Media Highlights of the Week-February 22
Energy and Economy
Kazakhstan Opened a 20MW Capacity Solar Power Plant in Shymkent
Kazakhstan opened a 20 MW capacity solar power plant in its third largest city, Shymkent. The power plant covers 50 hectares of land and cost about $14.7 million. The project was commissioned in December 2020 and has already begun providing electricity for about 45,000 residents and has 15 generated permanent jobs. This newly commissioned solar plant will help Kazakhstan reach its renewable energy goals and harness its vast solar power potential.
Azerbaijan and BP Signed an MoU on Cooperation in Decarbonization Efforts
On February 22, the Ministry of Energy of Azerbaijan and British Petroleum (BP) signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in decarbonizing the energy sector. The agreement will form a Steering Committee and a Working Group to promote green projects and low carbon transport as well as to facilitate the development of green zones.
Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia Discuss Strengthening Energy Cooperation
During the second meeting of the Joint Technical Committee between Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia, the two sides underscored the importance of future cooperation in traditional and renewable energy. Azerbaijani and Saudi Arabian Energy Ministers noted developments in oil production and processing and also spoke about the importance of investing in renewable energy.
Tajikistan Begins Construction of Yovon-Levakant Gas Pipeline
Tajikistan began the construction of a 34.7-mile pipeline from Yovon to Levakant, just south of Dushanbe. About 3.7 miles of the pipeline have already been built. The new Yovon-Levakant pipeline will replace an outdated pipeline abandoned after natural gas prices increased in 2008.
Uzbekistan Commences Reconstruction of Cross-Border Transmission Line with Tajikistan
Uzbekistan commenced the reconstruction of the 500 kV Guzar-Regar (L-507) power transmission line that spans Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Officials hope that the completion of the line will improve power supply reliability between the two countries. The construction is slated for completion by the end of 2021.
Azerbaijan and Turkey Sign Memorandum on Cooperation in SME Development
During the Turkey-Azerbaijan Business Forum in Ankara, the Azerbaijani SME Development Agency, the Confederation of Small Entrepreneurs and Craftsmen of Turkey, and the Confederation of Turkish Businessmen inked a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in expanding ties between small and medium enterprises in the two countries. At the meeting, the stakeholders discussed the creation of joint ventures and avenues to coordinate projects.
Azerbaijan and Turkey Approve New Mutual Travel Procedures
Azerbaijan and Turkey approved new mutual travel procedures, including replacing the requirement to produce border-crossing documents with identification cards. Azerbaijan is the third country to be approved for such a deal with Turkey, following Georgia and Ukraine. Turkish and Azerbaijani citizens are eligible to visit for 90 days or less without procuring a visa. Turkish travelers represented 20.2 percent (the third largest portion) of international visitors to Azerbaijan in 2020.
Japanese Companies Announce Intention to Invest in Kazakhstani Digital Projects
Japanese companies Japan DX and Land Management Co. Ltd announced their intentions to invest $150 million to develop digital projects in Kazakhstan. The investment funds will go towards establishing a data center, designing a digital platform to promote investment projects, and constructing wind power facilities to reach Kazakhstan’s decarbonization goals. Japan is currently Kazakhstan’s ninth-largest source of foreign investment, with 59 registered Japanese companies operating in the country.
ADB Raises $20 Million to Support Gender Equality Programs in Kazakhstan
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) reported that it had raised $20 million from its first gender bonds to further gender equality programs in Kazakhstan. The gender bonds are the longest maturity local currency bond from any multilateral development bank operating in Kazakhstan. The funds will be used to expand programs for women, primarily in rural areas, to acquire affordable mortgage loans.
Security and Politics
Georgian Prime Minister Gakharia Resigns
On February 18, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia announced his resignation. Gakharia issued his resignation with the announcement that an opposition parliament member will be arrested in the coming days for inciting protests in June 2019. Gakharia stated that he was unable to make an agreement with the ruling party over the timing of the parliament member’s detention, so he chose to resign to reduce polarization and rivalry inside the Georgian government. The opposition parties have called for early elections to replace Gakharia.
Uzbekistan Orders Probe into K2 Base After Contamination Claims
On February 17, Deputy Chairman of the State Ecology Commission, Islombek Bokijonov, announced that that the Uzbek government would conduct a fresh investigation into the territory of a former U.S. base over new claims it was a site of chemical and radiation contamination. This comes after a U.S. executive order mandating an investigation into evidence that U.S. troops might have been exposed to toxic substances at the Karshi-Khanabad base, also known as K2.
Kyrgyz President to Make First International Visit to Russia
Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov will make his first international visit as head of state to Russia on February 24-25. He will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Federation Council Chairman Valentina Matvienko, and State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin. He will also meet with members of the Russian business community and Kyrgyz students studying in Russia.
Azerbaijan and Turkey Launch Space Cooperation Initiative
Serdar Huseyin Yildirim, the Head of the Turkish Space Agency, announced that Turkey plans to develop partnerships with Turkic countries, including Azerbaijan, for projects in the space sector. Yildirim noted that Turkey has already held negotiations for its space program with more than twenty countries, including Russia, the United States, and Japan.
Russia Donates $1 Million of Food Products to Vulnerable Students in Tajikistan
With the financial backing of the Russian Federation, the UN World Food Program began delivering food kits to families of vulnerable schoolchildren in the Khatlon region of Tajikistan. The kits, which include wheat flour and vegetable oil, will also be distributed to families in Sughd, Rogun, the Rasht valley, and the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous regions until the end of the month. The supplies will assist approximately 22,000 families in Tajikistan.
(Sources: Azernews, Asia-Plus, Astana Times, Caspian News, Eurasianet, Times of Central Asia, Trend News Agency, and UZ Daily.)