Alumni Spotlight

Transforming Challenges into Opportunities for Regional Prosperity

27 January, 2020

Ofarid is a graduate of the first cohort of the MA Programme in Economic Governance and Development in 2013. Currently he is a Regional Projects Implementation Lead of Pamir Energy Company, which is the first energy company in Tajikistan. Ofarid has been working at Pamir Energy since 2015 and he shares his story about his professional development since the day of graduation of the OSCE Academy till today.

Following  my  graduation  from  the  OSCE  Academy  in  2013,  I  was  approached by the United Kingdom Vol-unteer Service Overseas in Tajikistan, which  offered  me  an  opportunity  to  undertake Market Research Analysis of cross-border trade between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. In many ways, this  served  as  a  continuation  of  my  MA thesis at the OSCE Academy that focused  on  the  socio-economic  impact of cross-border engagements.  In particular,  I  investigated  two  aspects  of this exchange process. 1. The rules and  regulations  recently  incorporated  into  the  legislation  on  cross-border trade aimed at fostering stronger regional economic ties. 2. The current trends of supply and demand for food products.  As  a  result  of  this  study,  policy  recommendations  were  made  to  the  national,  international  and  local stakeholders involved in developing  cross-border  trade/cooperation  between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Moreover,  I  joined  the  Institute  for  Public  Policy  and  Administration  of the  University  of  Central  Asia  to  act  as  Project  Officer  and  Researcher  in  Tajikistan  under  a  USAID-funded  project  entitled  “Small  and  Medium  Enterprise (SME) Growth for Central Asia”.  In  this  role,  I  worked  with  a  team to identify the potential sectors that  can  boost  the  economy  of  Tajikistan,  the  barriers  to  growth,  and  made policy recommendations to the stakeholders involved.

Through these experiences, I realized that Tajikistan’s economic growth can capitalize  on  regional  integration.  In  particular, I found that, particularly in mountainous and rural areas, economic growth was largely dependent on the growth and security of the energy  sector  given  that  energy  serves  as  a  precondition  or  platform  for  socio-economic  development  across  all  other  sectors.  As  such,  it  only  made  sense  that  my  next  step  was  in  tak-ing  a  position  with  Pamir  Energy  (PE),  an  integrated  utility  company  in  VMKB,  Tajikistan,  established  as  the first Public Private Partnership in Central Asia in 2002. Today, PE provides  clean,  reliable,  and  affordable  electricity  to  96%  of  the  population  of VMKB, up from only 13% in 2002, with  projects  underway  to  achieve  100%  electrification.  The  impacts  of  PE  have  been  transformative  across  all  aspects  of  life  in  VMKB,  turning  a  heavily-subsidized,  decrepit  energy  facility  inherited  from  the  Soviet  era  into  a  sustainable  company.  In  addition to the impact that the company’s  services  are  making  domestically,  the  surplus  energy  generated  is  exported  to  the  communities  in  the  border districts of Northern Afghanistan through PE’s cross-border energy  programme,  established  in  2008. In parallel with the expansion of PE’s services, my role has also grown. Currently, I serve as the Regional Lead for Project  Implementation,  overseeing  the  growth  of  energy  projects  in  Tajikistan,  Afghanistan,  and  also  Pakistan.  Through  this  role,  I  have  been  involved in seeing the regional transformation  that  occurs  when  energy  opens  doors  to  further  development,  and  with  a  growing  plate  of  work,  I  am  ready  to  take  on  the  challenges  that have yet to come.

I  was  born  and  raised  in  Khorog,  a  town of 32,000 people located on the border  between  Tajikistan  and  Afghanistan. Throughout my life I witnessed  significant  challenges  in  the  life  of  the  communities  living  in  the  remote  areas  of  GBAO.  These  challenges  were  mostly  associated  with  poor  socio-economic  conditions  of  the region that resulted in poor quality of life and low standard of living. I always felt that the communities that raised  me  deserved  better.  I  deeply  felt  connected  to  a  larger  mission  to  work  in  order  to  improve  the  quality of life for my community, which is why  made  the  decision  to  return  to  Khorog to build my career and life. To me, my county and, more particularly, my region is a land of opportunity. Specifically,  I  could  see  its  potential  in playing a central role as a regional hub, connecting neighboring regions and  countries.  Today,  my  areas  of  work  focus  on  regional  integration,  particularly  in  connecting  with  Afghanistan  and  Pakistan.  In  this  way,  the  OSCE  Academy  also  played  a  significant role in building a wide regional  network  for  me.  I  continue  to  constantly  engage  with  the  networks  I formed during my time there, both professionally  and  personally.  The  relationships that I established at the OSCE Academy and the processes of discussion  and  negotiation  created  a  platform  for  growth  that  I  now  see  reflected  in  all  the  work  with  which  I  engage,  a  valuable  set  of  skills  and  perspectives that I intend to hone as I continue this journey.


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