Afghanistan’s first investment conference attracts many

The first ever gathering of investors in Afghanistan was inaugurated today by President Hamid Karzai with an appeal to businessmen to bring in more money now to take out more later.
Speaking to a packed crowd at the conference hall of Kabul’s luxurious Serena Hotel, President Karzai listed a wide range of sectors in which Afghanistan promised to pay back in big profits if the investments were to come. He said sectors from mining to communications, from energy to agriculture were all full of potential and he tried to ensure potential investors that they would be free to transfer their profits, thanks to all the relevant legislation having been put in place.

The conference organized by the Afghan Investment Support Agency (AISA) is supported by the UNDP and two German agencies, GTZ, the German Government’s development assistance agency and BDI, the Federation of German Industries. The conference and a parallel trade exhibition are also sponsored by a number of major private sector entities, including Standard Chartered Bank, Kabul Bank and the Afghanistan International Bank.

Reinhardt Steick, Germany’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, speaking at the opening session of the conference said they believed the private sector would play a major role in Afghanistan’s recovery and development and that they would continue to support the Afghan government’s efforts to open the economy to outside investment.

There is significant interest in the conference and in the accompanying exhibition with many investment and consultancy firms attending with a view to identify promising investment areas. Joost Heij, a Dutch investor based in Uzbekistan, said he had come to see the opportunities but he complained of lack of reliable and verifiable economic data. He said he believed there was ample opportunity but that the management of these opportunities left much to be desired.

The four-day conference is focusing on specific sectors in various plenary and working group sessions.
AISA officials hope that the conference will be instrumental in portraying Afghanistan’s image as a land of investment opportunities.

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