Dutch consulate event supports e-commerce development in Kurdistan Region

The Dutch Consulate General in the Kurdistan Region hosted a panel in Erbil on Monday to improve e-commerce in the Kurdistan Region (Photo: Five One Labs)
The Dutch Consulate General in the Kurdistan Region hosted a panel in Erbil on Monday to improve e-commerce in the Kurdistan Region (Photo: Five One Labs)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - The Dutch Consulate General in Erbil on Monday hosted a panel on developing e-commerce in the Kurdistan Region, with a strong focus on the unique challenges to tech business and with the overall goal of vastly improving the status of the local private sector.

The panel event is part of a larger ongoing project entitled “Business Infrastructure” that is funded by the Netherlands and implemented by local “startup incubator” Five One Labs and the education-based Rwanga Foundation.

It is designed to revamp how tech startups and other businesses operate in the autonomous region, following a request by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Council of Ministers. It aims to provide advice to entrepreneurs and design a concrete roadmap towards improved methods and policies that fit the modern and often confusing world of doing business in an online world.

The current administration, led by Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, puts a regular and particular emphasis on developing the private sector.

Read More: Kurdistan Region’s young entrepreneurs share private sector experiences with PM

Barzani’s cabinet has taken several steps to diversify sources of income, regulate non-oil imports, and conduct a sweeping and comprehensive review of tax law and its implementation.

Five One Labs wrote in a tweet on Monday that, during the panel, solutions “to difficulties that come in the way of tech entrepreneurs in the region,” were covered at length in the event.

Participants included KRG officials that included representatives of both the prime minister and his deputy, the directorates of Labor and Social Affairs, Taxes, Company Registration, and Information Technology.

“Now thankfully, lots of progress has been made by the government after the start of this project for the business registration part,” said Maaike Keizer, the Dutch Deputy Consul General, in her speech. “However, what is left to do now is to focus on e-commerce as there are many changes, or new policies, that should be placed for the improvement of the entire infrastructure for tech-businesses.” 

“Therefore,” she continued, “it is important that - as the Netherlands Consulate and you from the public and private sector - that we also support the Kurdish Government in its objective to change outdated laws and improve the business infrastructure.”

Keizer explained that, after the panel discussion’s conclusion, a policy draft paper would be submitted to the KRG’s Council of Ministers with detailed recommendations on how to improve the local e-commerce sector.

After the panel, the Dutch envoy told Kurdistan 24, “We believe private sector development is the key to sustainable economic stability and growth in the region,” adding, “The youth should get rid of the idea that only a job with the government will guarantee them a pension.”

Moreover, she said the large youth population in the Kurdistan Region must have a future perspective so they can effectively contribute to, and take part in, the economy.

Dutch Consul General in Erbil Hans Akerboom also spoke to Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday, saying, “It is important that young entrepreneurs can easily start a business without too much red tape and other hurdles.”

“As the Netherlands,” he concluded, “we support the KRG in removing these obstacles so that startups and other young entrepreneurs can more easily start a business here in the Kurdistan Region.”

Editing by John J. Catherine