According to Patrick Archer of InvestBA (a great source for up-to-date economic and investment info about Argentina and Uruguay, www.investba.com), Uruguay plans to invest US$2.5 billion dollars in 2013 in infrastructure – and that figure could rise to US$4-5 billion range once public/private partnerships (PPPs) are factored in.
“State companies are going to invest like never before in the country’s history. And that’s no coincidence. For a while we’ve been seeing there could be a trend toward slower growth,” Uruguay’s President Mujicahas said.
“It will be time for public companies, responding to the country’s needs, to make positive investments in the country’s future,” he added.
What will all of this money be used for? What can we expect to see improved?
From ports to power plants, highways to high-speed Internet, the improvements look to be sweeping.
In an analysis of the country’s infrastructure priorities, El Observador’s Pedro Dutoursays roads are high on the list. Roads that will be focused on are Route 21 which connects Mercedes, Carmelo and the new grain facility at the Port of Nueva Palmira. Route 24 connecting Fray Bentos and Paysandú will also be improved, widened and re-paved.
Uruguay’s rail systemis also in need of a little love and attention. A mere 53% of the country’s 1,900-mile rail network is currently operational. The state rail agency, AFE, is hoping to extend the rails to Brazil and also restore the Algorta-Paysandú-Salto line.
Spanish railway operator EuskoTren has confirmed its interest in investing in Uruguay. The state-owned firm offered a proposal to the Uruguayan government that calls for creating a consortium of Spanish and Uruguayan companies for “investing in the country’s national freight network,” according to EuskoTren CEO Javier Cruz. Meetings have been held with union leaders, and a draft investment plan has already been presented.
The AFE has also entertained proposals from companies based in China, South Korea and Brazil for partnerships or direct investments in the railway network.
As for ports, the Port of Montevideo’s “C” Dock is looking to get an $80 million upgrade. The future Deep Water Port in Rochawas green-lighted in December 2012.
A large expense will be improvements on the energy front. Uruguay is looking to invest US$1.2 billion to build a 531-megawatt Combined Cycle Gas Turbine plant. South Korea’s Hyundaiwill deliver the first of three turbines in June 2014. Four foreign companies have also been pre-selected to bid on the new regasification plant in Puntas de Sayago, which should both lower gas prices and expedite gas delivery nationwide.
Upgrading Antel’s fiber optic service will also be on Uruguay’s priority list, looking to maintain its spot as a leader in Latin America for telecommunications. Uruguay has excellent networks. It is the first country in the continent to have a fully digitalized telephone system, and its average internet upload speed (7.35 MB) is great for Latin America (this rate is comparable to Canada, and is actually better than most places in the US).
With this huge commitment to investing in its infrastructure, Uruguay shows us yet again that it is an incredibly progressive country, one that is not content with resting on its laurels.