Astana, the 20th anniversary of which is celebrated this year, is not just a capital, but also a locomotive of Kazakhstan

This year the citizens of Kazakhstan will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the capital of their country. For Kazakhs every date that has any relation to Astana is special, and this is not an exaggeration. The history of the capital of the country is studied in schools and institutes; films, journalistic investigations, poetic works are devoted to it.  

Astana is a young capital, this year the city will celebrate the 20-th anniversary. Many still discuss the feasibility of moving the capital from Almaty to Astana. Today’s capital of Kazakhstan is in the list of cities with the most difficult and complex climatic conditions. However, during 20 years of development of the former Tselinograd and its modernization to Astana, the authorities of Kazakhstan were able to solve this issue by creating a «green belt» of the capital: plantations that surrounded the city and softened the cold winters.

But surely Astana is a place with plenty of interesting facts. How to create a modern metropolis in 20 years in the steppe, perhaps, is one of the main secrets of President Nazarbayev. It is not a secret that Astana appeared only because of his political decision. The new metropolis, according to the head of the country, was to become a symbol of Kazakhstan and demonstrate to the world modern, albeit a young country, by historical standards the newly independent state. The task is more than ambitious, but Kazakhstan fulfilled it. Now, after 20 years, it can be proved by numbers and facts.

Last year, the capital of Kazakhstan, the first in the entire post-Soviet space, hosted the International Exhibition EXPO, the theme of which was the development of «green» technologies. The topic is also indicative: Kazakhs actively implement these principles in the development of their cities by modernizing economy. Astana becomes a kind of springboard for the introduction of all new, to then spread this experience across the country.

It is expected that in the coming years the Kazakhstani city with a population of over one million will become even «smarter».

At the Astana Economic Forum, Asset Issekeshev, the head of the capital, said that, in the perspective of development, Astana will become a global city. Seeing the transformation in Kazakhstan as a whole, and changes in the capital, in particular, these ambitious plans seem within reach. The Kazakh authorities take Singapore and Dubai as an example. At the same forum on May 18 in Astana it was announced that that the city has already returned all the funds invested in its construction – more than 2 trillion tenge, which is more than 6 billion US dollars. Now it becomes clear why Astana is called the locomotive of development of Kazakhstan’s economy. With the emergence of the new capital, the construction sector of the economy had a domino effect on other sectors and pulled the development of the rest. Currently Astana is still under construction. At the same time the authorities of the country try to decrease the budget from costly projects attracting investors as much as possible.

The official website of the Kazakhstani government published that about 300 billion USD of direct investment was attracted to the country for 26 years of independence. This is more than 70% of the total inflow to the countries of Central Asia. The largest investors are the Netherlands, USA, Switzerland, France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, Japan, Belgium, Canada, and about 20 billion USD of investments come from Astana. It should be noted that attracting investors to the country is a task of national scale.

By building Astana, Nursultan Nazarbayev demonstrated the possibilities of his country, ambition of tasks and, most importantly, ability to solve these problems quickly and correctly. The matter here is not even in economic indicators, which are certainly important, and figures prove the viability of the ideas of the country’s leadership, but also in the messages that Kazakhstan sends to the world. Astana is the capital of world importance. It can cope with global challenges such as the International Exhibition EXPO, International economic summits, it is worth looking at the list of speakers who have been coming to Astana each year.

Last year the capital of Kazakhstan was also a platform for peace talks on Syria, and it should be noted that it was not an initiative of the Kazakh authorities. Astana as a meeting place for important negotiations has satisfied all participants of the Syrian process. This is definitely an indicator of the status of the Kazakhstani city and, most importantly, the credibility of the leader of this country.

It is no secret that many things in modern politics are also dependent on the individual of the contracting parties. President Nazarbayev has earned the image of a wise leader. The head of Kazakhstan has earned such a status. In many cases, Nazarbayev’s authority becomes a decisive factor.

The plan of the administration of the country and its capital is to make Astana the capital of the international financial center. After the EXPO, it is another challenge of global scale, which, however, is practically achieved. Recently, financial center «Astana» registered 13 companies, 20 applied for, until the end of the year the plan of AIFC is to attract 100 companies, and in three years is to increase up to 500. According to the capital mayor Asset Issekeshev, AIFC will give further impetus to the development of Astana, making it a global city in political and international sense. However, purely economically Astana has long been called a successful business project. The plan of the authorities is to create a symbiosis: combining economic success with the development of cultural life of the capital, giving priority, and it is logical, above all to convenience, comfort and security of the capital. With Astana’s rapid development over the last 20 years, such a task seems very realistic.