From March 23-25, 550 people hailing from the Balkans, Austria, Italy, Spain, Hungary, and the US, gathered in a hotel conference room along the Adriatic Sea for the Energy Summit in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) 2022. Since 2015, the USAID Energy Policy Activity (USAID EPA), a five-year project implemented by DT Global that focuses on targeted technical assistance to improve and simplify the energy policy environment and legal framework, and its predecessor project have hosted this annual conference. This was the first Energy Summit in BiH since 2019, after the 2020 conference was canceled due to COVID-19.
This year’s Summit was organized and co-financed in coordination with the United Nations Development Programme, the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Government, and the British Embassy Sarajevo under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, the State Electricity Regulatory Commission, the Republika Srpska Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Regulatory Commission for Energy in FBiH. Following welcoming remarks from several ambassadors, ministers, and parliamentarians, the participants discussed ways to shift the energy sector toward decarbonization and clean energy.
Over the course of three days, attendees in-person and online participated in six panels and eight technical workshops to openly discuss the transition to clean energy, the security of natural gas and electricity supply, the state and changes in the energy market, the role of women in the energy sector, and energy sustainability. Each session commenced with an introductory presentation, followed by panel discussions and questions from the audience.
As DT Global’s Technical Director for Energy Services, Amer Barghouth, observed, “It was both inspiring and reassuring to witness energy sector stakeholders pull together at the Summit to reaffirm their commitment to a just, transparent energy transition in BiH in the face of a highly volatile regional geopolitical environment.”
Before the official opening of the Energy Summit, USAID EPA also launched the Customized Permitting Guide for the construction of energy infrastructure projects in BiH. During the conference, USAID EPA’s Legal Expert, Fedja Bajraktarevic, introduced this online tool with an animated video, which gave the audience a detailed explanation of how to navigate through the questionnaire.
According to Bajraktarevic, “The Customized Permitting Guide represents the culmination of years of our work, accumulated knowledge, and experience gained from working with government agencies, ministries, and investors. The development process was a long one, and the most challenging part was to come up with the underlying algorithm that would filter out the permits based on user’s answers. But I’m confident that we’ve managed to develop a robust system that can meet the needs of investors in the energy sector of BiH. To our knowledge, this is the first application of its kind in the region, and I hope that it will serve as a great tool for domestic and foreign investors alike, to bring much-needed new investments to Bosnia.”
Attendees were invited to test out the platform themselves at tablet stations outside of the conference room. The digital guide, available in both English and Bosnian, references over 140 laws and regulations, describes more than 50 permits, and provides information on more than 30 institutions in BiH. Each question is accompanied by a brief explanation of why that question is being asked. With a few clicks, energy sector investors are presented with a guide tailored to their specific power projects, which includes a customized lists of necessary permits along with the relevant institutions, links to their websites, detailed information about every permit, and links to the official forms.
USAID Mission Director, Courtney Chubb, stated that, “The guide will certainly help all investors who wish to build power plants in BiH. The launch of this tool will be especially beneficial to ordinary citizens, who have the least resources to tackle the complexity of the BiH permitting system.”
In his opening remarks, Mr. Michael J. Murphy, the U.S. Ambassador to BiH, emphasized the need for BiH and international energy communities to speak in a unified voice in support of a much-needed energy sector reforms in BiH. USAID EPA’s Chief of Party, Mak Kamenica, held a keynote presentation on the status of the energy sector reform, challenges, and potentials, stressing the importance of expedited adoption of missing legislation and defining a clear path to just transition. Throughout the discussions during the Summit, it was made clear that BiH must speed up its energy transition and develop and implement the necessary strategies, policies, and legal framework for this. DT Global is proud to support BiH in this journey through our work on USAID EPA.