The FINANCIAL -- For the first time in its history Georgia hosted the leading regional event - the South Caucasus Infrastructure and New Energy Investment Summit. Up to 200 delegates from the private and governmental sectors of eight countries participated in the conference and trade show. How to develop green urban infrastructure, modernize transport and logistics, expand renewable markets and water resources, improve waste management and recycling - these were the main issues discussed by the leading investment banks, manufacturers and government representatives attending the event.
Green energy, The FINANCIAL, was named the main media partner of the event.
The New Energy Summit was also held by the Convention Ventures - Euroconvention Global-Belgium, a well-established conference and summit organizer focusing its activities for the last 10 years on emerging and developing economies.
Most of the companies were being represented in Georgia for the first time. Almost all of them are searching for local partners and want to introduce their products and technologies to the country.
“I am here to learn more about what is going on in the region,” Roman Matkiwsky, Director of Energy and Infrastructure at the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank, told The FINANCIAL.
“Unfortunately, we do not have any infrastructure, energy projects in this region. We are looking at what the opportunities are in Georgia. We are reactive to the market as a bank. People present their projects and we finance the most attractive ones. All projects that are in the energy or infrastructure space are interesting to us. It is better to bring money to Georgia than any other country.
One of the advantages of Georgia is hydro energy obviously and a lot of investments are going towards this. There are talks about infrastructure or transport projects but I have not seen any concrete ones. I am here in Georgia for the first time. The Bank is active here, but more in the financial sector, and finding a real investment project that is vital is a challenge itself. There is potential but to make it a reality is a problem,” he added.
The Bank has shareholders in 11 countries of the Black Sea region. Its authorized capital reaches EUR 3.5 billion. The cumulative portfolio is EUR 1.27 billion. Its shareholding structure is as follows: Armenia - 1.0%; Romania - 14.0%; Georgia - 0.5%; Bulgaria - 13.5%; Moldova - 0.5%; Ukraine - 13.5%; Greece - 16.5%; Albania - 2.0%; Russia - 16.5%; Azerbaijan - 5.0%; and Turkey - 16.5%.
“All projects that want to get finance from BSTDB must have a solid business plan and pass due diligence checks (market, financial, technical, legal). By 2020 the EU should be producing 20% of its energy from renewable sources and have 20% more energy efficiency,” Matkiwsky said.
“Now is a very interesting time to be talking about renewable energy, transport and logistics in Georgia because the country has two really important natural competitive advantages,” said Thomas Lubeck, IFC Regional Manager for the South Caucasus. “Because of its geographical location Georgia is a really important transit country and there is a great deal of need to develop transit infrastructure - improve the road network, oil and gas pipelines. Georgia also has a large amount of potential in renewable energy. So it is a really exciting time to be talking about these issues and it is great to be bringing players and investors, vendors and government representatives together to see what they have done and to see the opportunities,” he added.
The goal of the Summit was to offer a major platform for infrastructure and energy industry experts, key services suppliers, investors, national and sub-national government representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, international financial institutions (IFIs) and more, to exchange views and know-how in a perfect environment for networking. Assessment of the needs, regulatory issues, featuring new technologies and experienced solutions, unveiling upcoming projects and financing priorities to support development of the Caucasus region were at centre focus.
“Overall and indirectly, the Summit’s goal was also to show how Georgia and its neighbours Azerbaijan and Armenia are working together on ensuring their economic and social future and on increasing their independence in the energy sector,” Tanguy de Craecker, Managing Director of Euroconvention Global, told The FINANCIAL. “We have to understand that Georgia is a country with a Soviet heritage, which is trying to become a member of the European community, and is trying its best to get closer to European standards. The Summit and Infrastructure Exhibition held in February are very significant as they represent a platform, where decision-makers will meet and discuss the vital directions of infrastructural and energy development and essential projects. The role of the Summit and Exhibition is to promote the development of the country’s infrastructure, to support information exchange and to attract investors. We hope to contribute to the local economy by attracting influential speakers, decision makers and experts of the industry,” he added.
“We lack such summits in Georgia which will give us the possibility to be in touch with international financial organizations and to show them the projects that are designed by us,” said Giorgi Bezhuashvili, Chief Executive Officer at Georgian Energy Development Fund. “If a project is designed correctly it is easy to get finance. What’s very important are winter projects as Georgia has a deficit of resources in winter; it imports gas and therefore its financial resources are flowing out of the country during this time. Winter energy generation projects are strategically important for Georgia. We are here to show our projects to the international financial organizations, to make them interested in our projects and finally, to get finances from them,” he added.
200 representatives of organizations ranging from state structures to local businesses and foreign investors attended the Summit.
Various representatives of the Summit spoke on their experience in related fields. Bertrand Goalou, urban development specialist at Asian Development Bank , focused his attention on how to develop urban infrastructure and protect the environment at the same time. He stressed that professionally elaborated projects are of vital importance in this field.
Fabio Brau, Manager of Salini-Impregilo Group, stated that the company is actively involved in infrastructure projects in Georgia. He expressed a wish to collaborate with his Georgian counterparts after the conclusion of his current projects.