Afghanistan looking for foreign investment in energy sector

February 29th, 2008 - 9:43 pm ICT by admin  

Berlin, Feb 29 (DPA) Afghanistan is hoping to find foreign investors to help it expand its energy sector, Afghan Energy Minister Mohammed Ismael Chan said Friday. Only one in five Afghans has access to electricity, but the government hopes to extend supplies to 50 percent of the population within two years, the minister told a press conference Friday.

The precarious security situation and uncertainty about the legal situation has scared off many potential investors from the west.

Economics Minister Mohammed Jalil Shams said the government had completed just over half of the 6,000 km of new roads that it planned after the collapse of the Taliban more than six years ago.

Progress was also being made in extending the telecommunications network, he said.

“These are advances that the man in the street does not see directly, which is also a reason for dissatisfaction in the population,” Shams said.

Another problem was that drug barons and terrorists were hindering the rapid reconstruction of the war-ravaged nation.

Earlier this week, the coordinator of the US intelligence services, Mike McConnell, told a Senate committee that the government of President Hamid Karzai controls only 30 percent of Afghanistan. The Taliban controls 10 percent and tribal leaders the rest, he said.

Opium cultivation remained widespread, said Shams, adding that his government and western nations differed on what the best strategy was to tackle the problem.

“We have to try to agree on a common approach that would offer opium growers an alternative,” he said.

Shams did not rule out talks with the Taliban, saying that in principle no conflict can be resolved without political discussions.

But there were no moderates in the ranks of the Taliban, he said.

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