According to a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan on February 29th, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is set to introduce a new initiative to support Uzbekistan’s clean energy objectives. Under Uzbekistan’s “Strategy for the Development of Renewable and Hydrogen Energy,” the region has a target to increase its generation of renewable energy (solar, wind, and hydro) by 25 percent by 2030, and carbon neutrality by 2050. To support the government’s goals and with the collaboration of the Uzbek Ministry of Energy and energy sector stakeholders, USAID has announced the launch a Green Hydrogen Hub. Edward Michalski, Acting Director of USAID Mission to Uzbekistan, reported, “USAID is committed to supporting the Central Asian countries in the pursuit of clean energy development and other energy priorities, as not just a goal, but a necessity.” By helping to further the energy sector’s expertise in clean energy technologies, the Hub will play an important role in shaping the region’s future energy landscape. A new curriculum on green hydrogen established by USAID in partnership with the University of Delaware, USA, and Tashkent State Technical University, has now been incorporated into a master’s degree program.
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On March 1st, Akylbek Japarov Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic, Abdulla Aripov Prime Minister of Uzbekistan and Ma Xingrui Communist Party Secretary of China’s western Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, met in Kashgar (Xinjiang) to discuss the construction of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway. Japarov first praised the incentive for its potential to strengthen the development of trade and economic cooperation between the three countries and reported that a jointly funded feasibility study of the project had already been developed and approved. Uzbekistan’s Prime Minister Aripov expressed his country’s interest in developing multimodal transport routes to support the joint construction of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway. Addressing the insufficient throughput capacity of the Irkeshtam checkpoint on the Kyrgyz-Chinese border, Japarov stated, “increasing the volume of cargo throughput at the Irkeshtam checkpoint is an issue relevant to both the Kyrgyz and Chinese sides, as well as the Uzbek side. It is therefore important that all checkpoints are modernized and equipped with updated means of customs control.” He then reported that new customs inspection complexes at the Irkeshtam and Torugart checkpoints to be installed this year, will allow up to 125 vehicles per hour to cross the border, and added that the Kyrgyz side aims to increase the throughput capacity of these checkpoints to 1,000 vehicles per day. In the interest of developing trade and economic ties, the Secretary of Xinjiang’s Party Committee welcomed the Kyrgyz Prime Minister's proposals and supported his stance that Xinjiang is perceived as a gateway to China from Kyrgyzstan and in turn, several other Central Asian countries.
Two hydrometric stations have been opened along the cross-border Great Fergana Canal and North Fergana Canal, according to a report by news portal Gazeta.uz. Construction of the stations was facilitated by the Swiss government’s Blue Peace Central Asia initiative. The project was started in 2017 in response to the need for a cross-border strategy for water management in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The hydrometric stations were opened as part of the sixth meeting of the Uzbekistan-Tajikistan working group on the coordinated use of the transnational rivers’ water resources in Central Asia. The two countries signed a protocol on the automated computations and real-time transfer of cost data to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan from the two stations. The Gazeta.uz report claims that Switzerland has been assisting water reform initiatives in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan for nearly 20 years, employing an integrated approach to national water resources management. Blue Peace Central Asia supports the creation of guidelines for regional cooperation aimed at ensuring water security for the entire population of Central Asia. Recently, the data source Meteojurnal released statistics regarding the use of Amudarya water by Central Asian nations in 2023, based on information from the scientific information center of the Central Asian interstate water management coordination commission (Afghanistan was not taken into account). The largest user of river water was Turkmenistan, which diverted 42% of river water (20 cubic kilometers) to its own country. In second place was Uzbekistan, which used 38.4% of the river’s water (about 18.3 cubic kilometers). The next largest user, Tajikistan, accounted for 19.8% of water (more than 9.4 cubic kilometers).
Uzbekistan and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have signed a loan agreement, this time for lending by the Sustainable Economic and Social Development Support Program in Japan, worth up to ¥37 billion ($246 million). The loan will help the Uzbek government continue its reforms to make the country's economy more market-driven. Its objective is to safeguard social cohesion and stability, encompassing the citizens who are susceptible to fluctuations in financial circumstances. JICA supports enhancing market institutions and the conditions that allow the private sector to flourish -- as well as enhancing state-owned enterprise governance, promoting social inclusion, and promoting sustainability. Moreover, the line of credit contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of poverty eradication, promoting gender equality, work safeguards and economic growth. The Ministry of Economy and Finance is designated as the executive agency of the agreement on the part of Uzbekistan. The loan is provided for a period of 30 years. In January 2022, at a meeting between the Director of the Cultural Heritage Agency of Uzbekistan Shahriyor Nurulloyev and first deputy head of the JICA office in Uzbekistan Yoshimasa Takemura, JICA allocated ¥55.9 million yen ($490,000) to their Uzbek counterparts. Funds were given to preserve and digitize cultural heritage archives and to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in the field of cultural heritage preservation.
Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, the youngest daughter of the First President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, has sold her luxurious two-story Beverly Hills mansion, Le Palais. The exact amount of the deal and the name of the new owner were not disclosed, but it's known that the buyer paid about $36 million. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the house, located opposite the Beverly Hills Hotel, has an area of 4,500 square meters. Karimova-Tillyaeva bought it in 2013 for $32.75 million from real estate developer, Mohammed Hadid, the father of models Bella and Gigi Hadid. Le Palais was built according to Hadid's own plans. The mansion has a summer terrace, a garage for 10-12 cars, separate rooms for staff accommodation, an 18-meter outdoor swimming pool, and a roof garden. For the hosts and their guests, the house has seven bedrooms, a dining room of approximately 500 square meters, a ballroom which can accomdate 200 people, a home theater, a gym, and a Turkish bath with an indoor pool. Four years ago, Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva and her husband Timur Tillyaev put three homes up for sale in Hollywood at prices ranging between $6 million and $6.5 million. They had purchased the properties in 2014 through offshore companies for $16.1 million in total. The couple then proceeded to rent the properties out. In 2015, the American press became aware that the daughter of the Former President of Uzbekistan owned four luxury mansions in one of the most fashionable areas of Los Angeles - the neighborhood of Bel Air. As noted by the Wall Street Journal, the couple also own real estate in France and Switzerland, where their home in Geneva is valued at $41 million. The 44-year-old youngest daughter of the late President Karimov is the founder of the Harmonist Maison de Parfum perfume company. Her husband owned the largest wholesale market in Uzbekistan,Abu Sahiy. In 2017, Mediapart published an investigation which revealed that Abu Sahiy had transferred $127 million through offshore bank accounts in the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland. Karimova-Tillyaeva, known in the West as "Till," served for ten years as Uzbekistan's Ambassador to UNESCO. She is actively involved in various projects in the fields of culture, health, education, science, and the ecology. The Sen Yolg'iz Emassan (You Are Not Alone) Foundation, which she heads, conducts free surgeries for children from low-income families in Uzbekistan.
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are working to accelerate the creation of an international center for industrial cooperation, called ‘Central Asia’. It will be constructed at the border of the two countries, near the Gulistan checkpoint on the Uzbek side and the Atameken checkpoint on the Kazakh side, the Kazakh Ministry of Trade and Integration has reported. The Kazakh investor in the project, TCL Group, together with the administration of Kazakhstan’s Turkestan region, plans to begin construction of the Central Asia Center this year. TCL Group has also signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Uzbek company Global Textile on the center’s first investment project, which will produce finished textile products. Kazakhstan’s deputy minister for trade and integration, Kairat Torebaev, has commented that the Central Asia Center is expected to start its operations in the fourth quarter of 2026, and the official opening is planned for the first half of 2027. Mr Torebaev believes the center will help intensify business ties between manufacturers from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and stimulate the growth of trade turnover between the two countries. Trade turnover between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan has grown to over $4.6bn in 2023. The sides aim to bring bilateral trade to $10bn in the coming years.