Delhi Investment Summit on Afghanistan a success

AFP Photo/Manan Vatsyayana

Afghanistan foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul (L) shakes hands with external affairs minister SM Krishna (R) during the Delhi Investment Summit on Afghanistan, in New Delhi.

As Afghanistan moves towards full responsibility for its security, governance and development with the draw-down of NATO forces by 2014, it faces significant challenges and opportunities. The series of international conferences with a focus on Afghanistan notably the Istanbul Conference (November 2011), the Bonn Conference (December 2011), the RECCA-V (Dushanbe, March 2012), the Chicago NATO Summit (May 2012), the Kabul Ministerial Conference under the Istanbul process (June 14, 2012), and the Tokyo Conference (July 8, 2012), along with a series of strategic partnership agreements signed between Afghanistan and some of its key regional and international partners are intended to send a clear message of the international community’s long term commitment to Afghanistan.

The prospects of mineral and hydrocarbon resources, its significant agricultural and human resource potential, and its strategic geographical location at the crossroads of Central, South, West Asia and Eurasia, offer vast opportunities for foreign investment, employment and revenue generation in Afghanistan. This could pave the way for Afghanistan to move from an aid-dependent to self-reliant economy and would augur well for Afghanistan’s future, though there are legal, logistical, security, transport and transit challenges that also need to be looked into.

The Delhi Investment Summit on Afghanistan was a success and complemented the efforts of Afghanistan’s partners to promote regional economic cooperation as part of the continued commitment of the international community to Afghanistan’s security and development in the future.

In this context, while the Kabul Ministerial Conference focused on regional confidence-building, the Chicago NATO Conference on international support and assistance for Afghanistan’s security, and the Tokyo Conference will spotlight Afghanistan’s development and governance, the Delhi Investment Summit drew on all three to help stabilize Afghanistan through foreign investment.

The 1-day event showcased Afghanistan’s economic potential and attract foreign Investment into Afghanistan, explored possibilities of cross-country investment partnerships and collaborative ventures from within the region and beyond as a regional and international confidence-building measure, promoted intra and inter-regional projects, cooperation and integration, sought international financing for foreign investments in Afghanistan, promoted private sector development in Afghanistan, contributed ideas relating to foreign investment and investment promotion in general to the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan, July 8, 2012, and developed enduring regional and international investment stakes in the Afghan economy as a means of bringing stability and prosperity to Afghanistan. It built on the results of the Brussels EuroMines Conference of October 2011 and the UAE Investment Conference of November 30, 2010 and provided the collective ‘security’ to foreign investors that comes from venturing together.

The successful Summit attracted potential investors from Afghanistan, the extended region comprising the Istanbul process member and supporting countries and the international community at large, international development and financial institutions, regional and international business associations, and relevant regional and international organizations. It was structured around presentations and panel discussions led by Afghan authorities and others on areas like investment potential and enabling environment for foreign investment, Afghanistan’s development strategy, long-term investments in areas like mining, hydrocarbons, industries based on them and shorter-term investments in areas like agriculture, industries (including small and medium industries), education, health and services. There was also parallel business-to-business meetings linked to sector specific sessions aimed at concrete investment proposals and partnerships.

The event was organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) with the support of the Governments of India and Afghanistan and the cooperation of Afghan investment and business organizations.