Kazakhstan Charts Course for Sustainable Regional Growth at KGIR 2023

ASTANA – Sustainable regional growth is a priority for Kazakhstan in its business activities in the transit sector and digital technologies. The Kazakhstan Global Investment Roundtable (KGIR) 2023 on Nov. 17 in Astana emphasized the country’s readiness to put efforts in enhancing the investment landscape and building sustainable infrastructure.

Photo credit: The Astana Times.

Since 2017, KGIR has served as a key platform for an open dialogue between Kazakhstan and the international business community. This year’s discussions were held in response to far-reaching implications of geopolitical shifts and tell-tale signs of the climate change problem. 

Panel discussions encompassed the use of innovative technologies to expand export capacities and the review of emerging opportunities in transport and logistics on course for building regional sustainability.

KGIR-2023 kicked off with the first panel session dedicated to investments in advanced technologies.  

“Kazakhstan, as a young nation, is committed to all modern innovative trends in the world,” said Samruk Kazyna CEO Nurlan Zhakupov in his opening remarks. He noted that innovation is the state of mind.  

Photo credit: The Astana Times.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) solutions take center stage in the work of Kazakhstan’s Park of Innovative Technologies, also known as the Tech Garden. The platform, which supports industries in their digital transformation, has elaborated a new model of interaction between subsoil users and startups on the Kazakh market to facilitate innovative activities and the development of high-tech small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  

“Digital innovations help to mitigate the consequences [environmental impact of economic activities]. The subsoil users’ activities lead to a lot of pollution among all economic areas. We offer our clients fast and cheap ESG solutions, attract foreign expertise to our startups, for example, through joint acceleration programs,” said its Director-General Baurzhan Kankin. 

Marat Beksultanov, the head of Central Asia Regional Information Network (CARIN), spoke about the main climate change challenges Kazakhstan continues to encounter.   

“First, Kazakhstan is one of the most water-stressed countries. Desertification particularly contributes to the aggravation of this problem. Secondly, the country has a climatically complicated environment for agriculture. At the same time, most of the production is reliant on agriculture. Forest loss is another big problem, which we observed, for example, both last year and this year,” said Beksultanov.  

On the way to green transition, Kazakhstan has recently adopted the Strategy on Achieving Carbon Neutrality by 2060. In 2021, it introduced the new Environmental Code, and in 2022 – registered its first green party. 

Afzal Amin, CEO of London Expertise, congratulated Kazakhstan’s population with reaching 20 million people and suggested shifting focus from innovations and legislation to talent attraction.  

“Kazakhstan is one of the largest countries in the world, and, in that sense, its carbon footprint per capita is tiny,” he said. Amin also noted that legislation can’t be at the forefront of pioneering innovative technologies, as it needs to follow the developments of this fast-growing area.  

Emerging opportunities in Kazakhstan’s transit potential and logistics services are also driven by regional challenges. 

Kazakh Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development Marat Karabayev presented the ministry’s assumption, which implies that Kazakhstan should attract nearly $40 billion of investments to unlock the transport sector’s potential.

“Road construction requires approximately $20 billion, railway construction – $15 billion, and the aviation industry and the development of seaports – $5 billion,” the minister said. 

This year, according to the minister, the transportation of goods by railway hit the record of the last 30 years – 300 million tons. The transit sector also showed 20% growth, he said. 

Semurg Invest Director-General Nurzhan Marabayev underscored the importance of having sustainable public partnership in infrastructure projects. Semurg Invest is a private developer of Kuryk port located on the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea. 

Marabayev emphasized a well-established dialogue with the governmental structures, the ministry’s particular support in developing each of the transport corridors, and an instruction from President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to transform the port of Kuryk into a new multimodal hub. 

“Last month, we commissioned our general cargo terminal. Two ships have already been dispatched to Azerbaijan from Kazakhstan. It is a very good example of investments from the private sector,” he noted. 

During the panel session on long-term sustainable growth, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Alikhan Smailov announced the development of a national plan to provide projects with high-quality infrastructure by 2029 and the introduction of new financial incentive mechanisms to facilitate investment flows into complex oil and gas projects.  

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