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First among the best - a #Ukraine company is building a hydroelectric station in #EquatorialGuinea

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The countries of the European Union are advanced in terms of the introduction and launch of capacities for the production of electric energy from renewable sources. The need to switch to the use of renewable energy sources is becoming more and more urgent every year. These sources are becoming more affordable. In particular, the cost of 1 kW-h of energy from land-based wind farms in the EU is equal to the cost of energy generated by coal-fired power plants. The share of energy from renewable sources in the European Union is 32%, and in some countries reaches 50%.

Ukraine also seeks to increase the share of electricity from renewable sources in the domestic market and the provision of export services. The country has the necessary production, personnel and technical potential. In particular, this is discussed in an interview with Yuriy Potiyko, a top specialist of Duglas Alliance LTD, about winning the competition for the construction of the largest hydroelectric station in Equatorial Guinea.

Despite the decline in domestic industrial production and de-industrialization, in Ukraine there are companies and specialists that implement large-scale capital projects abroad and strengthen their positions in emerging markets. The company DUGLAS ALLIANCE LTD., which includes Ukrainians in the management and engineering headquarters, won the competition and builds the largest hydroelectric power station in Equatorial Guinea, organizes studies of African specialists in Ukrainian universities, makes plans for the future and is ready to be a guide to the interests of Ukrainian business on the African continent. Read about the features of work in Africa and the prospects for foreign expansion of Ukrainian business in our interview with the general director of DUGLAS ALLIANCE LTD., honored economist of Ukraine Yuriy Potiyko.

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  • Yuriy Alievich, tell us a few words about DUGLAS ALLIANCE LTD.?

The company began its work in 2009. In fact, we have combined leading research and development institutes and manufacturers of hydropower equipment into a single alliance. Before that, we were the guiding force for about a dozen different organizations, each of which has enormous long-term experience (50-70 years) in hydropower, as well as specialists who have dozens of large-scale projects around the world. Our engineers and builders worked on the creation of such projects as the Kan Don HPP and the Nam Chien HPP in Vietnam, the Deriner HPP in Turkey, the Shulbinsk and Bukhtarma HPPs in Kazakhstan, provided the operation of our Dnipro HPP-2, and developed the design and working documentation for power plants in Ukraine, Belarus, Vietnam, Turkey and Georgia.

  • What countries is your company represented in today?

Currently, our partners are already more than 100 different companies from Africa, Asia, Europe and America, the interaction with which ensures a full cycle in the construction of hydropower facilities. Our offices are located in London, Tallinn, Malabo and Bata, and of course in Kyiv. The main directions of our work around the world are the management of construction projects, engineering services, design and survey works, industrial construction, trade in building materials and special equipment.

In 2011, we announced ourselves by winning a tender for the construction of a hydropower plant in the Republic of Equatorial Guinea on the Vele River in the area of village Sendje. In addition to us, companies from China, Canada, Cameroon and Russia participated in the tender, but our proposal was the most attractive for the government of the republic.

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  • What were the main requirements for this project?

Mainland Equatorial Guinea is experiencing a large electricity shortage. Today, generation provides only 20-30% of the total demand. This creates serious restrictions for the development of industrial production, mining, production and processing of agricultural products. At the same time, the mainland has full-flowing rivers, which allow building hydroelectric power stations and generating up to 1,500 MW of their own energy. Guinean authorities repeatedly appealed to business and diplomatic corps of other countries over the 2000s to conduct research on local rivers for the construction of several hydroelectric power stations with a design capacity of at least 150 MW.

The channel part of the dam of the "Sendje" hydroelectric station.

The channel part of the dam of the "Sendje" hydroelectric station.

One of the main conditions of the contract was the construction of a hydropower plant on the Vele River, which would have a capacity of 120-200 MW and could operate not only in the rainy season, but also provide at least 50% of the capacity in the dry season, in addition, the hydropower equipment should be adapted to work in tropical climates. We were able to ensure the fulfillment of these conditions, as well as organize the training of Guinean students in leading specialized universities in the field of industrial construction and energy. By the way, an international educational project with the participation of Ukrainian universities and students from Equatorial Guinea is working to this day. After summing up the competition, in January 2011 a contract was signed.

- What are the main challenges DUGLAS ALLIANCE LTD. faced during the implementation of the Sendje HPP project?

The project had to be implemented, which is called “from scratch”. And it’s not in our, but in the African sense of the word, when almost the entire basic infrastructure is missing and you have to deploy a large-scale construction in the middle of the jungle.

We also faced a significant shortage of input data, since topographic, geological and hydrological studies in a given region, in fact, were never carried out. To this should be added the lack of a local market for building materials, the shortage of skilled labor, the lack of local manufacturers and suppliers of necessary equipment, and the shortage of special construction equipment. In addition to wood, stone and sand, all other resources had to be imported. But all this was offset by the strong will of the REG Government that the project should be implemented and our desire to realize this ambitious task.

- How did the work begin, and what is the percentage of readiness of the facility now?

Surveys and project development were carried out in two stages. At the first stage, we carried out all the basic surveys and analyzed various options for the layout of structures. At the second stage, there was a refinement of design features adjusted for previously obtained data, climatic conditions, etc.

The building of the "Sendje" hydroelectric station.

The building of the "Sendje" hydroelectric station.

In addition, it was necessary to create a powerful production base to service the main construction, and these are several separate workshops, operating units, storage facilities, laboratories, auxiliary facilities. For these needs, it was necessary to prepare a sufficiently large territory, to lay access roads. With all these tasks, we successfully and timely handled.

At the end of 2019, the construction of the Sendje HPP facility has already been completed by more than 70%. In addition to the work performed on the dam, dams and other main structures of the hydroelectric station, almost all the necessary hydraulic and electromechanical equipment was delivered to the station.

- What markets of African countries could you mark as the most promising for Ukrainian companies?

Geology, exploration and mining, water treatment, utility infrastructure, fishing industry, agriculture, medicine and training. These are market niches where our companies could feel very confident. Today in Ukraine there are quite powerful scientific and educational schools, design organizations and industrial enterprises that could occupy leading positions in these industries. For this, it is necessary in the coming years, at least, to revive foreign trade policy and trade diplomacy, and, as a maximum, to develop a system of incentives for the expansion of Ukrainian business.

We can earn much more in foreign markets than the income from the sale of commodities and remittances from our labour migrants today. You just need to stop underestimating yourself and fear competition.

- What is the attitude to Ukraine and Ukrainian business among the African business and political elite?

Great attitude. Many representatives of the authorities and the business world studied and lived in Ukraine for several years of their life. About a third of the African elite graduated from universities in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa, Dnipro.

In fact, African countries today are faced with those development tasks, the solution of which was oriented to the scientific, educational and industrial-technical complex of Ukraine since Soviet Union times. In this regard, and in the aggregate of all other factors, Africa can be our organic object for expansion and cooperation.

The building of the "Sendje" hydroelectric station.

The building of the "Sendje" hydroelectric station.

Sendje Hydroelectric Power Station is a hydropower plant on the Vele River in the mainland of Equatorial Guinea, which will be the largest among all generating capacities of the country and will ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity not only throughout Equatorial Guinea, but will also provide an opportunity to export electricity to neighboring countries. Construction is carried out by DUGLAS ALLIANCE LTD. commissioned by the Government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. The main suppliers of hydraulic, electromechanical, lifting equipment were the French company Alstom (hereinafter the American company GE (General Electric)), also such the ukrainian factories as: “Master Profi”, “Dnipropress”, and “Kharkiv plant of hoisting-and-transport equipment”. The project began in 2012, when the foundation stone was laid in the foundation of the future power plant. In the fall of 2015, the Vele River was closed.

General view of the building of the "Sendje" hydroelectric station with pressurized water conduits.

General view of the building of the "Sendje" hydroelectric station with pressurized water conduits.

In 2016, the construction of the facility was suspended due to lack of funding from the Government of the REG and the resumption of work occurred only in July 2018. Since the resumption of construction of the Sendje HPP, DUGLAS ALLIANCE LTD. carried out the installation of more than 1,100 tons of hydraulic and mechanical equipment, started the construction of the channel part of the concrete dam and the installation of a cement curtain, as well as drilling and blasting operations on the outlet channel of the HPP building. About 55.0 thousand m3 of concrete were laid at all the main structures of the hydroelectric station.

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Belgium

Clashes break out in Brussels in protests over coronavirus restrictions

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Police and protesters clashed in the streets of Brussels on Sunday (21 November) in demonstrations over government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions, with police firing water cannon and tear gas at demonstrators throwing rocks and smoke bombs, witnesses said, write Christian Levaux, Johnny Cotton and Sabine Siebold, Reuters.

About 35,000 people took part in demonstrations, police said, which began peacefully before violence broke out.

Protesters wearing black hoods threw stones at police as they advanced with water cannon at the main junction in front of the European Union Commission headquarters, Reuters journalists said.

Facing up to the police lines, the protesters held hands and chanted "freedom". One protester was carrying a placard reading "when tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty".

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Police forces stand guard as people protest against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) measures near the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium November 21, 2021. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

Protesters also threw smoke bombs and fireworks, the newspaper Le Soir reported. The situation calmed down later, police said.

Belgium tightened its coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday (17 November), mandating wider use of masks and enforcing work from home, as cases rose in the country's fourth COVID-19 wave. Read more.

There have been 1,581,500 infections and 26,568 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the country of 11.7 million people since the pandemic began. Infections are increasing again, with 13,826 new cases reported on average each day.

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Violence has also broken out in anti-restriction protests in Belgium's neighbour the Netherlands in recent days. On Friday, police in Rotterdam opened fire on a crowd.

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European Commission

NextGenerationEU: Commission receives payment request from Spain for €10 billion under the Recovery and Resilience Facility

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The Commission has received the first payment request from Spain under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) for a disbursement of €10 billion in financial support (net of pre-financing). Spain's overall recovery and resilience plan will be financed by €69.5 billion in grants. Payments under the RRF are performance-based and contingent on Spain implementing the investments and reforms outlined in its recovery and resilience plan. This first payment request relates to 52 milestones covering several reforms in the areas of sustainable mobility, energy efficiency, decarbonisation, connectivity, public administration, skills, education and social, labour and fiscal policy.

The Commission now has two months to assess the request. It will then send its preliminary assessment of Spain's fulfilment of the milestones and targets required for this payment to the Council's Economic and Financial Committee. More information on the process of the payment requests under the RRF is available in this Q&A. More information on the Spanish recovery and resilience plan is available here.

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Belgium

'When the Smurfs meet Monkey King'

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'When the Smurfs meet Monkey King' is a children's art exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium.

The successful art exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium in La Louvière, the birthplace of Surrealism in Belgium that ended on 24 October gave the opportunity to nearly 300 local primary and middle school students in just one week to depict their vision of friendship between China and Belgium.

On 17 October, during the opening ceremony, Françoise Ghiot, Laurent Wimlot, aldermen of La Louvière, and their guests from China and Belgium attended the event. Counsellor Yang Qing, wife of the Chinese Ambassador to Belgium, also recorded a video for the inauguration of the event.

Counsellor Yang Qing said in her speech that she admired the exhibition held in La Louvière. Using pure and innocent artistic perspective, extraordinary creativity and imagination, the children have well defined the cultural elements of both countries. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium with children’s eyes, sincere feelings, those future ambassadors of friendship have expressed their visions of a better collaborative future between the two nations.

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Ghiot said in her speech that she was very happy on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium to see children’s paintings from China. The art exhibition opened a skylight of artistic exchange for local children.

This children's art exhibition was jointly curated by the city of La Louvière, the Nardone Gallery, and Yellow Vitamines. Through the LPGA (Little Painter Global International Art Exhibition), covering 40 cities and 500 aesthetic education training institutions in China, 5000 children’s work were collected and 200 were finally selected to focus on Belgium. With the innocent help of children's brushes, imagination and understanding, art and culture provided an ideal medium to understanding differences and strengthening the bond between China and Belgium.

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