TIME TO SHINE

Kazakhstan 2015 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Talgat Yermegiyaev, Chairman of the Board of the “Astana EXPO-2017" National Company JSC, on the longer-term benefits of Expo 2017 for Astana and the wider economy.

Talgat Yermegiyaev
BIOGRAPHY
Talgat Yermegiyaev graduated from Georgetown University and later, from the Kazakh Academy of Transport and Communications with a specialization in Organization and Management of Railway Transport. In 2005 he earned his PhD in Economics. During his professional career, he has held numerous positions including, but not limited to, Advisor to the Director, Executive Director, and Managing Director of Construction of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy RSE. He was the first Vice-President of the Almaty Kurylys NHC. In 2011, he became Minister of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and from 2013 to the present he has served as Chairman of the Board of "Astana EXPO-2017" National Company JSC.

How will Expo 2017 affect the development of infrastructure in Astana?

Right now, Astana is preparing its tourism infrastructure for the Expo-2017. We have already started building a new railway station in the capital, capable of servicing 35,000 passengers, and we are planning to modernize the city airport. There has been 29 million tenge allocated for the construction of new airport terminal and reconstruction of the landing and takeoff area. Financial inputs and mass construction will allow us to double the service capacity of the airport by 2017; from 3.5 to 7.1 million passengers per year. We will also construct two new bus terminals and special lanes for public transport – called the BRT. The BRT will stretch for 48km, which will allow us to transport large number of passengers and improve the public transportation system in general. We are planning to build 10 separate parking areas, new hotels, and restaurants as well as other amenities. In addition to the hotels in Astana, we are planning to create several eco-villages in close proximity to the capital—similar to the Olympic villages. In the city itself, a 50MW solar power station is being built. This project will be implemented with the help of private investments.

How do local companies participate in the construction of these objects?

"Astana EXPO-2017" is promoting the participation of different regions of the country in the preparation for the Expo, in order to provide business for SMEs that produce the materials necessary for the construction of Expo Center in Astana. As part of this plan, 19 agreements have been signed between the general construction managers and material manufacturers from North Kazakhstan, Karaganda, and the Pavlodar regions, and the local administration of Astana, for the overall sum of 59.6 billion tenge. We are constructing the Expo Center and using mainly locally produced materials—structures from reinforced concrete, poling, panels, profiled metal, pipes, radiators, automated fire alarm systems, ventilation, special clothing, and other types of goods. We are certain that all these measures will allow us to not only support the local businesses during times of decreased economic activity, but to also stimulate them towards further development. We are planning to continue with this strategy by organizing food services, retail trade, hotel business and other details necessary for such a large international event.

What have been the main plans in preparation for Expo 2015?

This year, Kazakhstan will participate in the global EXPO-2015, held from May 1 to October 31 in Milan. The topic of this expo is “Feed the planet—Energy of life." 148 countries will take part in the Milan Expo. Kazakhstan will have its own pavilion, consisting of several exposition zones dedicated to such topics as agriculture, animal husbandry, interesting facts about Kazakhstan, aquaculture of Kazakhstan, ecology of Kazakhstan, and agriculture of the future. Historically, our country has incredible experience in agricultural activities and animal husbandry, and we are proud of our organic produce, Kazakhstan's experience in land farming, and successful experience of Academic Barayev. Our representatives will demonstrate the aquaculture successes of Kazakhstan and our experience of restoring the Aral Sea. Scientists and researchers from Kazakhstan will present their findings and projects at our national pavilion. Besides this, we want to introduce the guests of the Expo to our national cuisine. I expect a lot of attention to gravitate towards our pavilion because Kazakhstan is due to be hosting the next Expo. We should present a good image of Kazakhstan on the international level.

How will you use the buildings and infrastructure for the Expo 2017 after the event has finished?

We are planning to create a sustainable city area that will unite scientific, technological, and cultural objects, surrounded by open spaces and residential complexes, commercial, recreational, and business sites. Even at the current stage of planning for the pavilions, we are looking into many possibilities for rationally using the structure after the Expo. We will do everything to use every inch of the pavilions efficiently. Right now, the National Company "Astana EXPO-2017" is working on the strategy for the post-event use of the buildings, which will be confirmed by July 1, 2015. Constructed pavilions and other objects will be repurposed: they will be used as centers for scientific research, training centers, and recreational centers. Post-expo complex will include a Science-Tech Park comprised of clusters specialized in energetics, environmental studies, and technology, a well as a Complex for Culture and Arts, residential buildings and hotels, commercial zones, and sports venues.