyara.”

Nokia's project management and proven services expertise will be used to expand and modernize Zain Iraq's 2G and 3G network, providing ubiquitous coverage and faster mobile broadband.

Additionally, the Nokia Mass Event Handler will be deployed to address the surge in data and voice consumption expected during Zeyara. The network modernization will allow visitors to remain continuously connected with their loved ones through superior voice and data connectivity during Al Arba'een and beyond.

“Our top priority is to provide superior services for our subscribers,” said Ali Al-Zahid, Chief Executive Officer of Zain Iraq. This network modernization and expansion is only the beginning of providing the best possible service quality and coverage with the most advanced technologies across the overall Karbala and Najaf and rest of sourthern region.”

Al-Zahid said Zain Iraq selected Nokia, its longstanding technology partner, for the important project, as the company is “confident that [Nokia’s] advanced technologies will enable our network to provide such superior services. The current project will also enable a best-in-class mobile experience for visitors to Zeyara when we expect a high turnout this year."

Published in Infrastructure

Zain Iraq upgrading network to meet growing data demands

Written on Monday, 04 September 2017 06:08

Zain Iraq, a subsidiary of Kuwait’s Zain Group, has selected Ericsson to upgrade its existing network using the Swedish telecom equipment vendor’s virtual Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) offering to meet the growing data demands of its customers in the region.

Under this collaboration, Ericsson will modernize the current infrastructure of Zain Iraq’s network by implementing a solution that will enable the operator to quickly introduce new services for customers, while maintaining high performance network requirements.

Ericsson will modernize Zain Iraq’s existing infrastructure into Ericsson NFV infrastructure (NFVi) solution, which provides a software-defined infrastructure with Hyperscale Datacenter System 8000. Also as part of the solution, Ericsson will provide system integration and support services.

“We trust that Ericsson’s Network Functions Virtualization solution will enable us to meet our strategic goals as well as our customers’ demands, and continue to provide superior performance while meeting growing data needs,” said Ali Al-Zahid, CEO, Zain Iraq.

“This investment and ongoing modernization of our network is yet another example of our dedication to future-proofing our operations for the benefit of all stakeholders,” Al-Zahid added. “It also reflects our commitment to providing the mobile community in Iraq with the highest quality of service available, delivered via cutting edge infrastructure and technology to ensure a superior mobile experience for our customers.”

Rafiah Ibrahim, President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa said: “Iraq is an important market for mobile network development and innovation. As Iraqi users are passionate adopters of new technology, network modernization and adoption of new technologies become critical to meet Iraqi users’ demand for capacity and coverage.”

Despite the socio-economic circumstances coupled with the continuation of intense price competition in Iraq, Zain Iraq achieved US$523 million revenues in Q2 due to growth in data usage and numerous customer acquisition initiatives in the northern regions of the country. The operator’s efficiency drive saw EBITDA reach US$ 179 million, reflecting a 34 percent EBITDA margin. Net income amounted to US$ 11 million for the period.

Zain Iraq leads the market serving 12.9 million customers. 

Published in Telecom Operators

Kuwait’s Zain Group reported a 5 percent decrease in revenues for the six months ended June 30 compared to the same period last year due to massive currency devaluation in Sudan, it said. The company ended the period serving 45.2 million customers across the Middle East and Africa.

In Q2 2017, Zain Group recorded consolidated revenues of KD 261 million (US$ 860 million), down 5 percent compared to the same period in the previous year. EBITDA for the quarter reached KD 104 million (US$ 344 million), down 21 percent year-on-year (Y-o-Y) in KD terms, reflecting an EBITDA margin of 40 percent. Net income for the quarter amounted to KD 44 million (US$ 145 million), down 2 percent Y-o-Y in KD terms reflecting earnings per share of 11 Fils (US$ 0.04).

Foreign currency translation impact, predominantly due to the 61 percent currency devaluation in Sudan, cost the company US$ 157 million in revenue, US$ 62 million in EBITDA and US$ 25 million in net income. Excluding the currency translation impact, Y-o-Y revenues and net income would have grown by 12 percent and 15 percent respectively for the period, it said.

"The company’s performance in the first half has been satisfactory given the various operational and forex challenges we face across our footprint,” said Chairman of the Board of Directors of Zain Group, Mr. Mohannad Al-Kharafi.

Mr. Bader Nasser Al-Kharafi, Zain Vice-Chairman and Group CEO, said, “It is unfortunate that one main factor outside of our control, namely the Sudan currency devaluation issue, has impacted overall performance considering the sound operational progress and transformation we have undertaken across all our markets.”

He added, “At the same time, the various operational management teams are focused on dealing with such costly and unavoidable socio-economic challenges across several key markets and are laying the foundations to take full advantage of improving conditions, once they occur.”

Maintaining its market leadership, Zain Kuwait saw its customer base serve 2.6 million customers. The first half of the year was characterized by intense price competition coupled with additional operational costs in network expansion and upgrades, which impacted the operation’s financial performance for the period.

Nevertheless, Zain Kuwait remains the Group’s most profitable operation with revenues reaching KD 167 million (US$ 549 million), EBITDA amounting to KD 66 million (US$ 215 million) and net income came in at KD 39 million (US$ 128 million).

Zain Kuwait was awarded and is currently implementing a smart meter project, in one of the sector’s largest ICT projects for the country’s Ministry of Electricity and Water. This Smart Meter project is a key step of the company's strategic plans to deploy smart city solutions in Kuwait and beyond.

In Iraq, despite the socio-economic circumstances coupled with the continuation of intense price competition, the operator achieved US$ 523 million revenues due to growth in data usage and numerous customer acquisition initiatives in the northern regions of the country. Zain Iraq’s efficiency drive saw EBITDA reach US$ 179 million, reflecting a 34 percent EBITDA margin. Net income amounted to US$ 11 million for the period. Zain Iraq leads the market serving 12.9 million customers.

Zain Saudi Arabia recorded its first-ever half yearly net profit of US$ 14 million, compared to net losses of US$ 154 million in the same period last year. The turnaround and cost optimization program in place at the operation, combined with investment in network upgrades and the introduction of appealing data monetization initiatives, bolstered all key financial indicators for the period. Revenues for the period were up by 9 percent, reaching US$ 1.04 billion.

However, the introduction of the biometric identification requirement during the year and the impact of seasonality saw the Zain Saudi Arabia’s total customer base shrink by 15 percent, to stand at 9 million customers at the end of June 2017. But the operator witnessed a 42 percent rise in data revenues (excluding SMS and VAS) Y-o-Y, representing 50 percent of total revenues.  

"The first six-months of 2017 produced some defining positive developments such as the progress being achieved through the turnaround program in Saudi Arabia and robust growth in our data monetization, Enterprise (B2B), and smart city initiatives in several key markets,” said Mr. Bader Nasser Al-Kharafi.

Zain Jordan grew its customer base by 3 percent Y-o-Y, serving 4.2 million customers at the end of June, and maintaining its market leading position despite intense price competition. Y-o-Y revenues increased 2 percent to reach US$ 241 million, with EBITDA up 1 percent to reach US$ 116 million, reflecting an impressive 48 percent EBITDA margin.

However, net income decreased 5 percent to US$ 48 million for the six-month period. With the continual expansion of 4G services across the country, data revenues (excluding SMS & VAS) represented 37 percent of total revenues.

Zain Bahrain reported net income of US$ 4 million, reflecting a large 21 percent decrease. The operator generated revenues of US$ 100 million for the first six months of 2017, up 17 percent Y-o-Y. EBITDA for the period amounted to US$ 30 million, down 8 percent, reflecting an EBITDA margin of 30 percent. Data revenues (excluding SMS & VAS) increased 36 percent Y-o-Y, representing 43 percent of overall revenues.

Published in Finance

Iraq Wallet, the country’s leading mobile wallet and digital payment company, announced it has expanded its ‘ZainCash’ service by introducing and launching chanbar.com, a multi-channel, cloud-based e-commerce platform to support Iraqi online entrepreneurs.

Chanbar.com allows small and medium-sized businesses to launch customizable online stores within 24 hours at no charge to the businesses, and is being delivered through. The first of its kind in Iraq, this life-empowering service is available to Zain mobile customers through the mobile operator’s nationwide 3.9G network.

Chanbar.com eliminates the cost and effort related to designing, coding, hosting, integration and other set-up activities, enabling entrepreneurs to kick off their e-commerce projects swiftly. The initiative also encourages off-line merchants to open new digital selling channels effortlessly.

The introduction of Chanbar.com will play an important role in helping develop economic diversification which is fundamental towards the development of Iraq, and is in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals goal 8: “Decent Work and Economic Growth,” which promotes inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

This online undertaking by Iraq Wallet is ideal for a country like Iraq given the country has one of the most youthful populations in the world, with nearly 50% of its inhabitants being under the age of 19 years. The use of technology has also risen exponentially since 2003, with 78% of Iraqis now using mobile phones and 12% of the population owning a personal computer.

Chanbar.com utilizes Messenger to enhance its e-commerce platform and streamline shopping activities. Given that significant numbers of businesses and end-consumers in Iraq are actively present on Facebook and over 1 billion people use Messenger monthly, leveraging this channel to showcase products, converse with customers, and begin the checkout process is viewed as being a highly effective sales channel.

Customers can view merchant's product catalogs while conversing over Messenger, and are then able to tap through to browse and buy products and services, completing the purchase over chanbar.com.

Commenting on the introduction of this latest e-commerce platform, Yazen Altimimi, CEO of Iraq Wallet said, "We see a lot of talented entrepreneurs in Iraq who only require the tools to start profitable and sustainable businesses. We are keen to support their efforts and believe the Chanbar platform can and will encourage thousands of budding entrepreneurs in Iraq to turn their ideas into reality.”

Altimimi continued, "We are building a forward-looking platform that reflects the latest trends in shopping behavior. We believe utilizing Facebook messenger as another selling vertical is a progressive step given the service’s popularity, and we expect it to prove highly successful.”

Messenger is popular among Iraqi consumers, who spend a substantial amount of time discovering, evaluating, and communicating on Facebook.

Youth development plays a significant role in Zain Group’s corporate sustainability efforts, and this is even more evident in a market such as Iraq given its youthful population and limited formal employment opportunities given the social instability in the country. Thus, Zain continues to be an active player in promoting entrepreneurship, e-commerce and the digital economy in Iraq. 

ZainCash Mobile Wallet was incorporated in March of 2013 to develop financial solutions via mobile and web and was granted a license by the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) in December 2015. It is the largest e-banking service provider in Iraq, offering the Iraqi customer the easiest and most convenient access to financial services across the country.

Its main consumer services include P2P money transfer, utility bill payments, digital goods, mobile recharge and e-commerce checkout. All these transactions can now be conducted directly from a Zain mobile customer’s phone, be it a smartphone or a regular mobile, or at an appointed Iraq Wallet Agent.

All current and future ZainCash services will also be subject to the systems and safety protocols instituted and overseen by the Central Bank of Iraq, which has established operational regulatory and administrative frameworks for these services in line with international standards.

The Central Bank of Iraq’s mission is to promote confidence in the economy through the creation of a safe economic environment coupled with a sound competitive system for all. This outlook has been reaffirmed through several policies and procedures introduced by this major financial institution on several occasions.

Zain Iraq and Ericsson announced on August 29 that they have signed a three-year extension of their network and IT operation and optimization managed services agreement. Under the extended agreement, Ericsson will continue to optimize, transform and manage network and IT operations for Zain’s nationwide 3G mobile network in Iraq, which currently includes over 4,200 sites across the country. This agreement will allow Zain to focus on expanding its network and offer appealing voice and highly demanded data services to meet customer needs, especially in the corporate sector.

The deal will result in Zain ramping up its offer to deliver best quality of service and experience to its 11.2 million customers using Ericsson’s managed services capabilities. The agreement also sees Zain benefit from a reduction in operating costs (OPEX) while offering customers improved data service quality and availability, given the pent-up demand for mobile broadband in the country.

Furthermore, Zain will be able to increase its focus on its core customer-facing business activities such as managing customer relationships and offering a shorter time-to-market for the delivery of new services and technologies.

“Through this agreement, Zain Iraq will be better positioned to support the evolution and growth of the telecommunication industry in the country and ensure that all Iraqis receive urgently-needed quality mobile telecommunication services,” said Scott Gegenheimer, Zain Group Chief Executive Officer.

“Social volatility has led to network instability in this huge and significant market for Zain, and as we strive to continue providing connectivity for our valued customers, our close relationship with Ericsson enables us to maintain vital mobile services and further contribute to the economic and social development of Iraq’s economy.” 

Rafiah Ibrahim, Head of Middle East and East Africa at Ericsson, said: "Today’s announcement is another testimony of our long-term partnership with Zain in Iraq and across other markets.  Throughout the years, we helped Zain in Iraq to provide a differentiated experience to its customers and we look forward to continuing our partnership and transform Zain’s network with our experience centric managed services offerings."


Published in Telecom Vendors