Discussing Civil and Electrical Projects in Kurdistan with Kamaran Bakr of Civelec

Kamaran N. Bakr, CEO of Civelec, a company specialized in civil and electrical projects in Kurdistan and a leading supplier of electrical materials in the region, gives an overview of Civelec and mentions some of its upcoming projects and success stories. He also discusses international reach and talks about his wish to attract investors.

Interview with Kamaran N. Bakr, CEO of Civelec

Kamaran N. Bakr, CEO of Civelec

What are the key competitive advantages of your company? What do you bring to the market that makes you stand out?

Our area was suffering from the bad quality of materials and services, so the priority was for quality and good service. The market is flooded by Chinese materials, Iranian materials, and some bad Turkish materials. We started with the European materials using very good qualifications. We even tried to convince our government to exclude many unknown sources from the market and go only for very well-known players like GE, Schneider, Philips, etc., – the very famous companies that provide quality, qualified materials and products. Other small companies just beyond the border on the Turkey side and Iran side were not working out and they were supplying very cheap materials to the area. From the beginning, we tried to go out from this market to other European standards and we succeeded and have been sending the governmental staff to these factories to see the differences in products and even the service after sales, guarantees, and warranties. This is the main point in our company that gives us more trust among other companies or the governmental sector.

What is your international reach?

We are only working nationally within Iraq for now, but we are importing materials from different countries such as Germany, Italy, Turkey, Spain, France. Our activities are mainly in Kurdistan and we started in Central and South Iraq one year ago.

Are you looking for investors?

We submitted a project to the government for approval and they allocated 14,000 meters of land for us to establish a factory for transformers and related equipment and galvanizing poles.

Yes, we are looking for investors for two reasons. First, there is a big shortage of cash flow. Because most of the invoices are still pending, it is not easy. Second, we are looking for new technology and systems in our field and in other fields also. We have planned to contact some of our previous partners and suppliers in this field. We also want to have the fabrications here, to have manufacturers here in Kurdistan instead of importing materials. If you look at a list of what Iraq or Kurdistan are importing, you can see everything from A to Z is coming from outside Iraq. Now it is the right time to have factories inside Iraq, at least in Kurdistan, because very simple things are being imported from neighboring countries. For example, Syria is in a war and a very bad situation and still, they are exporting materials to Kurdistan. Even agricultural products we are importing. This situation needs to change. That is why we want to start with fabrications and begin producing materials here in Kurdistan.

What is one of your success stories as a company?

We submitted a project to the government for approval and they allocated 14,000 meters of land for us to establish a factory for transformers and related equipment and galvanizing poles. We are about to start construction on that project.

What are your current projects?

At the moment, in Azadi substation, for example, we have projects called pooling electrical feeders, which are underground cables and 1133 kVA. This is one of our ongoing projects. We have another two projects in Central Iraq providing six mobile substations. We have another two projects in Najaf providing electrical materials, power transformers, electrical poles, and conductors. Also, we have two projects, one in Mosul, one in Tikrit, dealing with innovating and expanding and renovating the old network by supplying materials and changing the damaged parts on feeders and the networks. We have seven projects currently ongoing and we have submitted for another four projects which we are waiting on the results from the analyzing committee to decide on the tenders. These projects are short term projects. Everything will be finished in two to eight months. Our long-term project is the manufacturing.

How did you start to work in this field? Why did you decide to create this company?

Actually, I started as a simple staff member in 1992 with one of the UN agencies, an international NGO, as a contractor. This was a door for me to enter the business and form relations with international NGOs and companies. Through this, they introduced me to new companies, new people, and slowly, I found myself involved with these companies after the NGO’s fund finished. They sent home all staff and we were looking for a job with the companies. I started working with one of the companies I had built a relationship with and slowly, we learned the new administration, the new system. These international NGOs, when they are coming from Australia, from America, there are new ideas and new networks. It was very helpful for the company and also helpful for me, because this company was running very classically and running well. This company was Bekhma and we are still together now. I created my own company in 2008, leading my company as CEO and also as a consultancy and as a partner for Bekhma as well as two other companies.

How you see the image of Kurdistan abroad? What do you want it to be?

As for the Kurdistan situation, it is both sides. I am optimistic. We have the chance and infrastructure to be a modern area, and a lot of opportunities for business because the security situation is very good compared to the neighboring countries. We have a healthy society. As a new market, there is a need for everything starting from agriculture, manufacturers, electricity, power, oil, and other industries. If everything recovers and the oil prices go back up after COVID, Kurdistan will go back to 2010, 2014 when we were booming. There was very healthy construction everywhere. It was a very happy time. But the other side is that the neighboring countries or the political situations there and in Iraq have an effect on Kurdistan. This is also why we have some concern, because we do not know how, for example, America would deal with Iraq. The big question is what the situation will be with Iran, Turkey, Syria. This will affect us, sometimes positively and negatively. We hope it will be easy because when there is conflict in Baghdad internally or with different countries, this will affect the long-term projects that will then affect the investors. This is one of the challenges in the area.


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