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Certain politically biased non-government organizations (NGOs), several left-wing politicos, some naïve blogs and fake-news outfits in Colombia repeatedly and overwhelmingly blame former President Alvaro Uribe, his political successors and the Colombian army for murders of various social activists following the 2016 “peace” agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC narco-communist terrorist group.

But in nearly all cases, these murders are in fact caused by various narco-gangster groups and criminal miners -- including hundreds of “dissident” members of FARC that rejected the “peace” deal.

As noted in a new report by the nonpartisan, independent InsightCrime bulletin, “while Cauca [rather than Antioquia or Medellin] has seen the worst of the violence against local community leaders in 2019, the motives for these killings reflect the wider reasons for such targeted violence across Colombia.

“According to the organization Somos Defensores, one of the main reasons social leaders are targeted is due to their participation in the implementation of the 2016 peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC).

“Social leaders can also run afoul of criminal groups when trying to stem the tide of illegal economies within their communities. Many victims were involved in activities related to coca crop substitution, the creation of legal jobs, or land redistribution, all efforts which can curtail drug production and help rural residents find sustainable alternatives,” the bulletin noted.

Similarly, according to the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Instituto de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Paz – INDEPAZ), “other risk factors contributing to violence against social leaders include denunciations of armed actors, accusations of mismanagement of public funds by state entities, and claims to the right to use natural resources,” InsightCrime noted.

“The problems facing social leaders in Cauca are exacerbated by the department’s crucial location as a drug trafficking corridor. According to the latest report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), around 17,000 hectares of coca were produced in this department alone in 2018.

“Cauca has therefore become hotly contested by a range of criminal groups, seeking an advantage there, including the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN), the Popular Liberation Army (Ejército Popular de Liberación – EPL) and at least five dissident fronts of the FARC,” the report noted.

President Duque Steps-Up Enforcement

Meanwhile, on a related front, Colombia President Ivan Duque announced January 9 a further crackdown on these violent actors that are targeting social leaders.

For full-year 2019, “we had a reduction in the killings of social leaders of close to 25%,” Duque noted, citing the latest Colombia Attorney General’s report. But even that reduction isn’t nearly sufficient, he added.

Since taking-over in July 2018 (following the landslide election of President Duque), the Attorney General’s office has stepped-up attacks on criminal organizations and will expand these efforts in 2020, the president added.

“Thanks to the clarifications made by the Attorney General’s office regarding the murders of social leaders, ex-combatants and human rights defenders, it has been determined that those behind these crimes are [in fact] drug traffickers, illegal miners and organized armed groups,”  Duque noted.


Andi -- Colombia’s biggest and most influential industrial-commercial trade association, born in Medellin – on January 3 issued its latest annual economic outlook report, finding that Colombia continues to improve in several key economic competitiveness areas -- but still lags in others.

“Colombia ends 2019 with a fairly acceptable performance in the economic field,” stated Andi president Bruce MacMaster.

During 2019, Colombia’s manufacturing industry showed “moderate” growth year-on-year, although slightly lower compared to 2018's growth, the study found.

Between January and October 2019, Andi’s “Joint Industrial Opinion Survey” ("EOIC" in Spanish initials) reported an increase of 1.8% in industrial production (down from 2.9% in 2018); a 2.8% rise in total foreign plus domestic sales (down from 3.3% growth in 2019) and a 2.9% hike in sales for the national market (up from 2.6% in 2018), according to the trade group.

As for the general economic growth (“PIB” in Spanish initials), Colombia is outstripping nearly all of Latin America, rising above 3% for full-year 2019 – in contrast to 10 consecutive quarters in prior years that had growth rates below 2.5% and even in some quarters below 2%, Andi noted.

“However, 3% [annual PIB growth] rates are not enough. They are far from Colombia's long-term [historic] growth, which is between 4% to 4.5%, and [3% annual growth] will not allow us to respond to the great challenge that the country has today to generate quality jobs and meet great needs in social and competitiveness,” according to Andi.

“Household consumption, which had grown 3.6% [year-on-year] in 2018, at the end of the third quarter of 2019 grew 4.7%. Meanwhile, investment measured by gross formation of fixed capital went from 0.8% in 2018 to 4.6% in the same period of 2019.

“This behavior of investment [growth] is explained by the confidence that national investors and foreigners have in the country and also thanks to the incentive represented by the new Financing Law that corrects a lag that we had with respect to other countries by allowing VAT [value-added tax] deduction for the purchase of capital goods.

“With all of the above, Colombia remains one of the promising economies in the region and this is perceived by the risk rating agencies that keep the country in investment grade. In the same direction, foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to the country have been maintained this past year and recorded growth of over 20%, both in FDI towards the oil sector and oriented towards other sectors.”

Meanwhile, “2020 will bring great challenges. The recovery phase that began in the last two years should be consolidated and the country should look for growths greater than 4% and even 5%.

“For this [to happen], the recently enacted tax package [dubbed ‘Economic Growth Law’] constitutes a positive investment incentive. It is also important that both the public and private sectors closely monitor the commitments of the Growth Pacts, which would also contribute to a better environment to boost the economy. No less important is a strong export strategy that allows us to penetrate new markets and diversify the export basket.

“Another great challenge is in formalization. Colombia still has high levels of labor, product and business informality. The country has already made progress in making decisions to reduce informality such as the reduction of [company formalization] procedures, a simplified taxation system and electronic invoices.

“To this is added the CONPES [the national economic planning organization] initiative for business formalization, whose main purpose is the implementation of an action plan to improve the cost-benefit ratio of a company to be formal,” Andi added.

Competitiveness: Crucial for Growth

While Andi noted that the year 2019 was generally positive, “this level of economic growth is not enough for the country to transform and achieve greater development, a better level of employment and an increase in investment.

“That is achieved with a competitiveness strategy, where policies focus on Colombia being attractive both in the region and internationally in terms of infrastructure, human capital, institutions and business development, to mention a few issues,” Andi noted.

While some major competitiveness indicators found that Colombia showed “slight improvements in the year 2019, the position that the country occupies is still lagging behind,” according to Andi.

“The World Economic Forum [WEF or 'FEM' in Spanish initials] placed Colombia at position 57 among 141 countries in the Global Competitiveness Index 4.0, reflecting a three-position advance over the previous year, when it was in position 60.

“The top positions [in the WEF survey] are held by Singapore, the United States and Hong Kong. Asian countries such as [South] Korea and China remain in high positions in positions, at 13 and 28 respectively. India on the other hand fell 10 positions with respect to the prior year, placing itself in position 68.

“In Latin America, Colombia is in position four among the [WEF] countries analyzed, and continues to be better placed in the ranking than Costa Rica, Peru, Panama, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Paraguay and Venezuela. However, although Chile, Mexico and Uruguay did not show improvements in the global index [in 2019], these countries continued to place themselves in higher positions in the indicator.

“The rise by three positions [in the global WEF survey] by Colombia is mainly explained by significant improvements in macroeconomic stability, health and labor market.

“On the other hand, we deteriorated in institutions and in TIC [advanced technology, information and communications] adoption.

"Among the indicators of institutions, the fall in protection of intellectual property and verifications and balances is highlighted. On the other hand, the fall in TIC adoption is mainly due to the fall in Internet users.

“In infrastructure, we improved by two positions. The indicators that stand out for their progress are efficiency in train services and electricity.

“Macroeconomic stability had an advance of 13 positions, reaching 43, where inflation was the determining indicator.

“In human capital, the country advanced nine positions for the improvement in health indicators, specifically for healthy life expectancy. For its part, the skills indicator showed no progress, and we remain in an unfavorable position (80).

“In markets [efficiencies], we fell two positions due to the decline in the product market and in the financial system. The fall in the product market was due to significant deterioration in the following indicators: scope of market dominance, competition in professional services, competition in network services and complexity of tariffs.

“For its part, trade tariffs had an advance of 14 positions. In the financial system, the indicator of delinquent bank loans (as a percent of the value of the loan portfolio) was the one with the greatest decline.

“The labor market, meanwhile, had a significant improvement of seven positions, explained by the good performance of flexibility in salary determination, confidence in professional management and the meritocracy-and-incentive indicator.

“In the innovation ecosystem, Colombia lost six positions in the ranking, reaching 66. The capacity for innovation is the biggest challenge, since it fell four positions.

“The indicators that lost positions [relative ranking declines] were that of interaction and diversity, diversity of the workforce, status of cluster development and patent applications. The behavior in the indicator of collaboration within the company that improved 30 positions stands out as positive,” according to Andi.

“The pillars in which Colombia performed less favorably were that of business growth, legal certainty and internationalization.

“In legal certainty, the country's environment is not friendly and shows that Colombia has a lot to advance in this area, since the constant change in the rules of the game is a great limitation for companies.

“Indicators such as transparency and contract compliance time show a weak performance in the country. In internationalization, the indicator that does not show good performance is that of the [transparency] environment, due to indicators such as time to import and foreign currency reserves.

“The competitive environment of the country, although it has improved, there are many challenges and a long way to go. In infrastructure, costs and environment, we occupy the least favorable positions, while in technology and education the indicators show a better position (49 and 50).

“In [business] formalization, the position occupied by Colombia was 52, due to the country's environment in this area. The indicators of transparency and burden of government regulation are those that place the country in a less favorable position,” Andi added.

“The digital transformation in Colombia is, together with innovation and entrepreneurship, the pillar in which the country is better located, ranking 51.

“Within this pillar, the country's performance in ‘GovTech’ stands out, due to the good performance in indicators such as the government online services index, electronic participation index and the importance of TIC for the government vision.

“In the areas of [TIC development] infrastructure, digital talent and environment, we still have a long way to move forward,” Andi concluded.

IMD Rankings

“Likewise, the IMD [the Swiss-based business-development education program often ranked top in the world] in its global competitiveness ranking published in May [2019] shows a good performance for Colombia, with an improvement of six positions, achieving position 52 among 63 countries,” according to the Andi analysis.

“Within this [IMD] indicator, most of the measurement factors had improvements, which include the labor market indicator ranking (+21), prices (+17), attitudes and values (+10), fiscal policy (+7) and technological infrastructure (+7). On the other hand, the indicators for foreign trade, foreign investment, public finances and health and environment, fell between three and five positions.

“For its part, the ‘Doing Business’ [research organization] in its report, ‘Ease of Doing Business,’ presented an unfavorable panorama for the country, with a deterioration in the general ranking of two positions, going from 65 to 67 among 190 countries,” Andi noted.


Colombia President Ivan Duque on December 27 signed into law a new national tax bill that mainly helps lower-income people and incentivizes job growth in legal industries.

The new law “seeks to continue promoting economic development and creates the basis for reducing inequality and closing income gaps in the country,” according to the official press statement following the President’s signing.

The measure would generate an estimated COP$13.5 trillion (US$4.1 billion) in new revenue in 2020, via income taxes on people with relatively high incomes; a surcharge on the financial system; and a multi-phase VAT (value-added tax) on beer and soft drinks, according to the summary.

“Normalization” measures in the bill would generate COP$5.3 trillion (US$1.6 billion); while economic growth stimulation measures would result in another COP$3.2 trillion (US$971 million). Furthermore, a new electronic tax-billing-and-collection system is expected to raise another COP$5 trillion (US$1.5 billion), according to the summary.

The full text of the new law (in the original Spanish) is available here: https://dapre.presidencia.gov.co/normativa/normativa/LEY%202010%20DEL%2027%20DE%20DICIEMBRE%20DE%202019.pdf

“This legislation links social programs such as the VAT refund for 2.8 million low-income households, plus three days without VAT per year, the reduction in [individual] health [insurance] contributions from 12% to 4% for pensioners and vulnerable populations, plus incentives to companies that create jobs for young people between 18 and 28 years.”

“This reform will allow us to continue increasing resources for education, for health, for household improvements, and for bringing clean drinking water supplies to the most vulnerable areas of our country,” added President Duque.

The measure, officially dubbed the “Economic Growth Law,” contains measures that will continue to boost the growth of Colombia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and foreign direct investment (FDI), hence creating more jobs in the “formal” (legal, taxable) economic sectors.

The new law also establishes income-tax benefits for large, medium, small and micro enterprises, as well as VAT discounts for imported capital goods “in order to reduce costs so that the business sector is modernized more quickly and becomes more cost-competitive,” according to the press summary.

The law also includes a mechanism by which compliance with the tax obligations of micro- and small businesses are simplified.

Another provision includes nearly COP$2 trillion (US$607 million) received from financial-sector taxes for upgrading rural, tertiary roads -- in order to improve logistics in many of Colombia’s remotest regions, as noted by the Transport Ministry.


Medellin-based power giant EPM announced December18 that it successfully closed the second of two massive flood-prevention doors in the “auxiliary diversion tunnel” (“GAD” in Spanish initials) at the US$5 billion, 2.4-gigawatt “Hidroituango” hydropower project.

The “GAD” had collapsed in April 2018, which forced EPM to divert Cauca River water through the dam’s machine room, causing hundreds of millions of dollars of losses from delays in power sales and related, temporary infrastructure damage -- for which the company is starting to receive substantial insurance compensation.

“EPM successfully completed the final maneuver of the closing of the [300-tons] second gate of the Auxiliary Diversion Gallery, GAD, after more than nine months of preparation and having closed the first gate on May 29,” according to the company.

“With the two gates properly closed, this pre-plugging of the GAD reduces the risks for the communities downstream of the dam works and enables the continuation of the recovery process of the Hidroituango hydroelectric project,” according to EPM.

The latest gate closure “allows the entry of personnel, machinery and other necessary resources,” while also enabling a planned pouring of a permanent concrete plug in the GAD during first-half 2020, according to the company.

Meanwhile, EPM continues to make progress toward plugging of the nearby “right diversion tunnel,” which also was damaged along a 400-meters-long stretch. This work includes construction of a new bypass channel due for completion by mid-2020, according to EPM.

“Once the GAD and the right diversion tunnel are technically plugged in mid-2020, any risk [of leakage or collapse]  will be reduced,” hence enabling Colombia’s National Disaster Risk Management Unit (UNGRD) to drop its existing "flood-warning" status-alert level to a relatively low level, EPM added.


A just-released December 2019 study by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL in Spanish initials) finds that Colombia not only outstripped nearly all of Latin America in 2019 economic growth but also is likely to continue the trend in 2020.

According to the study, “Preliminary Overview of the Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean 2019,” Colombia likely will end-up 2019 at about 3.2% growth in gross domestic product (“PIB” in Spanish initials) -- more than triple that of Latin America as a whole and outstripping every South American country as well.

Only a handful of mainly tourism-dependent Caribbean islands outstripped Colombia in 2019, although mainland Panama also bested Colombia at 3.5% PIB growth, the study shows.

For 2020, CEPAL foresees Colombia once again leap-frogging over nearly all of Latin America and tying Panama at an estimated 3.5% PIB growth, the study shows.

By contrast, neighboring Venezuela’s socialist dictatorship not only delivered a disastrous 25% net decline in PIB in 2019, but also is expected to continue a horrendous trend in 2020, at a net 14% decline, the study shows. The socialist government’s catastrophic, anti-free-market policies explain a growing tidal wave of millions of Venezuelan refugees fleeing to Colombia and elsewhere.

On a related front, Wall Street bond rater S&P this month announced that it foresees a 3.2% PIB growth for Colombia in 2020 -- easily outstripping all other major Latin American economies.

S&P meanwhile slashed its economic outlook for Chile, Mexico and Peru, and likewise foresees relatively weak growth in Brazil and Argentina.

 


Medellin-based electric power transmission giant ISA announced December 12 that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the binational “Interconexion Electrica Colombia-Panama” (ICP) joint venture inked a technical cooperation funding deal in the run-up for a planned 2024 launch of the first-ever power-transfer connection line between Colombia and Panama.

The proposed project “is crucial for consolidating the regional energy market,” according to ISA, which operates Colombia’s national power grid.

The 500-kilometers-long transmission line would connect the existing Cerromatoso substation in Cordoba, Colombia, to the “Panama II” substation (Panama Province). The line would employ high-voltage, direct current (HVDC) transmission technology, at a capacity of 2x200 megawatts and a DC voltage level of ± 300 kV, according to ISA.

For project design, technical analysis and environmental surveys, IDB is now putting-up US$500,000, while ICP is contributing another US$4.96 million -- on top of US$4 million earlier invested in project feasibility studies since 2006.

ICP’s main shareholders are ISA and ETESA, Panama’s state-owned power-grid operator.

“Interconexión Eléctrica Colombia-Panamá is fundamental for consolidating the regional energy market and for integrating the Andean Community with Central America, since it already has an organized market through the SIEPAC grid,” according to ISA.

(Note: SIEPAC is the Central American Electrical Interconnection System – “Sistema de Interconexión Eléctrica de los Países de América Central” – an in-development interconnection of the power grids of six Central American nations, covering 37 million consumers in Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala.)

“This [Panama-Colombia] interconnection will have access to new renewable sources, contributing to the optimal use of energy resources available, and enabling increased system reliability by providing more generation options to meet demand growth,” according to ISA.

“It will also support countries affected by [power outage] emergencies and reduce carbon emissions due to the substitution of fossil fuels,” ISA added.

Last year, the “Guna Yala Congress” -- a British-based tropical-forest conservation organization involved with Panamanian indigenous groups – “approved the execution of technical and environmental surveys within its territory and informed the creation of a commission to support its execution,” according to ISA.

“The proposal was presented under the approach of an environmentally and comprehensively developed sustainable corridor that includes Mortí-Mulatupu Pan-American Highway, Interconexión Eléctrica transmission line, and an electrification project for communities in the influence area within the framework of the initiative called Energía para Todos en Panama 2019-2013 (Energy for Everyone in Panama: 2019-2013), led by IDB, an entity that supports this project since 2006.

“Currently, environmental impact and field design studies are being executed, which are developed in a coordinated manner and by sector. Project operations based on outstanding authorizations and surveys to be carried out would start in 2024 as estimated date.

“The interconnection topic has been included in the bilateral agenda and has been subject in various agreements between both countries.

“These agreements have ratified the will to move towards the construction of a long-term future that prioritizes energy integration among Mexico, Central America, and Colombia, as well as towards the need for reinforcing efforts for its feasibility and financing, and the need for making policy adjustments to implement the regulatory harmonization scheme,” ISA concluded.


Colombia’s national highway agency (Invias) announced late December 14 that sufficient progress on clearing a November 13 landslide at kilometer 73 (San Luis) of the Medellin-Bogota Highway has now enabled 24 hours/day traffic flows in both directions.

To date, more than 102,000 cubic meters of dirt and rocks have been removed from the landslide-site, while 73 machines and 82 workers also have enabled construction of terraces, channels and filtration systems on the affected mountainside, which will help prevent future landslides.

“Invias will continue working to execute complementary works of channels, drains, conformation of terraces as well as with the evaluation of the physical conditions of the site in order to guarantee the safety of users in this important road corridor,” the agency added.


Colombia President Ivan Duque on December 20 celebrated a restricted-hours reopening of a 600-meters-long stretch of the “Pacifico 1” highway between Medellin and Bolombolo, which had been blocked for six months by a massive landslide near Amaga.

Until all repairs and mountainside reconstructions are finally completed in the area, the road will be opened only for restricted hours, from 6 am to 5 pm daily through January 7, according to Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura (ANI, the national infrastructure agency).

Then, starting January 8, the road will be open Monday through Saturday from 6 am to 9 am for morning traffic, and from 3 pm to 6 pm for afternoon traffic. On Sundays and holidays, the road will be open from 6 am to 5 pm -- until related highway and mountainside works are eventually completed.

More than 1 million cubic meters of earth and rocks had collapsed at the “Sinifina” section of the highway last May, forcing inconvenient, slower detours through Venecia to Bolombolo, which connects with “Pacifico 2” and “Pacifico 3” highways southwestward toward the Pacific port of Buenaventura.

On a parallel front, new funding has been allocated for the design of a new bridge at Bolombolo over the Cauca River -- parallel to the existing bridge – to “facilitate the transit of cargo vehicles,” according to ANI.  Also, the national highway institute (Invias) and the Institute for the Development of Antioquia (IDEA) inked a related deal to upgrade the existing Venicia-Bolombolo road to handle detoured traffic during Pacifico 1 reconstruction works.

A new monitoring and alarm system enables 24 hours/day online supervision of the mountainside alongside this section Pacifico 1, which enables early warnings and shutdowns in case of threats of another landslide, according to the agency.

Mitigation works in the upper part of the mountainside – including canals, filtration systems and trenches – are already 80% complete, according to ANI.

“Progress has been made at a good pace in construction of two of three terraces and containment areas as elements to mitigate material slides,” according to ANI.

 


Medellin – the epicenter of Colombia’s mainly “green” electric power industry – this month hosted the 6th biannual FISE Electric Power Fair with more than 15,000 visitors, 320 exhibitors, US$200 million in new business deals -- and a growing focus on wind/solar power as well as electric vehicles (EVs).

At the Plaza Mayor convention center here, attendees jammed into 150 technical sessions December 4 through 6 on electric power generation, transmission, distribution, emerging technologies, regulatory and legislative innovations -- and eyed the emerging trend of “self-generation” not only at industrial scale but also at homes, shopping centers and small businesses.

More than 60 companies from 19 foreign countries participated in special “international business network” sessions co-organized by FISE and Colombia business-promotion agency ProColombia. In total, more than 1,000 business negotiation meetings took place at FISE, according to the organizers.

Medellin is the headquarters of most of Colombia’s electricity giants including ISA (the national power transmission operator and energy-trading center), Isagen (power generation), Celsia (power generation and transmission), EPM (the nation’s biggest power company), CIDET (industry research center) and many local and international engineering, technical and supply organizations.

FISE this year also dedicated a portion of trade-show floor space to electric vehicles (cars, motorcycles and bikes), EV charging technologies, solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies, smart-meters and exhibitions touting distributed-energy schemes.

While China, Europe and the USA are taking the global lead in EV sales and recharging networks, Colombia is just starting to see this market take hold, with 3,167 EVs sold through July 2019, according to FISE.

Given Medellin’s air-pollution problems – overwhelmingly caused by gasoline, diesel and natural-gas-fueled cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles – it’s likely that Medellin will continue to be Colombia’s national leader in the move to EVs, according to several expert presentations here.

For example: Medellin this year began deploying more than 70 “Metroplus” zero-emissions electric transit buses, which complement the city’s vast, electric-powered “Metro” railway system, a growing network of all-electric “Metrocable” aerial trams, and electric-powered road trams, which combined carry 1.5 million passengers daily.

In this respect alone, Medellin is light-years ahead of all other Colombian cities including Bogota, Cali, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Armenia, Manizales and elsewhere.

What’s more, EPM just inked a deal with U.S.-based global wind/solar-power developer Invenergy to build and operate at least 400 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar power plants in Colombia by 2025 (see Medellin Herald November 27, 2019), with investments likely hitting US$500 million to US$600 million.

EPM is Colombia’s first (and only) pioneer in wind power generation through its 19.5-MW “Jepírachi” wind farm –built in 2004 -- in the La Guajira desert region, which has some of the world’s strongest and most-reliable wind conditions (averaging 9 meters per second, double the national average), experts noted here.

La Guajira also has Colombia’s highest solar insolation average -- at six kilowatts per square meter, 66% higher than the national average, and much higher than the world average.

Which explains why La Guajira is the target of big new wind/solar power projects by major developers-- including EPM and Celsia -- as Colombia’s Energy Ministry vice-minister Diego Mesa outlined in a keynote presentation here.

Special tax exemptions -- and Colombia’s new regulatory mandate requiring energy generators/distributors to incorporate 8% to 10% of electric power from “unconventional” renewable power sources (mainly wind and solar) – explains why these “green” sources will rise to 1.5-gigawatts capacity by 2022, up from only 50 MW today, Mesa showed.

That represents a COP$7.5 trillion (US$2.2 billion) investment in new wind/solar capacity here in Colombia, he added.

While Colombia has a relatively robust 97% of homes, businesses and industries connected to electric power, some remote areas still lack electricity, Mesa noted. Which is why the current national government aims to work with private companies to hook-up power for 500,000 more people by 2022. That’s one-quarter of the 2 million rural, remote Colombians still lacking power.

Meanwhile, the expected 2022 entry-into-operations of EPM’s 2.4-gigawatt, US$5 billion “Hidroituango” hydroelectric plant will help EPM meet its 2025 deadline for “carbon neutrality,” as EPM markets director Jose Enrique Salazar pointed out in a separate presentation here.

Nationally, Colombia aims to become “carbon neutral” in all of its industrial, commercial and personal activities by 2050 – with the mainly hydroelectric power industry running way ahead of all other sectors, and soon to be even "greener" with the upcoming wind/solar power plants.

By 2030, Colombia aims to have 3.3 gigawatts of wind-power installed, along with 2.57 GW of hydropower, 705 MW of solar, 650 MW of natural-gas-fired power, 187 MW of oil-based power, 889 MW of liquefied natural gas (LNG) fired power, 270 MW of LP-gas power and 250-MW of “small-scale” power, Salazar explained -- adding that LNG-fired power will gradually replace what remains of the relatively "dirty" oil-fired power.

While carbon dioxide (CO2) “global warming” emissions aren’t yet taxed globally, Colombia already has a COP$16,422 (US$5) per-ton CO2 tax -- and government officials are studying the possibility of creating a local emissions trading scheme (ETS), he added.

The new wind-power farms planned by EPM, Celsia and others will generate renewable energy credits (RECs) – tradable in world markets -- as well as emissions-reduction certificates valuable for offsetting other, less-green operations in Colombia, he showed. EPM was the first company in Colombia to sell RECs globally, he explained.

The worst CO2 emitting sector in Colombia is transport vehicles. So, conversion of more of the car/truck/motorcycle/bus fleet to electric power (tapping “green” electricity generation) would help Colombia more rapidly achieve its “carbon neutrality” goals, Salazar added.


Medellin-based electric power giant EPM announced December 4 that insurer Mapfre has issued its first payment – totaling US$150 million – for damages to the US$5 billion, 2.4-gigawatt “Hidroituango” hydroelectric project in Antioquia.

The payment “corresponds to the figure recommended by the [insurance] adjuster according to the expenses and investments made by EPM in the recovery of the project,” according to the company.

“This first prepayment is for material damage to civil works. The company continues in the process of quantification of the damages, the replacement of equipment and the repairs of the project as it progresses in its diagnosis, design and contracting, which is permanently informed within the adjustment process.”

The Mapfre policy covers up-to-US$2.55 billion for material damage to infrastructure and equipment, plus up-to US$628 million for lost power sales due to an expected three-year delay into operation (end-2021 instead of the originally planned end-2018).


Page 17 of 61

About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

Medellin Herald welcomes your editorial contributions, comments and story-idea suggestions. Send us a message using the "contact" section.

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