The Mysterious World Of Kazakhstan: European Bank For Reconstruction And Development Helps Unearth The Untapped Resources Of An Old Soviet State

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Kazakhstan has a lot going for it right now beyond its status as the biggest grain producer in the Central Asia or as home to the world’s first and largest space center.

The world’s ninth-largest nation by area has received more than $12 billion from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in the last 20 years and, over the last decade, it became one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Since 2009 the country has managed to grow its GDP by 1.9 percent, achieving an annual growth rate of 5.5 percent in 2012. It has also reduced external debt from 97.9 percent to 66.5 percent in 2011, and in 2000 it became the first former Soviet republic to pay back all of its debt to the International Monetary Fund, seven years ahead of schedule.

The nation was ranked 14th in the top 100 countries in terms of education in 2010, and it ranked fourth in the UNESCO EFA Development Index for education, falling behind Japan, the U.K. and Norway in the same year.

The former soviet country, which has collected more than $400 million from the ERBD in energy-related funding, recently adopted a new policy on renewable energy, enabling investors to tap the rich renewable resources in the country. The newly established feed-in tariffs, which govern the rate at which the national grid buys electricity from renewable sources, will enhance the competitiveness of green energy in its fight for market share against fossil fuel-powered generators.

The EBRD has long assisted Kazakhstan in leading the way in the Central Asian region, helping the nation achieve its goal of creating a green economy, and the EBRD considers this new legislation a milestone along that road. The bank, in conjunction with the Kazakh government, has already financed bio-gas installations in Aktau and Shymkent, and it paid for the rehabilitation of the Shardara hydro-power plant.

Since the country declared independence in 1991, the EBRD has launched 163 projects in the country, more than half of which are still active. Fifty-three percent of those projects were in the private sector.

Currently, 39 percent of all projects are related to infrastructure; 24 percent to energy; 23 percent to  industry, commerce and agribusiness; and the final 14 percent to financial institutions. 

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