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Experts talk economics and media at Afghan-German Cooperation Media Meeting in Mazar

in Afghan Business

Experts talk economics and media at Afghan-German Cooperation Media Meeting in Mazar

With the state of Afghanistan’s finances making headlines almost daily in national and international media, last week’s Afghan-German Cooperation Media Meeting in Mazar-e-Sharif dealt with the economy. The meeting gave the press an opportunity to talk with experts about trade and business and how the media report on the markets in northern Afghanistan. The meeting concluded with the recommendation that media and business should work more closely together to promote domestic goods.

At the Mediothek’s Media House in Mazar-e-Sharif, economics experts Mohammad Hakim Sahibzada, Dean of the Faculty of Economics at Balkh University, and Hussain Ali Mahrammi, National Project Coordinator of the Sustainable Economic Development and Employment Promotion programme at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, came together to outline their perspectives of the business climate in Afghanistan and how the media cover it. Shogofa Kochizada from local station Radio Bayan-e Shomal moderated.

For Mohammad Hakim Sahibzada, “One of the reasons why the growth of Afghan production has been so slow is because there is no government agenda for supporting domestic investment.” Hussain Ali Mahrammi added that “Afghan companies – especially bigger companies – have to see that instead of planning for short term profit, they should focus on long-term investment in the local economy.” On the issue of how imports and processing goods abroad can influence growth, Mr. Mahrammi noted, “Trade in the north has risen to the extent that growth is double that of the rest of the country. The north is a corridor to the Middle East, with plenty of potential for profit, especially in the field of agriculture. Six northern provinces in Afghanistan produce 50% of the country’s output.”

The two speakers talked in front of an audience of over 50 representatives from various media and business organisations, including Pajhwok News, Shamshad TV, Al Jazeera English, Mitra TV, Hasht e Sobh newspaper, Deutsche Welle Radio, the Balkh Chamber of Commerce and Industries (BCCI), the Organisation of Women Business, the Wool and Silk Company and Asr-e Nowin handicrafts. The open discussion after the two talks again dealt with the topic of imports from neighbouring countries dominating the market, but also debated media coverage of economic developments and how to market the higher quality of goods from Afghanistan.

As Mr. Sahibzada explained to the audience, “It is up to the media to help inform consumers about local products and their quality. Locally produced apple juice simply tastes better than when it has to be shipped to Afghanistan.” Referring to the role media can play in promoting the local economy products, Mr. Mahrammi added more needs to be done. “The media are like of the country’s nerve centre. While there is always plenty of news about suicide attacks, journalists should show more interest in topics related to the economy, for example.” As a specialist for the relationship between media and the economy, Mr. Sahibzada concluded the way forward lies in “more diversity in the issues reported. The more diverse the media landscape, the better the economic situation.”

Media Meetings 2014 – Afghan Media for Social Responsibility – are a series of regular events held by Afghan-German Development Cooperation with Mediothek Afghanistan. The meetings bring together a panel of experts from the government and public sector, civil society, development cooperation and the media, to discuss important development issues with the press.

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