Canadian construction firms were given a glimpse into the extent of the destruction resulting from the war in Ukraine and learned about opportunities to help rebuild infrastructure from officials on the ground.
The webinar, Rebuilding Ukraine — Opportunities for Canadian construction and related services, was organized by the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) and featured representatives from the Confederation of Builders of Ukraine.
“We know that certainly doing business in another country can take some time to learn about the procurement practices, to build those relationships,” said CCA president Mary Van Buren, adding that was the main intent behind this first webinar.
A joint assessment by the Government of Ukraine, the European Commission and the World Bank released earlier this month estimates the current cost of reconstruction and recovery in Ukraine amounts to $349 billion.
It will take a lot of effort to rebuild roads, bridges, infrastructure, apartment buildings and production facilities, Yuliya Kovaliv, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Canada, told attendees.
“The needs of Ukraine for the rebuilding are enormous,” she said.
“We are very much interested today to start the discussion with Canadian colleagues and make this network between the companies. The rebuilding of Ukraine, it will not only require significant capital but it also requires technology, it requires a lot of equipment, it requires innovation and of course the support and advice from the companies around the world.”
Lev Partskhaladze, president of the Confederation of Builders of Ukraine, described the amount of damage across the country. He also talked about the current state of the construction industry.
“I would say 11 per cent are working to the full extent now,” he said. “Sixteen per cent are not working at all and 73 per cent of enterprises are working partially just to support the staff, the employees and for people not to lose their jobs.”
The country is also experiencing a significant deficit of building materials, he noted.
“We have very precise information of which factories have suspended their activities, which are not working, and what Ukraine needs to import…to somehow be able to restore our objects in the future,” he said. “Of course, the number one priority is financing. We’re expecting some individual aided relief from people or companies or organizations, whoever can help us.
“We’re now expecting for the creation of the fund of recovery of Ukraine, so we’re expecting substantial financial aid to help us recover.”
He said importing materials and the creation of manufacturing for building materials are critical areas of focus.
“A lot of factories have been demolished and ruined. When the occupiers came to these territories they destroyed these plants and factories because they suspected there could be servicemen and soldiers there,” Partskhaladze explained.
“We’re really interested in any of the Canadian manufacturers or producers that would be interested to create production in Ukraine.
“Undoubtedly, we will need to involve and attract new technologies for modern construction. We are interested to involve international construction companies with huge experience because the volumes will be so enormous.”
Oleksandr Chervak, executive director of the Confederation of Builders of Ukraine, said a new system of procurement for recovery is now being worked on and is expected to be launched in the next few months.
“In particular, the new system of the register for procurement will be consisting of the following states: inventorying damage assessment; data collection and analysis for prioritization and reconstruction planning; prioritization of projects; project financing; implementation of projects; payment for work; commissioning and maintenance,” said Chervak.
“We hope that it will be as transparent and accessible as possible.”
In terms of incentive programs for businesses, especially for foreign investments in Ukraine, there are existing programs but other programs are expected to be introduced for the recovery.
“The Government of Ukraine declared the creation of additional state programs to support foreign investments connected with reconstruction and recovery, but as for now those are just declared intentions,” said Chervak.
Ukraine has agreed with the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, owned by the World Bank, to launch a mechanism for insuring investments during hostilities. The $30 million pilot project will be launched soon and Chervak said they will make Canadians aware when it is up and running.
In response to the question of Canadian businesses searching for partners in Ukraine, Chevak said the Confederation of Builders of Ukraine will offer assistance to the CCA.
“We will provide the form to fill in,” he said. “After you fill it in, it will be easier for us to search for partners according to the spheres the Canadian side is interested in.”
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