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Nana Gurgenidze: AGL is interested in the development of the region where the Shuakhevi HPP cascade is being built

Nana Gurgenidze: AGL is interested in the development of the region where the Shuakhevi HPP cascade is being built

AGL (Adjaristsqali Georgia LLC)  is implementing of one of the largest investment projects in Georgia’s infrastructure – the Shuakhevi HPP Cascade”. The size of this investment is 400 million USD. The company’s management is made up of both expatriate and Georgian staff.

Nana Gurgenidze is the director of government relations for AGL. Her professional specialty is international law. She obtained her BA in public Administration at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs and her BA in energy management at New York Institute of Technology in the United States. She has experience working in leading positions in both the public and private sectors, and she has been working in the energy sector for more than 10 years.

–  Hello Nana, first of all, I would like to ask you about the importance of the project your company is implementing. What will be the impact of the Shuakhevi HPP Cascade on Georgia and the Georgian energy sector?

– First of all, after our hydropower station is operational, Georgia will have a station with an installed capacity of 187 megawatts, which will produce an additional 440 million kilowatt-hours of electricity which, during the winter, will be completely used by the Georgian population. In the summer, when the production of electricity is extensive throughout Georgia, we will export electricity to Turkey and make our contribution to the export potential of Georgia.

In addition, our company is interested in the development of the region where the Shuakhevi HPP cascade is being built. We are implementing various social projects which are improving the living conditions of local residents. These projects include infrastructure development projects, including school rehabilitation, in local communities and the support of private small business start-ups. The company consistently cooperates with local residents and local government in order to identify the fields where our involvement will result in real changes to the lives of local residents. I can confidently say that none of the other investors in this field do as much for local people as we do here at Adjaristsqali Georgia LLC, or, as we call it, “AGL.”

Furthermore, it is important to note that approximately 650 Georgian citizens are employed by the project – our modest contribution to the elimination of the country’s unemployment rate.

At the same time, we are investing in property and, accordingly, pay property taxes into the accounts of local governments (at this stage this amount equals about 3 million GEL, a figure will be even higher after the construction is completed). In doing so, we are supporting the financial welfare of the municipalities where our station will be located.

In addition, our company is interested in raising the number of skilled professionals in the Georgian energy sector, and we are doing our best to help the country recruit young specialists into the field. This year, we selected students from the Technical University of Georgia to work as interns at our company. These students had an opportunity build on their theoretical knowledge by observing the real-world and real-time work that we do here.

As a citizen of this country, I am very proud to represent a company which does so much good in our here because of its high standards of ethics and social responsibility.

– Your company is implementing various social projects in highland Adjara. Is this your company’s obligation or its vision?

– As I’ve already mentioned, our company is exceptional among investors in Georgia in terms of the good it does for local residents. You would certainly find it difficult to name any other private company in Georgia’s energy sector which works so hard and spends so much money implementing different social projects. Accordingly, it has nothing to do with obligations, it’s about our good will and desire to change the living conditions of locals for the better. No one has given us this obligation apart from our founders – the Norwegian company Clean Energy Invest, the Indian power company TATA Power and the International Finance Corporation. All of these organizations feel a very high sense of responsibility towards the countries they operate in.

– As director of government relations, to what extent do you feel the support of the Georgian government in the process of implementation of the project?

– It’s impossible to implement such a large-scale hydro energy project without successful cooperation between the government and the private company. Naturally, we feel that the government and especially the economic teams of government ministries have supported us at each stage of the project.. Our main partner is the Ministry of Energy of Georgia. This project managed to overcome many obstacles with the direct effort of this Ministry’s management. In particular, I would like to personally mention the Deputy Ministers of Energy of Georgia, Elia Eloshvili and Irakli Khmaladze, who have been very supportive since the very first stage of the project and whose personal efforts have ensured our success. We have already completed almost 65% of the construction work, and we have not had any setbacks or major delays. We are moving forward full steam! The company also feels a sense of responsibility towards the government and the country as a whole and will try to complete the project in a timely manner and start production of the pure hydro energy which is so important for the country’s future. I would also like to mention the state companies operating in the energy sector: JSC Georgian State Electrosystem, JSC Sakrusenergo, JSC Commercial Operator of Electroenergy System and others. Their close cooperation and dependable support have been essential for our project and our company.

Our project is a successful example of private and public partnership in Georgia, and this is crucially significant for the formation of Georgia’s image as reliable country for doing business.

– Now, I would like to ask a personal question. Supporting women’s participation in politics and their appointment to decision-making positions in business is becoming more and more popular. In your opinion, what does a woman need to achieve success?

– I believe that working hard to obtain a proper education and doing your best in your work are fundamental to a woman’s success. There are lots of successful women around me who inspire me, since it is often very difficult to have a successful career and a fulfilling personal life at the same time, especially when it comes to raising children. That’s why men probably won’t get angry if I say that women require double the effort to compete as equals and achieve success and therefore deserve double the applause. In general, I believe that not only for women, but for everyone, the main key to success is single-mindedness, hard work and, most importantly, consistent optimism. After all, this world stands on the basis of optimism.

– Besides you, to what extent are women appointed to high-ranking positions in the energy company where you work as part of the management team?

– We are leaders in this area too – women are actively appointed to the management team as well as to different managerial positions. In general, there are a great many successful women in leading positions in the Georgian energy sector. From this point of view, this sector is completely different from other technical fields in Georgia.

For a long time I have noticed that women are getting more and more interested in technical professions, which makes me very happy. I believe that the long dominant stigma against women in the technical professions will eventually be eliminated in Georgia.

Speaking generally, however, improving the level of technical education is very problematic in Georgia, and the promotion of these fields is probably a key to the future success of the country.