Tuesday, February 11, 2014

NGOs ram turtle-like Internet service in Iraqi Kurdistan

By Goran Sabah Ghafour
The Kurdish society suffers from dozens of social, cultural, religious, political and administrative flaws along with irresponsible businessmen who never think of giving a dime to rebuild the war-riddled region. All the same, there is a giant force of cartel that strives to exterminate the middle class (following the worst example of the American deadly capitalism), which serves only a precarious elite in Kurdistan. One way to rescue the Kurdish society from this iron fist-ruling is the effective role of rattling, effective, robust NGOs.
Since 2000, I have seen a sea of appalling examples and a drop of good example of NGOs in Kurdistan. That’s because even the NGOs are run by fidget entourage of the cartel.  Happily, On October 27, 2013, I saw a terrific stand from the NGOs. The Kurdistan Volunteer Organization (KVO) launched a campaign on that day against one of the giant cartels in Kurdistan: The network of internet services in Kurdistan, which is controlled only by a few politically-involved businessmen. The campaign, I call it Bravery Campaign, is first in its kind to tell the destructive business empires ’Stop sucking our blood!’  
Main line of the campaign reads: No for the badness and monopoly  of internet access in Kurdistan. The idea of the campaign came from, Hemin Farid, the head of the KVO, shortly supported by 48 other NGOs. In just two days, the campaign has collected more than 30 thousand signatures in an aim to reach a million. And after one day, Kurdistan’s ministry of transportation and communication broke the ice and called upon the internet service companies to meet the requirements of the ministry, which is providing a high quality service. Any moves otherwise will result in dragging them to court, the ministry warned. I don’t believe the companies will listen to the ministry’s call, however it’s better than silence.
Only three companies supply internet services in Kurdistan through deals with foreign companies plus a dozen of smaller sub-contractors in Erbil, Sulaimaniyah and Dhok provinces. The service operates at a very slow pace, yet very expensive. 7/24 internet service reaches $50 USD a month. In some areas, the fee is even higher. The internet speed is only 256 kilobytes per second, making the service move like a turtle!
The NGOs can stir the public and then put pressure on government to take an action regulating the tele-communication services in Kurdistan. The KVO launched the Brave Campaign to do so. In a very short period, it influenced a ministry to talk! That means the public in Kurdistan are there for change but need a dynamic energy to move them. Societies change only after the public moves. This is a positive sign and a corner stone of building a strong civil society in Kurdistan.
NGO’s need stronger media backup in Kurdistan. Sad to say, media in Kurdistan don’t cover the campaign much. Few media outlets covered it in short new while the rest trampled on the indelible move. Media and NGO’s together can be a stronger force to stand against the hidden monopolists in Kurdistan. I know much of Kurdish media is run by them , but change can start through smallest, invisible, unheard voices!

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