British firms encouraged to make most of opportunities in war-torn country

Mott MacDonald is understood to have won a substantial contract in the Basra area of Iraq as the country’s central government prepares to offer UK companies opportunities to take a slice of its multibillion-dollar reconstruction budget.

According to recent reports, the Iraqi finance minister, Bayan Jabr, has earmarked some $15bn to start rebuilding the country. The government's Rehabilitation, Operate and Transfer (ROT) programme means nearly 25% of the Iraqi government's 2009 budget could be spent on reconstruction.

American soldiers teaching bridge building in Iraq
Bridge building in Iraq

Mott MacDonald is understood to be just one of the British companies to have won work in the war-torn country, though it refused to confirm the story because of security concerns. Others known to be working in the country are Pell Frischmann and Amec.

Trevor Killen, an adviser from Coffey International Development, is working in Basra and said that the region is becoming safer. He said: "We are constantly working with the Iraqi locals and helping to rebuild their country, and British engineering skills are welcome here."

A conference focusing on reconstruction of Iraq was held last week in Baghdad by the AL-Kindi Society for Iraqi Engineers. Rafed Ali, a member of the organising committee for the conference, said UK companies specialising in infrastructure, engineering and energy in particular are much welcome in the war-torn region.

He said: "The government has the money to fund these projects. British engineers are known for their skills and ability to manage complex projects and we are keen to invite these firms to make the most of the situation. Energy in particular will be high on the list – we need to rebuild the country's systems from the start and these are probably the projects with most urgency in mind.”