Territory for partnership
[b]10th Gomel Economic Forum gathers over 400 companies from 24 countries, with South-East of Belarus presenting over a hundred promising projects to potential investors [/b]The Gomel Region is the largest in Belarus, occupying almost 40,500 square kilometres: a fifth in the country. With serious industrial potential and material and human resources, it boasts many advantages. It’s location bordering Russia’s Bryansk Region, as well as Ukraine’s Kiev, Chernigov, Zhitomir and Rovno regions, makes it a convenient transport hub, benefitting from major transport links: road and rail. The city of Gomel is situated on the Kiev-St. Petersburg and Bryansk-Brest crossroads. Up to 90 percent of the country’s rail cargo runs through the Gomel Region, alongside around half of all Belarus’ passenger trains.
The Gomel Region is the largest in Belarus, occupying almost 40,500 square kilometres: a fifth in the country. With serious industrial potential and material and human resources, it boasts many advantages. It’s location bordering Russia’s Bryansk Region, as well as Ukraine’s Kiev, Chernigov, Zhitomir and Rovno regions, makes it a convenient transport hub, benefitting from major transport links: road and rail. The city of Gomel is situated on the Kiev-St. Petersburg and Bryansk-Brest crossroads. Up to 90 percent of the country’s rail cargo runs through the Gomel Region, alongside around half of all Belarus’ passenger trains.
The Gomel Region is the most forested countrywide, with over 42 percent of its territory covered. The area also has oil; over 1m tonnes are extracted annually. Moreover, the region is rich in gas, rock salt, peat, black and brown coal, chalk and sand for glass- moulding. This impressive list includes granite, gypsum, shale coal and rare metal ores.
Such a situation is especially beneficial against the region’s background of industrialisation. Around 300 large and medium-sized enterprises operate, accounting for more than 20 percent of the Republic’s industrial production. The most developed Gomel Region branches revolve around fuel, chemicals, oil extraction, machine building, timber processing, pulp and paper, food and steel. Its industrial giants have an international presence: Mozyr Refinery, the Belarusian Steel Works, Belorusneft, Gomselmash and Gomel Chemical Plant. All took part in the 10th Economic Forum, including a match-making session for definite projects.
Polesie-Lelchitsy — Belarusian Ruhr
Each branch in the region presented its promising projects: from the construction of caterpillar tractor and a crushed stone plant to the establishment of an aqua-park and 21st century cinema. Belarus’ first regional industrial park — Polesie-Lelchitsy — also took part, introduced as a nationwide concept launched under the title ‘Lelchitsy Region’. Over the past few years, the western territory of the Gomel Region — which covers the five administrative districts of Yelsk, Zhitkovichi, Lelchitsy, Mozyr and Petrikov — has been confirmed as the richest in Belarus for natural resources, not unlike German Ruhr.
Polesie’s fuel and energy resources are abundant, including deposits of brown coal, shale coal and peat. Industrial deposits of brown coal in the Zhitkovichi and Petrikov districts have been assessed at around 100m cubic metres and initial exploration is now being undertaken at the Tonezhskoe and Lelchitskoe brown coal deposits in the north (thought to exceed 250m tonnes). The Turovskoe shale coal deposit, in the central part of the region, is thought to have in excess of 2.7 billion tonnes.
A processing plant, able to deal with 4m tonnes of coal annually, is planned, alongside an electricity power station and an enterprise manufacturing organic fibre fertilisers.
Deposits of other mineral resources (rock salt, granite, facing stone, peat and sand for glass making) are also impressive but, until recently, lacked efficient rail links. Happily, railway lines are to be extended to connect with Gomel’s Polesie-Lelchitsy Industrial Park.
The Glushkovichi-Lelchitsy-Mikhalki line is to stretch 121km and be ready for use by 2020, ensuring transportation of 13m tonnes of cargo and 340,000 passengers annually.
A quadruple agreement on co-operation regarding the park’s development was signed at the Forum, with massive potential for all those interested; the ‘green light’ is illuminated for new partners.
Business meetings were held not only in Gomel but in the Rogachev District, where the ‘Tourism and Socio-Economic Development of Territories’ conference took place.
Guests visited a range of sites funded by international projects, even taking roles in a theatrical performance of marriage proposal at the crafts centre in Strenki village. In order to woo his Belarusian bride, one Italian bridegroom had to pass traditional tests of log sawing, wood chopping and Polka dancing.
The group also visited the Belarusian Puppet Eco-Museum, which preserves unique national crafts, and toured Pridneprovsky Sanatorium: well-known in the CIS and beyond for its high quality services, which attract foreign patients.
An Italian delegation was welcomed, headed by the Vice Mayor of Lucca (Tuscany), Carla Reggianini, and the President of the YRA Humanitarian Association (Associazione Umanitaria YRA), Egidio Lazzarini. For the past twenty years, residents of this Italian city have received children from Chernobyl-affected regions, helping them recuperate.
The Italians visited Zhuravichi boarding home for handicapped children, with whom the Italian YRA Association has long liaised. Children and visiting adults could hardly conceal their joy at meeting; then, the foreign delegation toured the orphanage’s living areas, as well as its creative and sports facilities.
The ‘Tourism and Socio-Economic Development of Territories’ event concluded with signing of a treaty on socio-economic liaison between the Rogachev District and Italian Lucca. The Gomel Region has acquired another city friendship: the most important result of all.
By Violetta Dralyuk