Kazakhstan: Nazarbayev's hard graph

Elliot Wilson
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Kazakhstan is going all out to achieve its goal of becoming a middle-income state by 2030, forming unique partnerships with development banks. It could be a turning point not just for the central Asia nation, but for the multilaterals too.

Kazakh workers build a skyscraper in the country's capital Astana

The trigger point for Nursultan Nazarbayev came via a graph, in January. Kazakhstan’s long-standing president had called a meeting of his ministers to discuss the country’s economic performance. It was doing well enough, growing by 6% year-on-year in 2013, against 5% in 2012. Private consumption was up, thanks to rising consumer lending, as was foreign direct investment and private-sector investment. The country was performing well in the World Bank’s annual Doing Business report, ticking up 24 places to 50th place in the five years to 2014.

Nazarbayev had long been desperate to turn central Asia’s largest economy – a natural bridge between Russia and China, and a buffer against rising extremism south of its borders – into a full middle-income nation by 2030.

By mid-century, presumably after passing control of the country to a handpicked successor, he wanted...