Saturday, 26 November 2016

Kandahar province of Afghanistan and Iran’s Sistan Baluchistan province agreed to expand trade via Chabahar port

Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province and Iran’s Sistan Baluchistan province have agreed to strengthen cooperation. Kandahar’s Governor Humayun Azizi signed a number of agreement with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Hashimi, last week. Both sides agreed to expand trade via the Chabahar port by providing all facilities to traders and removing trade barriers. As per the agreement, exhibitions of Iranian products would be organized in Kandahar province. And, Iran would assist in training and capacity building of the National University of Agriculture Technology in Kandahar. Both parties agreed on exchanging students and professors between Sistan-Baluchistan University and Kandahar National University of Agriculture in an effort to prepare ground for scientific and educational cooperation. The two sides also agreed on working together on the generation and distribution of electricity in Kandahar province. Primary talks and consultations concerning this field would start in 2 months. Sistan Baluchistan would invite delegation from Afghanistan to observe the province’s commercial and economic capacities in order to promote bilateral ties in the spheres of trade, economy and education.
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Iran and Afghanistan to regulate banking ties

The Governor of the Central Bank of Afghanistan (Da Afghanistan Bank-DAB) called for regulating banking ties with Iran to develop trade.
In his meeting with the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran he said that major portion of transactions of the extensive Iran-Afghan trade take place outside the banking system. He called for a mechanism to channel trade to the banking course to prevent risks for Afghan and Iranian businessmen & businesswomen. Iran and Afghanistan are trading through cash payments and traditional money exchangers, and a banking system is needed to upgrade the volume of exchanges.“Extensive trade between Iran and Afghanistan should be further promoted through banking ties and we seek expansion of the brokerage ties between banks of the two sides so as to minimize the trade risk,” said the Governor of Iranian Central Bank.





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Friday, 25 November 2016

VeilMail in Afghanistan and Iran

What would it take for you to change your communication software to protect your Privacy/Security? 1. Knowing Google/Yahoo searched your mail in order to send ads to you 2. The Government having access to every communication 3. Discovering your Metadata is permanently recorded 4. Knowing someone in China had unauthorized access to your system 5. Your bank account being defrauded. 6. Your bank, payments and income being defrauded. At which point would you change away from your social media accounts, our local ISP and your perceived current internet protection?

✉ kabul@veilmail.com

Totally secure email messaging

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Afghan women’s handicrafts exhibition in Kabul

Afghan businesswomen display their handcrafts at a exhibition in Kabul.
The exhibition, organized by businesswomen from different provinces of Afghanistan, aims at promoting women’s handicrafts and encouraging businesswomen. The businesswomen display over 40 different kinds of handicrafts including jewelry, hand-made dresses, rug, painting and jams. The organization team called on the Government of Afghanistan to provide a permanent place for women’s exhibitions.

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Афганистан расширяет сотрудничество с иранскими банками

Глава Центробанка Афганистана Халил Сиддик призвал к расширению сотрудничества с иранскими коллегами.
На встрече со своим иранским коллегой Валиуллой Сайфом Халил Сиддик отметил, что значительная часть торговых транзакций между Ираном и Афганистаном совершается в обход банковской системы. Он предложил усилить присутствие банков в этой сфере с тем, чтобы снизить риски бизнесменов обеих стран. Валиулла Сайф подтвердил существование проблемы и подчеркнул необходимость увеличения числа государственных пунктов обмена валюты.

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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

AISA leopards can't change their spots

The merger between Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) and the Licensing and Intellectual Property Departments of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MOCI) shows once again that:
- some Officials at the Government of Afghanistan do not have any will to attract foreign investors and treat those already present in the Afghan market as if they were rags;
- the fight against AISA bribery and AISA disrespect towards investors remains just a fight made only by words;
- AISA was and still remain one of the most corrupt institutions of Afghanistan;
- some representatives of AISA still remain the biggest obstacle for both local and foreign investors;
- a number of Officials at departments of other ministries involved in the registration process of a foreign company are committed to continue to exasperate foreign investors till they don't give up and accept the extravagant, stressful and humiliating rules and bureocracy created by AISA or, more likely and serious, leave Afghanistan;
- AISA is not only the troubles maker for investors, or a factory of bribes or an unsuccessful Agency, but something related to what may be called organized crime.
- is going on a striking conflict (instigated by those who did the 'good life' at AISA before the merger) between the employees and managers of the Ministry and AISA for the appointment of a licensing director which leads to undermine the quality of services to be delivered to local and foreign investors. Services that before the merger procedure were efficiently and transparently delivered by the Licensing department of the MOCI.

The above is not something abstract, but it comes from the eperiences that thousands of investors have had while registering foreign or domestic businesses at AISA. And everything is confirmed-supported by facts, evidences, tens of thousands of witnesses, emails, papers and much more. And it's really disappointing to note that within a government that is receiving another $15 billion aid are happening these shameful things. It is particularly disappointing for the taxpayers of the donor countries.
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Monday, 21 November 2016

Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey establish the new trade route for the Afghan Lapis Lazuli

The draft agreement on the five nation Lapis-Lazuli agreement was signed on Wednesday between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. The route will provide the shortest route for Afghanistan to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The draft agreement was signed at the 4th technical meeting between the delegations of the five nations in Azerbaijan, according to a statement from the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As per the statement, the agreement focuses on the custom facilities, easing visa processing and facilitating the transactions of goods. The statement regarded deal as the key achievement of the National Unity Government. “The route will cut down the transaction cost of commercial goods between the regional countries,” said the statement. The Lapis Lazuli Corridor is a lynchpin in reviving the ancient Silk Road by connecting South Asia to Central Asia and then to Europe, where Afghanistan serves as the connecting bridge. Its name comes from the fact that Afghanistan’s lapis lazuli and other semiprecious stones were exported through this route to Caucasus, Russia, Europe, the Balkans and Northern Africa over 2,000 years ago. Lapis Lazulli Corridor runs from Aqina in northern Faryab province and Turqundi in western Herat province of Afghanistan to Turkmenbashi of Turkmenistan which arrives in Baku, capital city of Azerbaijan, after passing the Caspian Sea. It connects Baku to Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, and also the ports of Polti and Batumi of Georgia. The Corridor then connects cities of Kors and Istanbul of Turkey and finally ends in Europe. The significance of the Lapis Lazuli Corridor was highlighted by the representatives of the concerned countries in the first technical working group meeting of Lapis Lazuli Corridor held in Turkmenistan on 15 November 2014. The Corridor was termed as a “shortest, less expensive, and secure passage” connecting Caucasus and Central Asia. It seeks to improve and streamline transport infrastructure and customs procedures, increase trade, create employment opportunities and bolster economic ties between the concerned nations benefitting from this trade route. The officials regarded the operationalization of the Corridor as a key factor in reviving the New Silk Road. President Ashraf Ghani also reflected on the importance of the Corridor in connecting Afghanistan with the regional countries in his speech to the American congress in March 2015 and said that Afghanistan has “already made significant headway in making the vision of the of the Lapis Lazuli corridor that will link us to Turkmenistan, Georgia, Turkey and Europe into a reality.” Furthermore, the Lapis Lazuli Corridor will provide Afghanistan with an alternative trade route. Afghanistan currently relies on its neighboring countries, mainly Pakistan, for the transit of its goods. Afghanistan’s right of transit through Pakistan was recognized in the Afghanistan- Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA) that dates back to 1965. The agreement was superseded by the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) which came into force in June of 2011. As per the agreement, Pakistan will allow Afghan trucks to carry Afghan products to the markets of China, India and other countries through the seaports of Karachi, Qasim and Gwadar Ports. However, Afghan merchants have time and again complained about the hurdles caused by Pakistani customs in exports of Afghan goods to international markets by blocking the trade routes or hiking shipping freight rate. In January 2015, as many as 2,000 Afghan containers loaded with food and non-food items were stuck at Karachi port for over two weeks due to unjustified raise in freight rates by Pakistani customs. While Pakistan has always promised to be fully committed in helping to successfully implement the APTTA, Afghanistan finds their promises dubious as transit problems on Pakistan’s soil continue to be a major impediment in boosting Afghan exports. Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) sees the Lapis Lazuli Corridor as the best alternative trade route for Afghanistan’s goods to reach the international markets and reduce its reliance on neighboring countries.
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Thursday, 17 November 2016

Veteran broadcaster John Simpson advises everyone to go on holiday in Afghanistan

Think Afghanistan and what springs to mind? Kidnappings? Car bombs? The Taliban? Perhaps, but if you’re not not perturbed by harrowing headlines, the BBC world affairs editor, John Simpson, recommends a visit to the country.

Contrary to the advice of the Foreign Office, which warns against all travel to most of Afghanistan, the veteran broadcaster has endorsed the troubled nation as a top travel destination.

“I’d advise everyone to go on holiday in Afghanistan because it’s beautiful and fantastic,” he is quoted as saying in a new Airbnb report, titled How We Travel.
“When I was filming in Kabul recently, two ragged characters came up to me – to my surprise they were British. One said ‘I’ve got to thank you so much, my wife and I were at a travel show and you told us to go to Afghanistan as it would be perfectly safe – and you were right!’.”

Simpson has filmed many war reports from Afghanistan, where 450 British servicemen and women have died in combat since 2001. However, he has also filed travel articles about his experiences about the country for The Telegraph.

Last year he wrote about his search for precious lapis lazuli jewels in Afghanistan, which, in a previous editorial, he described as his favourite country.

“And my favourite [country], whose name alone makes my heart lift? That can only be Afghanistan,” he wrote.

Though it might sound like stating the obvious, travelling to Afghanistan is inherently dangerous. Nevertheless, tour operators including Hinterland Travel and Wild Frontiers have reported a sharp rise in the number of travellers booking trips to the country since NATO ended its combat operations there in 2014.

The dangers posed by such trips were brought into sharp relief earlier this year when a Taliban attack on tourists in Herat left six people injured.

That doesn’t seem to have troubled Airbnb, however, which has 60-odd homes for rent across the country and actively promotes Afghanistan in its new How We Travel report.

Airbnb surveyed 1,750 British adults for its report and claims 42 per cent of them said discovering a corner of the globe that they didn’t know existed is “what makes a holiday special”.

In the chapter “Discovering new places: ever thought of Afghanistan as a travel destination?”, the report concluded that there has been a shift towards “more adventurous and extended holidays amongst all ages”.

Afghanistan is certainly “adventurous”, but the overwhelming advice is to stay away.

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

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Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Bank-e-Millie Afghan hoping to introduce a new home-loan system for Afghans in the near future

Bank-e-Millie Afghan on Sunday said it is hoping to introduce a new home-loan system for Afghans in the near future – a first for Afghanistan in more than 16 years. Officials at the Bank-e-Millie Afghan said they have drawn up plans for mortgage loans and repayment schemes within the framework of Islamic banking. The bank said the draft plan has been sent to the ministry of finance and The Afghanistan Bank. "Bank-e-Millie Afghan's Islamic banking (for mortgages) will soon start – within one or two months - on the basis of this, people will be able to take out long term loans for mortgages," said Rahimullah Oriakhail Marketing Manager at Bank-e-Millie Afghan. Many people are forced to pay high prices for rental houses as they do not have the cash to buy property. According to the Central Statistic Organization (CSO) more than one million people live in rented houses in Kabul alone. A number of economists in the country have meanwhile welcomed the move and said that having mortgages available to the public is a step towards financial security for families and a solution to the housing shortage. "The duration for mortgage loans (to be repaid) must be approximately 20 years because people's buying power is low and poverty and the unemployment rate is high," said Mohammad Bashir Bashiri an economist.
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Afghanistan's potato prices almost double this year

Farmers in central Bamyan province collected 300,000 tonnes of potatoes this year, less than last year’s yield, but the crop’s price doubled in 2016.
Around 90 percent of people in Bamyan are reliant on farming. Potato is one of the main agricultural products of the impoverished province, which produced 300,000 tonnes of potatoes in 2016, compare to last year’s 310,000 tonnes. However, potato prices almost double this year. The rate of per seven kilograms of potato is 90 afghanis, up from last year’s price of 50 afghanis, the agriculture and livestock director said. Abdul Wahab Mohammadi told Pajhwok Afghan News last year’s low prices caused a decline in cultivation of the crop. More than 10 types of potatoes could be grown in Bamyan, meeting 50 percent of people’s requirement, he said. More than 700 potato storage facilities have been built this year and each could store up to 30 tonnes. “We have storage capacity for only 10 percent of Bamyan potatoes. The rest of yield is at risk of being damaged by cold.” Afghanistan would no longer need to import potatoes if it enhanced its storage capacity for the entire crop, Mohammadi believed, listing lack of access to market, improved seeds and a microfinance system for farmers as the main problems. The growers’ economic situation would considerably improve if the ministries of agriculture and commerce draw up specific plans for promoting agriculture, the director hoped. Mohammad Ali, a farmer who collected 10 tonnes of potatoes, was not satisfied with its current price.“Growing potatoes exacts a heavy cost, as we have to employ workers in the cultivation and collection process. “We should also purchase fertilizers three times during the potato season. If the government distributes improved seeds and fertilizers to farmers, cultivating the crop will be more beneficial,” he remarked. Trader Nasim Haideri said: “Potatoes in Bamyan have one season and all farmers sell the crop at the same time that causes the price to go down. Earlier in the year, we bought seven kilograms of the crop for 110 afghanis but the rate later fell and caused us losses.” “Currently potatoes are sold inside the country while in past years, Afghanistan exported the crop to Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan,” he recalled.
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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Over 50 percent of Afghanistan’s road infrastructure suffering from poor maintenance

Majority of road infrastructure in Afghanistan need rehabilitation beyond repair, a U.S. government watchdog said Saturday, highlighting also poor maintenance. According to supervising body Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the U.S. spent $2.8 billon to construct and repair Afghanistan’s road infrastructure since 2002, but majority of it was deteriorated or destroyed in the hand of insurgents. “USAID and DOD (Department of Defense) spent millions of dollars on road construction in Afghanistan, but have had only limited success in ensuring the long-term sustainability of those roads,” the report said. Citing USAID estimates, the report said that 54 percent of Afghanistan’s road infrastructure suffered from poor maintenance caused by poor security, lack of capacity and corruption. SIGAR said that it assessed the condition of 1,640 kilometers of U.S.-funded national and regional highways, nearly a quarter of all paved roads in Afghanistan. The results showed that most of the highways needed to be repaired. It noted that the U.S. military in Afghanistan had “acknowledged that the Afghan government was unable to sustain the roads that had been transferred to it.” Last year, an official at the Afghan Ministry of Public Works last year admitted that 20 percent of the roads in Afghanistan were destroyed and the remaining 80 percent continued to deteriorate. Kabul-Kandahar road, which is one of the major highways in the country, also needs rebuilding than repair, according to the official was quoted in the report. The report also cited lack of finding to perform necessary maintenance of roads. According to Afghan officials, it would cost $100 million to carry out the necessary emergency, routine, periodic, and winter maintenance on road infrastructure in the country. This comes as the Ministry of Finance has provided $21.3 million annually for the efforts.
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Thursday, 10 November 2016

More and more foreigners choose Pamir Mountains in the northeast of Afghanistan as a new tourist destination

A snow leopard walks on Pamir Mountains
in Sarkand Valley in the Northeast of Afghanistan
More foreign tourists visited the Pamir Mountains in northeastern Badakhshan province this year than last year, local officials said. Provincial tourism manager, Sayed Akram Seddiq Lalzad, told Pajhwok Afghan News the number of foreign tourists visiting Pamir peaks reached 120 during the first six months of the current year as compared to 115 during the entire last year. He said the increasing number of foreign visitors had a positive impact on economic situation of local residents besides increasing the tourism sector’s revenue. “There are 15 transport companies who facilitate foreign visitors to Pamir Mountains on Ashkasham-Wakhan highway, but unfortunately the companies are not registered with the provincial information and culture department,” he said.
Lalzad said a foreign tourist was charged $450 for his transportation to Wakhan region. He said information and culture department officials during a visit to Wakhan had discussed with Ashkasham and Wakhan district chiefs facilitating tourists and reducing the fares from $450 to $350. Meanwhile, on the way to Pamir border from Ashkasham, there are 24 hotels serving tourists established by local people and the Agha Khan Foundation. The hotels have facilities of electricity, shower and food. Each tourist is charged $20 and $25 for three times food.
The hotel owners called a lack of security in Warduj district a major issue tourists faced on their way to Wakhan through Warduj currently under Taliban control. Wali Jan, a hotel owner, said if insecurity was overcome, the number of travelers and tourists to Pamir would increase by ten-fold and people’s and the government’s revenue would increase. According to Lalzad, it took four days for foreign tourists going through Dushanbe, the Tajik capital to cross into Kharaq city of Tajikistan and reach Askhasham port and then reach Pamir through Ashkasham. He said this itself was a big barrier to tourists crossing such a long path. He said if Wardooj district was cleared of insurgents and the highway reopened for traffic, the journey to Pamir would be shortened.
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Marathon in the Bamiyan province of Afghanistan a symbol of freedom for Afghan women


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Sunday, 6 November 2016

В водохранилище при ГЭС Салма в афганской провинции Герат выпущено 50,000 мальков

Министерство сельского хозяйства, ирригации и животноводства Афганистана сообщило, что в водохранилище при ГЭС Салма в провинции Герат выпущено 50 тыс. мальков рыб разных видов. Таким образом министерство планирует развивать рыбоводство в провинции. Стоимость мальков составила 25,000 долларов США. Инициатива является частью программы министерства по развитию рыбоводства в Афганистане. Водоёмы заселяются мальками рыб, также создаются новые рыбоводческие хозяйства. В центральных и южных провинциях страны можно разводить карпа; климат северных, а также некоторых гористых районов подходит для форели.


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Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Afghan women aim to help restore Afghanistan's iconic Darul Aman Palace

Afghan women seek to rebuild palace destroyed by men
By Zabihullah Noori
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-palace-women-idUSKCN12Q2Z4

Men turned it to ruins. Now women aim to help restore Afghanistan's iconic Darul Aman Palace to its former glory. Long a symbol of the country's decades of war, the abandoned palace in Kabul - bombed-out and bullet-scarred - is to be rebuilt under an ambitious government plan, and women make up a quarter of the workforce.

That's more than symbolic in a country where opportunities for women to develop careers are severely limited.



"Our participation in this important project breaks the taboo that considers women to be too weak to work on construction projects,"  Zahra Jafari, a female electrical engineer, told Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.


"It's a huge responsibility on each and every one of us. We strive for excellence and work hard to achieve success beyond expectation. And we want to prove that women are capable of implementing national projects."


The palace's reconstruction was launched by President Ashraf Ghani in May and the government hopes the site, next to a new, Indian-financed parliament, can become the center of a new government quarter as well as a tourist attraction.

Wearing standard-issue hard hats, 20 women work alongside 60 male colleagues in the skeleton of the European-style edifice that was built in the 1920s by former King Amanullah Khan just outside the capital.

The building was destroyed in the civil wars of the 1990s, when fighting between rival militias killed thousands in Kabul.

"We selected the engineers by only considering their expertise and experience," Sayed Zia Hussaini, senior advisor to the Minister of Urban Development and supervisor of the project, said by phone.

"It was a transparent process and women engineers went through the same selection process as their male counterparts."


Hussaini added that although women made up just 25 percent of the engineers, they were doing 40 percent of the reconstruction work, which will cost $20 million over three to five years.

In traditional Afghan society, it is unusual for women to work outside the home. Instead, they are mostly employed as teachers, nurses, doctors and midwives.
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Doing business in Afghanistan can be very worthwhile, even smaller investments may generate high profits in a short period of time

Afghanistan is emerging as a central hub for trade as the economies of Central and South Asia continue to grow and become increasingly integrated into the global economy. 


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Afghanistan rises to 57 in Beach Soccer World ranking from previous 108

The Afghanistan National Beach Soccer team has made a considerable gain in the World Ranking of Beach Soccer by climbing 51 points to rise to 57 in the world from its previous ranking of 108. The Afghanistan National Football Federation (AFF) informed regarding the latest ranking of the Beach Soccer ranking. According to AFF, the latest ranking puts Afghanistan ahead of some of the prominent teams, including Demark, Austria, Kuwait, Australia, Canada, and Belgium. The Football Federation further added that the significant rise in the ranking of the Afghan team is mainly due to its performance in Asian Olympics in Vietnam where Afghanistan was placed among the Top 4. Afghanistan is currently securing the 11th position in the world ranking table of the Beach Soccer having 158 points while Iran tops the table by having 1,630 points. In the meantime, Portugal is placed in the top in the World Ranking by Beach Soccer and by having 3,566 points while Russia secures the second spot and Brazil the third spot. Beach Soccer Worldwide said in the construction of the World Ranking, it has taken into account all the panorama of Beach Soccer events and competitions. The basis of the BSWW World Ranking takes into consideration many aspects and factors observed by the FIFA/Coca-Cola Men’s World Ranking. To see the complete ranking criteria, please refer to this document.
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Afghan SAFFRON ranked the best in the world for the third consecutive year

The International Taste and Quality Institute (ITQI) in Brussels ranked Afghan saffron number one for the third consecutive year. Afghan saffron was selected among 300 saffron samples from around the world. Saffron has turned into an important exporting item in Afghanistan and its cultivation is popularized throughout the country since 2002. Presently, an annual production of 3.5 tons of saffron bring in over USD 4,500,000 in revenue to the farmers of Afghanistan. Saffron is currently grown on 1,150 hectares of land across Afghanistan and the government is enhancing efforts to further boost its production. In June 2016, the Afghanistan High Economic Council approved the 5-year National Development Plan for Saffron, and the President of Afghanistan, Dr. Ashraf Ghani, ordered creation of a committee to work on production, processing, promotion & marketing of saffron. Afghanistan will be able to produce about 14 tons of saffron annually in the next four years.

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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Five priorities to boost Afghanistan’s development

Original article by Annette Dixon, the World Bank Vice President for the South Asia Region.
http://blogs.worldbank.org/endpovertyinsouthasia/5-priorities-boost-afghanistan-s-development

Today I joined leaders and representatives from 70 countries and 20 international organizations and agencies at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan. Together with its development partners, the World Bank Group pledged its continued support to the Afghan people and outlined a course of action to help all Afghans realize their dream of living in peace and prosperity.

Afghanistan has come a long way since 2001 and has made much progress under extremely challenging circumstances: life expectancy has increased from 44 to 60 years, maternal mortality has decreased by more than three quarters and, from almost none in 2001, the country now counts 18 million mobile phone subscribers.

Yet, enormous challenges remain as nearly 40 percent of Afghans live in poverty and almost 70 percent of the population is illiterate. This is made worse by growing insecurity and the return of 5.8 million refugees and 1.2 million internally displaced people. Much also remains to create jobs for the nearly 400,000 people entering the labor market each year.

To that end, here are five priorities we need to address to ensure a more prosperous and more secure future for all Afghans:

1. Aid is critical for Afghanistan’s future. Afghanistan’s future depends heavily on aid over coming years. Increased aid and an increasing share of aid delivered through the government’s budget are crucial.This aid is necessary to finance the public investments that will move Afghanistan onto a higher long-term economic growth trajectory, while improving living standards, reducing poverty, and generating revenues that could substitute for aid over time. Without such investment, growth prospects are limited and conflict risks will remain elevated.

2. Afghanistan’s future is agriculture, human capital investment, and labor mobility. 61 percent of Afghans earn their wages from agriculture, and improving agriculture productivity is the most direct way to improve incomes and employment opportunities. Investing in education and health is also vital to any growth strategy – inclusive growth is impossible when the majority of the population is illiterate and 3 million children are out of school. Further, helping Afghan workers find jobs with competitive salaries abroad through formal migration agreements with other countries offer opportunities to reduce labor market pressures. This would increase remittances and address some of the frustrations among youth that can trigger conflict.

3. Afghanistan’s mining and hydrocarbon potential must be realized. Agriculture can bring growth and employment, but only extractive industries can provide sufficient government revenues and exports to offset expected declines in aid. Governance risks surrounding extractive industries are real, but must be – and can be – successfully managed with the support of the international community.

4. Regional integration with neighboring countries should be encouraged. Developing closer trade ties with countries in the region will boost energy transit trade and expand export opportunities in agriculture and extractives. In addition, regional energy transit trade and IT connectivity have the potential to generate additional revenue. Given that resources for infrastructure investments are scarce, key productive sectors, including agriculture for domestic production and export, and – later – mining should be given priority.

5. Finally, fragility is likely to persist in Afghanistan. Institutional weakness and violent conflict are not quickly resolved and the challenge is to enable private sector investment and economic growth despite these realities.

Possible options are to invest in social transfers to shield households from the long-term impacts of natural disasters and sectarian violence. A transfer program costing around $210 million a year could cover 5 percent of the population and halve food poverty. Afghanistan’s path to prosperity is likely to be long and now is the time to press forward with our support for the country.

To that end, the World Bank proposes to increase its overall financial support for Afghanistan and provide risk-sharing instruments and guarantees to encourage international and domestic private investment in the context of the country’s fragility.

In these challenging times, we will stay the course in supporting the people of Afghanistan build their future toward self-reliance, prosperity, and peace.

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