The European Times - Albania


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The European Times - Albania

  1. 1. ALBANIA
  2. 2. The European Times congratulatesAlbania on 100 years of Independence! “During a century, we proved to the whole world that for Albanians, as a civilized nation, freedom has no price...” Sali Berisha, Prime Minister
  3. 3. ContentAlbaniaINTRODUCTION IT & TELECOM• Architect of Albania’s Economic Miracle 4 • Minister for Innovation and ICT Promoting• Foreign Minister Supporting Regional and Competitive Telecom Sector 31 Global Partnerships 7 • Building a Knowledge Based Economy 32• New Mayor Making Tirana More Liveable and • ALBtelecom & Eagle Mobile 34 Business Friendly 8• European Integration Ministry Promoting INFRASTRUCTURE Constructive Dialogue 10 • Construction Sector Reviving 37• Regional Cooperation Is Delivering Tangible Results • ALB-STAR 38 and Accelerating Albania’s European Integration 11 • Alb-Building 39• Strategically Located Trade Hub Undergoing • CO 1 RROKU CONSTRUCTION 40 True Industrial Revolution 12 • Alumil Albania 40 • UKT 41BUSINESS & INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES• Economy Minister Driving Forward Measures AGRICULTURE to Attract FDI 15 • Ministry Ensuring International Competitiveness• Transformed Economy with Strong of Albanian Agriculture 43 Growth Potential 16 • Boosting Production of Agriculture and Food Products 44• Fier 18 • Atlas Mills 46FINANCE TRANSPORT• Minister Committed to Bringing Financial Sector • Vast Infrastructure Projects with Investment Appeal 49 up to EU Standards 20 • Major Transport Infrastructure Projects in the Works 50• Banking Association Helping to Upgrade • Free Trade Hub of the Western Balkans 52 Financial Sector Performance 21 • Port of Shengjin 52• Sigal Uniqa Group Austria 22• Ongoing Reforms Strengthening Financial Sector 22 HEALTH• ProCredit Bank 24 • Minister Overseeing Ambitious Healthcare Modernisation 54• Emporiki Bank 24 • Making Progress in Upgrading Healthcare System 55 • Rejsi Farma 56ENERGY & MINING• Making the Most of Significant Energy and TOURISM Mining Resources 26 • Everything It Takes to Become Top Tourism Destination 58• Devoll Hydropower 27 • Albania Car Rentals 60• Europetrol Durrës Albania 28 • Hotel Arber 61• CEZ 29 • Treasure Trove of Tourism Attractions 62• Tirex Resources Ltd. 29 • Japan Servis 63 The European Times is a trading name of United International Press Ltd This guide is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This publication, or any part thereof, may not be reproduced, stored electronically or transmitted in any form, without the prior written permission of European Times. The European Times PO Box 68566 - London EC1P 1XP - United Kingdom Every effort has been made to ensure information contained in this publica- Phone: +44 (0)208 371 2356 - Fax: +44 (0)208 371 2410 tion is correct and up-to-date. The authors and publisher accept no respon- - sibility for any errors it may contain, or for any loss, financial or otherwise, The European Times is a trading name of Crystal Mediacorp Ltd sustained by any person using this publication.Project Manager: Elliott Wood - Business Analyst: Michael Frisbie - Project Coordinator: Joe Cushing - Regional Director: Lieve Leysen - Editorial:Emily Emerson-Le Moing - Proofreading: Vicky Kox - Production Coordinator: Katrien Delamotte, Vicky Kox - Head of Production: Fatima DarghalOffice Manager: Samira Darghal - Photography: LSA Photo, Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Albanian National Agency on Tourism - Design:Martine Vandervoort, Carine Thaens, Johny Verstegen, Walter Vranken, Dirk Van Bun Special thanks to Ralf Gjoni, Director General of Communications and Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for all the help in finalising this magazine. 3
  4. 4. THE EUROPEAN TIMES ALBANIA Sali Berisha, Prime MinisterArchitect of Albania’sEconomic MiracleAs Albania celebrates the 100th anniversary of its inde- Now, halfway through Sali Berisha’s second mandatependence, Prime Minister Sali Berisha seems unstoppable as Prime Minister, Albania continues to enjoy one of the most vibrant economies in Europe, with exportsin his reform drive. Sali Berisha is by far Albania’s most and FDI growing every year. Albania boasts a flat taxprominent and longest serving politician in the past 20 of 10%, is a member of NATO, and aspires to becomeyears. A former cardiologist, he was elected Chairman of part of the EU. Despite the global economic crisis, Albania’s government has managed to maintain growththe democratic party in 1991 and from 1992 to 1997 he at around 4% and the deficit at a steady 3.1% with aserved as President of Albania, the country’s first non- GDP per capita of US$3,500, a significant increase overcommunist head of state. He returned as Prime Minister the country’s US$200 per capita GDP in 1992. Lonely Planet guidebooks dubbed Albania as the “number onein 2005, leading a coalition of five centre right parties. hot country to visit in 2011” while Steve Forbes recentlyFour years later, in 2009, he won a second mandate described Sali Berisha as “the architect of Albania’sby forming a governing coalition with the Socialist economic miracle.”Movement of Integration (LSI). From poverty to prosperity Discussing Albania’s success story, Sali Berisha says that his country has changed drastically since it first emerged from communism in 1991. Albania has developed from4
  5. 5. THE EUROPEAN TIMES Introduction Satellite image of the port of Shengjinpoverty and misery to a middle and upper income Lean, efficient public sectorcountry, from a totally isolated and centralised economyto a fully functional free market country, and from Albania’s economic model has been praisedhyper collectivisation to a country with the smallest throughout the business world for being entirelypublic sector in Europe, where 84% of the GDP comes based upon the principles of economic freedom,from the private sector. small government, low taxation and respect for the freedoms of the individual. Sali Berisha’s gov-The Prime Minister is keen to emphasise that Albania is ernment has achieved a public sector and admin-now a fully functioning democracy, respecting human istration that are 50% smaller than those of mostrights, rule of law and free speech while minority other countries of Albania’s size in the region orrights and freedom of religion are guaranteed by elsewhere, and Albania is proud to be regardedthe country’s constitution. He says, “I am proud to as one of the 10 top governments which do notsay that from being the most isolated country in the interfere in the, Albania today is a member of NATO and aims tobecome a member of the EU while continuing to serve Sali Berisha believes that bold economic and fiscalas a driving force for stability and peace in the region policies, operative budget cuts and a flat tax of 10%and further, alongside our international partners. across the board have saved Albania from recessionSince 2011, our citizens have been able to travel visa and the global economic crisis. Foreign direct invest-free across Europe and the annual number of tourists ment in Albania has grown by 316% since 2006 whilehas grown from 300,000 in 2004 to 3.5 million in 2011, Albania’s exports have risen by 300% and povertyand it will grow again in 2012.” has fallen by 30% over the same period. 5
  6. 6. THE EUROPEAN TIMES ALBANIA © LSA Fighting corruption, promoting transparency Regarding the fight against corruption, the Prime Minister recently said, “Fighting corruption on a constant basis is the ‘sine qua non’ condition for the consolidation of human rights.” He believes that Albania’s business climate can be improved by increas- ing transparency across both public and private sectors. Albania’s government has lowered taxes, privatised almost all major state owned enterprises and ensured increased transparency by making Albania the first country in the world to have 100% e-procurements. The result is that budgetary revenues have almost doubled in the past five years. Albania has one of the youngest populations in theSali Berisha, Prime Minister world, with an average age of 29 years old. The country projects a vitality and positive energy that are secondDeveloping renewable energies to none in Europe. In fact, the Prime Minister believes that Albania’s youthful human resources are among theWhile introducing Albania’s liberal economic model country’s top attractions for investors and businesses.and structural reforms during a recent visit to Paris, Sali While offering a low cost labour force, Albania possessesBerisha said, “Power is found in freedom” and added a bright, multilingual, highly skilled, technologicallythat the purpose of his government is to make Albania a savvy young generation.‘green’ country by developing its huge hydropower pro-duction potential and agricultural assets. “My ambitionis to see Albania as a mini superpower of renewable Young, multilingual human resourcesenergy in the region,” the Prime Minister explained. Sali Berisha is committed to creating new opportuni-Regarding FDI, Sali Berisha’s strategy has been to ties for Albania’s younger generation. “It is our priorityturn Albania into an economic gateway to the region, to make sure that after receiving a good standard ofbuilding on the country’s low cost labour force and education, our youth have the best possible opportuni-highly skilled workers. “Albania’s access to the sea, ties of employment,” said the Prime Minister during acombined with huge infrastructural investments in recent meeting with young people in Tirana. In fact,recent years, are turning the country into a perfect des- some years ago, most Albanian young people wantedtination for investors who wish to expand their activities to leave their country in search of better opportunitiesin the Balkans,” he says. In fact, around 80% of Albania’s abroad, but now Albania is witnessing a positive trend ofGDP has gone toward building more than 8,000 km of brain gain. Many Albanian students educated in someroads and highways. A brand new highway to Kosovo has of the best universities in the West have chosen to returnnow been finished, while the aim for the next two years to Albania to contribute to their country’s to cut travel time from Tirana to any corner of thecountry by 60% through infrastructure development. Albania today is a solid factor of stability and peace in the Balkans and enjoys a great working partnership with theSali Berisha is proud that Albania offers the lowest fiscal EU, which the government will continue to work hardburden in Europe, with a 10% flat tax and extremely to join. Prime Minister Sali Berisha wants to see Albaniaeasy procedures for opening a new business. Albania become a truly developed country, achieving the highesthas also drastically reduced bureaucratic procedures in possible standards for its citizens while increasing itsorder to create a business friendly climate. During all renewable energy capacities. His governing coalitionhis public appearances, the Prime Minister highlights aims to turn Albania into a shining example of sustain-Albania’s “One-stop shop” and online business regis- able development, respecting the environment but attration services, which have helped Albania rank 27% the same time keeping its competitive edge in regionalhigher than the OECD average in business initiation. and global markets.6
  7. 7. THE EUROPEAN TIMES IntroductionForeign Minister SupportingRegional and Global PartnershipsAlbania’s foreign policy aims at © LSAopening Albania to the world bypromoting regional and interna-tional partnerships. At a meetingof foreign ministers of AdriaticCharter countries, held in New YorkCity, in September 2011, Albania’sDeputy Prime Minister andMinister of Foreign Affairs EdmondHaxhinasto commented, “TheAdriatic Charter is an importantelement in helping countries toprepare for NATO membership and Edmond Haxhinasto, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairswe would like to see more countries Adriatic Charter countries develop excellent example of a country whichof the region joining the group. It is joint activities and cooperate closely shows respect to diverse minorities,very important that an open door for a range of local and regional issues, religions and ethnic groups in thepolicy be maintained for all the including projects related to security. region and beyond. “Respect for Edmond Haxhinasto says, “The dif- minorities is a fundamental preceptcountries in the region.” Albania ferences that may exist between the of Albania’s domestic and foreignis serving as the president of the countries in the region should be policies,” he added.Adriatic Charter in 2011. viewed from the perspective that we all share a common future – a future Albania is involved in a number of which we should work together for partnerships and joint projects with to make sure that it will be the one its neighbours in the Balkans region involving more stability, cooperation, and beyond. Edmond Haxhinasto, development and progress.” who has recently met with his coun- terpart from China as well as with Preparing for EU membership US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, says that Albania aims to participate Albania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in more regional and international is also stepping up its cooperation projects in the future. He explains, with European groups as part of the “The spirit that should guide us process of preparing Albania for EU should be all inclusive, a matter of membership. Edmond Haxhinasto peoples and societies, and not an issue recently met with a delegation of of national boundaries. Regional and representatives from the Council of international initiatives are designed Europe and members of the Advisory to bring people closer – politicians, Committee of the Framework Con- societies, cultures. Respecting this fun- vention for the Protection of Minori- damental principle is the basic reason ties; at this meeting the Deputy Prime for such initiatives. It is also essential in Minister stressed that Albania is an establishing a united Europe.” 7
  8. 8. THE EUROPEAN TIMES ALBANIANew Mayor Making Tirana MoreLiveable and Business FriendlyLulzim Basha, Tirana’s new mayor, unveils his plansfor truly sustainable development for the capital city.European Times: Please provide an introduction tothe city of Tirana, its economic growth and your plansfor the capital.Mayor Basha: Tirana was established in 1614 andbecame the capital of Albania for the first time in 1920.Since then the city has undergone immense transfor-mations. Its population increased from 25,000 in 1938to 250,000 in 1990, but the biggest physical and demo-graphic transformation has occurred in the past 20years. The population of the capital is now estimated ataround 800,000 and is rapidly growing, due to internaldemographic movements in Albania. The city has alsoknown a huge geographic expansion through theestablishment of new neighbourhoods. Almost a thirdof Albania’s population now lives in Tirana, which is Lulzim Basha, Mayor of Tiranathe political, administrative and economic heart of allactivity in the country. is why we have begun to work on delivering property titles for thousands of residents who were unclearI grew up in Tirana, and I had my own dreams of about their ownership. Now we plan to regulate thewhat the city could be. The present state of the city city’s chaotic traffic and infrastructure, improve publicis not satisfactory to me, and it is clear that it was not transport and create more green spaces and play-acceptable to its citizens, who voted for change during ground areas for our children. Cleaning up the city isthe last local elections. We are now faced with major a key priority in our immediate plans, and our childrenchallenges in turning Tirana into a fully functional, deserve better standards of schools.modern metropolis, a business friendly space closer toEuropean urban standards, and a pleasant place to live To make Tirana business friendly, we are steadilyfor its residents. reducing bureaucracy and the costs of registering a new business. Tirana will have a One Stop Shop CentreEuropean Times: What specific plans do you have for offering services and advice for its business clients. Wethe capital city? expect investment to increase dramatically in the next few years thanks to these innovations.Mayor Basha: Since I was elected mayor in June 2011,my team has worked hard to start delivering on our Improving the business climate is crucial for my two key pri-electoral promises. It is imperative that we turn Tirana orities for Tirana: ensuring the capital’s economic growthinto a citizen friendly space and business friendly and creating employment opportunities for our citizens.metropolis. This begins with rethinking the city’s We have already delivered on one of our main promisesneighbourhoods. We should move away from the by reducing taxes and removing about 60 tariffs for busi-cosmetic fixes the city has undergone during the past nesses. Within the next few months, we aim to simplifyfew years and deliver real alternatives for our citizens. administrative procedures and offer online services toThis also involves respect for private property. This help ensure that investment grows rapidly in the capital.8
  9. 9. THE EUROPEAN TIMES IntroductionTiranaEuropean Times: How will your leadership and modern public transport services, including a newdirection of the city differ from the previous mayor’s tramway service. Meanwhile, construction of a ring roadadministration? around the city has begun, and this will greatly relieve traffic congestion.Mayor Basha: Despite the problems Tirana faces today,the previous mayor made a positive contribution in In addition, the town hall is now much more openhis early days in office. But I believe that Tirana has and accessible, and we are decentralising our decisionentered a new era thanks to Albania’s demographic making concerning mini-municipalities, in order tochanges and the urban challenges of the 21st century. ensure more effective service for our citizens. RegardingWhen the former mayor became the leader of the our youth, we have already signed an agreement withopposition Socialist party, Tirana was left in the shade, our main universities to begin offering the Mayoraland was taken hostage by personal political interests. Student Card, which will offer numerous free servicesTirana needs a dedicated mayor, free of political to our students for the first time in our city’s history. Weagendas and totally focused on improving the lives have also established the Consumer Protection Agency,of its citizens. I believe that this is the key difference which will be an efficient instrument in protecting ourbetween the current new style of management of the citizens against price speculation and abuses concern-city and the old leadership, which actually suffocated ing the products we consume, including food products,the city’s development. thus ensuring food safety.To be more concrete, in our first 100 days in office, we We are determined to deliver on our common projecthave already delivered on some key promises we made to for the rehabilitation of the capital city by attractingour citizens. We have reduced taxes and business tariffs, investment, creating thousands of new employmentand we are working very hard to produce a proper urban opportunities and improving the physical and culturaldevelopment plan for Tirana, something the city has life of our citizens.never had before. Citizens will have the property titlesthey have been lacking for years. Meanwhile, future European Times: What is your personal message to ourbuilding permission will be granted through transpar- readers and to Albania’s partners the EBRD, the Worldent and faster procedures by making use of our new one Bank, the EIB and the European Parliament?stop shop service. Mayor Basha: Come and enjoy the culture and businessI am pleased to announce that Scanderbeg Square has opportunities Tirana has to offer. In my team you willjust been opened to traffic, ending a long period of find a trusted partner for your future projects, and innightmare traffic chaos in the centre of the city. Now the city you will find ample evidence of Albania’s charmwe plan to extend Tirana Boulevard and equip it with and cultural heritage. 9
  10. 10. THE EUROPEAN TIMES ALBANIAEuropean Integration MinistryPromoting Constructive DialogueOn her recent visit to the Centre of European Perspective,Majlinda Bregu, Albania’s Minister of EuropeanIntegration, commented, “Albania has a strongEuropean perspective and clearly sees its future as amember of the EU.”One priority for the Minister of European Integration isto promote regional partnerships. In September 2011,she signed a cross border agreement between Albaniaand Kosovo as part of the European Commission’sPre-Accession Instrument (IPA) dealing with crossborder cooperation. The IPA’s cross border policy is topromote cooperation between the people and institu-tions of neighbouring countries with the aim of sup-porting economic development, social cohesion andenvironmental awareness in a sustainable manner.Under the terms of the agreement between Kosovoand Albania, projects and municipalities in bothcountries will receive support from a €1.2 millionIPA grant through the end of 2012. After signing the © LSAagreement, Majlinda Bregu commented, “Albania hasdemonstrated that it is a nation with a western culture, Majlinda Bregu, Minister of European Integrationopen to dialogue, and with respect for other culturesin the region. Cross border cooperation and cross This opinion is shared by European observers. At aborder projects will help strengthen this dialogue.” recent meeting of the EU Stabilisation and Associa- tion Council focusing on Albania’s efforts to achievePromoting greater cooperation between EU candidate status, Catherine Ashton, High Repre-political groups sentative of the EU, and Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement, urged the restoration of politicalIn addition to productive dialogue between dialogue in Albania and the return of the oppositioncountries, Minister Bregu is promoting more produc- to Albania’s parliament so that it can participate intive relationships between opposing political factions Albania’s reform Albania. In a recent speech to the Committee ofEuropean Integration, Majlinda Bregu said, “Political After the meeting, Majlinda Bregu explained, “The EUdialogue remains a priority in accelerating Albania’s welcomed the smooth implementation of the Stabilisa-EU integration process. The opposition’s boycott of tion and Association Agreement by Albania, includingAlbania’s parliament puts Albania’s EU integration the recommended election reforms which we areat risk. We should guarantee that Albania’s parlia- currently establishing. The SAA meeting focused onment can continue to function through promoting how Albania should look forward, and looking forwarda constant dialogue between majority and opposition surely does not mean blocking integration reforms. Weparties so that we can work together to accelerate the would appreciate the opposition’s constructive contri-integration process.” bution to the European agenda.”10
  11. 11. THE EUROPEAN TIMES IntroductionRegional Cooperation Is DeliveringTangible Results and AcceleratingAlbania’s European IntegrationMimoza Halimi, Albania’s crime, illegal migration and corrup-Ambassador to the EU, emphasizes tion. “In return, Albanian visas have been liberalised, which is leadingthe constructive and active role to more people to people contacts,Albania is playing in enhancing enhancing business opportunities andthe Balkans region’s cooperation. giving the possibility to our citizens to get to know the EU better,” the Ambas-She says, “Albania has a tradition of sador points out.peaceful cooperation, as is widelyrecognised throughout Europe. Mimoza Halimi highlights the crucialDialogue, transparency and interac- role the Central European Free Tradetion in regional partnerships consti- Agreement (CEFTA) continues to play Mimoza Halimi, Ambassador to the EUtute some of the guiding principles in stimulating the regional marketof Albania’s foreign policy. Moreover, and integrating it with the EU market natural beauties, history and culture,regional cooperation is delivering through Stabilisation and Association and Albanians hospitality are attract-tangible results and accelerating the Agreements (SAA) as well as with the ing tourists from all around the world.European integration process of global market through the participa- Thanks to major recent public invest-Albania and other countries in the tion of CEFTA countries in the World ment in improving Albania’s part ofwestern Balkans.” Trade Organisation. regional and pan European corridors, such as Corridor VIII, a new motorwayA commitment to constructive Thanks to new trade regulations and from the port of Durres to Morineregional cooperation is one of the other investor friendly legislation, across the Kosovo border will provideEU’s criteria for EU membership. Albania is experiencing a significant rapid links to Prishtina, Belgrade andThe EU wishes countries in the increase in exports, foreign direct Budapest. “The involvement of allBalkans to demonstrate a willing- investment in green-field and steady Western Balkans countries in transportness to cooperate with each other no economic growth. “This is enabling our initiatives will enable us to build andmatter how painful memories from economy to produce more tradable integrate our transport network withthe recent past might be. Mimoza goods, become more competitive and the EU one in a consistent way,”Halimi notes that throughout the better meet the economic criteria Mimoza Halimi points out.Balkans region, countries are making of European integration,” Mimozaprogress in addressing regional Halimi says. The Ambassador notes that Albaniapolitical, economic and security issues and other countries in the regionin a cooperative way. “The active The Ambassador cites the energy sector continue to face a number of chal-participation of all countries in the as one of Albania’s high potential indus- lenges, including the effects of theregion, including Kosovo, will further tries. She says, “Having a comparative global crisis, fiscal consolidation, theenhance the progress made so far advantage of being rich in hydropower need to further improve the businessand ensure that it is sustainable. The and other renewable energy resources, climate and the need to accelerateRegional Cooperation Council is Albania is increasing its green energy structural reforms in such areas asplaying a catalysing role in this respect generation capacities, upgrading inner education, healthcare, the labourand can do more not only to ensure power distribution grid and inter- market, property rights and pensionregional cooperation, but also to connection lines, which all ensure a schemes. She concludes, “There ispromote the region in the EU.” reliable power supply to our economy. room for better fiscal policy coordina- Albania’s energy sector remains very tion (rather than competition) amongThrough working together and attractive for investors.” western Balkans countries, which willwith EU support, Albania and other pay off in preserving our economieswestern Balkan countries have been Tourism and transport are other from the effects of the economic crisis,able to strengthen their border man- emerging growth sectors in Albania. attracting more FDI and upgrading theagement and fight against organised Being a Mediterranean country, its competitiveness of our economies.” 11
  12. 12. THE EUROPEAN TIMES ALBANIA © National Tourism Agency of AlbaniaStrategically Located Trade HubUndergoing True Industrial RevolutionAlbania, once known for its closed Billions in FDI from 2006 to organised crime networks andborders, is becoming a productive 2010 political upheavals. It remains one of the poorest countries in Europe,member of the global economic Over the past decade, Albania hampered by a large “grey” economycommunity. Strategically located has been one of Europe’s success and inadequate energy and trans-on the Balkan Peninsula with stories. As Albania’s Prime portation systems. In spite of the Minister, Sali Berisha, points out, challenges, Albania continues tocoastlines on both the Adriatic and “Albania attracted €2.7 billion in move forward. It joined NATO inthe Ionian seas, set between Greece foreign direct investment between April 2009 and is now a candidateto the south and Montenegro and 2006 and 2010 while our exports for EU accession. tripled over the same period.Kosovo to the north, Albania was a These investments were mainly Achieving EU membership athriving trade hub for centuries until in our country’s industrialisation; key goalits economic development stalled Albania is experiencing a true industrial revolution as advanced The EU is Albania’s top tradingduring the almost 50 years it spent technologies are being imple- partner by far, and achieving EUunder Communist rule. In the early mented in every sphere. For membership is one of the country’s1990s, however, Albania held its example, thanks to investments in top goals. Albania signed a Stabili- telecommunications technologies, sation and Association Agreementfirst multiparty elections, established Albania’s Internet penetration with the EU which came into forcea parliamentary democracy, and has been boosted tenfold. These in April 2009, the same month thatbegan the process of developing a free investments have also resulted in Albania submitted its formal appli- the creation of thousands of jobs, cation for EU integration. As partmarket economy. and Albania is in fact experiencing of the EU pre accession process, a decline in unemployment.” Albania has received financial aid to improve its public institu- Albania continues to face a number tions and to enhance cross border of stumbling blocks to sustained cooperation under the EU Instru- economic growth, including cor- ment for Pre-Accession Assistance ruption, outdated infrastructure, funding mechanism.12
  13. 13. THE EUROPEAN TIMESAlbania received around €81.2million in EU funding in 2009 andan additional €93.2 million in 2010.In 2011, Albania is expected toreceive around €95 million with afurther €96.9 million in EU financialassistance scheduled for 2012. Thisfunding (along with foreign invest- © National Tourism Agency of Albaniament and remittances from Albaniansliving abroad) is supporting Albania’seconomy as the country continues todevelop its various sectors. to Austria, Italy, Kosovo, Macedonia, In addition, Albania’s tourism Spain and other countries have attractions are considerable: withBoth exports and imports up increased in 2011, while imports from unspoiled beaches along two coast-in 2011 Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Macedonia, lines, a Mediterranean climate, the US and other markets have risen rugged mountains, an easy toIn July 2011, Albania posted an as well. Albania’s exports of minerals, reach location in south-easternencouraging drop in its trade fuels and electricity rose by 30.3% Europe, low costs, a welcomingdeficit and a rise in both imports from January to July 2011, while population and many historicand exports, according to the exports of textiles and footwear rose monuments, Albania is poisedcountry’s Institute of Statistics. by 13.3% and exports of wood and to become a thriving EuropeanAlbania’s exports rose to around paper by 6.7%. tourism destination with some€127.4 million in July, an increase help from foreign investors.of 7.75% compared to June and a Attracting foreign investors tosignificant 32.4% rise compared to key sectors Just one example of Albania’sJuly 2010, while imports increased tourism potential is Butrint, one ofby 2.4% compared to June and 7.4% Albania’s current government is the world’s archaeological wonderscompared to July 2010. Overall, focusing on maintaining the flow and a UNESCO World Heritage site.Albania’s trade deficit was 3.5% of foreign direct investments into Butrint offers a glimpse of Mediter-lower in July 2011 than a year ago. Albania. A number of sectors offer ranean culture from the Bronze interesting prospects, particularly Age through the Greek, Roman,Albania’s trade with the EU agriculture, energy, mining and Byzantine, Venetian and Ottomanaccounted for 69.1% of the country’s tourism. Albania’s natural resources periods, all atop a cliff in southerntotal as of July 2011, with Italy and include petroleum, natural gas, Albania with a stunning view ofGreece still the country’s two biggest coal, bauxite, chromite, copper, Corfu. Visiting Butrint is a not totrade partners. The Institute of Sta- iron ore, nickel, salt, timber, arable be missed experience and just onetistics reports that Albania’s exports land and hydropower. example of Albania’s unique appeal. 13
  14. 14. • Economy Minister Driving Forward Measures to Attract FDI• Transformed Economy with Strong Growth PotentialBusiness & InvestmentOpportunities “Albania, although a small country, has played a big role in the region to create a vision for a more prosperous Balkans.” Nasip Naço, Minister of Economy, Trade and Energy
  15. 15. THE EUROPEAN TIMES Business & Investment OpportunitiesEconomy Minister DrivingForward Measures to Attract FDIForeign direct investment in Albania surpassed the US$1 © LSAbillion mark (€738.3 billion) in 2010, making Albania (the second largest investment recipient in SoutheastEurope after Serbia, and the only country in the regionin which investment has increased despite the globaleconomic downturn. This international confidencein Albania’s long term potential will help the countryreach its goal of joining the EU and becoming a moreimportant player in the European and global economy.Nasip Naço, Albania’s Minister of Economy, Tradeand Energy, explains, “Over the last two decades,Albania has gone through a tremendous political,institutional, and socio economic transformation.The Euro Atlantic integration process has been thedriving force behind several institutional and struc-tural reforms that have contributed to the ongoingdemocratisation of Albania, and naturally EU mem-bership remains our priority.”Minister Naço added that Albania is committed to sup-porting the growth of the Balkans region. He noted,“Albania, although a small country, has played a bigrole in the region to create a vision for a more prosper-ous Balkans, where peace and stability have replacedethnic conflicts, where economic growth has prevailedover stagnation, and where Europeanization hastriumphed over nationalism.” Nasip Naço, Minister of Economy, Trade and Energy Nasip Naço notes that Albania has successfully pursuedEurope’s lowest corporate taxes an ambitious privatisation programme and the gov- ernment is actively supporting public private partner-As Nasip Naço pointed out, Albania’s economic growth ships. He says, “The private sector of Albania’s economyrate has been one of the highest in South Eastern has been the main driver towards economic growthEurope since 2000, reaching an average of 6% per year with a contribution of about 85% of GDP, and mostwith a peak of 8% in 2008. Albania has also maintained importantly providing about 80% of employment. Themacroeconomic stability, cut taxes on small businesses Albanian government has undertaken a comprehen-in half and reduced corporate and personal income sive regulatory reform in order to establish a businesstaxes from 25% to 10%. As the Minister points out, friendly climate. Due to these reforms Albania was“Albania is among the countries with the lowest fiscal ranked the second among top ten reforming countriesburden in Europe, applying a flat tax regime of 10% in the World Bank Doing Business Report concerningfor individuals and businesses.” protecting investors’ interests.” 15
  16. 16. THE EUROPEAN TIMES ALBANIA © LSATransformed Economy withStrong Growth PotentialAlbania has transformed itself. Once one of the world’s for foreign investments in the region and beyond. Thismost closed economies, Albania has been successfully dream has now become a reality. Albania was the only country in the region to record an increase in foreignmaking the difficult transition from a centrally controlled investments in 2010. Our government has clearlysystem to a modern, market oriented one. This transition met one of its major objectives: to create in Albaniahas involved a number of challenges, and the economy is a friendly environment for investment and business. Naturally, Albania has great needs because the countrystill being driven mainly by foreign investment, support started almost from scratch in the 1990s, and foreignfrom international funding organisations, public sector investments were formerly banned by the Albaniandebt and remittances from abroad. Constitution. Hence, this is an historic achievement.” World Bank takes positive viewNevertheless, Albania managed impressive averagegrowth of 6% between 2004 and 2008 and was The global economic crisis has taken its toll onone of the few countries in Europe with a positive Albania, but much progress continues to be made.economic growth rate in 2009. Now Albania is GDP growth dropped to around 3% in 2009 andworking hard to join the EU, enhancing its invest- 2010, but the Albanian government has demonstratedment appeal in the process. a commitment to ensuring strong macroeconomic fundamentals and to providing the right conditionsAlbania has already earned a stellar track record for foreign investment. Kseniya Lvovsky, World Bankin attracting foreign investors. Prime Minister Sali Country Manager for Albania, comments, “Albania’sBerisha commented recently, “We promised to ability to sail through the difficult post crisis yearstransform Albania into the most attractive country better than most other European countries, admirably16
  17. 17. THE EUROPEAN TIMES Business & Investment Opportunitiesmaintaining positive growth rates, In the energy sector, Albania has sig- the country’s energy, telecommu-was partly thanks to a fiscal cushion nificant hydropower resources but nications and transport infrastruc-created before the crisis. With the energy shortages remain common ture. The report adds that furtherdebt level stubbornly near 60%, this because of outdated infrastructure. improvements in public adminis-cushion is no longer there. Yet, the A new thermal power plant near tration, property rights legislationrisks of another economic shock Vlore has helped Albania diversify its and regulations concerning theare not negligible. In this situation, energy supplies, and planned links business sector are also crucial forforeign investors have become between Albania’s electricity trans- Albania. Kseniya Lvovsky explains,more risk averse and more valuing mission lines and those of Montene- “For a middle income country likeeconomic stability when assessing gro and Kosovo would help relieve Albania, it will be difficult to be com-alternative investment destinations energy shortages and create more petitive, and to return to and sustainin the region. There are ample attractive conditions for foreign strong growth, if these factors arereasons for a set of measures that and local investors. Albania’s gov- not dealt with. The global crisis haswould strengthen Albania’s budget ernment aims to use EU funding significantly reduced the appetite ofplanning process, increase predict- support to upgrade the country’s foreign investors to take risks, andability and enhance debt reduction. infrastructure, including the road capital is likely to be scarce in theThe authorities have recentlyindicated their readiness to worktowards these improvements. The © LSAWorld Bank stands ready to supportthe needed actions with expertiseand technical assistance.”Fighting corruption,promoting transparencyAlbania’s government has alreadyadopted strong policies againstorganised crime, the “grey”economy and corruption. During arecent meeting of Albania’s Councilof Ministers, Prime Minister SaliBerisha noted, “The fight againstcorruption remains our govern-ment’s top priority, and my cabinetis committed to further increasingtransparency.”To keep foreign investment ontrack, the government has creatednew investor friendly legislation andis promoting key sectors which areseen as having particularly attrac- and rail network, in an effort to next few years. Accelerating the pacetive growth prospects, including provide the right conditions for long of reforms in these critical areas willagriculture, mining and energy, all term economic expansion. increase Albania’s competitivenessof which need foreign investment as the destination of new capitalin order to flourish. The agriculture According to the World Bank’s inflows.”sector, for example, which accounts recent report on Albania, “Thefor over half of the employment in New Growth Agenda”, the country’s Given the great progress it has madeAlbania but only about one fifth of two most pressing concerns are so far and its outstanding investmentthe country’s GDP, needs modern to upgrade its human capital by potential, Albania is clearly on theequipment and expertise to realise training Albanians in marketable right track to achieving long termits potential. skills, and to modernise and expand economic success. 17
  18. 18. THE© LSA EUROPEAN TIMES ALBANIA ApolloniaFierAncient Trade Centre Now ModernEconomic and Cultural HubFier has been a trade and cultural hub since the 6th and forage as well as poultry and livestock. Fier enjoys acentury BC when it was founded as Apollonia, named sunny, mild Mediterranean climate and has ample water resources from the three rivers that pass through thefor the Greek god, Apollo. Located on the Via Egnatia, city. Baftjar Zeqaj says, “A rich and long tradition pairedthe ancient route linking Rome and Constantinople, Fier with modern values and technology have combined toattracted traders, artisans and travelers from all over make Fier the largest producer of natural and organic agricultural products in Albania.”the world. Today, the city is still known for its thrivingeconomy (which is the third biggest in Albania) and for The city’s tourism industry is also growing thanks toits cultural attractions. Fier’s strategic location, natural beauty, wealth of archi- tectural treasures and lively cultural scene. Fier is also only 18 km from some of Albania’s most beautifulMayor Baftjar Zeqaj explains, “Fier has developed a diverse beaches along the Adriatic. Baftjar Zeqaj points out,economy based on oil extraction and refining, construc- “Fier is the home of many artists, painters, writers,tion, food processing, international trade, retail sales, and musicians, sculptors, singers, actors, and performers.textiles and apparel manufacturing. The city has attracted The city is looking to capitalise on its long history andforeign as well as local investment.” Fier has large deposits strategic location by organising cultural, historical andof petroleum and natural gas and produces some 2,800 artistic events year round. Our aim is for Fier to bebarrels of oil per day along with around five million cubic identified as a centre of culture and art within Albaniametres of natural gas per year. Other exploitable natural and the region, and we welcome international partnersresources include bituminous sand and clay. who can help us achieve our goals. Fier currently has 23 cultural projects in need of funding, one of which is theAlbania’s biggest producer of agricultural reconstruction of the city theatre.”products Fier will play an important role in helping AlbaniaFier also supports a thriving agricultural sector. Local prepare for EU membership. As Baftjar Zeqaj explains,farmers produce significant amounts of wheat, corn, “The plans and the goals are there, and now we needolives, tomatoes, potatoes, grapes, apples, watermelon capital to make these dreams a reality.”18
  19. 19. • Minister Committed to Bringing Financial Sector up to EU Standards• Banking Association Helping to Upgrade Financial Sector Performance• Ongoing Reforms Strengthening Financial SectorFinance “We will carry out the World Bank’s reforms successfully, because the Albanian government is very committed to timely implementation.” Ridvan Bode, Minister of Finance
  20. 20. THE EUROPEAN TIMES ALBANIAMinister Committed to BringingFinancial Sector up to EU StandardsAt the annual Bank of Albania conference held inSeptember 2011, Ridvan Bode, Albania’s Minister ofFinance, urged the country’s banks to increase transpar-ency, one example of the minister’s drive to implementEU standards throughout Albania’s financial sector.Ridvan Bode is currently working with the World Bankand the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs tocreate a transparent policy environment and effectiveinstitutional framework for corporate financial reportingin Albania in line with good international practicesand the EU acquis communautaire.In April 2011, the Ministry of Finance launched theCorporate Financial Reporting Enhancement Project(CFREP), which is part of the “Road to Europe: Programof Accounting Reform and Institutional Strengthening”(REPARIS) regional initiative in which Albania plays animportant role. In June, the Minister of Finance signedan agreement with the World Bank through which theWorld Bank will provide Albania with a €18.4 million(US$25 million) Social Sector Reform DevelopmentPolicy Loan that will be used to enhance the efficiencyand equity of health financing in Albania. This keymeasure is designed to help to bring Albania’s health-care sector up to international standards.World Bank providing strong support for Ridvan Bode, Minister of Financepolicy reforms natural resources, water and energy, municipal infra-Albania became a member of the World Bank in 1991, structure, and public sector management. All areand since then 69 projects with a total value of over helping Albania to achieve sustainable economic€1 billion (US$1.4 billion) have been completed in and social development and are paving the way forAlbania with the support of the World Bank’s Inter- Albania’s European integration. At the June ceremonynational Development Association and the Interna- to announce the Social Sector Reform Developmenttional Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In Policy Loan, Ridvan Bode commented, “I would like toaddition, 10 projects totalling €136.5 million (US$185 thank the World Bank for its commitment to Albaniamillion) have been completed in Albania with the help and its support of the government’s reforms in theof the International Finance Corporation within the social sector, areas in which the expertise of this Bank isWorld Bank. significant. In addition, I would like to assure the World Bank that we will carry out these reforms successfully,The World Bank currently has 15 active projects in because the Albanian government is very committed toAlbania involving social initiatives, health, education, timely implementation.”20
  21. 21. THE EUROPEAN TIMES © LSA Bank of AlbaniaBanking Association Helping toUpgrade Financial Sector PerformanceAlbania’s economy is underpinned by a sound and stable reported the results of a study it had undertaken on feesfinancial system dominated by an expanding banking and commissions charged for 20 typical retail banking products by banks in Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus,sector. According to the Bank of Albania, the country’s Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. Thecentral bank, as of the end of 2010 the Albanian banking Association comments, “The study showed that Albaniasector’s profit indicators had improved and both capi- is either on par or cheaper than other countries in the region concerning 17 products, while slightly moretalisation and liquidity were good. The Bank of Albania expensive in three products, but even for these threenoted, “Stress test exercise results show banks’ resilience products, there are banks in Albania that charge lowerto assumed adverse economic and financial shocks.” than the regional average or nothing at all.”The Albanian Association of Banks, the banking The Albanian Association of Banks also reports that thesector’s professional organisation, is a non profit entity Albanian banking sector achieved impressive resultsthat seeks to promote world class standards, stability in 2010. According to the Association the assets of theand efficiency in the Albanian banking system. The Albanian banking system increased at a higher pace inAssociation is playing a major role in harmonising 2010 both in nominal terms and in their contribution toAlbania’s financial sector regulatory environment with the GDP. During 2010, the total assets of Albanian banksthat of the EU. It regularly collaborates with govern- increased by about 12% compared to 2009, account-ment leaders, the Bank of Albania, financial services ing for 81% of the GDP. At the end of 2010, depositsauthorities, and European and other international had an even higher weight on the total financing ofinstitutions in its efforts to continue to upgrade the banking system, accounting for almost 82% of totalAlbania’s banking sector. assets, compared to 78% in December 2009. Overall, deposits had reached their pre-crisis levels by June 2010Reliable source of information and rose by almost 18% during the year.The Albanian Association of Banks also serves as a The Albanian Association of Banks is making sure thatreliable source of information about banking activi- Albania’s strong banking system remains a key attrac-ties in Albania. For example, the association recently tion for foreign investors. 21
  22. 22. ALBANIA Ongoing Reforms Strengthening Financial Sector Albania was one of the few countries in Europe which managed to weather the global financial crisis without the need for a bailout, winning praise from interna- tional observers. Moody’s comments, “The Albanian economy recorded growth of over 6% from 2001 to 2010, one of the strongest performances in Europe, and grew by 3.5% to 4% [during the financial crisis] in 2009 and 2010.” The World Bank points out in a recent report that the Albanian financial sector’s success during the global recession was mainly due to the Albanian govern- ment’s ongoing reform programmes. The World Bank notes, “Since 1997, the Albanian government has liqui- dated the state owned Rural Commercial Bank, priva- tised the National Commercial Bank, and furthermore has included the advisory efforts of the World Bank Group, the IFC, and the EBRD in the process.” Significant presence of foreign banks The World Bank adds that Albania’s financial sector is dominated by banking and that the strong banking sector includes a high percentage of foreign owned banks. “Most of these institutions belong to larger corporate groups that provide stability and security to both domestic and foreign investors in Albania,” the World Bank explains. In fact, Albania’s strong and stable financial sector has proved to be one of the country’s key attractions for international investors. The Albanian financial sector is overseen by the Central Bank, the Ministry of Finance and the Albanian Financial Supervisory Authority. A top priority of Albania’s financial sector leaders is to implement EU standards throughout the financial sector. The Central Bank of Albania has initiated a rela- tively conservative monetary policy which has helped the country protect itself against external financial shocks. Early in 2011, the Central Bank reported,22
  23. 23. THE EUROPEAN TIMES Finance“As of the end of 2010, Albania’s financial system and come forward to declare unpaid taxes and undeclaredbanking sector are assessed as being stable. The banking capital and register both for a small fee. Minister Bode’ssector’s activity has expanded further and its share to announcement came just after the Albanian parliamentthe Albanian economy has increased. Profit indica- passed Albania’s first major fiscal amnesty since the endtors have improved relative to the previous period. of the communist regime.Capitalisation and the operating liquidity position aregood. The need to improve loan quality remains the Insurance sector gets a boostmain challenge facing the banking sector.” The CentralBank also pointed out that stress tests undertaken to Albania is also building up other financial services.judge Albanian banks’ resilience to potential external Ridvan Bode has announced a new draft law onfinancial shocks have shown that the banks are in a mandatory insurance for the transport sector that ishealthy position. designed to help stimulate Albania’s insurance market. Speaking to representatives from insurance companies,Banking sector instrumental in underpinning the Albanian Insurance Bureau and the Albanianeconomy Financial Supervisory Authority, Ridvan Bode said, “The new law for mandatory insurance for the transportAlbania’s banking sector has proved instrumental in sector has been drafted in the framework of reforms thatunderpinning the country’s economic development. the Albanian government has undertaken to speed upBanks in Albania are involved in a wide range of sectors the process of harmonising our legislation with that ofand have provided financial support for both major EU. In this context, the draft law constitutes an effort toenterprises and small and medium sized companies provide better legal regulations concerning protecting(SMEs). The banking sector’s support of SMEs has consumers’ interests, supervising the insurance marketbeen particularly crucial for the Albanian economy, and building the conditions for meeting the require-which is currently dominated by small and micro enter- ments and standards set out by the new law, whichprises, many of them receiving assistance through the follows on from the existing insurance law of 1992.”Southeast Europe Enterprise Development (SEED) ini-tiative and other international programmes. In 1992 when its first mandatory insurance law was passed, Albania had only one insurance company andTax amnesty designed to combat “grey” it was owned by the state. Today, there are severaleconomy insurance companies operating in Albania and only one, INSIG, is state owned; it will be privatised. ForeignAnother goal for Albania’s financial sector leaders is to investors in Albania’s insurance sector include Uniqaimprove the taxation process, currently plagued by tax Group Austria, Vienna Insurance and Aspis Group. Asevasion. In April 2011 Albania’s Minister of Finance, Ridvan Bode points out, “Their presence has encour-Ridvan Bode, announced a new tax amnesty designed aged other foreign investors in Albania’s high potentialto encourage Albanian citizens and businesses to insurance sector.” 23
  24. 24. THE EUROPEAN TIMES ALBANIAProCredit Bank Emporiki BankTop Bank for SMEs Building onin Emerging Markets International Ties to Grow Locally“ProCredit Bank, headquartered in Germany, is consideredto be the bank for small and medium sized enterprises inall the emerging markets in which it has a presence, and Leading Greek Emporiki Bank Group, a member ofProCredit Bank Albania is no exception,” says Flutura Veipi, Crédit Agricole, the largest banking Group in France,spokesperson of the Management Board. Back in 1995 has been operating in Albania since 1999 and is knownProCredit Bank Albania was the country’s first microfinance for its reliable, customer friendly banking services. CEOinstitution which provided Albanians with access to lending, Luc Beiso explains, “Emporiki Bank Albania is atoday it is the only bank operated by a 100% Albanian team. universal bank that focuses on maintaining excellent client relationships.”ProCredit Bank also dis-tinguishes itself from its Emporiki Bank Albaniacompetitors through its has a strong track record inemphasis on staff training. corporate banking and is“We really focus heavily on steadily expanding its retailour staff and personnel, services. The bank now hasand as a result we are able 24 branches throughoutto enjoy a relatively decen- Albania to serve aroundtralised management 80% of the population.structure where branch “We have rapidly added tomanagers are given a large our branch network to bedegree of autonomy,” says closer to our customers.Flutura Veipi. We aim to be a leading financial institution hereStimulating Albania’s economic development is in Albania,” Luc Beiso says.ProCredit Bank Albania’s top priority. The young He notes, “Emporiki Bank has a balanced, prudentexecutive says, “ProCredit Bank Albania focuses on commercial strategy and is here in Albania for theimpacting the domestic market. We are not as concerned long term. We are building on our in depth know-howabout making high profit as facilitating economic developed by Emporiki Bank in Greece as well as thegrowth. We want to provide local companies and entre- strength, stability and international expertise of Créditpreneurs with the financial support and advice they need Agricole.”in order to make their businesses a success.” ProCredit Emporiki Bank is playing a key role in bringing EU standardsBank Albania demonstrates Albania’s potential as a to the Albanian financial sector. Mr. Beiso concludes, “Wetarget for international investors and is competent to aim to provide possibilities for international investors and toserve new investors entering the local market. develop new relationships with foreign partners.” ProCredit Bank sh.a. Dritan Hoxha Street, Tirana P.O Box 2395 “Kavaja” str., Tirana Tower, Nr. 59 Tel: + 355 42 389 300 Tel. +355 4 225 8755 email:
  25. 25. • Making the Most of Significant Energy and Mining ResourcesEnergy & Mining
  26. 26. THE EUROPEAN TIMES ALBANIA Tyrex Resources: Drilling rig north of MunellaMaking the Most of SignificantEnergy and Mining ResourcesAlbania’s energy and mining industries will serve as Small hydropower plants are also making a contributionkey drivers for the country’s economic development in the to Albania’s energy security and present an investment opportunity.future. In the energy sector, Albania’s government hasimplemented legislation designed to draw investment Hydropower projects currently underway includeto a full range of energy initiatives, from Albania’s one on the Drin river being developed as a conces- sion by Austrian enterprise Österreichische Elek-traditional hydropower to wind and biomass, while the trizitätswirtschafts-Aktiengesellschaft. Another Austrianmining sector, a mainstay of the Albanian economy for firm, EVN AG, has signed a concession contract to builddecades, has been growing rapidly since it was opened to three hydropower plants on the Devolli river.private investment in 1994. The challenge of fluctuating water levels In spite of these hydropower facilities, Albania still findsPotential to become regional energy hub it difficult to meet energy demand and maintain energy supply due to fluctuations in rainfall and other precipi-Albania has the potential to develop reliable energy tation on which hydropower depends, as well as a historysupplies for domestic use as well as to export energy of inefficient management of water resources. Albania’sto its neighbours, and the government is determined hydropower production can be cut in half in very dryto position Albania as a regional energy hub. Only years, and in 2007, a drought in the Drin’s watershedaround 33% of Albania’s estimated hydropower led to severe electricity shortages and blackouts.potential is currently being utilised, but Albania hasover 150 rivers, including eight major rivers with an According to a recent World Bank report, Albania isaverage flow of around 1,245 cubic metres per second. making progress in addressing these challenges. In 2008, for the first time, no electricity load sheddingAlbania’s main hydropower plants are on the Drin river; was programmed, and losses from Albania’s electricitythe three plants there have a total installed capacity of distribution system are being reduced. Albania is also1350 MW and supply 92% of the country’s power gen- improving its water use efficiency. In 2007 and 2008,eration. Two hydropower plants are operating on the inflows to the Fierze Reservoir were similar, but powerMat river with a total installed capacity of 49 MW, while generation in 2008 was 29.4% higher than in 2007a plant on the Bistrica river has a capacity of 27.5 MW. thanks to better management.26
  27. 27. THE EUROPEAN TIMES Energy & MiningOverall, Albania’s energy security is steadily being Devoll Hydropowerstrengthened. The World Bank reports, “Through anew Energy Community of South East Europe – Albania Devoll HydropowerDam Safety Project that aims to safeguard Albania’smajor hydroelectric dams, the government will also Project to Serve as a Driversupport improvements in the operational efficiencyof dams and enhance the stability of power supply for for Albanian Economythe regional electricity market. Overall, this will assistAlbania to maximise its benefits from existing hydro- Albania accounts for large unexploited Hydropower waterpower and regional interconnections, thus increasing resources in the Balkan Peninsula. Albania producesenergy security.” 95% of its energy through hydropower, with only 35% ofOther renewable energies also have development the river potentials exploited so far.potential in Albania. Several wind farms are currentlyunder construction, and biomass has strong prospects On April 1, 2009 the Albanian company Devoll Hydro-thanks to Albania’s significant supplies of wood – power Sh.A., a joint-venture between the Austrian EVNaround 125 million cubic metres of forest reserves – and AG and Norwegian Statkraft AS, was awarded a BOOTby products produced by the agriculture sector. Concession to plan, build and operate three hydropower plants on the Devoll River, in the South-eastern part ofRich supply of proven minerals resources Albania. The Concession, implemented as an Albanian Law strengthens Devoll Hydropower’s mission to harnessAlong with its renewable energy potential, Albania the hydropower potential of the Devoll Valley, whilehas a rich supply of proven minerals resources. The respecting social and environmental aspects.mining industry has long been a key sector of theAlbanian economy, and minerals exploited in the Helwig Überacker, CEO of Devoll Hydropower Sh.A.,past continue to be mined today, including chromite, explains, “EVN has been a valuable partner with its keycopper, iron-nickel and coal. Albanian chromite is knowledge and experience in the Balkan region, whereasrecognised as being among the finest in the world Statkraft brings a history of expertise in hydropowerdue to its high chrome to iron ratio; in fact, Albania plant construction and operation. Both of our motheris ranked along with Kazakhstan and Turkey as the companies have found in Albania a good infrastruc-world’s top sources of high quality ore used in the ture for doing business, surrounded by a friendly andproduction of stainless steel. welcoming business atmosphere.”Albania was the first country in the Balkans to complete The hydropower plants will have a combined installeda full geological map of its minerals resources (in capacity of approx. 280 MW. The project will have a large1922), and in 1929 Albania enacted its first mining economic impact for the region and for Albania, and itlaw. Between 1944 and 1994, Albania’s mining will be marked as a significant source of green energy.industry was controlled by the state, but as Albania To see Albania well into the future, Devoll Hydropowerbegan to open its economy, the mining industry was Project will provide reliable, clean and renewable energyone of the first to attract strong interest from the based on European Standards.private sector and from international investors.The Albanian government instituted a new, modernmining law in 1994 with the help of the World Bank,and between 1994 and 2008, Albania issued 738mining permits. Around 590 of these were exploita-tion permits, mainly for the mining of chromite andlimestone.Albania also offers potential for investors in oil andgas. In 2008, Switzerland-based Manas Petroleumannounced that it had found an estimated 3 billionbarrels of oil and 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas inAlbania waiting to be exploited, one more indicationthat Albania’s natural resources are certain to drawsignificant FDI in the future. 27
  28. 28. THE EUROPEAN TIMES ALBANIAEuropetrol Durrës AlbaniaLocal Petroleum EnterpriseGrowing ExponentiallyEuropetrol Durrës Albania (ELDA), a 100% Albanian Expanding network of petrol stationsprivate company, focuses on importing and trading ELDA has become a familiar name among drivers inpetroleum products. The company has been growing Albania thanks to its network of modern, internationalsteadily since it was founded in 2001. It boosted its standard petrol stations. Frident Kuqi, President, says,trade volume from 75 million litres in 2007 to 85 “We started from scratch with one station. Today, ELDA has around a 26% share of the Albanian market, wheremillion litres in 2009 while increasing its turnover from we operate more than 50 petrol stations, almost half ofUS$104 million (€73.2 million) in 2008 to US$110 ( which we own; we opened 10 new stations in Albaniamillion (€77.4 million) in 2009. ELDA’s management ( last year. We are continuing to expand our network and last year we began trading in Kosovo, where we nowcontinues to set ambitious new goals for the company. have around 12 petrol stations.” Now that the company has developed a strong retail network throughout Albania, it is working on building up its network in Kosovo. ELDA has invested significantly in its transport fleet and storage facilities. The company now has a storage capacity of around 35,000 million tonnes at Albania’s Porto Romano in Durres and it aims to boost its storage capacity at the port to 70,000 million tonnes. ELDA has also installed new tanks for gasoline, diesel, fuel and bitumen at the port. Innovative new projects in the works Always ready to innovate, ELDA is currently involved in preparing a case study for a biodiesel project in part- nership with a German enterprise. “This effort demon- strates that ELDA is a dynamic company which is always ready to identify and invest in new growth opportuni- ties,” Frident Kuqi says. Albania’s economic development is creating out- standing investment potential and ELDA welcomes the chance to form more international partner- ships. Frident Kuqi explains, “As we invest in ELDA’s future, we are very open to new partnerships and joint Zhan D’Ark Boulevard, 5/1 ventures with investors who share our goals and who Tirana want to work along with us. ELDA is a reliable, trust- Tel: +355 4 2347 686 worthy partner to do business with. Investors can be confident that ELDA is an Albanian company which always plays by the rules.”28
  29. 29. THE EUROPEAN TIMES Energy & MiningCEZ Tirex Resources Ltd.Czech Energy Leader Developing Albania’sUpgrading Electricity Sector Rich Mining ResourcesCEZ, the Czech energy enterprise, entered the Albanian Tirex Resources Ltd. is spearheading the growth ofmarket with its purchase of a 76% share of Albania’s Albania’s high potential mining sector. The companyelectricity generation and transmission services and is the has invested around €16 million in mining explorationbiggest foreign investor in Albania to date. Martin Roman, in Albania since 2006 and has acquired a 553 sq kmCEZ’s CEO and Chairman of the Board, explains, “For area in the Mirdita district.CEZ, Albania – where electricity consumption is growingby 5% per year – is another step in the consolidation of Perparim Alikaj, Tirexour position in South-Eastern Europe.” Country Manager, explains, “We are focusing our effortsWorking in close cooperation with the Albanian govern- on developing the potentialment, CEZ has invested over €100 million in expanding of the Mirdita project into aAlbania’s low voltage grid and an additional €40 million major volcanogenic massivein reducing losses, in line with its ambitious goal of sulfide (VMS) district withreducing losses by 15% within five years. This target is multiple large deposits ofimpressive since Albania’s electricity transmission grid copper, zinc, gold and in poor condition and consumers commonly use elec- Leading the way into Albania Perparim Alikaj, Country Managertricity without paying for it. and employing modern exploration techniques in an area with a rich mining history,Josef Hejsek, CEO of CEZ Albania, says, “We need Tirex is in the right country at the right time.”around €1 billion to achieve our goals, which we expectto do within the next three years.” CEZ aims to upgrade Tirex, the first mining exploration project to receivetransmission lines, improve metre reading and customer EBRD funding, offers significant investment potential.service, and educate the Albanian people about the Tirex has several projects in the works, has obtainedneed to pay for electricity. equity financing without attaching warrants to common shares during the equity issuances, and plans to fastLong term commitment to Albania track into production without any share dilution.CEZ has made a long term commitment to Albania. Josef Tirex has located significant copper, zinc, gold andHejsek says, “There is a great potential for foreign invest- silver mineralisation in six separate zones within thement in hydropower production here, and this is an Mirdita district and has recently announced produc-avenue our company would be open to pursuing after we tion plans in partnership with a leading Turkish metalshave stabilised the transmission and distribution sectors.” trading and mining company. Prof. Perparim Alikaj, concludes, “The opportunity that Tirex has at MirditaCEZ offers the advantage of its in depth local experience is unique because of the company’s first mover status inand close ties to the Albanian government. Josef Hejsek this geologically rich country.”explains, “There are some reforms in legislation that wewould like to see, but we have a very productive relation-ship with Prime Minister Berisha and other leaders. Weinvite more foreign capital into Albania, and are open topotential partnership opportunities in due course.” CEZ Albania The Albanian Subdivision of Tirex Resources Ltd. EGT Tower, 2nd floor Rr. Deshmoret e Shkurtit, P.30, Sh.B, Apt.4 “Abdyl Frashëri” street, Tirana Tirana - Albania Tel: +355 4 242 1480 - - 29
  30. 30. • Minister for Innovation and ICT Promoting Competitive Telecom Sector• Building a Knowledge Based EconomyIT & Telecom Without ICT and telecom growth and development, how can we expect to reach a level of innovation that is truly respectable in the international community?” Genc Pollo, Minister for Innovation and ICT