Kurdistan’s Road to Independence: Building a New Economic Structure

By Tara Shwan

As the people of the Kurdistan Region prepare to head to the polls on September 25, 2017, in a historical referendum on Kurdistan's independence, we compare the economies of Iraq with other nations and ask, “What economic structure would a sovereign Kurdistan take?"

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Kurdistan’s Independence Referendum from an Economic Point of View

By Tara Shwan

This is not a political opinion, but an economic point of view. Some people in the Kurdistan Region oppose the proposed referendum for independence just because it's adopted by a certain party, while others argue that this isn't the right time for a serious step like that as the Region is suffering from severe economic crisis.

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Good Governance of Natural Resources for Economic Growth

By Paiman Ramazan Ahmad

Kaufmann et al (1999) defined "governance as the traditions and institutions that determine how authority is exercised in a country." Based on available literature including thoughts of neo-institutional scholars including, Douglass North and MancurOlsan, a positive relationship between the quality of institutions, governance structures, and economic growth is found.

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AKEI is focused on impact: making academic research actionable. As such, we target the following stakeholders:

People of Iraqi Kurdistan

These are AKEI’s primary constituents. If there is self-determination, the people must be informed and empowered. AKEI does this through media outreach and economic empowerment programs. The KR has almost two million internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees. AKEI intends to research policies and implement programs to help address this population and its impact on the economy.


AKEI is developing partnerships with universities in the US and Kurdistan. The goal is to sustain not only our own research, but also promote the next generation of Kurdistan Region’s economists and business leaders. AKEI will take on student fellows for research assignments, support local national experts/faculty as senior fellows, host events and conferences at universities to make them accessible to students, and facilitate intercontinental collaboration and learning.


AKEI maintains strong relationships with many of the NGOs implementing economic empowerment programs in the KR. NGOs will be partners for program implementation, conferences and events, and community outreach. AKEI will coordinate its activities with NGOs to prevent duplication of efforts and build on existing efforts in order to produce more effective outcomes.

Private Sector

Through membership and engagement, AKEI seeks to understand businesses’ constraints to growth and to provide research and analysis enabling more effective policy development. AKEI also offers consulting services for companies seeking to do business in Kurdistan and stay ahead of economic trends. Through events, conferences, trade delegations, and engagement, AKEI will give a voice to the business community in policy discussions. AKEI envisions that rehabilitation and reconstruction in post-ISIS Kurdistan will require significant infrastructure investment and cooperation between government and the private sector.


Government officials and staff who create and implement economic policies must be considered in all AKEI activities in a nonpartisan way. AKEI will maintain its independence, presenting its research and conference outcomes to the government for consideration in policy development. AKEI coordinates closely with the KRG and will further build its relationships with the Iraqi and US governments to ensure collaboration. AKEI offers the KRG training and education workshops on economic policy and provides an independent forum for policy debate.


AKEI depends on media and journalists to communicate our researches and activities to the world. AKEI works hard to maintain a strong working relationship with journalists and media outlets both inside and outside of Kurdistan, because we understand its power to convey our message. The AKEI team regularly provides the media with economic subject matter expertise through interviews and articles.