During the course of this year the government of Nicaragua has made significant progress towards strengthening its economy, eradicating poverty, improving the mining sector, advocating private property rights and attracting substantial foreign investment. As income inequality and poverty continue to strike in most of Latin America, recently Managua has proved to be a successful example in the war against poverty within the context and framework established by the Central American Integration System (SICA). During the most recent SICA summit meeting, held in Guatemala on June 27, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega agreed to make double his government’s efforts in the war against poverty, promote better regional customs services, support initiatives on trade and investments as well as fight the organized crime in the region. In this occasion Nicaragua, called for an alliance between the private sector and the various governments of Central America to bolster the regional economy.
Another sector of interest in the Central American region is public health. Nicaragua and the World Bank. The World Bank donated$ 60 million towards a Technological Health Institute that is commissioned to improve public health services in 66 Nicaraguan municipalities. According to Nicaraguan Health Minister Sonia Castro, “$28.7 million are being allocated to improve the quality and access of medical services; $ 24.5 million are destined to handle the epidemiological diseases; and $6.5 million are intended to strengthen the emergency care systems and sanitary alerts.”
Nicaragua’s current trade and investment sector has had a number of successes. A recent report published by the Estrategia y Negocios magazine states that public safety and legal security areprincipal elements that are attracting foreign investments in Nicaragua’s Free Trade Zone. According to Dean Garcia, Director of the Nicaraguan Textiles and Apparel Association (ANITEC), “The Tripartite Alliance Model between government, employers and workers has created a steadiness, economic growth, promotes social peace and improves business climate in the country. In 2014 exports from the Free Trade Zone, have reached the amount of US$ 2.4 billion while creating more than 100,000 formal jobs.”
On the other hand, public works continue with a great rhythm of efficiency, only recently the Nicaraguan government has inaugurated a major bridge project and has begun to build a new highway in the northern part of the country. Both of these projects were financed by the World Bank and the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency. According to Pablo Martinez, Nicaraguan Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, “The bridge was valued at $ 870,000, while theJinotega - Managua highway has a partial funding of US$13 million from the World Bank.”
There is also a great interest to expand the mining sector in the Central American nation. One of the companies is Condor Gold Mining, which announced a greater exploration at its La India plant in Nicaragua. Condor Gold was granted a 25 year license by the Ministry of Energy and Mines, in order to explore an area of 313 square kilometers. Marcos Niño, one of the leaders of the company, stated that “Nicaragua is one of the best countries for investment opportunities in mining, we are very optimistic about this project.”
In the agricultural sector, Nicaragua’s farmers have inaugurated new markets for organic chia seeds. Thanks to the agreement signed by the Nicaraguan Producers and Exporters Association (APEN) and the Center for Imports Promotion from Developing Countries (CBI), Nicaragua will be able to export 20 containers of organic chia to Germany. For APEN General Manager, Azucena Castillo, “new markets for organicproducts are being explored; there is a great demand in the UnitedStates and European Union.”
Sugar cane production is expected to increase in Nicaragua. Cultivated areas are expected to expand from 10,000 hectares to 16,000 hectares over the next five years. The Compañía del Sur (CASUR) in cooperation with Mayaguez of Colombia have announced a $ 90 million investment plan to be implemented over the next three years.
Once these goals are accomplished, Nicaragua will produce twice as much sugar as of today. By using the the by-product of sugarcane (waste bagasse), Nicaragua expects to generate 35 megawatts of electricity. Roger Zamora, one of the leaders of CASUR, stated that “this investment will increase processing capacity up to 8,500 tons of sugarcane per day.”
On the sector of property rights, the President Ortega’s government has announced the issuance of more than 10,000 property titles that will be presented to families, mostly to female householders in 13 provinces, as part of the efforts to support property rights in Nicaragua.
Ortega’s government has demonstrated a great deal of leadership and hard work. The above mentioned accomplishments are simply an small part what has been done in some of the most vital sectors of Nicaragua’s economy. As this year is coming to an end, there will be many more success stories to share with the international community.
Spero columnist Peter Tase is an international business consultant who recently led a joint business/government delegation from Azerbaijan to Paraguay.