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Nicaragua's list of ambitious projects
by Staff Writers
Managua (AFP) May 8, 2016

Over the last decade, Nicaragua has announced four major projects worth a total $57 billion -- nearly five times its gross domestic product.

However, the massive investments from companies in Brazil, China and Venezuela have not come to fruition because of financial problems.

- A canal to rival Panama's -

The headline project is a plan to slice a waterway across the narrow country, building a canal to link the Pacific and Atlantic oceans that would rival the lucrative, century-old one in nearby Panama.

In June 2013, Nicaragua authorized Chinese firm HKND to carry out the work, estimated at a staggering $50 billion, in exchange for a 50-year operating concession renewable for another 50 years.

But while excavation was supposed to begin late last year, the project has been delayed until the end of this year because of environmental studies.

- A huge refinery -

In 2007, Venezuela announced it would build within four years a massive, $6.5 billion refinery and petrochemical plant in Nicaragua able to supply half the needs of Central America.

Nine years later, there is little to show for it except some storage tanks.

Nicaraguan legislative approval came late, in 2012, and now Venezuela's economy is in ruins.

According to official figures, just $323 has been invested in the project so far, essentially to build the tanks.

- Brazilian hydroelectric plant -

In 2012, Nicaragua's parliament approved a Brazilian-financed hydroelectric plant powered by a dam across the southern Grande river to a cost of $1.1 billion.

Since then, the Nicaraguan government has acknowledged that lack of funds have forced delays.

- Russian projects -

Nicaragua is moving ahead to build ground stations that will form part of GLONASS, a Russian version of GPS. Financed by the Russian space agency, the facilities should be ready this year, the government has said.

The Central American country is also building a vaccine production center with $14 million in Russian financing.

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