Business/Travel

The Nicaragua Dispatch News ~ Business/Travel news stories in Nicaragua

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Nicaragua: a renewable energy paradise in Central America

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Nicaragua is what many experts call a paradise of renewable energies. The country has extensive geothermic resources––resulting from its large volcanic chain and seismic activity––with excellent exposure to the wind and sun and a variety of water sources. 

In terms of energy output, the country has the capacity to generate 5,800 megawatts (MW) annually from clean sources. Currently, however, just over 5% of its renewable potential has been developed. 

Paradoxically, Nicaragua was until recently dependent on oil-based products, which were expensive and far from environmentally friendly. This was in addition to limited power lines and one of the highest electricity rates in the region at an average rate of US$ 0.24 per kilowatt/hour. 

In 2006, this scenario led the Nicaraguan government to address the need to change its electrical grid. With the government’s openness toward private investment, 58% of the country’s energy is currently produced by renewable sources whereas the remaining 42% comes from oil-based bunker fuel, according to estimates of the Nicaraguan Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM). 

In the region, Nicaragua is second only to Costa Rica in terms of the share–– 21%––of renewable, non-hydraulic energy in the region. Continue Reading →

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Nicaragua designates Corn Islands as tourism patrimony

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Nicaragua lawmakers have designated the Corn Islands as “National Tourism Patrimony”– a classification that, in theory, will coordinate national and regional government institutions to promote sustainable tourism and improve infrastructure on the twin islands. In a rare show of bipartisan support, Nicaraguan lawmakers on both sides of the divide voted in favor of the law, which aims to add another 150 hotel rooms across Big Corn Island and Little Corn Island, bringing the total number of rooms to 650. The law will also coordinate efforts among the National Port Authority, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure and the local authorities to improve airport and seaport infrastructure on the Caribbean islands. “An island without an airport or a seaport has no future–this infrastructure is a fundamental factor for development,” said opposition congressman Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Barrios, president of the National Assembly’s Tourism Commission. Continue Reading →

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Nicaragua Canal: bonanza or boondoggle?

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News Analysis. With an unfathomable price tag, an uncharted route, unknown environmental consequences, unidentified financial backers, unclear ties to the Chinese government, and an unproven company headed by an unfamiliar man of undetermined experience, Nicaragua’s private Chinese canal project has more than a few people asking   什麼赫克?
A month after the Sandinista legislature passed a sweetheart concession law that gives recently formed Chinese company HKND exclusive rights to build, operate and own Nicaragua’s Great Canal megaproject for the next 50 to 100 years, there are still far more questions than answers. When the concession law was finally printed in the official daily La Gaceta last month, Nicaraguans were surprised to learn it was published in a foreign language (English), which only added more confusion to the issue. HKND Group, which is based in Hong Kong and registered on Grand Cayman Island, has hired several big-gun consulting firms in an effort to bring some early legitimacy to the megaproject. But the company’s initial attempts to ease international suspicions about the ambitious endeavor have come up short. Continue Reading →

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Nicaragua notches record investments in ‘12

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Nicaragua last year set a new personal best for foreign-direct investment (FDI), netting $1.28 billion—a remarkable 33% increase from the year before, according to investment-promotion agency ProNicaragua. The level of investment growth is even more impressive considering it comes on top of a monstrous 91% jump in foreign-direct investment in 2011. In real terms, foreign investment levels have more than doubled over the past two years. “The historic level of growth reached in 2012 demonstrates the commitment of the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity to continue improving the investment climate, facilitate investment processes, and promote socio-economic development in the country,” said Gen. Alvaro Baltodano, presidential delegate for foreign investment. Last year’s record growth numbers were the result of 349 investment projects—the single year record for Nicaragua, according to ProNicaragua. Continue Reading →

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Milagro del Mar rebounds, optimistic about future

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On the sprawling 2,500-acre coastal grounds of one of Nicaragua’s more venerable central-Pacific development projects, there’s a rekindled excitement and restored optimism that hasn’t been felt here for half a decade. The construction of the forthcoming Wyndham Hotel, which is rising from the ground like Rocky Balboa getting off the mat to ‘Eye of the Tiger,’ has the folks at the Milagro del Mar Resort at Gran Pacifica suddenly feeling confident that momentum is finally shifting in their favor after several rounds of getting knocked against the ropes. “The place has been revitalized and we are back on track for the original vision for what this was going to be,” says project developer Roger Keeling. “Sales are picking up and people are investing money again. And those who bought lots before are now moving forward on architectural plans and starting to build again.”

Much of the renewed buzz is due to the Wyndham Hotel signing on to the tourism project last February, providing an internationally branded vote of confidence that has breathed new life into the long-stalled master development. Continue Reading →

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Eco-farm tourism brings economic boost to coffee country

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MATAGALPA—In the crisp, verdant hills of northern Nicaragua, coffee production has not only pinned Nicaragua on the global map as an exporter of world-class java, but it is also launching a new wave of ecotourism jobs in rural communities that have long been excluded from economic development. Though many successful coffee farms were abandoned in the 1980s and 1990s due to civil war, political instability and economic ruin, the past 15 years has seen a resurgence of the country’s central highlands, where fresh water streams, lush vegetation and cool mountainous temperatures provide ideal growing conditions for coffee—and also ecotourism. As Nicaragua continues to make a name for itself as an international travel destination, the country’s old and new economies are joining forces in the mountains of Matagalpa for a unique brand of coffee-farm ecotourism. Many fincas that were once dedicated exclusively to coffee production are now expanding their operations to include hotels, farm-to-table restaurants, research stations, bird-watching tours, nature hikes and other family fun that allows visitors to experience how a traditional farm works. The embrace of eco-farm tourism is opening a new door of economic opportunity in an area that didn’t get too many outside visitors before. Continue Reading →

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