25 September 2008
Daniel Satinsky Attends "MegaProjects" Conference in Yakutia
Above, Satinsky (front left), with other
Yakutsk's central square pictured in autumn.
Daniel Satinsky Attends
"MegaProjects" Conference in Yakutia
On the September 6 & 7, I had the privilege of attending the Yakutsk Economic Forum "Megaprojects of Russia." While not well-known to most of us in the West, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is one of the frontiers of economic development for Russia.
The Republic of Sakha is one of the constituent members of the Russian Federation. Located in eastern Siberia, it has a total area more than six times the size of France and a population of under one million people. This makes the Republic of Sakha one of the least densely populated areas in the world. The core ethnic group of the area is the Yakut people, who have their own distinct culture and language. They make up approximately one third of the total population of the Republic. The capital city is Yakutsk, with a population of around 250,000. There are a number of smaller cities scattered over the expanse of the republic, usually based at areas where natural resources are being extracted.
The importance of the Republic of Sakha lies in the richness of these natural resources. Yakutia accounts for around 98 percent of all the diamonds produced in Russia (or about 20–25 percent of global diamond production). In addition, there are major deposits of gold, silver, copper, coal, oil, gas, uranium and many other valuable natural resources. Historically, production has focused on diamonds, gold and coal, but is now being expanded. Conceptually, Yakutia is being viewed as a natural resource base for the continuing expansion of the entire Asian-Pacific Region.
Fulfilling this projected role as raw material supplier requires construction of expanded infrastructure of railroads, highways and pipelines to deliver goods to Asian-Pacific markets. Some of these projects are already underway and some are still in the planning stages. Given the distances involved and difficult weather and terrain, these projects are all huge in scope and very expensive. Hence the focus of the September 6 & 7 conference that I attended in Yakutsk was on "Megaprojects."
The conference covered a broad range of topics including a review of existing and planned projects, the role of small and medium-size business in megaprojects, the problems of bureaucratic impediments to implementing projects and demographic/population growth required for growth in the region.
More information can be found in both Russian and English on the Forum website. Some of the conference presentations are reproduced on the website under the "News" section, but only in Russian.
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