Private Investment In Afghanistan Nearly Doubled In 2006

Coca-Cola opened a plant recently.

Compared to 2005, private investment in Afghanistan nearly doubled, with major companies like Coca-Cola setting up shop, the Afghan Investment Support Agency (AISA), a key investment facilitating agency said Jan. 18.

The Afghan Investment Support Agency (AISA), established by the post-Taliban government to attract investment, registered one billion dollars' worth of investment in the first seven months of 2006, agency president Omar Zakhilwal said. This compared to $690 million in 2004 and $570 million in 2005, he said.

Coca-Cola opened a $25 million plan in September.

Two bottled water providers, Cristal and Ariana, had also entered the scene, while Nestle had registered to invest, Zakhilwal said.

Cement factories were also major contributors. The Afghan Investment Company had begun operating cement factories with $250 million in investment over two years, it said.

Areeba, a Lebanon-based mobile company, started operations in July with an initial investment of $140 millions becoming the third mobile service provider since late 2001. A fourth telecommunications company is on the way -- the United Arab Emirates-based Etisalat obtained a license in May 2006 to join the Afghan telecom market with an estimated $200 million investment over two years.

"Despite security threats, the investment picture in the country looks promising," Zakhilwal said.

Efforts for massive reconstruction and development needed in destitute Afghanistan after nearly three decades of war have been hampered by a Taliban-led insurgency which saw a dramatic upsurge in 2006. The mounting cultivation of opium, corruption and weak administration are fuelling the violence and weakening efforts to rebuild the nation.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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