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Providing telecommunications services can be challenging in countries going through civil unrest. In Iraq, Korek Telecom was able to overcome the challenge and rebuild its network to offer the best service to its subscribers. In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Ahmed Diwan, chief commercial and marketing officer, Korek Telecom, explained how the operator was able to keep abreast of digitalization in spite of the challenges.  

Telecommunication companies face increasingly tough times as digitization reshapes the industry landscape. How is Korek adapting to the change while also repairing the damage occurred during times of civil unrest?

Digitalization is the essential step forward for all telecommunication operators globally to succeed and maintain their market positioning. We, as Korek Telecom, understand that digitalization is a necessity for our survival and evolution in the business ecosystem of the future.

We have been working on digitizing both our internal operations and creating advanced business solutions to help enterprises keep up with changing environment in the digital age.

Internally, we have also adopted a digitalization strategy. We have had digital transformation in our quality systems, internal processes, communication channels, purchasing processes and other routine processes within departments.

Externally, we gained the trust of our enterprise subscribers to always provide them with the latest technology that helps them grow and advance in the competitive market. We are constantly working on introducing some of the most advanced services in the region such as cloud computing, cybersecurity and IoT solutions that will allow our customers and partners to lead the way in the transformative future that is coming.

The war against terrorism in Iraq has negatively impacted the economy and the damage was even more for telecommunication companies. Not only did Korek’s revenues drop, but also Korek’s network was totally destroyed by terrorist forces. However, Korek was the first to rebuild the network in the affected areas. As a result, Korek is now leading in those areas in terms of market share while providing best quality service.

Korek Telecom is well-known for its initiatives and offers available to students and youths; for example, Korek Ambassador, IT Lab, etc. Why do you think it’s important to target the younger audience?

Korek Telecom cares very much about giving back to the community, especially in helping the youth. The youth are the future and Korek Telecom is seeking to prepare them in the best way possible for a brighter future. IT Lab was an initiative launched by Korek Telecom in order to help the youth in the sector of IT and technology. Korek Talent was subsequently launched to help the youth with artistic talents to showcase them through Korek Telecom platforms. Korek Talent started with photography and will help with other talents such as music in the future. The last initiative launched in 2019 was Korek Ambassador. The Ambassador program seeks to help university students by giving them the opportunity to network with other ambassadors and organize events and activities with full flexibility. Each university will have one ambassador.

It is the goal of Korek Telecom to be a force for spreading positivity. The youth, most of whom are fresh and have less opportunity than others, are the target of Korek’s initiatives. Besides the multiple initiatives that have been thus far launched, Korek sponsors and donates to many events and activities organized by groups of young people and youth volunteer groups. Furthermore, Korek consistently supports universities and educational institutions to make sure that the opportunity for a better quality education is always available.

What is Korek’s main strategy in order to keep up with the competition from other operators in Iraq?

Competition is an essential component of Korek’s success. Competition always makes way for more and more effort by serving as a motivational factor for the team.

Of course, Korek believes in the principles of fair competition that upholds the value of telecommunications for subscribers and competitors alike. It is always the aim of Korek to maintain a positive competitive environment that results in a winning situation for all stakeholders. It is the firm belief of Korek Telecom that competitiveness should always be determined by the quality of service provided.

Telecom operators are gearing up for 5G all across the Middle East. Is Korek getting ready for this new technology? Where do you stand on bringing 5G to the region?

5G is the future of communications and networking. Everyone is now preparing for a world of 5G that will allow for advanced artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), internet of things (IoT) and other relevant technologies that will be made available and/or more feasible. A great window of opportunity will be opened as a result of 5G.

It will take some time before 5G picks up not forgetting to set up the required solutions and regulations and provide the necessary infrastructure to deploy it. The other sectors should be ready as well to embrace this technology because it is not only targeting individuals but also all other sectors of the ecosystem. We believe 5G and digital transformation will be changing the shape of the world and will increase efficiency and productivity.

Currently, Korek is working on setting up the proper foundations for this technology. We are now building and rehabilitating the network while taking into account the 5G technology; a full fledge network modernization is happening now and once we are ready for that, we will be capable of hosting 4G/5G technology.

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