Witnessed by respective presidents Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Xi Jinping, Afghanistan and China have signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) for the construction of a railway network and a hydroelectricity project in Afghanistan.
Under the MoUs China will help rebuild a railway network from Sher Khan port to Herat, in the north of the country, and implement a hydroelectric scheme on the Kabul-Kunar river.
If followed through, the projects could help war-torn Afghanistan unlock its vast mineral wealth. The US Geological Survey has estimated that Afghanistan’s deposits of copper, cobalt, iron ore, bauxite, rare earth minerals and gold could be worth $1 trillion, but these resources will stay in the ground without a modern transport network.
The MoUs were signed by the Afghan Ambassador to China, Janan Mosazai, and the deputy chief executive of the Chinese firm tasked with studying and carrying out the two projects, reports Khaama Press.
Earlier this year President Ghani insisted the country could become free of poverty if the the nation’s resources, human, natural, and financial, were used properly.
In March Ghani reviewed a report by the Ministry of Energy and Water regarding the construction of 29 large, medium and small water dams.
However, security remains the prime concern, with government forces fighting both Taliban and IS insurgents in various parts of the country.
Image: A stretch of the Kunar River in Nangarhar, Afghanistan. The government is considering 29 hydroelectric schemes (Qudratkhan/Creative Commons)