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World Bank to push ahead with some Afghan projects

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(Last Updated On: April 20, 2022)

The World Bank has resumed work on three projects in Afghanistan focused on health, agriculture and livelihoods, but will maintain a hold on some $150 million for education projects, two sources familiar with the decision said Tuesday.

The multilateral development bank had put all four projects, valued at around $600 million, on hold in late March, citing its deep concerns over the Islamic Emirate’s ban on girls attending public high school.

Group of Seven partners and other major donors to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) will meet to discuss the country’s mounting economic and food security problems on Friday during the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the U.S. Treasury announced on Monday.

Some multilateral organizations, including the IMF, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Islamic Development Bank, will also take part, one of the sources said.

When it halted work on the four programs, the World Bank noted that its policies required all ARTF-financed activities to support access to – and equity of services for – women and girls in Afghanistan.

Officials decided to “resume preparations” for the three non-education projects, valued at around $450 million, given the deepening economic crisis in Afghanistan worsened by rising food and energy prices triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine, one of the sources said.

Russia calls its actions “a special military operation.”

The World Bank last week issued a dire outlook for Afghanistan’s economy, noting that per capita income had fallen by over a third in the last four months of 2021 following the seizure of power by the Islamic Emirate (IE) as U.S.-led foreign forces withdrew.

It said around 37% of Afghan households did not have enough money to cover food while 33% could afford food but nothing more.

When it agreed to free up ARTF funds for new projects to be implemented by U.N. agencies, the World Bank had stipulated that it expected a “strong focus on ensuring that girls and women participate and benefit from the support.”

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has unraveled gains in rights made by women during the last two decades, including restricting them from working and limiting their travel unless accompanied by a close male relative. Most girls were also barred from going to public school beyond seventh grade.

Business

A company will invest $27.5 million in ruby mining on the outskirts of Kabul

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(Last Updated On: February 23, 2024)

The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum on Friday announced that Ariana Highland Company will invest $27.5 million in the extraction of Jegdalek ruby mine on the outskirts of Kabul.

In a statement, the ministry said that the bidding ceremony for the mine was held again with the participation of Ariana Highland and Mirza Sultani companies, adding that the former won it by accepting 44 percent share for the Islamic Emirate.

Based on the statement, Ariana Highland Company will spend $5 million in the social services.

Jegdalek ruby deposit is located 100 km from Kabul city, in the southwest of Surobi district, and it covers 6.9 square kilometers.

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Business

MoU signed for start of Trans-Afghan railway feasibility studies

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(Last Updated On: February 20, 2024)

The Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA) announced on Tuesday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) had been signed for feasibility studies on the Trans-Afghan railway project.

ARA said that the head of the organization, Bakhtur Rahman Sharafat, signed the MoU during his visit to Uzbekistan on Monday. The MoU was signed between Uzbek and UAE officials and Afghanistan.

ARA said once the feasibility study has been completed, results will be shared with various stakeholders including financial institutions, countries and businessmen from Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan.

Officials attending Monday’s meeting also decided a virtual meeting would be held on Wednesday with Qatari and Pakistani officials.

The Trans-Afghan railway once completed will connect Central Asia with South Asia.

Starting in Balkh’s Mazar-e-Sharif, the 647km line will pass through Samangan, Baghlan, Bamiyan, Maidan Wardak, Logar and Paktia provinces and on to Pakistan.

This project has been under discussion for many years. After regaining power, the Islamic Emirate approved the initial survey which was successfully completed by the technical teams of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan Railways.

ARA has meanwhile said it once again invites countries, financial organizations and businessmen to invest in Afghanistan railway projects.

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Business

Import, export volumes total $7.5 billion in 1st nine months of this solar year

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(Last Updated On: February 19, 2024)

Afghanistan’s export and import volumes totaled $7.5 billion in the first nine months of this solar year – 1402, the National Statistics and Information Authority (NSIA) said on Monday.

NSIA said exports totaled $1.35 billion while imports amounted to $6.22 billion.

Last solar year, 1401, saw exports total $1.37 billion while imports totalled $5.12 billion.

NSIA said most exports went to Pakistan ($689.9 million), followed by India ($463 million) and the UAE ($32 million).

The most popular export item was dried fruit, which totaled $342.7 million. Medicinal plants, minerals and fresh fruit were second, third and fourth respectively.

The authority stated that the most imported items in the first nine months of this solar year came from Iran and totaled $1.31 billion.

Goods from Pakistan followed totaling $1.15 billion and then China with goods worth $1.14 billion.

Imports were dominated by fuel, petroleum and gas, at $1.1 billion, followed by machinery, vehicles and spare parts which totaled $691.9 million.

Other high volume goods included textiles, metals and metal products.

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