Sunday, 30 July 2017

In eastern Afghanistan poultry farm industry is growing despite problems

The establishment of around 2,500 poultry farms in eastern Nangarhar provinces has met domestic need and generated thousands of jobs for people. However, the farm owners complain the government is paying no attention to their business which faces some issues.
They cite imported chicken and lack of eggs production among reasons affecting their business. A Pajhwok reporter visited a poultry farm in Saracha area of Behsud district where 2,000 chickens were being raised on each floor of the two-storey poultry farm. Many people worked in the farm. Haji Mohammad Ishaq Quraishi, who built the poultry farm on his two acres of land with the help of CARDEF, said he was happy with his business. He spent $50,000 on construction of the farm and CARDEF organization also helped him in the construction process and provided him ideas, he said. Quraishi said in the past he would grow crops on his land, which were not economical. He himself worked in the farm with 30 hired people. Ghulam Jan, a worker in the farm, said his economic situation was not good in the past but now that problem had been solved by finding a job at the poultry farm. “Our businessmen should invest in areas that create jobs for other people, giving jobs to more people can help improve the security situation,” he said. Poultry Farms Union (PFU) in the eastern region said more than 3,000 poultry farms existed in the east, including 2,500 in Nangarhar alone. PFU spokesman Sayed Rahim Khan Babakrkhel told Pajhwok that poultry farm owners faced lack of market and forage. “Pakistani chickens are still sold in the market because they are cheaper, while raising chickens here is expensive,” he said. He said the lack of chickens producing factories was another problem as they brought newborn chickens form Pakistan. “Another problem is the lack of bird forage, we have only one factory that produces such food but it only meets 60 percent of our needs,” he said. He said poultry farms might not survive if the government, particularly the Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), continued to ignore the industry. Dr. Abdul Hadi Babar, manager of livestock at the Nangarhar agriculture, irrigation and livestock department, said poultry farm owners faced no problem in finding market for their products in the province. “Poultry farms are established in Jalalabad and the whole of Nangarhar province, except grown chickens that come from Pakistan. All other size of chickens are grown inside the province, these chickens are even exported to northern provinces and capital Kabul,” he said. Babakharkhel said efforts were on for building chicken producing factories and problems regarding poultry feed production has also been resolved to some extent. Afghanistan Laborers Association said poultry farm owners should take care of the health of their workers and the government should also support the business. Dr. Mohammad Liaqat Adil, head of the association, said poultry farm workers remained busy day and night but they only received salary for eight hours work. He called overworking of farm workers a big injustice. Thousands of youth would avail work opportunities if the government paid attention to the poultry farms industry, he added. Despite creating jobs for thousands of people, poultry farm owners in Nangarhar warned their farms could collapse if the government did not pay attention to them.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Afghanistan get qualified for U-19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand

Afghanistan have qualified for U-19 Cricket World Cup due in New Zealand in 2018 after beating Nepal by 96 runs in final match of the qualifier. 

It was Afghanistan’s 6th win from six matches they played in Division One of Asia qualifier, hosted in Singapore. Choosing to bat first after winning the toss, Afghanistan made 195 before they were bowled out in 47th over. Ibrahim Zadran shined with the bat hitting first century of the tournament for the team. In the chase of 196-run target, Nepal looked crawling as they made only 10 before they lost their first wicket in 5.2 overs. Dipendra Singh Airee’s 48 went in vain as Nepal were bowled out on 99 after 40.3 overs. Yousuf Zazai and Mujeeb Zadran took four and three wickets each respectively to defend their total. With the win, Afghanistan booked their place in the 12th edition of U-19 World Cup due to be held in New Zealand from 13 January to 3 February 2018.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Italy and Iran signed $1.3 billion rail deal

Iran’s state railway company and its Italian counterpart have signed a deal worth 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) to build a high-speed rail line between Iranian cities of Arak and Qom. Renato Mazzoncini, CEO of Ferrovie dello Stato (FS), and head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways Saeed Mohammadzadeh oversaw the signing of the agreement in Tehran a few days ago for the first stretch of a high-speed rail line which FS plans to build in Iran. The other link is to be built between Tehran and Hamadan, with the overall deal worth 5 billion euros which Ferrovie initially signed under a framework agreement when former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi visited Tehran with a delegation of business leaders last April. The Italian group has also been connected with the planning and construction of a high-speed rail corridor between Tehran, Qom and Isfahan, and electrification of the rail link between Tehran and Tabriz on the way to the Caucasus and Turkey. The deal signed a few days ago foresees FS supplying assistance to the Iranian railways for both high-speed and conventional rail lines, including a complete program for training personnel. Iran plans to invest $25 billion over the next 10 years in the modernization and expansion of its railway network, stretching out its railroad line to 25,000 kilometers by 2025 from under 15,000 kilometers now. Mohammadzadeh said one percent of oil and gas sales have been dedicated to rail development in Iran's sixth development plan. The country's transport expansion plans include aligning with the regional rail networks in the Persian Gulf, the subcontinent and Central Asia. In July 2015, France’s architectural firm AREP signed a $7 million deal for redevelopment of three main railway stations in Iran, marking a return of European companies to the country after the conclusion of a nuclear accord. AREP, a subsidiary of France’s national railway company SNCF, will rebuild the stations in the Iranian capital, Tehran, as well as the holy cities of Mashhad and Qom which attract millions of pilgrims every year.
>>> SOURCE: Presstv
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In Afghanistan does not exist a mechanism to help banks to detect members of criminal groups and drug dealers

Afghanistan has targeted a transformation period between 2015 to 2024 to achieve self-sufficiency. The economy is heavily dependent on development aid and economy of war. This is not sustainable and can shrink or collapse at any time. To avoid that, national and international entrepreneurs can play a constructive role in the economic development of this country and to do so it is needed to improve the banking system. A bank is normally a commercial profit earning institution which facilitates on the spot access to cash and loans for individuals and firms to encourage formal economy and growth. In addition, a bank is a financial-watchdog which prevents suspicious financial transactions and informs the financial inspectors to keep the economy safe. However, Afghanistan is an old country and it is difficult to teach new tricks in a short time.
A new constitution signed on 2004 which modifies economic regime from a state controlled economy to an open market economy. Thereafter, national financial actors (whose businesses had been running on an honor based eight-century old financial system (Hawala) that was common alongside the Silk-Road involving a large number of money service providers and informal value transfers), took the initiative and invested in the banking sector.
The conventional banking system is considered formal and it is not run based on honor. Though, it is a system with banking governance and operations focused on risk management, compliance, and remuneration. A major responsibility of a Central Bank is to issue regulations, guidelines, instructions and supervise all sorts of financial activities.
The management of a formal financial institution interconnected in the global banking system requires highly qualified and experienced personnel and political goodwill to improve economy and life of people of Afghanistan. This deficiency led to collapse of the Kabul Bank, a leading private bank in Afghanistan.
The author of this study is keen to understand the effectiveness of the Central Bank on its supervision and regulatory role after collapse of the Kabul Bank and used an approach of mixed-methods triangulation. The data collected through an online form by asking open-ended-question and closed-ended-question followed by phone call interview to an audience employed in the public banks, private banks and money market. The participants were engaged in the financial sector between 4 to 13 years.
Now, fifteen private banks with assets of nearly $4.17 billion total, deposits of $3.7 billion and a ratio of 18.78 percent loan to deposit, three state banks and three branches of neighboring banks are in operation in Afghanistan. There are roughly 300 money services providers and foreign exchange dealers, their total assets and loans are unknown and this is the only market where the Central Bank sets value of the national currency.
The lending services of banking system is limited to Business loans. A facilitation of personal loan, mortgage and overdraft is very difficult and perhaps a reform is required. A fiasco in the legal system on the enforcement of the property rights or deeds to be used as warranty is not viable now. This will facilitate accession to loans and generate wealth for the government and facilitate operation of formal financial institutions. Thus, a closed legal system leads to informal financial sources such as family, friends, relatives, and or money brokers which is small in scope and cannot effectively help economic growth. On the other hand, absence of a regulatory framework and a transparent mechanism to prevent fraudulent loans and can cause fiscal crisis. Nevertheless, improvement in the area of property rights was a major promise of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s campaign.
A mechanism to help banks to detect members of criminal groups, drug dealers and land grabbers does not exist. Therefore, accession to financial services is open for them. For normal customer absence of a building code is an issue and the banks cannot properly communicate. This situation made communication between banks and customers difficult and all the interviewees have consensus on the difficulty of retaking loans.
The executive layer of the private banks is run by Indian and Pakistani experts. The professional personnel to run a bank has not been very well developed during the past decade. An interviewee said: “at most, the bankers hire low qualified Afghan employees to decrease costs. Perhaps there are high qualified Afghan experts but they will not be hired unless they have some common interest. By hiring Indian and Pakistani experts is a win-win situation for both, the banker suspicious banking activities will not leak out to the media and the experts will enjoy high salary and many other job allowances and benefits.” One interviewee himself was a high school graduate when he was hired in the bank.
The banking law has been violated where banker directly invested on different businesses and vicious-source-money transferred abroad. One respondent said “even money from neighboring countries of Iran and Pakistan had transferred to Afghanistan and then transferred to the United Arab Emirates and China to import goods and products. It is a mechanism to escape tax, transferee fees, time taking paperwork and economic sanctions. Transferring money to Afghanistan through informal money exchange dealers or means of transportation is much cheaper. At some point, Iran was exchanging a lot of dollars from Afghanistan to decrease intensity of economic sanctions.”
The Central Bank adopted a floating exchange regime and maintain value of Afghan Currency by supplying US dollars in the money market through auction among banks, money services providers and foreign exchange dealers. As per current international financial standards, the Central Bank itself is encouraging an informal and unwholesome economy. It can be a threshold to financial shortfalls and gradually financial problems accumulate.
The interviewees revealed that the operation of the Central Bank is underachieving. An interviewee said “the Central Bank supervisory role is figurative and should oversee precisely each single financial document.” In 2013 which was a difficult time for the Central Bank, a customs duty document was reused and approved a second time by a private bank and then the Central Bank for two different values. “This customs document was approved by a private bank for a single small package of Chinese batteries (AA Battery 24-Package) imported to Afghanistan via United Arab Emirates at a total cost of $11,804! This amount passed the audit of a private bank and then also cleared the audit of the Central Bank as well.”
The Kabul Bank was the first private bank established in June 2004 by a money broker, Sher Khan Farnood, the owner of Shaheen Exchange. Farnood, the president of the bank, and his four partners invested with a primary capital of $5 million in Kabul and later it expanded to 70 branches nationwide and provided banking services for 1.3 million customers. Due to reduction in liquidity and fraudulent loans around $900 million, the bank failed in 2010. Though various sources believe that Kabul Bank collapsed because of 2009 Afghanistan Presidential Elections. Farnood wrote in his Facebook Page “shareholders of the Kabul Bank manipulated management of the bank to fund their campaigns which led to collapse of the bank.” Khalilullah Ferozi, the CEO of the bank, was quoted in the first volume of the Comprehensive History of Afghanistan as “if the Kabul Bank won’t exist, neither Karzai nor the government will be there.” The 8am News concluded that “during the presidential elections 2009 for campaign team of President Karzai; the Kabul Bank paid huge amount of money, bullet proof vehicles, and other costs were funded in consultation with Omar Zakhilwal the minister of finance at that time and cashier of President Karzai’s campaign. Therefore, for a long-time the violations of banking regulation/law by Kabul Bank were ignored by high rank officials of the government of Afghanistan.” Finally, the information leaked to the mass media and was publicized after Farnood had informed the US Embassy in Kabul about widespread fraud and corruption within his bank. Immediately Farnood was barred from flying outside Afghanistan and put in custody since then. Under the management of the National Unity Government, the Kabul Bank case reopened in late 2014 and the Court punished the President and CEO of the Kabul Bank to 10 years imprisonment and a sum of more than $500 million to be paid. Findings of a study by Institute of Peace in 2016 show that the elite class involvement (those who benefit from this fraud) make a transparent investigation of the case impossible and it is emphasized “the beneficiaries include vice presidents, ministers, provincial governors, senior central bank regulators, and other powerful people. The political will necessary to seriously review the involvement of these individuals is unlikely to emerge, and even where the political will does exist, there is a lack of capacity to execute.”
The Central Bank survived from a fatalism after collapse of the Kabul Bank and very well managed to row to the shore. In 2011, an amount of $4.6 billion dollars was transferred-out and $800 million transferred-in via Kabul International Airport and the Central Bank immediately acted and put preventive measures against cash transportation. At the same year, American advisors were excluded to work for the Central Bank of Afghanistan. In 2012, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) identified strategic deficiencies in the legal and regularity framework and added the Central Bank to its grey list. In 2013, the German Commerce Bank, a major dealing mediator and facilitator of banking transaction of Afghanistan closed-down all its internal accounts with Afghanistan after 11 years of continuous assistance. The reason behind this withdrawal was the lack of professional capacity of the Afghanistan’s banks, money laundry and pressure from American dealers who want all banking transactions to be cleared in the US. In 2014, the Central Bank was in the edge to be black listed by FATF. In 2014, an audit of the Central Bank conducted by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) and did not make any recommendation by saying: “…SIGAR is not making any recommendations at this time. However, because of the fragile state of the banking sector and its importance to the overall stability of Afghanistan, SIGAR will continue to carefully monitor the situation.” In 2016, the USAID launched a five-year program, the Financial Access for Investing in the Development of Afghanistan (FAIDA), to develop banking capacity building, regulatory framework of lending institutions and borrowers. Finally, in 2017, the FATF announced that Afghanistan’s Central Bank has met all the requirements and it is no more in the grey list of FATF. A dramatic normalization of a chaotic situation could be the result of pain-taking days and nights efforts of the Central Bank and the international allies of Afghanistan. Most of the financial problems are beyond the scope of work of the Central Bank or has regional and or international origins which is unfair to expect the Central Bank solve them. Though, this young banking system despite of all its underperformances is willing to improve and standardize its operations and help facilitate businesses of national and international entrepreneurs. A robust entrepreneurship development is possible with high margin in a short-period of time and crucial for Afghanistan’s future.
In Principle, the government of Afghanistan and the Central Bank of Afghanistan encourage entrepreneurship and struggle to fulfill its national, regional and international commitments to reach self-sufficiency. The achievement of this goal is viable to make it more transparent by allowing the civil society to do its complementary role so as to observe, monitor and audit the financial sector. The banking sector can seek partnership with other banks possibly from the United States of America, the United Arab Emirates or Turkey for some time to gain know-how and expertise if the national laws allow and a key solution to economic development is feasible to put an end to impunity culture.
Does Afghanistan really want entrepreneurs?
Akbar Borran is an MA in Economic Governance and Development from the OSCE-Academy and is an analyst and observer of the economic development of Afghanistan and the Central Asian and South Asian Region. He is a regular author for the Persian section of the Afghanistan Business News Portal.

Today USD and EUR exchange rates
in Darul Aman Road, Kabul, Afghanistan 

The UNITED NATIONS must immediately take necessary actions to seek a solution to the Afghan conflict

Civilian casualties are increasing year by year with the intensification and prolongation of war in the country. No party to the Afghan conflict pays appropriate attention to the lives of Afghan civilians. All warring sides are trying to exonerate themselves by laying the blame on the other side, a practice that prolongs the tragedy of civilian casualties. As usual, the new UN report on civilian casualties is shocking. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says as many as 1662 civilians were killed and 3,581 others wounded in the first half of 2017. These are only the figures recorded by UNAMA, while fighting is ongoing in areas, where registering civilian casualties is impossible; therefore, the figures may be far higher. Despite claims of protection of civilian lives by all sides involved in Afghan conflict, the level of Afghan civilian casualties has increased by two percent compared to the same period last year. The casualties of women and children in particular as the most vulnerable class of the society have seen a significant hike. The United Nations has so far mostly limited its mission to release the number of deaths and injuries, and inform the world about how many Afghans daily lose their lives as a result of the ongoing war, but it has never taken any promising steps to put an end to the intolerable war, and civilian casualties. As a representative entity of all nations, the UN no longer should play the role of a statistics collection body. It must immediately take necessary actions to seek a solution to the Afghan conflict, and reveal the name of any side mainly responsible for the protraction of war, as well as clearly pressure it to put an end to this evil and destructive war. Only the release of annual reports and number of deaths neither can prevent the bloodshed nor can heal the wounds of the affected families. That is only and only shedding the crocodile tears over the grief of oppressed Afghans.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Afghanistan produces more than 59 thousand tons of cotton annually, but there are no cotton processing factories in the country

The Afghan government has approached industrialists to present their plans and recommendations for way to revive the textile industry in Afghanistan. Afghanistan produces over 59,000 tons of cotton annually, but there are no cotton processing factories in the country. In the past, there were at least seven textile manufacturing factories– in Kabul, Parwan, Balkh, Kandahar and Baghlan provinces–which the country lost during the years of wars. The sector employed over 30,000 employees. Afghanistan has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with India’s Ministry of Textiles in January 2015 to expand business and cooperation in the field of textiles and clothing. As per MoU, both sides agreed to cooperate in developing closer economic relations and bilateral cooperation in the field of textiles, clothing, cotton, man-made fibre and hand-looms. India agreed to provide all necessary assistance to develop Afghan textile industry and assist in skill development, research and development, technical collaboration in product development and manufacturing, testing and certification and organize joint trade missions for mutual collaboration.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Bumper watermelon yield creates thousands of jobs in eastern Afghanistan

Bumper production of watermelon in the Batikot district of eastern Nangarhar province has created thousands of work opportunities, leaving a positive impact on the security situation. Despite the fact that the government has no writ in most of the areas where the watermelon crop has been cultivated, the positive impact of the production surge is visible in many localities -- from Jalalabad to Ghanikhel district. The Jalalabad-Torkham highway passes through Batikot district, where farmers and vendors have established watermelon stalls on both sides of the road, attracting a large number of passengers and drivers to buy the glucose-rich fruit. To the part of the district, known as Farms area, stability has partially returned. In the past, drivers and passengers felt unsafe going through this area. But now people stop here for eating and buying watermelon. Mohammad Esa, a resident of Ghanikhel who has set up a roadside stall, told Pajhwok Afghan News with the arrival of watermelon season he earned 800-1,200 rupees on a daily basis. The 50-year-old said more than 500 watermelon sale points had been established on the busy Jalalabad-Torkham road from Batikot up to the Marco Bazaar of Ghanikhel. Anwar Gul, an inhabitant of Chardahi area of Batikot, called the stalls the best sources of revenue for them. He said the massive watermelon yield this season had created a lot of work opportunities for the people. According to the district chief, watermelon has been cultivated on 15,000 hectares of land this year. Rafiullah Rahimzai, agriculture director, said he had discussed growers’ problems with the ministry concerned, which had promised exploring more markets for next year’s crop. A survey has been launched to determine the level of watermelon cultivated in Nangarhar this year.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE on Heart of Asia

Sunday, 16 July 2017

German President asked to use Afghanistan’s lithium in automotive industry

President Ashraf Ghani in a meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Presidential Palace discussed Afghanistan’s security, peace and economy. The German president arrived in Kabul with a high ranking delegation on last Thursday, 13 July 2017. Pointing to the importance of Afghanistan’s mineral resources, Ghani suggested that German automobile companies should use the country’s lithium in their automotive industry, a press release issued by the Presidential Palace said. “Afghanistan’s mineral resources requires proper management. The quality of Helmand’s lithium is very high and it can be used in the automotive industry,” Ghani said. In response to this, the German president said they will work on the use of Afghanistan’s lithium by Dutch companies. He said Germany will continue its support to different sectors in Afghanistan. Steinmeier said his country supports the Afghan peace talks process adding that he met with German troops in Balkh where they said the Afghan forces are becoming more capable. Ghani said the Afghan government continues its efforts to bring basic reforms particularly in the ministries of interior and defense. He said the ministries will be made professional and apolitical. The two sides also discussed the upcoming parliamentary elections. He welcomed Germany’s technical support to the process and said the elections will be held in a transparent environment.

AinoMena – a township in Kandahar – is considered a leading example of reconstruction and development in Afghanistan

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Saturday, 15 July 2017

ADB looks at the investment gap in infrastructure in developing Asia

The developing region of Asia and the Pacific, seen by economists as having the greatest promise for the future, will need $22.6 trillion of investment in infrastructure through 2030 if they are to keep their economies growing, according to a new report. When including the cost of mitigating or adapting to climate change, the amount rises to $26 trillion, or $1.7 trillion a year, reads “Meeting Asia’s Infrastructure Needs”, a report by the Asian Development Bank. After examining the current state of infrastructure in the region - from bridges to ports, airports to roads and water to health services – the report identifies glaring investment gaps in sectors as well as countries that need to be breached in order to sustain the strong growth rates registered in recent years. The region, in which the report includes 45 countries ranging from Azerbaijan to China to Pakistan to Thailand to Papua New Guinea, has 400 million people who do not have electricity, 300 million without potable water and 1.5 billion without basic health services. And these come in addition to the already inadequate state of ports, railways and roads.

«The demand for infrastructure across Asia and the Pacific far outstrips current supply,» says ADB President Takehiko Nakao in a press release introducing the report in February. «Asia needs new and upgraded infrastructure that will set the standard for quality, encourage economic growth, and respond to the pressing global challenge that is climate change.» The sectors identified by the report as being most in need of investment include as energy, for $14.7 trillion; transportation, for $8.4 trillion; telecommunications, for $2.3 trillion; and water and health services, for more than $800 billion.

Geographically, the report sees East Asia making up 61% of investment needs through to 2030. As a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), however, the Pacific leads every other sub-region, requiring investments equivalent to 9.1% of GDP. It is followed by South Asia at 8.8%, Central Asia at 7.8%, Southeast Asia at 5.7% and East Asia at 5.2%. By contrast, China has a much smaller gap at 1.2% of GDP when taking into account the cost of mitigating or adapting to climate.

The $1.7 trillion estimate provided by the ADB is more than double the $750 billion recommended in its previous report published in 2009. The reasons for the jump are rapid economic growth, inclusion of climate-related investment requirements, and the reference to 45 rather than the 32 countries singled out in the previous report.

The report’s recommendations, like any other, are hard to apply by any given country. Multilateral development banks (MDB) have helped, financing an estimated 2.5% of infrastructure investments. Excluding China and India, their contribution rises above 10%. ADB encourages regulatory and institutional reform to attract more private investors, who are always searching for worthwhile places to put their money.


Afghanistan plans to build at least 20 more dams

The Ministry of Energy and Water (MoEW) of Afghanistan said it is working hard to implement plans to build 20 more large and medium-sized dams in the country. According to them, at least 15 dams are currently under construction and 15 other dam projects are being worked on. Construction on these will be implemented once the National Procurement Authority (NPA) approves the project budgets.
According to MoEW, they are also preparing to start working on the Kafkan, Tirpol and Pashdan dam projects in Herat, along the Harirod River. Once all these dams have been completed, water in the east and southern zones of the country will be managed. “We continue our efforts to build the dams based on our plans. We have done a lot in this field and a lot has remained to be done,” the MoEW spokesman said. Last year, the Salma Dam was completed in Herat – which was one of the government’s key dam projects. In addition to this, the second phase of Kajaki dam in Helmand, the last phase of Kamal Khan dam in Nimroz and Bakhshabad Dam in Farah are under construction. A number of MPs meanwhile said the energy and water ministry do not take steps to control water management issues. This comes after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani a conference in Tehran slammed the Afghan government for building the dams. “An agreement has been signed by Afghanistan and Iran on Helmand River when Musa Shafiq was the minister of foreign affairs. Therefore, no issue has remained on water between the two countries,” said Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi, the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) speaker. A number of economists said however said the National Unity Government has failed to start big dam projects, except to complete and implement projects that were started during the former administration. “The value of water will increase day-by-day. Currently we use only a small portion of our waters and most of it flows to neighboring countries. They (neighboring countries) have built dams on our waters,” economic affairs analyst Azrakhsh Hafizi said. On average, the water volume in Afghanistan is estimated to up to 70 billion cubic meters annually. But 80 percent of these waters are flowing to Iran, Pakistan and other neighboring nations in Central Asian countries.

Friday, 14 July 2017

In the Afghan province of Samangan wheat production drops by 28%

The production of wheat in northern Samangan province has declined by 28 percent despite the fact that the crop was grown on a larger area this season, an official said. Najibullah Joya, acting agriculture director, told Pajhwok Afghan News a drought and lack of rain were the main reasons behind the fall in the wheat yield this year. He said the staple crop on thousands of acres of rain-fed land in Quflani, Kokah Blaq, Alsha, Dara Kalan, Kojar, Hazrat Sultan districts and other areas had gone dry due to drought. Last year 95,000 tons of wheat was collected from 115,000 hectares of rain-fed and irrigated lands. But this year, 68,000 tons have been yielded by 125,000 hectares of land. Figures show a nine percent increase in the area under cultivation and a 28 percent decline in the yield. Officials say 80,000 tons of wheat is required annually to meet the need of Samangan residents. The harvest process that started in Samangan in June is still underway in some areas. Mohammad Amin, a resident of Shurab village, recalled last year he had reaped 1.7 tons of wheat from 2.5 acres of land. But this year he collected half a tone due to drought and inadequate rains. Earlier, the Commerce Ministry had claimed Afghanistan was close to achieving self-reliance in wheat production, a claim which seems to take more time to become a reality.

Afghanistan: Inside opium trade

Discussion on construction of Dams in Afghanistan

Afghan Ministry of Higher Education focuses on the role of universities in shaping the future of Afghanistan

The Afghan Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE), in collaboration with the University Support and Workforce Program (USWDP) and USAID-Afghanistan, held a one-day University Chancellor’s Forum on July 11, 2017, to focus on the role of Afghan universities in shaping the future of Afghanistan. The participants discussed the role of institutions of higher learning as centers of knowledge and academic excellence, and as safe spaces that promote truth and human development. The forum included presentations and panel discussions on achievements, opportunities, best practices, and challenges facing institutions of higher learning here in Afghanistan. Chancellors and Vice Chancellors from 11 universities, including: Balkh University, Herat University, Jawzjan University, Kabul Medical University, Kabul Polytechnic University, Kabul University, Kandahar University, Kunduz University, Nangarhar University, Shaheed Rabbani Education University, and Sheikh Zayed University gathered with the Deputy Ministers, United States Special Chargé d’Affaires for Afghanistan, USAID officials and USWDP representatives reviewed recent achievements and challenges at the universities and discussed strategic approaches the various institutions can take over the next year to work with USWDP on improving the quality of the higher education system. The participants also reviewed planned activities for 2018. The United States Special Chargé d’Affaires for Afghanistan, Ambassador Hugo Llorens, noted the importance of bringing together the university chancellors to help reach consensus on a joint strategy. “The group of people gathered here at this Forum has the potential to generate ideas that will revolutionize higher education in Afghanistan for decades to come. I think it is an excellent opportunity, which is only possible through your hard work, commitment, and creativity.”

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Афганистан: проект 'Лазуритовый коридор' будет подписан странами-участницами в ближайшем будущем

В ходе визита министра финансов Афганистана в Грузию была достигнута договорённость о скором подписании регионального торгово-транзитного соглашении «Лазуритовый коридор» между Афганистаном, Азербайджаном, Туркменистаном, Грузией и Турцией.

"Проект очень важен для Афганистана и других стран-участниц, поскольку будет иметь значительное влияние на их экономику. Все документы уже подготовлены. Мы обсудили подписание соглашения в Грузии и ожидаем его в ближайшем будущем", заявил спикер министерства финансов Афганистана.

Kabul, Afghanistan: 106th National Procurement Commission (NPC) session

106th National Procurement Commission (NPC) session was held at Presidential Palace on Sunday evening, June July 9th, 2017, presided by His Excellency Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

In this meeting 20 procurement contracts with the total value of 3.6 billion Afs were approved, which included the following projects:
• The contract of design, construction and activation of 110 KW electricity transmission line from Salma dam to Karokh station, transmission line and distribution network of Pashtun-zarghoon, Ubeh, Karokh and Chesht Sharif districts, and procurement of electricity equipment for the afore mentioned districts.
• The contract of design and activation of Noor Jahaad substation in Herat province.
• Seven contracts of providing health services under BPHS and EPHS programs in Nooristan, Ghor, Konar, Zabul, Sari Pol and Kabul Provinces
• The contract of procuring water distillation and hemodialysis machines required by Ministry of Public Health
• Two contracts of cleaning supplies and kitchen appliances required by military corps of Ministry of Defense
• The no cost extension of stationary and clothing equipment of Ministry of Interior.
• Procurement of smart system(TABLET) for Independent Election Commission
• The contract for renting two air planes for the sake of transportation of Afghan Hajis to Saudi Arabia
• The Contract for procuring vehicles needed by Attorney General`s Office which has been approved conditionally on budget availability and tax clearance by the vendor
• The contract of IT equipment for Afghan telecom which has been approved on the condition that the vendor clears its tax payments

On the other hand, the National Procurement Commission decided to terminate the procurement contracts of design and construction of Kili dam of Samangan province and Tangee Shadiyaan dam in Balkh province and instructed for creation of a to a committee comprised of representatives from the President’s office Chief Executive’s Office, the Parliament, Ministries of Finance and Economy, the concerned ministries Office of the President’s Senior Advisor in Infrastructures Affairs to identify reputable and qualified local and international companies for competition dam construction projects.

Besides, discussing the extension of wheat contract from Hairatan port, the NPC instructed to send-out an investigation team and also instructed the Ministry of Finance to recruit the senior positions of its office in ports competitively.

NPC, however, rejected the fuel procurement contract of the prisons in capital and provinces and decided to refer it for rebidding and instructed for assessment of the procurement department of Prisons Directorate.
It is worth mentioning that NPC reviewed a submitted report of Ministry of Economy regarding the contract of five substation from Qara Bagh to khanadahar which is related to Da Afghanistan Breshna Shirkat and decided that a committee comprised of representatives from US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), representative of US Agency for International Development (USAID), General Directorate of Major Crimes Task Force (MCTF) of MoI, headed by Attorney General`s representative to investigate the issue.

In this meeting, H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive of National Unity Government, H.E. Mohammad Sarwar Danish, Second Vice President, Ministers of Finance, Justice and Economy, the Senior Officials of the National Procurement Authority (NPA),observers from SIGAR, the Combined Security Transition Command for Afghanistan (CSTC-A) of the Resolute Support, and observers of national economy commission, member of the financial and budgetary of the Upper House, economic and budgetary commission of the Lower House of the Parliament and the Parliamentary Anti-Corruption Caucus (PACC), had also participated.

Afghanistan: hope dies last | سخنرانی محترم یما یاری در نخستین نمایشگاه ساختمانی افغانستان

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Россия рассчитывает принять участие в осуществлении энергетического проекта CASA-1000 в Афганистане

Недавно Афганистан получил от России запрос, в соответствии с которым Москва рассчитывает принять участие в осуществлении энергетического проекта CASA-1000, сообщил министр энергетики и водоснабжения Афганистана.  Заявление было сделано главой афганского энергетического ведомства в ходе выступления на полях Международной выставки EXPO-2017 в Астане. Министр сообщил, что официальное письмо поступило от замминистра энергетики РФ. В рамках осуществления проекта в регионе планируется запуск высоковольтной линии электропередач, позволяющей осуществлять экспорт электроэнергии из Таджикистана и Кыргызстана в Афганистане и Пакистане. В мае текущего года тендер на строительство афганского участка ЛЭП, протяжённость которого составляет около 550 километра, выиграла индийская компания.

A team of Afghan girls have made a robot that will compete in global robotics competition

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Some Afghan political groups enjoy government resources both in positions of power and opposition

Being both in position and opposition at the same time remained an unfavorable, deep-rooted practice in Afghan politics.  Some political groups have been enjoying government resources both in positions of power and opposition since the collapse of the Taliban regime. In violation of all applicable laws, they use government resources for their personal and partisan interests.  As long as their individual and partisan interests are protected in working at the government, they act as supporters of the government; however, whenever their interests are threatened, they become a political opposition right away while also lacking the moral courage to quit government posts. All key figures of the new coalition formed in Turkey of three political parties are senior government officials. Instead of following orders of the central government as responsible government officials, they challenge government decisions under the ploy of reforms. Soon after its formation, the alliance has invited serious reactions from people from all walks of life. The majority of lawmakers have described the coalition as illegal and shameful, and called on the government to relieve members of the alliance of government posts. Now, the National Unity Government (NUG) has two options: to settle the issue with members of the coalition through dialogue, and pave the way for its dissolution, or dismiss them from government slots. If leaders of the coalition serve in government and opposition at the same time, they violate the country’s all applicable laws, including the Constitution, which will further discredit the government in the eyes of the people. The government should not let certain elements to make mockery of governance, and take serious actions against those who clearly violate the tenets of democratic governance and the country’s applicable laws. Although such coalitions have not lasted for long, and have only been used to protect partisan and personal interests, they can create problems for the already embattled government even if they are for short term given the sensitive situation of Afghanistan. In lieu of repeating the past mistakes, the government has to embrace a policy that can fundamentally solve problems, and prevent government officials from forming anti-government groups using their positions of power in the government.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

The Taliban to gain in strength, ISIS expanding throughout Afghanistan

Where is the United States’ war in Afghanistan going? Recently, the Trump administration gave Secretary of Defense James Mattis the authority to set troop levels there; so far, rumors suggest that 4,000 more American troops may soon be on their way to Afghanistan.
However, this may not be enough; occupying and administering Afghanistan is a herculean task that few empires have ever had success with. The Taliban continue to gain in strength, while ISIS is expanding throughout the country. The Taliban, ISIS, various warlords, and the Afghan government all continue to fight each other.
Writing in the Atlantic, Peter Beinart described the current U.S.-led war there as hopeless: the Taliban are unlikely to cut a deal because time is on their side, and they merely have to wait it out until the United States decides to leave. The United States has been involved in Afghanistan for almost 16 years, making it the longest conflict in its history (with the possible exception of Vietnam, depending on how one interprets the chronology of that conflict). Despite spending more on Afghanistan than on rebuilding Europe after World War II, little progress has been made. It would not be surprising if the Taliban controlled all of Afghanistan within a decade.
Afghanistan is a notoriously difficult country to govern. Empire after empire, nation after nation have failed to pacify what is today the modern territory of Afghanistan, giving the region the nickname “Graveyard of Empires, ” even if sometimes those empires won some initial battles and made inroads into the region. If the United States and its allies decide to leave Afghanistan, they would only the latest in a long series of nations to do so. As the British learned in their 1839-1842 war in Afghanistan, it is often easier to do business with a local ruler with popular support than to support a leader backed by foreign powers; the costs of propping up such a leader eventually add up. The closest most historical empires have come to controlling Afghanistan was by adopting a light-handed approach, as the Mughals did. They managed to loosely control the area by paying off various tribes, or granting them autonomy. Attempts at anything resembling centralized control, even by native Afghan governments, have largely failed.
Afghanistan is particularly hard to conquer primarily due to the intersection of three factors. First, because Afghanistan is located on the main land route between Iran, Central Asia, and India, it has been invaded many times and settled by a plethora of tribes, many mutually hostile to each other and outsiders. Second, because of the frequency of invasion and the prevalence of tribalism in the area, its lawlessness lead to a situation where almost every village or house was built like a fortress, or qalat. Third, the physical terrain of Afghanistan makes conquest and rule extremely difficult, exacerbating its tribal tendencies. Afghanistan is dominated by some of the highest and more jagged mountains in the world. These include the Hindu Kush, which dominates the country and run through the center and south of the country, as well as the Pamir mountains in the east. The Pamir Knot — where the Hindu Kush, Pamir, Tian Shan, Kunlun, and Himalayas all meet is situated in Badakhshan in northeast Afghanistan.
A survey of Afghanistan’s history demonstrates how difficult it is to occupy and govern the country. We first get a clear glimpse into Afghanistan’s history around 500 BCE, when it formed the eastern part of the Achaemenid Persian empire. Parts of Afghanistan were previously part of the ancient Indian kingdom of Gandhara, a region in what is now northwest Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Presumably, much of southern and eastern Afghanistan was already inhabited by the ancestors of today’s Pashtun (also known as Afghans historically); their Pashto language is an ancient eastern Iranian language closely related to the even more ancient Avestan, the original language of the Zoroastrian scriptures. Afghanistan was relatively lightly populated at this time, as Alexander the Great is reported to have swept through the area with little resistance. Following this, the Maurya Empire from India controlled most of Afghanistan, although a Greek successor kingdom arose in Balkh (Bactria) in northern Afghanistan. Buddhism and Hinduism spread throughout the region during this period. It was only after the collapse of the Maurya Empire and several invasions from Central Asia that the mountains of Afghanistan began to “fill up,” and acquire its reputation of being the home of many warlike peoples defending their individual turfs. Many of the invaders assimilated into the tribal structure of the Pashtuns, adapting their language.
Various tribes founded empires within the Afghanistan region before breaking up into mini-statelets. These included the Greco-Bactrians, the Indo-Parthians, the Saka (Scythians), the great Buddha-building Kushans, the Kidarites, and the Hephthalites (White Huns). By this time, the region already acquired a difficult reputation. When the Arabs arrived in the region at the dawn of the 8th century, it was a patchwork of small but tough principalities. Attempts to conquer the Zunbils of Kandahar failed spectacularly, the first major setback faced by the Arabs after their great conquests began. An expedition of 20,000 men sent against the Zunbils returned with 5,000 people. It took almost 200 years for Afghanistan to be Islamicized from west to east, a process that only neared completion when Ya’qub ibn al-Layth al-Saffar, a Persian blacksmith born in Zaranj, in Afghanistan on the border with Iran conquered Kabul. Even then, the Hindu Shahi dynasty held out for another hundred years in the easternmost parts of today’s Afghanistan until conquered by Mahmud of Ghazni (also in Afghanistan) around the turn of the millennium.
When the Mongols arrived in Afghanistan, they faced so much resistance in the Bamiyan valley, which they besieged in 1221, that the grandson of Genghis Khan was killed. In fury, the Mongols killed most of the valley’s original inhabitants: most of the modern Hazara who live there are descended from a Mongol garrison, some of whose men took Tajik wives. Fragmentation ensued again after the weakening of the Mongol Empire.
Ẓahīr-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Babur, the first Mughal emperor, managed to get himself a kingdom in Kabul for two decades before conquering India. Most of the Hindu Kush region would remain under loosely Mughal control until 1738 when it was conquered by Nader Shah and inherited a decade later by Ahmad Shah Durrani, who founded modern Afghanistan after Nader Shah’s death. Mughal rule over Afghanistan was a combination of control over a few urban centers, and benign neglect coupled with paying off tribes in the region, a formula later replicated by the British. However, Mughal rule was always precarious, as they were faced with constant tribal revolts. An especially serious one from 1672-1677 led by the poet Khushal Khan Khattak was eventually defeated by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, but Mughal authority never extended beyond main roads again.
The Mughal Empire extended as far west as Ghazni and Bamiyan in central Afghanistan; after fighting with the Persian Safavids for Kandahar for decades, they lost it permanently during the reign of Shah Jahan. The Safavids also had to deal with unruly Afghan tribes. Eventually a revolt against the Safavids broke out in Kandahar in 1709 due to Persian attempts to control Pashtun tribes. The Afghan revolt brought down the Safavid Empire; although partially checked by the rise of the warlord Nader Shah and his empire, eventually modern Afghanistan was founded in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, who picked off territory from Nader Shah’s descendants in Persia, the Mughals, and the Uzbeks to his north.
Since then, as both the British and Russians have learned, that while it is possible to conquer territory in Afghanistan temporarily, and defeat Afghans militarily in open battle, it is virtually impossible to hold the region down for long, when it is filled with guerrillas, tribes, and castles that can constantly weigh down a foreign power. The people of Afghanistan have nowhere to go, and can fight their whole lives (foreigners, beware in particular of the Kandahar region), a luxury that outsiders do not have. The United States should learn from the history of Afghanistan and understand that escalating the war will have no particular impact on the outcome. Minus a permanent occupation–which would be ineffective at best, and bloody and cost-prohibitive at worst–the only way to deal with Afghanistan is to deal with its plethora of local powers. And if this means accepting the Taliban, in exchange for a modicum of stability and a promise not to host global terrorist organizations, then so be it. The alternative is an unwinnable, never-ending war.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE written by Akhilesh Pillalamarri on

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