At the first Ukrainian government-sponsored investment forum since President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s election, hundreds of millions of dollars in investments and loans were promised on October 29 in Mariupol, a port city less than 30 kilometers west of the front line of a conflict with Russian-backed separatists.
Most of the money would be channeled to the government-controlled part of the Donbas where the two easternmost regions of Luhansk and Donetsk are located.
During his keynote speech, Zelenskiy asked the 500 foreign and Ukrainian attendees to not cross out Ukraine as backward and hopeless.
“Ukraine is a country of opportunities. And today they are knocking on your door," he said. "But as they say, opportunity never knocks twice. So do not miss the opportunity, please. Don’t sleep through Ukraine.”
Alain Piloux, the vice president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Ukraine’s largest foreign investor, told the forum participants that the EBRD has plans to loan 300 million euros ($333 million) for the development of regional roads, while noting that Ukraine is the top destination for the bank's loans.
Roads, Mobile Infrastructure
At the forum, Zelenskiy and Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk opened a two-lane, 225-kilometer highway that connects Mariupol with Zaporizhzhya, a city in the southeast with growing airport traffic.
The nation’s three largest mobile operators signed a government agreement to ensure 90 percent coverage of 4G Internet in the nation in two years.
To give residents in the Donbas and Russian-controlled Crimea access to Ukrainian TV programming, the U.S. Agency for International Development is helping finance the construction of 11 digital TV transmitters, the Ministry of Information Policy said.
State-owned railway company Ukrzaliznytsya announced investing $6 million to open a second Kyiv-Mariupol night train that runs daily.
COFCO, a Chinese state-run food-processing company, signed a memorandum to pump $50 million in developing port infrastructure in Mariupol, which would boost cargo traffic by 2.3 million tons.
A 100 million euro ($111 million) water supply and treatment project was part of a signed declaration of intent by the French government, European Investment Bank, and the Mariupol city council.
Metinvest, owned by Ukraine’s richest billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, pledged to spend $400 million over the next five years to reduce pollution caused by his factories in Mariupol, Kryviy Rih, and Zaporizhzhya.
Kharkiv multimillionaire Oleksandr Yaroslavskiy has started building a $50 million terminal at the Dnipro airport in the southeast.
At the forum, Yaroslavskiy said he was ready to invest $100 million for the construction of a new airport in Donetsk, which was destroyed in the war.