Business news in brief

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has invested more than $9 billion in Kazakhstan since the country’s independence, said EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti in Nur-Sultan July 4 during the 32nd plenary session of the Foreign Investors’ Council chaired by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. This year, the bank has invested more than $450 million in the country. Chakrabarti emphasised EBRD measures its effectiveness by the quality of its investments, not just by the quantity. For example, the bank signed three renewable energy projects this year as part of its effort to support the country’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

Kazakh Prime Minister Askar Mamin approved the 2019-2024 Roadmap to Develop Mechanical Engineering June 26 designed by the Kazakh Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development and the Kazakh Union of Mechanical Engineers, reported the union. The roadmap sets out a strategic vision for medium-term development of the industry and goal of introducing new technologies, improving the competitiveness of domestic machine-building firms and boosting the industry’s export potential. Roadmap measures include providing domestic firms with raw materials, improving technical regulation and introducing economic incentives. Adopting the law “On Industrial Policy,” for example, would simplify the national policy and creating the Kazakh Industrial Development Fund would expand firms’ access to co-financing.

As part of its effort to integrate state programmes on infrastructure with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Kazakhstan is implementing more than 100 projects under the BRI, said Deputy Prime Minister Zhenis Kassymbek at the Astana Finance Days’ July 3 plenary session on Silk Road Opportunities – Financing the Region. Trade turnover between Kazakhstan and China is increasing every year. Notably, Kazakhstan aims to connect the markets of China and Europe by constructing and modernising its infrastructure and reducing transport costs and time through state programmes such as Nurly Zhol. The Astana International Financial Centre can also become a key driver for implementing BRI projects in Kazakhstan, he added.

Air Astana replenished its fleet with three Airbus A320neo aircraft in July, reported its press service. The planes will be used for domestic flights, as well as international routes to China, India, Russia and Ukraine. Airbus A320neos have Pratt&Whitney engines, LED lighting systems and 162 economy-class seats equipped with individual entertainment systems. Air Astana, Kazakhstan’s largest carrier and a joint venture between Samruk Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund and BAE Systems, operates domestic and international flights to 64 destinations.

Construction has begun on the Turkestan Region’s largest, 50-megawatt solar power plant, reported Kazakh Invest. The $60 million project, to be completed in early 2020, will create approximately 400 jobs. The project’s foreign investor, Risen Energy from China, previously built a 40-megawatt solar power plant in the Karaganda Region. The Turkestan Region has an energy deficit and significant solar energy potential, said Kazakh Invest Turkestan Region Director Dauletkozha Mamyrov. With 3,000 hours of sunny weather every year, the region’s solar insolation reaches an average of 1,600 kilowatts per square metre.

Approximately 435,600 small and medium-sized businesses are currently registered in Kazakhstan, 3.1 percent more than last year, reported Energyprom. The number is expected to grow, as the Business Roadmap 2020 state programme will support 14,600 small and medium-sized enterprises this year. Business Roadmap 2025 will develop new financial support tools for entrepreneurs and back efficient and competitive businesses. Its goal is to increase the share of small and medium-sized businesses to 35 percent by 2025 and 50 percent by 2050.