Saturday, 27 May 2017

Darul Aman Palace second phase restoration works to start soon

A total of 3 million dollars have been spent on historical Darul Aman Palace in Kabul that is under restoration. The Palace’s restoration was launched with hope that the site can become the center of a new government quarter and a tourist attraction. The first phase of the restoration which involved cleaning of the war-ruined Palace has been completed and the site is ready for the major work. Officials said that the second phase of the project would be launched in coming days and a tender is being announced. The restoration of Darul Aman Palace is expected to cost USD 20 million. It is funded through government budget and the project is planned to be completed within the next two years. Visiting the site, Mansoor Naderi, the Minister of Urban Development and Housing of Afghanistan echoed President Ashraf Ghani’s statement that Afghanistan’s 100 years of independence in 2019 should be celebrated in Darul Aman Palace.

Assessing the opportunities and challenges for infrastructure transparency

CoST Afghanistan launched its Scoping Study, exploring the opportunities for and challenges to infrastructure transparency. With strong representation across government, industry and civil society, and live streamed across various media channels, the launch event highlights the strong demand for infrastructure transparency development at a national level.

The Scoping Study identified that the most significant challenges to public infrastructure procurement remain around project delivery and completion. From consultation across stakeholders, key concerns included political influence on contract awards, beneficial ownership of contracting firms and insufficient or overlapping monitoring.

The Scoping Study comprises analysis of Afghanistan’s current framework for transparency and accountability, in addition to primary research on the transparency baseline for 20 public infrastructure project. Comprising works at both the national and provincial level, the projects cover pivotal sectors including agriculture, mining and energy. Key findings from the analysis include:

  • Procuring Entities’ understanding of proactive disclosure generally aligned with the expectations of Afghan law and CoST principles; however, responses to requests for reactive disclosure often cited the need for an official letter to gain access to information, as opposed to acknowledging access to information rights.
  • Information disclosure by donors is limited and inconsistent. Within the projects sampled, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) were the key donor funding sources. No disclosure was noted from IDB and in the case of ADB, though information was available online, it was not possible to verify disclosed data.
  • Disclosure is often dispersed across numerous sources at project level but there is a lack of overview at ministerial level.

As many of Afghanistan’s procurement laws and regulations are relatively new, challenges remain on both the demand and supply side of information. With regards to demand, the Study noted that capacity is a major concern amongst the relevant stakeholders and cited Afghanistan’s significant illiteracy levels and high rural proportion. Whereas for supply of information, donors – who constitute a major proportion of public infrastructure funding in Afghanistan – often follow their own disclosure policies and practices and thereby escape the scrutiny of local institutions and actors.

The Scoping Study recommends that there is a focus on compliance with existing transparency laws as opposed to increasing legal requirements for disclosure. It highlights the need to create a culture of disclosure, advocating for a staged approach that strengthens institutions, builds trust, and recognises capacity requirements whilst realistically acknowledging the risks involved.

H.E Abdul Satar Murad, Minister of Economy and CoST Afghanistan’s Multi-Stakeholder Group Chairman, said: “Transparency in the infrastructure sector to prevent misuse of government investment is a vital issue. It is important for the government, civil society and private sector as Multi Stakeholder Group (MSG) members to understand where precisely the weaknesses and failings are in the infrastructure sector and to identify challenges and propose solutions.”

Mr. Sebghatullah Karimi, CoST Afghanistan National Coordinator, said: “Unfortunately, each year a significant amount of the national budget is wasted due to mismanagement and corruption. CoST, through disclosure of infrastructure project information, identifies the weaknesses and strengths and provides technical recommendations to the Government in order to bring about reforms.”

Mr. Ahmadullah Mauj, Programme Manager, Integrity Watch Afghanistan, said: “Integrity Watch Afghanistan is honoured to be a member of the CoST Afghanistan Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) and have managed and implemented this Scoping Study successfully. Access to information is a key right and CoST Afghanistan will assure the disclosure of information from beginning to end of an infrastructure project lifecycle.”

The complete Scoping Study is available to download here. The Study will guide CoST Afghanistan’s disclosure, assurance and multi-stakeholder working at the national level.
>>> To find out more about the programme, visit the CoST Afghanistan website.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Kabul New City - Real Estate’s next BIG THING

Agriculture: An opportunity for better jobs for Afghanistan’s youth

Also available in: دری | پښتو

“I was a completely broken person before, a person who was not able to confront the hardship of life,” says Pashtuna, a 32-year-old poultry farmer who lives in the Herat province with her husband and five children.
A beneficiary of the National Horticulture and Livestock Project she decided to attend the Farmers Field School. Upon completion of her training, she received 100 laying hens and access to equipment, feed, and animal vaccines. Pashtuna was able to maintain 80 laying hens and generated a AFN 560 income, half of which she kept to buy poultry food. “Thanks to the poultry farm and the grace of God, I can afford my life and I have a bright vision for my family future,” she says.
Revitalizing agriculture and creating agriculture jobs is a priority for the Government of Afghanistan and the World Bank Group as the sector can play an important role in reducing poverty and sustaining inclusive growth.
Until the late 1970s, Afghanistan was one of the world’s top producer of horticultural products and supplied 20 percent of the raisins on the global market. The country held a dominant position in pistachio and dried fruit production, and exported livestock and wool products to regional markets.
Unfortunately, decades of conflict destroyed much of Afghanistan’s agricultural infrastructure. The last fifteen years, however, have witnessed positive and inspiring changes in the lives of Afghan farmers, such as Pashtuna.
While focusing on rebuilding infrastructure, reorganizing farming communities and identifying vulnerabilities and opportunities, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) has brought new ideas and innovations to the agriculture sector in Afghanistan.
“Over the past five years, important changes in the practice and direction of agriculture have demanded greater expectation on performance and responsiveness of our Ministry, as well as other institutions of the government,” explains Assadullah Zamir, Afghanistan’s Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock. “And the demand by women and men farmers, who have discovered the potential of improved methods of growing fruits and vegetables and producing livestock, has been recasting the relationships between MAIL and our clients, the farmers.”

An Impending ‘Youth Bulge’ in Rural Afghanistan will Require New and Better Jobs
Afghanistan’s rural labor force will experience a ‘youth bulge’ in the years to come. About 46 percent of the country’s rural population is under 14 (ALCS 2013-14), and the proportion of people entering the workforce will grow faster in the coming years requiring effective job creation policies.
As noted in the forthcoming economic sector work Jobs from Agriculture in Afghanistan, about half a million extra male young workers and nearly about 160,000 extra female workers will join the workforce by 2018. Yet, while agriculture is a major source of jobs in rural Afghanistan, the sector accounts for about 36 percent of rural income as the majority of agriculture workers are unpaid young adults working in their families’ farms .
This new generation is more literate and skilled than their elders. As a result, the key challenge for policy makers and development practitioners in Afghanistan is to generate new jobs and better jobs. Failure to do so may drive the young generation of workers into frustration and lead the country into further social instability.

The Way Forward: Promoting Better Jobs for the Youth in Agriculture
Agriculture is often seen as an unattractive sector with low returns, especially among young workers. However, in the past years, the Afghan government has increased its support to the private sector and encouraged greater competition and public-private partnerships in agricultural value-chains. This has helped reposition agriculture as a viable and lucrative sector for domestic and international investment in Afghanistan.
Agriculture represents an enormous opportunity for growth and better jobs for young entrepreneurs, especially for those already involved in their families’ farms or agri-businesses. Sub-sectors such as horticulture, high-value cash crops like saffron, dry fruits and nuts, fruit processing, and other value-added products hold abound with opportunities.
However, there is still limited awareness of the long-term benefits of agribusiness among the youth. More systematic and targeted initiatives from the government, donors and private sector can help remove obstacles that stand in the way of doing business in agriculture. Such initiatives could include facilitating access to investment funds to buy machinery and technologies and improving land laws and policies to ease the process of acquiring farming lands.
Equally important is providing the right knowledge and skills and learning from other peers’ successful stories like Pashtuna’s.

Afghan capital Kabul to host over 20 nations for peace meeting

Representatives from more than 20 nations have been invited to a meeting on peace which will be hosted in Kabul on June 6.
The Kabul process meeting is expected to consolidate efforts on peace and that Afghanistan takes the lead in the process. “Any efforts on Afghan peace should be made at the initiative, ownership and leadership of the Afghan government,” Dr Abdullah’s deputy spokesman, said. Countries that have been invited to the meeting include Saudi Arabia, India, Iran, Pakistan, China, Norway and United Kingdom. Representatives from the EU and UN are also expected to attend the meeting. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has repeatedly called on Taliban insurgents to join the peace process, but the group has always refused to accept the offer. The last multi-nation meeting on Afghan peace was held last month in the Russian Federation, which, according to Kremlin, was meant to coordinate regional efforts to promote national reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Афганская компания Roshan روشن начнёт предоставлять услуги связи формата 4G

Афганская компания 'Roshan' объявила, что начнёт предоставлять услуги связи формата 4G. Компания намерена выйти на лидерские позиции в предоставлении услуг связи по новому протоколу, что послужит развитию экономики как в частном, так и в государственном секторе. В 2013 году компания 'Roshan', ведущий афганский провайдер, вложила в развитие связи стандарта 3G около 100 млн. долларов США. Протокол 4G позволяет существенно ускорить передачу данных по интернету, вплоть до 400 мегабит в секунду.

AFGHANITE - one of the prides of Afghan entrepreneurship

AFGHANITE Company is the leading engineering service provider in the fields of geosciences and environment in Afghanistan, qualified by three ISO certificates (9001, 17025, 14001) and USACE/ABA lab certificate. Having a unique Technical Team with more than 10 years of experience and highest education level (Ph.D. and Master Degree), benefiting from the most comprehensive lab and highest drilling capacity (8 rigs each with 1000m capacity) in Afghanistan; AFGHANITE is able to provide highly qualified technical support to the mining and infrastructure sectors. From filed survey to detailed rock/soil mechanics and hydrogeological modelings and calculations, AFGHANITE covers the needs of the most difficult projects.
>>> Afghanite Geo & Mining Engineering Services