International venture opportunity extended in Colombia

The Colombian government has been outlining its economic development plans and major infrastructure projects in recent weeks.

The current (4G) project is now more than 40 per cent done, but there is more to do. That is bad news for Colombians, who are crying out for better infrastructure and were hoping it would be finished by now. But it is good news for foreign investors: the 4G projects still offer opportunities.

“The door is not closed. Quite the opposite,” transport minister Ángela María Orozco told the Financial Times. “There are opportunities to finance ongoing projects but there’s also scope for companies to come in, buy an asset that’s already been built — where the primary risk has already been taken — and then operate it.”

The upcoming 5G programme will be split in two. The first will consist of 12 projects to be tendered over the next year with a combined capital expenditure of more than $5bn. Unlike the 4G programme, which focused on road-building, these schemes cover road, rail, air and river transport.

Perhaps the most eye-catching of the 5G projects are on water: the dredging of the mighty Magdalena River and the renovation of the Canal del Dique, constructed by the Spanish in the late 16th century.

As to working on a Colombian infrastructure project as a foreign third party, Alex Yew, managing director for Latin America at John Laing, describes his company’s experience of expanding and improving the Ruta del Cacao — a 152 km road in northern Colombia, as “generally positive”.

“We’ve found it to be a very open and welcoming environment for foreign investors. We have a great team and great partners and we’re definitely committed to the country."

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