RENEW Strategies

Afghanistan: Looking Beyond the News

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Laura Davis
| July 5, 2011

Herat is in the news more and more these days, and not for good reasons. But from where I sit, I have hope that these blips of bad news represent the darkness that comes before dawn. The stories that fuel my hope are in front of me every day as I go about my work here. I see the dawn coming in the form of business owners who are making it despite pretty significant odds, the university students that are going to school and starting businesses, people buying and selling goods everywhere, new manufacturing facilities going up in the nearby industrial park, semitrailers packed to the gills with goods swaying down the road to market. Despite 30 plus years of war, the economy is showing signs of growth.

According to the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA), there was only one telephone landline per 1,000 people in 2002 and no Internet Service Providers (ISP). As of 2010, Afghanistan is leapfrogging over the lack of copper lines and there are 13.3 million cellular subscribers, serviced by five main GSM operators. Their towers now cover 80 percent of this mountainous country. The cost of activating a cellular phone has dropped from $200 to $25 dollars. What a story of how investment can change even a war torn landscape in less than 10 years.

Local experts estimate that 20 to 25 percent of Herati’s now have laptop or desktop computers in their homes. Five years ago, the average person didn’t know about the Internet or have an email address, but that is all changing as Afghanistan comes online. There is opportunity everywhere I look...

Who wants to be a part of Afghanistan’s next big ICT growth spurt? I know some great entrepreneurs looking for partners. Contact us at or follow us on Twitter @RENEWLLC to find out more.