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Central Asia 2050

Central Asia 2050
Unleashing the Region’s Potential

Edited by:
  • Rajat M Nag - Distinguished Fellow, India’s National Council of Applied Economic Research, Delhi
  • Johannes F. Linn - Distinguished Resident Scholar, Emerging Markets Forum
  • Harinder S. Kohli - Emerging Markets Forum and Centennial Group Holdings, Washington DC, USA

© 2017 | 372 pages | SAGE Publications Pvt. Ltd

An ancient land, Central Asia occupies a geostrategically critical place at the heart of Eurasia, bridging the vast continental space that is Europe and Asia.

Central Asia today faces great opportunities as well as daunting challenges. The principal message of this book is that the region has significant potential and a unique opportunity to accelerate its economic and social development.

A major lesson for the future from Central Asians’ past is that they thrived most when they were open to the world and to each other in terms of trade, investment, and bold thought, with a commitment to intellectual and religious pluralism and tolerance.

The book articulates an aspirational vision for 2050. Under this vision, the region will have achieved widespread prosperity such that by 2050, a vast majority of Central Asians will be middle class with commensurate income and quality of life. Social, institutional, and governance indicators will have improved in tandem and reached at least the level of South Korea and Central Europe today.

No doubt, Central Asia will face many challenges: as individual countries and as a region. However, challenges also represent opportunities. The book identifies several of these in specific areas, including the efficient development of the energy and agriculture sectors; developing modern manufacturing and service industries that are well integrated into global supply chains; fostering inclusive human development; mitigating and adapting to climate change; integrating with global and regional markets; and improving governance and institutions. A particular challenge, cutting across all others, is how Central Asia manages its increasingly scarce and critical water resources.

Achieving the ambitious aspirational Vision 2050 is plausible, though by no means pre-ordained. Many of the policy and institutional reforms noted in this book will not come easy and take time to design and implement. Regional leaders, individually and collectively, will need to pursue them with a sense of commitment and urgency.


The setting
The study
Structure of the study
In search of a usable past 9 Introduction
Colonial times and post-colonial travails
The “khanate period”—fragmentation and thwarted development
An ancient and prosperous land–Central Asia’s “Golden Age”
Geography as destiny
The language factor, ethnicity, and religion
The waning of Central Asia’s Golden Age
Central Asia’s cautionary lessons from a usable past
Prospects for convergence
Recent economic performance and the drivers of long-run growth
Economic developments in Central Asia
Building a credible macroeconomic framework
Technological change
Globalization and Connectedness
Climate change mitigation
Vision 2050—Alternative scenarios and strategic framework
Aspirational Vision 2050
Alternative scenarios of Central Asia 2050
Four transformations
Strategic framework to realize Vision 2050
Managing the energy transition
Vision 2050—an energy transition for a prosperous Central Asia
What the future may hold for energy technologies
How to manage the energy transition—from legacy to Vision 2050
Prices, subsidies, and the efficient
Hydrocarbons—competing in the global context
Renewable energy—from the invisible present to a bright future?
Global citizenship—a climate change deal for Central Asia?
Modernizing agriculture
Prospects by subsector
National policies and regional cooperation
Creating a competitive and innovative manufacturing and service economy
Economic transformation and diversification in Central Asia since independence
Alternative approaches to analyzing the factors driving productivity growth, diversification and competitiveness
Systemic factors and measures to support productivity growth
Measures in direct support of industrial and service sector development
Investing in inclusive human development
Education, training and the labor market
Facing the challenge of climate change
Introduction—the environmental challenges in Central Asia
Vision 2050 20
Global climate change—why should emerging market economies care?
The scientific context
The effects of climate change in Central Asia
Adapting to climate change
Climate policy opportunities
Pursuing open regionalism for shared prosperity
Connecting countries and the region
Integrating trade and production
Cooperating on water and energy
Cooperating on capital flows
Managing migration
Strengthening regional institutions
Balancing national and regional interests—the leadership issue
Some early confidence-building measures
Building effective institutions—The biggest challenge
Institutions and intangible capital
Performance since independence—big gains and big gaps
Drivers of institutional change
Priorities for institutional development
Conclusion—The way ahead
Lessons from the usable past and Vision 2050
Action in eight policy areas
Middle-income trap
The way ahead—Crosscutting principles for action
Annex 1: Economic scenarios
Annex 2: Energy
Annex 3: Institutions

In recent years, Central Asia has emerged as one of the most important regions for connecting many diverse parts of the world. And as such, the timing of this book could not be better. With the earlier transition in the 1990s of Central and Eastern European economies, and now the transition of Central Asia, we are witnessing one of the most dramatic shifts in recent economic history. In this volume, the editors have assembled an incredible team of experts from around the globe to tackle the issues and problems that will face Central Asia in the coming decades as it makes this shift, while also presenting a path to achieve its second Golden Age.




Michel Camdessus
Former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund

This study is unparalleled in its analysis of sectoral issues that will confront Central Asia for the next 35 years. It is a must read for both those of us in the region, as well as those outside. The authors here have presented a vision that is both realistic in its analysis yet optimistic in its overall goals. The path forward for our region will by no means be easy, but with this volume we have a roadmap for, as the tagline says, unleashing the regions potential.




Djoomart Otorbaev
Former Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic

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