LONDON: British Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BACCI) chairman Dr Mohammad Hotak and director John Bennett participated in one of the most important events of the year as co-hosts and speakers in Silk Road Investment Forum held in Asia House in London on 6-7 April 2017.
The event was also attend by diplomatic representatives which included Her Excellency Tamar Beruchashvili, Ambassador of Georgia, Her Excellency Gulnara Iskakova, Ambassador of Kyrgyz Republic, His Excellency Babakhan Aslami, First Secretary of the Embassy of Afghanistan in London, Dmitry Sudas, Senior Counselor, Embassy of Belarus and Mahir Humbatov, Fellow, Centre for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The event was opened by Brien Desilets, Managing Director of Claret Consulting, who welcomed the guests and chaired the opening panel.
The panel included Her Excellency Tamar Beruchashvili, Ambassador of Georgia, Her Excellency Gulnara Iskakova, Ambassador of Kyrgyz Republic, Gordon Welsh, Head of Business Group & Executive Committee Member, UK Export Finance and Gavin Serkin, Managing Editor, Frontera News & the Frontier Funds Consultancy.
Dr Hotak chaired and was the featured speaker on two extremely important panels back-to-back on the second day of the event.
The first panel was titled Connecting the Regions of the Silk Road and the second one was Silk Road Region Energy & Mining Market Dynamics.
The co-panellists for Connecting the Regions of the Silk Road alongsde Dr Hotak were Tony Padilla, Maritime Affairs Expert and Senior International Affairs Adviser to US Department of Transportation and Iqbal Singh Bedi, who is an adviser to UK and foreign governments, corporations and nonprofit organisations on broadband, digital and telecoms infrastructure and 5G mobile technology.
While Mr Padilla spoke extensively about the maritime silk road, its challenges and opportunities, Mr Bedi discussed the role of digital infrastructure and the opportunities available for the digital and telecoms industry in the new silk road and One Belt, Road Road initiative.
Dr Hotak highlighted the significance of the geo-strategic location of Afghanistan in the heart of Asia, and how Afghanistan was at the centre of regional connectivity and integration by land, air and digitally to achieve the objectives of the New Silk Road initiative.
Dr Hotak presented the achievements made in Afghanistan in developing the country’s infrastructure in the last 15 years and highlighted key projects taking place in the region enhancing the country’s trade, economic and political connectivity.
He spoke about Lapis Lazuli Corridor (transit and trade cooperation between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey), Ashgabat Agreement (transport agreement between Oman, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan), Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan & India (TAPI) Pipeline ($10 billion gas pipeline project), CASA 1000 (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan electricity project worth $1.17 billion) and Charbahar Port (India, Iran & Afghanistan trade and transportation project worth $500 million).
The Silk Road Region Energy & Mining Market Dynamics panellists included Nicholas Cobb, Chairman and Managing Director of Cobb Energy and Westminster Russia Forum, Alexey Tsoy, Principal Mining Consultant at CSA Global and Vaughan Jones, Principal at Hinman LNG.
Mr Cobb spoke about the energy markets, risks and opportunities under the current changing political landscape of the world. Mr Tsoy discussed the challenges and opportunities in mining and energy sector development in countries along the One Belt, One Road region focusing on Kazakhstan and Australia. Mr Jones highlighted the role of LNG in access to energy in remote regions along the new silk road in Central Asia, South Asia and Africa.
Dr Hotak’s who chaired the panel presented a summary of Afghanistan’s gas, oil and coal reserves, and the country’s energy needs in his keynote speech.
He focused his speech on the future of energy and the role of Afghanistan’s lithium reserves as the world transitions from traditional sources of energy into battery powered cars, homes and devices.
Dr Hotak brought to the attention of the audiences the growth of Tesla and its ambitions of bringing cleaner energy and fighting energy crises.
He said the world will need Afghanistan’s lithium and mineral wealth to bring the next generation of energy sources to the masses.
The event also included panels on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor/Gwadar Port Multinational Investment Opportunities, Keystone of the Silk Road: Iran, Extending Transportation & Logistics Networks throughout Eurasia, Innovative Risk Management for Silk Road Projects, Blending New and Traditional Sources of Financing and Environmental Sustainability of Silk Road Investments.