Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday made an investment pitch at a UN conference, describing the business opportunities and challenges in a country where millions are displaced or close to starvation.
The two-day conference, jointly hosted by the Afghan government and the UN, will evaluate whether strategies and aid are helping to resolve the quagmire created by Afghanistan’s 17-year war, clearing the way for the withdrawal of foreign troops.
“It’s a different Afghanistan. We’re open for business, I hope you’re open for partnership,” Ghani said, setting out a vision that would enable growth of “nine per cent and in double digits”.
Afghanistan needed to focus on “market building”, with individual entrepreneurs forming creditworthy companies that could build value chains to take advantage of available trade preferences.
“The main problem of the market is the firm, what we require is a national strategy of competition,’’ he said.
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He said Afghanistan needed help with the renewable revolution to exploit its “amazing potential of 220,000 megaWatts of solar and 80,000 megaWatts of wind”.
“We need to make a jump in energy, the way we took a jump in telecoms, going directly to mobiles instead of landlines.
“The country also had 1 trillion dollars in natural resources, and new mining and hydrocarbon laws have finally created the stable policy environment needed for investment,” Ghani said.
The NATO-led Resolute Support mission said three U.S. service members were killed and three wounded when an
improvised explosive device detonated near the central Afghan city of Ghazni.
However, the Taliban, who control large parts of Ghazni province, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Presidential Banking and Finance Adviser Ajmal Ahmady said laws passed in 2017 had made it easier to start, invest in and close a business, and the next focus would be on making it easier to operate a business.
“We feel we’re finally ready to move from potential to production in our natural resources sector.
“The government has ended its monopoly in telecoms and planned to do the same in land development and
other sectors this year and next,” Ahmady said.
Ghani said Afghanistan’s location would also be solid gold in the next 50 years, at the crossroads of south, central
and west Asia, a potential market of 4 billion people.
However, Afghanistan has the wrong education system to take advantage of the opportunities, and entrepreneurs could not get started because they lacked access to credit.
“Monetary policy is killing us, in this environment entrepreneurial energy cannot be individual, it needs to
become collective and supported,” Ghani said.