Infrastructure Advances Improve Lives Of All Nicaraguans

Above photo: New school for children with disabilities.

During the neoliberal governments from 1990 to 2007, the Nicaraguan population suffered lack of electricity an average of five to twelve hours a day. Electricity was needed to pump water so Nicaraguans had even more hours without the precious liquid. In my Managua neighborhood, Ciudad Jardin, we prepared for the outages with candles, kerosene and stored water. We sat outside together in the dark in the early evenings – one good thing – and the kids played. But the frequent electricity cuts ruined refrigerators, televisions, etc. because, when the electricity returned, it would often spike.

I recently talked with some Hondurans who confirm that this is part of their suffering even today. They were visiting Nicaragua as tourists and could not believe the permanent electricity and water, as well as the great roads and bridges that make life more secure and save time.

An Inter-American Development Bank evaluation highlights that between 2008 and 2018, Nicaragua went from 15th to 9th place out of 19 Latin American countries in terms of infrastructure development and services. In terms of infrastructure and service quality, Nicaragua registered a percentage change of +43%, the third best change after Ecuador and Bolivia and the best in Central America. Nicaragua is also one of the countries with the fewest electricity blackouts and one of the best in potable water supply. In transportation, Nicaragua is in the fifth place in best roads in Latin America and first in Central America.

The year 2019 ended with 97.15% electricity coverage. While I was at the Majagual beach, San Juan del Sur, in December 2018, I witnessed the installation of electricity in the part of the village that had not yet receive it. Workers not only installed the lines, but provided basic installations inside the house and left the family with at least two light sockets and two plugs.

And this year, 2020, some US$117 million is being invested in 512 projects to guarantee more than 98.4% electricity coverage by December 2020. This includes more than 4,000 solar panels installed on the Caribbean Coast and in the Rio San Juan Department. Also, a memorandum of understanding was signed with EPR Solar in 2019 to build a 100 MW plant. This year a 50 MW plant in San Benito began functioning.

The president of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), Dante Mossi said, “Nicaragua will be the second country in Latin America to achieve 100% national coverage, a historic accomplishment that demonstrates the commitment of the Government to guarantee this basic right for the population. We must acknowledge and congratulate Nicaragua for obtaining US$115 million in funding from the United Nations Green Climate Fund to manage the effects of climate change. Approval of funds at this scale by the Green Climate Fund is unprecedented for the region and a clear recognition of Nicaragua’s work on environmental protection, as well as adaptation and mitigation of the effects of climate change. We have a lot to learn from the Nicaraguan experience,” Mossi said.

The Sandinista government has taken the country from 26% renewable energy in 2007 to 74.4% on Nov. 25, an advancement that few wealthy countries have achieved.

A commission of the OPEC Fund for International Development visited the municipality of El Tortuguero, in the South Caribbean Autonomous Region, where an electricity substation will be built, valued at US$20 million. This electricity substation will benefit the populations of El Tortuguero, La Cruz del Río Grande, Laguna de Perlas and El Ayote on the Atlantic Coast.

In 2020 there was the announcement of a new agreement with a US company, New Fortress Energy LLC, to build a natural gas-based energy plant in Puerto Sandino. This 300-megawatt plant will be part of the national interconnection system and will compensate for wind and solar energy variations. New Fortress CEO Wes Edens said, “Nicaragua has the economic and stability parameters for large-scale investments. It is a sign of our confidence in Nicaragua. We will also invest in training personnel so that they can manage the plant.” The construction will cost US$700 million.

There is also exciting news around potable water: In February the water company, ENACA, announced that drinkable water and sanitation will reach 95% of the population by 2023. In 2007 only 65% of homes had drinking water service. Currently about 91.5% of homes have service. In 2007 only 30% of homes in urban areas had sewage connections while now, 54% of homes in urban areas have sewage connections. By 2023, connections will reach 95% of urban homes. In 2020 US$115 million was invested in 41 water and sanitation projects.

ENACAL began operation of the new drinking water project in Bilwi, Puerto Cabezas, in the North Caribbean Autonomous Region on August 20. Water was installed in the homes of 16,000 families providing service 24 hours a day. US$30 million was invested from funds from the Inter-American Development Bank.

In October 2020 Nicaragua and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) began a mega wastewater project in Bluefields. This project will invest US$34 million over 24 months, generating 1,200 jobs. The drinking water project in Bluefields is near completion and will improve the lives of about 12,700 people.

Major investment in commercial and tourist ports took place in 2020 improving technical and operational capabilities, as well as remodeling of facilities. The Nicaraguan Port Authority president said that US$30.8 million is being invested, US$3.3 million from the Port Authority and US$27.5 million covered by foreign investment.

On Oct. 13, the head of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MTI), Oscar Mojica, announced that from 2006 to 2019, 4,590 km (2,852 miles) of new paved roads were built, an increase of 600%. In 2006 there were only 617 km (383 miles) of roads in good condition.

The Bluefields – Nueva Guinea highway, inaugurated in 2019, for the first time allows road connection between the Atlantic and Pacific. The El Rama-San Ramón highway was inaugurated on Oct. 8 and it completes the connection between the Central Highlands and the South Caribbean. A major road between Granada and Malacatoya that benefits 40,000 inhabitants of the Granada department was also finished in 2020.

In 2020 more than US$300 million was invested to build 214 km of rural roads using hydraulic concrete to improve access and circulation in productive areas of the country.

There was also a record investment of US$214 million spent in Managua for roads, water and sanitation and infrastructure in 700 neighborhoods.  This includes the multi-million-dollar expansion of the John Paul II beltway around Managua. Managua mayor Reyna Rueda said “We have 601 new streets and we maintained 33.46 kilometers of the road network and built six vehicular bridges.”

Rueda also announced the reconstruction of 13 Child Development Centers and improvements and maintenance in nine Managua markets, the construction of more than 2,000 homes as part of the Bismarck Martinez housing project, the expansion of the capital’s existing garbage landfill, and the construction of a new municipal cemetery.

The Ministry of Education will close 2020 with 74% of schools improved or rebuilt as well as fourteen new schools.

In August construction began on the “Francisco Meza Rojas” Primary Hospital in Malpaisillo, León Department, benefiting 33,000 inhabitants. The hospital in Quilalí will be finished in June 2021. It will provide primary care in pediatrics, surgery, internal medicine, physical therapy, nutrition and more to 52,700 inhabitants of Quilalí, located 264 kilometers north of Managua. Nicaragua has built 18 new hospitals and seven more are currently under construction.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) ranked Nicaragua as the fourth country in Latin America in terms of health investment. The IDB report “Latin America Post Covid-19,” details that Nicaragua invests 5.2% of its GDP in health, while Costa Rica spends 5.6%.

Despite the coercive and illegal economic measures known as sanctions applied by the US, infrastructure in Nicaragua has improved enormously since 2007 in electricity, water, roads, schools, hospitals and more. International banks recognize that Nicaragua has excellent, transparent execution of project resources, in other words, it does a lot with the money it has as well as the money it borrows in order to bring maximum benefits to the population.