Astana Growing Sustainably, Sometimes Unevenly, President Says

Astana developmentASTANA – At a recent meeting on Astana’s ongoing development, President Nursultan Nazarbayev said the capital was growing into an economic force, but still had some work to do in developing evenly and rationally.

Speaking on April 25 to a gathering of national government and city officials, he noted the improvement of some of the capital’s economic indicators; in particular, the growth of industrial production by 7 percent, up to 260 billion tenge (US$1.4 billion). Small and medium-sized businesses are developing and account for 40 percent of the gross regional product (GRP).

The city has also developed into a major cultural, athletic, shopping and tourist centre. A million tourists have visited it, 100,000 of them foreign nationals, the President said. He also reported that income from Astana to the state budget over the last five years has doubled, exceeding 60 billion tenge (US$329.5 million).

“Starting next year, the capital will become a donor to the country’s budget,” he said, pointing to the need to step up work to attract foreign capital and to more rationally use Astana’s valuable land.

The President also pointed out an imbalance in the architecture and infrastructure development of different quarters of the city, some of which are very unattractive. Astana’s outskirts need be developed on par with the centre of the capital city. Outlying districts and marketplaces should not be in deplorable and unsanitary conditions, he said. “We have built a new capital and are now raising the bar for it – it has to be among the cities most convenient to live in,” the President said.

President Nazarbayev also called attention to the poor quality of some road construction and the need to develop parking systems and bring down crime rates. Astana must be a safe city, he said, and given the target of the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy of joining the world’s 30 most advanced states, it should become one of the 10 most successful cities in the world by 2050.

Astana Mayor Says Capital is Sustainable

Speaking at the same event, Akim (Mayor) of Astana Imangali Tasmagambetov said that the city has reached sustainability in its development, as evidenced by systemic changes in the economy of the city. Astana accounts for 9.4 percent of Kazakhstan’s gross domestic product, 12 percent of total budget revenues and 9 percent of all investment in the fixed capital of the country. Its GRP in 2013 was 2.7 trillion tenge (US$14.8 billion). In the last year alone, the city’s industrial output rose by 6.7 percent, reaching 263.2 billion tenge (US$1.44 billion). The high-tech manufacturing sector increased its share to 55 percent.

The number of active small and medium-sized businesses has grown to more than 56,000. They account for about 60 percent of the city’s GRP and constitute its economic foundation. Astana leads the country in terms of output per worker.

Tasmagambetov also reported on steps taken to bring down administrative barriers, to privatise communal property and to establish modern trade and logistics facilities. He described the work of the Industrial Park, currently implementing 49 projects with a total investment of 180 billion tenge (US$988.7 million).

By 2017, he said, new projects in the Industrial Park will create over 7,500 new jobs and quadruple the tax revenues.

Construction remains a strategic priority. In 2013, 1.1 million square metres of housing were commissioned in the capital, including through the relevant state programme. Eight kindergartens were commissioned, and another 17 preschools are still under construction. This year, a vocational school on construction is opening, with another to train energy professionals coming soon.

Over 2012-2013, two hospitals and two clinics were built, and in 2014 a new clinic will open on the left bank as well as two health facilities in Ilyinka Town and on Dosmukhamedov Street. By 2016, the capital will have three more specialised healthcare facilities.

New cultural features will also open, Tasmagambetov said, including the Foundation and Library of the First President, the National History Museum, the Palace of Martial Arts, the second line of the Scientific and Educational Complex of the Nazarbayev University, the Nazarbayev Intellectual School, the Rehabilitation Medical Centre, Marriott and Hilton hotels and the Kazakhstan Electricity Grid Operating Company’s administrative building. In 2015, the Space Research Centre, a multipurpose ice palace and the National Defence University will open and in 2016, the Abu Dhabi Plaza complex, Zhastar Palace, the National Research Oncology Centre and Four Seasons and St. Regis hotels. In 2017, the city will see a new student campus, Olympic Training Centre and Academy of Choreography (Dance Palace).

Particular attention is being paid to landscaping and the placement of parks. The feasibility study for the Botanical Gardens is ready. More buses will be acquired, the mayor said, and a new railway and two bus terminals will be built.

The short-term focus is preparing for EXPO 2017, Tasmagambetov said.

Yermegiayev Reports on Preparations for EXPO 2017

The EXPO 2017 registration dossier has been submitted to the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) Talgat Yermegiayev, CEO of the Astana EXPO 2017 National Company, reported at the meeting on Astana’s development and preparations for the 2017 event.

“On April 23-24, at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the International Exhibitions Bureau in Paris, the Kazakhstan delegation presented the report on the EXPO 2017 registration dossier that the Executive Committee approved, directing it to the General Assembly of the BIE, who at the meeting on June 11 this year will make a resolution and give the flag upon endorsement,” Yermegiayev said.

The master plan for the exhibition grounds was endorsed, the Astana EXPO 2017 came to a positive conclusion in its feasibility study and design and estimation documentation has begun to be developed, he said. Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the expo complex designers, have done space-planning.

Construction of the exhibition complex has just begun. The bulk of the work will be done in 2015 and is to be finished by December 2016. In early 2017, participating countries will begin building and installing their pavilions. Domestic developers will be involved in the construction of the expo facilities, as per the President’s order to give precedence to local companies.

The exposition will run from June 10 to September 10, 2017, and is expected to attract more than 2 million visitors. The Astana EXPO 2017 company is working with foreign and domestic tour agencies to develop tour routes and sights to visit around the country. Attracting foreign investment is expected to be one of the long-term results of EXPO 2017, which is why work is ongoing with foreign investors to seek out alternative funding sources, Yermegiayev said.

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