IFC makes record investment in Central Asia to boost sustainable growth, foster inclusion

Amid overlapping challenges and geopolitical risks, IFC invested and mobilized over $1.6 billion in the Central Asia region in fiscal year 2023 (FY23)-its highest ever in the region-to enhance growth, upgrade regional connectivity, and build climate resilience. That work, between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, came alongside milestone engagements to boost financial inclusion, structure groundbreaking public-private partnership (PPP) projects, and promote gender diversity, IFC said. In Uzbekistan, IFC’s largest portfolio in Central Asia, IFC invested and mobilized $1.568 billion in FY23, its highest since operations began there in 1993. That included $49 million for the country’s inaugural wind power project, the Zarafshon power plant, due to be operational in 2025, and a $150 million financing package, as well as close to $1 billion in mobilization, for a modern thermal power plant in the Syrdarya region. The projects will help meet the country’s growing demand for energy while supporting its decarbonization and energy transition efforts. In Kazakhstan, IFC provided $15 million to KazFoodProducts, the country’s leading agribusiness group, to support its growth and create jobs while bolstering food security in the region. IFC’s $20 million loan to KMF, a leading microfinance organization, helped it support 247,000 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), including many in remote areas. Meanwhile, the construction of Almaty Ring Road was completed, improving the country’s transit potential and reducing travel times by up to an hour. This IFC-supported project was Central Asia’s first PPP. In the Kyrgyz Republic, IFC, as a lead transaction advisor, started to advise the government on structuring and tendering an up to 150-megawatt solar plant under the Scaling Solar program, aimed at diversifying the country’s energy mix and increasing its renewable power capacity to meet the growing domestic and regional demand. IFC has also been supporting the Kyrgyz government in designing a competitive tender for a PPP to invest in the infrastructure of Manas International Airport with an established airport operator. IFC provided more than $35 million to local financial institutions to improve access to finance for women-owned microenterprises and micro-housing in rural areas of the country. Nearly 200,000 low-income individuals were able to improve their homes with support from an IFC initiative in the country. In Tajikistan, IFC’s $15 million support to Imon International and Eskhata Bank enabled them to finance thousands of MSMEs across the country. ‘The private sector is a powerful engine of economic and social development, as IFC’s work in the region demonstrates,’ said Wiebke Schloemer, IFC’s Director for Trkiye and Central Asia. ‘We are eager to build on this impact and continue working with our partners in the region to deliver transformative projects that help improve lives, create jobs and foster sustainable growth.’ Looking ahead, IFC remains committed to supporting private sector development in Central Asia, with a continued focus on key sectors such as agribusiness, financial services, infrastructure, and manufacturing, while promoting sustainability and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Source: Central Asian News Service

Dusty haze covers Tashkent, PM2.5 43 times higher than permissible level

Tashkent and other regions of Uzbekistan were covered in a dusty haze on the afternoon of September 11. Air quality was harmful for several hours in the capital, but began to improve in the evening. Uzhydromet commented on the situation. Cool and relatively humid air masses reached the northwestern regions of Uzbekistan, and moved across the rest of the country during the day of September 11. The passage of the western invasion front through most regions caused the wind to increase to 13-17 m/s in some places, and up to 20 m/s in the south and desert zone. The wind was accompanied by dusty drifting snow, with visibility deteriorating to 500-2,000 meters, in Khorezm, Bukhara, Navoi, Jizzakh, Kashkadarya and Surkhandarya regions. The clouds approached the western regions of Tashkent in the afternoon. The wind increased to 10-12 m/s from 3:05 pm to 4 pm. The wind raised dust particles from the dry surface of the earth, which caused clouding of the air and deterioration of visibility to 1,400 meters. The content of fine PM10 particles in the atmospheric air of Tashkent at that time was 1,322 µg/m3, which is 2.4 times higher than the maximum permissible value established by the World Health Organization; and PM2.5 particles, which is 219 µg/m3, or 43 times higher than the permissible level. The dusty haze in Tashkent will continue until the morning, Uzhydromet noted.

Source: Central Asian News Service

Vietnam and Mongolia to enhance cooperation in field of law enforcement

Minister of Public Security of Vietnam To Lam met with visiting Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs of Mongolia Khishgee Nyambaatar in Hanoi on September 11, agreeing to expand the sides’ cooperation across various fields, Vietnam Plus reports. Highlighting the development of the countries’ bilateral relations, Lam expressed his joy at the growing collaboration between the Vietnamese ministry and Mongolian law enforcement agencies, including the Ministry of Justice and Internal Affairs. The sides signed agreements on cooperation in crime prevention and combat, the transfer of convicted persons, extradition, and cooperation in building the cavalry force. The minister told the Mongolian colleague that Mongolian horses gifted to the Ministry of Public Security’s cavalry unit are in good care and condition. Khishgee Nyambaatar reviewed the positive results achieved between the two ministries in the past time and affirmed his wish to strengthen and expand such cooperation in future. The ministers agreed to continue promoting the exchange of delegations at all levels and maintaining their ministries’ close and effective joint works, including the preparation for activities commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Vietnam-Mongolia diplomatic relations in 2024. The parties will continue to promote cooperation in combating various types of cross-border crimes involving the two countries. They will enhance information exchange, share experience, cooperate in training, and improve the capacity of their personnel to prevent and effectively fight crimes such as corruption, drug trafficking, and transnational crime, contributing to maintaining peace, stability, and security regionally and globally. The leaders said they will coordinate in the effective implementation of the cooperation agreements signed between the two countries and ministries. Additionally, they are preparing to sign cooperative documents in the fields of drug prevention and control and border crossing.

Source: Central Asian News Service

Healthcare center of Uzbekistan and Temple University sign memorandum of cooperation

Uzbekistan and the United States signed memorandums of cooperation between the higher medical educational institutions, medical centers, and pharmaceutical enterprises at the conference held as part of the Healthcare Week of two countries. In particular, a memorandum was signed between the Center for Retraining and Advanced Training of Personnel in Sanitary and Epidemiological Stability and Healthcare and Temple University of the United States. The memorandum provides for the exchange of teachers and personnel, researchers and graduates, materials, and articles. An agreement was also reached to conduct joint programs, scientific conferences, and research.

Source: Central Asian News Service

Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan discusses cooperation with CIDCA

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan V. Hajiyev and Vice-Chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) Deng Boqing held a meeting on September 11, the Foreign Ministry of Turkmenistan said. During the meeting, the sides highlighted the dynamic development of Turkmen-Chinese relations of comprehensive strategic partnership in many areas. The parties noted cooperation within the framework of international organizations, as well as active interaction in cultural and humanitarian areas, including in the field of education, healthcare and cultural exchanges. The interlocutors exchanged views on the further development of cooperation in the context of implementing projects in the oil and gas sector, as well as in the education and healthcare spheres.

Source: Central Asian News Service

New Ambassador of Vietnam presents credentials to Chair of Turkmenistan’s Parliament

Newly appointed Ambassador of Vietnam Dang Minh Khoi presented credentials to Chair of the Parliament of Turkmenistan D. Gulmanova on September 11, the Foreign Ministry of Turkmenistan reports. On behalf of the President of Turkmenistan, the head of the parliament congratulated the Ambassador on his appointment, wishing him success in his diplomatic activities. The Ambassadorconveyed warm greetings from President of Vietnam Vo Van Thuong. During the meeting, it was noted that Turkmenistan attaches special importance to the development of relations with the countries of Southeast Asia, including Vietnam. The sides exchanged views on a wide range of issues of Turkmen-Vietnamese cooperation, carried out both in bilateral and multilateral formats, primarily within the framework of international structures. Particular attention was paid to issues of expanding interparliamentary dialogue.

Source: Central Asian News Service

Erdogan to visit Kazakhstan in November

President of Trkiye Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to visit Kazakhstan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Murat Nurtleu announced at a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Trkiye Hakan Fidan, Tengrinews.kz reports. “The visit of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the 10th anniversary summit of the Organization of Turkic States is scheduled for November 3. We agreed to organize and conduct it at the highest level. This is another way to develop our partnership in a strategic spirit,” Nurtleu said. President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Joomart Tokayev invited the head of Trkiye to the anniversary summit during the extraordinary summit of the Organization of Turkic States in Ankara on March 16. The president stated that Turkestan would be the host city. “It is very important to strengthen the cooperation of the Turkic world. Our countries need to take political, economic and cultural interaction to a new level. This is one of the priority areas of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy,” President Kassym-Joomart Tokayev noted earlier.

Source: Central Asian News Service

Georgia adopts visa-free regime for Chinese citizens

Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Monday announced that the country has decided to introduce a visa-free regime for Chinese citizens, and more details will be declared later, according to Xinhua. “China is the second-largest economy in the world. One of our main interests is to strengthen trade and economic relations with China, to attract more investments from China, as well as to attract more tourists,” Garibashvili said at a governmental session in Tbilisi. Chinese tourists are considered one of the most desirable tourists in the world, said the prime minister. Georgia and China announced their intention to elevate bilateral relations to a strategic partnership in July during Garibashvili’s visit to China.

Source: Azerbaijan State News Agency