By Nan McCurdy and Katherine Hoyt
According to the international financial institutions, Nicaragua stands out because it completes projects in an efficient and timely manner. On Dec. 7, 2022, the President of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), Dante Mossi, stated that “Nicaragua is the country [in Central America] with the best execution rate for projects. It is the country with the best highway infrastructure. We congratulate Nicaragua for accepting the electrical mobility challenge and quickly installing 60 charging stations for electric vehicles, showing its great commitment to environmental protection and sustainable development.” The Nicaragua Government and CABEI are currently carrying out 28-projects totaling more than US$1.89 billion for infrastructure, environmental protection, and the fight against poverty.
And the president of the Association of Nicaraguan Transporters, Marvin Altamirano, agrees, saying that Nicaragua has the best roads in Central America, greatly facilitating land trade. Altamirano said that the Central American Transportation Federation recognizes Nicaragua’s effort and work in facilitating trade.
With the support of CABEI, Nicaragua is executing 24 public sector projects. CABEI has supported the generation of more than 113,000 jobs in the last two years in key areas of the economy such as construction, health, agriculture, and tourism, among others. Development projects have improved the quality of life of thousands of Nicaraguans with access to electricity, health care, drinking water and modernized road infrastructure.
On April 27 of this year, the second section of the Rosita to Bonanza highway in the North Caribbean was inaugurated. This new 30-kilometer road of hydraulic concrete provides a safe, stable, fast and comfortable connection between the development poles of the Mining Triangle and the Pacific Region. It will be an important artery of development, peace and prosperity for families, benefiting 65,681 people. See photos: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/mas-de-65-mil-pobladores-beneficiados-con-la-carretera-rosita-a-bonanza/
The 25-meter-long Kilambé bridge across the Coco River in Wiwilí municipality, Jinotega department, was inaugurated on March 21 with a cost of US$2.52 million and is benefiting 89,039 people. This helps the population who experienced isolation and precariousness each rainy season when the Coco River rises. Financing for the project came from the General Budget.
The National Port Authority (EPN) inaugurated the new port complex in Puerto Sandino, León department, on Feb. 10. EPN President Virgilio Silva stated that “the US$64 million project seeks to improve services for importers and exporters through modernization of equipment and technological innovation, offering companies greater fluidity and quality of service.”
Until recently, it took more than 40 minutes to travel from Tipitapa (near Managua) north to San Benito on the two-lane Pan-American highway. In October, the expansion to four lanes cut travel time by at least half. The new highway includes the San Jacinto traffic circle where highways meet that take travelers to the north and east. The expansion reduces traffic congestion for the 15,000 vehicles that circulate in this area daily, contributes to passenger safety and cargo transportation, reduces operating costs, and improves the connection of the populations to the north and east to the capital.
Improvements in Water and Sewage
On Jan. 19, the Nicaragua Water and Sewage Company (ENACAL) announced that 92% of the population has drinking water service, while in 2006 only 65% of homes had potable water. In 2023, 40 more water projects will be inaugurated. In San Juan del Sur, Rivas department, ENACAL inaugurated a project to improve and expand the sanitation system benefitting 18,000 people. The US$2.5 million project was financed by the General Budget with support from the Inter-American Development Bank. [A major water project for the city was completed some five years ago.]
CABEI presented a report in April on advances in the Project to Expand Potable Water and Sanitation Systems in seven cities benefitting 265,000 people with safe and continuous access to potable water. CABEI President Dante Mossi stated that “CABEI supports Nicaragua in its work towards fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goal Six, which includes guaranteeing availability and sustainable management of potable water. It is very satisfying to see how these projects completely change people’s lives, especially in cities that for the first time have access to these services.”
The government is investing US$185 million in the department of Managua in potable water and sewage. The Managua South Side water and sanitation project includes 230 kilometers of new pipes in Managua and in Tipitapa – 109 km of pipes, three pumping stations and one treatment plant; in Ciudad Sandino – 130 km of pipes, two pumping stations, one treatment plant and five anaerobic digesters used in wastewater treatment. More than 280,000 families will benefit. By the end of 2023 urban areas will have 97% drinking water coverage.
A project to improve and expand the potable water system in Santo Tomás del Norte municipality, Chinandega department, benefiting 2,300 inhabitants has been inaugurated. The US$493,150 project was financed by the General Budget. The Nicaraguan water company has built a major new well with its respective pumping equipment and installed 2,600 meters of water pipes, improving drinking water service for 15,000 people in eight neighborhoods of Estelí.
On August 2 the digital media outlet Energy portal.eu published an article titled “Exploring the Potential of Geothermal Energy in Nicaragua’s Sustainable Future.” With approximately 70% of electricity now coming from renewable sources, geothermal energy has the potential to further transform the energy landscape. “Nicaragua is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the potential of geothermal energy, thanks to its location along the Central American Volcanic Arc, and has an estimated capacity to generate up to 1,500 MW of geothermal energy.” Geothermal energy currently represents 15% of the electricity generated from renewable sources. It has helped to decrease reliance on fossil fuels, lowered greenhouse gas emissions, improved the reliability of the national grid and reduced energy costs. Nicaragua serves as a model for other countries looking to harness the power of the earth’s natural heat to build a more sustainable future.”
From 2007 to date, the Sandinista government has built more than 130,000 homes, as reported by the co-director of the Nicaraguan Institute of Housing (INVUR), Gabriela Palacios. Palacios indicated that 7,400 houses are planned for this year. As of August, 3,000 were complete, 2,600 were under construction and more than 1,900 houses were about to be started.
The national population and housing pre-census carried out in May and June by the National Institute of Development Information (INIDE) revealed that the percentage of the population living in extreme poverty housing has been reduced. Irene Alvarez, INIDE director explained that the national pre-census found that 6.4% of the population live in extreme poverty dwellings, down from 6.9% in 2016. At the national level there are 4.3 people per dwelling. INIDE also estimates that there are 1.6 million dwellings in the country, which indicates a greater number of homes compared to the last census in 2005. In relation to property tenure, the pre-census indicates that 88% of the houses are owned by the residents. The full census will be carried out in April of 2024.
National electricity coverage was 99.341% at the end of July 2023, with 70% generation based on renewable sources. Nearly ten thousand electrification projects have been carried out over the last 15 years, benefiting 3.6 million people through coverage that has expanded from 54% in 2007 to 99.34% today.
The accumulated investment by the Sandinista government in the energy sector to date is US$4 billion, said Salvador Mansell, head of the National Electricity Transmission Company (ENATREL). Half a billion dollars has been invested in building the country’s interconnected electricity system (or grid). He also announced that at the end of this year, a large solar plant will be built in Malpaisillo. The construction of a gas plant with the company New Fortress is already 95% complete. Currently electricity coverage is 99.36% with work being done on new substations, as well as modernization of some of those already built.
By Nan McCurdy
China and Nicaragua Sign New Solidarity Agreements
On Nov. 8 the Sandinista Government and the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) signed several solidarity cooperation agreements. The Nicaraguan delegation (composed, among others, of the Minister of Finance, Ivan Acosta and Presidential Advisor Laureano Ortega Murillo) has been in Beijing since last weekend. The following are the documents signed:
-Exchange of notes approving the Second Phase of the National New Victories Housing Program.
-Exchange of notes for the supply of Chinese buses for Nicaragua.
-Memorandum for the San Benito Thermal Power Plant project.
-Memorandum to develop technical training workshops for agriculture, livestock, clothing with value added, tourism, technologies, digital platforms, among others.
-The CIDCA Agency will offer support to Nicaragua with mobile clinics for MINSA.
(La Primerisima, 8 November 2023)
Huawei to Contribute to Digital Transformation
The Government of Nicaragua is expected to sign an agreement with Huawei Corporation for digital transformation and 5G technology for Nicaragua. The name 5G refers to the fifth generation of mobile Internet connection networks. The delegation that is in Beijing visited Huawei, and learned about the technological innovations. Company executives presented the progress of the +5G digital transformation plan for Nicaragua, which includes the strengthening of technology structures and telecommunications services throughout the country. It also includes the training of Nicaraguan professionals. (La Primerisima, 9 November 2023)
Nicaragua & Columbia Work on Compliance with World Court Judgements
On November 10, the Nicaraguan government issued a press release about compliance with World Court judgements on maritime delimitation between Nicaragua and Colombia. The Court in 2012 confirmed Colombia’s sovereignty over the islands of San Andres, Providencia, Santa Catalina and several very small islands but ruled substantially in Nicaragua’s favor in establishing the territorial waters of the two states. In July of 2023, the Court denied Nicaragua’s request to extend its continental shelf boundary even beyond 200 nautical miles. However, Colombia until now has been unwilling to negotiate compliance with the rulings. Here is the press release:
“The Government of Reconciliation and National Unity is pleased to announce that Nicaraguan Ambassador Carlos Argüello Gómez met with the Foreign Minister of Colombia, H.E. Álvaro Leyva Durán, in Paris and they agreed to create Bilateral Working Commissions that will have as their main objective compliance with the judgments of the International Court of Justice. At the meeting it was agreed that the Bilateral Commissions would have the task of working out agreements on fisheries issues for the area’s native population, environmental issues, and the demarcation of areas as indicated by the Court. It has also been agreed that the talks will continue in Nicaragua over the coming days. Nicaragua reaffirms its commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes and the rule of law at the international level, including compliance with the judgments of the International Court of Justice.” (Radio La Primerisima, 10 Nov. 2023)
Nicaragua: One of the Safest Countries in the Americas
Nicaragua is the country with the second lowest homicide rate in Latin America and the safest in Central America, said Francisco Diaz Madriz, Director of the National Police. In the framework of the Carlos Fonseca First Virtual Congress on Citizen and Human Security, the police commander emphasized that the government has prioritized citizen security as one of the fundamental pillars of its management. This approach has led Nicaragua to have the second lowest homicide rate in Latin America, with only 6.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, and at the same time, to be the safest nation in Central America. (La Primerisima, 8 November 2023)
Importance of Anti-poverty Plan Highlighted
A delegation to an United Nations conference in the Dominican Republic that included Valdrack Jaentschke, Minister Advisor for Policy and International Affairs, and Ambassador Harold Delgado, highlighted Nicaragua’s National Plan to Fight Poverty and for Human Development 2022-2026 to meet fundamental needs as part of the government’s process focused on the eradication of poverty. The officials participated in the 18th Conference of Ministers and Heads of Planning of Latin America and the Caribbean convened by the Latin American and Caribbean Institute for Economic and Social Planning (ILPES) of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). (La Primerisima, 10 November 2023)
Advances in Elderly Special Care Plan
On Nov. 9 the Ministry of Health presented a report on the achievements of the National Elderly Special Care Plan that the government is implementing to strengthen and ensure access to healthcare for all Nicaraguans over the age of 60. Between February and November of this year, 425,354 house-to-house visits and 1,314,057 medical check-ups were carried out, as well as specialized care and clinical management for 616,144 people with chronic diseases and/or disabilities. The National Elderly Special Care Plan is part of the successful Family and Community Healthcare Model. (Nicaragua News, 10 November 2023)
Health Brigadistas Walk Long Distances to Deliver Vaccines
The snapshot captures two women undertaking a journey on foot to reach the Indigenous communities of Alto Wangki, municipality of San José de Bocay, department of Jinotega. At every step, dedication and empathy are intertwined revealing an act of effort and commitment. These Health Brigadistas are bringing the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which defends against cervical cancer, to remote communities. Health workers defy geographic distances and barriers, bringing essential medical care to remote communities. See photos: https://radiolaprimerisima.com/brigadista-de-salud-caminan-mucha-distancia-para-llevar-vacunas/ (La Primerisima, 13 Nov. 2023)
More than 650,000 Property Deeds Delivered
As part of the National Development and Fight against Poverty Plan, the government has delivered 656,000 property titles to their owners in the last 15 years: 392,000 were delivered in urban areas and 263,000 in rural areas. More than three million citizens have benefited from the legalization of their properties. In the case of evangelical churches, 863 property titles have been delivered; and there are 276 new applications in the process of verification. (La Primerisima, 12 Nov. 2023)
Improvements in Potable Water in Managua Neighborhood
The Nicaragua Water and Sewage Company inaugurated a project to improve and expand the potable water system in seven Managua neighborhoods, benefiting 18,000 inhabitants. The US$382,513-dollar project was financed by the General Budget. (Nicaragua News, 13 Nov. 2023)
More Geothermal Energy Production
On November 10, the Polaris Energy company of Canada announced the operating results for the third quarter of 2023. The San Jacinto-Tizate geothermal plant in Nicaragua generated 129,475 MWh of electricity, representing US$18.8 million dollars in sales. (Nicaragua News, 10 Nov. 2023)