April 8, 2007


Afghans pin hopes on a new economy: Money at center of post-Taliban world (Farah Stockman, April 8, 2007, Boston Globe)

As a competitive economy awakens in one of the world's poorest countries, the residents of Kabul are jockeying to get ahead in a city flush with cash from US soldiers, foreign aid workers, new investors, parliamentarians, and drug traffickers.

Some have already made fortunes catering to the emerging desires of this nation of 31 million people. Ehsanullah Bayat, a US-trained Afghan engineer, is one of the nation's richest men after starting the first cellphone company here in 2001, and a radio and television station. The inventors of Super Cola, a local soda, hold their own here against Coke.

But most Afghans are trying to climb a far more modest ladder of success.

"For those people who have a job, like a shop, or who have a small amount of capital, things are good and getting better," said Mohammad Nadir, who sells home made yogurt and other groceries at a shop his father opened the day he was born, 26 years ago. "But the poor stay poor. The government is not able to help them."

Costs have skyrocketed, Nadir said. During the Taliban years, his family paid $5 in monthly rent for the shop. Now they pay $200. That leaves about $500 per month in profit.

"Good money," he said. But he'd like to make more.

Competition isn't a bad thing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 8, 2007 7:51 AM

Over at NRO they are chiding Bush for trying to get rid of the poppy/opium trade, saying the opium trade will help Afghan become wealthier.

Posted by: AWW at April 8, 2007 7:28 PM

Selling opium would help all of us get wealthier, but that isn't the goal. NRO, like the Weekly Standard, had so much potential, but they all went nuts a long time ago.

Posted by: erp [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 8, 2007 8:06 PM