The Afghanistan Summit III
15-16 January 2013, Hyatt Regency Dubai Hotel, UAE
Evening Reception & Networking Registration, 14 January 2013
The third Afghanistan Summit was held at the Hyatt Regency Dubai Hotel and hosted by CWI Summits, in partnership with the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce (AACC), the Afghanistan Builders Association (ABA) and the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Industries (ACCI). The Summit began with an informal Evening Networking Reception generously hosted by Dynamic Defense Materials (DDM). Summit participants were able to collect their Summit delegate packs and access passes while networking throughout the evening in a relaxed and informal setting.
Welcoming remarks, acknowledgment of the Official Delegation and sincere thanks were given to the hugely valued sponsors of this important event by Mr. Christopher Higgins, CEO of CWI Summits, Mr. Joseph Dimond, General Manager/Director of Sales at Dynamic Defense Materials (DDM), Mr. Naeem Yassin, President of the Afghanistan Builders Association (ABA), Hon. Don Ritter, President & CEO of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce (AACC) and Dr. Elspeth Smith, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Afghanistan (AmCham).
Day One, 15 January 2013
|Mr. Haji Khan Jan Alokozai, First Vice-Chairman at the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Industries (ACCI)
CWI Summits’ third Afghanistan Summit officially began on Tuesday 15th January with an Opening Ceremony at 9am consisting of Mr. Christopher Higgins, CEO of CWI Summits, Mr. Assad Mattin, CEO of OXUS Consulting Group, the Summits’ Conference Chair, Mr. Haji Khan Jan Alokozai, First Vice-Chairman at the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Industries (ACCI) and H.E. Mr. Atiqullah Atifmal, Consul General of Consulate General of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Dubai. Mr. Higgins took a moment to sincerely thank everyone participating in this important event; all the senior Government of Afghanistan officials, UN and International Agency representatives and especially the event sponsors. Mr. Higgins wished everyone involved a productive, fruitful and enjoyable two days in Dubai. Mr. Mattin also thanked all Summit participants for their attendance whilst emphasising that although Afghanistan had made a slow start towards sustainable economic development, there was still time and certainly the opportunity to do the job right for its wonderful people. Public-Private sector cooperation together with the appropriate policies being in place was key to Afghanistan being in the “Business of Staying in Business”. Mr. Alokozai welcomed all Summit participants and sincerely thanked CWI Summits for their efforts in putting such a crucial and well organised event together. Mr. Alokozai stressed the importance of the private-sectors support to Afghanistan’s long-term development. The Summit was an excellent opportunity for Government officials and potential investors to share ideas and plan for the future of his beloved country. H.E. Mr. Atifmal gave details of the support and services his Consulate General offer and how they would support any organisation looking to invest in Afghanistan; “Afghanistan is well on its way towards sustainable economic development and private-sector support is key”.
Immediately following the Opening Ceremony Mr. Mahmood Karzai,
Afghan Businessman/Entrepreneur and
brother of President Karzai gave a Keynote Address focussing on “Afghanistan: Opportunities & Challenges”. Mr. Karzai is building a new city in Kandahar, following a visit to Afghanistan in 2003 where he witnessed first-hand the enormous lack of health services, proper sewage, education and housing available to its citizens. Initially his project was very slow to get going but in recent years a great deal of development has been realised; nearly 50% of the project has been completed to date. The recent President Obama – Karzai meeting in Washington will boost investment in the region; the outlook is good for Afghanistan and potential investors can benefit from huge returns on their investment. In recent years, 10-12% annual returns in the USA are considered to be very good indeed but in Afghanistan, returns in excess of 50% are very much achievable. There are certainly challenges in the region but they can be overcome and the substantial returns warrant the hard work; Government reforms are required, the Government should decide how they wish to proceed and act as soon as possible to take advantage of the private organisations currently looking to invest in their country.
|Mr. Mahmood Karzai, Afghan Businessman/Entrepreneur
Following Mr. Mahmood Karzai’s Keynote Address, the Summits’ first expert panel got underway. The Public-Private Sector Cooperation for Success panel was chaired by Mr. Doug Melvin, President of DACC Associates and consisted of H.E. Mr. Noorullah Delawari, Minister Advisor, DAB Governor and Chairman of Supreme Council at Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) - Central Bank of Afghanistan, Dipl. Eng. Gholam Sachi Hassanzadah, CEO at the Dehsabz-Barikab City Development Authority (DCDA), Mr. Naseem Akbar, CEO of Harakat- AICFO and Chairman of the Investors Panel Afghanistan Business Innovation Fund (ABIF) and Mr. Joseph Dimond, General Manager/Director of Sales at DDM - Dynamic Defense Materials.
H.E. Mr. Delawari spoke on “Financial Reform and Private Sector Development”. He gave a brief overview of how the banking sector has evolved and stabilised in Afghanistan since 2000; reproduced the currency, introduced branches etc. Recent technology advances are enabling the banking sector to surge but Afghanistan faces being left behind. Da Afghanistan Bank is focusing on developing reforms such as mortgaging, a security exchange board, and resolving border issues that affect trade finance. The prospects for Afghanistan financially post-2014 are good, investments are rising across the country and money leaving the region is reducing hugely. Dipl. Eng. Hassanzadah gave a hugely encouraging address on “Public – Private Cooperation in Kabul New City”. The New Kabul City project is a grand and important project for the future economic development of Afghanistan; it’s a fine example of PPP (public-private sector partnerships) for development. Again, post-2014 would not be an issue; the New Kabul City project would provide hundreds of local jobs and huge potential GDP growth. Mr. Akbar of Harakat – AICFO spoke on “Investment Climate & Institutional Reforms in Afghanistan”. He gave an overview of the barriers currently affecting the efficiency of PPP initiatives and what was actively being done to dissolve those barriers. The Harakat – AICFO assists PPP initiatives, public funding and training. Mr. Akbar reiterated that private-sector investment was key to Afghanistan’s long-term development, together with efficient regulations and effective contract enforcement; a One Stop Shop run by the Government of Afghanistan is required. Mr. Dimond’s DDM team gave a physical demonstration of their portable armoured wall/shelter “McCurdy’s Armor” that offers protection against small arms, mortars, rockets, artillery, armour piercing rounds and suicide bombs.
|H.E. Mr. Noorullah Delawari, Minister Advisor, DAB Governor and Chairman of Supreme Council at Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) - Central Bank of Afghanistan
Our opening panel was closed with a brief Question & Answer Session where unstructured queries were taken from the audience and responded to by the expert panellists.
All Summit participants then enjoyed a brief Networking Refreshment Break, providing valuable time for attendees to network with other participants and follow-up with speakers before we moved to our second expert panel of the Summit. The Afghanistan's Infrastructure & Regional Links panel was chaired by Mr. Ahmad Zubair, Internal Audit Director of Safi Group of Companies and included Mr. Ahmad Shah Sahil, CFO of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), COL Emily A. Buckman, Chief, DLA TRANSCOM Support Division at the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), Mr. Husain Nalkhanday, Chief Commercial Officer of Safi Group of Companies and Hon. Don Ritter, President & CEO at the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce (AACC).
Mr. Sahil spoke about “Opportunities with DABS” and gave the audience details of the energy sector’s growth in
recent years and how DABS projected future significant growth based on the current tenders DABS are currently offering and the projects DABS have planned for the future. Mr. Sahil went on to give specific details regarding DABS future projects and how the Summit participants could work with DABS going forward. COL Buckman gave an extremely detailed address regarding “DLA Regional Sourcing in support of Operation Enduring Freedom”. COL Buckman detailed the investment that the DLA had made in Afghanistan thus far and how they are increasing in size and investment as the U.S. and coalition forces drawn down throughout 2014 and beyond. Details were given about a new Central Asia States initiative the DLA is embarking on, and how the Summit delegates can look to work with the DLA over the coming years. The DLA have over 100,000 tenders running at any one time and 9,000 are awarded per day! Mr. Nalkhanday spoke on “Safi Airways: Opportunities and Challenges for An Airline in Afghanistan”. He started with an overview of Safi Airways and highlighted their efficiencies and notable achievements. Mr. Nalkhanday went on to outline the opportunities in Afghanistan and some of the challenges that remain in place however, good work can be done and successful business is well worth the effort in Afghanistan. Hon. Ritter gave a hugely encouraging address on “Looking Long-term: Afghanistan as “Regional Hub””. Hon. Ritter talked about Afghanistan post-2014 and how the country could use its landlocked weakness to its strength and become the centre of regional activity for Afghans, neighbouring countries and donor friends. Such a vision and aim gives the entire nation great hope for the future and will greatly increase the international community’s willingness to invest in Afghanistan thus providing stable economic growth. However, sufficient security, governance and wise donor nation assistance would certainly be required and Afghanistan can achieve this; enormous strides have already been realised.
|COL Emily A. Buckman, Chief, DLA TRANSCOM Support Division at the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)
The Infrastructure & Regional Links panel was closed with a brief Question & Answer Session where unstructured queries were taken from the audience and responded to by the expert panellists.
Immediately following panel two, we moved directly to the Summit’s third and final expert panel of the opening morning. The Afghanistan's Agricultural Development panel was chaired by Mr. Masih Ullah Hamkar, Vice President of Behnam Construction Company and consisted of Mr. Amanullah Alamzai, Program Director; IDEA-NEW of Mercy Corps – Afghanistan and Mr. Farid Nabi, Executive Director at Comprehensive Agriculture & Rural Development Facility (CARD-F).
Mr. Alamzai gave a detailed overview of the agriculture sector and how it’s vital to the economic development of Afghanistan by speaking on “Mercy Corps’ Approach to Agriculture Development”. The agriculture sector already contributes significantly to Afghanistan’s GDP (20%) and Mr. Alamzai gave details of current and future opportunities for investment in the sector. He went on to detail how Mercy Corps is working in Afghanistan and has been since 1986; how they strengthen the private sector through partnerships and ensure that Afghans have access to the information they need to be successful. “Target the value chains that have greater impact and can contribute to the growth and farm level income”. Mr. Nabi gave a hugely encouraging speech on “Investment Opportunities in Agribusiness in Afghanistan”. Mr. Nabi gave exact details of market opportunities including poultry, rice and dairy while also detailing staggering potential returns on investment that the international community could benefit from. He gave an overview of CARD-F’s work and how they too focus on a value chain based approach to develop this vital sector through seeking out commercially driven opportunities for driving economic growth.
The final expert panel of the day was also closed with a brief Question & Answer Session where unstructured queries were taken from the audience and responded to by the expert panellists.
Following the morning addresses given throughout the three expert panels, all Summit participants enjoyed a Networking Luncheon generously sponsored by DACC Associates in the Focaccia Restaurant. The first day of the Summit then moved into the first of two afternoon roundtable meeting sessions where private-sector representatives had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the Summits’ official delegation. This hugely productive format saw over 40 roundtables hosted by the official delegation and Summit delegates were able to discuss in greater detail the investment opportunities that suited their organisation and how they would like to aid in the development of Afghanistan. Over 300 meetings were held across the three hours whilst additional tables were set-up for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and Joint Contracting Command (JCC I/A) to cater for additional demand from the private-sector attendees.