Organized in collaboration with Americas Society / Council of the Americas (AS/COA) and Cuba Strategies Inc., the Conference Energizing Cuba took place on October 7, 2016, in one of the beautiful salons of the AS/COA.
Around 8:30 am, the reception hall of the historic building began to fill with guests, participants, panelists and executives who had registered to learn about opportunities in Cuba. The meeting room was almost full when Alana Tummino, AS/COA’s Senior Director of Policy, began her introduction of the event. Immediately following, we had the privilege of introducing a high-level panel of specialists in energy engineering, legal consultancy, and international relations.
From the Island, we were visited by Professor Dr. Antonio Sarmiento, titular professor at the Technical University of Havana and researcher at the Center for Research of Renewable Energy Technologies (CETER). Professor Sarmiento presented the Cuban national energy program and answered questions on the priorities and criteria followed by this program in recent times and in prior periods, including those when Cuba explored its options in the field of nuclear energy. Participants had access to historical and current views of Cuba’s energy landscape.
The conference was honored to receive Professor Narciso Cobo, who is currently both a professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Havana and vice president of the Cuban Court of International Commercial Arbitration (CCACI). Professor Cobo is a renowned jurist, who was President of the Commercial Division of the Supreme Court in Cuba. This panelist gave an introduction to the mechanisms of protection of foreign investments that are recognized in the Cuban legal system and offered statistics on conflicts resolved through CCACI. In his presentation among the issues covered were the guarantees against expropriation, the hiring of workforces, and issues related to insurance.
From the United States we were pleased to present a panel composed of executives from companies like General Electric, Greenskies Renewable Energy, AET Solar, and Vaporgenics, who established important criteria for measuring the Cuban potential for investments in renewable energy, and also for understanding the perspective of developers and investors.
We also had the honor of having the participation of Professor Jorge Piñon, from the University of Austin, Texas, one of the most respected specialists in energy in both countries, who offered us a global perspective of the Cuban energy system and the relationship between the use of fossil fuels and renewable energy sources.
In the afternoon session, the counterpart of professor Cobo was a partner from Morrison & Foerster, Aki Bayz, an expert on consulting for businesses in countries currently under U.S. economic sanctions. Aki offered a thoroughly comprehensive presentation on OFAC regulations, including analysis onassistances and challenges that may be found by investments in renewable energy in Cuba.
On behalf of the AS/COA, we had the pleasure of being welcomed to the event by Alana Tummino, senior policy director and head of its Cuba Working Group, who also participated in the questions directed to the panelists.
From the Cuba Strategies Inc. team, our Chief Strategy Officer, Carlos Fernández-Aballí, who holds a doctorate from the Technical University of Havana, offered an explanation on the portfolio of renewable energy projects pre-approved by the Cuban government for investment. He delineated the criteria, conditions, and even locations where studies have demonstrated that these energy parks can be established. We also had present our Chief Business Officer, Guennady Rodriguez, who was an adjunct professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Havana, and helped moderate the afternoon panel on legal issues.
Finally, the event was closed with the words of our CEO, Juan Guillermo Espinosa, who highlighted the efforts made by both teams and by the panelists to facilitate bridges for exchange and for opportunities between both countries, and he also thanked all the participants.
Later this month, Cuba Strategies Inc. will make available to the public through its website the issues raised at the conference.