The government of Albania today signed the implementation agreement with leading French renewable company Voltalia to build the photovoltaic part in Karavasta. The agreement paves the way for the construction of the largest solar power plant in the Balkans, where the French company will invest 100 million euros, starting from September.
Prime Minister Edi Rama delivered a speech at the signing ceremony of the agreement, which finalizes a considerable investment in the country’s economy and the future of the energy sector.
In his speech, PM Rama said:
Today is a memorable day on the calendar of Albania. I avail myself of the opportunity to wish everyone again:
A Happy Eid-ul-Adha!
Asking for understanding that we have take a break from this holiday ritual, but we did so precisely because it seemed appropriate, so that, first, we would not to deny our French friends the opportunity to be present though the highest level of management of this big company and, on the other hand, we did so convinced that, nevertheless, this is very good news for the economy and for our country’s image. This is because with the signing of today’s agreement, a leading company will start its operations in Albania. Voltalia will help us not only to diversify the energy in Albania by tapping energy from the sun, but also shed more light on Albania in France, where Albania is still less known and generally not accurately known by people, who have heard mostly heard the country’s name not for the right reasons, or rather not for the reasons we would have wished them to hear.
Albania is a wonderful country. One of this country’s most precious assets is that it is incredibly so rich in water resources and sunlight. And it is exactly this incredible wealth where an increasingly stronger energy sector can be built. Thanks also to this very first investment in solar power, an energy sector that is not only overwhelmingly based on renewable energy resources, but through this investment it adds solar power as a huge potential we just started to exploit.
I believe it is worth remembering the quote by Thomas Edison, who many years ago said: “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” Almost a century has passed since this visionary saying by a man behind some of the most important inventions for humankind, but these words were addressed to Henry Ford. For all of those who don’t recall it, Henry Ford was the highest-level representative of the world of the economic development and these words addressed to him almost a century ago sound even more meaningful nowadays, when the world is facing the tremendous challenge of the climate changes and the need to enhance strength and energies so that to tackle the climatic change and the need for clean renewable energy as soon as possible and in most sustainable way possible.
This is great news also about what the Minister emphasized, as it comes at an extremely shocking moment for the whole world, not only in health terms, but also in the economic aspect and I am very happy that this news comes from France.
We have wished and want France to be much more present in Albania in economic aspects and this is one of the ambitions announced by the President of France himself, who sees our region as a space where Europe should invest in a series of plans and not merely in the process of European integration.
According to a European Commission report, thanks to its geographical position and natural resources Albania has one of the highest potential for development and use of renewable energy sources. We are very privileged as we own one of the largest water reserves in Europe, considering our geography, and we are the second richest country in water sources after Norway. But on the other hand, many recent researches warn about the growing threat from global warming over water sources and a World Bank study notes that river inflows could be reduced by 20% until 2050, which makes it even more important and more imperative to focus energy policy on solar power.
We are happy that not only we have the company Voltalia which is an indisputable guarantee in every respect, but also that the company Voltalia has come to Albania offering a record low price, quite unexpected for us and to the surprise of many, who have followed this auction closely and who continue to wonder about it.
The French are generous people, yet they have not the reputation of benefactors who do not make careful calculations, so I am sure the calculation has been done well and this price, which the Chinese themselves could not have been able to break, because the Chinese are known for abnormally low bids, constitutes a very strong reason for us to believe that not only will we succeed, but that Voltalia will also succeed and so we are looking forward to seeing the company demanding to boost generation capacity and further expand its investment in this country, where it looks like as if the sun has its iris, as I have actually seen a study on the hours of sunlight over our region, including the number of hours of sunlight over Albania and the area where this first photovoltaic park will be built and which is the area with the longest hours of sunlight per year, not only in it the whole region, but also in Albania. So it would take just moving out not too far from that area and for the hours of sunlight a year to decrease.
To conclude, I would like to say that I am pleased to sign this agreement with Voltalia today also for another reason, as we will now have a French witness, who will be able to say how he found himself, and how he felt, how the company went through the process with the “corrupt government” of Albania, with the government that is often seen through the traditional binoculars of prejudice, which is related to Albania itself. And I believe that for Voltalia too it will be the case just like with the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), as well as with a series of other investment that when speaking about their investment experience in Albania they will certainly find themselves in front of people, who wouldn’t believe what they say, because prejudices are too strong. But I believe that the government, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy have shown in this process to the already economic partners of Albania, the French partners of Voltalia that “the corrupt government and corrupt Albania” are stigmas built over time, of course not without a reason in the 30 difficult years of a not easy transition from a not simply dictatorial and communist regime, but from a regime that had isolated Albania like no other country in Europe – actually turning it into a “North Korea” right at the heart of Europe – to a functional, democratic system with strong and stable institutions.
It is certainly not an easy and fast process and we definitely have a lot to do in the fight against corruption and establishing a standard of transparency that characterizes all processes, not just big processes like this one involving a big and leading company.
However, what I would like to tell Voltalia’s manager and our French friends here is please don’t hesitate to tell our experience with Albanian government, because the fact you are already here to launch your operations would help us a lot with many other French companies and companies from other countries. This is because we could say the most inviting words about Albania, we can collect the most significant examples about Albania, we can embark on impressive media campaigns on Albanian tourism and spend a lot of money – something we have actually done – but at the end of the day, eventually, if someone, a company, an entrepreneur in France or wherever else in Europe was to be attracted by words, facts, TV video ads and say “why not to go to Albania”, but before making up his mind and making a decision he would certainly dial some phone numbers and ask what companies are already investing and operating there. And if the answer were to be “nobody is investing there,” then making such a decision would be a much more difficult thing. So, in a certain aspect, Voltalia is part of the group of big companies that I like to name as “icebreakers” of the ice in the relations between Albania and the huge world of the international serious business world, when it comes to investing in Albania.
It is an ice that is being increasingly broken in a more and more significant way, but we still have a few years ahead that would take great patience to finally break and melt this ice. And for that reason, I thank you so much!
Of course, you came here to generate earnings and you did not come to break the ice for us and engage in charity activity. This is very clear to me. We will gain much more than just a voltaic park, because placing the flag of France, thanks to your company name, on the map of foreign investments in Albania is of a much greater value in my eyes than the not insignificant value of over 100 million euros that you will invest here.
I don’t want to exaggerate it, but I am convinced it is not an exaggeration if I thank the Ambassador, who has for the sake of truth made consistent efforts in this respect. I know it has been a tough endeavour for her to convince French companies that this is not a country where they would pay dearly with their lives, but a country where you can develop successful investments. The fact that Voltalia is present today is related to the Ambassador too, who since the first tender has made all efforts and I haven’t been given the opportunity to thank her, because Voltalia representatives had to arrive these days. Thank you very much!
I would also like to thank a French agent in Albania, who is the most Albanian among the French and the most French among the Albanians, Julien Roche.
Certainly he keeps working for France, but I am convinced he never forgets working for Albania too. And for this reason, I am very grateful to Julien, who has almost heroically resisted the temptations to leave Albania in difficult moments in our country, especially in ’97.
Julien is indeed a symbol for every Albanian, who does not lose patience with this country, that whoever doesn’t run out of patience and is confident in his work, he would definitely become successful.
Thank you so much everyone!