The FINANCIAL -- The leading regional event, the South Caucasus Infrastructure and New Energy Investment Summit, will take place in Georgia on 6-7 February, 2014. The event will be held in Expo Georgia’s international City Infrastructure Exhibition in Tbilisi, under the auspices of the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of Georgia.
“Hydro resources take first place among the natural riches of Georgia,” Tanguy de Craecker, Managing Director of Euroconvention Global, told The FINANCIAL. “Less than 25 percent of an estimated potential kWh (Kilowatt-hour, an energy unit) of economically feasible hydropower has been harnessed in the country. At this stage hydropower is an attractive opportunity for investment. One of the reasons for arranging the Infrastructure and New Energy Investment Summit to be held in Georgia was our belief that these fields are the most attractive for making investments in Georgia and the region. The Caucasus region, consisting of the three independent states - Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, provides huge opportunities to investors in terms of the development of natural resources, such as water and energy sources, and the development of transport and roads, as the region lies at the crossroads of Europe and Asia,” he added.
Convention Ventures Group/Euroconvention Global is a well-established conference and summit organizer focusing its activities for the last 10 years on emerging and developing economies. In October 2009 Convention Ventures Group organised a similar investment summit in Tbilisi. It was also based on a Caucasus regional concept, involving Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Since its good experience with that, Convention Ventures Group has decided to offer a platform for the infrastructure and new energy sector to say something new and to present interesting developments.
“Georgia is an investor-friendly country and naturally appealing for all those looking to expand regionally whatever the field of business. More specifically, Georgia has a key role in the region being at the crossroads of Europe, Russia and the Caspian/ Central Asia region. Transport corridors and thus roads and railways developments are the most visible role operated by Georgia, not to mention the country aiming to be the regional hub for logistics and warehousing. Georgia is also keen to maintain its expertise and to increase its capacity in producing alternative energy resources and then to export it to other countries. It is thus very important for Georgia to keep building on these sectors where it can gain a major regional position,” Craecker said.
“We mainly address sectors like Environmental Infrastructure, Alternative Energy and Power, ICT/ Telecom, Banking & Finance and Healthcare. Previously, we have been the voice of the European Union, when we were hosting a kind of Davos-type of event, gathering the European financial services industry for a 5-day event organized on a yearly basis in the country hosting the EU Presidency. It was called The Annual European Finance Convention and regularly attended by European Commissioners, Central Bank Governors, Financial Regulators, Stock Exchanges and obviously the banking and corporate sectors as a whole. We certainly were pioneers in informing the market on the prospect for a new financial world and on the ins and the outs of the upcoming - at that time - new world currency, the Euro,” he added.
The goal of the Summit is 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 will be at centre focus.
“Overall and indirectly the Summit’s goal is 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,” Craecker said.
“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.
Q. What do businesses gain from this summit? What are the biggest benefits for companies participating in the Summit?
A. The Summit presents itself as major informative and networking platform. Referring to what was just said before, the benefits of attending such an event involve being able to gather under one roof all those companies, IFIs and officials already involved or those new entrants coming to understand and get firsthand information on the opportunities and to make their own assessment of the challenges as well. For many companies and businesses - like industry players, advisory and legal firms, banks, solutions and services providers etc. - this summit offers a unique occasion to brand themselves, to do high level PR or to highlight their expertise by joining as a partner or sponsor, thus having a pro-active role in the event.
Q. Could you please discuss what the achievements in Georgia are in different fields like transport, road & rail, logistics, urban infrastructure, water supply, waste management and new energy?
A. Georgia is a country with a rapidly developing economy. Its government has clearly expressed their will to support an inflow of investments for the development of the country’s most important industries, especially the fields that you have listed in your question. Particular attention is paid to the development of energy and infrastructure. Georgia has a developed, stable and reliable energy sector but demand for energy is growing steadily in Georgia and worldwide. The most promising source of additional energy generation is hydropower and the Government is focused on securing private investments for the construction of new hydropower stations. Naturally Georgia as the country connecting Asia and Europe pays great attention to the construction and rehabilitation of railways and roads. It is important to outline the role of the IFIs that are actively helping the country to achieve their goals.
In general, the Caucasus region is attractive for investors, as we have already talked about the region’s importance for the global economy. All three countries are growing rapidly and present many opportunities for newcomers. As in all developing countries access to financial resources, new technologies, and information is vital for achieving effective growth.