Unity Creates Stability

The German Federal Government has been supporting since 2005 a small project aimed at establishing and developing a modern chamber of industry and commerce (CCI) of Afghanistan.  The existing chamber of 70 years is state controlled and needs reform to be transformed into a strong membership organization controlled by the business community and based on law. This organization will operate according to the needs of the enterprises and will effectively represent the interests of the business community. Such a chamber of commerce will have an elementary role in the civil reconstuction of this unquiet country. Enterpreneurs of all ethnic, regional, and sectoral interest groups will experience the peaceful and fruitful contact with each other under the chamber’s roof; they will hold discussions and find consensus by majority. The chamber of commerce will become a model for the development of a consensual and stable society in Afghanistan.

Some crucial milestones toward this goal have already been reached. The project supported the construction of a new legal framework, a new organizational structure, and the formation of new decision-making bodies within the chamber. The forces of the private sector, previously split in two organisations, have been bundled in a new, united chamber. Employees of the united chamber have been trained, services needed by the business community have been developed.

New Formation of Afghanistan’s Business Community

More than 300 elected representatives of the private sector from all regions of the country held a caucus in August 2006 and made a key decision: they requested for Afghanistan a united chamber of commerce and industry with voluntary membership and a liberal and modern chamber law. A suitable draft law has been elaborated in 2007 and entered into legislation procedures via the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Procedures, however, were stalled by the Baghlan bomb attack, where more than half of the members of the economic committee of Afghanistans Parliament lost their lives, including the Chairman of the Chamber Reform Commission and other supporters and co-initiators of the project.

Still, in October 2007, the two existing chambers agreed to merge into a united „Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry“ (ACCI). In March 2008, the new joint conclave decided to hold as soon as possible elections in all provinces for the first regular Assembly of Delegates to the Chamber. In the meantime, a temporary statute was passed and a temporary presidium and general secretariate were installed. Procedures started without delay to complete the merger in terms of finance, human resources, and office space.

Afghanistan’s business community, media, and the general public observe the development of this new chamber with great interest. The number of voluntary members has rapidly grown since 2006. The entrepreneurs, however, still need some exercise and guidance before meetings, discussions, voting, and majority decision-making turn into routine. The chamber’s infrastucture, work equipment, and work processes need modernization, the merger of the previous chambers needs implementation in all provinces, provincial chambers need inclusion in an efficient chamber network. Germany and the United States jointly support the new ACCI in completing these important tasks, aiming at a contribution to rebuilding a stable society in Afghanistan.