KABUL - The blind cleric’s haunting Arabic prayer chant echoed among the sterile plastic rows of Coke and Fanta, seeking Allah’s blessing for the only major business to open in Afghanistan in more than a decade.
Coca-Cola, with its distinctive red-and-white logo, has come to Kabul in what is at once a sign of economic progress and a symbol of the failure of major businesses to open up in the five years since the fall of the hardline Islamist Taleban.
President Hamid Karzai opened the US$25 million bottling plant in the capital’s industrial complex of Bagrami, meaning sweet or fragrant, on Sunday.
Karzai’s Western-backed government is desperate to kickstart an economy independent of the US$3 billion ($4.70 billion)-a-year illegal drugs trade, but has been unable to lure investors to one of the world’s five poorest countries, where violence has hit a high since the 2001 war.[/quote]
I love to see this. It IS the economy stupid, everywhere. And people will do pretty much anything to get a job.
And the MOST American of companies leads the way! :bravo:
But the country has no economy and apart from thousands of well-paid United Nations personnel, foreign troops and aid workers, few people have money to spend.
The average income is about US$200 a year. A small bottle of Coke costs about 20 cents in the shops.
“Nothing much has been done to develop the economy. There is no investment,” academic, writer and former cabinet minister Hamidullah Tarzi told Reuters recently.
“We are living in a sort of artificial economy. This is completely false because there is no production and there is nothing you can call investment.”[/quote]
It’s hard not to get political about this, but the UN services that are being offered around the world miss the point that people have dignity and want to work and provide for their families, not be taken care of and humiliated by UN “humanitarian services.”
Good on you COKE!