Asman City

Kyrgyzstan’s Eco-City: What are the Chances?

There is no shortage of ambitious projects undertaken now by the government of Kyrgyzstan’s president Sadyr Japarov – a leader who came to power following the popular revolt against the election-rigging and corrupt clan of Sooronbay Zheenbekov in late 2020.

A feasibility study for the much-needed railroad linking China and Uzbekistan through Kyrgyzstan is underway; the development of yet untapped major mineral deposits is being tendered to international players; Government quarters are to be built in the outskirts of the country’s capital, Bishkek, to ease traffic and boost bureaucratic efficiency.

One project which really stands out in terms of magnitude is the construction of a multi-billion dollar ‘eco-city’ on the Issyk-Kul lake, a vast high altitude lake which is the tourist gem of the Kyrgyz Republic. It was announced in 2021 that this city, named Asman, will be an eco-friendly settlement, providing residential, recreational and working space for tens of thousands of residents. In particular, the government wants to attract IT and other high-tech businesspeople to settle in the city.

Three French companies, MEDEF International, Finentrep Aspir and Mercuroo have signed up to assist the Kyrgyz government in the development of the eco city’s concept. The development of the city’s design is underway, and studies are being made to make sure the residential hub does not disrupt the fragile ecosystem of the Issyk-Kul lake.

Ruslan Akmataliev, head of the Asman project’s Directorate, said: “We have shown everything to the French, and they are in awe of the beauty of the Issyk-Kul. They say, this [idea] has a big future because there are very few places left in the world, so ecologically pure. They will do their best to help us construct the city. Because globally, ecology now is a number one priority”.

Commenting on Asman’s investment prospects, Ricky Wang of Interstan Securities, an investment banking house headquartered in Kyrgyzstan, says: “On the face of it, building a city from scratch in a place which still has no international class hotels and resorts is a financially risky idea. But if we take the view that the high-class infrastructure itself can lure residents, renters and investors, then yes, it is a viable project. The amount of investment money available globally for real estate and recreational business is huge, and Kyrgyzstan is the ideal place, ecology-wise, to have an international recreational development project. Kyrgyzstan has incredibly friendly weather, compared to boiling-hot cities of the Gulf, or the ever-humid tropical resorts. And its natural scenery is fantastic. With the right management, the project has good chances to succeed”.

There is some local skepticism on the merits of the idea, though. Many grand projects have been announced by Kyrgyzstan’s leaders in the past, ranging from the construction of a new hydro cascade on the country’s main river, Naryn, to the development of a regional air hub in the country’s South. Most failed even before reaching the feasibility stage. So, it remains to be seen if this time will be different.