Strengthening Afghan Economy through Gas channels
A recently proposed Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline project is expected to strengthen the economy of Afghanistan. The (TAPI) Gas pipeline project will originate in Turkmenistan and pass through Afghanistan and Pakistan into India with a total budget of $7.6 billion (US). The TAPI agreement was signed by Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, India and Pakistan on December 10, 2010 the project, originally led by the American company UNOCAL, had been stalled since August 1996 as a result of objections by the Taliban government in Kabul. The project had been shelved indefinitely until this year when it gained support from the United States government. Construction is slated to begin in 2012 and continue through 2014.
The pipeline is forecasted to transfer 33 billion cubic meters of gas from Turkmenistan via Herat and Kandahar into India through Multan and Quetta in Pakistan. The project is expected to create 50,000 jobs and generate $1 billion (US) per year in fiscal revenue for Afghanistan. It will also supply 5.11 billion cubic meters of gas to fuel domestic livelihoods and the economy.
According to economic analyst Hamidullah Farooqi, this project will enable Afghanistan to become an economic power in the region, connecting the country with southern, northern and central Asia. Closely mirroring the route of the ancient Silk Road, the gas pipeline harkens back to Afghanistan’s culturally rich and economically prosperous past and signifies the rebirth of Afghan business after decades of war and economic stagnation.
Although security concerns will challenge the TAPI gas pipeline, Farooqi is confident that regional support for the project, particularly from India, Pakistan and Turkmenistan, will ensure its successful completion and operational sustainability.