The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Sunday unveiled a 12-year strategy aimed at developing and promoting investment opportunities in Asian nations including Afghanistan.
Based on STRATEGY 2030, over the next few years, billions of dollars will be invested in various sectors – of which stakeholders say will hopefully also benefit Afghanistan.
According to the ADB’s report, Asia and the pacific has made great strides in poverty reduction and economic growth in the last 50 years.
However, there are unfinished development agendas, the report stated.
Issues such as poverty and vulnerability, rising inequality, climate change, growing environmental pressures, and large infrastructure deficits remain to be addressed.
Emerging trends, such as technological advancements, urbanization, and changing demographics, present opportunities and challenges, ADB has noted.
Meanwhile, officials from the International Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ICCI) have said that taking into consideration the important role of the Asian Development Bank in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, the National Unity Government (NUG) should outline more inclusive programs to attract ADB’s financial cooperation in future.
Mapping out the strategy, the ADB report noted the following seven points as key factors.
· Addressing remaining poverty and reducing inequalities. ADB will increase the emphasis on human development and social inclusion to address the non-income dimensions of poverty. It will help facilitate quality job creation, including by small and medium-sized enterprises and inclusive businesses. ADB will support DMCs to improve education and training outcomes, achieve better health for all, and strengthen social protection systems and service delivery for those in need.
· Accelerating progress in gender equality. ADB will support targeted operations to empower women and girls, gender mainstreaming that directly narrows gender gaps, and operations with some gender elements that incorporate a few gender equality actions in the design and implementation of ADB projects and programs. At least 75% of the number of ADB’s committed operations (on a 3-year rolling average, including sovereign and non-sovereign operations) will promote gender equality by 2030.
· Tackling climate change, building climate and disaster resilience, and enhancing environmental sustainability. ADB will scale up support in these areas. ADB will ensure that 75 percent of the number of its committed operations (on a 3-year rolling average, including sovereign and non-sovereign operations) will be supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation by 2030. Climate finance from ADB’s own resources will reach $80 billion cumulatively from 2019 to 2030.
· Making cities more livable. ADB will provide integrated solutions to help build livable cities that are green, competitive, resilient, and inclusive. It will pursue crosscutting projects to promote urban health, urban mobility, gender equality, and environmental sustainability. ADB will help cities explore new and expand existing sources of funding, enhance inclusive and participatory urban planning, and integrate climate resilience and disaster risk management considerations into urban planning processes.
· Promoting rural development and food security. ADB will support efforts to improve market connectivity and agricultural value chain linkages. It will help DMCs increase agricultural productivity and food security by boosting farm and nonfarm incomes, promoting the adoption of advanced technologies and climate-smart agricultural practices, and supporting the improvement of natural resource management standards. It will also help DMCs enhance food safety.
· Strengthening governance and institutional capacity. ADB will support public management reforms to help DMCs improve governance and create an enabling environment for sustainable growth. It will help countries build resilience and respond to economic shocks, strengthen service delivery, and improve capacity and standards. ADB will uphold environmental and social safeguards, adhere to fiduciary standards, and implement anticorruption measures in all its projects and programs.
· Fostering regional cooperation and integration. ADB will enhance connectivity in the region and the competitiveness of DMCs. It will increase support for regional public goods and collective actions to mitigate cross-border risks such as climate change, pollution, energy and water security, and communicable and infectious diseases. ADB will also enhance financial sector cooperation and strengthen subregional initiatives, including through facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration, and working with emerging initiatives.
In reference to this, Abdul Qadir Bahman, International Affairs Director at Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said: “The Afghan government can expand the role of the private sector in the light of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in line with this strategy and create relations on it.”
According to the new strategy, ADB will expand its private sector operations, to reach one-third of its total operations in number by 2024.
ADB will also pursue development impact as the key objective of its private sector operations. It will also ensure profitability and commercial sustainability and it will expand and diversify its private sector operations in new and frontier markets, such as fragile and conflict affected situations and small island developing states.
ADB will use private equity funds to extend its reach and scale up support for public–private partnerships. It will also increase the number of its private sector staff in the field.
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) has said that the new strategy will benefit Afghanistan.
“The financial cooperation by the Asian Development Bank which is spent through the national budget has had a positive impact on various sectors such as agriculture, transport, energy and other sectors,” Ajmal Hamid Abdul Rahimzai, MoF spokesman said.
The ADB has provided over $4 billion to Afghanistan since 2002.