News

    Economic Downturn Points to Uncertain Future in Afghanistan

    Bethany Matta

    The real estate market in Kabul is flush with huge homes for rent or sale. So many people have emptied their bank accounts and taken their money abroad, the central bank has placed a $20,000 cap on cash withdrawals. Afghan investors are fleeing the country.

    Kabul’s upscale Wazir Akhbar Khan district has long been home to foreign aid groups and the country’s wealthiest officials.  Now, it is slowly emptying, as foreigners close down their operations and Afghans look for safer investments.

    Kabul’s less affluent also are feeling the effects of the economic exodus.

    Many truck drivers like Mehrab Gul have made their living delivering flour and cement from neighboring Pakistan and Iran. He says business has been dropping.

    “Orders have decreased a lot, we used to drive six rounds of cement in a month from Pakistan, nowadays we bring three,” said Gul.

    The truck drivers also complain about payoffs to police. Official corruption is crippling investor confidence and businessmen are taking their cash and leaving the country - some $4.5 billion in 2011.  

    Najeebullah Akhtary, the president of the money exchange union in Kabul, says if the international community leaves, Afghanistan will fall to civil war.

    “Businessmen are escaping day by day. And the matter of what happens in 2014 has a negative impact on the market,” said Akhtary.

    After a decade of war, many businesses depend on foreign contracts. The scheduled troop departure is a worry for businessmen like Zahir Hakimzada.

    “After 2014 the foreign forces will leave Afghanistan - where will these companies go? For example, we have 5-6 very big transport companies. There will be less and less supply and few supply lines. Where should these vehicles go? The Afghan government doesn’t have a plan for transition,” said Hakimzada.

    Many Afghans are also worried about greater insecurity after foreign troops leave. Business owners travel with bodyguards - even for trips inside the capital. Their worry: kidnapping.

    While Kabul police say they have cracked down on the problem, many say it is merely under-reported by the media.

    Even businesses that are growing are worried about the future. After six years of operation, this Coca Cola bottling plant is still without reliable electricity. Instead, the factory depends on a generator that consumes thousands of liters of fuel each day - a temporary fix that seems more permanent with each passing year.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Really
    April 07, 2012 7:11 AM
    When NATO leaves they can go back to killing each other. Some things never change. We did what we could, and it didn't work. The people of Afghanistan have to want to live in a civilized contemporary society. We can't force it on them.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora