Author Archives: Amb. William Walker

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Renewable Energy in Kosovo for 2015

Once again, Kosova is attempting to attract investment in its all-important energy sector. Since liberation in 1999, and its declaration of independence in 2008, the tiny nation has made repeated attempts to increase its generating capacity. Government after government has understood that it must do so in order to renovate an obsolete, inefficient, environmentally toxic, and accident-prone power generation system. Attempt after attempt has failed.

Lack of advance has not been for want of trying. Time and again during the past fifteen years Kosova has announced a tendering process to select the right foreign investment partner. Each attempt has collapsed – sometimes from failure to attract serious bidders; more often from mishandling of the technical and/or legal parameters of the exercise.

Nor has failure been due to an absence of favorable conditions that would normally attract multi-national interest and participation. For one, Kosova is ideally located in the heart of South-Central Europe, surrounded by neighbors (Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Italy), all of which individually and collectively confront similar energy dificiencies – and little hope of meeting the increasing demands of their peoples for economic advancement. While Kosova by itself is a tiny market, connectivity with the region would bode well for those entrepreneurs with the courage and acumen to enter this new and potentially lucrative wider market.

In addition to location, Kosova has a head start on others in terms of project readiness. During a decade of tutelage by United Nations administrators, Kosova was the beneficiary of dozens of feasibility studies, project proposals and resource assessments, produced by UN technical experts. Many of the most detailed, best adaptable to implementation were in the energy sector. The consensus was that Kosova held significant opportunity for profitable investment in the area of power generation.

Unfortunately these favorable conditions have been weakened by negative factors, as yet not overcome. First, there is the negative image of the region in general, Kosova in particular, generated by two decades of war, ethnic conflict, and endemic violence generated by the chaotic collapse of the former Yugoslavia. This, after all, is the notorious Balkans. Second, are the uncertainties surrounding Kosova’s self-declared status as an independent state, with acceptance as such by the majority of nations and international bodies, but not by all. Thirdly, and perhaps the most damaging, the perception, and reality, of a dysfunctional government bureaucracy hampered in its decision-making by timidity, internal disputes, incompetence and, worst of all, unfettered corruption. Potential foreign investors are understandably hesitant to become involved. Awareness of potential problems and agile due diligence are essential.

The obstacles, the difficulties of investing in such a problematic and difficult to fathom environment are real, but so too the potential for a sound, acceptable risk investment. William G. Walker and Associates has a well-earned and credible reputation for knowing the right persons, counseling on the most appropriate and effective strategy to avoid the pitfalls, and using our unique access and insights into how Kosova truly functions, the hidden agendas, and political connections of those involved, to the benefit of any serious investor.

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Albanian Private-Public Invitation to Foreign Entrepreneurs and Investors

Yesterday, Albanian Minister of economic development, trade and entrepreneurship Arben Ahmetaj held a press conference announcing the invitation of private foreign investors to enter into public partnership in various sectors with the Albanian government.

This is not the first time since emerging from its communist past that an Albanian government has announced its intention to attract serious foreign investment. The country’s economy, badly in need of investment and growth in virtually all sectors after decades of mismanagement, must do so if it is to convince the world that the country’s undeniable potential for growth and profit can be pursued by foreign capital and know-how. Previous efforts have been largely unsuccessful given the image, and reality, of an emerging nation still handicapped by endemic corruption and suspicion of foreign capture of national resources.

Before this latest program can have its intended success, foreign investors must perceive an Albania wherein past impediments have been minimized, political risks reduced to those that apply to investment in more mature markets, that the rule of law is more firmly in place to protect their investments should disputes arise. Changing today’s image of Albania as a risky market for foreign capital will require work by the Government, the Albanian private sector, and foreign investors. The good news is that Albania offers enviable opportunity throughout its economy, and that the are a number of local partners and unbiased outside consultants to help interested foreign capital make wise decisions. The market is ripe for serious investment, but caution is advised.

In our opinion, perhaps the most important, and difficult, decision a foreign investor must make is the identification of a capable, respected, and honest local partner. This is not as easy as it would be in the United States, Western Europe, or Japan, wherein trade associations and the like are there to separate reputable enterprises from the scam artists too often able to sell their bona fides to susceptible and/or corrupt local decision makers.

That is where the outside consultant, knowledgeable of the environment, the players, the pitfalls, can make the difference between a successful and a failed investment decision.

The consulting services of W G Walker and Associates offers would be, without question, a valuable resource for any potential investors in the region.