By Tim Rogers / Nicaragua Dispatch – The Nicaraguan government calculates its budding economy will attract $11.5 billion in foreign direct investment by 2016, according to presidential advisor Paul Oquist.
In an interview this morning with official Sandinista TV, Oquist said Nicaragua is on track to pull record amounts of investment in areas of tourism, mining, renewable energy, oil refinery, telecommunications, manufacturing and free-trade zones.
But the country’s development needs to be integral, not only economic
To prepare itself for what the Sandinista media colorfully calls “an avalanche of development” (presumably a good thing), Oquist said Nicaragua needs to start improving its human resources and scientific knowledge.
The advisor said the Nicaraguan government will be engaging in a series of presidentially mandated “scientific investigations” to better prepare the country and its agricultural economy for the adverse effects of climate change and crop disease, such as the “roya” rust fungus that has recently plagued coffee harvests. Oquist said additional studies will be conducted on Nicaragua’s hydro resources and watershed management, and scientists will endeavor to better understanding the country’s rich biodiversity.
“President Ortega has approved a series of scientific investigations that are of national priority; these investigations have to be done to advance accurately with science and technology in Nicaragua,” Oquist told the government reporter.
Nicaragua’s recent gain of maritime territory in its victory over Colombia in The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague has also whet the country’s scientific curiosity, according to Jorge Huete, president of the Nicaraguan Academy for Science.
“This maritime resource that Nicaragua has recovered is a great richness that we haven’t yet explored,” Huete said in the same interview with government media. “We know that Nicaragua is super diverse (in biodiversity), but we don’t know to what extent. Nicaragua needs to better understand what it has to use it in a sustainable way to take advantage of the opportunities that benefit the population.”
With scientific advancement comes human development and economic growth, Huete stressed. Nicaragua needs all three.
Oquist agrees. He stressed that one of President Ortega’s priorities is to use scientific knowledge to bring development—starting with clean-source electricity—to all Nicaraguans, so that the growing economy will have a transformative effect on the country.
“Nicaragua is not the same country now as it was in 2006. And in 2016 it won’t be the same country that it is today,” Oquist said. “For example, in 2006 foreign direct investment was $265 million, and the ceiling for investment here for the previous two decades was $300 million. Last year we topped $1 billion—three times the old average. But we are still just warming the engines because in 2014 foreign direct investment will reach $2.8 billion, and will (probably) be even higher than $3 billion because we’re not even including the Great Interoceanic Canal project.”