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Editorial: Energy-starving industries

Afghanistan is a consumer country. Imports are more than exports. The country is also dependent on donations and foreign assistance. Agriculture is the major sector that provides jobs to thousands of people across the country and generates revenue. Agriculture is backbone of Afghan economy. However, it has not been mechanized. Growers still use traditional methods. Moreover, the food is not fortified. Thus, malnutrition is the biggest threat, not only for children but for adults as well. Thousands of hectares land is barren. Making this large swath of land cultivable is a challenge for the government and would need huge financial and human resources.

Therefore, relying on agriculture sector is not a feasible solution to improve economy. It can help to generate more revenues and jobs and ensure food security but to boost the national economy the government needs to feed the energy-starving industries. As a matter of fact, due to widespread corruption and misadministration, investors are afraid of investing capital in Afghanistan. Registration process and getting guarantees is a wild goose chase. The procedure of acquiring business license is very complicated and expensive. Without paying bribes at every desk it is difficult to run business because of rampant corruption and red-tapism. That’s why investors are discouraged.

Furthermore, security environment is scaring businessmen and women. Investors and their children are kidnapped. Even local investors are afraid and shifting capital to secure countries such as the United Arab Emirates. Despite insecurity, most of businessmen just demand easy process, access to soft loan facilities and uninterrupted power supply. In order to encourage investment the government must resolve these problems. Providing loan facilities and making the legal process is easy would not take time. It only requires commitment. If the policymakers are committed to improve the national economy then they can amend the laws or introduce new ones to facilitate investors.

However, providing uninterrupted electricity to industries will consume time because the government would have to build new hydropower dams and complete the mega power projects such as CASA-1000.  The good news is that Afghan, Tajik, Kyrgyz and Pakistani officials would meet next month to inaugurate the CASA-1000 project.  According to Khaama Press, authorities of the four countries have finalized the documentation process and are ready to kick off the mega power project soon. This project will usher a new era of development.

Taking advantage of this opportunity, the government shall carry out a survey to know about the demand. Interactive meetings with business community will help the relevant authorities to chalk-out a comprehensive and result-oriented policy to meet the demand side by increasing supply. Our industries need more than 300 megawatts. Therefore, the government shall talk to the stakeholders to get more electricity. It will help to fuel the local industries and create more job opportunities. It will also boost the national economy.

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