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​Atyrau learns from Houston

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By Zulfiya Iskalieva

Image 0For studying the experience of economy diversification the delegation from Atyrau headed by Mayor Nurlybek Ozhaev visited Houston - "the oil capital" of the USA.

To Come Off The Oil Needle

Houston's experience is interesting in that respect that before oil crisis of 1970s, the income from oil sector made 87% of city economy, and in the last 25 years its economy is mostly directed at development of health care, information technologies and space industry. As the result the share of income to the budget from oil sector decreased down to 40%.

The Atyrau delegation took part in annual conference of World partnership of energy cities (WECP) whose member Atyrau became in 2010. This organization was created in 1995 and today it includes 18 cities from 15 countries.

- There is so much what we can learn from Houston. Gross domestic product of agglomeration of Big Houston in 2013 made 533 billion dollars, which is more than GDP of Norway, Poland or Belgium, and two times more than GDP of Kazakhstan, - says the chief of Atyrau department of finance Murat Aitzhanov. In Houston region there are 9 oil refineries that process 116 million tons of raw materials a year, 719 enterprises for production of chemical and plastic products (39% of all production in the USA of goods from polyethylene, 36% – from polyvinylchloride, 48% – from polypropylene). The volume of commodity turnover of Kazakhstan with Houston for 2013 made 673,3 million dollars.

- At the meeting at Houston technological center we looked at the issues of attraction of external financing for innovative and knowledge-intensive projects. From the moment of creation in 1999 it became the city center of technologies and businesses, powerful business incubator where more than 1000 companies work and develop software for needs of oil and gas sector, medicine and space projects of NASA, - says M. Aytzhanov.

"Imagine that "Bavaria" Plays In Our Championship"

During negotiations the preliminary agreement was reached on establishment in Atyrau of joint venture fund betweenTechnology Center and the state company Atyrau Innovations to support innovative and hi-tech projects. The Atyrau Innovations company operated since March 2014 and has already in its asset 5 investment projects, two approved applications for innovative grants and 2 projects in the field of public-private partnership.

It should be noted that for solving the issue of venture fund creation, it would, perhaps, require modification of the current RoK legislation, since the expenditure of funds of state company for several projects, out of which only small few can be successful, will raise questions of efficiency of an expenditure of budgetary funds (even if one project will pay back all expenses of unsuccessful projects). Entry of the Technological center into the capital of state company, and financing at early stages from means of the loan capital can be one of the options.

- For us this trip was very fruitful. We signed contract on cooperation with Institute of oil engineering of Houston University. We discussed three issues - about invitation of professors and teachers from Houston

University to Atyrau. This is equal to inviting the players of "Bavaria" to championship in Kazakhstan, - said the rector of Atyrau Institute of oil and gas Ali Abishev. – We also discussed the issue of double diplomas to students of Atyrau Institute of oil and gas – Kazakhstan diploma and American one, and the issue of development of students mobility joint programs (three-months, semi-annual and annual exchanges), and about invitation of lecturers from both sides.

Similar plan for cooperation is under development by Atyrau state university named after Khalel Dosmukhamedov and private Houston higher education institution - Rice University.

Photo credit of Atyrau Mayor's press service.

May 22 2015, 12:08

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