Posted on Oct 8, 2021 at 6:37 amUpdated Oct 8, 2021, 7:23 AM
Afghanistan’s financial lung is working again. Closed for three weeks by the Taliban just two hours after their capture of Kabul on August 15, the Sarai Shahzada currency bazaar fulfills several functions: exchanging foreign currencies, transferring money to nearly 120 countries, lending, storing deposits… Only 15% of Afghans have accounts in the country’s 20 or so banks.
This market, created in 1957, is vital for the Afghan financial system and its reopening was essential. “It had experienced a very important development during the first reign of the Taliban (1996-2001). With a shattered local banking system and international sanctions, the Sarai Shahzada market has become the country’s financial center. Even after the fall of the Taliban, replacing bureaux de change with banks was neither feasible nor realistic, and the authorities had chosen to regulate this market by granting licenses to bureaux de change, ”recalls Nafay Choudhury, researcher at the Cambridge University, in the journal Foreign Policy.