Nine years following the Iraq war, the oil-rich nation is a country on the mend. Iraq today is still a nation in rebuilding mode, and while challenges remain, the promise of a bright future for Iraq reconstruction beckons.
Some successes have come from reconstruction efforts, but rebuilding has been hampered by problems like pervasive corruption, inadequate security, and insufficient funding. Some have suggested that efforts were also hurt by an incomplete understanding by the international community of the particular culture and needs of the Iraqi people.
Senior government officials from Iraq say their country requires $500-700 billion investment dollars to repair its infrastructure, likening the war-ravaged country to post-WWII Germany. Nine years after the U.S. invasion ousted former president Saddam Hussein, the reconstruction requirements are huge, chairman of Iraq’s National Investment Commission, Sami Araji said at a New Delhi business meeting.
A large part of Iraq’s industrial, transport, and trade infrastructure was destroyed during the war. Iraqi ministers admitted that violence is still a worry for foreign investors- a number of recent attacks killed at least 42 people. But Araji said security is steadily improving in the nation of 32 million.
Improved stability should encourage a spike in foreign aid and investment to both the petroleum economy and non-petroleum economy according to experts. The oil industry is expected to generate a large amount of wealth that will help transform the war torn country.
Proposed Renaissance Plan
There have been a number of proposals put forward for private sector developments in Iraq. The Baghdad Renaissance Plan is a proposal for a 25-year investment plan designed by Hisham N. Ashkouri to turn a large area of silt deposits into an upscale residential and commercial neighborhood in central Baghdad along the Tigris river.
When completed, the banking, commerce, conventions and cultural centers would be occupied by about 500,000 people. The U.S. Department of Commerce has encouraged the project, along with other regional organizations.
The consensus view is that social and political instability in the area make the development somewhat risky, in spite of an anticipated high rate of return on the investment. The current bottleneck for the project is worries about security during the surveying and construction phases.
Proposed Sindbad Hotel Complex and Conference Center
A smaller project of Ashkouri’s is also under consideration. It would be the first newly built high rise hotel and movie theater complex in today’s Baghdad and a good model for Iraq reconstruction. Although the project was given political risk insurance, investors are wary about committing to the first phases of development.
Iraq today has a promising future if it is able to allay concerns about security and corruption and attract foreign investment for Iraq reconstruction.