The Minister of Tourism, Industry and Energy in Cape Verde points out that the country is modernizing its main infrastructure to take advantage of its geographical location to try to become an International Services Hub and to attract foreign investment
In addition, Humberto Brito says that Cape Verde is to become the first country in the world in which 100% of the energy consumed will come from renewable resources and that Electra will not be sold at any price because it is a strategic public company.
What are the policies that Cape Verde is developing to become the first country in the world where 100% of its energy comes exclusively from renewable resources?
“Some time ago, Cape Verde decided to develop its renewable energies. We are an archipelago country, where we also have context costs that force us to look for sustainable solutions. The context costs have to do with the fact that we are ecologically fragile islands and, in addition, our territory is fragmented requiring connection between portions of land at a very high rate. Therefore, it is very important for Cape Verde to have systems to help it reduce costs, namely the price of fuel. A country such as ours is unable to purchase large quantities. Even buying large quantities have huge distribution costs that reflect our very own economic level. Since international oil prices have increased, our economy, like any other in the world, has ended up being affected.
Certainly there are a set of policies that have been implemented to attract such investments. The production centralizing policy that allows greater integration in the renewable energy network is the focus of private sector investments. Renewable energies are a great opportunity for investment in the private sector, with the government of Cape Verde creating attractive conditions, namely at fiscal and customs level so as to keep these investments in Cape Verde, beyond the normal investment law of attraction so that interested parties can find these opportunities in the country. If they are considered profitable and produce a return, and at the same time interesting because the return-on-investment is very important for the decision-making process of investors, then it is a clear and firm policy of the government to develop renewable energies. Studies have been made, there is a renewable energy atlas, there are areas reserved for development of renewable energy projects. The government has reserved areas to develop renewable energy, whether solar or wind, geothermal, sea waves, municipal solid waste, small waterworks, so there is an array of renewable energy sources that will produce a continuous supply of energy, with some given away to volatile sources, for example- the production using the wind or the sun.
Which are the areas being focused on to create a greater international interest for this sector in Cape Verde that has such huge potential?
“Clearly, here the foreign investor gains greater importance and the multilateral financial sources as well as bank financing are also very significant. In spite of the fact that the worldwide decrease in the price of renewable energy production equipment has fallen in recent years, the price is still very high as compared to its competitor’s thermal energy. Besides, the profitability expected from renewable energy is in the medium and long term, not the short term. The value of immediate investment is very high. We are aware that it is necessary to appeal to the reserves of external investors to fulfil the greater part of investments, and external investors are welcome to come to Cape Verde to make investments. Resources are large enough financial investments to begin with. We know that with only the reserves of national investors, they will not be able to carry the volume of investments that are expected. It is not only the reserves, that we show an interest in, our interest is at management level and organizational level too.
How are you improving bi-lateral relations with Germany, to take advantage of their prominence as global leaders in renewable energy?
We are about to engage in an important approach to Germany, not only at government level but also at University and advisory level. We are about to start to work with German experts in the area of 100% Renewable Energy. This is very important not only because of the credibility of the projects we are going to advance, but also for the image we want for the sector. We have to have the best. In this domain, having the best is a must. If you are expecting a quality project, if you want to attract good investors, you must have the best projects with the best solutions that exist. Despite the credibility that the country enjoys internationally, it is necessary that their projects also enjoy this same credibility. It is essential for your partners to see this credibility attitude in Cape Verde so that they can also invest. The country is politically and socially stable and has given assurances of this to the international level, and I believe that projects should also reflect the way we work and the way we are perceived by others. This is important from our point of view as regards to what we want for the country in terms of sector development. The pledge is also the qualification level of human resources so that we can internally sustain the training competence of human resources. These projects that come from abroad or, at least what outside investors can bring are reflected in the competitive capacity of the country, because the country is able to supply the required raw material for the project to be sustainable.
Has anyone ever knocked on your office door to propose an attractive offer for the privatisation of Electra?
Proposals for privatisation of Electra come up day-in day-out. Electra is a strategic company with great economic value, as are all electrical companies of the world. Usually strategic companies with money-making potential are profitable for anyone investing in this area. The country is certainly preparing itself to privatise the company, but it is also preparing the company to be privatised. The objective is not to maximize the value, the greatest objective is reliable energy, that is of high quality, continuous flow, and with competitive prices that will contribute to the growth of the country. This scenario that we are about to embark on is not merely a public policy definition, a guidance for the sector should follow the standard that must prevail and then we privatise. The company is about to follow a restructuring process for the purpose of privatisation. This is an internal process for the company, which, of course, has the help of the government. We are dealing with the policy that is leading us to privatisation. It is an essential task, with sovereign courage and, of course, a company of its kind is not privatised so easily anywhere in the world. This is something I say very naturally and openly because this is how we do it in Cape Verde, as in all countries of the world.
How are you developing the port and airport management to become a green global services hub and international business centre?
This is a process that began some years ago when of the country’s transformation strategy was starting to be put into practice, which implemented investments in robust infrastructures to support economic growth. All of this, as a result of a strategic vision of the country. If you do not have the vision of where you are, where you want to be and how to get there, you do not require making investments because you will certainly waste resources. It was necessary for Cape Verde to define a strategy, a vision for the country, define the path to follow and begin the transformation process. The transformation process requires just the beginning of the investment in such infrastructure because it is fundamental to development. It is clear that the infrastructure process, at least in an archipelago country, has to be different from other countries. In fact, if we were a single island, we would not need to have nine ports; one port, two ports would be convenient enough. We would not need to have four airports for international flights. However, this is our reality. Since each island is a reality, so to speak, it is necessary for us to adapt our infrastructure to each island, adjust the infrastructure so that there is economic integration between them and at the same time, create conditions wherein the country as a whole is competitive and provides answers to the needs of investors and the strategy that we have adopted as a service provider country is covered by this infrastructure, regardless of the islands or the people. However, it is also evident that the specialty of each island also provides the possibility of using it as a different tourist destination.
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