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Construction of USD 120 million port infrastructure begins in Poti

By Inga Kakulia
Wednesday, October 2
On October 1st, the celebratory event took place at the construction site of Poti port, to launch the project. The new port infrastructure project will be implemented by Pace Group, one of the largest companies in the region. During the event, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia Natia Turnava, Managing Director of OPIC Kenneth Angel, Director of Pace Terminals David Nadirashvili and PRIME CONCRETE founder Alexander Sokolovsky placed a symbolic capsule in the Pace Terminal territory. Members of the Georgian parliament and government, diplomatic corps and foreign guests also attended the event.

It should be noted that the new project envisages the creation of 500 new jobs. The new port infrastructure will be located on 25 hectares of land, and as a result of the deepening of the waterfront, it will be possible to receive up to 60,000 tons of watercraft. This will increase the turnover up to 5 million tons. The project costs USD 120 million. Its first phase is worth $ 93 million, of which $ 50 million is OPIC's investment. The talks about this project between OPIC and Pace Group have been going on for 5 years. Pace Group itself has been working on the Georgian-American Business Development Project since 2014.

The project will also update the existing port infrastructure to include a modern hydraulic system. The improved port will increase trading capacity for the country, which is an important transit link connecting Central Asia and Europe. The project will create many permanent and local jobs and support the economic development of the Samegrelo Zemo Svaneti region of Georgia.

Former US Secretary of State and Head of ALBRIGHT STONEBRIDGE GROUP Madeleine Albright responded to the launch of the construction by a letter to the Poti Port. According to Madeleine Albright, this project is an indication of what the United States and Georgia can achieve when working together.

"I am particularly pleased with the strong support of the United States government for this project, including the $ 50 million investment by OPIC," said the former US Secretary of State.

Madeleine Albright continues to say that Poti is an important trading center and its expansion will help the city gain more benefits.

“This will not only benefit Poti but the economic development of Georgia and the entire region”- said the former US Secretary of State.

From the Georgian side, the port is also seen as a testament to the strong friendship between US and Georgia. Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Maya Tskitishvili, who was also present at the event stated that the construction of new port infrastructure in Poti is a striking example of expanding Georgian-American business.

Although, when asked about whether or not this project could serve as an alternative to Anaklia Deep Sea Port, The Minister replied that these two port projects are significantly different in their sizes, therefore can’t be seen as alternatives.

“Of course, this is not an alternative to Anaklia Port. As we can see, this is only one terminal infrastructure development, but this project can not serve as an alternative to Anaklia Deep Sea Port, neither in scale, nor in cargo, nor general development scale,” said Tskitishvili.

The first phase of the Anaklia project is supposed to processing eight million tonnes of cargo, which should increase to 100 million tonnes. Thus, these projects cannot compete with each other because of their sizes.

During her speech, Maya Tskitishvili also touched on the importance of such projects for Georgia and its role in the region.

“Today, when our country faces political or economic challenges, the support, and assistance of our partners, their government, is especially important. Their support for the development of the country's economy is important, and their investment in our Georgian business is particularly important. As you know, Georgia is the transportation and economic corridor of the region and this is our historical function, we are able to make the shortest connection between the countries of Europe and Asia, and of course we are doing our utmost to direct the Georgian government to our function, our geostrategic location, and our full potential,” said Tskitishvili.

Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Natia Turnava also talked about the importance of Pace Terminal and said that the construction of new infrastructure and the reconstruction of existing ones has a huge economic impact since Georgia has seen a huge increase in freight, especially in dry freight.

The project was funded by the US Government Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) with a $ 50 million investment. It is noteworthy that, given its size and scale, it is the largest investment by OPIC for investment projects in Georgia and throughout the Caucasus.

OPIC and PACE Group officially signed the funding agreement at a ceremony held on February 4th, 2019 at the Biltmore Hotel in Tbilisi. The high-profile event was attended by the President of Georgia, Salome Zourabichvili, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Mamuka Bakhtadze, as well as other government and parliament officials, members of the diplomatic corps, and foreign guests.