The resignation of Mr Nursultan Nazarbayev is a brave move to allow a new generation of leaders to serve the country. The transition of power was smooth and based on the people’s choice.
Prior to his appointment as the president, Mr Tokayev was Chairman of the Senate of Kazakhstan from 11 January 2007 to 15 April 2011 and from 16 October 2013 to 19 March 2019. Mr Tokayev served as Prime Minister of Kazakhstan from 1 October 1999 to 28 January 2002 and as Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva from 12 March 2011 to 16 October 2013. Mr Tokayev also held the post of Foreign Minister for ten years (1994–1999, 2002–2007) when he played an active role in the field of nuclear non-proliferation.
Mr Tokayev received a number of awards and honours from local and international entities including the Order of the Golden Eagle in 2019, Order of Honour (Russia, 2017) and Commonwealth Order (CIS, 2007).
Mr Tokayev was also elected Chairman of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Commonwealth of Independent States and of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. He took part in ten sessions of the United Nations General Assembly. He held a diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. This extensive experience as a policymaker domestically and internationally is set to back Mr Tokayev in formulating and implementing new strategies during the next five years of his term as President of Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan has a land area equal to that of Western Europe but one of the lowest population densities globally. Strategically, it links the large and fast-growing markets of China and South Asia and those of Russia and Western Europe by road, rail, and a port on the Caspian Sea. This role of Kazakhstan as a trade facilitator between the East and the West will be further enhanced as the country becomes part of the Belt and Road Initiative by the Chinese government, which is set to revive the ancient Silk Road trade route. In fact, the new initiative was announced in Kazakhstan in 2013, signifying its importance to the overall project.
The Central Asian country was once the central point of the ancient trade route that carried goods and ideas between the great civilisations of the East and West.
The Central Asian country was once the central point of the ancient trade route that carried goods and ideas between the great civilisations of the East and West. And today, due to its unique geographic location, it is once again seeking to resume its historical role as a vital link in global commerce. Currently, the infrastructure is in place, but in order to fulfil its potential as a sprawling logistics hub, it requires significant foreign investment. Therefore, a number of strategies are being put in force to encourage investors to come into Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan has transitioned from lower-middle-income to upper-middle-income status in less than two decades. The country moved to the upper-middle-income group in 2006. Since 2002, GDP per capita has risen sixfold and poverty incidence has fallen sharply, showing significant progress in country performance in the World Bank’s indicator of shared prosperity. After the economic slowdown in 2014, more favourable terms of trade and increased oil production in 2017 supported an economic recovery and an improvement in poverty indicators.
The ongoing structural and institutional reforms aim to reduce the role of the state in the economy and facilitate the development of a vibrant, modern, and innovative tradable non-oil sector.
The main industries in Kazakhstan are oil excavation and exports and mining of coal, iron ore, manganese, chromite, lead, zinc, copper, titanium, bauxite, gold, silver, phosphates, sulfur, uranium, iron and steel. In addition, the country manufactures tractors and other agricultural machinery, electric motors and construction materials. Enhancing exports of those industries and further diversifying the economy are top priorities of the new President Mr Kassym-Jomart Kemelyevich Tokayev, who realised the importance of strong relations with Kazakhstan’s major trade partners, especially Russia and China.
There is enormous potential for renewable energy in Kazakhstan, particularly from wind and small hydropower plants. The Republic of Kazakhstan has the potential to generate ten times as much power as it currently needs from wind energy alone. Several initiatives have been introduced to leverage natural resources in generating clean energy, especially after the country hosted EXPO 2017 whose theme was Future Energy. In fact, the former president Mr Nazarbayev envisioned the use of the premises used for EXPO 2017 to establish an international centre for the development of green technologies.
Wind farms in Kazakhstan have the potential to produce 25 times more energy per year than its current production from hydrocarbons.
The forecast for inward investment in the renewable energy sector is over two billion dollars by 2020. Additionally, there are plans to build 13 wind plants, 14 hydroplants and four solar plants. Plans are also set for the country to recycle a third of its waste to energy generation. Around 10-15 per cent of the land has average wind speeds of over six meters per second, making Kazakhstan a prime candidate for wind energy. Solar energy potential is also enormous, with around 3,000 hours of sunlight per year generating a possible 2.5 billion kilowatts.
DIGITISATION OF MINING AND METALLURGY
Kazakhstan plans to digitise its mining and metallurgy industries by the year 2025. The plan expects 192 projects to be digitised at a cost of USD 4.4 billion, with estimated profits of USD 5.7 billion generated by the end of this period. So far, 79 digitisation projects have been completed and 53 more are expected to be completed by the end of the year. Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development has developed measures to create an ecosystem that supports the digitisation efforts of domestic companies. These measures were included in the Digital Kazakhstan state programme.
From 2015 to 2019, new mining and metallurgical enterprises with the latest equipment that meets the standards of the Fourth Industrial Revolution were launched. It is worth noting that Kazakhstan’s mining and metallurgical industries make up 6.7 per cent of the GDP, 25 per cent of industrial manufacturing and 24 per cent of total export products. The industry is represented by more than 800 enterprises and provides 185,000 jobs. The aim is to reduce production and transportation costs, optimise business processes, introduce new business models and significantly increase the competitiveness of industrial enterprises.