By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao and Mayor of Kazakhstan’s Nur-Sultan city Altay Kulginov have signed an agreement to launch an ADB-supported clean technology project to be implemented in Kazakhstan.
The project installs engine block heaters in cars to reduce the environmental impacts of starting a vehicle’s cold engine during the winter months. The technology is expected to save over 220 million liters of fuel and reduce carbon emissions in Nur-Sultan by 430,000 tons.
Nakao met with the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on November 15 and pledged ADB’s continued support for Kazakhstan. Nakao also met with Prime Minister Askar Mamin, Minister of National Economy. Ruslan Dalenov, and Governor of the National Bank of Kazakhstan Erbolat Dossaev.
During Nakao’s meetings with senior government officials, he discussed ADB’s strategic engagement in fostering economic diversification, reducing inequalities, and promoting sustainable growth. Nakao met with Kazakh PM and other members of the government to discuss ADB’s operations in the country and ways to improve the country’s competitiveness.
He noted that Kazakhstan recorded stronger-than-expected economic growth of 4.3 percent in January-September 2019, backed by accelerating consumption, government spending, and growth in the service sector. He also stressed maintaining macroeconomic stability is critically important to ensure the country’s sustainable and inclusive growth at a time when trade disputes and political issues across the world have increased economic uncertainty.
“We stand ready to provide further support to Kazakhstan by financing projects in key sectors of the economy, attracting private sector investment, expanding our knowledge work, and introducing technological innovations,” said Nakao.
During the visit, Nakao witnessed the signing of a $100 million-equivalent tenge denominated loan to the Housing Construction Savings Bank of Kazakhstan, backed by a guarantee of the Ministry of Finance. In an innovative step for ADB sovereign financing, the loan will be financed by issuing local currency bonds for the first time in whole ADB sovereign operations. The project, designed for promoting gender equality in housing finance, will allow more than 3,000 women, particularly in rural areas, to have access to affordable housing.
Nakao’s 2-day visit to the country marks 25 years of ADB cooperation with Kazakhstan. In his meeting with President Tokayev, Nakao congratulated the government on the successful partnership and reiterated ADB’s long-term commitment to supporting the country’s development.
“Kazakhstan was the first Central Asian country to join ADB in 1994. It is a country with a lot of potential and we have since been working together with the government to bring prosperity to the people of this nation. Moving forward, ADB is ready to support Kazakhstan’s evolving development needs as an upper-middle-income country,” said Nakao.
Since joining ADB in 1994, Kazakhstan has received $6 billion in sovereign and non-sovereign loans, guarantees, and technical assistance for knowledge work, advisory services, capacity building, and project preparation in a wide range of areas, including agriculture and irrigation, education, finance, transport, energy, health, and water supply and sanitation. ADB’s support is closely aligned with the government’s 2050 strategy to develop infrastructure, strengthen institutions, create jobs, protect the environment, and promote innovation.
Recent ADB projects include strengthening access to finance for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, especially those located in rural areas and led by women, and modernizing transport infrastructure along the Aktobe–Makat and Zhetybai–Zhanaozen roads. ADB is supporting public–private partnerships as well as private sector projects in renewable energy, transport, health, and affordable housing. ADB also provided counter-cyclical support facilities amounting to $1 billion in 2015, which helped the country mitigate negative impacts from the economic downturn due to the decline of commodity prices.
ADB is developing a new facility, ADB Ventures, to invest in business startups and facilitate the transfer of critical technology and innovative business models. In October, the facility offered support to a group of 13 companies in Kazakhstan as part of a pilot program in selected countries across Asia and the Pacific.
ADB is committed to achieving prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, and is sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members, 49 of which are from the region.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz