The Chinese news agency, Xinhua, reported on Thursday, August 25th, that China launched it’s first freight train service from it’s Nantong City to Hairatan in Afghanistan. The train carrying 84 containers is expected to take 15 days and will pass first through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. According to Chinese officials, 2 trains will be scheduled each month.
Furthermore, Xinhua reported today (August 28) that a train from the eastern Chinese city of Yiwu, which is the home of the world’s leading small commodities market had it’s first ever freight train leave for Afghanistan carrying 100 containers of goods worth more than $4 million. The train is expected to arrive in Mazar-e Sharif. The service is expected to run weekly by the end of this year, according to the Xinhua report.
All this is an attempt to further improve trade ties between the two countries, according to both Afghan and Chinese officials. Since 2010, China has increased its economic aid and investment in Afghanistan and there aÂ steady growing stream of business travelers between the two countries.
Two Afghan brothers, Massoud and Mahmud Hassani, have created a low-cost drone, called theÂ Mine Kafon Drone to detect and destroy mines in Afghanistan. Each year, mines kill thousands of people in Afghanistan. The two brothers are not new to the mine destroying business. Three years ago, they had invented a dandelion puffball called the “Mine Kafon”, that could be used to trip landmines.
Their latest invention has 6 arms with rotors that create lift, and it comes with a computer that has a global positioning system (GPS) in it. Â The drone uses aÂ three step process to map, detect and detonate land mines.The brothers are using Kickstarter to raise funds for testing of the drone. The brothers say that the drone can be made for as little as $1,100. Â The brothers state on their Kickstarter page that theÂ Mine Kafon Drone is up to 20 times faster than currently available technologies. They want to take the drone to Afghanistan within the next 2 months.
VOA News:Â Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a dam in Afghanistan’s western Herat province Saturday that had been 40 years in the making due to war and upheaval in the country.Â The Salma Dam, referred to as the Afghanistan India Friendship Dam by both countries, is built with $300 million of Indian money.Â The 107 meter high, 550 meter long earth and rock filled dam will come online next year and start generating around 42 megawatts of electricity for mostly residential and agricultural use. Â Click here to read more (external link).
Reuters:Â After a break of 20 years, Afghanistan’s first cement factory is once more clanking noisily in the countryside near Kabul as crushed-up limestone rocks rattle along a battered conveyor belt to the newly restored kiln.Â “By selling our products and improving the factory’s production, we can avoid having our young generation go abroad,” said Amir Mohammad. “If there are job possibilities, they can stay with their families and look after their children.” Click here to read more (external link).
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday that the $1.17 billion Central Asia South Asia electricity importing project, or CASA-1000, will be inaugurated by officials on May 12th. Officials from the four main countries involved, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Pakistan will meet for a ground-breaking ceremony in Tajikistan. The Krygyz Republic and Tajikistan have an abundance of hydro-power resources, as a result of water cascading from their mountain ranges, and both Afghanistan and Pakistan are in desperate need of energy. The project will connect the four countries and enable energy surpluses to be be sent down to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
A 1,250 km high voltage transmission line will be built so that electricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyz Republic can be sent down to Afghanistan and Pakistan. 75% of the transmission lines will be in Afghanistan. Furthermore, a high voltage transformer will be built in Baghlan province’s Pul-e Khumri in order to supply 300 mega watts of electricity to Afghanistan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs added that Afghanistan will have an income of $45 million per year because of the project.
Lack of adequate electricity supplies is a major detriment to the economic development and security situation in Afghanistan. This project can help to improve transportation, telecommunications, industry, social services systems, and even reduce pollution in Afghanistan. Air pollution is a major problem in Afghanistan as a result of people burning wood for heating and cooking.
Map of the transmission line
AOPNEWS: Tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada, in a welterweight showdown, Afghan MMA fighter Siyar Bahadurzada defeated American fighter Brandon Thatch in round 3 via submission (arm triangle) at UFC 196. Click here to read more (external link).
Close to 200 Afghan athletes, both male and female, had gone to India to participate in the 12th South Asian Games from February 6th to the 16th. A total of 8 countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) participated in 23 sports at the event.
Even though, Afghanistan went into the competitions as one of the least funded nations, the Afghan athletes came home today with 35 medals – 7 gold, 9 silver, and 19 bronze. In one sport, Afghanistan even managed to dominate all the countries involved, including the most well-funded host nation of India. Afghans won a total of 6 gold medals in Taekwondo, host country India had to settle for second place. History was also made when Sumaya Ghulami won the gold in the women’s Under 57kg category to become the first Afghan woman ever to win a gold medal in Taekwondo at the South Asian Games.
P. Michael McKinley, the United States Ambassador to Afghanistan today announced that the American government via it’s USAID (United States Agency for International Development) program will provide $37.9 million to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health deals with all matters concerning the health of Afghanistan’s population. The money will be used by the ministry for self-improvement. Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz, the head of the ministry said that the focus will be on improving the ministry’s management, financial affairs, and human resources. The money in a sense will be used so that the ministry can be more self-sufficient, instead of being heavily reliant on foreign donors.
Based on reporting from 1TV and Pajhwok
In cricket news, Afghanistan clinched a two day series against Zimbabwe. Afghanistan’s Mohammad Shahzad entered the record books by scoring 118 runs in the second match today. Click here to read more (via aopnews.com)
In powerlifting, Afghans picked up 8 medals (7 gold and 1 bronze) in the recently concluded Subrata Classic Open International Powerlifting, Benchpress and Deadlift Championship in India. Click here to read more (via aopnews.com).
AOPNEWS:Â Afghanistan defeated Zimbabwe by 2 wickets today at Sharjah Cricket Stadium (UAE) in the fifth and final match to win the ODI (one day international) series 3-2.Â With todayâ€™s win, this becomes Afghanistanâ€™s second series win againt a Full Member. Click here to read more.
On Friday, December 25th, during his first visit to Kabul, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially inaugurated Afghanistan’s new parliament building, which is being described as “India’s symbolic gift of democracy to Afghanistan”.
President Ashraf Ghani, Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, Speaker of the Lower of House Parliament (Wolesi Jirga) and Abdul Hadi Muslimyar, Chairman of the Upper House (Meshrano Jirga) of Parliament were present during the inauguration ceremony.
Construction work on the building had started back in 2007 by an Indian company at a cost of $90 million, according to Afghanistan’s Tolo News. The new building has one of the largest domes in Asia, and has elements of both Mughal and modern architecture. Marbles were brought in from Herat province to be used in the building. The building is located between the historic Darulaman and Queen’s palaces in Kabul.
According to Khaama Press, the building comprises of 4 sections. It will house both the Lower House (Wolesi Jirga) and the Upper House (Meshrano Jirga). It also has a masjid, offices for lawmakers, conference rooms, dining halls, a library, press office, and much more.
See video footage of the building from Tolo News