Monday, 30 April 2018

Dall'Italia 10 milioni di euro al Fondo fiduciario per la ricostruzione dell’Afghanistan

Il comitato congiunto per la Cooperazione italiana allo sviluppo ha approvato il 19 aprile scorso un contributo volontario di 10 milioni di euro all’Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), il fondo fiduciario sostenuto da 34 Paesi e amministrato dalla Banca Mondiale di cui l’Italia si colloca al dodicesimo posto tra i donatori.
Il fondo è stato istituito nel 2002 per fornire un meccanismo coordinato di finanziamento sia del bilancio afgano che dei progetti nazionali prioritari, fornendo importanti risultati positivi nei settori chiave nello sviluppo del Paese, tra i quali istruzione, sanità, agricoltura, sviluppo rurale, energia, infrastrutture e governance. Tutti i fondi ARTF sono canalizzati attraverso il Ministero delle Finanze afgano ai ministeri ed agenzie governative responsabili dell'attuazione degli interventi.
Ad oggi l’ARTF rimane il veicolo preferenziale di “pool funding” nel Paese, con costi di transazione bassi ed un buon livello di trasparenza grazie ai suoi meccanismi di monitoraggio e valutazione. L’ARTF e’ anche una “arena” per il dibattito politico e la creazione di consenso sulle politiche di sviluppo dell'Afghanistan.

China and India almost on the same page on Afghanistan

It is without a shadow of a doubt that Afghan war has internal factors, yet the foreign causes are greater and also more important than the internal ones. It seems impossible to put an end to the ongoing conflict unless the foreign causes are stamped out. As long as the regional and global powers continue to challenge and confront their rivals in Afghanistan, stability in the country will remain elusive.
Forging a regional and then global consensus on Afghanistan is a key step forward towards eliminating the foreign causes of Afghan conflict. Of course such consensus should not be on papers only; it should be backed by practical actions, too. When the parties to the Afghan conflict come to the conclusion that only stability can better serve their interests, that will be the moment peace efforts will begin to come to fruition.
Although Afghan government has not yet been able to forge such consensus, there are some promising developments, one of which is the agreement of India and China to undertake joint economic projects in Afghanistan. According to Indian media, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed during Modi’s visit to China to invest in a joint economic project in Afghanistan. While details of the project in the pipeline are unknown, it is a positive development indeed.
Although India and China maintain state-to-state relations with Afghanistan, they were considered apparent rivals because of Beijing’s close ties with Islamabad. New Delhi thought China views the Afghan imbroglio through the prism of Islamabad, but the recent agreement for joint China-India investment in Afghan infrastructure bolsters the belief that Beijing doesn’t link its bond with Kabul to that with Islamabad, and it rather fosters mutual relations.
The united stance of China and India on Afghanistan also sends a message that the sides of Afghan conflict, which seem to be on opposing fronts, can find a common ground by virtue of successful diplomatic efforts. If other foreign sides of the Afghan conflict – the United States, Pakistan, Russia and Iran – also seek commonalities, they too can achieve the same synergy. Afghan government must take the initiative to encourage all sides to seek a common ground than confront each other.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Ivo Toniut

Ministry of Mines of Afghanistan said that they would soon re-issue a tender for the construction of the Jabal Saraj cement factory

Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP) said that they would soon re-issue a tender for the construction of the Jabal Saraj cement factory. MoMP officials said the cement plant project had been put out to tender in the past and that an Afghan company had looked set to win the contract. However, the High Economic Council had decided to reissue the tender in order to find a more qualified company. According to MoMP officials, once built, the factory should be able to produce up to one million tons of cement a year and that the winning company should be able to invest up to USD 170,000,000 in the factory. “This project will be put out to tender soon and we are ready to identify the most eligible companies,” MoMP spokesman Abdul Qadeer Mutfi said. According to the ministry, Afghanistan is one of the biggest cement importers among the countries in the region. Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) officials meanwhile said the Afghan government has in the last 17 years been unable to establish large enough cement factories in the country to meet domestic needs. Mr. Khan Jan Alokozay, ACCI deputy head, said if government establishes factories that can produce enough cement for the domestic market, Afghanistan will save up to USD 500,000,000 a year. “We support the activities of the current government in working in this regard. If this project gets implemented, it will >>> READ MORE @

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Uzbek and Turkmen presidents discussed Uzbekistan’s participation in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov just concluded a highly touted state visit to Uzbekistan, and energy was -- as always -- one of the main topics of discussion. Berdymukhammedov and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev discussed Uzbekistan’s participation in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline and joint work at the offshore hydrocarbon fields in Turkmenistan’s sector of the Caspian Sea. Though Mirziyoev expressed Uzbekistan’s interest in them, it is unlikely either of these projects will move forward in the near future. Surprisingly, in judging from official reports about their meetings, the two leaders did not discuss the so-called Line D of the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline network -- which is very strange since Line D is Turkmenistan’s surest option for boosting its gas exports in the near future. The omission could signal that something is seriously wrong.

TAPI is a great idea at the wrong time.
Shipping 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas annually (14 bcm each for Pakistan and India, and 5 bcm for Afghanistan) would benefit all countries involved, but TAPI’s route invariably takes it through militant-infested territory in Afghanistan.
The Taliban has said it will guarantee the safety of the project, as it would benefit the Afghan people, but its completion would boost support among the population for the government, something the extremist militant group is fiercely opposed to.

Then there is the problem of finances.
The state company Turkmengaz is managing the project, despite having no experience operating outside Turkmenistan, and is currently about $8 billion short of the estimated $10 billion needed.
And of that remaining $2 billion, the four countries involved in the project -- Turkmenistan, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan -- are expected to each pitch in $500 million.
All of that makes it difficult to imagine TAPI will be completed in the coming years.
As for the offshore Caspian fields, there are questions about the necessary expertise and funding for the project from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

But Line D is different.
The gas fields are ready, the route is agreed upon, the funding (by the Chinese) is there, it runs through stable territories, part of it is already built, and it would ship a whopping 30 bcm of Turkmen gas per year, bringing in much needed revenue to Turkmen's empty coffers.
The only publicized obstacle to construction of Line D is a decision by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Uzbekneftegaz at the start of March 2017 to halt work on Line D in Uzbekistan.
The pipeline’s route also passes through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the only one of the four lines (A, B, and C) of the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline network that runs through those countries.
Tajik Deputy Energy Minister Jamshed Shoimzoda said at the end of January that construction of the Tajik section of Line D had begun.
One month earlier, Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for Industry, Energy, and Mining said work would start on Kyrgyzstan’s section of Line D in 2019. Both countries are working with CNPC subsidiaries.
The only thing left was for Berdymukhammedov and Mirziyoev to announce that the project would resume in Uzbekistan and -- by sometime around 2022 -- the first Turkmen gas would be pumped into Line D.
But no reports -- official or otherwise -- from their meetings in Tashkent and Urgench mention Line D at all, in what surely is a worrisome development.
by Bruce Pannier @

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of Ivo Toniut

Afghan Government needs USD 500 million from the international community to overcome consequences of drought in the country

Statistics by the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) show that 21 provinces are faced with drought due to a 46 percent drop in rainfalls this year. The Disaster Management Authority Authority said it will provide forage for the provinces within the next two months and that it pledged to help residents. “The main problem is lack of forage because incomes of people are depended on farming and livestock,” said an official of ANDMA. The Ministry of Finance said 250,000,000 million Afghanis (around 3,5 million US dollars) has been allocated in an amended budget and that the ministry is discussing the matter with the international community. “An inclusive plan has been considered to provide services to Afghans affected by drought,” said the Ministry of Finance. Officials of Disaster Management Authority said at least USD 500 million is required to overcome consequences of drought in the country. However, the officials said the authority has only about 6 million US dollars in its asset.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Officials of the UAE and the I.R. Afghanistan inaugurated a major township built in the Afghan capital Kabul with the financial support of the UAE Govt

A ceremony was organized to inaugurate the major township, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zaid Al-Nahyan or the Emirates Township, in Kabul city on Sunday 22 April, 2018. Several key officials from the two countries including President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani were present during the inauguration of the township. In his speech at the inauguration ceremony, the Minister of Urban Development and Housing, Syed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, thanked the UAE officials for their sincere support to build the township and called a symbol of the friendship of the two countries. Minister Naderi further added that the government of national unity is committed to build shelters for the residents of the country and work is underway on several other key and major plans. He said the foundation of the township was laid during the government of the former President Hamid Karzai and was due to be completed over a period of one year. However, he said the work was not completed and was halted due to some issues but the new leadership of the ministry managed to resume the work of the project which subsequently resulted into its completion and is being inaugurated yesterday. According to Minister Naderi, the township consists of 3330 apartments as well as some key facilities including a dedicated substation, proper walk sides, water meters, and etc. In the meantime, the UAE officials reaffirmed their commitment to support Afghanistan in different sectors in a bid to ensure peace and stability in the country. In his speech during the ceremony, President Ghani thanked the government of UAE for their support to build the township and called for more cooperation between the two countries on various levels, particularly to boost the private sector.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Afghanistan - Asian Development Bank (ADB) funding three power projects for Bamyan province

Afghanistan Electricity Company Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) signed three deals for major power projects. The projects, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), will result in electricity to more people in Bamyan province.
DABS signed contracts for these projects with three separate companies. The three projects include the extension of the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan (TUTA) electricity line to Bamyan, the establishment of a sub-station in Bamyan and the development of Bamyan’s power distribution network.
- The first contract worth USD 43.8 million, involves the extension of a 220KV transmission line, with the capacity to carry 300MW of electricity from Dushi substation to Bamyan city. The length of this line will be 180km, and the contract was signed with KEC, an Indian Company.
- The second contract is for the construction of a 220/20KV substation with the capacity of putting out 32MW in Azhdar area of Bamyan province. This agreement was signed with a Chinese company M/S XINJIANG Electric Power Construction Co. Ltd, and the contract’s value is USD 11.6 million.
- The third contract is for the construction of Bamyan electrification network, worth USD 24.1 million. This network will provide 20,000 new subscribers with power. The contract was signed with Shyama Power, an Indian Company.
The total cost of the three projects will be about USD 80 million.
This morning, Wednesday 25/04/2018, in a street of , ,
one of the largest and fastest growing capital cities in the world.📎 🏪 🇪🇺 🇺🇸 🇦🇫 Doing Business in Afghanistan ➡️🇦🇫🇮🇹

Since the Afghanistan National Horticulture and Livestock Project started its activities in Panjshir Province in 2008, local farmers have learned about modern horticulture, and they can now plant new orchards or replace their traditional gardens with modern ones

Panjshir Province, Afghanistan – Decades of using the same agricultural methods had left Mohammad Yousuf, 42, frustrated. He was under constant pressure to produce more since his harvest was always less than expected. The traditional methods he had learned from his father was for many years the only way of cultivation and harvesting he knew.

“I used to cultivate wheat and corn, but I didn’t earn much,” says Yousuf, who has been a farmer for more than 20 years. He owns three jeribs (about 0.6 hectares) of farmland, a small plot from which he has to provide for nine family members. Although Yousuf is an experienced farmer and harvested an average of 600 kilos of wheat a year, the earnings were not enough to feed his family. He had to work as a day laborer as well to keep afloat.
In 2016, he found out about the National Horticulture and Livestock Project (NHLP) through his neighbor, Mohammad Akbar, 45. With the support of NHLP, he planted a two-jerib apple orchard in May 2016. This was the beginning of an entirely new journey. “I planted the trees in consultation with NHLP employees after I understood that an orchard would lead to much higher earnings, compared with what I was making with wheat,” says Yousuf enthusiastically.
He and Akbar live in Malaspa village in the Bazarak district of Panjshir Province in central Afghanistan. Akbar has planted five jeribs (about 1 hectare) of grapes, almonds, apples, peaches, and cherries over the past four years with NHLP’s help.
“The horticulture system used by NHLP is very different from the one we had,” says Akbar, who will harvest his orchard this year. “In this system, saplings are certified and we can start harvesting the crop after three years of planting.”

Promote Better Practices
NHLP is working toward the overarching goal of increased productivity and overall production of horticultural products. It operates under the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) and is supported by a $190 million grant from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). It began national activities in April 2013 and its work will run through the end of 2020.
The project aims to promote adoption of improved production practices by target farmers, with gradual roll-out of farmer-centric agricultural services, systems, and investment support across the country. Its activities are currently implemented in 285 districts in 33 target provinces, numbers that may grow as conditions warrant. NHLP activities have three components: horticultural production, animal production and health, and implementation management and technical assistance.
Although Panjshir is a mountainous province with little farmland for cultivating grains, most of the locals engaged in this type of agriculture because they were not aware of modern horticultural methods. Orchards were typically reserved for family use and the produce was not taken to be sold at the market.
Since the NHLP started its activities in Panjshir in 2008, the inhabitants have learned about modern horticulture. They are planting new orchards or replacing their traditional gardens with modern ones. This has impacted farmers like Akbar, whose entire life has been dependent on farming and gardening. “Soon my orchard will be ready to harvest and I hope that NHLP covers all seven districts of Panjshir, leading to the planting of more than 2,000 jeribs (about 400 hectares) of orchards of crops, such as grapes, almonds, apples, and peachesjeribs (about 400 hectares) of orchards of crops, such as grapes, almonds, apples, and peaches. It has institutionalized the culture of modern gardening in the province. “Our activities have impacted people’s views toward horticulture,” says Sefatullah Sultani, NHLP provincial coordinator for Panjshir Province.

Sustainable Practices
As part of its work, NHLP established 70 horticulture groups of targeted farmers in the province. Every month, a Farmer Field School is held on different topics on new methods of irrigation, fertilization, use of pesticides, harvesting, marketing, and other related topics. It enables the farmers to tackle the challenges they are facing and share their experiences in groups.
We are satisfied with NHLP activities, as everything they are doing is for our benefit, and we are trying to take the most advantage of it,’’ says Saheb Nazar, 40, a resident of Malaspa village. Four years ago, Nazar planted two jeribs of cherries and followed the instructions step-by-step given by NHLP staff. He has been harvesting crops from the orchard for the past year.
“The NHLP trees are not getting any diseases because they are certified, and we take care of them much more to achieve better harvests,” says Nazar. NHLP has helped plant orchards and trained farmers, which will enable them to sustain their development after the project is no longer active in the province.

First Islamic Bank in Afghanistan was inaugurated in Kabul

The first Islamic Bank was inaugurated during a ceremony in Kabul and in the presence of the senior government officials including Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. In his speech during the ceremony, Abdullah said the Islamic Banking was a branch of the banks as he welcomed the inauguration of an exclusive Islamic Bank in the country. He said the Islamic Banking is a good experience in the world and fortunately Afghanistan is also experiencing the services of the Islamic Banking. However, he insisted that the success of the Islamic Banking has links with generosity of the bank employees to provide better services, good cooperation of the State and government’s support to pave the way for the operations of such a bank. Abdullah expressed hopes that the first Islamic Bank would maintain the confidence of the people as he pointed towards the services of the Azizi and Bakhtar Banks. He said to maintain and preserve the confidence of the people is a major investment and the Islamic Bank should do its best to keep the confidence of the people. The Chief Executive said the government is committed to support the private sector in all situations and conditions as he emphasized that the days are gone when the governments were considering the private sector as their competitors. He said the people expect to see the results of the promises being made and expressed hopes that the inauguration of the bank will help to bolster the banking, trade, production, and economic sectors of the country.

With the availability of Islamic banking service, more people will deposit money in banks and boost money circulation.Islamic banking has the same purpose as conventional banking except that it operates in accordance with the rules of Shari’ah, known as Fiqh al-Muamalat (Islamic Rules on Transactions).

Islamic banking activities must be practiced consistent with the Shari’ah and its practical application through the development of Islamic economics.

Many of these principles upon which Islamic banking is based are commonly accepted all over the world, for centuries rather than decades.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

It is the first time ever that an Italian professional starts a sole proprietorship in Afghanistan

April 23, 2018 - The Ministry of Commerce and Industries of Afghanistan issued a Sole Proprietor Business License to an Italian citizen. It is the first time ever that an Italian professional starts a sole proprietorship in Afghanistan. 

The friendship between Italian and Afghan people and the union of their strong entrepreneurial spirit can contribute significantly to the economic development of Afghanistan, and the issuing of this license, besides spreading optimism for the future of Afghanistan, will encourage other Italian entrepreneurs to invest in Afghanistan and develop partnerships with local businesses.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

How economic growth can help defeat terrorism in Afghanistan

Syria, North Korea, and Yemen have largely dominated headlines. But Afghanistan also remains in the global conscience. If anything, the much-needed international focus on the campaign against the Taliban has outlined how difficult the fight has become, despite our steady military gains.  Frustrated with what many are mistakenly calling a quagmire, international commentators either advocate for a quick-fix peace deal to withdraw from Afghanistan or engaging in a more intense military campaign. The latter is an understandable response, but even so, it is far from a complete remedy. The war in Afghanistan is not being waged on the battlefield alone: If we are to emerge as a strong and independent democracy, the campaign for Afghanistan’s economy must stand on equal footing with the counter-terrorism campaign. In fact, they are one and the same. We can’t build schools during firefights; but without schools, the firefights will continue. Yet a disproportionate amount of international resources — provided by each contributing country — have been devoted to military operations at the cost of job creation and long-term economic development. But it is more jobs — not just more bullets — that will help persuade militant fighters to lay down their weapons. Fortunately, Afghanistan is endowed with natural resources — copper, iron ore, lithium, and other precious minerals — and can largely finance its own development, though only if the country receives the necessary investment and technical assistance from the international community. Although Afghanistan has some $3 trillion worth of minerals, we lack the required transportation network to export these resources. Building the necessary infrastructure — railroads, highways, processing plants — will not only facilitate the mining industry but also create jobs. A sustainable livelihood, no matter how small, will immediately weaken the insurgency and its base, a destitute populace, while a modern transportation network that links Afghanistan with its neighbors will spur long-term growth. Drug production in Afghanistan is another key problem that can be addressed by economic development. We know from international experience that global demand for narcotics finds ready supply in nations where governance is weak, instability high and poverty rampant. But if Afghanistan’s agriculture sector is thoroughly revitalized, fewer farmers will rely on opium harvesting — a dangerous enterprise to begin with — to make a living. Instead, they could grow wheat, pomegranates, saffron and other high-value crops. As agribusiness becomes profitable and sustainable, it will drive down the cost of food for Afghanistan’s poor and raise rural incomes, which should in turn further weaken the insurgency in crucial provinces like Helmand and Kandahar. Energy is another factor pivotal to earning the trust of Afghans. Without a comprehensive electricity grid, Afghanistan can hardly achieve a productive economy. The availability of electricity can open an incredibly large market for electronic goods, drastically expanding consumer consumption. Just as importantly, the Afghan people could finally reap the benefits of a globalized world through use of the Internet, to which less than 15 percent the population currently has access. Further, corruption can be stemmed when the abuse of power is no longer necessary as a means of economic uplift. Corruption is a symptom, not a cause, of weak governance, which can only be strengthened when Afghan civil servants are adequately trained and paid competitive salaries on a sustainable basis. Right now, a driver at an international NGO or a United Nations agency earns at least five times more than a civil servant working for the Afghan government. Nor can this situation be improved unless more resources are channeled away from aid organizations into the Afghan national budget as an efficient mechanism of resource allocation. John Bolton, now U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, once argued that “religious fanatics, and their grievances, do not arise from poverty or deprivation.” To the contrary, many Taliban fighters join the insurgency simply to earn a living. A significant number of these “rented” Taliban can be made to turn swords into plowshares if they are given alternative opportunities. International security is closely tied to the nascent Afghan economy. Without stability, the Taliban will continue to enjoy widespread support — and a base from which to attack international interests. If we rely on military might alone, how will the outcome in Afghanistan differ from that of US forces in Vietnam, the French in Algeria, or the Soviets in Afghanistan? Militaries alone simply cannot defeat insurgencies. However, the good news is that Afghanistan has quickly recovered from an economic depression, which followed the withdrawal of international forces from the country in 2014. Thanks to the austere economic reforms introduced by President Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan economy is being transformed, as unprecedented economic legislation has been passed opening opportunities across new sectors and reducing bureaucratic bottlenecks that encourages regional and global businesses to invest in Afghanistan’s virgin markets.
Consequently, this year alone, Afghanistan has so far signed more than $500 million in investment contacts. It is estimated that the country will see a boost in its GDP growth from 2.5 to 4 percent in the coming years. To reinforce Afghanistan’s peace and war-fighting efforts, regional and global stakeholders should channel more of their aid resources to build on the Afghan economic recovery, helping the country create more new jobs for its youthful population. Doing so will effectively deny regional and transnational terrorist networks the opportunity to exploit Afghanistan’s rife poverty in order to continue to fuel their terror campaign in the country and the world over.
Written by M. Ashraf Haidari @ HeartOfAsia

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Россия и Индия разделяют схожие представления о будущем ИРА

Россия и Индия разделяют схожие представления о будущем Афганистана, заявил посол РФ в Индии Николай Кудашев. "В целом, Россия и Индия имеют схожие представления о том, каким мы хотим видеть Афганистан: стабильным, независимым, мирным, демократичным, процветающим, дружелюбным по отношению к соседям, суверенным и хорошо интегрированным в региональную экономическую систему", — сказал Кудашев, выступая с лекцией в Нью-Дели. При этом посол отметил, что результаты продолжающегося на протяжении многих лет иностранного военного присутствия нельзя охарактеризовать как успешные в какой-либо форме. "Это также можно сказать и про большинство форматов межафганского урегулирования", — заявил российский дипломат, подчеркнув, что идея о возможном военном решении сложившихся в этой стране проблем «находится в отрыве от исторического опыта и реалий сегодняшнего дня». "Борьба с терроризмом в Афганистане требует всеобъемлющего подхода и должна, прежде всего, включать в себя решительные меры по эффективному противодействию культивированию опиумного мака. Эта составляющая, в действительности, отсутствует в «новой стратегии» США ... >>> Полную версию публикации читайте здесь 

RaiNews24 in Afghanistan

L’inviato di RaiNews24 Ettore Guastalla ha trascorso una settimana in Afghanistan a seguito del contingente italiano che opera nell’ambito della missione Nato “Resolute Support”.
Nella “zona verde” di Kabul ha incontrato l’Ambasciatore italiano Roberto Cantone, discutendo della situazione di sicurezza e dei recenti attacchi condotti da talebani e Isis (qui il video). È poi entrato nel quartier generale della missione internazionale, dove operano anche i nostri militari e dove ha incontrato il Generale Antonio Bettelli (qui il video). Il giornalista Rai ha poi trascorso la Pasqua ad Herat dove è attualmente dispiegata la Brigata Sassari nell’ambito delle operazioni di supporto e assistenza all’esercito afghano (qui il video). Sempre ad Herat RaiNews24 ha descritto le attività dei militari italiani per contrastare gli ordigni esplosivi improvvisati (qui il video).

Afghanistan: Salt extraction contract cancelled after uranium and lithium have been discovered at the same mine

The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum of Afghanistan on Monday 1 April 2018 said they have terminated the extraction contract of Herat’s Ghoryan salt mine signed with a private company two months ago following the discovery of minerals including lithium and uranium.

The spokesman for the Ministry of Mines, Abdul Qadir Mutfi, said their recent studies showed that these minerals are present at the mine. As such they have terminated the contract with the contractor, he said.

Ghoryan salt mine is the only mining contract to have been signed by the Afghan National Unity Government (NUG).

“This was a small contract and was contracted as a pilot extraction, but we are trying to ensure the country's mines are extracted based on the country's needs,” Mutfi said.


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

RaiNews24's reporter Ettore Guastalla spent a week in Afghanistan and met the Italian Ambassador Roberto Cantone, discussing the security situation

RaiNews24's reporter Ettore Guastalla spent a week in Afghanistan following the Italian contingent operating within the NATO’s "Resolute Support" mission. In Kabul’s “Green Zone” he met the Italian Ambassador Roberto Cantone, discussing the security situation and the recent attacks conducted by the Taliban and Daesh (watch video 1). He also visited the headquarters of the Resolute Support international mission, where our military operate and where he met General Antonio Bettelli (watch video 2)The RAI journalist then spent Easter in Herat where the Sassari Brigade is currently deployed as part of the operations to support and assist the Afghan army (watch video 3). Also in Herat RaiNews24 described the activities of the Italian military to counter improvised explosive devices (watch video 4).

Turkey's interest in expanding trade relations with Afghanistan

Turkish Deputy Minister of Economy Fatih Metin, during his recent visit to Kabul-Afghanistan said his country is interested in expanding trade relations with Afghanistan and prepared to provide raw materials to local manufacturing companies. Metin said the Turkey's private sector is also willing to invest in Afghanistan’s energy production, mining and agriculture sectors.

Monday, 16 April 2018

The success of airlines in Afghanistan has become a conundrum

Unending problems of Afghan airlines - The success of airlines in Afghanistan has become a conundrum. Over the last decade, three airlines collapsed and the remaining ones are also teetering on the brink of becoming defunct. Banned from flying into European airspace, Afghan air carriers are now not even allowed to go to the United Arab Emirates. 
Head of Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority, Mahamood Shah Habibi, 
was questioned by lawmakers on December 2017 over alleged 
corruption in appointments, collection of revenues and other problems.
Experts blame poor management, flaws in laws, investment in dilapidated planes, and weak communication with foreigners for the failures of Afghan airlines. An expert, Esmatuallah Wardak, tells The Heart of Asia that Afghan businessmen with no experience and education in aviation purchased old planes at a very high price, which were unable to compete with foreign air carriers. “On the one hand, they had bought the planes at high-interest loans from banks, but on the other hand they could not compete with foreign airlines because of not meeting relevant standards, and even faced with bans, causing huge losses to them.” According to Wardak, the shortcomings in Afghan aviation laws have also contributed to increased problems at airlines. There are no technical aviation professionals and engineers in Afghanistan, stresses Engineer Homayoon, another industry expert, adding that the foreign engineers and technicians hired by Afghan airlines develop policies and procedures without even taking the Afghan context into account.
“The planes currently operated by Afghan airlines in Afghanistan have high costs compared to foreign aircrafts; therefore, they cannot compete with them,” he told The Heart of Asia. Afghan airlines also do not know the language to communicate with foreigners, a shortcoming that has handicapped their ability to build successful partnerships with world’s leading air carriers. Three Afghan airlines -- Ofoq-e-Sharq, Pamir Airlines, and Afghan Jet -- have ceased to operate over the last ten years. By the same token, Safi Airways has been stripped of the permit to operate foreign flights, while Kam Air has also limited its flights following the loss of some of its foreign crew members in the attack on Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. Ariana Afghan Airlines as the country’s national carrier, which suffered millions of dollars in loss due to poor management over the last several years, is still coddled by government subsidy. The national carrier announced last year that it was expecting to reach break-even point the following year; however, it now refuses to share any details. The Heart of Asia could not reach the Ministry of Transportation and Civil Aviation, and Ariana Afghan Airlines for comment.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Afghan govt trying to market Afghanistan’s marble around the world, especially in China and Arab countries

Afghanistan to build 2 big solar energy projects in eastern provinces

The Afghanistan’s electricity company, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), announced that two big solar energy projects will be built in the east of the country with the help of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The project, which will cost about 300,000,000 US dollars, will have a power output capacity of 200 megawatts. The two solar parks will supply power to eastern Nangarhar and Laghman provinces.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Afghanistan starts to issue biz license at the price of about one (1) euro

In order to improve Afghanistan's position in World Bank Business Indicators, the Business Licensing Directorate of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries of Afghanistan reduced business license registration fees from 30,000 Afs (about 350 Euro) to 100 Afs (about 1 Euro).
The Ministry of Commerce and Industries has also the faculty to issue and renew the business license of a company, taking into account clear criteria including tax clearance, establishing the identity of the company through biometrics, and in the case of non-renewal, the business license will be suspended in accordance with the abolition law and the company's activity will be stopped.

About Business Licensing Directorate:
The Business Licensing Directorate of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries of Afghanistan is responsible for the administration of six licences: four trader (both importers and exporters) licences, one for freight operators, and a licence for brokers operating on behalf of the Ministry. It also issues licences in order to ensure that only fit and proper persons are able to traffic goods into, through and out of Afghanistan. In such a way, the success of this Directorate in improving and simplifying procedures in this area, will be important for MOCI to achieve its strategic objective to improve the enabling and regulatory environment for business and Afghanistan’s DBI ranking.

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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Future of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas-pipeline depends on Pakistan’s political will and a shift in its regional outlook

The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline is unarguably one of biggest energy projects in the region. The planned pipeline has a total length of 1,814 kilometers: 214 km in Turkmenistan, 774 km in Afghanistan, and 826 km in Pakistan to reach Fazilka on the India-Pakistan border. The project is planned for 30 years, with a total estimated cost of $9.9 billion. The pipeline would have the capacity to supply 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas from the world’s fourth-largest natural gas reserves in Daulatabad of Turkmenistan; Pakistan and India would receive 42 percent each with 16 percent going to Afghanistan. In addition to receiving 5.22 bcm of gas annually, Afghanistan would get around $400 million each year from transit revenue.
The construction of the Turkmen section of the pipeline started in December 2015 while the Afghan section was launched on February 23, 2018 in the Afghan province of Herat in a ceremony attended by the Afghan and Turkmen presidents, India’s minister of state for external affairs, and the prime minister of Pakistan.
The project is undeniably significant for the member countries and the region. TAPI has the potential to solve the energy woes of Pakistan and India, while providing much-needed diversity for Turkmenistan’s energy exports and income for Afghanistan. However, political will and a shift in regional outlook will be a prerequisite for TAPI’s successful conclusion, given the dichotomous geostrategic stance of member countries.
Turkmenistan is blessed with abundant natural gas reserves. Dauletabad natural gas field is considered the largest in the country and one of the largest in the world. However, the country’s natural gas exports have a bumpy track record. Turkmenistan has struggled to boost its exports, leaving China, Iran, and Russia as the key destinations for Turkmen gas. And challenges have been on the rise. Russia stopped purchases of Turkmen gas in early 2016, apparently due to a price conflict, while supply to Iran was stopped in early 2017 due to a payment dispute. That leaves China as the only destination for Turkmen gas.
Turkmen gas travels to China through three pipelines — namely A, B, and C — via Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. In order to boast the gas supply, Chinese President Xi Jinping approved a fourth line, Line D, in 2013, which was supposed to deliver 30bn bcm gas annually to western China via Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. However, construction work turned turbulent and was officially suspended in March 2017 due to disputes among member countries. This was a major blow given the fact that Turkmen economy is heavily reliant on natural gas exports. Given the circumstances, TAPI remains a top priority to serve Turkmenistan’s economic needs.
With TAPI in place, Pakistan would be a key consumer of Turkmen gas. Pakistan has long suffered from energy shortage problems affecting households and businesses alike. This is the reason why the gas and electricity supply has become an integral part of political parties’ election manifestos. In Pakistan, natural gas is used for domestic, commercial, as well as electricity generation purposes. As per a recent study to assess Pakistan’s overall energy potential, gas production in the country is around 4 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) while the demand is around 6 bcfd. Further, production capacity is expected to fall to less than 1 bcfd by 2025 as gas reserves are depleted while demand will soar to 8 bcfd. TAPI would fill the gap to a great extent.
Pakistan’s energy shortage has resulted in gas and electricity outages, which hurt key sectors, particularly textiles. Between 2008 and 2012, 40 percent of Pakistan’s textile sector shifted to Bangladesh, mainly due to high prices and the uneven supply of gas and electricity. The problem continues today. According to the Pakistan Textile Export Association (PTEA), the price of gas in Bangladesh is $3 per million British thermal units (mmbtu); in Vietnam it’s $4.2/mmbtu; and in India $4.5/mmbtu. However, in Pakistan, gas was available at $7.6/mmbtu as of December 2017. The PTEA says that the government decision to supply regasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) to the textile sector would raise that cost to $11/mmbtu. The energy shortage, then, has wide-ranging economic implications, including a significant increase in production costs, leading to a decrease in exports and a widening trade deficit, which reached a record height of around $32 billion last fiscal year.
The final destination of pipeline is India, which is among the fastest growing major economies in the world. Like Pakistan, India needs to import fuel to address its growing energy needs. In the last fiscal year (April 2017- March 2018), India’s oil imports increased by 29 percent to reach an estimated $85-90 billion; not surprising as India is ranked among top three oil importers globally. Apart from oil, the demand for natural gas is on the rise due to its environment friendly nature, economic efficiency, as well as its usage in the fertilizer and power sectors, which combined consumed over 60 percent of the total amount.
At present, natural gas account for 6.5 percent of India’s energy mix. New Delhi aims to more than double that, bumping it to 15 percent, by 2022. India already imports 8.5 million tons of LNG from Qatar annually to meet its domestic demand. In early March 2018, India began to import 3.5 million tons of LNG a year from United States as part of 20 year agreement signed back in December 2011. TAPI will provide another option for an energy-starved India.
In the light of the export expansion efforts of Turkmenistan and dire energy woes of India and Pakistan, the project is unarguably of significant economic importance. However, such mega regional initiatives bear the brunt of differences in political and geostrategic priorities. As such, the regional outlook of Pakistan — which contradicts that of Afghanistan and India — will have implications for the success of the project. Pakistan’s quest for strategic depth, the obsession with turning Afghanistan into a subservient state, is the motivation behind Islamabad’s support for militant groups and interference in Afghanistan for decades. TAPI would run counter to that by empowering a self-sufficient Afghanistan.
The fact that Afghanistan would receive transit revenue and natural gas from TAPI is only tip of the iceberg. A fully operational TAPI gas pipeline would open the gates for other new regional connectivity, trade, and transit projects, like the Central Asia South Asia (CASA) 1000 electricity transmission line, an expanded Lapis Lazuli Corridor, and Five Nations Railway Corridor among China, Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan (to name only a few). Following the inauguration ceremony of TAPI, the TAP-500 power project agreement was signed, which would transmit 500 kilovolts of energy from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan. As such, TAPI would pave the way for regional projects that would enable Afghanistan to realize its true potential as a regional trade and transit hub, connecting Central Asia with South Asia and the Middle East.
On the other hand, India’s close relationship with, support for, and investment in Afghanistan are interpreted negatively by Pakistan, which has expressed concerns from time to time. As such, regional projects that would provide strategic gains to both India and Afghanistan would face stiff opposition. The Chabahar port project, another project benefiting both India and Afghanistan, is a useful example here. The project faced stiff challenges when the construction of the 215 km Zaranj- Delaram road, which connects the Kabul-Herat highway to the road that leads to Chabahar port on the Iranian border, got under way on Afghan soil. The road construction was fiercely opposed by the Taliban and the fighting claimed lives of six Indians and 129 Afghans; approximately one human life for each 1.5 km of road. The Taliban opposition did not come as a surprise since Chabahar port serves as a gateway for India to reach Afghanistan and Central Asia, and strategically competes with Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is being developed with support from China.
The case of the Zaranj-Delaram highway in Nimroz province highlights the influence of the Taliban and the resulting security challenges in west and southwest Afghanistan, through which the TAPI pipeline would pass. However, in the case of TAPI, Pakistan has assured its support for the project. Just ahead of the inauguration ceremony in December 2015, the then-Minister of Defense as well as Minister of Water and Power (simultaneously) Khwaja Asif stated that Pakistan would use all its influence over the Taliban to ensure TAPI’s security. The statement is plausible, but the question remains whether Pakistan would use its influence to support a regional project that offers strategic gains to Afghanistan and India while Islamabad’s regional policy of “strategic depth” remains in place.
In this context, the future of TAPI will depend on Pakistan’s political will and a shift in its regional outlook. Hence, the critical “P” in TAPI will decide the destiny of a project that can not only bring prosperity for member countries but also open the gates for future mega-projects that would ensure prosperity for the entire region.


Today in a street of Mazari Sharif, Afghanistan's largest northern City

Monday, 9 April 2018

For a teenage Afghan woman the honey business is booming and demand is still said to be increasing

Honey money: Afghanistan's teen bee-businesswoman
Beekeeping is being used as a way of helping Afghanistan's economy and to counter the opium trade. But it also gives women the chance to earn money, in a country where many rarely work outside their homes. And one female student is now running her own successful honey business.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Afghan Ministry of Economy tackling value chain to boost economy

Ministry of Economy said it had started work on developing the value chain of 15 types of domestic products in order to boost the national economy. The ministry said a strategy had been developed to increase the value of a number of domestic products and to address challenges in the production, processing and packaging areas of these goods so as to increase their value on global markets. Officials said with the improvements, the sale of these goods would help boost national revenue. “In order to identify the goods that can boost national and local economies through added value, we will implement specific programs and prioritize (plans to promote) these products,” said Mohammad Ismail Rahimi, deputy minister of economy. Meanwhile, the ministry of mines and petroleum (MoMP) said that based on the ministry’s plan, the MoE will also look at attracting investment in the mining sector – specifically the extraction of the stones used in the construction sector. MoMP officials said mining in the country could rapidly boost the country’s economy. “There are a number of mines in the country that, with a little investment can make great fortune. Similarly, we have prioritized a number of mines in order to utilize them to increase the national revenue,” said MoMP spokesman Abdul Qadeer Mutfi. Last month, MoMP officials said they had established committees to tackle problems relating to 15 mining projects in the country. Officials said the ministry had prioritized the issue of resolving these problems. “This issue is a priority and resolving the problems around these projects is very important for the people of Afghanistan and for the country’s economy,” said Waliullah Zadran, acting director of legal services for the ministry of mines. However, mining experts have said that in the absence of a clear vision for the development of mines in the country, problems in relation to the projects will continue. These mining experts also said the lack of capacity within the ministry of mines is an ongoing challenge. “I think that in the present situation, the ministry will not be able to solve these great problems of mines; maybe it's a start, but if we do not have a clear vision for our projects, it's unlikely that we will achieve results,” said Sayed Zaman Hashimi, a legal expert in the mining industry.
Seventeen years ago, attempts were started to begin the extraction of minerals at the country's largest mines.
Of these, Aynak Copper Mine, Hajigak Iron Mine, Tajik and Amu Darya oilfields, and several other mines, were earmarked as key mines but little has been done to date to get these mines up and running.

Today in a street of Kabul, Afghanistan, one of the largest and fastest growing capital cities in the world