UK minister impressed by Afghanistan progress
Just weeks after the UK general election, Minister Swayne travelled to Kabul to re-affirm the UK’s long-term commitment to Afghanistan, the British Embassy in Kabul said in a statement.
Swayne met with President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi. He reiterated the UK’s support for Afghanistan, which is expected to exceed $500m in development assistance this year, and urged quick implementation of the government’s much-needed reform plan.
The minister also met with leading Afghan business people to hear about their successes as entrepreneurs, as well as the ongoing challenges they face and the action needed by government to make Afghanistan an easier place to do business.
The minister also met a group of inspiring Afghan artisans who have been directly helped into employment and supported to develop their businesses by UK aid.
Speaking at the end of his visit, the minister said: “I have been tremendously impressed by the progress that Afghanistan has made since the Taliban were thrown out in 2001.”
He said he was proud of the role that the UK had played in contributing with the Afghan people to that progress. “We haven’t abandoned Afghanistan. We are here for the long-term. We have an enduring commitment. This year we will spend some $500 million in assistance to Afghanistan”.
The minister said he had successful meetings with President Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah and Finance Minister Hakimi.
“I was hugely reassured by their determination and commitment to the reform-agenda and their determination to see it driven through. I think there will be an important opportunity coming up in September of this year with the Senior Officials Meeting to revisit the progress that Afghanistan has made since the London Conference.”
After meeting a group of entrepreneurs and artisans who have benefited from UK-funded projects through Zardozi and the Afghanistan Business Innovation Fund (ABIF), the minister said: “It was a fantastic experience to see how relatively small amounts of money can make a big difference to small enterprises, which then become medium sized enterprises.”
He met a widow who previously had few skills and no income to support her nine children. However, thanks to Zardozi she gained skills in tailoring and handiwork and is now a successful businesswoman employing 85 other women.
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