Post-war Afghanistan sees more local-made products
By Abdul Haleem
KABUL, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) — “I am proud to sell products of our own country,” said Mohammad Zalgai, a shopkeeper at a small market of Kabul, the Afghan capital.
Busy piling up tins of cooking oil and ghee of different brands in front of his small shop, Zalgai said he prefers to sell those with “Made in Afghanistan” mark.
Afghanistan, devoured by nearly three decades of war and civil strife, has made progress in several fields over the past few years, with international support, though it takes time for it stand on its own feet.
Zalgai said he also sells Afghan-made soft drink and mineral water, including the popular Coca Cola, which was unthinkable during Taliban reign in 1996-2001.
“Producing these products inside Afghanistan is a good omen forthe nation’s future,” the 39-year old noted.
Established four years ago with initial capital of 15 million U.S. dollars, the local company Spinghar Gholi, meaning “White Mountain”, came to be the first ghee and cooking oil producing firm in Afghanistan, said Hamid Akmal, an official with Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA).
After a suspension of around 15 years, the world-popular soft drink Coco Cola hit Kabul streets again in 2006 as a producing plant set up with initial investment of 25 million U.S. dollars was officially inaugurated by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. According to Akmal, the plant run by a local company has got another 12 million U.S. dollars more to expand its capability andsupply its product across the country.
The past six years saw a growing number of small to medium size factories in Afghanistan, which produce ball point pens, soap, car battery, plug, sockets and dairy, etc.
The dust-color barren land in the outskirts of Kabul has increasingly been the scene of dotted chimneys and lines of containers of unnamed plants.
Though new and young, the growing manufacturing industry isreducing the country’s dependence on foreign aid.Afghanistan’s export in the first nine months of 2007 hadregistered 326 million U.S. dollars, a 15 percent year-on-yearincrease from previous 282 million dollars, Afghanistan ExportPromotion Bureau said.
Moving towards reconstruction despite challenges of militancy,unemployment and poverty, Afghanistan has attracted over fivebillion U.S. dollar investment in six years, mostly from privatesector in construction field, said Omar Zakhilwal, director of thegovernment-backed AISA.
Booming construction of star hotels and residential apartmentsin Kabul, among other key Afghan cities, with local orinternational money, changed the face of the war-wrecked land.