Home / News / IBBC YEN, ‘Sawalif – The YEN Speaker Series’, With Ali Al-Saffar
IBBC YEN, ‘Sawalif – The YEN Speaker Series’, With Ali Al-Saffar
Ali Al-Saffar addressed the IBBC Young Executive Network in the first ‘Sawalif – The YEN Speaker Series’ on ‘The importance of oil & gas to Iraq’s economy and the opportunities for and challenges to diversification’ on 8th July.
He spoke with great knowledge and eloquence on the important issues challenging Iraq with regard to its energy sector but also discussed some other key challenges such as accessibility to potable water and climate change. He reported that Iraq, which is one of the most reliant countries in the world on its oil & gas revenues, faces a growing government budget deficit, compounded by the recent oil price environment triggered by CV19 and resulting OPEC output restrictions. He stated that this serves as a harbinger of the future of Iraq’s economy should oil prices remain perpetually low and stated the importance of diversification to mitigate this risk.
He noted that this is problematic given that c. USD 48bn from the budget is required to fund a heavily reliant civil services an state owned enterprises to provide job opportunities for a youthful population which is growing at a rate of c. 1 million per year. He highlighted other challenges in terms of the lack of efficiency of the electricity supply and the critical need to optimise gas production in-country rather than rely on imports.
He discussed the need for regulatory and banking reform to attract investment and develop a private sector which would shift the reliance away from state employment and allow Iraqi ingenuity to flourish. He concluded that Iraqi ingenuity was key to the creation of the Norwegian oil and gas sovereign fund, perhaps the most successful in the World: Farouk Al-Kasim, an Iraqi geologist from Basra, was key to the creation of this fund.
If you were not able to join us on the day, we could encourage you to watch the session below.