Wednesday, 28 February 2018

The Afghan Ministry of Commerce said that technical committees from the five nations involved in the Lapis Lazuli Route will meet soon to discuss challenges faced by each country in terms of rolling out the project

The Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI) of Afghanistan said that technical committees from the five nations involved in the Lapis Lazuli route will meet soon to discuss challenges faced by each country in terms of rolling out the project. The Lapis Lazuli Route agreement was signed in October last year between Afghanistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia and once implemented will become a key international trade and transport corridor that will directly connect Afghanistan to Europe. Since the signing of the agreement, each country has now formed its technical task team. These task teams will come together soon to discuss the challenges each country is facing, the MoCI said. “The technical committees can work on these issues (technical issues) to implement this agreement and connect Afghanistan to Europe in the closest way,” a spokesman of the ministry said. Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) meanwhile said the Lapis Lazuli Route will connect Afghanistan to European markets which will then have a positive impact on Afghanistan’s economy. They asked government to do all it can to implement the agreement with the four nations. “In Afghanistan there are issues such as roads, security and electricity that should be considered for implementation of this project,” ACCI financial deputy said. Economic experts also said the corridor will play a significant role in the growth of Afghanistan’s economy. “This corridor can decrease Afghanistan's transit problems and also increase Afghanistan's trade volume with Europe,” economic affairs analyst said. The Lapis Lazuli route will start in Afghanistan’s northern Aqina port in Faryab province and Torghandi in the western Herat province and will run through to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan. From there it will cross the Caspian Sea and will link the Azerbaijani capital Baku to Tbilisi and Georgia’s Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti. It will then connect with Kars in eastern Turkey before linking to Istanbul and Europe. The 'Lapis Lazuli Route' Agreement was inked after 3 years of talks during the 7th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA VII) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan-Afghanistan 13 km rail link upgraded

A ceremony to mark the completion of work to upgrade the 13 km rail link between Serhetabat in southern Turkmenistan and Towraghondi in northern Afghanistan took place on February 23, 2018. This formed part of a pair of ceremonies which were held in Turkmenistan and Afghanistan to mark the completion of the Turkmen section of the Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Pakistan – India gas pipeline and the groundbreaking for the Afghan section. Electric power and opticfibre links are also being installed on the TAPI route. Guests at the events included the Presidents of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan and India’s Minister for External Affairs. The railway to the Towraghondi freight terminal on the Afghan side of the border was originally built by the USSR. Following discussions at the seventh Regional Economic Co-operation Conference on Afghanistan in Ashgabat last November, Turkmenistan agreed to fund and undertake the upgrade as a donation to Afghanistan. The work has increased capacity on the line, where future traffic from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan is expected to include oil products, food, industrial goods and construction materials. The route could also be used for Afghan export traffic. A second rail link between Turkmenistan and Afghanistan opened in November 2016, linking Atamyrat and Aqina.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE 
@ Railway Gazette

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

AFGHANISTAN - BIDDING OPPORTUNITY FOR CONSULTING FIRMS FROM ADB MEMBER COUNTRIES

REQUEST FOR EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST (REOI):
CONSULTING SERVICES FOR CONSTRUCTION SUPERVISION OF THE QAISAR - DARI-E-BUM ROAD PROJECT (151 KM)

Interested firms can find the information about thIs REOI on the website of the Afghanistan National Procurement Authority (NPA) at http://www.npa.gov.af/en/bidding-opportunities

Pakistan-Afghanistan trade has decreased from 2.7 billion dollars to 1.2 billion dollars in less than two years

Pakistan-Afghanistan trade has decreased from 2.7 billion dollars to 1.2 billion dollars in less than two years, sparking concerns among businessmen from the two countries. Pakistani and Afghan traders voiced concerns at the sharp fall in bilateral trade due to political tensions between the neighbors and impediments to the implementation of transit trade agreements. The Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) organized the “Cross-Border Round table” in collaboration with Pakistani Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) and a UK-based organization called Safeworld. At a joint press conference with Afghan traders at the end of talks in Islamabad, PAJCCI Chairman Muhammad Zubair Motiwala called on both governments to separate trade from politics. In a unanimous resolution released at the conclusion of talks, the traders said: “We want governments on both sides to segregate business ties from political and security tensions and suggest bilateral and transit trade needs rejuvenation.” In 2014, the two countries had pledged to boost bilateral trade to 5 billion US dollars in five years. But worsening relations, blame game, border closures and obstacles to implementation of transit agreements have affected the trade volume. They called for confidence-building measures to overcome mistrust in the Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship that was not only hampering political dialogue but also significantly impacting economic cooperation between the two countries. Afghan Chambers of Commerce President Khan Jan Alkozai said Pakistani traders were interested in trade through Gawadar and Karachi port as they were near to Afghanistan. “Afghanistan has been facilitating Pakistan trade with the Central Asian states and Afghan businessmen also want similar cooperation from the Pakistani side” Alkozai said. The delegates demanded a meeting of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA) on facilitating discussions to revive the economic transition leading to peace and prosperity across the border. Pakistan had hosted the last meeting of APTACA, an important forum to deal with problems affecting smooth implementation of the 2010 revised transit treaty in February 2016. Afghanistan was to host its 7th meeting in Kabul in September 2017. But the meeting was postponed amid tensions. An Afghan delegate, who had been involved in Pak-Afghan trade talks for years, said the APTTCA should meet every six months.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE on 'Heart Of Asia.af'

Monday, 26 February 2018

Iran exports 190,000 kilowatts /hour of electricity to Afghanistan

Iran’s Director for Taibud Electric Office said that 190,000 kilowatts /hour of electricity is exported to Afghanistan daily.

He said that since the beginning of the current Iranian year more than 48,000 megawatts of electricity had been exported to Afghanistan through Dogharoun distribution post, it said. This amount is supplying needed electricity by Afghanistan villages close to Dogharoun border, including 13,000 households.

The APMG PPP Certification Program: Q&A with Abdul Nafi Sarwari

The APMG PPP Certification Program enables participants to take their skills to the next level, and the Certified PPP Professional (CP3P) credential is a means to officially convey that expertise and ability.
At the core of the program is the PPP Guide, a comprehensive Body of Knowledge that distills globally agreed-upon definitions, concepts, and best practices on PPPs. The program is an innovation of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), and the World Bank Group (WBG), with financial support from the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF).

Whether you’re thinking about signing up, or already enrolled, in this series we share some insight from practitioners who have already passed the test. This week, we caught up with Abdul Nafi Sarwari, a Senior Financial & Economic Specialist for PPPs with the Central Partnership Authority within Afghanistan’s Ministry of Finance. Read his answers below.

This is a unique certification program because it focuses on public-private partnerships (PPPs) and because it provides training and self-study testing to attain certification. What led you to pursue the CP3P credential?

As a senior finance specialist working on PPPs, it’s very essential to understand the core concepts behind the financial structure of PPPs. I pursued CP3P certification to gain that in-depth knowledge and also to learn about project bankability and viability. Additionally, the CP3P certification program is a complete package for new learners to elevate their PPP knowledge and understand the PPP standards followed across the globe.

Would you advise your peers to register, and why?

I strongly recommend the CP3P certification for my peers, civil servants working with PPPs, and others interested in learning more about PPPs. The program is rich and designed in a practical manner, which will enable you to understand standard PPP practices used around the globe. It will also enrich your technical expertise.

Please tell us more about your career. How do you plan to incorporate what you’ve learned?

Within the newly established PPP Unit, it’s my responsibility to analyze the financial viability of PPP projects and bring technical issues to the top management to make appropriate decisions. Acquiring the CP3P foundation-level certificate has improved my understanding of critical financial issues that need to be considered for the purpose of decision-making. It will also enable me to provide better technical support to my organization in the area of financial and economic assessments of PPP projects.

As someone who has already passed the foundation-level certification exam, what advice could you share with people who are studying for it right now?

I strongly recommend studying the course material carefully and taking the sample test to familiarize yourself with the exam structure. One thing more: don’t waste too much time on tricky questions, try your best to answer all the questions.

Any other test preparation tips?

You don’t need to memorize all the course material. Instead, try to understand the rationale behind the key concepts.

Ready to Register?

PPP certification leads to fruitful project preparation and implementation. To register, visit the APMG Public-Private Partnerships Certification Program website, where you will find the free and downloadable APMG International’s CP3P training course. You can book your exam up to one year in advance. The 40-minute multiple-choice test can be taken online or in person at one of several Accredited Training Organizations.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

About the Author, Abdul Nafi Sarwari:
Senior Financial & Economic Specialist, Central Partnership Authority, Ministry of Finance, Afghanistan
Abdul Nafi Sarwari is Senior Financial & Economic Specialist with the Central Partnership Authority within Afghanistan’s Ministry of Finance. Previously, he worked with national and international organizations in financial management and analysis. Sarwari has conducted extensive research on the economic welfare and development of Afghanistan. He holds a Master's of Arts in Economics from the International University of Japan, a professional certificate in accounting from ACCA, and received a foundation-level certificate through the APMG PPP.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

SI SCONSIGLIANO VIAGGI A QUALSIASI TITOLO IN AFGHANISTAN

In considerazione della gravità della situazione di sicurezza e dell’elevato rischio di sequestri ed attentati a danno di stranieri in tutto il territorio nazionale, si sconsigliano viaggi a qualsiasi titolo in Afghanistan.
Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale

Friday, 23 February 2018

Afghanistan - Work on TAPI gas pipeline project kicked off in Herat

Афганистан - В западной провинции Герат состоится церемония начала строительства афганского участка газопровода ТАПИ

В западной провинции Герат состоится церемония начала строительства афганского участка транснационального газопровода ТАПИ (Туркменистан–Афганистан–Пакистан–Индия). Мероприятие, знаменующее открытие новой стадии осуществления регионального проекта, запланировано на пятницу. В рамках подготовки к церемонии в городе Герат были повышены меры безопасности, также проходят работы по ремонту дорог и украшению парков в честь торжественного события. Ожидается, что церемонию открытия представительства посетят делегации каждой из четырёх стран-участниц проекта. Жители провинции Герат приветствуют подготовку к строительству газопровода, выражая надежду на то, что масштабный проект поспособствует созданию большого числа новых рабочих мест.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Afghanistan launches visa on arrival unit at Kabul international airport

Afghanistan’s government on Monday 19 February officially launched a new visa processing unit at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in a move to attract more foreign investment. The new visa center will enable businessmen to apply for visas on arrival at the airport, according to the Afghan ministry of commerce and industries. The first foreigner to use the service was an American businessman who arrived in Kabul on Monday. According to him, he is in the country in the hope of investing in the aviation sector. “This is a big step for Afghanistan. This is what I have seen in other countries in the region. This is a positive move,” said Bret Dalton. With the launch of this visa processing unit, foreign investors will no longer have to find an Afghan embassy to process documents – as the staff at the unit will send their documents to the foreign affairs ministry. These investors will then be able to get visas, valid for up to three years, on arrival. “The visa processing unit for investors is aimed at encouraging foreign investment and providing investors with the necessary facilities,” said Feroz Khan Masjidi, deputy minister of commerce and industries for investments. “In the past there were no such privileges or facilities for foreign investors. They have faced tremendous problems. They would try to get visas in various regions, at embassies, to get a visa for Afghanistan,” Samir Rasa, head of the media office for the senior advisor to the president said. In addition to this, officials from the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said the launch of this visa center at the airport will help build investor confidence in the country. “Unfortunately, recently the volume of foreign investments has suffered declines compared to two or three years ago,” said Atiqullah Nusrat, ACCI CEO.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Sunday, 18 February 2018

New Delhi and Tehran to expand cooperation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>>> ORIGINAL ARTICLE published February 10, 2018 on CSRSKABUL.COM
http://csrskabul.com/en/blog/poverty-and-unemployment-and-the-afghans-economic-migration/

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Taliban writes an Open Letter addressed to American people

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

Il Presidente della Repubblica ha provveduto il 28 dicembre 2017 a sciogliere le Camere e a indire le elezioni politiche per il 4 marzo 2018. Si ricorda che il voto è un diritto tutelato dalla Costituzione Italiana e che, in base alla Legge 27 dicembre 2001, n.459, i cittadini italiani residenti all’estero, iscritti nelle liste elettorali della circoscrizione estero, possono votare per posta. A seguire si riassumono le informazioni per i cittadini italiani che intendono partecipare al voto dall’Afghanistan.
http://www.ambkabul.esteri.it/ambasciata_kabul/it/ambasciata/news/dall_ambasciata/2017/12/voto-dei-cittadini-italiani-residenti.html
I cittadini italiani residenti in Afghanistan ed iscritti nelle liste elettorali della circoscrizione estero (AIRE) riceveranno regolarmente il plico elettorale via corriere. A tal fine, si raccomanda quindi di controllare e regolarizzare la propria situazione anagrafica e di indirizzo presso il Consolato.
E’ possibile in alternativa scegliere di votare in Italia presso il proprio Comune, comunicando per iscritto la propria scelta (opzione) al Consolato entro i termini di legge. Gli elettori che scelgono di votare in Italia in occasione delle prossime elezioni politiche, ricevono dai rispettivi Comuni italiani la cartolina-avviso per votare - presso i seggi elettorali in Italia - per i candidati nelle circoscrizioni nazionali e non per quelli della Circoscrizione Estero. La scelta (opzione) di votare in Italia vale solo per una consultazione elettorale. Chi desidera votare in Italia deve darne comunicazione scritta al Consolato entro lunedì 8 gennaio 2018.
In ogni caso l’opzione deve pervenire all’ufficio consolare non oltre i dieci giorni successivi a quello dell’indizione delle votazioni. Tale comunicazione può essere scritta su carta semplice e - per essere valida - deve contenere nome, cognome, data, luogo di nascita, luogo di residenza e firma dell’elettore. Per tale comunicazione si può anche utilizzare l’apposito modulo qui disponibile. Se la dichiarazione non è consegnata personalmente, dovrà essere accompagnata da copia di un documento di identità del dichiarante.
Come prescritto dalla normativa vigente, sarà cura degli elettori verificare che la comunicazione di opzione spedita per posta sia stata ricevuta in tempo utile dal proprio Ufficio consolare.
La scelta di votare in Italia può essere successivamente revocata con una comunicazione scritta da inviare o consegnare all’Ufficio consolare con le stesse modalità ed entro gli stessi termini previsti per l’esercizio dell’opzione.
Se si sceglie di rientrare in Italia per votare, la Legge non prevede alcun tipo di rimborso per le spese di viaggio sostenute, ma solo agevolazioni tariffarie all’interno del territorio italiano. Solo gli elettori residenti in Paesi dove non vi sono le condizioni per votare per corrispondenza (Legge 459/2001, art. 20, comma 1 bis) hanno diritto al rimborso del 75 per cento del costo del biglietto di viaggio, in classe economica, ma non e' il caso dell'Afghanistan.
>>> PER ULTERIORI CHIARIMENTI visita il sito ufficiale dell'Ambasciata d'Italia a Kabul

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

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

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

India better market for the fruit of Afghanistan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 10 February 2018

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

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

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

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Afghanistan-Indonesia to open air corridor

Afghan Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI) said Afghanistan and Indonesia have talked about opening an air corridor between the two countries.
Officials said committees have been formed to take further steps in this regard. MoCI spokesman Musafir Quqandi said with the establishment of the air corridor, Afghanistan’s exports will increase significantly. “We have spoken in general in this regard and there are committees that are working on which countries are the best for exporting our products,” said Quqandi. Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) meanwhile said Indonesia is a good market for Afghanistan products and by the establishment of the air corridor, Afghan traders will export dried and fresh fruits, carpets and medicinal herbs to Indonesia. “Air cargo is important, especially in the time that our neighbors do not let us to use their territory to reach the ocean. If we transfer goods by air, it will be more efficient and cheaper,” ACCI spokesman Seyam Pesarlay said. Currently Afghanistan has one air cargo corridor with India but wants to establish air corridors with another five countries, including Indonesia.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Ostrich farm opened in Herat, Afghanistan

The US military is heavily relying on the poppy cultivation and natural resources of Afghanistan to finance their ongoing wars in the country and around the world

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Recently President Donald Trump declared that Washington will not negotiate with Taliban. His announcement came after Taliban announced that they will only negotiate with the US in Afghanistan – due to Afghan government's no decision making authority.
This development comes at a time where BBC declared that 70% of Afghan districts are either under Taliban control or their threat. Their findings come as a result of their survey across the country. In addition, SIGAR – the US Senior Inspector for the Afghan Reconstruction – reported this week that they are directed by Pentagon to classify the information about the percentage of Government controlled territory in Afghanistan. Given this situation it is quite clear that the actual decision making in the Afghan war has no intention of peace in the country and is using its geo-political location to challenge any Russian and Chinese influence in the region. It is also aimed to destabilize their neighbors as well. In addition, the US military is heavily relying on the poppy cultivation and natural resources of Afghanistan to finance their ongoing wars in the country and around the world.
Therefore, it is no surprise that the US at one hand is increasing its bombing campaign in the country – which forces people to join the war – and in another is not ready to come any actual negotiating table, fearing that it can harm their interests. This war is – as it is appeared to be – planned for the coming 50 year at the least and it is not in their interest to bring any reduction in their savageness even for a bit.
So in a nutshell, the war is a business and the one in Afghanistan is the one they make a lot of profits out of it. Out of three big businesses of the world, the US is conducting two of them in Afghanistan – War and Drugs.

Afghanistan: The problem of nonstandard drugs has not been tackled yet

The problem of nonstandard drugs and health services has not been tackled yet despite repeated promises by the government. Kabul residents say the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has failed to close substandard health centers even in the capital.
Hashmatullah, a resident of Kabul’s 5th Police District, says “there is a health clinic in every street of the district”, but there is no proper oversight of those clinics, and none of them are reliable. He claims that drugstores have their own suppliers and own medicine, and there is no standard medication in the market, and everyone sells the drugs without prescription. The low quality medicine not only doesn’t treat diseases, but sometimes also can be dangerous and kill the sick. A doctor from Jamhuriat Hospital told The Heart of Asia they often receive patients suffering from health complications caused by low quality or wrong medicine. “We often receive patients who have been given wrong medication by doctors or pharmacists, or taken low quality medicine, and then faced with health problems.” Nasir Ahmad, a resident of 8th Police District, said there are tens of hospitals in the district, but they neither deliver standard health services nor appear like hospitals. He also complained about the quality of medicine, describing substandard drugs and a lack of government strategy as a big problem of the country’s health sector.
This comes as the Ministry of Public Health said a while ago that 40 percent of the imported drugs were unreliable. However, the owner of a pharmaceutical importer who wished not to be named, told The Heart of Asia that 70 percent of the imported drugs were counterfeit. Some hospitals and doctors have contracts with drug importers and distributers, and prescribe whatever medicine they receive from their suppliers, the sourced revealed. Mohammad Ismail Kawusi, the head of MoPH’s Public Relation Department, says they have a special system for regularly monitoring private health centers, while also admitting problems in some hospitals which were either closed or put on notice a while ago. The Ministry of Public Health, he asserted, suspended licenses of about 800 pharmaceutical companies two months ago for not importing quality medicine to the country. Steps have been taken to improve the quality of medication, he stressed, adding that pharmacies were monitored and their meds checked from time to time. There are about 15,000 drugstores currently operating all over the country so it is difficult to oversee them all, he concluded.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Saturday, 3 February 2018

FOUR WAYS MEN CAN CONTRIBUTE TO ENDING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN

Violence against women is one of most prevalent forms of human rights violations in Afghanistan. It is also a major obstacle to progress and development in the country. Afghanistan ranks 169th out of 188 in the Gender Inequality Index created by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). 

This is an indication of an unacceptable level of gender inequality, which contributes to violence. There are many factors to gender inequality and violence against women, including patriarchal traditions, an inept justice system, lack of prosecution of perpetrators of violence, and discriminatory gender roles. Men have an important responsibility in preventing and eradicating violence against women in Afghanistan. Here are four ways we can contribute.

Acknowledge violence against women as a problem in the country.
First of all, Afghan men must unequivocally accept that violence against women is part of the reality of our country, gender inequality is widespread, and it is harming our society. Credible academic and international sources have proven that gendered violence is shockingly prevalent in Afghanistan. UN Women prepares a comprehensive report about the status of women all over the world annually. In their latest report about women’s situation in Afghanistan they’ve confirmed that:
  • 87% of women in Afghanistan have faced violence at least once, of which 62% have faced multiple forms of violence.
  • 59% of women have faced forced marriages.
  • 57% of the brides in Afghanistan were below the age of 16 and many “were given away” to settle financial debts.
According to Human Rights Watch, only in the first eight month of 2016, more than 2,621 cases of violence against women were filed with Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission. These cases include killing, beating, severing of body parts, or suicide to escape violence. Unfortunately, we witness such reports about Afghanistan from media and human rights organizations every year. We also see reports of violence in local news on a weekly basis. Despite all the evidence, most Afghan men rarely accept violence against women as a problem or talk about it publicly.

The disservice caused by gender inequality and violence against women doesn’t only affect women; rather it hurts the society as whole. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that if gender inequality in labor is eradicated, about $28 trillion could be added to the global GDP (Gross Domestic Product) annually. Similarly, according to the World Economic Forum, if gender inequality is eliminated in U.S., France and Germany and England, each will have $175 billion, $300 billion, and 250 billion increase in their GDP respectively. Violence against women and gender inequality do not only harm women rather they impact all facets of life in society negatively. By the same token, there’s no doubt that violence against women in Afghanistan is extensive and to deny this is nothing more than ignorance that perpetrates violent behavior.

Don’t be a bystander. Take action and start from your own family.
Once we recognize gender inequality as a problem, we shouldn’t be bystanders anymore. We should take action. The first step is to begin in our own families. When we witness our fathers, mothers, brothers, uncles or anyone else discriminate against women, we should speak up and raise our voice. If our parents discriminate among their sons and daughters, we should stand against the inequality. If our sisters, wives, or our daughters are not well aware of their rights and do not speak against gender inequality, we should encourage them to learn and talk. We should reiterate that in all cases they are equal to us, and they have the right to make their own choices. If we see that the resources in our homes are divided unequally, we should speak out and make changes.

Support women and take part in their empowerment.
Patriarchal structures and cultural practices in Afghanistan lead to discriminatory definitions of gender roles in families. Traditionally, Afghan women are limited to housekeeping, cooking, cleaning, and sometimes for the purposes of attending and serving the men in the family. On the other hand, the men bring in the income, and have freedom of choice, control over resources and women’s behavior, and employment and education opportunities. In the context of this culture even women internalize misogyny. This means that many women accept patriarchal values, perpetrate them, and even fight to promote them. But as men, we have the opportunity to be more aware and stand next to the women in our families. We should speak with our sisters about their individual rights and encourage them to take steps against discriminatory behaviors and not give up. We should no longer use insecurity outside the home as an excuse to limit the women in our families. We shouldn’t prevent them from vocational and academic opportunities due to the presence of forms of harassment, especially street harassment. Instead we must work hard to make the environment at home and outside safe for women.

Speaking about women’s rights and preventing violence against women is not shameful. We need to spark the conversation everywhere with everyone.
It is the responsibility of men to challenge traditional and patriarchal definitions of masculinity. We know that inequality and violence against women is wrong and it hurts all of us and we should not be afraid to talk about women’s rights. In all social gatherings and friendly meetings, we should speak about our responsibility in preventing violence against women. We shouldn’t be afraid that our friends will label us as “weak” and instead challenge them. There is nothing shameful or “unmanly” about advocating for women’s human rights. It is a true matter of shame if we are aware of and witness the depth of injustice and inequality and remain silent.

>>> SOURCE: Free Women Writers

Afghan trade through Iranian Chabahar sea port is on the rise

The development of trade through Chabahar port, along with the expansion of trade with India and Iran, will pave the way for the increase in India's investment in Afghanistan's mining and infrastructure projects. The ministry of commerce and industry says the new Chabahar transit and trade agreement has been approved by the Iranian parliament and that the capacity of loading and offloading has improved at the port. The Ministry officials say that although more work is still needed to be done on the port, Afghanistan, India and other countries in the region can now use the port for commercial purposes. The ministry officials say India and Iran are investing heavily in developing the port and efforts are on to increase Afghan investment. “Investment from India, China, and Iran are increasing in Chabahar port, and we are trying to get Afghanistan to also invest in the port,” the head of the transit department of the ministry, Mohammad Yahya Akhlaqi, said. Chabahar port is 871.9km from Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz province, while Karachi port is 1,416km from Torkham. Many economists say that if Iran and India provide more opportunities to Afghan businessmen, this route will be an alternative to Pakistan's Karachi port. “The Chabahar port has good transportation and transit benefits for Afghans, and I think that soon, the Iranian port of Chabahar will be an alternative to Pakistan’s Karachi port and routes," said Abdul Karim Arifi, an economist. The Chabahar port is the closest port for Afghanistan. Meanwhile, many businessmen said that Chabahar port could become an important route for Afghanistan in the long term. Although the Chabahar port is a new port and still need work, this port is in the Free Zone of Chabahar and Iran and India are trying to ease trade for Afghanistan.
>>> READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE WRITTEN BY 'HEART OF ASIA'

Friday, 2 February 2018

The Ministry of Finance of Afghanistan announces amnesty for taxpayers

In a press conference few days ago, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, the CEO of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), the Vice President of the Afghanistan Chambers of Commerce and the President of the Afghanistan Chamber of Industries and Mines announced that:
In accordance with the newly-approved Budget for the fiscal year of 1397 (2018), taxpayers who have not cleared their taxes and penalties for the fiscal years of 1381 through 1396 (2002 – 2017), may pay the original tax along with 5% of the total penalties for these years, and will be excused from payment of the remaining 95% of the tax penalties. 
This decision will be effective for the next nine (9) months, and will not be extended.

The decision is part of the Afghan Government's campaign to improve the business climate and attract foreign investment.