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Afghanistan and ADB

ADB will continue to assist Afghanistan with COVID-19 pandemic recovery while focusing on agriculture, natural resources, rural development, energy, and transport along with capacity building, institutional development, and sector reform.

ADB's Work in Afghanistan

ADB Membership

Joined 1966

Shareholding and Voting Power

Number of shares held:
3,585 (0.034% of total shares)

Votes:
42,699 (0.321% of total membership, 0.493% of total regional membership)

Overall capital subscription:
$51.63 million

Paid-in capital subscription:
$6.88 million

Afghanistan was a founding member of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 1966 and has since been supported by the bank over two periods.

View of downtown Mazar-e-Sharif Afghanistan

Resuming its partnership with the country in 2002 after a hiatus from 1980 to 2001, ADB—in collaboration with other development partners—is supporting Afghanistan’s national development strategies and priority programs to establish a stronger foundation for sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.

As one of Afghanistan’s largest on-budget partners in infrastructure development and regional cooperation, ADB provides in-depth experience in delivering projects for fragile and conflict-affected situations. The bank directs its financial assistance mainly to improvements in agriculture, natural resources, and rural development; energy; and transport.

Since 1966, ADB has committed almost $5.39 billion in grants and provided $120.4 million in technical assistance to Afghanistan. These amounts include ADB-administered cofinancing. Cumulative lending totals $977.1 million.

Cumulative loan and grant disbursements to Afghanistan amount to $2.86 billion. These were financed by regular and concessional ordinary capital resources and the Asian Development Fund.


ADB-Supported Projects and Programs

To support Afghanistan’s fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and mitigate the health, social, and economic impacts of the pandemic, ADB approved a $100 million grant in 2020 under the COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Program. This assistance had a focus on poor and vulnerable groups and the plight of Afghan women. The bank also provided $40 million in emergency assistance to construct 15 hospitals and rehabilitate 5 hospitals and other medical facilities. This grant will help procure urgent medicines, medical supplies, and equipment, and train at least 3,000 health workers, including 900 women, in COVID-19 surveillance, prevention, and treatment. To help protect frontline health workers from COVID-19 infection, ADB provided $2.7 million to procure urgently needed personal protective equipment through a regional technical assistance. In 2021, it plans to assist with the national rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

ADB has helped the Government of Afghanistan develop a comprehensive transport master plan to prioritize infrastructure until 2036. The bank has also assisted the Ministry of Transport in developing a transport strategy for 2019–2023 to improve the connectivity, safety, efficiency, and sustainability of transport networks.

In transport, ADB has committed around $2.2 billion in grants (including ADB-administered cofinancing) for more than 20 key projects since 2002. With the bank’s support, 1,055 kilometers (km) of national and regional roads have been constructed and rehabilitated, with work continuing on an additional 465 km. The result is improved regional connectivity and better road safety, efficiency, and sustainability.

ADB has helped the Government of Afghanistan develop a comprehensive transport master plan to prioritize infrastructure until 2036. The bank has contributed to the rehabilitation of four regional airports; supported the establishment of the Afghanistan Railway Authority; funded the first rail line between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, which carried around 3 million tons of freight in 2020; and helped complete a feasibility study for 813 km of rail line to connect Afghanistan with Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.

ADB has also helped deliver reliable electricity to more than 5 million Afghans. The bank has committed $1.87 billion in grants (including ADB-administered cofinancing) for more than 14 key projects since 2002. These projects include the construction of around 2,165 km of power transmission lines, 19 substations, and 163,000 power distribution connections. The transmission line projects not only strengthened the national power grid but also enabled regional power trade with Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The bank also provides support to strengthen the capacity of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (the state-owned power utility) and implement ongoing reforms to improve the energy sector.

ADB has committed more than $900 million in grants (including ADB-administered cofinancing) since 2002 for more than 17 key irrigation and agricultural infrastructure projects. These have helped increase farming productivity, improve food security, promote agribusiness, enhance water resources management, and more. About 350,000 hectares of irrigated land have been rehabilitated and upgraded, with work continuing on another 300,000 hectares. The completed projects have generated around 2 million short- and long-term jobs and benefited more than 9 million people.

Afghan farmer packs harvested potatoes in Bamian city, Afghanistan.

Nonsovereign Operations

As a catalyst for private investments, ADB provides financial assistance to nonsovereign projects and financial intermediaries. Total commitments in loans and equity investments from ADB’s own funds in 2020 amounted to $1.4 billion for 38 transactions in economic and social infrastructure, finance sector, and agribusiness. ADB also actively mobilizes cofinancing from commercial and concessional sources. In 2020, ADB mobilized $1.9 billion of long-term project cofinancing and $3.3 billion of cofinancing through its Trade and Supply Chain Finance Program and Microfinance Program. Total outstanding balances and commitments of nonsovereign transactions funded by ADB’s own resources stood at $14.3 billion as of 31 December 2020.

In 2020, commitments from ADB’s own funds amounted to $10 million for the Mazar gas-fired power project in Afghanistan. Total outstanding balances and commitments of ADB’s nonsovereign transactions in the country as of 31 December 2020 was $13.6 million.

Financing Partnerships

Financing partnerships enable ADB’s financing partners, governments or their agencies, multilateral financing institutions, and commercial organizations to participate in financing ADB projects. The additional funds are provided in the form of loans and grants, technical assistance, and other nonsovereign cofinancing such as B loans, risk transfer arrangements, parallel loans and equity, guarantee cofinancing, and cofinancing for transactions under ADB’s Trade and Supply Chain Finance Program and Microfinance Program.

ADB began cofinancing operations in Afghanistan in 1973. Since then, sovereign cofinancing commitments for Afghanistan have amounted to $1.34 billion for 31 investment projects and $30.16 million for 19 technical assistance projects. Nonsovereign cofinancing for Afghanistan has amounted to $25.05 million for three investment projects and $0.23 million for one technical assistance project.

In 2020, Afghanistan received a total of $240 million grant cofinancing from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Bank for the Arghandab Integrated Water Resources Development; and $118 million grant cofinancing from Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund for the Energy Supply Improvement Investment Program – Tranche 7.

A summary of cofinanced projects is available at Afghanistan: Cofinancing.

Operational Challenges

Economic growth and the business environment in Afghanistan are impeded by the precarious security situation and political uncertainty. Technical and financial capacities of government institutions remain limited, resulting in slow delivery and implementation of services and development projects.

ADB and the government are committed to strengthening performance in project delivery, contract awards, and disbursements. Key areas for attention include capacity building and institutional reforms, stimulating private sector investment, and accelerating domestic revenue mobilization to help Afghanistan become more self-sufficient in financing public expenditure and reducing dependence on foreign assistance.

Future Directions

In September 2020, ADB approved the country operations business plan, 2021–2023 for Afghanistan, which is consistent with national development strategies and reflects the government’s priority areas. Under the plan, ADB will continue to assist with pandemic recovery while focusing on agriculture, natural resources, rural development, energy, and transport along with capacity building, institutional development, and sector reform.

The Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund is a cofinancing mechanism that provides an opportunity for bilateral, multilateral, and other contributors to partner with ADB to finance vital infrastructure in Afghanistan.

In line with the country partnership strategy, 2017–2021 for Afghanistan, ADB will work to expand access to economic opportunities, markets, and services; build stronger institutions and human capital through better governance and skills development; and increase environmental sustainability and resilience to climate change and disasters

ADB remains committed to tackling Afghanistan’s poverty rate and establishing stronger foundations for more inclusive and sustainable growth. It is formulating a new country partnership strategy for 2021–2025.

This article was originally published in the ADB and Afghanistan: Fact Sheet. Updated yearly, this ADB Fact Sheet provides concise information on ADB's operations in the country and contact information.

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