Nazarbayev Targets Economy Boost With First Kazakh Nuclear Plant

President Nursultan Nazarbayev ordered the Kazakh government to draft plans for a state-asset sale program and decide on building the country’s first nuclear plant to clinch economic growth of at least 4 percent a year.

Nazarbayev, who has ruled the country of 17 million people since 1989, said in an address to the nation today that Kazakhstan should aspire to join the ranks of the world’s 30 most developed economies by 2050. The central Asian nation must boost gross domestic product per capita to $60,000 in 2050 from $14,500 this year, Nazarbayev said in the capital, Astana.

“The coming 15 to 17 years will become a ‘window of opportunities’ for Kazakhstan to make a sweeping breakthrough,” Nazarbayev said, according to a transcript of his speech published on the presidential website. “During this period, we’ll see a favorable external environment, an increase in demand for resources, energy, food.”

To catapult the $200 billion economy, Nazarbayev called for a program of “innovative industrialization” that will sow the seeds for new technologies that span genetic engineering, multimedia and robotics. The world’s biggest uranium miner must also make a decision in the first quarter on locations, timeframe and sources of investment for its first nuclear power plant and a fourth oil refinery, Nazarbayev said.

Kazakhstan, the world’s largest landlocked country that shares borders with China and Russia, is seeking to wean itself off a reliance on oil and natural gas. A program outlining plans for state asset sales through 2016 must be prepared this quarter, the president said today.

Economy, Inflation

Nazarbayev set a GDP growth target of 6 percent to 7 percent for this year and instructed the central bank to hold inflation to a range of 3 percent to 4 percent in the medium term. The economy of the biggest energy producer among former Soviet republics after Russia grew 6 percent in 2013 as price growth reached 4.8 percent in December from a year earlier.

“We shouldn’t forget about the prospects for developing nuclear energy,” Nazarbayev said. “The need for cheap atomic energy will only grow in the foreseeable future of the world’s development. Kazakhstan, as the global leader in uranium mining, should develop its own production of fuel for nuclear power plants and build atomic stations.”

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