Turkish firm ‘moves forward’ with plans to invest in Afghan energy producing sector
The Islamic Emirate’s minister of energy and water met on Sunday with the head of a Turkish construction company in Kabul to discuss investment in the energy production sector.
According to the ministry of energy and water, the company, 77 Insaat, expressed interest in investing in power-producing projects including a wind-generating endeavor that could produce 200 megawatts of electricity in Afghanistan.
The ministry said in a series of tweets that the IEA’s energy and water minister Abdul Latif Mansoor met with Suleyman Ciliv, the head of the company, “and discussed and exchanged ideas about the development of joint cooperation of investment in the energy production projects from different sources.”
At the meeting, Mansoor praised the initiative being taken by the company in Afghanistan and said the implementation of the second phase of the Kajaki Dam project by the company was a valuable achievement for the people of Afghanistan.
Mansoor emphasized the need for investment in energy projects and assured Ciliv that the leadership of the energy and water ministry is committed to cooperating with the company.
“Both parties agreed to sign a cooperation agreement to invest in a 200 megawatts wind power generation project as soon as possible, so that on the basis of this agreement, the practical works of this project will start in the future,” the ministry said.
Energy in Afghanistan is provided by hydropower followed by fossil fuel and solar power but currently more than 50% of electricity is imported from neighboring countries.
Many rural areas do not have access to power, while urban areas are often hampered by severe restrictions.
Afghanistan currently generates over 600 megawatts (MW) of electricity but its imports total over 670 MW more.
The Afghan National Development Strategy has identified alternative energy, such as wind and solar energy, as a high value power source to develop.
Last year the ministry of energy and water 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 said at the time that 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.
Economists have meanwhile said that if investors can be found to support this sector, and if more electricity is generated, industry will grow.
Power projects ‘prioritized’
In April last year, 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 various ministries 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 – as well as potential for solar and wind energy projects.
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 hundreds of 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 44 megawatts of power for Afghan homes and businesses.
To date, Bayat Power has delivered over 700 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.
Five-day expo in Herat of domestic products draws good response
Herat Chamber of Industries and Mines says a five-day expo of domestically manufactured goods has drawn over 20,000 visitors and that business owners have signed dozens of contracts with investors and traders from other provinces.
“The booths were very good, the facilities were very good, people had all visited, participated from Herat and other provinces, and many of the contracts were signed at this expo,” said Toryali Ghousi, deputy of Herat Chamber of Industries and Mines.
Officials also said that the factory owners have displayed their products in 120 booths.
Dairy and other consumable products along with plastic goods, medicines and home appliances were among the items showcased at this expo.
Business owners have welcomed initiatives to hold expos and say more are needed so as to encourage people to buy domestic products.
“If these expos are always held and people come to see the domestic products, Inshallah, we will be able to stop the goods coming from abroad and move towards self-sufficiency,” said one business owner.
“Most of the people are not aware of domestic products and when expos are held, they become aware of domestic products,” said another participant.
Process of exporting fresh fruit to world markets kicks off: MoIC
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) says the process of exporting fresh fruit to world markets has started.
The ministry’s spokesman Abdul Salam Jawad said that they are trying to market the country’s fresh fruits in order to export them at a reasonable price.
“Fortunately, we were able to export 20 tons of cherries to Kazakhstan, and our other fresh fruit is black cherry, which are ripe and almost ready to package, and we will export them to the United Arab Emirates and Kazakhstan,” he said.
The Chamber of Agriculture and Livestock also said that when problems with the issuing of visas by countries to Afghan businessmen are resolved, they can export more products.
“We have invested in the packaging and in the cold storage areas, and we have the ability to adjust and export this packaging to Europe and America based on global standards,” said Omid Haidari, head of foreign relations of the Chamber of Agriculture and Livestock.
“Unfortunately, due to the lack of air corridors and subsidies from the Ministry of Agriculture, we indirectly export fruits to India and Pakistan, and later Indian and Pakistani businessmen buy from us and export to Europe,” he added.
However, a number of investors say that if the country’s fresh fruit is not marketed, farmers and businessmen will face losses.
“Seven kilos of our watermelons are sold for fifty afghanis, seven kilos of our watermelons from Farah to here [Kabul] cost forty afghanis as fare; the farmer is really very poor,” said a trader.
According to experts, if fresh fruit and other products of Afghanistan are regularly exported, the country’s national income will increase.
Over 3,600 boxes of silkworms distributed to Herat farmers this year
Herat Directorate of Agriculture and Livestock says more than 3,500 boxes of silkworms have been distributed to farmers this year in Zinda Jan, Injil, Guzara and Pashtun Zarghun districts of the province.
This directorate has said that 80 percent of silk work is done in Zinda Jan district.
“We were able to grow about 3,600 boxes with the help of institutions, about 80 percent of which we have grown in Zinda Jan district,” said Khalil Ahmad, general director of Herat agriculture directorate.
“About 20 percent of silkworms have been grown in Injil, Guzara and Pashtun Zarghun districts, which has had good results and the financial status of the farmers has improved.”
The local officials said most work in the silk industry is done by women.
“Almost 60 percent of the silk industry is done by women,” said Ahmad Shah Qawami, head of the silk workers’ union for Zinda Jan district.
This year, the families who are engaged in raising silkworms hope to have good production, now that the silk season is over and many are working to separate the silk thread.
However, the farmers are not satisfied with this year’s market conditions.
“The silk market is weak this year, it was good last year, it was very advanced,” said a silk worker.
The silk industry in Herat has a history dating back 600 years, and many families have preserved this ancient profession.
Silkworms usually feed on the leaves of mulberry trees, which grow in these regions. The industry also provides a livelihood to hundreds of men and women in the area.
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