Chinese firms set to invest in Afghan energy sector

Chinese firms set to invest in Afghan energy sector
The investment plans are being seen as the latest sign of growing economic engagement by Chinese entrepreneurs in the mineral-rich country. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 31 May 2021

Chinese firms set to invest in Afghan energy sector

Chinese firms set to invest in Afghan energy sector
  • Afghan officials hail plan as sign of growing links between the neighbors

KABUL: A group of Chinese firms was poised to pump $400 million into a coal-fired electricity generation project in Afghanistan, officials revealed on Monday.

The investment plans are being seen as the latest sign of growing economic engagement by Chinese entrepreneurs in the mineral-rich country.

The group, involved in a number of private businesses in Afghanistan, shared its spending ambitions during a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday.

Sangar Niazi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s power department, told Arab News: “Several Chinese companies during their meeting with President Ghani showed their preparedness for investing $400 million in the energy sector through which we can generate 300 megawatts of electricity.”

Fatima Murchal, a spokeswoman for Ghani, said the planned investment was a “good opportunity” for the Afghan energy industry, adding that the president had “instructed authorities to facilitate the necessary cooperation in this regard.”

While the technicalities of the project had yet to be finalized, Niazi pointed out that the initiative would be expected to provide a much-needed jobs boost to war-ravaged Afghanistan, which imports 80 percent of its electricity from neighboring countries.

“Using coal for producing electricity is also cheaper than importing hydroelectric power from the region,” he said, adding that necessary measures would be taken to limit environmental pollution.

Khan Jan Alokozay, deputy head of Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Arab News: “This (the Chinese energy investment plan) indeed is important. Other foreign investors will also be encouraged to come here and invest.

“The Chinese have a huge interest in investing here, and without any doubt, Afghanistan is a big market for them. China is an international economic superpower; we are neighbors and have the resources for their investment and raw materials for exporting for their domestic consumption too,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

The group, involved in a number of private businesses in Afghanistan, shared its spending ambitions during a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday.

Alokozay noted that since the Taliban’s ousting in late 2001, the Chinese government and private investors had been at the helm of several small and megaprojects throughout Afghanistan including oil exploration in the north, copper mining in Logar province south of the capital Kabul, and road building in northern border areas.

Decades of war in Afghanistan had seen China reluctant to invest in major Afghan infrastructure development schemes while almost 70 other countries, including Pakistan, benefitted from inclusion in Beijing’s 2013-launched global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

“The volume of trade between the two countries stands at some $3 billion annually while China is keen to include Afghanistan through Central Asia in its BRI for reaching Gulf nations,” Alokozay added.

However, he noted that a Chinese firm’s oil exploration operations in the northern Afghan province of Sari Pul had been suspended “because of violence there and due to contractual problems,” and that copper extraction work had been halted in Logar.

Saturday’s talks coincided with the recent start of work by Kabul on the construction of a $5 million road in the mountainous Pamir region to connect with China via a land route for the first time.

Building of the 50-kilometer highway through the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan’s northeastern Badakhshan province was expected take 18 months to complete and, once ready, would allow Beijing to export raw materials from untapped Afghan mines for its increasing domestic consumption.

Both countries have been using the railway network in Central Asia for their commercial interactions, while Afghanistan has been flying its famed pine nuts to China.

Kabul has a $2.2 billion five-year deal to export its pine nuts to China and Afghanistan is already a huge market for Chinese goods. Over the past 20 years, China has steadily increased its presence in Afghanistan, contributing nearly $240 million in development aid between 2001 and 2013 and ramping up investments in the country, especially since the reduction in the number of US-led troops in Afghanistan began in late 2014.

In 2007, China inked a multibillion-dollar deal with the Afghan government to secure exclusive rights to extract copper from the Mes Aynak mine in Logar. As part of the contract, China will build a railway network to export the mined copper to the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif and on to Beijing through an existing rail network in Uzbekistan.

However, the ambitious project has yet to get underway due to delays in copper extraction, the ongoing war in Afghanistan, and the discovery of an ancient Buddhist site.


SIIG to takeover Petrochem shares in a potential merger

SIIG to takeover Petrochem shares in a potential merger
Updated 28 September 2021

SIIG to takeover Petrochem shares in a potential merger

SIIG to takeover Petrochem shares in a potential merger
  • Under the deal, SIIG would pay Petrochem’s shareholders by issuing new shares in SIIG

DUBAI: Two Saudi petrochemical companies have signed a non-binding agreement on a proposed merger, the pair said in separate Tadawul filings.

Saudi Industrial Investment Group (SIIG) offered a share exchange deal to acquire the remaining 50 percent of the National Petrochemical Company (Petrochem). 

Under the deal, SIIG would pay Petrochem’s shareholders by issuing new shares in SIIG. They will also receive 1.27 shares in SIIG in exchange for each share they owned in Petrochem. 

HSBC Saudi Arabia is working with SIIG on the deal, while Petrochem hired GIB capital. 

Talks of merger began last year, after Aramco, the biggest oil company in the world, acquired a 70 percent stake in Saudi Basic Industries. 


Payment solutions Zbooni secures $9.5m as e-commerce booms

Payment solutions Zbooni secures $9.5m as e-commerce booms
Updated 28 September 2021

Payment solutions Zbooni secures $9.5m as e-commerce booms

Payment solutions Zbooni secures $9.5m as e-commerce booms
  • The company, it said in a statement, is seeing strong traction on its mobile seller app and web-based tools

DUBAI: Payment solutions provider Zbooni has secured $9.5 million in its latest funding round, on the back of the region’s growing e-commerce scene.

Several regional and international investors participated in the Series A round, including family office March Holding, US-based Enterprise Fund, as well as a few European private investors.

The UAE-based startup provides digital tools for businesses to engage with their customers - including an online invoining function, and other mobile-based applications. 

“Our solutions help businesses seamlessly transition into a new era of commerce, offering more relevant ways to sell and interact with customers,” Ramy Assaf, Zbooni founder, said. =

The company, it said in a statement, is seeing strong traction on its mobile seller app and web-based tools. 

Zbooni will use the funds to further develop its proprietary commerce technology, as well as hire new talent and expand into new markets. 

“We see a massive opportunity in front of us and are excited about helping define the next generation of commerce,” Assaf said.


‘solutions by stc’ sets minimum of 2 shares per individual investor in IPO

‘solutions by stc’ sets minimum of 2 shares per individual investor in IPO
Updated 28 September 2021

‘solutions by stc’ sets minimum of 2 shares per individual investor in IPO

‘solutions by stc’ sets minimum of 2 shares per individual investor in IPO
  • Around 1.04 million retail investors subscribed to 2.4 million shares at SR151 per share - an offering oversubscribed by 2,365 percent

DUBAI: ‘Solutions by stc’ has allocated a minimum of two shares per individual subscriber as it completes its initial public offering. 

The ‘stc’ unit earlier announced its intention to float on the Saudi bourse, offering 24 million shares or 20 percent of its capital.

According to a filing on Monday, remaining shares will be allocated on a pro rata basis at around 0.5776 percent on average, based on the size of each subscriber’s request compared to the total remaining subscribed shares. 

Around 1.04 million retail investors subscribed to 2.4 million shares at SR151 per share - an offering oversubscribed by 2,365 percent. 

The institutional offering was 13,0004 percent oversubscribed, raising SR471 billion. 


Qatar Airways says gets $3bn state aid after huge loss

Qatar Airways says gets $3bn state aid after huge loss
Updated 28 September 2021

Qatar Airways says gets $3bn state aid after huge loss

Qatar Airways says gets $3bn state aid after huge loss
  • The airline reported an overall loss of $4.1 billion for the year to March 31

DOHA: Qatar Airways said Monday it received $3 billion in state aid to weather the coronavirus travel downturn and to offset losses it blamed on the cost of grounding aircraft.
The airline reported an overall loss of $4.1 billion for the year to March 31, double the figure for the same period the year before.
Without the cost of grounding its Airbus A380 and A330 aircraft, Qatar Airways reported an underlying operating loss for the year of $228.3 million compared with $310 million the previous year.
The Gulf carrier did report a slight uptick in overall earnings and a 4.6 percent increase in the amount of cargo carried in the last 12-month period.
Qatar is among several governments that have stepped in to support their national carriers through the coronavirus shutdown, which has pummelled global travel and the aviation industry.
In September 2020 the airline reported it had received $2 billion in state aid after its annual losses exceeded 50 percent of share capital.
“We adapted our entire commercial operation to respond to ever-evolving travel restrictions and never stopped flying,” Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al-Baker said in a statement, calling the last 12-month period “difficult.”
“While our organization did not receive any subsidies in the form of salary support or grants, (the Qatari government) did provide an equity injection of 11 billion riyals ($3 billion) to support the business’s continuity.”
Monday’s results are the first full year numbers since the United Arab Emirates, a key market for the Gulf carrier, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, ended a boycott of Qatar in place since June 2017.
They had accused Doha of links to extremist groups and being too close to Iran, Riyadh’s regional arch-rival — charges Qatar denied — closing their airspace, borders and markets to Doha until a deal was struck in January.
Qatar Airways is the second largest airline in the Middle East after Dubai-based Emirates, operating a fleet of 253 aircraft — although some remain grounded during the pandemic.

Related


UAE food giant Agthia to pay $17.8m in its first interim cash dividends

UAE food giant Agthia to pay $17.8m in its first interim cash dividends
Updated 28 September 2021

UAE food giant Agthia to pay $17.8m in its first interim cash dividends

UAE food giant Agthia to pay $17.8m in its first interim cash dividends
  • The approved dividend distribution marks Agthia Group’s first interim dividend

DUBAI: Agthia Group, a leading food and beverages company in the UAE, approved yesterday to pay a cash dividend of 8.25 fils per share for the first half of 2021, or 65.31 million dirhams, it said in a statement.

The approved dividend distribution marks Agthia Group’s first interim dividend, it said.

"Recently, the Group adopted a semi-annual dividend policy, which aligns with its commitment to maximizing shareholders’ returns," it added.