The time to rebuild Ukraine is now

March 2024 Business
Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

“The private sector possesses the power to mobilise much-needed investments,” emphasised the Slovenian Minister of Economy Matjaž Han, setting a tone at the onset of the event Rebuild Ukraine: Opportunities for Slovenian Business. Held at the Hotel Kompas in Kranjska Gora on March 22, the conference was organised by SPIRIT Slovenia, the Embassy of Ukraine in Slovenia, and the Institute for Strategic Solutions (ISR), with the aim to encourage joint efforts towards rebuilding Ukraine whih has been devstated by the conflict with Russia.

Echoing the minister’s sentiment, Tomaž Mencin, coordinator for Ukraine’s reconstruction at Slovenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, added: “The idea of rebuilding and reconstructing Ukraine is based on stimulating the private sector.” The urgency to get involved was underscored by speakers at the event, as Anatolii Komirnyi, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Infrastructure, revealed that nearly the country’s critical infrastructure has been destroyed by the war.

Despite the onging conflict, Roland Žel, Director of the Directorate for Defence Policy at the Slovenian Ministry of Defence, stressed the urgency of starting reconstruction efforts promptly. “We must start reconstruction now, as this is important for the European economy and therefore for the Slovenian economy,” he stated.

Gearing up for reconstruction efforts

Mitigating the risks of doing buisness in a war-torn country, Gašper Jež, an expert in direct financing at SID Bank, assured participants of support for Slovenian companies in insurance, risk management, and international transactions. “Slovenian companies are well-positioned to secure a majority share of contracts if they seize the opportunity to assist in the reconstruction,” Jež emphasized.

The European Union will also contribute substantially to Ukraine’s reconstruction, assured Nataša Goršek Mencin, Deputy Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Slovenia, presenting a plan worth EUR 50 billion for the period 2024-2027.

Insights from the ground

At a roundtable discussion, moderated by Tine Kračun, director of ISR, participants from the Slovenian companies that are already operating in Ukraine, explored the prospects of collaboration and investment in Ukraine’s reconstruction efforts.

Representatives from Nazovni Tech, a non-governmental organization working closely with Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explained their mission to integrate scientific expertise and public initiatives for Ukraine’s recovery. “We are a non-governmental organization, a platform for recovery. Our mission is incorporating scientific expertise and public advancements, public initiatives and coordinating government action to explore more social science in recovery of Ukraine,” they stated. Emphasizing their role in project assessment, they highlighted their commitment to facilitating the adaptation and implementation of relevant techniques and methods.

“It’s a really huge country with great perspective in green and technological developments. So, stay committed, show support, and just try get over the risks with a focus on long-term collaboration.” 

Riko, engineering company with a 20-year presence in Ukraine, shared their experiences amidst the conflict. Despite challenges, including the loss of a colleague, the company remains committed to Ukraine’s development. They have shifted their focus to environmental and infrastructure projects, aligning with Ukraine’s modernisation goals. “It’s a really huge country with great perspective in green and technological development. So, stay committed, show support, and just try get over the risks with a focus on long-term collaboration,” Katarina Kumelj, project manager at Riko, affirmed.

Duol, a global producer of fast-directed structure support, emphasized the urgency of addressing immediate needs in the country. “For us at the moment top priority is the logistic support to the Ukraine in terms of the temporary accommodation facilities,” emphasized Dušan Olaj, the company’s director and owner. Stressing the importance of staying updated to monitor current situations effectively, he highlighted the need for adaptability in navigating the evolving landscape.

Kontron’s focus is providing support for critical infrastructure, particularly in terms of telecommunications, transportation, railways, and energy. The company, a member of the Austrian group Kontron AG, provides information and communication solutions and has been present in Ukraine since 1995. Robert Kuzmič, director of Kontron, emphasized the significance of revitalising projects but advised businesses to be prepared for challenges in the Ukrainian market. “My message to those who want to do business, don’t expect a 100% advance payment for your product in the Ukraine market. So try to ensure finance and your job is granted, don’t wait too long, and be ready to take the risks for any operation.«