Sunday, 18 February 2018

New Delhi and Tehran to expand cooperation

India and Iran on Saturday 17 February signed a USD 85 million agreement for the development of Chabahar seaport in south-eastern Iran.
According to the agreement, India will invest the money to build the capacity of Chabahar port. The lease agreement which gives operational control to India of Shahid Beheshti port (phase one of the Chabahar port) was signed in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New Delhi. In a joint press conference after signing the agreements, Indian Prime Minister said that the two countries want to expand bilateral ties and cooperation in economic development. “We will support the construction of the Chabahar-Zahedan rail link so that Chabahar gateway’s potential could be fully utilized,” Indian Prime Minister said. “We want to expand connectivity, cooperation in the energy sector and the centuries-old bilateral relationship.”

Due to the lack of employment opportunities, most of the Afghan youth willing to migrate to other countries

In a report published at the beginning of February, the World Bank said that due to the lack of employment opportunities in Afghanistan, most of the Afghan youth will be willing to migrate to the other countries. Based on this report, due to the worst economic situation in Afghanistan in 2015, 2.25 million Afghans were registered as economic migrants in other countries. The report adds that 400 thousand people are added to the Afghan work force annually, something that will increase the number of Afghan economic migrants in the other countries.
In addition, about one month ago, the Afghan Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Faizullah Zaki had also expressed concern saying if the Afghan government and the private sector did not work together to reduce the unemployment rate, Afghanistan will have 4 million unemployed population after five years.
The waste migration of Afghans to other countries in the past several decades is an issue that, besides war and insecurity, is linked with unemployment and poor economic situation.
What is the unemployment situation in Afghanistan? What is the condition of the Afghan economic migrants in the other countries? What should the government do in this regard? These are the questions that are analyzed here.

Unemployment and poverty in Afghanistan
Insecurity, instability, corruption, poor governance, plurality of population, and the return of Afghans migrants from other countries are factors that have enhanced the number of unemployed people in the country.
After Soviet invasion in Afghanistan and during the civil war, the poverty rate in the country begun to rise. At that time many Afghans took refuge in neighboring countries and lost their business and assets.
After 2001, with the presence of international force in Afghanistan, despite the injection of millions of dollar by the international community, the unemployment rate in the country remained high.
In 2007 and 2008, 36.3% of Afghanistan’s population was living beneath the poverty line. However, based on a joint report of the World Bank and the Afghan government, the poverty rate rose to 39.1% in 2013 and 2014. In this report, unemployment and the decreased international aids to the country are listed to be the main factors behind the poverty in Afghanistan.
After 2014, although there exist no exact report in this regard, but one can say that the unemployment rate was rising. Moreover, unemployment, which is assumed on of the fundamental reasons behind poverty, is escalating on a daily basis. Based on the report of the World Bank, only 4.6% of the Afghan work force was unemployed in 2001, in 2002 and 2003 this percentage was 4.9%, in 2005 8.5% and after that the unemployment rate begun to rise. Based on this report, 2 million Afghans were unemployed in 2013 and 2014.

Economic migrants
Economic migrants are migrants that there are economic reasons behind their migration and have migrated to other countries seeking employment opportunities.
In international levels, countries with less economic development that cannot create enough work opportunities for their fellow citizens provides these opportunities in other countries through legal ways.
Currently, many Asian countries have paved the way for their citizens to legally migrate to other countries for work, something that the Afghan government has not undertaken tangible efforts to achieve.
Most of the Afghan migrants are in Iran and Pakistan and mostly Afghans head toward Iran go to this country through illegal ways. On the other hand, statistics show that in 2007 there existed more than 100 thousand economic migrants in the industrialized countries and after 2008, this number was rising. However, during the National Unity Government this number increased more than ever.

The condition of the Afghan migrants
Based on a recent report of the World Bank, during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the civil war, 95% of the Afghan migration was registered to be due to the war and insecurity; however, after 2015, 50% of the Afghan migrants are registered as economic migrants.
According to this report, in 1990, 380000 Afghan migrants were registered to have left their countries due to economic reasons. In 2000, this number had risen to approximately one million. In 2015, this number rose to 2.25 million. This statistics show that in the past 15 years, 85000 Afghan economic migrants are added to the previous economic migrants every year.
Afghanistan is a country that have hundred thousands of economic migrants in various countries, most of which are forced to do hard and unprofessional labors. Although these migrants have a good impact on the economic situation of the country, as they sent remittance to their families, they are faced with many challenges in the other countries some of which are listed below:

  • Overall, the Afghan government lacks a sound system for its economic migrants in other countries and that is why the Afghan people head to other countries for work through illegal ways.
  • On the one hand, the migrant passing through illegal ways risk their lives and on the other hand, they face a harsh reaction on behalf of the host countries; they get imprisoned without a trial and sometimes, they are executed.
  • Some countries use them, against money, as military force for their own wars.
  • Denial of giving visas for workers with Afghan passport, which are most the case in Arabic countries is another challenge of the Afghan migrants. In this regard, after the Afghan Chief Executive’s visit to Saudi Arabia promised to give visas to Afghan workers; however, no action is undertaken in this regard yet.
  • Moreover, Afghans in the other countries undertake heavy works and do not profit the international legal rights of the workers.

What can the Afghan Government do?
Considering the insecurities and instabilities in Afghanistan, low economic growth, plurality of population, and the return of the Afghan Refugees from the other countries, it seems that the unemployment rate in the country will further increase.
The Afghan’s migration to other countries for work opportunities is one of the ways to reduced unemployment in the country. Afghanistan is one of the countries that 16% of its economic growth is due to these economic migrants; however in order to improve the current situation, the Afghan Government must undertake some actions some of which are listed below:
First; the Afghan Government must examine the world markets to evaluate the work opportunities for its workers.
Second; the government must sign agreements in this regard with other countries so that the way would be paved for Afghans to go to other countries for work.
Third; the government should develop an orderly and effective system to manage the economic migration so that the people’s economic condition develops and the rate of unemployment in the country decrease.

>>> ORIGINAL ARTICLE published February 10, 2018 on CSRSKABUL.COM

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Is worth it for foreign consulting firms and investors to set up a branch office in Afghanistan?

Processes for the procurement of consulting services for Salang Pass and Tunnel assessment and design of rehabilitation works (funded by World Bank) and for the Feasibility Study for Herat International Airport (funded by Italian Government) were started respectively at the beginning of 2016 and August 2016.
Almost two years ago; and it still remains difficult or quite impossible to predict when they will come to an end.
These procurement processes are constantly wrapped up by situations making the disappointment of foreign investors prevailing over their will to do any business in Afghanistan.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Taliban writes an Open Letter addressed to American people

Elezioni politiche del 4 marzo 2018: tutte le informazioni per i cittadini italiani residenti in Afghanistan (AIRE)

Il Presidente della Repubblica ha provveduto il 28 dicembre 2017 a sciogliere le Camere e a indire le elezioni politiche per il 4 marzo 2018. Si ricorda che il voto è un diritto tutelato dalla Costituzione Italiana e che, in base alla Legge 27 dicembre 2001, n.459, i cittadini italiani residenti all’estero, iscritti nelle liste elettorali della circoscrizione estero, possono votare per posta. A seguire si riassumono le informazioni per i cittadini italiani che intendono partecipare al voto dall’Afghanistan.
I cittadini italiani residenti in Afghanistan ed iscritti nelle liste elettorali della circoscrizione estero (AIRE) riceveranno regolarmente il plico elettorale via corriere. A tal fine, si raccomanda quindi di controllare e regolarizzare la propria situazione anagrafica e di indirizzo presso il Consolato.
E’ possibile in alternativa scegliere di votare in Italia presso il proprio Comune, comunicando per iscritto la propria scelta (opzione) al Consolato entro i termini di legge. Gli elettori che scelgono di votare in Italia in occasione delle prossime elezioni politiche, ricevono dai rispettivi Comuni italiani la cartolina-avviso per votare - presso i seggi elettorali in Italia - per i candidati nelle circoscrizioni nazionali e non per quelli della Circoscrizione Estero. La scelta (opzione) di votare in Italia vale solo per una consultazione elettorale. Chi desidera votare in Italia deve darne comunicazione scritta al Consolato entro lunedì 8 gennaio 2018.
In ogni caso l’opzione deve pervenire all’ufficio consolare non oltre i dieci giorni successivi a quello dell’indizione delle votazioni. Tale comunicazione può essere scritta su carta semplice e - per essere valida - deve contenere nome, cognome, data, luogo di nascita, luogo di residenza e firma dell’elettore. Per tale comunicazione si può anche utilizzare l’apposito modulo qui disponibile. Se la dichiarazione non è consegnata personalmente, dovrà essere accompagnata da copia di un documento di identità del dichiarante.
Come prescritto dalla normativa vigente, sarà cura degli elettori verificare che la comunicazione di opzione spedita per posta sia stata ricevuta in tempo utile dal proprio Ufficio consolare.
La scelta di votare in Italia può essere successivamente revocata con una comunicazione scritta da inviare o consegnare all’Ufficio consolare con le stesse modalità ed entro gli stessi termini previsti per l’esercizio dell’opzione.
Se si sceglie di rientrare in Italia per votare, la Legge non prevede alcun tipo di rimborso per le spese di viaggio sostenute, ma solo agevolazioni tariffarie all’interno del territorio italiano. Solo gli elettori residenti in Paesi dove non vi sono le condizioni per votare per corrispondenza (Legge 459/2001, art. 20, comma 1 bis) hanno diritto al rimborso del 75 per cento del costo del biglietto di viaggio, in classe economica, ma non e' il caso dell'Afghanistan.
>>> PER ULTERIORI CHIARIMENTI visita il sito ufficiale dell'Ambasciata d'Italia a Kabul

Technical and economic studies continue in line with the establishment of the 'Five Nations Railway Corridor' to run through Afghanistan

Officials from the Afghanistan National Railway Authority (ANRA) said that studies for the establishment of the multinational railway project are 50% complete. According to ANRA, about 900 kilometers of railway line will be built in Afghanistan and will connect Afghanistan’s northern regions to the west. Five nations including Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran and China are participating in the project. The Economic Advisor for the Iranian embassy to Afghanistan said his country strongly supports the establishment of the project between the 5 countries which will also cover Iran’s Chabahar and Bandar-e-Abbas ports. “We fully support this project, work has already been started on it, we hope that all countries in the region come forward for this project,” said the Iranian diplomat. Based on the agreement signed between the five countries in this respect, every member country has to establish a total of 2,100 kilometers of railway line within the next five years. “This project plays a vital role for regional connectivity, we are trying to wrap up the preliminary work,” said a senior official of ANRA. Economic experts have heralded the project as a milestone to further boost economic cooperation in the region and to leverage Afghanistan’s rail networks in the years to come. A preliminary agreement for developing the proposed China–Kyrgyzstan–Tajikistan–Afghanistan–Iran railway line was signed in the Republic of Tajikistan in December 2014.
Five Nations Railway Corridor
The Five Nations Railway Corridor aims to increase regional commerce and spur job creation along with larger trade volumes. This project connects China on one end and Iran on the other over a total distance of 2,100 kilometers, traversing the countries of the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan in the process. Over one thousand kilometers of the rail corridor will stretch through the Afghan provinces of Herat, Badghis, Faryab, Jawozjan, Balkh and Kunduz. The Afghan section of the rail line will be partially funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and will improve Afghanistan’s access to the Iranian ports of Chabahar and Bandar Abbas, providing ample opportunity for another order of magnitude of trade expansion.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

India better market for the fruit of Afghanistan

Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said the air corridor between Afghanistan and India has benefited Afghan investors and farmers in terms of selling their products for higher prices.

“Now we sell one kilogram of grapes for 200 or 250 Indian Rupees while we sold it for 80 Pakistani Rupees in Pakistan. If we send this fruit to Europe, we will sell one kilogram of it for at least 10 euros,” the ACCI deputy head Khan Jan Alokozay said at a transit expo in Kabul last Friday. It was first transit expo organized by private companies in the country. Deputy Minister of Transportation Fawzia Matin said the ministry will hold a joint meeting in the near future to provide further facilities for Afghan investors. “We are trying to resolve all the problems that we have in TIR – Transit International Route,” said Matin. 

At the same event, Iranian officials stressed the need for strengthening trade relations between Iran and Afghanistan. “Iran sees the establishment of railway between Afghanistan and its northern neighbors in the benefit of the region and it supports the progress of the railway between the five nations,” said Seddiq Qasemi Zakeri, an advisor at Iranian embassy in Kabul.

>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE on 'Heart Of Asia'

Afghanistan is a very fertile country which produces about 1.5 million tons of fresh fruit every year

Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) of The Islamic Republic of Aghanistan said that because of its favorable weather conditions, Afghanistan is a fertile country which produces about 1.5 million tons of fresh fruit a year. MAIL spokesman Akbar Rustami said from this amount, only 500,000 tons is being exported and the rest is sold on the domestic market. Rustami said the ministry is trying to build standard cold storage facilities so as to extend the lifespan of the country’s fruit. “In order to promote our country’s economy, prevent the fruit from rotting and to address people’s needs in winter, more cold rooms should be established and MAIL is seriously working to establish new cold rooms,” said Rustami. Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) officials meanwhile said in the first nine months of this solar year, 218,000 tons of fresh fruits were exported to foreign countries, but a large amount of produce spoils every year due to the lack of standard cold rooms. ACCI deputy head Khan Jan Alokozay said this year the volume of fresh fruit exports has increased by 40 percent against last year. “Fortunately, in the first nine months of this year, 218,000 tons of fresh fruits have been exported which shows a 44 percent increase against last year and in general shows a 38 percent increase in exports,” said Mr. Alokozay. According to ACCI officials, 90 percent of Afghanistan’s vegetables and fresh fruits are exported to Pakistan but because of repeated border closures a large amount of the fruit does not reach its destination. Although in the last year the opening of air corridors with a number of countries increased the amount of fruit being exported, economic experts said this would still not benefit the larger market. They said government must resolve land transit and trade problems with its neighbors.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

The first issue of BusinessDNA, an executive business magazine 
produced and written📝 in Kabul about #business in #Afghanistan🇦🇫

The Ministry of Agriculture of Afghanistan to build 12 large cold storage facilities across the country

The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) of The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has said it is planning to establish 12 large cold storage facilities across ten provinces for fresh fruits. Each cold storage facility will hold up to 500 tons. MAIL spokesman Akbar Rustami said the new cold rooms will be established in line with international standards so as to keep agricultural products fresh. According to Rustami, these cold storage facilities will cost in total $36 million USD. “The announcement phase of these 12 cold rooms has been finished and I can say that practical work will start in 1397 fiscal year,” said Rustami. Rustami also said construction of another eight cold storage facilities that was put on hold last year due to contractor problems, will be resumed this year. “Based on MAIL’s plan, the design of these eight cold rooms has been completed and the practical work will start soon. These cold rooms will cost 28 million US dollars which will be paid by the World Bank. These cold rooms will be completed by the end of the year,” Rustami said. Meanwhile a number of experts in the agricultural sector said cold storage facilities play a vital role in preserving fresh produce for the market. They said government should consider the establishment of cold rooms as a priority. “During the harvest season, the products are sold at a lower price on the market but when harvest time is over, prices increase by five to six times. Therefore, standard cold rooms should be established to store produce for a long time,” agricultural expert Yasin Farahmand said.
According to a number of agricultural experts, if government establishes more cold rooms, the revenue in this sector will increase significantly and Afghanistan will eventually become self-sufficient in terms of supplying the public with fresh produce.