Afghanistan signs $160 million renewable energy deal with US, Turkey and India

Afghanistan signs $160 million renewable energy deal with US, Turkey and India
110 megawatts will be added to the country's grid. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 24 September 2020

Afghanistan signs $160 million renewable energy deal with US, Turkey and India

Afghanistan signs $160 million renewable energy deal with US, Turkey and India
  • Solar and wind power projects will be developed in Kabul, Balkh and Herat provinces
  • Afghanistan imports 1,200 megawatts of energy from Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan

KABUL: Solar photovoltaic and wind power projects signed by Afghanistan under a $160 million international deal on Wednesday evening will add 110 megawatts to the country’s grid in the next 16 months, officials said.

The projects will be developed in Kabul, Balkh and Herat by a local company with partners from Turkey, India and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

“With the implementation of these projects, we will not only witness improvement in the energy sector, but (in other areas) as energy is the basic need for the improvement of other sectors,” Lima Khoram, policy and development chief at the Afghan Finance Ministry, told Arab News on Thursday.

“We will also see the development of other major sectors. This is not only good news for the citizens, but for all investors and entrepreneurs too,” she said.

Afghanistan needs to increase access to energy to enable development — and the projects signed on Wednesday are going to be the country’s biggest investment in solar power so far, according to Wahidullah Tawhidi, a spokesman for DABS, the country’s main power producer.

“This will be a highly efficient work for the generating of more electricity in Afghanistan,” he said.

Tawhidi told Arab News that the projects will be developed in partnership with USAID by an Afghan company, a firm from Turkey, and one from India.

One of the projects, a photovoltaic station designed to produce 40 megawatts of power, will be built in the northern Balkh province, which is the main gateway to Central Asia.

Two plants — one solar and one wind powered with a capacity of 25 megawatts each — will be installed in western Herat province, near the border with Iran Turkmenistan.

The fourth one, a floating solar power station, will be built at Naghlu dam, east of Kabul.

Afghanistan currently imports 1,200 megawatts of energy from Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan as it can only generate 400 megawatts from its dams.

The country, whose infrastructure has been destroyed by decades of conflict, requires 7,500 megawatts for its nearly 33 million population to have access to electricity.

The lack of security in recent years caused many businesses to flee Afghanistan so the renewable energy agreement is expected to encourage more foreign investment.

Talha Hidayat, director general for public-private partnership at the Finance Ministry, said that 16 projects worth $3.1 billion, which include two power dams and involve the agricultural and telecommunications sectors, were ready for investment.

“Feasibility studies are finalized. We will announce it for open competition. Currently nine national and international firms have shown interest,” he said.
 


Egypt to sell minority stake in state payments firm e-finance

Egypt to sell minority stake in state payments firm e-finance
Updated 19 September 2021

Egypt to sell minority stake in state payments firm e-finance

Egypt to sell minority stake in state payments firm e-finance

CAIRO: Egyptian state-controlled payments firm e-finance for Digital and Financial Investments said on Sunday it would offer up to 14.5 percent of its capital in an initial public offering in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Founded in 2005, e-finance said in a statement it is the sole entity authorized to operate the government’s financial network, including processing and settling payment and collection transactions.

The sale is one of several planned for this year.

In May, Egypt sold a 51 percent stake in state-owned Arab Investment Bank to privately owned EFG Hermes, its first sale of a majority bank stake since 2006.

The government announced in 2018 it intended to sell minority stakes in nearly two dozen companies, but those sales have been delayed repeatedly by market downturns and more recently by the coronavirus pandemic.

e-finance said it would float 177.8 million new shares on the stock exchange and 80 million shares owned by current shareholders, to both institutional and retail investors.

Among its shareholders are three state-owned banks: National Investment Bank, with 63.64 percent, and the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr, each with 9.09 percent, according to e-finance’s 2019 annual report.

Egyptian Banks Co., a payments operator led by the central bank, and a firm called Egyptian Company for Investment Projects each own another 9.09 percent.

e-finance's revenue rose to 1.23 billion Egyptian pounds ($78 million) in 2020 and 904 million pounds in the first half of 2021, a 2018-20 compound annual growth rate of 30 percent, it said.

The sale is subject to market conditions and regulatory approvals, the statement added.


Saudi ministry launches initiative to implement global financial practices in govt entities

Saudi ministry launches initiative to implement global financial practices in govt entities
Updated 19 September 2021

Saudi ministry launches initiative to implement global financial practices in govt entities

Saudi ministry launches initiative to implement global financial practices in govt entities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Finance Ministry on Sunday launched an initiative to ensure implementation of the latest global financial practices in the government sector to increase its efficiency in line with the Vision 2030, said a ministry statement.
Prior to the launch of the Financial Control and Support and Development Initiative, the ministry launched a self-assessment pilot program on selected government entities, it said.
The pilot project conducted field studies on the feasibility of self-assessment tools in government entities. The project sought to assess the efficiency of the entities’ internal control systems, level of transparency, and overall control measures.
The program aims to strengthen financial control procedures, improve governance, and switching to automation.


KSA’s grains storage capacity rises by 37% with 2 new silos


KSA’s grains storage capacity rises by 37%  with 2 new silos

Updated 19 September 2021

KSA’s grains storage capacity rises by 37% with 2 new silos


KSA’s grains storage capacity rises by 37%  with 2 new silos


RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has added two new silos to its existing infrastructure increasing its strategic grain storage capacity by 37 percent, according to an Al-Eqtisadiyah report.

The Saudi Grains Organizations completed the Yanbu Silos Project with a storage capacity of 120,000 tons and it is working on adding a new one with the same capacity in Duba port, the reported said citing SAGO Gov. Ahmed Al-Faris.

Al-Faris said that Saudi strategic storage capacity of grains increased by 900,000 tons to 3.4 millions between 2015 and 2021.  

The SAGO chief said that the Kingdom has reached self-sufficiency in many products such as fresh milk, eggs, dates and white corn etc.

SAGO is one of the leading national institutions tasked with ensuring availability of key food commodities in Saudi Arabia.


Skeptics fail to deter companies from entering crypto fray: Market wrap

Skeptics fail to deter companies from entering crypto fray: Market wrap
Updated 19 September 2021

Skeptics fail to deter companies from entering crypto fray: Market wrap

Skeptics fail to deter companies from entering crypto fray: Market wrap
  • Paypal Crypto is now available to its UK customers

RIYADH: Paypal has completed the first international expansion of its cryptocurrency offering outside the US. 

Paypal Crypto is now available to its UK customers allowing them to buy, hold and sell four types of cryptocurrencies.

The official account of Paypal UK tweeted: “We are delighted to share that all eligible customers in the UK can now buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies such as: Bitcoin, ethereum, bitcoin cash and litecoin from their Paypal account.”

Meanwhile, Laos has allowed a series of cryptocurrency mining and trading projects in the country in contravention of the policies of its central bank which issued warnings against cryptocurrencies just a month ago. The move to allow bitcoin mining is part of the government’s efforts to compensate for the losses caused due to a decline in tourism due to the coronavirus disease pandemic. 

Six companies have been authorized to start cryptocurrency trading and mining operations in the country, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Laos could also try to attract some of the miners who were expelled from China.

Skepticism

Sergei Shvetsov, deputy chairman of the board of directors of the Bank of Russia, stated that the bank remains skeptical about the acquisition of cryptocurrencies and will not support increased access to crypto markets for Russian investors, most of whom are not certified, according to media reports.

Russia’s central bank is now working with commercial banks to delay payments made on digital asset exchanges.

The move aims to limit cryptocurrency purchases that Russian investors make based on emotion and are not qualified to do so. The move is likely to affect peer-to-peer and over-the-counter trading platforms.

Speaking at the International Banking Forum, the senior official explained: “When it comes to buying cryptocurrency for investment purposes, we are skeptical about this idea. We believe it’s different from traditional assets, it’s highly risky and has signs of a pyramid scheme.”

Trading

Bitcoin, the leading digital currency, traded lower on Sunday and slipped by 1.57 percent to $47,690.80 at 5:52 p.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most-traded cryptocurrency, was down by 3.46 percent at $3,357.70, according to data from CoinDesk.

 

 


UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal

UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal
Updated 19 September 2021

UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal

UAE economy minister to visit Britain seeking trade deal
  • Trade between the two countries was worth almost $8.1 billion in 2020

DUBAI: The UAE’s economy minister will lead a high-level delegation to Britain this week, the ministry said on Sunday, as the Gulf state seeks to deepen trade ties.

Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri and the delegation will meet British ministers, officials and representatives from the private sector to discuss recently announced UAE economic policies.

One of those policies includes the UAE seeking to seal what it calls a comprehensive economic agreement covering trade and foreign investment with Britain and seven other countries.

The delegation would also discuss ways to develop economic ties and strengthen cooperation in trade, investment, healthcare and energy, among other sectors, the ministry said.

The UAE last week announced it had expanded an investment partnership with the British government, committing  £10 billion ($13.7 billion) to invest in the UK over five years.

The UAE delegation will also include local government, investment company and private sector representatives, the ministry said.

Britain is the UAE’s third largest non-oil trade partner in Europe, with trade between the two countries worth almost $8.1 billion in 2020, it said.