Minister, good colleagues from Statkraft, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to take part in this event. We are marking the completion of one more key stage – the replacement roads – in one of the most important hydro-power project in Albania.
The Statkraft project in Devolli Valley is very important for several reasons:
Firstly, Statkraft - a well-respected, strong and dynamic company with operations in Norway and worldwide – has set a very good example by making use of the business opportunities in the emerging Albanian market, in a professional and competent way. This has in many ways also been to the benefit of the local community, which is also illustrated by these replacement roads.
Secondly, the project illustrates the ability of Albania to attract foreign investments. This is vital to further promote business and growth, and develop key sectors of the Albanian economy.
Thirdly, the project is a symbol of growing Norwegian-Albanian business relations.
Norway is committed to supporting Albania in developing a sound economy, with a special focus on the energy and maritime sectors. This partnership will be based on mutual interests and mutual benefits.
Last week, Minister Gjiknuri and I launched a maritime partnership between Norway and Albania. Norway – as one of the leading maritime nations in the world – will assist in the development of the maritime sector in Albania.
Albania may become a key energy producer in the region. A strong involvement of private companies in the development of the energy sector is essential. Private know-how, expertise and capital are key components in building a robust energy sector. Albania should seek to attract investments from the best companies. Concessions and tender contracts must be awarded on the basis of free and fair competition, in line with European standards and cost-efficient solutions.
Good energy policy is about ensuring sufficient and stable supply, at affordable prices, in an efficient and competitive market, and – at the same time – without destroying the environment.
The Albanian economy is growing, at around 4 percent every year. A growing economy needs more energy.
There is also a need for more public investment in the Albanian energy sector, such as transmission lines, improvements in the distribution grid, and energy efficiency.
A stronger integration of the regional markets is necessary. Norway has been a key partner in the process of establishing the Albanian Energy Exchange (APEX). The Energy Exchange will provide a more transparent and efficient market, and – not the least - give incentives for further private investments. Norway is somewhat worried about delays in the implementation of APEX, but trust that strong commitment from Minister Gjiknuri and the Albanian government will ensure a completion of the process as early as possible in 2019.
Let me conclude by congratulating Statkraft on the completion of this stage of the project (the replacement roads), and also thank Minister Gjiknuri and Albanian authorities for providing the framework to make this project possible.
Thank you for your attention!