Ministry of energy pushes ahead with plans to increase power output
Officials from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Energy and Water have identified 16 electricity-generating projects that once established will increase power output and help make the country less reliant on its neighbors for this critical commodity.
The ministry’s spokesman Mawlavi Akhtar Mohammad Nasrat said of these 16, there are 12 thermal and solar power projects that have been identified and proposals have been shared with domestic and foreign investors in the hope of attracting financial backing.
Nasrat told Ariana News they have spoken to possible investors from Russia, Iran, the US, China and Turkey but as yet no agreements have yet been finalized.
“Companies and donors came here to Afghanistan from Russia, US, China, Iran, and Turkey and said they are interested in investing in this area to increase electricity generation across the country,” he said.
Economists also believe that if investors can be found to support this sector, and more electricity is generated, industry will grow.
One economist, Taj Mohammad Talash, said he thinks the agricultural sector would also grow if more power was generated. He said: “The Islamic Emirate can prioritize energy in three categories, through water, wind, and solar.”
Currently, Afghanistan pays its neighboring countries about $250 million a year for electricity as it generates only about 600 megawatts (MW) from several hydroelectric, fossil fuel and solar plants.
However, an additional 670 MW is imported from neighboring Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Power projects ‘prioritized’
In April, the IEA’s Economic Commission, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, gave orders for various ministries to prioritize projects to generate electricity.
At the time, the commission said after “extensive discussions on all issues that the private sector is prepared to invest in” it was decided that the generation of electricity should be a priority.
According to the statement, the commission instructed the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum; the Ministry of Trade and Industry; the Chamber of Industry and Mines; as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Investment, under the leadership of the Ministry of Energy and Water, to also generate electricity from coal.
A shortage of power has plagued Afghanistan for decades despite it having ample hydropower, coal and fossil fuel resources.
Over the past few years however, one successful private partnership has emerged – between the Afghan government and Bayat Power, Afghanistan’s largest, Afghan-owned and operated power production company which has the region’s most technologically advanced gas fired electric power plant.
Launched in 2019, this commercial operation provides reliable and affordable electric power to thousands of people in Afghanistan.
Located in Sherberghan, in the north of the country, the epicenter of the nation’s gas-rich region, Bayat Power has steadfastly aimed to provide essential power for Afghanistan’s economic growth.
Powered by a Siemens SGT-A45 ‘Fast Power’ turbine, the world’s most advanced mobile gas to energy power solution, phase one of Bayat Power-1’s operations generates up to 41 megawatts of power for Afghan homes and businesses.
To date, Bayat Power has delivered over 600 million kilowatts of domestic power to the Afghan grid. However, Bayat Power hopes to eventually roll out three phases in total, that will generate more than 200 megawatts of electricity – enough to serve millions of Afghan residential and commercial clients.
Afghanistan’s exports total $2 billion for last solar year
The deputy minister of trade and industry said on Tuesday at a press conference that Afghanistan’s exports totaled $2 billion for the past solar year.
Presenting his financial report for the 1401 solar year, Mawlavi Qadratullah Jamal said: “For the first time, Afghanistan’s exports have reached about two billion dollars, which shows an increase of 135 percent compared to [solar year] 1400 and 166 percent compared to 1399.”
According to the deputy minister, the recent actions of the Islamic Emirate’s administrations on improving the trade balance, maintaining monetary stability, creating work opportunities and providing transparency in revenue collection are among the reasons for the growth in Afghanistan’s trade and export revenue.
“During the last year, with a total value of $925.5 million, coal, cotton, hemp, pomegranate, raisins, figs, grapes, Roman eggplant, black pine nuts and onions to Pakistan, India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates, China, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Kazakhstan have been exported,” Jamal said.
Officials add that in order to standardize and increase the country’s exports, the ministry plans to establish export processing centers in five zones around the country.
Officials have also said that the necessary facilities have been provided for importing goods and that the private sector can import their goods without any problems.
The deputy minister added that in order to strengthen trade, facilitate exports and imports and expand cooperation between countries, necessary arrangements have been made with neighboring countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Russia, China, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.
The officials of the ministry say that in terms of development and improvement of the industry in Afghanistan, fundamental steps have been taken, which includes growth in 50 sectors – including the iron smelting and skewer production sector, the spice sector, the soft drink production sector, the carpet sector and the printing sector.
According to the ministry, there are 51 industrial parks in the country, of which 14 industrial parks have been kept active during the last year, and efforts are underway to attract investment and reactivate all industrial parks.
According to the officials, in terms of attracting domestic and foreign investments, by providing the necessary facilities, the barriers to the investors have been removed.
Recently, a service center was established at the Kabul airport, and so far, 100 investors have received visas through this center. In addition, the ministry has created a legal and regulatory framework so that domestic and foreign investors can invest in the country with full confidence.
Also, the complex and time-consuming processes have been modified and now the private sector and entrepreneurs can receive, renew or cancel their licenses in the shortest possible time, officials said.
According to the ministry, during the last year, 5,100 licenses were distributed, 7,228 licenses were renewed and 333 licenses were canceled and 7,000 business passports were also distributed.
According to officials, during the year 1401, the amount of 341.6 million afghanis was allocated to this ministry and the amount of 15.5 million afghanis was allocated to this ministry, of which 83.3 percent of this amount was used.
Also, in 1401, a total amount of 704.48 million afghanis was collected, which shows a 43.37 percent increase compared to last year.
Five countries eager to invest in lithium mines in Nuristan: officials
The Islamic Emirate officials say five countries are interested in investing in the “lithium” mining sector in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province.
Mohammad Yunus Rashid, the deputy of youth in the Ministry of Information and Culture, said that Japan, the US, China, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are among the countries that are interested in investing in the mining sector of lithium mines in Nuristan province.
“There is a lot of interest in lithium mining at the global level, five countries have made contact with the Islamic Emirate and said that they are ready to invest in this sector,” said Rashid.
According to officials, there are high capacities for economic self-sufficiency in the country and positive changes will be made in the economic development of the country in the near future.
Economic experts meanwhile believe that if the extraction and processing of the country’s minerals are done in Afghanistan, the country can get out of the economic crisis very quickly.
“There are trillions of dollars of capacity in Afghanistan’s mines, which should be invested, the statistics should be accurate, the regions should be determined, in which areas we have what kind of mines,” said Kamaluddin Kakar, an economic expert.
In addition, members of the private sector say they are trying to invest jointly and individually with foreign investors in the mining sector. They call on the Islamic Emirate to hand over mining contracts to companies that have the ability to process in the country.
Customs duties on essential food items drops by up to 70%
The Ministry of Finance said that based on the decision of the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, customs duties on basic food items have dropped by between 50 and 70 percent in the last solar year.
As a result of this decision customs duties have been reduced to the value of 6.7 million afghanis this year, the ministry said.
The decision to decrease customs duties on the food items that include flour, wheat, cooking oil, rice, and sugar, was to keep the prices down on local markets.
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