Afghanistan stands for more than the wares the humble kabuliwallah (dweller of Kabul) sold. That seems to be the message the country’s pavilion is sending out at hall number 12A at the India International Trade Fair (IITF) that started on Saturday.
While there are smiling Afghans selling dry fruits — almonds, pistachios and cashewnuts — silk garments and traditional Afghan carpets, the country is eager to tell the world that it will benefit investors.
“We want to encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) in telecom, agriculture, banking, real estate and tourism sectors,” said Noorullah Delawari, president and CEO of Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA), a body set up by the government to promote investment in the country. Since 2003, the agency has registered $2.3 billion of both foreign and domestic investment.
The country wants to “rise from the ashes” (as an official signboard says), after being devastated by 20 years of conflict.
For a country where religious fundamentalists are said to run amok, attracting investment is a daunting task, admits AISA Investment Promotion Director Fazel Wasit. “But we want to let the world know of the tremendous progress we have made in the past few years despite the challenges,” he said.