Sunday, 8 November 2009

Albania - A Promising Emerging Country for Investors

Albania: A Promising Emerging
Country for Investors

Dr. Mozammel Haque

TIRANA, ALBANIA: Albania is a promising emerging country for investors to invest in different sectors of development of the country. Really more than more than 270 local and international companies registered themselves and 140 participants came from the Member-countries and non-Member countries of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank, showed their interest and attended the 2nd International Conference on Foreign Investments in Albania organised by Prime Minister of the Government of Albania and Islamic Development Bank (IDB), held from 2-5 November at the Tirana International Hotel, Tirana, Albania.

Among the non-Member countries were from Italy, France, Switzerland, England and Germany; whereas among the member countries, the investors came from Turkey, Bosnia, Qatar, Kuwait, Emirates, Libya and Saudi Arabia. More than 20 people came from Saudi Arabia at the Conference and according to Bosna Islamic Bank, Sarajevo, 35 companies came from Bosnia to attend the conference.

“Our role is to see how we can support private sector in Albania. Our intention is to bring investors not just from the member countries but from all over the wotld. The idea is to promote Albania as a good destination for investment,” said to me by Mr. Khaled M. Al-Aboudi, the present CEO of the Islamic Corporation for Development of Private Sector, the private sector of the IDB.

There are lot of opportunities for investment in Albania. I think that there is no big deal given the situation, the location of Albania and the natural resources. Albania has very promising sectors, such as tourism. Agriculture is also a very good sector to finance and Real Estate development is one of the sectors. Because Albania is an emerging country; it has a very nice weather during the summer and has mild weather during winter. “It could be a very good resort especially down the sea-side and even the mountains. They have very beautiful mountains,” mentioned Al-Aboudi.

The investment department of Albania has improved a lot since the present Prime Minister Salih Berisha was elected. They have done a good job transforming the economy and changing the image of Albania. “The significant progress that Albania made in the process of integrating the European Union, the achievement of the rate of economic growth of 6% during the last two years, as well as the increasing flow of foreign direct investments in Albania, are all good indicators that the implementation of the country strategy and the government efforts have to fruition. This is an encouraging sign for everybody,” said Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, President of the Islamic Development Bank in his keynote speech on the opening session of the Conference on 3rd November, 2009.

The Albanian government is also offering lots of incentives to the foreign investors. There are assurances from the government officials. “I think they are keen to attract for foreign investments, and the fact that they are giving the incentives, low taxes, easy processing, minimum government bureaucracy and I hope they also work on the legal aspects to make sure investors protect their investments,” said to me by Dr. Adil A. Bushnak, chairman Bushnak group from Saudi Arabia which focus on water-related process technology projects and who has been in this business for more than 30 years. He is the co-founder of Al-Kawser industries which is still a good designer builder of factory to produce desalination. He came from Saudi Arabia to explore possibilities and to promote investment in Albania, firstly in the Balkans because originally his grandfather was from Bosnia.

The investment opportunities in Albania, the promising sectors for investment and the facilities extending by the government officials and the Prime Minister at his opening speech gave incentives to investors to invest in different sectors in Albania. “We are in the process of establishing investment Fund in Tirana and we have already signed the papers and Insha Allah we will get license to start and we are now looking for Head Office here, in Tirana, for Albania because we love this country; because they are our brothers and we like to live in our environment,” Abdur Rahman AbdulAziz Al-Rajhi, Executive Manager of Al-Rajhi Investment Fund, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, said to me.

The Rajhi groups of Saudi Arabia are in the business since 1973. Mr. Abdur Rahman is a banker of the Rajhi group of Saudi Arabia. “Rajhi Investment Fund is investing for real estate, developing lands, housing for the public, economy houses and really I was impressed being in the conference because the conference was very well organised, especially the very good picture given by Prime Minister Saleh,” mentioned Mr. Abdur Rahman al-Rajhi.

Already three/four investors committed themselves to invest in Albania and another three/four investors are in the process of making investment in Albania said Hamza of the IDB. IDB is no doubt facilitating, encouraging, funding and also providing funds if necessary. So IDB is doing a very good facilitation. Speaking about the role of IDB in the development efforts, Dr. Ali said, “So far IDB has approved an amount of USD 141 million in favour of 21 projects, mainly in the field of agriculture, public utilities, social services, and transport. The IDB group will continue to support the growth and development of Albania through its operations and technical assistance in accordance with the Government priorities.”

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