By Zeynep Akyil and Bahattin Gonultas
Business and political leaders from Afghanistan in Ashgabat Tuesday reiterated their call to regional countries for help in attracting investment from private sector in order to rebuild the country after decades of violent conflict.
The 7th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan, also known as RECCA VII, began in the capital where delegations from more than 40 countries were participating to discuss economic cooperation and ways to attract private investment in Afghanistan.
Cabinet of Ministers’ Deputy Chairman Orazmyrat Gurbannazarov launched the conference that was being held under the theme “Deepening Connectivity and Expanding Trade through Investment Infrastructure and Improving Synergy”.
Gurbannazarow said the completion of regional connectivity projects is important for all countries in the region.
“The economic future of the region depends on trade, transit and the expansion of the energy sector and extraction of mineral deposits,” he said.
While ministers will meet Wednesday, the first day of the conference focused on the role of women and their contribution to economic development.
Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani said her country aims to create a platform that would encourage and facilitate regional and inter-regional economic cooperation through the RECCA conference, which was launched in 2005.
“This may have sounded as an ambitious and almost impossible goal at a time when the region was reeling under so many local conflicts and divisions,” Ghani said.
“But looking back at the shared history of all the countries involved in revisiting the golden age that spanned several hundred years from the 9th to 14th century, the idea of shared interests was not such a far-fetched one.
“Our history, our cultural traditions, our collective memory are all intertwined.”
She acknowledged that women participation in the economies of the regions had a great impact on economic development.
“In Afghanistan, the participation of women in the economy is slowly increasing.”
Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Afghanistan General Director Atiqullah Nasrat: “We hope that the focus will help women-owned enterprises in the RECCA region to interact with each other and improve their access to regional and international markets, and to learn best practice in order to contribute job creation and economic growth in their economies.”
Afghan Trade and Industry Minister Humayoon Rasaw said gender equality at the workplace would help lift people out of poverty and contribute to higher gross domestic product.
“To further promote women’s involvement in business, the High Economic Council approved the proposal for establishment of Afghan Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries,” Rasaw said.
He said the goal of the Afghan government is to eliminate discrimination against women, develop their human capital and their leadership in order to guarantee their full and equal participation in all aspects of life.
Rasaw invited regional investors to look into opportunities in Afghanistan.
“I invite our RECCA partners to come and invest in Afghanistan, utilize the opportunities, facilities and available resources….produce goods and make a healthy profit,” he added.
The second day of the conference will be devoted to working group sessions.
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