Monday, 29 May 2017

First-ever leather processing factory started production in the western Herat province of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

The first leather production firm started work in the western Herat province of Afghanistan with an aim to curb import of leather products from outside the country worth almost USD 350 million on annual basis. The factory was inaugurated on Tuesday in the presence of the provincial governor Mohammad Asif Rahimi in Herat Industrial park. The factory has been built with an investment amounting to USD 6,300,000. Local officials say that the opening of the factory will provide work opportunities for hundreds of the residents of Herat province. Mr Hotak, a representative of the factory, said this is the first leather processing factory launched in Afghanistan which will use raw materials from the domestic market. He said around USD 350 million flow out of Afghanistan on annual basis for the import of leather products. Provincial governor Rahimi hailed the private sector for the investment to launch the factory and said the first leather processing factory starting work in Afghanistan is a good news as he insisted on the factory officials to make sure that the products are produced with a high quality. Insisting on further development of industrial park in the province, the Governor of Herat said another industrial park will be opened in this province soon. According to local officials, more than 20 manufacturing firms have started operations in Herat industrial park since the last two years.

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

BY IZABELA LEAO
CO-AUTHOR: ABDUL QADEER JAWAD
>>> READ ORIGINAL POST
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.
>>> http://blogs.worldbank.org/endpovertyinsouthasia/agriculture-opportunity-better-jobs-afghanistan-s-youth?cid=EXT_WBBlogSocialShare_D_EXT

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.

Top 10 universities of Afghanistan in 2017

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Stand Integrated Government Tax Administration System was formally launched in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan

The Stand Integrated Government Tax Administration System (SIGTAS) was formally launched in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan amid optimisms by the local officials that the system will help in transparent and better collection of taxes. Provincial deputy governor for finance and administrative affairs Abdul HananMunib said the activation of SIGTAS in the provincial Revenue Department is vital and helpful step which will help in the collection of taxes in a modern manner besides helping the Revenue Department to expedite its work. He said the government is committed to provide further facilities for the traders and investors and sideline the available challenges. The head of the systems department in the Revenue Department of the Ministry of Finance NoorullahHabib said SIGTAS has been activated with an aim to provide better and easy facilities for the taxpayers. Habib further added that the system will help the government to control the taxes in a transparent and standard way and implementation taxes law in a uniformed manner and keep the documents of the taxpayers safe. He said the system will also help to keep secure the information of the taxpayers, produce tax statements automatically, and calculate taxes.The SIGTAS system was launched for the first time in the Ministry of Finance nearly six years ago and the system is fully operational in six provinces of the country.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The long-delayed four-nation TAPI gas pipeline project is seen as an essential element of economic cooperation between Turkmenistan and India

The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline is a purely economic project, the Ambassador of Turkmenistan to India said. Sputnik, a Russian news outlet, quoted the diplomat as saying: "Our idea is to make India even closer to us connected through the pipeline which is a vital ingredient of the economic cooperation." Conceived in the 1990s, the project has been delayed repeatedly due to conflicts and political instability in the region. In 2015, the ground-breaking ceremony for it was finally held in Turkmenistan. The 1,800 kilometers pipeline, accounting for billions of dollars, will carry natural gas deposits in Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan into India.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Afghanistan to identify high caliber and competent construction and consultancy firms as potential bidders on large infrastructure projects

The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan intends to identify and verify high caliber and competent national and international construction and consultancy firms as potential future bidders on large infrastructure projects. To meet this objective, the government aims to introduce the Vendor Registration System for those companies and firms involved or interested in executing various types of Works Contracts in Afghanistan.

For more information, please go to Afghanistan National Procurement Authority (NPA) website: www.npa.gov.af

A natural resource management forum lead by the Afghanistan Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (AEITI) was held in India

A three-day parliamentarian natural resource management forum lead by the Afghanistan Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (AEITI) was held in Delhi, India on May 17-May 19. The event was organized by the Afghan-German Cooperation program for the promotion of good governance in Afghanistan’s extractive sector. The participants included 13 members of the Afghan parliament’s Natural Resource Committee (NRC) and 2 representatives of the Economic Committee as well as national and international experts. They discussed ways of reducing corruption and illegal mining in Afghanistan’s extractive sector as well as improving transparent revenue generation.

Geologists have determined that the 
mineral deposits in Afghanistan are worth nearly USD 1 trillion

NRC’s Chair and Member of Parliament, Ramazan Jumazada, said: “It is shocking to see the amount of the government’s revenue loss due to unpaid fees, taxes and illegal mining”. According to an internal review, 25 companies owe roughly AFN 4 billion to the government. In this regard, Javed Noorani, member of the AEITI multi stakeholder group, stated that there was a “high level impunity regarding companies’ failure to pay taxes or royalties”. Even though contracts are often not up to date, expired, or non-existent, mining operations continue. Members of the National Assembly, Ramzan Jumazad, Raza Khoushak and Raihana Azad also emphasised the “need to formulate multidimensional policies to strengthen the extractive sector and increase the government’s revenues.” Khalid Hamdard, political advisor at the European Union (EU) Delegation in Afghanistan reminded the parliamentarians that improving security is crucial for a sustainable mining sector: “The rapid growth of Afghanistan’s illicit mining economy continues relentlessly. The involvement of Taliban and other anti-governmental opposition groups poses a direct threat to national security as it leads to the destabilization of large areas. Moreover, it will erode citizen’s trust in the reform agenda of their government and threaten the sustainability of the Afghan state”. After the AEITI forum, the Natural Resource Committee of the Afghan Parliament is now in a better position to address and respond to respective ministries when it comes to mining related issues. A high-level multi-stakeholder forum in Kabul on necessary reforms was announced by the Chairman of the NRC as a next step. The project Promoting Good Governance in the Extractive Sector in Afghanistan is funded by the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It provides strategic support to the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP), strengthens its line departments in line with good governance criteria and supports the Afghan Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (AEITI). The project therefore contributes to the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS), to the National Extractive Industries Excellence Program (NEIEP) and the Afghan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF).
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Islamic Culture Centre was inaugurated in Afghanistan's Ghazni province

The construction was expected to be completed in 2013 when Ghazni was declared as the Asian capital of Islamic culture by the Morocco-based Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The building was officially inaugurated by the Afghan Minister of Urban Development and its control was handed over to Higher Education Ministry. Apart from the Islamic Culture Centre, have also been inaugurated several other recently completed projects, including renovated Hakim Sanayee tomb, land transportation terminal, 50-bed clinic to treat heroin addicts and two hostels. The provincial governor, said that works on nine projects including reconstruction of Bala Hisar of Ghazni, will also begin very soon.

Surveying and mapping of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project may be completed within a maximum of six months

The TAPI project has been launched by Turkmenistan since the 1990s. But starting works on the pipeline has been delayed reportedly because of the problem of crossing Afghanistan, and its construction work re-begun by Turkmenistan in 2015. The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum of Afghanistan said that preparation is ongoing for the construction of the project. “Work on survey and design of the project is underway. International firms from TAPI Ltd led by Turkmenistan have been hired and based on our schedule it will be completed within next six months,” said an official of TAPI project in Afghanistan. The 1,735 kilometers pipeline will run more than 700 km across Afghanistan on its way to Pakistan and India.

"Мы нуждаемся в том, чтобы Россия подключилась к региональному консенсусу ради стабильного Афганистана", - заявил в недавнем интервью президент Ашраф Гани

"Мы нуждаемся в том, чтобы Россия подключилась к региональному консенсусу ради стабильного Афганистана, – заявил глава государства. – В 2002 году у нас был непосредственный региональный консенсус, и теперь он также должен существовать"

Afghanistan’s 1st-ever! TV channel dedicated to women

Zan TV or ‘Women’s TV’, Afghanistan’s first-ever TV channel dedicated to women, begins broadcasting. 😄
This novelty comes as Afghan media industry continues to be dominated by men and women journalists are persistently criticized, threatened or killed for working in media.

“Since I began working in media, I have received many threats. Even my family members oppose my job and my relatives, my uncles and cousins, say it is not right for a girl to work at a TV station, but I ignore them so that I can achieve my goals,” Channels TV quotes Shamela Rasooli, 22-year-old Afghan female television presenter for Zan TV.

According to the producers of the channel, the TV station represents women and works to raise the voice of women to defend their rights. Hamid Samar, the founder of Zan TV, said he launched the TV station after noticing the high number of women applying for an anchor job despite the cultural taboo. 😞

“Sometimes, you know, you need to actually make the opportunity for the women that they should come and they should work and they should prove themselves,” the source quotes Krishma Naz, presenter of music show program at Zan TV.

>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

The General Director of the Afghanistan National Procurement Authority (NPA) has paid a visit to the International Training Centre of the ILO in Italy




Mr Yama Yari, General Director of the National Procurement Authority of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, has paid a visit to the International Training Centre of the ILO in Italy on 16-19 May. Over the course of his visit, Mr Yari has met with the ITCILO Director, Mr Yanguo Liu, and with Programme Managers from the Centre’s many units. The visit is particularly important in the context of the project “Promoting Rural Youth Employment in Afghanistan through Entrepreneurship Education and Vocational Training” and it is hoped that, as a result of this visit, the fruitful collaboration between the Centre and the Government of Afghanistan will continue to bring successful results. In addition, Mr Yari has participated in a round of discussion with representatives of the Employment Policy and Analysis Programme (EPAP) and Sustainable Development Programme (SDP), to explore concrete areas for future collaboration between the International Training Centre and the National Procurement Authority of Afghanistan.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Afghan prosecutors and judges attend an anti-corruption course in Italy

The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Angelino Alfano, said:
"A training course addressed to Afghan magistrates and prosecutors on countering corruption started today in Rome. The course is organized by LUISS, Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli, with the contribution by the Farnesina and in conjunction with the National Anti-Corruption Authority (ANAC).The training course, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, MAECI, has actively promoted, is meant to strengthen the capacity of Afghan judicial authorities and police forces to counter corruption in the Country. It represents one of Kabul's highest priorities and it is in line with the cooperation strategy developed by the Italo-Afghan Joint Committee, that met in Kabul in April 2016." 
The capacity-building initiative, which will run until 31 May 2017, will take place at the premises of LUISS School of Law and ANAC. The course will be organized into several seminars and focus on the means to prevent and suppress corruption. It will promote in-depth discussions and an exchange of good practices. The programme will also feature meetings to be held at the premises of Guardia di Finanza, the Ministry of Justice, the Justice Committee of the Chamber of Deputies and the National Anti-Corruption Directorate. Of the eleven judges participating in the course, four are women and two of them come from the province of Herat - a further proof of Italy's commitment in the gender field and in that area of the country. The selection of the candidates has been jointly carried out with the Attorney General of Afghanistan, Saranpoh Mohammad Farid Hamidi. The Italian Ministry of Defense, through the Inter-Operational Command (COI), has allowed the transportation of the attendees to Italy trough military flights.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Bamiyan ° Land of Light

هرات افغانستان Herat Afghanistan

Gender and human rights training in northern Afghanistan

The Afghan-German Cooperation’s program for basic education (BEPA) and the Teacher Education Directorate (TED) jointly conducted a one-week training on gender and human rights for lecturers of Teacher Training Centers (TTC) in Afghanistan. The training introduced modern teaching methods to the participants and focused on a learner-Centered approach. More than 14,000 students will benefit from improved teaching methods. Participants came from the TTC’s in the provinces Balkh, Samangan, Imam Saheb, Herat, Badakhshan, Takhar, Kandahar, Bameyan, Nangarhar and Laghman. The TTC in Mazar-e Sharif hosted the training. One participant, Shahrbanoo from Bamyan TTC, said: ”I think this subject should be compulsory for all students in TTC. Because for now we just teach the Human Rights course in 3 departments (English, Social studies and Islamic studies).” At the training, participants learned how to apply more learner-Centerd methods and how to develop innovative and modern timetables for gender and human rights courses. Lerner-Centerd education shifts the focus of instruction from the teacher to the student. This method implies for students to carry responsibility in order to develop autonomy and independence – beyond their days in school. By 2020, TED aims at introducing the newly developed course in the entire country. The Afghan-German Cooperation supports the process financially and technically. Students from all over Afghanistan will directly benefit from the TTC lecturers’ newly acquired knowledge and skills. Future teachers will not only receive high-quality education, but they will also pass on the acquired skills throughout their career. Last week’s training was not the first measure to promote gender and human rights at TTCs. A similar workshop was conducted in April 2016. In order to make these trainings sustainable, the organizers chose high-potential participants to become master trainers. In future, they will train lecturers in their respective provinces themselves. The Afghan-German Cooperation’s program for basic education (BEPA) and the Teacher Education Directorate (TED) will continue working with lecturers from the Teacher Training Centers’ (TTCs) in order to promote quality education for all Afghans. Implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the Basic and Secondary Education Program (BEPA) is dedicated at strengthening the capacity of the Afghan school system and improving access to education. To achieve this objective, BEPA focuses on improving the quality of teacher education to provide high-quality education to all Afghan children. In cooperation with lecturers and student teachers, BEPA develops and implements a practice-oriented teacher-training program at teacher training colleges.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Afghan entrepreneurs committed to strengthen export

Afghan industry leaders, small business owners and public sector representatives on 18 May 2017 met in the northern Afghan City of Mazar-e-Sharif to explore provincial trade challenges and solutions that can feed into the ongoing design of the country’s National Export Strategy (NES).  A National Export Strategy will provide a blueprint for competitiveness and development of the country’s export sector and strengthen links between export development and socio-economic growth. The event was jointly organized by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) and the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), with the technical support of the International Trade Centre (ITC). Further technical and logistical support was provided by the GIZ Facility for Agricultural and Rural Market Development (EU FARM), in particular with the provision of a meeting venue. The provincial consultation follows the first NES stakeholders’ consultation held in Kabul on 20 and 21 February 2017. The launch brought together 150 public and private stakeholders to discuss challenges and opportunities for Afghanistan’s export sector. The NES will provide a guiding compass for achieving Afghanistan’s trade vision and will include detailed activities, targets and impact measures, indicating what exactly needs to be done, by whom and with what resources to improve the country’s export competitiveness. Between May and July 2017, further consultations will be held in Kandahar, Herat and Jalalabad, culminating in a second national consultation in Kabul. The provincial NES consultations are crucial in making sure that key stakeholders beyond the capital are included in the design of the strategy. The NES has strong support from both the government and the private sector, as it provides national and international development partners with an appropriate implementation plan for trade-related operations. Resource mobilization efforts will be developed in line with the strategy’s plan of action. Reiterating the government’s support to this event, Deputy Minister for Commerce Mohammad Qurban Haqjo said: ‘This provincial consultation in Mazar-e-sharif illustrates the continued focus on collecting inputs and mobilizing support across the country for the NES initiative. ‘The strong public and private sector dialogue that has taken place today on topics such as quality management, skills development and market intelligence will be invaluable in developing a sustainable and inclusive NES. MOCI congratulates all stakeholders involved in reaching this important milestone’ These views were echoed by Chief Executive Officer of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Atiqullah Nusrat. ‘ACCI fully supports this important consultation in Mazar-e-Sharif that captures the challenges, opportunities, and aspirations of the private sector in the Balkh region,’ he said. ‘The impetus on ensuring a pan-Afghanistan focus for the NES beyond Kabul demonstrates the national scope of the strategy, and will go a long way in developing the private sector as a robust engine for Afghanistan’s growth.’ The NES initiative falls under the auspices of the EU-funded ‘Advancing Afghanistan Trade’ project, which aims to assist Afghanistan in improving the conditions to use trade as a lever for enhanced regional cooperation, economic and human development, and poverty reduction. The Advancing Afghan Trade project is a project funded by the European Union and is being implemented by ITC under the leadership of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI). The intervention is recognition of ongoing efforts by the Afghan government to use trade as a driver of economic growth, regional cooperation and stability. Afghanistan acceded to the WTO in July 2016 and has placed trade and regional economic cooperation at the heart of its development strategy. Its first action after acceding to the WTO was to ratify the body’s Trade Facilitation Agreement. To ensure sustainability, local ownership and long-term impact of the project, ITC will be working with a range of partners from the private sector, non-governmental organizations, academia and civil-society organizations based in Afghanistan. ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Modern drying houses yield improved produce for Afghanistan farmers

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Afghanistan and China signed an agreement on customs cooperation

Afghanistan and China on 15 May 2017 signed an agreement on customs cooperation on the sidelines of the "One Belt, One Road” economic cooperation forum in Beijing. The Ministry of Finance said Ahmad Reshad Popal, director-general of customs, and China's Minister of General Administration of Custom Yu Guangzhou the accord, enabling the neighbours to work together on simplifying custom processes. A statement from the ministry said the two nations would also cooperate on mental medicine and chemical raw materials, common fight against drug, information-sharing and an exchange of experiences. "The government of Afghanistan appreciates this agreement and sees it as a new step in Sino-Afghan relations. Implementation of this agreement will facilitate trade relations between Afghanistan and China and play a positive role in national revenue increment" hoped Afghan Finance Minister. “This agreement will benefit both countries,” said Popal, called it a major step toward increasing national revenue, access to quality business items, fighting corruption, enhancing the capacity of custom and simplifying processes.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

پارک گلها هرات افغانستان / Flower Park Herat Afghanistan

China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan railway might be integrated in One Belt One Road transport corridor network

Speaking in the One Belt, One Road forum in China on May 15, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said that China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan-Afghanistan railway line might be integrated in a One Belt, One Road transport corridor network, the President's press service said.
"We are looking forward to implementation of large projects in the spheres of transport, trade, investment, energy and technology in our region, which has the richest natural, industrial and human resources," he said. The head of state during the roundtable discussion also stressed the need to develop a complex program of cooperation actions in creation of transport and logistics routes linking Central Asia with the Southern, South-Western Asia and the European countries via China and Russia. Mirziyoyev expressed confidence that the initiative of President Xi Jinping on holding the international forum will allow to form the "active platform of exchanging views and practical cooperation in the framework of One Belt, One Road. "I am sure that implementation of this large-scale project that today covers more than 60% of the population of the planet will contribute to creation of the single belt of peace and prosperity, cooperation and friendship between our countries and peoples," the President added.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Iran-Afghanistan trade increased considerably over the last two years

There has been a considerable spike in Tehran-Kabul economic relations within the past three years particularly after the nuclear deal between Tehran and major world powers, says the spokesman for Afghan Ministry of Commerce and Industries. “The level of trade exchanges between Iran and Afghanistan reached two billion dollars over the past year Iranian Calendar (starting at March 21, 2016), Musafer Qoqandi said. According to Qoqandi, this shows a twofold rise in the volume of trade exchanges between the two neighboring nations. “The volume of non-official trade between the two countries is more than the mentioned figure; however,” he said. Iran-Afghanistan ties in other areas have also seen a considerable rise in the past three years, he said, referring to the construction of Khaf-Herat railway project. The development of transit and transport between the two sides is undeniable and Iran and Afghanistan Presidents have made ceaseless efforts to improve bilateral ties in these spheres and signing of the Chabahar treaty between Tehran and Kabul well demonstrates this, Qoqandi said. The trilateral treaty of transit and trade, with the presence of Iran, Afghanistan Presidents and Indian Prime Minister, was signed by the ministers of roads and transportation of the three countries a year ago to establish an international transit corridor in the region.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Afghanistan still has no representative at the WTO

A year has gone since its membership, Afghanistan still has no representative at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Afghan government invested USD 100mn over the last 10 years in order to meet the requirements for the WTO membership. As a member, Afghanistan pays USD 46,000 annually. Yet, no work has been started on sending a team to the WTO. According to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), a technical and professional team should be sent to the WTO to help Afghanistan benefit from the opportunity and the various structures WTO offers. Officials from the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI) cited lack of human resources as one of the main reasons behind the absence of Afghanistan at WTO. “The lack of human resources, capabilities, is a challenge, but we hope that in cooperation with government institutions we can fulfill our commitments at the WTO,” said Mr. Qurban Haqjo, the former CEO of Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA). Afghanistan officially became the 164th member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on July 29, 2016. Afghanistan is the 36th government and the ninth least-developed country (LDC) to join the WTO following accession negotiations since the WTO was established in 1995. WTO members officially approved Afghanistan’s accession at the Tenth Ministerial Conference in Nairobi on December 17, 2015 and the Protocol of Accession was signed between Afghanistan’s First Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Khan Rahmani and Director-General Roberto Azevedo. Afghan officials are optimistic that the WTO membership would help improve rule of law and lay the foundation for healthy economic growth. The Afghan business community believes WTO membership would enable Afghanistan to address its transit issues with the neighboring countries and find greater access to global markets.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Афганистан строит более 200 овощехранилищ

В министерстве сельского хозяйства, ирригации и животноводства Афганистана объявили о намерении построить более 200 новых овощехранилищ в ближайшие два года.
Общая стоимость проекта составит около 40,000,000 долларов США, которые будут выделены из бюджета развития. Совокупная ёмкость составит около 50.000 тонн.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Afghanistan’s Infrastructure

China pledged USD 124 billion for new Silk Road - the world's largest infrastructure program

The announcement came during the opening of a two-day summit on the project in China, attended by leaders and top officials from around the world. “We should build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy,” Chinese President Xi Jinping told the gathering. He added that the world must create conditions that promote open development and encourage the building of systems of “fair, reasonable and transparent global trade and investment rules.” And amid claims of China’s ambition for empire-building, Xi called for abandonment of old models based on rivalry and diplomatic power. “China is willing to share its development experience with all countries. We will not interfere in other countries’ internal affairs. We will not export our system of society and development model, and even more will not impose our views on others,” he said. At the event in Beijing participated also the Ministry of Commerce and Industries of Afghanistan and a senior adviser of the Afghan President Ghani. Unveiled in 2013, China’s Belt and Road initiative is expected to cost more than one trillion dollars. China has already invested more than $50 billion in 20 countries along the routes, including the Gwadar port project in Pakistan. The Silk Road was an ancient network of trade routes connecting East to the West. Northern Afghanistan was along the route. The new Silk Road doesn't pass Afghanistan, but the country could connect to the route. Afghanistan is one of the beneficiaries of the initiative.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Afghan government launches construction of a major road in northeast Badakhshan province near the Tajik border

The transit road between the districts of Baharak and Ishkashim covers 108 kilometers and is estimated to cost $98 million.
The project, financed by the Asian Development Bank, is expected to be completed in four years. During the inauguration ceremony the Minister of Public Works, Mahmud Baleegh, said that this year, 400 kilometer road projects will be launched in Badakhshan province. He added that the construction of railway between Wakhan and China will also begin this year.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Afghan capital Kabul is the 5th fastest growing city in the world

Diplomatic relations between Italy and Afghanistan

Diplomatic relations between Italy and Afghanistan were officially established on June 3, 1921 when the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Count Carlo Sforza, and the Afghan Extraordinary Ambassador, Mohammed Wali Khan, signed in Rome “The Agreement between Italy and Afghanistan for the exchange of permanent diplomatic missions” (In addition to it, an “Agreement between Italy and Afghanistan to send a Trade mission and the signing of a Treaty of Commerce” was signed simultaneously): after the so-called “Third Anglo-Afghan war” and the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi in August 8, 1919 when the British Protectorate on Afghanistan was officially abolished, Italy was the first western country to recognize the Afghan independence. Establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries was requested by the Afghan delegation sent to Europe by Prince Amanullah to break the international isolation imposed by London’s government on Afghanistan. On the Italian level, Minister Sforza, who was watching closely political developments in the Orient, welcomed willingly this opportunity to try and liberate Italy from the traditional imperialistic schemes, presenting the country as a friendly nation to the peoples of Asia and a supporter of the self-determination movements. Gaetano Paternò di Manchi di Bilici was the first Plenipotentiary Minister in Kabul. The Legation proved essential to provide information on a region that was little known in Italy in those days, although it was playing a key role in the Asian geopolitical equilibrium. With the successors of Sforza, and above all with the emergence of the fascist regime, the interest for Afghanistan cooled down: Rome had adopted a pro-British policy and did not want to jeopardize its relations with London that was still considering Afghanistan to be under its exclusive sphere of influence. At the end of the Twenties, after a real civil war burst out in Afghanistan (meanwhile the emirate became a monarchy) originating from a revolt movement against the reforms wanted by Amanullah, the latter decided to abdicate and go into exile in Italy, a country that impressed him positively during his visit in January 1928. Amanullah arrived in Rome in June 1929 and resided there permanently almost to his death, benefiting from state subsidies (in the form of “private donation“ granted by the King of Italy). With time, the presence of Amanullah in Rome created periodic friction between Italy, Afghanistan and Great Britain. The former sovereign continued, at least until 1948, to nourish the hope of getting back on the throne, causing considerable concerns to the governments of Kabul and London who feared that his return would potentially destabilize the Durrani reign and the central-Asian equilibrium. In the mid-Thirties, the relations between Italy and Afghanistan deteriorated because of the war Italy declared on Ethiopia in 1935: Kabul saw the Italian expansion in Africa as a dangerous precedent that could encourage Great Britain or the Soviet Union to take a similar initiative against Afghanistan. On the other hand, and during the same period, Kabul became a sort of “estrangement post” for the Italian diplomats who were not particularly appreciative of the fascist regime. Among those, the Plenipotentiary Minister Pietro Qaroni who headed the mission in Kabul from 1936 to the spring of 1944. In the decades following the end of Second World War, the relations between Italy and Afghanistan were conditioned by the geopolitical dynamics of the Cold War and the confrontation between the western and the communist blocks (during that period, the Italian Embassy was temporarily closed in 1979 and in 1989 during periods that coincided with the beginning and the end of the Soviet occupation). Even Zahir Shah, the last king of Afghanistan’s history, lived in exile in Rome: in fact, on July 17, 1973, and while Zahir was in Italy, his cousin Mohammed Daoud Khan (Prime Minister from 1953 to 1963) staged a bloodless coup, abolishing the monarchy and proclaiming the Republic. Zahir Shah stayed in Italy till 2002 when he returned to Kabul to preside the Loya Jirga and be given the title of “Father of the Nation” in the new Constitution of 2004. The Italian Embassy in Kabul was closed in 1993 with the intensification of the civil war and it reopened at the end of 2001. Since then, Italy is actively involved in the reconstruction of the country and the support to the Afghan government.

نشست خبری اداره تدارکات ملی

Afghanistan National Procurement Authority rejected over 900 contracts and bids in the last two years

The Afghanistan National Procurement Authority (NPA) said it has saved almost 18 billion AFs by following the correct procedures which resulted in the approval of over 2,000 contracts. With the implementation of a transparent system in the procurement process regarding contracts, officials were able to weed out over 900 incomplete and illegal contracts and bids during the past two years. But officials from the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) and almost all international bidders, said that the time it takes to process contracts and bids creates a lot of problems for contractors and investors. “Currently there are a lot of problems, because today many companies which had signed contracts for mines are facing financial crisis because of issues related to the contracts,” said ACCI spokesman. The Director of NPA, Yama Yari, said that over the past two years they had approved contracts worth 345 billion Afs. He also said the lack of proper management in government institutions and insecurity were still creating problems in terms of implementing projects. “Insecurity and the lack of a strong management system in government institutions are two key factors in our way; there is a need to upgrade the capacity of government institutions,” added the NPA Director.

Kabul 'Ghost Hotel' shows how American taxpayers' dollars are thrown away in Afghanistan


Kabul 'Ghost Hotel' shows troubling lack of oversight

A recent investigation by the Office of the Special Inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction uncovered millions of wasted taxpayers' dollars on security for an abandoned Marriott hotel adjacent to the US Embassy in Kabul.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Afghan GOV to review Transports International Routiers (TIR) agreement

Officials from the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation of Afghanistan yesterday 10 May 2017, during the 3rd Transport International Routine (TIR) National Conference, said Afghanistan will review the TIR agreements it signed with other countries that aim to find a long term solution to the road transport problems with other nations.
The Deputy Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation (MoTCA) for policy, Mr Sayed Wali Sultan, said that the government plans to review the TIR agreements to find a solution to the challenges facing the Afghan business community. “There are certain countries which do not issue visas for our drivers and do not allow our businessmen to transfer their products, therefore the ministry of transport and civil aviation plans to review the TIR agreements,” he said. MoTCA officials said that the ministry also plans to implement more programs in this sector in view of opportunities that have opened up for Afghanistan through the Word Trade Organization (WTO). “Activating and implementing the TIR Convention in Afghanistan is a national priority that will help facilitate acceleration in trade and transit,” said Afghanistan’s Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Dr. Mohammaddullah Batash. “With the use the TIR carnet, goods will no longer need to undergo complex customs procedures or be held up at the border.” Meanwhile, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said that the TIR system is an excellent opportunity to integrate the region economically. “Afghanistan’s use of the TIR system is an excellent vehicle to further integrate the region, ensuring regional powers in Asia have a peaceful stake in Afghanistan’s future,” said USAID representative in Afghanistan. “TIR also reflects the country’s commitment to global rules of the road. This was confirmed by the hard work that led to the country’s World Trade Organization accession in 2017.” “The lack of cooperation between government institutions when it comes to the utilization of TIR, the lack of implementation of multilateral agreements with TIR member nations, the lack of commercial sites for TIR and visa problems for drivers are among key factors that undermines the implementation of TIR,” said the Deputy Head of Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI). “The ministry of finance has undertaken a number of initiatives to use TIR which include the TIR management body at customs centers and the introduction of Aqina, Sher Khan Bandar, Hairatan, Kabul, Torkham, Kunduz, Balkh and Herat customs centers to the World Trade Organization and the further development of these customs centers ,” said officials of the Ministry of Finance of Afghanistan. According to Afghan Chamber of Commerce, the lack of programs in place to take better advantage of the TIR, the lack of information among drivers about the laws around TIR and the lack of an effective program within government for the better utilization of opportunities and other challenges are among the key issues that have had a negative effect on the issue for the Afghan business community.

Afghanistan agriculture & rural development

The agriculture and rural development sector is one of the priorities of the Government of Afghanistan, supported by the major donors of the international community. The agriculture and food security interventions play a significant role in favor of the rural population and the poorest, who live mainly from subsistence agriculture. An estimated 75% of the population of Afghanistan live in rural areas, where agriculture is the primary living and economic source. The agriculture sector contributes about half of the country’s GDP (excluding the Opium economy), although only 12% of the country’s 65 million hectares of land is arable and only 40% of agricultural land is irrigated. Agriculture is therefore fundamental for the growth and development of the rural economy in Afghanistan as well as for its contribution to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (MDGs), set by the UN in 2015, to be achieved by 2030.

Afghanistan National Procurement Authority blacklisted more than 100 firms

Speaking at a press conference in Kabul on 10 May 2017, the Director of the Afghanistan National Procurement Authority (NPA) said that the firms were targeted for faking documents and providing wrong information about themselves.
The firms had been referred to prosecution, he added.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Read also:
Bankrupt firm wins share in multimillion Afghan contract 
http://1tvnews.af/en/news/afghanistan/29026-bankrupt-firm-wins-share-in-multimillion-afghan-contract
A bankrupt Turkish firm is among winners of $79 million contract from the Afghan government over a major dam project in the southwest of the country. Pimatek is suffering from financial problems and it has shared the issue with the court of the relevant country, according to officials documents obtained by 1TV. In an official letter to the National Procurement Authority, the Ministry of Economy has made it clear that Pimatek has officially claimed bankruptcy to a Turkish court. The contract with the company along with two others, including one from Turkey and from Afghanistan, was signed three days later when the president visited Nimroz province to inaugurate construction of the third phase of Kamal Khan Dam. The issue of the company’s bankruptcy has been raised in a letter by the Afghan Foreign Ministry as well. “How can a bankrupt firm win such a major national contract,” said Wafiullah Sharifi, head of a bidder company. “One of the criteria for a firm to win the contract was that it should make a profit of at least $60 million annually.” Based on the documents, the issue of the company’s insolvency is being investigated by the commercial court of Turkey. Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water admitted that the firm is undergoing court procedures over bankruptcy; however, the ministry said the final approval of the firm lied at National Procurement Authority. The authority said that the issue of the company’s insolvency is still being assessed by the Turkish commercial court, and that according to the court, the company could take part in the bidding processes until the court order. 1TV attempts to reach Pimatek for comment over the issue didn’t succeed.
http://1tvnews.af/en/news/afghanistan/29026-bankrupt-firm-wins-share-in-multimillion-afghan-contract
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Helping Afghanistan become more resilient to natural disasters

During the almost 4 years I spent in the World Bank office in Kabul, I experienced frequent earthquake tremors and saw the results of the significant reduction in winter snow, which severely impacts the water available for agriculture during spring and summer. While limited in scope, my first-hand experience with natural disasters adds to the long list of recurring hazards afflicting Afghanistan. This list is unfortunately long and its impact destructive. Flooding, historically the most frequent natural hazard, has caused an average $54 million in annual damages. Earthquakes have produced the most fatalities with 12,000 people killed since 1980, and droughts have affected at least 6.5 million people since 2000. Climate change will only increase these risks and hazards may become more frequent and natural resources more scarce. Compounded with high levels of poverty and inadequate infrastructure, the Afghan population will likely become more vulnerable to disasters. Risk information is critical to inform development planning, public policy and investments and over time strengthen the resilience of new and existing infrastructure to help save lives and livelihoods in Afghanistan. When the World Bank’s South Asia Disaster Risk and Climate Change team started working in Afghanistan less than two years ago, very little information was available on hazards and risks. So the team set out to produce this basic risk information so critical to many other activities funded by the World Bank, development partners and the Afghan government. With funding from the Government of Japan and the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction, the team set out to produce a comprehensive multi-hazard risk assessment at the national level. After almost 12 months of intense work, and in close collaboration with and based on significant data input from the Afghan government, we have produced a high-quality multi-hazard risk assessment, with information on current and future risks including fluvial floods, flash floods, drought, landslides, snow avalanches and seismic hazards. One of the key challenges faced during this process was data availability and collection. In a country like Afghanistan, data might not be available, and even when it does exist it is not well organized and readily available. Many hours and days were therefore spent on detective-work, tracking down datasets from government, development partners, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and others. The World Bank has also worked closely with key UN partners under the auspices of a Disaster Risk Resilience Working Group, including World Food Program, United Nations Office for Project Services and United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
    
Due to data limitation and security constraints, the team often had to rely on satellite information and global datasets provided by the World Meteorological Organization and other international partners. The results of the risk assessment are visualized in the Afghanistan Risk Profile and the online geospatial Afghanistan Disaster Risk Info GeoNode. The Risk Profile provides information on each of the hazards; floods, earthquakes, drought, avalanches and landslides, and key recommendations for risk mitigation measures to improve protection. The GeoNode platform maps out risks in an open data format so users can run their own analysis and it is possible to zoom in on specific geographic locations to assess risks and plan accordingly. Users also find cost-benefit analysis for floods and earthquakes to showcase how these can inform development planning and implementation.
These tools are only a beginning. To ensure an actual impact on building resilience in Afghanistan, government counterparts and development planners, including the World Bank, now have to start using the risk maps and risk information to mainstream and integrate it across sectors and strengthen the resilience of infrastructure, building codes etc. One example of mainstreaming the risk assessment is the safer schools program. We are already working with the Ministry of Education and the World Bank’s education team to assess the resilience of schools in Afghanistan and do a cost-benefit analysis of how to improve school construction of new schools and retrofit existing schools to ensure we build safer schools and safeguard children in Afghanistan. Work is also ongoing in transport and rural development and should be initiated also in energy, urban and rural. In transport the aim is to ensure more disaster resilient roads by prioritizing and implementing mitigation measures in high risk areas to some of the most common hazards like avalanches, landslides and floods. In rural development, we are about to train engineers from Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development who work closely with community development councils under the Citizen Charter Program. The engineers will ensure that new community infrastructure projects are using disaster resilient design and take into consideration the findings of the risk assessment to construct more sustainable roads, wells and energy production. While conflict and climate change have undermined Afghanistan’s capacity to mitigate the harmful effects of natural disasters, our goal is to equip the government of Afghanistan with the most relevant data it needs to identify vulnerabilities and risks, improve the country’s infrastructure, and build a resilient future for all its citizens.
>>> Author Ditte Fallesen >>> READ ORIGINAL POST

Italian contribution to the transport infrastructure sector of Afghanistan

Italy, with a contribution of over than 277 Million Euros for the infrastructure sector, has supported the Afghan Government to develop this specific sector for the last 10 years.
The infrastructure works, implemented with the Italian support, are located mainly in the Western Region of the country and benefit a current commitment of 170 million Euros. They are mainly focused on the rehabilitation of the East-West Corridor (aimed at the connection between Herat and Kabul cities), and represents a great opportunity for the economic and social development of the Country. Italy is financing the upgrading of two major road routes, 136 km connecting road between Kabul and Bamyan, Grant worth approximately 99.6 Million Euros, inaugurated in August 2016 and 155 km connecting road between Herat and Chishti-e-Sharif with a Soft Loan worth approximately 92.3 Million Euros and 2.0 Million Euros as a Grant to UNOPS for technical assistance, the Intergovernmental Agreement has been signed on April 19th 2016. The total length of the East-West Corridor is 750 km of which 291 km are being subsidized with Italian funds.
Italy is also financing, with a Soft Loan worth 29.3 Million Euros, the upgrading of the Herat Airport to ICAO Standards. Herat airport is one of the four “international” airports identified by the civil aviation development plan, within the national priority program “National and Regional Resource Corridors”. The initiative will support the inter-connectivity among Herat the rest of the Country and the surrounding Region, will also speed-up the economic development of the area and develop employment and local entrepreneurship.
>>> FOR MORE INFORMATION

Afghanistan’s population has reached 29.2 million

According to the 1395 (*)  statistical yearbook by the Central Statistics Organization (CSO), Afghanistan’s population has reached 29.2 million. The estimate shows 14.2 million of the population are women. 6.9 million people are living in urban centers and 20.8 million in rural areas.
(*) To convert the Solar year into the equivalent Gregorian year, add 621 or 622 years depending on whether the Solar year has or has not begun.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The Afghan government's budget for sports will be increased

In a meeting with sports officials and athletes in his office, the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, promised that he would enact first sports law. “I have decided to rescue the country’s sports,” Ghani said vowing to set up a high committee of sports next week to resolve the problems of atheletes. The Afghan president said that facilities in the area of sports in Afghanistan were not adequate and “I will instruct for the budget for sports to be increased.” According to the president, the current structure of sports institution is not responsive and there is need to review the structure of National Olympic Committee and Directorate of Sports and Physical Education.

Monday, 8 May 2017

La Cooperazione italiana nella Repubblica Islamica dell'Afghanistan

La Cooperazione italiana allo sviluppo è presente in Afghanistan da oltre un decennio. Inizialmente ha focalizzato l’attezione sugli aiuti umanitari e il settore emergenza nel suo complesso, attraverso l’operato di numerose ONG attive sul territorio che hanno distribuito migliaia di kit di vestiario e alimentari. Successivamente sono stati eseguiti numerosi interventi infrastrutturali, che hanno permesso a migliaia di villaggi di uscire dall’isolamento (ad esempio con la manutenzione di strade, la realizzazione di argini di fiume, piccoli ponti, canalizzazioni) e sviluppare un’agricoltura che andasse al di la’ della semplice sussistenza, facilitando la commercializzazione dei prodotti, e facendo cosi’ crescere l’economia locale. Un altro settore su cui da subito l’Italia ha apportato il suo contributo è quello sanitario, con la distribuzione di medicinali, la creazione di strutture sanitarie di base anche in aree remote, per permettere a migliaia di persone di poter usufruire di servizi minimi di assistenza, ma anche con la realizzione di reti idriche rurali. Negli anni, anche con il lento miglioramento delle condizioni di vita del popolo afghano, l’Italia ha affiancato agli interventi di emergenza quelli legati allo sviluppo, concentrando gli interventi, a partire dal 2008, nella regione ovest del Paese, ovvero nelle province di Herat, Farah, Badghis e Ghor. Con iniziative bilaterali e multilaterali, l’Italia ha concentrato il suo contributo in due settori chiave tra loro legati: quello infrastrutturale e quello dell’agricoltura e dello sviluppo rurale. Lo sviluppo delle comunità locali è passato sia attraverso la costruzione di centinaia di chilometri di vie di collegamento (attualmente sono realizzati o in fase di completamento più di 200 km di strade che collegano aree abitate da oltre un milione di persone), sia attraverso la realizzazione di centinaia di progetti nelle comunità. Infatti, attraverso il National Solidariy Program, programmi bilaterali e il National Area Based Development Program (implementato da UNDP), sono stati finanziati interventi che spaziano dalle piccole infrastrutture, alla distribuzione di sementi alla realizzazione di cooperative di agricoltori (in particolare nel settore caseario). Solo nella provincia di Herat, sono stati realizzati circa 800 progetti gestiti dalle comunità, tra cui 400 pozzi, schemi irrigui, centri sociali, scuole, ponti, ma anche un paio di microcentraline idroelettriche. Sul fronte della ricostruzione, l’Italia mantiene un ruolo di significativo rilievo nel contesto dell’impegno internazionale che nel decennio 2015-2024, quello della “trasformazione”, vede sostenere lo Stato afghano nella progressiva assunzione di responsabilità in tutti i settori: dalla sicurezza al rafforzamento istituzionale passando per lo sviluppo economico. A fronte del rinnovato sostegno della comunità internazionale, ribadito durante la Conferenza di Bruxelles (4-5 ottobre 2016), è stato chiesto al governo afghano il fermo impegno a migliorare gli standard di trasparenza e buon governo, a riformare l’amministrazione e la giustizia, assicurando in particolare la tutela della condizione femminile. In tale quadro viene mantenuto un dialogo molto stretto con il governo di Kabul ed i partner internazionali affinché il nesso tra aiuti internazionali e riforme nel Paese sia sempre più concreto. L’impegno dell’Italia in l’Afghanistan è in continuità con un sostegno finanziario che dal 2001 ha visto l’approvazione di iniziative per oltre 800 milioni di euro (dono e credito di aiuto) per programmi di cooperazione allo sviluppo, rispettando altresì l’impegno a canalizzare almeno il 50% dei fondi sul bilancio e i programmi nazionali afghani.
>>> ULTERIORI INFORMAZIONI

Italy's remarkable support to Afghan justice institutions

Since 2002 the Italian Cooperation has been supporting the Afghan Justice Institutions (Supreme Court, Attorney General Office and Ministry of Justice, including the Elimination of Violence Against Women Units and the Juvenile Rehabilitation Centres) and other relevant actors of the justice sector (e.g.the Afghan Independent Bar Association and the Faculties of Law and Shari’a) in strengthening the Rule of Law and the access to justice for Afghan people and vulnerable categories, as well as in rebuilding and refurbishing judiciary and penitentiary infrastructures, with a special focus on Kabul and Herat.
Italy was “Lead Country” for the Justice sector from 2003 to 2005 (when an ad hoc “Italian Justice Program Office” was established) and one of the “Key Partners” from 2006 to 2007, but the rehabilitation of the Afghan Justice system always remained among the top priorities of the Italian commitment in Afghanistan: around 90 million Euros Italian funds have been disbursed so far, through bilateral and multilateral channels, or by directly implementing specific projects, according to the general strategies and framework agreed by the Afghan Government with the International Community of donors.
The list of activities carried out and of results achieved is remarkable: Italy provided technical assistance to the justice reform process (a special contribution was given to the drafting of the Interim Criminal Procedure Code, the Juvenile Code, the Prison Code, and the new Criminal Procedure Code); established the National Legal Training Centres and the Elimination of Violence Against Women Units of the Attorney General Office in Kabul and Herat; organized trainings for lawyers, prosecutors and staff of the Ministry of Justice on legal subjects, IT, psychological issues, and management skills; supplied legal books, computers and furniture for the Afghan Justice institutions and the Faculties of Law and Shari’a; developed databases and case filing systems for the Ministry of Justice;funded the Afghan Independent Bar Association and the Legal Aid Department of the Ministry of Justice; built and refurbished several judiciary and penitentiary facilities (such as detention centres and Juvenile Rehabilitation Centres in Kabul and Herat).
>>> READ MORE

Fruitful collaboration between Italian University and Afghan Ministry

The Italian University of Florence provides technical support to the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the framework of a project funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.
This initiative aims at improving territorial governance in the urban areas of Herat and Bamyan to promote local economic development of the city of Herat and to contribute to the preservation of historical heritage in Bamyan.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Afghan government to build 248 cold storage facilities across the country

The Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) plans to build 248 cold storage facilities worth USD 40 million across Afghanistan in the next two years. Funded by the ministry’s development budget, the cold storage facilities have up to 50,000 tons storing capacity. Eight of these facilities would be built in Kabul, Kandahar, Kunduz, Balkh, Herat and Nangarhar. According to MAIL, USD 700 million is needed to establish cold storage facilities with a total storing capacity of 260,000 in order to meet the countrywide need for these facilities. Meanwhile, members of the Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan called on the government to build the facilities according to international standards. The institution claimed that the 250 cold storage facilities built recently in Bamyan did not have controlled moisture, temperature and air-flow regulators.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Fourteen flights will be operated every week between Afghanistan and Qatar

Afghanistan and Qatar have agreed to launch direct flights between the two countries by October of this year, according to a statement from the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA). The agreement was made at the meeting between a delegation of the ACAA, led by the deputy head Dr. Mohammad Qasim Wafayee, with Qatar Civil Aviation Authority in Doha. The two parties conferred on direct flights, amendments to the air service agreement and Qatar’s cooperation on enhancing civil aviation security in Afghanistan. According to a statement from ACAA, a total of 14 flights will be operated every week between Afghanistan and Qatar as per the agreement. Afghanistan is expected to present a list of its civil aviation needs with Qatar, adds the statement.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

ISIS terrorists have become stronger than the past in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan after the United States dropped the "mother of all bombs"

The dichotomy between American words and actions in the war on terror. 
>>> read original article on Heart of Asia at:
http://www.heartofasia.af/index.php/editorial/item/3892-the-dichotomy-between-american-words-and-actions-in-the-war-on-terror

No one can turn a blind eye to the difference between the words and actions of the United States in Afghanistan anymore.It will be very difficult for Afghans to trust current American slogans in the fight against terrorism without practical changes, because terrorist groups are increasingly gaining momentum under American presence, and also the actions the United States undertake under the war on terror backfire. One recent example of such actions was the use of largest non-nuclear bomb nicknamed as the mother of all bombs, against Daesh (ISIS) positions in eastern Nangarhar province. Following the dropping of GBU-43/Bbomb, also known as Massive Ordinance Air Blast (MOAB), in Achin district, the United States clearly said it was the right weapon used against a tactically right target; however, the reality is in an utter contradiction with the claim. American officials had said the bomb was used against Daesh’s underground command center and tunnel networks, but after journalists visited the area, the claim proved wrong, and casualties claimed to have been inflicted on Daesh terrorists also cannot be verified because no evidence have been shared with the media. In addition to the suspicions exist in this regard, Daesh terrorists have become stronger than the past in Nangarhar after the use of MOAB. In a recent development, fighters loyal to the so called Islamic State terror outfit have claimed to have wrested control of the Chaparhar district located just 15 km from Nangarhar’s capital, Jalalabad, from the Taliban. The residents of Jalalabad say fighting is ongoing in the Akhundzada area on the outskirts of the city. If the MAOB has really been dropped on Daesh’s command and control center, how quickly Daesh regrouped and became strong that it has now even reached the doorsteps of the provincial capital. It is increasingly becoming difficult for people to trust US intentions in the war on terror. If the United States doesn’t provide clarification about its policies in Afghanistan, the skepticism can effectively escalate to a level of real opposition, which will have serious repercussions for American and Afghan governments.

Afghanistan should impel its US-led western allies to really fight against terrorism before the situation spins out of control.

Note: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Ivo Toniut.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

AIR NETWORK, Afghan-Italian-Romanian Team of Professionals

The AIR (Afghanistan-Italy-Romania) NETWORK is an international partnership of professionals in the architecture and construction industries. It was formed in 2014 by the will of Ivo Toniut, CEO of Jalil Holding - a European company founded in 2013 by a young and successful Afghan businesswoman. The main goals were to enhance internationalization and competitiveness of Afghan entrepreneurship and to encourage Afghan businesswomen on European level by strengthening commercial ties and developing cultural relationships between Afghanistan, Italy and Romania; to build an innovative international partnership capable to contribute significantly in the process of reconstruction of Afghanistan, in particularly focusing on the importance that the construction industry may have in the economic growth and development of this Country. During its first years of activity, AIR NETWORK has launched several initiatives that have led to positive results. AIR NETWORK now boasts among its partners, prestigious Italian architects, reliable Italian, Romanian and Afghan construction companies and constructors of furniture, consulting firms, well-known manufacturers and suppliers of building materials, interior designers, professionals and academicians always engaged in searching the ingredients for design; to discover what works, and why it works, allowing architects to find new forms and new materials, and the most amazing environments based on the best possible information. The goals of Ivo Toniut not only have been successfully reached, but they made sure that professional Afghan females are now fully engaged as decision-makers in industry sectors previously hardly accessible to women.

With an Afghan-European network of relationships established in the construction, real estate and architecture industries, in particularly with companies having a strong female representation at top management level, AIR NETWORK has become one of the most reliable reference points for those looking for business opportunities in the Real Estate sector of Afghanistan, particularly in the multi-phased mega-project "Kabul New City" - a shiny new, multi billion dollar Real Estate project in Afghanistan.

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Friday, 5 May 2017

Corruption flagged as the biggest problem in Afghanistan

The Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) has once again flagged corruption as the biggest problem in Afghanistan’s mining sector. In their report the IWA members have highlighted some massive loopholes and inconsistencies in the figures provided by the government to Afghanistan’s 5th Reconciliation Report prepared by the Afghanistan’s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). 
“The 5th AEITI report highlights major issues of weak oversight and mismanagement of revenue collection by the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum and the Ministry of Finance,” said Sayed Ikram Afzali, Executive Director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan. “The government seems unable to consistently provide even the most basic data, showing what contracts are active, how much production they have had, and what revenues they have produced. And it is behind this wall of ignorance that our country’s resources are being looted.” In one specific instance, the Northern Coal Enterprise revenue was initially reported to have been AFN 444 million in the (*) Solar Islamic year 1393, dropping to only AFN 4 million in 1394. In the final version of 5th AEITI report that was published on May 1, the revenue from the same company is reported at AFN 754 million in 1393 and AFN 2 billion in 1394. Meanwhile production has been almost steady across the two years from the same coal site: 1.5 million tones and 1.4 million tones. The civil societies also voiced their concerns and claimed that the 5th AEITI report has undermined the role of the civil society members. “Requests from civil society organizations that the government should be asked to comment on the gaps and discrepancies in the data were met with no response, and the Secretariat released the report for approval with an extremely short period for review – less than 24 hours for a complex and important document,” said Habiburahman Nang, Executive Director of PETWO, a member of Mining Watch Afghanistan (MWA) coalition. The corruption watches have urged the government to put in basic reforms that would help protect Afghanistan’s natural resources. Some of the suggestions included amending the mining law to make contract publication a condition of validity, establishing a single fully transparent account to be used for all extractive revenues, taking action against illegal mining, and strengthening the capacity of the ministry of mines in the next six months.
(*) Note: To convert the Solar year into the equivalent Gregorian year , add 621 or 622 years depending on whether the Solar year has or has not begun.
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on WWW.WADSAM.COM

Afghanistan ready to launch a more efficient electricity billing system to protect consumer rights

Learn more about electricity meters on
 ABB website 
Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), Afghanistan’s national electricity company, plans to launch monthly electricity billing system.
DABS said that would hire more employees in order to successfully implement the new plan. The residents of Kabul have welcomed the initiative of DABS but have urged the government to reduce the cost. At present the consumers are charged 2.5 Afghanis for each kilowatt if more than 200kw is consumed. The rate increases to 3.5 Afghanis per kilowatt if more than 400kw is used. Moreover, there is a lot of confusion in the current billing system, as bills do not clearly indicate consumed electricity as well as not specifying the address of the consumer. Consumers also have no possibility of checking the amounts charged by DABS as there are no electricity meters in the homes or offices.

"To the Taliban I say actually who is your leader? Where is he? Apart from war, murder and destruction to this nation, what plans do you have?" - President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani

Hekmatyar with Afghan leaders
Afghan presidential palace on Thursday 4 May 2017 hosted Hizb-i-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who returned to Kabul after 20 years following a peace deal with the government. 
The ceremony, broadcast live on national TV channel, showed Hekmatyar walking and sitting with Afghan unity government leaders and other politicians.

“We have come together to approve and support peace,” Hekmatyar said in the full packed hall in the palace. He said that his group had accepted the constitution, but claimed that some laws needed amendment. “The Constitution has clearly mentioned that no laws in Afghanistan should be against Islamic laws,” he said without detailing which articles needed amendment.
The present Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was agreed upon by more than 500 delegates representing Afghan men and women from across the country at the Constitutional Loya Jirga (December 13, 2003 – January 4, 2004). The Constitution was formally ratified by President Hamid Karzai at a ceremony in Kabul on January 26, 2004.
The full text of the Constitution may be found at this link: http://president.gov.af/en/afghan-constitution-2/
Note: this is an unofficial English translation of the Constitution. In any conflict between this and the original Dari / Pashto Constitution, the Dari / Pashto version shall take precedence.
Commenting on the structure of the government, he said that the coalition government doesn’t work in the country. He further rejected calls for parliamentary system of governance which has been proposed majorly by Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. “We don’t believe in parliamentary system of governance, it is not suitable for Afghanistan,” he said. The former militant leader said that he would not join the “coalition government” not his group was seeking ministries, but also maintained that he was not seeking collapse of the government. Calling Taliban ‘brothers’, Hekmatyar reiterated his call on the group to join peace. “Let’s put an end to foreign troops’ excuse for presence in Afghanistan.” He further called for greater involvement of the local population in maintaining security of their localities. Referring to allegations of war crimes, Hekmatyar said that there is no such court that could trial war criminals. And on media, he said that some outlets were telling lies and were igniting war in the country. Hekmatyar called on countries in the region not to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghans and stop sending the country’s youths to Syria war.

Welcoming Hekmatyar to public life, President Ghani hoped that Taliban could also follow suit and join peace. He also promised to hold transparent elections. “Dialogue should lead us to be trusted not to cause confrontation. On the other hand access to power comes through elections,” he said. “We are ready to pay any price on peace, which Afghans can afford to,” he said saying war is not the solution. "To the Taliban I say actually who is your leader? Where is he? Apart from war, murder and destruction to this nation, what plans do you have," he questioned. The event also saw Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, former president Hamid Karzai, former Jihadi leader Abdul Rab Rasool Sayyaf, Lower House and Senate speakers, former vice-presidents Karim Khalili and Yonus Qanooni addressing the gathering.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Hotel Intercontinental Kabul / هوتل انتر کانتننتال کابل

The Afghan government has approved several contracts worth AFN 6.29bn

The Office of the President of Afghanistan, ARG Palace, said a meeting of the National Procurement Commission was organized in the presidential palace on Sunday evening which was chaired by Afghan President H.E. Ashraf Ghani.
A statement by ARG Palace said the meeting approved 36 contracts worth six billion and two hundred and ninety million Afghanis. The statement further added that the contracts approved during meeting includes road construction, Information Technology projects, maintenance and repairing projects, import of wheat, electrical projects, security projects, and various other projects. The National Procurement usually chaired by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani is considered as one of the key initiatives of the government of national unity to ensure transparency in the award and implementation of governmental projects.
This comes as the Afghan government has stepped up efforts to counter corruption amid reports the Afghan authorities have made progress in the fight against corruption. The United Nations in its latest report said last month that the Afghan authorities have made heady in their fight against corruption although enormous changes remains. The reported titled ‘Afghanistan’s Fight Against Corruption: The Other Battlefield’, states that key component of Afghanistan’s fight against corruption is the dedicated Anti-Corruption Justice Centre (ACJC), with dedicated police and prosecution units, and a new national primary and appeals court, established by Presidential Decree to operate with jurisdiction over the broad range of corruption offences specified in the current penal code, as well as money laundering offences, destruction or selling of cultural and historical relics, crimes against internal and external security, illegal extraction of mines, and land usurpation.
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on Heart of Asia @ www.heartofasia.af