Work on CASA-1000 to start by year end

Wednesday, 23 May 2018 02:14 Written by

Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) officials on Monday said construction work of the CASA-1000 power transmission project would start by the end of this year in Afghanistan.
CASA-1000 is a power transmission line that will transfer 1,300-megawatt of electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Pakistan. The power transmission line will run through seven provinces in Afghanistan and will end in Pakistan.
The contract of the project was signed between the four nations in 2007 and based on the contract the project will be implemented by 2020.
“CASA-1000’s plans will be completed in the next three months. And then after signing the contracts for the converter stations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the construction phase will start in Afghanistan,” Wahidullah Tawhidi, DABS spokesman said.
“For seven months (each year) there is no electricity in the cables and free access has been given to all exporters (power exporters) to export their electricity through this transmission cable,” Shekib Ahmad Nisar, an energy expert said.
In addition to creating job opportunities for hundreds of people, Afghanistan will earn $40 million USD a year in power transmission fees.
A number of economists meanwhile said CASA-1000 would increase people’s confidence in government and would have economic benefits.
“By implementing this, Afghanistan will become a safe route to transfer … energy generated goods from Central Asia to South Asia,” said economic lecturer Sayed Massoud.
Overview of CASA-1000:
The CASA-1000 project will include:
• 500 kV AC line from Datka (in the Kyrgyz Republic) to Sugd-500 (477 kilometers away, in Tajikistan)
• 1,300 megawatt AC-DC Converter Station at Sangtuda (Tajikistan)
• 750-kilometer High Voltage DC line from Sangtuda (Tajikistan) to Nowshera (Pakistan)
• 1,300 megawatt DC-AC Converter Station at Nowshera
CASA-1000 project will start from Kyrgyzstan and will run to Afghanistan through Tajikistan and onward to Pashtunkhwa’s Peshawar city. The length of the project in Afghanistan is estimated to eventually run for 562km.
With the implementation of the project, 1,300 megawatts of electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will be transferred to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan will receive 300 megawatts of power and the remaining one thousand megawatts will be transited to Pakistan via Afghanistan territory.
The CASA-1000 project is an important step in building a functioning, efficient electricity system across Central Asia and South Asia. By facilitating clean power export revenues for the Central Asian countries and by alleviating electricity shortages in the South Asian countries, this project will enhance growth prospects across both regions.
This project demonstrates landmark cooperation among the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The modern and efficient CASA-1000 electricity transmission system will help transform the region and signify an important step toward realizing the planned Central Asia-South Asia Regional Electricity Market (CASAREM). The CASAREM initiative will help not only these four countries but also improve the electrical systems and develop inter-regional cooperation between Central Asia and South Asia.
Afghanistan will receive $40 million in transit duty from the project annually. The project will also enhance the economic connectivity between the contributing nations and will boost Afghanistan’s transit reputation in the region and entire Asia.


Afghan airlines to fly directly to Europe

Tuesday, 22 May 2018 03:21 Written by

Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) says it’s trying to remove the names of Afghan airlines from the European Union’s flight banned list.
Six years ago, EU banned Afghan airlines from flying to Europe due to their failure to meet safety standards of the region. After that, the Afghan airlines were prohibited from directly flying to European countries.
ACAA officials said European Union had agreed to remove Afghan airlines from the list and soon the airlines would fly to European countries.
“Two months ago, I went to Europe and the Europeans are satisfied to take us off the list. We almost have finalized the work in this regard and now it is time for airlines to make themselves ready,” ACAA head Mahmoud Shah Habibi said.
Officials of a number of private airlines meanwhile say unhealthy competition of foreign airlines in Afghanistan has created problems for them.
Currently there are two airlines in the country that said they are prepared to start flights to Europe.
Airlines officials said they had new airplanes and were ready to fly to European countries.
“One of the challenges that a number of airlines are facing is the policy of open air space which allows foreign airlines to fly to Afghanistan,” Ramin Yourish, an official from Kam Air said.


Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said the trade volume between Afghanistan and Iran is increasing, but US sanctions on Tehran will affect trade relations between the two neighboring countries.
Iran is the biggest trade partner of Afghanistan, CEO of ACCI Atiqullah Nusrat said, adding that Afghan traders are interested in increasing trade volume with Iran and with India through Iran.
“This is worrying. We do not know on which sectors the sanctions will be imposed. We have shared our concerns with the US embassy’s economic department in Kabul, but they have no knowledge about it,” said Nusrat.
Ministry of Commerce and Industries meanwhile said Afghanistan will continue trading with regional countries, including Iran, based on national interests.
The ministry’s spokesman Musafir Qoqandi said Afghanistan will continue its efforts to prevent any problem that affects its trade relations with countries in the region.
“These sanctions might affect Iran’s economy, but we, based on our national interests, use different transit routes to prevent any problem. Iran will be part of our efforts for using different routes,” Qoqandi said.
Analysts said government is required to form bilateral and multilateral trade agreements with countries in the region to promote Afghanistan’s trade.
This comes after US pulled out of Iran’s nuclear deal and threatened Tehran with new economic sanctions.


Indonesian embassy officials in Kabul said their country is willing to provide technical assistance to Afghan banks as the country develops its Islamic banking sector.
Sam Aryadi, Indonesia’s acting ambassador and head of their public and socio-cultural affairs department, told TOLOnews in an interview that Indonesia is trying to expand relations between Afghan and Indonesian banks.
“I think we can cooperate in that matter, we learned that some of Afghanistan’s banks have connections with the Indonesian banking industry and they have already held talks and made some commitments; as you know a trade delegation from Afghanistan went to Indonesia, including members of the banking industry; I think it will bring a beneficial result in the years to come,” said Aryadi.
Some economists meanwhile asked government to create the basis for joint ventures with Indonesia in order to promote Islamic banking in Afghanistan.
Economists said considering the capabilities of Indonesia and Malaysia, in terms of global Islamic banking, the assistance of these counties was vital in the development of Afghanistan’s Islamic banking sector.
“If the National Unity Government promotes Islamic banking in the country and with joint investments with Indonesia in this sector provides the ground for the establishment of joint Islamic banks in the country, this can improve the banking system of the country,” said Sayed Masoud a university lecturer.
Economic experts said that by expanding standard Islamic banking services in the country, a large number of Afghans will invest in various sectors.


Gov’t under fire over insurance policy

Tuesday, 15 May 2018 02:28 Written by

Owners of insurance companies on Sunday criticized the Afghan government for not having come up with a comprehensive insurance policy in the past 17 years.
They said government’s revenue from insurance has been extremely low despite good possibilities.
According to these companies, annually millions of dollars flows out of Afghanistan due to the absence of insurance services in the country.
They asked government to establish an independent insurance service promotion department to promote insurance facilities.
The constant delay over the approval of an insurance law and irregularities in the insurance sector by government has forced people to turn to foreign firms, claimed the insurance companies.
“Government needs to provide standard insurance facilities. Currently government is competing with the private sector while the monitoring of jobs of the companies is very weak and also the insurance law has not been approved so far,” said Naweedullah Gulzada, owner of a local insurance company.
But, the finance ministry insists that it is trying to seek cooperation of other countries regarding the promotion and development of insurance services in Afghanistan.
“We are using all resources to promote insurance facilities in the country, we are trying to seek the experiences of other countries in this respect,” said finance ministry spokesman Ajmal Hamid Abdul Rahimzai.
Currently, one state run and three private insurance companies are operating in Afghanistan.


Construction of TAPI could be delayed

Monday, 14 May 2018 02:51 Written by

Officials from the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum said practical work on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project might be delayed as the route of the pipeline is not clear and the land over which the pipeline runs still needs to be acquired.
Work on the TAPI pipeline in Afghanistan started five months ago.
“We will first do assessments on the environment and the acquisition of land on the TAPI route and then we will step into the construction phase. It means that we will need to go through some stages ahead of construction,” Abdul Qadir Mutfi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum told TOLOnews.
An analyst said a weak performance by government has slowed down work on the major economic project.
“There is not much time left for practical work on the project. Gas will not be transferred through the pipeline by 2020 if the process goes as it is,” said Zaman Hashemi, an analyst in mining affairs.
“We urge government not to delay this project as it will badly affect the country’s economy,” said Simin Barekzai, an MP.
Meanwhile, the spokesman said so far at least 11 agreements have been signed between partner countries on TAPI.
The TAPI pipeline project was inaugurated by leaders of four countries in January 2016. The 1,814-kilometer gas pipeline will pass through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India. At least 816 kilometers of the pipeline will pass through Afghan territory.
The pipeline passes through Herat, Farah, Nimroz, Helmand and Kandahar provinces of Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, the TAPI pipeline will be constructed alongside the Kandahar–Herat Highway in western Afghanistan, and then via Quetta and Multan in Pakistan.

The final destination of the pipeline will be the Indian town of Fazilka, near its border with Pakistan.
The project will cost $22.5 billion USD.
According to President Ghani’s office, the project will be completed by 2019.
The project is implemented by the TAPI Limited Company – a group of firms from Afghanistan and Turkmenistan including Afghan Gas Enterprise, Turkmen Gas State Company, and two private companies from Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is expected to earn more than $400 million USD in transit duties annually from the project.
Office of the president says the project will create thousands of job opportunities for Afghans.

Afghanistan will annually get 500 million cubic meters of gas from the project in the first ten years. The amount will increase to one billion cubic meters of gas in the following ten years and 1.5 billion cubic meters of gas in the third 10 years after the completion of the project.


Afghanistan would launch trade via air cargo corridor with Turkey in a week, Afghan officials said Saturday.
According to a report published by 1TV, Sameer Rasa, head of public relations office of senior advisor to the president in banking and financial affairs, told reporters in Kabul that an agreement to establish the corridor between Afghanistan and Turkey would be signed in two days.
He said that the first cargo flight would carry 15 tons of goods from Afghanistan to Turkey.
Afghanistan will send fresh and dried fruit, carpet, medicinal plants, gemstones and animal skin via the corridor, he said.
Afghanistan launched air corridors with India and Kazakhstan in recent years with an aim to improve the landlocked country’s links to markets abroad. So far, 2,500 tons of goods have been transported from Afghanistan to Mumbai, Delhi and Almaty.
Rasa added that first cargo flight from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia would also take off in a week. It will carry five tons of saffron and dried fruit.


The Embassy of Indonesia on Monday launched a three-day training workshop in Kabul to bring awareness to traders, exporters and importers of Afghanistan and Indonesia, and broaden trade ties between them.
Indonesian acting ambassador to Kabul, Sam Aryadi, said Jakarta is committed to expanding its political and trade ties with Kabul.
This is the first ever workshop to be held in Kabul on trade issues between the two countries.
Aryadi said a big trade exhibition will open in Indonesia in the next a few months, and they will provide the context for Afghan traders to share in the exhibition and showcase their goods.
“It is a historical event, because this is the first time we are providing this training for import and export procedures especially to Indonesia,” said Aryadi.
Mohammad Haroon Hafiz, a representative of the exportation development directorate at the commerce and industries ministry, said: “This learning workshop is organized to deliver information regarding exports and imports between Indonesia and Afghanistan. Traders, exporters and importers of both countries are present and we hope it be a good chance for the promotion of relationships between the two countries.”
Based on Indonesian embassy statistics, Afghanistan exports to Indonesia in 2017 increased by 24 percent against 2016, and this year the export value reached over 20 million US dollars.
“The conditions should be provided for those who are interested to import goods from Indonesia to Afghanistan and export goods from Afghanistan to Indonesia,” Nisar Ahmad, head of Afghanistan and Indonesia Traders Council, said.
Indonesia will hold its yearly trade exhibition in October. According to the embassy, last year at this exhibition, 125 traders from Afghanistan participated.


Poverty rate rises as economy suffers

Tuesday, 08 May 2018 02:53 Written by

Afghanistan’s poverty rate has worsened sharply over the past five years as the economy has stalled and the Taliban insurgency has spread, with more than half the population living on less than a dollar a day, a survey published on Monday showed.
The Afghanistan Living Conditions Survey (ALCS), a joint study by the European Union and Afghanistan’s Central Statistics Organization, showed the national poverty rate rising to 55 percent in 2016-17 from 38 percent in 2011-12.
“The high poverty rates represent the combined effect of stagnating economic growth, increasing demographic pressures, and a deteriorating security situation,” Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank director for Afghanistan, said in a commentary about the survey.
The report underlines the problems facing the Western-backed government in Kabul which needs economic growth to help replace foreign aid and to provide jobs for its fast-growing population.
As international forces have withdrawn and the billions of dollars in foreign aid that once poured in have dried up, Afghanistan’s battered agricultural economy has struggled.
More than a decade and a half after a US-led campaign toppled the Taliban in 2001, the poverty line was defined as an income of 70 Afghanis, or about one US dollar, per person a day.
The ALCS report comes at a time when 20 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces are suffering from serious drought and international aid agencies are seeking millions of dollars to help them.
Food insecurity has risen from 30.1 percent to 44.6 percent in five years, meaning many more people are forced to sell their land, take their children out of school to work or depend on food aid, the survey found.
Chaudhuri said the survey was the first estimate of the economic situation since Afghan forces took over security responsibilities in 2014 from international troops.
“In recent years, as population growth outstripped economic growth, an increase in poverty was inevitable,” he said on the World Bank blog site.
The survey found that 50 percent of the population is younger than 15.
This month, President Ashraf Ghani’s government said it had listed job creation among its priorities and aimed at creating 2.1 million jobs within three years.
However, according to the IMF, the economy is set to grow at 2.5-3 percent in 2017-18, too slowly to stop unemployment from rising.
The needs to produce some 400,000 new jobs a year to keep pace with population growth and tens of thousands of qualified people struggle to find work in cities, and farmers were unable to earn a sustainable livelihood due to the drought.
Officials at the European Union said the ALCS report was based on data collected from 21,000 households over 12 months.


Women from rural areas put on a display of their handicrafts and home-made products at an exhibition in Kabul on Saturday.
The products displayed at the exhibition included agricultural products, dresses, shoes and handicrafts made by women in villages of Balkh, Nangarhar, Parwan, Herat and Bamiyan provinces.
“The exhibition has 120 booths and the women from five provinces have been invited to showcase their products. Our goal is to develop business among women investors particularly in rural areas,” said Abdul Wafi Nayebzai, head of the media office of the national program on rural development.
The women who participated in the exhibition said they see it as a good chance to introduce their products and handicrafts to the people.
“This exhibition was effective for us. I have a shop in Herat where I have few customers, but here I have earned up to 40,000 AFs in a day,” Sediqa Tamasuki, a woman investor, said.
The women said their business will improve well if they have a market for their products.
“We cannot have good revenue from selling our products in Balkh (province) but such exhibitions will be a good opportunity to gain more customers,” said Zahra, an investor.