Astana - EXPO 2017: The First International Exhibition for CIS Member States

  • 2013-01-23

Energy shortages around the world make the leading powers seek new ways to solve this problem. While in the field of sports leaders are determined during the Olympic Games, in the sphere of innovation, such a venue is the International Specialized Exhibition EXPO. In 2017, it will be held in Kazakhstan. The main theme of the site is designated as the ‘Energy for the future.’ We emphasize that the showcase of the best of mankind’s achievements in the development of green energy will be held in a country whose economy has been historically kept at the edge of the industry. Perhaps this will be the main ‘zest’ of the upcoming event.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in the nearest quarter century, mankind will face two simultaneous global threats. There is a shortage of energy resources, and looming environmental disaster. The authorities of young Kazakhstan - a country which broke away from the Soviet Union on December 1991 - have adopted this theme in order to achieve the highest number of votes for the right to host EXPO-2017.

The main contender for the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, was a Belgian Liege, a rather serious competitor, that already had experience with such exhibitions. At the 152th General Assembly of the International Exhibitions Bureau (IEB), Belgium proposed the theme ‘Bringing people together.’ However, during a secret ballot of the representatives of 161 IEB member states, Astana was given the overwhelming number of votes. Kazakhstan’s application was supported by 103 participating countries, 44 voted ‘against.’

The exhibition on such a scale hasn’t been conducted anywhere in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Perhaps carte blanche was given to Astana in view of the fact that, in this region, for the past two years there have been held two major international events.

On December 1-2, 2010 in Astana was organized the OSCE summit. For the first time in 11 years, after a similar summit in Istanbul, heads of state and diplomats from 56 countries of the OSCE met at one table.
A month later, Kazakhstan was the first Central Asian country that exercised its right to host the VII Asian Winter Games. From January 31 to February 6, 2011 in the official and the financial capitals of the country (Astana and Almaty), competitions were held with the participation of athletes from 26 countries.

But the previous two events are incomparable with holding the EXPO, in which Kazakhstan may be visited, according to conservative estimates, by about 5 million people from 100 countries and about 10 international organizations. For comparison, according to official data, there are 758,000 people in Astana.
Realizing what a serious test for the young capital of Kazakhstan will be with the holding of EXPO-2017, the Presidium of the IEB took into account the fact that the preparations for the exhibition will be held under scrutiny, and with the direct assistance of the leadership of the country.

Back in Paris, as soon as it was decided to hold Expo-2017 in Astana, the Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Kairat Kelimbetov said at a press conference that for the support of research in the field of energy, there was established the Fund Kazakhstan EXPO-2017. It consists of more than 62 million euros. This will be allocated to fund research projects and scientific research on the development of renewable sources of energy in more than 69 developing countries.
But the benefits are not only for the countries which are receiving guests. The case of a 10-fold profit was recorded in the Netherlands, which had an exhibition pavilion at Expo 2010 in Hannover (Germany). Investing up to 35 million euros, the Dutch brought back to its economy about 350 million euros.

As for the mistress of the exhibition, Germany, EXPO-2000 was a loss: the country has lost in the amount of 1.2 billion euros. Instead of the expected 40 million people, the exhibition was visited by only  18 million. Then, losses at EXPO-2000 became one of the reasons why France (organizer of the next show) refused to hold EXPO-2004 in Seine-Saint-Denis.

And it should be kept in mind not only the direct economic impact of the exhibition, but also additional benefits to be gained from EXPO. In Canada in 1967, Expo cost 283 million Canadian dollars (178 million euros), but the profit from this event resulted from the growth of the country’s income from tourism in the same year. International tourism increased the budget of the country by 480 million Canadian dollars (303 million euros).

It is possible that the EXPO will give Astana new attractions. Recall that, for the exhibition in 1851, there was built the world-famous Crystal Palace in London’s Hyde Park. It is enough to remember the fact that the famous Eiffel Tower, a symbol of France, was designed by French engineer Gustave Eiffel especially for the Paris EXPO-1889.
Astana, which can be called the largest construction site for almost every significant event in Kazakhstan, will present a new architectural project. With the participation of renowned architects from around the world, Kisho Kurokawa and Norman Foster, from the moment of transfer of the Kazakhstan capital in 1997, the area of ​​the former Akmola (formerly known as Astana) has increased almost three times, from 258 to 710.2 square kilometers.

The Kazakh side expects to attract significant amounts of private investment in the construction of new exhibition facilities and infrastructure. In Astana, the forthcoming Expo 2017 is considered as a push for the next stage of development of the city. There has been already selected land for the construction of the future Expo Center, taking into account infrastructural development of the city. Total land area is 113 hectares, of which 25 hectares is a complex, and the rest allocated for parking, outdoor construction and city EXPO-2017.

We note here that in Shanghai, specifically for the exhibition, there were built several lines of the Shanghai Metro. In Portugal, for example, in 1998, in order to cope with the expected number of visitors, there was developed a program including the new Vasco da Gama Bridge (the longest in Europe), a new line of the Lisbon subway stations 7 lines (5 was ready to open) , the new chief multimodal terminal, train, subway, bus and taxi, called GaredoOriente.
At the same time the holding of EXPO increases the inflow of foreign tourists to the country. Do not forget the fact that the projects being built as part of EXPO, in the future, will let one to consider Kazakhstan, and Astana in particular, as a major international, exhibition and information-presentation platform.

It is worth paying attention to the fact that the Kazakh authorities intend to implement plans for the development of processing industries. The government adopted a policy of rapid industrialization. With the positive results of these state measures, the introduction of new industries will lead to the growth of energy consumption.
Given the significant amount of coal in Kazakhstan (3.6 percent of world reserves), the energy of the Central Asian country is mainly based on this coal component.

Nevertheless, Kazakhstan builds its policy so that by 2030 the share of renewable energy sources (RES) will increase to 11 percent in the structure of the generating capacity of the country. Kazakh authorities hope that with the development of renewable energy in the world, these technologies will become cheaper.

It is symbolic that the exhibition area of ​​ Astana will only be powered by renewable energy sources. Thus, the Kazakhstan capital will be a sort of ‘City of the Future.’ A presentation of the achievements of the world’s alternative energy development in EXPO-2017 will further expand the horizons of renewable energy in Kazakhstan.

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