EBRD encourages Albania to focus on green economy and digitization
TIRANA (Albania), Sept. 9 (SeeNews) – Albania should use the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to rebuild a greener, more inclusive and digital economy, a senior European Bank official told SeeNews reconstruction and development (EBRD).
“We are very determined to play an important role in all three areas,” said EBRD Senior Vice President Jurgen Rigterink in an interview with SeeNews on the occasion of his visit to Albania on September 8-9. .
The transition to the green economy has been accelerated in order to provide better standards of living and environment for citizens as well as to strengthen the economic competitiveness of Albania, stressed Rigterink.
âThe availability of green energy sources will become an increasingly important factor for investors when deciding where to locate manufacturing facilities,â he noted.
Energy is one of the priority sectors of the bank in Albania, said the EBRD’s first vice president, adding that the focus is on the diversification of green energy sources.
âLast year Albania made substantial progress in this area by launching and concluding two successful auctions for solar power capacities, which have attracted significant interest from private investors. The EBRD has played an important role in providing full technical assistance to the Albanian government to help it prepare and launch these auctions. “
“We also look forward to the completion of the first wind energy auction which was launched in June with our advisory support,” continued Rigterink. He also stressed that the EBRD is committed to finance and support the implementation of future solar and wind energy projects in Albania and will also continue to support public electricity and energy companies to modernize their infrastructure and improve governance.
Rigterink said the EBRD remains committed to supporting further penetration of larger scale renewables in Albania, in particular by diversifying into wind and solar both under the auction system as well as through through private and commercial power purchase agreements or on an all-market basis.
âWe also want to support improvements and digitization of infrastructure in the sector (eg distribution and transmission network) to support further integration of renewable energies and regional market coupling / development. “
Rigterink also said that Albania can be competitive in sustainable tourism and agriculture sectors if it is supported by the right policies and infrastructure development.
âWe are working to increase our support in these two areas. In 2020, we signed a â¬ 60 million ($ 71 million) Albanian Infrastructure and Tourism Flagship Mechanism to fund vital municipal infrastructure and other tourism-friendly projects across the country. “
EBRD First Vice President noted that green transport infrastructure is vital for the competitiveness of the Albanian economy, adding that the government has already identified the “dire lack of investment in the rail sector” as a major obstacle. to the economic development of the country and the region. and European integration.
âWith the support of the EBRD, the EU and other institutional partners, the government is currently implementing and preparing major investment projects to revive the rail sector as a more sustainable, cleaner means of transport. and more secure and bring it to the level of other more developed. railways in the region, âsaid Rigterink.
The EBRD is financing a project to rehabilitate more than 34 km of the existing railway line between the capital Tirana and the port of Durres as well as the construction of a new 5 km railway line connecting the city of Tirana to the international airport of Tirana. The project is supported by a EUR 36.9 million loan from the EBRD and an investment grant from the European Union of up to EUR 35.5 million as part of its connectivity program for the Western Balkans , according to information published on the bank’s website.
Rigterink also said the EBRD will continue to focus on supporting the Albanian private sector both directly and through its risk-sharing programs with local partner banks as well as through its small business advisory program.
âIn this regard, the fight against informality and the leveling of the rules of the game for private companies are probably among the most important actions that the government must take, including a simplified tax system and procedures, strengthened capacities in public administration, additional support and incentives for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to formalize their activities, thus contributing to a better business environment.
As Albania faces a new wave of Covid-19, Rigterink urged local authorities to prepare a renewed reform agenda in order to achieve a sustainable economic recovery. Key measures, he said, should include fiscal reforms to ensure long-term public debt sustainability, further easing of the business environment by strengthening the regulatory, institutional and government framework. right, the fight against inequalities still exacerbated by the crisis and the improvement of the infrastructure network. , including through energy diversification.
“A successful reform program would also help Albania to attract investors and reap the benefits of the on-going outsourcing by large multinationals, many of which are looking to expand regional supply chains,” Rigterink explained, adding that it was “an exciting opportunity for Albania to diversify its economic and export structure.
Regarding the prospect of European integration of the Western Balkans, Rigterink noted that the EBRD supports the efforts of countries in the region to strengthen their ties with the EU. âWith regard to Albania, last year we signed with the government a special memorandum of understanding on the Bank’s assistance in its work on the EU reform program. the government in this work, âRigterink said.
Albania has been a candidate country for the EU since June 2014.
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