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Govt to call for tenders for 68 mines across Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 3, 2020)

Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum said on Thursday that of 108 mines in 23 provinces, the High Economic Council has approved the launch of a tender process for 68 of these mines.

Minister of Mines and Petroleum Haroon Chakhansuri said 800 million AFs will be invested in these mines.

According to Chakhansuri, the annual revenue generation from these mines will be between 150 and 170 million AFs and 3,000 jobs will be created.

“Mines with a high income will be focused on. The mineral extraction process will take place in three parts, first small mines after that mid-size mines and at the end large mines,” stated Chakhansuri.

He also said that they will start work on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project by the end of the month but did not provide further details.

Meanwhile, investors said that wide-spread corruption in government and the presence of armed groups are challenges facing the mining industry.

International organizations and the government also said that illegal extraction of minerals from mines is a substantial source of income for armed groups.

“Private sector is willing to invest in mining but the government should pay attention to our demands. We need the mines and have the capacity to extract the minerals,” said Abdul Nasir Reshtia, head of the association of steel factories.

In 2007 the United States Geological Service did a study and discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves.

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world.

At the time, an internal Pentagon memo, for example, stated that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries.

However, the industry has not only been dogged by corruption but it is also dominated by warlords and insurgents and largely goes unregulated, and under-developed.

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Parliament rejects draft budget for second time

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(Last Updated On: January 16, 2021)

Members of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) have rejected the proposed budget for the new fiscal year 1400 for the second time.

MPs said the second draft budget is also unbalanced and still does not address the issue of equal pay for government employees.

MPs said they will not approve the budget until the money has been allocated appropriately and that demands of the parliament regarding the equalizing of salaries are taken into account.

They said that the government also added two more articles to the draft budget which were not acceptable to them. 

MPs first rejected the draft budget on December 30 citing “serious problems” which they said hinged on the disproportionate allocation of money to projects and emergency codes. 

The draft budget was approved by the cabinet in November following adjustments in the Public Finance and Expenditure Management Regulation, a draft plan of hydrocarbons regulation; draft statute of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (the Afghan power company); and the draft law on cadastre.

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‘Digital Silk Road’ on track as Afghanistan and Turkmenistan connect 

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(Last Updated On: January 16, 2021)

Thursday marked another milestone in Afghanistan’s modern history when President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the new fiber optic connection between Turkmenistan and the commercial port of Aqina in Afghanistan’s Faryab province.

Within four months of having signed the memorandum of understanding with government the Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC) had successfully completed the task of connecting the two neighboring countries. 

In a virtual address at the launch, Dr Ehsan Bayat, the founder and chairman of AWCC, said he was “delighted” to celebrate the company’s success in connecting Afghanistan with its friends in Turkmenistan – especially given the past year that has involved unprecedented challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, which also impacted people’s ability to connect with each other across the globe. 

“When Afghan Wireless embarked on the journey to build Afghanistan’s largest nationwide fiber network, we did so with the goal of realizing President Ghani’s vision to transform the country into a hub of digital data connectivity for Central Asia. 

“Today marks an important milestone in the building of a digital silk road across the region with Afghanistan at its center; a road that will connect millions of Afghans to the digital economy.

He said the latest optical fiber connection, between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, is the country’s fifth and sixth international border connections. Others include Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan. 

“From Mazar to Jalalabad, and from Kabul to Kandahar to Kunduz, communities across the country are benefiting from high-speed connectivity. And now our connection to Turkmenistan through Torghundi and Aqina will enable Herat and western cities to become Afghanistan’s next major bridge for digital transformation,” he said.

However, Bayat stated that the impact of AWCC’s project should not be measured in kilometers of fiber laid, or megabytes of data transmitted, or even money invested but instead, it should be measured by the industries revitalized, the local businesses boosted, the jobs created, the pace of economic development and the enhancement to critical services in health, education, commerce and finance.

“This project could not be delivered without Afghanistan and Turkmenistan working together. 

“Afghan Wireless’ optical fiber connection between the two countries that we are celebrating today is a powerful testament that when we work hand in hand with our neighbors, not only do we strengthen our countries individually, but we also strengthen our region together,” he said.

The Turkmenistan to Aqina cable has the capacity to transfer 2,500 megabits of the Internet and can therefore provide high quality and cheap Internet to Faryab province.

According to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, a fiber-optic network is the result of the rapid development of telecommunications and information technology, which has become an integral part of modern life.

The ministry states that along with the progression of technology and innovation, the shape and quality of tools have also changed to a great extent.

At the beginning of the invention of the telephone, copper cables were used to transmit information and sound, but today, with the advancement of technology and increasing human needs, these cables have been replaced by a new generation of signal conductors or fiber optics.

Because of the need for fast and cheap digital connectivity in the country, Government has already connected a total of 25 provinces in the country with the national fiber-optic network.

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Turkmen FM in Kabul to discuss bilateral cooperation

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(Last Updated On: January 8, 2021)

Turkmenistan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Raşit Meredow arrived in Kabul on Friday to discuss issues around bilateral cooperation with the Afghan officials.

In a statement released on Friday, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign stated that the Turkmen official received by Mirwais Nab, Deputy Minister Foreign Minister for Political Affairs at the Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport.

According to the statement, Meredow will meet with President Ashraf Ghani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar, and NSA Hamdullah Mohib to discuss cooperation agreements between the two countries.

The Turkmen official expected to discuss the inauguration of Akina to Andkhui Railway line project, Electrical Energy Project from Kerki – Andkhoi – Puli Khumri; and the Fiber Optic Cable line extending internet connection from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan.

Meadow would also sign several Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with the Afghan officials, including an MoU on Political Consultation, an MoU on Agriculture Quarantine, an MoU on Security and Protocol, and an MoU on issues related to Gas and Oil, the statement concluded.

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