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New Astana airport terminal to open in June

Fri, 2017-04-07 05:27

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Management of Astana international airport plans to complete construction of a new terminal on May 15 as a part of preparations for Astana EXPO 2017. In the meantime, Qazaq Air is going to buy two new airplanes to increase the capacity of the airport.

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An official opening and putting into operation of the terminal is scheduled for early June. Its area will cover 47,000 square metres, which is twice as large as the existing terminal, which will increase the airport’s capacity from 3.5 to 8.2 million passengers per year, according to the press office of the airport.

It was originally planned that the terminal construction will cost 60.2 billion tenge (US$188.7 million), but later the construction required 20 billion tenge (US$62.7 million) more. An additional loan of $62.7 million was registered at the Development Bank of Kazakhstan.

The project is being implemented under the Ministry of Investment and Development and will allow increasing a peak carrying capacity of passengers from 750 to 2,000 passengers per hour.

Managing Director of Asset Optimisation at Samruk Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund Berik Beisengaliyev reported that Qazaq Air, a Samruk Kazyna owned domestic airline launched two years ago, is going to purchase two new airplanes, which will be used at the airport.

“Within the first year of its operation, the airline company has transported more than 160,000 passengers with three aircraft between the state’s 12 cities,” he said.

Beisengaliyev highlighted that increasing the fleet by two more aircraft is being planned in the short term and according to a business plan to achieve a final cause productive capacity of 450,000 passengers per year.

Head of Department of Civil Aviation Committee of Ministry of Investment and Development Amantai Kokatayev said the new terminal of Astana airport will provide comfortable passenger flows for the next 10 years, Kazinform reports.

In 2015, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev ordered to start construction of the new terminal of Astana international airport, as well as to reconstruct the runway. The construction is carried out as part of preparations for the EXPO 2017 international specialised exhibition.

Construction on the terminal has been completed and equipment and interior finishing is in progress.


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SCO heads of security councils gather in Astana, as group anticipates expansion in June

Fri, 2017-04-07 05:21

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The 12th meeting of secretaries of security councils of the Shanghai Cooperation organisation’s (SCO) member states confirmed the willingness of the organisation to strengthen cooperation in various fields, especially in view of the upcoming accession of India and Pakistan during the SCO Summit in June in Astana.

The meeting took place April 6 in Astana within the framework of Kazakhstan’s chairmanship in the organisation and is the first step in the run-up to the SCO Summit June 8-9 in Astana, one day before the official EXPO 2017 opening ceremony.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev received the participants of the meeting, including SCO Secretary General Rashid Alimov. The latter also met with Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov, Minister of Defence Saken Zhasuzakov, Minister of Culture and Sports Arystanbek Mukhamediuly and EXPO 2017 National Company’s Board Chairman Akhmetzhan Yessimov.

Security and stability in the region, improving interaction between member states, especially taking into account the expansion of the organisation, were discussed during the meeting. Participants discussed deepening cooperation in tackling modern challenges and threats.

The sides agreed to continue cooperation among bodies of SCO member states in combatting terrorism, separatism and extremism, transnational and organised crime, illegal migration, illicit trafficking in weapons and drugs, psychotropic substances and precursors.

The meeting stressed the need to involve SCO observer states and partners in the activities of the organisation on achieving sustainable peace and strengthening stability in the region. Participants also noted the role of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure in ensuring coordination of SCO member states’ activities in the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism.

The participants of the meeting highlighted Kazakhstan’s work as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council since Jan. 1 and expressed confidence Kazakhstan will contribute to global peace and security.

Following the meeting, the participants held a press briefing, where Aide to the President – Secretary of the Security Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan Vladimir Zhumakanov stressed that Kazakhstan will continue to promote comprehensive cooperation between SCO member states.

The meeting resulted in the signing of a protocol that defines common approaches to international and regional issues and sets goals for the future.

Receiving the meeting participants, Nazarbayev drew attention to the importance of strengthening the existing mechanisms of cooperation and the regulatory framework of the SCO.

“We empathise with all Russian citizens after the attack in St. Petersburg. This proves that terrorism and extremism have no borders, risks and threats remain. In this regard, the heads of state pay special attention to the work of the secretaries of security councils,” said the Kazakh President.

He also praised the work of SCO member states to strengthen economic and political ties.

In addition, Nazarbayev dwelled on specific tasks the organisation is facing.

“Those include coordinated actions of participating countries on all issues. Currently, the SCO convention on counteracting extremism and the SCO statement on joint counteractions to international terrorism are under consideration. It is necessary to reach an agreement on these documents as soon as possible,” he stressed.

Nazarbayev said India and Pakistan are expected to join as full members of the organisation during the SCO Summit in Astana, which will strengthen cooperation in Asia.

“It is necessary to expand cooperation of the SCO with international and regional structures – the UN, CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organisation] and CICA [Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia]. We believe that this will also affect the further development of the organisation,” he said.

Abdrakhmanov met with Alimov, as they discussed SCO activities, its interaction with the UN and other international organisations, as well as strengthening economic cooperation within the SCO.

The Kazakh foreign minister briefed his guest on the priorities of Kazakhstan’s membership in the UN Security Council, and made a number of proposals to improve SCO activities.

“The organisation is one of the most productive regional structures, it has great potential,” the minister said.

Alimov noted “the growing role of the SCO on the international arena in light of the speedy completion of India and Pakistan’s admission as members of the organisation.”

The SCO Secretary-General also met with Yessimov, where he discussed the progress of preparation for the International Specialised Exhibition and the upcoming SCO Summit.

“This SCO Summit will become historical. Its basic feature is that on June 9 we will have a more powerful organisation,” Alimov said.

Alimov also got acquainted with the progress of construction of the SCO pavilion at EXPO 2017. He noted it was important for the SCO to have its own pavilion in order to demonstrate the contribution of the organisation in environmental improvement and support of ecologic programmes.

During the expo, the organisation will hold an SCO Special Day on Aug. 27.

Alimov also met with the students of the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and spoke before the faculty and students of Nazarbayev University.

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Cultural activities help develop various personality traits, says children’s studio head

Fri, 2017-04-07 05:02

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – After-school programmes are an essential part of a child’s upbringing. Activities and hobbies greatly increase a person’s chance to be successful.

Yerke Studio soloists. Photo by Reznichenko


The Yerke children’s dance and choir studio offers a unique opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge of gifted children and enjoy the creative adventure of their tender age.

“The idea to ​​open a studio did not come about by chance. Teaching adult patriotism is difficult, but possible, but when you teach children to love and respect their homeland from childhood, it’s completely different. Learning to understand, appreciate and be proud of the art, traditions and history of your country is priceless. At the same time, we do not conduct any agitation lectures with children; we show this with our own example,” said Yerke head Yana Chigarkova in an interview for this story.

Yana Chigarkova

The Armed Forces National Military Patriotic Centre opened in the capital Dec.1, 2015 and the children’s studio was launched a few months later. The studio is not only open for children of military personnel, but for young talents from all over the city.

The main thing is to tear children from gadgets and social networks and dedicate their time to something useful, noted Chigarkova.

“In Soviet times, there were special clubs for children interested in sports, art or playing musical instruments and they were affordable for every family. Now, the situation has changed. As for us, we teach children for free and enrol talented children. We try to captivate and introduce not only Kazakh and contemporary art, but also art of other countries. There is such a kaleidoscope of cultures and religions in Kazakhstan and this leads to the multifaceted development of personality,” she said.

Young and ambitious teachers have a great desire to work, create and study, she added. It’s vital for them to stay imaginative.

“We started to work in full swing last September. We held a large audition with the participation of 150 children and about 50 were selected. The most remarkable event was the performance of our soloists at the New Year charity ball held with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Our choir also performed at the Bal Bala gala concert, Tumar, the first television awards, and many other events. We plan to participate not only in live concerts, but also in television projects,” she said.

The studio also offers acting technique and drama classes to learn the emotions and skills of performing on stage.

The studio enrolls skillful children with good voices aged 7-14 and those 4-15 for choreography classes. The programme includes breathing, developing voice, vocal hearing and acting skills, vocal and technical exercises, public performance and public speaking.

Acting skills teachers work not only on diction and articulation, but also on the ability to do two things at the same time. Then, the brain becomes familiar with multitasking and can do three-four things simultaneously on stage – sing, dance, and interact with the audience.

“We are now gaining experience, so we try to participate in almost every big event. The stage is the best teacher and with experience comes mastery. People always ask me why children feel so free on stage and how do you achieve this. The answer is simple. We praise them, even for small achievements, we believe in their talent and uniqueness, and, most importantly, we love them. When they feel loved and appreciated, they feel comfortable on stage. Children, not clamped by rigid frames, rules and remarks, develop faster and open their talent more easily. If you keep up with watering flowers, they always bloom to perfection,” said Chigarkova.  

The Instagram account of the studio is detskaya_studia_astana.

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Kostanai region seeks to boost investment opportunities with Diplomatic Business Club

Fri, 2017-04-07 01:17

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakh state officials are continuing their efforts to promote investment opportunities for foreign investors, showcase the country’s abundant resources and modernise laws to accommodate foreign companies.

A delegation from the Kostanai regional Akimat (administration), headed by Akim (Governor) Arkhimed Mukhambetov, gave numerous press conferences in the capital on April 5 and met with foreign envoys in the hope of picking up business for the regional budget. The largest gathering included foreign ambassadors and Kostanai region government and business leaders who met under the umbrella of the Diplomatic Business Club (DBC), an association established two years ago to promote business interactions.

Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov who opened the gathering said  the Kostanai region is one of the most dynamically-developing industrial and agricultural regions in the country.

“The Kostanai region Akimat is working hard to attract investments to the region,” said Deputy Akim (Governor) Meirzhan Myrzaliyev in a more detailed presentation at the meeting. “We are working to raise the level of competitive advantages and improve the investment climate in the region. For instance, in the past year the volume of foreign investments in the region was 11.1 billion tenge (US$35.5 million), which was 11 percent more than in the previous year.”

The region is located in the north of Kazakhstan and occupies an advantageous economic and geographical position, Myrzaliyev said adding that Kostanai is “the centre of a market of more than 25 million people with the gross regional product of $295 billion”. He referred to the region’s bordering three big industrial regions in neighbouring Russia the trade with which is facilitated by the operation of the Eurasian Economic Union.

Kostanai’s foreign trade turnover last year was $1.6 billion – 53 percent or $870.3 million of exports and 46.5 percent or $758 million of imports.

“An industrial zone with an area of 400 hectares is currently under construction to attract investors. In addition, the region has launched construction of the Kostanai Agro-Industrial Park. This project will help increase the export potential of the agricultural sector, create a unique system for trade in agricultural products and expand opportunities for its implementation without intermediaries,” said Myrzaliyev.

The Akimat presented a list of available facilities and areas in the region composed of 157 passport-free facilities, lands and projects requiring investments.

According to Myrzaliyev, there are specific examples of such policies already bearing fruit. Since the beginning of the year, two new foreign investors have already entered the region. One $5.5 million project has to do with the construction of a milk processing plant and the production of dairy products in the Fedorovsky District. The investor is a company called Industry Capital from Poland. The second project, worth $13 million including $10 million in foreign direct investment from ADM Capital from the Netherlands, will provide for the launch and modernisation of a poultry farm in the Karabalyk District.

The April 5 meeting became the latest in the series of Diplomatic Business Club events as it works to establish mutually beneficial connections.

“The concept of the DBC is to liaise with diplomats and businesspeople in Kazakhstan: diplomats can directly link any business to their country,” Globalink Logistics Group Ltd. President and CEO Siddique Khan, a member of the club since its inception, said in an interview for this story. “Secondly, it’s important to extend to the regions; either they come to us or we go to them. For instance, today we had a delegation from the Kostanai region. One of the ambassadors expressed willingness to go to Kostanai to explore business opportunities.”

DBC was established in July 2015 by the joint efforts of Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry and the country’s entrepreneurial association, the Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs. The club has both hosted Kazakh regional businesses in the capital and reached out to the regions. In October 2015, DBC helped organise a trip to Khorgos for diplomats to explore the opportunities for cross-border trade with China and the potential of the dry port to become a major hub of the Silk Road Economic Belt. Last year, DBC hosted two regional akims, from Aktobe and the North Kazakhstan region, in Astana, followed by ambassadors’ trips to these regions to discuss concrete investment projects. DBC also helped organise a diplomatic visit the same year to the South Kazakhstan region for the Ontustik Invest business forum.

“I have a client in Greece, who several months ago asked me for a small favour – to find a supplier of wheat flour from Kazakhstan. Today, I saw four companies from Kostanai offering wheat flour and wheat for export. This [type of event] is about connections, so I told my client in Greece about it and now they might do business together,’ said Khan.

Some 30 various Kostanai businesses took part in the meeting, presenting 37 projects, 13 of which are oriented for export.

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OpenU – Kazakhstan’s massive open online courses

Fri, 2017-04-07 01:13

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA –WikiBilim public foundation and Kcell, one of the country’s largest mobile network operators, have launched the new online project, Open University (OpenU), a local analogue of Coursera, edX and Udacity. Around 80 percent of the content will be in the Kazakh language.

“As you know, expanding access to high-speed Internet is changing many industries and creating new opportunities for increasing efficiency,” said WikiBilim Foundation Founder and Board of Trustees Chairperson Rauan Kenzhekhanuly. “For example, in higher education online learning technologies are developing based on massive open online courses (MOOC). Millions of listeners around the world, having access to such courses, receive knowledge, improve their qualifications or acquire a new specialty. The task of the OpenU project is to provide everyone with access to the best courses of the leading Kazakh professors. Particularly, students of our regional universities are interested in this. At the same time, the Open University of Kazakhstan does not issue diplomas; it is called upon to help existing universities to improve the quality of their services and students to receive quality knowledge.”

OpenU is currently supported by several universities, such as Kazakh-British Technical University (KBTU), Almaty Management University (AlmaU), Suleyman Demirel University (SDU), Kazakh National Technical University and the Institute of Mathematics and Mathematical Modelling.

“The main directions of the courses are IT, business and telecommunications, because at the first stage the general partner of the project is Kcell, which is interested in the first courses to be in this sphere. In the next stage of the project, we plan to expand the number of directions,” project manager Ainur Satekova told The Astana Times.

The main goal of the project is to provide Kazakh university students and other interested individuals with access to the educational content of professors from the country’s leading universities.

“This is a unique project; there is no so-called ‘culture’ of online education in Kazakhstan yet. We are developing it,” she added.

OpenU’s platform is based on Open edX, which was created by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Certificates might soon be given to listeners, said Satekova.

“But since we work with the universities, we want to approach that matter with experience. They are the ones who will issue certificates. It will be a joint responsibility,” she added.

The first online course is Matrixes and Determinants by physical and mathematical sciences Ph.D., professor and National Science Academy academician Askar Dzhumadildayev.

“Science takes time. For my subject, five weeks for higher education were recorded, although at least 20 courses are required. I believe, for now it is necessary to focus on university subjects, although I do not exclude that. If successful, it will be possible to launch similar portals for schoolchildren and adults. Lectures are specially designed in academic style, since there is a shortage of textbooks in the state language in that direction,” he said.

As of today, 10 courses have already been developed, but only six are presently available online. The average duration of a course is five weeks; the average length of a lecture is 20 minutes. All lectures are also expected to have subtitles in Kazakh, Russian and English.

“We are sure that the Open University will be interesting not only for applicants and students of colleges and universities, but also for those who already work, for example, in the field of IT and telecommunications,” said Kcell communications department head Natalia Yeskova. “In addition, the platform provides access to educational courses for people with disabilities and those who live in remote areas of Kazakhstan. For our country, this is really a unique project and I want to believe that in the future it will be supported by companies from other spheres of the economy who, like us, are interested in the development of education and in the training of highly qualified personnel for their industry.”

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Astana to host Immortal Regiment parade May 9

Fri, 2017-04-07 01:11

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The Immortal Regiment of Astana – Peace March will be held on Victory Day to commemorate the memory of Soviet soldiers, according to the city akimat (administration) press service.

The Astana Department of Internal Policy supported the initiative.

The event is held annually to preserve the personal memory of the descendants of the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War participants, as well as to promote patriotism among the younger generation.

The gathering of the Peace March participants will be held May 9 at 12:30 p.m. at the Kazakh Yeli monument. The route will stretch to the Otan Korgaushylar (Fatherland Defenders) monument, bextending by almost 2.5 kilometres compared to last year.

“Last year, the distance was shorter, about 1.5 kilometres. Many people, emotionally, felt like this distance of the Victory parade was too short, so this year we extended the route. Within the framework of the Immortal Regiment parade, it is forbidden to put advertising symbols on banners. We intend to perpetuate the memory of our war veterans, the participants in the battles, those who did not return from the front and those who disappeared without a trace,” Aida Baimakova, member of the Coordinating Council of the Immortal Regiment campaign said.

The idea to hold the march first appeared in Tomsk in Russia in 2012. A year later, history faculty student Baimakova together with former chairperson of Astana and Akmola regional trade union Anna Shevchuk contacted the campaign organiser in Tomsk and created the council of the Immortal Regiment in Astana in 2014. The capital first hosted the march on May 8, 2015 with more than 1,500 participants. In 2016, their number exceeded 7,000 people.

Today, the Immortal Regiment is an international march that unites more than 60 countries.

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Kazakh PM visits high-tech house-building factory

Fri, 2017-04-07 01:08

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev visited the Ui Kurylysy Kombinaty house-building plant in the Aktobe region March 30. The company uses technologies for the rapid construction of residential buildings.

During the visit, the prime minister inspected the production lines and reviewed a report on the technological process of creating panels and structures for house building. Also, Sagintayev witnessed a miniature model of an individual apartment house built according to the company’s technology.

Such enterprises are of great importance for the implementation of the new national housing construction programme Nurly Zher. The plant produces floor slabs, wall panels, underground, staircases according to the special technology of large-panel construction, and the products are fully finished.

This year, with the help of the plant, management is planning to build a number of low-rise credit houses in the Nur Aktobe residential complex, which the prime minister had already visited. Currently, the plant is working on the production of products for the construction of these houses.

The management is planning to build 500 low-rise apartment buildings this year, under the Nurly Zher programme, which will provide housing for at least 700 families.

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Kazakh National Chamber of Entrepreneurs seeks to enter Russian, Chinese food markets

Fri, 2017-04-07 01:06

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

Kazakhstan is proposing to create joint ventures with the countries of the Turkic world to supply its products to the markets of China and Russia. This was announced during the fifth meeting of the Turkic Business Council by Deputy Chairperson of the Board of the Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan Nurzhan Altayev.

“Today, there is a huge demand for food products in Russia, which we cannot fully satisfy yet, so we need to cooperate very seriously with Uzbek, Azerbaijani, Kyrgyz and Turkish counterparts. There are types of products that we haven’t dealt with and have no experience dealing with yet, that is, we have never produced such products. But these products have been produced in Turkey and they have great experience, they produce it, and so we need to cooperate with them, adopt this experience, technologies. And they are ready for this,” he said.

Also, the deputy chairman gave an example of a joint project with Turkey.

“For us, a completely new product is chicken feet. We never produced it and did not export it anywhere. We do not know the technology, but by involving other countries, we will now try to create this enterprise and with this product enter the Chinese market, where it is in huge demand,” Altayev added.

Arab countries have a demand for lentils, which Kazakhstan also does not produce.

“There are only three enterprises around Kazakhstan that grow lentils. In China, there is a huge demand for chickpeas as well. It is a kind of leguminous plant that we practically do not grow. We need to create joint ventures with Turkic-speaking countries to enter the markets of China and Russia,” he said.

In early February, First Vice-Minister of Agriculture Kairat Aituganov said Kazakh agricultural producers can take a leading position in the export of lentils and chickpeas.

Earlier, during the fifth meeting of the Turkic Business Council, Altayev said Kazakhstan and Turkey are planning to establish a joint chamber of commerce and industry.


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Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia sign Trans-Caspian International Transport Route protocol

Fri, 2017-04-07 01:03

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia signed a protocol April 1 confirming the regulations on membership in the Legal Entities Union and the composition of the working group on the development of a transport route and its action plan for 2017 at the meeting of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) Association’s Legal Entities Union in Baku.

President of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) Kanat Alpysbayev said Kazakhstan plans to export more than 450,000 tonnes of gas and oil using the new Kuryk port through Azerbaijan and Georgia before the end of the year. Officials are also discussing opportunities to transport transit cargo, such as raw sugar up to 150,000-200,000 tonnes, to Uzbekistan before the end of the year through the Kuryk Port, according to the KTZ press office.

The TITR was established to provide transport connections between the East and West of Eurasia, transporting goods from China through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia to Europe via Turkey and Ukraine. The association aims to attract transit and foreign trade cargo, focusing on the development of integrated logistics products.

The first test container train arrived in the Baku International Sea Trade Port from China using the route in August 2015. The first cargo arrived to Baku International Sea Trade Port from Kazakh Kuryk port March 25. In January 2016, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine decided to apply competitive tariffs for cargo transportation via the route.

In October 2016, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia signed an agreement to establish the TITR Association with its office in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

In February, heads of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy and O’zbekiston temir yo’llari (Uzbek railways) discussed the opportunities of an Uzbek export and import operation using the Kazakh ports of Aktau and Kuryk and the Trans-Caspian international transport route.

In October 2016, Poland’s railway operator PKP LHS became a member of the Coordination Committee of the TITR.

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Wizz Air to launch direct Budapest-Astana flights in June

Fri, 2017-04-07 01:00

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Wizz Air will launch June 8 direct flights between Budapest and Astana , airline officials announced April 3.

“This became real thanks to many years of painstaking work by the governments of the two countries and it is timed to the 25th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and Hungary,” Nurbakh Rustemov, ambassador of Kazakhstan to Hungary said at an April 3 press conference, according to a social media post by Kazakhstan’s embassy in Hungary.

Officials said the flights will deepen bilateral relations between Kazakhstan and Hungary, including the development of Astana’s transport access on the eve of the EXPO 2017 exhibition.

Mihaly Varga, Minister of National Economy of Hungary, said the state considers Kazakhstan an important strategic partner and that the flights will foster a relationship between the two dynamically developing regions, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the post said.

Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air was appointed the official carrier with flights on Thursdays and Sundays. Tickets are available at One-way tickets start at 40 euros, including a carry-on bag. Additional baggage is extra.

The new Kazakh – Hungary route is Wizz Air’s latest destination network expansion, according to Tamara Vallois, head of Communications at Wizz Air Hungary Ltd.

“The low cost of the airline’s tickets on the Astana-Budapest route establish a potential to encourage trade, business and tourism between the two countries. Budapest is also a natural connection point for Kazakhstan passengers who wish to explore alternative destinations with a very low rate,” Vallois said at a briefing in the Central Communications Service in Astana on April 3.

She believes the opening of the Astana-Budapest route is significant for Wizz Air.

“This is a debut of our airline company in Kazakhstan. This route also ensures the first low cost service with European Union for Kazakhstan by offering a total of 62 destinations from Budapest, which makes available more than four million passenger seats in 2017,” Vallois added, according to

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Ancient Saraishyk settlement to be reconstructed

Wed, 2017-04-05 23:37

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The Kazakh Ministry of Culture and Sports has allocated 100 million tenge (US$319,400) for the first stage of reconstructing the ancient settlement of Saraishyk, reported Tengrinews on Apr. 3.

“After the construction work, where a dam will be installed in order to preserve the natural site of the settlement of Saraishyk, we will start restoration work. One hundred million tenge (US$319,400) was allocated for the restoration work; this is the first stage. Each year step by step, we will move forward,” said Minister of Culture and Sports Arystanbek Mukhamediuly.

Saraishyk is located on the right bank of the Ural River, 55 kilometres from modern Atyrau. The ancient settlement measures more than 100 hectares, according to archaeologists.

The biggest challenge for the work is the fact that most of the ancient settlement has been destroyed by the river’s floods and a modern Muslim cemetery with new burials was built on the surface.

Due to the change in the river channel, the shore washed up and the remains of the ancient city’s ruins were submerged, according to the ministry. As a result, structures have disappeared forever, taking valuable items with them. Each year, the Ural destroys about five-seven metres of the coast where Saraishyk is located. To solve the issue, 1.6 billion tenge (US$5.1 million) was allocated earlier from the Atyrau region local budget, according to Kazinform.

Mukhamediuly added the dam construction, which will protect the settlement, is almost half completed.

“About half of the works have already been done, despite the winter time. As soon as the construction works that are needed for restoration work are completed, we will start restoration work,” he said, adding that archaeological excavations will be carried out before the restoration to find the most significant parts of the ancient city.

“The excavations will be guided by academician Zeinolla Samashev. There is no need to cover the whole city with restoration work. Archaeologists should establish the main streets of the city, as well as where the central streets and the eastern and northern gates are,” he added.

Saraishyk is officially dated to the 13th-16th centuries. Based on the results of archaeological research, during its existence the city was an important trade and cultural centre on the Silk Road and its roads connected the East and West. This is evidenced by the numerous objects of everyday life discovered during the excavation, such as ceramic items decorated with various texts of Arabic script, as well as fragments of bowls made with Chinese porcelain and a large number of objects created from bone, iron and bronze. The rich numismatic material testifies to the development of active trade in the city.

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Bolashak Fund draws attention to World Autism Awareness Day

Wed, 2017-04-05 23:33

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – A charity event devoted to World Autism Awareness Day was held April 2 in the Keruen City shopping mall, according to the press service of the Bolashak Corporate Fund.

More than 50 parents, five foundations and public organisations have united to carry out the campaign aimed at spreading information about the problem of autism, calling for understanding and support of children with special needs.

The event featured music and creative activities for children: face painting, art master classes, scrapbooking, drawing on easels, spirograph drawing, salt dough modelling, entertaining programmes by animators, as well as performances of Kazakh musicians and artists, Senim centre educates and Yerke studio of the Military-Patriotic Centre of Kazakhstan.

More than 1,000 blue ribbons and 2,000 information flyers were distributed. Several thousand people attended. Guests were also able to purchase a bag with their own design and individual drawing, making a charitable contribution of 1,000 tenge (US$3.2). All proceeds will go to the Bolashak project Kazhdyi Rebyonok Dostoin Shkoly (Every child deserves a school.)

“Today is a good example of combining the efforts of charity foundations, public organisations, private centres, specialists, parents and children. The fate of people with the diagnosis of autism is not indifferent to us! There are many creative zones for everyone. Everyone is important for us, regardless of the development specifics or other factors,” Director of the Bolashak Corporate Fund Dinara Chaizhunussova noted.

The Bolashak Fund also launched an annual contest to form an inclusive society and create equal opportunities for people with special needs among media representatives, media professionals and amateurs on the best materials on covering inclusive education with a prize fund of 750,000 tenge (US$2,399.) For more information visit

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Implementing openness, transparency principles lead to change in perception of corruption nationwide

Wed, 2017-04-05 23:28

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The growth model designed to ensure Kazakhstan’s global competitiveness identifies important priorities, including institutional reforms, security and anti-corruption.

Alik Shpekbayev

President Nursultan Nazarbayev outlined the third stage of modernisation in his Jan. 31 annual address to the nation. The head of state set a task to strengthen efforts to identify and eliminate the causes and prerequisites of corruption, actively involving the entire society. A successful solution to this task is in the interest of everyone who cares about the future of the country, free from corruption and protectionism.

The country has taken significant steps to reduce the level of corruption which are primarily connected with implementing the new anti-corruption policy based on the experience analysis and best practices of developed countries.

“The level of domestic corruption has been significantly reduced, administrative barriers have been reduced and the quality of public services has been improved in recent years. The civil service turned into a career model in compliance with the principle of meritocracy and open competition. The elements of transparency and state accountability to the society are systematically introduced. The level of the legal and anti-corruption culture of citizens is increased and a constructive dialogue of the state and civil society institutions is established,” Civil Service Affairs and Anti-Corruption Agency Deputy Chairperson Alik Shpekbayev said in an interview for this story.

Results of the agency’s activities

The law “On fighting corruption” proves the qualitative changes taking place in this sphere. It determines fundamentally new approaches for the organisation in anti-corruption work.

The issues of strict adherence to the principle of the inevitability of punishment for corruption crimes and improving the corresponding norms of criminal liability are extremely important.

The fight against illegally enriching officials and abuse of office becomes increasingly systematic and effective, said Shpekbayev. At the same time, for all the elements of such acts, confiscating income and property of convicted persons is envisaged and large fines are imposed. The budget received 6.5 billion tenge (US$20 million) over two years as part of implementing the multiple penalties institute.

“We rejected the practice of applying the statute of limitations for corruption crimes. A conditional penalty for bribery is also excluded. The main factor constraining this negative phenomenon was the risk of exposure and punishment,” he said.

There are also the first signs of encouraging changes in the public consciousness, according to the sociological research. The anti-corruption policy contributes to forming an atmosphere of rejection of corruption.

“Successful implementation of the principles of openness and transparency led to serious change in public opinion. Civil Service and Anti-Corruption Agency Chairperson Kairat Kozhamzharov pays special attention to these issues,” added Shpekbayev.

The agency took part in the 7th Civil Forum in November and provided a number of valuable and creative initiatives. The anticorruption audit, a public project, will be executed in cooperation with non-governmental organisations. The project aims to give powerful impetus in identifying and eliminating the causes and prerequisites of corruption and conflict of interest.

Forming the public anti-corruption ombudsmen institution and revising the state and social procurement concept also started as a result of the forum. Earlier, implementing the civil control and open agreement projects began jointly with public and non-profit organisations in all regions.

Explanatory work was also completed among the population, which became one of the reasons for the emerging changes in perceiving corruption.

“We began to implement ‘from door to door’ and ‘from university to university’ projects, the practice used in Hong Kong. The municipal accounts of anti-corruption booklets will be sent to the residents of towns and villages. Large-scale campaigns in each city and social networks will be also organised,” he said.

Mobile anti-corruption groups to conduct large-scale awareness-raising work among employees and mobile public reception offices are expected to be introduced. Specially equipped buses with specialists will go to all regions on a regular basis and receive citizens directly at state institutions and organisations that provide the most demanded services.

“We will organise anti-corruption campaigns and actions in cooperation with the Nur Otan party, Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, Government for Citizens, Kazpost, trade unions, Alliance of Bloggers, religious associations and public organisations. Teaching young people the basics of anti-corruption culture is of great importance, too. This subject is included in the curricula of higher education institutions and the same textbook has been published with the support of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE),” said Shpekbayev.

The anti-corruption activities forum of entrepreneurs was held in cooperation with the Atameken Chamber of Entrepreneurs. The roadmap for eliminating corruption risks in 16 spheres with high administrative barriers was adopted as part of the event. This document will contribute to the policy aimed at protecting and supporting business. The analysis of corruption risks in all areas will be completed in the near future and will be discussed with all interested state bodies to ensure control over their elimination.

“We continue to cooperate with international organisations working in the field of combating corruption. Due to the partnership with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), its anti-corruption network meeting was held in Kazakhstan for the first time with the participation of 50 delegates from 24 countries. Last year, we agreed to Kazakhstan’s entry into the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), an international organisation established by the Council of Europe,” he said.

Current and future priorities

International experts should have the opportunity to obtain all the up-to-date information on countering corruption on their official websites in English, said Shpekbayev. Public authorities should provide complete information on anti-corruption measures in English in accordance with the requirements of the current legislation.

“Last year, 389 applications were received about violations of official ethics by officials. We plan to conduct the annual sociological surveys for the satisfaction of citizens with the ethical conduct of officials. We intend to seek to optimise the state apparatus, raise salaries and legislatively approve the personal responsibility of heads of state bodies for corruption offenses committed by servants. This practice is widely and effectively applied in top national universities,” he said.

There’s also a lot of work to do to eliminate corruption-related factors in the provision of public services. The agency conducted more than 1,500 control checks on the quality of public services, during which more than 800,000 violations were identified in 2016.

“We have to intensify and expand the work of online control over the applications and introduce the use of electronic regulations and protocols into the practice of state bodies, which is especially important for local police units. These activities should be based on the experience of developed countries and in accordance with the recommendations of the European Union. The development of the mobile government is of particular attention. We will develop the format of rendering government services through mobile platforms, to use the powerful potential of instant messengers such as WhatsApp and Telegram,” he said.

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National Bank expects insurance companies to merge

Wed, 2017-04-05 23:22

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Insurance company mergers are to be expected after the requirements were raised for their authorised capital, said National Bank insurance supervision department head Zhanat Kurmanov, reported

Zhanat Kurmanov. Photo credit:

“One should expect consolidations in the insurance market as a result of requirements on increasing authorised capital. This is most likely among general insurance companies, because the majority, that is 25 companies, are working in general insurance,” he said during a briefing at the bank, according to the news agency.

The regulatory authority has not made it a mission to lower the number of insurance companies. From the standpoint of international experts, however, Kazakhstan has more general insurance companies than a small domestic market requires. Seven companies is a reasonable amount.

“There are two possible options. Market consolidation and possible cutback of companies is a first option. Foreign players will develop interest in Kazakhstan with its entrance into the World Trade Organisation. Then, their enterprises will not reduce in number; quite the opposite, it will grow due to the foreign players,” he said.

The State Accumulative Pension Fund establishment investment market activity significantly dropped because there were no remaining counterparties represented by pension funds. In this regard, the National Bank made an offer to transfer a portion of pension money to companies managing pension assets. The companies are to place them both in domestic and foreign markets, he noted.

“And from our point of view, insurance companies, life insurance companies in particular, should also be among them as portfolio managers. In this direction, we would like the management level of life insurance companies grow,” added Kurmanov, wrote

He emphasised the cost of retirement annuity with an account of index linking has grown; therefore, the scope of persons who are able to get it has narrowed. Correspondingly, it cannot “become the driver of retirement insurance development.”

“However, as a whole we would like the main focus of a company to be on product development on optional insurance. For example unit link product, when an insurant shares in the profits an insurance company generates,” he said.

The advantage of a product is an insurant being able to the select tools where his or her savings are invested. Kurmanov added it also includes attractive earning power and a life insurance policy.

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Kazakh, Azerbaijani presidents pursue deeper economic relations in Baku

Wed, 2017-04-05 23:16

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev discussed bilateral trade, political, cultural and humanitarian cooperation, as well as international and regional issues, during an April 3 meeting in Baku.

Photo credit:

Nazarbayev said the two countries should seek new, joint economic opportunities resulting from the global economic crisis, including in transit and transportation.

“We see that the ongoing crisis in the world is causing serious damage to national economies. At the same time, it allows us to use hidden opportunities and create new joint ventures. We should pay attention to innovative technologies on the way to economy diversification,” he said. “Economics is the basis of any state. Arrangements in various sectors, particularly in the transport and communication spheres promise great opportunities for our states.”

“There is a railway road built in Kazakhstan from the Chinese border to the Caspian Sea with a length of about 2,000 kilometres, as well as the Western Europe –Western China highway, which brings its results. At the moment, a question arose concerning sending goods from China to Europe through the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea. Thus, there is a huge potential for Azerbaijan,” Nazarbayev continued. “Kazakhstan is ready to supply metallurgical products to Azerbaijan, such as already exported locomotives. For example, the volume of imported vegetables from Azerbaijan increased 12 times in one year. Coordinated actions will help us to increase trade turnover up to $500 million in the near future.”

Nazarbayev underlined that documents signed at the meeting should boost economic cooperation, including cooperation agreements on quarantine and plant protection, international automobile travel and a protocol on making amendments to the intergovernmental convention on the prevention of double taxation of income and property. The countries’ foreign ministries also signed a 2017-2018 cooperation programme.

Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ), the nation’s state-owned railway and logistics operator, and Azerbaijan Railways, the national state-owned rail transport operator, also signed an agreement on strategic cooperation in logistics and railway transport engineering.

“Trade is one of the main cores of our relationship. It provides opportunities to develop other areas of interaction. Today’s meeting has revealed the need to increase trade turnover, because the existing volume of $140 million does not meet our interests,” said Nazarbayev.

According to Nazarbayev, the two countries are important players in the world energy market.

“We are interested in ensuring uninterrupted delivery of oil and oil products to world markets, including through the territory of Azerbaijan. When launching large projects in Kazakhstan, we try to create conditions for localisation of production of equipment or other products,” Nazarbayev said.

Nazarbayev also noted the countries’ similar position on international issues and the importance of cultural cooperation.

“It is necessary to pay attention to the issues of student exchange and holding days of cultures in both countries. This will raise our cultural and humanitarian ties to a new level,” he said.

Nazarbayev also thanked the Azerbaijani President for awarding him the Order of Heydar Aliyev, the country’s highest award, for Nazarbayev’s contributions to developing relations.

“This meeting should serve as a new impetus for launching a new format of our relations that will allow us to more closely develop two-sided cooperation,” he said. “A large number of ethnic Azerbaijanis – citizens of Kazakhstan – live in our country. When those people create their businesses, they act as a bridge between the two states and strengthen our friendly relations.” According to statistics, shared by the Kazakh President, there are 130,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis living in Kazakhstan today.

Aliyev noted the importance of the Kazakh President’s visit and the signing of new agreements to deepening relations.

Aliyev praised Nazarbayev for his leadership of Kazakhstan and said Kazakhstan’s recent election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council indicates the country’s growing international role.

“Your regional and worldwide initiatives deserve great respect. We express satisfaction with the development of our bilateral relations. Today’s constructive exchange of views shows the similarity of positions on many issues,” he noted.

Following the visit, Nazarbayev laid flowers to the Eternal Fire memorial at the Shahid Alley devoted to Azerbaijani soldiers who were killed for the sake of the country’s freedom and territorial integrity. Nazarbayev also laid a wreath at the grave of National Leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev and his wife Zarifa Aliyeva.

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Astana Convention Bureau copes with accommodation issues ahead of EXPO

Tue, 2017-04-04 06:12

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Only two months remain until the event Kazakhstan has been waiting for several years. EXPO 2017 will open to visitors in June for the summer and one of the biggest issues has been how the capital will handle the perceived lack of accommodations for tourists. The Astana Convention Bureau, an organisation under city akimat (administration), has been working hard to deal with the challenge.

The convention bureau is responsible for developing tourism, promoting a positive image and preparing the city for the upcoming international event.

“EXPO 2017 is expected to be visited by more than 2.3 million people and it is also assumed that every person who comes here will visit the exhibition site at least two times. Taking into account the number of expected visitors, we can say there will be around five million visits. The main issue is the accommodation of those people. According to data, every day Astana will need to provide 32,000 beds,” said director Saniyar Aitekenov in an interview with The Astana Times.

The city currently has 168 hotels with and without categories which can provide around 12,500 spots, he said. An additional 23 hotels and 2,500 accommodations are being built and are expected to be open by the summer.

“Our company has also attracted the dormitories of the universities and colleges. In total, it is about 20 buildings. About 8,000 places are ready in dorms. All of those places were specially prepared for the tourists,” added Aitekenov.

In order to access information about availability and booking the dorms, three informational booths or tourist help kiosks have been opened. They are located in the railway station, the airport and the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Centre, where bureau managers provide information about the city and accommodation options.

By the summer, the number of such booths will be increased to six. The new ones will be located at the new railway station and spots popular among tourists.

The capital’s hostel scene is also developing well, as there are about 40 hostels. In addition, around 3,000 apartments are available for rent.

“That is quite an issue, since there is a mess in a process of finding apartments. The most popular website,, has a huge number of fake ads. Of course, there are and Airbnb, but we have to take into account the mentality of people. The main flow of visitors is from the country’s regions and most people are afraid to use a card payment system to enter their data into websites,” said Aitekenov.

The working team devised a verification system which will help eliminate some of the fake accounts and ads and work to resolve the issue.

“We wanted to create a website with registration/verification via text messages. It will be called Torlet and will be launched in the end of April. Now, we are collecting and gathering apartments. The company goes through every apartment and checks it,” he said.

All the measures will help to accommodate all the visitors, he added.

Another challenge is to make tourists want to come back to the capital, to make them so-called “ambassadors” of Kazakhstan. The most important thing in reaching that is the quality of service, he said.

“On a legislative level, we do not have system of classification. Here, hotels classify themselves as they wish. For example, a hotel declares itself as a four-star at, but in the real life it is lower. In the end, the customer is unsatisfied. That is an issue; well, it was. We have done a lot of work and created a system of partnership in the city called Recommended by EXPO. We recommend hotels, restaurants, cafes and others. To become partners in the programme, companies should go under a special commission and meet requirements. There is a classifier based on international standards. The commission gives its rating to the participants – gold (five stars), silver (four stars), bronze (three stars) and partner,” said Aitekenov.

The Astana Convention Bureau has produced an official guide and map of the city with information about various places and how to reach them. They are available at information kiosks, hotels and other public places. All the necessary information is also available at

The company is not only preparing for the EXPO, but trying to develop tourism in the long perspective. It has a tourism development programme, which has set a goal reaching one million foreign tourists per year by 2020. Last year, the number was 260,000. The organisation’s projects also include hop on–hop off buses, an audio tour at the app and pedestrian signs.


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Uranium production legacy in Central Asia tackled with international assistance

Tue, 2017-04-04 06:10

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – A joint mission of the European Commission (EC) and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) visited Kyrgyzstan March 28-31 with the aim of solving the problems the uranium production legacy poses to the country’s environment. Min-Kush, Shekaftar and Mailuu-Suu were defined as top priority sites for environmental remediation.

“We appreciate the genuine commitment of the EC and the EBRD to support Kyrgyzstan in addressing the threat the uranium production legacy poses to the environment and the people in the Central Asian region, as urgent measures are needed for the sites in Mailuu-Suu, Min-Kush and Shekaftar, where environmental instability still exists,” said Kyrgyz Minister of Emergency Situations Kubatbek Boronov, according to an EBRD press release.

“I am confident that today we have reached the next stage of our cooperation, where we can tackle the problems through specific programmes and projects aimed at protecting human health and the environment, both at the national and regional levels,” he added.

“The environmental remediation in Kyrgyzstan is part of the EU’s overall environmental strategy for Central Asia. Addressing the legacy of uranium mining will assist the Kyrgyz Republic in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals by improving the living conditions of the people affected by these legacy sites,” said EU delegation head to Kyrgyzstan Ambassador Cesare de Montis.

The multilateral Environmental Remediation Account for Central Asia (ERA) was established to address the threat the uranium production legacy poses to the environment, but corresponding agreements haven’t been signed yet by Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The first examination of two sites in Kyrgyzstan showed remediation would cost an estimated $32 million.

EBRD Nuclear Safety Deputy Director Balthasar Lindauer said discussions with the Kyrgyz government were very open and fruitful. He added the government has agreed to participate in the programme and play an active role in implementing it.

At present, the parties have developed a strategic master plan, specifying top priority uranium legacy sites and the estimated cost of the remediation work. The plan ensures that works take place using the highest level of international standards and best practices. It was developed under the leadership of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) together with experts from the affected countries and the international community.

The EU’s efforts in environmental remediation in the Central Asian region are part of the overall EU-Central Asia strategy. The efforts aim at facilitating the rehabilitation of radioactive and contaminated uranium production sites to mitigate environmental and public health risks. The EU has provided $9.6 million for feasibility studies and detailed environmental impact assessments at the top priority sites. At that, the EU allocated $17.6 million to ERA and is seeking to improve nuclear safety culture, responsible safe management of nuclear waste and nuclear safeguards worldwide.


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Kazakh farmers face challenges in production and exporting wheat, yet opportunities are vast

Tue, 2017-04-04 06:07

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – The demand for Kazakh wheat will fall in the near future, said Nurlan Dautkanov, an expert in the field of industrial wheat processing, mainly because importing countries are gradually moving away from grain dependence to ensure their food security.

Nurlan Dautkanov. Photo:

For Kazakhstan, a country that was considered the largest grain exporter even in the Soviet Union, the fall in demand for wheat means stalling the grain industry on the whole, he said in a recent interview with

Although last year the Ministry of Agriculture registered a record high level of harvested grain crops in the past 25 years (23 million tonnes, 1.4 times more than in 2015), this year he chose not to make forecasts.

“Kazakhstan’s export potential has significantly decreased over the past few years. The demand for our wheat from many partner countries has decreased. This is because the traditional importing countries are trying to provide themselves with grain at the expense of their own labour, thereby reinforcing food security,” said Dautkanov. “One of the world’s largest producers of wheat is China. The country consumes more wheat than it grows and still has a huge strategic fund. For comparison, on average, out of the 17 million tonnes of wheat grown by Kazakhstan, only one-third goes to domestic consumption; the rest is exported.”

“In general, if we talk about China, they are very competent and are scaled fit to everything, especially to the agricultural sector. If Kazakhstan reviews some government programmes for a year and then starts implementing them, which may take another few years – in China everything is different. If the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture plans to introduce new technologies or sectoral programmes, they are implemented immediately, with agro-technology at a high level. For comparison, in the mid-to-late 1980s from one hectare of land, the Japanese received six times more wheat than the Americans; the Chinese got twice as much as the Japanese. I suppose, at present, the Chinese are also at the top of wheat production from one hectare,” he added.

Some countries will not be able to completely refuse Kazakh grains, according to the expert.

“Not all importing countries can completely abandon our grain and flour, but many try to reduce their dependence – which makes sense. Kazakh companies stopped diversifying the grain business at flour and pasta production. But the consumers know that there are other sources of grain in the world, not only in Kazakhstan, so they conduct a measured trade.

Recently, the President of Azerbaijan ordered implementing a programme of self-sufficiency with wheat, some time before Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and others did the same. Do not forget about Russian and Ukrainian exporters who have access to seas,” he said.

Dautkanov noted there are about 15 million hectares of arable land, but a lot of those are used inefficiently.

“There were no problems with the lack of funds; we have various measures of state support. The only problem is management, or rather the lack of a systematic approach. Many local managers are not fully aware of the obligations imposed on them, limited only to the agronomic component, or the production of flour. The second problem is the low-quality preparation of technical and engineering specialists. About 80 percent of graduates of technical and agricultural universities do not know the subject. Another problem is that universities and colleges do not have state orders for training a specific number of specialists in certain specialisations. This also applies to grain processing. As a result, we come to the fact that some specialists with red diplomas of higher education work as vendors at bazaars. There were cases when European or Chinese grain processing equipment was purchased, but the technologists did not know how to work with it,” he said.

“Two wheat processing plants have been built in Kazakhstan – the joint stock company (JSC) BM and JSC BIOHIM both produced alcohol. The first plant produced vodka; the second, fuel alcohol (bioethanol) and biobenzines. Both plants also produced gluten – a protein complex of wheat grain, which has a high margin. Unfortunately, neither is operational today, although several companies are interested in BIOHIM, including KazMunaiGas (KMG). KMG wants to produce gasoline of Euro-4 and Euro-5 standards where bioethanol is added to reduce the emission of carbon monoxide and increase the octane number of the fuel,” he added.

Eleven projects have been announced which are aimed at processing wheat into starch products.

“According to my information, two or three such projects will be launched in the North Kazakhstan region: two in the Kostanai region, three or four in the Akmola region and two in the Almaty region,” said Dautkanov.

He added not all companies would want to solely produce alcoholic products.

“Wheat processing allows obtaining glucose, fructose, maltose syrups and other starch products. But the syrup market is currently shrinking, because many producers of lemonades use either sugar or synthetic substitutes, as they’re cheaper than glucose syrups and the dosage of a sugar substitute is easier to control. Starch itself is a ready-made product and raw materials for deeper rework, such as organic, lemon, lactic and acetic, for instance, and amino acids such as lysine, methionine, tryptophan, et cetera, and various biopolymers,” said Dautkanov.

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Britain to officially unveil its EXPO 2017 pavilion June 26

Sat, 2017-04-01 05:30

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Britain will unveil its EXPO 2017 pavilion June 26 in Astana as part of the United Kingdom’s National Day, officials announced recently at the presentation of the pavilion at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.

Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United Kingdom Erlan Idrissov, Minister of State for Trade and Investment Greg Hands, Britain’s EXPO 2017 National Commissioner, former Minister of State for Energy Charles Hendry, chief designer of the pavilion Asif Khan as well as representatives of the British government, Parliament, business and expert circles attended.

Idrissov thanked Britain for supporting Kazakhstan’s hosting of the exhibition, to be held under the theme of “Future Energy”, and stressed the importance of London’s contribution to the event’s preparations and promotion.

He also noted Kazakhstan will become the first state in Central Asia and among the Commonwealth of Independent States to host a worldwide exhibition. “EXPO 2017 will become one of the most important global forums in our country’s history. Astana will turn into (one of) the international energy and cultural centres of the world. Within the framework of the exhibition, it is planned to hold summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, national days of the countries participating in EXPO 2017, various ministerial forums and more than 3,000cultural and sports events,” said the ambassador.

Hands, who is also a co-chairman of the Kazakh-British intergovernmental commission, noted the high level of bilateral relations and the key role of the Kazakh market for the United Kingdom. He also invited guests to participate in the Caravan-EXPO 2017 roadshow to be held in a square in London April 13 to 16.

According to him, Astana Expo 2017 is an excellent opportunity for Britain to showcase its latest energy innovations.

In addition, the British Commissioner of EXPO 2017 noted the United Kingdom views the exhibition as a unique opportunity to develop business cooperation with Kazakhstan and the expo’s other countries.

Lord Mayor of London Andrew Charles Parmley and the Minister for International Trade will represent Britain.

According to Asif Khan’s concept, the 1,100 square-metre pavilion will be shaped like a Kazakh yurt. It will ask visitors to imagine a new future fuelled by the properties of the advanced material graphene, discovered by Nobel Prize winning U.K. scientists at Manchester University. The pavilion, to be set up under the theme “We Are Energy” will also display other discoveries made by Great Britain.

The U.K. is one of the world’s flagships in the field of green energy. The first worldwide exhibition was held in the 19th century in London.

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Talented photographers share their favourite works at National Museum exhibition

Sat, 2017-04-01 05:25

The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

ASTANA – Talented young Kazakh photographers are exhibiting their works through early April at the “Koktem. New Generation” photo exhibition in the National Museum of Kazakhstan.

The event is organised under the IdeaHub project. According to its initiator Bairam Azizov, this creative association seeks to develop and popularise photo art in Kazakhstan. It began one year ago and has since selected 20,000 works by young photographers and so-called mobilographers of Kazakhstan.

Mobilography is a growing photographic trend in which photos are taken on a digital camera and processed with applications.

“The works created by young photographers depict their visual diary, reflecting the rapid changes in society, as well as the eternal struggle between good and evil, new and old. Photographs display the authors’ attitude to the surrounding reality. Each picture is a kind of history created by a new generation. All the photographs presented at the exhibition can be bought after its completion. The proceeds will go to charity for needy children,” Azizov said.

The exhibition has allowed young people to share their vision and describe the stories behind their photographs. Darkhan Zhagiparov, for example, took up photography when he wanted to capture his wife during pregnancy.

“It turned out that my daughter was the “first step to photography. The second step was the creation of the creative association ‘IdeaHub.’ Now I have created the Loft-photo studio for future projects,” Zhagiparov said.

Another photographer Arnai Ormash is implementing the “Armenot.stories” project.

“The main idea of this project is to capture the atmosphere of our time, show the life of our city and tell stories of our residents. Today, Astana is experiencing an amazing time with new architectural trends and new image of the capital’s resident. I try to depict these amazing moments on my photos,” he said.

Photo by Arnai Ormash

According to Almaty resident Manat Karinov, the beauty and charm of his native land inspires him to create photos. He started photographing five years ago during travels around Kazakhstan.

“Photography has always been my favourite hobby and gradually I started to do it more professionally. I like street genres, reportage and documentary photography,” he said.

Zhomart Aralbaiuly became interested in photography when he got his first Polaroid camera. He used to take photos of relatives at family events and activities. Now, he dreams of taking photos for the National Geographic.

“I am an amateur photographer. I started doing photography four years ago. Over these years, I have visited many parts of our vast country. I always wanted to capture the full contrast of Kazakhstan, whether it is Dossor village in Atyrau or Markakol in the East Kazakhstan region. My friends and I are very pleased to present our photos at this exhibition. As I know, famous ABR restaurant chain supported our initiative. I would like to thank them for this opportunity to exhibit our photographs in the main museum of our country. I want to express gratitude to our friend Bairam Azizov; without him nothing would have happened,” he said.

Exhibition organisers also held a discussion on the development of photo art and a master class for novice photographers.

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