The importance of expanded public-private partnerships to propel economic growth and social development was highlighted at a conference in Herat.
The one-day conference yesterday, organized by UNAMA’s Herat-based Civil Affairs team, included government officials, United Nations representatives, and women entrepreneurs.
“It is part of UNAMA’s mandate to support the stabilization of the national and local economy as the country enters the decade of transformation,” said Khalil Osman, Head of UNAMA’s Herat office, during his opening remarks.
“Organizing such inclusive and participatory discussions on the economic dynamics of Herat, a province that is a key trade hub, will support the economy and social development of the province.”
Participants at the meeting stressed the importance of establishing an economic data centre, along with enhanced efficiency of the Herat Economic Committee and creation of opportunities for women to play a more prominent role in economic activities.
They pointed to uncertainty in the business environment, including government indifference, which contributed to the fragility of small- and medium-size enterprises.
In addition, there was a call for the Chamber of Commerce and Industries and the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency to provide further support in facilitating a business-friendly environment.
Attifa Mansoori, a woman entrepreneur, said vocational training is vital for women-led businesses to meet international certification standards: “Women-run businesses face significant challenges – illiteracy and low technical capacities are among the biggest ones.”
Located in Afghanistan’s west, on the border with Iran and Turkmenistan, Herat is one of Afghanistan’s five richest provinces thanks to the revenues generated by trade, extraction, industry and agriculture.
The strategic vision of Herat’s authorities, developed in 2011, is based on near- and long-term public sector projects, namely roads, food processing, cold storage, railways and airport. Th
e airport, roads and cold storage projects are currently ongoing. The vision envisages an agriculture-based economy attached to industries which would bring about a shift from a consumer to a producer province and towards self-reliance.